Okay, so I am currently on a diet. I started it, let’s see…around 1992. I should be nearly invisible by now, I know, but nursing school, marriage and 3 kids need to be taken into account. As well as 25 years of holidays and birthdays. I probably should just be happy with my current weight considering all that, right? (Joking aside and truth be told it isn’t about my size, it is the idolization of food in my life. I’m on a quest to stop bowing to my stomach and seeking consolation in calories [see Phil. 3:19 and 1 Cor. 10:31]).
It was brought to my attention that when I diet, it affects the whole family. I don’t cook as often and I don’t buy as much food (flee temptation!). I also don’t bake if I can help it (don’t mix up and eat temptation raw, that should be in the Bible too). My 12 year old, Peyton, takes notice of all of this. He is where I got the title. For the first few weeks of my diet, he would proclaim to anyone who would listen, “Mom is on a diet, so ALL of us are STARVING!” He wanted everyone to know he was suffering and I was responsible.
Peyton has lightened up a little on the complaints (Easter candy helped), but it made me realize the influence we moms have on our homes. Do the “little” things we do really affect the family that much? The clear and decisive answer is YES! But I think you already knew that. How many of us have tried to take a night off of cooking and suddenly everyone is irritable and confused (You didn’t make dinner? What are we supposed to eat?!?). When we are having a bad day and get grumpy, how long is it before everyone in the house is grumpy and having a bad day? Yes, we wives and moms have great, influential power over our families. But…we need to be very careful with that “power”.
Ladies, this blog today is not about food or dieting. It is actually about starving. Some of you are starving yourselves and in effect starving your families too. How do I know this? Well, I have been talking to some of you. And I have observed some of you. And I have been listening to many of you. And I have seen the Facebook posts. Some of you are emaciated and your family is suffering. They may not shout, “Mom isn’t reading her Bible, so all of us are starving for encouragement, grace and love!” But they are expressing it one way or another if you are paying attention.
When we skip (or skimp) on reading our Bible there will be effects. God tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt.4:4) and “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63). God’s Word is the Source of life, that makes it essential for living.
Separating yourself from the living waters of God will cause you to dry up and produce thorns, these thorns will pierce those around you. It is difficult and painful to love a thorn bush. Don’t make your husband and children try to do that. Stop the insanity of denying yourself what you most deeply need. Exercise your faith and dive in. Let your soul be refreshed and replenished with God’s Word. Begin to produce fruit that will bless those around you.
Read Psalm 19:7-8, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;”. In just a few consecutive lines we get a glimpse of the value of reading God’s Word - it revives, makes wise, brings joy to the heart and enlightens our eyes! This is what we need in our homes.
Stop the starving. Love those around you well by reaching for scripture throughout your day. Just like oxygen on an airplane, put yours on first so that you can then help the ones you love. Act like God’s word is your lifeline and like you can’t survive without it…because you can’t. I have not met a single person on earth who is too busy to read the Bible and you won’t be the first. No excuses.
The best thing you can do to help your man, encourage your child, love a screaming baby, fold laundry with joy, discipline with wisdom, or fill a house with grace is to read God’s Word daily. It is only God’s Word that can accomplish these ordinary, yet divine purposes in our lives. If mom has joy in her heart and praise for God on her lips, her husband and children will be blessed by it. Her home will be a sanctuary and a place of peace and God will be glorified.
There are so many adjectives I’m often tempted to place at the end of that sentence. How about the rest of you wives? Let’s be honest, the words we may pick run the gamut of our emotions and they may change minute by minute depending on what our husband has said or done (or not said or done). Sometimes it feels like a rollercoaster of a relationship…but that’s not the way God desires it. So, today, I want to help you fill in that blank the right way and in permanent marker.
This blog will post on Phil’s and my 15th wedding anniversary. This may seem like pocket change to many (including my parents and in-laws who will each be celebrating 49 years of marriage this year!). But, for Phil and me this feels fairly monumental. You see, we really didn't enjoy those first several years of marriage (nope, no honeymoon phase for us). We struggled.
