Weekend Superlatives 2/28

Sharing some of my favorites. The stuff I like almost as much as cupcakes. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

cupcake

 

Books I’m loving now:

Sidenote: One of the wonderful perks of homeschooling high schoolers is that you can assign them great books, and some of the greatest minds on various subjects become their teachers. I’ve assigned The Power of Habit to Matthew for schoolwork. I felt it was that insightful.  Matt is also currently reading Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell (one of the most brilliant economists and thinkers of our time!), The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern WorldThe Children’s Blizzard, and Tozer’s The Pursuit of God (free on Kindle today, by the way. You can also sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime which gives you free shipping and access to hundreds of free movies and a kindle lending library. This could help take the sting out of the long winter. lol)

WWW Superlatives:

Favorite Products. Items we use daily around here.

 Ninja Express Chop  The girls make smoothies with this gadget every morning! It’s easy to use and cleans up quickly. 

Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet After visiting Marbles: The Brain Store with Holly and Hope and having to pry these tables out of their hands so we could leave, I bought them each one for Christmas. It’s used every day for handwriting, doodling and drawing. I love that it’s not an electronic device or video game and they love it anyway.

Newsy Stuff:

I’ve taken the plunge into freelance writing and have submitted several articles for publication to webzines around the web. My first submission was accepted. Yay. It gave me the courage to write more. Also, this month I was hired to do some part time graphic design/Virtual Assistant stuff for a bigger blogger. The Lord always provides and has opened up these doors for me to work at home. We’re chipping away at two college bills and we’re thankful for all of the extra work we can get!

And, I may or may not have bought another web address. It’s a project that I’ve had on my heart for a long time and something that will help younger moms. I’m praying for God’s direction and timing, and for the right women to partner with as I begin. I want Him to lead and bless it. More on that later. :)

Your turn! What are you reading? What blog posts did you love from around the web? Have a great weekend!

*Post contains Affiliate Links at no cost to you. 

 

We Are All Followers

Whatever we find our delight in

and believe will make up happy,

we’ll pursue and follow.

follow jesus

We’re all following something or someone. We follow this person on Pinterest or that person on Twitter. We spend time finding out what they like and think.

We follow what our heart desires. We follow what we are devoted to. We chase what we believe will satisfy our deepest needs.

In fact, we’re always pursuing something. It might be a self-image, respect, admiration or power. For others it’s wealth, health, education or fame. Others only want power or empowerment. Others relaxation, entertainment or escape.

Are you a thirsty soul? What are you pursuing?

The Psalmist, David, was a thirsty soul. But instead of pursuing the temporal, he pursued the Eternal God. His soul thirsted for God. (Psalm 63:1)

He followed hard after God. (Psalm 63:8)

Not just a passive follow. A hard follow. David was scared he might miss something. He wanted to make sure he was close with God, so he’d not miss out on communion and fellowship. He didn’t want to allow any distance between him and the One his soul loved. David knew that he’d only be satisfied by God, and God alone.

Roy Hession in We Would See Jesus explains how we were created to adore God:

“The story of man began when God, who is complete in Himself and therefore could have no needs, deliberately chose, it would seem, to be incomplete without creatures of His own creating. “Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). It was for this purpose and no other – that of existing for the pleasure of God – that man was brought into being. He was intended to be the delight of God and the object of His affection. On man’s side, the basis of that original relationship was that it was completely God-centred. Man knew that he had only been created to delight God, and his only concern was to respond to the Divine affection, to live for Him, and to do His will. It was his joy continually to submit his will and desires to those of his Creator, and in nothing to be independent of Him. As he thus lived in submission to God, every need in man’s nature was satisfied by God.”

 

Until we return again to our original intent, we’ll never be satisfied.

A woman who is not satisfied in Christ alone will never be satisfied with anything else either.

What do you “follow hard” after?

What are you spending your time, money, talents, and energy pursuing? Are you looking for fulfillment in the perfect marital status, a certain style home, a particular friendship, a dream job, a hobby, your ministry, children, lifestyle choices, and even religiosity?

