Posts Tagged With: love

Everything Else Can Wait

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight as I lay down to snuggle with my son we visit for a few minutes before sleepiness comes sneaking in around him. I can see it in his eyes and feel it in him as I notice his body relaxing.

But my mind has jumped ahead. I’m wondering how much longer I need to lay here. Because if I try to get up too quickly, he’ll wake up. And there is a list a mile long of things I need to do:

Clean the windows.

Wash the dishes.

Wipe the counter.

Clear off the table.

Scrub the sink.

Pack my sons lunch for tomorrow.

Fold the blankets on the couch.

Put toys away.

Sweep and mop the floors.

Do the dusting.

The list goes on and on.

And when all that is done I need write another post for this blog, send a few emails, find a pair of pants that are long enough for my husband and order them, and send a couple thank you notes.

Without even thinking about it, I suddenly realize that I am becoming overwhelmed and I am still laying here with my son. My sweet, sweet, precious son. This is supposed to be a special time. A beloved time. A time just between the two of us and I’m not enjoying it at all because I’m too anxiously anticipating all that my evening will hold.

He is sleeping soundly by now.

I prop myself up on my elbow so I can watch him more closely. I love the way the dim light falls on his face. He really is a beautiful child. He lies there so peacefully, so calmly. I look at his long, dark eyelashes, his chubby cheeks, and his small hands. I watch his chest rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall.

And then, all of a sudden, it hit me…  It will not be like this forever.

There will be a time when his cheeks are no longer chubby and his hands aren’t quite so small. He won’t beg for me to stay just a little bit longer because he won’t desire that anymore. He will only be little for a little while.

There will be a time when the hours will no longer run quite so quickly out in the day. When I no longer struggle to find time to clean my house. When the house is quiet enough during the day that I can write all the blog posts that I need to. When I read a book during the day free of distractions and interruptions.

Yes, my house will probably be a little cleaner in a few years. The content of my blogs will be put together much better and more thought out. And I’ll be able to attend a few more Bible studies.

But my home will be empty of children.

And then I am reminded of Psalms 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Just moments before I had not been doing this. I was not rejoicing but allowing sin and selfish desires to overwhelm me. I had neglected to treasure this fleeting time with my son that was ordained by God. I had fallen into the temptation to trade it in for worry, anxiety, and anticipation.

No more!

I will cherish this time.

Big deal if the dusting doesn’t get done. Who really cares anyhow?

This blog can wait another hour or day to be written.

So I decide to take the time to rejoice in my day, in my moment. I stay a little longer, hold him a little tighter, and love a little longer. I choose to treasure the child that God has entrusted to me.

Everything else can wait.

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Because It’s A Special Time

 

“Mommy, are you ready to snuggle?”

Those are some of the sweetest words I will ever hear spoken. Since the time that each of my boys were very little, I’ve worked to establish the habit of taking time to snuggle with them, individually, as the go to bed for the night.

And it’s my favorite time of the day!

It’s the time when the secrets of the day are shared. It is the time when I get to hear about what is REALLY going on in their lives. This is a place where my boys feel safe enough to openly tell of their insecurities and concerns. There is a closeness and intimacy there that cannot be duplicated.

And I love this time.

But it’s better than that because they do too! That’s why they ask for it night after night.

And while I’m snuggling with my older son, my husband is reading books with our younger son. This is a special time just between the two of them. They cuddle together in their special spot, reading a pile of favorite books while they wait for me to come back up the stairs.

Because when I do, their time will be over and ours will be beginning.

Our son will give his daddy a good-night hug, and then I will lift him up and carry him into his room. We will spend some special moments together there, talking, laughing, crying, or whatever he needs. After a while, I will get up, kiss his forehead, and give him a final hug for the night.

I won’t come back until he’s asleep.

We have this routine for several reasons. First, I just like it and they do to. It is a special time just between us. It is not selfish to want to spend time with your children. They are a gift entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father. They are meant to be treasured and enjoyed.

Secondly, I want to spend time with them, individually. They, too, desire time alone with each of us. And as my older son grows and becomes involved in more activities, it is a reality that our time together is less and less.

