Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chapter Fourteen - "Enhance Your Inner Beauty"

"In this chapter, I want to take this idea of studying ourselves in the mirror, turn it inside out so that we're looking at things from the best perspective, and make this ritual an important part of our everyday lives.  What do I mean when I say 'turn it inside out?' I'm talking about evaluating ourselves from the inside to see how we present ourselves as a wife and mother."

2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? 

Our inner beauty reflects our heart.  We can give the world a picture of perfection on the outside, but when we let the walls down, our loved ones see the real us.  Do they see an inner beauty that is far more precious than a beautiful exterior?

Today we are going to look at our first example of Rachel.  Jacob was in love with Rachel - so much that he was willing to work hard for her father for seven years before he would be granted her hand in marriage.  After seven years, her father Laban agreed to give Jacob his daughter for his wife.  Jacob learned the next day that it was in fact Leah, not Rachel, that he had wed.  His love for Rachel was so strong he was willing to work another seven years for her hand.

Are we as costly to our husbands as Rachel was to Jacob?  "I’m talking about the virtue you reflect, the qualities you own, and the value you hold in his sight. Are you worth seven years?..."After two, three, seven or ten years, are you still the radiant bride that he vowed to honor and cherish that day? Or once the veil was lifted, were you somebody else?"

Are we still the girls our husbands fell head over heels over when we first met?  Is our inner beauty still attractive?  Or have we let the stresses and distractions of our day to day busy lives change our outlook?  What are we bringing to the table?  The question on Darlene's heart is this - "Am I being the help meet he deserves, and am I putting in the effort it takes to make a good marriage work?"

We need to check our inner beauty on a daily basis against God's word.  Examine our hearts.  Are we virtuous?  Will our husbands and family see an inner beauty in us that is far more valuable than rubies or gold?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Intentions Start Within

"The development of patience, sincerity and kindness requires us to be conscious of the actions we choose.  Whether in word or in conduct we have the potential to affect others around us and leave an imprint on their life."

This world is a mess.  And it's people on both sides of the fence.  We as Christians have a big responsibility to reflect the heart of Jesus and be a light to this crazy world.  But are we doing that?  It all starts in our own hearts.  We first have to look within and let God change our hearts.  We have the ability to leave an imprint on others, but are we leaving a good imprint or a sour taste in their mouth?

Darlene writes, "The bottom line is that we'll never have the power to affect another person until our words become flesh. Until we're living in complete submission to the Lord so that the treasure of our heart becomes a compelling force that not only reflects what we believe, but also stirs people to embrace the God that we serve!" 

This week I have seen people, believers and unbelievers, bring out the uglies.  If we are not being loving towards people, how are we going to be a light?  If we are too busy judging their sins, how are we going to reflect the heart of Jesus?  Sin is sin is sin.  God does not see any sin greater than another.

Matthew 7:1-5 NIV
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Today let's look inside ourselves.  Let God work in our hearts and change us first.  We have good intentions, but let's make sure our intentions are being reflected to the world in a loving and sincere way.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Planting Seeds Quietly

"For all of recorded history, gardens have been viewed as places of wonder, capable of restoring health and peace to those who entered. Physicians in pharaoh-ruled Egypt prescribed walks through gardens to improve mental well-being. Monks of yore used their gardens to soothe world-weary travelers. And one of the seven wonders of the ancient world -- the Hanging Gardens of Babylon -- was built by King Nebuchadnezzar to heal his wife, Amyitis, of homesickness and depression." ~ Betsy Dru Tecco, Better Homes and Gardens

Gardening is good for the soul. It has a way of providing a peaceful outlook on life. Planting seeds not only makes plants grow in our gardens, but it helps us to grow more relaxed and improve our mental state. Gardening alone can be some really nice quiet time.  Much like planting seeds in our garden, doing the right thing and living righteously even when in private will plant seeds "that will grow in our heart."

Philippians 4:8 NIV
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Did you notice that it does not say do these things only in public? We are to think about these things all the time! And if we are thinking about being true, noble, righteous, pure, lovely and admirable and putting these attributes into action, what do you think will happen? Will we be doing these things all the time, out in public and in private? The more we do these admirable acts, will our hearts be changed? You better believe it.