If you didn’t answer “The One True God” to the above question, then you’re chasing small-g gods who can never satisfy, and will always leave you disappointed and unfulfilled. This is why so many leave the church. They thought God would be a vehicle to bring them to their desired end, their small g-god. But our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God’s not accustomed to giving us trifles to adore when He alone is worthy of praise and adoration. In fact, in His goodness, He’ll strip any idols out of our hands no matter how painful. He knows what’s best for us and won’t let His children settle for scraps when there is a good, holy and loving God to be had.

Let’s pray for souls that thirst, first and foremost, for God alone. Let’s put away worthless things, empty thoughts, vain desires, selfish motives and sinful appetites that hinder us from seeking the True God who alone satisfies.

Small Changes That Are Already Paying Off

The other day I told you all my thoughts about Money Saving Moms Book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life and how much I enjoyed it.  (See my review of it here)

I really like to make time in my schedule for people. I think the house, the cleaning, the work that goes into a home is all for a purpose: so you can love people well.

lemon

Although we do have people over quite often and hospitality is one of my main ministries, I’d still like to do more.

Crystal suggested doing tasks in 15 minute chunks and this has done two things for me: made me concentrate on the task at hand, and motivated me to work faster.

This week, in fifteen minutes chunks, I:

  • cleaned/organized a kitchen cabinet a day, most particularly, my spice cabinet.
  • walked one mile a day with Leslie Sansone. (I just love her! You can watch her videos free on YouTube.)
  • wrote notes of encouragement or a thank you cards
  • decluttered a zone in my home
  • called a friend
  • started dinner by thawing meat, prepping veggies
  • washed a window
  • dusted a room
  • wrote a blog post
  • planned for next week

Being more efficient with my housework and personal care gives me more time and energy to do the fun things in life with the people I love.

Have you read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode? What was the most helpful tip you learned? How do you mainline your cleaning routine? What motivates you to get things done so you can get to the really important stuff: people?

In Praise of the Small Town Pastor

In the scheme of things, you’re unknown. You don’t have a Social Media following, a blog, a cable network or conference named after you.

You’re a small town pastor.

bible-podium

You’re the one who welcomed us with smiles to Sunday School.

You’re the one who arrived early, not to study, but to turn on lights and heat, to set up chairs, to scrape ice from slippery walkways and a million-and-one little tasks that needed to be done before the congregation ever arrived.

You’re the one who spent countless evenings discipling our parents so they could teach us.

You’re not a popular conference speaker. I haven’t seen you on any soft-focused, glossy brochures, or flashy websites. You’re the one who never wore an earpiece or had a flashy stage. You pastored before the days of high-tech broadcasting, and you rarely traveled beyond the church walls.

You’re not a well known author, though you wrote thousands of sermons in your lifetime. Your sermons, though unread and unpublished, were read by all as you lived them out in front of us. Not perfectly, but humbly.

You’re the one whose reach is not measured in Facebook or Twitter followers. Your reach was actual not virtual. Hands on, authentic, real. You influenced the lives around you because you cared enough to show up. You answered the phone when we had questions, visited our sickbed when we were hospitalized, sat with us as loved ones died.

You’re not the guy driving around in the nicest car in the neighborhood or wearing the flashy clothes. You sacrificed money for the Lord and for a congregation that is often times uninterested, worldly, critical and disloyal.

You’re the guy who listened to hours and hours of phone calls and did one on one counseling. Your “thanks” was often that people ignored your counsel or just left the church without a word. Or if there was a word, too often it was a drive-by verbal-shooting of all your shortcomings. Awesome.

You’re often over-worked, over-looked, under-paid and under-appreciated.

As far as celebrity Christianity goes, you never made a splash. But you were there for the people around you. You showed up and ministered to us. You loved us enough to tell us the truth, encourage us and point us to Christ. What more could we ask for?

And even if you never receive accolades here on earth, you were content to serve the One who called you. Your reward will be great in heaven, faithful, no-name, small town pastor. Because all of the behind the scenes work WAS seen by the One who matters and your name, in love, was graven in His Hands and on His heart. And your influence has left deep impressions graven on my heart, and now my own children, and someday, by God’s grace, on my children’s children.

Thank you!

Book Review: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

Crystal from Money Saving Mom graciously sent me a copy of her latest book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life.

