Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Love is... Meant To Be Pursued.


For the month of February we have been studying 1 Corinthians 13 by way of cross referencing the various Love is and Love isn't statements.  It is a powerful thing to consider the supporting scripture to age old verses... especially on the complex issue of LOVE.  Today I want to wrap-up this 20+ day journey with a closing look at the eternalness of love and the pursuit we are all called to avidly run after.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
- 1 Peter 4:7-10

I love 'absolute' statements in the Bible, they carry such power.  Do you see it here?  Above all... as if everything else is important but nothing is more important than (or even equal to) what comes next: KEEP loving one another.  But wait.  I put a period there.  However, it keeps going, doesn't it?  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly... aka, without ceasing, devotedly, not giving up.  And yet it still doesn't stop!  Instead, God, through Peter, goes on to suggest WHY he wants us to keep on with this loving one another earnestly thing: because love covers a multitude of sins.  

Wow.

One little action has such a HUGE impact.  But really, this is exactly what Jesus modeled, isn't it?  That while we were still sinners, Christ showed his love by dying for us.  Death on a cross.  A symbol of shame in it's time became a symbol of love... covering a multitude of sins.  Not a few sins.  Not some sins.  No, a multitude of sins.... many many many.

So here, in Peter, we are told the what, the why, and we are even offered a few examples of HOW: show hospitality without grumbling and be good stewards as we serve one another with the varied gifts God gives... humbly issuing them out to others... light on the lampstand style.

We are to do be in regular pursuit of loving acts and loving others. period.

In the whole of our study in 1 Corinthians 13, this message brings us full circle because it casts our gaze back to where the whole theme began:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

LOVE, there is no greater commodity in the Christian walk... nye... in all the world.  All else we do is for not if it is not underpinned with true, genuine, for-the-glory-of-Christ centered LOVE.  If it means this much to God, well, the answer is easy: it should mean that much to us.  Love... pursue it, live it, give it, become it. 


Blessings,










*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Married to ADHD


Pulling together the latest version of my husband's resume, I couldn't help but find it dizzying how many jobs he has held over the 30+ years of his working life.  Sure the recessions played a part in some of the sporadic history, but fact is, the greatest cause... ADHD.

Years earlier, when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with this attentiveness challenging "disorder" I began to dig and learn all I could on the topic so as to help her in the best ways possible.  Combing through article after article I found a mixture of solace and overwhelmedness in how many attributes my husband carried as well. The normal 'distracted' tendencies weren't even the worst of it, it was also things like:
  • Hyper-focused... to the point that he would block out everything and everyone else to a fault in order to keep doing whatever thing he was doing right then.  For my husband, it was online gaming.
  • Forgetfulness... and the worst part was blaming me or not taking me seriously upon reminders.
  • Impulsiveness... whether it was purchasing something, interrupting, eating or jumping to do something before everyone was ready. 
  • Easily bored and then impatient... this not only plays out in quickly growing tiered of a hum-drum activity with me and/or the kids but it also manifests the most in his dissatisfaction with jobs.  Within anywhere from 2 weeks on up to 5 months he begins to go stir crazy and desperate to find a way out.  His other ADHD attributes often make him difficult to get along with at work which further exasperates the situation.
  • A constant need for stimulation... he can hardly ever just sit and BE.  The quiet activities the rest of us would like to do we often end up exploring without my husband
  • Overwhelmingly "independent"... or simply, he is a loner and, in every job or volunteer situation, he sees every way he wants to do it differently (or, sometimes "better") and can't seem to just go with the flow.
  • An alternative self-image from what everyone else sees and experiences... which can lead to arguments when he doesn't understand why everyone is upset with him because, in his mind, he didn't say or do anything wrong.

These are the key points which have adversely affected my marriage from the beginning.  Attributes which, until my daughter's diagnoses, I just considered annoying personality quarks.  We would find ourselves in many arguments and often at odds over the simplest things.  I knew something had to change.

1st - I got my eyes firmly fixed on Christ.  It may seem cliche, but seriously.  Being consumed in God's Word and commands of how we ought to navigate difficult relationships, including the marriage, helped me to find balance and peace in the midst of trying situations with my husband.

2nd - With my eyes firmly fixed, I began to walk out what I learned.  I practiced (and continue to try and practice) love and grace without recompense.  This alone began to alter my responses to his various sporadic behaviors. 
  • I quit nagging on him when he would game to all hours.
  • I didn't get upset if he left halfway through a slow movie.
  • When he forgot something I told him, I calmly reminded him.
  • When he still didn't remember and began to grow frustrated, I dropped it
  • I chose peace over being proven right.
  • I chose grace over gratification
I strove to remember, above all else, in every situation, Christ has modeled long-suffering better than anyone.  He couldn't make people behave or believe, he could only share truth in peace and, when that didn't work, politely step to the side.  I could walk in the same way.

We also made a deal where the jobs were concerned... he has to have another job lined up before he can quit the one he is at and, at the very least, it has to have the same pay.  He has stuck firm to this agreement because, despite his often inattentive behaviour, he really does love us very much and wants to take care of us.  Here I cling tightly to God's Word when it reminds me that God has gifted my husband to be the head of the family.  I have every right to make suggestions and weigh in on subjects, but at the end of the day, my job isn't to be right or get my way... it is to obey God by submitting whole-heartedly to my husband's decisions. GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING in and for and through my husband.  I must trust.  Even when it doesn't make sense or seems like a worse situation.

So, I update resumes, prepare for schedule changes and show love and grace to my husband as he knows he has the freedom to be him while also taking care of us.  At times, in the past, I have also needed to grab some side-work to supplement... cleaning houses, babysitting and other odds and end trades through the years.  In the end, we fight much much less and I enjoy my marriage so much more (I'm certain he does as well)!