And that brings me to my next reason, they will not always want me to snuggle with them. They are only little once. They are only little for a little while. And my oldest son is thirteen. I am dangerously close to being cut off from snuggle time. A time when he feels that he is too big to snuggle with his mommy every night. A time when he no longer desires it anymore. And also a time when we can’t do it simply because he is no longer living at home.

But the main reason I do this is because I want to hear about their day. I have an interest in their lives. I love them and care very, very deeply about them. I want to know what is going on with them. And not only because I care, but because I need to know how to pray for them.

So after they are asleep, I tip toe into their rooms. I am careful to not make a sound and wake them as I watch them sleep. They look so peaceful, so serene. I could watch them for hours. But that’s not why I go into their rooms. I go into their rooms, watch them sleep for a few moments before I place a hand on them, close my eyes, and begin to pray for each of them.

This is where I say my most intimate prayers. This is where I plead with the Lord for the salvation of my children. This is where I lift them and all their concerns up in prayer. This is where I praise Him for allowing me the awesome privilege of raising these two special boys. This is where I plead for wisdom that can only come from Him. This is where my lack of strength and His sovereignty is shown to me over and over again. This is where I place them in His hands.

I am not telling you this just to let you know of a routine in my house. For you to say, “Oh, that’s nice,” and go on with your day. I’m telling you this because I believe there is great value in interceding for our children. We ought to plead with the Lord for them. You love your child more than anyone else on earth. So if you don’t do it than who will?

As parents, it is our responsibility to shepherd our children. While it is true that we cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit, that is open their heart to Christ, we must teach them, illustrate for them, and show them Who He is. We must also plead with the Lord on their behalf. None of our children were born with a guaranteed entrance into heaven. This is when I trust in His goodness and trust in His mercy. This is when I ask for His peace that passes all understanding. This is when I am reminded of my dependence upon Him. This is where I place my most precious gifts in His hands and remember that ONLY HE can save them.

Thank you, Dear Lord, that their salvation is not up to me or dependent upon my obedience. Because I would mess it up. Thank you for being the sovereign Lord that You are. Thank you for You love shown to us on the cross. Let me trust in You.

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Because Loyalty Is Important

 

Lately, my family has been talking a lot about loyalty. It begins with loyalty to Christ, loyalty to our family, loyalty to one another, and loyalty to the body of Christ.

We, as the parents, must model loyalty to our children. We must set an example for them.

We start with showing loyalty to them. Every weird comment someone makes is a chance for me to show loyalty to my children. In public, many people make comments without even thinking about what they are saying or the little ears that hear the comment too. I work to respond to the comment by showing my loyalty to my children. A comment I hear a lot is, “Two boys. How exhausting!” I try to say something like, “Oh, they are so fun. I am very blessed to get to have not only one, but TWO boys!” The point is that my children hear over and over again that I am happy that they belong to me.

There is another much more sneaky way that I can show disloyalty to my children. Every gripe, moan, and grumble of discontentment about my life they may hear as disloyalty to them. When I complain about my post-pregnancy body, the lack of time alone, driving a minivan, making fun of my own social life, and in general talking bad about motherhood, they hear that I am complaining about them. They know that they are specific reasons for these problems. Don’t let your attitude be an attitude that insults them. Children belong with their parents. Let the message they get from you be one of overwhelming love, joy, excitement, and contentment.

Loyalty extends to our everyday life in how we deal with one another. We do not allow our boys to make fun of one another, tell embarrassing stories about one another, or choose friends over siblings. If my older son has a friend over, they must include the younger brother. This is an expectation in which the parents must live out first – we do not tell embarrassing stories about one another, making fun in unloving ways, remind one another of their shortcomings, or sharing stories about each other’s weaknesses. Loving one another as yourself should encompass your family, begin with them, and be demonstrated by them. This is also a wonderful way to instill loyalty in each family member.

There are a number of meaningless and silly ways that divisions are created in the family. For an example, we used to have a list of chores that each family member was responsible to complete. But we noticed that one person would see something needed to be done and not do it simply because it was not their chore. We did not feel that this created loyalty in our family, but division. It is now our rule that if you see something that needs to be done, do it. It does not matter if you made the mess or not. Everyone cleans up after everyone. There is no great injustice done if a child who did not shoot the darts out of the Nerf gun is the one cleaning them up. Because the child who did play with the Nerf gun will be cleaning your dirty dishes tonight or folding your clean clothes tomorrow morning.