I was so excited to get right into it……… but I had a busy weekend, and then a busy week. I decided that I would finish it over the next weekend, but I waited…then procrastinated. Yeah. Awesome.

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Here I am, all ready to read it, how many weeks ago? Tick, tick, tick….

Turns out, I should have read earlier.

Crystal talks about her own experience with being so busy and trying to do so many things that she was sinking, emotionally and physically. In her friendly style, she explains what she was doing wrong and what she did to reverse it.

You totally feel like you are sitting with her over coffee and getting some expert one-on-one advice. She gives you clear cut boundaries, girls, and permission to say NO to things that are good but that are sucking the life out of the things that are best.

This book is totally worth your money if you are:

  • overwhelmed with life and feel like you are sinking,
  • busy but not actually productive,
  • lacking clear cut goals,
  • lacking motivation to achieve your goals,
  • overwhelmed by unrealistic goals
  • in need of advice for achieving long term goals in bite-sized chunks
  • chronically exhausted and running yourself ragged
  • or just plain want to know how Money Saving Mom turned her blogging business into a full time income for her family.

Thanks to Crystal, I have a solid strategy to achieve some goals that I had written off as “someday” goals: Someday when the kids are gone, or someday when I have a little more time. I realized that I had put some of my own goals on the back burner and used my kids as a convenient excuse for my poor lack of planning.

Well, I’ve begun chipping away at my goals to write a book, lose weight, daily exercise, organize the closets, and other ideals using Crystals easy methods. :)

You’ll really enjoy Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life. It’s like a life seminar for under $15 bucks. :)

*The Fine Print-y Stuff: I received this book free to review. All opinions are mine. I only promote items that I have actually enjoyed myself. This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. This costs you nothing, but when you purchase through Amazon, I get a small kickback for referring you to them. Thanks for supporting this blog.

 

Three Traits of A Spirit-Controlled Wife

Every woman wants her home to be a haven, a little heaven on earth.

Exhibit A: Pinterest.

But statistics tell us that more than half of Christian homes end in divorce. How does this happen?

I’m studying Ephesians with our Teen Youth Group and learning about a Spirit filled life. The Christian home should be different than a secular home, because it should be controlled by the Holy Spirit. When one person in the marriage is controlled by something else, the foundations begin to crumble.

spirit filled

The command “be filled with the Holy Spirit” simply means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It’s an ongoing allowing of the Holy Spirit to control you.

And as we know all too well, we can be controlled by many things. Here are a few instances in Scripture that we can probably relate to:

  • Anger- “”They were filled with wrath” Luke 4:28 means controlled by wrath. They were acting out of their ruling desire which was wrath.
  • Envy-”The Jews were filled with envy” Acts 13;45 so their controlling emotion was envy and that made them oppose the ministry of Paul and Barnabus.
  • Jealousy- “They were filled with jealousy and talked abusively” against Paul. Acts 13: 45
  • Wickedness- “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.” Romans 1:29

You get the picture. What fills you controls you.

The Christian couple is to be controlled by the Spirit of God.

I’m going to state the obvious here but owning a Bible does you no good if you don’t read it. And owning a Bible that you read and don’t plan to obey is doing you more harm than good. We read God’s word for direction and for our “marching orders.” We are under the Lordship of Christ and He’s now running our lives since we’ve been redeemed by His Son’s precious blood, right?

I want to give you three simple by-products, traits of a spirit controlled woman.  When you see them, you’ll realize how desperately we need to be in the Word of God!

1. A Spirit-Controlled Woman is Joyful. (Eph. 5:19) This kind of joy does not rise and fall with good experiences or bad experiences. It’s not dependent on external circumstances, but stems from a confidence that God is in control and that is enough for her, in good or in bad. It’s a steady, abiding joy.

Some women are like thermometers and others like thermostats.

Thermometer women rise and fall with their circumstances. They’re either really up or really down, really hot or really cold. They react and are “controlled” by environment. They have no stability of their own.

Thermostat women create the spiritual climate around her no matter how cold the temperatures may be. She knows that the temperature is “set” by her Maker, and no matter what way the dial turns, hot or cold,  she is confident that He’ll always determine what is best. She changes the climate instead of being controlled by it.

