Monday, January 31, 2011

How To Truly Hug Your Children

A hug is an exchange
of two hearts entwined for
one precious moment in time.

Since we found out that my dad was sick with cancer this past year, I won't leave the house without hugging and kissing my parents. I have come to realize that every minute I have with them is a gift from God. Every hug, every word, every kiss—all gifts that I tuck into the treasure chest of my heart. I cherish their wisdom, their loving kindness, and yes—their touch.

We all need physical contact--numerous studies have proved that, and common sense confirms it to be true.

“Verbal and physical affection enable a child to learn morality. When loving parents teach morality and impulse control children listen. Physical affection turns children into sponges ready to absorb the lessons parents teach. Teens also need hugs and praise.” Liane J. Leedom, M.D. Mother, Author, Psychiatrist.

We all know the benefits of hugging our children, but how many of us are hugging them to the fullest?

My mother is 78-years-old, and for the first time this month, I have felt a hug from her unlike any I’ve ever experienced before. Same goes for my husband. I’ve started receiving hugs from him that not only remind me of how much he loves me, they tell me he doesn’t want to let go.

For years my parents have been doing the “pat.” In fact, my teen-aged son had started doing the “pat” too in recent years, until I pointed out to him that a pat could never hold the same potential that a genuine embrace can. It is now a topic of humor in our family, but nevertheless the hugs have improved immensely.

Since I’m a self-proclaimed “self-help junkie,” it’s no surprise to anyone that I have a book on body language. I picked it up last summer and thumbed through it on our holidays.

In The Power of Body Language, author Tonya Reiman writes, “[The pat] is the universal signal for, ‘OK, the hug is coming to a close now.’”

The pat is commonly used for social hugging, and it can also indicate that a hugger is uncomfortable and wants to let go.

A hug is an exchange of two hearts entwined for one precious moment in time. It’s a warm embrace that reminds you you’re loved. It’s a squeeze that tells children they are secure in your arms. It’s being held close by a gesture that signifies, “You are cherished and loved.”

In an article titled, “Soaking Up More than Spilled Milk,” author Ann Voskamp writes, “So I do it. I grab the angriest, messiest heart and hold it close. A wonder! Every single time you can feel it right through you, that potency of touch. It’s how Jesus healed the leper, the blind men, the deaf and dumb man, the mother-in-law of Peter. He absorbed the sin with a lingering, intentional touch.”

A genuine hug entails an
intentional, lingering, and deliberate
touch that sews their heart with yours.

Linger a while longer, embrace with intention, and let your hearts mingle before you let go.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bible Study - Ruth Chapter 1 & a Link up!


For the next four weeks we’ll be digging into the book of Ruth, exploring what it means to live a life of self-sacrifice and how the story of kinsman redemption relates to our lives today. Ruth is the only woman in the Bible referred as “virtuous” (3:11), and as we uncover some of those virtues, we’ll study them deeply. Ruth’s extraordinary devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, is an incredible love story between two women that offers us a pattern to follow in our lives.

Ruth, the grandmother of Jessie, and the great-grandmother of King David, was one of the five women listed in the genealogy of Christ along with Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary. The book was written between 1500-1600 B.C., and although the authorship is undetermined, Bible scholars commonly believe it was penned by Samuel.

The main characters within are all to be admired for their devotion to family and loving kindness one to another. I pray that during the next four weeks, the things we uncover will inspire us to reshape our character and vigorously pursue our kinsman redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Before you start this study, I want to ask that you bow for a moment in a word of prayer, asking God to prepare your heart for His Word.

Chapter 1

People in the first chapter and the Hebrew meaning of their names:

Elimelech = God is my King
Naomi = Pleasant
Mahlon = Sickness (Ruth’s 1st Husband)
Chilion = Wasting, puny
Ruth = Beauty; Desirable
Orpah = Fawn
Mara = Bitter

Elimelech and Naomi’s Family
Ruth 1:1-5

We see in verse one that Elimelech and his wife Naomi took their two sons to live in the country of Moab. In studying this, it’s important that we understand who the Moabites were and why they were looked down upon by the Jews.

Moab was the son of Lot conceived by incest. In an attempt to preserve the seed of their father, Lot’s daughters caused him to get drunk, and without his knowledge they both conceived his children. The first born was Moab. Genesis 19:30-38

The book begins by telling us that a couple, of Jewish decent, Elimelech and Naomi, moved to the land of Moab with their two sons to escape the famine in Bethlehem-Judah. After their father died, the two sons married women of Moab.

