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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Love: The Mark of Maturity

Jesus tells us, “Love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Two commands. Both are to love. Love is truly something we don’t ponder much as we strive toward holiness. It’s something we almost believe is a naturally occurring virtue. We certainly don’t think loving others is as difficult as having patience or self control.

However, when we think about it, are we really loving others as God would have us love them? When our family and others are around us, is our mind focused on seeking to understand how we can love them and minister to them? Or are we seeking to understand how they can love and minister to us?

There is a story long told about John, the apostle and disciple of Christ: In the evening he would sit for hours with his younger disciples gathered at his feet. One day as it is related in this well established tradition, one of his disciples complained, “John, you always talk about love, about God’s love for us and about our love for one another. Why do you tell us about how to love? John is said to have replied, “Because there is nothing else, just love…love…love.”

This is from a man who knew Jesus intimately.
Why then do we, as followers of Christ, often fail to love others? Why do we not truly reach out with Christ’s love to everyone around us? Why are we not others focused in our day to day lives?

Perhaps it’s our preoccupation with self. We busily go about our lives trying to secure the things that we believe will bring us love (or the honor and respect that we think will result in “love”). We want love!

Ironically, we desperately seek that which we already have. We richly possess the kind of love that is able to make us feel completely and totally secure.

John recognized that if we were only to grasp how deeply and passionately God loves is – just as we are – we would then be released from our longing to be loved. We would reach out to others in true, meaningful and sincere love. Loving them freely, sacrificially, selflessly; without a thought given to our needs. Not surrendering to our fear of what others think about us. We must sincerely love others without our fears and insecurities hindering us, or they will be come and obstacle in our obedience to God’s second most important command. We should abandon self-absorption and embrace self-forgetfulness – forgetting ourselves as we love one another, just as Christ did for us.

When I think of genuine love, I often think of Stephen, the first Martyr. How much he must have grasped the knowledge of God’s love. Said to have had “the face of an angel”, Stephen truly cared about the souls of those who torturously stoned him to death (Acts 8). How I long to be like Stephen – so full of the Holy Spirit that my love for others just naturally flows from my heart to others – not only to my family and friends, but also to those who have hurt me.

The power of love is way within our reach. It is something we can do. It is a command of God and, therefore, completely and absolutely His will for each of our lives. Yet we are powerless to love in this way. It is only through His power, through Him changing our hearts, that we can be this way. The only thing we can do is cry out to Him for this change. A cry from a repentant heart is the attitude in which He delights. It is the essence of true prayer.

It is my prayer for all of us that we may truly internalize the love God has for us; that we will love one another with authentic vulnerability; that when we encounter others we, with faces like angels, will absolutely embrace them with sincere love.

Let us look outward and upward!

Here are some wonderful verses to encourage us in love:

I pray that you, being roosted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-18

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentlness, and self control.
Galations 5:22

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galations 5:6

Love must be sincere. Romans 12:9

The Better Part

Long ago, the home-schooling mother had time to read novels to her children. Dinner was unhurried and filled with laughter and rich conversation—often about their latest learning adventure. Playing games together in the evening, the family drew close to one another and the children knew peace and unity. Today, she rushes through the day’s curricula, grabs lunch in the car on the way to lessons, activities and enrichment, then rushes home to complete the task for the committee on which she serves. She ends the day by hastily preparing a quick dinner so they’re not late for the evening’s activities, then jumping back in the car to get there. At home, she falls into bed, completely exhausted, resenting her husband’s pleas for affection.

Isn’t it wonderful that homeschooling offers so many opportunities, so many great field trips, fabulous clubs and exciting activities designed to enrich our lives? Isn’t it relieving to know that our children will not miss out on these great experiences? But the question we must ask is, “Does it really make their lives better?” “Does it really contribute to a better future for them?” “Does it enhance our lives so that we are the mothers they need us to be?”

With all of these wonderful events and happenings, comes a great many other not so wonderful eventualities; continuous phone calls, full calendars, hours in the car, hurried lessons, harassed mothers and totally worn out, depleted of all energy wives in the evening. Isn’t a rich life one where there is joy, peaceful conversations, and time for family play and fun in the evenings? Could it be that our involvement in so many activities, with moms working over-time to make it all happen, actually hinders us from experiencing the abundant life God would have for us?

There are certainly times when God calls our children and us to do activities outside of our homes, but in those cases, he provides all the stamina we need to do all He has called us to do; if it’s of Him, it does not rob of us joy. If, however, it’s not part of His purpose and plans for us, we will forfeit joy and peace when we do participate. We’ll find ourselves trying to make things work, trying to keep it all together.

It is difficult to say no when we are called upon to do work for the church, homeschool community, or when an amazing opportunity is set before us. Yet, before we say yes, we should discern whether it might hinder God’s primary purpose for us, seeking the Lord’s will in prayer and quietness. There might be someone else that He has chosen to meet that need or it might be that the program being offered is not His will to begin with – thus, no one is really meant for the position. We must not allow guilt or fear of man keep us from obedience to God’s plan for our lives.

Our true purpose is defined in Titus 2:5 which states that young women should learn to be “of sound mind, love their husbands, love their children, be self-controlled, pure keepers of the home, good, and obedient to their own husbands.”

If I am overcommitted, I become of unsound mind, stressed and irritated with my children – yelling at them for the inconveniences they cause me. Then my house falls apart, and I, with a stern countenance, ignore the needs of my husband. This is contrary to what I am told to be in Titus 2:5.

It is hard to say no to the opportunities we have. But sometimes, we must crucify our flesh and even say no to things we really want to do. For without God’s blessings upon our choices, our life becomes impossible to live and we are weighed down and burdened. Romance with our husband is lost, laughter with our children is lost, and peace is lost. Burn out soon follows.

I have learned from experience that if we allow the Lord His rightful place in the planning of our schedule, we will be doing exactly what He desires for us to do, and he will give us the energy we need to accomplish all His purposes for us. We will say “yes” only when we know and have that strong sense of peace that this is the correct path to take. God has an incredible plan for our lives, and our children’s lives and future. Adding excessive activities does not enhance God’s plan and improve their lives. We will not do them any favors if we fill their lives with busyness. Their souls yearn for the peace and joy that comes with a family gathered at dinner enjoying unhurried discussions that draw them into a satisfying relationship with their parents.

As we are told in Ephesians, let us redeem the time, for the days are evil. Consider the plans you have made for next year. Can you let yourself take a year off of one of those activities? Could you take even a semester off? Wean yourself from the busy schedule, and you will be astonished at the incredible gift that days at home are to your spirit, soul, and your family. As Jesus once said to Martha, "Mary has chosen the better part." Let us also do the same.

To test or not to test

A homeschool mom has an advantage that public and private school teachers don't have. Through our conversations, we have the opportunity to perceive the richness and depth of what our child really knows and understands. We can ask questions and have discussions, clearing up misinformation, making spiritual connections and seeing our child excited over the knowledge they have gained.

Let's take my child's history studies as an example. My boys and I were standing in line at the video store when somehow we began talking about Napoleon. The boys were excitedly talking about the "Boogy man" as Napoleon was called. Then they proceeded to remind me of the details of Napoleon's wars before his banishment to Elba. They could recite the battles, the victories and failures of his reign. I couldn't even do that. Why could they? Because they were interested. They fell in love with learning about it. There was no pressure or stress. When learning, there was no questioning, "Will this be on the test?" No, they simply enjoyed learning the material and were allowed to soak up the parts they wanted to learn, no pressure. They were fascinated by the information. Perhaps there were some things they didn't remember from that period we studied. I don't know. The fact is, they learned what they found interesting. I wonder if I required them to remember specific facts for a test, if they would have retained so much excitement about the material.

I believe tests can ruin the atmosphere of learning that I'm trying to promote in the hearts of my children. Tests tend to create an environment where the student seeks knowledge and learning to score well on the test, rather than seeking knowledge because of their natural curiosity and desire to know. Learning becomes linked with fear of failure. The natural curiosity is quenched, while the desire to score well and the fear of not scoring well replaces the love for learning. Love is replaced by fear.

After a test-free elementary experience (except the occasional test prep and IOWA test required by law), a child enters middle school with a love for learning firmly ingrained in their character. In high school, tests are necessary for the all-important credit and for a smooth transition into college. Yet, these tests and the entire high school experience will be so much easier for a child that enjoys learning, soaks up knowledge and hungers for more information, than for the child who has associated all learning with fear and testing.

That's why, with my elementary science books, I don't create, promote or endorse tests for mom to give to her children. I personally believe tests are for classroom teachers who don't have the blessed advantage of the wonderful discussions we have with our little ones. For, it is through those discussions that we know what they know, learn what they learn and enjoy the knowledge with them.

Rocks

Sometimes we must stop what we are doing, and address issues that come up in our family. When we have everything all planned out for our day or week, these interruptions can seem overwhelmingly burdensome. Yet, we must see them as part of God's plan for the path we walk.

