Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Titus 2:11-14 NIV
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Self control.  No to worldly passions.  More than ever, I'm seeing excess is sin.

Monday, April 29, 2013

On to the Organizing!

We have spent the last two weeks working on tossing things out and lightening the load.  The older I get, the more I realize that less is best.

Although I have plenty more to go through in our home, I think it's time to move on to Schedule 2 on organizing our homes.  I will personally continue tossing things out as I start organizing and gaining some much needed order in our home.  Organization is not my strong suit but it sure does make things easier when I am organized.

Titus 2:4-5 NIV
Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Different versions use different words, but this verse is very clear that we as women are in charge of keeping our homes.  Now this doesn't mean other family members don't have to do anything around the house!  We should get everyone involved.  And organizing our homes so everything has a place will make it so much easier for everyone to put things back in their place.

So what do you already do now to keep areas organized?  If you have the gift of organization,  please share with those of us (me!!) that are organizationally challenged.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So how did it go?

How did Day One of tossing out 25 things go for everyone?  Any tips to share or stories to encourage?

Darlene gives 4 guidelines in this chapter to consider when you are deciding on things to toss.  I encourage you to read over these and keep these things in mind this week as you go through your belongings.

Yesterday, I started in my kitchen.  I know I pulled out more than 25 things to get rid of, and I still need to go through a few more things.  But I can see a major improvement already.  For now, Darlene says to focus on the 25 things.  You can always go back to that room later.  The goal is to lighten your load right now.  So today I will tackle our master bedroom.  It needs some major decluttering!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Let's Lighten the Load

Today we start Schedule One - Toss Out 25 Things.

Last week I said we will go through each room of the house this week and toss out 25 things from each room.  I know some rooms may not have 25 things to toss out, but really be thorough in lightening your load.  If you have kids, get them involved.  I know both of my kids have plenty to go through in several rooms of our house!

Let's remember these verses this week as we are going through our wordly possessions:

Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.    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.

Luke 16:13 NIV
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chapter 16 Conclusion - "Submission Isn't Permission"

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

This last section covers what submission isn't.  It's not a license to be controlling to the point of manipulation or coercion.  With her own personal experience, I think Darlene did a great job discussing this and I will use mostly her words in this post.

"According to my understanding of scripture, the chain of command looks like this:

1. God
2. The Law
3. The Husband
4. The Wife
5. Their Children

Within that chain of command we are given a set of boundaries that must line up with scripture and the ultimate will of God. When we step out of that plan, we step out of the chain of command. Because I am in authority over my children, I do not have the right to abuse them or break the law. I am under submission to God, the law and to my husband, and therefore my sphere of authority is dictated by such."

1 Peter 2:13-14 NIV
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

"Those rules dictate his boundaries. If he steps out of those boundaries, he steps out of my chain of command. I must submit to God first, all else comes second."

Husbands and wives alike must first answer to God.  What each of us do should be God-honoring if we are true children of God.  And if our husbands are loving us as Christ loved the church and is leading in a God-honoring way, we have every reason to submit.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chapter 16 Cont'd - Ways to Practice Acceptance

Today we will be covering three ways to practice true acceptance.

1.  Receive him with thanksgiving. 
Focusing on the good qualities of our husbands can make us grateful for all they do offer to our marriages.  Focusing more on the good stuff overshadows the faults.  Keeping a positive attitude in life has a huge impact in all areas of our lives.

2.  Recognize his humanity.
I loved this quote in the book and think it sums up this point.  "Wives, our husbands are human beings not soap opera stars, rock stars or runway models.  They are pain and pressure, love and laughter, strength and weakness dwelling within three layers of skin."  We can't put unrealistic expectations on our men anymore than we can put them on ourselves!

3.  Embrace his individuality. 
Oh boy, my husband has quite his own personality and traits.  I have never met anyone like him.  He's funny yet sarcastic, thoughtful and sweet to the point of being too nice.  He's always coming up with new ideas.  There is never a dull moment.   Sometimes that sarcastic side and his ADD personality jumping around from project to project can wear on me.  But I have to remember the way he can make me laugh and his enthusiasm are some of the reasons I fell in love with him. 

With all of this said, we need to remember that our acceptance "doesn't necessarily stand for approval."  But we need to remember his actions are his own responsibility.   As we keep talking about, we must continually strive to be good examples.

1 Peter 3:1-2 NIV
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

We should live our lives to be examples not only to our husbands, but to our family, friends, co-workers and a lost world.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chapter 16 Cont'd - True Acceptance

Women just love to fix things.  We feel the need to improve and fix - to make things prettier, don't we?  So naturally we get this crazy notion in our heads that we can change our husbands.  Umm...news flash!  That is totally impossible!

