How to Love Food Yet Keep an Hour Glass Shape

I learned a long time ago, how to manage my weight while at the same time, being able to almost eat whatever I wanted, not feeling deprived or prevented from eating any certain food group.

My mother, when I was about 12, got me into my school’s track & field, solely for the purpose of learning how to effectively control my weight & shape via healthy exercise.  In our American culture, where fast food is everywhere and so tempting, and processed food makes up the bulk of our grocery markets, I’m so glad she had the whereabouts to teach me something that is now seen as drastic in order to stay in shape for life: exercise and eating generally healthy.

She told me that when practice was especially hard, to picture someone’s body I adored (Catherine Zeta-Jones became it for me :) ), and know that shape was my prize.  Nevermind that she and I have completely different body types, it was such a great motivator – picturing the body I wanted, but then love of the sport took over, and I found myself genuinely enjoying running and racing hurdles.  That was basically the goal, for me to learn to appreciate and enjoy the feel of exercise and taking care of my body, as well as to understand the award and results for doing so.

Something I’ve seen rampant in our country is that exercise becomes some kind of idol, or center of our life.  For women in particular, don’t take exercise or weight lifting so seriously that you cross over to a masculine extreme.

too masculine

Female Masculinity…

femalemasculinity

This is another beauty of the French woman… she still keeps her shape womanly and soft with a bit of lean muscle – she doesn’t lose her breast tissue in the pursuit of gaining strength that appears like a male torso.

crossfitwomen

The French typically have a laid back view on beauty, exercise and eating, they aren’t trying too hard with it – a view we Americans would do very well to integrate into our mindset.  As far as beauty goes, it is a very relaxed approach almost sometimes a little unkempt, but always sexy in a very French way.  Most French girls don’t even own a brush!  When I was young, and even now, I didn’t and don’t actually brush my hair, and I have one hair brush that I never ever use packed away in the storage under our sink.  I comb it when its detangled and wet, but never brush it out.

American women approach exercise out of fear and with great stress, leading most to give up because they’re already overweight and don’t see results fast enough to keep their motivation.  We typically are found going after workouts with too great an ambition – after a New Year’s declaration or seeing ourselves in reality in our social media pictures.  Instead of a steady, peaceful pursuit of health, it becomes a stressful chore to add to our to-do list – workout 3x per week… or else!  You can’t lose weight when stressed and under such pressure, but you can easily lose your motivation and perspective on life and its pleasures.

Americans tend to be at both ends of the extreme – either never exercising or exercising being their life center where they literally run around all day in work out clothes (guilty to some degree, at least with the workout attire).  The French only really wear their workout clothes when going to the gym or when actually working out.

Another thing I’ve realized is that Americans work out from the anxiety and pressure to be thin. The French exercise from the desire and pleasure to be thin… one is forced, the other is a natural, peaceful habit.

There are very few overweight women in France, I’m sure you’ve heard that cliche.  Its true for the most part.  When they start to feel their clothes getting tight, they up their daily exercise by simply taking the stairs, walking extra in their daily routine, and determinedly, eating less or avoiding dessert for awhile.

A word about dessert.

When the French eat something decadent, they try to avoid cheap imitations or processed and packaged sweets.  It just isn’t worth it to them, they value dessert more than that.  All those empty calories for something that doesn’t even taste that great compared to the real, homemade/handmade, exquisite little pastry or sweet, it just isn’t worth it.  As a result, because the dessert is heavier or more rich in taste, they naturally eat a lot less or they begin to feel sick (as it should be when one overeats).  Only one dessert a day is considered enough, and it is enough because it meets a very real need for the craving of deliciousness and pleasure, while at the same time, being satisfying enough that you don’t even think about eating more of it.  The French don’t deprive themselves by sticking to strange and restrictive diets that produce temporary results at best.  They don’t really do diets at all, but approach food as a pleasure to be enjoyed.

‘Je deprime donc je chocolate.’

“When I’m down, I chocolate.”

Refuse to buy packaged sweets if you can, we only do so extremely rarely, like if they are on an amazing deal and I get them for free.  Last week, I actually did obtain a box of Hostess Cupcakes, the first I’ve bought probably ever, but it was only because they were part of a “meal deal” where my buying ham & cheese gave me the cupcakes for free.  I already needed the deli meat and cheese, but the added free fattening desserts were a treat.  My son was delighted, but he understands we only do that for rare occasions… packaged sweets like that are usually never in my pantry.  Go figure in America they tempt you with buying the things you actually need (protein meats and cheese) and give you their packaged crap for free to try to get you addicted.  If you never usually buy them, they’re never a real temptation.

I’ve never read the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano, but I’ve heard great things about it, and the few things I have read fit right in line with everything I’m telling you in this post.  A quote from Mireille perfectly describes the difference in the American stressful mindset of food, versus the relaxed French perspective,

“French women think about good things to eat;

American women typically worry about bad things to eat.”

The French eat carbs… but don’t overeat or stress.  I couldn’t find any studies in particular, however, I would guess that the cortisol levels in American women vs French women is much higher, as is the newly medical term, The Hurried Woman Syndrome.  American women push themselves, constantly trying to be more competitive, to be perfectionists, to be the Super Mom… aggressive, successful, and in general, more masculine in nature.  Compared to the laid back approach of the parenting style and life of the French woman, the American woman is far more stressed and more than likely at risk to use pharmaceutical drugs in order to achieve peace of mind about her life.  This has even been noted as a reason why French women age better than American women, almost seeming to never appear old.  Yes, they take care of their skin immaculately and admirably, but it stems from a no-nonsense view of stress, as well as valuing their sleep each night (getting 8.5 hours compared to the American 6.5) so that cortisol levels don’t build up over extended periods of time.

They also have a natural awareness of calorie intake – if they eat something full of carbs they eat something light later, if they eat a dessert that was a lot of calories or particularly heavy, they modify their diet the next day to balance it out.

