This is the True Joy in Life…

This is the true joy in life,

the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.

The being thoroughly worn out before you’re thrown on the scrap heap,

The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community

and as I live it is my privilege – my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die,

for the harder I work the more I love.

I rejoice in life for its own sake.

Life is no brief candle to me;

it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment

and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible

before handing it on to future generations.

-George Bernard Shaw

I watched another Freedomain video recently, and he ended it with this quote, along with the latter below from his own mind:

“Wear yourself out in the pursuit of virtue, and leave only the barest husk to be thrown in the grave.

Just be used up completely.

Be emptied of words, be emptied of power, be emptied of dedication, be emptied of challenge, be emptied of courage – SPEND IT ALL.

Let only your skeleton be what the worms get – nothing else.

Have everything else spent to the last penny, and let that last penny of spending be that which kills you, because you have nothing left to give.

And that I think is the satisfying life.”

Stefan Molyneux

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When watching this video over the course of a few days, the ending quote hit home with why I started blogging in the first place almost 4 years ago.  It really was mostly a creative outlet, but every Wednesday, I’d try to post something on marriage.  We’ve seen and known so many horrible or even “just limping along” marriages, that I wanted to impart some basic knowledge to people who didn’t know these things, and yet were searching for it.  I think this is normal for people who find out great truths to want to impart that knowledge to someone else.  Why on earth would you hide something that can help people with building better marriages, which in turn, creates healthier, happier children, and less divorce, better societies and more productive, good people in this world?!?!

Seriously, if you have that information and are not sharing it somehow, you may want to really ask yourself why you are keeping that valuable help from other people?  This isn’t meant as some kind of condemning judgment, and obviously sharing it can be done in a million different ways, I’m not saying everyone has to go start a blog or youtube channel and try to make a difference in those venues – but it’s just pure fact that by not sharing that information (which is like a treasure really) with people in dire need of it, is morally wrong.

It’s easier to see this fact when you apply it to being wealthy and not generous in your giving.  If a wealthy person isn’t giving in some way to society – to purely good, helpful causes, not the kind that perpetuate problems in society – then it is just like the rich man in the Bible who stores up grain all for himself:

Luke 12:13-21

[13] Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

[14] Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” [15] Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

[16] And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. [17] He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

[18] “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. [19] And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

[20] “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

[21] “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.

Being “rich toward God,” is sharing the gospel and biblical truths about how life is meant to be lived.  Sharing that often comes in form of writing, books, blogs, but doesn’t have to only be in those ways.

“The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but not so the heart of fools.”

Proverbs 15:7

The best sharing is face-to-face with people in your real life, but writing and blogs is also extremely beneficial to many people – and is a better way to “broadcast” that knowledge and wisdom.  I know this personally because I’ve had the amazing opportunity of being told by those I’ve been blessed to touch!

Looking back, it’s been awe-inspiring to affect so many women’s and men’s lives through simply writing about marriage and sex or parenting.  Giving other people Truth so that they can better live their lives the way God would want them to, has been a privilege that I didn’t foresee when starting out writing as a mere creative outlet!

Our own marriage is in large part as good as it is because of other people who took their own time, energy and heart and passion to write great marriage books that I read during our first year when I worked at a Christian bookstore!  If they had thought what they had to say wasn’t important, didn’t need to be shared, or were neurotically worried that men reading their books would “compare their wives to the women writing these valuable books,” we would probably not have the marriage we have today.  The Truths we learned from these godly authors were SO valuable and important – their books were their ministry.  Many people who benefited from their writing would have missed out on those blessings if the authors had decided sharing these Truths were wrong – including the authors themselves!  Because sharing with others Truths that are life-giving is a blessing in and of itself!

While studying what these authors had to say on a wife’s role in a marriage during our first year, I was amazed it is so easy to get married when one has literally NO IDEA how to maintain that marriage or live together in a compatible way.  Even driving a car takes more time and effort in studying the laws of what is right and wrong to do while in it and out on the road.  I mean seriously, you get more instruction and valuable information when getting a driver’s license than you do before you get married – no wonder there are so many divorces or miserable marriages!

Most of it is likely due to lack of knowledge of how or what a good marriage actually looks like from day to day.

