Best Friends in Marriage

The posts have been about friendship this week, we can’t forget our BEST earthly friend and the importance of maintaining  our relationship with him!

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Yesterday found my husband and me in the basement going through some boxes of “stuff.” Stuffed animals, old toys, pictures, school annuals, dolls, dishes, and books were sorted through. I was down there for several hours – not because I got so much accomplished, necessarily, but because when I go through old things it brings back memories and I have to stop and reflect! My husband and I passed many pictures back and forth to one another. “Oh, remember this?” “Look at us! How hilarious!” (You will not be seeing any of those pictures posted here!) Not only did we recall many special times from our past, but it was a sweet time together recounting good memories and numerous blessings.

I also leafed through a couple of the books that I hadn’t read in a while. One book was on marriage and there was a chapter on being best friends with your mate. The highlights were how important it is to spend time together having fun, talking, sharing your heart, and being open with one another. I smiled – we had done that even in a cool basement on Memorial Day when most of our neighbors were probably out at the lake or at the park having a picnic with their extended family. We had shared secret memories of times and places when notes were found written in our handwriting. We’d laughed. We’d talked about times when our girls were growing up. This is what friends do.

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After we’d had our grilled hamburgers later in the evening, we headed out for a drive through the countryside. Opening the sun roof on the car, the warm air blew through as we pointed at beautiful homes, the clouds over the mountain or a row of flags in a front yard. We even stopped for an ice cream at Dari ace – so cute! It was a great end to a fun day spent with my best friend.

Are you still best friends with your husband? Are you spending time together? I don’t mean time living – I mean time just being together. What tone of voice do you use when you speak to him or repeat an answer to his question? Is it the tone that one would use with their best friend? God gave Adam a wife so he would have a companion. Are you and I being the best kind of completer that we could possibly be? Best friends give each other the benefit of the doubt, love when no one else loves, and enjoy just doing little things together. Is your husband the one you spend that kind of time with? Don’t replace his companionship with that of your girlfriend, sister or parents. That is not God’s plan for a married woman.

I am planning on re-reading that book I found. It was a good reminder for me. We all need to be encouraged in what a godly marriage looks like. I’m thankful for a day in the basement that helped me to be refreshed in the friendship part of our marriage!

With love,

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P.S. I believe the book I was referring to is, The Ministry of Marriage, by Jim Binney.

Help Your Husband Live Joyfully With You!

I’m posting later in the day, but we just returned from an evening away. Read on and you’ll see what we did and what a special time it was!

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It was early evening and we had just finished a simple supper of BLT’s, a summer favorite. My husband pulled his Bible out of his book bag and told me he had something he wanted to read to me that he had read earlier that morning. We were spending an afternoon and night away at a lake cottage, just to have some quiet time to study, pray and be together on his day off. A boat or two rumbled past on the not-so-far-away lake as he opened to Ecclesiastes 9 and read about 6 verses, concluding with this verse:

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity, but that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

When he finished reading, he closed his Bible, nodded and smiled at me. As I looked at him I thought about how well he does that. He lives joyfully with me every day!

  • I saw it earlier when we were preparing to travel to the lake. He was coming to pick me up from my dentist appointment and sent a text to tell me he would be late.
  • When we stopped to pick up a salad for lunch, he brought the beverages to the car – a water for himself and diet Lemonade for me (my favorite).
  • As we made our way to the lake, he chatted, telling me the reason he was late – the opportunity to share Christ with a man. I love it when he shares his day, his burdens and his life.
  • He reached over and took my hand and said, “I sure love you!”
  • Later in the afternoon as we sat overlooking the lake, he said how thankful he was we could spend an afternoon together. Tears welled up in his eyes as he said, “Sometimes I just miss you so much.”
  • Even after our simple BLT supper, no fuss, no special recipe, he said, “That was so good; thank you, Sweetheart.”

Live joyfully with your wife – that’s what he does every single day. I am so blessed.

Why am I sharing this with you today? To boast? No. Even as I write out this list of only some of what he did in just ONE day, it is a stern reminder that I could make it so much easier for him to obey that Scripture if I was also living joyfully every day. There are days I just feel cantankerous! I’m often Fussy, griping, and complaining instead of joy-filled.