Does this seem strange? Why should someone clean up a mess that they did not make? We desire our children to have a much larger view of themselves, one that includes the people around them. As they grow into adults, we want them to serve the church and community without calculating what they have done for whom. We want them to serve freely, openly, joyfully, and lovingly. We want them to serve without even thinking about it. And we might as well start here at home.

But the heart of what I want to say does not have to do with any parenting style or choices at all. It has to do with Christ. When I put Him first and keep my eyes focused on the cross, failure is completely avoidable. We will not fail our children, our spouse, church body, or community if we are obedient to Christ. Loyalty to anything or anyone begins with loyalty to Him. If I am loyal to Christ, I will forgive easily; remember how He has forgiven me even though I don’t deserve it. If I am loyal to Christ, I cannot be without joy. If I am loyal to Christ, I will gladly serve my church, community, and family. If I am loyalty to Christ, I will look for opportunities to encourage my brothers and sisters, especially when I notice they are struggling.

The truth is that my children do not really belong to my husband and me, they belong to Christ. He is just allowing us to raise them for Him. It is our job as parents to help them grow consistently and to never let them forget Who they really belong to. We want them to be loyal to Christ throughout their whole life. And only by God’s grace will we show them how this is done.

 

 

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Only Because He Loves Me

 

Here in America, tomorrow is a special day, Thanksgiving. It is a day we set aside to remember our country’s feeble beginnings. It is a day our forefathers celebrated with the American Indians.

It is also a day we set aside to reflect on our lives and remember how blessed we are. How much we have to be thankful for.

And that is a good thing.

I could go on and on about all that I am thankful for: My parents, sister and brothers. My husband and sons. My home, the bounty of possessions He has provided to us, and much food to fill our stomachs with. He has provided a free country for us to live in and a quiet, rural county to raise our family.

But none of that is what I am the most Thankful for.

I was recently reminded of a story in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20.

This is what is going on… Samaria was completely besieged by Syria. AND there was a great famine in Samaria. Nothing went in and nothing came out. It got so bad that women were eating their own babies just for survival. That is incomprehensible to me!

Well, there were four lepers sitting at the entrance gate to Samaria.  They knew if they were to stay there they would die. They knew if they were to enter the city they would die also due to the famine. After some discussion they decided to go to the Syrian camp. The Syrians may kill them, but they may have pity on them and spare their lives.

So up they went to the Syrian camp.

But when they got there, they found that the Syrians had fled their camp, abandoning all their provisions. They left their tents, horses, donkeys, food, drink, silver, gold, and clothing. They fled their camp and left everything the way it was. They did not take anything with them.

Now these four lepers entered a tent and ate, drank, and carried off the silver, gold, and clothing to hide them. Then they entered another tent and did the same. But finally they took a look around. This had been a camp of a whole army. These were tents of wealthy and powerful men. These goods were needed by their people. By people inside the gates of Samaria.

These lepers were so thankful for what the Lord had blessed them with, they could not hold it in. They had to let inhabitants of Samaria know. They had to share what the Lord had blessed them with.

Do you catch it?

They were blessed so richly that they had to tell others. They had to share what the Lord had given to them.

Like these lepers, that is what I am the most thankful for too.

I have been blessed richly by the Lord also.

While I have not found an abandoned camp full of material goods like they did, He has given me something much greater: He calls me His child. And that is much greater because that is eternal and will not pass away.

That’s it. And that’s enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and am thankful for them. But I only have my family because He has given them to me.

I am not owed anything. I deserved nothing except His wrath and damnation.

The only thing I have contributed to my salvation is my sin. He did not choose to love me because I am so smart, lovable, or have such a great personality. He did not choose me because He thought I would be good for the team.

He just chose to love me. And that’s enough.

Why? I have no idea.

But because He does, it causes me to have more adoration for Him. It causes me to love and cherish Him in a whole different way. It causes me to desire to serve and honor Him above all else.

So as tomorrow approaches, I am celebrating Him and His love.

I cannot hide His riches. I cannot hide His blessings.

They are too great and powerful!

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Enjoy Today

 

I have noticed in the past several months that my son’s voice is changing. I guess it is to be expected. He is thirteen years old after all. But it’s still a change.

