Spiritual Post – Are There Really No “Levels” of Evil?

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My husband’s department just caught this man recently.  A fairly notorious criminal.  There are many out there just like him waiting to be caught.  It’s eye-opening to me when I see the photos and look into their eyes.  Which I have done… more than a few times.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my husband on the news, doing the “Perp Walk” as they call it, bringing in a man who just shot a bullet into another man’s head over road rage (they were actually both at fault – the man inciting the rage kept fighting with him… apparently, that’s normal in road rages cases).

When he arrived at the scene there were brains all over the inside of the car, and a giant gaping hole in side of the man’s head.  He can see this kind of stuff and eat a sandwich at the same time – doesn’t even phase him anymore.

But looking into the eyes of the murderer my husband brought in (and seeing my husband there as well, looking like a darn hero – because he is!), really put into perspective the difference between good and evil, and how shallow Christians are when they try to say everyone is the same in their hearts just because everyone sins.

It is true though that just ONE sin will send someone to hell.  But not every person will shoot a bullet into the head of their enemy, let alone a stranger who cut them off in traffic. Not everyone harms children and goes about with no guilt… for decades, like pedophiles typically do.

Not everyone is a reprobate, and we should never judge all people by lumping them in with the truly evil and diabolic.  Everyone is capable of such evil to be sure!  But not everyone decides to act on their most evil fantasies and basest thoughts.  Everyone is a sinner, but there are different levels of sin and evil that is within someone’s heart.

Something I’m grateful for when watching from the sidelines what my husband deals with on the regular, is that it’s taught me things like this.  It’s taught me to be more appreciative of the normal sinners, even though they clearly still need God, they are not the same, and should never be judged the same by us, as evil doers.  His work and the stories he can tell, have even made me be able to judge character better from afar, which is a safety measure against potential harm and evil doers.

This video above is excellent in explaining the principle God has of reaping and sowing.

The man in the video plainly states that if someone continues sowing sin, they will eventually reap a much harder life for themselves, full of all kinds of problems.  The point is not whether or not they can be saved from their sin, and it’s not even asking whether “big” sinners receive the same punishment as “little” sinners.  No, the point is that some sins have greater eternal consequences and judgments!  If you’re a Christian, this is a super important topic to understand fully, lest you get it wrong and lead many other people astray by adding words to the Bible!  The Bible warns that “not very many of you should be teachers,” because teachers (male or female) will be rightfully judged harsher when they get it wrong or lead others astray, because they have a huge responsibility to first, get it right, and second, to be humble enough to admit when someone has pointed out that they were wrong.

Personally, I’ve found that the Christians who do make these mistakes, are typically not able to admit their wrongdoing, but instead keep plunging ahead into more sin themselves by continuing to lead others astray.  It’s a problem of humility, when we’re not open to corrective discipline or criticism.  Even if an enemy is criticizing you, you always have to check if there is truth in it.

In the video, the man also talks about how Jesus reveals there are different levels of sin (or degrees of evil).  Not only do different kinds of sin have different kinds of real world consequences, they also are viewed differently by God in that they seem to have different eternal consequences.

Either way, the point or “takeaway” should not be that evil people can’t be saved – the murderer that my husband brought in may someday repent – and that would be wonderful!  God tells us in Ezekiel that He craves people like that to finally someday repent, and that He allows them into Heaven, even if they repent right before their death! 

We can’t have a superior attitude that denies even the worst of sinners God’s acceptance if they repent – but we should have a good attitude toward them and accept them back in.

So the takeaway should be a warning that yes, there are different levels of sin, and all sin separates us from God.  Jesus speaks on the different levels of sin a few times, warning people who repeatedly sow evil, or do truly treacherous deeds, that their punishment is harsher, both here on earth, and also in eternity.

Our God is a just and wonderful God, who sees everything and judges accordingly.  For that, I am so so grateful!

Stephanie

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Skincare – To Not Wear Makeup

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ZERO Makeup!!!

I don’t do very many posts on skincare, at least… not as many as I wish I could find the time to do.  There’s so many do-it-yourself ideas I’ve seen over the years that would be great to write about… especially for teen girls to start doing.  I think of beauty – a woman’s beauty – as her being a good steward over her countenance (face and the spirit of joy behind her face that shines forth), and her “crowning glory” as the Bible calls it – her hair!

“Doesn’t nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? 

For long hair is given to her as a covering.”

1 Cor. 11:15

I do think beauty is important – whether married or single, beauty is something I believe every woman has a deep deep desire to give or bring to the world. ❤

And with skincare, to me the goal should be making your skin look so healthy, that you don’t hardly need makeup at all.  Obviously I’m totally ok with makeup – I wear it almost everyday.  But lately, after using only 3 new products I’ve tried out this past month I wrote about here, I’ve actually been forgetting to put any makeup on at all!  I almost can’t tell the difference when seeing my face as to whether or not I have my foundation and concealer on, and so I just forget!

This NEVER used to happen to me!  I always felt like I had to wear my makeup, almost as part of the grooming process before being “presentable.”  So this… feeling good enough in my skin to the point where I totally forget to even put it on – I’m either getting early Alzheimer’s or my skin is looking A LOT better.

Hopefully, it’s the latter LOL 😉

The picture above is without makeup.  My skin is nice and even-toned now, it even feels so much smoother than it did just a month earlier before using these products.  My little pores have shrunk down.  My skin is baby soft again.

Side note–this isn’t a product review per say, and I’m not getting compensated to say these things LOL.  I just thought I’d do an update on them though to let y’all know that wow, these 3 simple products really do work.