Jesus encouraged us to do these things not for recognition or a pat on the back. He said in Matthew 6:1-4 "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

If we do things for the wrong reasons, those little seeds will not be planted in our hearts and we will not grow in our walk with God. So it's time for a challenge today. We will start small. What can you do today for your husband to help him and lessen his load today? Do it quietly not looking for recognition. Or what can you do for a friend or co-worker? Plant some seeds today.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Treasures of the Heart

Would you say you are a genuine person?  What you see is what you get?  Or does the outside world see a different you than what your family sees behind closed doors?

Chances are if you are trying to hide the real you, the people around you are seeing more of the real you thank you may think.  Our words, mannerisms, facial expressions and our eyes give people a direct link to our hearts.  

Luke 6:45 NIV
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

God is very concerned about the condition of our hearts.  Even if we are able to control our words and actions, if there is sinful thoughts in our hearts, this is just as troubling to God than the outright sin.  Thankfully for us, God is in the business of giving new hearts if we just ask.  If we are treasuring God and thankful for all He has done through His son, Jesus Christ, He will work in our hearts to change our thoughts and our attitudes.  

Matthew 6:20-21 NIV
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Every day, our flesh will wrestle with the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  And every day, we have to make a conscious decision to let the Holy Spirit win out.  These changes won't happen overnight - it can be a slow process at times.  But once we make that decision to allow God to take the reins of our lives and give him complete access to our hearts, it is absolutely amazing what He can do.

In Ezekiel 36 God is giving Ezekiel a message for the people of Israel about their assured restoration.  These verses also assure us that God will give us a new, clean heart when we make Jesus Lord and Savior of our lives.

Ezekiel 36:26:27 NIV
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Building On Love - Chapter Twelve

Unrealistic expectations.  They are one of the leading causes of marital problems.  Aren't they really a problem in all areas of life?  Marriages, jobs, friendships, and more.

Why do we have unrealistic expectations in marriage?  The simple answer is we are a selfish people.  We were born into sin and born selfish - our flesh is in constant battle with our spirit.  When the honeymoon is over "we realize the day to day responsibilities and sacrifices required of us aren't what we expected."  With our mentality of "What's in it for me" it's no wonder, is it?  When we look at marriage selfishly, it becomes all about us and what is being done to meet our needs with little regard for our spouse's needs.

But instead of looking at reality and unexpected responsibilities with dread, what if we actually considered these things in life joy?  This statement from Darlene was a great way of changing our outlook.  "If you haven't already, you can start by giving up on the question, 'What's in it for me?' and replace the question with, 'What can I offer?'  Every time that you work through any of these obstacles with patience, humility and kindness you are building and strengthening your bond of love."

Darlene used an analogy of strength training muscles to build on love.  "Think of these stressors as weights that are shaping your 'marriage muscles.'  Just like any healthy muscle, your marriage needs strength training."  When we change out attitude and start considering it pure joy to offer help and solutions to our every day challenges, we will be building and strengthening our love for our husbands.  Our marriages will be strong and lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A post from Darlene Schacht

Today's post is from the author of The Good Wife's Guide, Darlene Schacht!!  I'm so excited she was willing and able to to do this for our group!  She is currently working on another book, so her days are pretty hectic right now.  So please be sure to thank her for sharing with us today.  Darlene is talking more on communication today.  Enjoy!

I've come to learn something about communication. Maybe it’s because I live with one of the best communicators I know. What I’ve learned is that God calls us to a life of righteousness, which is quick to listen and slow to speak. Life is no longer about me and what I want; it's about living for the good of my family and ultimately pleasing the Lord.

Do I communicate my love by listening as much as I speak? Or am I too concerned about the things that I want out of this relationship to consider his needs?

Like our bodies, a marital infection needs to be treated. Sometimes a cut excretes fluid which is our body's way of cleaning out the wound and fighting bacteria. An abscess however builds up under the skin until it is surgically removed.

Couples disagree, they argue, and feelings get hurt like infections that rise to the surface. When we communicate our differences and work toward reconciliation we are treating the wound as it rises, but resentments that are left untreated will fester and grow to the point where we have serious problems to solve.

Communication, without the weapons of warfare, is important to understanding each other and healing our pain. If you find it difficult to talk to your spouse, write him letters that stem from a place of kindness, humility, patience and love. Whether you're talking or writing or simply being there for him, keep the lines of communication wide open and keep writing your love story with every breath that you take!