Why do you think this union of marriage might have been looked down upon by the Israelites? Compare Deuteronomy 23:3-4 with Ruth 1:4.




What were the names of the two women they married?


What happened to the sons?


Naomi’s Decision to Return to Judah
Ruth 1:6-15

Why did Naomi leave Moab and return to Judah?


What reason did Naomi give in urging Orpah and Ruth to stay in Moab?
(verses 8-13)




To understand what Naomi meant in these verses, it’s important to understand the Jewish law and customs regarding widows.

If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. ~ Deuteronomy 25:5

Naomi wanted the best for them including a future with a husband and children.

Which daughter-in-law stayed and which left?


The love and devotion that Naomi and her daughter-in-laws shared is an example to women of the devotion that we can share with our in-laws too.

Ruth’s Decision to Stay With Naomi
Ruth 1:16-18

Without a closer look at the underlying conflict between the two cultures, one might not fully understand that Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi in verse 14 was an incredible sacrifice. Moving away from her people to live in a foreign land would limit her chances of finding a husband. It was commanded in their law that Israelites marry other Israelites, rather than seek out brides that serve pagan gods as the Moabites did. (Deuteronomy 7:2-3)

One of the most beautiful pieces of scripture is found in this chapter:

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me. ~ Ruth 1:16-17

Becoming “one” with my husband means that his people became my people including every idiosyncrasy they might have. I love that even though my family is wonderfully-weird at times, my husband accepts them as his own flesh and blood. It’s one of the virtuous qualities that Ruth possessed and that we can own too. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be easy, in fact the decision that Ruth made to follow Naomi required a complete surrender of all that she was.

What five things did Ruth promise Naomi in her plead to follow?






What are some of the admirable character traits in both Ruth and Naomi?


Naomi and Ruth Arrive at Bethlehem
Ruth 1:19-21

When they arrived in Bethlehem, what did Naomi wish to be called? Why?




Naomi’s character typifies the Israelites that were exiled and eventually returned to their land, but we can also see that she typifies the life of a sinner that comes home.

Like the prodigal son, she went out full and came home empty again. (v.21)
She wasn’t worthy of her name. Nor was the prodigal son, “And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” Luke 15:21

The people welcomed her home. In the story of the prodigal son we read, “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.” Luke 15:22

It’s important to note that when God brings you into His fellowship you come to Him broken and lost. We are nothing without the grace of God.

The Barley Harvest
Ruth 1:22

Barley in its ripened stage is known as “Abib.”The month of Abib (referred to as Nisan after the captivity) represents a new biblical year for the Jews and the start of Passover.

It’s interesting to note the correlation between the arrival of Naomi and Ruth in Bethlehem and the Israelites' freedom from Egypt, which are both marked by the Passover feast—again reinforcing the symbolism of Naomi typifying Israel.

Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. ~ Deuteronomy 16:1

Optional homework for the week:

Memorize Ruth 1:16-17

Underline some of the scriptures that stood out to you and add cross references for future study.

Read the first chapter again with some of the lessons in mind.

That closes our study on chapter one. I hope you'll come back next Monday for a study on chapter 2.

If you are attending this Bible study today, you are welcome to leave a link to your site in the Linky tool below. But rather than linking up with a graphic from your blog like we usually do, it would be nice if you could post your profile photo so we can all see each other. If you don't have one--not a problem, another graphic will do. The Linky tool is just a way for all of us to get to know each other, it's not necessary to write a corresponding post.

I'm also posting the button code to the Ruth study in hopes that you can add it to your post or sidebar.

And don't forget, tomorrow is Titus 2sdays, so if you're a blogger, come back and link up with your post on marriage, parenting, housekeeping or recipes.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Serious Dater

A woman's heart should be so hidden
in God that a man has to seek Him
just to find her.
~ Max Lucado


Firstly, I love your blog and that you stand up for Christ in a very strong way. You have been a shepherd of God's word for me, and others, I know.

I am currently not married, but seriously dating a Godly man. I have struggled as to what my part in our relationship is as a non-married, but serious dater to him. I have a passion for serving him like a husband (cleaning, encouraging words, helping to care for his puppy, etc.) but don't know where the line is.