If I would laugh at his spontaneity, smile at disruptions, appreciate kindnesses, and live as though there was no tomorrow, I’ll bet it would help him to live even more joyfully with his wife. And maybe I couldn’t even believe there could be so much joy, and wouldn’t that be awesome?!

  • What do you need to change to help your husband live joyfully with you?
    MAYBE:
    Take the drive he suggests, even though you know you’ll be motion-sick on those curves.
    If he initiates a kiss in public don’t push him away.
    Leave the children with a sitter for an hour or two so you can sneak away for a date.
    Hold hands, rub his back, smile at him, send him a loving text message, ask him questions about his day, and really listen when he talks to you,
    Be understanding of his need for physical love.
    Tell him thank you for the ways he provides for your family.
    Pray with him before he leaves home.
    Be waiting at the door for him when he returns home in the evening.
    Get up and spend time with him before he leaves for work, if possible.
    Surprise him with a night away for just the two of you.
    Decide with God’s help not to fall apart when the next disaster strikes.

Let’s help our husbands obey the admonition to live joyfully with his wife by being joyful, too! Now, put a smile on your face and in your heart, and go share that joy with HIM!

Refresh your husband,

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Breaking the Habit

“Negative Habits Every Family Should Break”  is the title of the series my husband is preaching on Sunday nights. This past Sunday night he encouraged families to get rid of disorganization. The very evening he was preaching his message, I was reminded of why it’s so important for my home to be organized.

As the service was being started, one of our very own missionaries who was passing through the area, felt led of the Lord to come to Boones Creek Bible Church’s evening service. He was by himself, due to his family being away for a few days, and so he was on no time schedule. After spotting him in the congregation, my husband had him come up and pray during the service. When our missionary guest announced how the Lord directed him to our church, and that he was on no schedule, the Lord prompted my heart that he needed to come and stay with us for the night. It was no surprise that when I talked to my husband after the service, he felt the same way. And so, our missionary friend returned to our home after the service.

As my husband was preaching, and I had been given the prompt to invite this dear man to stay with us, I thought, “I’m thankful that everything is in order at the house. I’m not going to have to go home and apologize for the messy kitchen, dirty dishes or laundry piled up on the couch. Whew!” Oh, not that my house couldn’t have used a dust rag or mop in places, but overall, it was ready for a guest to drop in.

Being organized and tidy isn’t only about teaching your children good habits and responsibility, it’s also about being prepared to be used of the Lord when He prompts your heart. There have been times that I would have resisted having a guest enter my home, trust me! But on this night I was thankful that I was prepared – not so I wouldn’t be embarrassed, but because my lack of organization would have caused my husband and me to miss the blessing of serving this servant of the Lord! It was a delight to have him in our home, and to be able to quickly obey the Lord’s leading.

So, if you look at your lack of organization and say, “It’s just my family, and they don’t care!” You’re missing the whole point. First, we’re stewards of what the Lord has entrusted to us (that includes our belongings, as well as the training of our children), and secondly it will free us up to serve others.
Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. I realize that he’s referring to legalism, but disorganization can also be a type of bondage that keeps us from being free.

Look around your home right now and ask yourself if you’d be good with guests stopping in. If the answer is “No way!” why not start on a path to orderliness? Perhaps you could free yourself from the bondage of disorganization by:
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  • Check out Fly Lady’s “Getting Started” Tips
  • Determine to get rid of 7 things every single day. Put the unused items in a black bag and when it gets full discard it – Goodwill, Salvation Army, Consignment – something!
  • Read Emilie Barnes Books on organization, such as “Organizing Magic: 40 Days to a Well-ordered Home and Life

If this negative habit has been a part of your life, it’s not impossible to get rid of it! Start today and make a little progress at a time. It will be so freeing, and you’ll be ready to serve at a moment’s notice!

Would you be ready and willing to serve others today? What would it take to get you there?

 

Individual Berry Cobblers & What We Really Eat

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Happy Monday!  First let me start with sharing a new recipe that I made as a special treat for my cobbler-loving husband!  If you need a treat for Fourth of July these would be perfect.  You can make one, or you can multiply the recipe to make as many as you need.  These are Berry Cobblers,  served in individual ramekins, making them a perfect size and also easy to serve!

