Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

What’s Your Anchor?

 

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She did it again… Sarah Young wrote one just for me. (Jesus Calling) The visual of the anchor on a short rope tugging you back to where you are supposed to be spoke to me like carrying around the bag of rocks never did. (You know the one– you pray for something but rather than leave it with God, you carry the heavy bag around till next time you pray.)

Let me back up. There have been times when things I should have left with God after I “gave” them to Him– forgiven sins of my own or others; failures, hurt feelings, disappointments; requests for one thing or another– have tied themselves to me like an anchor. I would pray for something. or grant forgiveness; I’d be free of it for a bit, then suddenly– YANK! It jerked me back to it.

“I can’t believe I did that.”
“I can’t believe he did that.”

“Why did she have to say THAT?”

“Why can’t I ever [fill in the blank]?”

“When will it ever happen?”

Every time something OTHER than God pulls us up short, taking control of our minds until we obsess over it, we are allowing it to be our anchor. Maybe it’s a dream you’ve been working toward, and you’ve done your part but now are having to wait. Maybe it’s a relationship you are waiting for healing in. Maybe it’s your health– your finances– your children.

Yes, we are to pray persistently. (the persistent widow in Luke 18) Yes, God sometimes answers prayers in the way we would like. But God does what He chooses (Psalm 115:3), and sometimes it’s not what we, in all our wisdom, want. In the case of relationships, and other people, He allows THEM free will just as He does you. Some relationships will never be healed in your life. But who knows what will happen after you die?

Do we trust God enough to ask for a thing in prayer, and then leave it to Him? To tell Him, “However you choose to answer it is okay with me”? To say, “I receive Your forgiveness and believe what You said, that I am a new creature”? Do we trust His love for us enough to accept “NO?” Or “wait indefinitely?”

Is GOD alone, enough?

Dear Father, I ask that You help our paltry faith when we try to pin You down to proving Your love for us by answering a prayer in a certain way, or at a certain time. Help us believe, Lord.

While you are pondering that, please listen to the wonderful Concordia Choir from Minnesota sing the late Moses Hogan’s “My Soul’s Been Anchored.”

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More Lessons on Marriage from the Garden

Lessons om Marriage from the Garden

School has been out for 3 weeks and I’ve been working, working. working in my yard and garden! I’ve learned some lessons about gardening, and many of these translate to marriage really well. (If you missed the first “Lessons on Marriage from the Garden,” you can read it here.)

1. Don’t procrastinate!

Thugs like this will set seed and then the weeds in your garden will be like Medusa’s head. Remember, you cut off one and 7 more grow?

Don't procrastinate!

I like the old saying “One year’s seed is seven years’ weeds.” Pull up those flowering weeds early, and if you can’t dig them out, at least break off the flower heads before they go to seed. I’ve never used a pre-emergent herbicide but if it prevents seeds from germinating in the first place, even better.

out of control weeds

Don’t procrastinate in your marriage, either! Have you ever put off doing something for your spouse because you were doing something for someone else? (GUILTY!) How about avoiding talking about a problem in hope that it will go away on its own? Some problems are compounded and made much worse when you put off dealing with them.

2. Procrastinate! Be patient!

I planted bush green beans for the first time this year. A little 4×4 square gave us enough to eat green beans about 4 times a week for 3 weeks. (I don’t get tired of them!) According to the rules of square foot gardening, you’re supposed to rip plants up as soon as they are past their prime so you can replant immediately. Bush beans, unlike their climbing cousins, are supposed to give one big harvest and then be done. But when that time came, it was the last few weeks of school, and I just didn’t have the energy or time to do it. Lo and behold, I’m getting a 2nd harvest. Not as big as the first, but a decent one.

Be patient in your marriage, too. There have been times when I was about ready to throw in the marital towel, right over Mr X’s head, but I’m so glad I didn’t. At our 32-year mark, he has matured into the most caring, thoughtful husband. Our relationship is the foundation for every other relationship, and is such a source of strength and joy. There is nothing so rewarding as having shared stories, histories, children, and family.

3. Keep alert.

It’s easy to overlook things in the garden. Sometimes fruit hides under the leaves and unless you get down low and move them aside, you will miss them. I hadn’t even seen flowers on this okra, and found it only when I was down planting something in a neighboring bed.

okra surprise

It’s really easy to miss cucumbers! Mr X likes them very small, like the bottom one. I’ve let them get so big I had to cut them up and put them straight in the compost pile.

Pick cucumbers before they get too big.