So go back and read what I’m using here.

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And since it’s almost the end of the week… I thought it’d be fun to do a questionnaire thing! 🙂

  1. What is your favorite color?  Pink, the shade of ballet shoes.
  2. What are your favorite hobbies?  Dancing, playing with my babies, doing anything together with my husband, exercising, cooking, cleaning (yes – I’m OCD so it’s actually “fun” to me), painting, writing, being in nature, and especially gardening!
  3. Extrovert or Introvert?  Extrovert 100% !! And an optimist.  This combination tends to be annoying to some people 😀
  4. Meyer’s Briggs Type?  I always get the “ENFJ-A” (Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging Assertive) or the ENTJ-A (Thinking instead of Feeling).  I’m not sure why it changes over the years, but it does.  Most bloggers seem to be introverts, so it’s interesting to me that I’ve blogged for so long and yet am an extrovert.
  5. What is annoying you right now?  Wearing my horrible braces – but I’m almost done in a few more months!!  They hurt!!  It’s been just over a year since I had to get them, but again… almost done!  They even change the way my mouth looks lol!
  6. What’s a daily habit you can’t live without?  Um… lots of things.  Probably my morning quiet time reading the Bible and talking with God is the first thing.  But then also writing in a journal (a planner/journal).  I actually go back and re-read prior years’ journals to see how God’s gotten me through rough patches and things.
  7. What defines you in your life?  I always wanted to grow up to be a woman who had a beautiful family and had a garden.  A couple of years ago I realized that I’m actually living this, so I wrote it down in my journal as something I’m thankful for.
  8. What do you consider yourself?  Texan.  😀
  9. Parents married or divorced? Married 40 years!!
  10. How many kids do you have?  3 right now
  11. Do you want more kids? My husband wants us to stop at 4 🙂  For me… I could literally keep on making babies with him until we had 20 or something.  I hate pregnancy and being pregnant, but I love carrying his babies inside me and knowing we’re growing our family.  I never knew it would feel this joyful.
  12. Length of marriage? 10 1/2 years ❤
  13. Schooling/education or training?  Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with just one year short of a double major in Chemistry
  14. What kind of student were you growing up and in college?  Sometimes straight A’s, sometimes a few B’s.  I ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude and that was after giving birth my senior year, which was hard.  I remember being a little disappointed I missed Cum Laude (the higher honors), but considering I was a married student with a baby lol, I was ok.
  15. Favorite thing you own?  My socks.  lol  Seriously though!!  I find a ton of value in the little things like that!

 

Back to skincare… what do y’all use that you feel has really helped your face brighten up or become softer or smoother?  I’m actually amazed that retinol is working this well for me.

Stephanie

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: You Were Prophesied Over As an Infant

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Back almost 8 years ago, when we had our first child, we knew immediately we wanted to do a special Baby Blessing that our church offers.  It was so wonderful and so touching to bring our 2 week old baby to be blessed and prayed over in front of the church and with all the members praying for us as a couple and over him!  Very very touching ❤

We did the same with our second baby boy, and it was also so sweet.

But nothing like what I’m about to write to you, sweet girl, has ever happened to us before.

About the time that you were 4 weeks old, I had to return to my doctor to make sure everything was healing well, as is normal for after-birth, c-sections especially.  Your daddy wasn’t able to come due to work, and I had your Grandma watch the boys for me.  It had been a somewhat difficult recovery… I got mastitis within the first week because of how much you were feeding (every hour of the night!), and I had somewhat scary problems with swelling in my lower body.  But by this time, we were set in our little routine and everything was going pretty well.

There was a new, young nurse there helping me, and toward the end of my time with her (and after the doctor had left), she asked me if she could pray over you!  She said she could just tell that we were a Christian family, and I was amazed at how bold her faith was to ask something like that in our secular (harsh-toward-Christians) culture, as well as to be so bold as to actually ask to pray over another person’s baby!  I was so glad for her and accepted her offer of prayer.

I thought it would just be a normal kind of prayer… I guess I didn’t really know what to expect, but this young nurse prayed a powerful prayer of prophesy over you.  I found myself crying during the prayer it was so intense and powerful.  Very very strange.  Again, I’ve never had something like this happen before – to me or any of our children – and I’ve grown up in the church and around very religious, wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my life.  I’ve never experienced anything this strange, and this powerful spiritually.  I knew it was important to remember, and write down for you so that you will know your purpose and stay forever strong and rooted in God.

***

The boldness of that young nurses’ faith touched me so deeply in praying over you in that way.  I went in thinking it would just be a normal, run-of-the-mill appointment, and left with my face glowing and wiping away tears from that super-natural experience!  I came away feeling in awe of what God had in store for you, as well as terrified even more so that God expects me to be a mom to such wonderful, wise little children.  You and your brothers are just so different, both your dad and I have noticed this often.

Regardless, we will commit to teaching all of you all of the Word of God continuously.  You will have deep roots.  You will be like the good soil Jesus talked about, that accepts the seed (His Word) and grows and flourishes.

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Your heart is good soil, Little One, never forget that.

Never falter in your faith.  Never lose heart in doing good.  Never be afraid of anything other than having the fear of God, who supports you in your integrity and honesty.  You will watch as He shames and destroys your enemies and false people who come up against you.  You will watch your prayers be answered after you hand certain people over to Satan; them having nightmares and anxiety and great fear because of their terrible deeds.  You will see His Hand over your life in a way most people don’t get to.