I found the recipe here on this site. They were so easy to pull together, and with no sugar added to the fruit, I think they’re a really healthy little dessert, well, maybe the ice cream added some fat and calories, but you can’t eat cobbler without ice cream!

Individual Berry Cobblers
Ingredients
  • NOTE: These directions are per each serving so multiply it by how many servings you plan to make.
  • ½ cup berries or fruit of choice
  • 2 tbsp oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, slightly packed
  • 1½ tbsp softened butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • a couple drops of vanilla

Instructions –
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place berries/fruit In a ramekin or other small baking dish
In a separate bowl, Mix all other ingredients….oatmeal, flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Use your hand or a fork to make sure all ingredients are incorporated well.
Sprinkle oatmeal mixture evenly over berries/fruit.
Place ramekin on a baking dish (just in case it boils over a little bit) and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until topping is beginning to brown.

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Do you ever look at people’s You Tube videos of their food and wonder if they really eat? I mean, sometimes it’s more about the tableware and presentation than the food.  To me, the most important part of mealtime is the food!  We really enjoy our food over here and I want it to be delicious and pretty – not just pretty!

So, I’m going to close today by giving you a little look at my plates from this past week so you can see what we really ate.
Here’s a real look at our meals:

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Grilled Marinated Steaks, Twice Baked Potatoes, Berry Green Salad
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Perfect Pork Tostadas, Spanish Rice, Fresh Fruit
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Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce, Corn on the cob, Oven Garlic Fries
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Chicken Fajitas, Refried Beans, Lime tortilla chips, Cantaloupe
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Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus and Berry Green Salad

I don’t just take pictures of pretty food – we eat real meals every day at home.  Presentation is part of that, but also good food, prepared and cooked at home to nourish body and soul! Also the time at the table, sitting and talking as we eat, sip on glasses of tea, or nibble on sweet treats like this berry cobbler!  Meal time is a huge part of family time.  Let’s make dinner delicious, nourishing, pretty and memorable!

What have you made this week that your family loved?

From my country kitchen,

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Help Other People Love Your Kids

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I love little children.  They are cute, funny, spontaneous and full of faith.  But there are times when that love for youngsters can be tested.  A favorite “old story” at our house happened many years ago following the Sunday night church service.  A visiting family was going to be staying the night with us.  There were two or three little ones, I can’t remember exactly, but the memory began just as we were unlocking the house for entry with our guests.  Their little guy, about 4 or 5 said to me as he was pushing the door open and scurrying inside,

Hey Lady, where’s the toys?!

What ensued afterwards was little ones running through the house, overturning toy boxes and chests, emptying their contents and having the most fun a child can have while in a stranger’s home and discovering new treasures.

This was a whole new experience for me, and I’m sure I needed a lesson in graciousness, but all I remember was the sigh of relief when the battle of toys and home was over and we were left with the quiet dust of the invasion the following day.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE children, and I try to always have things on hand for little ones to play with, but the issue came when the parents seemed too relieved to have their children busy with something other than needing their attention (or so they thought).  They were pretty much oblivious to the destruction and havoc that their offspring brought to a complete stranger’s household.  I’m sure those children were precious and I know Jesus loves them, but me?  I wasn’t feeling it.  Oh, I don’t want to sound harsh, but it was like the invasion of enemy troops.  Our home was open territory.  There were no restrictions, no guidelines from the mom and dad, no parental looks that give a warning without words, saying, “Stop what you’re doing.”  No, the children were on their own, and we were put in a place where we had to step in and draw the line in the sand. Ugh.

Every parent gets weary of the day-to-day demands, the need to correct and rein their children in, but taking time to let down your guard is not only dangerous, it’s putting other people in a very uncomfortable situation.  It’s making it hard for others to really love your children.  You see, it puts them in the place that only you belong, Mom (and Dad, if you’re reading).  Someone besides you will be the one to have to say,

Please don’t step on my feet; that hurts.”  

“Could you please play  with the trucks outside,  instead of on the coffee table?”

“Children can get hurt if they climb up on the ladder in the store; you really better get down, .”

