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10 Ways To Love This Valentine's Day and Every Day

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

A lot of people (including me) like to refer to the commercialized Valentine's Day as, "Singles Awareness Day (SAD)". Of course, society has emphasized romantic relationships on February 14 every year, but who says only those in romantic relationships are the only ones who love? I know many people who are single, yet love with great fierceness. Part of this is that they ultimately love the Lord, and because of that love in them, it flows out to everyone. 

I recently came across some notes I had scratched on the topic, and I thought I would share them today in honor of Valentine's Day. It's hard to love others sometimes, but as we grow and become more like Jesus, it becomes natural. Here is some of the ways the Bible tells us to love.

10 Ways To Love This Valentine's Day and Every Day | www.maplealps.com

1. Listen without Interrupting

 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
    he breaks out against all sound judgment.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
    but only in expressing his opinion.
When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
    and with dishonor comes disgrace.
The words of a man's mouth are deep waters;
    the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
It is not good to be partial to[
a] the wicked
    or to deprive the righteous of justice.
A fool's lips walk into a fight,
    and his mouth invites a beating.
A fool's mouth is his ruin,
    and his lips are a snare to his soul.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Whoever is slack in his work
    is a brother to him who destroys.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
    and like a high wall in his imagination.
Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
    but humility comes before honor.
If one gives an answer before he hears,
    it is his folly and shame.
A man's spirit will endure sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?
An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
    and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
A man's gift makes room for him
    and brings him before the great.
The one who states his case first seems right, 
    until the other comes and examines him.
The lot puts an end to quarrels
    and decides between powerful contenders.
A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
    and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied;
    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
    and those who love it will eat its fruits.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing
    and obtains favor from the Lord.
The poor use entreaties,
    but the rich answer roughly.
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (
Proverbs 18, ESV)

2. Speak without Accusing

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (James 1:19, ESV)

3. Answer without Arguing

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
    but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. (
Proverbs 15:18, ESV)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)


4. Promise without Forgetting

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (
Proverbs 13:12, ESV)

5. Trust without Wavering

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4: 18, ESV)

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain. (
Proverbs 31:11, ESV)

10 Ways To Love This Valentine's Day and Every Day | www.maplealps.com

6. Forgive without Punishing

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13, ESV)

7. Give without Sparing

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7, ESV)

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
   is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death (
Proverbs 21:6, ESV)

8. Share without Pretending

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9, ESV)

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:15, ESV)

9. Enjoy without Complaining

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, (Philippians 2:14, ESV)

10. Pray without Ceasing

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (Colossians 1:9, ESV)

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV)

 
bible promises www.maplealps.com
 

Of course, you should love others every day, not just Valentine's Day, but today is a great day to start!


 

An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

There are plenty of gift-giving guides for when you want to give something to a minimalist, but what if a minimalist (or aspiring minimalist, like me) wants to give a gift? I had to really think about this!

Take Christmas, for example. It's around the corner and it seems that most people expect to receive a gift and give one in return. I’ve been caught in situations where I’ve had to give a gift, so I just grabbed something off the department store shelves with little thought as to why I was giving it. On the other hand, I’ve also received those same kinds of gifts. Full disclosure: those don’t often last long in my house at all. So why do we even bother?

When I give a gift now, I like to be intentional about it. I like to ask myself a few questions:

Why did I choose this particular gift?
Will my recipient value this gift?

How can I make this a meaningful experience?

With the gift-giving season right around the corner (and just coming out of one - can someone say weddings?), I thought I might share some of my thoughts and ideas on giving gifts.

An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts | www.maplealps.com

 

Give the gift of an experience or time together

This is probably a great place to start. One of the coolest gifts we got as a wedding gift was a night out to see a Broadway musical. It was seriously cool, and it is a memory we still talk about to this day. Gifting experiences is a great idea and focuses more on your friendship than any material thing I can think of at this moment. Gift dinner reservations or unique local experiences or special events and make memories, not dust collectors.

 

Cash

I know it sounds impersonal and unromantic, but cash is way better to get than a gift card. It’s still tangible and doesn’t risk the use to being resold online or forgotten in a wallet. Plus, cash can still be used pretty much everywhere. There are creative ways to gift it too!

