Monday, October 30, 2006

The Pleasure of Purity

I enjoy reading. If given a choice of how I would spend several hours alone, my first choice would be to cuddle up with a book. Therefore, knowing this simple fact about myself you can only imagine how many books on marriage and relationships I have read through the years. And yet I have found that none have dealt with this subject in such a practical and Godly fashion as I have enjoyed in Feminie Appeal. In the next chapter, the author addresses the area of purity in our lives primarily in the area of intimacy with our husbands. She does such an excellent job of getting right to the point. God created it, He meant it for marriage, and therefore we should enjoy it with our husbands. Some days I just need to be reminded!

There are two great posts at Home Sanctuary about "What all guys want and being our husbands refuge".

Friday, October 27, 2006


He has finally lost his first tooth and this is the official "I lost my first tooth picture" and by far the best one to date!

Have a great weekend!

The Safety of Self-Control

I have to admit the next chapter in the book "Feminine Appeal" is not my favorite. Not because of the way it is written, but because it is so true and reveals so much about my own life. The word "Self-Control" has been coming up a lot lately in my conversations, studies, and thoughts. That is usually my clue to take notice. I am to learn, get, figure out something that the Lord is trying to show me.
I have read Galatians 5, prepared studies on the Fruit of the Spirit, memorized Titus 2 and 2 Peter 1:5-8, and yet like so many others have completely overlooked this very important virtue. And worst yet I have huge holes in my life that I am continually trying to plug as a result of the lack of self-control. Only God by His grace can repair the damage. The book quotes Proverbs 25:28; " A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." She encourages us as wives and mothers to have self-control in the area of our eating, sleeping, emotions, thoughts, and behavior.

When it comes to our behavior the book states, "But did you know there is one behavior, if diligently pursued, that will promote self-control in every area of your life? It is not a time-management technique or the latest PDA. It is the daily practice of meeting with God." I couldn't agree more and have seen first hand in my own life what self-control in the area of meeting with God daily has produced in my life.

In the book, she states "Self-control doesn't just happen. We can't adopt the indifferent attitude "let go and let God" and expect magically to become self-controlled. Self-control requires effort. However development of this quality is not solely dependent upon us. We cannot acquire this virtue by our own strength. It is only as we cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit that we will achieve said self-control. Our growth will take place as it did with Paul who said, "For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" (Col. 1:29). Notice that Paul did toil and struggle, but his effort was initiated and sustained by the Holy Spirit."

I have always wanted self-control in my life so that I might look better, or feel better about myself. But the more I look at this virtue I realize self-control has nothing to do with me (self), but everything to do with the gospel going forth.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Blessings of Loving My Children

I can remember seeing my first child, her tender face, her sweet lips, the touch and smell of her sweet skin and than the tears. An overwhelming rush of emotion coming over me and the incredible miracle that lay before me. I loved her immediately and urgently I plunged into my new vocation, loving my new role and title, "mom". I went on to do this a total of five times and probably would have never stopped if I could have remained in that moment for ever.

But things do change. In the days, weeks, and years ahead I have experienced a newborn who wanted to nurse all the time. A two year old who could climb anything and was into everything. (I am still experiencing this one) the whining of a four year old, crying on the first day of school, talking to a nine year old about lying, the attitude of a adolescence. I haven’t always felt those same tender emotions I experienced those first moments and days. Yet it’s in the midst of the trials and challenges of motherhood that the command comes to love our children. In Titus 2 we are told “to love our children” and the type of love that the original language is speaking of is a tender, affectionate, and passionate love. Carolyn Mahaney states, "Although many mothers are committed to caring sacrificially for their children, they sometimes neglect to enjoy them. They fulfill their responsibilities of motherhood but overlook the pleasures." I have made this mistake!

The book goes on to answer the question, "What’s the goal?"

"The ultimate purpose of loving our children this way is the salvation of our children’s souls. This is the chief end of mothering. Our goal is not that our children be happy, fulfilled, and successful. Our highest objective should be that our children would repent from their sins, put their trust in Jesus Christ, and reflect the gospel to the world around them. While the salvation of our children is our highest aim, our tender love is not sufficient for this task. Only the Holy Spirit is able to reveal the truth of the gospel. However, our tender love can be an instrument in God’s hands. I am convinced that no one has more potential to influence our children to receive and reflect the gospel than we do as mothers."

One of the ways she encourages us in loving our children is to have regular time alone with God. This time should be spent in a quiet place alone. If I am going to enjoy my children, I need strength. She also reminds me to have tender thoughts, tender behavior, and to number my days.

Mothers, you may be up to your earlobes with babies and dirty diapers. Or you may be spending half your life in the car, driving your children to and from numerous activities. In whatever stage of motherhood you find yourself, may I remind you of something? It won’t last for very long.

I found this cute quote written by another mother and wrote one for myself.

"Just when I figure out how to mother this soft, sweet, cuddly, moving, growing preschooler, I have a kindergartener. I turn around and a first grader is standing before me instead. I have just learned how to love and live with a nine year old when the nine year old vanishes, leaving a preadolescent in their place. They don’t stay still long enough for me to have my fill of them ever, at any stage. “Stop!” I scream. “Let’s just do it this way for awhile, let’s stay right here.”

At the end of this chapter the book says this, (slightly changed to fit me)

No one needs to remind us that it is an enormous responsibility to be a mother. How well we know it! I seldom feel like much of an adventurer – standing in this kitchen, pouring cereal into bowls, refilling them, handing out paper towels when the inevitable cry comes: “Uh oh. I spilled.” But sometimes at night the thought will strike me: There are five small people here, breathing sweetly in their beds, whose lives are for the moment in our hands. I might as well be at the controls of a moon shot, the mission is so grave and vast. I leave you with this, although the mission is grave and vast, God’s grace is greater. He kindly reminds us in His Word. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Loving My Husband - Tender Behavior

It's not just my thoughts, but also my behavior. Most days if I allow my thoughts to be tender, my behavior will usually fall into place. In the book, Feminine Appeal she quotes Linda Dillow, who shares three ways in which we can actively admire our husbands, by prizing them, cherishing them, and enjoying them.