A few things to remember in starting the Fall off right:

  • Potion size difference… always remember that ours in America, is out of proportion.  Never finish all a restaurant gives you to eat, eat 1/4 to 1/2 and save the rest.
  • Eat an incredible breakfast.
  • Eating slower… actually enjoy the eating experience as a pleasure – taste and love the food you eat
  • Only eat really good food – avoid the empty carbs and sugars and processed crap of packaged foods as much as you can.
  • Cook for yourself!  Learn to LOVE to cook and bake your own treats… it will give you an appreciation of the process and art of food.
  • Eat a little dark chocolate everyday, never deprive yourself of chocolate.  As a woman, this is a sin.
  • Don’t be afraid to drink a little wine – I usually do in the Fall and Winter, and then for some reason (maybe the extreme heat here in Texas) I abstain pretty well in the Spring and Summer.
  •  Joie de Vivre!  Embrace the exuberant enjoyment of life!
  • Have healthy snacks always available, especially fruit, plain greek yogurt (add your own sugar) and cheese.
  • Stay away from diet foods, sugar free foods, sodas (at all costs).  We drink sodas rarely, adding ice into a soda is a great trick to water it down, making it actually healthier in albeit, a small way.

“Here is what I have seen to be good: it is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward.  God has also given riches and wealth to every man, and He has allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor.  This is a gift of God, for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Perspective – Reaping & Sowing

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective … in general, having the right attitude toward life and people, a sense of the long-term as well as being present in the now.  Perspective that births forth the much needed character development and perseverance able to get us through various life seasons.  I’m talking about seasons of all kinds, seasons of growth, seasons of waiting, pain, blessings, loss, and renewal.

Things like infertility, miscarriage, job loss, mental illness, your kids having a hard time in school or enduring sickness, relocations, new jobs, new churches – anything that we may all face in one way or another, or help friends who are in that season.  Do we keep a godly perspective on these things?  Are we prepared to face them when life throws them our way?

Its been on my mind lately, how important it is that we are sowing in the different seasons of our lives, and not sitting stagnantly by in times of hardship, or when our cup is overflowing.  Even in the most difficult times, we need to be actively sowing into our families things that we will eagerly await to reap when the time comes.  It matters so much, what we choose to sow.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.

For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream,

And will not fear when the heat comes;

But its leaves will be green,

And it will not be anxious in a year of drought

Nor cease to yield fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

What do you want to sow?

In our family, I want to actively sow goodness, faithfulness, hard work, optimism, perseverance, joy, patience, kindness, peace, teamwork, and affectionate love.  I’m always being watched by my children, in a very real way, this knowledge that I’m being watched and looked up to by them in order for them to learn these valuable life lessons through example (my example), keeps me accountable.  I’d better do right by them, they deserve no less!

Its a constant feeling of excitement that God is growing me, maturing me, into someone better than before – better than last year, better than the year before that.  Constantly evolving, having a clear picture of the kind of woman I want to be.  Its not an anxious pressure that I feel breathing down my neck or anything, but more of an appreciative anticipation towards maturity.

You reap what you sow.

“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors, “

Hosea 10:12-13

I love the analogy of reaping and sowing, of planting seeds in soil, even the soil itself matters.  Is it fertile soil?  Is it receptive, rocky, or too acidic?  The soil represents our hearts, and what we sow matters just as much as the purity that is already present in our hearts in order to receive it.  Sowing, in a broader sense, is more than merely planting seeds, its taking the time to tend and nurture those seeds and seedlings.  Its taking care to nourish the soil, making sure it has the right nutrients that it needs in order to be receptive, as well as the seedlings under our care.

Its important as Christians that we are sowing responsibly – spending our time, money, and resources on what is benefiting our personal (spiritual) growth.  Are we going where we’re supposed to go?  Are we engaging in activities that are helping us to become better women of God (or men of God)?  Or are we doing things that are counter to what we desire to be sown?  Are we falling by the wayside and letting our life just pass us by?  What am I personally sowing into my life, and as a result, the life of my children?

There are different seasons of time when you can focusing more on sowing, or reaping … or both….  we’ve entered into a very busy life season, with my son going to an exciting but difficult school, being involved in a sports team way more intense than your average YMCA, raising a new baby, managing home and social life, doing something (hello, anything) with my shop, and planning on getting pregnant again next year.

The school and sports are what are really life changing… this school is difficult, and will take a lot of time, but hopefully will be worth it for him if he enjoys it.  The sports team is also a big change, as they’re going to have practices 3 nights a week.  These people are hardcore and intense, the Y just wasn’t cutting it for him anymore because it was too easy, created a non-competitive environment where even the worst kids got trophies, or only provided unknowledgeable coaching.  We’re waiting to see if the busy schedule will work out well, trying to keep a balance and peace sown into our life is a high priority.

Lots of changes… a very busy life season!  Yet even with all the new change, or the constant spending of our time and energy into these activities, I still need to be aware of what I’m sowing into our life, no matter the season.

As far as school, my son loving it, and having a blast just being there… I told him that i missed him that first day (and again after the first week) and he just said, “Well, Mom, I haven’t thought of you at all!”

YES!!!!!  GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

I would so much rather he be so involved, so focused and happy there that he forget me and not worry about him missing me.  Even days later though, I still miss him.  I miss his loudness… his happiness… his crazy energy.  Our classroom/game room just is not the same without our oldest in it.  And I really really miss him.

But I am so elated that he doesn’t miss me… not even a little bit!  :D

I’ve spent these past two years pouring time and effort into teaching him in the mornings just to prepare him for going to “big school.”  I’m so proud of him, but I’m proud at what he’s accomplished in the past two years as well.  I’ve spent two years sowing discipline, love of learning, practice of writing, math, reading, a little science and geography/culture, and music, and now he’s more than ready to take on Kinder.  And he’s taking it on with a happy attitude!

He had his first homework yesterday, and he finished his daily homework for Monday within about 1 minute.  I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been really – it was very easy compared to the level he’s attained with me at home.  He was already doing first grade activities when he was 4 years old.  He was elated that it was so easy, so he went on to complete his packet for the rest of the week’s homework in one sitting!  I’ve created a scholastic monster!

His heart has been prepared, I tried very hard to make sure I made learning pleasant and fun, setting him up for success back then – the small successes – and in hindsight, it was really setting himself up for future success by learning to love school and become a high-achiever.  He enjoys doing homework (hopefully that can last through his teens lol :P ).  He seems to be reaping what we’ve been sowing in his heart and mind, and it touches my heart, making me want to double down my efforts and apply this lesson in other ares of our lives.

I want to sow kindness, so that he will learn to be kind.

I want to sow discipline, so that he can learn the immeasurable importance of having discipline in his life.

I want to sow joy in his heart, so that he can carry it into his future and weather the storms that will come.

