Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Excellent Wife, Ch 5

A Wife's Understanding of Marriage

This chapter dealt with the giving and receiving of reproof, reproof that helps the other become more like Jesus. For a Christian couple, the goal in marriage is to have a "oneness that is characterized by a loving spiritual and physical bond that glorifies God and thereby enhances personal growth."

There are two ways God shows us our sin:

1. "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12...conviction through the word of God

2. "Better is an open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." Proverbs 27:5-6...someone tells you

Those of you who know my husband, know that he is a wise and godly man. During these last 17 years of our relationship I have seen Shaun seek God and make good, sound decisions. That history allows me to trust him completely. He is almost always right...its just a fact.

I wish I could say that means that I respond well to his reproof, but almost always my pride is first to speak out (read: he gets the silent treatment) and only later, after some thought on the matter, am I able to change and follow his instruction. "It is never pleasant to realize that other people see you as less than perfect. It is humiliating. However, 'all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness'. Hebrews 12:11"

Yes, I need to work on my initial response to reproof and have a thankful heart for the wisdom with which my husband leads our house.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ballerina Girl

Avery's doing well in her dance classes. She takes it seriously and has fun, too and at the end she is proud of the job she's done. Although she spent some of today's class trying to tell her teacher about her t-shirts.

This girl is just enthralled with the fact that she can wear a short-sleeved shirt without anything under or over it as I've made her do all winter. The first day I let her, she must have double-checked with me a dozen times that she didn't have to wear anything under her t-shirt. A week and a half later, she is still telling teachers and strangers. Apparently it was the topic pf conversation in Sunday School as well. She's a girl after my own heart...the less clothes the better!

Said t-shirt on said day. Gotta love the simple pleasures in life...bare arms!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pigtail Girl

Amanda's first day with pigtails...she's growing up! Nearly everyday, either Shaun or I will comment on how big she is getting, literally before our eyes. She has so many words and thinks she can climb anywhere or do anything. Well, at least anything Avery can do! She is a treasure.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Girls Night Out

Last week my mom, my two sisters and I were able to carve out an evening to sit on the couch, uniterrupted and watch a girly movie. It was relaxing and just good to be together.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Excellent Wife, Ch 4

A Wife's Understanding of Relationships

I was tempted to not be totally honest about my reaction to this chapter, but in Article 1A of my blog agreement it states "In all things be truthful".

So, the truth? The first time I read this chapter I bristled. Maybe I'd gotten too little sleep that night or maybe its just because I'm selfish by nature. At any rate, after finishing the chapter, I put the book down and asked the Holy Spirit to deal with my heart and my selfish thoughts. Fast-forward five days and while re-reading the chapter, sure enough, there were no defensive thoughts, just thoughts of wanting to do better, wanting to be pleasing to God.

"In order to be perfected in unity, you must stop asking yourself questions like 'what will it do for me?' or 'what will I get out of it?' or 'how will it meet my desires (needs)?' Instead, ask yourself 'how can we glorify God?' or 'how can we walk in a pleasing manner with God enjoying him as we go?' Let your ambition be like Paul's which was 'to be pleasing to Him' (2 Corinthians 5:9). In fact, Paul felt so strongly about pleasing God that he described his entire purpose in life with the words 'to live is Christ...' (Philippians 1:21).

I'm once again reminded that it's not about me! "It is easy to live for yourself, but ultimately unfulfilling and empty".

"In order to be like Christ, you must think as well as act like Christ. To accomplish this goal, our motivation must change from 'what can I get out of this?' to 'what can I give?' (1 Corinthians 13:5; Philippians 2:2-3) Hence you should expect no thanks or recognition. You are just doing your minimal duty to God."

I wanted to make a list of scenarios and circumstances when these truths would not have to apply...extend my list of buts if you will (see Chapter 1), but once again, I am without excuse.

