Don’t feel guilty about this

I’m learning lately that I can’t give away much of anything to anyone else, including my family, if I’m not filled up myself!  So the question is: how do we get filled up?  Well, certainly part of the answer is spending time reading God’s Word and asking Him to help us truly know His love for us. You might want to meditate on Ephesians 3:17-19 which says, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.” 

However, I believe we also need to take time to fill up our senses with all that God has created for us to enjoy!  I’ve noticed that when I literally take a few minutes to sit in the sun and gaze at the beauty of God’s creation, I get filled up.  I’ve noticed that when I snuggle my granddaughter in my arms and read her a favorite story, I get filled up.  I’ve noticed that when I sit in front of a crackling fire with a cup of coffee, I get filled up, in a good way.    

We all need to take time to enjoy what God has created.  It’s not a guilty pleasure if it’s done in moderation, and as long as it’s not a sinful action according to the Bible.  These things fill us up, and when we are filled up, we actually have energy and joy that we can give away to others.  So, what fills you up?  What brings you joy and a sigh of contentment? 

Dating tips for Christian women

I never thought I would be dating again late in life, but when my beloved husband Raul passed away in November of 2021, I sensed that God was saying he would provide another husband as my life partner for the rest of my years.  So I began that crazy, sometimes frustrating, journey of dating!

I began applying some of the dating insights I had gleaned over my many years here on this earth along with guiding Bible principles.  So, I want to pass on some of that to you in this short little devotional.

First, God makes it clear that a Christian should not be linked in close partnership with an unbeliever.  2 Corinthians 6:14  Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?  This is critical!  If you end up marrying an unbeliever, Satan has total entry to wreak havoc in your marriage!  You two will not be pulling the same direction.  Also, without the Bible as a moral compass, your husband will have no constraints on immoral or disrespectful behavior, and that can definitely lead to heartbreak for you.

Next, keep in mind that a lot of guys might SAY they are a Christian, and they might even attend church, but that does NOT mean they are a true follower of Jesus.  You need to look for evidence of Christ’s presence in their life.  Do they show any fruit of the spirit?  Galatians 5:22-23  the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

And here’s one other huge tip.  Stay sexually pure while dating. Save sex until your marriage.  This is clearly God’s will, and when we obey God, he blesses us.  I don’t know about you but I want to have God’s blessing!!  Here are 4 quick little tips to avoid falling into sexual sin while dating:

  1. Don’t get horizontal!
  2. Don’t stay overnight at each other’s homes even if you have good intentions to sleep on the couch.
  3. Don’t stay together after midnight because that’s usually when temptation creeps in.
  4. Resist the urge to French kiss before marriage. I know it’s tempting, but it’s also super arousing and may lead to where you vowed not to go until marriage!

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Do you need a spiritual partner?

I was reminded recently of how valuable it is for Christian women to gather with other godly women.  A wife recently told me that, beyond learning valuable insights from God’s Word during Bible studies, what has really helped her is the encouragement, support and accountability from other godly women. 

It’s true.  Sometimes, we need that kick in the pants from another woman when we have wandered off track.  Sometimes, it’s that empathy and warm hug from another woman when we are going through a challenging situation.  Sometimes, what matters most is knowing friends in your women’s group will be praying for you during the week.

God’s Word tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25… “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” Our adversary wants us to isolate because then we’re more vulnerable!  Without encouraging voices in our ear, all we hear are the enemies whispers of discouragement and hopelessness.  So, the question is:  Are you acting as a lone ranger or are you carving out time in your schedule to meet regularly with other godly women?  We need each other.  We are stronger together

Finding joy despite hardship

I know this might sound too simple.  I know you could be rolling your eyes as you read this. But give this a chance.  A huge key to regaining some of your joy during challenges or after a heartbreaking event is…to focus on the things for which you can be thankful.

