Thursday, May 31, 2012

Praying The Fruit of the Spirit in Our Marriage: Day 3

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      So far we have looked at love and joy in our marriage, and today we are going to look at having peace in our marriage. There are many circumstances that can rob us our peace; anger, financial issues, selfishness, illnesses, unfaithfulness, laziness, over working...and so on. All of these things are eventually going to lead to conflict, and that is basically what not having peace in our marriage boils down to...conflict.

     Conflict in marriage is inevitable, but there is a way to overcome it and come out stronger in the end. First, I think it's important to point out that we are called not to let any unwholesome talk come from our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up. (Ephesians 4:29) I know it's hard when we are in a really heated argument to hold our tongue. But if we are not careful, we end up hurting our spouse and the words can never be taken back. In Proverbs we are told that the tongue has the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21) This means that the words that we say to our spouse (or anyone for that matter) can either breathe life into them, or suffocate them. Your spouse makes a comment that offends you, you then lash out at them with another harsh comment, they come back at you, and so on and so on. Before you know it, the disagreement escalates into what Dr. Emmerson Eggerich calls, "The Crazy Cycle."

      The book of Proverbs also has a lot to say about the negatives of being a quarrelsome wife. Chapter 19:13 tells us, "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping." Chapter 21:9 says, "Better to live on a corner of the roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife." Verse 19 in the same chapter says, "Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife." Chapter 27:15 again teaches that, "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day." As we can clearly see, God has a lot to say about the attitudes we have towards our husbands.
      A few months ago, Jeff and I attended a quarterly couples event at church called Marriage Rocks, and I wanted to share some of the things my pastor said about conflict. He shared that statistics show, couples who say only 5 negative comments per 100, are ten times less likely to get a divorce. However, couples who say 10 out of 100, are ten times more likely to get a divorce. He also discussed how we should not go to bed angry. The Bible even tells us in Ephesians not to let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Eph. 4:26) He shared a story about a time when he and his wife were in a conflict, and when it was time to go to bed she told him, "Look, we really need to get some sleep. I'm not very happy with you right now, but I still love you, and I still want to be married to you for the rest of my life." He said that simple comment made all the difference and gave him so much reassurance that everything would be okay. He then ended by saying something like, "What if our goal was not to win the conflict, but instead, to try to see our spouses point of view." I think if we had this mind set it would make all the difference in our marriages.
     If conflict is an area of struggle for you and your spouse, then take it to the Lord and ask that He fill your marriage with peace. I would also encourage you to seek Godly counsel. A lot of churches will provide free marriage counseling to couples who ask. Do not be ashamed to ask for help. We all go through hard times, and trying to find a resolve is much better than doing nothing at all. And remember, our marriages are worth fighting for.
     We serve a Father who is the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3), and He is able to provide a peace that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:7). Remember to keep your eyes on Jesus, and I promise He will see you through.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you and ask that you would always fill our marriage with your perfect peace. Please help us to quickly resolve any conflict we may have, and look to you as our guide at all times. Help us to not allow any unwholesome talk to come from our mouths, but only words that build each other up. Thank you for being The Prince of Peace to us, and filling us with your Spirit. You are so precious to me, Jesus. Amen.

As I have been writing this post, I've been rockin' out to this song :) I absoulutely love it, and it reminds me of the early dating days for Jeff and I, as this was a very popular worship song then. I also thought it was appropriate, considering the topic.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Praying The Fruit of the Spirit in Our Marriage: Day 2

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      Yesterday we looked at the first Fruit of the Spirit, and today we will discuss the second In today's society, being filled with joy can be a very difficult thing to do. After all, we are surrounded by bad news from the media all the time...famine, violence, illnesses, divorce..the list goes on. However, God has called us to, "rejoice always," (1 Thes. 5:16) and give thanks in all circumstances. As I was pondering on this concept of joy and how it applies to our marriage, I began to brainstorm about some things that can steal our joy in marriage, and wanted to elaborate on a few; insecurity, financial issues, and a negative attitude.

