Elias taught Emmaus to say good bye using the phrase,"I love you, Ciao!"
So yesterday Zion, not to be outdone, exuberantly ran out the door yelling, "Bye! I yuv you Cow!"
A few mornings before, equally adamant about expressing himself, Zion raced after me as I zipped around intent on completing my chores. I hurried through my shower and it felt more like a bath our labs would get, hose them off and let them shake dry. Zion would not be deterred from getting my attention. Finally, as I was in the process of making a bed, he burrowed under the covers, grabbed the front of my shirt, drew me so close to him that our for-heads touched and he proclaimed in his husky voice, "__top!!!!!" So finally, stop, I did!
The gift of time is certainly a treasure, but the intimate knowledge we get from taking time with that person is the way we learn how to love them. Zion loves to be touched. He is tough as nails, but a kiss on the nose or drawing him close, will calm his feisty mood immediately. A few months ago I heard Elias tell someone that time and touch matter most to him. I try to honor our big kids by giving them the space they need. Once spoken, I understood my mistake, I was trying to respect our 16 year old, but I had forgotten his love language.
With our teenagers, sometimes the door to their heart is wide open, other times it is locked. To carefully tap on that door and receive no response means we wait for an invitation from them. The love response to their needs means that when they are ready to talk, perhaps at midnight, we drop everything to listen.
Sometimes, when the chaos of the household feels consuming and anywhere but here would be lovely, the staying is the 'I love you' of responsibility, and the eventual peace is the blessing for having done so. Our family must love as a team, which isn't always easy. Jim and Rochelle Fleming are friends whose wisdom has guided both our marriage and our parenting. They used the phrase, "Speaking life or death." So it is with our crew that the constant encouragement is that all words, even tough ones to hear must be life-giving. Our middle-littles can be fierce competitors with each other. When my reaction to their arguing is harsh, I ask for forgiveness because harshness is never justifiable. Asking for and giving forgiveness are the deepest words of healing and life we can offer.
In our marriage Dennis' daily love letter to me is his faithfulness, love and devotion. I am his number one girl, and his actions for 20 years have proven that I can trust the man I love. The kind of heart surgeon he is means time together is not our luxury, however, because of the way he loves me, I will never stop waiting for him to come home. My gift to him is also faithfulness, respect and a clean house! It is important to him, so I love to serve him in this way. Now, I must say, he can't come home without a warning! If you happen to step into our house during the critical - "Daddy is coming home... clean your battle stations!"- time, either help, or move to the side!
I think loving each other also means that there are some days when you will be giving everything you have AND everything your spouse doesn't. Sometimes in a partnership you must bear not only your own burdens, but also those of your loved one. Dennis and I each have experienced seasons of struggle when the other has had to be more than just one half of the sweet wholeness of marriage. If we did not give grace and live under God's merciful love, I can't imagine where we'd be.
The greatest outpouring of love I've ever known is from God, and his resources never run dry. In Love, he is the expert and I am constantly learning the nuances of his language.