Are you spreading a stress virus?

Holy cow!  The saying really is true…”If mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”!!   I found this out recently when I was having a super stressful, overwhelmingly busy day.  My husband was away from the house and he called to see if I had time to take care of a low priority task.  I responded by saying “I really don’t have time for that.  I am so busy I can hardly breathe.”   Well, as soon as he heard me say that, and as soon as he grasped my stress level, I could tell his own anxiety and stress level shot through the roof.  He got increasingly agitated on the phone.  It was then that I realized that a wife’s stress is contagious!  I was spreading the stress virus.

Now, I’m not saying that you or I should try to hide our stress from our husbands or pretend it doesn’t exist, but I did get to thinking that my husband’s anxiety and stress is directly tied to mine.  So, I believe what I need to do is re-examine my schedule and my priorities.  Perhaps I need to cut some things out of my schedule so that my stress level drops. God wants us to live a peaceful life where we actually have time to spend refreshing moments with him.  This reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10.  Jesus comes to the home of these two sisters and Martha is stressed out trying to take care of the hospitality details, while Mary sits quietly at the feet of Jesus.  Martha complains to Jesus about her sister, but Jesus says this in verses 41 and 42:  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better…”   

Maybe it’s time for us to re-examine our busy schedules.  Maybe it’s time to cut back on our activities or the kid’s activities.  Maybe we need to spend less time scrolling through social media and checking the latest news, so that we are not so squeezed for time to do the tasks in front of us.  Maybe we need to start each day by meditating on God’s Word and bringing all our concerns to Him in prayer.  For me….it will not only be good for my health, but also for my husband’s health.  How about you?  Are you stressed out a lot?  Do you need to take a hard look at your schedule? Would your anxiety and stress level drop if you spent more time with the Lord?

Don’t feel guilty about this

I’m learning lately that I can’t give away much of anything to anyone else, including my husband, my children or my grandchildren, 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 tea, 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? 

Physical intimacy vs exhausted wife!

For many women, especially moms of young children, making love to their husbands seems like yet one more thing on their to-do-list!  For an exhausted wife and mother, the idea of carving out time to be physically intimate with her husband sounds about as thrilling as running 15 miles on the treadmill at the gym at 5 o’clock in the morning! 

But here’s the thing.  We know that most men have an extremely high sex drive.  It isn’t their fault.  God made them that way.  🙂  So, one of the kindest and most loving things we can do for our husbands is to meet their sexual needs.  We need to strive to build a robust sex life with our husbands, and more than likely, you’ll enjoy it too!  To be honest, if we don’t have a vibrant sex life within our marriage, we’re setting up each other to subconsciously look for that excitement with someone else.  That’s why Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 7:5 “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”

The question is: How does the exhausted wife (and mother) build a robust sex life that both she and her husband enjoy?   Well, I believe she takes a really good look at her schedule of activities and responsibilities to see if there are any things she can cut out.  I bet there are some things she could reduce or cut completely!  Secondly, she asks her husband for help!   Can he put the kids to bed so that she has time to wind down and start thinking about enjoying physical intimacy with her husband?  Can he do the dishes after dinner or help the kids with their homework so that she can decompress and maybe take a bubble bath before she and her husband head to bed? 

Ask your husband if he would be willing to help with some tasks in the evenings so that you are more able to build a robust sex life with him.  I bet it is a trade he is willing to make!

Being appreciated for all you do!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get in a poopy mood (yes, I just used the highly technical term “poopy”!) when I do something sacrificial for my husband and he doesn’t even seem to notice.  For me, even though both my husband and I work full-time in ministry, I decided that, for a while, I would do all the household cleaning chores so that my husband would be freed up to serve God even more.  I did this for a several month stretch last year.

Did I enjoy vacuuming, dusting, cleaning toilets?  No, I did not.  Did I sometimes feel grumpy when I cleaned the house after already working a full day?  Yes, I did.  But then I thought, “well, at least my husband will sing my praises when he gets home and notices all I’ve done”.  However, even though I subtly pointed out to him what I had done, much to my shock, sometimes he didn’t say anything at all.  What!?!  

