Monday, September 30, 2013

Winning the Heart of My Husband

We're almost six years into our marriage. Not a long time but everybody who's been married for forty years at one time was only married for six. 

Yes, I know. 

I'm profound. 

I've learned a few things in six years. One is that my husband is a wonderful man. Another is that it's easy to take that for granted. 

I love being married to him but I still have to die to self to be the wife that God intends for me to be. He put me here to help my man pursue the will of God.  He didn't make me a wife so that my husband could make me happy (although he frequently does!). He didn't make me a wife because my husband needed someone to cook his dinner (although he appreciates my cooking, believe me!). God put me here because my husband can better serve God with me as his wife. At least... if I'm being the wife God planned for me to be.

My heart's desire is to be a wife that my husband can treasure so I want to grow as a wife. I spend the time on the things that matter. There are two avenues of blessing my husband that I am pursuing right now. 

1. I want to be gracious with my husband. God defines "gracious" as one of the characteristics of His lady (Proverbs 11:16) and I certainly want to be gracious to the most important person in my life. 

Gracious = Favorable; kind; benevolent; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings. 

A. I want my husband to have my favor; my kind regard or friendliness. Am I a friend to my husband? How can I work on being his friend? 
-Care about what he cares about
-Listen to his stories
-Share his disappointments and triumphs
-Be kind! Speak graciously. If I wouldn't talk to someone else that way I shouldn't talk to my husband like that. 

B. That second part of the definition jumped out at me! Do I forgive offenses from my husband quickly? I shouldn't have a list in my mind that I go over every time he messes up and then add the new offense onto the end to review the next time. Do I do things for him that he doesn't deserve? I should. I should look for every opportunity to bless my husband even if I feel he doesn't deserve it. God bestows me with this same grace every day. Every day He showers blessings on me and I don't deserve one of them. His forgiveness is there in readiness every single day. I am behaving like Jesus when I am gracious to my husband. 

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Psalm 103:8

God wants His ladies to be gracious. (Pro. 11:16). In doing so, we are showing Christ to the world (and our families!)

2. I also want to be welcoming. I want my husband to be at home with me. How do I greet my husband when he comes home? Sure, I'm usually in the middle of several different things: dinner preparations, refereeing, cleaning, etc. But I'm there (at home) for him. I tell Justin all the time that we're home so that he can come when it fits in his schedule. I want him to know we're excited about him being home.

Do I welcome my husband when we're in public? At church when I'm working on something? We belong together; I am here for him. I want to always have a smile for him! 

How do I treat him when he asks me for something? I don't want Justin to ever wonder how I'm going to respond to him. Or what mood I'm going to be in. Or how he's going to be treated. I want to be welcoming. There is nothing that I can't put down or stop when he needs my attention. (Don't take that too literally. You shouldn't drop the baby or the pot of boiling water; you know what I mean!)

One of the saddest things I can imagine is getting to heaven and having God tell me that I was a hindrance to my husband or my family in serving God. When I look at it in that light- the light of eternity- there is nothing so big or so insignificant that I can't change to follow Christ.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Favorites

Sometimes cooking lunch looks like this. 

Yes, he made the shot. 

The hubby finished the swing set! 

Kevin is starting to get excited about playing ball! 

Cute little face! 

Justin made faces in all the pictures so I just picked one. 

One cute little cowboy! 

Babies are adorable. Especially this one. 

Chips and salsa! 

Dishwasher help

Kevin wanted to go out and play too. He even had his ball ready! 

Micah's starting to really help in the kitchen! It's a lot of fun (even if a little messy). 

Happy Weekend! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If You Want An Excellent Spirit

Be the best you that you can be.  Marlene Evans

Lately I've been considering excellence and what this looks like in my life. I want to be pressing "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling." God's high calling is the goal and it is above what I can attain on my own. But God is my enabler. 

 Excellence is defined as "of great worth" and "valuable." The Bible says that excellence is tied to righteousness (Proverbs 12:26), that a man of understanding is of an excellence spirit (Proverbs 17:27), that an excellent spirit brings favor from authorities (Daniel 6:3). So part of excellence is my spirit. 

How can I have this excellent spirit? My spirit is my attitude. Attitude is so critical. My attitude shapes everything and shapes my children's everything as well. I want to have an excellent attitude and I've found some things that help me.

