Friday, April 29, 2011

When God Says "No"

So often, my prayers centre around what God can do for me. I think it's okay to ask God to help us with our struggles and provide us with things we want and need, but I am learning that sometimes usually God's answer is not as direct as I'd like. You see, He is much more concerned with the condition of my heart than with the circumstances of my life.

I asked God to take away my habit.
God said, "No. It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up."

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, "No. His spirit is whole,
his body is only temporary."

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, "No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;
it isn't granted, it is learned."

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, "No. I give you blessings.
Happiness is up to you."

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, "No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
and brings you closer to Me."

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, "No. You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful."

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, "No. I will give you life,
so that you may enjoy all things."

I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me.
God said, "Ahhhh,
finally you have the idea!"

~ Author Unknown

I needed this little reminder that God truly does provide everything that I need...everything I need to grow in faith and righteousness.

* A revised post from the archives.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Bring the Romance Back

Sheila is talking about romantic fantasies for Wifey Wednesday (on her blog To Love, Honor, and Vacuum) today, and I decided to pipe in with my two cents!

I'll be honest, I'm not too familiar with the phenomenon she's referring to. I can't say that I notice a lot of women mooning over certain celebrities or athletes. What I do notice, though, is a whole lot of women fantasizing over their girlfriends' husbands.

I'm not talking sexual fantasy, but emotional fantasy. I wish my husband would bring me flowers like hers does. Why won't my husband ever watch the kids and give me a day off like hers? Oh, her husband is so spiritual, such a leader - how I long for my husband to be that way.

How about this one: I'm so unhappy in this marriage, but I don't believe in divorce. I wonder what it would be like if my husband were just...gone? If he died, I would be free to marry someone really right for me.

Perhaps that last thought isn't as common as the earlier ones. But it's not as uncommon as you might think.

Here's the deal, friends - the grass may look greener over there on the other side, but in reality the grass is always greenest where it's been fertilized, watered, and mowed. Tending to the lawn takes time, effort, money, attention, and some hard work. If we want our marriages to look like hers - the one who gets flowers and is always smiling and touching - we need to put in the same effort she does. Maybe more.

Here is one small thing we can all do to bring the romance back to our marriages - be his biggest fan.

Cheesy? Maybe a bit. Effective? Absolutely.

How to be his biggest fan:

1. Thank him when he does something around the house. EVEN if it's something that you expect him to do (like taking out the trash). Here's a little Jeff Foxworthy bit that talks about men's need to be appreciated - it's exaggerated, hilarious, and true. (Go ahead and start down at 6:10.)

2. Brag about every sweet thing he does for you to your girlfriends. Eventually, it will get back to him and he'll feel like a superhero.

3. Ask him to help you solve a problem (whether a discipline issue with the kids, something at work, etc.), and actually use his advice.

4. Greet him when he comes in the door! Kiss optional, but recommended.

5. Hang out with him, side-by-side, doing something he enjoys (fishing, fixing the car, watching hockey).

If you're like me, you're probably wondering how the heck this is going to help bring the romance back. You're thinking, Sure, I'll do all that. What's he going to do for me?

Guess what? Marriage is not a 50/50 partnership, where you take turns doing your share and keep score. Good marriages are 100/100. The secret to getting him to give his 100% is deceptively simple. Stop keeping score. Focus on giving your 100% and nothing else.

If you become your man's biggest fan, he will feel valued, appreciated, worthy, and respected. His chest will puff out in pride, because his wife adores him. A man who feels respected and honored is satisfied, filled up, and he will then be ready to pour out. And he will become your romancer.

Here's a great challenge for us wives. (I return to this tool at least once per year, when I need a refresher on being Pat's biggest fan.)

What do you think? Do you believe that your marriage can be transformed by your actions alone? Are you willing to give it a shot?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It Is Finished

Have you ever read the book of Leviticus? If not, I do understand! I've been reading it in the Message for the past long while. (I was hoping that it would be an easier read in that translation; turns out that routines, rituals, and repetition don't really translate differently.)

Every time I settle in to read, I ask God, Why? Why all the rules, rituals? Why all the sacrifices? I mean, how busy poor Aaron must have been!

This morning as I read still more of Leviticus, I wondered as usual. I could see that, in part, God was providing a way to protect the Israelites from infectious disease (skin rashes and being unclean). I could see that God was providing some good hygiene guidelines (bathing after menstruation and such). Yet I still questioned, Lord, in the New Testament we are cautioned against being legalistic, even reprimanded for it, so why did You dictate all these laws?