All of us tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have.  By doing so, we become bitter, jealous, and depressed women.  Now if you actually enjoy being bitter and depressed, you just go right on concentrating on what’s wrong in your life.  However, there is a better way to live.  God recommends it in the Bible.  It’s called being thankful for what you do have.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances“.  This means disciplining your mind to focus on what is good and right and beautiful. God puts it this way in Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Do you have shelter and plenty of food to eat each day?  Wow! You’re in the top 10% of the entire world!  Do you have someone in your life (husband, mother, friend, child) who loves you?  Wonderful!  Do your legs and hands work?  Can you see, hear, and taste?  Thank God for the health that not everyone enjoys.  Has God made himself known to you and drawn your heart to him?  Awesome!  That means he thinks you’re special and he decided before the beginning of the world to select you to adopt as his child!

Yes, there is a time to grieve losses in our lives.  But we can’t stay camped out there!  Let’s make a concerted effort to focus our minds on being thankful.  Little by little, you may find your joy returning, even during hard times.

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Finding true comfort during distress

All wives inevitably hit a rough patch or two in their marriage.  In fact, there will likely be moments when you think “Why did I even marry this man?!”  He may break a little piece of your heart when he forgets your anniversary, or is overly harsh with the kids, or develops a habit of satisfying himself while viewing pornography instead of making love to you.  At these moments, you need comfort for your broken heart.

It’s our tendency to reach for something easy and tangible as a source of comfort.  You might try to find some joy in buying lots of new clothes. YouI might turn to excessive food.  But neither one of those choices truly comforts us.  They actually lead to additional grief in the long run!  Instead, we need to train ourselves to run to God at those heart-breaking moments.  He is waiting with open arms.  Plus, Jesus knows what it feels like to suffer grief, betrayal, and a broken heart.

I love these two verses of comfort.  Psalm 103:2-4 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  And Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.  Meditate on those 2 verses and ask God to come close to you.  He will, and I believe you will experience the warmth of his love! 

One additional tip:  I’ve found it especially helpful to find a quiet place of solitude (no cell phone, no noise!) where I can just sit with the Lord in stillness for 5 or 10 minutes, letting his peace and comfort wash over me.

Do you need encouragement?

Life often seems like a winding highway full of potholes.  We get bounced around by people who disappoint us.  We disappoint ourselves.  Satan loves to plant that seed of doubt about whether we can make it through current challenges in our marriage, with our kids, at our job, etc.  We wonder if we can handle what’s around the bend.

That’s why we need encouragers in our lives!  1 Thessalonians 5:11 says “encourage one another and build each other up.”  My question for you is:  Do you have a friend who encourages you?  Or do you spend a lot of time with women who are negative, critical, and “downers”? 

If you don’t have an encouraging woman in your life, ask God to reveal a woman who seems to have the gift of encouragement.  Then ask her if you could regularly get together, perhaps once a week or every other week, just to chat and mutually encourage each other.  That’s right.  You can be her encourager too.  We all need it!  Let’s link arms together ladies!

Best question to ask when dating

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after observing many Christian marriages over several decades, it’s that ANY two people can build a fantastic marriage IF they both are seeking to honor the Lord and seek his guidance on all things.

Think of it this way.  Whoever you date is going to be imperfect, just like you also are imperfect.  However, if both of you are regularly seeking God’s guidance in His Word and seeking to obey his guidance, God can then start smoothing out the rough edges!  When a husband and wife are both striving to follow the Lord and his promptings, God can refine them day by day.  He can heal their broken places. He can teach them new healthier ways to communicate and handle conflict. 

It’s all about seeking God above all else!  This reminds me of the verse that finishes the famous section of Scripture about worrying in Matthew 6.  Jesus says stop worrying about everything and seek to follow him and he will take care of everything.  Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Another verse also comes to mind.  Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make you path straight.

So what is the number one question to ask a person you’re starting to date?  Here it is:  What has God been teaching you lately?  Then be quiet and listen.  If the person has that “deer in the headlights” look, that’s probably a good indication that they really aren’t seriously seeking God and his guidance! 