So make your life count!  Don’t live an “unlived life” full of complaining, slander, and wasting your time doing things that harm you!  You are meant for so much more than that ❤

Here is Stefan’s video, and again, it look me days to get through it little bits at a time.  And it’s not for children’s ears!!  He’s an atheist, so he cusses sometimes, but the overall messages he does are full of wisdom.

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Why Is Shaming Men OK, but Shaming Women isn’t?

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I’m not sure when men decided that 30 was the new 15. When men thought it was better to remain independent than making a commitment to another. When men we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid to be fathers. I’m not sure when video games and “guy night” became more important than tee-ball and date night. When 4 year relationships weren’t long enough for a proposal. When staying out became cooler than showing up. I’m not sure when men became boys.

Our culture has a boy problem. In Italy, they call it Peter Pan Syndrome. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Men so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires they find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more boys. We need men who will grow up, know up, and show up. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well. To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more men.

We need more men of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love women, treat them as they would their own daughters and lead them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would lead. We need more men.

Today, I turn 31. I’m a man. And I’m proud of that. Please share as a birthday gift smile emoticon#EveryPostALesson #DaleyWisdom

So I saw this on my facebook a day or two ago, and saw some female friends reposting in agreement.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting marriage and family, most women want this (including myself, obviously), but it’s interesting that we don’t see how ugly this is in light of the legal ramifications for men who do actually want marriage.

It also is ugly in the way this man is writing it to other men attempting to shame them.  He is “the only man in the room.”  He feels like he’s better than these other “boys” because he’s taken the risk of marriage.  It’s just kind of ugly, honestly, and I doubt it’s well-received by most men in the generation Y age-range he’s trying to shame.

 

So… I took the liberty of rewriting it and posting it on my facebook to try to show how it looks when it’s written with the same tone and same self-righteous, but towards women.  It looks pretty bad.  It’s ugly.

So if it’s ugly and yucky for women to read… what makes us think that it’s ok and that we should praise this guy for doing the same thing to men?

Rewritten for women:

“I’m not sure when women decided that 30 was the new 15. When women thought it was better to remain independent and strong than making a commitment to another. When women we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid or ashamed to be mothers (and aborting their unwanted children).

I’m not sure when shopping and “girls night out” for moms became more important than getting married and raising healthy families. When putting off stable relationships till they were done with the bad boys and wanted to get married at 29 became acceptable. When staying out and getting drunk and sleeping with random men all throughout their college “careers” became cooler than raising a family. I’m not sure when women became irresponsible girls.

Our culture has a selfish girl problem. In history, they called it a recipe for society disaster. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Women so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires that they are starting to find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more irresponsible and selfish girls. We need women who will grow up, know up, and show up and support a functioning society with morals and values. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well (seriously). To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more women.

We need more women of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love their husbands, treat them as they would their own sons and follow them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would follow. We need more real women.”

Christians Aren’t Called to “Have Great Sex” – They’re Called to Have Bad Sex

A couple of years ago, Relevant Magazine did an article telling their Christian audience that they were not “called to have great sex in marriage.”

I read it because a friend that was in a serious relationship had recommended it, but I was very bothered by what I found.  The article presented some truths for sure, one being that sex is not what marriage is all about, and this is right of course, if you marry only for sex and don’t seek a partner that has good character then you are in for a difficult marriage (and the good sex will quickly disappear).  But in Relevant Magazine’s attempt to help marriages, they missed the point of sex being one of the most important things in a marriage, and often the glue that holds a marriage together.

Why was the article written to help marriages in such a way that it actually discourages Christian couples from having “amazing” sex?

It was a response to a very strange article by a millennial woman, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, about how her virginity (her desire to remain abstinent until marriage), actually ruined the sex in her marriage.  Relevant Mag links to her article, and tries to say that:

While the movement is great at detailing— and exaggerating—the benefits of saving sex for marriage, it is dishonest about the challenges abstinence presents to couples who eventually tie the knot.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/christians-are-not-called-have-amazing-sex#go0He8SXx5qZE8bh.99

In more careful reading of the linked article written by Jessica about how her virginity ruined her future marriage, it was fairly shocking for my husband and I to read the level of disdain she held toward her young husband, even on their honeymoon.  She had no interest in sex, no desire to learn about how to make it better, no desire for it with her husband (even though she did desire it while they were dating), and in my husband’s words, “she completely undermined the possibility of their marriage by checking out of their sex life.”  She admit it herself that she caused the problem, it was like she became an a-sexual being overnight, and wanted nothing to do with being sensual – to her marriage’s detriment!  But then she blames the abstinence movement for her lack of motivation to learn together with her husband, or to try new things.  As soon as she divorced her husband, she writes that she became sexual again.

