God’s Laying the Ground Work ~ A Reminder About Patience and the Things Unseen

Home projects were created by the devil himself.  Oh my dear Lord in Heaven…help us!  Ok, I’m being dramatic.   Landscaping a retaining wall and patio isn’t nearly as bad as gutting out your kitchen.  Regardless, attention to detail in both scenarios is crucial.  It will be the determining factor in whether or not the project holds up over time and under pressure.

I’ve had this dream.  Ever since we moved into our new home 1.5 years ago, I’ve dreamt of creating this amazing space with our backyard.  Brick steps, patio, stone fireplace, soft cushy chairs, greenery, flowers.   You know, the pictures you see in Southern Living Magazine when the family is entertaining their friends with mint juleps and grilled shrimp with garlic cheese grits?  That’s what I saw every time I looked out into our rocky, dirty, sandy back yard.  We had a long way to go before I could send out those custom invites for my Southern Living-esque party.

Michael, my husband, finally agreed that this summer we would start the project.  I have been stalking checking in on the crew throughout the process and documented the growth with my iPhone.  Here is the before:

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Here is half way finished:

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I don’t have a picture of the finished product, because it’s not perfected yet.  It’s been a tedious and meticulous process.  Before we even called the landscaper to discuss the project, there were nearly 10 trees we had removed from the yard.  Space needed clearing for the new work to be done.  Congestion was created from the quantity of trees.  We removed the ones that didn’t promise further growth, that created gum balls, and seemed nearly dead.  Quality is what we desired.  Once there was room to grow, the workers then had to do an enormous amount of digging, throwing away, bringing in more dirt, leveling off, patting, and measuring before even one stone was laid.

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I would watch them level the ground, smooth it out, then level it again.  Anxiously awaiting the stones to be laid, I got annoyed and impatient when I saw them get their darn level stick and smooth it out just one more time.  Good grief people…it looks good…just start building!  Then, once two stones were placed onto that perfectly smooth surface, the landscaper retrieved his level and balanced it on both stones, ensuring they were exactly the same height.  He did this for EVERY.SINGLE.STONE.  If one was a tad higher, he got his rubber hammer and beat on the top until it lowered to the precise spot.  Oh my gosh, dude! I think it looks totally great, let’s move on.

My personality is known as ATF….Act, Think, Feel.  I typically act on something, think about what I’ve done, and then feel the repercussions later.  If I were building that back yard retreat, no digging would be done, I would start stacking up stones like I was playing with Lincoln Logs, and build that sucker without using a tape measure, level, or any strategic planning whatsoever.  Common sense would tell anyone that my patio would be uneven, crooked, have no drainage system for rain water, and my friends would trip and spill their fruity drinks and never want to come to any more of my parties again!  ;)

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I do this in life, too.  Maybe you can relate and make me feel better for not being the only one who is impatient during the process, and only wants to see results.  We (I’m going to assume you agreed with me) have dreams, like my backyard.  But more importantly, life changing dreams…like graduating from school, getting that job, saying “I Do”, having a baby, buying a house, running a marathon, starting your own business, mending relationships, repairing marriages, fighting illnesses, or overcoming personal obstacles.  We want the results.  Most of us want them immediately.  Some of us have learned some patience during the waiting.  Regardless, we all hope to see our desires come true.  We yearn for the finished product, but easily find ourselves questioning and doubting God’s building process.

Before God brings us to where he has planned, there is some ground work that needs to be laid.  Like the trees that required removal from our yard, things in our life need to be cut off, weeded out, and gleaned.  It’s not always about quantity, it’s the quality that counts.  The old must go to make room for the new.  God is prepping us for the good that is to come, but first he may have to dig away at our spirits, ridding us of the qualities and characteristics that are not of Him.  It looks ugly, and we would never want our friends to see that part, but it’s necessary for the finished product.  We may see nothing but dirt, but God sees a work in progress.

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I’m so glad God takes his time with me, carefully inspecting me and meticulously molding me into the woman he sees.  I can choose to look at the circumstances in my life like a big pile of bricks and a horrible mess.