It’s such a horrible testimony to be a grouchy Christian. It just is. Nobody will get close to you if you are a bear one week and on cloud nine the next. Moodiness is a huge hinderance to Christian fellowship and mutual edification. A younger woman came to me for advice once and as I listened I asked her why she did not ask her own pastor’s wife for advice, which seemed to me the natural place to start. She replied, “She’s fighting her own demons right now. I don’t know. She just seems so miserable all the time, I didn’t want to bother her.”

Um, this is not good. And you know that we’ve ALL been this moody, grouchy woman once or twice and it isn’t invisible to others. We want to be windows of help and hope to our younger sisters in Christ, not the person they run away from! May it never be that our sour attitude turns off a younger sister from going to the church for help! Our lives have been changed and we are now constrained by the love of Christ! Remind your heart and face! Smile and be genuinely happy–your name is written in the Book of Life!

Paul tells us how he remains joyful, even in prison: “I have learned that in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content.” Phil 4:11. Happy with what God ordains. That about sums it up.

be filled spirit

2. A Spirit Controlled Woman is Thankful (Eph. 5:20)

A thankful heart knows that whatever she gets it is a gift from God. It was undeserved. Whatever she has, it is enough and good. She’s content.

Unthankfulness and it’s twin sister discontentment begins when I think that the world owes me something more.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thes. 5:18

Whatever you are unhappy about right now, confess your sin of ungreatfulness and begin thanking God for it.

  • If it’s something unpleasant, then God will use it ultimately for your good.
  • If it’s something unplanned, then God had a different course for you today.
  • If it’s something unbearable, God’s grace will prove sufficient. The word gratitude comes from the same root word as grace!
  • It it’s a trial, it is producing patience and refining you. Be glad.
  • If it’s evil against you, God means it for your good.

3. The Spirit Controlled Woman is Submissive. (Eph. 5:21-33)

I know we all hate this word, man and woman alike. But God’s woman is submissive to her own husband and to those in the church. Whether or not your husband is doing his part on the “mutual submission” thing is not your main concern. We need to focus on our responsibility.

Jesus taught his disciples not to throw their weight around and “lord” over other people. He taught them by example that the greatest leader is the one who serves.

The Pharisees had it all backwards of course. They loved to build up their own authority and made sure others were in subjection to them. But God’s woman does things differently.

You are never in worse company than when you refuse to submit to your husband (except in the instance of sin, of course) and others.

Exhibit B: Satan. He was created, but instead of worshipping with thanksgiving, he craved worship and pursued it–it was his reining god.

Diotrophes insisted on being the big boss in the church. He was controlled by pride and loved the “preeminence” which only belongs to Jesus Christ. He loved to call the shots, be seen and heard, and was extremely controlling. He loved to be “in the know”(a.k.a…busybody). He caused division to the point where he rejected any other church member who accepted John! If you’re HIS friend, you won’t be mine! If you talk to him, I won’t talk to you!( 3 John vs 9,10) He had a celebrity mentality instead of a servant’s heart. He used the church and the church people to feed and promote his own selfish cravings.

The list of people who wouldn’t submit to each other is long in the Bible. Miriam and Aaron tried to control Moses. Jacob manipulated Esau, a trait he learned from his manipulating mother, Rachel. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Fallen man loves to rule and hates to submit.

Although it’s hard to submit to anyone, it’s completely natural when we are controlled by God’s spirit.

In fact, when you are in the middle of a family battle, or a church battle, it’s usually because one person has an authority problem. They either are wielding their perceived authority or fighting to overtake the God-ordained authority. Submission can be a struggle, especially when it involves someone close to you, but God’s glory is at stake.

Q: What does the state of your joy, your thankfulness and your submission tell the watching world about your great God? Is it speaking well of the gospel or making people want to look elsewhere for answers to life? Will you agree to let the Spirit control you today? Hand over the reins of your life in trust and dependence? It’s hard at first, but the “fruit” or results of a Spirit-ruled life is  sweet! Gal. 5: 22,23!

For further study, here’s a great article from GTY. 

*I tried to find photo credits for these pics. If you are the image creators, please let me know so I can attribute proper credit and provide a link back.

