Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Knight and His Maiden

Welcome back to the book club! We are reading through the book Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph.
Chapter 6 The Time Warp Wife As a wife you were created to be the helper. That Knight in Shining Armor you live with? Yep. You were created to help him. Created to help and called to respect and follow, as well.
To some women that sounds like the dark ages and even seems repressive. But it’s right there in scripture and when we live God’s way, it’s anything but repressive. It’s actually freeing and fulfilling. To live the role you were created for.
This helping, respecting and following (aka submitting- didn’t want to scare you!) are not what many picture. It is not barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. It is not being a servant and staying silent.  It’s actually more like you and your Knight are on the same team, you have the supporting role and when one wins, you both win.
Much too often instead of trusting God that His way is right and embracing this role, we attempt to take the lead rather than follow. We tend to take charge rather than submit. We dis his opinions and dismiss his wishes. We tend to expect him to help us (“I’ve had a long day!) rather than looking for ways to help him (“He’s a big boy, he can take care of himself!”).  We must remind ourselves often, he is not your helper, you are his helper.
Your Knight is not the same as anyone else’s. His Maiden is not the same as anyone else’s either. Therefore, there is no list to define for us exactly what being a helper requires. Watch your Knight. What things does he need? What does he like? What puts that cherry on top of the sundae of his life? What can you do to make his life better? What can you do to make his day great?
One of my favorite passages in this chapter is this: “Remember, your husband got on one knee and proposed because he liked how you made him feel. Most likely, you made him feel like a good man, able to conquer the world with you at his side. Does he still feel that way?”
Almost sounds fairytale sappy, huh? But we miss it. We miss the fact that this relationship we call marriage is meant to be a special bond. A blessing in our lives. We get caught up in household chores (or fighting over them), kids, and busyness of life and we forget to actually stop and care for the one that means the most.
Embrace the role of helper. Tune out the voices in society that tell you otherwise. God’s way is true and right. Go love on that Knight.
Chapter 7 Marriage In The Age Of Media The topic of protecting your marriage is one of my passions. I can’t tell you how many nights of sleep I have lost after hearing of a marriage breaking up. It tears me up inside. Its so sad. And so preventable.
Satan loves to break marriages apart. He loves to take marriages down from wedded bliss to mere existing under the same roof. No one is immune to this and I can’t express how important it is to protect your marriage. The arrows come flying from so many different directions. Your biggest line of defense is your mind and heart.
That’s where media comes in. Media is everywhere. It used to be only on special occasions or at special times, but now it is intricately laced into our lives. It’s not that media is bad, it is just one more tool Satan uses to turn our hearts away. And since media is a constant presence in our lives, we are wise if we arm ourselves.
Chapter 7 discusses many different aspects of media, but the one that has always been the biggest struggle for me is the discontentment it can create.  The Grass Is Greener Syndrome. You know what I mean. You’re walking along and then you see it. That lush grass. So green. So soft on your feet. It smells so fresh. This is what you’ve always wanted, what you’ve dreamed of. Not the dry, brown, crunchy stuff in your own yard. Your heart whines just a bit. Why, oh why, can’t I have that!
And so you pull up a chair. And grab a glass of iced tea. And you sit and gaze a while. And wish. And covet. And grow more discontent. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, your own yard is dying of thirst, getting even browner, if that was possible. Wondering why you don’t come home and water it. Trim it. Make it pretty. Sit by it and gaze on its green lushness.
But by this point, you don’t even care about your own lawn. In fact, you’ve grown irritated with it. Why can’t it be more like this lawn? How did I end up here, anyway? I deserve better, don’t I?
It’s so easy to see what someone else has, to envy the life they live. It’s easy to compare your marriage to someone else’s and feel that you come out on the short end.  But what if you used your energy to  water your own yard. What if you took the time to fertilize it? And invested in landscaping? Soon you would be enjoying that iced tea in your own yard and content with what you have.
Your marriage is just the same. It can become dry, brown and crunchy. Without effort put in, your marriage will seem stale and old. But what if you breathed some fresh life into it? What if you decided today to do something every day to build it up. What if you purposefully thanked God each day for something about your Knight?
It would show. Trust me. It would show in your attitude. It would show in your actions. And it would show in your contentment. Most of all, it would show to your Knight.
What keeps your heart aimed at contentment? What are ways you help your Knight? Got a plan of action, dear Maiden? I’d love to hear it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Online, Offline Walking Together

Howdy! I'm so glad you joined us for the Women Living WellBook Club! This week we are reading chapters 4&5. If you are reading the book with us, leave a comment with your thoughts from this week's reading. I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!

Chapter 4  “The Effects of the Media Revolution” is such a good reminder about social media. What we say, how we say it, and the attitudes radiating from it have an impact on others. That impact reaches beyond our own friends to the friends of friends. As daughters of the King, our online presence isn’t just about us. It is also a reflection of the King. I want my online presence to give a good impression of the King and be an encouragement to my sisters as they walk with me.