And he’s not the only one. Anytime I’m around any of his friends I can hear it in them too. We have a neighbor boy who is on the same football and basketball team as my son. His mother and I are taking turns giving rides. When it’s my turn, I purposefully ask this boy a lot of questions. Just so I can listen to his changing voice.

Things are physically changing in these boys. They are growing up.

And I like it here.

Sure, there are times I long for the days when my son would curl up on my lap while I read a truck load of books to him. Or we would see what we could create out of play dough. Or play in the sandbox together. Or snuggle until we both fell to sleep. There are times I miss the sweet, precious, tender times with my toddler and preschooler.

But on the other hand, I look forward to his high school years. I look forward to watching him play football and basketball. I look forward to the contest and projects. It’s exciting to think of all the opportunities that will be available to him. Oh, those will be great days too!

But great days are happening right now.

Today.

It’s true that my son’s childish voice that he had a year ago is gone. The voice he has now is not that of a teenager and definitely not that of a man, but it’s somewhere in the middle.

And it’s nice here.

I like picking him up from practice and him telling me about funny things that happened during school and practice. I enjoy packing a lunch for him every day, sneaking in a surprise once in a while, and hearing his excitement about it.

Because time goes so fast.

I’ll blink my eyes and he’ll be in high school. I will no longer be picking him up from his practices or school because he’ll be driving. I’ll no longer be packing him lunches because that’s just not cool in high school.

And then I’ll blink my eyes again and he’ll be in college. He will have developed the voice of a man. He’ll pack up his room and move away from home for the first time. He’ll make new friends. Opportunities will be opened to him that he didn’t even know existed. He may even meet his spouse.

Thinking about these times, either forwards or backwards, can exciting or despairing.

Remembering the times I shared with my son as a preschooler can be despairing when I think of a time that is gone that can no longer be revisited. Or it can be exciting to think of all the fun times we had together.

Looking forward, into high school and college, I can be despaired that he will no longer need me as much. To think that he is growing up and in a few short years, will no longer be living at home could easily cause me to despair. But it is also exciting for all the reason I listed above and more.

But time goes on ticking. Second by second, minute by minute, day by day.

Time doesn’t stop.

It is very easy to grieve for the loss of yesterday or so anxiously anticipate tomorrow that we often forget to enjoy today.

Psalms 118:24 tells us, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Today is a gift too.

I like to listen to my son and his friends talk so I can hear their changing voices. In a few months none of their voices will sound like it does right now. Today. It will be gone and never able to be recovered again.

So I’m going to soak it up. Enjoy it. Listen to it all I can. Because even though this is a short phase, it is a time created by God and given to me. And I will rejoice and be glad in it!

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What about the difficult child?

 

To those who have been with me from the beginning, this may seem familiar. That’s because this was my very first blog published. But it is one of my favorites. Not that I feel that I’ve been blogging so long that it’s time to start reblogging, but it is a good reminder. One that I need nearly everyday. A reminder of the way my Heavenly Father sees me and my grotesque sin. Yet, he chooses to have mercy, grace, and show me his amazing love. This is not really meant to be a blog about parenting but one to remind us of His undeniable grace. With all that said, I hope this is of encouragement to you.

 

an ancient wheat threshing floor

I spoke with a mother today who has a child that she and her husband adopted, as well as a biological child. And the poor mother, I feel for her, confessed that she knows she favors her own biological child over the adopted child. She does not want to and fights the urges moment by moment to show favoritism.

As she spoke more, I got the sense that it was not so much the fact that the child was adopted as it was that he was just a more difficult child. So I asked, “What is it about him that makes it harder for you to love him?”

She thought for a moment, and then said, “He is rude. He is selfish and does not care about anyone else’s feelings. He is dishonest and disrespectful. He is not even sweet, cute, or the slightest bit charming.”

Ouch! I think she just described me. And you. And every other human.

Put like that, who could love this difficult child?

Well, to answer this question I am sent to the Scriptures.

I find myself in Judges 6:11 with the calling of Gideon. Gideon is threshing wheat in a wine press. Did you catch that? He is in a wine press! People did not thresh wheat in a wine press. They threshed wheat on a wheat threshing floor.

This is what it looked like: A wheat threshing floor was usually out in the open and on top of a hill. This was important so that the wind would assist in the separation process. The floor was generally made of flat rocks. Oxen would usually be driven around in a circle over the sheaves to trample out the kernel of wheat.