 

 

Your Parenting Struggles Are Opportunities to Choose

Frustrations and disappointments have a way of taking on a life of their own and overwhelming us. They distort our perspective and can even cause despair or depression.

Take being a mom, for example.

It never dawned on me before I had my first child that I wouldn’t have a clue about seemingly simple mommy tasks.

Enter Rebekah, my first born.

I quickly realized that I had no idea:

  • How sick I would be in pregnancy. I mean sick. Constant vomiting. Like in and out of the hospital for dehydration sick. Like drink sips of Coke if I even want to get out of this bed sick.
  • How to breast feed a baby. I love, love my babies and still do, but breast feeding was just miserable for me–all five times. I know, it’s horrible to say, but it’s true. I’ve never been so sick or uncomfortable in my life. AND yes, I had LLL help.
  • How to establish a sleep/wake cycle. Don’t they just sleep at night?
  • How to discipline a child. Need an adjective? Clueless. That was me. I had no idea how hard this aspect of training would be. Like full-time job hard.
  • How to communicate in marriage about parenting. Peter and I had two different communicating styles (artist/accountant) We loved each other but had many frustrating discussions! We were also on two different pages when it came to parenting. We had to figure out how we were going to raise these kids.

Looking back, these little thing, these road bumps and discouragements, were not the end of the world, but instead were opportunities for me to grow in grace. They were opportunities to choose. Would I trust or worry? Would I freak out or pray? Parenting is sanctifying work. God wants to conform us into the image of His Son through these hardships, but we have to agree to the work.

And, younger mom, disappointments are not without purpose. A God-ordained purpose.

They should make you look up and ask yourself Where is Jesus in all of this? He’s here, in our everyday stuff. In fact, He has allowed these little things to shape you. He’s using today to mold you. Your decisions today make you the person you’ll be tomorrow. Will you respond with humility and trust, or with  anger and self-reliance?

One lesson I’ve learned in the past 10 years is that trust does not just happen. You have to do some ugly work. You must confront worry and fear and call it what it is: unbelief and doubt in God’s supremacy.

A fitful, worrisome 20-something woman becomes a fretful, anxious 30-something if she doesn’t change course. She must submit her emotions and mind to the clear teaching and truths of God’s word.

Joanna Weaver in Having a Mary Spirit says it this way:

“We have a choice. We always have a choice. Either we can trust the Spirit’s leading, or we can insist on going our own way. But let me tell you, only one choice leads to life. The other marks a gradual descent toward spiritual death, for no one can refuse God’s will and prosper.”

Trusting God will draw you closer to Him each time you trust. Step by step, laying down your rights one decision at a time. Fear and insolence may raise up it’s ugly head, but you put it under the Lordship of Christ and tell it no. You are walking in the Spirit and abiding in His word.

Each instance of trust and obedience to God and His word helps loosen the self-made chains of bondage. Each expression of “Yes, Lord–You run my life!”, each act of brokenness before the One who made you yields more of the peaceable fruit of righteousness. It changes us. It’s when we hang on to the Vine we really live. Apart from the Vine is death, dryness, futility,because we know that apart from Him we can do absolutely nothing but fail and fall.

So, where are you a failure right now?

Can I just encourage you to see your failure as an entrance for the grace of God? A catalyst God uses to draw you into deeper dependence on Him and to open the floodgates of blessing in your life? Limitations help you to cling to Christ.

It’s sink or swim. And the scary part is that you get to choose your “savior.”

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You can choose the floatation devices of this world if you want. They’re fun, bright and readily available. They’re inexpensive and they have popular characters emblazoned on them. Everyone at the pool is using them.

But blow up toys were never meant to be used as life preservers. They even came with that that warning. They last for about a week before losing air and buoyancy.

If you are a Christian, God is not going to let you exist for long on your toy float. He’s not accustomed to giving us toys that are unsafe and unsteady. He knows that they are ultimately patch-jobs, and He is the Ultimate Life Preserver that you need.

Trust is something that comes hard for us. We say we trust God but our actions betray our words. A trusting heart is one at rest and motherhood was a catalyst for so many fears that peace was constantly elusive to me.

In my tired, frustrated, anxious mind, I had little room for trust. I had to get this thing right. I only had one shot at these kids. I have to train them in the way they should go. I, I, I.

