- By Chandra Rees Chandra Rees is a freelance children’s author and mother of five.

My husband and I were traveling home after a long weekend away with our family. Our daughters were peacefully sleeping in the back seat, and I found myself reminiscin­g over the past years that we’d shared as husband and wife—years that almost seemed a blur, due to the busyness that comes with juggling a family with the many demands of life and work. I’m grateful that despite the many challenges we’ve faced, our marriage has remained strong and the two of us well connected.

When my husband and I were first getting to know each other, I had a blissful, if slightly naïve, view on marriage. I assumed that if we were meant to be, then our marriage would simply flow. I despised the thought of having to work to build our relationsh­ip; after all, scheduling times to meet and spend together is what we did when we were dating. Once we were married, we’d see each other all the time, and I expected that to be enough to defuse any issues. Spontaneit­y was important to me, and I really wanted to allow our marriage the freedom to blossom on its own.

I soon realized, though, that like all things that matter most in our lives, even our marriage took time to maintain and nurture. Making my deadlines, keeping my appointmen­ts, and being thorough in my work have always been important to me, but that same concept has been so difficult to translate into my marriage. I realized that making time to build my marriage was a vital element of staying connected with my husband, and I had to accept that this wouldn’t just happen on its own.

While there are the romantic moments in a marriage—those tender times and special occasions that seem to encapsulat­e the love and respect you feel for each other—there also often need to be thought, effort, and time put into it—even if it means spontaneit­y has to play second fiddle.

The reality is that if we make time for each other—time to talk about ourselves, time to relax in each other’s company, time to express our love, time where we can put aside the busyness of our day and share a quiet moment together—we’re giving ourselves the opportunit­y to grow in our relationsh­ip.

The Bible has lots of advice on the type of people to surround yourself with.

“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble,”1 for example, and, “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.”2

I’d usually taken that kind of scripture to mean “Don’t get involved with bad company who will push you to do drugs, steal, harm others, etc.” And, for sure, we should stay away from people caught up in those kinds of behaviors. But upon reflection, I’ve begun to grasp a further, more “everyday” understand­ing of this warning.

The other day, I read a very interestin­g article about moods. A study led by the University of Warwick indicated that, like a cold, good and bad moods can be “picked up” from those around you. “Evidence suggests moods may spread from person to person via a process known as social contagion,” said Public Health statistics researcher Rob Eyre, who led the study. In addition to good or bad moods, even symptoms of depression like helplessne­ss and loss of interest can spread. As you would expect, friends and family have the greatest impact.

Day by day, the choices we make and the company we keep contribute to who we will become. God has wonderful, loving plans and a special, unique destiny for us to fulfill. So let’s not allow ourselves to soak up or disperse negative vibes, habits, or moods. Let’s find joy in good company and, at every opportunit­y, spread His love to others!

1. Proverbs 13:20 NLT

2. 1 Corinthian­s 15:33

Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.— Mother Teresa (1910–1997)

Spread love to the north, kindness to the south, compassion to the east, and goodness to the west. Spread love throughout the whole world.

— Matshona Dhliwayo

If you would like to experience Jesus’ love, joy, comfort, and peace, you can. It starts with accepting Him as your Savior and inviting Him into your life, which you can do by praying this prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank You for dying for me so I can have eternal life. Please forgive me for every wrong and unloving thing I have ever done. Come into my heart, give me Your gift of eternal life, and help me to know Your love and peace.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from International