Archive: December, 2010

Against the Grain

I wrote last month about 2010 being a challenge for our family…. for my marriage. You can read about it here. My husband is running two businesses that each require his full time attention. Therefore on most weekdays he’s working early morning until really late night.

I have some guilty confessions…

I’ve compared him… other husbands are home each night having supper with their families, why not mine?

I’ve chastised him… how will you feel if we are in an accident tomorrow and die?

I’ve accused him… you’d rather be at work than with us.

That may look pretty bad, but the good news is this: even though I’ve entertained these thoughts and really felt the negative effects of them I have also rejected them. I’ve placed my hardship and my feelings before the Lord and He has answered me with old words renewed

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord

Ephesians 5:22 (NIV)

I discussed this verse some in Recalling His Purpose, but since it’s a daily process that all of us endure I thought it deserved a little more attention.

What Ephesians 5:22 does not say…

It does not say to submit to your husband only when you “feel” like it.

It does not say to submit to your husband only when he’s making decisions that you agree with.

It does not say to submit to your husband only when he’s meeting all of your needs.

Those truths are hard for us to swallow because with the influence of the world we have a false idea of what marriage “should” look like and when they don’t fit into our man-made mold we feel wronged. Our biggest problem in this area is learning when to simply be quiet. What happens is when we allow negative feelings such as my guilty confessions listed above to enter into our hearts, seeds of bitterness spring to life like powerful weeds. We become entangled with resentment and then as His Word says in Matthew 12:34 “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” We feel it and we spew it and it never goes well for us.

Now, what Ephesians 5:22 does say is simple: submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord.

That’s it.

How? Learn to identify the tendencies that allow you to get wrapped up in yourself and perfect the practice of being quiet and going to God with your troubles. Let Him remind you that He is your ultimate authority. That life doesn’t always “feel” great. That He still has a plan to prosper you and not harm you… but only so far as it brings glory to Him.

Look, it’s uncomfortable at times. I know. We live in a society that sells “it’s all about me” in every magazine, TV commercial and billboard and it’s so easy to trip unknowingly into the trap of believing we deserve better. But we serve a God that says “it’s all about Him” and in each of our souls we truly believe that.

For the record, I am not saying don’t discuss your concerns with your husband, absolutely do that. I am simply suggesting that you let the Lord lead you in that process. Do it humbly and respectfully. And more than anything accept his decisions, let him be the head of your home.

We’ve all made the mistake of taking stock in our feelings. And we’ve all tasted the sweet victory of doing it God’s way. I’m challenged to tip the scales and move against the grain more consistently, to live a life completely out of balance for Christ. In my marriage more than anything because what happens here under this roof seeps into every other aspect of my life. It’s all divinely intertwined leading from one thing to the next with just one primary focus: Christ.

Submitting to my husband is no different than submitting to the Lord.

It’s obey or disobey.

Against the grain.

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Today I’m linking up with Julie’s Marriage Mondays at Come Have a Peace, please go and check her out…

All I want Is You, Encouragement to See Christmas In a New Way

Our society tends to celebrate x-mas rather than Christmas. We become pre-occupied with so many activities that we miss the true meaning of Christmas. We remove Christ and the “x” takes on multiple meanings: shopping, tree cutting, who has the prettiest decorations, and which church has the best program. The more we try adding on to the fact that God became a man, the more we ruin it. Doesn’t it blow your mind that the Creator of the Universe came to earth to tell sinners how much He loves us?
If Jesus were here right now, don’t you think He would wonder why every year He has to compete with a new shirt, a new bike, or a man dressed in red?
I wonder if the folks in Bethlehem that Holy night were just like us. Busy. Distracted. Over-burdened. Were they too busy to notice what was happening in a stable across town? Could they not have left the comforts of their homes to see what the fuss was about? Were they so focused on themselves they failed to see majesty meeting mundane?

Sometimes it’s inconvenient to notice Jesus.
We have places to go, people to see, and gifts to buy. Our ‘to-do’ lists grow like rising bread. They get bigger and bigger. The calendar gets fuller and fuller. The “if-only’s” take over. “If only,” I could fit Jesus into my shopping schedule. “If only” I didn’t have that thing to do. “If only” I could slow down and notice Jesus.
Are you kidding me? Jesus slowed down enough to notice us, so why is it so hard for us to notice Him, especially at Christmastime?

Be amazed.
We can do something new this Christmas. We can adjust the noise levels in our hearts and our homes. We can create a true silent night. Silent enough to hear God’s voice. We can choose to stand in amazement of His unconditional love for us. Not because we deserve it but because we belong to Him.

“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being,” Philippians 2:5-7 (New Living Translation).
God surrendered his divine privileges to be born in the humblest of settings. He didn’t come as a King but as a servant. He came to set an example for us as He redeemed a lost world. Amazed yet?

Let’s Rejoice with new perspective.
Wrapped up in swaddling clothes wasn’t just a baby. As we peel back the layers of warmth we find, peace, joy, possibility, hope, and grace.

Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness,” (Ps. 145:3); “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words,” (2 Cor. 9:15 NLT).
We can dress up our homes and throw the best party on the block, but God looks at the heart. He sees past all the shiny tinsel and golden trinkets hanging on the tree. He sees if we are truly worshipping Him or something else.

This Christmas lets toss our schedules out the frosty window and instead…

Spend time being amazed at what God’s done- He’s worth it;

Let’s be stunned by the manger – That baby is God.

Let’s rejoice with great noise – I can’t find one person in the Bible who was touched by God and remained quiet, can you?
Jesus, all I want for Christmas is YOU.
Merry Christmas! Thanks again to Bonnie Gray for so graciously allowing us to write on her website. I enjoy writing here more than any other place!
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Worn Out

I usually begin my day full of energy. I throw on a baseball cap to cover my oily hair, apply little dabs of cover-up to hide the unsightly bumps that appeared overnight, and drop off the kids at school. Even though I have yet to put my “face on,” my spiritual eyes are open and I’m ready to experience whatever awesomeness God has in store.

I go and go and go.

By 4:00 p.m. I feel like I’ve hit a wall. You know that infamous wall of exhaustion? We all experience this burnout collapse it’s just a matter of how often.

My family asks:

Are eating healthy? With all the Butterfinger bells and Christmas candy around, are you kidding?

Exercising? Does hauling laundry up and down the stairs count?

Sleep? Usually get about 7 hours. It depends whether a 7, 5, or 3 year old wakes up and crawls into bed with us.

Organization? Of course. I’m a planner; a stick to a schedule kind of girl.

Life simplified? I try but it’s hard. I want to say “yes” to everything.

Naps? No time for it. I think taking them actually makes me more tired.

God, do you know how worn out I feel? Do see how hard I’m trying? Remember last week? When the leaky bathtub flooded the house? That wore me out. Remember when half the roof blew off and we had to call for help? That wore me out too. Then the house alarm wouldn’t turn off and woke up the entire neighborhood at 11:00p.m.? That wore everyone out. Oh and don’t forget the jury duty. That week plumb wore this woman out.

“I am weary, O God; I am weary and worn out, O God,” (Proverbs 30:1 NLT).

God, I don’t want to be worn out. I need to give you and my family my best.

“It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves” (Ps. 127:2 MSG)?

My worry and anxiousness last week stole my attention away from my Jesus. I spent more time worrying than I did praying. I spent more time concerned about my tomorrow than I did about God in my today.

“She has wearied herself with toil; its abundant corrosion does not go out of it,” (Ez. 24:12 ESV).

Yes, Lord, instead of holding every thought captive and putting my trust in you, I “wearied myself with toil.” And it corroded the seconds, minutes, and hours of my day. I spent more time and energy being anxious than I did abiding in you. My activity seemed more important than yours.

When we become tired and overburdened, the Creator of the Universe wants us to come to Him and rest with Him. Only when we slow down do we notice God. Only when we take a deep breath do we notice God’s grip on stressful moments.

So my sweet fellow stressed out women, when you feel pushed to the brink of insanity, run to the One who cares, kneel at His feet, clutch His hand, and climb into His lap as you find peace, restoration and renewal in Him.

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish,” (Jeremiah 31:25).

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Am I the Real Thing?


Have you ever wondered if you’re the real thing or not? Are you a woman who slaps a “Christian” label on things when it’s convenient? Or are you the real deal, a true follower of Jesus?

Are we fake or for real?

When I pursue the same things the world pursues, I begin to experience counterfeit Christianity. I live a diluted version of a Christian life instead of the concentrated one. I prefer watered down Christianity because I can still go to church and be popular. Have you ever experienced this?

This slip into artificial living originates from diminished time with God, nominal devotion, pressures begin overriding priorities, and personal holiness is disregarded.

So how do we know if we are true followers of Jesus?

The book of 1 John shows us how we test ourselves.

1. “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness,” (1 John 1:5-6, New Living Translation);

2. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness,” (1 John 1:8-9 New Living Translation);

3. “If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him,” (1 John 2:4-5 New Living Translation);

4. “If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble,” (1 John 2:9-10 New Living Translation);

5. “Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is”, (1 John 3:6 New Living Translation);

6. If we live in a way that is overly self-focused, have a craving for everything we see, and we have pride in our achievements and possessions, we are not living for God but for ourselves. These things are not from God (see 1 John 2:15-17).

Number 6 is difficult for me sometimes, how about you?

God has given us his Spirit as proof we live in Him and He in us (see 1 John 4:13). Do our lives reflect this? Does a radical gospel inside us produce these characteristics outside us?
Are we more dedicated to outward security or inward purity?

Challenge yourself by taking this personal inventory today. Our lives should reflect what and in whom we believe. Are we genuine gospel girls or counterfeit Christians?

