An Open Letter To All College Girls

Hey Girl,

College, huh?  How much fun are you having right now in your life??!!  If you aren’t having much fun, then you should be! Because now is the time before you are thrown into the real world and then you’ll really see how much fun college was.  More importantly, I want you to know that your years in college are transition years.  It’s kind of like middle school, without the braces and boys shorter than you.  In middle school, you are way past the days of recess and nap time, but you’re still nowhere near driving a car and being a cool high schooler.  In college, you are way past the days of being under your parents nagging rules, but you are nowhere ready for the responsibilities that adult life has waiting for you.

You have not “made it” yet in college.  You feel so grown and mature.  However, there are so many more life experiences that will teach you more about who you are and what you are really made of waiting for you after graduation.  Slow down, sweet girl.  Why are you in such a rush?  Life is wonderful, but life is hard!  Don’t be in such a hurry to plan the next 30,50,70 years of your life in these 4 short years of college.

You have these amazing dreams, and I tell you…keep dreaming them.  Also know that God has even better and bigger dreams for you.  Greater than you can imagine.  It may or may not involve your degree.  It may or may not involve that boyfriend.  It may or may not involve ANY of your own plans.  If I could tell you one thing to focus on in college more than your classes, socializing, volunteering, or sports…

It would be to focus on knowing God.

When you know who God is, then you will know who you are.

You will learn that you are worth more in His eyes as a daughter of The King than you ever will be as an honor student, ADPi, DZ, PhiMu, cheerleader, basketball player, or editor of the school paper.  Those titles don’t define you.  Your major doesn’t define you.  Your boyfriend will never define you.  None of those things will ever fulfill those voids in your soul because you weren’t made for them.  You were made for God.

One day, you will no longer be whatever it is that you define yourself as now.  The sports will end, the sorority socials will be over, and your role as a student will turn into a graduate.  College is just a transition, it’s not the end all of life.   If you stripped away the titles that you associate yourself to, and had no other introduction other than, “Hi, I’m Paige”…not “Hi, I’m Paige and I cheer”…or “Hi, I’m Paige and I’m a PhiMu”….or “Hi, I’m Paige and I major in Mass Communication”; are you OK with that?  Can you say right now that you would be satisfied with simply being YOU?? Do you know where your worth comes from?  Trust me girlfriend…it’s not in worldly titles, it’s the fact you are HIS and HE is yours.  You are royalty!

That’s all you need.  You don’t have to chase after your dreams when you chase the God of your dreams.  He will bless you in all of your heart’s desires when you seek Him first with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

College

(Here are some iPhone pictures I took of prints from college.  This was me…about 25 pounds heavier.)   

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(Whoah! Look at that hot stuff right there.  More like a hot mess.  I hated that I had gained so much weight.  I cared about my titles. I found my worth in my titles.  I desired to find a husband instead of desiring to know God more.)

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(My weight came from unhappiness and voids.  The voids came when I no longer felt like I belonged in a certain place.  I was searching, and instead of being fulfilled in God, I was fulfilled through the comfort of eating junk.)

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(What the holy heck is happening here? Well, apart from me being stupid…why did I own a Wizard of Oz purse?  And please tell me that sweatshirt was baggier in the front and it was not really my stomach.  This messed with my confidence.  Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re safe from the devil’s lies that you are not good enough.  I am living proof.)

While we are talking about dreaming…stop pinning your wedding on Pinterest and start placing Post-Its in your bible.  Marriage is life long, the wedding is only one day.  If you want a husband, then be the wife he deserves.  That doesn’t mean putting all of your focus and energy into finding a husband in college, it means transforming yourself into a Godly woman that will make a wonderful wife one day. You are so young, sweet pea.  You have an enormous amount of goodness and talents to offer the world.  Your status, success, and worthiness of being loved isn’t determined if you have an engagement ring by graduation.  It’s ok if you aren’t married at 23.  Your maturity and confidence will sky rocket every year in your 20’s. Don’t think you’re a failure if you are single at 26.  The man of your dreams is worth waiting for.  I like myself so much more at 31 than I ever did at 21.  I’m a way better wife at 31 than I was at 22 when I got married.  Yes, I married right out of college.  Do I regret it? No.  Can I write to you from experience being on the other side.  Yes.

