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Picture Elisabeth; she’s beautiful inside and out.  She’s spent her life trying to live in the image of Christ.  She has filled her heart with the Word and prayed over the man God might choose to be her husband. 

Her friend calls her and invites her to a BBQ in the park.

His parents ask him to come along to paint the kids’ faces and serve his neighbors.

Their eyes meet and they hold one another in a mesmerizing gaze for a long time.  Something is stirring in her and she knows…this is the man! The one she’s been praying for.  She starts to think, ‘oh my goodness, I’m so glad I wore this dress. Is my hair okay?’
All the while he’s thinking, ‘It’s her!  She’s the one my parents told me about – the one they’ve prayed for all of these years!’  Without noticing, he’s painted a beautiful heart on the little boys face.

“HEY! I wanted a tiger!”, the little boy shouts.  He blushes. She giggles. “Oh, sorry kid. Next time.”  …and it all begins.

Their story is starting to unfold. 

They are infused with the prayers of the ones who love them most, supported by friends and wise mentors who guide them into marriage.

They make their home in the country and it’s filled with the treasures they and others have worked so hard to build – self-esteem, honesty, communication, hard work, a diligent prayer life, study in the word, integrity, faithfulness, deep intimacy, joy.
Before he comes home from work, he calls to tell his beloved he’s on his way!  She runs inside and freshens up, she tidies the house.  Supper is creating the most delicious aroma – she’s ready for him to walk through the door, all smiles!

~~~~~

…Now it’s been awhile since you have seen them, you go to their house in the country, the one filled with flavor and aroma, treasures of the heart…but no one is there. You call her on the phone and she says, “We’ve moved. I don’t think you should come over. It’s too dangerous.” 

I guess you’ll have to decide, is your visiting worth the potential danger?

You follow her directions. It’s hard to find.  You’ve left the sketchy part of town and you’re deep in the heart of the slums.  There isn’t any color here, it’s dark and grey. No sound of children laughing.  There is no inviting flower bed in the front and you think back to the way she used to keep her garden, her sanctuary…is it all dead now, you wonder in silence?  You slowly walk up the broken stairs to the dark door, and knock. 

“Come it, it’s open.” 

How did Elisabeth’s marriage go from a country beauty to a home in the slums?

If it were an easy question to answer, I wouldn’t need to write this post.  I remember Elisabeth when they were dating. Oh, she was a beauty.  She really shared her heart, her dreams. She was inviting, inspiring, she served her Beloved with a heart open to God…I never went there and caught her in sweats and a ponytail.  I never heard her fart while they were snuggled up on the couch.  When I asked her how this happened, she said “I don’t know…I mean I never would have moved us here to the slums.  I guess it happened slowly.  Joseph started working longer hours and we decided to move a little closer to town so the kids could be in sports…”  There was a vacancy to her eyes that didn’t belong there.  “Before we knew it, we were here. In this house – if you could call it a house…” She began to cry and I could tell she was scared.

See, it never happens that you just decide to move from the country to the slums.  It’s a mountain of small decisions, seemingly inconsequential decisions…decisions made by both you and your husband (it is never the fault of one person).  It took two of you to build it and two to move you into the slums.  It’s true that it will take both Elisabeth and Joseph to move back to their country home filled with treasures…but it starts with one heart.
It starts with God’s heart for your marriage.
That whisper, the gentle breeze, the calling voice – can you hear Him?

Dear wives, have you let yourself go?  What are you wearing right now? Have you forgotten to praise your husband, to encourage him and lift him up? Have you forgotten to take interest in what he’s doing?  

Have you let the area of deep intimacy turn into a house abandoned?  Thinking that you can abandon your intimacy and forgo your marriage bed because you’re hurt or angry,

It is like moving to the slums and leaving the door of your marriage open to thieves and robbers.

Have you forgotten that God loves your marriage? He loves your husband and He longs to move you out to the country…maybe it’s your old home or maybe you’ve never been blessed with a country home.  Stand up dear friends.
Be Courageous.
Someone has to take the first step.
Walk with the King, submit your marriage to the Father
…and see where He takes you from there!

 

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Yesterday I posted about rising to manhood, for our teenage boys. 

If they are teenagers, we’ve already gotten them this far – and they’re still alive 😀  Giggle.  I’m teasing, I’ve enjoyed every season of my kids’ lives but this part is all unchartered territory for Mr. H and I.  We were talking yesterday about teenagers and how hard it is to let them go – and to defer to Dad as he begins to draw out the man in them.  As Mr. H and I have sought Godly counsel from wise parents, one book keeps coming up in conversation; Preparing for Adolescense by Dr. Dobson.  We’re reading it thru now.

