Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 2 - Welcome Home Daddy

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
~Proverbs 31:11-12
When our husband's come home from a long, hard day at work, what are they expecting? Is it what they find when they get home?

Preparing a Welcome Mat of Love:
I try to practice self-control and function in the wisdom God gave me (Prov 14:1), by going to bed early so I can rise early to have my praise and quiet time with God. If my heart and mind are not set on my First Love -- the Lord Jesus Christ, then my attitude towards my Second Love -- my darling husband, will not be of the Spirit, but of my flesh (Psalm 92:1-2, Gal 5:24-25).

After my time with God, I make my husband his lunch and include a “lovie note” expressing my gratitude for his faithfulness to Christ, our family, and country. I don’t preach to him in my notes (anymore), but rather try to encourage him by sharing any evidences of God’s grace I see in his life.

I daily pray that God grant my Darling the wisdom he needs to do his job with excellence and bless all the work of his hands, so that he might bear much fruit in the name of Jesus, just like Joseph (Gen 39:5, Matt 5:16).

Irresistible Haven for Daddy:
My Sweetheart loves seeing our children at the table, eating a healthy meal while I feed them the word of God during our breakfast devotional. We started this when our oldest son was 2. Our boys are now 18 (Freshman in College) and 16 (Junior in High School) and they both still love our breakfast devotionals. We are blessed.

Below are some of the things I did when our sons were younger:
  1. Have the house picked up (maybe not magazine-cover perfect, but in order, and clean). There’s nothing like a cluttered and disheveled home that makes a man feel burdened and unsettled, unimportant and unappreciated.
  2. Got all my housework, volunteer work, errands, etc. done before I picked up the boys from school so they could have my undivided attention. I made them snacks, snuggled, listened to them about their day, and helped with their homework if necessary. I did anything I could to bring them peace, so they would be prepared to serve Daddy rather than seek to be served (Mark 10:44-45).
  3. Brushed my hair and touch up my makeup before my Darling got home. I’d also have a hot meal prepared to be served 30 minutes after he arrived home so he could unwind (per his request).

The goal is to set an atmosphere of peace, joy and warmth for our husbands. And this cannot be done without keeping our First Love in full focus, not only for ourselves, but also for our children.

Training children to love and respect their Daddy:
We taught our boys the Scriptures that spoke of revering and honoring their father (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Proverbs 1:8-9, Proverbs 3:1-12, Proverbs 19:13, Proverbs 23:24-25, Proverbs 28:7).

When my Honey gets home, I offer him a beverage, the kids take his lunch bag and anything else they can help him carry. I take off his shoes and socks and massage his feet for a few minutes as he tells me about his day. We put him in a recliner and I make the final touches to our dinner.

The kids ask Daddy how his day was before anyone shares theirs. After dinner, my Sweetheart leads our evening devotional by reading to us and opening up discussions based on Scriptures that help us know God more so we can love Him better.

Our sons do the dishes, wipe down the table and counters so my husband and I can relax and spend some time talking. I usually use this time to get out the massage oil and give him a hand and/or foot massage (depending on his preference).

Today's Challenge:

Memorize Psalm 19:14 and 139:23-24, then find one thing in this article that you are not doing and do it this week to honor Christ, your First Love, so you can joyfully serve your Second.

Today's Challenger:

Twenty years ago, Sunny was a contentious, falsely-pious and arrogant woman who led her family, believing she was more spiritual than her husband. But 5 years later, by God’s grace and mercy, she obediently began her journey towards biblical submission, with no regard to how her husband might respond or react; she fully trusted God for the results. Fifteen years later, she continues this journey, inviting and teaching other sisters in Christ to strive with her in glorifying God as: His faithful daughters, godly wives to believing and unbelieving husbands, wise and loving mothers and faithful friends to everyone God puts before them.You can read her articles on her personal blog, About My Father’s Business - John 15:13, participate in her online study,My Second Love - A Proverbs 31 Study or read her column at - Dallas Christian Marriage Examiner.

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Teaching Christmas to Young Hearts

Can we change the world this Christmas? Yes and no. The last 46 years have taught me that I can’t change the world, but I can always work on changing myself. The way that we reach out to the world is by first conquering ourselves by yielding our flesh to our spirit. We can then branch out by teaching ourselves the way of the Lord, leading our children through paths of righteousness and finally bringing that message to the world through an exemplified life.

We’ve all heard it been said, “The world is taking ‘Christ’ out of Christmas.” But when I turn my face away from the world to examine my own life and that of my family, I'm left with the question, "What am I doing to put Christ into each Christmas?"

