The art of being still

If you’re like most women, you’re busy…REALLY busy.   Most of us are multi-taskers to the max.  We are trying to balance housekeeping, with nurturing children, with investing in our marriage, with maybe even working full-time outside the home.  Oh, and you might be trying to help out at the local food bank or your church too!  More than likely, you’re exhausted, stressed, and maybe even a bit cranky.  Did I hit that nail on the head? 

How about if we all intentionally slow down?  What if you and I were to ask God in prayer for His direction on where we can cut something out of our busy lives?  Is there a better way to divide responsibilities in our home?  Should you cut out one of the kid’s activities? 

Do you simply need to take 10 or 15 minutes twice a day to be still with God?  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”.  Maybe it’s time for us to carve out some time to be still for a few minutes each day, perhaps with a cup of lemonade sitting outside on a summer day or snuggled in a comfy chair listening to soft worship music.  I have a feeling that we will find our stress drain away as we enter a time of stillness, and as we become less stressed, everyone around us will benefit!  In fact, your husband may become the biggest fan of your “be still” time with God!  You’ll probably be less cranky. lol

Do you feel like giving up?

Having a rough time in your marriage?  Do you wish you’d never married your husband?  Our society makes it very easy to throw in the towel and divorce.  Divorce might seem very tempting, but let me tell you from personal experience; it’s really hard on your children.  Actually, it’s devastating for them.  Yes, God can heal them over time, but your children will always carry a deep emotional scar.  Whoever started the rumor that kids can bounce back from divorce was lying!

I’m not saying that a woman should never divorce her husband.  The Bible certainly gives a clear allowance for divorce in Matthew 19:9 where Jesus says “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”  Jesus clearly states that when a spouse has cheated on you sexually, divorce is permissible.  After many years of studying the Bible, I also believe God permits a woman to divorce her husband when he grossly sins against his wife through continuing physical or emotional abuse.  After all, God instructs us in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life“.  After years of severe emotional or physical abuse, a woman can become a mere shell of a human being.  I don’t believe that is God’s will for anyone.  Throughout the Bible, we see that God is more concerned with mercy than merely following rules.

All this being said, please do everything you can to fight for your marriage.  Don’t give up easily.  Don’t let bitterness grow.  Work to resolve issues before your heart grows so cold that you don’t feel like working to save your marriage. You may possibly need to separate from your husband in order to bring his attention to the seriousness of the problem, but your goal should be reconciliation and restoration of your marriage. Find a good counselor.  Get a mentor couple.  Read the Bible.  Pray continually.  Don’t give up on your marriage too easily.  If for no other reason, fight for your marriage on behalf of your children.

Do you need a miracle?

Are you and your husband at odds?  Are you discouraged in your marriage?  Pray.  Are you longing for more intimacy and love in your marriage?  Pray.  Are you concerned about the choices your husband or children are making?  Pray.  Prayer really can change everything! It can produce a miracle! James 5:16 says “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective.”

I have witnessed God do absolutely amazing things when I have prayed with total faith in His mighty power. I have witnessed miraculous healings.  I have seen God soften my husband’s heart in areas.  I have witnessed loved ones turn to Christ for the very first time.  I have witnessed God supernaturally supplying much needed financial help in the nick of time.  I have even seen God “heal” completely broken computerized equipment in our sound studio!

Here’s the thing.  I don’t have the power to do any of those miracles.  I especially don’t have the power to change my husband’s heart or my children’s hearts….but God can and does change hearts!   In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Awesome!  So, seek God in prayer.  Be persistent in your prayers for your husband and children.  Your situation might seem impossible, but nothing is too hard for God.  He can even change hearts.

Gaining emotional intimacy with him

Many women get so discouraged about the lack of emotional connection with their husbands.  Wives desperately desire their husbands to open up and share their deepest thoughts and feelings, but often it just doesn’t happen.  Well, one of the things I’ve learned is that most men will do almost anything to avoid looking weak or being vulnerable to criticism.  So, they don’t share their hearts.  They don’t want to risk your scoffing or criticism.  They’re like a turtle that tucks its head inside a protective shell.