Many women will lose heart in doing good, or give way to sins or even idolatry because they care more about pleasing other people, than living for an audience of One.  But you will stand like a lily among thorns.  You will still be standing even when all the others have lost heart and given away to fear, because their faith in God was weak.  Yours will remain strong, because of your deep roots and the faith God will grow in your heart.

We will continue teaching you and your brothers the decree we received from our father Moses:

“Listen Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One.  Love the LORD with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words I am giving to you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.  Write them on the door-posts of your house and on your gates.”  Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 

Timothy, my child, I entrust you with this command in keeping with the previous prophecies about youso that by them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and thereby shipwrecked their faith.  Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” 

1 Timothy 1:18-20

Raising Masculine Sons

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We just had possibly the best first day of Spring Break we’ve ever had as a family yesterday!  😀

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The beauty of spring is in full swing now here in Texas, and having our oldest home this week is exciting to me as I think of all the things we’ll be able to go and do!  But… staying in our own backyard is truly such a wonderful feeling of peaceful satisfaction.

And yesterday, that’s just what we did 😀

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In the early morning, I was able to do some gardening before it got to 90 degrees (yes!  In MARCH!!! :D).  And while I was digging and planting, my husband was teaching the boys some woodwork skills.

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Yes, that’s a 3 year old using a handsaw!!!!  My husband loves using opportunities like that to teach them, and I’m so grateful… because you know I’d NEVER use a handsaw unless my life depended on it LOL!  Much less be able to actually teach our sons those skills 🙂

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The reason why I don’t do any posts on “Things I Want My Sons to Know” is because although I have a lot of influence over them in understanding femininity, I can’t teach them how to be men.  I could never “raise masculine boys” without the constant help and wisdom of my husband.

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It’s been beautiful to watch his relationship with our older son, the way he’s diligently taught him throughout the years and given him a sense of confidence in his little masculine self ❤ !!

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Reflecting on these pictures this morning, I realized how far we’ve come from that first year with our dal.  Back in 2015 when we first got him and our oldest was only 5, he had a very hard time being confident and dominant enough in his personality that the dog refused to submit to him at all!  I wrote in detail back then here, how my husband’s guidance and fatherly instructions is what was raising our son to be far more masculine than I could ever manage on my own.  

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Here’s an excerpt from 3 years ago:

My husband takes control

My husband then came into the kitchen, I explained our walk and situation… he immediately took over control and began explaining to our son frame control, and having firm authority in establishing respect with the dog.

He took over and disciplined our son for acting fearful by making him stay with puppy, even forcing him to go outside with it. My husband stayed outside with our son, explaining to him what he needed to do in order to control his fear with the dog and show dominance.

It was so incredibly reassuring and relieving to feel the weight of control and discipline shift from my mommy-role shoulders, onto my capable husband’s.  A father’s unique masculinity and fortitude are so desperately needed as parenting is a million times easier with his strength and presence taking over to instruct or demonstrate.  I watched as he stayed outside a little longer with our son and the dog, teaching how to demonstrate dominant assertiveness, so thankful for his aptitude as a father and husband.  He then came inside saying that he wanted him to play with the dog outside alone for awhile.

Our son played for a good 15 minutes with the puppy, and then ran excitedly to the door and told us that he and his dog were having lots of fun together playing.  This was a dramatic difference from when he’d be outside alone with the dog before my husband had time to teach him confidence and authority.  Before, when he’d be outside letting the dog go potty, he would immediately run to the nearest chair or higher surface in order to escape any potential play-biting or jumping of the puppy.  Him being confident with the puppy and playing with him outside for a steady 15 minutes was a breakthrough!

When it was time to eat lunch, he came back inside and my husband had our son watch a few short videos of the Dog Whisperer explaining masculine dominance and calm authority in different scenarios with difficult dogs.  It led into an interesting discussion the two of them had where my husband explained leadership, and asked our son who is in charge of our family.  Our son undoubtedly answered that it was him.  And my husband asked him why he thought that was?  “Because you’re in charge.”  My husband then explained what it meant to “be in charge,” what that looked like in different situations or even environments with different kinds of people.  He explained why our son could sense that his father was in charge of our family….

My husband explained how even without violence or force you can establish yourself as a leader in any given situation.  He described how he is assertive in our family – he simply employs a feeling of authority in his manner, body language, and voice.  He used the example of how he has managed to show our extremely stubborn and at times rebellious cats, who’s in charge.  They obey him simply by his commanding voice – and its no small feat to get a cat to listen to you and obey you.  He doesn’t use violence or brute force, however, his voice alone has the strength and authority that makes them feel like they have to obey.  (From here)

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Now it’s so different!  They can go outside and run and play soccer (our dalmatian is WICKED GOOD at playing soccer, which is funny, because he looks like a soccer ball himself!).  They are becoming admirable little men because of my husband’s leadership in guiding them in that way.

Enjoy your Spring fellow bloggers and readers!  I am SO EXCITED about the sunlight, gardening, and playing in the sand and with our athletic dal!

I hope y’all have a wonderful Spring Break as well 🙂

Stephanie

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: You Will Grow into Your Feminine Beauty

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I am a major book worm.  In case you haven’t noticed that I’ve NEVER changed the cover of this blog in nearly 5 years!  Because books are life!  There is so much knowledge and wisdom and beauty to be found in other people’s thoughts, that I can never get enough of reading it seems.  I had a few favorite books growing up – but Jane Eyre is hands-down one of the most memorable ones, and one that I STILL cannot get enough of!  I loved Jane Eyre because I was (what I thought of anyway) an ugly-duckingly, and she gave me hope LOL!  Growing into my femininity and beauty has been a long journey for me, and one that I hope I’ll be able to help my daughter navigate well in the future.

