Category Archives: Change of Heart

How My Dog Taught Me to Be a More Godly Wife

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” ~ Galatians 5:13

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I never wanted a dog, but one day my husband showed up with a present for me. He held the tiniest little puppy I had ever seen. A 6-week old Chihuahua that fit in my hand. We debated names. Chris wanted our little guy to have an intimidating name like Killer; I wanted a floral name like Sweet Pea since our cats are named Daisy and Lily. We agreed on the tough name of Duke, honoring my childhood hero John Wayne.

Anyway, my husband didn’t want Duke to sleep with us, but it tore my heart out the way he whined the very first night he slept alone. I did not last an hour. I slept on the couch with him curled up on my pillow. Chris’s determination not to have Duke in our bed lasted about 5 weeks. I slept every night with Duke. Finally he recanted, and Duke and I moved back into the bedroom. The first two years of Duke’s life, I worked from home providing him constant care and affection. Even now when I work full time outside the house, he still adores me. I am the sun of his world, and his little puppy dog life revolves around me. Plain and simply, he loves me unconditionally. Through Duke’s actions toward me, I have learned a number of ways that I can be a more godly wife.

1) Greetings: Each day when I come home from work, Duke is waiting at the door. He jumps up on the couch where he is more my level. If I take too long to put up my keys, purse, etc. he barks excitedly. His whole body shakes in anticipation as he cannot wait to spend time with me. He’s never angry. Never greets me with problems. Instead he greets warmly and affectionately, genuinely pleased to see me.

Now to us, when was the last time that you greeted your husband at the door with a smile and a kiss? What about a dab of lip gloss and a dash of perfume? Do we show him that he is the most important human in our world and that we are just happy to see him? Or do we ignore his arrival? If we do make the effort to meet him at the door, is it so we can greet him or so we can let him know that one of the kids is sick, the bathroom sink is leaking again, or someone stole our debit card number and it had to be cancelled? Certainly, you husband, your partner in life, needs to know the issues that have arisen, but give him a chance to de-stress from work first.

I’ll be honest; I am always in the middle of cooking dinner when Chris gets home. Instead of rushing to greet him as I did in the early days of marriage, too often I think, he’ll find me. What message does that send to him? How would he respond if I was a little more Duke and a little less Heidi when he returns home after work?

2) Snuggles: Duke rarely sits still. He wants to play; He wants to run and chase. His favorite game is tag by the way, and he totally gets that he chases you and you chase him. He loves squeaker toys and likes you to fight over them with him. He’ll growl and act like he is so upset, but since we play the game often, I know how to cheat. All I have to do is lean over and kiss the top of his head. Instantly the growling stops and he drops the toy. Instead he wants to snuggle, to have me pet his head and speak gently to him. He soaks up my affection. I’m kind of a brat so I love on him just enough to steal the toy and go back to the game. He falls for it EVERY SINGLE TIME because one minute of mommy’s time is worth more than any game. No matter what he is doing, where he is at, who he is playing with, if Chris says “Want to give Mommy some loveys?”, he is done. He is never too busy to love me and always anticipates the time when he can.

Now back to our men. Chris and I love to banter with each other. We like to tease and torment but do we stop long enough to offer love and affection? Do we simply tease each other and then turn our backs on other areas of our relationship because they are too difficult or might take longer than 20 seconds which is time we do not have? Life brings many hardships and many issues, but it brings many blessings and good times as well. Do we get so caught up in the game of life that we forget to give each other some uninterrupted, quality snuggle time?

I will give an example from my marriage. Chris often asks me to sit down and watch a movie with him. Most of the time I’m too busy. If I stop, the laundry will not get done, the checkbook won’t get balanced, dinner won’t get cooked, the floors won’t get swept, and my list goes on and on. But when I am too busy to spend time with my husband, what story does that tell? I have learned that being too busy for Chris (even if I am busy serving him through housework) sends a dual message to Chris. First, he is not worthy of my time and second I am too busy with what I want to do to fit him in. Not my intention. So nowadays, I say “You get it set up, and I’ll be right there.” While he is setting it up, I gather tasks I can do in front of the TV – laundry, the checkbook, etc. As we watch the movie, I work on whatever. Towards the end of the movie, I make sure I put everything down and snuggle up. Chris knows he is number one and doesn’t feel neglected.