It isn't an easy life, being married to ADHD.  But when I remember the relentless, grace-overflowing love Christ issues to each one of us and then calls us to love each other with... how can I not devote my energy to simply loving my husband, crazy ADHD-all-over-the-place and all!

No matter your marriage dynamics, I pray God's grace and mercy and peace flow through you to your spouse... that the two of you can know more fullness and joy in your marriage, regardless of whatever else may be going on around you.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

HMJ: Life and Teen Talk: Relationships

Wow, I have missed a few weeks of entries.  Did I mention how God laid on my heart that this year would be "challenging"?  He also said my learning curve was to be on "grace".  The last few weeks have exemplified this...

Our sewer pump went out 2 Monday nights ago, which wouldn't have been so bad because it only controls our downstairs bathroom and laundry... upstairs kitchen and bathroom were unaffected... except... 30 minutes later our water heater went out, spewing steaming water all over the basement floor... at 11pm.

*sigh*

It took until that Friday to have life back to normal, all the while wondering what would be "next"!!  The roof is still leaking and bubbling my walls and it has been toooooo cold and snowy to have anyone else out to look at it.

Life.


In the midst of no showers, no normal dish cycles and using all our spare cash to eat out because I wasn't feeling well and didn't have muster to boil water every.single.time we cooked and needed to scrub pans, a situation arose which fuels my "Teen Talk" segment this week.  It was my shining opportunity to practice "grace" and, for the most part, I feel as though God helped me do it well.

For the most part.

I felt an apology call was needed where I was actually reassured that I had handled it well.  I guess that was a relief.


As we got back to schoolwork this week I was also preparing a study on Philippians to share with a women's group at a new church plant in a rough part of town.  I cannot begin to measure the mounting spiritual warfare which has resulted.  God must be up to something really BIG!!  The study launches this weekend, as I also piece together the Newsletter to meet deadline later this coming week (if you are interested, scroll to the bottom of this article to see how you can subscribe!).


Life in full-mode!


School has gone well.  The week the pump and heater went out, Brooke and I had decided to move our pre-spring break up... not because of the problems, actually, the break was Divine intervention.... the plumbing troubles came that night!  And the next day, Brooke got sick and remained sick all week!  It is a crazy thing to see "mercies" in, but that is exactly how we viewed it.  She's feeling much better now.

We started in on Business Math this past Monday.  She completed Consumer Math right before our break.  I thought the new math class might be boring and monotonous, but it actually isn't and she seems to really be enjoying it.  I have decided to put together a project for her in which she will develop a business plan through the course of this class.


We spent a short week on middle-Asia covering all the "-stans" and now have moved onto a two-week study of India and that general region.  I really am enjoying our BJU curriculum for this course.  My only complaint would be that we have older, used curriculum produced in the mid-90s.  With the constantly changing political climate, especially in Eastern Europe and the whole of Asia, I recommend using more up-to-date material.

In conjunction with our launch into western Asian we are studying some Kipling for English Comp.  We had been reading about Paraphrase and Precis (Abeka Grammar Comp 11) and decided to use our own material for practicing on.  We are starting with his poem, "IF".  It is a favorite I keep on the fridge, though I don't think my kids ever actually take the time to read it!!  Brooke should be able to quote this particular work by the time we are done with the unit!

We have also been very deliberate in getting out and about for "adventures"!  We like to do some novice photo-journaling as well...






Our biggest news from the last few weeks is the college tour we took. 
Brooke had her sights on attending Montana Bible College in Bozeman, MT. However, once youth group leaders and friends learned she was planning to study Biblical Counseling, everyone rallied to encourage her towards Yellowstone Christian College, her sister's Alma Mater, right here in our own town.  Knowing and respecting these peers, she took it under serious counsel and we went for a one-on-one intro to the college and campus.

She seems sold!  Next year she will be a senior which means we can take advantage of drastically reduced rates for dual enrollment (earn credit for high school while also earning for college).  She is planning a full slate which will cover both her final few classes she will need for graduation (English, Government and Speech) as well as working on her degree requirements.  She is considering ESL and some of the Bible classes.  The other great piece was learning they had finally obtained their full accreditation which means, by the fall of 2020 when she is a regular student, she will be able to obtain FAFSA to pay for school!

If you have high schoolers whom you would like to see in a good Christian college, I highly recommend YCC.  We've known the Deen as well as the Admissions Director since we moved to the area... great people, great standards, great academics!

Also, since I last tapped out an entry, Brooke received her first non-family member Valentine's gift this year which included a bouquet of roses!
 
I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.  Her cat was "helping" while she was in frumpy clothes, still sick AND recovering from some unfortunate events the day before (the same ones which prompted my apology phone call, though apparently not needed).

On the note of Valentines, I will move onto our Teen Talk segment this week...


Relationships.

I am learning this is a sticky word in Christian communities where teens are concerned.  My husband and I grew up mostly secular, we were even secular when we met, and while I have been a Christian for many many years now, I will admit to being somewhat naive to many of the nuances of Christian relationships for teens.  PLEASE NOTE, the following is just what I have picked up through trial and error with my kids.  I absolutely respect that each family has their own way of doing things... this is just our approach in helping our teens navigate the relationship field in a God-honoring way and I share today as I way of inspiration for families who aren't sure what direction they should/want to go.  Please feel free to comment below with other great ideas and angles on this topic.

Set boundaries.
As a parent, it is hard to talk about some of the personal aspects of relationships with teens.  However, the saying is true; "An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure".  I have always tried to keep an open dialogue with my kids on EVERYTHING and discussing boundaries is no exception.  What I DON'T want to do is create rebellion OR make them afraid to talk to me about intimate issues.  So, we work together in discussing what is/isn't appropriate.  I then leave the ball in their court to OWN their boundaries... if they own them, they will be better able to maintain them.