     Let's begin with the first one...insecurity. This is a personal struggle for me, and one that I seem to be in constant battle with. It's not that Jeff has ever given me a reason to feel insecure, it just stems from my own personal issues. I especially had a hard time with this in the beginning of our marriage. With God's help, I have gotten more of a hold on it, but it still creeps up frequently. Let me just tell you, I have found this issue to be the biggest thief of joy, and it most certainly is not what God intended for us. A few years ago I completed the Women Making a Difference in Marriage study, by Lana Packer, and wanted to share a paragraph from her book... "Many women live with fear of their husbands' having an affair, of divorce, or of widowhood. Certainly, any of these fears are possible occurrences, since all of us are sinful and mortal. The fact that something can happen does not mean that it will happen. When we focus on our fears, we are telling ourselves that an outside possibility is a reality. We have allowed a maybe to dominate our present. The result is that we have robbed ourselves of the joy of today." Do not be like me and allow fear and insecurity to rob you of your joy. I have found on days that I am really struggling, it helps to say scripture out loud to myself as a reminder of who I am in Christ, and pray that the Lord would take the fearful thoughts away, and fill me with His truth.

     The next thief of joy I want to discuss is financial issues. Many times men and women have very different financial goals, and finding a happy balance may seem nearly impossible. However, let me encourage you that it is very possible. The key is communication. This means sitting down and talking to one another about your individual goals and then working together to accomplish them. A few weeks ago I came across this article from Dave Ramsey, and thought it was perfect in terms of discussing finances in marriage. Please check it out here.

     Lastly, I wanted to talk about having a negative and critical attitude in marriage. No one likes to be around someone who is negative all the time, and having a critical spirit can deflate your husband faster than a nail in a tire. If this is an area you are struggling with, confess it to the Lord and ask Him to help you have a more positive attitude. I would also challenge you to kindly greet your husband daily. Trust me, he does not want to wake up to, or come home to a moody wife. As the women of our home, we set the tone for our household. Are we going to choose to have a home filled with animosity, or of complete joy?

     Today, along with everyday, I choose joy. I hope you will too!

Dear Precious Savior, today I pray that you fill me with a spirit of joy. Please help me to focus on the positive more than the negative, and find complete joy in you always. Lord, I desire to be a joyful wife, and pray that you fill our marriage with joy overflowing. Thank you Jesus, that is because of you, and what you have done for us, that we have the hope and a future of joy with you in eternity. I love you more than life itself. Amen.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Praying The Fruit of the Spirit in Our Marriage

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     I have decided to begin a new marriage series on practicing, and praying, The Fruit of the Spirit in our marriage. I have always loved these verses from Galatians, and I thought that the concept of applying these "fruits" to our marriage would be beneficial. So let's begin with the first How well are you loving your husband? Remeber back in the dating and newlywed days when we were so purposeful and eager to demonstrate love to our men? Well, that eagerness should still be the same whether you have been married for 10 days, or 10 years. As I said in my marriage post last week, I have come to the conclusion that for me, my greatest desire in my marriage is to love Jeff as deeply and unconditionally as Christ loves me. It's a love that is unfading and unending, and most definiely should not be based on our feelings. Us women can be very emotional, and if your like me, those emotions can differ from day to day. I cannot possibly love Jeff the way I am called to if I rely solely on the way I feel. Some days I may be cranky, some days I may feel down, and other days I may be the happiest woman in the world. (Gotta love those hormones, girls ;)  The only way I will truly be able to love Jeff with an agape kind of love, is to keep my eyes on Jesus and rely on His strength and wisdom daily. Notice I said daily. If we are not surrending our marriage to Jesus daily and denying ourselves, then we cannot even begin to focus on our spouse and meeting their needs first.  So, with all that being said, I want to challenge you to come up with some creative ways to show your husband love. Maybe it's cooking his favorite meal, writing him a love note, surprising him with a special date night, or simply getting on your knees and praying with him according to his needs. Let's be the wives we are called to be and love our men well!