So, to all you wives who would like to fill in that blank with some not-so-nice words, I’m here to tell you I’ve been there. I still get caught there at times. But there is a better way and it brings great hope. Not just “suck-it-up-buttercup” type hope (though there is a good dose of that now and then); I’m talking about real hope for a marriage with joy, peace…and kind words.
Several years ago, Phil and I went to a Christian marriage retreat hoping to improve our relationship. Before posing the fill-in-the-blank question above, they had us do this one: “My husband/wife is not _________.” We were told to fill in the blank with "my enemy". In my notes I wrote, "My husband is not my enemy." Phil enjoyed that little nugget for a few years. I would grumble at him for making some mess and he would throw up his arms and say, "Hey, I'm not the enemy here!" Thank you, Weekend to Remember.
After assuring us that our spouse was not on the opposite side of the battle lines (we have one true enemy and that is Satan), they continued on and told us to fill in the next blank with "gift from God". So I wrote, "My husband is a gift from God." I kind of gagged on that one. All I could picture was Phil with a big bow on his head and a cheesy smile on his face. Half of me wanted to laugh and the other half wanted to frantically look for a gift receipt.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the point they were making. But “gift” wasn’t doing it for me. I do find many verses in the Bible that support wives as being gifts (Gen. 2:18-22, Prov. 12:4, 18:22, 31:10), but husbands are not spoken of in the same way.
What I do find often is God assigning a portion to us (our lot) and being assured that it is for our good and his glory. For example, Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:17, after talking about the principles of marriage says this, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” If you are married, your husband is part of the life that God has assigned to you. This is a divine assignment and a calling from the Lord. It is not something that should be shrugged off or taken casually, we are not to leave our husbands (Matt. 19:6, 1 Cor. 7:10).
In addition, Psalm 16:5 states, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” Verse 2, same chapter reads, “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” In simple words, what we are given in life comes from God and everything that comes from God is good (for those who are his, see Rom. 8:28). With God we have good, without God we have misery. If God desires that we stay in our marriages (and he does), then that is where the “good” will be found for us. It is that simple.
Wives, God chose your exact husband just for you. He is precisely what you need to make you more like Christ. He is one of the primary instruments in your life used for your sanctification. This is a great blessing! No, it doesn’t always feel like one. The process of cutting away sin is never comfortable, but it is always worth it. God uses your husband to teach you how to love other sinners and how to give grace to those who hurt you. God uses him to teach you how to exercise patience and self-control.
Your husband and you were put together in order that God’s glory would be multiplied through your relationship. There is no greater honor than this. Here is where your hope and purpose is found. This is why peace, joy and kindness can be found between two sinners.
So are you ready for what I like to write in that blank? Here it is: “My husband is a divine assignment from God for my good and God’s glory alone.” Okay, so it’s a little long, but it provides some clarity. Is it just a fancy way of saying that my husband is a gift from God? Maybe, but I still like it better (and it keeps the gag reflex in check).
Ladies, I encourage you to live out your God-ordained destiny in your marriage.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8. If I had gotten my way, I would have gone a different direction in life. I’m so glad God is in charge.
Ladies, I’m going to be vulnerable today and completely honest with you: I’ve never really liked women. They’ve always annoyed me like no other creature on this planet. Since the days of middle school pettiness to high school flakes to adult gossips and superficiality, women bother me. So when God began pushing me to minister to and teach other women, I pushed back. They were not the group I wanted to hang with.
Many of the women’s ministries I had been involved with in the past were mostly what I would call “huff and fluff”. They huffed a little about God’s Word and then added in the fluff to appeal to their flesh. They would look at a few verses and then hastily apply it to their lives. Always trying to reassure the fragile female ego that they are beautiful, loved and “okay”. This did nothing for me. I knew the sin in my life was not beautiful, I didn’t understand what love was and I certainly did not feel “okay”. I longed for something more.