If you are engaged or about to be, congratulations!  If you aren’t, congratulations! Every season of life is a celebration.  Stop wishing your way through it to the next phase.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  It’s greener where you water it.  Have fun! Be adventurous! Enjoy life! You only have 4 years.  Maybe 5.  Ok, 6!

Romans 12:1-2

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

Stop Teaching Our Children To “Be Good”

Parenting is THE toughest job in the entire universe.  I am quite positive we are keeping therapists, counselors, psychologists, and shrinks in business for years to come by the truck loads of “crap” we are dumping on our children.  Here we are, just a bunch of jacked up people trying our best not to jack up our kids.  And we do, because are human, and we fail.

BUT…there’s God.  Who graciously pours out his mercy and grace.  That amazing grace that we desperately need every day.  The grace that comforts us when we know we went too far and yelled at our preschooler for drawing on the table just because she wanted to surprise us with her picture.  The grace that whispers guidance to us when we aren’t sure how to love that really annoying pre-teen who acts just like our spouse.  And the grace that teaches us how to train our children in the ways of the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” 

Avery

That’s the hard part. Being responsible for molding your child’s character is S-C-A-R-Y.  It’s scary because we don’t want to screw it up.  We want them to be upstanding, law-abiding, citizens who do good and give more than they take.  We don’t want to raise losers.  If we know Christ, and love Christ, and follow Christ, we also want them to know how to be a ‘good Christian’ too.  

We say: “Be good.  Make the right choices.  Follow the rules.  Listen to your teacher.  Do what I say.”

We teach: “Hey kids…if you’re a Christian, these things are mandatory!  God is not happy when you disobey.  That’s not what the bible says.  You gotta follow these rules and be good so you will go to heaven.”

There’s nothing wrong with teaching morals and good behavior.  Where we DO go wrong is teaching these standards without Jesus.  Jesus is everything.  He’s the missing link to what our children need.  He’s the foundation to the house.  He’s the roots to the tree.  Without him, everything falls apart eventually.

Avery

WHAT OUR CHILDREN NEED TO KNOW IS WITHOUT JESUS, THEY ARE NOT CAPABLE OF ANYTHING ELSE.  They need Jesus to help them.  If we focus so much on ‘being good’ to get rewards in life, we are teaching morality over Christianity, self-righteousness over God-dependence, and rule-following over relationship with Christ.  Don’t set your child up so that when they turn 25-years-old they realize all of their morality and good behavior got them no closer to Christ than the day they accepted Him as their Savior.

What now?  How do we change the way we are molding our children’s view of God and behavior?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” 

Avery

1. START WITH YOURSELF

If you realize this is how you grew up and are still letting your moral code of conduct be the determining factor of your Christianity instead of the immediate need of a closer relationship with Christ…then change!  You can’t do it alone, you need Jesus.  Ask God for clarity on what is in your heart and let him transform you.  Ask him for wisdom and guidance on how to depend on him.  Repent of your self-righteousness and seek dependence on Christ.  You can’t teach your children something you don’t know.  He can change your perspective.  Your children will follow your lead.

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2.  TEACH THEM JESUS

Make God and Jesus real in your home.  Talk about them on a regular basis.  Show your children you can pray about anything by making it a common occurrence during the day.  If their finger hurts, stop and pray over it.  If they are scared, stop and pray.  When something wonderful happens, speak praise out loud to God.  Talk about how you can see God in nature.  Make the topic of Christ a normal thing.  The more you do it, the closer He seems AND is to your children. When we bring our children to Christ, they see who HE is and who they are in Him.  They will see how he LOVED others.  Jesus didn’t care about the “religious moral code” of “rights and wrong”, he cared about LOVE.

