Monday, January 29, 2007

Journey of prayer #1

I will be posting prayer prompts soon! I have a vision of a year of prayer for our dear husbands. I don't have the first one ready yet, but I thought I would encourage you to begin by praying for yourself. Ask God to prepare your heart, to enable you to allow your husband to change, as the Holy Spirit leads him. How difficult it can be for us to just pray and keep our mouths quiet. To step out of God's way, and let Him work. We say we want a husband who will lead, a husband who will pray, who will do this or that, but do we really? Or are we terribly comfortable with things as they are? Some of us like to control things, and if our dear husband decides that he is going to do x, y, or z are we ready to let him? Let me remind you that God calls us to honor and submit to our husbands. "Likewise, wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives - when they see your respectful and pure conduct." 1 Peter 3: 1-2 ESV

What greater priviledge can a wife have than to lift her husband before the Throne of Grace? I know from personal experience what an encouragement it is to my Beloved when I pray for him ~ especially if he knows I am praying for him! I so desire to see him grow in his relationship with the Lord, to become more Christlike, to be the man that God would have him be. And to think that God would use my feeble little prayers, overwhelms me.

James 5:16 tells us, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." ESV

Are you ready? Are you excited? I am! We serve a faithful God, ladies! Let's pray!"

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Trusting Heart

"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:10-12 ESV

Wow. What powerful words. What God-fearing woman could read these words and not desire that for her marriage? To be more precious than jewels. For her husband's heart to trust in her, to do him good all the days of his life.

But what does it look like? Who is this woman? How can I be her? What does a wife do to merit this kind of trust? When I read "the heart of her husband..." I think of a deep, abiding trust ~ heartfelt. What do I do to build that in my relationship with my Beloved? Well, I am open about everything.

When I spend money, even if I think he might not be happy about it, I tell him. I have heard of and known women who will buy things and then hide them for a month or more, so that when they finally bring it out, and their husband asks if it's new, they can say, "Oh no, I've had this for a while." Is that trustworthy? I also try to be responsible and thrifty in how I spend the money that he works so hard for. I don't always succeed, but I do try. This goes deeper than just being trustworthy, it also shows him love and honor for his efforts in providing for his family.

I do my best to be diligent in the schooling and training of our children while he is at work. I work at keeping the house orderly (this is an ongoing struggle for me!), and while I fail often in this task, I am getting better and have greatly improved since we were first married. I make tasty meals for him. Lately I have been making the effort of spending time with him when he gets home from work, so he can talk to me and *decompress* so to speak.

When he shares a struggle with me, or he fails in some way, I don't go about telling everyone I see. I make every effort to speak of him in a loving and respectful manner at all times. I find myself cringing often at the way some women speak of their husbands, and I wonder if he were to hear her if he would feel that he could trust her with his deepest thoughts, feelings, and struggles. I endeavor to be encouraging to him when he expresses doubts or fears, and often I will take his hand and pray for him. What encouragement to him that is! And because I don't belittle him, but build him up (genuinely, I'm not talking about empty flattery), I am also building his trust in me.

It grieves me the number of years that I didn't build trust. That I did do him harm and not good. "She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." Well, I've already failed that terribly, but I can resolve that for the rest of the days of my life, I will do him good. How much better would the marriages in the church be if the wives would just decide that they would put these three short verses into practice? How many men would gladly step into the role of leader, protector, and sacrificial lover if he could so implicitly trust his bride?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Enjoying My Man

When my Beloved got home from work today, we spent time together. The children got to say hello and interact with him some, but then we went up to our bedroom. We talked, we kissed, we played (all very innocent ~ we had the baby with us!), and we just spent some time reconnecting after having spent the day apart.

I have been trying to make more of an effort to do this when he gets home. I want him to be chomping at the bit, so to speak, by the time he gets off work. I want him to be very anxious to get home. To find not only a haven here, but a place of enjoyment and passion. I want him to feel blessed to be married to me ~ not because I'm something so special, but because I love him so much, and desire to meet his needs and enjoy him.