And so much more.

A Daughter Losing Her Father: Six Months Later

Dragonfly:

A good post on losing your father.

Originally posted on Inner Workings of My Mind:

This blog post is not about me being morbid nor is it about me feeling sorry for myself. Over the past six months since my father died, I received a few comments on the two posts I made about my father’s passing. These were mainly comments from other women who experienced something similar and who were wondering how other women were dealing with it. More importantly, I noticed on my blog statistics page that almost every day people were using search engines with key words like “losing a father” and “daughter losing father” and thus getting referred to my blog.

Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things in the world and people want to know how to deal with it. It’s strange that I have seen family and friends lose parents but haven’t heard much from them about what it’s been like.

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Who You Are When You Are Alone Online… That Is Who You Really Are

Its been an increasing fascination for me, the difference between how people will act in person compared to how they act online when believing they are anonymous (not linked to their real name or identity).  This is the reason why we need mentors – why I need several mentors – as I’ve written about before recently, so that we feel accountable for our “secret” or “private” online interactions.  Its the only healthy and honest way to live.  And the only way to live it, is to be an open book, to live your life with real accountability, and to not think of yourself as “anonymous.”

You are not anonymous.

You represent your faith, your family, the people who think they know you in real life.

Who you are when you are alone online… THAT is who you really are.

I stumbled upon an article this morning dealing with this very topic, from Christian Canadian author, Tim Challies.  He brings up Josh Duggar, the Christian man and political leader who was found to not only have a sordid past of sexually molesting several girls, including his own sisters, but to be living a double life as an upstanding Christian man who had not one, but two adultery accounts for the past two years.

While Josh’s double life is an extreme example, and something I don’t think occurs very often, sometimes even normal sinners fall into a situation where they are seriously tempted to lash out at someone online when they think they will remain anonymous.

The sad thing is that people who are tempted to do this, usually are not truly growing spiritually or relationally, because when you feel responsible to God (and others) for your actions, you don’t act differently online.  If someone is pretending to be a certain way – pretending to actually be kind, patient, loving, self-controlled etc, but are actually acting the opposite online, they split their personality to be one way in public, and another in private.  They may work at your church, be nice and appear totally normal, be able to hold a nice conversation with you face to face, but in their private times alone on their computer, they send horrible emails trying to control family members or coworkers, use their free time to stalk people they don’t like who are no longer talking to them, look at their social media accounts or read their blogs, searching for an opportunity to vent their hidden hatred or anger.  Its sad to me because people who do this will never grow this way, without being confronted that what they did was wrong, that they aren’t anonymous, they will never feel the necessary conviction from the Holy Spirit to do the painful work of changing their hearts on the inside.

We are all hypocrites to some degree or another, but living with two personas – an online versus a real life persona – destroys a person’s chance of developing real, tangible character – character that doesn’t change depending on the circumstance.  Allowing it to continue destroys the chance of them being convicted and doing the painful work of confronting the things they don’t like about themselves.  I spoke in my recent post Discipleship & Mentors about a time when I allowed myself to do something I knew was wrong, lashing out at family members who even though they were acting evil, provoking me for 5 years, my behaving evil right back was not justified behavior.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  No one caught me, but I did get myself into trouble as sin always does (destroyed relationships, immense guilt for behaving badly, in trouble with God, etc.).  Not to mention I completely ruined whatever witness I had to those individual family members – I knew giving in to my anger was extremely wrong and harmful (to them and to myself).  Although my actions were always linked to my real self, the fact that I allowed myself to lash out online showed me how easy it was to give in to sinful behavior using social media.  Going to mentors right after the fact (that I had been shutting out of my life or outright avoiding), and being honest about the situation, honest of how I let myself lash out, helped me reject that behavior, and pursue becoming a woman of integrity.  A woman who was responsible, all the time, to God and to others for her actions.

Challies’ article  describes how even our internet searches can be recovered or traced online, showing what a person has been searching for on the internet, what they were truly thinking.

Would you be ok with your internet searches open to the public?  Would it reveal what you really do in your alone time is drastically different from what you project in person, or who you try to be?

“You have heard by now that the site AshleyMadison.com was hacked and that millions of users had their information made public. Ashley Madison is a company that exists to facilitate (and even guarantee) adulterous relationships, and now those people who wanted to be quietly unfaithful to their spouses have been suddenly outed. As I read the headlines and heard of some of those caught up in the scandal (including, sadly, Josh Duggar), I thought back to one of the first times in Internet history that we had to grapple with the power of the data we leave behind us every time we use the Web. For that we will need to go back to 2006.

Who you are when you are alone and online, that is who you really are—no more, and no less.

In 2006, America Online made an epic misjudgment which taught us a valuable lesson: Who you are when you are alone and online, that is who you really are—no more, and no less. As part of a research project headed Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, AOLmade available to the public a massive amount of data culled from their search engine — the search history of 650,000 users over a three-month period. This totaled some 21 million searches. Before releasing the data, they anonymized it, stripping away user names and replacing names with numbers, so that a user with a name like timc2000 simply became User #75636534. Yet because of the often-personal nature of the data, it did not take long before many of those abstract numbers were linked to real names, an obvious and serious violation of privacy and confidentiality. Within days, AOL realized its mistake and withdrew the data, but already it had been copied and uploaded elsewhere on the Internet, where today it lives on in infamy.

Some of the search histories were dark and disturbing, others unremarkable in every way. Still others were strangely amusing. It was often possible to reconstruct a person’s life, at least in part, from what they searched for over a period of time. Consider this user:

  • shipping pets 2006-03-01 16:36:48
  • does ata ship pets 2006-03-01 17:10:35
  • continental.com 2006-03-01 21:34:53
  • pet shipping 2006-03-01 21:35:11
  • broken bones in cat 2006-03-04 03:31:53
  • cat has broken bones above base of tail vet said it will heal on its own
    2006-03-04 03:32:53
  • cat broken bones and diarreah 2006-03-04 03:58:24
  • cat health 2006-03-04 14:10:22
  • cat has broken bones wasn’t bleeding before but now is and now she
    can’t defecate too 2006-03-04 14:16:35
  • mucous blood diarreah in cat 2006-03-04 14:22:47

It is not too difficult to understand what transpired through this three-day history of searches. The search engine data tells a sad story about a person and his or her cat.