I was struck by the contrast between those detailed instructions for the Israelites, and the new instructions for the Christ-followers. Polar opposites. How could they appreciate the freedom of the new way without the stark contrast to the old way?

My mind flashed to an image of a priest, dressed in white, leaning over a ram, holding it fast and tight, slashing its throat as a sacrifice. Superimposed with that was a visual of Christ, hanging from the cross at the brink of death, His Father behind Him, arms around Him holding fast and tight. The final sacrifice. The final burnt offering. The last wave offering. The need for atonement offerings complete. It is finished takes on new meaning.

How can we possibly appreciate the freedom of the new way without an understanding of the old way?

My many weeks of Why? answered in an instant. And this weekend we just celebrated the culmination of all those years of sacrifices.

I'm reminded why it's so important to be in the Word, to stay in the Word, and to grow in knowledge of the Word day after day, year after year. Why ancient texts that seem unimportant and boring matter. Why each word is God-breathed. Because it's impossible to ever be done learning.

Have you ever experienced a revelation while reading something in the Bible that seemed so familiar, boring even? If you remember, please share the passage and the revelation.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Megan's Birthday Blessing

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. (It's a Wonderful Life)

While that is a lovely sentiment, I can't say that there's any truth to it. What I do know for sure, though, is that there is a Heavenly celebration every time someone comes to the Kingdom. (see Luke 15:10) Each time a person prays for salvation, God and His angels have a big ol' party. And I believe that when those people take the next step in their walk of faith - baptism - the party just continues.

There was a rockin' out party in Heaven yesterday for my girl Megan! And my mother heart nearly burst with joy. Because in spite of our struggles as a family, and in spite of the fact that I often feel I'm not doing enough to teach them the ways of the Lord, God has been revealing a beautiful treasure. He's given us the treasure of a Godly heritage.

This is the verse of blessing I shared with Megan, not only for her baptism but also for her upcoming birthday...

Megan, may you grow in the grace and knowledge of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May your life, Megan, give Him glory both now and forever.
~ 2 Peter 3:18 (NIV)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You are Loved

Well, it's the end. The end of our journey together, seeking God, asking the questions on our heart, and listening for His answers.

I asked God a lot of questions:
- the ones listed in the first post
- Lord, what do you want me to do when it comes to the writing/speaking ministry?
- Father, will you point out anything in me that offends You?
- Lord, what is one thing I can do to be a better wife?
- Lord Jesus, how can I be a blessing to my brother and sister?
- Lord, am I supposed to be seeking an income?
- How much should I spend on groceries today?
- Lord, how can I get my focus off myself and better honor You in my life?

The answer that resounds with me, out of all those 40 days, is from the one day I had no questions to ask...

I prayed, Father, I don't know what to ask You today. What do You want to talk to me about?

He replied...

Let's talk about how much I love you; you need a reminder.

Before you were formed in your mother's womb, I knew you. I shaped you as you grew in the secret place.

I have a special plan for you and your life. It's a plan for hope and prosperity.

I know every hair on your head. I know every desire of your heart. In fact, I placed them there.

You are more precious than rubies, more valuable than gold. I am enthralled with your beauty.

I want to dance over you with My love. I want to bless you. Your joy brings me joy.

My great love for you cannot be measured. Listen to My love in Psalm 139. Do not forget how much I love you.

All I desire is for you to love Me in return.

That, for me, is the one thing I want to remember from this time of listening to God's voice.

And you know what, I think that today God wants you to read those words and take them for yourself. You are His treasured bride, and He's telling me that you need to be reminded of how precious you are to Him.

So why don't you go back to the words in red, put your name ahead of them, and read your Abba's love letter to you?

If you took this journey with me, even just for part of it, what is the main thing you want to remember?


This post is part of a weekly Lent series, Without Question, where we are taking time to ask God the questions that are on our hearts and listen for His answers. Anyone is welcome to join - for just one post or for the entire series.

To participate, simply write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment) about what God has been speaking into your heart. In your post, provide a link back to this post. If you wish, you can also insert the WQ graphic in your post. Then insert the URL for your Without Question blog post in the McLinky below.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't Put The Kids First

Mothers today are Superwomen and martyrs. The more sacrifices we make, the better we are at our job. While this little rule is more unspoken, the proof of our mindset lies in our standard answer to the question, "How are you?" The response I hear most often from my mom friends isn't "Good" as you'd expect. Nope. Us Supermoms love to be able to say, "Busy!"