I tried to avoid women’s groups most of my life. Then God began to push. He pushed me with his Word and by using persistent believers he placed in my life (if you don’t have pushy godly friends in your life, you need some). The suggestions of others surprised me and I heard myself say more than once, loud and clear, “But, I don’t like women!” I said it to others and I said it to God. However, God always gets his way…this woman who did not like women’s groups found herself at the front of one.
I have been ministering to women in one form or another for several years now. The heart-journey God has taken me on in this area has been amazing, but one of the most important things he has shown me is this: I do not really dislike women. What!?! You may think this is silly, but this came as a great shock to me and I’ve only realized it in the last few years. Here is the truth of the matter: it is easy to dislike someone until God calls you to love them.
What I do dislike in women is the sin they display. The attributes of pettiness, superficiality, gossiping, interest in material possessions and self-indulgence are all sins women fall prey to easily (myself included!). These are what were turning me off of my own gender and what I was allowing to cloud my view of them. I was not seeing them for what they were - women in desperate need of the qualities of Jesus Christ. If they were saved, they didn’t know how to act like it. If they were not saved, Jesus was their only hope. How could I let my distaste for sins (that I often displayed myself) get in my way of showing them the truth found in God’s Word? I repent of this attitude I held for so long.
Now the other side of this is vital! It doesn’t end with simply not disliking women. It goes further because it has to. I can now honestly say that I love women and I love ministering to women. Why? For the treasure involved. Little else in all of creation is more beautiful than a godly woman. If you want to see something rare and spectacular, find a woman who fears the Lord above all else in her life. Find a woman who is humble and eager to serve. Who fills her marriage with grace, trains up her children in scripture and is an encourager to those around her. Find a woman who is diligent in her work and whose mouth is full of wisdom and solid counsel. A woman whose strength is found in her gentle nature and quiet spirit. Find a woman called by God and devoted to following after her Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the woman God declares praise-worthy (wow!) in Proverbs 31: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” A woman like this is said to be “far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10), “the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 14:4) and possessing a beauty that is “precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4). I agree, a godly woman is a treasure beyond measure and brings great glory to her God. This is what I want to help women display more of in their lives.
The women in the fluffy studies from years ago were in desperate need of understanding more about Jesus. They needed deep biblical guidance, not craft time and pretty centerpieces. Women of today are no different. They need to be shown the riches that are found in Jesus alone. It is in him we find our value…in ourselves…and in each other. I will minister to women for the rest of my life, whether formally or informally. God has taught me to love them and now I can do nothing else.
Women, we have a huge issue in our homes that we need to get serious about dealing with. Like a hot -pink, fat elephant it sits in our house disturbing our marriages and our children. It steals the peace we desire within our walls and within our souls. We can deny it in public, but at home it is right there staring at us in the face, making everyone uncomfortable. Time to talk about the elephant in the room…and then kick it out.
Our issue is anger. Too many of us are angry women with short fuses and long memories. We spend a lot of our time frustrated and hear ourselves yelling way. too. much. Society has become accustomed to this lifestyle. We have kitchen gadgets that clean our microwaves that we humorously call “Angry Mama”. We joke about being a “Momster” when we get mad at our kids. I hear myself saying, “You better stop, you don’t want to see mom angry!” As if their actions are responsible for how I behave. Do we really have reason to be so upset?
Knowing I planned to write this blog, I’ve been paying attention to all the things that make me angry throughout an average day. Oh...my…I have so much to be angry about. From lying tongues to broken promises to deaf ears to hurtful words - the obstacles stack up so high it seems too huge to conquer!
This is often where our first mistake is made. We women think that if we can fix the problem (usually a person) we won’t have to be angry anymore. If I can just get my kids to hang up their wet towels instead of throwing them on the floor I won’t have to yell and remind them 36 times. Does this really work? No, not at all. Fact is, as long as we live there will be an abundance of things to be angry about. We need to quit looking at ways to fix this from the outside when we know full well it is an internal issue.