Finding hope when life is hard

We’re all a bit anxious right now…some are even downright fearful.  How will we make it through skyrocketing inflation that’s draining our bank account?  Will I be one of the people who gets seriously ill from covid-19?  Are we on the verge of World War 3?  And, if you’re not worried about that, then there are a myriad of other things that might be stealing your joy and your hope.  Perhaps your marriage is falling apart or your kids are making poor decisions. 

The truth is that, until we get to heaven, we will all experience tough times here on earth.  And of course, Satan loves to pile on by whispering negative, hopeless thoughts into our minds when he sees that we’re struggling.  We tend to start reciting a list of complaints and fears…about people in our life, health problems, finances, the way we look, and on and on.  Instead of reflecting the love of Jesus to those around us, our facial expression portrays “woe is me”.

For a believer, that’s ridiculous!  If you’ve made Jesus your Lord, you have his protection and power at your disposal.  Your prayers are powerful!  James 5:16  “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective”.  And even if your prayers aren’t answered EXACTLY how you think God should, you can trust Him to redeem every hardship in your life.  I love what He tells me in Psalm 103:4 “He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  When life gets discouraging…when anxiety starts eroding your hope…bring your concerns to Jesus and relax into his strong arms.  

I grasp hope and peace when I choose to trust in Jesus.  He is at work!  His ways are perfect.  Seek His perspective on all that’s happening. Ask him to help you understand what he’s doing in this challenging moment.  Ask him to redeem your seemingly hopeless situation.  He’s so creative!  He’s working behind the scenes right now. 

Reason to persevere in marriage

Are you in a season within your marriage where you’re feeling battle-weary?  Do you feel like you’ve done everything you can, you’ve prayed with everything you’ve got…and still, your husband is making choices that are extremely disappointing?  First, I want to say my heart goes out to you.  You are definitely in a desert place.  But I want to encourage you to take a different perspective.

You see, awhile back, my husband and I were talking about the ripple effect of our lives.  We may work and work to make a difference with a specific person (such as your husband), and feel greatly discouraged if we see no change.  But here’s the thing, OTHER people are watching how you’re handling this challenge in your marriage.  Perhaps you have children, and they are watching.  Maybe your mother-in-law is watching.  It could be that one of your friends is being affected by how you are dealing with this situation.  As you strive to reflect Jesus in your marriage, others are drawn to Christ.  This is the essence of Matthew 5:16 which says “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

I know it’s tempting to feel defeated, but please realize that you ARE making a difference in the lives around you.  If you are respectfully, but firmly, drawing a line on immoral behavior in your marriage, you are blessing your children by providing a great role model for how a wife should act.  If your mother-in-law is an unbeliever, she may be attracted to the “Jesus” she sees in you.  Your efforts to be a shining light for Jesus do have a ripple effect….and that’s worth it!

Feeling alone in your struggle

We’re all struggling with something.  It could be your marriage or your kids or your finances or your health or the political divisiveness that is separating longtime friends!  Often when we’re in the middle of a big challenge, we can feel very alone, even if we’re surrounded by people.  It seems like no one really understands what we’re going through.  We feel all alone in the battle.

But we’re not alone!  And this is not just a Christian bumper sticker or a warm and fuzzy saying on a Christian greeting card.  As some of you know, I recently lost my husband to illness.  He was the love of my life, my companion, my best friend, my encourager, my partner in ministry, and so much more.  Talk about feeling alone when he departed this earth!

For several months, I grieved, and that is totally appropriate and necessary.  That grief turned even more heavy when I realized I was all alone.  I might have family and friends, but I had lost my constant companion and best friend and partner in life.  But then I sensed God bringing to mind some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples.  In Matthew 28:20 he told his disciples something HUGE!  “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  

God was reminding me that Jesus is truly with me…every day…in every struggle…during my reflective morning coffee time to my search for guidance during the middle of a struggle.  He is my constant companion.   I’m finding that in the middle of a challenge, the question has changed from “What should I do?”  to “What should WE do, Jesus?”   I’m even inviting Jesus to join me during mundane tasks and grocery shopping and an afternoon walk.  He is always with me.  I’m not alone.  Is it time to invite Jesus to be your constant companion?

** or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW