I love birthdays and monumental moments in life, as they present the perfect opportunity for reflecting back and recounting the lessons learned, giving thanks for the blessings received, and basking in the nostalgia of all the wonderful memories made throughout the years.
I was paging through some old journals of mine the other day, and I stumbled upon an entry I wrote from last August on Sean’s birthday (August 24th, 2017). At the time, we were celebrating his 35th birthday.
In my journal entry, I had captured a love note I had given to Sean (my husband) as a gift on his special day: a list recounting 35 ways I loved him, one for each year he had graced the world with his presence.
As I read through the words encapsulating moments from our past, I thought about how happy this list made Sean. It sure meant more to him than any other gift I bought for him to open on that day. It made me think: if this list of appreciation was so special to Sean, why don’t I do this more often? Perhaps not a list of 35 reasons why I love him. But what about even one single reason? I can think of hundreds of reasons why I love Sean on any given day. Why is it so easy for a day to pass by without my going intentionally out of my way to express my love and gratitude for him?
We often wait for “monumental” moments to tell someone how much we love them or how much they mean to us.
Sometimes it even takes a tragedy, loss, or dark season in life for us to realize how much someone means to us.
Recently, I read a quote that really stuck to my heart and mind: like a spoonful of peanut butter cemented to the roof of one’s mouth. 🙂 The tasty morsel of truth has since clung with me:
“If today were your last, would you do what you’re doing? Or would you love more, give more, forgive more? Then do so! Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes again, love again.” ~Max Lucado
Sometimes things become more clear when we think about our own mortality. I know it may sound a bit morbid, but perhaps it could serve us well if we learned to live like we are dying…because, really, aren’t we all?
Remembering that our days are limited helps us realize what truly matters in life. It helps us become awake to the things we take for granted, own up to the things we are prioritizing that hold no eternal value, see the brokenness we want to resolve, and take ownership for the things we want to accomplish before our time is up.
There are special times wherein it’s easier, and we feel more driven, to love others. But what if we didn’t have to wait for special occasions, such as Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events to express gratitude for one another? What if we didn’t need to wait for a tragedy to hit in order to realize how much our loved ones mean to us and how much we would miss them if they weren’t present in our lives?
I can’t help but think of the countless times I have neglected to deliver the kind words of appreciation or admiration I feel in my soul to the intended recipient of such sentiments.
They rattle around in my mind, without ever embracing the individual with the warm word hug he or she deserves.
The wise words expressed by Max Lucado made me consider people in my life who I may take for granted. People who know I love them dearly, so I sometimes forget to verbally affirm that fact. Those closest to me may know how much I love them, but they are more than equally deserving to receive affirmation of such love as those who are outwardly lacking love or desperately searching for love in their lives.
This experience – reading my journal, the love note to Sean, and this quote from Max Lucado – has helped me be more intentional each day about expressing love and words of gratitude to Sean and others in my life.
It has helped me remember that when I think kind words, I want to say the kind words.
Whether it be to Sean, a family member, a friend, or the stranger standing in front of me in line awaiting to pay for her coffee who has the most beautiful, engaging smile that beckons for a compliment.
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I wanted to share the above reflections and my list of “35 reasons why I love Sean” because I wanted to encourage you to think about how you want to love like there’s no tomorrow.
However, before scrolling down to check out the list below, I wanted to present you with a few disclaimers.
First, I wanted to be honest about the fact that I was hesitant to share this list, as I was worried people may read this as if I’m bragging or find this to be an “overshare.” However, after further consideration, I decided I do not feel there is anything wrong with my sharing with you some of the wonderful truths about my husband, his character, and some of the reasons why I love him. Especially since the intention behind my doing so is not to pump up my ego or his; but rather, to hopefully share some helpful insights on how you may consider spreading love to your loved ones as well.
Second, I respect Sean and the privacy of our intimate relationship. Before posting this entry, I spoke with Sean, and he gave me the “two thumbs up” that he was comfortable with me sharing this message with you. So you can read on with peace of mind. 🙂
Third, I wanted to assure you that the intent behind sharing this is not to simply brag and gush about “how great of a husband I have – aren’t you jealous?” or present our lives in a way that screams “look at us, we have such perfect lives and our relationship is all sunshine and rainbows!!” That is certainly not my intent, so I hope you do not read it that way or take offense with the letter I shared below. Our lives are not perfect, Sean is not perfect, I most certainly am not perfect. We’re an imperfect couple with both gifts and weaknesses, a marriage full of “ups and downs” – just like every other couple in this world.