I found the morning interrupted with a long overdue "talk" with one of my children who has been ever so stealthfully walking the wrong path in his heart - towards his siblings, chores, parents, school, bedtime and who knows what else.

After a momentary discouragement, I realized something significant.

That is that we are on a path, a narrow path, in this homeschool journey. As with any path, even perfect paths there are places where the going is smooth, beautiful and filled with exultation, and other places that have rocks that need to be removed before we can move on. Those rocks come in the form of negative attitudes that have crept up on us and our children unawares. Those rocks can be sinful behaviors that must be addressed, repented of and placed before God for complete removal. Those rocks can be fears and worries you have allowed to capture your heart. There are many things that represent rocks in the road.

Homeschooling is such an incredible experience, but it is not without obstacles. Yet, when we run into these obstacles, we should not become discouraged – for, they are part of living upon this earth. They also have the potential to grow us in holiness and strength in the Lord.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6 (NIV)

The path you are on today may be strewn with rocks of all sizes, but it is only for a little while – and for a purpose. Don’t give up because of it. Allow the Lord to guide you in removing the rocks that you have encountered during this part of your journey.

And cut through and make firm and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet [yes, make them safe and upright and happy paths that go in the right direction], so that the lame and halting [limbs] may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured. Hebrews 12:13 (Amplified Bible)

Yet, do not be discouraged in this effort, for it is God Himself, through His Spirit and our faith in Him to do it, that will level those paths.

Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galations 3:2

Notebooking

After we have read a book, when we make a notebook page or two about the subject matter, it really makes a huge difference. It gives the children a sense of completion. It gives me a sense of accomplishment as I see their illustrations and written narratives. They have just expressed, in their own creative way, what they learned when I read aloud to them.

Here is a picture of a notebook page my daughter did after reading about the earth

Reading aloud is a wonderful and important thing. Yet, we homeschool moms can begin to feel like it isn't enough, especially if we don't have anything to show for the hours we read to them. That's why notebooking is such a tremendous thing to do after we have read aloud to them. When you finish the book, have them create a simple page or two telling about the things they learned in the book

Going on field trips is fun, interesting and educational. Yet, who remembers the field trips they went on two years ago? Those who had their children make a field trip notebook do!

When you go somewhere educational, have your children write or illustrate a page to include in their notebook. If it was a historical field trip, have them place the pages in their history notebook. If it was a science related field trip, put the page in their science notebook. Then, you will have a record of your outing and a lasting momento of its educational value.

We just finished the book Sacagawea (actually I think it's spelled Sacajawea in this book). After we were done, I created some notebook templates on the computer. The kids drew pictures and wrote about what they learned on these templates.

Five years from now, we may have forgotten that we read this. The kids may not have remembed the Snake River, the 100 foot long beached whale they found, and all the other interesting things we read. But now, we will always remember the knowledge gained. For once your child expresses her knowledge in her own words - it is truly their own.

Below are some notebook pages my kids have made recently. Two are from our history studies, and two are from the Zoology II book that I just completed. You can see how I designed the templates. We are now reading an Oregon book about John Sager, Onward to Oregon! I've made the template for them to fill in when we finish the book. I just love notebooking!

For more information on how to notebook, see my website notebooking page -

Dwell in the Lord

"He who dwells in the Shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust...If you make the Most High your dwelling, even the LORD, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:1-2, 9-12

How do we dwell in the Shelter of the Most High, because this sure sounds like a place I want to be. How ‘bout you? There seems to be this condition of dwelling in His shelter in order to receive all these great promises. There’s another Scripture that says “He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” I pondered the question of how do I keep my mind stayed on Him, as well as how do I dwell in His shelter, and the Lord seemed to speak to my heart saying “I am The Word.”

I instantly realized that to keep our minds on the Lord is to focus on Scripture. Before you open your Bible, ask the Lord to reveal His Word to your heart as you read, to speak to you through His Word. Ask this in full faith that that is His perfect Will and He will do it. Believe that He will when you ask. James 1:6 has some harsh words for those who ask of God but don't believe He will answer.

As the Lord gives you a Scripture, mediate on it all day long. Write it down and carry it with you. Note the book and chapter so you can find it again when the Lord has you share it with someone else. Think on it throughout the day. This is keeping your mind stayed on Him—for He is the Word, and the Word is Him. This is also how you dwell in His shelter: we abide in Him by keeping our mind, heart and thoughts on Him—His Word– throughout the day. Then, you can rest in the peace of knowing that His promises found in Psalm 91 are for you, as you make Him your shelter.

"The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run in and are safe." Proverbs 18:10

They Will Know We are Christians by our LOVE

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

In Jesus’ day, people brought gifts to the Priests, as a way of showing God their gratitude and love. Today, our gift to God is our entire lives. Romans 12:1 tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Yet, Jesus has set before us standard of love to others. Remember that song, "They will know we are Christians by our love."?

I once had a falling out with someone. I really was fine with the whole thing. But the other person was not. Whenever I would try to pray and become intimate with God, I would feel a little prick in my heart that I needed to make amends with this person. Even though I didn't feel offended or think I had done anything wrong, I needed to extend the olive branch her way. I needed to apologize for the way it came across to her in a way that made it right for her.

Jesus is saying, before you come and tell God how much you love him, make up with those who are angry with you. Notice it doesn’t say, that if you are angry with someone, it says “if someone has something against you.”

If you know that someone is mad at you for something you did - even if it was years and years ago. And you have not gone to apologize, then you really haven't walked in love towards that person. Even if the reason they are mad seems ridiculous to you, even if the thing they have against you doesn’t seem right to you, you should ask for forgiveness for hurting them. But especially when you know that the thing you have done was wrong - as hard as it is - you must apologize. Repent for the hurt you caused, even if it was unintentional. Do it for God, to show Him how much you love Him. Jesus says that we show our love for God by obeying Him - and obedience to Him means loving others. So, that means that we show our love for God by loving others!

Send a letter, a gift, call them, or go for a visit. If it’s a family member living in your house that has something against you, repent today. Make your peace, and then you will be loving God with all your heart soul and mind.

I will arrive...

There is not doubt that I have a long way to go to be the person and mom I want to be.

Instead of walking about with my own agenda, easily tripped up when minor or major infractions occur, I want to smile at every mistake and lovingly proclaim, “It’s okay darling, I’ve made many mistakes.” When I see others, I desire to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading on how I can bless them, with no thought about myself. I want to pray for everyone I see or think of. I so want to be like Christ. I want the truth that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me to be evident and lived out in my reality.

Yet, as I have struggled with the person I am versus the person I want to be, I realize that God has done so much work in me already. Though I am not what I will one day be, I am so thankful that I am not what I was a few years ago.

Yet, almost all the change that has happened in me is due to the challenges, difficulties, sad situations, troubled relationships where I or someone else failed. Metamorphis came through the painful circumstances and the trials the Lord allowed, from cancer to mispoken words.

God’s faithfulness in transforming me through these trials has enabled me to say with the confidence of Paul that He who began a good work in me will, indeed, bring it to completion. And this promise gives me faith to believe that I will, with certainty, be more consistently Christ-like with each passing year. For it is His purpose and will for me. In fact, He predestined me to be conformed to the image of His Son! Now, we can’t get any more sure than that! I am predestined, marked out, to be like Jesus! Yes, I know that one day in heaven, I will be suddenly like Him. But this verse says it will be a conforming work. Peter tells us we are constantly being changed from glory to glory here on earth.

Cherishing these truths in my heart keeps me from becoming discouraged with how weak and unlike Him I am today. For, when I lose my patience, become discouraged or self focused, I know that I am yet, still, moving forward in Christ, though I failed much recently. And I can be certain that it is by faith alone that I will receive this promise.

As Paul exclaims to the Galatians 3:3, “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” I was saved by believing God; His Spirit saved me, I could not save myself. Now, I must remember that I will not be the one that makes myself more Christ-like; believing saved me, and believing will sanctify me. It will not be by “trying” and “working” or “rules” or perfectly following any believer’s checklist.

What a relief it is to my soul to be reminded that I don’t have to try to become like Jesus, I simply must maintain the faith to believe that I will. If I am focused on myself and how far I have to go, my faith waivers; and I am left idling until I pick back up my shield of faith. Paul tells us in Hebrews 3:14, “For we are made partakers of Christ [His nature], if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” What a joy to know that I will be like Him because He is making it so. And then, I will, finally, smile at every mistake, loving others with the wellspring of living water that flows from within me.

(This blog can be found as an article on my website. But I thought I would repost it as a reminder to myself...I hope it blesses some of you.)

Who Are You?

You are Significant

You are a united with Jesus and given a purpose in life.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

You have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:16

You are God's temple.