Sometimes, after we retire for the evening, we read the Song of Solomon together. What a wonderful book, full of romance and passion! I am so thankful that our Heavenly Father created intimacy to be enjoyed thoroughly by a husband and his wife.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mr. Incredible Needs a Cheerleader

When I was in high school, I was a cheerleader. I loved the flirty little skirt, the pompoms, and - admittedly, being the center of attention. Of course now, that I've gotten older, and my understanding of modesty has matured, I blush to think of our cheerleading outfits, and some of the cheers we did. However, that being husband needs a cheerleader. Thankfully, Mr. Incredible's cheerleader doesn't have to wear a super tight sweater and a really short skirt (not that he wouldn't like it! ;-) ), but she definitely needs to be a "rah rah" girl.

One of the most important jobs I have as a wife is to be my Beloved's #1 cheerleader. When the rest of the world is against him, I should be for him. I should be the one person he can come to and find shelter with. He should be confident that he can come to me and know that I will build him up, I will support him, I will adore him and love him ~ no matter what. That doesn't mean that I can't carefully talk to him about areas that he needs to grow in or sin that I see in his life. But, I do need to be careful. It is easy for me to tear him down. To speak to him more like a child than a man, and show him disrespect, especially if I feel that I'm in the right. Sometimes, in fact probably more often than I would care to admit, it is more effective to keep my mouth shut and just pray for him. To lift him up before the Throne of Grace, and leave him in the Father's hands.

The great thing about being Mr. Incredible's cheerleader is that it focuses attention on him, not me. It strengthens him. It fortifies him to go out into the world, day after day to provide for his family, and minister in whatever way God has for him. In return, I get to be married to a real man who is secure in who he is. I get to be cherished, because he knows that I adore him.

In the end, it's a win-win situation for both of us.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Grief Resources

Since I've told you about Tucker, I thought I would also share a couple of resources that were so very helpful.

From Grief to Glory by James Bruce III - This is NOT a "how-to" grief book. It does however help you to focus on God and His sovereignty. Powerful, wonderful book, full of godly wisdom from many of the great men of the faith, including RL Dabney, Spurgeon, and Luther. There is also a website, where you can read excerpts from the book, testimonials from grieving parents and listen to music written just for parents grieving the loss of a child.

Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur. Wonderful book, sharing the comfort of Scripture to grieving parents. Lots of Biblical comfort for parents of babies and small children, in particular.

These are also great resources to have, if you just want to be able to comfort parents who are grieving.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Tucker Joe

It was early in the morning, July 25, 2004. I was laboring to bring forth our 5th son, and 7th child. Because we had unexpectedly ended up in the hospital just 6 weeks before, we knew that the baby was a boy, and we had already given him his name, Tucker Joe. My water had broken the night before - a first for me, but it gave the midwives plenty of time to get to our house, for which we were thankful (I tend to have quick labors). We had slept for a few hours, and at about 4 am, I woke up in labor. I had planned on laboring in the water, but once I got into the warm pool, I felt sick, and ended up birthing on *dry land*.

I labored on my side, trying to just let my body birth this child, but after a while, decided that it was just not as effective as I would like. I got up, and the midwives brought the birthing stool. I pushed a couple or three times, delivering his head. My midwife said, "You have to push this baby out, NOW." So, I pushed. As his body delivered, the cord hit my leg. Our son was limp. The midwives immediately started CPR, and my Beloved called 911. We then began making calls, asking everyone to pray for a miracle.

We talked to Tucker, pleading with him to fight for life. We touched him, we prayed over him, begging God to not require our child of us. Anything, but not our child. For over half an hour, our midwives did everything they could to breath life into our son. Eventually, the life flight crew was at our door, and they tried as well, but it was of no use. Sometime after he entered the birth canal, Tucker's cord broke, and he bled to death. Our darling son leapt from my womb into the waiting arms of Jesus.

My Mom brought the other children down, and they spent time holding Tucker, and loving on him, and grieving his loss. We were surrounded by dear, wonderful friends, and family. Our world, our faith was shaken to its very core that morning. God had set our feet on a path that we never would have chosen for ourselves, but which has become precious to us as God has time and again shown Himself faithful.