On the other hand, a wine press was a large hole dug into the ground usually square-ish in shape. The sides and bottoms would be lined in stone so that juice would not soak into the ground. The base would slightly slant to one side where a small basin would be dug into the floor to collect the juices. Grapes would be trampled by human feet.

So here’s the deal, Gideon’s people are being oppressed by the Midianites. Wheat needs to be threshed. But Gideon doesn’t want to do it in the open, on top of a hill, for all the Midianites to see.

So where does he go? Into a wine press. Is it ideal? No, but it is a good place to hide and get some work done.

I cannot find anything attractive about Gideon at this point. He is in there because he is hiding!  And he is doing the work that oxen usually do. That is not glamorous. Wine presses were not all that deep. So for him to be hidden he had to be small. He is just a small, somewhat cowardly man, doing the work of oxen.

Nope, not attractive to me.

Still, God looks at him there, hiding in that wine press and says, “I want you.” He saw Gideon in all of his weaknesses and still called him.

Hasn’t He done that with all of us who He has called to Himself? There is nothing attractive about us either. We are rude and selfish. We have been dishonest and very disrespectful to God. There is nothing sweet, cute, or charming about us.

Yet, He has called us, just as He did Gideon, to be joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). That means He has adopted us to be His own (Rom 8:15,23, Gal 4:5, Eph 1:5).

I cannot comprehend His love. It is too perfect. How could He love someone so unlovable? But He did with Gideon and He still does with us today. I can understand how He could love Jesus, His only son, who was absolutely perfect. But us? And He even chose to adopt us? Wow!

So to the mother I spoke of above, and other mothers like her, I wish I had a perfect solution for you but I don’t. Instead, I would ask you to remember every time your child does something dishonest, disrespectful, and ungracious that you too are him.

Remember the love that He poured out for you on the cross. Don’t forget that cost. You are doing hard things. You might not have the strength inside of you to show love to that child. That is when you pray. Pray very hard for the Lord to give you love in abundance for that child. For Him to give you the same love that He has shown to you.

an ancient wine press

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Why Church Leaders Need Prayers And Encouragement

 

Sometimes I listen to my pastor on Sunday morning and can’t help to marvel at the knowledge that God has given him. I notice Elders counseling with various members of our congregation multiple times a week.

They have it all together, don’t they! Of course our leaders don’t fall into the same temptation that the rest of us do, right? They know the Bible forwards and backwards. They are the ones that we go to for counsel. They have a good knowledge of the Scriptures and put it to work. The time they spend studying God’s word is evident. The wisdom that they each contain and their desire to follow it is undeniable. They are men of God. They would never ever fall to sin, right?

Wrong! Very, very wrong!

First, let’s be clear about who the leaders of the church are. We often think of the pastor as the leader and that’s true. He is a leader but he, alone, is not “the leader”. When we speak of the leadership in our churches, that also includes the Elders.

Please remember that our pastor and Elders are human too. This is too easily forgotten. Sometimes we hold them in such high esteem that we forget that they too have a family with needs. They too have a wife that would like a little bit of attention once in a while. They too are tempted to sit in front of the tv instead of sit in front of their Bible. They are not above any sin.

We too often forget that there is a spiritual warfare going on all around us. Think about it, who would Satan love to see fall? Who does Satan target? Who can do the most damage to Christ’s name?

Someone in leadership.

And when Satan attacks these men, do you know where he most often strikes? In their families. Because if he can destroy the leader’s family, he can destroy his ministry and discredit any teaching that he has done. Ouch!

All too often we forget to pray for these faithful men. We may feel that they are so much above us that we mistakenly think that they don’t need our prayers. But nothing could be further from the truth. They need prayers as much as anybody does. Perhaps more.

Because right now, as you are reading this, Satan is attacking. He is scheming. He is planting seeds of discontentment in your pastors’ family. He is doing all he can to create discord and chaos.

If you have the thought that your leadership doesn’t fall into temptation, remember King David. He was chosen by God to be king. He was the first Godly king and was blessed greatly by the Lord. He is remembered as one of Israel’s greatest kings and is described as a “Man after God’s own heart,” (1 Samuel 13:14). But he fell into the temptation of his lust for Bathsheba. And Christ came from his family! Nobody is above sin. Nobody!