This glut of user data raised a nearly endless number of questions and concerns. Primarily, it brought awareness to the fact that search engines know you better than you may like. Actually, they probably know you better than you know yourself in some ways. You tend to forget what you have searched for in the past; they don’t. We may like to think that our searches are just quick queries, harmless and pointless inquiries known only to us.

Here is an AOL user whose searches tell a sad story (for sake of space, I have stripped out a large number of searches):

  • body fat calliper 2006-03-01 18:54:10
  • curb morning sickness 2006-03-05 08:53:23
  • get fit while pregnant 2006-03-09 18:49:37
  • he doesn’t want the baby 2006-03-11 03:52:01
  • you’re pregnant he doesn’t want the baby 2006-03-11 03:52:49
  • online degrees theology 2006-03-11 04:05:24
  • online christian colleges 2006-03-11 04:13:33
  • foods to eat when pregnant 2006-03-12 09:38:02
  • baby names 2006-03-14 19:11:10
  • baby names and meanings 2006-03-14 20:01:27
  • physician search 2006-03-23 10:20:04
  • best spa vacation deals 2006-03-27 20:04:09
  • maternity clothes 2006-03-28 09:28:25
  • pregnancy workout videos 2006-03-29 10:01:39
  • buns of steel video 2006-03-29 10:12:38
  • what is yoga 2006-03-29 12:17:31
  • what is theism 2006-03-29 12:18:30
  • hindu religion 2006-03-29 12:18:56
  • yoga and hindu 2006-03-29 12:32:05
  • is yoga alligned with christianity 2006-03-29 12:33:18
  • yoga and christianity 2006-03-29 12:33:42
  • abortion clinics charlotte nc 2006-04-17 11:00:02
  • greater carolinas womens center 2006-04-17 11:40:22
  • can christians be forgiven for abortion 2006-04-17 21:14:19
  • can christians be forgiven for abortion 2006-04-17 21:14:19
  • roe vs. wade 2006-04-17 22:22:07
  • effects of abortion on fibroids 2006-04-18 06:50:34
  • abortion clinic charlotte 2006-04-18 15:14:03
  • symptoms of miscarriage 2006-04-18 16:14:07
  • water aerobics charlotte nc 2006-04-18 19:41:27
  • abortion clinic chsrlotte nc 2006-04-18 21:45:39
  • total woman vitamins 2006-04-20 16:38:16
  • engagement rings 2006-04-20 16:58:37
  • high risk abortions 2006-04-20 17:53:49
  • abortion fibroid 2006-04-20 17:55:18
  • benefits of water aerobics 2006-04-20 23:25:50
  • wedding gown styles 2006-04-26 19:37:34
  • recover after miscarriage 2006-05-22 18:17:53
  • marry your live-in 2006-05-27 07:25:45

This woman goes from searching about pregnancy, to realizing that the father does not want to keep the baby, to researching abortion clinics, to researching whether she can, according to her faith, choose abortion, to dealing with a miscarriage. And at the end of it all, life goes on and she seems ready to be married.

What is so amazing about these searches is the way people transition seamlessly from the normal and mundane to the outrageous and perverse.

What is so amazing about these searches is the way people transition seamlessly from the normal and mundane to the outrageous and perverse. They are, thus, an apt reflection of real life. The user who is in one moment searching for information about a computer game may in the next be looking for the most violent pornography he can imagine. Back and forth it goes, from information about becoming a foster parent to the search for incestual pornography. One user went from searching for preteen pornography to searching for games appropriate for a youth group. Others, spurned lovers, sought out ways of exacting revenge while still others grappled with the moral implications of cheating on their spouses. These searches are a glimpse into the hearts of the people who made them.

And now millions of Ashley Madison users have been outed in much the same way, except this time their actual names and personal information are sitting right there alongside their data. They have been exposed as people who went looking for adultery. And the whole world is sitting by, looking on with an amused eye. Spouses are searching through the data wondering if even their husband, their wife, may have been involved. Gossip blogs are combing the data looking for headlines.

One of the great deceptions of the Internet is that it allows us to think there are two parts to us, the part who exists in real time and space, and the part who exists in cyberspace.

But events like this ought to make us realize that when you go online you display and expose who and what you really are.

And who you really are will eventually find you out. God will not be mocked.”

My Husband Isn’t Being Romantic Enough

I was asked to respond to a woman’s anonymous comment on the site Biblical Gender Roles.  The full post is here, and below is the woman’s situation in her own words in italics, along with my responses in normal text.

The Undated Wife

“I have read many of the posts on your site and I agree with some things you say. I agree that women should not deny sex to their husbands and I do not deny sex to my husband, although there are many times I don’t feel like having sex with him.

But I think you miss the fact that women have an equal right to be dated by their husbands. Why do men think that dating is just before marriage? Why do men stop dating their wives after they get married?

While it is very nice and definitely helps to keep the romance alive in the relationship to continue going out on “dates” while married, there is absolutely no where in the Bible where women are guaranteed that kind of romantic situation.  Even throughout history, married couples needed to focus more on working well together, each carrying their own load, rather than on romance in the marriage.  I’m not trying to be overly harsh, but this reeks of a selfish attitude saying that women have “an equal right to be dated by their husbands.”  I’ve never seen or heard that line before, it is not biblical like the partners’ right to sex is.  The Bible clearly states that neither partner should deny sex to the other, unless it is mutually decided on (consensual) and for only a short period of time; however, no where will you find the Bible outlining that couples should not deny each other romance or regular dates.

So this statement you believe is true, that women have some kind of right to be taken out on dates that is equal to the right of having sex in a marriage is biblically false and has no foundation.  It is great if your husband would date you once a week, take you out several times a year on couples’ get-aways, or being able to finance family vacations once or twice a year.  These are privileges that are based on your husband’s being able to afford them financially and time-wise, though, not considered rights that you can use to berate him with.

Let me give you a little bit of background to my situation. I married my husband about 8 years ago, we were both divorced. I had no children from my previous marriage (I am unable to have children). He had three kids from a previous marriage that he has joint custody of. Now they are all teenagers. I love his kids and they love me.

We’ve been married 8 years as well, so I like that I can at least relate to having spent the same time in our marriages.  To give you a little background about me, my husband and I got married very young – I was 20, about to turn 21, and he was 22.  We were not your standard early 20 year olds, however, we (especially he) were a little bit more mature.  I’m so glad that you have been able to create the kind of relationship with his kids so that they love you!  With blended families where there are stepchildren, that is so crucial to a happy home life.

