Hiding the wind

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The storm that blew through our back patio left evidence of very strong winds. The porch swing was now in our neighbor’s yard. Chairs and outside decor was scattered in the grass and tall weeds across the road. We never saw the wind herself, of course, but its destruction left ugly reminders that she had passed our way.

As we stood at the door and watched the storm blow through, is it possible that we could have stepped outside and stopped the wind?

No way.

Proverbs 27:16 tells us that whoever can hide a contentious wife can also hide the wind. In other words, just as impossible as it would be to stop the wind, so it is impossible to stop a contentious woman from her unbridled actions. The next part of the verse also tells us it’s like oil slipping through fingers – you cannot stop it.

This descriptive picture is such a good warning to my own heart. I can cause much destruction in my home and in the lives of those around me if I don’t stop the contentions – the irritations – in my heart from being turned into actions and words.

May each of us guard our hearts and our tongues today so that when others around us hear our words and watch our lives, they won’t be fearful of the destruction left in their path, but they can rejoice that they were in our presence.

I love beautiful clear skies and sunny days! I pray that my influence in others’ lives will be that kind of refreshment, rather than the stormy winds that are dreaded and destructive!

We each need to ask ourselves if we are leaving devastation like the wind or delight like the sun (or perhaps we should ask those that spend time with us each day)!  We’ll need to listen with a humble heart and a willingness to change, if necessary. It wouldn’t do to blow up like an unpredicted storm!

With whom do you need to be especially careful ?  Ask the Lord to help you respond in love towards them today.

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In-Laws and Outlaws Part II

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Jokes about mothers-in-law…there are many.  I remember hearing one about a Greyhound bus going over the side of a cliff, but there was no worry, because the only passenger was the man’s MIL.  Ouch.  Where do those punches come from?  Maybe from people who have gotten fed up with that female in-law who crossed the relational boundaries.  But it’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  We may reason that

  • we only want to help!
  • we’ve been where our children are and we think we need to  give them some good advice.
  • we see our kids getting ready to make the mistake of a lifetime.
  • they need help raising those grandchildren of ours.

The reasons for mother-in-laws interfering are many, but for the most part, they may be very unwelcomed  from our birth children and our in-laws.  It can do far more damage than it does help when it’s unsolicited.

What is a mother-in-law to do if she desires to have a good relationship with a son or daughter-in-law?  Here are a few things I’ve learned (and am still learning!).

  1. Only give advice when it’s asked for.  If you see your kids doing something you think is wrong, pray about it instead of speaking to them.  Trust a sovereign God to direct them just as He directs you when you’re heading down a wrong path.
    That would include little “hints” you might want to drop about your DIL’s housekeeping, lack of meal prep, or careless parenting skills.  Or your SIL’s need to turn off the television, get a job, lead his family or attend church.  Take it to God instead.
    I’ve had to ask both of my girls to forgive me for stepping over that boundary once they got married!  We’re so used to being “mom” that we scold, advise and reprimand our grown kids as quickly as we used to throw our arm across them when we came to a sudden stop in the car.  Let’s fold our hands in prayer instead and ask the Lord to give them wisdom to make right choices.
  2. Don’t demand your children’s presence for ANYTHING. would mean Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday, Mother’s Day – you get the idea.  They have lives of their own.  They have a family to care for.  They have burdens to carry.  They have jobs and ministries.  Let them live their lives.  Again, if you feel neglected, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Even if you don’t demand their presence, but you pout because they weren’t there…it’s just as bad.
    Also, be sure you’re building that marriage relationship with your spouse.  Have so much fun together that your kids will know that if they’re not able to come home, you both are fine just being together!
  3. Never drop in to your children’s home without calling ahead.  “Yoo-hoo!” at the front door as you walk in could make an embarrassing situation for you and your children.  It can also turn you into the lady that might be given a ticket to ride that Greyhound bus!
  4. Consider your child’s spouse.  Think to your own MIL and how you liked or disliked when she left you out or included you, as the case may be.  Love them.  Talk to them.  Send a text.  Call them occasionally just to say hi.  Pray for them.  Treat them with respect and give them those kind of words.
  5. Allow your children and their spouse to be adults.  Treat them as such, remembering that you raised them to be independent. Don’t see your son as your little boy.  He’s a man.  Let your daughter be a grown woman. Let go of those early days and let them establish a home as adults.

Remember the story of Ruth and Naomi?  Ruth was said to have been kind to her mother-in-law.  We may cry out – “My daughter-in-law needs to take a lesson from her!  My son-in-law needs to learn to be kind to me!”  But what made Ruth and Orpah want to go back to Bethlehem with Naomi?  She had been gracious to them!  Someone has said,

Maybe if we were more like Naomi,

there would be more Ruth’s.