As I said, my instructors had a lot to say about this topic and it really got me to thinking.  One of the things I spoke to my Titus Mentor about was video games.  When our kids were smaller, we weren’t as wise as we are today 😉  and neither of us were Christians.  We allowed our children to play video games.  Now we are dealing with the consequenses of that deceision.  We had no idea that they could be so addicting or that there was so much junk out there – that our kids would later be exposed to!  It’s a lot easier to control when they are 10.  When they are 15, not so much.  Now their older cousins are playing games that make Mr. H and I gasp in horror!  They have friends whose parents don’t monitor what they watch or play and our kids aren’t allowed to engage in those games. Where does this leave our kids?  Well it leaves them with a decision about how they’ll handle this situation when it arises.

It’s a constant temptation that they’ll be faced with, in some form or another, all of their lives.  We’re at a place where we can no longer control their choices because they are no longer with us all the time.  Booker has a friend who plays these older X-box games.  Booker admitted to us (we’re grateful for open communication) that he really liked the look of the X-Box games and in fact, that he was starting to think about those games even when he got home; about when he could play next.  One of the games has a tavern that the character can go into and there are very scarecly dressed women dancing on the tables in that tavern.  Booker came to us and told us about this (again, AMEN that he came to talk to us).  We had a long discussion about this. We talked about how these games are a step up from the silly games where you jump boulders and race cars.  Does he really want to take that step?  We talked about how they are designed to addict and draw kids and we talked about how he had already shared with us that he has been affected in this way.  We talked about the importance of what goes into his heart and mind and how this can jeoprodize his purity.  It was a good talk between Mr. H, Booker and I. 

Now our heart wants to outright ban these things!  We want to jump up and down and scream and yell that this is awful, stay away from it!!!!  Especially as a Mama, I desperately want to guard his heart and there is nothing wrong with this – it’s a Biblical principal.  I really had to defer to Dad here because he has the thoughts of a man, he understands the seriousness of it all in a way I (as a woman) can not.  But…but…but he is not a Christian and he might not make this decision based on godliness!  I can not tell you how much prayer has gone into this topic because I have to trust God with Booker.  When we ask our mentors what to do about this, they ask “How long do you intend to control everything he does and to make these choices for him? When do you intend to stop?”  No beating around the bush, that got right to the core of the issue! 

Do we trust God or not? 

We have raised a fine young man to this point, we’ve given him good strong examples by what we watch and allow into our hearts.  Eventually he’ll be on his own.  Wouldn’t we rather give him wisdom and support him in prayer – allow him to make small mistakes while he’s under our authority so that he has a little life experience when the opportunity to make bigger mistakes arises? He’ll know we love him no matter what.  He’ll know he can lean on God.  I guess this could be a controvercial question.  Our mentors suggested we find books to read, statistics to back up our views and obtain all of the information we could find…then talk to our boys. Pray.

Did I mention PRAY?

Then what????? we ask with bated breath?!  We have to believe for this…   

Back to the question, do we trust God or not?  He loves Booker more than we do.  His purpose and plan for Booker never change, not from the first time God thought of him.  We have found some great resources and we are in the middle of reading through some of this stuff and preparing to present it to our boys.  I know that this is an important step and how we go about doing this will have a huge impact.  Because of this, we’re taking the time and putting prayerful consideration into this.  When the time comes, I will work on being quiet and allowing my beloved husband to use this as an opportunity to rise up – to draw out the men in Booker and Monkey…and God will use this in Mr. H’s salvation journey!

….all of this if I can keep my eyes on Christ! And trust.

If you’d join us in prayer for this, we’d appreciate that! 

In Him…

***You might notice that I say “WE” are prayerfully considering.  You know that Mr. H is not saved. WHY THEN do I say WE? I believe for his salvation (1 Peter 3:1-3)… in a God that brings life from death and speaks of that which is not (yet) as though they were because I have hope and faith in a God that is big enough to keep His promises to me (Romans 4:17-18 ).

 

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There is a great topic of discussion going on over at my forum for wives right now.  One member is asking how to handle a situation with her teenaged boy.  Her boy is but a year older than our oldest…and he’s a great kid!  This whole discussion relates to something we’ve recently gone through with Booker.  I’ve asked him permission to share this story here with you (below).

Whose job is it to raise our boys into manhood?