 

Something personalized and practical

If you still want to give something, you might want to consider giving something from the heart. Personalized items can still be practical. Put the “fun” in “functional” and explore options like personalized cutting boards or socks - okay, maybe not socks, but you get the idea. Thinking of needs and adding a personalized twist is, in my humble opinion, thoughtful!

 
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Give a charitable donation

There are many opportunities to give a charitable donation in your recipient's name. All it takes is one Google search.

 

Give a consumable

Ummm, who doesn’t love food? I haven’t met that person yet. I love this, because you can get really creative with it! Visit a foreign country? Bring a packaged specialty! Have you heard of gourmet olive oil? Because it's amazing. Love chocolate chip cookies? Put together a kit so they can make their own (you can even pair this with an experience and do it together)! The possibilities are endless and are so fun!

 

If there is a registry, stick to the registry

If you are going to a shower or a wedding, chances are the hosts have created a gift registry. Stick to it. They know what they need, and if you want to stay true to helping others own only what they need, value, and what brings them joy, I highly suggest going that route.

 

So what about receiving gifts?

Receiving gifts is a little tougher for me - especially now that we have downsized greatly and don’t wish to acquire more [useless] stuff. But I also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!

Explaining your “new way of life” to family and friends who normally shower you with gifts can be difficult, but not impossible. I see gift-giving as a way of sharing love, but gift-giving is not restricted to material things.

Your loved ones are called your loved ones because they love you. Trust that and make your expectations and intentions clear. They will be happy to support you. Isn’t that just what gift-giving is about anyway? Showing our love? They’ll be glad to do that however you decide!

Instead of saying, “I will not be collecting gifts this year,” and leaving it at that, why not give specific ideas to your loved ones about what they can give you. If you would like a charitable gift, set up a charity fund they can donate directly to, or pick a soup kitchen and request they accompany you too. If you want consumables, hand over your grocery list (I mean, why not?). If you think it will help, why not send them the link to this blog post? Whatever you choose, I’m sure they’ll think it’s a fabulous idea and they might start picking it up too!

 

 

What kinds of gifts do you like giving and receiving? Let me know in the comments!


 
 

The Three C's of Long Distance Dating

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

Last year I wrote on the truth about long distance relationships. I talked about some key things to remember when being so far away from loved ones and we concluded that while long distance relationships were hard, they were a good thing too.

Since that post, I received numerous messages from readers asking me to write more on the topic of long distance, but especially in dating relationships. Today, I answer these concerns and will share 3 Cs for surviving a long distance relationship.

Spending pretty much 3 out of 3 years of my now husband and I’s dating relationship with the ocean between us gave us plenty of time to get good at long distance. We, of course, failed at times to keep it smooth sailing, but now that we look back on everything we went through, we are happy for the trials. The hardships made our relationship stronger, and we are grateful.

Without further ado: The Three C’s of LDRs.

The Three C's of Long Distance Dating | www.maplealps.com

 

 

1) Communication

 

If there is one thing you take from this post, take this one. Communication is a very important part of a successful relationship - long distance or not! Since you do not have the privilege of seeing each other every day, it is important to learn how to communicate. In these days, we might consider texts and messages and snaps “communication,” but let me venture to say that these many avenues are not always the best way to communicate. Carve out time in the week to talk “face-to-face” via Skype or FaceTime. Call each other if you’re in the same country (or have a great phone plan). Write heartfelt letters and emails and share your thoughts and talk about your day - even the mundane stuff. It's crazy, but even if you didn’t experience a day or event with your significant other, you will still be able to relate later when they retell it to someone else because you were kind of "there" when it happened. 

 

2) Creativity

 

Make it fun! Think care packages, fun apps, surprise visits and creative from-a-distance dates. These are all things that couples who are always near each other can’t do! I mean, no one in their right mind would have a movie marathon virtually when they’re 2 streets away - right? That’s just crazy. I remember one time I showed up for J’s 25th birthday to surprise him. I spent a couple hundred dollars and travelled 15 hours to another continent just to see him turn white like he had seen a ghost and be in shock for the next 3 hours, but it was totally worth it.

Here are a few things to get your creativity going:

  • Birthday care packages

  • Surprise visits

  • Schedule times to pray together (or for each other)

  • Download fun Apps (we used one called Couple. They even have a "thumb kiss" feature! So fun, we still use it.)

  • Read the same book within the same time frame (read it together, or read it apart and discuss it later!)