Avery

3. CHANGE YOUR LANGUAGE 

I’m definitely not telling you that teaching your children good behavior is wrong.  No, no, no…please do the world a favor and teach them manners, respect, and a solid moral code.  It’s important and necessary, but our efforts are futile if we don’t teach them LOVE.  God is LOVE.  God commands us to LOVE him, and LOVE others.  We can do all the good in the world, but without LOVE it’s useless.  Changing our language can cultivate a heart of LOVE instead of simply good behavior.  Instead of saying, “You made a bad choice when you hit your brother.”  You can say, “Were you being LOVING when you hit your brother?”  Instead of saying, “You shouldn’t lie to us. We are your parents!”  You can say, “It doesn’t make us feel LOVED when you lie to us.  God LOVES it when you tell the truth.”  Instead of saying, “I can’t believe you talked back to your teacher.  You have embarrassed us and now you have a bad conduct grade.  I guess you won’t be going to the movies this weekend.”  You can say, “We are really hurt that you treated your teacher with disrespect.  How do you think that made her feel when you said that?  Was it very LOVING or selfish and rude? Do you believe she saw Christ’s LOVE in you today?”

Are you catching the common denominator?  LOVE.  We need to impress on our children how important loving GOD and loving others is.  Just like in the scripture quoted above, we are to LOVE the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and might and love others like ourselves.  Then we are to teach these things to our children.  Are you focusing more on their behavior or their heart? On their reputation than their character?  When we teach our children to LOVE God, they will desire to follow his commands and the rest will follow.

Avery

4. CULTIVATE DEPENDENCE ON GOD

Oh, how we spend so many years teaching our children independence.  It nearly is the death of us trying to train our children to be responsible, independent adults.  The hours spent on potty training, eating with a fork, brushing teeth, putting away toys, to doing their homework, driving safely, and balancing a checkbook can make black hairs turn gray and thick hair fall out!! Yes, we invest our life into teaching independence.  BUT…how many of those hours are spent training our children to be DEPENDENT on God?  They cannot and will not be able to live up to our standards of good, moral behavior alone.  They will fail and feel like hopeless losers.  We cannot convince them that they are capable to accomplish these things out of their own discipline and strength.  They need Jesus.  We all need Jesus.  We are so desperately in need of his resources it’s not even funny.  Can we all just start agreeing now that we will teach our children that in CHRIST ALONE our hope is found?  Our salvation is found?  A life dependent on God for our very next breath is so much more full than a life of worldly success conjured up out of our own accomplishments.  Teach dependence…not independence.  That’s how we can help our children.

Avery

1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast; but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

 

Because You Gotta Have Faith

“Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

As I was preparing an update on my brother Jacob, to tell you how great he is doing and that he is OUT of the hospital, a bump in the road occurred.  He is back in the hospital, but the trip this time wasn’t as critical as last.  I’ll fill you in along the way.

Two weeks ago, I flew to West Monroe, Louisiana to see him in the hospital where he stayed for 23 days.  My mom had been there since he was admitted, my sister drove from South Carolina, and I flew in from Georgia just for one night.  We were all going to be together and have a party in the hospital room:)

Jake had not seen the Facebook page we created to keep everyone informed of his progress (Jacob Armstrong Updates) .  So many friends, family members, and strangers are following his journey and offered encouraging comments and prayers…the very thing that kept us moving forward.  That day he finally saw it and appreciated the love so much.
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What God has taught me during this really scary, unpredictable time, is to TRUST.  Trust in Him for peace that is greater than my understanding.  Trust in him for physical and spiritual healing regardless of what the doctors say.  Trust in him for joy even when my circumstances tell me to be sad.  Trust in him, regardless.  Just TRUST him.

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When we, as believers in Christ, TRUST HIM…our faith is strengthened.  That truly is what FAITH is…”the confidence in what we hope for, the evidence and assurance of what we do not see.”  I have been confident the entire process that God is going to heal Jacob.  Each prayer request we posted on his Facebook page and lifted up to God was answered!!!  The doctors told us he “may not make it” and “he will need 24 hour care or a stomach pump if he makes it.”  We chose not to believe in man, but in God.  We spoke life, not death.  We got on our knees and prayed and believed…and God heard us.   He chose to answer our prayers and remove the infection from Jacob’s body, protect his brain from damage, and clear his heart from any signs of endocarditis.  He was released from the hospital on March 11, 2014.  What a great day it was for him and we all praised God for answering our prayers.