This was not a case of the abstinence movement being “dishonest” about the challenges couples who marry without sexual experience will face, this is a case of a person in a marriage who is not putting forth the right attitude, desire, and effort to create a good sex life.

Her entire focus, however, is that her abstinence pledge that was supposed to create a “strong marraige,” only led to a “quick divorce.”

*

Relevant Mag needed to point out the real issues couples who wait until marriage to have sex may have, but also the attitude, willingness, and desire to fix her marriage sex life (or even participate in it) that was completely missing from Jessica as a Christian woman.

Instead of the message being: abstinence creates issues, and you’re not called to have great sex anyway; it could have more effectively been:

Abstinence may create issues, that happens when both partners don’t know much about a subject (sex), but in a good marriage, you will constantly face trials like this in many different areas (money, in-laws, job changes, deaths, miscarriages) and have to figure out how to overcome them.

It comes down to a willingness to learn and love each other.  Instead of checking out of your sex life just because it isn’t what you imagined, working to create a beautiful sex life, is the path to take.

 

Getting Ready to GARDEN!

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I’m insanely excited about starting our garden this year.  Since the winter wasn’t especially cold, a couple of our herbs from last year stayed fairly well.  But this Spring and Summer I’m looking forward to creating an even better garden than last!  There’s nothing so wonderful to me than creating and nurturing a vegetable and herb garden – it’s so much fun to run out barefoot to go get the things you need for a meal you’re creating, and to know that YOU grew them is just so fulfilling.  And I swear the stuff tastes better, but maybe I’m deliciously biased 😉

My mom gave me this book, Rodale is supposed to be amazing, and so far, his book has been so practical and useful.  It’s also organic, so everything that he suggests is healthy, natural, inexpensive, and easy to do for the most part.  Here is a site I found connected with his family name, called Rodale’s Organic Life.  He was a fascinating man, born in 1898 to Jewish family who immigrated to New York City.  He was a playright, editor, and author who basically was the first person to even use the term “organic” to mean grown without pesticides.  He founded an institute to study the link between “healthy soil, to healthy food, to healthy people.”  It’s great that his legacy is still going so strong today through his *son and that we can still learn from his books!

***

The one really big tree we have in our yard was the home to 6 bird nests last year… yes, six!!  I’m looking forward to more birds, their singing, their babies chirping 😀 and just being in the gorgeous sunlight every day working outside.  Just this morning my boys and I spotted two red birds (a male and a female) both in the tree lol… possibly looking at what the nests have to offer!  One thing is for sure, the cats can’t ever get that high, and the birds are always happy there each year.

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Here’s out garden plot, yes, it’s empty and nothing like last year when I had to clear the entire thing from overgrown and very thickly packed weeds.  This year’s clearing will be very easy, and my older son has already started helping me using the shovel himself (tear! he’s getting so big).

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Working in dirt is SO much fun… seriously, gardening is amazing.

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Our handsome male cat looking outside, I thought it was an intriguing picture with the reflection!

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Like… OMG it feels like Spring already! lol 😀

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This was when I was working in the garden and saw he had such a peaceful look on his face.  Babies love being outside.  Our kids have been sick this week, the oldest with an ear infection and the youngest with a cold that turned into a double ear infection.  But this morning was much warmer than it has been, so we bundled up (even though it didn’t really need it) and went outside to get some fresh air after being cooped up the whole week inside.

My gorgeous boy loved it ❤

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The beautiful day did me good as well, felt all flushed and filled with happiness.

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So if you’re interested in some great gardening tips and getting outside, order your seedlings NOW before the spring rush and so that you can get a head start in your garden work and play.  That’s what we’ve been doing 😉

Blessings!

 

*Robert Rodale is the author of the book pictured, Garden Answers, and J.I. Rodale (his father) was the founder of the Rodale Institute.