I am a stay at home wife.

Me, too, for now.

My husband says he loves me. He is a good provider. He is a good father to our children. But he works all the time. Even when he comes home from the office, he takes his laptop out many times and continues to read and answer emails all evening long. The only time he seems to carve out anytime is when his kids come to our house. Then he spends time with them. In fact sometimes I feel like the minute his kids arrive I am not even there.

Try not to go into victim mode/victim mentality here and give in to the selfish attitude of throwing yourself a pity party.  Let’s count your blessings so that we can stay in perspective: you have a husband who sounds like a good, decent man when many other women in this world are lonely.  I actually know many women right now in my own sphere that are single and would kill to be in your position with a husband to love and do life with, and children to bless and to mother.  Another blessing is that your husband is a “good provider,” what a praise to have this in a world of men who are rejecting women and marriage altogether!  You have a man that is willing to bust his ass for you, who is driven and motivated!  We as women tend to feel sorry for ourselves whenever anything big or small tends to throw off our plans or expectations of how things should go.  Think of the women of the past, they truly had it tough, and they were never guaranteed going out once a week on romantic dates – that would have been entirely foreign to them and they would think of us as wimps!  They would never have complained or nagged or whined about feeling neglected because their husbands didn’t take them out for dates.

The women of the past, however, didn’t have our modern day female sense of entitlement.  When they entered a marriage, they entered it understanding that they were going to have to work within it – both physically but also emotionally in order to keep a good healthy marriage.  They had the mentality of “what am I willing to do and what do I bring to a marriage,” whereas we all too often have the attitude of, “what’s in it for me?” and “What will I get out of this arrangement?”  The women of the past that made happy marriages were keen on keeping things in perspective.  If they had a good man for a husband, children to love (even if they were his from another marriage), a roof over their heads, and food on their table, they were content.  I remember reading and studying old letters and article clippings of the Victorian age where wives wrote in to describe their individual marriages.  The happy wives didn’t put all the romance responsibility onto their husbands, but the unhappy ones wrote pieces like your comment to BiblicalGenderRoles, only focusing on how unhappy they were because he was lacking in some way.  Many had to get creative and romance their husbands indoors (romantic evenings by the fire, with a cup of tea, snuggled together, and always always the happy ones wrote about keeping their sex lives alive).  At least you can be comforted that even back then, a marriage’s happiness strongly correlated with the wife’s ability to be optimistic and make the most of things, or throw herself a pity party focusing on her husband’s flaws and how hard she has it.

A word about your husband spending all his time with his children:

If he doesn’t have full custody of his children, then it is crucial to spend all the time he can with them when he does have them.  They are “all teenagers” as you said, so their time out of the house is coming very soon, you will be able to have him all to yourself as empty nesters in about 5 years more than likely.  But yes, he created them before you, and they are his priority number one until they turn 18.  You are not.  I’m sorry if this is hard for you to hear, many step-moms don’t understand a father’s responsibility and duty to his kids and become resentful that he feels more obligated to them than to her.  It simply is the way it is, you chose a man who had children before you.

There are times when he realizes he has not been paying enough attention to me and purposefully does not take out his laptop. We just sit and talk or watch some TV together. But I have told him I feel he needs to make more of an effort to date me. He needs to take me out to dinner more, he needs to take me to the movies. He should be taking me on weekend getaways several times a year like he did many years ago. He has turned into a “homebody” – he is fine with just being home with me and the kids.

This is great that he is willing to admit that he’s not spending enough quality time with you, but instead of waiting for him to feel guilty (and you feeling neglected), why don’t you have a sit down talk at a convenient time where you let him know that instead of him having to feel guilty about it, and instead of you feel resentful or nagging him, that you both can instead work to create a schedule where time spent together alone is written in on a calendar or marked somewhere you two can remember.  This can be very simple – don’t overcomplicate it!  Just simply write in on the calendar twice a week where you two spend at least 1 hour together focusing on the relationship and on each other.  Simple. Easy. Done!

Dates for us have never had to be going out somewhere to do something, they can even be taking a walk together around the neighborhood, going for a run together (working out together is one of my favorite quality times with my hubby), watching a movie on the couch together, making a special dinner together, or just talking one on one about deep issues we’re interested in.

I said he is a good provider and good father. I don’t feel he is a good husband to me. I always feel like his kids and his job come first, and I am always last on his “to do list”. Sure when I say something to him about feeling neglected – he will try for a while to talk with me more, and he might even take me out once in a great while. But I want more! Don’t I deserve to be his number priority? Why do I always have to feel like I am second to his job or the kids?

A good husband cares about you and your needs, this man sounds like he cares and is willing to take your feelings into account.  Be grateful for this!  There are women who are actually married to bad husbands – men who truly don’t care about meeting their needs, don’t care about their feelings, etc.  Your husband, by your account of him, sounds very good to me.  Be careful about constantly giving him an F on his report card, when other women would look at your life and at him, and give him an A.  That is how good men go astray, when they’re honestly trying, honestly caring, and doing the best they know how, but their wife for some reason wants to focus on something minor (like date nights) and ruin the entire marriage over it by saying he’s a “bad husband” to her.

Goodness woman, he is a good husband.  Be thankful for him, be thankful for his being attune to your feelings and needs.  Just simply help him to meet them by doing what I stated before – scheduling in 2x per week some alone time and romance so that you can feel loved.  Do not be a martyr by trying to say he should be the one being romantic, remember and think on the women of the past and how they had to deal with a lot more – physically, mentally and emotionally stressful situations that don’t even compare to the frivolity that we enjoy now.

I got him to go to counseling with our Pastor whom he respects. Our pastor told him he needed to date me, he needed to take me out once a week. He need to take me on a weekend getaway at least twice a year. My husband MAYBE might take me out once a month on date. He has not taken me on a weekend getaway in a year and half. He says we don’t have enough money for trips right now and I just have to be patient (we had to cancel our family vacation this summer because of finances). He tells me things will get better financially in a couple years after we pay off the debt. A couple years!!!!! If something is important to you – you make it happen. But again I am not as important to him as his job or his kids. God says a wife is to be her husband’s number one priority right? That means I come before everything – his kids, his job.