Lord, I come to you now and ask that you would give me the wisdom to know how to love Jeff well. He is one of the greatest gifts you have ever given me, and I am so grateful. Please love Jeff through me, and may he see You, sweet Jesus, in me. I surrender our marriage to you and boldly ask that you would use us to your glory. Thank you for your deep and unfailing love. You are so good. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Worship Song

     I love this beautiful worship song by Bebo Norman. We truly are nothing without Him, and we can do all things only through Him. I hope you have a beautiful Sunday!

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marriage Tip Tuesday

     My greatest desire in my marriage is to show Jeff the same kind of unconditional love that Christ shows us. One way I do this is by respecting and submitting to Jeff. I know that the word "submit" scares, or upsets a lot of women, but I take great delight in showing my husband respect and allowing him to lead our home. It does not mean that you lie down and allow your husband to walk on you like a doormat, but it does mean that you are to show appreciation for what he does and allow him to lead without criticism. I am currently doing a study on the Proverbs 31 woman, and am learning so much. I desire more than anything to be a wife of noble character and one that my husband has full confidence in. Besides my Bible, the main tool I have been using is the Proverbs 31 e-book by Crystal at Women Living Well, and it has been such a blessing to me. When Jeff and I first started dating, I can remember being on the phone with him one night and asking him what he had been doing. He told me he had been reading in his Bible about wives. I asked him where he was reading about that and he told me Proverbs 31. At the time, I was a very new Christian and didn't even know that this passage was in the Bible. After getting off the phone with him, I quickly got my Bible and began to read Proverbs 31. At the time, I thought, "If Jeff and I marry, this is the kind of wife I will be." Well, little did I know, becoming the Proverbs 31 woman does not just magically happen... it takes love, time, and dedication. I'll admit when you read through the list it does seem a little overwhelming, and you may think to yourself, "There is no way I can do this. This woman cannot possibly exist." Well, let me assure you she does, and we can all strive and accomplish to be like her. I realize that I am nowhere close to being the Proverbs 31 woman, but as I keep my focus on Jesus and my marriage, I am encouraged and strengthened daily to keep running the race. As Crystal puts it, this is a labor of love. So, I wanted to give you all the link for the book. It's free and only about 43 pages long, so you don't have anything to lose. I hope you all enjoy the book and are as encouraged by it as I have been. Instead of conforming to the patterns of this world, and being influenced by the women that we see in the media, let's look to this virtuous woman who fears the Lord and who is worthy of praise.

Here's the Link:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

     With the summer like weather that we have been having lately, it has brought on strong summer fever. Therefore, I'm loving all things summer; clothes, food, drinks, swimming, sunbathing, etc. Here are some great finds that I am currently fond of....

1.) Summer rompers and sun dresses. I just love the skort romper, and the dress is adorable. Both are from Forever 21, and I think I just may have to make a trip there soon :) (Yes, I am a pretty big fan of yellow this year.)

2.) Yummy smoothies, iced coffee, and any other type of cold treats.

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I love pretty much all varieties of smoothies, but peanut butter banana definitely tops my list. It's super easy and inexpensive to make. All you need is one frozen banana, about 1 Tbsp. of peanut butter (or to taste), and 1 cup of cold milk. Put all ingredients into the blender, and blend until smooth.

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I also love a good ol' iced coffee. This is a staple drink in my house during summer time. (As a matter of fact, I'm going to have one as soon as I finish this post.) To make this at home, I pretty much just make coffee as normal, add sugar and milk, and a few ice cubes. Then, I top it with cool whip. I also just love the idea of making coffee ice cubes, so that when the ice begins to melt, it won't get watered down.

3.) Lastly, I'm loving the fact that it's almost time to go swimming. There is nothing more relaxing to me than laying out in the pool while listening to some great music. Ahhh, summertime :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Miscellany Monday

      So here we are again for another Miscellany Monday. Can y'all believe that another week has come and gone? C-RAZY. Anyways, here are some things that have been happening lately...