"Changing ourselves is such a difficult task, changing another is an impossible one.  We 'accept' one as he is because self-improvement is his personal responsibility - not yours.  By changing our focus we see where he excels and to put in bluntly - where we fail."

God can change a person - all we can do is work on ourselves and pray.  We first need to focus on what we need to change about ourselves to be more Christ-like so we can be a better example.  And we can also pray for God to work in that other person's heart.

Paul said this to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:11-16 when he wrote to him on how to carry out his ministry:
Command and teach these things. Let no one look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have, given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that everyone will see your progress.  Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.

This applies to us today as well.  "Set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity."  We have to live our lives in a God-honoring way to be able to have the power to influence others.  We can't have a mindset of "Do as I say, not as I do."

And we have to be truly accepting of our husband and be respectful.  If acceptance is defined as "to accommodate or reconcile oneself to" then Darlene says "By accommodating we make room for his failures, and through reconciliation we reunite ourselves to him."

Just like me, my husband is going to make mistakes.  He's going to have bad days.  His flesh is going to wrestle with his spirit - just like me.  I have to remember to be patient and encourage him - not fly off the handle and tear him down.  Showing my husband true acceptance does not mean that I can't share truth with him a a loving manner.  For us, when we have discussions about Godly living, it really helps us both to admit our weaknesses so we can help each other in those areas.  

Tomorrow we will cover three ways we can practice and apply true acceptance in our marriages.  Please share with the group today if you have anything to add to this.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chapter 16 - "Love and Let Go"

This next chapter discusses what we should do if our husbands are not meeting our expectations or are weak in their faith.  First we will cover the freedom to choose.

God gave us all the freedom to choose.  We have the same choice every day to "sin or serve."  When God gave Adam the freedom to choose, he knew what the outcome would be.  He knew the implications and yet He gave it to him anyway.

"If God grants us freedom to that extent, shouldn't we offer the same freedom to others?  Choice is something we all get to make; whether it's the way one treats our bodies, what we use to feed our minds, the beliefs that fuel our faith, or the habits that mark our paths."

We can get our husbands to do the right things by pressure, nagging or whining.  But does it really produce the kind of outcome that we really wanted?  Darlene says the denial of the right to choose "produces a hostile response."  I know pressuring my husband into doing something may get him to do it, but it usually happens with a bad attitude and ends up being done with less than 100% effort.

And that's when it comes back to looking more at ourselves and working on our own issues.  When we focus on our walk with God and let go of the need to control and let God lead us - that's when good things start to happen.  Oh, it's going to hurt and it's going to be tough to let God change your heart.  He's going to point out your shortcomings.  He's going to open your eyes and you will see how your faults affect not only you but others around you.  But the great part is that He will change your heart and give you the strength and the means to do better in those areas.

And He will use you to lead by example.  If we continually strive to do better and be better examples to our family and husbands, it's going to eventually bring about a desire in their hearts to want to do better.  Darlene says this - "Put your words aside for a season, live your life the way you want others to live, walk in paths of righteousness and let your actions be his guide."

Just as our husbands have a choice, so do we.  We can allow him to make his own choices about his actions or we can choose to control his actions with pressure.  "The choice is yours - push and shove, or love and let go."

Proverbs 21:2-4 NIV
A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.  To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.  Haughty eyes and a proud heart - the unplowed field of the wicked - produce sin.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Conclusion of Chapter 15 - Does He Deserve Your Respect?Re

We have talked about the importance of showing our husbands respect.  We have seen that this is part of God's plan for marriage.  But does your husband deserve respect?

"Showing reverence isn't always the easiest thing.  We're talking about human beings here, who at times may disappoint and infuriate us.  This is where we look past our duty toward man to see the perfection of Christ who gave up His life on the cross--unfailing love abounding in grace."

Love and grace.  So freely given to us by Christ.  How often do we freely give it?  How often do we extend grace to our husbands?

So your husband has faults?  Does he have issues?  Has he made poor decisions?  Has he messed up your finances?  Has he had a physical or an emotional affair?  He may have done one or more of these things.  He's human and he is going to let you down at times.  Don't you think we make mistakes too?  If we want him to show us love and grace (even when we may not deserve it), then we should do the same for him.

Remember the verse in Ephesians we just touched on?  "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (Ephesians 5:33)  God already gave us a perfect plan for marriage and knew what each spouse would need.  Women, we need to feel loved.  And our men need to feel respected.  And when we respect our husbands, it truly does build them up.  They want to do more to earn our respect and they want to show us love more often.

Tonight I totally messed up and totally deflated my husband's bubble.  He asked my opinion on something he had written.  And I blew it.  I was way too judgemental.  I could have gone about it in a much better way.  Seeing that deflated look on his face made me realize the impact I have on his attitude, demeanor and outlook.  We have such a powerful impact, I think we could make or break our husbands.