Another symptom of Supermom syndrome is the classic phenomenon we refer to as the kids come first. This translates into putting the care, feeding, attention, and activities of the children ahead of one's own needs. However, this phenomenon also frequently translates into putting the children's needs ahead of their Daddy's needs.

Here are three reasons to adjust your family priorities and start putting the kids last...

1. We have but eighteen (or so) short years with each child. With our men, Lord willing, we have a whole lifetime. If all of our time and energy is poured into the children, we will be lost and without purpose when they're gone.

2. Putting your man first is, technically, meeting your children's deepest desire. No one wants you and your husband to stay married more than your children do! Pour your energy into keeping the marriage healthy, and they will be the beneficiaries.

3. Modelling for our children how a healthy marriage works will prepare them to look for and be a good spouse. In a household where Mommy and Daddy's relationship comes first, the children learn how to honour their spouse above all others.

The priorities of the typical Superwoman look something like this:
- Kids, kids, kids
- House
- Friends, family, ministry, work
- Marriage
- Self

The priorities of the "new" Superwoman look a little like this:
- Self (Because I'm worth it!)
- Work
- Kids, house, family, friends, ministry
- Marriage

The priorities of the Godly Superwoman ought to look more like this:
- God
- Marriage
- Kids
- Other relationships (friends, family)
- Other stuff God calls her to (house, work, ministry, self)

Healthy marriages make healthy families. Healthy families build healthy communities and churches. Healthy curches and communities grow healthy cities, countries, and so on.

So I say, if we've got kids, we stop putting them first and instead pour that energy into building up our men and our marriages. We could change the world right from our own living rooms.

Are your priorities in order?

(I know mine need some work...)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lessons from a Marriage Weekend

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably figured out that we were at a marriage conference over the weekend. I learned (and re-learned) a few lessons that I thought I'd share...

- Very fancy, super expensive hotels charge more for everything.

- It is worth it to open every drawer and cupboard in your hotel room, because you never know when you'll find a coffee maker and mini fridge hidden away in what appears to be a dresser.

- When ordering a five-course meal, one should know ahead of time that each course is larger than the one before it. The meat course, therefore, will have more food than a large family can eat in one sitting.

- If you have really great parents, you can get away with not calling to check on your children all weekend.

- Even the most intelligent of children are not immune from trying stupid things, such as swallowing coins. They are especially prone to attempting said stupidity when under the care of someone other than their parents.

- Though you save money by self-parking, you can expect to be punished for your choice by a three mile walk back to the hotel.

- A $45 per person brunch doesn't really taste any better than a $12 per person one. In fact, it leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste.

- There really is no cost too high to pay for an entire weekend without children and with your best friend. It was worth every penny!

My apologies if you were hoping for something more marriage-related. I hope to share some valuable nuggets later this week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Filling Up

Due to snow, laziness, a looming laundry pile, and getting ready for A Weekend to Remember, my Without Question post will be decidedly brief today.

God has really been speaking to me lately. It's been a lot about how much He loves me, and how I don't need to make up my own set of rules in order to have a good relationship with Him. He's been using our current sermon series and our small group discussions to remind me that it's all about staying filled up with the Holy Spirit.

The more filled I am with Him, the less room there is for all the junk.

The more filled I am with Him, the more I desire to talk to Him, listen to Him, and read His love letters to me.

The more filled I am with Him, the better my responses and reactions in difficult situations.

The more filled I am with Him, the more joy I have in all things.

What has God been speaking to you about?


This post is part of a weekly Lent series, Without Question, where we are taking time to ask God the questions that are on our hearts and listen for His answers. Anyone is welcome to join - for just one post or for the entire series.

To participate, simply write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment) about what God has been speaking into your heart. In your post, provide a link back to this post. If you wish, you can also insert the WQ graphic in your post. Then insert the URL for your Without Question blog post in the McLinky below.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shea's Birthday Blessing

A birthday blessing for you, my baby girl. You sure aren't a baby anymore!

Shea is the light of the world —
like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, Shea, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
~ Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Finally Here!

Hello spring!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

When God Hurts You

Photo courtesy of

Our family has been eagerly awaiting the DVD release of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Needless to say, we had a movie night just hours after I purchased it at WalMart.

This time, when Lucy and Edmund go to Narnia, their cousin Eustace (Megan kept calling him "Useless" throughout the movie!) is brought with them. Due to his own greed and an evil spell, Eustace becomes a dragon. During his time as a dragon, Eustace finds that he is not, in fact, useless, but discovers an inner strength he never knew he had.