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But God sees the finished product.  He knows where he is taking me and knows the method that is required to get me there.  He’s laying down the ground work in my life in order to build up a woman who reflects Christ.  It’s a process, but I know I can rely on Christ to provide patience, grace, understanding, and wisdom while I am waiting.

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Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Romans 8:28 “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.”

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

Not Good Enough – Guest Post by Ana Bright

{Guest Post by Ana Bright from These Bright Ideas}

You are not good enough. You never will be.

And that’s okay.

Not Good Enough

I’ve spent most of my life not feeling good enough. Two of the three memories of my biological father are filled with fights and anger. In the other memory, he picked my little brother and me up at our daycare (I was no older than 4) and we rode in a taxi with him. I found out years later that it wasn’t a taxi and he wasn’t supposed to be picking us up. He kept my brother and I for a week and he refused to tell my mom where we were. When he finally brought us back home, he made sure to tell my mom, “Just so you know, I can get them whenever I want.”

I haven’t seen or heard from him since then nor do I care to. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t spent years wondering why I wasn’t good enough for him to stick around and why he didn’t love me. I guess you could say I have daddy issues. And those issues have been transferred to most relationships in my life. Most of all my relationship with God.

Not Good Enough

Always in fear of being abandoned, I took the mentality of ‘leave before you’re left.’ It’s a mentality that seemed to protect me most of the time. Looking back now, one that probably played in my divorce.

After a 6-month span of craziness and bad choices, I finally started to forgive myself. And about a year after the ink dried on the divorce papers, I came to Christ and was baptized. That was 6 years ago. I’ve been remarried now for four but I still struggle with not feeling good enough. It feels like I have to earn love and acceptance, even from people who love me the most. And especially from God. He knows everything I’ve done and thought about doing in my life. Some things I’ve never told a soul. How could He possibly love me?

But He does.

I don’t have to get to a place where I’m lovable. I don’t have to be the perfect Christian. That is an oxymoron after all. Romans 5:8 says it so perfectly, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There are no exceptions to this.

I am loved. Exactly where I am. Exactly as I am. And so are you.

Not Good Enough


 

ana brightMy name is Ana Bright. I’ve spent my life as a daughter, wife, mom, high school math teacher and now a stay-at-home mom of three great kids. It is the most challenging and most rewarding role I’ve ever undertaken. Since early 2008, I’ve called myself a daughter of the King of Kings, by far, my favorite title. Once my brain turns on, my mind moves a million miles an hour. To keep myself sane, I spend time having mind dumps through my writing at These Bright Ideas and hurling around heavy stuff at the gym.

I Removed Facebook, Instagram, and Safari From My Phone

My connection to the world.  My creative outlets.  My entertainment, interaction, and source of information all gone…

For now at least.

idols

I have a smartphone, like the majority of you do.  I have my favorite apps on there that I use daily. To no surprise, it’s Facebook, Instagram, and the included internet feature of Safari. These are awesome tools for sharing pictures, communicating with friends, doing business, and reading up on the latest news.  I love them, maybe a little too much.  Or maybe it’s my love of photographing my children…and sharing online…that I love too much.  It could be the feedback from friends, family, and followers that I love too much.  What if it’s the feeling of worth and value I get when I see how many “likes” a picture received that I love too much?  Should I continue? I think you get the picture.

These apps are cool things.  They are good things.  Their uses are profitable and CAN BE beneficial.  But where does it go wrong? When does the GOOD get in the way of the BEST?

The good gets in the way of the best when Facebook is the first thing you reach for in the morning before you wipe the sleep out of your eyes.  The good gets in the way of the best when checking your Instagram news feed is the last thing you need to see before dozing off.  The good gets in the way of the best when surfing the internet for mindless poop is an automatic reaction to the silence in a room full of people, and you don’t know how to fill that awkward void.

When life is calm, there is a breathing moment, and time has slowed down for just a millisecond….and your body itches to pull up Facebook because you have nothing to do…that’s when the good gets in the way of the best.

Don’t even get me started on how these apps on my phone have taken away attention from my children, husband, and quiet time.  I don’t need to tell you what a distraction they are from work, chores, and the BEST things in life.  We know that already.  This isn’t a post on what a horrible person you are for looking at your phone while your daughter is twirling in her dress at the park.  That’s already been written.