So what can we do to help them?

1. Pray, pray, pray!!! I cannot stress this enough. Pray that the Lord will give them strength, wisdom, and diligence with their time. Pray that God will give them rest. Pray that they will have unity with their wives and children. Pray for their whole family.

2. Encourage them. Sounds simple, right? Yep, it is. Yet it is something that few of us often do. It does not take long to write out a simple note letting them know of the appreciation you have for the time they have devoted to their ministry and invested in you.

3. Encourage their wives. Usually wives are behind the scene. But your leadership could not do their job as well as they do if their wives were not supporting them. Realize that they make sacrifices too for the sake of the Kingdom. And this sacrifice is often a loss of time with their husband. They choose to share their husband with you. And on occasion, I’m sure they would like to know you appreciate this.

4. Be respectful. Remember that your leaders are husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. While they would really like to attend every function that the church hosts, every birthday party that they are invited to and visit with each church member every Sunday morning, they just can’t do it all. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. They MUST make time for their family too.

Please don’t misunderstand me, we ought to take advantage of their wisdom and counsel. To seek Godly influence and instruction is a good thing. No pastor, Elder, any of their wives or children would ever want you to feel like you could not speak with them.

It is a good thing to develop relationships with our leadership. They need friends too. Nobody wants to feel left out. This also gives us a window into their everyday lives so that we have a better knowledge of how to pray for them.

What I am saying is that they do have a lot of responsibilities. If you invite them over for supper and they decline, please don’t be offended or get upset. Just realize that it may be an opportunity for him to reconnect to his family. He is working hard to guard time with his family and not allow Satan a foothold there. Grant grace and be respectful.

While this post is meant to be about the necessity of praying, encouraging, supporting, loving, and being respectful to our leaderships and their families, the truth is that we all need these things. We all need to be prayed for. We all need encouragement. We all need to respect one another’s time. Truly, we each need to realize that Satan uses busyness to whittle away our family time. We must diligently guard against that and our church leadership is no different.

Even the notion that church leaders have it all together is an attack on their family. Because it is 100% complete deception. Just because God has placed them in a place of leadership does not mean that they are immune to sin. It means they are attacked more.

The reality is that church leaders are just like you and me, someone who is striving to model Christ. This month is Pastor Appreciation Month. So it seems fitting that this would be the perfect time to begin storming the gates of heaven for them, letting them know how much we appreciate their investment in us, and the sacrifice their families make for us. Let’s do all we can to encourage them and their family. Let’s show them that we support them, love them, and value them and their time.

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Why A Mother MUST Be A Servant

 

It’s 5:45pm and my husband steps out of his office, shutting off the light and closing the door behind him. A visual sign to us that he’s done with work for the day.

Our boys immediately notice. They drop what they’re doing and run to him. I hear shouts from our boys, “Yay, yay, Daddy’s done with work. He can play now!”

He smiles, gives them each a hug, and then says “I need to talk with Mommy for a minute. But after I get done we can play a board game, baseball, football, go for a walk, or you can help me in the garden. While I talk with Mommy, you boys decide what you want to do.”

When he walks into the kitchen I can tell by the look on his face it had not been a good day at work. I ask him what is wrong. He just looks at me, then walks over and pulls me close to him, wrapping his arms around me. He hugs me tightly. But this is not a normal hug. It is long. Abnormally long. So I ask him again, “Is everything okay?”

It is. It has just been a long day. A stressful day. A day that he could not wait to shut down his computer. He was looking forward to being off work. He was looking forward to spending time with his family. He wants to be right here with us. Right now. And so I hug him back and hold on until he lets go.

I thank the Lord that my husband wants to be with us. That he excitedly anticipates being done with work so that he can spend time with his wife and children.

Why is this important?

Ever heard the saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Me too. And while I’m not crazy about this saying, there is a lot of truth to it. The mom seems to be the barometer of the family. Whether I like it or not, I do set the mood in my home.

There is no compliment that I like to hear more than for my husband to tell me that our home is peaceful. Don’t get me wrong, there is always a great deal of noise. We do have children. And our house is very rarely tidy. But neither of those things have anything to do with peace.

What he is telling me is that he enjoys being home. It is not tense. He feels at ease. He can relax. I am not making things difficult for him.