Married Women, Flirting & Loyalty

About two years ago, I wrote a post called How to Turn a Guy Down that was mostly for single women not interested in the man who was asking, or for women already taken in a relationship (or marriage).  It told of my transformation from a 14 year old volleyball player who rejected an older athlete at a summer day camp and thought herself a man-eater, to a 27 yr old woman who realized men have feelings and should be treated with kindness and respect.

After the camp, our parents would pick us up, mine always worked till 5pm so I’d wait outside the immense Gymnasium watching for my mom’s car.  They had other sports camps there, and one day a basketball player that had been eyeing me came over and flirted.  I’m naturally kind so I was polite, but I had no intention of making him a boyfriend, or even a friend (I wasn’t nice to strangers).  He flirted harder, I tried to stay neutral to not lead him on, then my mom’s car pulled up, I was relieved.  He asked for my number and I gave him one, the number my mother always called for time and temperature!  I was bad, I didn’t care much about guy’s feelings then, or honesty in general, so of course I told my mom about it and laughed at him in the car thinking myself a real man-eater.

Fast forward 13 years, whenever I have a man flirt with me or outright come on to me now, I’m kinder & upfront.  It takes a lot of courage and guts for a man (or even boy) to come up to someone they think is beautiful, and actually ask her out.  To be rude to them, or worse, ridicule them for daring to go near you is cruel!  I’m reminded of why my mother always told me that young boys prefer real women… because they’re kinder than young girls.  But even men deserve honesty – and they appreciate you so much more because of it.

The difference between this encounter, and one that happened 13 years later:

We had passes to a water amusement park this past summer, so I would take my son fairly frequently, I suppose I look like a single-mother, a young handsome guy came up to us and started flirting with me.  At first I was so annoyed thinking, really?  Can’t you see I’m a mother?  But I could tell he was a genuinely good man, so I was kind to him and thanked him for his compliments and promptly told him I was married (showed him my ring) and put an end to it.  He was so sweet, he brushed aside his embarrassment and still complimented me, saying I was a very beautiful woman and an obviously good mother to my son, and that my husband must be a very lucky man.  I blushed and told him that I was lucky, that my husband is incredible.  I also went outside myself and became very forward in order to compliment him – and tell him that he seemed like a very good man, a lot like my husband, and assured him that he would find someone amazing to love him – and that he deserved it!

He thanked me, and actually blessed me (well… said God bless you with heart-felt meaning behind the words), and we went different ways.  No time & temperature numbers, no leading each other on,just honesty… it’s amazing how much difference it truly makes!  His dignity was preserved, I wasn’t guilty of being cruel, and we both truly blessed each other with very genuine compliments to each other’s souls.

 

I was reminded of this advice I gave to single women two years ago over the holidays last month.  I was out early in the morning without the boys so that I could do our Christmas shopping without them finding out what they’d get.  I thankfully rarely get hit on now days because I’m almost never without either my kids or husband when going out.  But that morning being alone, even dressed very down and almost shabby, barely any makeup on and hair a little wild looking, there was a man that was also shopping in the toy section and asked me where I thought he could find a certain kind of toy that didn’t appear to be carried there.  We went our separate ways, but then I saw him again in a different aisle awhile later, he looked a little nervous, but came up to me anyway, telling me that he’s been looking for a beautiful woman and wanted to know if I would go out on a date sometime with him.

No he wasn’t a homeless man… he was tall, white, clean-cut and looked military, aged anywhere from 30-45, very well built, and actually handsome.  Being a mom is the strangest thing, and I swear it makes me more empathetic to men of all ages – I instantly felt my heart swell for him in a weird motherly kind of way, I could tell it was so bold and brave of him to approach me like that, he didn’t have the suave of a pickup artist, and yet didn’t have quite the embarrassment level of an adolescent/early 20’s guy, yet it’s not easy to ask out a strange woman – men never know now how she’ll respond.  A man in his age-range and judging by his persona, he probably only cold approaches like that when he thinks he’s found someone that is truly worth his effort, and this made me sorry for him.  I frowned and told him that I was actually married (looked down at my ring), and told him that I understand how hard it is.  I told him my own brother was having a hard time finding a good woman, and that it just sucks in this current atmosphere to find someone.  I encouraged him that I hoped he did find someone, and hopefully that eased the embarrassment of the rejection.