It’s at that time that God graciously reminded me that He noticed all I had done and he was pleased.  I know that God is pleased whenever I serve my husband because God instructs us in Matthew 9:35 that “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  

God always notices what we’re doing even when no one else sees it!  In Matthew 6:4, the Bible reminds us that “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”   Let’s take heart that we are pleasing the “right” man when we serve our husbands sacrificially.  That right man is Jesus.

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

What are you teaching your kids?

Watching the news each night on television makes me shudder.  We learn of riots, murders, and plagues.  We watch towns leveled and lives taken by earthquakes and tornadoes.  Life on this earth is so short and we never know when we will be living our last day in these bodies.  It causes me to reflect on the legacy I would leave if I were to be called home to be with Jesus today.  It is something for you to ponder too.  In what condition would you have left your marriage?  What would be your marriage legacy?  Would your children say they had an excellent role model for what a godly wife is supposed to look like?  Or would they say mom was cold and bitter toward dad or seemed to always point out something he had done wrong?

The Bible wisely instructs us “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”  (Ephesians 4:26).   So, perhaps today is a good day to take inventory on your relationships.  Have you let anger and bitterness creep into the relationship with your husband, or your children, or other loved ones?  Do what you can to respectfully address the issues that have prompted bitterness or anger.  The Bible says in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  So, do what you can today to make peace. Don’t wait until tomorrow.  I don’t mean to be theatrical, but truly, none of us has an ironclad guarantee of another sunrise.  Let’s leave a godly legacy for our children.  Let’s show our daughters how a wife can show respect and honor for her husband while at the same time refusing to put up with disrespectful or abusive behavior.

If your heart is heavy or burdened…

Are you having one of those weeks or months?  Has your husband broken your heart?  Are you an emotional wreck over a situation with one of your children?  Don’t try to carry that burden alone!  It’s too heavy.

Even though it would be so helpful to reach out to some godly female friends, many of us tend to isolate during really hard times instead.  Unfortunately, that only makes it easier for Satan to beat you down.  With no other voices speaking hope into your life, he has free realm to whisper one lie right after another. 

Jesus describes Satan this way in John 8:44: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  The lies may sound like this:  No one really loves you.  Your life sucks and there’s no hope.  You should have never married your husband.  God doesn’t really care about you. You’re a failure as a mom compared to all the other moms. There is no way in the world to recover from your financial mess.  God could never change your husband’s heart.  Blah, blah, blah.

One of the keys to drowning out the voice of the enemy is to listen to other voices!  Spend time reading God’s Word.  Also, spend time with godly women who can speak truth, wisdom, and hope into your life.  If you don’t know any women like that, then it’s time to start building new friendships.  I know you might be scared to tell another woman what’s really going on in your marriage and family.  However, you might be surprised to find that other women will start opening up to you and sharing their own challenges as you begin sharing yours. Just keep in mind that the point is to encourage each other and pray for each other…not to trash talk your husbands or have a pity party!

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.

Beware of this subtle trap for moms

I’m rather slow to learn some lessons in life and as a wife.  One of the things I wish I had realized earlier is that it is entirely too easy for a mom to get so focused on nurturing her children that she subconsciously pushes her husband aside.  In fact, in my first marriage, I remember thinking to myself…”My husband is an adult so he can take care of himself.  It’s my kids who really need all my attention.”  Not good thinking!

Of course, moms need to take care of their children’s needs and we do need to spend time nurturing and disciplining them.  However, our children can become idols in our life. When our world revolves around our kids’ successes and failures…and on their activities and their schedule…well then we’ve made our children into idols.  When anyone or anything besides God becomes our focus in life, then it has become our idol and our god.  One of the big 10 commandments addresses this!  Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

One of the casualties of this idolizing of our kids is our husbands.  The bizarre thing is that the very children we were determined to protect end up severely wounded as mom and dad become distant, begin to argue, and often end up divorcing each other.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Be intentional about spending quality time with both your husband and your children.  Even more important than that, spend quality time with God.  He must truly be your number one focus in life!

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!