I love to listen to messages, read blog posts and listen to podcasts and e-books by Christian leaders. They have so much knowledge and wisdom. But as awesome as the internet is, as much knowledge I can find there, it can’t replace my time in God’s word. Reading my bible myself grows my heart more than reading about the bible. God wants me to be able to feed myself as well. To turn off the laptop, set aside my tablet and mp3 and sit with Him. Just Him and I and His Word. He wants me to learn to read and listen. To dig in and study. To enjoy the treasure hunt and discover the riches He placed there.

I have to guard my time. I have to limit my time on social media like Facebook. It seems when I hop on the internet, an hour or more passes before I even realize it. Then, once again, I am behind in my responsibilities and something or someone has to take a back seat. But even on days when I have the time to relax and surf, wouldn’t it be better to use some of that time a bit more productively? God doesn’t want me to sit and entertain my days away. He has a mission for me. A plan for my life and I’m sure it is not to master Pinterest. (If that ever gets classified as a spiritual gift... I'm ready!)

That is one reason why it is so important to be in a bible study group or accountability group. To keep me on my toes. To give me a deadline in studying. To share what I have studies with others and listen to what they have studied and learn from them. I always come away from bible study energized to study more, encouraged by my sisters there.

In chapter 5 “Never Walk Alone”, we are encouraged to be a mentor, find a mentor, and join a bible study group. I feel it is best to be in a group from your church or community if possible. If that is not available or in addition to, online resources are a great place to turn.
Courtney developed Good Morning Girls, a collection of online bible study accountability groups. I personally have not joined this one, I lead a group of ladies from my church and community. GMG is a good resource to keep you accountable to study the Word on a daily basis, and we all can use encouragement in that area!

As daughters of the King, we need each other to learn from and receive encouragement to keep on keeping on even when we would rather just sit and rest. Whether it is face to face or online, “Let’s lock arms together as sisters in Christ as we walk with the King!”



Monday, January 20, 2014

Tune Out The Voices

I’m reading the book “Women Living Well” by Courtney Joseph. The book is biblically solid and a good read for every Christian woman.  Good news for moms of young children …it is a short book so you will be able to get through it before its time to plan any graduation open houses.  

The first three chapters offer guidance and reminders to ignore the voices that steer you away from being a Godly wife and mom, build a daily time with God.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to ignore those voices. Voices that constantly tell you who you should be send what you should do. Voices that say you need a “real” career…that you don’t have time for bible study…that you need to be yourself at the expense of allowing Christ to live through you.

Courtney tells of her appearance on The Rachel Ray Show. “How exciting!” I thought. But after reading the story, not so exciting, actually it is rather discouraging. (you can read her story in chapter one). Her walk with the King was edited right out of her story! They portrayed her as a woman who chooses to stay at home with her children and care for her husband and home. End of story.

But there is so much more to biblical homemaking than that.  Thankfully, in real life, no one gets to edit your walk with the King out of your story. You can ignore the voices that desire to do so. The voices are loud…persistent…and sometimes seem to make sense.

But the real story behind a Godly woman is that she tunes out the voices and pursues time with God. She spends time with Him. Studying His word and praying. By slowing down on a regular basis to listen to your Father, you can silence the voices and listen to the One voice that can satisfy.
I am so thankful to have a mom that modeled this for me. I have vivid memories of seeing her sitting in her chair in the living room, a cup of hot tea in her hand and her bible on her lap. I would sneak around the corner and just watch her.  It made an impression on me that has lasted years.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, far from home with a small child and a marriage that was less than perfect that I turned to God each morning. I desperately needed comfort and guidance. It became my lifeline each day. I was only able to squeeze in a few minutes some mornings. When I heard little feet pattering into the room, I would set my bible aside, take my little one onto my lap and read to him from his bible and pray with him. Disappointed that my own quiet time wasn’t longer, I chose to be thankful for the privilege to share a quiet time with my son.

Now that my kids are grown, my studying now has a new depth and longer time. God is not so concerned with how long you study or how deep you go, but that you seek Him on a regular basis. Stop the noise of life and listen.

Whatever season of life you are in, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family is spend time with God. It’s a new year, a fresh start. Now is a great time to begin a regular time with God or take your quiet time up a notch.

Helping women live their faith is my passion and that is what this book is all about. Join the book club and read it with me! You can get the book here. It’s a great way to start off the year! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Mother-in-Law.

My heart is filled with pride as I have watched my sons, now grown, stepping into new chapters of their lives and forming the bond of marriage and starting families.

This puts me into a category of women that many times is not highly looked upon.  I am now the Mother-in-Law. The sad reality is that most of our society views the in-laws as annoying and difficult to get along with, like in the TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond.” 