Let’s start taking our anger seriously and admit that it is wrong… okay let’s say it…it’s a SIN. We know it is wrong because we feel it. We women don’t want to be angry! We hate the feeling it brings - during the rage and most certainly after. We see the affects it has on those around us. How many of you still remember the anger of a parent that was directed at you? The intense flare of emotion often has a searing effect on those it is directed at. Sin always hurts period.
Not all anger is sin, be sure you hear me on that, there is righteous anger. We are not talking about that today and most of what we experience as women in our homes does not fall under that category, even if we think it does. It is most likely ugly, self-righteousness.
These are the (fairly well known) verses God led me to this week (okay, so I didn’t just “happen” upon them, God smacked me with these verses as I read them to my boys), found in James 1:19-21, “Know this, my beloved brothers [and sisters]: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Being told to be “slow to anger” is enough of a direct command for us to stop, but God graciously gives us the reasoning too - anger “does not produce the righteousness of God”. It does not make us more holy, it does not sanctify us, it does not make us more like Jesus. Anger is included under the categories of filth and wickedness that we should “put away”. What should we do then? “Receive with meekness the implanted word”. What word is that? The word that is “able to save” our souls – only God’s words save, specifically Jesus who is God’s word incarnate. This word is “implanted” in us because it is part of who we are, we are God’s, he is in us.
Simply put, we need to turn from anger and humbly focus on God’s word that is within us. When God’s word is abundant in our hearts and lives there is no place for anger. Grace and mercy abound as well as patience and self-control. I like the sound of a heart like that! It is then that we begin to produce the righteousness of God that we desire. These blessings (the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us) overflow onto those around us. Talk about a turnaround in the condition of your home!
I won’t deny it, this will be difficult work. Yet it is what God call us to, so he will provide the strength to do it as we trust in him and the power of his word. Therefore consume it daily with meekness, it will transform your heart and your home.
This past Sunday at church, I sat behind a young mother holding her baby. The baby was a happy little guy and would often drool down his mom’s shoulder. I’m sure it wasn’t comfortable for her, but it made me smile. This momma had fought the “Sunday Morning Battle” and overcome. She made it to church to worship with her family.
It is no easy task for a mom with young children to make it to church on a Sunday morning. Let’s be honest, it is a real battle. The list of good excuses is long and easy: I need sleep, I just want a break, we can read the Bible on our own, we will be a distraction, the kids will make a fuss and I’ll just end up sitting in the nursery. Hey, and church is optional, right? It isn’t work or a social event. Most people don’t go.
Plus the orchestration it takes to get the family out the door is a grand production of its own. You have to get everyone ready and looking decent, pack up what feels like half your household, and get yourself ready. This often equates to a rushed shower (maybe) and cramming into 10 minutes what used to take an hour. It is so much work.
I get the temptation to stay home on Sunday mornings, I really do. I battled the same internal argument with myself not so many years ago. There is a true, strong pull from the world to cave in and stay home. But when we read Hebrews 10:24, 25 we don’t see any asterisks: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The habit of the world is to stay home and stay away, but there is no blessing in that! That is not where this verse says the stirring and encouraging takes place. It happens with others, when we meet together.
In Acts 2:42 it says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” True devotion is proven when tested with challenges and temptations. What is your level of devotion in this challenging period of life?
Am I leaving out the dads? Yep. This is a blog for women. I would love to think the dads are leading and helping Sunday mornings so that the whole family gets to service. Many do, but not all. Moms, regardless of what he does, you still need to get up, get the kids and yourself ready (even if you don’t feel perfectly put together) and get to church. No, it is not about legalism and church attendance, it is about obedience and doing what God calls you to. The Church is the body of Christ (Col. 1:18) and his bride (Rev. 21:2). If you are a Christian, it is where you will be – together.