3) Sees You: After dinner, Chris will usually spend a few minutes on his iPad or watching TV. I wash the dishes. It usually only takes ten minutes or so. Whether he is in the family room or the bedroom, I walk in there (with Duke at my heels) and tell him to stay so I can clean the kitchen without tripping over him. The first five minutes I’m out of sight, he whines for me. Then he settles in with a bone and waits. I’m never gone longer than fifteen minutes. When I walk in to the room, he drops the bone, stands to greet me and the tail starts wagging. One of Duke’s most commendable attributes is his tunnel vision. It doesn’t matter if my hair is uncombed and I’m still in my bathrobe, all he sees is me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve only been away two minutes, he’s still excited. When I walk into the room, he lights up. He doesn’t see the imperfections or faults that I have. He just sees me.

Now to us, when your honey walks in to the room, do you notice that his jeans are filthy, and you are going to need to wash yet another load of laundry? Do you worry that if he sits down on the bed or couch in those jeans that he is going to get something dirty? Do you notice that he forgot to shave this morning and his neck could use a little TLC? Do we point out the problems or do we offer a warm greeting? Maybe the physical things are not what you notice but instead you think about his faults and ask how that worked for him today. Or you think back to last night’s fight and relive the most painful parts. When we criticize our husband’s flaws, we tell them in so many less words that their imperfections are more important to us than who they are as a person. Completely opposite of Duke’s message.

By now, you know two of my faults. I cannot stop EVER, so the first thing I see is the grime. Secondly, I am not always the best at keeping my mouth shut. Both of these things have caused a fight or two in my marriage.  But I’m trying. If I absolutely cannot stand the factory dirt Chris often brings home with him, I try a different approach. Instead of attacking Chris for his clothes, I might suggest that he come in, slip into comfy clothes, and put his feet up while I make him a glass of ice tea. At least in this way, he doesn’t feel judged the moment I see him but instead feels served. He knows that I love him and have his best interests in view.

4) Forgives: When Duke misbehaves, I employ a variety of punishments. He gets sprayed with a water bottle, gets put in a crate, or gets completely ignored–depending on his crime. He doesn’t like any of these punishments, but the great thing about him is that he forgives instantly and easily. I can punish him, and he can sit sulking in the corner. But the second I click my tongue for him, he comes running with tail wagging and tongue licking. He is ready to show me I am forgiven, and he loves me despite what I did to him.

What about your attitude with your husband? Can he trust that after a fight you will forgive him? Does he know that you will never mention the hurtful actions again? Or are you the kind of wife who feels the need to dredge up the past and remind the man you married of the many times he has failed you? If you are an excavation expert, how is that working for you? I’m guessing not very well. Proverbs 27:15 warns that “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.”

I have found that when I nag or complain, my husband’s coping mechanism is to turn me off. He doesn’t like who I am being at that moment so he shuts down. All the screaming, yelling, brow beating in the world won’t do me any good if he’s not listening. If a situation arises where we actually have a real problem and not one that is compounded by the inner voices of my head, it is better to sit down and patiently discuss the problem without pointing the finger or nagging that he has done this type of thing hundreds of times over the years. I need to remember Duke in these conversations and when he apologizes (or in some cases simply changes his attitude), I need to let go and forgive instantly and completely. It’s done and it’s not barging into my marriage again.

5) Protects: Duke is a little guy. He weighs under twelve pounds, but when it comes to me, he knows no boundaries. A couple years ago we went to Tennessee to visit relatives. As they have a lovely place out in the country, we decided to take Duke. I was sitting on the porch in a rocking chair with Duke sleeping on my lap when Aunt Libby’s gentle, old golden retriever loped up the steps. Instantly Duke was awake. As long as Pumpkin was on the far side of the porch, he was okay but the second he crossed over to our side of the porch, Duke was up growling. That big dog wasn’t going to hurt his Mommy! Duke’s actions were so intimidating that poor Pumpkin left her own porch with her tail between her legs.