What I’m talking about is how these apps on my phone have become my idol.  Ouch.  Yep…a direct offense of the First Commandment that the Lord gives:

Exodus 20: 3-6 (The Message)

“3 No other gods, only me.

4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”

My phone became my idol.  I served it first, I served it most, and I served it above the one true God who created me! He loves me so fiercely that he is jealous of my attention, my loyalty, my time, and my love.  Why? Because his love for me is so great and grand, that he gave his son to die a brutal death on a cross just so I can be in God’s presence for all of eternity.  He has a right to be jealous of my worship.  The apps on my iPhone, not so much.

Removing the apps from my phone is temporary.  I’m on a cleanse.  I’m reprogramming my automatic tendencies to stare at my phone most of the day, and instead reaching for scripture, praying, studying my children, hugging them with both hands empty of any distraction, and replacing the good with God’s best.

The Lord will tell me when the time is right to install the apps back to my phone. He will tell me when, and HOW, to use these forms of social media for not only my benefit, but for the benefit of others and his kingdom.  Please don’t think I’m saying Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever form of social media you love are bad or evil.  They’re not.  They can be used for good.  But when the good gets in the way of the best, that’s when we are really on the losing end of the deal.

I will still log onto Facebook from my computer, but I’m not on there NEARLY as long or as often compared to when I browse it on my phone.

What has become your idol?  Maybe you can directly relate to these apps becoming your primary focus over the better things God has for you.  What if it’s work?  Volunteering?  Crafting? Exercising? Money?

I don’t know.  But God does, and he can reveal that to you if you pray and ask him to.  God has so many blessings ready to give you, but he can’t if you are worshipping another god.  That other god (idol) that you worship cannot fulfill your needs the way God can.  Repent from your sin of allowing something else to become an idol over God, and ask for his power to help you change. Only through Christ can you transform your mind and live differently from what the world says is normal, what the world says is good.  I want God’s best.  How about you?

Romans 12: 1-2 (The Message)

“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 (emphasis added). 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.”

Because You Want To Be Called “Daddy” – A tribute to all dads.

Dear “Daddy”…

As Father’s Day draws near, it reminds us all to stop and pay tribute to our father.  Every single one of us has a father.  We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t ;) !

Fathers deserve a little recognition and “thanks” for what they’ve done for us, but DADS deserve more.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort, sacrifice, or commitment to be a “father”.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “father” as this: a man who has begotten a child. The definition of “daddy” is this: a father.  Merriam-Webster, while your definition of “daddy” is true, it’s not accurate.  DADDY is not a synonym for father.  They are totally different.  And you, DADDY, are more than just a father.

A man becomes a father after biological reproduction.

A man becomes a DADDY by choice.

Fathers DayHaving your child call you Daddy is a privilege earned by love, hard work, sleepless nights, commitment, encouragement, quality time, and sacrifice.  YOU are a Daddy because you have chosen to be one.

You uncomfortably sat through the ultrasound visits…because you want to be called Daddy.

You helped pick out the name, even though your contribution of “Hulk” or “Hogan” got shot down quickly…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

(photo credit: Leslie Tate)

You spent hours in the floor, cursing Graco under your breath, as you assembled baby gear…because you want to be called Daddy.

You were there in the delivery room, coaching and encouraging, as you witnessed the miracle of your child being born…because you want to be called Daddy.

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(photo credit: Paperlily Photography)

…or maybe…You signed one million papers, raised what seemed like one million dollars, and waited what felt like one million days to finally hold that child in your arms and welcome him into your home…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day(photo credit: Hannah Wood)

You traded in that Georgia red, lifted up, F-150 to buy the four door sedan…because you want to be called Daddy.

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You swallowed your pride, strapped on that baby carrier, and wore your child on your chest…because you want to be called Daddy.

You fought back the urge to vomit and pushed through that diaper change…because you want to be called Daddy.

You canceled on the guy’s poker invitation, fight night, or pick up game to spend time at home…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day(photo credit: Christy Martin Photography)

You learned the words and can sing along to Dora the Explorer, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Bubble Guppies…because you want to be called Daddy.

