Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Challenge For You

I want to challenge you to take a challenge! :-)

Do you honor and respect your beloved? Could you do better? Revive our hearts has a 30 day Husband challenge. I started it on Monday.

In it you are challenged to speak only positively to and about your husband, to pray for him, to relate to him in honoring and encouraging ways. Are you up for it?

There are two formats, you can either print it out, or you can sign up for daily emails. Take advantage of this wonderful little tool to improve your relationship with your beloved ~ even if it's already good. Just click on the link below and it will take you directly to the challenge page.

Revive Our Hearts Challenge

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thoughtful Thursday

"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. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it, with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." Proverbs 31:10-31

Image courtesy of Snapshots of Joy

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Law of Kindness

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26

This weekend, I took my daughters to the Christian Heritage Mother Daughter Tea. Deborah Brown, wife of Scott Brown was the speaker. We had a lovely time, visiting with dear friends, and talking with some aquaintances, and meeting some new ladies. Mrs. Brown's talks were very encouraging (because my daughters are still young!), but also very convicting. She talked about raising our daughters to be Proverbs 31 women, and of course to do that, we must be Proverbs 31 women as well.

I decided to share this this morning because while she was speaking primarily about raising daughters, being a wife is an integral part of that, and I have really been struggling in the Proverbs 31 department lately. In talking with some others, they have also been struggling and so I decided it might not just be limited to a few of us. It seems that fall is always a time of struggle around here (as well as other parts of the year!); I don't know if it's because through the summer things have been more relaxed and then when fall hits, not only are we doing school, but football season is in full swing and we are on the go *a lot*. When we are not home, we don't have any real sort of schedule, and it is more difficult to catch the "foxes" of misbehavior/bad attitudes, and discipline suffers, and Mama's attitude suffers (I've also noticed now that we have adult and nearly adult children that their attitude tanks somewhat as well).

I have been thinking for at least a month (probably longer), that I need to be in the Word more, that I need to be thinking on the Scriptures throughout the day because I am not the wife and mama I need to be, let alone want to be. Then came Saturday. As Mrs. Brown read through Proverbs 31, I was... not crushed ~ God doesn't do that, but I was certainly wounded as I listened to those words of wisdom and realized how far off the mark I am. In the physical things, surely. My home is in disarray ~ while I do have the "excuse" of c-sec. recovery, a baby and toddler (one of which is fairly demanding of my time), and just flat out being out-numbered, in the end, that's all those are: excuses. I have allowed my lazy nature to grab ahold of those things and my household has suffered. My younger children have not been trained well because I had older children to do some of these things and it was easier to let that happen than to train the younger. Only now, my older children have jobs outside the home and they are playing sports, and they are not home to help very much, and I am left with children that really only know how to make messes and not clean up very well.

Worse than that however, is how far off the mark I am with my attitude. The verse I started this post with was particularly convicting. NKJV, phrases it, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness." Prov. 31:26 Ouch!

I have allowed the state of my heart to resemble the state of my home. It is disheveled and disorderly. I am short, impatient and far too often, unkind words proceed from my mouth. Not to my Beloved so much, but certainly, too often. However, my children are with me day in and day out and they bear the brunt of my sin. As I realize this and think about it, it makes my heart ache. I see it in their faces, and in how they then treat each other.

How thankful I am that in Christ there is no condemnation! Romans 8:1 tells us, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." That doesn't mean we don't do wrong, that we aren't convicted of sin; what it means is that we are forgiven and we can start fresh! I am so glad that each morning we are presented with a new day, full of possibilities and the strength of the Lord. I have not been in God's Word as I should, which means that I am trying to be a godly wife and mother in my own strength ~ which doesn't work particularly well. Did you read that? I am trying to be a godly wife, without the help of God. On my own. How arrogant is that? How ridiculous?

So. Tonight, after we're home and things are quiet, I am going to go to my Beloved and apologize to him for not being the wife he needs me to be. I am going to talk to him about what changes need to happen around here. Then, in the morning, I am going to gather the children (some of whom are not really children anymore), and apologize to them for how sinful I have been lately. I am going to ask for their forgiveness, and then we are going to talk about how the law of kindness is going to be on *all* our tongues. For they too, have gotten to be terrible in this area, but I know that much of this is because of the broken example I have set.

I'll probably be mulling over some of the other points she made as the days go on, but this is the most immediate point in my mind right now. I am so thankful that God has the wonderful ability to convict and encourage us at the same time. That we serve a God of forgiveness, and that when I am convicted of sin I am not left in despair, but know that there is forgiveness and restoration. That each moment is full of it's own possibilities and I don't have to wait until tomorrow or next week, but now, in this moment, I can ask for forgiveness and change my course.