If you’re guilty of something in this post, be humble and ask the Lord to help you.  You might even need to ask your children and in-laws to forgive you for the way you’ve treated them.  A humble spirit of repentance could be the very thing that will turn those difficult relationships around.

Let’s be more like Naomi today.

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My Most Embarrassing Moment and a Lesson About Priorities

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Have you ever been asked about your most embarrassing moment?  Mine is ingrained in my mind like a freeze-framed DVD on the computer screen.  It happened like this –

Our four year-old daughter, Whitney, was attending pre-school at the Christian school in our area.  Ministry was busy and finances were tough.  Then out of the clear blue I got a phone call from the principal where our daughter was attending pre-school.  It seems they were in dire need of a second grade school teacher because the current teacher had quit.  He asked if I would pray about teaching the class for the year.  The whole year?  How could I swing that with all my other responsibilities as a wife, mom and pastor’s wife?   As my husband and I talked and prayed about it, we felt that perhaps this was the Lord providing for our needs.

As we prayed, I also consulted with my parents for their advice.  I clearly remember having a phone conversation with my dad where he discouraged me from taking the position because of the age of my little girl and her needs.  She would be home in the afternoon when I would still be at school.  I regretted later not heeding his warning!  But we reasoned that she would have time with her daddy while I was gone.  We failed to consider the many ministry responsibilities that would call for his time.

So, yes, I took the teaching job.  From the very first afternoon when I saw my husband pull out of the school parking lot with our daughter in tow, I regretted signing my name on the dotted line of that teaching contract!  But now it was too late.  We got into a routine – Whitney rode to school with me in the morning where she went to pre-school and I headed to the second grade classroom.  Her daddy picked her up at noon when her class was finished and they would visit church members together in the afternoon or she would play while he studied.  Some days, due to the need to visit the hospital or attend a funeral, she would spend the afternoon with a friend and fellow-pastor’s wife.  When I would hear that they had made cookies, played house or beauty shop, it would tear my heart in two!

Along with school, of course, were my ministry responsibilities.  I tried to keep up with activities and the people of our congregation.  One evening, desiring to show my concern, I approached a woman whose mother had been very ill.

“Mae, how is your mother doing?” I asked.  Her expression turned to disbelief, and she said in a somber tone, “Denise, my mother died two weeks ago.”

At that moment I wished could die!  How embarrassing!  I apologized for my blunder and somehow found my way to my seat where my face slowly returned to its natural color.

That’s what happened as a result of having too many plates spinning in the air and trying to keep them all going.  Now one had crashed to the floor – and in church of all places – the place where I should have been demonstrating care and concern!  I realized at that moment that I was doing too much, and that I wasn’t giving ample time or attention to the things that were most important.

Though that year was difficult, I learned the greatest lesson from that experience.   I learned what my priorities were, and working outside my home while I had children to raise was not one of them!   Hence, that was my first and last job, not because I was too lazy to work; I had just learned the hard way that the best (and most fulfilling) job for me was raising my girls and being a help-meet to my husband.  Nothing else in the world really mattered.  There were still times when I’ve felt I was spinning plates, but I had learned through my embarrassing moment not to allow those plates to be the ones that were closest to my heart.

How do you balance all the busy things going on in your world?  Is there something you feel the Lord would have you to give up? 

Ten Choices That Will Help Get Your Marriage to the Finish Line

0427170702aHappy Friday y’all!  I’m here today with a brand new post as we finish out this week talking about marriage.  So far this week we’ve discussed roller coaster days, making more deposits in your relationship than withdrawals, and the high cost of foolish choices. Today I want to talk about wise choices and how they will effect your home.

Many women were so very grieved this week to hear of a well-loved Bible teacher announcing her divorce to her husband.  Serious infidelity and substance abuse got a grip in her husband’s life, bringing their marriage to an end.  I don’t know all the details, of course, but it has impacted the world with its sad ending.  I’m afraid that some women will hear that, and then feel helpless themselves.

“If her marriage is falling apart, and she’s a famous Bible teacher, how can I ever hope to have a happy marriage?

When you consider the trials, the disagreements, the financial woes, the verbal misunderstandings, the pride, the emotions, the daily pressures, and the parenting conflicts, it’s a miracle that any marriage survives, but it can!  

But how?  I believe with all my heart it’s  through the presence of the Lord and His guidance, His example of love, and the counsel of His Word that allows a Christian couple to remain together for a lifetime.