You take off work to be at pre-school’s Donuts with Dad and you leave work early to be there for the t-ball game…because you want to be called Daddy.

You kiss boo-boos, give baths, brush teeth, clean up toys, and go on special ice cream runs…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

You go to work, provide for your family, and sacrifice financially…because you want to be called Daddy.

You cuddle, love, support, protect, guide, discipline, teach, and listen…because you want to be called Daddy.

I know you don’t do all of these things because you HAVE TO, because you’re their father.  You do it…and more…because you WANT TO.  Because you’re their DADDY.

And because you’re AWESOME!

Happy Father’s Day not only to a father, but someone who chooses, EVERY DAY….to be a DADDY.

Father's Day

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Waging a War Against Time

I feel myself fighting against the clock, the flow, the unstoppable movement of life.  I am waging a war against time, raging against the busyness.

Somewhere along the road, people decided to glorify “busy”, “doing”, “accomplishing”, and “going”. The busier we are, the more important we are.  People must really need us, and we have a “life” because we have so much to do.  I’ve heard the phrase, “I’m sorry I have a LIFE!” used in really a sarcastic, degrading tone to belittle the person who isn’t as busy as the person who said it.

Ewing Family

We’ve found our significance and worth in being busy.  And if we’re not doing something, going somewhere, or planning our next adventure, then we are “lazy”, “losers”, “unaccomplished”, and “insignificant”.  These are ALL LIES! Lies that the devil uses to keep us moving, going, stressed out, unappreciative, complaining, anxious, and unsatisfied with ourselves.  Lies used to steal our joy, the joy that comes from being in the presence of the Almighty God, the author and perfecter of our faith, and the peace that comes from knowing we are a child of God.  Our title is not in what we are DOING, it is who we are BEING…co-heirs with Christ.

I realized a few years ago when Avery was 3-years-old that I was bringing most of the stress and busyness upon myself.  I was creating the havoc by always saying YES when people asked, always volunteering, always adding more to my plate, and not taking an evaluation of where my time was being spent. It was after my husband had a talk with me about how insanely chaotic the playroom was and that Avery had colored with markers all over her table.  It was a simple question of, “Are you even watching her during the day?”  I felt a brick hit me my upside my head and a soccer player kick me in the gut at the same time.  My answer was, “No.  No, I’m not watching her because even though I’m in the same room with her, my face is stuck in the computer editing all of these photography sessions that need to get done.”  God spoke to me and said, “What is more important, your job…or your child?”

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That was a no brainer.  I instantly made changes to my business to eliminate the majority of where my time was spent.  I decided to cut out all family and children sessions and focus solely on weddings.  Also, the editing would now be outsourced.  I’ve never regretted reading a book with my daughter over sitting behind a computer.  NEVER.

Those kind of changes were my decisions to make.  It was in my control to make more time for what is most important. The stress dissolved and I could be there mentally and emotionally more for my daughter than I could before.

However, there are “busy seasons” in life that are beyond my control.  Like the month of May.  Holy Cow!! No one warned me how ridiculously crazy, busy, time sucking, and wallet draining that the end of the school year can be.  Avery is only in preschool, and thankfully God is teaching me this now, that May will always be NUTS.

Teacher appreciation, Mother’s Day, petting zoo, field day, class parties, pre-k graduation, dance pictures, dress rehearsal, dance recital, Avery’s birthday…and 2 weddings to photograph.  My time is being stretched and so is the bank account.  Money for this, payments for that.  I think I wrote 5 checks ALONE just yesterday.  I don’t say this to complain, because I’m not ungrateful, but it’s just a reality check of life.  The majority of these things I cannot control, and should I choose not to show up and overextend myself, then I’m missing LIFE.  Avery loves for me to be there…and by God….I WANT to be there.

mommy and avery

This season of life is the good stuff.  My baby is about to graduation from Pre-K in less than a week and then have her 5th birthday party a few days later. I want to relish in these moments.  I don’t want to just “survive” and “get through them”.  I want to remember the details, the smiles, the kisses, the pigtails, the lace on her dress, blowing out the candles, her baby teeth, and the way she still wants to sit in my lap and hold my hand in front of her friends.