We were out yesterday selling some clothes for extra cash and I found a little historic novel based on a true story about a young nurse, only 16 years old (!), who tended injured men during the Civil War.  She became known and loved among the men she tended to for her gentleness and kindness to them ❤ .  Many other girls who volunteered to help had actually run away once the war came to their area, but this one girl stayed and became remembered for her character.

I had planned to buy some earrings I found for a good deal to build up our daughter’s stock, but I put them back and decided to get them next time in lieu of this awesome book!  I told my husband, “it’s for her future ❤ 😀 !!!”  I want our daughter to understand that character is what makes a woman truly beautiful.  Outward beauty shows self-respect or graciousness to those around you, but who you are as a person is what people will fall in love with and want to be around.

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She is such a little beauty already – almost strikingly so, and her happiness and joyful laughter are SO endearing!  But I want to raise her to love good books!  I want her to enjoy knowledge, and to know and understand that true beauty comes from very deep within – from the soul of a person, and that it takes time to grow and flourish… and that it can be lost if not safe-guarded against bitterness throughout life.

And I want her to know that it’s a process of becoming.

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It doesn’t usually happen all at once – being truly beautiful inside and out – for most women.  In fact, I’m not sure “most” women achieve both inner and outer beauty to their fullest personal extent, at all sadly.

Just like outer beauty takes A LOT of hard work and diligence over time to achieve and then to also maintain.  Inner beauty takes even more work, discipline, diligence, perseverance and even then if you manage to achieve it, it is MUCH harder to keep over the course of different circumstances one will face in life.  It’s a constant process of correcting your own character flaws, and that takes a TON of self-reflection, introspection, and acknowledgement of your own failings.

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Hence why I think a lot of women (and men if you’re thinking about men in that way) don’t even try to maintain inner beauty, or they may try but then give up or give in to their natural states of ugliness… since human beings all have sin natures… and our sin natures make us VERY very ugly.  That and we constantly fail.  Success in this regard requires a lot of perseverance and endurance.

So becoming a beautiful woman over time is very hard.  The inner beauty work is very difficult, and since I’m Christian, I do believe there’s a spiritual aspect to this where knowing God, having his help to get through life’s difficulties, really TRUSTING Him with EVERYTHING in your life (all those ugly emotions feelings and such), is the best or most proven way to maintain a beautiful character throughout life.

Avoiding all the vices that come so naturally to us, and working hard to develop the virtues that come from the Holy Spirit – that takes constant coming back to God to prune and develop you – to grow you and break you.  It’s painful work – which is probably why so many avoid it!  He’s molding you into a reflection of Christ, but again, that all takes a lifetime to achieve, and one has to be really working out their salvation with fear and trembling in order to achieve it at all!

But sweet, sweet, joyful little girl, you will grow into your beauty and femininity, and your daddy and I will be there every step of the way to guide you in the way you should go.

Stephanie

 

 

Labor of Love – Painting!

So… my oldest has officially inspired me to start painting again.  I think it’s been… over 10 years since I’ve actually sat down and painted anything serious on an actual canvas.  Finger painting with toddlers – yes!  But actually sit down, sketch out a portrait and landscape, do all the colors and shading and back-painting a real painting requires?  Nope.

That actually changed today, and I sat down and painted a rather large sized canvas of my oldest (because he’s the one who has inspired me to paint again 😀 ) when he was about 2 years old.

This is what happened today:

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It just took the afternoon, and it’s going to be a gift to my sweet Mom… I had to keep stopping to tend to the kids and then to make dinner 🙂  but wow was it fun to paint again.

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I used to draw portraits in high school for fun… and then my friends started actually paying me to draw them.  I could never draw (or paint) faces of people, even though I tried a lot growing up… until finally something “clicked” when I was 17, and suddenly, it made sense in my brain and I was able to draw them.

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Honestly, this felt so relaxing and was so easy tonight.  I think I’m going to make it a point to paint more LOL.  I forgot how enjoyable it was…. 🙂

All the tiny little details, the millions of leaf prints and different shades of green and blues… it does take some time, but it is so worth it to make all the little leaves.

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Stephanie

Sarah – She Did What Was Good & Did Not Give Way to Fear

I’m starting a new blog page where I will file posts on biblical women.  It should be fun and fascinating to delve into their different lives and really dig deep for what we can learn from them as women who love God.

They will be a little controversial though.  My short Abigail series took some readers by surprise, and revealed her story through a perspective that isn’t usually taken in our modern day.  Here’s a hint: Everyone likes to say she was the perfect example of the UN-submissive wife to a foolish husband, but I found God leading me to the exact opposite conclusion!  I encourage you to read it if you haven’t had a good look at why the way she treated her foolish husband Nabal made her stand out with respect and honor.  It may not be what you expect.

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I’ve been thinking though, recently, about Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  God seems to have put her on my heart for a few months now, and I’ve been quietly studying her words, reactions, as well as what other people had to say about her across the Bible.

I didn’t know it, but she is actually the most mentioned woman character in the Bible – even more so than Mary, the mother of Jesus!

I had no idea she was so important.  And it’s been odd how often she has come to my mind in these past few months, along with parts of her story, and always her actions or reactions.  It’s been weird I’ll say that much.

What makes her so interesting to me?

It’s the way she obeyed her husband without fear,

and is honored repeatedly for it in God’s Word.

