Family Friday – Ten Things This Mom Would Do Again

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My mommy days are behind me now, and as I’m watching others in this special, yet demanding role, I have done some reminiscing over the years when my girls were young.  I have plenty of regrets, as all moms do, but I’m not going to dwell on those, because I can’t change them, and because doing so would not fall under the Philippians 4:8 things I should think about!  It’s in the past. But there are things that were so good about those days.  As I think back, I remember things that we did that I would definitely do again, if I had the chance.

Here they are:

  1. Be a stay-at-home mom.  I’m so thankful that I was there for all but 9 months of both of my girls’ lives.  The nine months I worked were the longest months of my life!  I hated being taken away from my family and my home.  I was under a teaching contract, and I kept my word to the prinicple, but when the school year was done, so was I!  My husband and I decided that it was best for me to pour into our own children, rather than someone else’s!
  2. Be relatively poor.  Does that sound strange?  I would have never anticipated saying that!  Our churches did the best they could to care for us, but when the girls were young, things were tight.  Very tight. As I stated above, I was a stay-at-home mom, so we lived on my husband’s salary alone.  We homeschooled, so we had book fees and satellite costs, which were a large chunk of money every year that we never had on hand.  We were in ministry all those years, and we needed time away – times to rest and refresh as a family and recharge our spiritual batteries and physical bodies.  We had growing girls and we entertained missionaries and guest speakers, so groceries were another cost that stretched us.  Where did we get the money for these things?  We prayed.  Our inefficiencies ran us to our all-sufficient God.  He provided for us in amazing, life-changing ways!  Had we had all the money we wanted or needed, it wouldn’t have taught us to depend on Him so greatly.  Being needy turned into a great blessing.
  3. Read aloud to my girls.  One way we entertained ourselves at bedtime, around the kitchen table, in the car, or on a blanket in the backyard was through books.  We read a varied kind of books, and they were carefully chosen, and opened a whole world to us, even while we stayed home.
  4. Use God’s Word in discipline.  We always sat down and talked with our girls in their bedrooms at discipline times.  We explained from the Scriptures what they had done wrong that God considered sin.  This kept us from acting quickly out of anger (we sent them to their room and we’d cool off before addressing the issue!).  They knew it wasn’t just that mommy and daddy didn’t like what they did, but they saw it in God’s Word, and it guided their thinking and changed their behavior.
  5. Laugh and have fun.  We had lots of laughs as a family.  I should have laughed at myself more, but we shared many fun times around games, out in the snow, in the car playing the alphabet game, baking in the kitchen, or building a fire in the backyard.
  6. Be faithful to Sunday school and church.  It’s not just because we’re a ministry family that we went to church.  We love being in God’s house and with God’s people!  Worshiping, singing, reading Scripture, giving our tithes, and fellowshipping with other believers helped all of us to grow!
  7. Show outward affection and say, “I love you.”  We’re a “touchy” family, in that we hug and love on one another.  Using words to express love between parents and children is so important.  Our children learn how to love by watching us.  The first place they should feel acceptance and unconditional love is at home.
  8. Leave the girls once in a while to go on a date with their dad.  We were making a stronger home for them, and they lived through the trauma of it all!  A parent can feel really guilty leaving a crying child, even though they’re in great hands with grandparents or other caring adults, but without those times away, your relationship will get stagnant, and you’ll only discuss things like empty milk jugs and unfinished homework!
  9. Spend time alone with God every day.  When the girls were small, this time was limited, but I would read what I could and pray over each of my family.  Sometimes it came a verse at a time, with interruptions in between.  Sometimes my prayers were while I was ironing their clothes.  It was then that I’d pray for the one whose clothes I was pressing.  I often left verses on cards around the house so I could meditate on that passage.  Those “little moments” fed my soul and kept my heart right with God so I could parent them and point my girls to Christ.
  10. Marry my girls dad.  I let them know often how much I loved their daddy and how God brought us together.  He had to be my first priority because that’s God’s order.  Why?  Because God knew that I’d be where I am today – an Empty nester, and He wanted my home to be just as fulfilling now as it was when our daughters were here.

And you know what?

It is.

What are you doing right now that you know you’ll be glad you’re doing as a mom?  Keep doing it!  What are you regretting?  Ask God how to change it and watch for how He steps in!  

Refresh your children by being the mom God will enable you to be by His grace.

With love,

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Family Friday – Keep Your Marriage Safe

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Recently in the late hours of the night, while a subdivision of residents was fast asleep, a thief entered the quiet of the street and began making his way up driveways looking for unlocked cars. All he was interested in was cash, and any he found was taken.