If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. 1 Cor 3:16
You are a minister of reconciliation for God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:17

You are seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:6
You are unique, made to God's specifications for a purpose.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10

You may approach God with freedom and confidence.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Eph 3:12

You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

Who Are You?

YOU ARE ACCEPTED

You are God's child.

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

You are a friend of Jesus.

John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

You have been justified - declared righteous.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

You are united with the Lord, and one with Him in spirit.

1 Cor 6:17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

You have been purchased and you belong to God.

1 Cor 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

You are a part of Christ's body.

1 Cor 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

You are chosen by God and adopted as His child.

Ephesians 1:3-8 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love hr predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

You are redeemed and forgiven of all your sins.

Col 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

You are complete in Christ.

Colossians 2:9-10 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

You are welcome and listened to when you approach God's throne in prayer.

Hebrews 4: 14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

When we're weary

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Do you, like me, sometimes forget that this is what Christ offers? Have you forgotten that He longs to give you rest? He has the kind of rest that floods us with peace. Rest that makes us feel as though we have slept well. I know I need to be reminded of this. I forget that God has not called me to minister and work until I'm weary. No, he wants me to rest. To feel restful. To feel peaceful. He offers me rest. But what does that really mean?

Not so long ago, I was conversing with God - mostly a one way conversation. I kept saying, "Oh Lord, what should I do? What do you want me to do? I have all these projects and yet, I wonder where to put my energy, my priorities? What should I do, Lord?" And over and over I felt this strong impression to read Psalm 46:10. So, I did. And what did I find? "Be still and know that I am God."

Uh...God. That's not what I was asking. I need to know what to do. Yet again, I felt that Still Small Voice speak to my heart "Be still." What? What does that mean? Be still! I have to work, I have to write. I have to homeschool, cook, clean, drive hither and thither. I have to go, go, go, go. I don't have a choice! There ain't no rest for me. (Said with a twang)

Okay. Well, since I'm obviously not very wise when it comes to receiving spiritual advice, even if it's from the Almighty Himself. I picked up my handy dandy Hebrew Lexicon. There were many synonyms for Rapah, the Hebrew word "still," such as to relax, be idle, slack, lazy; yet one stood out to me: to be weak.

Be weak and know that I am God.

Yes. That makes perfect sense. For when I am weak, He is strong. I need to cease from my work, and let Him work. I need to quit fussing and fretting and striving, and allow Him to work it all out. I need to believe that He will. God doesn't need me to figure it all out. He doesn't need my help. If I will just relax and rest in Him, oh! the peace.

Jesus offers us rest. What does this rest that Jesus offers look like? Well, the handy dandy Lexicon says the actual Greek word, anapauo, that Jesus used means this:
1. to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength
2. to give rest, refresh, to give one's self rest, take rest
3. to keep quiet
4. calm and patient expectation
Wow. That's what Jesus offers us. But how do we receive it? I think the answer lies with being still. Being weak. Going to God and giving all our stuff to Him. Everything. All our fears. All our worries. All the troubling thoughts. All our duties. Our accomplishments. Our hopes and dreams. Our needs. Our expectations. Our desires for our children. Our husband. Everything.

Lay it before Him and be weak. We just can't do this thing called life very well on our own. Only God can. And He'll do it perfectly. We must give Him permission to remove those things that are not of Him, so that those things that are will bear the beautiful fruit He has planned for it.

Let's go to Jesus, for He has compassion. He knows when we are weary. He knows when we are burdened. He bids us to come. Come just as we are. Full of yucky stuff, full of unrepented sin ~He's forgiving, full of self determination, full of fears of not being good enough, not measuring up, full of successes and failures. Come to him. He will give us rest. Rest for our souls.

Someone's there...

What if you were with your child all day long, but he never even acknowledged your presence. Yet, still you followed him everywhere - into every room, down to the mail box, into the shower, outside to play. You were there all day long, right there beside him, wanting to talk to him, longing to speak to him, but he was just totally oblivious to you. However, once in a while, he talked to you - sometimes at night or when he was very distraught; yet, when he talked, he spoke very formally and distantly, as if you hadn't been there all along and you were just now coming in to hear him. Then, after he spoke to you, he went back to pretending you weren't there - not even bothering to listen to you or linger in your presence.
That would be strange wouldn't it? It wouldn't make for a very good relationship. And it would probably hurt your feelings a little too. Well, this is how most of us approach or relationship with God.

The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. That just means to talk to God all the live long day. He's right there. He wants us to chat with Him as we go about our day. Jesus says that He will be with us always.

Sometimes we forget how real that is. I think if we ask God to help us be mindful of His presence, asking Him to give us an awareness of Him, He will. It should probably begin with a confession that we have been ignoring Him, pretending like He wasn't even in the room with us.

Having a continual conversation with God leads us to also be more aware of how He wants to lead us each day. It's a great blessing to begin a life long habit of talking to God. I know that often I can get off track with my attitude, my choices and how I spend my time. However, during the times when I'm acutely aware of Him, chatting with Him throughout the day, not only does it bring me more peace, I also have a heightened awareness of those "red flags" in both my attitudes and decisions. I am more sensitive to the Spirit of God.

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you." John 14:26
"Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground." Psalm 143:10

My Sheep Know My Voice

"And whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: 'This is the way. Walk in it.'" Isaiah 30:21

Here we see a promise from God to His children. He will show us which way to go, what to do and how to live each moment. This is not just talking about the big decisions, whether you should homeschool or not, where to live, whether you should sell your house and be a missionary in Africa. God has the abiliy - not just the ability - the desire to lead us in every decision we make. He wants us to be attentive to His still small whisper that tells us which path to take this very second.

I remember the first time I learned this. I had been a Christian several years, and became close friends with a gal who had been a Christian since she could walk. We were in a spiritual friendship - God was our main topic of conversation. She was younger than me, but with a great deal more knowledge and maturity. Her name is Heather (Yes, my daughter bears her name, today).

She loved to cook. She told me she had been at the store about to buy pineapples for this chutney she made every week. She was reaching for the can of pineapples when she felt that still small voice tell her to buy a different can. It was so sudden and odd that she decided she would do it, though she was skeptical. She took that can home and opened it, and realized that she had just opened a can of pineapples that were cut into the exact size pieces that she labored to cut her pineapples into every week.

Does God care about pineapple chunks? I know it's hard to believe that He would take the time to lead us in such small things. If God notices every detail about the ant hill under the ground, what each ant's job is, would he not so much more care about the details of your life. You are made in His image; you the crown of His creation. He delights over you with singing. He wants to lead you. His Word says He is your counselor! He promises that if you will listen, you will hear His command behind you, showing you which way to walk - yes, even when you are picking cans off the shelf at the grocery store.

Would this same God not delight to show you which science curriculum to buy? Would He not love to tell you what to do about your child's math struggles? Would He not give you instruction concerning how much time to spend on spelling? He would.

Listen to His voice, for we are His sheep.

A godly mother

Abraham Lincoln said, "I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother."

I heard this quote today and really began pondering. Why would a godly mother make such a difference in a man's life? What benefit, surpassing riches, would a godly mother give? A man can become a Christian as an adult, or even as a child, without a godly mother, and have Jesus for all times. So, why is a godly mother of any import to a grown man? Well, as I thought this one through I think it's because a truly godly mother models a tender loving God to her children. A godly mother shows Jesus to her children. Jesus had extremely high standards, yet was so full of mercy, so full of compassion, so full of acceptance and love. He had high standards, but showed us the way to reach them, through understanding that there was no way we could; only He can. He asks us to quit striving and simply rest in Him, allowing Him to fill us with strength. A godly mother teaches her children to recognize their frailty, their inability, and how to depend upon Him.

I'm fully convinced that a godly mother isn't perfect. We must show our children how to live out their faith. If we modeled perfection, that would be very discouraging when they entered the world and found out they weren't perfect. They would wonder what to do. I think it does our children a disservice to pretend we are perfect, no bad thoughts, no bad deeds, no sin, no weakness. No, a godly mother isn't perfect, but is honest. She's real and frank about her imperfections, her sins, her fears, modeling for her children repentance, prayer and dependence on Him for transformation. Yet, still, above all, a godly mother is merciful, accepting and compassionate towards the weakness and sins of her children, and herself. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Many of us have a hard time being merciful and compassionate towards are children, because we are not fully grasping God's merciful compassion towards us. We often see ourselves as "not measuring up" to the standards we believe we should reach. We think God would be more pleased with us if we were doing things better. The sad truth is, we have it all wrong.

You see, God adores you, delights in your presence, enjoys you totally even though you messed up this day, this week, perhaps this whole year. You are a child of God. You stand before Him clean, for you are IN Christ. Your sins are something He already has plans to deal with. He's not shaking His head saying, "How many times do I have to tell you?" He knows exactly when you're going to stop doing this or that thing. He looks at you and sees the finished product, not the work in progress you are right now. He's so much bigger than that. He wants you to spend time with Him. You're His and He wants you to know how loved you are.