As their earthly shepherd, it’s my responsibility to ensure that these children know who Jesus is, and that He is the reason we bring our love to the world at Christmas.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord, we have an opportunity to reflect the testimony of the Christ child in all that we do, and to weave the message of salvation into young hearts by showing them the mercy of God and His love to mankind.

Teach them that the evergreen tree is a symbol of God, who through every season of our life remains the same God He always was and always will be.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
~ Hebrews 13:8, KJV

Show them the twinkling star at the top of the tree, rejoicing together as wise men once did in search of the newborn child.

Where is he that is born King of the Jews?
For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
~ Matthew 2:2, KJV

Trace fingers on angel wings as we recall the words of the angels...

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be
to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city
of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
~ Luke 2:10-11, KJV

Watch the twinkle of each light, reminding young hearts that we reflect the light of God to this world.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on
an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle,
and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and
it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
~ Matthew 5:14-15, KJVBold

Notice the shimmer of light as it bounces from each shiny red bulb, and remember the blood of Christ that was shed for our sins.

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is
shed for many for the remission of sins.
~ Matthew 26:28

Enjoy the wrapping of each present, keeping in mind the gifts that were brought to Jesus.

And when they were come into the house, they saw
the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down,
and worshipped him: and when they had opened their
treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold,
and frankincense and myrrh.
~ Matthew 2:11

And most of all, we must continue to do this throughout the rest of the year.

Drawn from my archives

You are loved by an almighty God,


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December's Printable Calendar

I apologize for not having a calendar page out to you last month. Life was crazy busy at that time. But I'm back with two of them for you. I have made both December and January's calendar for because I know that the end of December will be a busy time for all of us. And in case you don't know, these calendars coincide with the daily housekeeping schedule. (If you haven't checked that out yet, follow the link!)

If you would like to print these off to hang on your fridge or keep in a binder, just click the links below the image and you will be taken to the 

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 3 - Do You Like Your Husband?

Train the young women to…love their husband.” Titus 2:4

Titus 2 gives us a checklist of seven good things that older women in the church are to pass along to the younger women in the church. The first in this list of things to learn is to “love their husbands.”

Most of us would say we love our husbands. We DID marry them, after all.

But can you say that you actually LIKE your husband? Do you consider your husband your best friend? Do you actually like spending time with him?

In this verse, the greek word translated “love their husbands” is philandros which means a “loving friend and companion.” It is a friendship love.

Friendship love is something that we have to nurture. It is so easy to slip into “service” love with our husband instead of practicing friendship love. We wash, cook, clean… and cook some more. Although these are good things, they don’t substitute for a friendship with your man.

So, what does friendship love with your man look like in daily life? Here are ten suggestions!

  1. Be his biggest cheerleader. Have you ever thought about that fact that you are called to encourage and build up your husband? Well, actually the call is for you to encourage the saints and to edify the body, but as my mother always used to say, “Charity begins at home.”

  2. Check in with him during the day just to say “hi.”

  3. Kiss him when he comes home just because your glad to see him.

  4. Call him to tell him “exciting news” before you call your girl friends.

  5. Serve up his favorite foods with a smile. Someone once quipped “Macaroni and cheese served with a smile tastes better than when served with a scowl."

  6. Schedule time to be alone with him doing the things that you both enjoy. (shopping, sports, dinner dates, errands, walking on the beach, etc… ) And be careful not to overbook your schedule so that he ends up with the scraps of your time! Make him your priority!

  7. Plan a “stay at home” date. Make his favorite snacks, put the kids to bed and plan to relax and talk or whatever else you find fun.

  8. Praise him publicly, even to your mother. :) He’ll pretend he didn’t notice, but he will. Telling your mother about all wonderful things your husband does for your family (vs. calling home crying! :)) will validate him in his own heart and show him you respect him.

  9. Thank him for all he does for you and the kids. Don’t fall for the TV propaganda that men can do nothing right! Most men work hard to support their family. They mow the lawn and fix things around the house. You could praise him for those things or for his kind heart or generous nature towards others. Open your eyes if you are struggling to see all of the good your husband does.

  10. Be “all there” when he is home. This is hard when the kids are up, but listen when he speaks and show an interest in what he has to say.
As women, and especially women with children at home, it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, and never really enjoy our guy as a companion and friend. (Similarly, I think we tend to have the same tendency in our relationship with God. We think service equates to love. Serving God=Loving God.)