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It’s taken me a long time to see her through this lens.  When I was a child growing up in a Christian school, we learned about the biblical men and women all the time.  I mostly viewed Sarah as the woman who dared to laugh at God and was shocked by her nerve.  I didn’t like, or relate, in any way to her attitude.  I understand her circumstances more now, and can see how human she was when hearing the response of her pregnancy in such old age.  To me she finds redemption in being mentioned in the New Testament as the model of the kind of woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes.  But again, it took me a long time to understand what all that meant.

Let’s look at the passage of Scripture I’m referring to specifically:

“Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.

For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so.” 1 PETER 3:3-6

I’m going to take this apart in the same way I did for the Proverbs 31 woman piece by piece (but for length’s sake – not delving into the Greek meaning of each word this time).  Here we go!

What kind of beauty is “precious in God’s sight?”

  • The beauty found in a woman’s heart – her character and inner beauty
  • The lasting beauty of a gentle and peaceful spirit
  • Beautifying (adorning) yourself by being submissive to your husband, like the holy women of old, like Sarah who obeyed her husband and called him lord
  • When you submit (subject) yourself to your husband, and have no fear in trusting him (doing so), you achieve the beauty this passage is talking about

How amazing that this passage is directing us to be like Sarah, not only in the way of disregarding showy outward beauty, but also focusing on the character and actions we are to develop if we want to have a lasting beauty that is “precious in God’s sight.”

And the key to achieving this kind of lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet (peaceful) spirit, is to fully submit to obeying our husbands, and to respect and revere them.  Like Sarah did when she called her husband “lord,” we are directed to imitate her behavior, and “become her children” when we live these things out in our day to day lives.

This is all well and good, right?  But have you looked at Sarah’s life with Abraham?  Have you studied enough to understand what this passage in 1 Peter is implying?  When it says that she obeyed him, doing what was good (submitting to him), and without fear, that is no light and ordinary statement.

This woman obeyed her husband during some of the toughest circumstances imaginable. 

And with a good attitude.

And without fear.

Her love, faith, and trust in her husband and in God are so beautiful when we closely study her story.  She has inspired me by her faith SO MUCH in the past months, constantly popping into my head at the strangest times, that I had to write this down here, hoping that it would bring joy and inspiration to someone else. ❤ 🙂

In our modern age where Christian wives seem to be constantly looking for flaws in their husbands’ leadership style so that they don’t have to submit to him (and obey him), Sarah’s story is a huge wake-up call as to how we’re really supposed to be responding.

How God expects us to respond.

I can hear the screeching of the wheels on the pavement now…

But Sarah obeyed when it was not convenient!

Yes, she definitely did.  Many times!  This woman had so much trust in her husband and in God, that yes, she willingly obeyed even when it was not just annoying, but even when it was extremely difficult.

Just the other day I was spending time with God early in the morning before anyone else in the house was awake, and suddenly a map from the back of my Bible fell out and onto the floor in front of my foot.  I expected it to just be another journey showing the different routes Paul took on his mission trips, since those are pretty much the only maps I’ve seriously studied.  But when I looked closely at it in the dim morning light, I saw it was actually Abraham’s travels when God called him and Sarai to leave Ur!  I had never really appreciated how far they had to travel, and keep in mind they had no idea where God was wanting them to end up.  It hit me again (like it has for months now) just how amazing her trust and faith in her husband and in God were – to follow her husband like that.  Away from everything she had ever known, and over such a difficult journey, through dangerous foreign lands, and not even knowing where she would end up with him in the end.  Talk about trust and faith producing a beautiful obedience in the heart of a wife toward her husband!

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This is a picture of the page of my Bible that fell out when I was doing my morning talking to God and reading His Word.  When I look at this journey, I immediately think about how ridiculously hard that would have been for a woman to travel back then, in that kind of desert and arid weather, with their shoes, and just the plain, overall discomfort she’d have and the temptation to complain or whine or ask “Are we there yet?!”  Honestly, it makes our long family trips to New Mexico from south Texas seem like a breeze in our air-conditioned and roomy van!

As Christian wives, have we behaved as well as Sarah did when she followed Abraham on a truly difficult journey, not even knowing where they were going?  How many times have we whined about little inconveniences, wanting the easy way out?

Maybe our husbands need us to get up early and help with making lunches and getting breakfast on the table before the kids leave to school or before he has to go to work.  I know in our family, it’s my job to make it as easy as possible for my husband to spend critical time with our older son in the morning, since he works most evenings.  Even if the baby wakes up several times in the night, I still want to make sure it doesn’t affect their time together – it’s the only time during the day (most days at least) when my husband does a devotion with our son and leads him into understanding the deep meanings of Scripture.  He gives him advice, listens to his problems or concerns, and it’s a truly beautiful time that would not be possible if he was having to do all the work I usually handle for them in the morning as far as getting everything ready for them to leave.   The way I see it is that I can either have a bad attitude or demand I get my own sleep (a convenience for sure, but not necessary since I can nap later on in the day), or I can serve them with a happy heart and be grateful that he’s spending this time investing godly principles into our son’s heart.   I choose to be grateful!

You can apply this to anything your husband may want you to do, but doesn’t line up with your idea of easy or convenient for yourself.  Maybe he wants you to make good, healthy meals for the family, but you’re stuck on fast food on the go, or cafeteria food so you don’t have to wash the dishes?  Maybe he’d like you to make and pack him lunches everyday, but you don’t want to spend the time serving him like that because it cuts into your time in the morning for yourself to eat?