Okay, so now that we’ve cleared that up, I wanted to explain in more detail why I wanted to share this list with you.
- To encourage you to find a way to tell your loved ones how much you love them in YOUR special way. If writing’s your thing, perhaps you consider doing something similar to the list I included below for someone you love dearly (I’d recommend a shorter list ;), like 3-5 things let’s say – shoot, even ONE thing you love about your loved one would do!).
- To encourage you to not only say “I love you,” but also to go the extra mile to share with your loved ones the reasons WHY you love them. In my experience, I’ve found how common it is for us to tell our loved ones “I love you” – but never go so far as to say WHY we love them. We think they already know how amazingly awesome they are, so we think “I love you” is enough to capture our sentiments. But man, what an impact it truly is for someone to be blessed to hear the actual REASONS behind that love. I like to remind myself that while I can see the incredible personality traits, skills, and other gifts in my friends, spouse, family members, etc. – many times, they don’t realize it or see it in themselves. Well friends, why don’t we help each other out, build each other up, spread love, and foster closer relationships by bringing to light the very things that make our loved ones special to us.
- To let you have a peak into our “real.” I also wanted to share the list below in order to give you a glimpse inside my heart: so you can see how much Sean means to me and also the kind of man he truly is. To allow you to begin to know Sean and me a bit more beyond the surface. Now, as I mentioned before, Sean and I are not perfect and have our “ups and downs” like any relationship. This was an “up” occasion in our lives, celebrating Sean’s birthday and recounting our many blessings together as a couple. As you continue on this journey with me, I’m going to be doing my best to remain “unmasked” – so there are sure to be some not-so-glamourous times I reveal as well. But no matter the circumstances – this love, the love you read about below – remains constant. If anything, as we grow in our relationships with God (individually and as a couple) and as we face the good and bad that comes with time – our love grows stronger. I can’t wait to see the letter that awaits Sean on his 70th birthday (I may need to rethink the whole 1-item-for-each-year idea…that would be quite the endeavor!).
One last disclaimer.
I know, I know. This list is long. Please let me clear up any unintentional misconceptions and tell you that I do not spend my days writing incredibly long, sappy letters to Sean. This was a special gift on a monumental milestone (35th birthday). Also, expressing my thoughts and sentiments with words is “so my jam” (when I first thought of the idea it actually caused butterflies to flutter in my tummy, as I couldn’t wait to write up the list).
My Challenge to YOU!
Look, I know this kind of thing isn’t for everyone. If it is for you? Great! Consider creating your own list to write a message to someone special in your life. But if writing is not your thing, you do not need to feel guilty. You do not need to show your love to your loved ones in the same way that I have chosen to do so with Sean.
The important thing I want you to get out of all this is to challenge yourself to love more, give more, and forgive more. To be more intentional about expressing your love and gratitude to your loved ones.
I encourage you to find your own way to express your love and the reasons behind such love.
You do “you.” You do the best “you” after all! 🙂
Consider your gifts and what sounds fun to you. I also recommend considering your loved one(s) while you brainstorm ways to demonstrate your love. How do they like to RECEIVE love? Quality time? Words of affirmation? Small acts of service? Physical touch? Receiving gifts? Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. So do your best to find a way to express your love in a way that will mean the most to them.
However you choose, the bottom line is it’s an incredible gift to tell an individual what makes them so great and how blessed you are to have them in your life.
Cheers, friends – let’s spread the love!!! :*
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My Letter to Sean
August 24, 2017
My Love, my Schnook –
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH how I love you. You are SOOOO special to me! I hope you know just how much I love you and how much I cherish having you in my life. I wish that I was better about showing you and telling you each day just how important you are to me.
For me, it means the world to me when people share their thoughts and feelings – obviously, you know this about me very well. 😉 On this special day (your 35th birthday – whew!!!), I couldn’t help but share some of the many ways I am grateful for you. Below is a list of 35 things I love about you. A list that was SO easy to come up with, and only reflects a handful of ways of how incredibly special you are and reasons why I love you.
I love you so incredibly much. Here are a few of the many things I love about you:
35 Things I Love About Sean
1) You are a man of God. First and foremost, I love that you are a man of God and your faith is so important to you. I have just loved seeing you grow in your faith in God and continually put Him first. As you incorporate Him in your everyday life, I can see you changing – it’s inspirational and encouraging. I love that I get to be on this faith-walk with you.