I know that when we grasp God's great love for us, we feel free. Free from the rules, the stifling standards of perfection, the striving, the fear and insecurity that plagues us. Knowing, really having heart knowledge of, God's precious love for us, makes us feel secure and peaceful. And that peace will fill us with God's love for others, especially the darlings He placed under our care.

Let me share a visual that helped me kind of grasp this. Cup your hands as if you were holding a tiny kitten in your hands. Imagine gazing upon the kitten feeling tenderness and love for the kitten, just adoring the cute little thing. If you don't like kittens, imagine something else tiny, cute and darling in your hands. Do that now. Okay, now imagine you in those hands and God holding you with that same amount of love and tenderness. The fact is, God does that but with immeasurably more tenderness and love for you EVERY DAY. Wow.

Oh Lord, let me being rooted and firmly established in love, be able to comprehend...the breadth and width, height and depth of Your love that surpasses knowledge, so that I may be filled with all the fullness of God. May I overflow with your love to me, giving my children the abundant acceptance they so long for. Forgive me and cleanse me of my stern, selfish, striving pharisaical mothering. Allow me to be full of you. Please make me a godly mother.

Paper Jam

Have you ever heard that God has an incredible sense of humor? It never fails that when I'm considering some spiritual concept, have some spiritual revelation or especially if I'm supposed to teach or write something about a spiritual principal - I'm tested in it.

Well, today I've been finishing up my "Botany Co-op Manual." With every lesson I include a short devotion the co-op teacher can read to the kids. I was writing one today on suffering and how Christians grow through suffering. I included Bible verses about thanking God for our trials. You know, they produce in us incorruptible good, so therefore, we should thank God for the trial. I didn't write about, but thought about the times in my life when I applied this principal - when I walked the walk, if you will. When my marriage was failing, I thanked God, trusting it was part of His perfect plan - He later restored and blessed my marriage. When I had cancer, I thanked God and trusted that whatever His will was, it was perfect. He later healed me, but I was willing for whatever He willed.

It seems sometimes that it's easier to walk out spiritual principals during the big piercing trials. It's in the little pin prick trials that we forget. Just this summer, my daughter didn't get a good part in a play. I counseled her to thank God for not getting the part. Then, the very next day, I wrecked my brand spanking new car (which I had waited an enormous number of years to get). As I was driving away from the scene, I remembered my counsel to my daughter. It hit me like a ton of bricks. So, I stuttered out a thank you to God for wrecking my car. Something miraculous happened after I did. It was like the power of this material thing over me melted away. It's not that I didn't care - but I no longer cared in a way that was unrighteous and full of self pity. Anyway. The amazing way that God works in our hearts when we thank Him for our trials is nothing short of a miracle. It's our way of saying, "I trust You. I trust that You have Your hand on every event and circumstance in my life. And I trust You with everything."

Okay, so here I am, fondly ruminating about this lofty spiritual concept. I even considered posting a blog about it. Then, I click print because I really need to read a hard copy of this Botany Co-op Manual in order to edit it. Clicking print reminded me that I busted my printer the other day when it fell over. My printer printed about four pages before it jammed. About as irritated as I could be, I cleared the jam. It printed a few more pages, then jammed. GRRRRRRRRR. Clear, print, jam, grunt. Clear, print, jam, grunt. Clear, print, jam, grunt. I'm...well, not feeling very godly at this moment. I mean, if one of my children happened into the room to ask me to do something for them - well, let's just say they would have ended up doing a mountain of laundry instead. I'm fuming with every jam wondering how much a new printer will cost. Then, suddenly, it hits me. My whole mindset today was on thanking God for trials. I almost laughed out loud as I cleared the last piece of jammed paper, thanking God for His sense of humor and my printer problems.

"Thank you God that I'm learning to be patient by thanking you in the midst of trials. Thank you God that You use everything, nothing is wasted, in Your efforts to make me like You. I trust You God that having a broken printer is more valuable to my faith than having everything work out perfectly in my life. I believe that You allowed this because you intended to use it for my good - which will result in inexpressible joy to me."

Isn't joy and peace the happiness which we seek? Indeed, it doesn't come when all our plans go perfectly. It comes in spite of our plans failing, when we trust that God was in it. It is astonishing how in an instant the power that printer's issues had over me completely vanished. I believe God's command that we give thanks in all things isn't really for Him; it's for us. We are the beneficiaries. He, our Great Benefactor. Oh, what a God we serve.
"You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith--more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. " 1 Peter 1:6-9

The Homeschool Journey

I've had the priviledge to meet so many new homeschoolers that have just begun their homeschool journey. Most of them find homeschooling a delight. As they spend each day with their children, they begin to glimpse into the windows of their little hearts and see things they didn't know were there - good things and not so good things.

What is so precious about this is that we really do come to know our children the way God intended for us to know them. God did not set up schools where children would depart for hours from the very people to whom He gave them to be reared. Education was intended to be done at home from the very beginning, as was the training of our children's hearts. God's perfect order has been disrupted by the institution that came in to replace the God's intention for homes and families. That order was disrupted so long ago, that now parents don't know how to parent because they were n't parented, and they weren't parented properly because their parents were parented and on and on it goes down the line. The home became second to the institution of school. There was a time, long ago, when most kids were either home educated or only went to school during certain seasons. Most of the time was spent at home with the family where generations passed on what the generations before had been passing on for as long as anyone could remember.

If we don't have lengthy amounts of time with our children, we will likely miss the nuances that betray what is really happening in their hearts, what they really believe. If I only had a few hours every night with them, when we were both worn out from the day, I may not know what their wrong beliefs are, or what their right beliefs are. Would I even have the time or energy to work to correct them? Because I spend my entire life with my kids, I know them so well. I know the exact areas where I can trust them to always make the right choice, and I know the exact areas where they need more training. I know their hearts. When I see misconceptions, we can work through them during the morning devotions, pray through them, and explore what the Bible says about them. No big hurry. We've got time.

I had one mom describe to me, when she brought her children home from school to homeschool them, the experience of getting to know her kids. She was astonished when she realized that, because they had been in school for several years, she didn't even know - really know - her kids. Could not really knowing your children be God's plan for the family? No. Sadly, it's really no wonder children are in the mess they are today.


I believe homeschooling is so right. It is the model God set in place. It's a return to the ways of old. Isaiah 58:12 says, "...you will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live."

I pray you will find joy in your homeschooling journey.

Geography

I want to share what we have done for the last couple of years for geography. It has been a blessedly easy way to do geography, incorporating living books and so educational.

Each summer, at the homeschool convention, we scope out the YWAM booth. There, we purchase all the Hero's of the Faith missionary stories that take place in one single area or country (South America, China, Africa). The YWAM workers are helpful with this. I then organize them chronologically. This year, we are studying Africa and began with David Livingstone. Before beginning the books, we do a one or two week unit on the country we have chosen. We make a little notebook or lapbook, with maps, minibooks and such. Then, we begin reading (Truth is: my husband reads them to the kids at night before bed). It takes us all year to complete all the books we have chosen because we don't read every night. At the end of the year, the kids know a ton about that country, and especially about their Christian history!

Last year we studied China, having read Gladys Aylward, Johnathon Goforth and many others. As I said, this year we are studying Africa. Probably we'll do a brief stint in India this summer as I'm anxious to study Amy Carmichael. Next year, we intend to study South America, which will be wonderful with Jim Elliot and the others who have gone into the jungles there.

This coming year, we plan to incorporate A Child's Geography into our studies, as well. Reading Ann Voskamp's books really makes the subject come to life. I can't wait for her to finish the series! The first book she has out is phenomenal. It's an overview of geography, written with such rich and lively prose. I highly recommend it. The following books will cover each country beginning with the Holy Land. I'm anxious to get them!

So, that's a little peek into our geography studies. I hope it's helpful to you!

Am I doing enough? The Question of Every Homeschooler

I have a question, have you ever asked yourself, "Am I doing enough?" Why does every homeschool mom ask this question? I believe the problem is that when you are doing enough – it feels too, too easy. So you think, I’m surely not doing enough. It can’t be this easy. Certainly my child isn’t learning enough or getting enough knowledge. I need to fill their brain with more, more, more until we are so challenged, so overloaded with information – we simply can’t fill another minute of our supposed school day with anymore. When we’re really doing quite enough – homeschooling is as it should be – wonderful, joyful, pleasant, peaceful, with children learning exactly what they need to learn – with time on their hands to pursue other things, other subjects of interest, time to contemplate what they have learned, what they want to learn, to contemplate their relationship with the Lord, with time to draw nearer to mom, siblings, a good book, the Bible, with time to learn to cook, time to learn a new skill, to build something unplanned, unscheduled, something NOT in their books – something creative, expressing who they are. That’s what life is like when you’re doing enough. But you see, the question we should ask, the real question we should ask is…"Am I doing too much? Am I homeschooling out of fear? Am I deserting the truth for a lie? Have I fallen prey to the counterfeit for God's best and followed the world's standards? What can I cut out? What can I put away?"

