About Encouragement for Today

Proverbs 31 Ministries is a non-denominational, non-profit Christian ministry that seeks to lead women into a personal relationship with Christ. With Proverbs 31:10-31 as a guide, Proverbs 31 Ministries reaches women right in the middle of their busy day through free daily devotions, radio program, speaking events, conferences, monthly magazine, resources, online communities, and Gather and Grow groups. We are real women offering real-life solutions to women who are striving to maintain life’s balance, in spite of today’s hectic pace and cultural pull away from godly principles. Wherever a woman may be on her spiritual journey, Proverbs 31 Ministries exists to be a trusted friend who takes her by the hand and walks by her side, leading her one step closer to the heart of God.

Why I Buy Orange Marmalade - Encouragement for Today - June 23, 2015

Karen Ehman

JUNE 23, 2015

Why I Buy Orange Marmalade

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

The sound of clanking silverware and clinking dishes wafted through the air as my husband and I sat across from each other in a retro-styled diner looking over the breakfast menu. We’d been meaning for weeks to spend some time alone, or maybe even go on a real date. So we set our alarms for still dark o’clock and drove a half hour to the quaint eatery.

I’m not a big breakfast eater, so a steaming cup of coffee with fruit and nut oatmeal was enough for me. My husband, however, loves breakfast. So he ordered one of the diner’s famous combo plates that included eggs, sausage and a few pieces of whole grain toast.

He slathered some sweet cream butter on the toast. Then he began to dig through the gingham-lined basket on the table like a child digging through a toy box for a favorite plaything.

I had to know, so I asked: "What are you searching for?"

"Orange marmalade," he replied.

"What? Isn’t grape jelly or strawberry jam good enough? You can’t seem to get enough of my homemade strawberry jam," I teased.

"But orange marmalade is my favorite," he answered. "Loved it ever since I was a kid."

Wow. There I sat across from my college sweetheart-turned-husband whom I’ve known over a quarter century, and I never knew this simple fact — he loves orange marmalade.

Often in marriage — especially if there are children in the picture — we spend so much time just getting life done. Keeping up the house. Making appointments. Tending to the yard work. Shuttling children. Paying bills. And we stop noticing the little things about our spouses — the stuff we used to notice all the time when we were dating.

In college, I took good notes on what my then-boyfriend enjoyed. I knew he was a lover of butter pecan ice cream, so sometimes I would pick up a hand-packed pint from the local ice cream parlor and deliver it to him when he was studying in the college library.

Back then it seemed easy to put him first, to always be on the lookout for his interests and likes. Selfishness on my part didn’t really exist in our relationship. I was head-over-heels in love with this guy and intent on noticing his preferences and pleasing him.

Sadly, as the days and months of marriage turn into years and decades, it’s easy for noticing to decrease and selfishness to creep in. Instead of longing to please our spouses, even in the little things, we often look to get our own way. Today’s key verse seems to be the perfect prescription for this dilemma. We are encouraged to look not just to our own interests, but also in humility look to the interests of others. There are so many ways to apply this verse in marriage!

It may mean spending a weekend doing activities your spouse prefers. In my case, that would mean attending a jazz festival on a Saturday with my trumpet-playing husband, rather than hunting for antiques at a large indoor market, which bores him to death.

Sometimes it might be a more important matter, and other times it could be a seemingly trivial thing. Again, in all things means not only looking to your own interests, but in humility looking to the interests of your spouse.

In a culture of selfies and selfishness, let’s purpose to take notice of our spouse’s interests and show them love in even the smallest of ways. For me, that means I’m now surfing the Internet for a winning orange marmalade recipe. Well, that and buying a few jars of the store-bought variety for back up!

Father, may I be on the lookout for ways to bless my spouse — both in the little interests of life and in the major issues of marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Ephesians 4:2, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (NIV)

To be inspired to live a life that’s other-centered, check out Karen Ehman’s book, A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others.

Today, Karen is sharing a free PDF of "Get-To-Know-You-Again Questions" to ask your spouse on a date. She’s also giving away a special date-night-in-a-box gift to one reader. For details visit Karen’s blog.

When was the last time you took notice of your spouse’s likes and interests, and then made a point to do something with that information to bless him?

Make plans in the next week or two to surprise your spouse with a day — or even just a few hours — of the two of you doing something that interests him even if it is something you aren’t fond of.

© 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105