“My bedroom is off limits.  Could you please come out and play in the family room with the rest of us?”

Step up, parents and make your child a blessing to be around by guiding them before these scenarios cause someone else to need to speak up.

Often, parents watch their children being the “wild child” and think it’s cute, or that they’re just “doing what children do,” which is true, but Scripture says,

Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Proverbs 29:17

They act that way because they have an old sin nature, and God gave them parents to give them guidelines and restrictions, to teach them what is acceptable and what is not.  So how do you help others love your children?

  • Talk to your children before you leave home or before guests arrive.  Tell them what you expect in simple 1, 2, 3 format.  They need to know what you’re expecting of them, what is okay and what is not.  For instance, 
    • When we get to Mrs. Jones’ house, please stay in the same room I am in.
    • I have brought a bag of toys for you to play with, so there will be no need for you to touch anything at her house.  Play with those unless Mrs. Jones offers you something at her house to enjoy.
    • If you need to speak with me while Mrs. Jones and I are talking, come and put your hand on my arm and I will acknowledge you, but wait until then to speak to me or I won’t hear what you’re saying.If you’re going to a store or restaurant, the same principle applies.
    • You must stay in your seat while we’re at Cheddar’s.
    • You may not climb under the table or change places with someone else.
    • I have a snack for you to enjoy while we wait to be seated and served.
  • Don’t ignore bad behavior at home and then expect your child to be obedient in public times.  Deal with the situation.
  • If you ignore your children fighting or misbehaving and the people you’re with don’t seem like they notice, don’t be fooled; they notice.  Deal with it.  This is another area that should be addressed beforehand. They should know what the consequences will be.
  • Practice good manners at home.  “May I please?”  “Excuse me…” “No thank you.”  Table manners, speaking manners, greeting manners – they’re all important and can make the difference between a child who is learning manners and one who is demanding and rude.

I began with a sour example, let me end with a sweet one.  I’ve had many opportunities to have children in my home for one on one time, meals with their parents and even overnight.  One family had several little children, both girls and boys.  They looked to their parents for the go-ahead when desiring to go outside, ask for a toy, or enjoy a snack I provided.  They sat at the table for meals, obeyed when their parents stopped them from poor behavior, were thankful for any small gesture that was done, and responded sweetly when either of their parents had to correct them. Were they perfect?  Of course not.  There were messes to clean up when they left, but they were done so with joy.  Oh, and they left something behind – love in our hearts for each one!  They made that so very easy, thanks to the loving leadership and training that came from their mommy and daddy.

Moms, I’ve been there with my girls when they were home, even dealing with some very embarrassing situations, but every parent needs to ask the Lord where we need to do a little more training, a little more teaching and preparing so that the presence of our family will bring a smile and a heart full of love because they got to spend time with our children.

Refresh others by allowing your children to be a blessing.

What makes you love being with someone else’s children?

With nothing but love and care,

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Training Children To Sit and Participate in Church

Children can do some really funny things in church.  When I was teaching the five year-old Sunday school class I remember asking my students how we get to go to heaven. A little girl raised her hand confidently. Her answer?

Die.

That remembrance still makes me laugh!

Sometimes, though, the things children do in church aren’t so funny – especially if you’re the parent.  I’m not sure if there’s anything more stressful or humiliating for a parent than trying to teach their little one to sit quietly anywhere, but especially at church.  Your child gets fidgety and talkative just the time there’s a need for quiet, right?  We’ve all been there, and I want to encourage you that there is hope!

I’ve blogged about this before, but I just felt the need to rehearse a few ideas about teaching your child to sit through a church service.