If homeschooling feels hard to you - you're doing too much, and just like with medicine, too much is not better. Too much will have repercussions. Too much will bring consequences you don't really want. Too much brings burn out.

How to Build Your House - Marriage Talk

We have poured a foundation for our marriage on Christ - to Whom we go for fulfillment, affirmation, acceptance and satisfaction - and have put up the frame work of submission - in humility yielding the right of way to our husband, even when we feel his decision isn't the best or what we wanted. Before we put the walls up, we need to wire the house with electricity. Without electricity, we would be surrounded by darkness. I don't believe there is anything that shrouds a marriage in darkness more than unforgiveness. To bring light into our home, we must forgive. Without forgiveness, we live in a dark and gloomy home and everyone who shares our house with us dwells in the same darkness.

When my husband and I get to this section in our marriage classes, this is where we either have huge break throughs or drop outs to the class. After doing the forgiveness exercise, people either return completely renewed, or never return to our class at all, depending on whether they were able to follow through on the exercise. I remember one couple in particular: a beautiful young married pair they were. Both came from unbelievably strong Christian roots, with Christians dating back as far as they could remember in their family. A delightful couple. We loved them instantly and thought them the perfect pair. When they returned after the forgiveness exercise, I was astonished to see the wife had a completely new countenance. Though she was kind before, their was a peace about her that wasn't there before. I hadn't noticed that she was high strung before, but now that she emanated peace and joy, I could see the difference between how she was before and after. In one week, she had become a new person - and she literally glowed, proclaiming to the group the affect forgiveness had on her. She told me privately that she didn't even know how much these things her spouse had done years before when they were dating- she didn't tell me what they were - had affected her. She didn't realize she had not forgiven him, but once she chose to forgive him, she now could feel a total transformation in her spirit and her home.

Remember that verse from Proverbs I mentioned before, "A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands." I'm convinced that unforgiveness is the quickest path to destroying a home. I believe this because I have seen the affects, not just in those our marriage classes, but in my own home, and I have known personally the transformation that occurs by practicing forgiveness.

The fact is, you are married to a human being. So, you have been hurt by him. He has hurt you dreadfully at times. You may think you have forgiven him for that thing (or those things) he did. I'll tell you how to know for certain you have forgiven. When you think of that thing he did, do you feel in your body "a high octane ping" that sort of jabs you for a second? That little twinge is unforgiveness. The way you know for certain you have forgiven is if when you think back on the event or thing he did and you have no physical, mental or emotional reaction even for the slightest second. If you can think back and thank God for the event - because of how God has used it to form Himself in you - you are all the way there in forgiveness.

If you still have a few things, a few little nagging issues you would rather not think about, because it kinda hurts, and it never does any good to rehearse the situation, it's time to dredge it up - not between you and your husband, but between you and God. For you have buried something, thinking it wasn't affecting your marriage or your life because you aren't thinking about it. But that little ping you get when you do think about it means it is affecting your life. That ping is something we call bitterness. No one wants to think of themselves as a bitter person. However, if we have something we buried, we have a bitter root deep down inside. Sadly, that bitter root is not hidden, it springs up and the Bible tells us in Hebrews that it defiles others. That means, when others get in our way - usually family members - they get hurt by us. It's like having a glass heart that has been broken. The glass pieces are still there and whenever we are irritated or bothered, those broken shards scatter lodging into those that are closest to us. Our broken heart cuts up others at times. That is how bitterness defiles, it darkens a home. Sometimes our unforgiveness is not aimed at our spouse, but parents, friends - or enemies - from the past who have damaged us so much we can't find forgiveness for them. We don't think they deserve forgiveness (and they probably don't, but then again, neither do we deserve forgiveness from God.)

If you have some pings in your heart, some broken shards that may be affecting others (with yelling, silent treatments, sarcasm or other unkind reactions), there is such an incredibly simple - so simple it seems too good to be true - remedy to this. First, we must acknowledge that we have not forgiven this person for this thing. I personally recommend making a list, asking the Lord to bring to your mind every single person that you have not forgiven in your entire life. You see, even one unforgiven person is like a faulty wire that causes the entire electrical circuit of your home to not work. Ifyou haven't done this before, it might take a while to make the list.

Then, during a special time with God, go over each person or event and ask God to forgive you. You're wondering if I wrote that correctly. It wasn't a typo. Yes, ask God to forgive you because you have been in sin, the sin of unforgiveness. We must call it what it is. You see, God is extremely adamant about our forgiving others. You remember the huge debt that He forgave you of? No, you didn't do that thing that that person did to you. That's true. But if you add up every single one of your sins against God - every day you lived for you alone - every thought that was unkind, every word, every deed or ommission and commission from before salvation to today, you have sinned enormously against God. A huge debt. And this person has hurt you - a sinner who deserves to go to hell, and really doesn't have the "right" to have everyone treat you with honor, as God does. But you have chosen to not forgive them. That's a sin.

Jesus tells us that we should pray "forgive us our debts, as - in the exact same way, with the same measure, with the same completeness - we forgive others." The words in italics are mine, placed in there to describe what the word "as" insinuates. Jesus goes on to tell us "For if you forgive men their wrongdoing against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don't forgive men their wrongs, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you."

Now, I believe we are saved by faith in Christ alone. That, and that alone is our ticket into heaven. We aren't saved by works. So what does that mean? Well, if you look at the story of the king who forgave the huge debt to the man, who then turned around and wouldn't forgive a smaller debt that someone owed to him - then the king made him pay for that unforgiveness - you'll find the answer at the end of the story. Jesus says that God will turn us over to the tormentors. The tormentor is bitterness. Bitterness torments our soul aggressively - a broken heart causes us to bleed profusely when something only slightly bumps into those broken pieces of glass. God can repair that broken heart, he can place back into wholeness every tiny shard of glass that has been hurting us and others. When we choose to forgive, we get the supernatural repair of the Lord. Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." It's time to be set free from the tormentor that has kept us in bondage with unforgiveness. But we must first acknowledge unforgiveness for what it is: sin.

Once we have repented for the sin of unforgiveness, we then make the choice to forgive the perpetrator who hurt us - and everyone who was involved. Feeling forgiving is not required. Choosing to forgive is all that is required, God will bring the feelings of forgiveness later. We must first make the choice to forgive, though it is hard, because it is the right thing to do. It is what we must do for God, for our selves, for our family. It doesn't make it okay what that person did. But it does set you free, and heals your broken heart.

Once you have gone through your entire list, person by person. This could take a few days. You must remember to stand firm in your forgiveness. When thoughts of that person and their crime against you come back - just remind yourself that you have forgiven and ask the Lord to remove the hurt, pain and any thoughts that do not honor Him from your mind. Stand firm against the enemy who has been displaced and had his foothold removed. He will try to get back his foothold by rehearsing the entire thing back to you, dredging up all the pain. Don't let him. Bring all your thoughts into captivity for Christ. Cast down the imaginations of the enemy who wants you to imagine the whole scenario again. Just say "No." Resist the devil and he will flee. Read 2 Corinthians 10:5 for encouragement in this.
Now you have fixed all the faulty wiring and brought electricity and the glorious light of the Lord into your home. But remember that you still live with a sinner and so, you will need to continue the practice of forgiveness in order to retain good wiring. Don't let future wrongs blow out your circuit board. Choose to forgive regularly and teach your children to do the same. It will bring such a blessed peace to your home.

How to Build Your House - Marriage Talk

I'm sorry I'm so delayed on this second part to the How to Build Your House talk on marriage.

Okay, after laying a nice concrete foundation - the foundation of Jesus being the One to Whom you go for your feelings of security, joy and peace, thereby taking that huge burden off your husband (who will always fail you if you look to him to meet those needs as they can only be fulfilled by God) - you will need to build the frame for your house.

Framing your house is putting up the supporting beams, the boards that define the borders and rooms, how it will be shaped, and whether it will stand or fall. To what in our marriage can we liken the supporting beams? Well, God tells us women only two very specific things that we must proactively do in our marriage. The first one is to submit. (As a disclaimer here, this piece is written for women who are not in abusive or desperately wicked circumstances. This is for the average sinner married to the average sinner.)