On one hand I want to show him what kind of wife I would be. On the other hand, I don't want him not to have any motivation to get married, if I already act like we are. I feel like the only Biblical advice out there for dating relationships is "don't have sex before you're married." While that's great advice, I'd love to know more about what each other's Biblical roles are.

If you have any advice or a place to find this kind of guidance, please do send it my way. My future husband will owe you and other Christian bloggers big time because you have taught me God's word surrounding my place as a wife.

Serious Dater

Serious Dater,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. I've taken a few days to think about your question and while I did, it prompted me to start a Bible Study on the book of Ruth.

I was particularly interested in Ruth because she is the only woman (other than the Proverbs 31 woman) that the Bible refers to as "virtuous." The earliest use of the word referred to men of strength, and is now commonly defined as "moral character." With that in mind we can assume she had strength of character.

Who can find a virtuous woman?
For her price is far above rubies.
~ Proverbs 31:10

Being genuine and living out ones faith, are the most attractive characteristics a single woman can have, providing that her character is noble. I think that too often we give up who we are to absorb ourselves in the other person, that we forget we have a life too.

While you love him, and anticipate marriage, it’s important to retain a sense of independence as well. Not being available 24/7 and devoting time to your life apart from him keeps that motivation alive.

In Ruth 2:11 we discover the noble character of this woman who won the heart of Boaz:

And Boaz answered and said unto her,
It hath fully been shewed me, all that
thou hast done unto thy mother in law
since the death of thine husband:
and how thou hast left thy father and
thy mother, and the land of thy nativity,
and art come unto a people which thou
knewest not heretofore.

It wasn’t what she was doing for Boaz that caught his eye; it was the loving kindness that she bestowed upon others.

It’s true that the Bible doesn’t direct too many scriptures toward single girls, but the books of Ruth and Esther depict the lives of two single women through whom we can learn much.

In the next four weeks I’ll be doing a study on the book of Ruth, exploring one chapter each Monday. I think that a deeper look into the character of Ruth may answer some of the questions you have. Hope to see you here this Monday as we explore the first chapter together.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Bible Study Mondays - The Book of Ruth

This Monday, and the three Monday's following I'll be doing a Bible study that explores the book of Ruth. That's January 31, and February 7, 14, and 21.

It's like "Ladies Morning Out," for those who are home!

Each week we'll look at one chapter, to get a better understanding of who Ruth was, what life was like in those days, and what kinsman redemption is really all about. Some of the posts might get lengthy, which is why I chose Mondays as our study day. This gives us ample time during the week to return to the study if we need to.

If you would like to participate in this Bible study, I encourage you to get yourself a note book and have it ready on Monday. I'll be asking some questions that will prompt you to dig deep into scripture to find the answers. If you don't have a Bible--no worries--you will be able to click through and read the online Bible that I'll provide a link to.

If you are a blogger, you are welcome to leave your mark on the linky list I'll have posted that morning, so bloggers can connect with you. And if you could share this Bible study button on your site it would be greatly appreciated as well.

I pray that God will open the scriptures to us according to His will. See you on Monday!

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lunch-Time Creativity

If you're making lunches day after day, you might be looking to add a little creativity to your meals. While dinners are usually on the serious side, lunchtime gives me the opportunity to have a little fun with the kids.

Last year Brendan and I started doing artwork on the brown paper bags, and this year we've been mixing it up with stickers. The kids LOVE it, and so do their friends.

I don't leave my husband out either. I love writing a little note on the outside of the bag along with a doodle of some kind, just to brighten his day.

One of my readers, Faye, said, "I used to put little notes in my kids and husbands lunches too. And on Valentines Day my husband got heart shaped sandwiches in his lunch." Love it, Faye!

As you can see by the artwork, it's nothing fancy, just a token of appreciation for the gems that they are.

Now these are done for bagged lunches, but homeschooling moms, and moms of preschoolers can get creative too by leaving a little note beside each plate, having a candle light dinner at lunch time, drinking juice from fancy glasses, or having a winter picnic on the living room floor. Lunch can be fun if we're willing to give a few extra minutes of our time.

This last one was a joke for my 19 year old. I'm not that mean. :)

Along with my crafty ideas for bags, my sister Bonnie shared these recipes with me for those days when I want to veer away from a sandwich.

Tiny Tuna Wraps

1 can Tuna
2 T salad dressing
6 flat breads
2 Large dill pickles (Cut lengthwise then quartered)

Prepare tuna as desired. (I like to add a little salad dressing).