If our husbands need us to do something that is hard or difficult, do we carry an attitude of resentment toward our task or him for asking more of us?  Maybe your husband wants you to stay home to raise your young children, even though it means living on a lesser budget that makes life more difficult.  Are you doing it with the attitude described in 1 Peter 3?  Or perhaps he wants you to work and put your young children in a daycare – something that’s heartbreaking and hard for a mother to do?  Are you trusting him and God that He will provide safety and protection over them and ultimately redeem the situation in the end?  I know this sounds a lot easier than it actually is when carrying these things out, but it was never promised that living this Christian life would be easy or convenient by any means.  Our true test of our faith in God is when we do these things, and do them not out of just a sense of duty, but with a glad and happy heart!

Obviously the best response is to do what is needed, and practice more gratitude if we’re tempted to resentment over having to endure inconveniences that come with following.

I know this sounds hard, it’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever read before when it comes to marriage and how we’re supposed to act in regard to our husbands leading us.  But the Bible talks constantly about the value of doing the difficult tasks needed to be done.  And whatever we do, we are to do it as though we are doing it for God.  When we act like Sarah and “do what is good,” and “without fear,” we are honoring God with our choice to obey our husbands, even when it is inconvenient to do so.

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But Sarah obeyed even when Abraham was making poor choices!

This is a hard one for Christian wives in this day and age.  If her husband is doing ANYTHING even the tiniest bit “wrong” in her eyes, his wife is usually quick to point it out to him and try to get him to be better in his leadership.

I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of this.  It’s common now to know or see Christian wives who refuse to fully submit to their husbands until his porn addiction is gone.  Or maybe it’s his bad eating habits that bother her that she tries to change.  Or his love of watching sports on Sundays, when she thinks he should be helping her fold the laundry.  Or his decision not to do family devotions or spend time reading God’s Word in the way she’d like to see.  There are so many things that wives want their husbands to be doing or not doing before they’ll even think of obeying and submitting to his leadership.

But that’s not the way God intended marriage to work.

A wife can’t demand her husband be perfect in her eyes and do everything the way she desires it to be before she’s supposed to actually submit to his leadership for their family!

If she’s demanding that he change, nagging him to go to counseling to fix his issues, or trying to get him to change in any way, she’s the one who is doing the leading in the marriage – and expecting him to submit to her wants, desires, and needs.

Even if a husband is leading in an imperfect way, we as wives are still called to obey.  His leadership is not contingent only on leading perfectly, and never making mistakes or bad choices.  Like Sarah, we become “her daughters” when we submit to our husbands’ leadership.

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But Sarah obeyed even when Abraham led her (and other people) into sin and deception!

Yes, she did.  Again, it speaks to her faith and trust in her husband and in God that she was able to follow Abraham even when it was not the right thing for either of them to do.  The Bible is still clear that she did what was good by obeying him and subjecting herself to his leadership.

Let’s take a look at the scriptures where these incidents occurred:

10Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

14When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.18So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

And then it happened a couple of decades later, almost exactly the same as the first time.  Abraham’s faith was still not complete in this area, but did Sarah nag him?  Did she resent him for not having more faith to not place her in another ruler’s harem (again)?

20:1 Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident in Gerar, 2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God appeared to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, “Lord, would you really slaughter an innocent nation? 5 Did Abraham not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I have done this with a clear conscience and with innocent hands!” 6 Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. That is why I have kept you from sinning against me and why I did not allow you to touch her. 7 But now give back the man’s wife. Indeed he is a prophet and he will pray for you; thus you will live. But if you don’t give her back, know that you will surely die along with all who belong to you.”

8 Early in the morning Abimelech summoned all his servants. When he told them about all these things, they were terrified. 9 Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that would cause you to bring such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done!” 10 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What prompted you to do this thing?” 11 Abraham replied, “Because I thought, ‘Surely no one fears God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 What’s more, she is indeed my sister, my father’s daughter, but not my mother’s daughter. She became my wife. 13 When God made me wander from my father’s house, I told her, ‘This is what you can do to show your loyalty to me: Every place we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”’” 14 So Abimelech gave sheep, cattle, and male and female servants to Abraham. He also gave his wife Sarah back to him. 15 Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; live wherever you please.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given a thousand pieces of silver to your ‘brother.’ This is compensation for you so that you will stand vindicated before all who are with you.” 17 Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, as well as his wife and female slaves so that they were able to have children. 18 For the Lord had caused infertility to strike every woman in the household of Abimelech because he took Sarah, Abraham’s wife. ©NET
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It’s hard to believe her amazing attitude in all of this!  Her husband expected her to show her loyalty to him by misleading (lying by omission that she really was his wife and not just his half-sister) other people!  Again, how does this compare to how we respond to our husbands’ failings or moments when he may have a lack of faith?  Do we keep our faith in him even when we see his doubts and fears, or do we demand he be better for us and lead us more to our liking?

The biblical response is to have faith in him and in our all-powerful God.  That even if our husbands make a mistake, or have their doubts, that ultimately God is still in control, and that we are safe in the palm of His hand.

Sometimes it is important to stop a man from sinning, like Abigail did, by using her gracious character and inner beauty to calm a King’s rage and murderous intent.  You can read my thoughts on Abigail’s beautiful actions here (PART 1), and here (PART 2).

But Sarah’s silence in these situations was wise and showed her heroic faith!  It wasn’t silence out of timidity or sinful “giving way to fear.”  The Bible is clear that she did not give way to fear, in fact the attitude she displayed “that of a peaceful and tranquil spirit,” is translated to controlled strength and tranquility that arises from deep within.  That kind of control, feminine strength of character, and peace in times of trouble, can only come from God and having a rock solid trust in Him.