We know that this is a Biblical expectation and role that God has given the father.  Sometimes it is easy for us, as wives to say “well my husband refuses to lead.”  I wonder if you really took the time to ask God about this and to pray for leadership to rise up in your husband – if you’d find that perhaps his wife could be a little more encouraging in his role to lead?  My husband is not saved but he is a man who understands his role to lead our family, to protect us and guard our hearts. I am thinking of the book/movie Courageous (see my post) and how those men understand the importance of the role of the father in the lives of their children! 
It’s taken practice, for him and for me! 

I am not there yet – but I’m willing to stay on the course!   For me, it is been really hard to let go of my little boy. 

Yet he can’t be a little boy and a man all at once. 

So I have a choice to make as to what direction I want him to head.  The tricky part, as I mentioned, is my desire for control. I think it’s safe to say most women share this.  It goes all the way back to Eve and the beginning of time.  Control makes us feel like we’re safe.  But when we are in control, God isn’t!  If we’re going to submit our hearts to God, then we have to submit to His will for our marriages.  He has given our husbands the astranomical task (and responsibility) of leading our families. 

In another post I made (More than I DO ) I spoke about how our little boys are supposed to be tough! Society says they aren’t supposed to be tender or overly emotional, they aren’t supposed to be bold or have their own ideas above ours! However, (husbands) and men are supposed to be those things!  My instructor said something to me in my course recently that really got me to thinking about this. He said that men should know where they are going before they get married. They should know their passions, their vision, and God’s will for their lives before they pledge their hearts to another. WOW.  THAT is not taught thoroughly enough in our world.  The problem is that if we, as mothers, keep our little boys little until they move out, then they are still little boys but they’re in the great big world all alone. 

Who will draw them to manhood then? 

There comes a shift in our families at about the time our little boys turn 12.  Before this time, most things fall to mother. We teach them to be tender, we wipe away tears, we show them how to honor Daddy and how to apologize to a sibling and so much more.  There are a lot of things us Mama’s can do –

but drawing out the man in our boys is NOT one of them. 

It is time to give up control and defer to Dad so that he has the freedom to draw them out. 

Here is an example in our family. Booker went to summer camp for the first time this past summer.   It was a growing experience.  On the last day of camp he got the nerve up to speak to this one young lady and since then they’ve discovered that they have a LOT in common.  They both love to write and draw and much more.  They’ve gotten permission to keep in contact through email.  However, now they have decided to write a book together, for fun.  They want to talk on the phone.  Booker has called there a number of times and Miss S. is always unavailable to talk on the phone.  He was beginning to wonder why this was that she could never talk to him.  We asked him, “Have you asked her parents if this is appropriate in their opinion?”  He replied that he had not.  Mr. Handsome asked him, “well how would you feel if some boy was calling Songbird (his sister) and you had no idea what his intentions were?” Hmmmmm. That made him think.  He said “Maybe I should call and ask her parents if they are okay with me calling.”
Ah ha! He got it! 😉 

He was so nervous.  He called and Mrs. S answered.  He asked if he could have permission to call Miss S on the phone and if they were okay with it.  Mrs. S replied saying that Miss S is not allowed to date.  Booker replied saying, “Oh no. I am not either.  This is not my intention with Miss S.  We just have a lot in common and I’d like to pursue a friendship with her. I wanted to make sure you are okay with this.”  Mrs. S replied saying, “That is a very mature and respectable question. Thank you for asking.”  She gave her and Mr. S’s blessing. 

This small thing got Booker to thinking about many things:

  1. What ARE my intentions with Miss S?
  2. What would my parents/her parents say about this? 
  3. How can I show them that I honor them AND Miss S?
  4. What is God’s heart for Miss S? for ME?

…and much more.  This was one step in the journey of our little boy becoming a young man.

This example was relatively easy, however.  Maybe letting your son go to a different church than you attend, or allowing him to decide how much video games he should play or what kinds of TV shows he should watch – these are tougher! How do we go about this?

More on this tomorrow…
For future readers, here is the link to the next post;
Guiding our boys to become men – the hard stuff

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I’ve been walking along side a dear friend as she finds her way through the trials of her marriage.  The other day I suggested she invite our pastor and a number of others to pray over her and into her marriage…where two or more are gathered.  She told me that God spoke Ezekiel 37 to her, The Valley of Dry Bones.  In my commitment to her, I promised to study Ezekiel as I prayed for her marriage.