Submission is actually not just required of us towards our husbands. It is required of us towards everyone. Why don't they hammer this into our heads when we get saved? It would have spared me a lot of heartache, that's for sure. The Bible says that we are all to submit to one another. If we practiced this command, so many of the problems rampant in the church today would likely be resolved. Why do I believe that? Because problems arise through the avenue of pride, and submission has one requirement. Humility. Another thing I learned late in the game: Humility is the mark of a genuinely mature Christian. Many people place undue value on knowledge, Biblical understanding, theological expertise, skilled oration and other imposing and intimidating factors. However, God looks upon the heart and seeks to lift up, encourage and bless those whose hearts are humble, not proud. Humility is what it takes to submit, especially when you are right, but even when you are wrong. If I can't submit to my husband, there's a little weed growing somewhere in my heart that needs a good tug. Another one of those foxes that spoil the vine.

Paul tells us in Ephesians that we should be "submitting to one another in the fear of God." In the fear of God? Yikes. Why is that? Well, Peter tells us "...all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'" 1Peter 5:5. There you have it: If we do not submit, it is due to pride. Pride can happen when we know what's best, when we know the right thing to do, when we know the best thing to do, when we must have it this particular way because it is the BEST way to run a family, have a home, raise children, organize the kitchen...whatever. Yet, if we do not submit, we suddenly find ourselves in a position to be resisted by none other than the God of Creation. Scary, huh? Been there, done that. Believe me, it is scary. It's no fun when you know you are right, meticulously manage everyone and everything to be your way - since it is, after all, the right way - and find yourself in miserable relationships and endless want of joy. Now, we may be right. We may know the right way. We may understand things better. But, as I later learned, we are to submit anyway. Makes no sense, I know. Especially if we are RIGHT! But we need to not put our faith in our knowledge, our understanding, our "rightness", but in God's Word - that tells us to submit to one another. If we do submit, we will find ourselves in a place of blessing, we will find ourselves being showered with abundant grace and that elusive joy we were seeking all along. For the Word says that God gives grace to the humble. It takes humility to submit. God is looking upon the heart. We are not submitting because they are right, we are submitting because God has told us to, and we trust Him to work it all out according to His plan and purpose, for our good, His glory. When we submit ourselves to others, we are actually submitting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice - holy and acceptable to God. In every act of submission, our eyes must be upon the Lord.

In marriage, submission is not a cowering woman, with frightened eyes, walking on egg shells and frantically trying to make everything perfect for the raving giant yelling, "Fee Fi Fo Fum!" Submission is strength and confidence. The strength of character one must have to submit even when one's husband may not be making the right decision is nothing short of courage. One must have the courage to believe that obeying God will bring blessings and disobeying Him will ensure turmoil, period. For demanding our way with our spouses, nit-picking them, trying to lead them with manipulative measures (silence, disapproval, curt words) will place us outside of God's will - and in that frightening position of being resisted by Him. It takes courage to have the faith you need in God to say unto your husband, "Not my will, but thine be done." It takes an extreme amount of confidence in God to believe that His Word does not return void. His Word is true, and we can stand on it, do it, and live by it. Even when it's hard, if we submit to the will, desires and plans of our spouse - not begrudgingly, but with a confident peace, we will find ourselves in the very center of God's blessings. We will find that we will step right into the very blessings that He has promised us all along - the very thing we seek, which is peace under any and every circumstance, joy that knows no bounds, joy in the midst of any kind of storm.

We need to remember that God promises to lead and guide us, to protect and care for us tenderly, like a shepherd. This God, who delights over us with singing, will lead us through the hierarchy He has instituted: marriage. He will guide our husbands in order to guide us. I believe that even if your husband is not a Christian, God will speak to, lead and guide your husband because of His promise to you, His child.

This means that if our husbands don't want to go to our parents for Christmas. We joyfully, with peace and confidence agree. If he doesn't do this correctly or that the way we asked, if he hasn't fixed the thing he promised to fix, if he won't agree to what you feel is needed, you release it all to the One who is the leader of your husband, God. You trust that as you kindly, with a gentleness of spirit, have faith that this is God's plan for you at this moment. When you begin to relax and allow your husband to lead, not demand they lead, but just position yourself to be the recipient of their leadership - whether they are a good leader at this moment or not - you will find that your husband will eventually begin to lead with confidence, he will begin to be the leader you wanted him to be all along.

Often, because we have fought for leadership with our husbands for so long, they are not in the habit of being wise and discerning leaders. They are in the habit of striving to get a few things their way. They have tended towards a selfish kind of living - but only because they haven't ever been given the true responsibility of leadership. After a while of submitting without a fight, without an argument, they will eventually begin to feel the weight of responsibility. Once they realize they are not being challenged, or that their selfish desire will not be thwarted, they will likely find they don't want to do that thing so badly. Often we humans become obsessive about wanting what we cannot have. If we know it's off limits, for some reason our sin nature can't stop thinking about it. Take chocolate for example. Take anything fattening for example. It's really not that it is so good. It's our sin nature that makes us crave something we can't have. Striving to have our way results in the same poor thought patterns.

We need to give over the leadership to our husbands, and by doing this, we give over the leadership to God. Once our husbands know they are the leader, then they will begin to think more carefully about their choices, their decisions. They will listen more attentively to the cautioning, leading, guiding voice of God. If he says the road is to the left, and you "know" it's to the right, you humbly say, "Oh, now I thought it was to the right, maybe I'm wrong. If you think it's to the left, let's go left." No more argument. No more convincing. Suddenly he doesn't need to fight to go the wrong way - he is the leader. He has to make the decision. He has to do the correct thing as all the weight of responsibility is on him. You are not going to demand your way.

The problem is, often we have for so long been the authority, the seemingly spiritually "mature" one in the family (though this is usually not the actual case as our maturity is mistaken because of our Biblical knowledge, not our humility), and we tend to subtly lead our husbands with lots of suggestions for how they should lead. This is not allowing our husband to lead. They are pretending to lead. We are pretending to follow, but are really leading them. We read all the books and then give them sections to read so they'll know what to do. We pick and prod, we push and plead. Then we wonder why our husband isn't the spiritual giant we want them to be. I believe it is because we have gotten in the way of the Holy Spirit. It goes something like this: You are always saying something to the effect of "I wish you would lead us in family devotions." This brings guilt and annoyance to your husband because he is being told that he isn't doing a good enough job. Then one day, the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart of your husband saying, "Today would be a good day to do a devotion with the family before bed." But your husband doesn't discern that this is the voice of God; he suddenly beings to replay your voice in his head saying the same things. And instead of feeling energized to do the devotion, he feels burdened by his inadequacy and failure to live up to your and God's standards. You see, if we spend time in prayer to God over our desires, trusting in God to lead our husbands, our husbands will be able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit and not confuse it as our voice.

A loving supportive follower will build our husbands confidence in his ability to lead. If we accept the current leadership of our husband, this will give him the confidence that he is capable. As we continue to consistently submit to him, he will begin to feel like the leader God created him to be. Through keeping our mouth shut, asking God to lead our husbands - then trusting that He is leading him - our husbands will begin to actually be led by God. However, we must keep the attitude of submission not as just an outward show, but an inward trust. We can't say we are submitting, but inwardly be angry that we are doing it. We can't sulk in our spirits. That is not true submission. That is not truly trusting in God. If we really trust that God will and does lead us through our husbands, we will find ourselves submitting with trust. If we desire that our husbands lead us in family worship, we place it in God's hands. If God does not lead him to do this, then we can trust that this is not God's plan for our husband and we should trust that God's plan is better than ours.

You see, submitting to our husbands is really an act of trust in God. If we really believe God is Who He says He is, then, we can submit and accept our current circumstances without complaint, because we trust in God's love for us. If you struggle with believing in God's unfathomable love for you, it will be hard to submit to both God and your husband. But even the smallest act of faith, small steps in submission, will be rewarded by God and will build your faith and trust in God. I recommend you take those small steps, begin today giving over the leadership to your husband, as you will really be handing over the leadership to God. This will give your home the framework it needs to withstand even the greatest storms.

Choosing Binoculars

What you want to see will really help in determining which binoculars you want to purchase. Wide angle binoculars (which can see a larger area), are usually about 6x, 7x or 8x magnification. This is the first number in the series. The higher the number, the smaller the area you can see, but the further and more crisp the image will be. Smaller numbers, like 7x and 8x, give you a larger field of view, while larger numbers like 10x and more give you a much smaller field of view.

The problem with going higher than 8x is that it is very hard to keep the image in view, as even the slightest shake of your hands will send you miles away from your object. If you are trying to see things really far away, like the moon and tightly knit constellations, you will want a higher magnification, but will need a tripod or other device to keep the binoculars still. You can also rest your elbow on the hood of your car to keep it steady, but its more difficult for children to do this. If you are wanting to see birds in flight, a lower magnification is better as you can actually follow them with your binoculars quite well. Choose a number around 7x for this.