What the thief didn’t know was that a security camera was right on him, taking footage of his sinful deeds.  Aside from seeing him enter unlocked cars, one thing noted on the security tape was that when he approached one vehicle that was locked, he simply moved away from it. There was no attempt at breaking in.  The security of the car door locks, kept him from taking what was not his.

As I thought about the crime, the Lord brought a truth to my mind about my marriage.  No one can steal away from our relationship unless we leave areas unlocked.  So then, we must check to be sure that we’re keeping our marriage safe.  Here are some security locks that need to be checked regularly:

  • Keep your marriage vows.
    • Love
      • Love is a choice, not a feeling. If you’re not “feeling it,” pray and ask God to help you love your husband – He will. Keep praying about it and don’t quit!
      • Love him thoroughly, the way you want to be loved. Accept him and don’t have any expectations of what he should be or should do.  Would you and I want to be held to our husband’s list of expectations?  We must accept him in the same way.
      • Love him physically. Don’t withhold your physical love as punishment.  Doing so could cause ramifications that could cause the thief to come in and steal what is supposed to be only yours.
    • Honor
      • This is the same as respect. A husband doesn’t earn it as the world says he must – you give it because God commands you to.  Eph 5:33 Honor him as unto the Lord, or as you would the Lord!  Your words, your reactions, your decisions – your whole married life is to show the man you married honor – the highest esteem.
    • Obey
      • He has ultimate leadership for your home. Whether you like his decision or disagree, God says the husband is the head, and unless what he is asking is sinful, then you must come under his authority. Period.
    • ‘Til death do you part
      • Never should we use the word, “Divorce.” Nor should we threaten to leave.  Marriage is for a lifetime.  Considering divorce is leaving an open door for the right situation to enter so we have an out.  (I realize divorce for fornication is allowed, but often lesser things cause those words to be spoken.)

So, how secure is your marriage?  Are you leaving an unlocked door in any of the areas above?  There are many other safeties we could discuss, but I believe if we’re  honoring our marriage vows, most of the other scenarios will be safe from danger.

Marriage is a gift from God that is a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ.  He keeps us secure for eternity.  I’m pretty sure I know a subdivision of people who will now be locking their car doors at night.  Don’t you wait until the thief comes to steal from your marriage before you do what is wise!  Keep it secure all the days of our life, “so long as you both shall live.”

Happy Easter!  Rejoice; He is risen, and that makes a difference in every area of life – even your marriage!

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Family Friday – Adding Wisdom to Your Marriage

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When my husband and I got married 35 years ago, we had had no official premarital counseling.   I did have the blessing of many talks with my mom beforehand, as well as my parent’s example, but not the kind of teaching that a pastor would typically impart today. I’ve remembered much of what I witnessed and have applied that to my married life, but through the years, I’ve found it so necessary to keep looking for wisdom to apply to my role as a wife.  Anything left dormant is bound to get moldy after a while! I don’t want my marriage to do that!!

The Lord tells us in Proverbs 8:33 –

 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

One way I’ve continued to get instruction is through reading Christian books on marriage.  I’ve tried to read several a year by just reading little portions each day to keep my marriage healthy.  A few of my favorites have been:

  • Proverbs!!!  I read it every month!!
  • A Woman After God’s Own Heart
  • Creative Counterpart
  • What’s it Like to be Married to Me?
  •  For Women Only
  • Love and Respect
  • The Excellent Wife
  • Praying God’s Will for My Husband – Praying for him changes me!

There are more, but those are some of my favorites that really helped me grow in my role as a wife.

Another way I’ve sought out wisdom is by listening to radio broadcasts and now podcasts.  I started with Focus on the Family.  That’s a no-brainer, right?  They support the Christian marriage with topics that really help the couple!

Now my favorite podcast is Revive Our Hearts. I cannot tell you how refreshing their broadcasts are.  Nancy has recently done a series on Titus 2.  It has been so practical and full of truth!  Just yesterday she shared a piece of advice that the late Vonette Bright shared with her on her wedding day.  Let me close by sharing it with you.

She said, “Submit to whatever brings him (your husband)
pleasure in everything . . . and you’ll be just fine.”

Nancy went on to add –

By no means was she to encouraging me to satisfy any sinful, selfish desire my husband might have. She was not implying that I would be my husband’s slave, or that my role was merely to fulfill his every whim.

Here was a dear widow who had enjoyed a deeply loving fifty-four-year marriage, and who knew first-hand the joys of having a disposition—an inclination—to follow her husband’s leadership.

That is good advice!
What do you need to submit to that would bring your husband pleasure?  Do it!