When you live out the priorities of Titus 2, the Bible says that your good example helps to promote the good news of Jesus Christ and ensures that the gospel is not maligned and slandered.

Today's Challenge:

Look for ONE new way today to show your husband that you LIKE being married to him! This will look different for each of you because each of our husbands are different. With a little bit of creativity and prayer, you can rekindle any lost feeling in the friendship area. Also, you may need to put some of your other relationships on hold until your friendship with your husband is real and vibrant!

Today's Challenger:

Sarah Beals' has three favorite mottos: "Grace is for sinners," "It is all of grace," and "Grace will lead me home." That pretty much sums up her past, present and future. She and Peter have been married for 20 years and have five children, ages 8 through 18. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watercolor, coffee and writing at

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How to Be an Effective Parent

Every individual is growing, changing, developing,
or declining—intellectually, emotionally, spiritually,
physically, and psychologically.
A family is a grouping of individuals who are affecting
each other intellectually, emotionally, spiritually,
physically, psychologically.
~ Edith Schaeffer, What Is a Family?

By Weekly Contributor, Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics

As women, wives, and mothers we affect the people in our homes in a tremendous way. It’s a heavy responsibility. How do we do good for our loved ones?

We can look around in our lives, our culture, our communities, our pasts, our heritage, and in the history of the world for examples of how people are impacted by others and go down one road or another. The ripple effect continues with one person impacting another who in turn changes another in small or large ways ad infinitum. Satan tempted Eve to eat the bad fruit and she in turn gave it to Adam. How I respond to my husband in the early hours impacts us both all day long. How I am to my children will likely impact how my children are to my grandchildren, and so on... leaving a legacy of consequences.

So many nuances of who we are as persons are brought about by seemingly small things. I can look back into my own childhood and give examples. I wonder of my parents knew that small things they were doing brought about large influence.

One thing that was done nearly every night year round was reading a Bible story, not from the Bible even but various children’s Bibles. Not formally, just all four of us piled onto the Lazy Boy with Dad for a short Bible story. Sometimes we chose the story, sometimes he did. The result of that was a large store of Bible knowledge that then made further study as older children and adults easier. What my dad did was a small daily habit that had lasting impact.

When I was a young child my mother taught me that we were Christians and that meant standing up for God, the Bible, and choosing the right thing rather than going along with whatever was happening. I don’t remember any speeches or outright teaching so it must have been very conversational but had a lasting impact on my life. She had Christian art and framed verses on the walls of our home and Christian literature lay about. These were subtle things that shaped our personhood as children growing up in a Christian home.

As I look around my home and think about our daily small habits I wonder how my choices influence my family. Am I hurting or helping my family? What kind of legacy am I leaving for my descendents? First up, our home is very obviously a homeschooling one. We have piles of books and creative messiness. Do my children know why we homeschool? That is something that I will have to test myself on today.

What is on my walls? What music is playing? What is on the television? What magazines do I read? Who do I talk on the telephone to and what do we talk about? What do I do with my computer time and how does that change me day by day?  What amuses me? What are the words that come out of my mouth and the tone they are said in? All of these things are running in the background and influencing my family for good or bad.

What rules in my heart is what will come out in my personal expressions of living life. A good check on my relationship with God is an examination of the choices I make in the small moments throughout the day.

To affect change in those around us we must first change ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit. Then in humility come along side the members of our families and talk about how we are working on X and towards Y.  We as wives and mothers set an example; we make small choices and habits that influence our families towards wholeness in Christ.

This week, I am doing a thoughtful walk through of my home observing and watching and thinking about the influences in my home due to my choices that are affecting the spiritual health of my family.

“as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” ~ Joshua 24:15


Kim Brenneman

Kim is the joyful wife of Matt and the blessed mother of nine children.

When not busy homeschooling and farmschooling, she enjoys writing, gardening, cooking, reading, sewing, and crafting.

Kim lives on a farm in Iowa where her family grows beef cattle, corn and beans, and operates a micro-dairy selling cheese at farmer’s markets. She loves to write and speak about her passion for home and family. She is the author of Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family. She blogs about the same subject at:

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And you can also find Kim on facebook too: Large Family Logistics

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In participation with:

5 Tips for A Strong and Healthy Marriage - Roo Magazine

Rich beauty doesn't blossom over time unless the gardener is willing to till the soil, tend to the weeds and water each seedling as it grows. So it is with marriage. Those who stay the course with patience and humility reap the harvest of a strong and healthy marriage.