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3

     ~ Darlene Schacht ~

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Handling Conflict in Marriage - Continued

Continuing on in Chapter 12 on handling conflict in marriage, let's look at faults and communication.
3.  Look past his faults and focus on love.
Oh, this one can be hard to do.  This has to be very intentional.  But guess what?  If God still sees us as His beautiful, beloved creation even with our faults and mistakes, we should definitely try to do the same for our husbands.  For everyone for that matter.  And hopefully if I don't dwell on his faults, he won't dwell on mine either.  If we are truly loving our husbands how God wants us to love, how will that look?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Darlene writes "If love was supposed to be easy, it wouldn't need to be described as 'patient.'"  Isn't that the truth?  Love is more than that first infatuation you feel at the beginning.  Over time, if we exercise these characteristics of love, our love for our husband will grow and deepen.  And those faults will seem trivial.  I've heard military wives often say things like they would rather see the shaving cream and stubble in the sink than to be living without their husbands.  So remember this the next time an annoying habit or fault starts wearing on your nerves.
4.  Be understanding of his faults.
 We want our husbands to love everything about us, don't we?  We want him to be understanding when we get irritable that one week out of the month.  We want him to love us the way we are - emotional at times, grumpy at times, tired at times, exasperated by the kids, at our wit's end.  As women, our emotions can be all over the board in less than five minutes!  Well, shouldn't we be doing the same for him?  

Darlene tells us to consider this - "Jesus didn't die for us because we were charming did He?"  We are all so unworthy on our own of God's love, mercy and grace.  Jesus changed all of that for us.  All of us are far from being perfect, yet Jesus understands our day to day ups and downs.  If He is understanding of our faults, then we in turn should be understanding.  Let's focus on working on our faults before we go worrying about someone else's.  Jesus said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
5.  Keep the lines of communication open.
This is a biggie.  How many times could a fight been avoided if we had just openly communicated before we got to that point?  We have to be open and honest in our relationships, but we have to do this in a loving manner.  If it's a touchy situation, I find that if I pray for the right words and for patience, this really does help me to stay calm and lovingly discuss an issue with my husband.  Do I always do that?  No!  But I need to be.  And being a nagging wife to force our husbands to do what we want usually backfires in our face.  It may not happen right away, but down the road, we will most definitely pay for it.  Our husbands may "build up walls of protection around them" if we become a nagging wife.  "If you want your husband to trust you with his heart as he once did, it's important to practice self-control, hold your tongue, and replace criticism with kindness.  Listen when he talks and make an effort to show him respect."  Amen!

Proverbs 21:19
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

Proverbs 27:15-16
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Galatians 5:14-15
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 

Today we will start on Darlene's 5 ways to handle conflict in your marriage.  These 5 things will go hand in hand.  "Each one of them call us to love as God would have us to love."  If we try and see our husbands as God sees them and love them as He would, these 5 steps will become so much easier for us.  If we don't work at creating unity between us, we will destroy each other.
1.  Pray, asking God to take your burden.
We have all heard we can't change a person.  But we can work on changing ourselves.  And we sure can pray to God to work in the hearts of others - we have to trust Him to do the heart work to bring about a necessary change.  In the meantime, pray for God to point out things that need to change in your heart as well.  When my husband and I are were going through a rough time last year, my initial human response was to find fault and place blame with him.  He felt like he couldn't do anything right, and I thought he couldn't either.  Thank goodness God got a hold of me and set me straight.  He started convicting me of my own shortcomings and weaknesses.  He started working in my heart - and I realized I had a lot to work on myself.  You know what?  I started seeing my husband in a whole new light.  I once again began to appreciate him and all he did.  Even if someone has some really big things to change, God can change even the hardest of hearts.
2.  Stop looking over the fence.
The grass is always greener on the other side.  Oh, it may look that way from the other side, but once you get over there, you will see the weeds, pests and problems.  So it's just best that we don't hop over that fence, isn't it?  We can't compare what goes on in our lives behind closed doors to what we see on the outside of other's lives.  Each couple has their own set of blessings - and problems.  Since we are far from perfect, we all bring our faults and habits to the table.  Life happens.  But guess what?  This life is temporary - and Darlene writes so are our husbands.  We are not promised tomorrow.  So she says we should "invest our hearts in the eternal joy that comes to those who seek God."  When we set our sights on God and live for Him, there will always be joy.  And "our husbands are an extension of our relationship with God, not the root."  God brought you and your husband together for a reason.  So let's focus on the good and stay committed - and stick to our own side of the fence with no regrets.  Water and care for your grass and it grows green and strong.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Living in Unity - Chapter 12