I’m not talking out the side of my mouth here, I did this as a single mother for years with a baby who had terrible colic and then separation anxiety. I spent many hours in the nursery with him wondering why I even bothered trying every week. But God uses all things. In the nursery I met wonderful, godly people with servant hearts and God used them to minister to me.
So to all you moms out there coming to church with young children, thank you! Thank you for your devotion and for overcoming all the easy excuses. The whole church body benefits when you are there, we are not whole without you (see 1 Cor. 12). You serve a vital role that you may not even realize. Keep coming, keep bringing the kids. Come with spit up down your shoulder and with your over-active toddler. We want you there. God commands fellowship and what he commands, he will enable you to do with his strength. Obedience to God brings blessings. Come and be blessed.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2
Who can understand the mind of a woman? No one aside from God. I think we can all agree on that one, we even confuse ourselves much of the time. The female mind is like a jungle: full of fantastic beauty, yet containing pathways of perilous danger. Today I want to encourage you to block off one particular pathway and to train your thoughts to walk in gospel light.
One of the most dangerous roads we tend to wander down in our minds is the pathway of comparisons. We assume certain things are true about others when they are not. Before we even enter a room of people we have a dozen thoughts zooming into our consciousness. Thoughts of inadequacies and self-doubt, feelings of not measuring up in appearance, intelligence or experience. We assume we are lacking in some serious ways that others are not.
Even in our own homes we are not shielded from the taunts of deception. We assume other women are better mothers, housekeepers and cooks (I mean, just look at their Facebook page). We assume they are loaded with friends and social events when we are often lonely and longing for just one good girlfriend to hang out with. We assume they have it all together while we are struggling to stay sane.
Stop the assumptions, ladies! I’m here to tell you today that you are just not as special as you think you are! One thing I have come to learn about women is that we are most certainly more alike than we are different. We tread very similar pathways and experience what is common to womanhood. Just like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” These deceptive assumptions that we allow (yes, allow) to cross our minds are from our enemy and his aim is our distraction (wow, are we easily distracted). He has been using the same simple play book for decades on us. Why not change up his strategy? Because it works! We fall prey over and over again.
No more. Board up that perilous pathway of thought and walk away from it. Send your thoughts where your all-knowing Father tells you to. He makes it clear in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Thoughts consumed by what is praise-worthy (the epitome of all of these attributes is Jesus) do not have time to wander off into darkness. They are trained away from darkness and toward light.
I think Paul said it best when he said, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2. When he went to the people of Corinth, he was not consumed with thoughts of his potential inadequacies (what he looked like, what the people would think of him, how he would compare). In some ways he would have been inferior to them and other ways superior, but here is the point…it didn’t matter. Paul didn’t care about any of that. He decided to know only Jesus and what he did on the cross. That was his only concern - to display the gospel. His mind was trained away from petty, earthly concerns and trained onto gospel purposes.
That should be our concern too. Not how we measure up (which is WAY off target to reality anyway) but how we can display the gospel to others. We need to think on Jesus and display him in our actions. Ladies, the next time you feel the coming bombardment of deceptive thoughts (whether in private or public) remember that you no longer take that path, it is off limits. Do not entertain dangerous assumptions leading to pointless comparisons (truly idolatry of others). Refuse to be distracted from your purpose for breathing!
Train your mind to walk in the light of the Word and turn your thoughts onto your true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praise-worthy Savior. Decide to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
I have recently made the discovery that I am not a very nice person. I’m not trying to be self-depreciating, I really am not as nice as I had hoped I was. Just ask my husband.
This past weekend Phil and I were teasing each other (as we often do) and he said, “You are so mean to me!” He was joking at the time, but I took the liberty of telling him how fortunate he was to have me and that I knew for a fact that I was VERY nice to him. If anyone was mean it had to be him. I proceeded to remind him of a good example (the first red flag was already waving in my head… I ignored it). As if he didn’t know the details already, I recounted them for him. I won’t do that here, but it had to do with my birthday, me being sick and dog puke. You can put the pieces together yourself. Other great examples flooded my brain, but that one seemed adequate enough to prove my point (red flag number two…ignored).