Fact is, no matter the age, it is good for Christians to set clear boundaries for themselves prior to dating.  However, if the courting or dating has begun, it is never too late to define the boundaries. It is good for a couple to sit down together and agree on their boundaries and expectations.  We encourage our teens, especially the girls, to stand firm on good boundaries and recognize; any guy who may ask them to overstep boundaries instead of respect them, isn't someone who will treasure and value them as they should be and therefore not worth the time of serious relationship status.

Keep it Biblical.
The Bible has clear guidance for couples.  The biggest stipulation: Coming together in intimacy is meant to be reserved for marriage. By the way, I'm sorry to say, but even "messing around" HAS TO be talked about with teens and young adults now... much confusion is flying around about 'how far can we go' and, while many are still saving their virginity, just as often they are pushing other intimate lines assuming it is OK because they haven't gone "all the way".  If intimacy, even "messing around", is meant to be saved for marriage, than one could honestly pose this question as a filter: "How would you feel if Jesus walked in at that moment."  Truth is, in the marriage spectrum, intimacy is a beautiful thing and honors God's command for man and woman... outside of marriage, the answer to that question should be, "I should not do it"!  Trust me, talk about this with your teens if they are beginning to consider relationships.  It may be VERY uncomfortable for both of you, but more uncomfortable would be if you chose NOT to talk about.  Also, remind daughters that ANY guy worth his weight in gold will respect her purity in ALL measures.

Beyond intimacy, though, many families may feel there is a lot of gray area when it comes to kissing, hugging, and holding hands. A good rule of thumb: anything which could push the line of restraint should be avoided and saved for marriage. We encourage our kids to save as much of these 'simple' things as possible until marriage or, at the very least, until engagement or more serious relationship levels.  However, we try to balance cautious advice with giving them freedom to choose in this area.

All in all, we ask them to filter with these points in mind:
  • Will it cause them to take their eyes off of Jesus (feelings or the other person become more important than following God's commands)
  • Could it cause one or both of them to stumble
  • Will it project un-biblically to others around them (since one of our greatest Calls is to glorify and exemplify Christ in ALL we do as a witness to others)
A peck on the cheek may be good and well, but making out in a movie theater will push lines.  Hugging to communicate connection is understandable, but working towards copping a feel crosses a line.  I know I may be ultra conservative (or maybe not conservative enough) but these are examples we discuss with our teens to help them understand the scope.


Stay accountable.
We have decided, until our kids are 18, one-on-one dates are discouraged and riding alone together in cars is out of the question.  Once they turn 18, these decisions will be entirely up to them.  Dating in groups is strongly recommended and avoiding dark corners and hallways is also frowned upon.  Having these guidelines, for our girls in particular, helps them avoid compromising situations.  My kids feel as though they have enough freedom in relationships that they don't argue these points.  As a matter of fact, they thank me for keeping them accountable!

Consider Encouraging Courting First.
This can be viewed in different ways, our family considers it the "get to know you" phase!  I explain to my kids how dating involves a deeper sharing of hearts and lives.  It also opens the doors to things like we discussed: kissing, hugging, hand holding etc.  Rather than investing deeply in someone on a whim only to find out they are not a good fit, courting allows them to determine if this person is appropriate for deeper investment.

During courting they do agree to be "off the market", so-to-speak, in order to feel more comfortable in a focused friendship.  If they haven't been friends beforehand, this courting phase allows them to see true colors.  We explain that, in dating, people are usually trying to impress.  However, in courting, even if there are trying to impress in some areas, there aren't as many strings and attachments if everything goes south.  They should take time to see each other in their friend and family environments to understand how they act around others.  They should also be realistically mindful of how the other person talks about their family and friends. This will be honest footage as to how their "in-like" interest will act around them as time progresses.

Another element of courting is the involvement of parents.  You may not always have the other person's parents on board with this method.  However, as parents, we are able to help advise and guide.  We try hard not to impose what WE want, but rather, to help them really consider what they want and how it fits into a God-honoring scope.  Again, we try to give them many freedoms so they won't feel they need to run the spectrum on rebellion or insecurity.  Instead, we guide with good thought-provoking questions and advise when the situation allows.

In conclusion.
I know there is much more I could say on this subject and perhaps I have even picked a controversial angle on this very personal topic. I won't pretend like we have this all perfectly figured out trial and error has comprised the bulk of our learning curve.  But I do feel as though we are growing well through the process.  I also respect the diverging areas other families choose to pursue this path with their teens.  I have seen A LOT of great ideas from other families out there, this is just what works for us.

In the end, we find, by talking with our kids on these issues, we become partners with them in preserving their purity.  Open dialogue enables them to make better choices, feel mature and independent, to be open and comfortable talking with us and taking our advice, and we avoid rebellion and/or destructive secrets as well.  We believe this approach will allow each of them to continue along a proper path post-graduation which, after all, is our ultimate goal as parents: making our 'kids' ready for the great-big world on their own!

Interestingly, I am reading this book right now for review.  I find it truly inspiring as I seek to guide my daughter well through courting.

***
How has your February been?
Do you have any ideas or tips on Teen Relationships?

Blessings,






P.S. I DO keep my Instagram updated if you want to see our latest escapades, especially when there are post delays!  Follow the link in-text.



*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Five Minute Friday: Just


If I could just.

Just get past this suffocating battle of warfare... this onslaught of "you can't" and "you aren't good enough".

Why does this rhetoric pour in every time a body pushes out for the cause of Christ... for any cause which stands to open the stage to His light?

The enemy fights.  He fights dirty.

But.

We must stand.  Stand firm.  Stand on the Word.

I can just.