"Perfect love is perfect self-forgetfulness.  Hence when there is love in a home, unselfishness is the law.  Each forgets self and lives for others.". J.R. Miller

Do you remember those first days of wedded bliss?  You both were so happy and in love.  Your love would stand the test of time and you wouldn't turn out like other couples.  And then reality set in...responsibilities, commitments, those annoying little habits.  The little disagreements turned into petty arguments.  And if you're not careful, those arguments get bigger and the blame game starts.

Darlene describes arguments as "our need to shine, our need to be right, our need to be heard."  That's a really good description, isn't it?  How many times do we keep on because we want to have the last word?

"But when sin entered the world, so did selfish ambition and pride.  There was no longer a passion to serve one another, but a knee jerk reaction to protecting one's self.  We hear the first account of this with Adam and Eve after they eat from the forbidden tree.  Both of them try to put the blame on anyone but themselves.

God's plan for marriage looks much different - "humility, tenderness, grace."  When we truly humble ourselves and value others higher than our self, we will focus on them and put our interests aside.  God wants us to do this in our marriages.

Philippians 2:2-4 NIV
Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Marriage has been so damaged and skewed by the world.  The world view is "I will stick with this marriage thing as long as MY needs are being met."  The world needs to see marriages functioning in God's design.  It needs to see the beauty of His way.  And it's up to His children - us - to provide good examples of unity in marriage.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chapter Eleven - "No Need of Spoil"

Everything we have comes from God.  Whether we decide to look at it that way is up to us.  No matter if you are a one or two income family, everything you bring in through a paycheck is a gift from God.  And God expects us to be wise stewards of our gifts - money, time, talents and things.

So how can we avoid wasting His gifts?  Darlene writes "The way to avoid waste is by making an effort to take care of our things, and by avoiding the temptation to be lazy."  "The more dis-organized I am, the more things get damaged, lost, moldy, rusted and forgotten."  How true is this for you?

Proverbs 18:9 KJV
He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

I know when I am disorganized, I am more likely to lose or misplace something and buy a replacement, only to find the original weeks or months later.  This is not being a wise steward of my money - or my time!  How much time did I waste looking for that item and then using up time to go get a replacement?

We can be great wasters of time and not even realize it until we get so far behind in our work.  And this just really makes for a stressful environment, doesn't it?  We end up spinning our wheels playing catch up while also trying to get the day's work done too.  I'm getting tired and frazzled just thinking about it.

Not only do we show God respect when we value and care for our gifts, we can also show respect to our husbands.  We can show him that we appreciate all he does for the family.  If we are good stewards of the money he brings home, he will see that his work is not in vain.  He will see that he can trust us to use it wisely and minimize waste in our homes.

Proverbs 31:11 HCSB
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good.

I liked Darlene's final thoughts on the issue of waste - "By cherishing the gifts that we have - even in small acts of stewardship, we reflect a heart of appreciation, respect and reverence."  Do I truly cherish my gifts?  And am I showing my appreciation by being a good steward and not wasting them through laziness?

Biblical Submission Continued

Submission - it's a tough thing for us to swallow, isn't it?  Our selfish, human side balks at the concept.  And the world would be happy to see the concept disappear.

How many times do we let our self take hold and question our husband's abilities and leadership?  "I" can do this better than him.  Why doesn't he listen to "my" way?  Life would be so much easier if he would just accept the fact that "I" am always right.  Oh how hard it is sometimes to silence that evil inner voice.

But God.  (Don't you think all good sentences start with those two words?)  But God has bigger and better plans for us.  And He planned it this way for a reason.  Even when those reasons don't make sense to us, His design will ultimately bring peace and unity to a household.

I found this definition of biblical submission on some class notes from a biblical word studies class on submission.  C. Michael Holloway in 1998 wrote after studying this word and its Greek origins "Biblical submission is the voluntary giving up of certain rights to another person (or group) so as to maintain necessary order."  Pretty insightful.

