March 28, 2012

Nag the right One

The book of Proverbs talks a lot about nagging.

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. Proverbs 21:19
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.  Proverbs 27:15-16

I am not sure why we women in particular struggle with this issue.  I think most of the time, we have good intentions.  We just want everything to be just right, including our husbands.  Whether we are reminding them to do something they promised they would do or making comments about things they are (or are not) doing that we think they should change.  Or even silently nagging with our looks or our actions or reactions to certain situations, our nagging can do great harm to our marriages.

I will have been married 10 years this summer.  And one thing that I am learning (of course I do not always get this right) is that there is someone I can nag, it's just not my husband.  It's the Lord.  In Luke 18, Jesus tells the story of the persistent widow.  She went to the judge every day, pleading for justice.  and her persistence paid off.  Jesus said, "Don't you think God will give justice to those who cry out day and night?"

Persistence with God pays off.  Persistence with your husband, could drive him further away.  Am I saying that if I want my husband to remember to pick up the groceries I am going to pray about it rather than send him a text, no.  But when we don't see eye to eye, when I think there is an issue that needs to be addressed (again), or I think there is a change that needs to be made, I can leave it with the Lord.  I can trust that God can change his heart, or maybe change mine.

Let me give you a hypothetical situation.  Let's say you feel like your husband's health is in jeopardy and he needs to lose weight.  You have brought the issue up and your husband does not agree.  Rather than continuing to argue about it, make looks every time he eats a snack, and comment about it to all your girlfriends.  You could begin to pray about it and ask God on work on his heart.

Please don't hear me saying that I don't speak my mind in our marriage.  I promise, I do plenty of that (my husband would gladly attest to that).  I think it is so often the small things (those pesky little foxes) that do so much damage to a marriage.

Proverbs 31:2-3 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

March 22, 2012

Marriage is not a place to stand up for your rights.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4 The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to "stand up for your rights." Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.

I love the way The Message says, "Marriage is not a place to stand up for your rights."  The context of this verse is about sex but it can be applied in every area of my marriage.

How different would my marriage be if I actually stopped being so concerned about being right and focused on serving my husband?

What if I seek to satisfy my husband and I leave my own satisfaction in the hands of God?

Would my marriage be stronger?  Would my relationship with God be stronger? 

Song of Solomon 2:14 says, "Young Women of Jerusalem Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!"  When my focus turns inward, I get discontent.  It is the small things that can destroy my marriage.  Being annoyed, holding a grudge, and fighting over insignificant things are all little foxes that can spoil my marriage.

Of course I, in no way, get this right all the time (even half the time).  But I know that if I want my marriage to defy the odds, I am going to have to learn the art of self denial and serving the one I love the most with my whole heart. 

March 07, 2012

If there is anything worthy

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

This is such a great scripture to meditate on.  Sometimes, in relationships, when I find myself frustrated with a person.  It really helps me to step back and focus on the good in a person.  As a wife and a mother, I find myself, so often, dwelling on the faults of the people in my life that I love the most.

Linda Dillow, in her book, What's it like to be married to me, says this, "It doesn't say 'if everything is excellent and worthy of praise'; It says 'if anything is excellent and worthy of praise.'  If you commit to dwelling on the positive, God will show you something excellent"

So your husband didn't take out the trash this morning, but he went to work so that he can support his family.

So your teenager spoke disrespectfully to you, but she is respectful to her teachers and makes good grades.

So your preschooler punched someone on the playground because they teased his friend, he is a good and loyal friend (may or may not be an actual example).

Linda Dillow suggests actually taking all 7 attributes and writing out an example of each one for your spouse.  We are going to do this exercise in my small group tonight.  When you focus on the positive, the negative may not seem quite so negative.  It's all about perspective.

February 29, 2012

I can change me


I am excited today because tonight my small group is starting back!  My friend, Heather Bishop, and I co-lead a small group for young married women.  Tonight we are beginning to study What's it like to be Married to Me? by Linda Dillow.