So after this discussion (which he took quite graciously and quietly) I decided to further demonstrate my incredible niceness throughout the rest of the evening. We were headed to Dubuque as a family and I figured this would be the perfect setting for the boys to see how nice I am to their father. What a great example I would prove to be and then Phil would have to eat his words – ha! (Red flag number three… ignored.)
Phil drove. Oh my. After biting my tongue several times I realized this was going to be harder than I thought. If only I had driven instead, it may not have proven such a challenge. We had been in Dubuque for less than an hour; my tongue was sore and I was tired of being silent. The reality finally hit me and I said, “I give up! You are right, I AM mean! I can’t hold it in any longer!” Phil, gracious again, just smiled and shook his head.
We laughed at the time, but it has been very humbling for me. I really didn’t realize how biting I was and how often! I was trying so hard to not be mean, I couldn’t speak. Unkind words so quickly came to my mouth that all I could do was try to block their exit. It was almost painful not to let them fly. Talk about an eye opener, the words from James 3:8 about the tongue come to mind, “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” I had a taste of my own poison and it was awful.
The hard truth is that holding my tongue is important, but that isn’t the full discipline of taming the tongue. We don’t tame something (such as an animal) just to have it stay still and do nothing. We tame it to behave in a specific manner. One way our tongue needs to behave is given to us in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Stopping the hurtful words from coming out is not enough, the command is not to be silent. We are instructed to speak words of grace that build a person up. This is not something we can conjure up on our own. What was coming out of my mouth that night (and all too often everyday) demonstrates what is in my heart…and I am not pleased with myself. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18.
My heart needs work…and I’m guessing yours does too. I may not know you, but I have talked to enough women to know that we often travel the same roads and experience the same struggles. How is your heart looking? Is your tongue burning and staining those around you (James 3:6)? I challenge you to examine your words for a single day. You may be quickly shocked like I was. I don’t say this to shame you, just the opposite. These written words of mine are meant to build you up and turn you to Christ; he is the only one who can do the work needed in your heart and mine. It is a process, but one we should be intentionally active in.
Ladies, our mouths should be fountains of life to those around us (Proverbs 10:11). Imagine what talking to each other would be like then! Imagine the growth of our relationships (including our marriages)! The results would be heavenly. I for one am in. Here is my simple prayer today and maybe it can be yours too: “Have your way in my heart, O Lord. Fill me with your Word so that I may overflow with your grace. Amen.”
I see you. I see you coming in right as service starts. I see you sitting at the end of the row of chairs or towards the back, keeping your distance, staying wary. I see the hesitation of starting up conversations with those nearby. I see you… and I get it… but stop.
Stop thinking you are incomplete without a spouse next to you. Stop waiting for a human to fill some imagined gap that doesn’t exist. Stop thinking you are less beautiful to God than those around you. Stop.
This is your reminder today that if you are a single woman who has Christ as your savior, you are complete. Completely complete, lacking nothing. You are fully equipped to do the work God is calling you to right now at this moment. You are fully a part of the body of Christ and need to act as such. You are needed and you are extraordinarily valuable! Those of you with non-believing husbands listen up too, much of this will apply to you as well.
When God says through Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him,” there is no asterisk. There is no note at the bottom of the page saying that this applies only to the happily married and that singles (or the unequally yoked in marriage) should just hold back and wait. No, this verse tells us that the life you lead currently has been assigned to you by your masterful and purposeful Creator and you need to get to it. Your life is your calling from God.
The married are in no position of advantage when it comes to godly living. In this same chapter, 1 Corinthians 7:28, Paul encourages those who are able to stay unmarried to do so because, “those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” Paul’s clearly states his purpose for this in verse 35, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” That is what all of us need to long for - undivided devotion to the Lord. Those who are single are in an especially good position to do this. Our God is a jealous God and he wants (and fully deserves) your complete attention and praise.