  • Watch a movie together (you can even mute each other and just have each other's faces on a screen)

  • Eat dinner together (cook the same meal and eat at a table together via Skype)

  • Keep each other accountable for exercising, etc (the Runtastic app let's you cheer on your friends as they're out and about)

  • Have a scrapbook you take turns keeping and exchanging when you visit or in the mail

  • Remember (or make) important dates/anniversaries and celebrate them

3) Commitment

 

Being all in is the only way to make a long distance relationship work. Remember that love is a decision. There will be days when you don’t want to talk to the other person. There will be times of frustration and hurt. There might even be feelings of envy and suspicion, but remember your commitment, and trust theirs.

 

See? Long distance doesn’t have to be so hard. Just remember that communication, creativity and commitment are key.

 

Are you/Have you been in a long distance relationship? How did you make it through? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!


 
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

With Valentine’s Day over and boxed heart candy at 75% off, I have caught myself giving a little sigh. You see, I just love Valentine’s Day (VD). It’s something about the pink and hearts everywhere that makes it impossible for me to be mad at anyone, reminds me of how much I am loved (and love!) and allows me to embrace my inner “girl.” Though I’ve never done anything extra special on February 14, I have always thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere it provides.

When my husband and I first started dating, he made some remark about every day being Valentine’s Day with him. While he was saying it somewhat lightly, there was definitely truth to his statement. Why should a day (regardless of the history and background of it) predominantly celebrating love, be the only day we think about sharing with those we care about how much we love them? It just doesn’t seem right.

If you, like me, are feeling a little sad that the holiday has passed us by already, you can hold your chin up a little higher. Some of my blogging friends have helped me out with a fun project to share with all of you some great ideas to keep the VD feelings all year long!
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day + Free Printable | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day "Valentine's Day" by performing little acts of kindness for the people around us that we love: our spouses, friends, neighbours, and families. We can serve them, meet their needs, and show them just how much we love them!
- Abbey of Small Town Soul

We can make every day Valentine's Day by remembering why we love in the first place and being intentional! I love Jim Elliot's quote - "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." So in daily life, whether I'm spending time with someone or doing something, I strive to focus on them (instead of checking my phone, wondering what to say in response, going for efficiency over caring) and love them to the best of my ability, depending on God's grace to help me best love and serve them/perform the task at hand!
- Jessica of Duly Noted Ink

Have a quiet moment together like seeing the sunrise or sunset, viewing the ocean, sitting on a hill and embracing earth's natural beauty together or even sitting in front of a fireplace with some hot chocolate. Just being around each other is something wonderful.
- Martika of Coffee Time With Him

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

When our girls were 4 and 6 we started a new tradition for Valentine's Day. I set out 4 boxes, one for each family member. I had paper, pens, pink and white doilies, and lots of stickers available. Each person got to write out qualities they liked in each family member, things they appreciated, and favourite memories. It was to be a secret. On Valentine's we took turns reading them out loud. Because of their ages, they needed lots of coaching, memory jogging, and help writing/typing. They are 27 and 25 and we still do this, though sometimes it's through cards or texts throughout the day. It's really a skill I wanted to encourage--to find things we love about each other and what makes the other person feel loved.
- Terri from Terri Fullerton

I make every day Valentines Day by learning my hubby's love language and making sure I'm using it!
-Susannah from Simple Moments Stick

I'm such a weirdo but, I don't care much about Valentine's Day. It's sorta man-made and regimented. For years, I've told my husband to love me throughout the year and he can just go "light" on Valentine's Day. My love language is gifts so he sends flowers often, buys me things, surprises me with gifts all year. So I kinda feel like every day is Valentine's Day. Should he ever slack, then I might put more emphasis on that one day in February. 
- Teri of Godsy Girl

It's not something I do all the time, but every now and then I will make dinner for my kids (before an early bedtime) and then make dinner for my husband and myself after the kids go to bed. I'm also known for making treats and snacks for after the kids go to bed. Truffles anyone?
- Erin from Momma's Living Room

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

By writing little "love notes" filled with words of appreciation for our loved ones on a regular basis. You never know how much a kind note might mean to someone.
- Rachel from The Random Writings

We need to know how we are loved. I like to leave notes for my family that tell them I love you because . . . . your are brave, kind, considerate etc and then tell them how I saw that in them.
- Kim from Day to Day Adventures