I truly want the motivation in my relationship with my husband to be for God's glory, not for mine and I'm thankful the Holy Spirit is there to remind me of God's plan...daily.

If you haven't yet joined us, I encourage you to grab the book and come with us. This is the first book discussion I've been a part of outside of the classroom and its been edifying and useful. At least visit Lux Venit to read insightful thoughts and comments.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Shaun

Well, Shaun had his birthday on the 15th. We weren't sure how celebrating would go as this was his first year working at H & R Block. When he told me he was scheduled to work both the 14th and the 15th from 12-8, I thought that would be perfect! I arranged for my sister to take the girls overnight and when Shaun went to work on at noon, I went to work on our bedroom. I'd gotten a new comforter set and new curtains, which I put on and then I decluttered and cleaned. The girls were dropped off and I was home with enough time to light all the candles in our room, put out the tray of cheese and chocolate-covered strawberries (just a snack to hold us until we could get to the restaurant for a late dinner), turn the music on, etc...

Well, TWO hours after I was expecting him to come home, he finally did...wired from the day, anxious to see the girls and eat. He felt awful that he was so late but it couldn't have been helped, even if he'd known about the plans. And the changes in the bedroom barely fazed him. As I worked on swallowing the lump of disappointment in my throat, we headed out to get take-out grinders. It ended ok because we were able to have a quiet, uninterrupted conversation and get some much needed time together.

Also, every time Avery walks into our room she says, "Mom, I like your new woom!" and shares my pleasure in how nice it is in there. Ah...thank you God for giving me daughters who notice and care what color the comforter is. :)

The next night on his actual birthday, he got out a little early and the four of us were able to go to "Baby Tuesday". When we got home, my two chocolate lovers opened up a special delivery from Shaun's grandmother, a fellow chocoholic. A happy ending! Oh, and the chocolates are long gone.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Excellent Wife, Ch 3

A Wife's Understanding of Sin

One of the things that struck me once again was how simple God's plan of salvation is for us. He has already done the work, all we need to do is put our trust in Him. It is so easy...a simple prayer, a simple faith.

We have all sinned and because God is holy, He has to punish sin. We deserve death, but Jesus took our punishment on the cross instead. Now, anyone can be forgiven of their sins and made right. If you "...confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." Romans 10:9

We cannot be "kind enough or good enough to merit God's gift of salvation...God does all the work of man's salvation. Salvation is by His grace, not based on any merit (however "kind") within man. God's provision for sin begins at the cross and continues with 'grace to help' us grow and mature as Christians (Hebrews 4:16)"

If Jesus is not the Lord of your life, you can, right now, confess your sins and ask for God's forgiveness and confess that Jesus is Lord of your life. Confess with your mouth, believe in your's that simple.
The other thing I took from the chapter is that the "repentance process is not complete until you replace it with a godly, righteous thought. Then you will have 'put off' a self-honoring thought and will have 'put on' a God-honoring thought. It is a process that takes work. How hard you work at putting on the right thoughts and actions will directly affect how much like the Lord Jesus Christ you become in this life."

The marriage-related examples that were given made it very clear how this process works. Just to give you an example, the first one is:

Wrong, sinful Thought- "I hate him!"
Right, godly, Thought- "I don't feel love for him right now, but I choose to love him by responding in a kind way."

In changing our thoughts, we become more Christ-like, we glorify God and we have happier, more fulfilled marriages.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Smells Like Nana's House

Today was a beautiful, sunny day that reached 70. This is the time that we in Connecticut begin to hope against hope that spring is actually here and we've seen the last of winter for a while. You can't help but smile a little bigger and be more keenly aware of God's beautiful creation. Its a time of rejoicing for Avery because when she asks her usual, "Mom, can I take my shoes off?" or "Mommy, please I can take my sweatshirt off so I can be warm?", she finally receives a YES!