This is important because I want my husband to want to spend time with the children and me. I want him to look forward to the work day being done. I want to see him smile when he walks out his office door. I want him to feel like he is able to relax when he’s home. I want him to know that he is loved and treasured by his wife and children.

This is not always easy.

I have bad days too. Stressful days. Days when nothing goes right. And this particular day was one of them. Grape juice got spilled on our white carpet. My son threw a fit because I would not let him light a candle. He threw another fit because I asked him to not ride his tricycle through my flower garden. Our neighbor’s dog pulled several pieces of clothing off our clothes line and chewed holes in them. My son threw another fit because I told him he could not throw rocks at our car. I forgot about brownies in the oven and burned them. And the list could go on and on but I won’t bore you with details from my life. Because that’s not the point.

Here is the point: A mother is a servant and must have a servant heart. She must be willing to put her own needs, wants, desires aside for the sake of her family.

Is it my son’s fault that some dogs chewed holes through my laundry? No, of course not. So why would I take it out on him? It may be his fault that he threw so many fits, but it’s my job to discipline lovingly. He is just a child. It is my job to train him. Not to yell at him, tell him he’s bad, or act hateful to him the rest of the day. If I did, how would that affect him? How would it affect our relationship? What kind of mood would that set for our home? Would I be modeling Christ to him?

If as soon as my husband walked out of his office I pounced on him with a list of chores I wanted him to get done, do you think he would look forward to coming out of his office? Probably not. Even though he may be done with work for the day, he may be tempted to stay in his office and read or play a computer game or do anything to keep from hearing my list of demands.

Of course there are times I want to ask him to please get the new seal put on the garage door, to cut the dead limbs out of the trees, or to take the garbage out. But would that be showing him how thankful I am that he is done for the day too? Would that be showing him that I value his time with our family? Or would that make him feel unappreciated and taken for granted?

So every day when he gets off work I try to meet him with a smile. And I listen to him and assess his needs. On this particular day, he needed me to hold him (one of my favorite jobs). Some days he needs me to get supper going right away. Some days he needs me to play catcher while he pitches the ball to our son. And some days he just needs me to smile and say “Hello”.

But every day he needs a joyful wife. One that will set a peaceful tone to our home. A wife that will make him and our boys feel loved, valued, and cherished. He needs a servant wife. And he needs one every single day.

 

For better instruction on how to be a servant to your family, please refer to Proverbs 31:10-31.

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Why Encouragement Is Important

 

Several years ago I went into a pet store for something. The clerk behind the counter was very busy working on a crossword puzzle. Another lady walked in shortly after me. She went straight to the counter and asked if they carried a certain kind of dog food. Without looking up, the clerk pointed and said, “It’s at the end of that aisle.” A few moments later, the customer returned, asking for more help finding it. The clerk very haughtily put down her puzzle, stormed down the aisle, and said in a nasty tone, “Open your eyes and look, lady. It’s right here!”

The way this sales clerk reacted was so hateful that I nearly walked out of the store and I didn’t even have anything to do with it! But then I noticed the customer walking up to the counter with the dog food. Wanting to see how this played out, I decided to stick around and watch.

Nothing eventful happened. The clerk told her how much she owed. She paid the price, was given a receipt, and turned to walk out.

But then she stopped. She slowly turned  around to the sales clerk who was already back to her puzzle. She walked up next to the clerk. And in a concerned tone said, “I really do hope your day gets better.”

 

I tell you that story because I have often noticed when someone is especially grouchy it is because they are in need of encouragement.

When someone, like the sales clerk I spoke about, treats you poorly it is human nature to want or even try to reciprocate. We want to get them back. We want to even the score. We want to make them feel as badly as they just made us feel. We have all felt it from time to time. I felt it that day and I wasn’t even involved in the situation.

Instead, I’ll challenge you to find a place in Scripture where revenge is applauded by the Lord. Because I have looked and I cannot find it. Not once. Instead I’ve found a verse were the Lord days, “Vengeance is mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35). And in John 15:12, Jesus says, “…love one another just as I have loved you.”

And how much did Christ love us? Enough to be betrayed, humiliated, mocked, beaten, tortured, crucified, deserted and separated from His Father. That’s how much!

Compared to that, do we have anything to get upset about? Do we have anything to be offended about? No, I don’t think so.