2) You are humble. You have so many gifts and are so capable in so many areas in life. Yet, you never make anyone feel like you are better than them, and you never brag about your accomplishments (if anything, you do the opposite!).
3) You are SO incredibly patient and slow to anger. Even when I’m being completely irrational, you rarely ever lash out. You’re an inspiration and motivation for how we are to treat others – even when they don’t deserve it!
4) You are encouraging and supportive. You go out of your way to be proactively supportive, no matter what I’m going through. You go to great lengths to show me that you love and support me.
5) You love me as I am. I never feel like I’m unloveable with you. You show me constantly how much you love me. Your love reminds me how God sees me. It means the world to me that I know I can trust that you will love me always, no matter what.
6) You are amazing with kids and are going to be a great Dad. I love to see you with kids and the childlike joy you have. They relate to you, and I’m so excited to see you with our little one(s) someday. On days when Satan tries to plant fears in me that I’m not going to be a good parent or maybe we shouldn’t have kids, I always think of you – and the thought of you as a Dad brings me reassurance that being a parent with you is going to be amazing. That we, together, will be great parents.
7) You are quirky, silly, and light-hearted. I love being goofy with you. You make life fun. You make life an adventure worth living, always seeing the positive. You are always able to find the joke or joy in any situation.
8) You love adventure. I love that you love to discover the “new” with me – whether it be wandering around SF, trying out new activities or restaurants, or traveling to new places. I love that you are so open to discovering new ways of thinking, new experiences, other cultures, other perspectives
9) You are attentive to others’ needs. You put others’ needs before your own at times, and you are attuned to others’ needs. I love that you think of me – it shows me that you care. And when I ask you to do something for me, you never complain!
10) You love others. You have a heart for others, even those outside of our “circle” or family. You care for others and go out of your way to help them when you see a need, such as running across the street to help a homeless person who dropped his shirt or searching out ways to bring the leftovers from the SF Giants game to someone in need, even though your ankle was throbbing from having twisted it earlier that day from helping the homeless person!!
11) You love pizza. I love that you love pizza. You know what you like, and I love that such simple joys, like pizza, can bring you such happiness. It shows how carefree and in the moment you are. I love it. 🙂
12) You are incredibly driven and motivated. With work, I think that goes without saying. You work SO hard, are SO capable, and never complain even when you’re overworked and/or not getting the recognition you deserve. You’re also so driven outside of work, whether it be at making sure that our family is okay financially, taking care of the “logistics” of life (without even asking!), or trying to find ways for us to be connected in our community. You are by no means lazy – your drive is inspiring.
13) You are spontaneous and flexible. The fact that you’re so spontaneous and able to go with the flow is so inspiring to me. I desire to be more like that – seeing how you are so able to go with the flow, try new things without fear/ill-feelings, be flexible with doing what others prefer to do – it makes me motivated to challenge myself to be more like you in that way.
14) You love coffee. I love that we share this love together. Sure, it makes us a bit snobby in this area as we learn more and become more selective in our taste/preferences, but at least it’s between you and me and we can share it together. 😉
15) You take care of me. I feel so blessed to have a husband that strives to see my needs and take care of me. It shows me how much you care for me. You make me feel like I’m so special, worth dotting on. Even though I don’t feel worthy, you show me and constantly remind me how deserving of love I am.
16) You crave knowledge and love learning new things. I love that you are constantly craving more knowledge about various things in life. Particularly spiritual matters – I love that you share this drive with me and crave to know more.
17) You are kind to those who are undeserving of kindness. You treat people with respect even when their actions are poor or hurtful. You are constantly pushing yourself to be sympathetic to others and kind to those who are hard to love.
18) You hate injustice and seek to right wrongs. I love that you share this passion with me. I love that when you see people being treated contrary to what the Word says, that you try to speak up or act out to try to right the wrong. Even when it means going against what is popular in our culture today.
19) You are so stinking cute and handsome. Whether it be in your brunchy outfits and bear/cub hat, or polished up in your Charlie gear – you’re adorable 🙂
20) You challenge me. Even though it’s uncomfortable and I’m not always the easiest person to try to correct, you do call me out. In the moment I may not always be welcoming of it and may push back, but I love that you do it regardless. Because I have blind spots, and it helps me grow.
21) You are SO supportive. I can’t even begin to thank you for how supportive you have been, particularly through this last season as I go through recovery. You have been so verbally supportive, but also in action – cooking me dinner, picking me up from therapy, attending therapy sessions, learning to understand me and how I think, learning how to be supportive, listening to me when I share with you, soaking in what I tell you and doing things to show me support, etc.. The list goes on and on and on.