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Here we are now, exactly one month to the day of his first hospital admittance, he has to go back to the emergency room in Georgia for chest pains and shortness of breath.  The doctors there said his vitals are showing signs that his infection may be back.  How does the make us feel?  Discouraged, but not defeated.  Pressed, but not crushed.  Struck down, but not destroyed.  We are blessed beyond the curse, for his promise will endure, that his joy’s going to be my strength.  Though the sorrow may last for the night, his joy comes with the morning.  Yes, I just quoted Matt Redman’s song “Trading my Sorrows”.  Music can be so healing when you sing, speak, and believe the words that God WILL bring joy after the rain.  God’s joy WILL be my strength.  Even though life will stretch, press, refine, and sift you…it’s all for our GOOD.

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Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  It’s all about switching your perspective.  If you think that the end result of difficulties and the “good” that is meant to come out of a trial is only about the PHYSICAL HEALING, GETTING THAT JOB, CONCEIVING A CHILD, FINDING A HOME, FIXING A RELATIONSHIP…. then you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  God never said, “If you love me, I’ll make sure to answer all of your prayers and give you everything you think is good.”  Nope.  God said, “Be holy, because I am holy”.  He allows these trials, set backs, and disappointments to happen in our life to GROW OUR FAITH, STRENGTHEN OUR CHARACTER, and TRANSFORM US TO BE MORE LIKE CHRIST.

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Even if He chooses not to answer a prayer request the way you hope he does, it doesn’t mean good can’t come out of it.  Qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control are GOOD things.  That may be exactly what he wants to give you, to create in you.  A broken marriage, the death of a loved one, a financial loss, and many UNANSWERED prayer requests may actually be the BLESSING God wants for you.  Everything in life should draw us closer to him into a more intimate relationship where we NEED him, we can’t live a day without him, and we rely on him for our very next breath.  Life’s struggles bring us to that point.  When we have no other resources or powers of our own to depend upon, we have Christ.  That’s when we truly become alive IN HIM.  We operate out of his strength and not our own.

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{Back to the visit with Jacob} God uses people to heal, uplift, and encourage.  So many family members and long time friends from West Monroe showed their love and support.  I can’t put into words the gratitude we have for everyone who visited him.  We moved from Louisiana to Georgia in 1995.  The years have not taken a toll on the relationships with certain special people.  To see childhood friends of Jacob’s come by the hospital and give him fist bumps, and then see our former next-door-neighbors who have known us since we were diapers stop by many times…it breathes life into all of our souls.  If you think you can’t make a difference in someone’s spirit by a small act of kindness and love, you’re wrong.

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Lisa and Gary, seen in these pictures, were our next-door-neighbors.  They came by while I was visiting and we nearly cried from laughing so hard at the stories we shared with them.  Reminiscing about old times just warmed my heart and you can see the joy on Jacob’s face, too.  Thank you Lisa, Gary, and the MANY other friends and family members for coming to see Jake. (Dad, Mom, Aunt Crystal, Kristi, Lee Lee, Anna, Jill, Kerri, Tyler, Cole, Robia, Hunter, Kristopher, Jeremiah, Amanda, Alexis, Aunt Dianne, Papaw, and PLEASE forgive me if I left your name off.  Jacob knows and he thanks you!)

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That day we took Jacob outside the hospital walls for a little stroll.  My sister, Jessica, and I can be overly obnoxious with taking pictures.  Jake wasn’t as amused when we pretended to wheel him into the street like we were helping him escape.

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Jake’s speech therapist came into the room and worked with him on strengthening his speech and face muscles.  His body got so strong so quickly and we thanked God for every new step, new food, and new improved report.  He was proving those doctors wrong!  Our faith continued to grow in God’s miraculous healing powers.

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I believe that our faith is what activates God’s grace.  When we believe in faith and ask in prayer, God is moved.  God wants us to exercise our faith in him, and many times our faith is what brings the healing.  In scripture, Jesus healed sick people simply because they had the faith he could do it.  Luke tells the story in chapter 8 about a sick woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.  As Jesus walked by her, she touched his cloak and was instantly healed.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.” I also like James 5:15 that reads, “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned he will be forgiven.”  

Here’s where things get blurry and people lose faith in God.  The scenario:  Someone has cancer, a child is hurt, a tragedy has occurred.  Christians cling together, believe in faith, and pray for healing.  They believe God can and will heal the person.  Instead, he doesn’t answer the prayers and the person dies.  What then?  Did they not have enough faith? Were they not “Christian enough” to move God?  Why didn’t he heal the person?  Are you ready for the biggest revelation ever….. I DON’T KNOW!!!

Really, I don’t know.  Preachers don’t know.  The Pope doesn’t know.  Only God knows why.  Bear with me for a minute on this one. IF we knew the “secret formula” to always get God to answer our prayers the way we want them answered…then we would be just as powerful as God.  IF we always knew the right things to say and do…we would then manipulate God into working things out for us.  God cannot be manipulated.  God is meant to be trusted.  God will never be figured out completely.  God is a mystery. 

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As a Christian, don’t you think the ultimate HEALING for us is to leave this life on earth and truly start living our life with God in heaven?  That’s our home, anyway.  Not this world where pain, shame, and guilt thrive.  But heaven, with God.  Our ultimate healing is departure from this world and entrance into HIS.  We need not to focus on prayer for the physical healing, but on the spiritual healing.  Pray for the soul that lives forever in eternity, not the body that dies here on earth.

God is more powerful, more knowing, and more loving than we can ever be.  That’s why we need faith.  It’s the assurance of what we do not see.  As Jacob has returned back to the hospital, we do not know what’s in store for him.  I have faith God is in charge and in control.  I will trust in Him.  My faith in God may not bring the results that I want for Jacob’s physical healing, but I will trust Him anyways.  Because I DO KNOW ONE THING…Jacob may be healed through faith, but he sure as heck WON’T BE WITHOUT IT.

I’ll choose faith.

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Let Him Lead

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:22-24 (The Message)

So….your husband isn’t the spiritual leader that you want him to be…that you need him to be.  How dare he??!! Doesn’t he know that he is supposed to LEAD you and your family as the head of the household? Well, he obviously isn’t capable and just isn’t a natural leader.  Good thing you’re here to pick up the slack and do the job for him.  Geez! Your instinctive leadership abilities and your greater faith in Christ is way more qualified to be the spiritual head of the household.

I hope you are sensing my sarcasm at this point.  But…isn’t that true to what you may have thought internally at times?  I know I have.  Guilty as charged!  We “women” can be a bit cray-cray at times.  We like to take charge, take control, lead the way, tell everyone what’s best for them, and DO IT ALL.  Then we like to complain about how much we do;)

Let him lead

Even IF you are natural born leader.  Even IF you are the extrovert in the marriage.  Even IF your faith walk with Christ is more mature than your husband’s…God says it’s THE HUSBAND’S job to be the head of the household.

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

That’s a tough pill to swallow for many “take charge” women (like me!) I knew when I married Michael that scripture says to submit to him as the head of the family.  I wanted him to be the spiritual leader immediately.  It didn’t happen that way.  What happened in our marriage…and is maybe happening in your marriage…was this:

I wanted him to lead…BUT I WAS GETTING IN THE WAY!!!

Yes, I was a big reason my husband wasn’t stepping up as the spiritual leader.  Are you the reason why your husband isn’t assuming his role as the head of your house, too?  How could that possibly be?  If you want your husband to be the mature spiritual leader that you feel comfortable submitting to…it has to start with YOU! Not HIM! If you want God to bless your marriage, you have to let your husband lead.

If you want your husband to lead…give him the room to do it.