What are the things that a successful marriage requires? What can we do to make positive change? And what are some ways that we can till the soil and water the land?

I'm answering those questions over at Roo by giving you five tips that will strengthen your marriage for life-lasting results. Hop on over for a visit...

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 4 - Captivating Your Husband

May you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. ~ Proverbs 5:18,19

The Webster definition of captivate is: to capture the attention or affection of, as by beauty and excellence; fascinate; charm.

Do you remember when your husband was first captivated by you? He saw you as beautiful and excellent. You fascinated him. Your eyes twinkled, you smiled with each thought of him, you bonded over long conversations of who you both were and dreamed to be.

Do you remember the butterflies when he was around, how it felt for his hand to hold yours, how your mind soared when you dreamed of taking his name as your last name? And then when the diamond wrapped around your finger you sat and stared at the reality that indeed you were about to become the wife of the man you were head over heels in love with!

Remembering does wonders for our soul to remind us of how fabulous our men truly are! We are the wife of our husband’s youth and God tells our husband – be satisfied and captivated by her love!

But I wonder, are you still captivating or has pleasing, pursuing, touching, loving, listening and feeding your relationship been lost somewhere in the busy shuffle of life?

Consider: How much time do you spend on a daily/weekly basis cultivating your marriage now?

In what ways can you regain some of what has been lost in the daily shuffle of life?

Walk with the King!


Today's Challenge:

Purpose this week to do something that reminds your husband of the youthful wife you once were – maybe it’s wearing something you know he loves on you (remember we dressed to please back in those dating days!), go somewhere you both used to enjoy going together – alone!, look at photos together of the “good ol’days”, watch a favorite movie, or just simply sit together talking, listening, dreaming, holding hands, rubbing his back, and simply paying attention to the amazing husband of your youth! Treasure him this week!

Today's Challenger:

Courtney blogs at on the topics of faith, marriage, parenting, and homemaking. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 14 years. She homeschools her son and daughter and is a graduate of the Moody Bible Institute. In November 2009, she was featured on the Racheal Ray show on the topic of marriage. Her passion to see women live well inspired her to start a second blog called where over 3,000 women dig into their Bibles through tech accountability groups and an on-line Bible study.

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Leaving Your Parents This Christmas - And a Titus 2sday Link Up!!

Guest Contributor, Sheila Wray Gregoire, To Love Honor and Vacuum

Most of you are still recovering from Thanksgiving, and Christmas is just around the corner. While the turkey may be delicious, though, often these holidays add tremendous stress to our marriages, because extended family members play center stage. And while Grandmas and Grandpas can be so helpful with baby-sitting, in too many families they also can be quite trying—criticizing one's housekeeping or parenting skills, or demanding loyalty.

So let me ask you a question: Have you truly "left" your family?

Remember the biblical injunction:
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. ~ Genesis 2:24
Before we can really form a close relationship with our spouse, we have to leave our parents. But what does that mean?

It doesn't just mean that we leave their house. It means that they are no longer our primary source for emotional support or advice. When we need to make decisions, we don't consider their needs first; we consider our husband's. When we need to decide how to spend our limited time, we aren't primarily concerned with our parents; we worry about our husbands.

Let me tell you about a woman we'll call Sandra. Sandra was very in love with David, and David with her. Sandra’s mother, however, did not approve of the match. Sandra had grown up in a Christian home, and David had not. David was not exactly the ideal Christian husband, but he was the one whom Sandra chose. Yet Sandra’s mom called Sandra everyday, grilling her about how her husband was treating her.

When children came along, Sandra’s mom baby-sat, because she was afraid Sandra was overwhelmed. “He never helps you, honey,” her mom would say. “You need to rest or you’ll burn out.”

And so Sandra got the message, loud and clear: my husband treats me badly. And because her mother was willing to talk about this, she began confiding in her mom whenever she and David had marriage problems.

I was hardly surprised when, eight years into the marriage, Sandra announced she was leaving. “I’m moving back home,” she told me, because home was still where her mother was.

Never, ever, let your home be anywhere other than with your husband.

Yes, God wants us to honour our parents, but we must do so in the context of leaving them. Here’s how you can make that a God-honoring reality this year:

Leave Your Family

Often we aren’t aware how much we rely on our own biological family. When I was first married, I felt my family were the sane and together ones, and his family was completely dysfunctional. It wasn’t very long into our marriage until I almost flipped that assessment. But be aware that we often don’t see the flaws in our own families.