Spread over flat bread. Add a quarter dill pickle and roll. Cut into 5 sandwich rounds.

Hamburger Bun Pizzas

1 Hamburger bun
1 tsp ketchup (or tomato paste)
1 slices mozzarella cheese
1 slices of salami
1 slices of pepperoni

Slice hamburger bun. (If not already purchased that way). Spread tomato sauce on one side of the bun. Put cheese on other side of the bun and layer with salami and pepperoni. Put bun together to form sandwich. Microwave until cheese melts. Cut into quarters to make pizza wedges. (Add any other toppings as desired before heating.)

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Advice for Single Christians

Dear Darlene,

I love your blog. I love reading it and finding out that there are others out there that have the same beliefs as me. At the moment I am still single, I know God has wonderful plans for me right now--as well as work that needs to be done in me before I get married. Nevertheless, I enjoy the cleaning tips and learning what it means to be a woman of God and a wife.

I read that article written on you [local paper], and I read those comments. It hurts to know that you had to go through that. But Matthew 5:10 says blessed are those who are persecuted. It may not make it easier but know that your sisters in Christ are out there supporting you and God is on your side!

I was wondering if you had any advice on how to be a godly woman, even if I'm not married with kids? I feel like the Bible has all these verses on wives and mothers but nothing on single girls trying to be godly woman. Maybe I'm just missing those verses.

Thanks so much for your time,

Single Girl

P.S. I had to laugh on your bathroom deep cleaning post about the soap bottle and your kids getting a lot of soap. I have a daycare and we put a rubber band around the top of the bottle so the pump only goes down half way. It works great! The soap companies make the pumps big so you get a lot of soap out to use it up faster. So this helps us save some money!

Dear Single Girl,

Thank you for your letter. I'm humbled and grateful for your encouragement. Reading your letter again was just what I needed today.

While I count it joy to be persecuted for the sake of Christ my flesh feels the sting of the wound that each biting remark leaves. And then I’m reminded that words may sting my flesh, but the world can't touch my spirit--that belongs to my Father--bought and paid for by the blood of His Son.

Taking each step in grace I know that I'll arrive at a place of healing.

As I've said on my blog, being forgiven is one thing, but accepting that forgiveness is an entirely different thing. God's grace is hard to grasp; hard to wrap my mind around; hard to accept; because it's nothing close to anything the world has to offer. I'm in awe of His goodness.

Now to answer your question regarding single women:

According to Titus 2:4-5, I'm instructed as follows:

Urge the younger women to love their husbands
and children, to be self-controlled and pure,
to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be
subject to their husbands, so that no one
will malign the word of God.

But don't ever think for a minute that you are left out of that chapter or excluded from the words of my ministry. I'm certain that most "Titus 2 Women" would agree. The same principles can and should be applied to single women--that you be busy at home, self-controlled, pure, kind and subject to those in authority over you. And yes, you may not have children, but there are times in life when little ones are under our care whether it be children or those weak in the faith.

In addition, I believe that Proverbs 4 is vital to young women. It speaks to young people ready to embark on their future. It teaches the importance of getting wisdom, choosing the right path, and choosing healthy relationships. I’m assuming you’re young here, aren’t I? Excuse me if I’m wrong. But then again, young to me could be 65, LOL!

I digress. What stands out to me most are the last few verses that instruct us to guard our hearts. The world will advise you to follow your heart, but the Bible warns us that the heart is deceitful above all things. We must follow a pure conscience that is nurtured by the word of God.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
~ Proverbs 4:23

I believe that the "heart" these scriptures talk about consists of our passions and desires. When we give our hearts to Jesus, we hand them over in obedience, choosing His will over ours. We have to guard our passions so that rather than pursuing them, we are pursuing the Spirit of God.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have
crucified the flesh with its passions
and desires. Since we live by the Spirit,
let us keep in step with the Spirit.
~ Galatians 5:24-25

Thanks again for your letter. I cherish your fellowship.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Painted Tables - An Easy Solution

Someone recently commented on my painted table asking me how easy/or difficult it was to do. The answer is "very easy," in fact so easy that I'll tell you how you can do your own.

The table is about ten years old now, but just a few years after we purchased it, the finish was worn off. Any time the kids ate anything sticky it took elbow grease and time just to get it clean again. I'd soak it with warm cloths and scrape it with a metal spatula. It wasn't the best piece of furniture to have in the kitchen where my kids slop, drop, and drool.