We all know that to prize something means we strongly desire it. To cherish means to hold dear, or to care for tenderly, and enjoying someone is taking pleasure in something. These are all words that I would use to describe something that is extremely valuable to me. And therefore I would do everything I could to take care of it.

My marriage and relationship with my husband is extremely valuable to me. I want my husband to feel that he has first place in my heart apart from my relationship with God. My kids will grow up and leave home someday and what greater gift could I give them, but to love my husband dearly. I want to care for him tenderly. I look for ways that I can bless him. A few days ago he mentioned that potato soup sounded really good. We had a full day of activities and I was tired, but I made some soup without saying anything and when he came to the table I could see on his face how special he felt. These are easy things but make huge imprints in our lives.

It has taken me many years to get here. Finally, one way I have enjoyed my husband is joining him in one of the things he enjoys. We watch football games together. About 13 years ago I began sitting down with him each Sunday afternoon to enjoy a game. I would make a special plate of fun foods and I would sit with him throughout the entire game. He loved it and guess what SO DID I!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Loving My Husband - Tender Thoughts

In the book "Feminine Appeal" again I find her words in the area of tender thoughts so familiar to where I have lived and walked. I quote, "We frequently face situations where we are tempted to think harsh and critical thoughts. Sometimes as wives we are more inclined to concentrate on what our husbands are doing wrong than what they are doing right. We are more aware of their deficiencies than areas where they excel. But if we submit to these temptations, they will only lead to the demise of warm affection." And she goes on to state that this is supported by scripture. Philippians reminds of us that whatever is true, right, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think on these things.
For too long my thoughts focused on what was not right instead of what was good. What a complete waste of time. So much more could of been accomplished if only my thoughts were tender. Tender thoughts is not denying what may be wrong, it is just choosing to look at what is good and trust the Lord for what needs to change.
I remember many years back a time when I turned over these thoughts to the Lord and to my surprise the Lord showed me that while I was trying to remove the splinter from my husband's eye, I had a huge log in my own.

I want to love my husband with tender thoughts throughout the day. I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot also in the book,

"A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Transformed by Titus 2

I am re-reading( or more like studying) a great book by Carolyn Mahaney titled Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother. It is especially meaningful to me since Carolyn was a pastor's wife for 25 years.
The opening chapter describes a mandate to older women from Titus 2 to train or teach the younger women the seven virtues listed in Titus 2:3-5. I love the final paragraph in the first chapter, "Can you conceive of anything that sets for the the beauty of the gospel jewel more brilliantly than the godly behavior of those who have received it? Consider the loveliness of a woman who passionately adores her husband, who tenderly cherishes her children, who creates a warm and peaceful home, who exemplifies purity, self-control, and kindness in her character and who gladly submits to her husband's leadership-for all the days God grants her life. I dare say there are few things that display the gospel jewel with greater elegance. This is true feminine appeal."
As a young wife and mother I longed to understand my role. I had so many conflicting voices in my life. Most of them were well meaning, but very few if any were biblical. I struggled through many years of discouragement and even depression at times in an effort to understand "what" and "who" I was suppose to be. A successful career looked good, but I had a longing to be at home. I was a smart and capable woman, able to make decisions on my own, so why did I need to submit to my husband's leadership? I wanted a warm and peaceful home, but had no clue how to get there. I loved children and wanted a house full, but never expected motherhood to be so completely draining at times and I began to wonder, "What am I doing?".

Today I am so thankful for God's patience and gentle loving guidance in my life. Through the years he placed women in my life who exhibited the qualities of a Godly woman that I needed at that time. I learned through direct contact, watching, listening, observing, and especially reading. I am amazed at the path God has used in my life. I recently wrote a tribute to a friend who more than anyone else exemplified these qualities.

Kim has been my mentor for close to 15 years. It was not an intentional relationship. It started with a desire on my part to be a Godly woman, wife, and mother. I was hungry for practical tools and wisdom in every area of my life. Kim (as a slightly older woman) took an interest in me. She had to be patient and long-suffering as she gently let me know over time that she was my friend. Her example did not come through long lectures, or spouting off scripture and knowledge, but rather through genuine concern and a daily example of living her life to the Glory of God. She lived out Titus 2 and encouraged me to do the same. When I walked through several difficult seasons, she was there to listen, encourage me not to give up and to share hope. She wasn’t just there, she literally held my hand. When I needed help in my home, she never hesitated to step in. She would give me things when I knew she didn’t have it to give. She trusted God completely. She offered to keep my little ones, even though her kids were older. She sent me notes of encouragement! And most importantly I stand here today in front of you because of her nudging and pushing me out in front of the ladies of our church. She saw in me what I would have never seen in myself. She promoted me and encouraged me. Over time our relationship developed into friendship in which I desired to be there for her. Today we are “friends”, even though distance prevents it from being what I desire. Kim will always be my mentor, friend, and a Godly example of Titus 2.

Through the years so many of my questions have been answered. My life and especially my thinking has been completely transformed by Titus 2. And the greatest understanding I have gained is the purpose for the virtues listed in Titus 2; that the gospel may go forth. It is not for me to look better, but rather that others may know and see our lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Birthday "T"

Today is my oldest daughter's fifteenth birthday. She is growing and maturing into such a beautiful young lady. I love her passion for things, her tenacity, and her giving and gracious spirit. Thank you Lord for entrusting her to us. She is truly a gift from you.