The best test of whether or not you have left is to honestly ask your husband if your parents are too much in your marriage--and then trust what he says. Men know if a mom is interfering too much, but often we don't want to hear it. Believe him.

If you talk to your mom about everyday things on a daily basis, that’s fine. But if your mother is your main source of emotional support and the one you run to first, you may need to re-evaluate that relationship and make sure it’s not getting in the way of your marriage. Sit down and ask your husband honestly, and listen.

Love His Mom

Paul wrote, in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

That especially applies to mother-in-laws! Your husband wants you to get along with his mom. You don’t have to be her best friend. You don’t have to be her kindred spirit. But you should be kind and considerate.

Sometimes we don’t get along because we expect too much: she should love me, accept me, and encourage me. Then when she doesn’t, we reject her right back. Put away those expectations, and just love her, even if that love isn’t reciprocated. Smile at her. Listen to her. Phone her every now and then just to say hi.

When you’re in her house, compliment her, help her, and let the things she says that bother you slide right off your back. You can choose not to take them to heart.

Cleave to Your Own Husband

After God spoke about leaving, He spoke about cleaving. We’re supposed to leave our families and cling to our spouses. What does that look like during the holidays?

Talk and dream with your husband about what you want Christmas to be like. If you’re both passionate about being home to wake up on Christmas morning with the kids, you might decide not to drive to Grandma’s the night before. Tell her that you will be available Christmas evening or Boxing Day.

Decide together what Christmas traditions you want, and then have that conversation with your parents. It may be hard to let them know you won’t be joining them Christmas Eve, but if that’s what you both feel is best, it really is okay. Your primary relationship in this life is now with each other. Pray and talk and dream of what that’s going to look like.

Your challenge this holiday season, then, is to leave your mom, love your mother-in-law, and cleave to your husband first. That’s God’s model, and with His help, you can do it!



About the Author:

Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of five marriage and parenting books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, out with Zondervan in January.

She blogs daily about living a godly life in our homes at:
To Love Honor and Vacuum

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And before you go--there's something new to check out...

Candace Cameron Bure has just launched a new online magazine, and I'm a monthly contributor along with some awesome women from around the web! Hope you stop by for a visit, and check out the list of contributors!

Linking up with:

Growing Home  

Linda's Lunacy - Making a Home

Today and every Tuesday, I want to invite bloggers to link-up any blog posts that will encourage women to joyfully live out their roles as wives and keepers of their homes I'm looking for posts on marriage, parenting, housekeeping, or recipes.

1. Enter the direct link from your post into the linky tool below!

2. Please link back here with the {TITUS 2}SDAYS code (below) so that other bloggers can join in too!

3. Enjoy each other's fellowship, and have fun!

Can I use an old post, or do I need to use a current one?
You can absolutely use an older post if you feel that the post is a great fit for this meme. Have fun!

Linked up with:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 5 - Marriage and in-laws

My mother-in-law (shown above with my children)
is one of my best friends.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household." ~ Matthew 10:34-36

Your in-laws. What do these three words mean to you? Do they make you feel blessed? happy? like you are missing out? not good enough? anxious? angry? sad? thankful? bitter? Whatever your unique situation is and whatever emotion is stirred when you think of them-they play a pretty important part of your husband's heritage. Whether they were the incredible parents, unavailable, or not ideal parents at all, your in-laws are the people who have had a hand in shaping your husband. Good or not so good. There will be some of you who, like myself, sincerely love their in-laws and there are others who pray they could just have a civil relationship with theirs. Oh, ladies of the latter--I empathize with my arms around you how hard that must be.

As we assess our personal relationships with our husband's family the best question to ask is : What does the bible say to us about marriage and our in-laws? In addition to Matthew 10:34 (above) here are some truths:

"They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." ~Luke 12:53

"For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--a man's enemies are the members of his own household"~Micha 7:6

"From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three." ~Luke 12:52

If there is one thing that I notice in each one of these verses it is the Bible warning us of division amongst family members.