And sometimes something besides a veggie is hiding among the leaves, like a wasp. OOPS. Allergy to wasp stings discovered!

wasp sting allergy

Be alert in your marriage too. Things can lurk undetected — resentment, neglect, selfishness to name a few– and if you aren’t watching carefully and “weeding them out” as they appear, they can grow and get out of control.

A marriage, like a garden, can be a source of delight. But neither just happen on their own. After the wedding/planting, you’ve got to constantly maintain it. And in marriage and the garden alike, dealing with little problems as they happen can save lots of time and heartache later!

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

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Time: The Elusive Necessity in Marriage

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

24 hour clock courtesy of digitalmama824 via Flickr

Have you accepted the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day? And that even though you can borrow money (bad idea), you can’t get any more time? If your too-busy schedule is causing stress in your marriage, it’s time to take an honest look at it, assess it, and make some changes. In “No Vacuum,” I talked about 2 extremely important things in a successful marriage: knowing what we need as well as what our spouses need; and once we figure that out, having realistic expectations of ourselves and our spouses. Today I’m looking at where these 2 ideas intersect: TIME.

“Free” Time

Do you feel like you’re running from can to can’t? (That’s one of my favorite old-time Southern sayings.) Or in the words of the country singer, “always running, but always running behind”? If you’re not sure where your time flies away to, keep a time diary for a few days– in 15-30 minute increments, see where your minutes go. OUCH… It might show what I call the “Starbucks effect” (spending a small amount of money very often– it adds up!) But instead of being shocked at how much money you spent, you might realize that you’ve wasted a lot of time in small chunks, on things that aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of your life, like Facebook, playing games on your phone, watching TV reruns, etc. Don’t get me wrong; you do need recreation and leisure activities. But you need to CHOOSE what you do, not just fritter away your time on meaningless activities, then wonder why your marriage is suffering. How we spend our time should reflect what we say our priorities are.

Work

And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Is your career killing your marriage? In his sermon series “Breathing Room,” Andy Stanley shares a story from a book written by a hospice nurse who spends much of her time with people in the last few weeks of their lives. She began asking them, “What do you regret most in your life?” She said, without exception, every. single. man. wished he hadn’t spent so much time and energy on work.

“This came from every male patient that I had nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.” Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

(Thanks to Joel at Friendly Thoughts for documenting what I only listened to!)

Mr X and I both have salaried jobs, and we probably could both work another 4 hours every day and still find things to do. In our cut-to-the-bone economy, many employers expect more than any one person to do, and sometimes we are our own slave-drivers. But you’ve got to be honest– if you consistently work many hours beyond what you signed up for, is it worth it? That salary that looked great when you divided it by 40 hours a week might not look so good spread out over 60-80 hours. And is it worth it to you? Only you can decide. But again– be honest. Count the whole cost (not just in terms of money) to your marriage, children, your health, etc.  How much money does your family need? It’s a sad thing when a parent realizes he’s lost his window of opportunity to build a close relationship with his children while he was working to provide THINGS that were not as  important as a relationship with him.

This is tough, I know. You’ve got to find the balance. To help you think, I have to throw in this classic song from the late Harry Chapin. There is a bit of commentary from his wife and son that I think are quite relevant.

Caring for Yourself

… vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.  But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. Luke 5:15-16

Have you ever had “vast crowds” clamoring for you? Like at the bathroom door? We women are notorious for taking care of everything and everybody else before we take care of ourselves. But you know what? You’ve got to take care of yourself or you’ll either be sick or be a grouch who has nothing left for your poor spouse. I learned the hard way that my job could move on just fine without me, and it reminded me that I’m the only wife my husband has and the only mom my kids have. Consider these things when you’re looking at your weekly schedule:

  • How much margin do you need for mental peace? I need lots, and when I forget to figure it into my schedule, my nerves frazzle. Rushing from one activity to the next drives me crazy!
  • How much sleep and rest does your body need? If you cheat, it will catch up with you.
  • What rejuvenates you? This is different for everyone.

Jesus modeled taking time away for re-creation. (I rather doubt He needed it– but He knew we would!) And remember that in Exodus 20, God Himself suggested commanded that we should rest. How prideful are we when we think the world will fall apart without us?

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…

How are you using your time today? Do you need to make any changes?

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Aging Parents

I have the best Sunday School class. We are a group of women ranging in age from about mid-30s to mid-60s, and how those ladies love. We share prayer requests and praise reports with our Facebook page– bring meals when somebody’s sick– take up money when somebody has a need– we try to give shoulders to lean on when we need them. Since we are all at different stages of life, there are some wonderful mentoring opportunities among our group. Several are dealing with aging parents, and don’t know what questions to ask, what to expect, or where to turn– so one who has dealt with all of that was happy to share her lessons learned. I hope it will help you, now or in the future!