To Have an Excellent Attitude (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
1. Rejoice evermore.  Rejoice means to experience joy and gladness to a high degree. Can we not rejoice always, at least for our salvation? Bring gladness to yourself by remembering what God has done for you.  Romans 12:12 says to rejoice "in hope." We have the promise of eternal life, the hope of heaven. What riches! Philippians 4:4 says to "rejoice in the Lord." When nothing else seems right, Jesus is.

2. Pray without ceasing. Continually bring yourself into God's presence by prayer. Take Jesus with you in your thoughts. Of course He goes with you everywhere but how often do you forget He is there? How many hours do you go not thinking of Him? Instead of carrying on those negative thoughts and dialogues, talk to Jesus. Talk to Him about what's going on, about how you're feeling, pray for people you come into contact with, thank Him for blessings, talk to your children about Him.

3. Give thanks in everything. A thankful heart cannot be a proud heart. Give thanks that you can get out of bed in the morning. That you have the strength to care for your family. That you have a family to care for. Give thanks for God's many blessings.

Take one day and try this. Thank God for as many things as you can think of throughout your day and just see if you don't have a better attitude. Don't gripe and complain about petty things (or big things!). Remember Jesus. The battle for our attitude can be won through our thoughts. 

4. And a bonus, be patient in tribulation. (Romans 12:12) In those trials and testings, rest assured that God is working on you to make you more like Him. He's not forgotten. He's not grown cold toward you.  You cannot possibly see all that God is doing in your life in these circumstances. So in those tribulations, keep repeating steps one through three above.

An excellent attitude will help you be the best you that you can be. And that honors God and helps others. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mornings: Wrap-up

So now that we all love mornings...

Wait, wait, that's somebody else. 

But now that we know why we're getting up and what we're doing when we're up how's it working out? 

photo courtesy of prozac1/

Mornings are still not my thing; they probably won't ever be. But they serve a valuable purpose in my life and set the tone for my whole day. I know from experience that I struggle much more with my day when I get up late (as in with the boys) instead of being up before them and getting myself fed first. Sometimes it's unavoidable but I don't ever want it to be a habit. I would be robbing myself and my family of the best that I can give them. 

Businessmen, teachers, professors, artists all get up for their work. They make a point to be ready for the day instead of just letting it happen to them. My job is just as important to these people in my home as a teacher's job is to her students. When I am focused on God's vision for my work I am motivated to work and encouraged to learn. But I have to keep my eyes on God and I need that morning time to do that. 

And let's face it- there are more fun things to do than clean and do laundry (although both are necessary). I want to read with the boys, play outside, bake bread, play the piano, teach Micah his letters, snuggle Kevin before he gets any bigger.  I don't want to waste valuable daytime doing things I could have already done. 

So how can your mornings help you? Challenge yourself. Don't just trudge through your day; find ways to help yourself do it better. 

Make your mornings work for you. 
Make your lunchtime work for you.
Make your playtime work for you. 
God has given you this life. Give it back to Him. 
Grow and learn. 
Serve your family.
Develop your talents. 
Love your husband. 
Teach your children. 

Live with purpose. Start your day with purpose. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

9 Things For When You're Not Feeling It

Having a rough week? 

photo courtesy of david castillo dominici/

1. Don't constantly talk about your problems. Take them to Jesus. Beverly Hyles once said, "Make your work look easy, even when it's not." 

2. Rise to the challenge. Don't quit; don't give in; don't bow to pressure. Let God make you just a little bit more like Jesus through your difficulties today. 

3. Be a light. It's a great testimony to live your daily (mundane) life joyfully especially if you are facing discouragement. 

4. Center your day around Jesus. Release your expectations for what your day should look like and embrace what God brings you. 

5. This is just the beginning. Unless you go to see Jesus soon, this is the start. For example, if God allows, I'm going to be a mother for many more years. I'm going to play piano for many more years. One bad day- or week- is no reason to quit. 

6. Remember what you want to leave behind. How do you want to be remembered? Are you acting that way today regardless of how others are acting? 

7. Don't escape. Not via the internet, working over, neglecting duties, or anything else. Pour yourself into what God has given you to do. 

8. This too shall pass. Really, it will. 

9. Live it anyway. Whatever your "it" is. Live it with all your energy. How you feel about it is irrelevant.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Making a Life

My mom brought me a book when she came up to Kevin's party. A college friend of mine wrote it (I started reading it and it's great!). Another college friend has recently moved to NYC. While I'm excited for their accomplishments it's easy to think that nothing I do is very earth-shattering. True, right? But then as the evening went on I realized something.