 Ezekiel 11:12  (NIV)

12 And you will know that I am the LORD, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.”

I had a woman tell me recently that she can’t do the hard stuff that might make her marriage work – she doesn’t believe God would have her suffer just to teach her a lesson.  When is the last time that God spoke life into your live areas?  They are already alive.  I have grown most in character, in spiritual maturity when walking through challenges – in the times when God touched the dead areas of my heart and and breathed life there again.  True change that lasts is often painful but in that suffering there is healing, and He perfects us and establishes our faith (1 Peter 5:9-10).

Do you think perhaps we’ve conformed to the nations’ standards?  We require instant gratification and happiness and when we don’t get it, shouldn’t we walk away?  After all, we deserve better than this! 

Love is a choice and I believe happiness is too.

If you spend all day thinking ugly thoughts about your husband, how can you expect anything but ugliness to greet you when he gets home?  If your first response to that tiff you had this morning is to call your best friend and lament over how you’ve been wronged; or if you can’t wait to point out your husbands short comings and failures to anyone who will listen,

how can you expect him to trust you with his heart?

I used to be an expert at all of these things. The stench of death permeated our marriage.  I remember realizing the despair we were really in and crying out to God for relief.  As He revealed these things to me, I began to see the (Eph. 3:17-19) width and length and height and depth of God’s love for me, for my husband and our marriage.  I made a decision right there; if I’d blown it and my lot was to live with a man who hated what I’d become, then I would become a woman I could love; A Wife After God’s Own Heart. In fact, the revelation came to me as I read a book with that title by Elizabeth George. I dedicated to seek what God wanted for me as a wife and to pour into my marriage what He was willing to pour into me.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).  Specifically in regards to my marriage –

I CHOSE to receive this.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 (NIV)

19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

God declared David ‘a man after His own heart’ (Acts 13:22).

When David kept his focus on God, giants fell; when he didn’t David fell.

Whatever giants you have in your marriage right now – God is bigger than our hearts (1 John 3:20). May the God of peace give you an undivided heart, remove the heart of stone that causes strife and replace it with a heart of flesh – HIS heart for your marriage. You will be His people, and He will be your God.
The Valley of Dry Bones will bring life…

You might also enjoy the post The Intentional Wife, on my Loving Our Husbands forum. 

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I want to introduce a dear friend, Jacqleene. We call her Blue J because over the years of praying together online, Jacqleene was too long to write and her font color is always blue.  She’s a beautiful woman of God, has inspired me, challenged me and lovingly prayed for and with me for years now.  I’m honored to have her as my guest.

 

It is 12:54 am.  Silence. 
The house sleeps, but my heart is burdened. 
I wrestle with God.

“No, not me.  Please don’t ask me to do this.” 

Yet His persistent prodding keeps me far from slumber. 
My heart pounds as I type the words. What do I have to share?  Broken. Ugly. Sin-warped.  He touches my heart with His words –

“Forgiven.  My Grace is sufficient.”

 I hear His words, and I cry out, throat burning,
“Please don’t ask me to share!  Please don’t do this!” 
Then softer, through wrenching sobs,

“I don’t want to.  I’m afraid.” 

The song of my life.  I’m afraid.   The wail of my heart.  I’m afraid.  Prayer breathed to the heathen god.  I’m afraid. Tears run down my cheeks as I hear God’s words to the patriarchs, Jesus’ words to His disciples,
“Fear Not.” 

 Sin-soaked, heart pounding, I move to do as He bids, whispering a prayer of repentance for my lifelong song, my wailing prayer to the deceiver of men.  Humiliated and broken, I hang my head in shame at this continual return to the dark liar whose false light fools my eyes. Again He whispers – His words full of life.

Forgiven.  My Grace is sufficient for you.

 Dimly, I begin to see. It is not me. He never has asked me to do anything other than trust. 
Grace like rain falls.
Not in my strength will I do anything.  Only in His.
The fight ceases.
A wall falls.

I do as I am bidden in His strength, and I am able.  His strength lends ability to my feeble attempts. His will guides my words to find their mark… maybe for only my own saving.
He knows.  His plan is good. 
I stumble, but continue to follow.

 He whispers again. “Forgiven.”  Simply, by His Grace.  Simply Grace.

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My heart is for him…but to whom will I give it?

It is 11:45pm and I’m sitting here writing, and asking myself this question.  As an unequally yoked wife, filled with the spirit, I whisper this to myself over and over…My heart is for him…my heart is for him….

Mr. Handsome and I are discussing a very important matter. I’ve told him how I feel. He’s told me how he feels. I’m sure I’m right yet he is just as certain that he is right.  The enemy takes this opportunity to remind me that he is not saved – he can’t see past himself…

But can I?