This book is excellent.  I love marraige books that center around me changing.  What is the point in me studying a book that just makes me focus on what my husband needs to do or not do?  Only God can change my husband.  But I can change me.  And sometimes, when I change me, I find that God changes my husband.

Great book.  Get ready H2H, we begin tonight.

February 02, 2012

You asked... Filling gaps

A while back I did a series where I invited people to ask me questions.  While it seems as though I abandoned the questions that the kind readers asked me, alas I have not.  I am bringing it back today (can you guess I was at loss for what to write?)

So Ashley asked: What is it like being married to a focused, driven person when you are more laid back in personality?

I really like this question.  Really only in the past few years would I consider myself a laid back person.  It's almost like the more focused and driven my husband has become, the more laid back I have become.

Have you ever seen the scene in Rocky where Rocky describes his relationship with Adrian?  Rocky says, "She got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps."  I love it!  That is what a great marriage is about, filling gaps.

Does my laid back personality ever clash with his drive?  Of course, but we make a conscience effort to compliment each other.  My hope is that at the end of our lives, he will look back and say that I helped him relax and enjoy the crazy ride.  And that I will look back and see what an amazing ride I got to experience with him.

November 15, 2011

The woman is the neck

Have you ever seen the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding?  It's a great one.  There is a scene in the movie where Tula, the main character wants to break away from the family business, but her father doesn't want her to.  I love this conversation she has with her mother...

The man is the head of the home, but the woman is the neck.  There is so much truth to this.  And it is not about manipulation.  It's about being a team, knowing your position, and playing it well.  Or as Christine Cain would say, embrace your place.

As the neck, you have the ability to build up or tear down your husband.  You set the tone for your family.  Is my home going to be a place of peace or strife?  Of patience or frustration?  A place of gratefulness or complaining?  I don't always get this right but I find it to be so true.  After all, if mama aint happy...

September 15, 2011

Flattery vs Encouragement

My eGroup meets each Wednesday night.  It is always such a great time of encouragement.  Last night we continued our discussion about putting practical handles on how to speak the language of respect to our husbands.

One of the things we discussed is the difference between flattery and encouragement.  Here is a great definition I ripped of the world wide web...

Flattery is the use of truths, half-truths or lies to secure something beneficial for ourselves.  Encouragement is the use of truth to build-up someone else.  In other words, flattery and encouragement differ in integrity and intention.  The flatterer will use whatever is needed (truth, half-truth, lies) to get what he wants.  The encourager only uses truth to build-up another person.

Flattery is about me.  Encouragement is about building him up.  It's about authentically verbalizing the strengths we see in our husbands to them.  We all have an insatiable appetite for encouragement.  It is so important to get in the habit of encouraging our spouse.  Not because we want something from him, but because we love him and want to build him up.

I would love to challenge you today to make a point not to speak anything negative to your spouse and only to build them up.  I will give you some phrases to help you get started...
    -I am proud of you because...
    -I appreciate it when you...
    -You are great at...
    -I love it when you...


January 20, 2011

The 6th Love Language... Death

This past weekend we had Christine Caine at our church.  I got to spend some time behind the scenes with Christine and I must say that she is one of the wisest, most humble women of God I have had the privilege of being around.

On Sunday night, Christine took some time with our lead staff.  She spoke many challenging words to our staff, and nestled somewhere, about half way through, she said something that really resonated with me...

She said, "There really aren't 5 love languages, just one, death.  Dying to yourself."

I am not sure if you are familiar with Gary Chapman's book, The 5 Love Languages.  It's a great book that has helped a lot of couples.  The premise is that there are five main ways that we receive love: Quality Time, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation.  Often the way you show others love is the way you receive love.  For instance, if you love to do things for the people you love, that is often how you feel loved, when others do things for you.  The basis of the book is to learn to show your spouse love by how they receive it, not necessarily how you want to give it.  And I wholeheartedly agree with and like this teaching.