When studying the context around these passages, I found that historically when a ruler saw a stranger’s wife that was beautiful and desirable, he was free to kill the stranger in order to take the woman for himself.  However, if she was traveling with a family member (kin) like a brother or a father, then the ruler would simply negotiate a price for taking her as his bride (or concubine), and the male family member would be spared (maybe even given a prestigious place in their society).

So Sarah and Abraham found themselves in life and death situations when they were traveling as a couple in these foreign lands.

Now stop and think about this for a minute.  Can you IMAGINE how a modern day Christian wife would handle something like that?!?!  Let’s go through some mental contrasting how wives in our age would respond to that scenario, compared with how Sarah responded and then is praised afterward for doing the right thing:

  • Modern day wives would give way to fear.  They’d panic when seeing their husband was making decisions that looked questionable, or if he was lying to ruler’s about who she really was.
  • Modern day wives would be upset that he “demand” or expect her loyalty to him to be shown in this way.
  • Modern day wives would be mad at their husbands for not “protecting” them from the ruler’s lust and desire to have sex with her because of her beauty.
  • They’d be upset that their husband didn’t stand up to the ruler and engage in a (likely deadly) fight, sacrificing his life for her honor!
  • They’d be livid that he allowed her to be placed in another man’s harem.
  • Or they’d take advantage of having the opportunity to have sex with a powerful ruler!  How many times have we heard wives admit on the radio that they’d cheat with a famous man if they had the chance?
  • Or they’d make it through like Sarah did, in one piece, but still hold on to the anger and resentment of being degraded like that.  When they got back to their Christian groups, they’d throw their husbands under a bus by complaining to other wives just what their husbands tried to do to them when they were on a trip!
  • Or MUCH WORSE in my opinion, they’d drag him to the leaders in their church to get them to “counsel” him (effectively AMOGing him or criticizing his leadership as “poor” and “ill-effective”) until he felt he had to follow her ideas and designs for their marriage.

We may be Christian wives trying to do the right thing, but we still have a sinful nature that leads us astray and into not honoring or submitting to our husbands if we aren’t careful to study these ancient texts and learn how to act in the ways God desires for us.  We want to display that kind of beauty that is so precious in God’s sight, right?  Then that means we have to take Sarah’s examples here, when she submitted to her husband’s leadership, seriously.

Go back over the bullet point list of ways modern wives would react to the situation Sarah found herself in.  Have you reacted in one of those ways in the past?  It’s never too late to repent and humble yourself, and to start honoring your husband.  Sarah doesn’t do ANY of those things!  She doesn’t even seem to hold on to any resentment, and the Bible is usually quick to point out when a man or woman has misgivings or ill-feelings.  If she was holding on to resentment or using his mistakes to hold over him later on, she wouldn’t be held up as the example we’re supposed to model in Peter 3.

No, it seems her actions are in line with how 1 Peter 3 describes her character as having inner beauty of the heart.  She loved him, she didn’t want him to die.  So she submitted to his plan to lie to the rulers of the land, and even be taken into their harems, so that she could keep her husband alive and trusted that God would make everything right.

Let’s look again at her qualities that made her character precious in God’s sight:

  • She had a peaceful and quite spirit – not a panicky, or nagging, or complaining, or bitter, or resentful spirit
  • She is called precious in God’s sight for obeying Abraham and for subjecting herself to him and his leadership.
  • She is honored for calling him “lord,” even though he subjected her to doing something that was wrong and deceptive and leading others into sin.

It cannot be understated that Sarah was honored for obeying Abraham – and not giving way to fear when she did – even though his leadership was less than perfect (1 Peter 3:5-6).

She not only was honored in the passage we have unpacked here, she is the first woman mentioned in the wonderful chapter that outlines all the “Heroes of Faith,” Hebrews chapter 11.  When I was 11 years old, our school had us memorize this entire chapter.  It was so beautiful to recite and memorize each person mentioned and honored for their courageous faith displayed in critical times of their life.  Their examples were glorified forever in God’s Holy Word because they decided to make the right choiceTo have faith even when it was extremely hard or inconvenient.  

Again, this is not something we as Christian wives can just gloss over and forget about.  Sarah, with all the mistakes or poor choices Abraham may have made in leading her, is named among the Heroes of Faith for choosing to obey him, follow him when it was hard, not complain or hold resentment against him, and even follow him into circumstances that caused others to sin!

Her heroic faith coupled with her beautiful character in choosing to obey Abraham, is an amazing testimony to her trust in God, that His will would prevail in those circumstances, and that she would be taken care of.

May we have faith like this, and seek to honor and respect our husbands with the kind of fierce commitment and obedience that Sarah had toward Abraham.

Stephanie

 

RELATED READING –

Sarah: A Woman Like Us

Sigma Frame’s Pygmalion Project vs Shared Enterprises

That Stepford Gal’s post Women Should Be Seen & Not Heard (using your beauty to influence and save people or entire countries!)

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Beauty Will Fade & That Will Be Beautiful

growing old together

I just caught up with Lori Alexander’s post on beauty fading from a Christian (Proverbs 31 wife) perspective.  You can find it here (it’s great)!

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I do think about aging quite a bit, to me it’s nice, but I’m also aware that maybe it hasn’t really “hit” me yet.  When I’m sleep deprived, which is more often than not these days 🙂 , I DO feel like the Crypt Keeper lol.  But when our baby girl actually goes the full night sleeping (very rare), I wake up and feel fresh again.