I had decided to buy a new one, but hadn't gotten around to it yet when the idea came to me to paint it! So with the blessing of my husband and a Saturday afternoon to spare I got to work.

  1. First off I had to decide what to paint. I knew that I wasn't the best artist around, so I decided to go with a simple design consisting of straight lines. I decided on a checkerboard center.

  2. I sanded the top. It didn't take long at all since the finish was so worn off. I just took a piece of sand paper and gave it a good going over.Then I washed the surface with a slightly damp cloth.

  3. Using a pencil and a ruler I sketched out my design. I decided that the checkerboard wasn't enough so I cut a heart shape out of a cereal box and drew out four boxes with four hearts where each person would sit. I was looking for a country kitchen look of soft blue, cream, and red. (yeah, I know it's different in the photo, read on...)

  4. Once it was all drawn out I used small bottles of craft paint that I had hanging around, and painted the surface with a fine paint brush, alternating with a medium slightly fuller brush.

  5. I used a black Sharpie to define the edges. A Sharpie and a ruler gave me a straighter edge than my unsteady hand ever would.

  6. Once it was all painted, my dear husband walked in the room and said, "Cool! It reminds me of a games table! Maybe you should repaint three of those squares to look like cards." So I did. I just covered the squares with cream colored paint and penciled in a diamond, club, and spade.

  7. Once it was all painted, we let it dry. But not for long because I'm impatient! Ha.

  8. Then Brendan and Michael dragged it out into the back yard where I sprayed the surface with spray varnish. That was the only tricky part. I had the table on it's side and the varnish wanted to drip. So I stood it back up and did one light coat at a time.

  9. We did several coats to ensure that the table would be washable and functional this time!
Painting wooden furniture is a creative way to salvage an item that you might be ready to throw out. It was an awesome decision for me, and as a matter of fact, it's not the first time I've done this.

About 13 years ago our neighbors had a white table with a wooden table top sitting in their driveway for garbage pick up. I asked them if they wouldn't mind if I took it. I knew that it would be the perfect size for a homeschooling desk for my son. So I dragged it into the house and I got to work on it.

For that table top I used a ruler to draw lines, and then I used stencils to paint words. once the paint was dry, I erased the pencil rules.

The final design was mid-sized script writing that read,

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." ~ Deuteronomy 6:7

It was such a beautiful gift from a mom to her son. I still have the table, but it's stuck behind a cabinet in storage, and I can't budge it to take a photo. But over the years it did get worn out, so it's not all that much to look at now anyway.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Raising Homemakers

Monday, January 24, 2011

Is it a Sin to Wear Sexy Lingerie?

And a Titus 2sday link up!! {below}

Dear Darlene,

I found your blog through Courtney at Women Living Well. I read the Bride in Training post and loved what you advised. I am a bride in training who is wanting to learn how to be a godly wife for my future husband. I've been learning submission, trust, obedience, and letting God love me and fill me so I can then serve my future husband instead of making him meet all my needs. I'm learning a lot.

I do not have examples of other women in my life and when I found you and Courtney I was so excited!!! The Holy Spirit has been teaching me all things and I am so glad He is. I am also praying that God would send me the real deal--genuine godly women in my life. I just turned 22 and would love to see godly women in action.

I have a lot of questions about marriage!! I have one that kinda concerned me... here it goes...

It's an intimate question. I was told by a woman that wearing lingerie or something sexy for your husband is a sin because we are not to seduce our husbands. I know our culture surrounds us with what sexy and beautiful is, and I believe it's just a tool the enemy has used.

The man that God has given me is a man that loves holiness and purity and loves God more than he loves me. He is a man of strength and gentleness and forgiveness. He constantly hides himself in God and when he sins, quickly repents. I can boldly say that he is the kind of man that takes every thought captive, who is fiercely faithful and loyal to me. He loves God's presence and word. I know that he is a good man and is not moved by the false passions of this world. I know he finds his strength and joy from God but am also aware of the enemies schemes and after all he is human.

So my question is, if I were to use something sexy for him in marriage would that be a sin and leading him away from God? I'm sorry if the question is dumb, I want to honor God but I also want to please and bring delight to my future husband, in turn honoring God. I have no one to ask and I certainly don't want to ask my future husband, to maintain myself and himself pure and to not fall into a trap.