1.) My best friend, Stacey, gave birth to her first born child on Thursday night. Ella Brooke is a precious gift from God and I could not be happier for her and her husband. They will indeed make wonderful parents.

2.) Speaking of Stacey and the baby, here is a picture of the yarn wreath that I made for her and gave to her at her shower...

3.) As for the rest of the weekend...Saturday night my cousin Hannah attended her junior prom, so we went to get pics made with her, and she looked gorgeous. We also had a graduation party to go to, church on Sunday, and then spending the rest of the day with our moms. As you can see, it was an incredibly busy, fast paced weekend.

4.) Apologies for not posting a worship song yesterday. I had every intention to post this great song that a woman sang during worship yesterday about raising children, but between visiting with Jeff's mom, and having dinner with my family... it just didn't happen. So to make up for it, here it is. I hope you enjoy it :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Birthday Blessing for My Big Bro

      Wow! I don't even know where to begin. Words alone could never describe the love and respect I have for you. You are the best brother anyone could ever ask for and I am so blessed to be called your sister. You have always been there for me in the good times and bad and I am forever grateful for your love and support over the years. Most of my fondest childhood memories are of you, and boy did we go the phases. I can remember as a very young child putting on many Garth Brooks concerts with you, playing WWF, Gladiator's, basketball games in the basement (where the washer and dryer were my only teammates), watching many episodes of Full House and Alf, climbing trees at Granny's (and making our own basket to send things up and down, as well as, DIY tree seats), our Pearl Jam days, playing sports in the front yard....I could on for hours. We have made so many memories together, and were always there for one another. You have been a defender when I needed to be defended, and a comforter when I needed to be comforted. You also make me laugh like crazy with your fun and outgoing personality. For all you've done for me, and for all you've yet to do, all I can say is Thank You. You are such an amazing, Godly man and I grow prouder of you everyday. You let your light shine for all to see, and believe me, He shines through. I hope you have a wonderful Birthday and I wish you a year full of His love and peace. I can't wait to share a delicious dinner and some homemade ice cream with you tonight. I love you so much, Aaron. You're the best!

By the way, I love this poem as it reminds me of you:

He's always there to offer a shoulder
Watching and caring as we grow older
His friendship, it is like no other
He is the Best, he is my brother

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Yummy Summer Dinner

      I know it's not exactly summertime yet, but here in the bluegrass state, it sure feels like it. So, Jeff and I decided to fire up the grill and make some yummy chicken kabobs with red onions, pineapple, and red potatoes. We also had potato salad as a side, and enjoyed dinner with a big tall glass of strawberry lemonade. Ahhh...the joys of summer!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Running the Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.---Hebrews 12:1-3

I love this verse and the rich truth that it speaks. I don't know what you are going through, but I would encourage you (as well as myself), to endure with perseverance, keeping your eyes on Jesus the whole way through. Jesus will never stop cheering you on, and will be waiting at the finish line with open arms to hold us and renew our strength.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

      Wow, it's been a long time since I did this segment. I am finally done with school for this semester, so hopefully I'll get my blogging rhythm back. Now for a few things I've been loving lately....

1.) Fiber optic ceiling lights. Is this not the neatest thing you have ever seen? I love it pictured here in a nursery, but it would also be really neat in a home theatre. As a matter of fact, Jeff and I are going to install these lights in our back bedroom within the next month or so. And, believe it or not, it's really not that difficult to install and there are some great tutorials on Pinterest.

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2.) Braids, braids, and more braids :) I love the simplicity of the plain ol' three strand braid, but the more complex ones are so pretty. If only I was good at doing my own hair. My cousin Hannah is very talented when it comes to hairstyles and definitely mastered the fishtail braid, such as this...

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3.) I'm loving these yummy looking apple sandwiches with peanut butter, granola, and chocolate chips. I will for sure be trying these soon. (As soon as I borrow my mom's apple corer :)


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4.) Lastly, (because you know me and my music), I'm loving these songs by Jamie Grace. Hope you enjoy them as well. Have a great night!