However, what many of our marriages lack is selflessness.  You will not have a successful marriage until you can learn to die to yourself and put your mate first. 
    When you put your mate's needs above your own, you die to yourself. 
    When you do something for your spouse truly expecting nothing in return, you die to yourself. 
    When you decide not to argue about something insignificant, you die to yourself.
    When you forgive your mate, as you would want him to forgive you, you die to yourself.

Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Look at what Paul said in Philippians 2:3-9

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   by becoming obedient to death—
   even death on a cross!

My hope today is that you will practice the love language of dying to yourself.

November 09, 2010

7 Secrets of Low Stress Families

I am spending a lot of time in the Dr.'s office these days.  Par for the course when you're having a baby.  Recently, I came across a very interesting article from Redbook magazine about low stress families.

I think we all want to be a low stress family and I also think everyone thinks they are a high stress family.  We all live busy lives.  We all encounter difficult situations, that's just a part of living.  We all have stress.  The key is to learning how to downplay the stress and create joy and togetherness in your household.  I thought this article offered some really great advice for keeping your family focused on truly being together.

You may or may not agree with all 7 secrets.  I'm not going to comment on any of them, I am just going to give you the facts, straight from the article and let you draw your own conclusions...

The research was based on 32 California based families who opened up their lives to a 3-person crew for 4 days.  In every family, both parents worked outside the home and had two or more children.  So here are the similarities they found.

  1. Low-stress couples don't divvy up the chores.  They don't keep score.  "There was more of a 'we-ness', the attitude was more we do this for our family, not I do this for you."
  2. Low-stress families find moments of togetherness.  They understand that moments of togetherness do not necessarily happen on vacation, they happen during special moments like braiding their daughter's hair or cheering together at their son's t-ball game.
  3. Low-stress parents are role models, not pals.  "There was still affection and humor in homes where the parents the were bosses, there was never a question of who was in charge.
  4. Low-stress moms make dinner from scratch.  The average woman spent about an hour preparing dinner.  Also, children who were involved in the food preparation always ate what they were served. (I am simply relaying the information here.)
  5. Low-stress moms take five minutes of me time.  The secret to being fully present and enjoying family life is taking 5-10 minutes to yourself.  This is a healthy act, not a selfish one.
  6. Low-stress families watch TV together.  "Bonding can be sharing snacks, high-fiving when a basketball team scores, or guessing trivia questions together."  When families laugh together, it creates a shared memory.
  7. Low-stress families embrace daily rituals.  Routine and continuity (not spontaneity and excitement) set the foundation for making family relationships thrive.  

I will say that the one that shocked me the most is the one about TV.  There is a lot of controversy about TV.  TV can cause a lot of damage to a family.  TVs in every room can cause separation.  But as I read this, I vividly remembered sitting as a family watching America's Funniest Home Videos and laughing together.  It is a small but great memory.

I would love to hear some of your ideas (or memories) that reinforce some of these secrets!

If you would like to read the full article, you can click here.

November 05, 2010

Refreshing Conversations: Brandi Wilson and Amy Groeschel

Today we continue our series, Refreshing Conversations.  For the past several Fridays, I have been playing back videos recorded from a pastors' wives retreat that I hosted called Refresh.  I couldn't help but take advantage of all the wisdom that was present.  I called in my good friend, Tonia Bendickson, to interview some of the leading Christian women in this nation.  You will hear about a full range of topics from ministry to family to leadership. 

You have heard from many amazing women and today we continue with Amy Groeschel and Brandi Wilson talking about balance, ministry and family.

Amy pictureAmy Groeschel is the wife of Pastor Craig Groeschel.  Together they not only lead one of the largest churches in our nation,, but they also lead a very large family.  Amy is truly one of the most godly women I know.  She walks with the Lord intimately and is a role model to me as a wife and a mother.  Hear Amy talk about how she manages it all... 

Listen on Mobile

Brandi Wilson is wife to Pastor Pete Wilson.  She and Pete lead Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN.  Brandi and Pete have three beautiful, young boys.  My relationship with Brandi began virtually as I regularly read her blogs about their life, church and family.  Hear her share today about balance and how she protects their home...