Just resist... and he will flee.
Just stand... and trust God to fight for me.
Just hope... and believe deliverance is on its way.
Just MOVE... and don't be detoured.

Why?

Because, just Jesus. 

He is all that matters when the battle wages. 
Just Jesus.  He is the name above all names. 
He is who the fight is for, yet He is who will win the war. 

Just breathe.
Just move.
Just be.
Just trust.
Just know.

Just Jesus.

The enemy may knock me over for the moment, but I will get back up and just keep fighting.

The power of JUST.

Blessings,







This has been a Five Minute Friday Post where writers tap away for 5 minutes, un-edited, on a predetermined topic.  Check out other great posts by visiting:
http://fiveminutefriday.com/




Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Love is... Kind In Spite of Rude


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... Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
- Ephesians 4:28-29, 31-32

When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians it wasn't a detached missive or a rote Q&A response... no, Paul had spent 3 years with the people of this bustling town across the Aegean Sea from Greece in what is now modern-day Turkey.  As one of his prison letters, this dispatch was sent to encourage the believers in their Christian maturity.  Knowing this, really puts a twist on the concise list of do's and don'ts found in this particular section of passage.  Allow me to enumerate:

Let [these things] be put away from you...
  • ALL bitterness
  • wrath
  • anger
  • clamor (i.e. outcry)
  • slander
  • malice (i.e. wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws)
Instead, BE...
  • kind
  • tenderhearted
  • forgiving (as God in Christ did for you)

I know, from various New Testament evidences, that similar challenges faced our 1st Century brothers and sisters as those we face today.  We live in a bustling, me-centric, often times rude world.  Whether deliberate or un-intentional, we are hard-pressed to get through a day or week without encountering (or ourselves accidentally being) rude.  How are we meant to respond to this?

As if on cue for the article God intended me to share this topic, I found myself, this past week, caught up in the middle of one of the rudest encounters I think I have ever experienced.  It has been a heart-wrenching reminder of the kind of brokenness, even in the body of Christ, which has no easy fix. 

What was worse is, in the aftermath, I found myself growing irritable and complaining over trivial things.  Tension was beginning to mount in my shoulders and neck and migraines were even sneaking on.  Why was this getting to me so badly??

Pouring over Ephesians 4 today, my spirit became downcast in remembrance, 'If only this person could read and absorb these truths... to be transformed to the glory of Christ...'  I felt the ache grow, the tension build and then... I saw, as in a mirror, Truth....

Yes, this rude person needed these truths... but so did I.  I had allowed the conflict to seed bitterness and anger, to build an outcry (clamor) and who knows what these patterns would have grown to become... except God's Word put it all in check.  Yes, what happened was wrong, but I could choose to PUT AWAY from me all of the negative attributes which were threatening my peace in Jesus.  I can BE kind, tenderhearted and, especially, FORGIVING. 

I can't control how others are handling things, but I can control how I do.

Plain and simple. 

I don't know if I am due to be subject of more of these rude confrontations with this person... it is possible I will.  Yet, I CAN choose to put away any feeling or response which does not glorify God and, instead, put on the robes of the One who saves me daily.  I can pray obedience and peace, just maybe, might reflect the Light of Christ to fix what is broken and wash away the rude in this other person.  I can also exit each of these encounters with strength and hope as I put away the negative reactions and BEcome an embodiment of Christ.

This section of Ephesians 4 opens with this:

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 
and give no opportunity to the devil.
Ephesians 4:26-27

We aren't meant to stay angry.  Anger and frustration with a situation will, inevitably, flare up to become a destructive ogre.  But we are to give it ALL to God lest we give the enemy opportunity to march into our hearts.  I don't know about you, but as for me, I will declare the Name of Jesus and march that enemy right back out!  Nothing in this life is worth growing in bitterness or wrath or anger or.... anything unbecoming of the Precious Name of Christ.  I choose Kindness in Spite of Rudeness, that my God might be glorified as a result!

Blessings,







This "Love is..." devo is inspired by my new Bible Study out this month where we take a unique approach of correlating the whole of scripture to the tenets of 1 Corinthians 13.  Have you been longing to learn how to love as Christ calls us to?  You may want to check this study out.  You can find a FREE link on my Instagram profile OR you can subscribe to my newsletter (it is FREE) and receive February's issue with the "Love Is" Bible study and more.  Details are below:



*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!




Monday, February 18, 2019

A Recipe for the Hard Times in Marriage


Hard Times, everyone has them.  Fact is, I don't think we fully understand the value of the good times without occasionally drudging through the hard ones.  If this is true for all of life... why not marriage?

My husband and I have experienced a lifetime of hard times within the small span of the almost 22 years we have been together.  Secular when we met... then I got saved... 10 years later so did he... and all the tidbits which fill the space between those pivotal points.  Or how about jobless... recession... more joblessness... being married to ADHD... struggles with kids... death... disease... and, again, so much more which fills in the space between.

Hard Times.

But hope.

Within all of the above, the hardest of these hard times has always come as a result of my attitude... especially towards my husband.
He is my partner... or am I viewing him as my rival
He is my confidante... or am I keeping everything to myself
He is my encourager... or do I hide my doubt
Yes, some of my hard times are the result of my husband, himself, challenging me by his mood or attitude.  Yet, that is still no excuse.  I've tried EVERYTHING, but only one thing worked well.  Submit.  It may seem like a dirty word... "submit"... in our culture of hyper-feminism it is nearly derogatory.  However, Biblical submission is beautiful and rewarding.  I have a recipe for submission, formulated through years of trial and error....

Pray.
This may seem obvious, but the content could be unexpected.  Yes, I pray for my husband and over our situations.  I may also pray that God would open my husband's heart and mind.  But most of all, I pray for myself... I pray over anywhere I may not be walking right or communicating well or doing my best for our relationship and the situation.  I pray, also, for strength to persevere as a reflection of God's love, grace and peace to my husband... regardless of how he reacts.