But I’m getting older, there’s no mistaking that.

To me, aging is a privilege.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.”

Proverbs 16:31

elderly

Seeing my husband get older is actually quite sexy!  I love knowing we’re “growing old together.”  It’s very fulfilling in a way that’s hard to describe.

Seeing elderly couples who you know, are actually still in love, touches my heart!

elderly love

I think I’m lucky I married a man who is a dreamer ❤ and together we regularly talk about our plans for when we’re older.  The hopefulness of grandchildren, where we’ll take them, how much we’ll just enjoy having (hopefully) a lot of family around us during the holidays.  The real test of our parenting and relationship with our children will be when they’re finally adults and whether or not they want to spend time with us.  Our oldest son has brought up pretty often that he loves being with us and will be devastated when he moves out – I’m sure he won’t be as devastated when he becomes that age 🙂 , and I do assure him he’ll be “ready,” but at least right now, he tears up and says how much he loves living with us.  Everyone gets older whether they want to or not… as sad as it seems, at least it brings new chapters in life to explore as adventures.  I’d rather embrace these things than run away screaming from them.

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But even with saying all that, we still look pretty young – which is good and bad.

Just today a woman at the playground I was at with my children was talking to me, then suddenly actually asked me out of the blue, how old I was lol!  This does happen sometimes, and I don’t get it… it’s a little strange to ask a complete stranger how old they are in my book!  But I told her, and she was surprised and said how it was because I look so young and yet I have 3 kids.  She told me I don’t look older than 25.  A couple of months ago an elderly woman with her grand-daughter saw me grocery shopping alone, wearing my husband’s high school football shirt (where her grand-daughter just graduated), and thought I was probably from her graduating class!  When I told her how we’d been married 10 years, and had 3 kids, her mouth literally fell open.  Still shocked, she told me I looked 18.

I do sometimes wonder if the very cushy life I’ve lived, being married to a good man, having his babies and being able to stay home with them, has led to me still look younger than I would have if I had chosen a different path.  We definitely don’t have much stress aside from his job and some financial tightness of me not working.  But overall, we both feel very comfortable and happy – we have so many blessings we feel guilt over them at times.

But this is something I want my daughter to know and understand.  Even when you beauty does fade, and you start to really show your age (whenever that magically happens), I want her to enjoy it.

Part of enjoying it is enjoying (like Lori A. said in her post linked at the beginning) the relationships you’ve built up over the years with your husband and children.

I do think a large part of why I’m not afraid of growing older is because I feel so secure in the life we live together.  The Bible does say perfect love casts out fear.  My husband’s love for me, his enjoyment of growing older together with me, is probably the source of the happiness I can feel when I imagine being a grandmother myself.

It’s like the ultimate reward for a life well-lived.

Stephanie

French Makeup & Hair

This and more of the woman’s videos remind me so much of my mom’s beauty habits, especially regarding perfume – which for me, is hard to live without!

Beauty, in my opinion, should look low maintenance and mostly be able clear skin and bright eyes, and long, nourished hair.

Enjoy the video!  This woman is so cute ❤

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Beauty is Worthless without Kindness

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Every woman wants to feel as though she has beauty to give to this world, you can see it in the way little girls play dress up, twirl and dance around, and long for their fathers to think they’re beautiful.  Even grown women enjoy getting dressed up for a formal with their husband, or for a night out to feel beautiful.  God created Eve with this deep desire in her heart to be the counterpart to Adam’s masculinity, and bestowed on her the power and ability of giving the world feminine beauty.

Feminine beauty is so powerful, that men often went to great lengths in the past to defend and preserve the nature of it in protecting their countries (and their women), from evil forces taking over.  Men going off to war even in modern times, often carry a picture of their sweetheart in their pocket.  Their girl’s picture gives them emotional strength to make it through the bombings and terrifying things they go through, and it does.  My husband just told me last week that he wanted to update the picture of me with our kids he always carries in his wallet.  Everywhere he goes, down dark dank alleys, confronting mischief and evil and often murders, he carries that picture with him.

Beauty and love are powerful things.  But a word of caution:

Your outer beauty is utterly worthless if you do not have kindness and the beauty of inner character.

Even the most gorgeous woman, without kindness toward others, might as well not be beautiful at all.  How you treat others is so important to who you are and who you become.  Always strive to be kind, you will fail of course at times, but try to get back on the path and repent of any unkindness in the past.

It’s not enough to be merely outwardly beautiful for a woman.  Sure it may “win” you special treatment from time to time, but without actual character and a love for treating others kindly, you will single-handedly ruin every relationship you have on this earth.  It is that important, daughter.  Especially in marriage!

Kindness is often painful

You will realize that being kind often brings pain.  For some reason, kindness is something many people seem to take advantage of, I wish it wasn’t that way.  And sometimes the kindest thing to do for a friend, may make them never want to speak to you again.

You may sincerely care about someone, admire someone, or respect them and show them kindness, but they may ignore it, reject it, or even return your kindness with rudeness or insult.  If you’re a tad too sensitive like your momma 😉 , there will be times when you will actually feel goosebumps from the coldness of someone’s response to your kindness.  It will be painful, and you will want to stop being kind ever again.  I’ll be so sad to see you feel that way.  But that’s normal and happens all the time because we live in a dark world.

That’s when you’ll learn that kindness is for kindness’ sake, not because other people appreciate it or not.  Kindness is who you are and part of your character.

You cannot be truly beautiful as a whole person, without being kind and having character.