I sometimes forgot that these kids were souls that God loved more than I ever could. He could use me, yes, but this was never about me. On my good days, my thought process was His Word will not return void. He is able to make all grace abound to me. He is my Shepherd, and my kids Shepherd today and every day and He’ll lead us! He is able to do all that He promised to do. Him, Him, Him. I should have clung to my Life Preserver and dropped the toys.

Raising kids is about God’s glory.

It is. Every work we do is for His glory. We can do years of motherhood for the wrong reasons and many of us have. We mother out of fear instead of faith. We mother to get approval from others and other twisted reasons.

I have this quote from a Thabiti Anyabwile sermon written in my Bible as a reminder when I find my motives for life falling short of God’s glory. Read it slowly, because it’s a good one:

To care more about anything less than the supreme glory and honor of God is in itself cosmic treason. It is to abandon God’s own agenda for Himself, namely, to be glorified among the nations, and to choose some lesser ends than what God Himself has appointed.

Disappointments and trials are ministry opportunities.

2 Corinthians 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, or our affliction…

we were burdened excessively so that we despaired even of life, indeed we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivereth us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.

God will use your trial so that you can help someone else. And that is a beautiful thing. God doesn’t waste your pain and frustration, but remakes it into something useful and helpful.

Are you feeling like a failure today in some area? Where are you going for help? Can you find an older Christian mom who can help you navigate the waters a little more clearly while you are feeling discouraged? What can you do today to make sure you’re clinging to the right savior? Tell me, if you want, in the comments. I’ll be sure to reply. :)

 

A Post I Can’t Even Believe I’m Writing

This is quite literally the post I never would have envisioned myself writing, let alone contemplating.

I’m actually contemplating the issue of pants on women.

The whole issue of women wearing pants was a women’s liberation issue that was being fought in the 1960′s–BEFORE I was even born. Mary Tyler Moore first donned them on public television in the 1960′s and women everywhere followed suit. The church, being behind the world by 10 or so years, began addressing this around the time I was in middle school.

One of my fav shows and MTM is totally adorable!

One of my fav shows and MTM is totally adorable!

Before I begin, let me say, Peter and I have had many discussions about this, and we’ve come from two different schools of thought.

I grew up running around the cranberry bogs wearing shorts and pants. I then entered a Christian school in 4th grade that forbade pants on women. They sang songs (for real) about how 1 Corinthians 11 commands that women should have long hair and not wear pants. I complied because I had to, but our family was most definitely known as the “worldly” family because we were (a) not from THAT church and (2) went to a church that allowed pants on women. Don’t feel badly for me! I was actually a self-righteous rebel at the time and enjoyed being the one who was “persecuted” for not having the same beliefs. I looked down at the methods and beliefs of these poor people, all caught up in their legalistic ways.

And then I married Peter and realized that he had stronger beliefs along this line than I had imagined. He believed that pants were not sinful but that skirts honored the male/female “distinctiveness” designed in scripture.

He asked that I wear skirts out of the house and I took fits.

He tried to explain his views, but I hardly listened and instead did a lot of talking. We argued, and I wish I could tell you that I was a submissive wife back then. (I recall sitting on the bed and literally refusing to leave the house in winter in a skirt, poor guy, making him late.)

In time, when I realized that it was important to him, I did submit but in a self-righteous way. I assumed that since he was the “weaker brother” it was like my “cross” to submit to this area out of love. Yeah. I was awesome like that. Anyway, I really loved him and I reasoned that this was a small matter that I could bend on until he finally saw the light. Over time, this issue disappeared, and, as you know, me and my four daughters wear pants.

And then this. This fashion show in London of men.

 

Getty Images

Getty Images

And I re-live all the arguments for and against distinctiveness that Peter has made to me, and ask myself if my son asked to dress like these men, what would I say? What would be my reasons?

And I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but it forces me to revisit this issue again. Because in good conscience, I need to know if I’ve been consumed by the norms of the culture, and whether my choices show the holiness of God and His firstness in my life.

I’m praying for wisdom on this one, ladies, because this one has blind-sided me.