Remember.
How many times have I had a rough day or challenge and found myself lacking in ability to act lovingly to those around me, including my husband.  As I come through my momentary rough patch I often feel a bit guilty for how I acted and then I look up to see my husband still standing strong having weathered the storm with me.  This encourages me to remember I can be used by God to help my husband when he is weathering his own storms.  The whole 'log and spec' analogy comes to mind!

May I always be humble and remember: his challenge or struggle today could be my challenge or struggle tomorrow... I ought to measure out the same love, grace, and care that I would hope to have measured back (even if it never is).

Walk.
... in love.  I learned to lovingly do for him all the tender things a wife is called to do; coffee in bed, a welcome home hug, his favorite dinner, etc.  Even when I don't 'feel' like it, I ought to serve him if, for no other reason (and this is helpful if you are at dire odds with your spouse) but because Jesus did the same for ALL when they were unlovable, unreachable and down-right impossible!  If I am called to love and forgive and serve others the way Jesus did... doesn't this apply even more so to me with my husband?

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
- 1 John 4:7-8 

... in grace and forgiveness.  As mentioned, I like to remember: I have bad days needing much grace and forgiveness as well!  If I can't issue, abundantly, grace and forgiveness for the hard times, messy times, and 'I just wasn't thinking' times... then what can I issue it for?  If I can't first issue grace and forgiveness to my spouse then any I issue elsewhere is empty.  Grace is the greatest gift ever bestowed upon mankind, forgiving us when we were unforgivable.  If it is given to me so freely, ought I not also give to others, especially my husband, unbound?

 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:14-15

... in peace.  It's hard, but I strive to choose not to argue or fight or be petty or irritable... the list could go on.  Culture says: REACT.  God says: SUBMIT and serve.  Reactionary living is one of the biggest rots to our modern culture.  We have lost the art of listening, serving and simply being there.  Opinion is not required in every situation.  Often, simple peace will suffice.  Walking in peace has the power to defuse the most hostile situations.  Walking in peace provides a pocket for clear thinking and processing (on both parts.)  Walking in peace is one of the hardest things a person can do during hard times, however, it packs some of the biggest rewards.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
- Romans 12:17-18 

Respect.
Scripture is clear in regards to the husband-wife relationship on this matter: God commands the man to love his wife as he commands the wife to respect or honor her husband.  Why?  Does God mean that man does not need to respect his wife or wife does not need to love her husband?  No, not at all.  Elsewhere in scripture we see beautiful examples of a reciprocal spousal relationship.  In actuality, God is the author of "Love Languages" and He knows (because he created us) what speaks to our hearts loudest and best.  For woman, we need to feel love from our husbands and our husbands need to know they are respected by us.  Time and time again, the greatest cause of strife in marriage comes when wives, often unintentionally, disrespect their husbands.  

After many failures on this point, I began to listen and learn what my husband feels is disrespectful.  You can do this too by asking questions like: Does he flare up when he is interrupted?  Does he grow irritated when he feels ignored?  Does he loose it when you disagree with him in front of the children?  Does he take deep offence when you don't consult him on various issues?  Whatever you notice as your husband's trigger-point, whether or not you agree it is "reasonable", do everything in your power to show him more respect by responding alternatively in those situations. I can honestly say, arguments have dropped by at least 90% in my household since I began working on this area of our marriage.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, 
and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  
- Ephesians 5:33

Trust.
I think this has been the hardest lesson for me.  I like to control and be in charge!  I have had to work at trusting that God knows what He is doing when he moves my husband to make certain decisions.  Good or bad, my responsibility isn't to the outcome of my husband's decisions... it is to God in obedience to my husband (as long as he doesn't ask me to go along with anything unbiblical).  It is hard to stand by, when times are hard, and not try and take control.  However, I have  learned: you CAN and should relax and TRUST God at work through your husband... even if he is not a Christian... even if it feels like times get even harder for a while.  The struggle is not permanent, but obedience to God carries eternity.

I have also had to grow in trust with my husband in sharing my heart.  This may seem silly, after all, we get married as the result of sharing hearts... right?  Yet, often, when we are the ones having the hard time, we forget our closest Allie beside God is our husband!  The tips I have had to wrestle through: Don't isolate yourself or soak in a self-defeatist, woe-is-me attitude or think all issues must be self-solved.  God has blessed us with a spouse in order to help us.  Since my husband became a Christian he has also become my most valuable prayer partner.  When he was secular, I still found ways to share my heart gently and honestly.  Praying for God's good timing always helped (as long as I listened to His leading!!).  When my marriage was really struggling, this took time as I learned how  to better talk/listen with my husband.  Through many trials and errors I grew in patience with him, myself and God. Trust. God will bless perseverance.


Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
- Ephesians 5:22-24

***
Stir well and apply liberally!

Hard times can be within the home... or they can be life's daily challenges somewhere without.  Regardless, draw close to God and to each other.  You WILL come through stronger on the other side.  And for those with unbelieving husbands:  I have seen many husbands turned by the loving, gracious, caring acts of their wives... my own included.  If we are called to reflect the Light in a dark world, why would we miss this awesome opportunity with our husbands?

This may seem like a lot of work!  You may wonder, "What about me?  When do I get such treatment?"  Fair enough.  Well... you will find your affectionate care becoming contagious.  It may happen in days... or weeks... or months.  It may even take years, as it did in my own situation.  In the meantime, persevere, leaning on the Lord as your strength and guide.  Do all to honor God and God will, in His good timing, bless you in unexpected ways.