This can get very heavy for some reading this...perhaps even teary. But, alas there is good news....the. best. news. ever. Jesus, our savior, came to give us swords of righteousness which defend against this division. He came to tell us--that above anything else--we are to love Him and we are to love others (Luke 10:27). Some of you may be wondering how love can be used as a weapon... why, when we think of weapons we think of anything other than love!!! But, this is a weapon that Satan hates the most. He wants to see marriages broken and families in disunion, he wants you to fight with your mate, he wants you to be bitter, he wants you to feel the feelings you may be having this very moment.
Ladies, in all sincerity, your in-laws are a part of your husband. You may have hand picked this part, but it is very important for your marriage that you love them. How do you do this?
  • If you don't have the ability to love them that is okay, God does and he will always lend His love to you to give to them. Be willing to accept God's love and give it.
  • Whether or not your husband has a healthy relationship with his parents, do not say unkind words about his family - especially to him or your children. Hearing those words from you hit him deep within his soul. There could be scabs from wounds there in his heart that your words are picking at. Whatever you can do to make peace, to take up the sword of righteousness and fight back with love.
  • Do not expect Non-Christians to act as Christians - If your in-laws are not saved, pray to see them through the eyes of Jesus. He aches for them, wants better for them, and loves them.
  • Give them your God's best by loving them - knowing they may not love you back.
  • Make the first step- Welcome them to functions and in your home. You have no idea how much this means to your husband, even if it doesn't "work out".
Please let me be an encouragement to you today to be a wife who loves deep and fights as hard as she can with the sword of righteousness. If you have hard to deal with in-laws this will not be easy, but as Christ tells us in 2 Corinthians 10 :3-5 "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Dear sisters in Christ, no relationship is perfect. Not every personality meshes well together. Different families have different ways about them. And even though I have a great relationship with my husband's family, there have been times where our differences have come about. However, above any differences we have ever had I have always chosen to forgive and love and they have given me the same grace. This love is for the betterment of our family and best of all, glorifies God.

My father-in-law with our daughter.
I so enjoy having my in-laws over for dinner.

Disclaimer: Please know that this post is not addressing a relationship that could cause physical or mental abuse.

Love to you,


Today's Challenge:

Invite your in-laws over for dinner this week. If they live far, call them or Skype with them with your children. Take one extra step than you typically do. You can do this. If you are close with your in-laws (as I am) this will be super easy. Don't know what to make? Come visit me over at Comfy in the Kitchen for some delicious recipes!

Today's Challenger:

Janelle is a Christian, a wife, a stay-at-home mom of 3 young children and a proud-to-claim-it “Foodie.” She absolutely loves to cook and typically has an audience of 3 children, pulled up on chairs, taking turns pouring ingredients into bowls. Her spiritual gifts are a mix of “hospitality and evangelism” and is here in the center of God’s will hoping to help you get a little more “comfy in your kitchen!” You can find her displaying step-by-step photos of her recipes, giving devotionals,and sharing meal ministry stories on her blog Comfy in the Kitchen.

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DIY Christmas Crafts

Do you love Christmas crafts? Me too! There's nothing like the look and the feel of homemade. And I absolutely love the rich tones you find at this time of year--it takes my breath away!

Here are 12 of the most beautiful Christmas crafts I've gathered from around the web along with links to easy to follow tutorials. (At least most of them looked easy to me.) 


Terrarium Ornaments
from Design Sponge

 Scrappy Ribbon Garland
from Whitney Caroline Designs

Festive Centerpiece

Add a Bow
Jolly Elves

Exotic Wreath
from HGTV

Lolly Chessie's Christmas Trees
from Crate paper Blog

Scrabble Ornaments
from My Sweet Savanah

Fabric-Covered Christmas Tree Cones

Ornaments as Chandelier

Vintage Ornament Christmas Wreath

Adorable Pine Cone Elves

You are loved by an almighty God,


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In participation with:

Make Up? Shame on Me!

Out of the mouths of babes...

The other day my daughter got in my car after school and said, "Mom here's another reason I don't want to wear makeup: 18 billion dollars is spent on makeup a year, and 15 billion of those dollars could have fed and gave medical care to every child in the world for a year."

She had just learned some sobering facts about the excess that we spend each and every year on things like makeup, ice cream, perfume, golf, and military expenses, ( just to name a few. This got me thinking, what is the cost of beauty? I've always heard the phrase, "beauty hurts," but her statistics brought that reality to life it's more than getting your hair tangled in a brush it's saying yes to another lipstick when a child across the other world is being denied the basics of life like food and water.

Here's another one... 12 billion dollars are spent on perfume every year. Time for a "modesty" check ladies!

Let's look at the origin of the word:

1530s, "freedom from exaggeration, self-control," from M.Fr.modestie, from L. modestia "moderation," from modestus"moderate, keeping measure, sober," from modus "measure, manner" (

I have to be honest here. I wear makeup, and when I think of modesty I've always tried to achieve a look that doesn't draw attention to myself--something that gives me a natural glow so I don't look made-up. But looking at my makeup bag (make that bags) and my makeup table I have to tell you that I've been anything but modest. The truth is my modesty has only gone skin deep.