Satan wants to destroy our homes, but God is greater, friends!  I’d like to share with you some choices we have to make to see our marriage to the Finish Line.

  1. Stay on your knees in prayer for your mate and your marriage.  Think about it – if you’re not praying for your husband, who is? Pray for ~
    • His heart for God
    • His purity
    • His protection from Satan’s attacks
    • A tender heart to sin
    • A fear of God
    • A desire for God’s house
    • His leadership in your home – Note:  Talk to the Lord about this – not him!
  2. Keep the fun in your relationship.  Don’t stop laughing, flirting, dancing in the grocery store aisle, or any of the things that made you smile when you were dating!
  3. As your children grow up, release more and more of that attention they were getting and lavish it on your husband!  A wife who makes her children the center of her attention even after they’re able to care for themselves is pushing her husband out of her life, and that is a dangerous action.
    • Send the child back to their bed.
    • Put them on a schedule and spend time with your husband.
    • Leave them with a caregiver and go on dates.
    • Be excited about your empty nest rather than crying on Facebook about how you miss your little boys! I know I’m stepping out on a limb on that one, but I love you, ladies, and someone needs to tell you to build a bridge and get over it.
    • Don’t make your children the center of your world – make your husband the center.  Doing so will give your children the security of parents who love each other and are going to stay together forever.
  4. Keep the tenderness in your relationship.
    • Use tender words, rather than angry, cross ones.
      • Make sure your conversation is more than about who’s picking up the gallon of milk.
    • Use tender touches.  Hold hands.  Kiss goodbye and hello.  You never know when that might be your last kiss.  We’re not promised tomorrow!
  5. Be first.  To forgive.  To serve.  To love.
  6. Be thoughtful.  Pick up his favorite treat.  Make a nourishing breakfast before he leaves.  Ask what he would like for supper.  Ask if there’s an errand you can do for him, or a way to lighten his load.
  7. Do what he enjoys doing on his day off.  I”m not much of a hiker, but I think my husband’s favorite date in recent years was a January birthday hike I planned, complete with a picnic lunch of homemade soup in Mason jars..  It was freezing cold and snowy., but we had so much fun!
  8. Make plans for the days ahead.  Doing so says, “I’m planning on spending all my life with you, and it’s going to be wonderful!  What do you want to be like as you age?  What trips could you dream about?  What goals could you write down and look forward to as your lives change in the years ahead?
  9. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses as to why you prefer to be slouchy at home.  It is possible to be comfortable and look great for your husband.   I’ve seen one too many videos of wives saying, “Yeah, my hair looks awful; I haven’t washed it in a week.”  Really?  Shampoo is cheap, and it doesn’t really take that long to get your hair cleaned.  Men are visual – give him something great to look at!
  10. Make a play list of all the love songs you listened to while dating.  Let your hearts spin along with the music and remember where it all started between you both!

Because there is a God in heaven, there is hope for our marriages.  Don’t let yourself feel in despair or like there is no chance that your marriage can be awesome!  Which of these suggestions do you need to start on?  Ask God to help you and see what a difference it can make in your home!

Refresh your marriage!

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Foolish Choices that Could Destroy Your Marriage

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Someone told me recently that they had enjoyed reading my blog until they began reading my posts about The Foolish Woman! They were teasing, but the implication was that it’s not always easy to read things that hit home and bring conviction. I trust that you will read on anyway, and consider the description of the foolish woman from Proverbs 7.

Proverbs 7:6-10 reads, “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement. And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her (the foolish woman’s) corner, and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot and subtil of heart.”

I see here that another foolish characteristic of this woman is the choices she makes. She’s going out in the evening when it is dark outside. This is a romantic setting and she is setting herself and this foolish man up for a huge fall by being out at this time of night. She has no concern how this might look to others who might see her standing on the street alone with this man.

What a warning this must be to us! We have to let our mind run ahead to look out for situations that could put our testimony at jeopardy. Some potential danger zones would be:

  • Having a man in your home when you are there alone.
  • Listening to a man tell you about his marriage problems or you talking to him about yours.
  • Sending private emails to men (Why not send a carbon copy to his wife?).
  • Having chats with men on the Internet.
  • Riding alone in the car with a man.

Some may say, “My goodness! Are you suspicious of everyone?” No, but we need to make good, wise choices before we are in a situation that destroys our testimony and possibly our marriage.   What seems harmless could lead to other things.

If we guard our hearts and are also thoughtful enough to protect the men around us, we will know that our choices will label us as wise instead of foolish.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Make wise choices and guard your marriage.

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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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