My heart is for him, I hear again.

Is my heart for him, this man I adore? So many times he has failed me (and just as many I have failed him). Should I put my trust in him tonight, when such an important decision lies before us?  Yes, it’s very important. The effects of the decision we make tonight will ripple for years and touch other lives.  It’s bigger than he or I.  Once again the enemy reminds me…

…the world says one thing, my heart says another.

My heart is for him.   So tonight I put my trust in Him – in CHRIST ALONE.  I take my husband’s hand and walk along side him. God’s thoughts are not mine, nor are my ways his ways (Isa. 55:8). 

1 John 3:20 God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things.

He knows my heart here too. He knows the truth of the situation far better than I do.  Sometimes saying my heart is for HIM (the Lord God) means my heart has to be for him (Mr. H) and I need to simply trust in the Father who loves us both.

…because HIS heart is for me; His heart is for Mr. H and His heart is for the ones we love.  This situation before us is not too great for Him! 

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This is a repost…with a few changes. You can find the original in Cafe Chat on the sidebar.

She’d already been through so much to get here.  Growing up in town, not having had animals around, having all she could ask for at her finger tips really…just moving here was adjustment enough.  When she met the man of her dreams, she owned two business’ of her own and work was all she knew.  She didn’t even own a pair of jeans.  She certainly wasn’t a country girl…though she’d dreamed of it many times. Ask anyone who knew her, they were all shocked that she’d fit so well into this new life…city girl to cowgirl.  As a child, all she had wanted was to get married and live on a ranch, have horses.  Yet, somehow in her dreams, it looked very different.  It was filled with romance and flowers…had God brought her here to stretch her?  She surely had done a lot of stretching; and yet was He expecting more of her now?

She sat on her bed, tears streaming down her face, this wasn’t her story.  She whispers, “but God, I’m not this girl…I can’t do this, I can’t follow my husband to that place.”

The knock on the door makes her wipe her tears away, “May I come in?” her mother asks.  She sits down beside her grown daughter and wraps her arms around her. Like so many times before, the little girl crumbles in the safety of her mothers arms.

“Mom, I can’t do this. I’m not the girl who can move from a beautiful little house and all that we’ve worked for here, to a plot in the mud…a place that’s water is so bad I can’t see my feet in the tub…I’m not that girl.” Fear and doubt begin to choke her and sobs pounded at her chest as they escaped.

“You are definitely that girl. If anyone is strong enough, it is you. You have no idea where you are headed and how good this will be for your marriage.”

Those words still ring in her mind as she looks out the window. The baby is crying again, her boots look like little cities, each one so clogged with mud that she can’t move. Daddy rescues her again.  The rain won’t seem to stop.  “Where are you God?”  She realizes her cheeks are wet again.  “I’m so alone. I’ve never been so alone…”  It had been three months since the move.  Still she had no phone and no computer to keep her connected with the world…she longed for her pretty flower beds and cozy little house – and happy little home.

“What have I done?”

Now fast forward, 7 years. She looks up from her Bible to see the horses grazing as the sun rises. Her home is filled with the silence of sleeping babies, not so little anymore.  She remembers back to that time, when she chose to follow her husband in this choice to move from his parents’ ranch, further up the road to what is now their home…with pretty flower beds and a lovely garden.  She thinks to how the garden of her marriage has grown into a beautiful sanctuary, a tapestry of love.
“You were right Lord, following my husband here was the best choice I’ve ever made in my life. Thank you for carrying me through that storm and showing me this sun rise…”

I was such a baby then, it seems. Totally ill-equipped to handle that situation…Making that choice was possibly the hardest thing I had done to date.  I was just learning what it meant to trust in God – to honor my promises to my husband in marriage and follow where he took me (instead of letting my heart lead).  I grew in that moment…and every moment since. God was (is) so lovingly faithful to that girl.

Mom, thank you for your love. Thank you for believing in me, encouraging me. I love you.

Thank You Father for this lovely reminder…how timely and precious to me. Continue to bless our home, our marriage and our babies as we pour into them…with a love that you continually pour into us.  I’m so blessed by how our home has become a sanctuary for others too.  I could not have dreamed, in the most beautiful dream, what you would give me in my obedience. I still count that as the most difficult thing I’ve ever done…you’ve taught me so much about honoring my love, my vows and this man you’ve given me as a gift.
I can’t imagine deserving him…if I work all of my life at becoming the woman he deserves, I shall never attain it. He is so good. He is mine.
Thank you Lord…

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