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Better than Revenge

Ring, ring… the doorbell sounds. I scoot to the door, twist the knob, and greet the babysitter with my biggest Christmas smile. The Christmas smile is suddenly interrupted by gooey, crusty egg smudged across my front door. The egg appears to have solidified on the glass in mid drip. With hands on my hips and over-exaggerated head attitude I reply, “What is that?” My friend controls her belly laughing chuckle and says, “you got egged!”

I could fry that egg up with the sizzling steam blasting from my ears. Horns begin emerging from my tangled-un-showered hair. My pent up anger unleashes. This momma of three is in retaliation mode. Revenge cracks its whip and springs into action.

I’ll admit my first plan of attack against my neighborhood isn’t pleasant. I consider grabbing a 12 pack of jumbo-sized eggs from my refrigerator and chucking them at every house on my street (Just to make sure the offender(s) doesn’t escape the egg explosion they so graciously gave to me). After all, I should spread the joy around, right?

The problem is…

I am offended.

My feelings are hurt.

Old insecurities of ‘not being liked’ resurface.

Has someone ever done something that really hurt your feelings? Revenge seems sweet in the moment but in reality it’s just artificially flavored poison. It leads us towards escalation rather than restoration.

A much healthier approach to the inevitable conflict is to allow the Holy Spirit to hit the pause button on our knee-jerk reactions and redirect raw emotions. Quick responses are dangerous. When we slow down our snappy attitudes, we give God time to be the author of our words and our actions. It’s never easy but it always works.

Once the destructive fog of anger lifts and I return my eggs to the dairy drawer, I ask myself this question. Am I trying to prove myself or improve myself? Am I more concerned with proving I’m right or more concerned with whether or not onlookers see Jesus in the way I respond?

Look no further than the example Jesus set regarding revenge. He did not retaliate when insulted; He did not threaten revenge when He suffered; and He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly, (1 Peter 2:13-25). Isn’t it ironic that we fight so hard to sustain our rights when all Jesus ever did was surrender His?

As we begin our week, let’s remember we are receivers of mercy so we must give mercy to those who hurt us. Even though we may not feel like it, it’s what Jesus would do.

So sweet sisters, the next time we find ourselves seeking revenge on a name-calling, egg-throwing, smack talker, let’s pause and think biblically:

Don’t hold a grudge ~Leviticus 19:18;

Do not say, “I will repay evil;”
wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you ~Proverbs 20:22;

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all ~Romans 12:17-21.
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Eagerly Anticipating Him

As fast as you can say “Thanksgiving” it’s over. The very next day all things orange and red and brown wearily fade into the forgotten background of the world as the ever popular Christmas pushes itself into the lime-light making its sparkling, dazzling long awaited debut. Soft, glowing lights of every color seem to magically string from house to house reminding us of the upcoming event. Windows joyfully frame some variety of a beautifully decorated fir tree that soon becomes the center of unforgettable precious family memories. We can barely help but lose ourselves in lists and shopping and baking and celebrating… every single day up until the most eagerly anticipated day of the year arrives: Christmas.

I fondly recall the complete and utter excitement of Christmas Eve as a child. The quiet restfulness of my bed overtaken by insomnia induced hopes for Christmas morning. Santa Claus. Overflowing stockings. Piles of gifts. All mysterious and unknown, but filled with the promise of smiles and squeals and sweet splendor. And now as an adult I can hardly fight the urge to introduce my children each year to all of this marvelous wonder and delight.

But, in the midst of it all I remember what Christmas is really about for those of us who believe.

And the picture of what I hope for at this time of year instantly transforms into something very different. Something that is hardly radiant to the eyes of the world, but strikingly magnificent to those whose eyes stay fixed upon Jesus. Indeed the traditions of Christmas surround us, smothering us at every turn, yet we do not ever forget that He is our true reason for this season.

His birth and the hope that it brought us.

His life and the living example He is for us.

His death and the covering for our sin.

His promises and our eternity with Him in heaven.

It causes me to reflect on this consuming, hungry expectation of traditional Christmas that the world woos us into and the energy we pour into the handful of days leading up to it. And I nearly burn up with conviction as I realize that we should reserve this awesome eager anticipation for only one single day ever. His Word defines all of our hopes not just for Christmas, but for life

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We have overwhelming Truth that gives us a real reason to exhibit such eager anticipation and it by far out weighs any impulsive passion we have for a mere annual and worldly holiday. That’s worth our excitement. It’s THE gift of our lifetime.

So, my hopes for Christmas are that in the coming days I would not lose this most important godly perspective. And in however many days we have left on this earth that our passion would unleash wildly for Christ in a way that forcibly moves us to stand unyielding up onto our tippy-toes with arms anxiously outstretched to His heavens in joyful, never-seen-before eager anticipation as we await the coming of our Savior and our promised life with Him in eternity.

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**This post was written in response to Bonnie Gray’s Faith Barista Jam, check her out…
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