That nothing? It would be earth-shattering for my family if I didn't do it. 

And you know what? That's enough. Who cares if the rest of the world is impressed with me? But if I can spend the rest of my life making a difference to a small group of people? That's making a life. It's worth my time, my effort, my energy. And if at some point in my life I do something that gains the attention of others, I believe it will take second place to the quiet moments, the quiet years of living when nobody noticed. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Favorites

This week I've been making a concerted effort to NOT be on social media or surfing my iPad during the day. Real life is here, right now. I want to be focused on my family and my home and what God has for me now. 

We had Old-Fashioned Day at church last Sunday! It's always fun; we always have Dr. Evans as our guest speaker and I look forward to hearing him all year. You can listen to the messages here

Kevin's birthday party is this Saturday. We're doing a taco bar and cupcakes and raspberry sherbet. We always pick stuff that IVA- adaptable and that a crowdpleaser for everyone. Please don't look for pinterest-worthy anything from me; not going to happen. 

We're reading through the New Testament in 30 days at church for Bible Emphasis Month. We're in John so far and it's been interesting to read through the Gospels that quickly. But September means we are gearing up for my favorite weekend of the year: Missions Conference!! 

Enjoy your weekend! We'll be cooking and celebrating Baby Kevin! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

God's Will- Today

The surest method of aiming at a knowledge of God's eternal purposes about us is to be found in the right use of the present moment. Each hour comes with some little fagot of God's will fastened upon its back. We have nothing to do, therefore, with anything save the privilege and duty of one hour now passing. This makes the problem of living very simple.  We need not look at our life as a whole, nor even carry the burden of a single year; if we but grasp well the meaning of the one little fragment of time immediately present, and do instantly all the duty and take all the privilege that the one hour brings, we shall thus do that which shall best please God and build up our own life into completeness. It ought never to be hard for us to do this. Living thus we shall make each hour radiant with the radiancy of duty well done, and radiant hours will make radiant years. But the missing of privileges and the neglecting of duties will leave days and years marred and blemished and make life at last like a moth-eaten garment. We must catch the sacred meaning of our opportunities if we would live up to our best.  J.R. Miller, Making the Most of Life (emphasis mine)
photo courtesy of usamedeniz/

God's will was another one of those things that confused me in high school. (I was apparently very confused then.) To high-school-me God's will was a complicated plan that involved very detail of my life for the next seventy years. But it didn't start until about ten years down the road. I never grasped that there was a God's will for me that day. That hour.

But I'm starting to realize that. God's will is made up of my todays. People who have done great things for Christ were able to do them because they lived the everyday in God's will for them. Only by obeying today can I be useful tomorrow. My dream of a legacy of a lifetime serving God is only possible if I serve God with my hours now.

It matters to God what I am doing right now- with this hour. Every hour. What am I supposed to be doing right now? It doesn't matter if what I'm doing isn't a sin. Is it what I'm supposed to be doing now? I am perfectly willing to serve God on Sundays when it's noticed and  maybe even applauded, but what about on Wednesday mornings when no one is impressed? What about at two in the morning when no one else is up to notice? What about when it means washing dishes and changing diapers and reading rhyming books?

There are 1,440 minutes every day. That's all. Am I spending them doing God's will?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mornings: Game Plan

Nothing sounds like a good idea in the morning. So I can't wait to come up with my plan then. The plan would involve rolling back over and closing my eyes. Nothing feels better than going back to sleep in the morning. Unless it's chocolate. That might be a tie. 

photo courtesy of feelart/

1. So first I make myself get out of bed! Then I go fix my hair and put on some makeup. For whatever reason it's one of my least favorite things to do and that gets it out of the way at the beginning. It also gives me a good chance to realize that I'm alive!  That seems to be a crucial step in getting anything accomplished. 

2. The second thing I do is my Bible study. It's the most necessary part of the day and I don't want to miss it. (I'd do it first but most of the time I'd sleep through it. That seems unproductive.) The goal is to get my reading finished before the boys get up. But if not, they play or snuggle while I read. 

If I have "free" time when the boys are sleeping I'm bad for wasting it because I can't decide what to do. There are so many things I would like to do that I can't pick one. So the next part gets tricky for me; therefore, I have a plan. 