What are your thoughts?

Bride in Training

Dear Bride in Training,

My first thoughts would be this, if the world is enticing your husband day after day, then you need to supply that need in the bedroom or someone else will.

However—and make that a big “however”--I’ve decided to turn to my husband for his thoughts on this, because your fiancĂ© sounds so much like Michael in many ways.

Michael is a godly man whose sole purpose in life is serving God. In fact he wakes an hour earlier every day (5 am) just so he can spend that time with God. Serving God is his focus, and seeing women on billboards or at the office dressed in low cut lingerie doesn’t entice him--it annoys him, and reminds him of how corrupt our world has become. When he comes home he desires to see something different—a wife who glorifies God. He wants sex to be a beautiful experience that expresses our love, not one’s release of pent-up lust from a long days work with enticing women.

Do I think that sexy lingerie in the bedroom between a husband and wife is wrong? Absolutely not. If it appeals to you both and you are comfortable with it, then by all means wear it to please your husband.

My point is this, don’t measure your standard by the standard of the world, measure it against the relationship that you have, and what brings honor and respect to your marriage. Dressing in a provocative way might be confusing for both of you, so I'd start by wearing feminine night gowns that remind him you‘re a woman, then after time you will start to learn his preferences, and if you are comfortable--dress accordingly.

All men aren’t cut from the same cloth. A friend of mine didn’t sleep with her husband on their wedding night. Unheard of, I know. She was such a pure virgin that even taking that first step into a sexual relationship was overwhelming for her. Her husband loved her enough to wait, which really goes to show the depth of respect and admiration he has for his wife. To this day—as a mother of four--she remains a woman who reflects purity and innocence in all that she does. Rather than trying to fit into a mold that society offered them, they honored the bedroom as a sacred place where love comes first.

The biggest battle that we have is that we are constantly inundated by the world every day. We need not conform to their standards. We are conforming to Biblical standards. The Bible isn’t specific about this topic, but reminds us that conscience will be our guide.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters,
in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies
as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—
this is your true and proper worship.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what
God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
~ Romans 12:1-2

You are loved by an almighty God,


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I Choose to Serve

Dear Darlene,

Thank you so much for your post [Love and Let Go] today. The Lord has used you in a tremendous way to speak to my heart. I am currently going through some difficult times with my husband. Your words have reminded me that I am to inspire not to control.

Today, I exercise my freedom to choose. I will choose to love and let go rather than push and shove. I choose to let his choice be his choice. I choose to serve.

Thank you again for blessing me today!

Growing in grace,

"Choosing to Serve"

P.S. I have printed out a copy of that article and am going to hang it in my closet as a daily reminder!

Dear Choosing to Serve,

Thank you so much for your letter. I appreciate your encouragement and cherish your fellowship.

There was so much to say on this topic. While I didn't want to run on with my words in that blog post, it really got me thinking about particular circumstances in my relationship where I've had to put my choices aside to respect his.

For example, every time we leave the mall (and we live five minutes away) my husband drives in the opposite direction and takes the long road home. It drives me crazy, and I have such a hard time biting my tongue because I just want to get home.

He has a friend who smells really bad and most would consider “different.” I mean this guy stands at the bus stop and yells, "Your gall-darn mother!" into thin air--repeatedly. If he comes over I can smell him the minute I open the front door, even if he's at the other end of the house, but my husband loves him. He grew up with him, and this guy is like an uncle to him. We've bought him some things, like a TV and a bicycle to help him out but he always lands up giving these things away to his barber.

Another thing my husband has done in the past (but he's respectfully improved) was eat cold cereal for dinner on days when I've cooked an awesome chicken dinner, made spaghetti, or meatloaf. He would say, "Would you mind if I just had cereal?"

I'd say I don't mind, and then I'd pout and give him the silent treatment, assuming that men "get" what the silent treatment means. Most of the time they don't. Girlfriends do of course because we're mind readers, but that's a whole other story. LOL!

I've had to come to accept his idiosyncrasies including his choice of friends, how much time he spends in the bathroom, what route he likes to take home, and the fact that he falls asleep during 90% of the movies we watch. And the truth is I've also come to see the beauty behind many of his choices.

The only real way we can live in harmony is by realizing that while we are one in unity, we are separate human beings with a separate set of emotions, reactions, and passions. We were raised by different parents, teased by different children, and influenced by different mentors over the course of our lives.