This life isn't about us.  It isn't about the hard times.  It isn't even about our husbands.  It is all, completely, 100% about Him who calls us and justifies us... it is all about His glory alone.  The Hard Times are merely a vehicle to remind us of His strength and power over our weaknesses.  They are an opportunity to draw ever closer.

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 
Proverbs 31:11-12 

I pray you find strength for the Hard Times as you draw close to God and trust Him to draw you and your husband closer together.



Blessings,







Speaking of love and marriage, I have a new Bible Study out this month, "Love Is..." correlating the whole of scripture to the tenets of 1 Corinthians 13.  Have you been longing to learn how to love as Christ calls us to?  You may want to check this study out.  You can find a FREE link on my Instagram profile OR you can subscribe to my newsletter (it is FREE) and receive February's issue with the "Love Is" Bible study and more.  Details are below:



*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!



Wednesday, February 6, 2019

If...What If?


I don't know about your family but ours has always scrambled for what I would consider "appropriate" dinner conversation!  Try as I might for the 24 years I have been raising kids, mealtime seems to prompt the most obnoxious behavior.  We've tried games like "Grandma's Attic" or picked themes to encourage thoughtfulness on.  At times I would even ask the kids to detail some portion of their learning from the day not just for "review" but also as a diversion.

I try to be crafty!

Enter, "If...What If?", a unique family devotion put together by father-son team Tony and Daniel Myles.

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/if-what-if-P005792125
This book was birthed from the many family conversations they had enjoyed over the years and centers around an acronym-based theme, There is Hope.  They have put together 365 days worth of devotions spanning both the Old and New Testament and covering the topics of:

Trinity
Heritage
Enemy
Revolution
Ego

Identity
Shhh (for years God didn't reveal Himself)

Hero (Jesus)
Opportunity
Purpose
Eternity

What makes this book unique is how it doesn't stop with simple scripture devos.  Nope, the father-son team go on to challenge families to have real conversations...

With it's easy to read and concise layout, each lesson begins with "If" and corresponding "What if" questions to get family members talking.  Once discussion juices are flowing, the family can move onto the scripture reading and a brief devotion on the topic.  After the devo, the Myleses have added an encouraging note or quote to inspire everyone.  Finally, they close out the study with another set of "If"... "What if" questions for final discussion.

No more dull (or obnoxious) dinner or family time conversations!  As I thumbed through this book I found myself lamenting as to where it had been while my children were growing up!!  Oh, the thought-provokers we could have enjoyed!  They may all be (mostly) adults now, but I do believe we will begin implementing this study around our dinner table!

"What if" is designed for use with all ages.  The authors make a great point in their intro: even the youngests can glean valuable tidbits even if they don't have as much to offer to the conversation at times.  Concerned about family members who are in a rebellious stage?  This book can draw them in as well as Tony and Myles handle even the harder topics of the faith with clear and poignant answers.

I highly recommend this useful read which can give depth to any family time for years to come.  Also, if you hop over to Lifeway right now, it is on sale for 40% off!! (link in text)  Be sure to check it out.

Blessings,






I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lifeway in exchange for my review. This review is my opinion alone.


*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!

Love is... Patient Among the Impatient


And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.   See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14

We live in a society of impatience.  It's a fact.  Once upon a time there were simply sporadic impatient people in one's life, but now... now it seems, everywhere we turn, impatience rules the roost.  It is shamelessly dealt with in often hurtful and remorseful blows as if impatience is the current "trend" and everyone has to jump on the bandwagon.

Last year, as the kids and I studied art appreciation together, something struck me: certain genre of art were birthed out of a longing to return to a simpler time, this was especially true during the industrial revolution.  And now, every where I turn in the world of decorating and leisure: simple living, country farmhouse style, hammocking, and nostalgia.  Coinkydink?  I think not.  Our society is desperately longing for a reprieve from the bustle of living and the rude world bearing down right outside our front door.

How do we negotiate the turns of a life spiraling in directions farther and farther from truth and hope and peace?  Where do we stand when impatience tears at friendships once held dear or family relationships are strained over the differences un-bridgable by human strength?  When the world spins and the t.v. set blares... where is our peace?  How do we keep our patience?

Studying 1 Thessalonians 5:14 I find seeds of hope which, well planted, I believe deeply, can spring forth endless possibilities....

Admonish, or, caution, advise and counsel those who are undisciplined or not forward moving in their faith (idle).  When necessary, yes, mildly scold (an extreme attribute of "admonish") but first strive to constructively help them focus.

Encourage those who are lacking courage (the fainthearted).  Help them to rediscover the Source of courage so they might persevere.

Help the weak when they don't have the strength to help themselves.

Above all, scripture commands us: be patient... with some? ...with those who follow our advice?... with those we favor? ...no, with ALL.  ALWAYS seek to do good.

Life is messy.  It is a bustle of whirling conundrums.  People are difficult, relationships are hard and faith and perseverance in the midst of it all is often the biggest challenge a Christian faces.  However, God doesn't leave us on our own.  He sends His Spirit for strength and guidance and He has gifted us His Word to help light the way.  1 Thessalonians doesn't just tell us to be patient, it continues to equip us as to HOW...

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
- Thessalonians 5:16-22

Rejoice always... not just in good times, but even in bad, even when facing impatient people.  Let your patience come from the joy of Jesus and God's power to prevail in all.  Celebrate that God gives you challenges to make you stronger or that He remains with you to give you strength along the way.

Pray NONSTOP.  Every time worry or frustration with someone pops into mind (or in the middle of an encounter) pray.  Pray for wisdom as to what to say.  Pray for them and their struggles.  Pray for peace in the process.

Give thanks, for the good AND the bad.  Even in the worst of moments and interactions, thank God that He is God and believe in Him for what He will do.  Thank Him for it all.  He is working ALL things to a greater good we ought to be honored to be counted in as part of.