We welcomed these 2 wonderful young women into our family and I feel blessed to call them my daughters.  In-law carries too many negative vibes so I prefer using “daughter”  and “mom”. And I am rebelling from the societal norm.  I am going to work to give the whole in-law relationship a makeover with a positive twist. 
Actually, that line of thinking came straight from my mother-in-law who, by the way, is a bright spot in my life rather than the stereotypical difficult-to-get-along-with-mother-in-law.  She told me a long time ago that she preferred to be my second mom and I her second daughter and leave the whole in-law business out of it. Preferring the term “Mother-in-love”, she has been a wonderful example to me of what God had in mind for a mother-in-law to be.  Loving.  Encouraging.  Guiding.  Helpful.  A friend. 
Those words remind me of my own mom as well.  She has loved me, faults and all, saw the good in me and encouraged growth, at times and in ways only a mom can.  I have had a great example lived out in front of me, an example of a loving wife, devoted mom, and a good mother-in-law each day of my life. 

Many women feel stress from their husband’s mother, but in God’s plan, this is not how it should be. We can be a blessing in their lives. God has given me two amazing moms that I can learn from and have been so blessed by them. 
I plan on continuing the tradition.  I pray I will be a bright spot in Renae’s and Kara’s lives. I want to pass on the encouragement and love I have received and bless their lives.  It won’t be a difficult task, they have chosen the path of love as well. 

My daughter is also now a daughter-in-law. She has been welcomed into a new family and gained a second mom instead of the typical mother-in-law. God has blessed her with a truly loving and godly second mom who will be a source of encouragement and blessing to her. And I know she will be a blessing in return.

How have you worked to be a blessing in your mother-in-law's life? How has your mother-in-law been a blessing in yours? If your relationship with her is less than good, what is one change you can make to take it a step towards positive? How can you be a blessing in her life in 2014?  Let's turn this in-law thing around.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wedding Bells, Warm Fuzzies and Real Committment

I intended to post this two weeks ago just before the festivities began. But somewhere in the whirlwind of activity, I forgot. Don't ask me how I could forget something so exciting, even important things get forgotten in the midst of life.
It was a wintry zero degrees outdoors, yet there was a warm excitement indoors. The decorations were beautiful…The bride looked like a princess…My Knight looked particularly handsome in his black suit and I believe his eyes even teared a bit.

Our daughter said her vows. And a godly young man did too. They committed themselves to each other before God. Til death. This is a couple who truly seeks to honor God in their relationship. A rare jewel in our society. Watching them has been such a joy to my soul.

Weddings can bring about such warm fuzzy feelings about happily ever after, but marriage is so much more than that. Marriage is about commitment. Commitment to act in a loving way each day no matter how the other acts. And no matter how I feel. It is about serving together. Growing together. Sharing life together.
Marriage is used as a refining tool in our hearts. God uses marriage to teach us about love. About choosing to love. With an unconditional love. Loving no matter what.  He models this love He wants us to pass on to others. First and foremost to our spouse.

I think this truth often gets lost in in the whirlwind of day-in and day-out living. And in the midst of life, we forget. We forget that we are called to love. We forget all the things we appreciate about our Knight. What are you thankful for in him? What is one way you can show love to him, even when you don’t feel like it? Stop a moment and reflect. Ask God to make your marriage one that shines His light and love in a way your Knight can see.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New {Thankful} Year

I have been very distracted the past 4 months, to say the least.  In that time span, I packed in a trip to Montana (my Knight went bear hunting and I played with the grandbaby), remodeled our basement (with our own bare hands plus a few manly power tools), got my creative juices going and had a booth at not one but two craft shows, worked a lot of extra hours at work, shopped for Christmas gifts, and planned a wedding. Whew!
In with all that, I got back to blogging a bit and wrote some simple posts on being thankful. Thankfilled Thursdays. Except that I completely forgot to post the last two… I even had them written, so I don’t even have a good excuse. Other than being busy, but you are busy, too and you manage to get things done…. So, without further ado, here are the last two Thankfilled posts I neglected to give you.

A City Prepared For Me
I am thankful that there is a city being prepared for me.  Hebrews chapter 11, the Faith Hall of Fame, tells us those faith warriors were longing for a better country. They knew they were foreigners here, and this wasn’t their home, not where they had to fit in. They were looking forward to a heavenly country. A better country. Home. That’s how they lived with such faith.
I’m looking forward to home. To a better place. To heaven.  I can only imagine what it will be like…..

Thanksgiving Day. A national holiday. A day when we are supposed to be thankful. But shouldn’t we be thankful every day of the year? Not just one day? We shouldn’t need a holiday to remind us to be thankful. Thankful should be part of who we are. A way of looking at life.  Everyday.

If you’re like me, we get out of the habit. We grumble and complain. And Thanksgiving Day reminds us to change our focus. Reminds us that we really do have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for a holiday that reminds me to have an attitude of thanks. To be grateful.  I want to carry that attitude into the new year and beyond. Maybe I need a monthly Day of Thanksgiving to keep my heart geared towards gratefulness…..definitely something to consider…..
I guess, after all, it is a perfect way to bring in the new year, being thankful. May we carry that attitude all through the next 364 days. Happy New {Thankful} Year!