3. If I've gotten up early enough (and it's not the weekend or Monday) then I have a few minutes to read a book that I'm working through (remember that reading program?) or write for a bit. I actually really like snatching a few minutes here and there for my writing. It ends up being much more edited this way. 

See? Mornings= read and writing. Occasionally I'll sit down at the keyboard to go over a song but not usually. I save that for quiet time in the afternoons. 

4. Next I start working! There's something about knowing I'm ahead for my day that I love! This includes starting laundry, unloading the dishwasher, opening curtains, making the bed, etc. And if it's Monday and I'm cleaning I get started as quickly as possible and see how much can be done before the boys wake up. I like to challenge myself. Try it. But challenge yourself. Not me. 

By this point the boys are up and we are off to breakfast and  playing outside! Micah says, "I go out there" or "walk" first thing every morning. I always tell him we have to eat breakfast first. Love my breakfast! He really does too. 

There's my game plan. Without it I decide that I have nothing to do and there is not any reason for me to get out of bed.

What are your goals for the morning? 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Favorites

I don't normally rate Fridays as better than any other day but since Justin has worked 14 hour days this week I think Friday will top the list! 

Two links for you this weekend. 
Pursuing excellence, but not perfection.

You can give your children a gift today. 

HUSBAND'S WIFE lol yeah I'd wear this!

Check out this awesome shirt! I would totally wear this but I'm not paying $25 for a t-shirt. 

Someone was helping Daddy at work! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Adapting One Pot Meals: Creating Your Own Hamburger Helper

One pot meals are the best! I love how quick they are to fix and how fast they are to clean up (especially in a non-stick skillet!).  I can't remember the last time I actually bought hamburger helper because this is so simple. 

1 lb. ground beef
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
chili spices (your choice) 
1 beef bouillon cube
1 cup small shells
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 cups cheddar

Brown meat in pan with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and steak seasoning. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Stir in water, bouillon cube, and chili spices. Bring to a boil and add in pasta. Turn down to a simmer and cook for approximately six minutes and add peas. When pasta is cooked, stir in cheddar until cheese is melted. Serve. 

See? Quick and simple. 

Doesn't it look amazing? 

And the even better thing is how easy it is to change this up. 

You need meat (or not, whatever you want), liquid (chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, milk, beef broth, enchilada sauce, etc), veggies, and a starch.  And cheese! I love cheese. You can really use about any combination you want. 

I make spaghetti this way. Hamburger, tomato paste, 3 cups chicken broth, 8 oz. spaghetti, and parmesan cheese. 

Stroganoff? Hamburger, make a roux with flour and the grease, add milk or beef broth, then add in noodles and some sour cream at the end. Yum! 

Alfredo?  Chicken, mushrooms, roux, chicken broth (or milk), whipping cream, noodles, and broccoli and parmesan at the end. 

(Change the pasta shapes just for fun. I love interesting pasta shapes!)

Serve with bread and a salad. Or absolutely nothing else if you're really hungry! 

What flavor combinations can you imagine? 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Kevin's One!

Kevin turns one today!

 This has undoubtedly been the fastest year of my life. The first year with a second baby was dramatically different from the first year with the first baby. 

~Motherhood seemed gentler the second time around. I think mostly because I knew more of what to expect. It's easier to add a baby into a schedule with children than a baby into a schedule without children.  It was much easier to say, "It'll pass" when I was struggling because this time I knew it really would.  It was easier because, thankfully, I've grown in Christ since I had Micah. 

And let's face it.....any baby's easy after Micah's rough start. 

~Motherhood seemed more focused the second time around. I realized how quickly the time was going to pass and I enjoyed it more instead of worrying about when "___" was going to happen. I only get one chance to raise these children to serve God. 

~Motherhood seemed more purposeful the second time around. I know that God is doing a sanctifying work in me through the process of raising these children. I read a beautiful illustration in a book about how sunflower seeds had to die to become those gorgeous, tall, statement flowers. And we have to die to self before God can make us into something beautiful. And every time I got up one more time, wiped one more nose, and picked up cheerios I asked God to please be making me into something beautiful. What a wonderful reminder that God is always at work. 

Motherhood is bittersweet. Some part of me wants to cry over baby pictures and tiny snuggles that have turned into trying to walk and toothy grins. Another part of me rejoices in watching my child grow and blossom into his own little self. (Makes me feel a little schizophrenic really.)

Happy Birthday, baby boy! Mama loves you!