The Bible mentions submission many times in more ways than just being submissive to our husbands.  If we see it over and over again, I think God really wants us to grasp this act of submission.  Here are a few examples:

Submit to God - James 4:7
Wives submit to husband:  Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1-2, Colossians 3:18
Submit to one another -  Ephesians 5:21
Submit to the leaders of the church - Hebrews 13:17
Submit to authority or government leaders - 1 Peter 2:13-15, Romans 13:1
Servants submit to masters  - Titus 2:9-10, 1 Peter 2:18

We can't deny it.  God emphasizes it over and over again.  So the world doesn't like it - why should we be quiet about it?  Darlene says it all when she wrote "I won't sugar coat or water down the commandments of God to tickle the ears of the weak.  Majority doesn't rule, and popularity doesn't hold the deciding vote."

So, how can we be a beacon of light to the world on this?  How can we model God's perfect plan to give the world a true, living and thriving example of biblical submission?  I want to hear what you have to say :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chapter Ten - "Biblical Submission Defined"

Our flesh will wrestle with scripture.  If we have such a hard time with certain things in the Bible, imagine how the world sees it.  Love your enemies, submit, deny self, serve others.  The world looks at these things and thinks it is impossible and unreal.  But we know the difference.  Everything in the Bible is God's divine word and the truth.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMP
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof  and  conviction of sin, for correction of error  and  discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),  So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God calls us to do these things to please Him and to be a light in this dark world.  By doing these things, we become more Christ-like so the world will get a glimpse of God through our actions, attitude and demeanor.

I liked Darlene's take on this:  "Scripture isn't a candy bowl by which we pick and choose our favorite words hoping to satiate our palette. It’s a well-balanced diet of truth which is difficult to swallow at times, but nevertheless it brings nourishment to our soul."  

The Word of God is all truth.  We cannot pick the scriptures we like or twist His words to our advantage.  So when God tells us to submit over and over (remember that whole repetition thing we talked about a few days ago?), then we need to submit.

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Darlene included a quote from John Piper in this chapter that speaks volumes.  “Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection and provision in the home.  Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.”

Ultimately, when a husband becomes the head and the wife submits, the two complement each other and become a well-oiled machine of sorts.  They use their individual talents to help the other and both end up succeeding.  When we sincerely affirm and encourage our husbands, don't they have a bigger desire to lead and provide?  And when we have the provisions we need and our husbands our loving and protecting us, don't we feel more secure?  We have a desire to help our husbands and serve our family when we feel secure and appreciated.

Submitting to our husbands does not make us weak, a pushover or without a voice.  Instead "we're empowered by choice."  "Her ability to submit to good choice is the very thing that makes her strong."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Only For A Season

Children are a wonderful blessing from God.  To think that He entrusted me to care for and train my two children is completely awesome.  And it can be awesomely hard and challenging.  I want to be the best mother I can for them.  I want our home to be a safe haven and orderly.  But sometimes, with young children, an orderly house is next to impossible.

In this season of our lives, I feel like it is more important for me to spend quality time with them - playing with them, teaching them, talking with them, reading to them, comforting them - than flipping out because the house is not spotless and orderly.  What will they remember?  Parents who took the time to really be with them or a spotless home?

This weekend, we were out of town and spent one night at a hotel.  That night, all my daughter wanted was to go home and sleep in her bed.  She didn't care that our house may be disorderly.  She wanted to be where she felt safe and nurtured.

Yes, we must take care of the home and things God has blessed us with in this life.  Yes, we have to make sure our homes are safe and sanitary.  Yes, we must teach our children how to clean and care for their belongings.  But God does not want us freaking out because the house is messy.  Remember, it's just for a season.

When I was reading Chapter Nine, the story of Mary and Martha came to mind.  Although Mary should have been helping Martha in the home preparing everything for their special guests, Mary knew there was something much more important.  Jesus wanted her to be in His presence and listen to him teach.