Hold FAST to what is good.... hold tight.  If you are clenching the good, however small a glimmer it is in a moment, it is difficult to hold onto surliness.  Light and dark cannot coexist and I propose; neither can true good and patience coexist with impatience and all that is unsavory.

Be patient with them all.  Such a small statement with such HUGE implications.  Less a request and more a command.  Not circumstantially but rather sweeping the spectrum of human kind.

The thing is, we are a society of "ME".  We often miss the grander scope... each Christian is part of a society of HE.  How we allow Christ to reflect through us to the world around is paramount in countering a culture of impatient, NOW, just gimme mindsets.  Light CAN overcome the darkness, but first, we must be ready and willing to reflect it.  We must become a new culture of patient among the impatient.

Love is patient... Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)..... Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)....By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

In all of the LOVE commands of the Bible, if we insert "patience" as just one of it's many attributes we begin to see how we can make a difference.  Not for ourselves... but for the Kingdom of God come here and now.

I pray you are able to find the strength in Christ each day to blanket patience in love to ALL as you advise those needing help moving forward, encourage them who feel discouraged and help all those who have lost their strength to find help themselves.

Blessings,







This "Love is..." devo is inspired by my new Bible Study out this month where we take a unique approach of correlating the whole of scripture to the tenets of 1 Corinthians 13.  Have you been longing to learn how to love as Christ calls us to?  You may want to check this study out.  You can find a FREE link on my Instagram profile OR you can subscribe to my newsletter (it is FREE) and receive February's issue with the "Love Is" Bible study and more.  Details are below:



*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!


 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Making Marriage a Priority


We couldn't be more different than night and day, my husband and I.  He is short, I am tall.  He likes warm days, I like cold.  He is stubborn, I am easy going.  But somehow, in all of our differences, here we are... more than 20 years later, stronger than ever.  It hasn't been an easy road, as a matter of fact, many times I almost gave up.

As I came to know Christ better and put Him at the center of my heart over my own selfish desires, love prevailed.  Not the romantic, fluffy, swooning kind of love, but rather, a deep, agape love; devoted in-spite of all logic to the contrary.  

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
1 Peter 3:1-2 

God's good guidance through verses like this one in 1 Peter became my anchor as well.  It encouraged and strengthened me to honor my husband as I remembered how valued and important it was to God... how my conduct in honoring God could blaze a path straight to His throne for others, especially my husband, to follow.

Years later I keep these concepts close.  I hold tight to all God has taught me (and continues to teach me) for strengthening my marriage and insuring my husband feels loved, respected and cared for.  I have learned to make my marriage my biggest priority.  

This month,  in honor of love and Valentines, I wanted to take some time to talk about the sacred union of marriage, to share some trials and tribulations from the unique circumstances which have come to define my marriage experience. So, with this agenda in mind and today's theme.... how DO you make marriage a priority (even when you and your husband are as different as fire and ice)?

1. Know his love language.
If you haven't heard of this concept, Focus on the Family has a great article here.  There is also a book and other great material by Gary Chapman on the topic.  Knowing your husband's love language can help you find ways to 'speak', without words, specifically to his heart.  I have found it  cuts down on the amount of disagreements we have as well!  Knowing my husband's love language 
I am able to invest my time well on only those things which will be most likely to make him feel loved.

  
2. Be deliberate in spending time together (even if only in small pockets.)
Get up with him when he rises for work and make breakfast or visit with him while he readies for his day.  Go to bed at the same time if possible... or at least spend a few minutes together AT bedtime downloading the day and praying together.  Pause and really listen to him when he gets home from work to hear how his day was... even if you have been texting off and on all day, ask about the drive home.  Monopolize on time together to talk during car rides even when running errands or shuttling kids.  Even (and especially) when you have small children, capturing even a few minutes in conversation or a good hug can help you both feel connected. 

3. Make Date Night a priority.
This was most important when our kids were younger and we had to work harder to make sure we got more than 5 minutes together in the day!  I always scheduled around date night, only the most dire of emergencies could push it off.  We had date night EVERY single Friday evening.

Date night rules:
  • Avoid talking about the kids the whole time.
  • Avoid talking about money problems or other worries.
  • Avoid discussing extended family members or friends. 
So what do you talk about?  LIFE!  Dreams, hopes, ambitions, each other, heart renderings and so on.

Date night doesn't have to be extravagant.  Many times, as our kids were growing up, we couldn't afford a baby sitter or an outing.  Instead, we would play a favorite board or card game together, talk, go for walks and/or drives, or watch a movie after kids were tucked in bed.    However you implement date night, make it regular and solidly positioned into your schedule, refusing other engagements that could threaten it's high priority.

That's right, it IS a "high" priority because your husband IS a high priority.  Some day, in a blink, you're kids will be grown. It will be just you and hubby. Don't wait till then to show him he's important. 

Oh, and one last note on date night: get excited about it even when you're staying in!  Prepare, plot the day, wear an outfit you know he likes to see you in (yes, even if you are staying in), talk with excitement about it, even send him messages during the day, like, "I can't wait to spend time with you tonight".  Build anticipation, even if you have to put it in your feelings wagon and pull it along!  Remember the excitement you had when you were dating... draw on that if necessary.

4. Get those to-dos, ta-done!
One of the biggest mistakes I repeatedly made for many years was not really listening to my husband's heart on things I knew he needed/wanted done.  It may be as simple as making sure he had clean socks or clearing a path through the kid mess so he didn't have to step on toys!  He understood the buzz of life and gave me grace in that... but in all fairness, I didn't always prioritize the things I knew would make our house a home he looked forward to coming back to at the end of a long day.  