I'm going to totally embarrass myself here by giving you an inventory of my cosmetics. And if you click off my website after reading it, I won't blame you. I am turned off too:

  • 5 Lipsticks
  • 3 Mascaras
  • 8 Eyeliners
  • 2 Press Powders
  • Day cream
  • Night Cream
  • Oil of Olay Moisturizer
  • Cream blush
  • Powder Blush
  • 2 Eye Shadows
  • Lip Plump
  • Concealer
  • 3 Foundations in Puddy Texture
  • 2 Liquid Foundations
  • 13 Nail Polish Bottles
  • 2 Foundation Primers
  • Bronzer
  • 7 Bottles of Perfume

And the hair:

  • 2 Straightening Irons
  • Curling Iron
  • Hair Dryer
  • Hot Rollers
  • Anti-humidity Spray
  • Extra Hold Mouse
  • Texturizing Paste
  • Heat Pro
  • Body Amplifier
  • Hair Putty
  • Heat Protection Spray
  • Iron Guard
  • 2 Hair Spray
  • Gel
  • Blonde Spotlight
  • Root Pump

I could use excuses like some of these were gifts, some were given to me when I worked at a drug store, and some of this is old inventory, but it's pretty obvious what the bottom line is--I haven't exercised self-control in this area of my life. Rather than stopping to consider poverty, I chose excess.

But who cares what I think, right? Let's look at what the Bible say about this:
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. ~ 1 Timothy 2:9-10, NIV
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4, NIV
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. ~ Titus 2:11-12, NIV

Put your best face forward and unwrap the spirit of Christmas--consider a child in need.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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If you like this post, check out, "Are We Believing a Lie?" at Keepin' it Real.

Homemaking 101

I received a copy of Homemaking 101 from Jennifer Ross, asking me to review it. I had read homemaking books before, but a DVD? This was different, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. I certainly wasn't expecting to see a presentation with as much quality as this one had.

"Wow!" That's the one word that escaped my lips over and over from the moment she opened her front door until she closed it. "This is really, really good!" I called over to my husband who was already well aware that I was enthralled. After all I had it streaming through the big screen TV in our living room.

In Homemaking 101, Jennifer invites you into her home where she shares the joy of homemaking, homeschooling, and virtuous living all from a Biblical point of view. Along a house full of children, Jennifer also shares camera time with a Titus 2 woman who offers sound advice on homemaking backed by years of experience.

To me this was like reading a really good book that not only encourages women to joyfully serve, it provides them with easy-to-follow instruction.

Great job, Jennifer!! When does the second one come out?!

Find out more about Homemaking 101

Watch the trailer:

You are loved by an almighty God,


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When Church is a Hotel for Saints

We had an interesting service in church yesterday as we were reminded of the parable from Luke chapter fourteen in which a certain man was hosting a banquet and sent invitations out which were rejected because of various excuses: "I just bought a field; I just purchased oxen; I just got married..."

Finally the master sent his servants out to the "roads and the country lanes" inviting those people to come in. (v.28)

We see here that everybody is invited to the marriage supper of The Lamb. In fact God told Abraham in Genesis chapter 22 that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed:
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. ~ Genesis 22:18
What I also see is that as a servant of Jesus Christ, the call requires me to leave my comfort zone at times in search of the lost. Unfortunately for many of us, that comfort zone ends at our property line.

Inviting people to church where they can get connected and start learning truth from the Word, is a good place to start, but for some reason we don't. Why? Here are three common reasons:
  • We have this idea that church is a hotel for saints. It's our hangout, and we'd prefer it if others didn't cramp our style.
  • We don't think people are interested. We've been ingrained with the idea that nobody wants to attend.
  • We're apathetic. We haven't really thought about it because we have so many other things on our mind.
I've been guilty of all three--in particular number one. Let me tell you a story...

A couple of years ago my kids were attending a day camp at a church near by. One of the neighbors and I got together to car pool. It worked out great for me since our kids were best friends at the time.

The night before the camp started she asked me, "Do you think we should invite Riddy?" (Okay... I changed her name here so Riddy won't freak out if she reads this!)

"Riddy?!" I replied, trying to sound as polite as I possibly could. "She's so misbehaved, I don't know if it's the best idea." Truth was I had been hiding out from this kid for most of the summer, having her in my car was about the last thing I wanted to do.

That's when my friend's wisdom changed the course of my actions, "Yes, Riddy. You never know--she might start going to church."