Eventually, once the battle is won, Eustace finds his dragon self face-to-face with Aslan, who with a great and mighty roar changes Eustace back into a boy. Take a peek at the conversation following the transformation...

Edmund: So what was it like...when Aslan changed you back?

Eustace: No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't do it myself. Then he came towards me. It sort of hurt, but it was a good pain. You know, like when you pull a thorn from your foot.

Is anyone else relating to this?!

My mind immediately ran to the dragons in my life: disappointments, hurts, heartaches, losses, frustrations, roadblocks, struggles, battles, wars... Sorry, that's all a bit too fluffy sounding. Let's try again.

My mind immediately ran to the dragons in my life: financial struggles of my own making that feel endless; the aching loneliness that still creeps up far too frequently; the selfishness that too often fills my head with "poor me" thoughts; the rude, angry, frustrated, impatient me that keeps sneaking out and lunging at my family just when I think she's finally gone for good...

When those dragons show up, I hate it. Hate. I know that fighting the dragons will make me stronger, but I still wish I could short-cut the process. So I try on my own. No matter how hard I try, I just can't do it myself.

I'm not a dragon slayer. God is.

But when He does His work to set me free from the dragons - to change me - it hurts. The transformation process is painful. It's a good pain, though, like when you pull a thorn out of your foot.

Eustace reminded me that there's a reason to keep hoping, even when it feels like God is hurting me.

What dragons are haunting you today?

Are you feeling the hurt of God's transformation?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Our Witchdoctors are too Weak

I love, love, love to read! At any given time, I'll have four or more books on the go. (I realize that may be slightly crazy and a tad excessive, but I just can't help myself.)

Writing - also a passion of mine. I'm sure I've said this before, but if I don't write it down, it's like I haven't fully lived it yet.

Because of these two loves, I periodically find myself signing up to review books. What could be better than reading and writing, right? Yeah, notsomuch. I'm terrible at it! I think maybe it's a curse. I honestly don't know why I keep doing it (signing up to review books, that is); obviously I'm a slow learner.

So here's the deal: I'm not going to pretend that I can write a good review of this book. In return for my honesty, I just ask that you trust my plain facts presentation. Okee-dokey?

My favorite read is fiction. Fiction is my soap opera, and I love losing myself in the story. I especially love Christian fiction, for obvious reasons. My next is Christian non-fiction. I am a knowledge junkie, so I must get my fix of "how to"s and personal growth. My least favorite genres to read - autobiographies and memoires. I'm sorry, but there are an awful lot of people out there who bore me!

So what book do I offer to review? Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak: The rebirth of an Amazon tribe (by Davey & Marie Jank). It is described as "an astonishing autobiography." Oh, the irony...

Here's the thing...this autobiography read like a comedic fiction novel. Not a novel, exactly, but a series of short stories. Hilarious! Quick! Easy! So unbelievably interesting! Once I began, I could not stop reading. I even found myself giggling in bed at the antics of the jungle people, the jungle creatures, and the jungle missionaries.

At one point, I realized that Davey had been in the Amazon for over seven years studying the Wilo language before he met and  married Marie. Seven years! And ten years in the jungle before he understood the language well enough to begin teaching the Bible. Ten years! It sure didn't feel that long to me as I read his accounts. He didn't dish out some "woe is me" hard life tale. Although I cannot imagine that it was anything but unbelievably difficult. Instead, he shared their story with such wit that I enjoyed his impossibly long time of jungle living.

My review wouldn't be complete if I didn't confess that I cried at the end. Bayuli, one of the Wilo people, gave a poignant account of the Truths of the Bible and his faith - it was like Scripture itself, so beautiful. Proof that all people were created with a longing to know and understand the ways of God.
The only downfall of this book is its length. When you pick it up, it is thick! Let me just say, the thickness is deceptive (as is the long list of chapters). The chapters are brief, succinct, and super funny. The reading was much faster than I expected based on my initial impression.

This book has made me re-think my whole perspective on autobiographies. I just might need to try reading them more often! I am also, however, rethinking my foolish idea of combining my two loves by writing book reviews.

I do hope you'll see past my lack of skill in this area and just read the book. You'll giggle so much that I know you won't regret it. Click to buy it now.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review. I would not, however, ever promote any book, product, or person that I don't actually believe in. So you can trust me, even when they give me free books.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Does God Speak to You?