The second number determines how much light is gathered into the binoculars. The higher the number, the more light will be gathered and the larger the exit pupils. If you will be using the binoculars at night, you need larger exit pupils (corresponding to a higher last number). If you will only be using them during the day, you can have smaller exit pupils - as you don't need a ton of light to be gathered into the binoculars. This is best for those who are carrying the binoculars around - like on nature hikes and sporting events. Remember, the larger front does not correspond with how much you see, it corresponds with how much light you need to be pulled into the binoculars. Think of it like an owls eyes - owls have big eyes because they need to gather in lots of light to see so well at night (actually their rod cone cells are really responsible for night vision, but larger eyes aid in this endeavor).

Binoculars used for astronomy are usually larger, heavier, with huge (about 50x) exit pupils, and they need to be stabilized with a tripod. The larger magnification (10x is good for astronomy), again, brings far away objects into clear focus, but are also harder to keep trained on the object with your bare hands - your hands shake just enough to make it difficult to keep it focused on one spot. If the object is moving at all, you will not be able to follow it.

Binoculars used for plays, sporting events and nature hikes are smaller, both with magnification and exit pupils, the wider angle (smaller magnification) allows them to follow the moving person or animal, the smaller exit pupil is easier to handle and tote around. But if you plan to go to night events, you may want to get a small magification (smaller first number) and larger exit pupils (higher second number).
So, you see, what binoculars look like does not determine how good they are - it determines their purpose.

Always be ready...

So, after you begin your conversation about spiritual matters...what now? Well, when I took Evangelism Explosion - a course wherein we went out in teams and witnessed to people in airports, malls and college campuses - we learned to have our testimony down to a three minute spiel. The little speech should begin with how you felt before you were a Christian "lacking in peace, lacking in joy, looking for answers", then the testimony of your conversion to Christ, ending with how you feel now. No one can argue with your feelings. This is your personal testimony and by the "word of their testimony, the enemy is defeated." Personal experience is by far the most powerful method the media uses. God thought it up first with the testimony. But we do need to write it out, and taper it down to a three minute or less spiel, and practice it until it easily flows when we are conversing with strangers or friends.

Possible Openers for a Spiritual Discussion

Some possible opening questions to share your testimony with an unbeliever


So, is church a big part of your life?

So, what do you think about church?

So, do you go to church?

So, what place does church have in your life?

So, have you ever gone to church?

So, did you ever go to church when you were little?

So, did you grow up in a family that went to church?

So, have you thought much about God lately?

So, where do you feel like you are with God right now in your life?

So, do you feel you have a relationship with God?

So, are you into spiritual things?

So, do you know much about the teachings of Jesus?

So, do you know much about the teachings of the Bible?

So, have you ever read the Bible?

Sharing the Good News

Why do we hesitate to share what Christ has done for mankind to an unbeliever. I believe it is out of fear of rejection. Our own fears. Usually we would emphatically say we don't fear that people won't accept us if we are a Christian. Yet we don't explain the gospel. Why? We do fear. Deep inside we fear not being thought well of, being ridiculed, or being considered pushy, or senseless or wierd. We fear we will fall over our words and look like an idiot. We fear being the object of scorn. We don't share because we want to maintain the safety and security we feel in the presence of others. But do we value our feelings of security more than the soul of another? I am ashamed to admit I have many times preferred feeling safe and secure, feeling accepted and valued rather than being about my Father's business. How utterly self centered of me.
I'm praying that even if I don't have courage, I will care less about my feelings of security than about the eternal resting place of those in my company.

God reveals Himself in Psalm 23

I saw this in a devotional I have and wanted to share it.

The Lord is my Shepherd - Jehovah-Rohi (The Lord my Shepherd)
I shall not be in want - Jehova-Jirah (The Lord my Provider)
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides quiet waters. - Jehova-Shalom (The Lord my Peace)
He restores my soul - Jehova-Rapha (The Lord my Healer)
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His Names sake. - Jehova-Tsidkenu (The Lord my Righteousness)
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me - Jehova-Shammah (God who is there)
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies - Jehova-Nissi (The Lord is my Banner of Victory)
You annoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will
dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Isn't that so neat?

The Lord is a Strong Tower

He who dwells in the Shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust...If you make the Most High your dwelling, even the LORD, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:1-2, 9-12

How do we dwell in the Shelter of the Most High, because this sure sounds like a place I want to be. How ‘bout you? There seems to be this condition of dwelling in His shelter in order to receive all these great promises. There’s another Scripture that says “He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” I pondered the question of how do I keep my mind stayed on Him, as well as how do I dwell in His shelter, and the Lord seemed to speak to my heart saying “I am The Word.”

I instantly realized that to keep our minds on the Lord is to focus on Scripture. Before you open your Bible, ask the Lord to reveal His Word to your heart as you read, to speak to you through His Word. Ask this in full faith that that is His perfect Will and He will do it. Believe that He will when you ask. James 1:6 has some harsh words for those who ask of God but don't believe He will answer.

As the Lord gives you a Scripture, mediate on it all day long. Write it down and carry it with you. Note the book and chapter so you can find it again when the Lord has you share it with someone else. Think on it throughout the day. This is keeping your mind stayed on Him—for He is the Word, and the Word is Him. This is also how you dwell in His shelter: we abide in Him by keeping our mind, heart and thoughts on Him—His Word– throughout the day. Then, you can rest in the peace of knowing that His promises found in Psalm 91 are for you, as you make Him your shelter.

It's all about LOVE

I have heard many, many commentaries about love, and what Jesus meant when He told us to love one another. I wholeheartedly agreed with the idea that love was a decision, not a feeling. I liked that idea that it was expressed more out of choice rather than emotional sentiment. I went along with that until I got cancer.

It was weird how it all happened. One day I found out that I might have cancer. Now, they couldn't tell for sure because the tumor was so small and the needle thing didn't reveal much. I was newly pregnant so they decided not to operate quite yet.

I see now how God prepared me in advance for that time. He had given me a friend years before whose mother was a prayer warrior and miracles happened when she prayed. So we decided to begin praying each week, though my faith was tremendously weak. We both had toddlers so we prayed over the phone. It wasn't long before we began to see miracles from our weekly prayer times. Through the next few years, we hardly ever missed a week, and could always tell a difference in our hearts/lives/children/husbands/attitudes when we missed a week of prayer. It was our medication and we needed a dose each week or we were a total mess, unable to cope with life.

After several years of becoming totally dependent on God for everything, and learning through our prayer time what life was really all about - God, I learned about the cancer. Throughout the pregnancy I drew closer to God than ever before. The possibility of dying really does amazing things for your relationship with God. And the Scripture proved true that if you draw near to Him, He draws near to you. He drew so near to me that I actually began to experience His love for others. I spent so much time with God (probably neglected my children horribly as I immersed myself in the Bible) and I just was so filled with love for others. I had mercy and compassion on everyone. It wasn't a choice kind of love at all. It wasn't what I thought it would be like to love others, it was a total feeling thing. I felt love for others. I would see people at church and just want to love them, find out what was going on in their lives, pray for them and I just cared so much. I couldn't even find it within myself to judge others, think negatively about their faults or be irritated with them. I was filled with compassion for them. I prayed for other people more than I prayed for me - and I had cancer! I think that I was feeling a small taste of the love God has for others. A tiny drip in the ocean of His love was given to me and I felt it. I was also fully convinced that God had total mercy and compassion for me, and I think it was also that knowledge, the knowledge of God's excessive, unwarranted, unreasonable love for me that allowed me to forget about myself and totally care for others.

When I actually found out it was cancer, it was like finding out the bump on your finger is actually a wart. Yuck. I hoped it would be cured, but wasn't all that worried about it. I'm telling you, this was all because of my obsession with God. I went through radiation and some very difficult times - I'll spare you the gory details. However, the experience was probably the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me in my life. I was just so close to God that I actually was filled with the knowledge of His love for me and others. It was amazing. It was completely satisfying. I knew what it was to be satisfied with Jesus and in need of nothing else - not even my own life. Now, I did feel sad to leave my children without a mother, but I was so certain of God's love for them that I wasn't even worried about that.

I'm so thankful that God allowed me that time and experience. I feel like I know from experience what it is like to genuinely love others from the heart. I personally am totally incapable of loving anyone like that, even my children. It was only through a close relationship with the Lord that God was able to flood me with that kind of love.

Now, when I think of being close to God, you know, being really, really right with God - I know it's expressed by my love for others. I know when I'm not walking in step with the Spirit because I'm more concerned with me than with anyone else.

The experience left me fully convinced that when God tells us that we must love others, it isn't just a choice to be good to them, treat them with honor and show charity - it really is a feeling. But it can only come through total surrender and allowing God to fill us with that love.