Some husbands are more refrained and make little to no requests of wives.  If you have one of those fellas, just ask him, "Are there any to-dos which might bless you if I was to prioritize making sure they were ta-done?"  I learned to listen to all my husband was and wasn't saying in between....
  • Was he complaining that he couldn't find something [because the area it was kept in wasn't as clean or organized as it should be]
  • Was he remarking about the crazy amount of crumbs.
  • Was he asking, "When was the last time you..."
  • Was he commenting, "How come we always/you always/never...."
Too often I would get my feathers ruffled and jump to the defense of myself and my time and the kids.... but once the dust settled from the resulting fights, I realized he wasn't wrong.  Some tasks were  hard during certain seasons of my life... but many to-do list requests were much more possible than I wanted to admit, if I simply prioritized well.  Not all days were (or are) perfect, but I could certainly try my best all days and take comfort in knowing, as long as I had the right attitude in the push, I was serving my husband with all my heart!

5. Know, acknowledge and respond to his needs in love and grace.
This may seem like a redundant theme at the core of all I've already said,  and in some ways it is.  However, I also feel it deserves it's own highlight because the idea of an attitude of love and grace in serving our husbands is so very important and often overlooked. As a matter of fact,  I get a lot of flack on this one from women I counsel.  "But what about my needs?" is the inevitable lament.  Fair enough.  Yet, I am a living testimony to how we truly need to see things rather culturally upside-down in this topic and how deeply we need to trust God to help us persevere.  Christ didn't lumber to the cross and say, "But what about ME."  No, he mustard all his strength, walking the distance and then allowing himself to be sacrificed for us.  If He could, surely I can too.

For years I practiced this type of love on my husband... unreciprocated kind gestures of servanthood.  Good friends told me I was crazy.  But I kept thinking of 1 Peter and pushed on.  The more I doted, the more his eyes opened and one day he began to respond with his own style of love gestures! 

Knowing his needs I could create a positive mental narrative about him and what he desired.
Acknowledging his needs I still strive to show an attitude of love and grace (even when I feel his requests are outlandish!)  I try hard to cut the curtness and foster a spirit of positivity, "I CAN".

Responding to his needs, I follow through.  I don't slam or grunt or hunch, but rather, I allow each movement in the process to pass through the filter of God's grace and love.

He may desire more time alone with me, so, instead of grumbling how the kids constantly need me, I kick into problem-solving mode and look for ways to capture that needed time.  Or perhaps I show love and grace by bringing him coffee in bed when I see he has a hard time waking up in the morning.  Maybe he has asked for some quality family time so I clear a day on everyone's schedule (like date night) when no one is allowed to leave to other activities and we invest together.

Some days I still need to remind myself of the attitude bit! It helps to remember what attitude I always hope he has with me (even when he doesn't! ). More so, I consider what attitude Christ had as he went above and beyond for all mankind. 

6. Never use intimacy as a tool for manipulation.
Intimacy is a beautiful part of marriage.  It is intended not just as a fulfillment of desire but also as a way that couples can connect on a deeper level.  During the formative years of early marriage I read, "The Power of a Praying Wife" by Stormie Omartian, and in her chapter on intimacy she discusses this topic in detail.  The most memorable note she shared was in addressing many women's lament over not being "in the mood".  Stormie suggests: GET in the mood!  

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:5 

When we think of our husband's need for intimacy over our desire to simply say, "Not tonight honey.", we need to continue to have a servant's heart.  1 Corinthians 7 cautions us on how a lack of intimacy for long periods can lead to temptations.  If we love our husbands, we should want to do everything in our power to help him keep his way pure... intimacy with us is part of that process.

So much more could be said on this topic, however, I will wrap up the point by also sharing how using intimacy as a tool to get what you want or 'punish' your husband is not only unBiblical but also destructive to the marriage.  I have learned over the years to separate my frustration with him from my love and desire to meet his needs.  If I am deeply upset, we find time to talk, but we do not use the marriage bed as a bargaining chip.  If anything, it can often help facilitate reconciliation.


7. Pray together.
THE single most important thing a couple should be doing is praying together.  During my husband's secular years, after I became a Christian, I began praying FOR him daily.  I prayed in my heart as he left for work, I prayed throughout the day and, at bedtime, as he drifted off to sleep, I lifted up prayers for his salvation.  It took 10 years, but God did answer!  If your husband is not a believer, make a commitment to pray for him, his well being and, most of all his salvation... daily.

Now that my husband is a Christian we never miss an opportunity to pray together. Every morning I pray with him before he leaves for work. Every evening we pray together at bed time, thanking God for specifics from the day and seeking his intervention for us and those we know.  During the day we may call on each other for a quick prayer together over a specific situation and when wonderful blessings occur, we pray together to thank God for His goodness.

Prayer connects us on a spiritual level, keeps our focus on God, and intertwines all that makes us strongest.  

Final thoughts
I will admit, there is so much more which goes into a marriage then 7 simple points.  However, these 7 points have had such a HUGE impact on the peace and joy we are able to experience as a married couple... even though we are such opposites!  I will also admit I don't get it right as often as I would like, but I keep striving to honor God by honoring my husband better each day.  I am grateful God is writing our love story... it is so much deeper than any I could have penned on my own!

What tips do you have for making marriage a priority?

I pray God guides and blesses your journey as a couple, strengthening you through the hard times to serve your husband with all your heart and keeping your marriage in that top-slot!


Blessings,







Speaking of love and marriage, I have a new Bible Study out this month, "Love Is..." correlating the whole of scripture to the tenets of 1 Corinthians 13.  Have you been longing to learn how to love as Christ calls us to?  You may want to check this study out.  You can find a FREE link on my Instagram profile OR you can subscribe to my newsletter (it is FREE) and receive February's issue with the "Love Is" Bible study and more.  Details are below:



*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!