Oh my… bringing in the Pastor who he respects to tell him to “man up” and do something that’s not even biblically mandated is a bit much in my opinion.  And telling him he needs to take you on a weekend get-away at least 2x per year… this just reeks of self-entitlement.  Now let’s get into the part where you start complaining about what he hasn’t done for you:

My husband MAYBE might take me out once a month on date.

That’s like us… we would love to do it once a week, but we’ve never been able to plan it well enough with a babysitter to get that kind of experience.  Sometimes we’ve even gone months without a date night, in fact, our last date night (before our vacation last week) was in April or May!!!  I make sure that we spend enough alone time and have enough romance though, so that I don’t feel neglected. I don’t whine about not having a monthly date night (even though we mean to), I don’t make him feel like a bad husband for it, and I don’t put extra stress or pressure on him when I know I can get my relational and emotional needs met by simply making sure it happens instead of playing the martyr and expecting him to be perfect.

My husband has an incredibly stressful job – and yes, it is a job where he does not get to spend as much time with me as I would prefer, but as his wife, it is my duty and responsibility to make sure our home life runs well, that our children are doing great, that everything is going smoothly.  I’m also responsible for my own happiness.  He is not responsible for that, and he is not a bad husband even though he doesn’t have the time to make a date night every month or would never remember on his own, to schedule needed romantic time or alone time together.  That’s just being a man :)  sometimes men need help meeting their wife’s needs, there’s nothing wrong with you pleasantly and sweetly reminding him that you love spending time with him and being romantic – that you need this to feel secure in the marriage.

He has not taken me on a weekend getaway in a year and half.

I haven’t been on a weekend getaway with my hubby in 3 years now.  It was a beautiful experience, and yes, I’d love to be able to do it even once a year (let alone the twice you’re complaining your husband isn’t providing for you), but financially, we’ve never before been able to handle that.  You marriage and his quality as a husband should not depend on whether or not he is dating you regularly, or is able to take you on weekend get-aways twice a year.  Again, it is simply selfish entitlement.

He says we don’t have enough money for trips right now and I just have to be patient (we had to cancel our family vacation this summer because of finances). He tells me things will get better financially in a couple years after we pay off the debt. A couple years!!!!! If something is important to you – you make it happen. But again I am not as important to him as his job or his kids. God says a wife is to be her husband’s number one priority right?

Aye, woman!  Can you hear yourself and how selfish you sound?  Again, think of the women of the past, how they understood that when they entered into a marriage, that they focused on what they could bring to it.  We have never been able to afford a family vacation in 8 years… this is our first one ever that we had a week ago, and it was truly wonderful.  But all these years, I never dared made my husband feel less than because of his not being able to afford one, I can’t imagine how that would have crushed his ego and self-esteem, making him feel like a failure.  My husband was busting his ass all these years ensuring we were staying afloat – we’ve both put each other through school or training – taking turns supporting each other and working for the benefit of the marriage.  Did it suck that we couldn’t afford weekend get-aways twice a year, or family vacations (ever)?  Yes, but we never complained to each other about it – if we ever did lament the fact, it was not in a way of blaming each other for it.

I hope you can see that this is a problem that you have, an underlying heart issue of not focusing on your blessings and not working to create the kind of marriage YOU desire (the romance).  You have a problem of being selfish here, even dragging your husband to a Pastor so that he can feel spiritually mandated to cater to your extreme self-entitlement issues.

Be joyful that your husband takes debt seriously!  Be joyful that he is working on a plan to get rid of any debt that ya’ll have!  Be joyful that you’ll be able to get out of it “in a couple of years!”  These are all things to praise God for and reallign your attitude about!

I read your post on how a man is to know his wife – I almost cried when I read it because I want that from my husband. I want to feel like his number one priority.

Then romance him.  Set aside time 2x per week to romance him purposefully, create the life you want, the romantic marriage you desire with him.  Don’t play the martyr, crying about how things aren’t meeting your expectations and falling into your lap.  Make the best of what you have, and be thankful for your blessings.

I just feel like all I am here for is to do his and his kids laundry, cook for them and drive them places, and of course have sex with him.

I feel more like a maid and a sex slave than his wife!

With all the news coming out about the Yazidi women, I think you seriously need to read and watch some of the videos about what it is truly like to be a real sex slave.  Again, this is playing the martyr, it’s not healthy for you, its not healthy for your marriage, it’s not helping your husband, and it’s not creating the kind of environment you want for your kids to be in.

Can you maybe write a post about husbands loving their wives before everything else? Can you write about how God wants men to date their wives? Isn’t that what loving your wife is? To date her, to make her feel like she is your number one priority?”

I hope this helped you to maybe think about your situation from a different perspective.  Again, it sounds like we are and have been, in much the same circumstance, and yet, I’ve chosen to respond completely opposite from how you have.

If you feel up to it, make a list of all the incredible blessings you have in your life, put it in a nice journal that you can keep on your nightstand.  Each night, I want you to open that journal and re-read your blessings, thanking God for giving you each and every one.  Each night, I want you to add 1 more blessing to your list, pray over your list every night.  Even (if you feel comfortable enough) ask your hubby to pray with you, let him listen to you thanking God for all that you’ve been given.

Blessings!

Praying Over Our Children

With the school year about to start, and so many little ones (and big ones) returning to school for another year, I found a list our church gave us for praying over our children when we dedicate them – our baby’s dedication was about a month ago.

Our oldest is going to school for the first time, and with all the evil in the world, with all the strange things he may encounter, I feel like its our responsibility to pray over our children.