So let's be sure to build our men up.  It will be a win-win situation to be sure.  They will get the affirmation and respect they need, we will reap the benefits because they will want to do more to earn that respect.  I know I do much better with this when I worry about my own shortcomings and walk with God.  Looking inward sure does put things in perspective.  When I focus more on changing me, I have less time to be critical of him.

I found this quote online and I think it speaks volumes on showing respect even when we don't feel like he deserves it.  "If all you can see is rust and dents on your man’s armor, then you become the one to make that armor shiny again!  Polish your man up by your encouraging words and actions.  When you do this, your heart towards him will start to grow softer and the respect you once had for him will start to develop again." ~ Jolene Engle - http://joleneengle.com/when-youve-lost-respect-for-your-husband-a-marital-oneness-monday-link-up/

So this weekend I encourage you to be intentional in showing respect.  Make a list of things your husband does that means a lot to you.  And tell him!  And be sure to give him your love, mercy and grace.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chapter 15 Cont'd - RESPECT

Continuing on Chapter 15 on respect, let's look at the last three ways we can show our husbands respect.

4.  Show consideration.
"Your actions toward your husband are a living gauge to growing souls. They watch how we comply, and live accordingly."  We need to be very careful how we treat our husbands in front of our children.  They are watching every move we make and what we do will influence their outlook on how a marriage should be.  Something I have had to work on during my marriage is to never over-rule my husband's decisions on how to discipline the kids.  Early on I did with our son, and it caused a major rift between us.  Even if we don't agree with a punishment, we should never make it known in front of our kids.  A private discussion in a non-condescending and loving way yields much better results.

5.  Think highly of him.
I love this quote from Darlene.  "Flowers, dates, kissing in the back-seat of a car, and wearing designer jeans, does not a Prince Charming make. But being there through the birth of your child, working hard to take home a paycheck, bringing his family to church, and taking care of you when you’re hurling over the throne, are noble features to be desired in a man. If he has done any or all of those things, he’s worth a second thought.  Start to view your husband with high regard, and you’ll find much to be thankful for."  This quote really spoke to me on my first read through this book.  When I really thought about it, these are the things that are truly noble characters in a husband.  The typical dating stuff is nice, but to find a man that is there through the tough stuff - that's even better.

Another thing to think about is how you speak of your husband out in public and in front of your kids.  We need to keep a tight rein on our tongues and not criticize our husbands to others, especially our kids.  And oh, am I so guilty of this.  Sometimes, I just start venting and the words are out there before I even think.  Instead of criticism, we must learn to replace the negativity with positive words and build up our husbands to our kids, friends, family and co-workers.

Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

4.  Reverence is our contribution.
Our husbands must know that we hold them in high esteem.  They need to know we admire them.  "While husbands are required to love their wives as their own selves, reverence is our contribution to laying the foundation of a Godly marriage.  When a man looks at his wife, he’s looking for a reflection of himself in her eyes. A reflection that says, 'I’m worth holding onto,' and 'I mean something to her in this world.'"  How we respect our husbands will be a direct reflection of how we feel about him.  The more respect we give, the more he will want to be worthy of that respect.  

Ephesians 5:32-33 KJV
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

I found this quote online from an unknown source - “If you want a truly fine husband, respect him at the level at which you want him to reach. A man will usually not rise above the level at which his wife respects him.”  Wow.  It's amazing to think we have that much power over our husbands.  When a man looks into the eyes of an adoring wife, he can see his God-given potential.  I want my husband to see that in my eyes.

Chapter 15 - Respect

Respect is acknowledgement.  "People want to be acknowledged for who they are, their accomplishments, and the ideas they hold--men, even more-so than women."  I see this with my husband.  He thrives when I make a conscious effort to acknowledge his accomplishments and praise him for a job well done.  And yes, I have to make a conscious effort because one of his primary love languages is words of affirmation and mine is not.

I found the statistic from loveandrespect.com Darlene shared very interesting.  When asked how they felt when there was conflict in their marriage "83% of the men said 'disrespected.'  72% of the women said, 'unloved.'"  While we need to feel loved, our men want and need our respect.

Darlene shares six different ways to show our husbands respect.  I want to touch on the first three today.

1.  Let him take the lead.
This does not mean that we don't have a voice.  We can share our opinions and desires, but in the end, we need to let our husbands have the final say.  As long as his decisions are God-honoring.  And we need to do this without complaining, grumbling, or questioning his judgement.  I know I have to bite my tongue sometimes and also ask God to help me see the positive and the good over the shortcomings.  I need to worry more about my heart.  Which leads to the next point.

2.  Have a good opinion of him.
"They know when we truly value them, and when we’re putting it on. If we’re accustomed to judging every move they make, it’s time to bridle our tongue, and grab hold of the reins on our thoughts. Focus on the good, let go of the petty judgment."  How true.  My husband can sense when I question things without me actually speaking the words.  I need to squelch those thoughts quickly and divert my attention to what I love about him.