Do you have your husband’s back? When you are at a family function and someone demeans your guy do you laugh and add your own complaint or do you stand up for him? When you are out with your girlfriends and they get started on husband bashing, do you join the conversation with a list of his faults? What message are your conversations about your husband sending to others and to him? Do they say that you respect and honor the spiritual leader of your home or do they say that you have a few hundred miles to go before you resemble anything remotely Christ-like?

Now, I’m not suggesting that you cannot joke and tease with your husband, family and friends. But I am saying that when your comments are made in spite, cause feelings of failure or hit just a little too close to home that you should not be making them. Those things are not funny and should be left unsaid. I’m also talking about what goes on behind your spouse’s back. My husband is far from perfect but I want others to see the good in him. I don’t want them to pick his flaws apart. If I am complaining about his issues, I give them the fuel to judge him or think negatively about him. Instead I want to build him up with other people. If they have never met him, I want them to form positive opinions of him so that when they do meet him, they look forward to it instead of thinking this is the jerk who does a, b, c. Your husband should rest in the knowledge that you are his helpmate and that you will protect him in and outside of your home.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. Being a godly wife may not always be easy, but as Christian women it is our calling. Embrace your calling, and learn that simple steps, courteous actions, and constant care build a stronger, more enjoyable marriage. Remember the lessons little Duke teaches and offer the same kind of loyalty and unconditional love to the man you married!

What lessons have you learned from your little furry friend(s) that has helped you become a better, more godly wife?

An Unexpected, Uninvited, and Unwanted Houseguest

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“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

Living in our house, we have my husband, my niece, myself, a chihuahua named Duke and two cats–Daisy and Lily. Normally, Duke and I are the first to bed, then Daisy, then Meg, then Chris and finally Lily.

It came as no surprise last night at 11pm that Lily was still up wandering. When she was a kitten, she stayed up all night long playing and exploring. Thankfully, she has mellowed over the years and usually settles in by midnight. Well, anyway, by 11pm, Duke and I had clocked out; Chris had just settled in and was trying to fall asleep.

Then the blood curdling scream. Jolted awake, I sat up in bed. Meghin! Dashing upstairs I called out, “Meghin, honey, are you ok?”

A tiny little girl voice squeaked out from my almost 21-year-old niece. “No, something flew at me.”

A few tense moments passed and then the intruder circled the room. Poor Meg, she had a bat! It took almost fifteen minutes to coax her out from under the covers and downstairs to the living room. Calming her down, I got the story. She was sleeping and heard a noise. Guessing it to be Lily, she clicked her tongue and patted the bed inviting Lily to jump up. Instead the bat swooped down. What a surprise for poor Meghin!

This got me thinking. How many times in our lives do we expect a friend, call for them, anticipate their response, only to have the Devil swoop down instead?

Living in America, it is all too easy to forget that every day of our lives, there is a spiritual battle raging around us. In I Peter 5:8 the Bible gives us this warning, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. The imagery terrifies, yet somehow in the midst of dinners, diapers, laundry, work schedules, homework help, emotional crisis, we forget. How very dangerous! If you forgot about a wild lion and turned your back on him, what would happen? You’d be dinner! Forgetting the Devil and turning our spiritual back to him makes us susceptible to his attacks.

This was me last Sunday. Last week was a crazy week. I worked six days, led two organizational workshops, attended adult Bible study, taught teen Bible study, hosted a church family movie night, wrote two articles for a magazine–all in addition to the normal dinner, dishes, laundry, etc. Stuck in survival mode, I forgot my enemy and let my guard down.

I was tired. I was weak. The time to strike was now. He wasted no time in planning his assault. His strategy was simple. Remind me of my losses; remind me of my unfulfilled dreams. Remind me of my failures. He didn’t need to do more than that; I would take over the rest.

“Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jesus said this in John 8:44, and yet somehow I forgot that Satan was the father of lies.

I wasn’t anticipating the attack, and I fell prey. I listened and I repeated. Everyone who loved me is dead. I am alone. Unable to have children, I have missed my greatest desire and am a failure as a woman. The progress I had made in homemaking has been lost by a tough week with too many activities. I can’t even keep up. All lies. All things I repeated.