  • Train them. Talk to them before you leave home.  Tell them what is going to happen when you get there.  Remind them that you’re going so you can worship God and learn more about him!
    • Will they be going to Sunday school?  Remind them that you’ll be back to pick them up.
    • Tell them what kind of behavior you expect from them while they’re in class.
    • Will they go to Pastor’s Pals or up front to sing with the children?  Prepare them for what you expect.
  • Fortify them. Feed them a nourishing breakfast to hold them over through the service time.
  • Equip them. Pack a bag to take to church.  Keep it only for church times and fill it with quiet books, crayons, etc. that will help them to listen if they’re old enough.  They could draw a picture of something pastor is talking about.  If they’re older, they might have a special book to write down important words he hears in the message.
  • Help them. Don’t bring or give them sugary drinks or snacks – you’ll only be making it more impossible for them to sit still!
  • Reward them. I read about one mom who played the “Seat game.”  After training her two children to sit quietly in church, their mom told them they could sit one row in front of the parents next week since they’d done so well.  Each week that they obeyed and sat quietly and obediently, they all moved up one row.  Eventually they were seated on rows two and three!  You obviously couldn’t do this with really young children, but it would might be a great incentive for school-aged children.
  • Discipline them. If your child misbehaves, don’t wait for it to get better and stay in the service where they’re causing a ruckus! Take them out immediately and deal with it, and deal with it in a way that they won’t want it repeated.  If they get to go out and run around the foyer, they’ll learn that this is more of a reward than a punishment!
  •  Model for them. Encourage worship.  By your example of engaging in the singing and worship, teach them to follow your lead!  Sing!  Pray!  Open your Bible!  Take notes!
  • Praise them. Be sure to review the service on the way home.  Applaud their good behavior and obedience!
  • Warn them. Deal with the disobedience and use it as a teaching tool for the next service and warn them about what will take place if this happens again.

Training, training, training.  This must be consistent and loving.  It also really, really helps if you attend regularly.  Sporadic attendance will lose any training!  When this is every week, several times a week, they’ll get it!

This takes time, of course, but you probably won’t be getting called to their classroom nearly as often for behavior issues!  Instead, the teacher will pull you aside to ask what you’re doing at home that’s made such a difference. Oh, she may also tell you about the hilarious thing your child said to her in class that day!

Stay at it!  You will make it!

With love,

Firm, Fair, Fun Parenting

This week I want to continue on with the parenting series in the form of some encouragement.  I know it can be difficult and wearisome when they’re small.  Teen years can seem to last forever with attitudes or questions about your choices.  Even the adult years of children can be challenging and stressful.  For that reason, we all need to have a biblical view of parenting – from the beginning to the end.  Let’s dig in and get some good advice from God’s Word to keep us faithful to this blessed call of building our children for the glory of God!

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Obviously parenting is a daily responsibility, and sometimes it can get overwhelming.  Other days it’s discouraging because the children don’t seem like they’re “getting it.”  We then fall into a disheartened mode which also influences the rest of our family.

May I encourage you on your parenting road today?

I heard a preacher recently say that in parenting you need to:

  • Be Firm
  • Be Fair
  • Be Fun

All three are needed.

Be firm – Say what you mean and then follow through.  Don’t promise a spanking for disobedience and then not carry it out when you get home.  That kind of neglect takes a  huge amount of effort to undo.  If you’ve set a curfew for your teen, expect them to honor it.

Be fair – Too often we hit the first one strong and hard.  We’re firm.  “No!” “No!” “No!” at every request, every attempt the child makes, at every word they say.  But stop and ask if you’re also being fair.
What does “being fair” entail?  Being fair requires really listening. Proverbs 18:13 says,

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it,

it is a folly and shame unto him.

 Did you hear your child out completely before you answered them?  Do you understand where they’re coming from?  Or did you cut them off? If the teen was late for curfew, let them speak before you discipline.  Hear them out.  There may be a viable reason for their tardiness.   If we’re wise, we will obey the Scripture above and hear them out.  Let them know you care about what they have to say and that they are worth listening to.
Be fun – Lastly, we need to take time out for fun.  If things are stressful in homeschool, drop the books and do something just for fun!  If there’s been tons of stress in relationships, add a dose of something everyone will enjoy.
  • Go on a picnic for lunch.
  • Build a fort in the backyard.
  • Eat ice cream sundaes for supper.
  • Go shopping for sunglasses with your teen daughter and have lunch at her favorite place.
  • Learn to laugh – long and hard with your children
  • Isn’t it easy to scowl?  Let your kids see you smiling- and at them!

Firm, fair, fun.  If those words don’t describe your parenting, ask the Lord to help you incorporate the needed areas into your home today!

Which of these three areas is hardest for you?

With love,