When seen in this light, this feels like a humbling and huge compliment from the Lord toward single women! He has decided not to share his attention from you with any man on earth. Think of the widow Anna, a prophetess who was there when Jesus came to be presented at the temple. She had full devotion to the Lord as she, “did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Also think of Martha and Mary, single sisters who were close to Jesus and whose lives were interwoven into the gospels. They were witnesses to many of Christ’s greatest miracles and most awesome teachings.
Do not get being unmarried (or married to a non-believing husband) confused with being alone, I got that one wrong for years (see my blogs on loneliness). It wasn’t until I grasped that Christ completes me fully and not just partially that I was able to have my thinking corrected. Then I began to serve the Lord whole-heartedly. No longer waiting on a man to fill a gap that was never really there. I held onto the promise in Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your husband.” He was the only one for me all along and he still is. He is the only one who makes me whole even while being married.
Single women, I want you to see your singlehood as a wise and gracious gift from the One who loves you most. That is exactly what it is, so take the time to praise him for it today. Don’t allow the enemy to tempt you into feelings that are contrary to this. Beautifully serve the Lord in the life he has called you to at this time. Women married to an unsaved spouse, pray earnestly for your husband to be redeemed by Christ, but don’t hold off on fully serving God and fulfilling your calling until he does, serve him now with all of your heart.
At the beginning of this blog I told you to stop…now I want you to start. Start to sit by me. Start to engage in the family that God has placed you in for your nourishment and to nourish those around you. Start to share your wisdom of God’s word with others who are desperate for it. Reach out for godly counsel when you need it. Start to participate in the lives of other women who are longing for friendship and a woman to talk with. Encourage, teach, help, serve, love, share. And in all these things praise God for making you completely his.
Oh, the days of young motherhood. If I had to choose words to describe it a few would be: smiles, messes, sleep-deprived, fat rolls, sticky and joyful. I’m sure you can think of many of your own. Oh yeah, one more: hard. Being the mother of young children (newborn to pre-school) is hard work. The demands of your time and energy are overwhelming. Add to this the fact that mothering young children usually coincides with young marriages. This makes the perfect, intense and pressurized medium for great growth or explosive combustion. Often both.
The picture I am familiar with is a young woman desiring to have a happy marriage, raise children well, and honor God at the same time. You have worked hard and looked forward to this stage of life and are finally there, married with children. Things appear to be on track and working out as planned. So why is it so difficult? Why aren’t you happy more often? Why isn’t this easier and more enjoyable?
Excellent questions and ones I have lived through myself and have counseled others on. Many are struggling along, trying to keep their heads above water. Being more successful at it at times and taking a dunking the next. Welcome to motherhood, trial by fire…but not fire without purpose. Being a mother is a beautiful role designed and assigned by God. That alone should be humbling, but beauty doesn’t equal ease. Internal and forever soul-beauty is hard work, keep reading.
Here is what is very important to remember: you are learning valuable lessons that will stay with you for eternity during these specific years. The two utmost lessons are these: 1.) Trust God in all things and 2.) All things are about God, not about you. You may think you know these facts already, but Momma, you don’t until you have been through the paces of motherhood.
I call the early years of motherhood the “Crucible of Young Motherhood”. A crucible is a container that holds metals that are melted or subjected to very high temperatures for a purpose. It is a good mental picture for those in this stage of womanhood. The intensity of having young children and a young marriage causes the “heat of life” to turn up. But again, not without purpose. Just like melting metal in a crucible is so that the impurities can be drawn off and then the pure metal can be poured into a mold, so is young motherhood a crucible for burning away the sin of the old self and a time of shaping and perfecting the new creation that you are called to be in Christ. It is prime time for heart-work to be done.