Your marriage needs the refreshment that daily wisdom will give it!  Are you continuing to grow in wisdom regarding your role as a wife?  What will you do as a result?  Will you start a habit of reading and/or listening?

Refresh your marriage,

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Ten Stress-Reducers for Marriage

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For my Family Friday post today, I’m going to share my husband’s great thoughts from his message series of Putting Hope in Your Marriage.  These are practical for every marriage – stress or no stress!

  1. Refresh daily with God’s Word.  Only His Word can help YOU be what you need to be.
  2. Always put your spouse first.  This requires humility…see point #1!
  3. Build together time into your schedule.  If you don’t put it in, it likely won’t happen.
  4. Learn to say “NO.” This means you’re saying, “Yes” to more important things!
  5. Cut out ministries that are burdensome and stale.  If you’re plugging away at a ministry at church with no heart, it’s better to give it up and get refreshed.  This will also allow you time to pour into your marriage, which is your FIRST ministry!
  6. Serve together!  Aquila and Priscilla served as a husband/wife team.  Where could you serve with your spouse rather than away from him?
  7. Communicate clearly and respectfully. Don’t use your words to punish!
  8. Plan ahead. The anticipation of a fun date or time together is half the fun to me!  If you plan it ahead of time, it will help you get through the stress-filled days of life!
  9. Be “touchy.” Hold hands, hug, love with touch.  It’s amazing what a loving hug will do after a hard time, isn’t it?!
  10. Trust God.  That means trust Him together.  Stop together and pray about that stress.  Read a passage of Scripture to your husband that encouraged your heart in the midst of your difficult day.

Thank the Lord for a marriage that can give one another hope in stressful times!  Add some encouragement to your spouse today!

I’m excitedly heading to Michigan today for a Ladies’ Retreat!  It’s cold and snowy up there, but I’m looking so forward to sharing time in God’s Word together!  His Word is like an oasis in the midst of a blizzard, but I’m packing lots of warm layers anyway!!!  I pray you have a refreshing weekend!

Refresh your marriage with hope!

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Strengthening Your Marriage During Stressful Times

Their baby was born very critical. She required intensive care for months after her birth.  Days in the hospital were long and emotional for her parents, a young couple who had never gone through anything that rocked their world so hard.  They felt frightened, shaken to the core of their beings, and so very alone.

Alone?  They had each other!  Why would they feel alone?  Because during this time of emotional heartbreak, while each of their emotions were so raw, instead of pulling together, and talking and praying as a couple, they were isolating themselves and pulling away like opposing teams in a game of tug of war.  They became critical of the other’s response to the situation.  They bickered over little decisions they had to make regarding the baby.  They spent all their waking hours with the child, only somehow saving enough energy to make it back home for a few hours of sleep before returning to the NICU to start another day just like the previous one.  They wondered if their marriage would still be secure when their daughter was ready to be discharged.

The previous description is about no one I know; I made up the people and scenario.  But the fact is, this kind of thing happens to marriages all the time!  Hard things step into our lives, and, if we’re not careful, a death, a child’s rebellion, a financial set-back, a terminal illness, or any host of crisis’ can step in and destroy a home at a time when the couple needs one other the most!

During my mother-in-law’s illness a few years ago, we saw how the fatigue and separation, with one staying at the hospital and one sleeping at home, could wear on our emotions and our relationship.  There were a couple instances that wouldn’t have normally been so sensitive, but because of the weariness and stress, they seemed much bigger.  Since we knew this could be a long ordeal, we were, with the Lord’s help, trying to stay sensitive to the need to stay tender, current and in touch with the Lord and one another as we went through this journey.

Near 10-11 PM one night, we had a “date” in the hospital cafeteria.  All I wanted was dry Honey Nut Cheerios (my night time snack at home!), but it wasn’t about the food, it was about staying in touch with one another.  So much happened in a day, we needed time to talk, to catch up on, not only my mother-in-law’s condition, but also one another.

We had many offers from people who were willing to come and sit at the hospital so we can get out for a bit.  We planned dates during those days!  We had to remind ourselves of God’s sovereignty to care for things without our help.  She would be fine, and so would we.

Every marriage goes through many times like I’ve described. Here are some other tips to survive stressful times:

  • Be on the lookout for times when your marriage needs the protection of time away, even just an hour or so.  If there was a floor in the hospital for Marriage ICU, it would be full!
  • Let the Great Physician step in and give you the prescription your relationship needs.  Stop and pray together.  Take this stressful time to Him. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
  • More than others need you, you need time together.
  • Don’t cleave to your children, they will be fine with a sitter for a while.  Go out on a date.
  • Don’t cleave to the media! Turn the television off and reconnect.
  • Hold hands.
  • Look into your husband’s eyes.
  • Listen to him.