The choices he makes result in the consequences he deals with. I'm created to be his helper, which means that I also want to be his cheerleader, not his instructor, his mother, his coach or his teacher. I’m his wife.

I’m blessed to see women like you who are willing to joyfully serve, even if that means biting your tongue once in a while or letting his choices override yours.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Friday, January 21, 2011

His Merciful Love Never Runs Dry

I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.
~ Lamentations 3:19-21, The Message

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Could You Be Friends With Your Ex?

Is it possible to stay friendly with your ex when he/she has really broken your heart with infidelity?  First of all, if you have children together, you must maintain some kind of "niceness" between you to make sure that your children don't suffer from the fall out.  Children are so precious, and so innocent and deserve to have both, aside from that, what about when your children become adults? I think that this all depends on how much time has passed since he/she crushed your heart and the time since the break up. I can tell you that even though I no longer dwell on his cheating on a daily basis, the pain and hurt is still there, but it's lessened because I no longer have to see him daily, nor do I have to deal with it any longer. My ex doesn't hardly EVER come around to see our daughter so I haven't seen him in a very long time.
I think that after all these years, that if saw him somewhere, we would be able to talk, but as far as being friendly enough to go places together, I don't think so....although, some people are able to put their differences aside and do so. I don't think that I would be able to go somewhere that he and his other woman was, even after all this time, however.....if I ended up at a party or a function where they were at, I would be able to make the best of it....after all, it's done.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

8 Ways to Cultivate Inner Beauty

Dear Darlene,

Your post [Men Are From Mars] was so great! I think the advice you offered Jessica was right on.

It is SO tough for a man to lose his job. My husband was so upset when this happened to him. He told me later that when he was told he was being laid off, he couldn't stop picturing Tyler and me playing in the living room. He said it was so difficult for him not to cry in front of his boss.

He told me this later though, AFTER about a week of sulking and being impossible. You're right--he was emotionally drained, and he just didn't know what to do.
Many times, he goes to my father for advice because his own father passed away seven years ago. In this case, he was embarrassed to even talk to my dad because he felt like he wasn't taking care of me.

I didn't know what to do, either. I prayed about it a lot, and there were a lot of tears. Finally, I suggested we sit down after Tyler went to sleep and I just told him all of the reasons I love him and believe in him. I told him I was holding on just as hard as he was. He needed to hear that - he felt like such a failure even though he wasn't saying so - his frustration was coming out of a lack of knowing what next step to take. He kicked the job search into high gear the next morning and got moving around the house until he could start the job he got, but more than that, his attitude changed. He got a little of his masculine confidence back because he could at least know that his wife was his biggest fan.

On the practical, helping-around-the-house side, he was also sort of lost, because he was used to me doing most of it and he just didn't know what he was doing. I asked him to take over the laundry, something he doesn't hate doing, and I showed him how to fold clothes properly. I asked him also to unload the dishwasher in the morning. Then I made a huge deal over the good job he did and thanked him a million times. Consequently, he felt good about helping, and did more without me asking him. Now that he is working again, he still does most of the laundry and says he doesn't mind doing it. Since I work, too, I appreciate that very much.

Anyway, I never thought it would work out this way, but his time of unemployment actually ended up strengthening our marriage. Since he had to take a lower paying job and I am continuing to work for a while he works toward a job that can provide for the family alone, we are still growing in our relationship - working hard together does great things for a marriage.

Hope you're doing well and your dad is feeling better every day.



I asked Ashley if I could share this letter with you today because I love the way she handled the situation and the steps she took to joyfully serve as his helpmeet at a time when he needed it most. I think that most of us can take a page from her notebook as we nurture our inner beauty, with a keen desire to grow. Let's look at 8 ways she did that:
  • She prayed for him—a lot.
  • She suggested they talk. Not insisted, suggested.
  • She reassured him that she loves him.
  • She empathized with his situation by sharing his pain.
  • She made an effort to understand things from his perspective.
  • She showed him how he could help.
  • She praised the work he was doing.
  • She values the growth that times of testing bring to their marriage.

Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind
that God delights in. The holy women of old were
beautiful before God that way, and were good,
loyal wives to their husbands.
Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham,
would address him as "my dear husband."
You'll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same,
unanxious and unintimidated.
~ 1 Peter 3:4-6, The Message

You are loved by an almighty God,


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