You men have it hard.

Why not flirt a little?  Doesn’t this show a married woman she’s still “got it?”

I’ve read in magazines constantly that married women are encouraged to look at these occasions where they may be flirted with, asked out, or hit on as an opportunity to flirt back and “have a little extramarital fun.”  It’s validation that she’s still “beautiful,” or that she’s still got it enough to be asked out in the middle of a supermarket.

Let me make something very clear that I missed in that old post two years ago:

MEN RESPECT AND ADMIRE

MARRIED WOMEN

WHO ARE LOYAL.

No good man wants to really be flirting with someone else’s wife, and no good man will feel good about himself (or about her) if he does this successfully in the long run.  Men appreciate loyalty in women, because if they have any empathy for their sex, then they understand that they’d want their own wife to be loyal to them.

This is something our secular culture just glosses over as something that is unnecessary.  If she isn’t really cheating, a little flirting when the hubby isn’t there is harmless right?

But it isn’t.

Your husband wants you to adore and respect him so much that you don’t even think twice in situations like this.

Here are some tips for the married woman who is approached or flirted with:

  • Immediately bring it to attention that you are married, I always either look down at my ring, or pull up my hand to show them
  • Talk to them in a kind, respectful way, never in a harsh way
  • Don’t make them feel like they should have known you were married, apologize when you say you’re married, it lessens their embarrassment
  • If you feel comfortable enough, if you don’t think they’re actually dangerous, encourage them a little in their search – single men REALLY need this encouragement, and it helps to redirect the rejection

 

Here are some of my old tips for turning someone down if you’re single or not looking, or in a relationship:

  • Be honest but also kind – don’t say something that’s true but cruel, preserve their dignity, they are a human being
  • Don’t lead them on, tell them you aren’t looking for a relationship of any kind right now
  • Don’t feel like you have to explain why, a kind answer of honesty that you’re not interested is enough
  • Try to imagine that they are a friend or relative, and give them the same treatment
  • Acknowledge their courage & encourage them or compliment them on their gentility
  • If you feel like you might’ve led them on (if they were already a friend) apologize, even if you didn’t mean to

Watching Plants Grow

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like in my spiritual life, I’m just watching plants grow.  I want so badly to do the right thing, to be what God wants me to be, but it amazes me how far off I feel I constantly wander off.

The exciting thing about a new year is all the possibilities to implement any new changes that need to be made.  Looking back on my failures and mishaps in 2015, a year I thought would be a relatively peaceful, quiet year, I’m so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, but also sad that it took me so long to learn them.

I’ve been reading several books and learning and growing so much!  It’s incredible to be so convicted, work to make changes, but then to feel constantly like one cannot attain that perfection of spirit.  Just as I think I’m making great progress, I find myself sliding back down again and acting in pride or getting irritated by things that are trivial and don’t matter!  It’d be comical if it wasn’t so annoying and sad.

I’m learning that I can’t do this on my own – it’s God who works in us, and in His own time, and that the more I submit myself to His will, the more He works in my spirit to make me into the creature He wants me to be.  In contrast, the more I spin my wheels trying to perfect my own spirit, the more frustrated I’ll grow and discouraged.

So I’ll stop watching plants grow, and trust that He’s doing His work and finishing what He’s started in me nearly 25 years ago.

A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.  First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.  Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on her troubles and pains.  Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.  Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.  If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.  Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.  We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.  Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.  We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,

Screwtape

 

By Kelsey Shade, the beautiful, young wife and mother of three boys that blogs at Organizing Life with Littles!

She Can Laugh at the Days to Come

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25

Our Fall Bible study touched lightly on a word I’d not thought much about, mirth, which means happiness, especially laughter.  

What is the value of to us as women of God to be able to “laugh at the days to come?”  When we’re suffering through something difficult, when nothing seems to be going right, or when our mental or physical strength seems to run out, the last thing we usually want to do is laugh at the trials, the uncertain future – this ability to laugh and remain joyous means we’ve found a treasure for sure!

It’s possible to live happy and joyous,

even when life is painful and we experience suffering, trials, or rejection.