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

Guest Post: “Keep Your Eyes on Jesus” by Hopie

Today, I’m thankful to share my blog with my 11 year old, Hope.

She came to me last night with something she’d written. She zapped it to me via google drive because kids are tech savvy like that now-a-days.

I’ve always kept a journal and my kids are “writers”, too.

I still cringe when I read some of the shallow things I recorded in high school journals, but it’s a reminder of where I’ve been and how the grace of God has changed me.

Donald Whitney, in his extremely helpful book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life says,

“The simple discipline of recording the events of the day and noting my reactions to them causes me to examine myself much more thoroughly than I would otherwise.”

and

“Edmund S. Morgan cites an entry from the journal of a godly young man during an illness from which he dies in the late 1600s. In it the young man evaluates whether he had shown sufficient love to others. Then says Morgan,

“The fact that many Puritans kept diaries of this kind helps to explain their pursuit of social virtue: diaries were the reckoning books in which they checked the assets and liabilities of their souls in faith. When they opened these books, they set down lapses of morality with appropriate expressions of repentance and balanced them against the evidences of faith.”

I’ve personally benefitted from reading the journals of long-ago Christians like Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, Charles Spurgeon, Matthew Henry and others.

Not only does journaling help you solidify what you are learning, it  reminds you of all of the former blessings of God. I love paging through to recount His watch care in our life, His provision and leading, and the many, many answers to prayer that we’ve had as a family. I’m glad that I wrote it down because sometimes we forget!

And I wholeheartedly agree with Augustine who said, “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

So, without further ado, here’s a devotional thought from Hopie:

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Have you ever been on a balance beam? If you have, then you know how hard it is to keep your balance.

Well, last year I went to gymnastics and the very first day I went on the balance beam. While I was on it I fell to the left then the teacher, whose name was Lindsey, told me to look at the end of the beam so I wouldn’t fall off. I did and I got across.

When I was driving home I was thinking about the balance beam and thought, “That balance beam is just like my Christian walk with God.”

Life is like a long balance beam. On both sides are sin, so you have to look away from the sin and look to Jesus at the end. He will help you cross the beam. If you don’t look at the end (Jesus) then you will fall into all the sins of the world.

That’s why you have to look to God our Savior.

12 Ways Women Tear Down Their Husband Without Knowing It.

 

Let’s face it, the Bible has quite a bit to say about an unhappy wife:

  • You don’t want to share living quarters with her. “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, then in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Proverbs 21:0
  • She’s like a bone eating disease.  ”A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
  • The desert heat would be more comfortable than living with her. It is better to live in a desert land, then with a contentious and vexing woman.” Proverbs 21:19
  • The military could use this woman for torturing the enemy: ”A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike. He who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.” Proverbs 27:15
  • When she’s aggravated, she’s LOUD and in your face. “The woman of folly is loud and boisterous. She is naïve, and knows nothing.” Proverbs 9:13

if you were my husband

When you marry, you have the potential to become the biggest blessing or the biggest curse in your husband’s life.

And if you have a husband in the ministry, your behavior not only affects him, but the entire congregation for good or bad.  You are either an asset to him or a liability, a cheerleader encouraging him or a ball and chain dragging him down and hindering his ministry.

The Christian walk is never static and the truth is that your marriage is either being built up or broken down. Blessing or cursing. It’s either or.

I want to mention several ways that we women tear down our husbands without knowing it. MOST of this is written satirically, of course, because nobody could actually be this bad, right?

12 Ways We Tear Down Our Husband Without Even Knowing It.

1. We criticize and critique his work. Whatever he does, it’s rarely done right and and is never enough. Thankfully, we’re here to check on him! Sure, he dreads your questioning–you can tell by his short one word answers and avoidance tactics like reading the paper or checking his phone, but you don’t care. You’re keeping tabs on this guy to make sure he does what he’s supposed to do. You’re awesome like that.

2. We give helpful insight. Since he seems to have forgotten about the chipping paint or leaky faucet, you post a helpful list on the fridge, in order, with a timetable.

In ministry, you’re quick to give your two cents about what he should say to whom, when he should say it and threaten that if he doesn’t act, you will. You want him to check back in with you afterwards, so you can approve of his performance. You married such an oaf {insert eye roll}.