But there is a way to prompt your husband to take the risk of sharing his heart with you.  You need to be a safe place for him to share his heart!  What do I mean by that?  Well, I’ll tell you what it looks like if you’re NOT a safe place.  Do you roll your eyes at his ideas?  Do you explain why he’s wrong when he shares his thoughts, beliefs, or ideas?  Do you criticize him or complain all the time?  Those kinds of words and actions don’t exactly make him feel safe in terms of opening up his heart at the deepest level! 

God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 “the wife must respect her husband.”, and if you consistently show that respect…day after day…and month after month….your husband may start feeling it’s safe to risk opening up his heart to you.  Starting today, try looking for ways to encourage your husband.  Listen attentively to what he talks about.  Look directly at him when he is talking.  Smile at him.  Affirm him in any way you can.  You might find that he will enjoy talking to you a whole lot more!  And that turtle just might poke his head out from underneath the shell.

Helping him become the spiritual leader

Many women lament the fact that their husbands won’t pray with them and their husbands aren’t really the spiritual leader….but, here’s something I’ve observed over the years that may shed some light on your predicament.  If you want your husband to become the spiritual leader of your family, you have to stop being the leader yourself!  Sometimes women, including myself, can be so eager to bring spiritual disciplines into our family life that we leave no gap for our husbands to fill.  Perhaps this is why God repeatedly instructs wives to be submissive!  Titus 2:5 tells women to be “self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”. 

In other words, instead of you jumping in and praying for the kids when they get tucked into bed at night, you could ask your husband for his help with that.  If you would like the Bible to be read aloud after dinner, tell your husband you love the sound of his voice when he reads and ask him if he would read the Bible.  After he has read the Bible passage, ask him what he thinks God is saying…and then listen attentively to his answer.  When you’re not feeling well, you could tell him it would mean the world to you if he were to just lay a hand on your shoulder and say a simple prayer.  Even a one-sentence prayer is fine.  And when he does any of these things, be encouraging and thankful!  Build him up.

When a woman takes over any area of leadership, many men will simply back off.  So, if you want your husband to become the spiritual leader of your home, you need to allow there to be a bit of a void in that area. Then ask him for his help.  🙂

A core need of most husbands

Men are wired differently than women.  Duh!  One of the ways most men differ from us is that, instead of sitting and talking about their feelings and deepest longings, they like to do stuff.  You may not realize it, but most husbands really want their wives to do stuff with them!  They want to spend time with you.

This is really made apparent way back at the creation of the world.  Right after God created man, He said in Genesis 2:18, “It’s not good for man to be alone.  I will create a helper suitable for him.”  God knew Adam needed companionship!

Make it a point this week to show some interest in joining your husband in one of his hobbies or activities or even one of his errands.  Does he like to golf?  I bet he would love for you to go with him and watch him, or have him give you a lesson on how to play golf if you don’t already know.  Does he like to ride a bicycle?  Get a bike and take a ride with him.  Does he like to tinker with fixing up old cars?  Sit and watch him and ask if he can explain what he’s doing.  Maybe you can hand him a tool as he works.  Does he need to pick up some paint at a home improvement store?  Ask if you can tag along.

Bonus:  You’ll likely find that as you’re doing something together, men find it easier to talk to you!  Look forward to some actual conversations.  🙂

If your husband isn’t a believer

Being married to an unbeliever can be frustrating and discouraging.  You’re pulling one way.  He’s pulling another.  You make decisions based on your faith and trust in God.  He thinks only of himself. Ugh.

There is hope, but your situation may not change overnight.  The key is persistent prayer. One wife, whom I know quite well, prayed earnestly for about 15 years before her husband finally came to Christ.  It was discouraging at times, but she kept believing that God would answer her prayer, and He did.  It just took time for God to soften her husband’s heart.

May I suggest that you pray Ezekiel 36:26-27 every day for your husband, inserting his name in the verse?  The verse talks about God turning a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.  In other words, God can soften hard hearts!  Here is how you might want to pray this verse:  “Jesus, give (insert your husband’s name) a new heart and put a new spirit in him. Jesus, remove (insert name)’s heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh.  Jesus, put your Spirit in (insert name) and move him to follow your decrees and be careful to keep your laws.”

Also, to encourage yourself to keep diligently praying and trusting God, you may want to read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18.