This morning when we walked out the front door onto the porch and into the sunshine, she paused for a moment, tilted up her head and said, "It smells like Nana's house", speaking, of course of beautiful, warm Florida where we were visiting less than a month ago. Yes, finally spring is in the air here, too and "it smells like Nana's house"!

Naturally, we had to spend some of the day outside. This picture is classic in so many ways...she loves to ride her bike and she's wearing flip flops made of hard plastic that she's admitted are not comfortable and she has not mastered walking gracefully in them. She's been asking to wear this shirt for the better part of two weeks, but I've declined because its been too COLD and lastly her hair. So cute at the start of the day, just doesn't hold post nap. But...she had a blast outside.

And then there's Amanda with a fresh gouge in her forehead from falling into our stone front steps. We debated taking her for a stitch but didn't and through it she cried for about 45 seconds. Tough girl!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

For Our Good

Romans 8:28 says "For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose."

Good: profit, useful. Everything conspires for our good. This doesn't mean that everything is intrinsically good, but everything ultimately works for us. The purpose of the things I've gone through are set out before God...He sees and remembers. How often does God use our pain to birth our passion? If we are honest and can see clearly, those things we are passionate about can usually be traced back to pain, a difficult time. Those things are exposed before God and He will perfect that which concerns me.

Those who love God. This is in the present tense and most commentators agree that it is meant as a description of Christians, not a condition. God is working for those loving Him. That's just part of being a Christian, not an if/then statement.

Although this is a familar, favorite scripture, I had not looked deeply into it. Beth Moore puts it much more eloquently than I do if you have time to check it out (4/7/08).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Early Spring Fun

Avery had a fun time with her cousin Allison the other day at the park. Grammy and Auntie Bethany met to have the kids play together...we have to make good use of these first 50 degree days we have here in New England!
(In the right hand corner you can just see Amanda, who does her very best to never be more than a step or two behind.)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Excellent Wife, Ch 2

A Wife's Understanding of God

My God is the loving ruler over all the earth, and me. My purpose in life is to serve my Creator and to give Him glory. When I keep that in mind, then I don't have to fight with the selfishness that I often feel. If I can keep my heart and mind on my purpose for being here, then the rest comes so much easier.

Through this week's reading, I was reminded again that God has planned for my ministry to be serving my husband and being a helper to him. This is His high calling for me! As a loving Father, He has created good works for me to do. These include not only what I do in my relationship with my husband, but my attitude and the motive of my heart. It's so easy (too easy) for me to judge others, specifically, my husband to see if he is doing his job right. In reality, my huband is responsible to God for his actions and decisions...its between them, not me. I have to ask, "Am I doing the good works that God intended for me?'"

Since God is the "determiner of what is right" then I can rest in that and not be afraid. It's true, if I'm honest, that the reason I am afraid to do what God wants is that I am afraid I won't get my way. That's where having the knowledge of my purpose in life comes in. Simply put, it's not about me. God wants me to be "joyful and fulfilled" and that happens when I "actively choose" to place myself under my husband's authority. It's my choice.

"When you are under your husband's (limited by God) authority, you are really putting yourself in the safest possible place-in God's will". God's will. Yes, I know without thinking twice that that is where I want to be in all parts of my life.

Now that I am a parent, I have so much more insight into God's love for me. One of the most basic needs my children have is for me to keep them safe and out of danger's way. At ages 2 and 1, they do not see "the big picture" and don't understand why I insist they stay on the sidewalk on our walks or hold my hand in parking lots. Often, they see my instructions (commands, really) as restrictive and unfair but as you fellow parents know, I am doing it out of love for them...I don't want any harm to come to them...I want them to stay where it is safe.

Similarly, albeit on a grander scale, God has set up a protective structure; for me to be under my husband's authority. "His plan was devised from His perfectly pure heart of love." Sometimes its hard to understand, but I will never be all God has intended for me until I choose to put myself under my husband's authority. That's where it is safe for me...that's where I am in the sweet spot of God's will.