Still, times will come when we will be treated hatefully. Times will come when we will witness others being treated unfairly. They are coming. It is a certainty with life.

Let’s coat our minds with Scripture. By doing this we will learn how He expects us to react to such situations. This also helps us to train our minds to prepare for these circumstances.  But don’t forget to pray. Ask the Lord to give you words to say. Ask for His wisdom and true, pure love that can only come from Him. Ask Him to give you encouragement as you encourage others.

Like the lady who purchased the dog food, let’s encourage when given the opportunity instead of returning hate for hate. She could have easily given the sales clerk a piece of her mind. But she didn’t. She chose to speak peacefully, kindly, and humbly.

Nearly fifteen years later, I still remember this happening. I remember the sales clerks look of astonishment. I remember her mouth gaped open, not knowing what to say. And I remember the meek tone she spoke with when I went to pay for my item.

Such a huge contrast!

Did anything significant just take place? No, not really. Just one woman was faithful to seize the opportunity to encourage another woman.

I want to be like her!

I want to be known to be an encourager–to rise to the occasion, not allowing human feelings to cloud my judgment. I want to be a speaker and doer of kindness, demonstrating Christ to the world. I want to show love.

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Why We Must Love One Another

 

I logged in to Facebook to check on the local news. To find out what was going on in the lives of all my friends. The news feed came up and I began to scroll down.

But then I stopped.

A picture caught my eye. It immediately made me shake all over and feel sick at my stomach.

It was a picture of a local boy. Only sixteen years old. The son of one of my friends. One of my favorite students at school. A class clown. A boy who has the amazing ability to make anyone laugh despite whatever mood they may have been in.

But in this picture, he was in a hospital bed. His neck was in a brace. Blood was running down his face. He looked terrible.

Apparently he had been helping to tear down an old shed. The tin roof came loose and fell on him. He had several lacerations on his head and face. His liver was bruised. And it caused several more injuries that I cannot remember.

Still, true to his character, he lay there smiling at the camera.

Even though he was smiling, my heart still broke. I knew that he had to be in pain. And he’s what, sixteen years old? And if that tin had hit him in the right place…  Don’t let your mind go there, don’t let your mind go there, don’t let your mind go there!

I felt horrible for him, knowing the pain he must have been in. I knew the recovery from such a trauma would be difficult and take time. I knew of the sports coming up that he desperately wants to participate in and hoped that this injury would not cause him any problems or delays.

But do you know who my heart really broke for? Truth be known, it wasn’t him.

It was his mother.

And why?

Because as a mother, no matter how old your child is, they are still your baby. And when your baby hurts, you hurt. You may hurt even worse than your child does. A mother would much, much rather something like this happen to themselves than their child. That is just the way God created mothers.

But still, there is another reason I felt sickened for this mother—we are both daughters of the Most High King. That makes us sisters through Christ. She is someone who I have spent time encouraging and being encouraged by. She is someone who I have spent much time on my knees for. She has spent time on her knees for me too. She was loving and kind enough that when I unintentionally hurt her feelings, she came to me to let me know rather than gossiping behind my back. She is someone who is humble enough to call me just to ask me to pray for her. She is my sister and sisters love one another. And when someone you love hurts, you hurt.

In fact, the Bible speaks of this very thing. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 it says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” And later in that same chapter, in verse 26, it says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

That is just the way God created the body to work. And it does work.

I know her Momma’s heart is breaking. I know she wants to jump in there and take her son’s place. And that is why it is so important to function as the body of Christ—to suffer when one suffers, to rejoice when one is honored.

How else are we to petition the Lord on one another’s behalf if we do not suffer with one another?

How else are we to encourage one another if we do not form close relationships and be honest and humble with each other?

How are we to love, to truly love like Christ loved the church, if we do not feel one another’s pain?

How are we to rejoice with one another if we do not share in one another’s concerns and excitement?

The truth is that we all need the body of Christ. We draw strength from one another. We encourage one another, hold each other accountable, minister to one another, and gently admonish when the time is needed.

I feel her pain not simply because she is a mother, but because we share in a unity that makes all differences fail in comparison. We are daughters of the King of Kings. Our hearts have been knit together through the pouring of Christ’s blood (Colossians 2:2). How comforting is that!

 

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