Grief comes in many forms, each horrible in its own way, but I believe there is no deeper grief a parent can face than that of losing a child. It is unnatural. Children are suppose to outlive their parents and bury them, not the other way around. There are so many wrong moments following a child's death. It is wrong for a Mama and Daddy to have to plan a funeral, it is wrong to have to place your child's body into the ground and bury it, it is wrong to have to pick out a headstone for your child! In those first moments following Tucker's death, we determined that everything would drive us toward God. We would cling to Him, no matter what. He was and is our only Hope.

I wanted to share Tucker's story with you. The death of a child dramatically affects the marriage relationship. Men and women grieve very differently, and if we don't recognize that, and give grace in the differences, it can tear a marriage apart. If you have lost a child recently, I don't share that to place more fear and stress on you, but to encourage you to not only cling to God, but to cling to your husband as well. He too, has lost a child, and he feels it no less deeply than you do, he just is probably dealing with it much differently.

I will share more of our journey later. Probably in bits and pieces, but let me leave you with the thought that God is truely good, and gracious. His name is Faithful and True. No matter what your feelings or circumstances seem to tell you, cling to your Heavenly Father, and trust Him! He promises to never leave or forsake you, and though it may feel like He has, He has not, more than likely He is carrying you.

"When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:17-18 ESV

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Song of Solomon, Devotion 1

God sets before us a wonderful example of a godly wife and lover in the Song of Solomon. Within the 8 chapters of this book, we see a woman who looks with expectancy toward being with her husband. She delights in him and their lovemaking, and she is an imaginative lover. When they have problems, she examines her attitudes and actions and makes necessary adjustments.
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
SHE- Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.
OTHERS- We will exult and rejoice in you, we will extol your love more than wine;
SHE- rightly do they love you.
Song of Solomon 1:1-4 (ESV)
The Shulamite begins by thinking about her beloved. How pleasant she finds his kisses and how delightful his love is. She thinks about what makes him attractive to others and her own anticipation of being with him.
Do I think about my husband as my lover during the day? Or, are my thoughts about him bound up in, “he needs to know this…this needs to be fixed…we have to make a decision about…” Perhaps my day is so filled with schooling children, changing diapers, wiping noses, disciplining, cleaning, cooking, etc. that I don’t really even think of him at all, until I hear his truck in the drive. And, even then, perhaps my thoughts run mostly to relief, because now he can shoulder some of my burdens.
But, what if I spend time during the day, while folding laundry or washing dishes, thinking about my lover? How tenderly he kisses me, how lovingly he caresses my body. Then how would I greet him when he comes home?
As the Shulamite thinks about her beloved, she recognizes that others find him desirable and confirms that they are right to do so. Do I see qualities in my husband which others find attractive and admirable? Do I confirm those to him on a regular basis? Do I tear my beloved down, or build him up? “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11(ESV)
And finally, the Shulamite verbally expresses her desire to her lover. “Take me away with you ~ let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.” (v. 4a NIV) She doesn’t keep quiet with the hope that he will pick up on her mood. She states what she wants, not leaving him with any doubts!
Does my husband ever get a sense of urgency from me to take me to our ‘chamber’ and make love to me? Do I expect him to be tuned into my moods or to understand vague hints, or do I come right out and tell him how much I desire him? “Take me to your chamber ~ hurry!”
For some of us, the thought of being openly verbal with our husband is intimidating and too sensual. We don’t see how being a godly wife and speaking of intimacies or being a passionate lover can go hand in hand. But, God shows us that they do. He graciously gives us the example of the Shulamite, a sensuous, godly woman. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)
It begins with seeing what God, the author of sexual love, has to say about it and then asking Him to renew our thinking. Then, as God begins to renew our mind, it is our responsibility to bring our actions into line with that new thinking. It pleases God as we strive to live within His will for our lives, and as we renew this area of our life, we will find more freedom and enjoyment in the marriage bed.