That was a mountain top experience for me. It taught me a lot about the character and love of God. Oftentimes in the busy, harried days of homeschooling, I forget what it's really about. I get bogged down in the details and in all that isn't going as planned. I get frustrated with how much I can't get done and feel like such a failure in different areas each day. Yet, I know that I know that the answer lies in drawing near to God. That is the answer to the hunger of my soul for rest, peace, joy and especially for the love I want to have again for every person God places in my path. The kind of love that doesn't think about oneself, of being loved back, the kind of love that God really has.
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galations 5:6b

Steps to a Great Marriage IV

I know how frustrated you can get when someone you expect a lot from makes mistakes that you see as careless or selfish. I also know that speaking unkindly to someone can become a bad habit. This is why I continually discipline my children when they speak unkindly to one another - it can become habitual if they are allowed to continue treating one another disrespectfully and without honor or value.

I realized many, many years ago that the way I speak to my spouse can make or break my entire marriage. If I fuss at him, roll my eyes at his mistakes or talk in a way that isn't respectful, not only am I in sin before my God (which hinders my prayers), I'm also setting the standard for how my children should treat the authority figures God placed in their life - namely me, the mom.

My children are trained by my behavior towards my husband. When they get a bit older, they will treat me in the exact same way I treat my husband, because I have modeled for them how one is to treat their authority. My husband is my authority, if I treat him like I'm smarter than he is, If I lie to him about how much things cost or what really happened, if I think that I know what's better, I know how to do things better and many of the things he does are an annoyance - guess what? My children will treat me exactly like that one day. I have set the bar at disrespect, deceit and dishonor. They won't rise above my behavior and treat me better than I treated my spouse. They simply aren't wired that way. Perhaps that's why God says the sins of the father are revisted upon the children.

That's not the only reason for you to treat your husband with honor and speak to him respectfully, but it's a very compelling reason that often motivates us more quickly than the spiritual aspect of the equation.

The spiritual aspect of course deals with our heart towards the authority that God has placed in our lives. When we belittle that authority, we are basically saying that God can't be trusted. For, God wants to lead us through our spouse. He speaks to our spouse and has given us the very spouse He wants for us; no, you didn't marry the wrong person - before you were born, every one of your days was written in the book before one of the days came to be, and your spouse was written into those pages; so don't let the enemy convince you that you made a mistake and married the wrong spouse. (I can't count how many people have confided in me that they married the wrong person - so you're not alone if you believe this, however I am fully convinced this is the evil whisperings of an unclean spirit to your heart - rebuke that thought, for it's not your own.)

If you are in the habit of speaking disrespectfully to your spouse, you must change today - damage control is in order. If your children are already speaking to you the way you speak to your husband, you probably need to spend some time in confession and repentance to them, explaining what you have done and how they have responded. You can all then seek to change together as a family. It will draw you closer as you work together on the common goal of treating your authority figure with respect. God is able to transform your speech and redeem that which the locusts have eaten. He is, after all, a God of redemption who has given you the ministry of reconciliation. That begins with you in your own home. He wants nothing more than to bless you with a joy filled marriage of mutual respect and honor with joy filled children that treat you with respect and honor. It's never too late if you repent to all who have been harmed by your choices. God is able to do a mighty work and loves to do miracles in our lives.

Forget about Me

Oswald Chambers calls it self awareness. I think that's an incredible way to describe it. I've called it self focused. Self awareness is like self consciousness, but it goes beyond that. It's simply being concerned on a certain level with ourselves: our plans, our needs, our desires, our sin, our looks, our place in our world, our rights, our hopes, our fears. Self focused doesn't describe it as well as self awareness. Being self aware is the more subtle issue. We can be self aware without being totally focused on ourselves.

Self awareness robs us of oneness with God. For we can't be totally submitted to Him, walking in step with the Spirit, seeking Him during every moment of our day, if we are self aware. We must forget ourselves, and think only of Him. If we do, we will no longer walk in fear of man, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the future and all the other fears with which the enemy enjoys taunting us. If we forget ourselves, then we can't think on fear because it no longer matters.

If we forget ourselves and look only to God, then we will truly be able to love others as He calls us to do. For, it won't be about us. We don't have to be afraid of loving others genuinely - for we are simply living out Christ's life in our flesh.

If we forget ourselves, if we don't consider ourselves at all - then we can simply hear from God, and do His will: Love our children with His love, serve them with His joy, clean the house without a thought to our inconvenience. Simply focus our live and thoughts upon Him every moment, and His life will be lived through us. And there is no joy, no peace, no fulfillment that compares to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him, walking in step with Him, focusing our hearts upon Him, submitting our entire body - including our thoughts - to Him. The moment we begin to focus on ourselves, we walk out of step with the Spirit. We displace Him as ruler and King.

As I look at the papers and books spread out all over the floor, the items I meant to organize but didn't get time. I want to jump into "me" and get moving, recruit the children and say "hop to it!" However, I know I need to keep my heart focused on the Lord and ask, "Lord, what would you have me do?" "How would you have me spend my time right now?" "Guide me to choose the very best thing." And if that very best thing does not include cleaning up this mess right now, He will provide me with the peace I need to overlook it. Eventually, He will have me clean it up. But it must be through His guidance so that I can do it in His strength. My life is not my own. And though I want to be able to walk through this room without having to step over books and papers, that's about me and my wants and desires. That's about my own self awareness. I die to my wants and seek only His face. "What, my King, my Ruler, My Lord, shall I do with this moment? I am your handmaiden. I do only your bidding, not my own." I must ask this each moment all day long to stay in step with the Spirit.

Hearing Him

The one thing that separates our faith from the religions of the world is that we serve a God who is personal, calls himself our Friend and our Counselor. He is a voice behind us whispering "this is the way, walk ye in it." He says that by His peace He will lead us. We are led by that whisper to our spirits, and the peace that follows when we go in the way He calls us to go. Sometimes He will ask us to go in ways that seem too hard for us. Sometimes He asks us to give up things that aren't producing fruit in our lives - things with which we think we can't bear to part.

Our Counselor God never leaves us to do these things in our own strength. If we try - we will fail. We must be completely yielded to Him, submitted in our hearts - seeking His strength and wisdom. Sometimes we must battle the spiritual forces that stand against our commitment to obey, to keep on the path. Yet, always it is Him that will have the victory in our lives.

He is Jehova Nissi - the Lord is our Banner; and there is always victory with Him - as long as we don't turn away and listen to the wrong voice. If we do, He calls back to us because He loves us so much. He is always ready to redeem us, to repair the broken walls, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our rebellion to Him. With that cleansing, comes renewal - another chance to step back onto the path, the perfect path for our lives, upon which He has called us to walk. If our child, who had lived in rebellion for years, wanted to come back and walk rightly, we would be willing to forgive and pour out abundant blessings upon him. How much more so a God who loves us so tenderly, so passionately?

Steps to a Great Marriage III

What follows is the long awaited step three to improving your marriage. I’m sorry this has taken so long. Alas! Here is it.

The most important thing I can say for step number three is to make a concerted effort to edify – to build up - your husband. So many women I have counseled have told me that in their thought life they think negative and derogatory thoughts towards their husbands – things like, “that was a stupid thing to say,” or “I can’t believe he thinks that, what an idiot,” and many other overtly belittling thoughts. Now, they don’t say these things aloud. However, don’t think for a moment that their husband didn’t feel the impact of those thoughts with their wive's body language, behaviors, tone of voice, choices and even other words spoken.

II Corinthians 10:3-5 comes into play here: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Capturing every thought to the obedience of Christ. That means that my thoughts should reflect that which Christ asks of me. Christ asks me to consider others better than myself. Christ asks me to love genuinely from the heart. Christ asks me to love my neighbor as myself (that includes my husband). Christ asks me (through Paul) to meditate on whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report, and on anything of virtue, and if there be any thing to praise. I am asked by Christ to meditate on the good things in my husband.

Thus, I will be obedient to the Lord if I capture my negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts about my husband.

If you are a long way down the road of negative thinking towards your spouse, it may seem really hard to do this. However, when God looks upon your spouse – whether he is saved, not saved, totally backslidden, or in sin – He sees the good things in him, He sees those things of virtue even if some of those things lay dormant, He sees the wonderful qualities – those gifts and talents given by Him. And since we have the mind of Christ, God is able to reveal those very things to us. Pray and ask the Lord to show you things you can praise in your husband. Spend some time journaling and in prayer, and sitting quietly before the Lord – He will reveal His heart towards your husband. He will give you His love for your husband. He will give you new eyes with which to look at your husband.
And not only do you need to think good thoughts about your husband, but you need to express those things to your husband. You need to build him up. Again, if you are a long way down the road of negativity, it may feel extremely unnatural at first. It will feel so forced and almost fake. Start small: every day express something you are thankful for in your husband to him. Even if it’s something as small as, “Honey, thanks for always getting the trash out on time, if it were up to me – we’d miss a lot of trash days.” Just a small gesture like that will go an extremely long way in edifying your husband. If you are diligent to keep up your praise each day, you will be amazed at the changes that you will begin to see in your spouse. Your changed attitude and your positive words will be the avenue that opens the door for him to become the man that God created him to be.