I’m praying specifically for my sons’:

Salvation –

Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.  Isaiah 45:8; 2 Timothy 2:10

Growth in Grace –

I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 3:18

Love –

Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them.  Galations 5:25; Ephesians 5:2

Honesty & Integrity –

May integrity and honest be my children’s virtue and their protection.  Psalm 25:21

Self-Control –

Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.  Psalm 19:10

Justice –

God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.  Psalm 11:7; Micah 6:8

Mercy –

May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.  Luke 6:36

Respect –

Father, grant that my children may show proper respect for their selves, others, and for authority figures, as Your Word commands.  1 Peter 2:17

Biblical Self Esteem –

Help my children to develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:10

Faithfulness –

Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these two virtues around their necks like necklaces and write them on the tablet of their hearts.  Proverbs 3:3

Courage –

May my children always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions at school.  Deut. 31:6

Purity –

Create in my children a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown through their actions.  Psalm 51:10

Kindness –

Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to other children at school, as well as show kindness to their teachers.  1 Thessalonians 5:15

Generosity –

Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay-up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.  1 Timothy 6:18-19

Peace-loving

Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace, and to live a life of peace with others, as much as it depends on them.  Romans 14:19

Joy –

May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit, may their joyfulness be catching, and may I as their mother create a home where joy abounds.  1 Thessalonians 1:6

Perseverance –

Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race You have marked out for them, without giving up, and with confidence that they can do all things through Your strength.  Hebrews 12:1; Philippians 4:13

Humility –

God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all by displaying a gentle, peace-loving attitude.  Titus 3:2

Compassion –

Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.  Colossians 3:12

Responsibility –

Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.  Help them to become mature adults.  Galatians 6:5

Contentment –

Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through You who gives them strength.  Philippians 4:12-13

Faith

I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them. Luke 17:5-6; Hebrews 11:1-40

A Servant’s Heart –

God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.  Ephesians 6:7

Hope –

May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Willingness & Ability to Work –

Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as they are working for You and not just for men or their teacher.  Colossians 3:23

Passion for God

Lord, please instill in my children a soul that “followeth hard after thee,” one that clings passionately to You.  Psalm 63:8

Self-Discipline –

Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right, just, and fair.  Proverbs 1:3

Prayerfulness –

Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

Gratitude –

Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 2:7

A Heart for Reaching Out to Others –

Lord, please help my children to develop a desire to see Your glory declared among the nations, Your marvelous deeds among the peoples.  Psalm 96:3

Not Ready Yet

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More beautiful vacation….

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So. Damn. Sexy.

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I can’t get over this pic.

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Beautiful sunflowers everywhere in the sand….

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I’m still in denial… still not ready to be back! :)

Rest Assured

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Words escape me when I have tried and retried to write a simple post after returning from our vacation.  It was just so beautiful… so breathtakingly refreshing… and so needed :)  Its like we’ve come away with a piece of the beauty we saw still residing in us, encouraging us to remain peaceful and to be quiet.  I’m usually never at a loss for words, but right now… I’m all out.

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We woke up a few times early enough to catch the sunrises over the ocean.  The beauty was overwhelming and caused a peace to flood our minds as we looked at the beautiful colors and heard the ocean’s crashing waves.  It was hard to come back… we’re so bombarded with negativity and ugliness in modern life.  The week long break from social media was truly eye-opening, putting so many things into perspective.

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The sunsets were just as touching.

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Discipleships, Mentors, & Spiritual Growth

This past weekend I had a request to write a post about how a young wife can find a Biblical mentor in real life.  It is a fantastic question, and something I wish I knew to do earlier on in my marriage!  We are about to leave on vacation tomorrow, but I just had to get this last post out before leaving for a week.

I remember I had one woman I looked up to in college that was living a beautiful, godly life, one I definitely wanted to emulate. Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough or pushy enough to ask her if she would be willing to take me under her wing and guide me along in my choices.  She even tried herself to set me up with another mentor that she thought I would love, but I carelessly threw away the opportunity by procrastinating and never getting in touch with the other woman myself.  It was something I always set on the back burner, and never took seriously.

One may ask why do we have mentors?  Why are they actually needed?  One of the main reasons why we need mentors in our life is to have someone wise and important to us in order to bounce ideas off of, to ask questions to, and to ask for direction when we’re faced with a difficult or confusing situation.  It is not good to allow ourselves to be an island, there is even Scripture condemning various aspects of isolating yourself, or going about battle plans (life plans) without having several counselors in order to ensure your success.  We are not supposed to do life successfully without people to reach out to, with no one to remain accountable to, and no one to subtly keep us in check when we’re straying off course.

We desperately need mentors in our life so that we are continuing to grow in spiritual maturity.  Part of that is having someone who stops you when they see you are doing something counter to achieving your goal of spiritual growth.

I’ve found that not having at least one mentor that you are transparent with is a very dangerous situation to be in.  Personally, there was a time when I got myself into so much trouble that could have been completely prevented had I been confiding in a mentor and allowing that kind of interjection in my life.  I even realized it when I was paying the consequences of making a truly idiotic decision, and it was right then, at about 25 years old, that I decided I needed to be far more intentional about bringing in good women into my life that could help me avoid awful pitfalls from acting without biblical mentorship.  Your goal is spiritual growth, keep that in mind and avoid engaging in activities that reek of immaturity.

Can your husband be your spiritual mentor?

LOL oh how I wish things were so simple.  The short answer?  No.  Long answer?  Yes and no.  Your husband is for sure, a wealth of resources in offering you advice and spiritual leadership, covering you and offering protection, as well as calling out your sin and what you may be doing wrongly to yourself or others.  He has spiritual authority over you, and deserves your respect for his thoughts and advice on what you should be doing.  I’m lucky in that my husband is even capable of teaching me his life skills of how to deal with people, so in this one way, of course he can be considered a kind of mentor.  But as far as female mentorship, your husband is not a woman, he is not a feminine being that understands a female experience, there are many things he cannot advise you on simply because he is not an older woman in a more progressed life stage than you.  Can he take an educated guess and probably do pretty well?  Of course, but it’s my opinion that it would put undue strain and pressure on him to try to advise you in the way a older, wiser, female mentor would be easily able to do.  Why ask him to fill a role that another woman is biblically admonished to do for younger wives?

There have been many times that one of my mentors has subtly challenged me to be a better wife by encouraging me, or to look at a circumstance differently by telling me her perspective on the matter, or to appreciate what I had rather than feel sorry for myself when I was upset over something trivial.  It’s been incredible to be able to have wise women who are trustworthy enough to be so transparent with.  They’ve done life with me, prayed with me over very personal issues – some regarding social media at times when I was being attacked.  They’ve challenged me with this blog, with the people I choose to support or the questions I choose to answer here; there has even been an instance when one has been able to help me see something I was doing wrong – when I was allowing myself (and the blog) to be taken advantage of in her opinion.  One recently suggested that I don’t allow negative comments at all, because she was angry on my behalf that someone from our real life would feel emboldened by anonymity to leave a hurtful comment criticizing my husband and our marriage.  If I didn’t have these women in my life, and truly in my life as far as knowing what I’m up to on the internet, I would have more incentive to sin or act without spiritual maturity simply because of having no real life accountability to keep me in check.