Cleave to him. Love him unconditionally…for the health of your marriage. It’s the only way you’ll be discharged from the Marriage intensive care unit!

With love

Family Friday – Marriage Advice from Two Seasoned Marriages

This week I have had the blessing of spending a few days in Kentucky with my parents.  Family time is always a blessing – even if it includes being here with them during a time of physical issues and tests, like this visit. I also got to see my twin sister and her husband – an added blessing!  We always end up having many long conversations – in the library, in the sun room, around the table at mealtimes and in the living room while we rest comfortably in their lovely and restful home.

Last night I asked questions to each of my parents, my sister and my brother-in-law after we finished supper.  I was thinking about the longevity demonstrated  in the marriages in that room.  My parents are approaching 62 years, my sister and her husband, nearly 39.  My question to each of them was,

What is one piece of advice you would give to married couples to help their marriage endure?

 

Here’s what they said,

Mom ~ “To young married couples, I would say to move away from your parents for at least the first year.  That way if something comes up between you two, you can’t go running home – you have to work it out together.
To  all marriages, I would say something that my mother told me – ‘Never make your children the center of your marriage, because if you do, when they leave home, you’ll be strangers to one another.'”

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Dad ~ “Each of you have to give 100%.  You can’t do what you think is ‘your part’ and think you’ve done enough.  Each has to give 100%.”

Jeff ~  “Learn to laugh and have fun.  Don’t take yourselves too seriously.  Remember, too, that you’ve made a covenant with God to stay together for life.”

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Dianne ~ Leave your parents and cleave to your mate!  Also out-serve one another.  Rather than wishing he would do this or that, do for him.  Pray for one another!

That’s some good advice!  There’s lots more that all of them could add, but I just asked for one top thing they would tell marriages in order to go the long haul!

Which one of these comments struck a chord in your heart?  Why not ask the Lord to help you implement that characteristic into your marriage beginning today?

Refresh your marriage,

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Family Friday- Your Husband is Worth It!

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When I read in Scripture about some of the men having multiple wives, my heart cringes.  I can’t even imagine the rivalry between “tender-eyed” Leah and lovely Rachel, sisters who both married Jacob. There’s enough right there for all kinds of trouble, right?!

But let’s set all that aside and look at one thing – Jacob noticed that Rachel was beautiful.  He had eyes to see that she was lovely.  Men are visual.  Period.  That is how God made them.  When your husband chose you, he liked – no, he loved what he saw!  What did he see?  Think back to your introduction, or the time when his heart began to be drawn to you.  How did you look to him?

I remember when my husband and I began to date seriously, he would come visit his parents for the weekend, which also happened to be the city where I lived and worked.  Before he left very early on Sunday morning to head back to school, I would get up and get ready for church- shower, hair fixed, and dressed for the service.  I wanted to look my best so he’d remember me that way in the weeks we were apart!  Now obviously, since we’ve been married, he’s seen me LOTS of mornings before makeup and hair and he loves me.  But I would be foolish to remain the plain, unkempt look for the rest of the day!  After I add a bit of makeup and curl my very straight hair, it might not improve much, but it’s better than when I started, and my husband notices!  Why do I do it?  Because my husband is worth it!

I can get a bit weary of the girls on Instagram or blog world who say,

“Here’s my Momiform.  This is just the way it is, folks!”

The caption is under a picture of her with leggings and a baggy t-shirt, hair pulled back in a pony tail and no makeup.  Her message is that life is just too busy, too demanding to do anything else but pull this on and live in it until it’s time for bed.

No one has to be outfitted in finery, or look like a model, but putting on a pair of comfy jeans or pants, a top with some form, a pair of earrings, and five minutes at hair and at least some mascara and lip gloss, would not only make her husband smile, like Jacob looking at Rachel, but would probably also make her feel more energetic and ready for a day of demands before her!  Seriously, getting ready for the day – even if you only have 30 minutes, will make you feel more like some body and doing something!  Why do we do it?  Because our husband is worth it!  

Show your husband that he is worth it by gussying up a bit each day before he comes home.  Wear something he loves to see you wear.  Put on a necklace or scarf with those jeans.  Add a little blush, mascara and lip gloss. Stop making excuses and just do it.  Our husband sees all kinds of women every day that did take the time to look their best…we should too.  Our marriage is worth it!

Is this a difficult assignment?  I Corinthians 13 reminds us not to “seek our own.”  If you were going to put his needs and desires before yours, how would that change your attitude even about your appearance?

Refresh your marriage,

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