 

The Proverbs 31 woman is packed full with admirable qualities, but I want to zero in on this one little verse and unpack what is so special about phenomenon and what it means.

She can laugh at the days to come because…

She has fully accepted grace.  She’s a sinner and knows it, she knows her failures intimately, but instead of being devastated, unable to move on, or guilt-ridden, she receives grace from God who makes beauty from ashes, and she is able to press on in strength and dignity, with her head held high because she’s been forgiven.

She doesn’t sweat the small stuff.  She sees the trivial things for what they are: insignificant in the big picture.  Instead of getting distracted with unnecessary worrying or drama in her life, she just focuses on living a life that pleases Him.  She is not easily moved or affected by emotions or feelings that are not rooted in Truth.

She goes through trials and suffering, but they are never bigger or more powerful than her God is.  Her faith has reached a maturity where even heartaches and crises don’t shake it, but instead prompt her to cling to God even tighter – oh that we may also have this kind of confident faith!  She is able to “stand firm,” confident that God is for her, and is not moved.

She isn’t worried about what other people think of her, but seeks the approval of God.  When we are overly worried about what others are thinking of us, if they are approving and accepting us or not, it tempts us to do things so people will like us, instead of focus on the things that please God.  It also tempts us to try to control or protect an image that we perceive we have – we’re not able to “laugh at the days to come” because we take them (and ourselves) way too seriously.  When our image depends on us protecting it, instead of trusting in God to defend us against the Enemy’s accusations, we lose our valuable mirth and become controlling, demanding, and unhappy.

She doesn’t let the Enemy play mind games with her.  She doesn’t get stuck in self-hatred, pity, or discouragement, she doesn’t dwell on these negative emotions or feelings.  She goes to God freely with her weakness and brokenness, because she knows that in her weakness, she is never stronger!

She doesn’t just strive to get by begrudgingly through life, she thrives and flourishes in God’s love and acceptance for her.  She may know the pain of suffering rejection like Christ also suffered rejection, but her heart finds it’s JOY in flourishing in God’s love.  She is no longer a victim of others’ misuse, mistreatment or rejection, but is a victor, and because of that confident victory, is able to laugh and have JOY.

She is strong and courageous, and is not afraid of people or battles she’ll have to face because she knows the Lord goes with her, and will never leave her or forsake her (Deut. 31:6).

 

 

Blessings for Your New Year!

I can never believe how fast a year can fly by, it always gets to me and makes me appreciate the days even more.  Time goes by too fast!  I want to soak up the joy of being with my children and husband, I really do wish it would just go a little more slowly.

2016 is going to have some interesting adventures, I’m wondering what God will do in our life, what kind of trials we may face or joys that will come?

Sitting here, with our beautiful Christmas tree still up in the dark, peacefully quiet living room, I want to share with you some verses I was reading early this morning, some blessings for your new year 2016!

HE CROWNS THE YEAR WITH GOODNESS:

“How happy is the one You choose and bring near to live in Your courts!  We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holiness of Your temple. …

“You crown the year with Your goodness;

Your ways overflow with abundance!”

Psalm 65:4,11

STRENGTH & REFUGE WHEN FACING TRIALS IN 2016:

Lord, I seek refuge in You; never let me be disgraced.

In Your Justice, rescue and deliver me; listen closely to me and save me.

Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go.

Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.

Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and oppressive.

For You are my hope, Lord God, my confidence from my youth.

I have leaned on You from birth; You took me from my mother’s womb.

My praise is always about You.  I have become an ominous sign to many, but You are my strong refuge.

My mouth is full of praise and honor to You all day long. …

For my enemies talk about me, and those who spy on me plot together, “God has abandoned him; chase him and catch him, for there is no one to rescue him.”

God, do not be far from me; my God, hurry to help me.

May my adversaries be disgraced and confounded; may those who seek my harm be covered with disgrace and humiliation. …

My mouth will tell about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up. …

God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim Your wonderful works.

Even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me.

Then I will proclaim Your power to another generation (hopefully to our grandchildren!), Your strength I will proclaim to all who are to come.

Your righteousness reaches heaven, God, You who have done great things; God, who is like You?

You caused me to experience many troubles and misfortunes, but You will revive me again and again.