And for women who use social media, accountability seems to be something that is largely missing.  It has become a strange phenomenon for women in particular (though men do, too) to be unduly harsh and hyper-critical when attacking someone online under the guise of anonymity.  They can be the sweetest, most normal person to your face in real life, however, without feeling an accountability to others and to God, they can somehow let out their true feelings about you in a verbal lashing online.  The only good thing that comes from something like that is you now know what they’ve truly thought of you all along.  But the case remains, even online, we all need accountability, having at least one mentor that you spill the beans to meets that spiritual need.

So… How do you find a mentor?

1) Be picky – When picking out a personal mentor whom you’ll confide in and let into your life, there is very good reason to be extremely picky.  For one, you should not value the opinion of just anyone, if you can tell someone has an impure heart or motivations toward you, if they judge you on appearance alone or display a two-faced demeanor, their opinion should matter very little, no matter how old or “wise” they appear (because they do not have a pure heart).  Just because someone is your elder does not mean they are spiritually mature.  Be picky in who you allow to criticize or advise you, not everyone (or even most people) understand you, care about you enough, or know you well enough in order to give you the advice you truly need.

2) Don’t be picky – while I just pointed out that not everyone should be considered a good spiritual mentor, at the same time, you don’t want to be too picky to where you are left with no one at all to mentor you.  To some degree, any older woman that is in a progressed life stage than you (or more mature) may be able to offer you great advice on some things, maybe not all things, or as well as a true mentor would be able to, but definitely some things that you may not yet understand.  Do not only look for someone who is your perfect idea of your mentor while excluding everyone else who is capable of giving out tidbits of truth.  I have found that acquiring many different mentors in my life has been by far the best thing because they have unique life experiences.  One in particular is in her 80’s, so incredibly wonderful and vastly spiritually mature due to her diligence in the Word and her sheer age.  She is the grandmother of my friend.  She has personally helped me to grow beyond my flaws and imperfections – things she herself said she used to have that were unique, we are the same exact personality, and felt compelled to help me grow in personally using her life experience to guide me along.  This kind of experience is invaluable to a young wife looking to grow more spiritually mature.

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What happens when one of your mentor friends sees a glass vase break at your party… she gives you several more for free because she loves you!

3) Look for someone who is living the life you would want to be living.  For a real intense mentorship, it is crucial that you only pick someone that you admire in many ways, someone who’s life you’d like to have someday.  A godly woman who is self-controlled, manages herself well, manages her children and her household exceptionally, and above-all, treats her husband like the spiritual leader of the family.  She must exhibit having a firm grasp on displaying the fruit of the spirit, not acting rashly or immaturely, not behaving in ways that go against godly conduct.  Not being disrespectful to men – strangers or men in her life – is a big thing to watch out for.  I once thought a woman seemed like a worthy role model, completely had her life together, older and from what I could tell, wiser, that is until I saw her tell another man to “**** off!”

Basically, you need to be very careful who you look up to, because you will find yourself repeating their attitude and behavior unconsciously if you aren’t careful.

4) Get yourself out there!  I would never have met any of these women if I stayed shy and insecure in myself like I used to be (I truly was!).  It takes guts to reach out to others, to let them into your life that close so that they can see and know your personal flaws – but there is no better way to live than to let others do life with you and help you overcome your struggles! It has been so refreshing to be loved for myself, flaws and all, to have women who love me wholly, who call me to do better, and who are also friends who pray for me in these things.

Now I’ve had the honor and great pleasure to experience this from the other side – from being a mentor to younger women, and it always astonishes me how hard it is for them to get over that hump to really pursue mentorship for themselves.  They want it so bad, know they need it in their life, but it is hard to take that final step of making it a reality.

5) Be intentionally growing in the Word yourself.  You should be reading God’s word daily, seeking out His advice each morning or night, going to Bible studies with other women and female leaders where you can find future mentors.  You cannot expect to have wisdom, maturity, or a great mentorship just fall into your lap from the sky, you need to be intentionally growing on your own as well.

Some key points I learned from our sermon last Sunday regarding discipleship:

  • You should be persistant in your faithfulness.  This means that you always obey, always do what is right, whether in the presence or absence of a spiritual leader (your husband) or mentor.  This means that you feel accountability for your actions done in secret, that you are obeying all the little tugs of the Holy Spirit, continuing to travel in a direction God wants you to go in, and stopping once you feel it is time to stop or turn the other way.  This means that you are not anonymous, you represent Christ to the world because when you speak, you are one of His representatives.
  • You should be making intentional effort to obey and do what is right.  We are called to “work out our own salvation” in Philippians, which means to grow ever deeper in spiritual maturity.  Part of this intentional effort is to go where there are women’s Bible studies, seek out women to mentor you or pray with you.
  • You should have a radical reliance on Christ to finish the work He started in you. Part of working out our salvation in fear and trembling is allowing the Holy Spirit to convict and grow you – relying on Him to do this because He is faithful.  If you desire spiritual growth at all, you need to realize that is something God has given you as a gift.  We are constantly referred to as gardens in the Bible, with God being the Gardener.  Different people may water us, tend to us and help us along in our growth, but only God causes the growth to occur by working in and through us.
  • You should be seeing a Christ-like Transformation in yourself.  You need to be reflecting the attitude and character of Christ.  “Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God, faultless in a crooked and perverted generation….”   It was ironic that when Christianity was first starting, the people of the movement were mocked and called “Christians” which literally meant “little Christs.”  People loved to mock them for representing someone so good, so perfect, and yet so far from what they could ever actually achieve.  Something that was meant to deride and mock these first Christ followers, was actually a true compliment and turned out to be a good thing.  We should be “little Christs,” we should look like Him, reflect Him in our attitude.
  • People should be able to see an obvious difference.  The end of the former mentioned verse continues like this “… so that you shine like stars in a world of darkness.”  We should be unmistakably bright, brilliant, shining out from others like stars in the night sky.  Unmissable, unmistakable.  A holy race, a chosen people, a royal nation.  But we also shouldn’t look at the darkness with disgust or disdain… we must look at it with compassion because we used to be that.
  • Ending thoughts: Your spiritual transformation is more reflected in what you do secretly on Monday-Saturday, than what you do on Sunday.  You can’t grow yourself, trying to be like Jesus without letting Him guide you is missing the point.

“We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully within me.” Colossians 1:28-29 HCSB