Luke 10:38-42 NIV
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

When our children are young, it is more important that we train them up.  We have been given a huge responsibility to guide and direct them to the one true God and the path to salvation.  This is our ultimate goal.  Not a home straight from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chapter Eight - Repetition, Pattern, Order

Let's begin with the refrain from a song from Isaiah - it was put to music by Jack Noble White.
"Surely it is God who saves me; and I will trust in him and not be afraid.  For the Lord                      is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my savior."
There is repetition throughout the Bible not only in parables but some verses we read are almost word for word from others.  This was designed by God for reaching all people in a way that we all can understand his teachings by verses in the Bible. We may all read the same verse but it may not "click" until later when we read the same message in a parable or another verse and the light comes on.  Oh, now I get it!
Repetition can be a word or phrase repeated numerous times in the Bible. 
For Example in Jeremiah 7:4-NIV.  Do not trust in deception word and say, "This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord."
Do you remember learning "Yes, Jesus Loves Me"?  Someone sang this song over and over to you as a young child.  Then you were able to sing it alone; usually while playing with your dolls.  Repetition.  It helps us focus on God and what he wants us to learn and put to use in our daily life - not just to memorize it.
Habits are developed and reinforced by frequent repetition.  Example;    The more we sin the more we are inclined to sin.  I can thank my Dad for teaching me this one.  He told me that I had to watch over my shoulder because Satan would always try to snare me from God.
Repetition can also be positive.  We need to focus on good thoughts that are honest, good and pure.  But most of all, we need to pray, pray, pray.
What are the patterns in our lives and the Bible?  As we read the Bible, patterns will become recognizable as spiritual truths from one chapter of the Bible to another.  The truth will be repeated in similar fashion throughout the Bible.   
I remember a professor would say "knock, knock, knock"  during his lecture.  Yep, you better listen up because you would see it again on an exam.  Satan gives no advance warning but God repeats His message when He wants us to remember it.
From Love'sArk.Net -  
Benefits of Study of Patterns:
1.  We learn that God has a purpose in all his dealings with us.
2.  We learn that God has truly put his inspiration signature in the scriptures.
3.  We learn that Biblical Patterns can help us understand what is happening in our lives.
Much of our spiritual struggles, failures, growth and victories can be plotted on some Biblical Pattern Map. Thank goodness God is by our side when we are headed in the wrong direction and He will  pull us back from Satan's grasp.  All we have to do is pray and ask for His guidance and forgiveness and he is always there to guide us back to safe waters.
Do you remember when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams of two?  This was a pattern of a pending storm.
Genesis 41:32  NIV - The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
God was telling his plans through a dream to Pharaoh and Joseph was in the right place at the right time to interpret the dreams.  Seven years of plenty followed by seven years of fame.  Joseph was there to follow God's plan in helping Egypt prepare for the seven years of famine by careful planning during the "good times" because "bad times" were coming.
When we know a storm is pending, we plan ahead by getting a loaf of bread, grabbing some cereal and milk. 
Gives thanks to God for the study of his word.  Tomorrow we will focus on "Order".

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Get That 'Tude in Check

"Everything we do should be for the glory of God, and so if you're cleaning for someone and you feel resentful, change your perspective on it." - The Good Wife's Guide

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

So even tasks and chores that may seem repetitive or menial can be done as working for the Lord - for the glory of God.  And that my friends changes things, doesn't it?  I sure could use some reminders some days to serve joyfully in my day to day tasks.

That's why I love the last two pages of Chapter Seven.  Darlene gives us several scripture references to display in different rooms or by different work areas so we have constant reminders to do our tasks out of love and joy as working for the Lord.  If you haven't already, check them out.

How will you display these around your home?  Decal wall art, framed art or other creative way?  There are so many possibilities.  What other verses can you think of to add to the list?  It's also a great way to memorize scripture and hide God's word in your heart.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


As i was re-reading Chapter Seven tonight getting ready to study and write, one word kept jumping off the pages at me over and over.  Attitude.

Oh boy, does this word pack a punch.  Think about if for a minute.  What good are we doing in our life, our husband's life or our children's lives if we do things with the wrong attitude?  And what will they take away if we do things with the right attitude?

No matter the circumstances, the schedules, the to-do lists or the setbacks, our attitude sets the stage for us and our family.  When things start falling apart and crumble, will we stay strong and persevere or will we run hiding our tails?  What response would you want your child to have?  They are watching us - every move, every word, every action and reaction.  If we want them to have a Christ-like attitude and a servant's heart, guess what?  They have to see it in us first.

What's holding you back?  Pray for strength and wisdom, then tackle it head on and be determined to conquer.

Philippians is full of Paul's views on what a Christian attitude should entail.  Here are a few verses to reflect on before we get into Chapter Seven - "What Will They Take Away."

Philippians 1:27 NIV
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. 