“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” Proverbs 17:3
You may not see wiping noses, faces and bottoms as work toward spiritual growth, but it is. It is some of the best spiritual work that can be done! This is where trusting God is a must. You have to trust that he has called you to this work and that he is using this work to produce lasting fruit in your life (patience, love, kindness, peace, joy, self-control, faithfulness). It can feel like slow, tedious and even trivial progress, but the results are none of these things. The godly shaping of a woman through motherhood is one of the most fantastic processes ever to be ordained by God. If you doubt this, talk to some women who have lived it. Trust that God is doing work in you even when you don’t feel it.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4a
You also must remember on a daily basis (often an hourly basis) that everything is about God and not you. Keep your focus Godward. You wipe the sticky counters off for the hundredth time today because you are serving God through serving your family. You rock a screaming baby with ear infections because God has placed this baby in your hands and told you to raise them for him. You hug and serve a grumpy husband who is being unkind because God calls you to be like his son Jesus who submitted to the Father and died for sinners. It is all about God, the sooner you get this, the more spiritual growth you can experience.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things.” Romans 11:36
A final yet vital word of advice: be in the Bible daily. Even if it is a single verse that you read in the morning and think on all day. Understand you can’t live without it. Staying in the Word during this time of your life is essential and will set the tone for years to come for spiritual discipline.
Ladies, the beauty of motherhood comes in the midst of the messes, sleepless nights and fat rolls. You will get glimpses of it now and then while in the crucible, but the true witness of the blooming comes when you are more removed from the heat. You will begin to see yourself take shape as you more closely reflect the beauty of your Savior. Trust him in all things, knowing all things are about him, even young motherhood.
Most days my house is pretty neat and tidy. It may not be the most stylish or well decorated, but it is often clean and organized. There are times when the house is so crazy neat that I almost feel bad about it when people come over; as if I might appear a little too perfect. I have even purposefully left dirty dishes out to make people feel better (yeah, that kind of crazy). However…
…today is not that day…nor have I seen one of those days in quite some time.
Currently, my vacuum has been standing in the front entry of my house ALL week because I plan to vacuum “soon”; the dust bunny colonies are beginning to organize themselves into cities. I just started the dryer again to hopefully take the wrinkles out of clothes that I washed and dried three days ago. The counter in my bathroom is turning strange colors of orange and green, it has been on my “to do” list for 12 days straight… it remains unchecked…and today's not looking good either. I’m having trouble remembering when the boys had a bath last…they may soon turn strange colors too, let’s not talk about how they smell. Has anyone fed the dog recently? Has anyone seen the dog?
So there you have it, a peak into my glamorous lifestyle. You know what I have to say about all this?
Big deal, that’s life. Get over it.
God doesn’t love me less because my house is a mess and my kids are dirty. Clutter is not a punishment for some lacking in spiritual discipline. I’m not being outwardly punished for missing my “quiet time” with God this morning. Matter of fact I had a great time in prayer and Bible reading this morning, and yesterday too.
Being a Christian does not equate to having things all together. There are days when we are messy on the outside yet are well prioritized on the inside because we are attending to what matters. There are also times when we are perfectly well-to-do looking on the outside when our insides are a mess. Faking a peace that is not there. I know which I would prefer, how about you?
When we are obedient to God there is no guarantee of life being neat and tidy either on the inside or the outside. We still live in the same world we did before we became Christians. God changes us, not our surroundings. There are no special angels that guard against dust accumulation, give fashion advice, or remind the boys to shower (as cool as all of that would be!). However, there are golden promises from God that will hold us together through it all and make this life truly worth the living, messy times and all. Here are just a few precious nuggets:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
There is hope that abounds beyond this temporal world and we find that in Christ alone. He is the one who holds us securely in his loving hands, never to be snatched away by the enemy or the literal messes he may throw at us (John 10:28, one of my personal favorite promises). So the house may fall to shambles for a time, but my soul never will. That is true peace.
I guess I should wrap things up now, that dryer buzzer went off ages ago and the dog has turned up…he looks hungry. So, ladies, I want to encourage you today, no matter how things look on the outside, if you are in Christ, you are okay. In fact, you are beautiful, dust bunnies and all.