You will bring me up again, even from the depths of the earth.

You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

My lips will shout for Joy when I sing praise to You, because You have redeemed me.  Therefore, my tongue will proclaim Your righteousness all day long, for those who seek my harm will be disgraced and confounded.” Psalm 71

GOD AS YOUR STRONGHOLD FOR 2016:

“I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning.

For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble.

To You, my strength, I sing praises, because God is my stronghold – my faithful God.” Pslam 59

 

 

A Woman’s Attractiveness Reflects on Her Husband’s Appeal, Talent and Ability

steph in fall

I had one of the most interesting comments last week by Object of Contempt, wondering how keeping passionate love, romance, and a woman’s attractiveness alive and well in a marriage are intertwined with each other, and if they are at all supported in Scripture.  He admitted that most women don’t seem to have a problem with wanting to be attractive, but for the women who are extremely against it, are there any biblical passages that show it’s important to God?

His main question was how a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

These are all really great questions, and this is a sensitive issue for many women, especially in our current day culture.

Let’s tackle the notion of attractiveness first:

Like I said in Men Need an Attractive Wife,

Most men really do value having a wife that is attractive.

It’s not shallow that they want to show you off, it’s not shallow that even just looking at you and knowing that you’re their’s makes them feel proud of you.

It’s just the way God designed the male nature.

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It is, in large part, a reflection on the man, what his wife looks like.

This is where the topic gets a little more serious.  When a woman takes care of her appearance and tries to look her best for her husband, she is helping her marriage to flourish by giving her husband respect.  Keeping herself attractive for him shows him how much she respects, honors, and admires him.  In other words, she wouldn’t dare let herself go because not only does she respect herself too much, but she knows her appearance reflects on who he is as a man and as her husband.

When a woman refuses to be and remain attractive to her husband in the way that he likes, when she gains weight after marriage or never loses her pregnancy weight, it is almost as if she is sending him the message that he deserves a woman who looks unattractive.  That he can’t or couldn’t do better.  When she refuses to be attractive to him, she is saying that she doesn’t care about his visual needs, that she disrespects the man that he is.

 

One of my favorite books, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes, describes this phenomenon quite well,

Paul reminds us, “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)…

Have you ever noticed how a man who enjoys hunting likes to display his catch?  A great blue marlin is mounted over a mantel, a five-point deer head emerges from a wall, a stuffed greenhead mallard proudly tops a desk. All this is to say, “Hey, guys, look at what I caught. Eat your heart out.”

There’s nothing your husband would like more than to flaunt his attractive wife out in public.  He may not mount you on the wall (let’s hope not), but when he walks into a room with you at his side, he wants to say, “Hey, look what I caught.  She’s all mine.  Eat your heart out!”  I daresay, when you walked down the aisle on your wedding day, that’s exactly what he was thinking!

“When a man has an attractive wife, it says he has the appeal and talent that deserve someone of her caliber.

When a man’s wife let’s herself become unattractive, the message comes across loud and clear that he couldn’t get someone better and probably deserves her.  He has little to offer, the world decides, and he attracts little in return.”

The Bible reminds us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  The truth remains… man looks at the outward appearance.

Of course, I don’t think most women who let themselves become unattractive want to reflect badly on their husbands, or even understand that not trying to be attractive makes their husbands feel as if they don’t care about them.  Many times I believe women just think that men act and feel like women – that outer looks don’t matter to them as much as it truly often does.

But men (most men) are wired to like looking at a beautiful woman – and it makes them ecstatic if their wife is attractive to them!  They want their wives to make an effort to be attractive for all these reasons, and yes, Object of Contempt is right that it directly encourages passionate love and romance to flourish in a man’s heart toward his wife.

Object of Contempt rightly points out that a woman making an effort in her attractiveness is doing her part to maintain passionate love and even romance in their marriage:

I think, however, that it is part of the vows to do what you can to maintain passionate love. Being attractive is part of that. I also think it is possible to make yourself be in love with someone (having done it myself). There are limits, of course. Romance and passion are often dismissed in christian teaching about marriage, just like attractiveness and beauty are. I suspect this is partially the cause for the attractiveness issue.

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The second part of Object of Contempts question: How would a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

Will be discussed in the next post!