Philippians 2:3-7 NIV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Philippians 2:14-15 NIV
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

Self Control

Even though I may be "domestically challenged," it doesn't mean I can't strive to improve my efforts.  If we want the fruits of the Spirit, we must practice self-control - in every part of our life including our weaknesses.

"The fact that I'm not a clean freak doesn't give me a ticket to be lazy in that area of my life. Scripture after scripture tells me that I'm called to be self-controlled in every area of my life."

Proverbs 25:28 NIV
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Our Spirit will wrestle with out flesh time and time again.  But just as an athlete must train for a race, we must constantly exercise self-control so our Spirit wins out.  Will the journey to overcome our weaknesses be tough?  Yes!  Will it be worth it?  Most definitely!

"Ruling our spirit isn't any easier than training our body to run a marathon. It takes patience, repetition, exercise, and action. Those who are domestically challenged need to stay focused and avoid the temptation to let the mess get out of control."

I will end with these words written by Paul in Philippians, 3:12-14.  "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm no June Cleaver

How many times do we look at another woman who seemingly has it all together, then berate ourselves for not measuring up?  How many times do we try to give that put together look to the world when inside we are a total mess?

Why do we pretend?  Why can't we show our family and friends our strengths AND our weaknesses?  I saw something on Facebook a few weeks ago and wish I could remember where I saw it.  But it went something like this:  You are the perfect mom for your children.  God knew exactly what they would need and you have all of those qualities.  

Are we perfect?  Absolutely not!  But don't you think the God of the universe knew what he was doing when he chose you to be their mom?  And don't you think it's the same for your husband?  God made you uniquely "you" for a purpose.

Psalm 139:13-14 NIV
For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

So why do we fall into the "June Cleaver Syndrome" trap as Darlene calls it?  "So many of us want to be a good wife and mother, but we can't help feeling that we never meet our own expectations, let alone anyone else's."

We all have plenty of room to improve.  But instead of focusing on the negatives, why don't we focus on the good stuff and praise God for the things we do get right.  And then pray that He will equip us to do the other stuff that we can't do alone in our own power.  And... stop comparing ourselves to others.

Galatians 6:4-5 NIV
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone,without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.

Fearfully and wonderfully made to be you, no one else.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Equip Me Lord! I'm Domestically Challenged!

Domestically Challenged.  That's a nice way of putting it.  I love to cook, but I don't like cleaning up the aftermath.  I can be organized about some things and a clutter bug about other things.  Cleaning?  Definitely not my strong suit.  Oh, I can clean.  And when I do, I do the job right.  A clean house really goes a long way in setting the mood for the overall household.  I'm more relaxed and so is the hubby.  For me, it's just a matter of starting.  When I take a look at a room and it seems completely daunting, I go into overwhelmed mode to the point of shutting down.  I don't know where to start!

My only comfort in all of this is I know I am not the only one.  Just Google the words "domestically challenged" and the results are endless.  There are a ton of sites talking about it and offering up their ideas to combat this "affliction." 

Darlene tells us in Chapter Six that she is domestically challenged.  She was able to "find direction in lists, schedules and a few trusted recipes" with "years of practice" to get to where she is today.  Her encouragement to us is that God equips those He has called.  No matter what He has called us to do, he will equip us to do the job and do it well.  It doesn't have to be a job using our God-given talent or gifts that come naturally to us.  God can use the weak to do some powerful, mighty things!  He can turn this domestically challenged girl into a cleaning machine.  I just have to be open and willing.  Here are some passages to reflect on today.  Equip us Lord to glorify you in all we do.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Proverbs 3:5 NIV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Psalm 37:4-6 NIV
Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Curb Appeal

Chapter 5 - "My Desire for Curb Appeal"

Do we value our husbands and homes enough to offer curb appeal?  What do you do to make yourself presentable for your husband?  What do you do to make your home a inviting and relaxing safe haven for your family?

I will admit, this was a tough chapter for me.  I do value my husband, but do I show it? My house?  Well, let's just say I haven't valued it enough.  It's not my ideal house - it lacks storage, it doesn't have character.  When I read The Good Wife's Guide the first time, I realized I need to change my attitude about it.  This is the home that God has blessed me with in this current season of life.  It's up to me to make it a home for my family.

This quote in the book really spoke to me:  "From the moment he steps through the door, I want our house to feel like a home.  I want life inside that door to be a haven of comfort and rest.  And I want my husband to know I'm his help-meet.... This curb appeal not only boosts the beauty of our relationship, it signals the pride of ownership we share, and tells him that he's valued in our home."