Do you 'hear' God's voice?

Does God speak to you?

Do you believe God speaks to His people?

Tell me what you think. I really want to know!

Here are some great posts I've read lately about listening to and having a relationship with God...

I Love You, by Danielle (aka Mama Bird of Mama Bird Muses & Babbles)

If You Know Him, You Hear Him, by Sarah (aka Kingdom Mama of Kingdom Twindom + 1)

The Unsaved Christian, by Lysa TerKeurst


This post is part of a weekly Lent series, Without Question, where we are taking time to ask God the questions that are on our hearts and listen for His answers. Anyone is welcome to join - for just one post or for the entire series.

To participate, simply write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment) about what God has been speaking into your heart. In your post, provide a link back to this post. If you wish, you can also insert the WQ graphic in your post. Then insert the URL for your Without Question blog post in the McLinky below.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today's Challenge for Wives

Lately, my husband has been doing and saying things that make me feel very loved. Treasured and special.

This got me thinking, what have I done or said lately to make him feel respected? Valued and worthy?

So I issue a challenge to all the wives (myself included) out there. Do something today that makes your man's chest puff up with pride. Let him know how much you respect him.

Are you up for it?

Why not share what you plan to do?

Or come back later to fill us in on what you did? How did he react?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why be you, when you can be me?

Some moms cry when they drop their babies off at Kindergarten. They mourn the "lasts" in life: the last baby, the last snuggles, the last one in a crib... I've never been particularly sentimental about the whole growing up process. I have to resist the urge to throw a party over the last diaper change, the last time we need to haul a stroller, the first day of school, or the first bus ride.

I used to think there was something wrong with me.

I'm a cryer when  it comes to other strong emotions, though. If my man and I disagree, even in the most gentle of ways, he's almost always guaranteed a waterworks show. I think, when it comes to wives, I tend to fall into the category of "high maintenance."
I really used to think there was something wrong with me.

The other moms all seemed better than me. The other wives easier. What is wrong with me?! Why do I have to be this way?! Why can't I just be like her???

Did you ever see that commercial with the machine that transformed young girls? As they waited in line for their transformation, a sultry voice would repeat, "Why be you when you can be me?" That supermodel's voice was my life's soundtrack.

But somewhere along the way I learned something... God made me just the way I am for a purpose.
Periodically, I need to remind myself that I am okay just as I am. So I figured that maybe you might need a reminder, too.


If you're a mom, you may experience feelings of guilt and inadequacy when you see other mothers.

If you're a wife, perhaps you struggle with feeling "less than" and "too much" all at the same time. You feel guilty for not being the wife you think you should be.

If you're a career woman, maybe you look around you and think you need to be different. You compare wardrobe, skills, popularity, and more, and feel as though you fall short.

If you're a Christian woman, add in feelings of not being as good or Godly as other Christian women.

You know what? Those feelings are lies! Your feelings cannot be trusted, for they will deceive you. Instead, trust in God's true Word.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
~ Psalm 139:13-16
Friend, you are exactly the woman you are for a reason.

There is nothing wrong with you, there is nothing broken in you, and you do not need to be like anyone else.

God created you to be YOU, not anyone else.

Your personality is the perfect personality for you and for those you spend your time with. You have the body shape you do because He designed you to look a certain way. Your skills, gifts, and talents were given by Him to build His kingdom and bless those around you. Your shortcomings and struggles, too.
You are a child of God, and there is no measuring stick for who you are versus who you should be. There is no "right" kind of woman. God calls us to relationship with Him and others, not rules.

My friend, don't allow yourself to get caught in the snare of comparison. You are you, and the woman beside you is her - neither of you is supposed to try to be like the other.

God loves you the way you are. In fact, He intended you be the way you are for a purpose. So, instead of trying to be like her, just be the best you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My April Fool's Day Prank...

Most Hilarious Home Video...coming soon

I've never been big on April Fool's Day. Probably because I'm no good at practical jokes. My mind doesn't really work that way. And the odd time it does, my lack of poker face usually gives me away before I speak a word.

But this morning, I pulled a gooder. I even got it on video! Sadly, you're gonna have to wait a while, as I use my pathetic technical skills to do a bit of editing.

Coming soon... BEST. SCAM. EVER.

Mommy Anger

Some great mommy anger posts I've run into lately...

Angry Moms Anonymous

Homeschool Mom's Dirty Little Secret #3 - Anger

And you're always welcome to check out my posts on Mommy, Why Are You Angry?