Practice leaving your prayers with God

Are you weary of trying to get your husband to do the things you want him to do?  Are you tired of trying to handle everything?  Are you getting discouraged that God doesn’t seem to be changing your husband or your kids as you have asked him to do?

Maybe it’s time to stop pushing your agenda! Perhaps it’s time to stop trying to control everything.  🙂  Maybe it’s time to trust God.  This means, even the way we pray might need to change.  Of course, we should always pray for our family members, but maybe it’s time to stop telling God what to do!  Maybe God is asking you to give your concerns to him and to simply trust him to do what is best in the lives of your husband and children…and on his timeline. Instead of trying to control people and situations, what if you were to give your concerns to God in prayer, and then actually leave those concerns with him instead of snatching back those concerns and prayers when God doesn’t move as quickly as you want?!

Consider Isaiah 30:15….This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…”

This week, would you consider simply lifting the names of your loved ones to our heavenly Father and then asking Him to work deeply in their lives in the way He knows is best?  Then relax and choose to trust God.  He is all powerful and all loving. He is able to do the heavy-lifting where you are unable!  You can trust Him.  Pray, and then relax, rest, and trust.

–Or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

2 simple tips to keep your house tidy

Many women struggle with keeping their house organized and tidy.  This is no surprise.  After all, many women are juggling so many responsibilities. They may have several children, hold a full or part-time job outside the home, try to fit in regular exercise to keep their bodies healthy and trim, and of course, try to keep the passion burning with their husband.  It’s no wonder that they don’t have time to keep the house tidy!  But the Bible indicates an excellent wife will manage her household well (Proverbs 31:27 “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”)

So what’s the overwhelmed wife to do?  Well, there are two simple things you can do to help you keep your house picked-up and tidy.  1)  Purchase plenty of inexpensive bins, or boxes or containers of some kind.   It’s extremely difficult to keep the house tidy if you don’t have a place to store things!  If you have children, make sure you have enough storage containers for their toys, shoes, school backpacks, etc.  If you find Sunday school papers and projects strewn around the house, buy a bin just for those things and ask the kids to always put those things in that particular bin.  Have a container for everything!

2)  Pick a time every day (perhaps after dinner or 30 minutes before bedtime), and tell the family that everyone is going to spend 15 minutes putting everything where it belongs.  This means picking up clothes off their floors and putting dirty clothes in the laundry bin.  This means picking up toys and putting them in their proper containers.  You will find that if the whole family spends 15 minutes picking up every day that the situation will stay under control and you won’t be overwhelmed with a house that looks like a tornado tore through it!

3 keys when asking him to change

If your husband has an addiction or often engages in some kind of destructive or sinful behavior, you have 2 choices.  Choice # 1: You can wring your hands in despair and do nothing…which means that his disturbing behavior will likely continue, and your heart will slowly grow cold toward your husband.  Choice #2:  You can courageously talk to your husband and request him to change his behavior (or get help in changing his behavior).  From personal experience, I highly recommend choice #2!

Here are 3 keys that are especially important if you choose to address this issue with your husband.

  1.  Be very specific about what you’re asking your husband to do in order to change his behavior.  For instance, if he has a drinking or pornography problem, he will almost certainly need help in disentangling himself from this addiction.  So search out helpful 12-step programs or reputable counselors in your area ahead of time and tell him that in order for you guys to keep moving forward in your marriage, you need him to attend a specific number of sessions over a specific period of time.  I would certainly recommend that he attend some kind of program/counselor at least once a week for at least 6 months.  Addictions and other sinful patterns are hard to break. He will need sustained help.
  2. Expect your husband to be unhappy about this request!  Many husbands will try to blame you or other circumstances for their personal problems.  Many husbands will also attend a program or see a counselor for one or two sessions and then say “it isn’t helping me”.  That’s usually just an excuse.  Don’t accept that answer, unless they are willing to try a different program or counselor right away.
  3. Balance your request with words of hope and encouragement.  Proverbs 18:21 says Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Remember, you’re asking your husband to do some very hard work, so speak life-giving words to him. Tell him that you see good qualities in him, and that you will do anything you can to help him on his journey to break free from addiction