As Sunday afternoon progressed, I slumped back to a familiar hole. I didn’t want to get up and clean the house. I didn’t want to spend quality time with my husband. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to forget. I wanted to be someone else. As time for the evening church service approached, I told Chris, “My head hurts so I think I’ll stay home.” I didn’t want to go. What if the people there felt the same way about me as I did? I couldn’t bare the thought!

After some not so gentle prodding, I reluctantly agreed to go. We were late. It didn’t matter. God showed up. The singers sang words of reassurance reminding me where so many of my family members are today. The preacher spoke words of life. He reminded me of my calling and of God’s promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me. My walls lowered. He talked about Satan and his attacks. He reminded me where Satan is today (roaming to destroy) and where he will be in the future (cast into the lake of fire). I shoved the walls down.

Are you like me and Meghin? Have you let an unexpected, uninvited, unwanted houseguest into your life? If so, then it’s time to let go. To follow the instructions in James 4:7 and to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I pray you release today and find yourself standing tall, resting in the shadow of the Almighty!

All Kinds of Crazy, Oh, and I’m Over at The Bottom Line Today

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What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

It has been all kinds of crazy the past eight weeks! I am sorry I have not posted, but I have been adjusting to life returning to the workplace outside of my home. For the past two years, I have been blessed with the ability to work from home, yet a few weeks ago, God opened the door He wanted me to go through.

I wasn’t looking for a new job. I simply received a phone call asking me to apply. I applied that day, interviewed the next day, and was offered the job the following day. I started the next week. It has been a whirlwind, but I am ready to return to the blogging world. I love the new job that God provided, and I am sure that it will provide many future topics of interest for us!

I realize that today’s post is not my usual, but I just wanted to check in. I wanted to let you know I’m a guest columnist on The Bottom Line’s site today (A Miracle In Today’s World?) and that I will be back with regular posts tomorrow!

Letting Go of Things

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” ~ Exodus 20:3

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In early January, author Kathi Lipp posted the 2014 Things Challenge (Kathi Lipp’s 2014 Things Challenge) where she inspired women to give away 2014 good, usable items throughout the year. That’s 5.5 things a day. 38 things a week. 168 things a month. Basically, she wanted 2014 fewer items (not counting consumables) by the end of calendar year 2014. (This employs my one in, one out rule from Live Simple: Limit What Enters Your Home in addition to purging 2,014 items.)

I loved that idea. Since both of my parents, all four of my grandparents, and Chris’s grandma have passed away in the past seven years, we have way too many things at our house. The things need cleaning and maintaining which costs us time, energy, and money. The things can easily become a priority over what really matters. The things tie me down and shift my focus from God.

Kathi gave readers the option of being all in, simply getting rid of 2014 (not doing one in, one out part) or partnering with a buddy to get rid of a total of 2014 items. So I talked about Kathi’s challenge to Chris. Chris agreed hands down we were going all in. Considering how much we have, Chris and I decided to go all in January through June and then all in July through December. This would mean purging 4,028 items in the year. That’s 11 things a day. 77 things a week. 336 things a month. Talk about MONUMENTAL!

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We have religiously followed the one in, one out rule for the past six months. Every time we acquire something new, we purge something old. Friends and family members often tease us when they give us a gift about what we will be getting rid of to keep it. In most instances, we try to get rid of something in the same family. For example, if I get a shirt, I try to get rid of a shirt. If that isn’t possible, I try for some other clothing article. I try not to mix rooms.

On June 30, I sat down with my tally sheet to figure out where we stood on our 2,014 items. We had one day until the end of our first goal, and I knew we had a little ways to go. We were at 1613 items which was 80.08% of the way to our goal. Chris’s company is closed the week of July 4, and I had planned to take off and do something fun with him, but instead we opted to get busy planning a yard sale.   Anything we didn’t sell would be loaded directly into the back of the car to be taken to the county’s free store on Monday. That way, no matter if we sold everything or not, we would definitely hit our goal.

Before we could change our mind, I went down to the newspaper office and put in an advertisement. Then I hit the garage, basement, and two guest bedrooms (one of which is more like a storage room) to find the remaining 401 items.

ys8ys6 Finished Totals
At the end of the weekend, we were exhausted! We worked so hard all week finding items to sell in the yard sale and getting them cleaned up and priced. Then we fried in the sun all day on Saturday selling our stuff. We priced things affordably and watched as hundreds of items found new homes. It was a little sad at first, but at the end of the weekend, we completed our goal and then some!


For the first half of our personal challenge:

local free store: 188 items
sisters: 180 items
anyone else: 358 items
eBay: 364 items
yard sale: 463 items
trash: 461 items
Total: 2014 items

For the start of the second half of our personal challenge:
local free store: 13 items
sisters: 8 items
anyone else: 17 items
eBay: 4 items
yard sale: 399 items
trash: 52
Total: 493 items

Change Barriers to Stepping Stones in 3 Easy Steps

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

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Reflection:
Have you ever noticed how procrastination turns an ordinary task into an impassable mountain? The longer you wait to do something that you need to do, the more likely your opinion will shift about this project. For example if you needed to paint a room, it might seem like a boring, one-day task. The longer you wait to get started, the more you dread the project. Soon instead of thinking about the task as a one-day painting project, you start to think about the job as a day of painting the room, a day of painting trim,  a day of painting touch-up. Now, you don’t want to attempt the task until you have a three-day window because it seems so much bigger. You hate the idea of giving up an entire three-day holiday weekend, but you decide you better wait for one instead of starting the job this weekend like you had planned.

Not only can procrastination change the feel of a job for you, but it can also change the scope of the project. Let me explain. Imagine that you really needed to wash laundry, but you dreaded the task so much that you couldn’t get started. The two loads of laundry you had grew to four loads, and the four loads grew to eight loads. Pretty soon, you would have more laundry than was physically possible to wash in one day.

If allowed, negativity will dictate behavior patterns. It will lead us from putting a task off to absolutely dreading and completely ignoring the project. Negativity leads to failure and frustration.

 

Challenge:
We’re going to tackle this problem today. First identify three things you need to do. Then beside each item, write two to three reasons why you haven’t done the project. Once we recognize what is holding us back, we are going to shift our thinking. Change your negative roadblocks into positive stepping stones.

One of the greatest reasons for failing to begin a project is that there is not enough time to complete the project in one setting. Instead of looking at the whole project, break it down into smaller, more manageable segments. Using our previous ideas of painting and laundry, I will show you how this works.

Painting Example:
Step One: Identify need.
I need to paint the living room.

Step Two: Recognize two roadblocks.
I don’t have three days to accomplish the full project.
I don’t want to start something I cannot finish.

Step Three: Change roadblocks to stepping stones.
If I split the job into separate categories of painting walls, painting trim, and painting touch up, I can split job into three days of manageable tasks.
I can finish painting the walls if I only focus on one of the three jobs at a time instead of all three.

Note: If I only do one job for three consecutive Saturday’s, the dreaded project will be completely finished in less than a month.

Laundry Example
Step One: Identify need.
I really need to catch up on washing laundry.

Step Two: Recognize two roadblocks.
I don’t have the time to wash all the laundry today.
I don’t want to start something I cannot finish.

Step Three: Change roadblocks to stepping stones.
Instead of seeing the laundry as one task, I’m going to break it down by load. I need to wash, fold, and put away five loads of laundry: one of darks, one of lights, one of reds, one of sheets, and one of whites.
I have three hours, which gives me enough time to wash, fold, and put away two loads of laundry. With the time I have, I will complete the whites and the darks.

Note: I have completed 40% of my overall project, so now I only need to find another four and a half hours to complete the remainder of this project.

 
Encouragement
Now it’s your turn. Today is your day. Turn your roadblocks into stepping stones. Remove the barriers and soar! Let go of failure, and embrace the watershed moment!

What are some of your roadblocks? How can you change them into stepping stones?

Calling for a Help Meet

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18

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This past week, my husband has really been struggling. He’s been working lots of hours, so he has been tired, sore, and just a little bit cranky. He has had to miss teen Bible study (which we teach together), family movie night (which we host at our church), and several other important things.

I take my calling as Chris’s wife very seriously. As Genesis 2:18 states, I am called by God to be my husband’s “help meet.” What exactly does that mean? It means that I am here to help him when life throws a curve ball, to build him up when he’s down, to defend him when he has been wronged, and to support his decisions. I always say that we live our lives as a puzzle. When one of us is lacking something, the other steps in and fills in the piece. If I need strength, Chris stands strong; if Chris needs peace, I choose to tread lightly, etc. In the case last week, Chris needed comfort.

Whenever Chris needs comfort, I try to shower him with love. This entails a realization and response to Gary Chapman’s “five love languages”. I spend the most time on Chris’s primary language, but I’m sure to hit the rest as well. I start with a process I like to call TWEAT, to ensure I fill all his needs. Let me explain what I did, so you can apply the concepts to your man.

T—Time: Make sure you are available for some quality time. It wasn’t easy, but I rearranged my schedule to provide Chris with at least one hour of quality time a day last week.

W—Words:  Try to use words of affirmation during your quality time. I tried to point out a different good thing about Chris each day. Additionally, I sent him a text message every day while he was at work affirming something about him or our relationship. I knew he left his phone in his car during his shift, but I sent the messages anyway to let him know I was thinking about him.

E—Equip: Purchase a gift for your husband to equip him for whatever he’s facing. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even fancy. As Chris’s spirits were low, he was tired, and he was feeling dejected I wanted to get him a little something to help in those areas. I got coffee to give him energy, chocolate to remind him he is loved, and a new cd to lift his spirits during his hour drive.
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A—Act of Service: Think of something that you can do that normally your husband would do. I was going to mow the grass, but the lawnmower wouldn’t start. I loaded it up and took it to the shop for repairs. Then I hired a youth group kid to mow the grass (since the lawnmower was going to be in the shop for 5 days before they could get to it). Plus, I made all of Chris’s favorite meals last week.

T—Touch: Make time for human contact. This one was the hardest for me. When Chris gets home at 3 am and I have to be up by 6 am that leaves little time for contact. Whenever I did see Chris, I tried to hold his hand, rub his shoulders, and give him a little hug as we went our separate ways.

What about you? When was the last time your husband needed a TWEAT? What did you do for him?

The Shelter of His Wings

He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust: his truth shall be your shield and buckler. ~ Psalm 91:4

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It’s a very stormy day today. The sun seems to have disappeared completely. Dark gray clouds hover just above the houses. Booming thunder roars and lightning bursts keep providing glimpses of light. I love this kind of storm because I know it is washing the world clean, helping our local farmers, watering the flower and vegetable garden, etc. I’m such a fan that I would take a cup of hot tea and head for the back porch to immerse myself in the grandeur of this storm.

I would go except that the three pets in our home are not as happy about the storm as I am. The two cats are perched along side of me, one on each side, while our Chihuahua will not let me out of his sight. I tried to run to the restroom, and he followed me in there. I sat down, and he hovered between the back of my legs and the base of the toilet. He shakes, whimpers and refuses to sleep.

I sat down on the couch with my lap top and grabbed a quilt. He went under the quilt but has to have his head out so he can see what is going on. I wish he wasn’t so afraid. I wish I could explain to him that the storm is raging outside but that here, in the shelter of the house, we are safe. I think he feels relatively safe as long as he’s in my lap. At least the shaking and the whimpering stop when he’s there.

His reaction to this particular storm got me thinking about me. When the storms of this life roll in (and they do and will), how do I respond? Do I rush to the back porch to watch what God is doing up and close and personal? Or do I cringe in the corner, trembling and frightened? I guess we would all like to say we are the brave, faithful Christian marching out into the storm, but the truth is that I am the corner croucher. Today though, I want to learn a lesson from my dog.

I don’t want Duke to be afraid. God doesn’t want me to be afraid. I can see the bigger picture and know that the storm will have many benefits that Duke can’t see. God sees the bigger picture and knows the benefits I can’t see. Duke is safe provided he stays in the shelter of our home. I am safe provided I stay in the shelter of God’s wings. I will hold Duke and offer comfort and security when he crawls into my lap; God will hold me, offering comfort and security, when I come to Him and call upon His name.

Even though I may not run out to face the storm, I can stop cringing in the corner and climb into my Daddy’s lap. I can stay close and find comfort from the storm. I can draw my strength from the very one who made the storm. As I lovingly pet Duke’s head and whisper calm assurance, I can see God doing the same for me. And that, dear sisters, is enough!

 

 

Simply Start!

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” ~ 2 Timothy 4:7

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Feelings of Failure
Women are notorious guilt huggers. All too often, we listen to Satan’s lies. We hear him tell us we are worthless, that we are not good at anything, that no one loves us, that we should just give in and then we hold his lies close to our hearts. We believe them, we repeat them and we cling to the hopelessness in them as if our very lives depended on it.

For me, all too often the lies and hopelessness have been tied to my home. I felt that I was an inept wife, a failing homemaker, a pathetic excuse for a woman. All because cleaning, organizing, and homemaking didn’t come naturally to me. I wasn’t taught how to do these things, and I blamed myself for that. I let failure rule my emotions, and it is not surprising that I became severely depressed.

Truth & Encouragement
Dear sisters, if you are like me, let me share with you a thing or two that our GRACIOUS Heavenly Father taught me. Being naturally untidy does not mean that you are an inferior woman. Struggling to maintain your family, career, and home does not make you a failure. Not knowing the same tricks that other women seem to know and do effortlessly does not mean you are a failure. You are not in a hopeless situation. You can learn these skills, and God can help you change.

Today is a new day. A day that is squeaky clean and unmarred by this very imperfect woman. I use the term imperfect lightly. I should say this oftentimes messy, angry, cranky, stubborn and overwhelmed woman. But praise God, I am redeemed! This blog is a testament of His amazing grace. It is for all the girls out there just like me. We want to live joyfully, we want to be in the moment, we want to seize the day, and we want God to control our every move. Yet our very selves get in the way. But not this time and not today!

Today, we stand firm and live for our Creator. We’re taking charge of the mess of our lives. This means we’re getting our homes in order, restoring our families to harmony, and learning contentment in all things. We are taking back our joy one task at a time to create happy homes, happy marriages, happy families, and happy hearts. We will live the life we were created to live.

Challenge:
Today, I issue you a challenge. I want 30 minutes of your day. At the end of our 30 minutes, I hope you will feel inspired, excited and a little more free.

1) Start by praying and asking God to help you with your feelings of inadequacy. Recognize that He paid a great price to redeem you, and then ask that He help you reach that freedom.

2) Now I want you to turn on some great praise music (it’ll be Toby Mac for me), grab your kitchen timer, set it for 20 minutes and tackle the area that is bothering you the most. It might be around your door where every time you walk through it, you see a mess and feel discouragement. It might be your nightstand where the last thing you see at night are the piles that seem endless. It might be the kitchen where you really can’t foresee having space enough to cook your family a wholesome meal in the near future. Whatever is torturing YOU the most, start there and set yourself free.

For this task, take with you the usual trash bag and 2 boxes: 1) for giveaway 2) for put away somewhere else. Don’t over think or over plan. Simply start!

3) End your task the same way we began—with prayer. Thank God for the fresh feelings of hope. Thank Him for the strength to keep going. Pour your heart out to Him and allow Him a chance to talk back to you. Meditate on Christ’s sacrifice for you, and allow yourself the freedom to bask in the worth you have to Him and in Him.

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Restoring the Broken Heart

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“But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.” ~ Psalm 5:7

I was angry and hurt. I had said what needed to be said and I was justified. He hurt me. He lied. He broke a sacred trust. For the thousandth time, I reviewed the facts leading up to the argument. I relived my disbelief, my hurt, my anger. I replayed his justifications; I replayed my own. He put us here. He was in the wrong. This was his fault. Not mine.

Broken and empty, I fell before my Savior. I uttered words similar to David’s in Psalm 5:2 when he said, “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.” Repeatedly I prayed that it was all a bad dream that I would wake up and it would never have happened, and yet my prayer seemed to fall on very deaf ears. Mumbling under my breath, I reiterated. This was his fault. Not mine. I wasn’t the one who jeopardized our marriage. Then why did I feel so bad?

Sometimes in life, the people we love hurt us. They show their imperfections, and they fail us. For me, as a bride of nearly 7 years, I knew my husband wasn’t perfect. I knew that he was just a man, but I centered my world around him and around the love we felt for one another. When my focus should have been on God, it was on him. When I should have been striving with him to serve our maker, I sought to become his everything. He had become my everything, my core, the center of my existence. In my own way, I had come to worship him. And he had just plummeted from my 10-foot tall, shiny white pedestal seat. I shouldn’t have been surprised that he was human, but I was. I was devastated by him.

In the silence of the library perched on the couch, I felt the voice. Deep inside, inaudible to the ear. I glanced at the cat, she still lay unmoving. Clearly she didn’t hear it but I did. “Be still and know that I am God.” Immediately I stilled. Hurtful words tumble through my head. Words hurled at the man I love. Words spoken to a friend who I knew would sympathize with me. Words that never should have been spoken. Then there were the other words. Words I’d heard preachers use about having no other gods before God. Maybe he wasn’t the only imperfect human in our marriage.

Guiltily, I picked up the Bible. Thumbing to the book of Psalm, I thought to look for solace from David, a man who would understood my shame. A guilty murderer. A filthy adulterer. Another ten commandment breaker. A man who loved God. David did not disappoint. “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” Psalm 5:7.

This was me. Falling at the feet of my savior, crawling “in the multitude of [His] mercy”. The heart that just minutes before had been set on a human being. The heart that had been broken and had then sought to wound another. This heart was returning to the master potter. He mended the cracks and put back the pieces. He forgave the misguided worship. He replaced the anger, hurt and humiliation. He restored.

Dear Lord, I realize that all too often I can place my affections on the things of this world and forget what really matters. I sometimes replace you with people. When they don’t measure up to you, I allow my own sinfulness to rule my actions and I lash out to try and injure the people I love. Help me to keep my focus on you, Lord, for I know if you are my focus, my actions will follow suit. Amen.

My Hope Is in Thee

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“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” (Psalm 39:7)

Alone. Empty. Alone. Dead. Alone. Over and over these words echo through my mind. I know they aren’t completely true but I can’t hide from the truth that is in them. Every year at this time, I deal with heartache all over again. As glorious as spring can be, it is also a terrible reminder of what is no more. Her birthday is in spring. Easter, her favorite holiday, is in spring. The holiday devoted to celebrating her (Mother’s Day) is in spring. In spring, we would be vamping up for our favorite season—yard sale season. In spring, we would be enjoying the beautiful flowers that are coming back to life. And yet, she’s dead. I feel empty. I used to talk about it with dad but he’s gone now too. No one understands and I feel so alone.

Seven years ago, my mother passed away after a difficult battle with cancer. All these years later it still hits me. I still long to see her, hear her voice, seek advice from the person who I take after, the person who gets me. Heartache knows no time and the passing of years hasn’t healed the hurt.

In Mark 9, I met two men who see my heart. The one echoes my tears, hurt and frustration, while the other shows understanding, love and compassion. In this passage, Christ has been on the mountain preparing for his crucifixion (the transfiguration). When he returns to his disciples, he finds a desperate father who pours out the story of his demon possessed son. “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us” (Mark 9:17b, 18a, 22).

Jesus tells the father that if he just believes, all things are possible. “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). This is my cry on days like today. I don’t understand why my mom had to suffer such a debilitating illness. I don’t understand why she passed away at only 54. I don’t understand why some days I am overwhelmed by grief. I don’t understand why I suffer, but I can fall at the Master’s feet and cry out “Help thou my unbelief.” Jesus could have condemned the father and me for our lack of faith, but instead he understands our humanity. Like He does in the Biblical account, Jesus offers compassion and comfort.

God has given me hope. “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee” (Psalm 39:7). My circumstances have not changed but my attitude has. Instead of focusing on our past, I look to our future where because of His gift of salvation, I have an eternity to spend with my loved ones. Instead of focusing on the years that we have lost, I am grateful for the years we had together. Some days I need a reminder, but Jesus patiently provides that time and again. Today started in darkness and yet light now shines through. My heart sings, my hope is in thee!

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