I'm not a stay at home mom so I thought a lot of this chapter wasn't for me.  I was wrong.  I can still do things to create curb appeal.  Since I work full-time, I would say I am usually presentable physically when I come home.  Could I do a better job?  Absolutely!  Instead of pulling my hair back, I could take the time to fix it.  Make sure I don't forget to shave my legs?  Yep!  But more importantly, I need to make sure I leave the troubles of the day back at the office.  Coming home in an irritable mood does not make my husband or my children feel welcome.

When I really started thinking about personal curb appeal, this verse kept coming to mind:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

We are God's temple.  We need to take care of our bodies and make them into the beautiful temples that they should be - inside and out.  So first and foremost, we should do it for God.  Then for our husbands.  We also want to show him that we value him enough to take care of the girl he fell in love with years ago.

I encourage you to look back at this chapter and really reflect on the things Darlene does to make herself and her home presentable.  I loved it when she said "We all love to come home to a clean and tidy house, but let's not forget that husbands also appreciate a clean and tidy wife."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Praise and Honor While You Work

As we plan out our days, imagine if we always planned to make it all about Jesus.  Everything on our to-do list glorified Him.  Do you think we could get all of our tasks and more accomplished?  I think so.  If what we do is pleasing and honorable to God, then He is going to bless our efforts.  If the intentions in our hearts are right and pure, God is going to be there to help us through our day.

Philippians 4:8 NIV
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Darlene has some great printables on her website for time management and home management.  I encourage you to hop on over there and take a look.

I also found this printable over at Intentional By Grace that helps you plan out your day with your priorities in mind.

If our attitude about our everyday tasks are about doing them joyfully to please our heavenly father, then how can we go wrong?

“‎What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and work flow.” -Martin Luther

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Under Pressure

Proverbs 6:6-8 NIV
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its foot at harvest.

Darlene writes "There are two kinds of women in this world, one who much like the ant plans wisely, and one who flies by the seat of her pants hoping that her cards will fall into place."  In today's fast-paced society, most days I feel like I just have to keep up and roll with the punches.  And then by the end of the day, I am frazzled and feel like I spent most of the day playing catch up.  It's just survival mode, isn't it?  But the days I actually take the time to make a plan and stick to my plan... well, those are the days I feel accomplishment and satisfaction.  Why don't I always make a plan?  Who knows!  But taking time to reflect on the above verse and this next one makes me realize God wants us to be prepared and work efficiently and effectively.

Proverbs 21:5 NIV
The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.

How can we be better prepared for each day?  A simple to-do list first thing in the morning can be highly effective.  There is no need to have an elaborate day planner to accomplish this.  And with all of the technology at our fingertips, our to-do list can be on our phone, tablet, computer or just good old-fashioned notebook paper.  Whatever works best for your situation.  We just have to make sure that whatever we use, it will be something we will want to continue using in order to make a difference in our days.  It takes the average person 21 days to make something a habit.  Can we challenge ourselves to make a plan everyday for 21 days?  And for those that already do this, share some tips with us!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Well Balanced... Life

Chapter 4 - "The Good Wife's Guide"

We all know about the importance of eating a well balanced diet.  Making sure we eat from each food group helps us get all of the nutrients our bodies need to be at our optimum performance.

The same goes for our spiritual and day to day living.  We should make it our goal "to be moderate in all things so that we're living a balanced life."  We must balance work with rest and play.

Being a good wife and/or mother takes effort and determination.  And it takes sacrifice.  The road is not always easy but each role we fulfill is most definitely a gift from God.  And when we look at it as such, we will make it our priority and want to invest our time and energy into doing these roles well.

Darlene writes "the bottom line is that change begins in the heart where a battle is constantly taking place.  Our flesh wrestles with our spirit as it attempts to get its own way.  Meanwhile the Spirit directs us to value God and our family, to prioritize them above everything else, and to avoid the tendency we have to be lazy."

The first section of Chapter 4 ends with 1 Peter 5:8.  When I was studying this verse, I found this version in The Message and really liked it.  Satan wants to catch us napping, with our guard down.  When we are not diligent in our daily living, we are like sitting ducks waiting for the roaring lion to pounce on us.

1 Peter 5:8 MSG
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.