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!

Is there collateral damage in your family?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get pretty grumpy when events become challenging in my day.  When the internet goes down while I’m trying to work on my computer, I get super frustrated.  When I accidentally drop a bunch of flour on the floor while baking, I get grouchy.   When I get an unanticipated bill in the mail, I get really irritated.  Unfortunately, if my husband happens to walk by at that particular moment, I inflict collateral damage!  Collateral damage is a military term where civilians, who were minding their own business, are injured unintentionally by a military strike.  Hmmm.  Yes, my husband is sometimes that innocent civilian who is injured by the bullets coming from my mouth and the darts shooting from my eyes during moments of irritability!

How can you and I prevent this collateral damage?  Here are two possible remedies: 

1)  Pause before you react!  Before a word comes out of your mouth, pause.  During this pause, remember who your enemy is.  Your enemy is NOT your husband…or your children.  Your enemy is Satan and he is TRYING to provoke you!  1 Peter 5:8-9 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”  

2)  Claim two specific Bible promises and pray that God would fulfill those promises for you in this moment…Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon forged against me will prevail” and Romans 8:28 “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose“. 

4 keys to bringing more joy to your home

I don’t quite remember where I heard this, but it has stuck with me even though I heard it 20 years ago.  Make it your aim to fill your house with so much love and joy that the laughter of your family bounces off the walls!  Wow!  Don’t we all want that?  I know I do.

So how do we get there?  I believe the Bible reveals several keys to bringing joy and laughter into our homes.  First, choose an attitude of hope instead of dwelling on a big, hairy list of all the things that are wrong in your life!  Proverbs 10:28 says “The hope of the righteous brings joy“.    Second, eliminate some things from your schedule if you are becoming grumpy due to exhaustion and stress.  Isaiah 30:15 says “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”   And third, have a sense of humor!  Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine“. 

Oh, and one more thing.  If you are holding bitterness and resentment against your spouse, deal with that.  If it is the result of something that happened a long time ago, you need to let it go!!  If it’s the result of an ongoing pattern of sin against you, then you will need to respectfully confront your husband.  Ongoing resentment will suck all the laughter and joy out of your home.

Avoiding landmines in second marriages

Pretty much anyone who has entered the arena of blended families and step-parenting knows that it is like trying to walk across a field of landmines.  Typically, the biggest problem is that the step-parent thinks the step-child should love and respect them just like they would their biological parent.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way.

Here’s the best piece of advice I ever heard on this subject.  As the step-parent, take the time (perhaps years!) to sow nothing but love into the relationship with your new stepchild.  Resist the desire to step in as disciplinarian and let the biological parent handle that.  As a couple, talk with your spouse behind closed doors about how “situations” and discipline should be handled, but then let the biological parent actually carry it out.

The idea of sowing love into a person before expecting that person to love you in return is actually demonstrated by Jesus.  The Bible says “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  We need to model this as step-parents.  Your step-child needs to see you demonstrate love for a sustained period of time before believing you actually have their best interests at heart.  This may truly take years, especially if the child is over the age of about 5 when you first enter the new marriage.  Be patient.

Are you too serious?

There have been so many times that I have lost my cool over a trivial mistake I’ve made!  I beat myself up and feel disgusted with myself. Perhaps you’ve done the same thing a time or two.  What makes the situation even worse is then I become a grump around my husband and children. Because I have worked myself into a foul mood, it infects them as well. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that we need to be able to laugh at some of our mistakes.

Sometimes, we take ourselves too seriously!! Often, we feel we have to be “right” all the time.  Many times in the past, my pride has kept me from being able to laugh at myself when I made an error.  How about you?  Are you too serious?  Are you a perfectionist? 

These days, I’m trying to let go of my pride and admit I’m a human being who isn’t perfect 100% of the time!  You know what I’ve found?  Everyone, including my husband, seems to like me better.   Humility is such an attractive quality.  Psalm 18:27 says “You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.”  Let’s work on being humble this week.  When we mess up, and we will, let’s LOL.