Let him lead

DON’T: 

*Don’t try and manipulate him by using tactics to “trick him” into doing something.  Just be open, honest, and ask.  Don’t pout when he says “no”.

*Don’t be his “Holy Spirit” by offering him suggestions on what he needs to change, what should be convicting him, or what you think he needs to do.  The Holy Spirit can do a better job in that department if you pray and ask him for help.

*Don’t guilt him and play the game of “I’ve done _______ for you!  I expect you to play fair and do ______ for me.”  Marriage is not a competition that keeps score.  Give more than you take.

*Don’t believe that his way of doing something is the wrong way just because it’s not how you would have done it.  Let him load the dishwasher without correcting.  Don’t hover over his shoulder and give tips when he changes the baby’s diaper.  Allow him to do the chore without any mumblings of “how you could do it better” or that “his way is just stupid”.  Give him praise.

Let him lead

*Don’t put a time limit on his decisions.  Be patient. Give him the room and time to decide without your nagging.

*Don’t make plans or decisions continually without conferring with him first.  In the first few years of marriage, I wouldn’t talk to Michael about going away for the weekend to visit my family, I would just tell him.  I also took dance classes in an area Michael felt unsafe for me to go.  I undermined him and went anyway because I was a ‘big girl’ and he wasn’t my dad.  Yikes…that’s one way to rob your marriage of God’s blessings.

*Don’t have the final say on everything…especially if it is something that betters your family.  A friend of mine said they were searching for a new church and her husband wanted to try a few different ones out.  I encouraged her to LET HIM decide the church they go to, even if it wasn’t her favorite, because if the husband is comfortable in a place of worship and chooses the place of worship himself, he will be more confident to lead his family to church every week and a more confident leader at home.

Let him lead

DO:

*Pray for him and his heart to be able to hear the Lord.

*Give him praise and confidence by speaking words of life into him.  “I believe in you. I trust you. I respect your decision.  You are always so good at ______.”

*Respect him and instill trust in him.  Women need affection, love, and safety.  Men need RESPECT. When he makes a decision, respect it by not trying to talk him out of it only to do it your way.  If it doesn’t make a difference concerning your family’s safety and well-being, then it will be O.K.!

*Love him through actions.  Find out what his Love Language is, and speak it. Michael’s is “words of affirmation” and “physical touch”.  I need to do better in “words of affirmation”, but when I AM speaking his love language, I send him encouraging texts or emails and verbally speak things out loud about how fabulously awesome he is;)

Let him lead

*Ask God for patience, wisdom, and self-control on your part.

*Think before you speak.  Give yourself 3 seconds before you say what you want to say.  When he talks to you, listen to his heart, not just what he is saying.  Usually if he snaps over something small and insignificant, there’s something greater happening in his heart.  It’s not always about YOU.

*Submitting is following his lead WITHOUT letting him know you would have rather done it differently.

*If he is not a Christian or is spiritually unresolved, then you can lead him to Christ in your actions, not just words.

“Likewise, wives be subject to your own husband even if some do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word but by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands.” 1 Peter 3:1-5

Let him lead

Wives, if your husband does not know Christ and right now, seems to have no interest in getting to know him,  don’t give up.  Keep praying.  Keep seeking God in your own walk.  Keep going to church, alone, if you have to.  Teach your children about God.  Don’t let his weak faith pull you down.  You are planting seeds in his heart that God can grow in his time.  Do not get tired in doing good.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Warning: If your husband is physically abusing you, putting you or your children in danger, asking you to partake in illegal acts, or to do something that is against your faith and against God, then you are not under submission to him.  Immediately seek help.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33 (The Message)

Let him lead

So…you want your husband to change and be the leader?

START WITH YOURSELF FIRST!

(P.S. I would like to say that once I started applying these Do’s and Don’ts to my marriage, things got a lot less stressful.  Michael TRULY stepped up as the spiritual leader and I am so proud of him for growing in his faith walk.  God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.  Just leave it up to God and do what he asks YOU to do as a follower.)

(P.S.S. The cute couple in the pictures are Brooke and Jesse, friends and clients of mine.  That is not my husband and me;)