I’m fighting against the clock and the pressure that says “Go!”, “Hurry Up!”, “You still have so much to do!”  I’m screaming back at it in my head saying, “Look!”, “Slow down!”, “Laugh!”, “Cuddle!”, “Pay Attention!”.  Because when I pick her up from preschool on the last day, I want to  see her face, watch her climb into my car, and excitedly show me the sticker in her notebook.  I need to hear her talk about who won Bingo, and what crazy thing Mrs. Sue said that day, and listen to her yell “bye” to her friends in the parking lot.

avery and mommy

I don’t want to rush through it because we need to hurry home and finish the laundry before dance class.  I can’t let the pressure of what hasn’t been done yet drown out the blessings and joy God sends to me each day through my children.

Yes, this is a busy time of year.  But this is the only time my children will look the way they do, talk the way they talk, experience these moments in their lives, and I don’t want to capture it all just to post on Instagram, I NEED to take a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual snapshot for myself, so years down the road when she drives herself to the first day of school, or is too big to sit in my lap without it hurting, I can relive these moments, sounds, sights, smells, and feelings that are happening RIGHT NOW…in the busy season.

Ewing Sisters

Ephesians 5:11-17 (The Message)

11-16 “Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

17 Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.”

 

Be The Salt in a Tasteless World

“You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything; except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13

It’s a compliment to be called “the salt of the earth”.  People use this term when referring to someone who is faithful, full of great character, adds value to others, and uncorrupted.  These type of people just give you the warm and fuzzies and you not only want to be around them, but you strive to be more like them.

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing by choosing the term “salt” in his teachings.  In his time, salt was used as a preservative for meats and other foods.  It prevented corruption in the food and allowed it to last much longer.  It protected the meat from going bad and rotting, which would then make it inedible.

Salt was also used to sprinkle on “grain offerings” made to God in the Old Testament.

“Season all of your grain offerings with salt.  Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all of your offerings.” Leviticus 2:13

A grain offering was offered as a sign of thanksgiving to God.  It also had to be pure, so the salt was necessary for “purification and preservation”.  Imagine during these biblical times if people didn’t have salt.  It may seem insignificant, but all of the meats would go bad, their grain offerings wouldn’t be pure and acceptable, and they wouldn’t have any salt for the rims of their margaritas. (totally kidding!)

Salt

The truths from Jesus’ teaching then is still applicable to us today, because his word never changes and doesn’t lose its power.  Here’s what’s up: We live in a tasteless world.  We must bring it flavor.

The music blasting from Katy Perry and Kanye West…tasteless.

The clothes sold in stores that cut too low and ride too high…tasteless.

The books promoting sexual fantasies in different shades of a dull color…tasteless.

The television shows glorifying dysfunction, drunkenness, and teen pregnancies…tasteless.

The movies targeting women to see how magical Mike’s moves really are…tasteless.

Are you catching on?  This stuff sells!!! Advertisers know it.  Producers know it.  Designers know it.  Just because it’s out there as the “new normal” and “everybody’s doing it” does not make it OK!  Common sense can you tell you if something is tasteless or tasteful.

As a follower of Christ and someone who claims Christianity, we are called to be different than the world.  God tells us “do not conform any longer to the world, but set yourself apart” (Romans 12:2).  We are called to be the SALT of the world.  Let me remind you what salt does:

Salt PRESERVES: Am I preserving goodness, honor, justice, mercy, and purity in my culture?

Salt INHIBITS CORRUPTION: Am I restraining the culture’s corrupting influences?

Salt CREATES PERMANENCE: Am I standing for truths that will last forever or change with what’s acceptable in my day and age?

Salt CREATES THIRST: Have I made anyone thirsty for God? Is my conversation “seasoned with salt” or do I overload it with too much and drive people away?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

God tells us to “season” our conversations with salt.  A little salt creates a thirst, a thirst for more.  God doesn’t tell us to pour the salt on so thick and heavy that others are completely turned off and never want to try God again!

Be the zest and flavor in the world around you.  Spice things up a little bit.  You don’t have to be tasteless just because everything else is.  Be the salt.

 

 

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.” 

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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;)