My boyfriend texts me every morning "Good Morning Beautiful!" which puts a smile on my face and starts my day off right. 
- Pamela from Bible Geek Lifestyle

We can make every day Valentine's Day by constantly pushing ourselves to serve our spouse. Valentine's Day is great because we all seem to want to make our significant other happier. What if they had a hard day at work and it wasn't Valentine's Day? The probably need our love and support more at that time.
- Courtney from Happy Little Shopping Secret

I would say to make everyday Valentine's day we could ask ourselves, "How can I make today a little bit brighter or easier for my spouse?" It could be by doing something simple or leaving them a little note or just taking an extra minute to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
- Kaitlyn from Lily and Mama

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day Valentine's day by having quick morning cuddles before starting the day! I love resting on my husband's chest and kissing him on the cheek with his arm around me! It's sweet and simple. Just a little way to say "I just woke up, and you're on my mind!"
- Elizabeth  from Wanderlust + Heart

From a relationship standpoint, I think making a conscious effort to do something nice for or compliment someone you care about can make each day Valentine's Day for you and that other person. From a personal standpoint, taking a few minutes each day to reflect on your life and give yourself a nice little pamper session, pep talk, or general treat can make each day Valentine's Day for you.
- Jessi from Roses in Ink

It might seem over simple ... But ... To make every day like Valentines, touch your spouse. A loving caress - a neck rub, a hand placed gently on a forearm, "footsie" under the table, a kiss on the cheek, etc. As husband and wife, we can be together all day and never touch. It happens all too easily - especially if we have children to nurture.
- Lori from Encourage Your Spouse

Meet your spouse's love language
- Audrey of Life with Little People

 

How would you make every day Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments below!


 
 

One Year of Marriage.

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps24 Comments

Guys! I can absolutely not believe that just a year ago today I married my best friend! The year went by so fast that I was scared to blink at times.  Time is a strange thing.

Almost everyone told me the first year of marriage is the hardest. While I am not sure if I've found that to be true (the transition was strangely smooth and natural for us), there were definitely some adjustments that needed to be made when joining my life with J's. If you were around six months ago for my recap on six months of marriage, you'll know that I had already done a lot of thinking about these things. Today, I invite you to see what's changed - or stayed the same - after another six.

One Year of Marriage | www.maplealps.com

In marriage, you share everything but your toothbrush

And even that may not be true. Mix-ups, confusion, and emergencies do happen...Oh, and when your spouse makes the most disgusted face ever when he realizes he's grabbed your toothbrush instead of his, try not to take it tooooooo personally ;)

The first year of marriage doesn't have to be hard.

Yes, there are adjustments that could be difficult, but approaching marriage intentionally and with open communication and a humble attitude will make these much more manageable. Make good habits that will stick for life now.

Marriage won't fix your personal problems.

Need I say more? You're not going to be suddenly selfless or never spend another wasted cent after you say, "I do." You may even still struggle with other things. Marriage is not a fix-all for personal issues. Continue growing in grace. 

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Everyone has an opinion on your marriage and advice for it.

All you have to do is smile, nod and say, "Thank you for sharing." Then, really think about it. Don't be too proud to listen if it is really sound advice - even if it hurts. If it's completely ridiculous and uncalled for, still smile, nod, and say, "Thank you for sharing." THEN RUN AWAY!

Don't Assume...

...I'll let you finish that one ;-)

Appreciate Eachother

Taking each other for granted is not a good thing. Appreciate one another - and let the other know how much you appreciate them - and why! Thoughtfulness goes a long way.

Live-in accountability is usually a good thing

Until that morning you literally get dragged you out of bed to work out ... But no one regrets a good work out, right? But seriously, having someone right there to keep you accountable in different areas of your life is amazing. Plus, being and having a personal cheerleader is a fantastic.

Everything I learned in the first six months still applies today.

You can head over here to read what I learned in six months as a refresher if you read it already, or for something new if you haven't. It turns out love is still a decision, prayer is still necessary, and cuddling is still a challenge. Go figure.


Marriage is grand, but as with every aspect of life, it needs to be approached intentionally for the greatest success. I'm still learning that myself. 

What about you? Any marriage tips for a newlywed?

PS: We'll be celebrating today, so be sure to follow along on SnapChat and Instagram (@MapleAlps)