And so the next day Riddy was sitting in the back of my car poking and teasing my kids while I kept my cool. That was several years ago, and her family is still attending church.

It taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life, which my brother-in-law always echoed so well, "Church isn't a hotel for saints, it's a hospital for sinners."

Did you know:

One of the most underestimated reasons people return to the Church is that someone simply invited them back. Overall, 41% of the formerly churched said that they would return to the local church if a friend or acquaintance invited them. Younger adults are even more influenced by the power of the invitation. Approximately 60% of those 18–35 would consider returning to church if someone they knew asked them to come back. ~ The Rainer Report, "Why People Leave and How to Bring Them Back."

All this to say, maybe we don't have it all figured out, and we just might have some inviting to do. I think Christmas is the perfect time to start, don't you?

You are loved by an almighty God,


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 6 - Two Ways to Pursue Your Husband

Fourteen years ago my husband chose to begin pursuing me with a prank phone call. It's not how a couple usually meets, but it's how we met. We were both college students at the Moody Bible Institute, living in one of the greatest cities in the world, Chicago, and here we sat in our dorm rooms! I didn't know him, and he really didn't know me. But I was in an English class with his roommate, which is how I got on the "call list" that evening. Much to their surprise *ahem, I did not fall for their prank, but I soon would fall in love with the man behind the prank phone call.

A prank phone call led to a double date, which led to a single date, which eventually led to a lot more dates, and then marriage. Today he is a pastor (no longer making prank phone calls :)) and I am his wife. God has graciously given us thirteen years of marriage, four beautiful children, and just over ten years of fruitful ministry. As I think back to our dating and engagement days at Moody, I often laugh at the ways we pursued one another in love. Pursuing one another came
easy. There were spontaneous calls, silly notes, impromptu walks, and no shortage of talking. He pursued me and I pursued him. This is true in the beginning of almost every relationship. But as a relationship progresses and time goes by, so does the temptation to stop pursuing your spouse.

Life sets in. Things begin to become routine and mundane. There is an assumption that "he is mine," therefore, I don't need to try to catch him or keep him anymore. Nothing can be more
destructive to a healthy and intimate relationship than one spouse failing to pursue the other.
I want to be a wife who keeps pursuing my husband, not because I fear losing him, but because I still deeply desire him and love him. I don't want him to doubt that.

As I have thought about the art of pursuit in marriage, I think there are two primary ways that any wife needs to pursue her husband.
  1. Affirmation - You should be your husband's biggest fan! Tell him you love him, tell him he looks nice, tell him he's a good dad, tell him you appreciate his hard work, tell him he's a hunk! Your husband shouldn't have to live on a compliment you gave him two weeks ago. Make affirming him a primary way you pursue him. It is a lie and a myth that men don't care about feelings or emotions. They want to know you still have feelings and emotions for them! Affirming your husband is a great way to show him your love and desire to pursue him.

  2. Affection - Your husband wants to know he is desired. It's not true that all he cares about is s*x. He certainly cares about it, but he also wants to be wanted. Be a wife who initiates physical contact.

I have come into my garden, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh along with mybalsam.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
~ Song of Solomon 5:1

In Five Aspects of Woman, Barbara K.Mouser points out that this is a Biblical picture of wedded love, with man and wife. With marriage, a woman's body becomes an interpersonal space, a place of fellowship for two people. Just as a virgin should guard the domain of her body, the wife should tend it and share it with her husband.

I am aware that there are many women who complain about their "duty." God didn't intend for s*x to be a duty. He intended for it to be beautiful. Don't just react to his affection, be proactive and pursue him. He will be delighted by your desire for him!

Friends, these are two simple ways that as a wives we can pursue our husbands, and I know there are so many more. In what ways do you pursue your husband? How do you make him feel loved and treasured?

Today's Challenge:

Think of one or two ways that you can pursue your husband, and put that plan into action today!

Today's Challenger:

Ruth Schwenke is the wife of a pastor, who is her best friend and the love of her life. She is a blessed homeschooling mother to her four beautiful children, and she eagerly awaits meeting her five others in heaven. She has a passion for following God, leading worship, rescuing orphans, and inspiring others to create a God honoring family.

She thoroughly enjoys warm spring breezes, blooming lilacs, tall skim mochas with whipped cream, root-lifter, eye cream, gel polish, laughing (lots of it), venti iced teas, exclamation points!!, family worship time, and snuggling up to read a good book with her family.

She is the creator of
The Better Mom and she tweets at thebettermom.

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