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." Psalm 51:1-12

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Refreshing Place to Visit

I wanted to encourage you today to go and visit the Revive Our Hearts website. I have found it to be a refreshing place to visit on the world-wide web. For years I have appreciated Nancy Leah DeMoss's ministry. She is not afraid to say the hard things, and is an unapologetic teacher of the truth.

There are many things to enjoy there, from beautiful desktop wall papers to 30 Day Challenges designed to help you grow as a godly woman. You can even sign up for daily emails that are designed for your encouragement.

Enjoy and be challenged!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Be a Hedge-Builder

"And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, "I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows, so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home, he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home." With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him." Proverbs 7:10-21

As I read this portion of Scripture this morning, I was struck by the lengths to which the adulteress goes to to seduce the man. And God spoke to my heart and said, "There is nothing new under the sun." The adulteress is still lying in wait. Most men who are working outside of their homes are confronted continually (intentionally or otherwise) by "seductive" women. Women who are hungry for the attention of men. Perhaps they flirt, maybe they innocently seek advice (and in so doing, show honor and/or respect), or they may be dressed in such a way that can potentially cause a man to stumble.

And then the question came to me, "Am I willing to go to the same kind of lengths to keep my man happy at home? Am I willing to be a 'hedge' of protection for him?" I don't mean acting or dressing like a prostitute, but as I read these verses, I see things that the adulteress is doing that I could/should be implementing within my own home.

"She seizes him and kisses him..." I need to be physical with my Beloved. Hugs and kisses when he gets home from work. Rubbing his shoulders after a hard day's work, or just sitting next to him and laying my head on his shoulder. As he 're-enters' the home after being gone all day, am I helping him reconnect to me in a physical way?

" I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you..." This ties in with the above. Does my Beloved know that I eagerly await him? Do I stop whatever I am doing when he arrives home and greet him at the door ~ or maybe even greet him before he gets to the door? If he finds me in the laundry room, folding clothes, instead of at the door, do I convey joy at seeing him? Do I show an interest in how his day has gone or do I start in with how my day has gone? Piling more upon him instead of helping to lighten his load of cares.

"I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen..." What does my bedroom look like? Is it the depository for every "orphaned" article in the house? Are there piles of laundry (dirty or clean) lying about? Is it neat and tidy? Is the bed made, or is it a pile of rumpled covers? Are the bed linens in good condition or are they thread bare? I need to do what I can to make my bedroom a sanctuary ~ a romantic hideaway. This doesn't mean that I spend lots of money, but good quality (or at least, good condition), sheets, blankets, etc. can be found inexpensively anywhere from ebay to thrift stores to yard sales. It means that I am going to make the effort to keep our room peaceful. That may mean that I have pegboard on the walls to organize his tools, or it may mean that I have lush fabrics and lots of candles, to anything in-between. Neat, tidy, peaceful ~ these things will be more conducive to intimacy and will let my Beloved know that he is a priority to me.

"I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon..." Do I engage all the senses? Scent can affect us in different ways. It can make us queasy, it can make us hungry, it can repel us, it can draw us in, it can make us feel romantic. Am I seeking out scents for my bedroom that will encourage intimacy? Room sprays, candles, potpourri ~ perhaps even a late evening dessert of tea and a delicious treat that not only tastes good, but smells heavenly as well. Vanilla and cinnamon have long been considered aphrodisiacs, so maybe some cinnamon rolls are in order?

"Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love." Am I willing to spend long periods of time making love to my Beloved? All night? In the morning? Do I delight in his love? Does he *know* I delight in his love? Or does he think that it's a chore for me; one more thing to check of my "to-do" list? I struggle so often with this. As a homeschooling Mama of 8, 2 of which are nurslings (who don't sleep through the night!), and not as young as I used to be, I often find myself tired, and just wanting to sleep when I get to bed. It is difficult to keep a good attitude and delight in my Beloved. God has really been speaking to me about this lately. I need to get back into the Word, and see what God says about marriage and intimacy. I need to pray more about my attitude; I need to ask for His enabling when it comes to my marriage relationship. My Beloved needs to know not only that I love, honor and respect him, but that I desire him. He needs to know that I am doing more than just meeting his needs, but that I am delighting in our lovemaking. I need to be a hedge-builder because I love him so deeply.

Father God,
I pray that You would enable me to love my Beloved as You intend. I ask that You will help me to have more than a good attitude, that I would not just be meeting the physical needs of my Beloved, but that I would long for times of intimacy with him. Make me the wife he needs me to be. Let me be a deep well, from which he is continually refreshed. Infuse our marriage with love, respect, and passion, I pray.

I ask this in the Precious Name of Jesus, amen.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thoughtful Thursday

A timely and good reminder for godly wives. Submit, respect, honor ~ glorify God in all your actions.
Image courtesy of Snapshots of Joy.