22) You support my love for the Packers. I mean, not all husbands would be that supportive, when their football team is a rival. And while I’ve given up on the hope that you’ll cave like Scott and cheer for the good guys, I love that you’re going to be fully supportive that our children will without a doubt bleed green and gold (yes, this is happening, or no more pizza for you!). 😉
23) You are so approachable and engaging with everyone. With friends, with acquaintances, with strangers, with adults, with kids – no matter the setting or audience, you’re always so approachable. People are drawn to you and feel at ease with you – I think this is so amazing and is a gift that God has given you, which I trust will play into our story and the work he wants us to accomplish.
24) You’re a leader. You set an example for others and are willing to take lead. And I love that you look to God for guidance, particularly in making big decisions (such as with your career path).
25) You’re intelligent and an expert in so many areas. I know you probably deny this or don’t recognize this in yourself at times, but you are SO smart. I know I can always depend on you to help guide me in areas where I feel less confident, and know I can always turn to you for knowledgeable direction when I’m uncertain. Even if you don’t have the answers, you are so good at problem-solving and keeping a calm head on your shoulders to try to figure out a solution.
26) You are calm and not anxious. Something I so admire is that you don’t freak out when there are things that are unknown about the future or things happen that are unexpected or unwanted. You are always so calm, roll with the punches, trust God, and see the good in even the worst situations (I mean – even when you had a life-threatening leg infection, it was no big deal…and even when you were in such pain and in the hospital, you never had a bad attitude and focused on the positives, like your pudding snack packs and Gushers ;)). SUCH an admirable quality – something that motivates me to change to be more like that in my own life.
27) Your family and loved ones are incredibly important to you. You constantly put your family first. You make time, even when you don’t have time.
28) You are thankful. You don’t expect “big things” and are thankful even for the small things. It never takes much for you to be happy. You never ask for anything or expect anything – you are thankful for the smallest acts of kindness.
29) You love adventure and travel. One of the things I love doing with you most is traveling to new places and experiencing new things with you. It has been so eye-opening to experience other cultures – I think it helps us open up our perspectives and has helped us grow. I love that you are open to pretty much anything (with the exception of any more parasailing or anything with extreme heights). 😉
30) You think I’m sexy and make me feel beautiful no matter what I look like or feel like. It’s such a blessing to be with someone who makes me feel beautiful, even when I don’t feel beautiful. It’s so encouraging to know that you will continue to think I’m beautiful regardless of what shape or size I am. Not everyone has that – I don’t take that for granted, I so cherish that about you.
31) You’re true to who you are and have integrity. You’re Sean – that’s it. You’re not two-faced, and you’re yourself with all people. You aren’t afraid to stick up for what you believe and speak out when necessary.
32) You treat people with respect and people can trust you. What you say to someone in front of their face is the same as what you say about them behind their back (which is never anything ill-willed!). You are true, you are dependable. People can see that you are trustworthy, and it makes them feel comfortable to open up to you because they know they can trust you with their confidence.
33) You are a “do”-er. You get things done and help out with things (e.g., house association stuff, financial aspects of our life together, chores around the house, etc.). I also love that you see that one of my love languages is “small acts of kindness” and that you put forth effort to “do” things to show me that you love me (e.g., making breakfast, getting me flowers, leaving me notes/texts, etc.). Many times they’re small things, but they speak volumes to me.
34) You’re a brunch person. What would I do if you were like (one of our close friends) and despised brunch? I mean, it’d be a whole area of life we’d be missing out on together. Let’s brunch more – in brunch gear, of course. 🙂
35) YOU ARE YOU. You are perfectly unique, you are perfectly how God made you, you are a reflection of God in your own perfect way. You are perfectly and wonderfully made. And you were perfectly created for us as a couple – God has great plans for you and great plans for us. I’m so excited to see what our future holds. With God, we can accomplish great things. It’s a promise.
I LOVE YOU!!!! SO very much. You are my best friend, you are my partner in this life. I love you more and more as time goes on. I am so thankful for you and love you to pieces. I hope to continue to change and become less selfish so I can be better at showing you just how special you are, day after day. I look forward to growing with you spiritually, I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us. I’ve loved each moment with you – I’m ecstatic to see what the next chapters in life bring.
Love you, Birthday Boy 🙂 Happy 35th!!!