3.  Notice him.
"As women, there are times when we like to be noticed for the way that we look, while men usually prefer to be noticed for the things that they do."  Men are wired from birth to be providers.  They have a strong desire to provide and take care of their family.  And they need some kind words and a pat on the back to let them know we appreciate what they are doing.  We need to take notice of the things they do and acknowledge and thank them.

Ephesians 5:33 ESV

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

If you did not read it already, here is a link that Darlene shared with us last night on a great blog post about respect.  It's definitely worth a few minutes of your time.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chapter 14 - Final Thoughts

Before we move on to Chapter 15, I want to touch on the seven virtues a bit more.  Something has been weighing on my mind and it became more of a burden today.

We are talking about how we can be better wives (and moms).  We are learning how we can serve our husbands and family with an attitude of joy.  But I know we also want to be a living example to our families of God's love.  But are we doing the same for the rest of those around us on a daily basis?

I don't know if it's the result of social media or just being more aware of the night and day differences between a Christian and a non-believer, but my heart has really been burdened lately for the lost.  Most of those I know just don't want to hear what you have to say about God and salvation.  Today I see more and more closed-minded friends and family than ever before.

But what if....what if we really did stand out from the world?  What if our lives reflected these seven virtues on a daily basis?  What if we always stood firm in our beliefs whether it goes along with the popular opinion or not?  

1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

The world needs to see that we are different before they can believe in Jesus.  If we are so caught up in this world and have our fists full of the world, we just don't look any different.  We are not a light for Jesus.

Colossians 3:12-17 NIV
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Our children learn best by example.  They are watching our every move.  If we want them to grow up with a deep-rooted faith and trust in God, we have to model that for them.  The same goes for the world.  If we just say the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, but our actions, words and deeds don't reflect that, we are just a noisy gong.

I read on a Facebook post today some rather disheartening and misled thoughts from people so far removed from God - it broke my heart.  It just reinforces my desire to grow more in my relationship with God.  Think about the one person that you know that just exemplifies Christ and His love.  I bet you will say that person is full of joy no matter what.  For me, it's Mrs. Gale.  Just one look at her and you know she loves Jesus with all of her heart.  She has a magnetic joy that you just want to be a part of.  No matter her circumstances, she always has a glow - that beautiful light of Jesus shining through her.  I want to get to that.  Imagine if there were many, many more of us with that kind of glow.  The world would see it and they would want to know how we got it and how they could get it too.  Lord, let us lead by example - knowing your word, living your word,  being self-disciplined, bearing with one another and more.  Bind them all together with love and let us be a beacon of hope to a lost world.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chapter 14 Cont'd - "Mature in Your Experience with Jesus"

Inner beauty isn't easy.  Just like marriage it takes work.  Constant, every single day work.  To keep our inner beauty beautiful to God and those around us, we need to be comparing it to God's desires for us daily. Darlene describes it this way - "It's a process of building virtue upon virtue that requires patience and discipline on our part."

Dictionary.com describes virtue as:
moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
a particular moral excellence. 
a good or admirable quality or property.

2 Peter 1:5-9 MSG
So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

In this passage Peter mentions seven virtues that we should be building upon in our lives:
  1. Good Character
  2. Spiritual Understanding
  3. Alert Discipline
  4. Passionate Patience
  5. Reverent Wonder
  6. Warm Friendliness
  7. Generous Love

 Letting God work in our hearts to sharpen these virtues will enhance our inner beauty.  During a recent conversation with my uncle, he talked about it being harder and harder to get a lost soul to really listen to the Gospel truth.  People today are so wrapped up in things of this world.  What he did notice is it is much easier to work within our own hearts so others will see Jesus through us.  When we build virtue upon virtue, we begin to be a shining light, don't we?  If we are truly allowing God to work in our hearts and use us for His glory, people can't help but notice that there is something different about us.  They will want to know what makes us different.  They start asking questions.  And that my friends is a door opening for us and a chance to share Jesus with them.

Darlene goes into a little greater detail on these seven virtues.  I encourage you to read over these if you haven't already.  Or look back over them and refresh your mind.

Some of these virtues will come easier than others.  Some of them may be one of your spiritual gifts.  Share with us today what you feel your strengths are and which of these virtues is difficult for you.  Then let's all agree to pray for one another today for God to work in our hearts to build us up in these virtues.  For me, I feel warm friendliness is one of easiest.  However, it can be a bit difficult for this shy girl with people I don't know very well.  I have a lot of compassion and a heart for people, but can be a little shy in showing it to strangers sometimes.  The hardest for me is passionate patience.  Oh how I wish I was patient!  It's something I've been working on - and it sure is something God has been working in my heart on for quite some time!  Your turn!