3. We complicate his work by failing to do our own. We were busy overseeing him that we neglected our own work, silly us! No matter. He’s a big boy and should expect some consequences. He has two arms and two legs. If he can pick up the remote, he can certainly work the iron!

4. We fail to say I’m sorry and keep clean accounts. When was the last time you said your sorry? It should have been the last time you sinned against him. But, no matter! Unless he really seems upset or hurt, don’t bother apologizing. He’ll get over it.

5. We belittle him for all of the ways he fails to meet our high expectations. We tell him he should have folded the towel that way. We scold when he leaves socks on the floor. We give opinions about how to handle the kids. We snicker to our friends and broadcast it on Facebook.—>Status: “Um, apparently now he thinks I’m his mother and maid? Pretty sure if we can put a man on the moon we can teach him to iron his own shirt. #whatever #asif #notyourmaid”.

We’re classy like that.

6. We use explosive hormones as an excuse for ungodly speech, moodiness and accusations, leaving him to believe he’s hopeless to ever understand us. {Guys, if any of you are reading this, hormones are real. They are. But they are not a biblical exception for sin, and you know that.  Love us enough to point us in the right direction on this one even when you don’t understand it. Sin is sin, whether the hormones are crazy or not. Hormones serve to show what’s in the corners of our hearts. Since hormones make us feel upset and unsettled, it’s a good time to get a glimpse into the recesses of our hearts by what we SAY, so that afterwards, you can help us see hidden sin. It’s probably our biggest blind spot.}

7. We sabotage his efforts by our actions. If we don’t like his decisions, we go around him. We find a loophole. We let the kids wear this when dad’s not around, because he’s so old school. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him!

8. We speak before we think, and we speak our whole mind. That’s just one of those things we struggle with! We blurt whatever comes into our minds. Oopsie! He’ll be fine. He’s a man, not a turtle with no shell, for heavens sake!

9. We fail in marital intimacy. If we don’t feel loved, he can forget it! We withhold s*x. Have you thought that through? What’s a godly guy supposed to do when his wife won’t make love to him? Think about that for a moment. Let the options sink in. You don’t cause him to sin, but you are tempting him by neglect.

10. We steal his good name. Instead of being known “in the gates” he’s known as that guy with the “battering ram” wife, or the “poor guy” who has to deal what her.

Or we complain about him to our girlfriends. Or worse, our mother.

11. We fail to be his friend. Most guys just want to see their wife happy. They want a side-by-side life friend. So, they marry their best friend. That’s what he thought, at least.

12. We fait to love him with 1 Cor. 13 love. We tried to love him, really we did, but now all we’re left with is “our list.” Our list of all the years of hurt, failures and disappointments. And today’s hurt is not a singular incident. It’s all connected to the looong string of other offenses, and we have the ability to produce that list at an alarming rate. A split second really and it can be rolling off our tongues. We’re excellent memorizers like that.

SO, OKAY—Of course, this list is ridiculous and none of us would actually do these crazy things.

But if we did happen to find that one or two of these things may come close to describing us {choke, cough} or maybe you have a friend who does all of these things,

what’s the next step? How do we avoid this destructive behavior?

Simply put: apply the gospel that saved you as the gospel that CAN and will sanctify you.

 

Drop the tendency to give up because of past failure. Don’t go there, to that old familiar poor-me zone. That’s a hopeless perspective.

And drop the self-determined stuff. I know you’re a go-getter and once you realize your failure, you’ll start printing out 30-day challenges about not criticizing your husband or becoming the Pinterest perfect wife. Your heart needs a makeover and that’s the rub. The gospel is the remedy, not self-determination.

Exhibit A: Titus 2. It’s the Christian woman’s to-do and to-be list. But all that unrealized goodness can leave us feeling deflated. Thankfully, verse 11 gives us a place to hang our hope of ever changing:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for us {that’s the gospel!}

to redeem us from all lawlessness {that’s why he saved us}

and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.{that’s what He’s going to do with us and through us!}

The gospel that saves, is the gospel that changes. When you fail, look to the cross and remember where you were, the love of Jesus Christ that rescued you and the POWER that He gives you when you look to HIM to sanctify and remake you.

Looking always unto Jesus!