Aging Parents

Old People Stuff (For lack of a better title)
1. Have hard discussions gradually. When it came time for my mother to sell the family property and move to an apartment, it was her decision. However, she had been processing for quite a while and we  had dropped “hints” along the way. No one had to push her once she had her mind made up. For our family as in many, we had to honor our mother’s independence as long as we could and we were able to do that with most major decisions. When it was time to move her closer to one of the four siblings, we had to let it be her decision too although I think we all knew that we would ultimately have to move her even if she disagreed. We started out by bringing Mom brochures of the assisted living places and then scheduling a tour. Our daughter was expecting our first grandchild (her great grandchild) so I told her I needed her close to me to teach me how to be a granny. She liked that idea. However, the funniest discussion we had was about how often I would visit her at the assisted living facility. I finally had to assure her that I would not be a burden by visiting every day but would could only when she invited me. She agreed by saying “I guess holidays would be okay!”

2. LONG TERM CARE Insurance is the best. If you do not have it, get it for many reasons. [Note from Auntie Em: Dave Ramsey recommends it when you turn 60.] It is not just for nursing home care. Our good friend who is battling terminal cancer is able to use the money to pay for in home care, including relatives who are certified nurses assistants. For my mother, it meant have a choice of going to an assisted living facility and when the time came to be able to go to a private nursing home versus a state-run facility, and believe me, there is a world of difference.

3. It’s very important for siblings to work together on the care of a parent. My family was blessed in a way because there wasn’t too much property left to argue over, and most of the “issues” we had as children growing up in the country with limited resources had been settled (you really learn to compromise when you have 6 people sharing one bathroom) or forgotten. Because I was the most stable one at the time, mother moved near me and as her health declined I had medical power of attorney (this is very important for the caregiver), and could also manage her checking account to pay bills. But my siblings also were involved, using their talents and resources to help out. My sister was a good listener and provided financial resources if needed, but don’t ask her to provide care on a daily basis. One brother was a banker and handled insurance, taxes, will, etc. But I had to keep him out of the hospital if my mother was there because he couldn’t sit still. Thankfully, my other brother who is a minister and has a “pastor’s heart” was a good hospital sitter and would always show up just when I was reaching the end of my rope. (Lesson here: Don’t be Superwoman! Ask for help.) I think the lesson here is to, if possible, keep the family engaged in the care of a parent. When our mother died, each of us could say that we had done everything we could do as a family and as a child so there no regrets or hard feelings that one had to bear the burden alone.

4. Hospice is not just for terminally ill people with cancer. I learned through a friend who also cared for an elderly parent that hospice could provide services, even when my mother was in the private nursing facility. They can contact doctors and provide medication and equipment. Taking my mother to doctor’s appointments had become almost impossible and required an ambulance. Hospice was able to contact doctors and had physicians who would come by the facility. The hard part of arranging hospice care was signing off on the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) document but because my mother and I had already had some of those “hard discussions” I knew her wishes. Again, I kept all of the siblings involved but I was the one who had to sign it because I had the medical power of attorney. Hospice provided literature that helped understand the dying process and how the body and spirit begins to prepare for the transition. This helped me understand why Mom had no appetite so I stopped trying to make her eat by cooking all her favorites and bringing her milkshakes. When the end neared, the hospice service provided a full time nurse trained with dying patients who was able to keep Mom comfortable and minister to the family as well. Following the funeral, a pastor from hospice called several times to check on me and the family.

5. Read up on medications, side effects and interactions. I was definitely not a medical professional but I did get pretty skilled at knowing what drugs were taken for what condition. One thing I learned is that old people don’t like to drink water because it means having to go to the bathroom which for my mother was an ordeal!!! (We finally did convince her to wear Depends.) Not drinking water would bring on dehydration and UTI which would go undetected. A UTI can cause increased dementia in elderly patients and it can come on suddenly. Several times I thought my mother was having mini strokes until I learned to recognize the signs of UTI. Also, low potassium levels can also cause dementia like symptoms. Dehydration can cause the potassium levels to drop when patients are on some of the heart medications. This is serious and takes more than eating a banana to get blood levels balanced.

(Back to Auntie Em) I hope this has given you some food for thought! Another friend had burdens lifted when she sought out the social worker at the hospital where her mom was being treated. Ask questions! Many facilities have social workers, or they can point you in the right direction. They deal with your issues all the time, and can give you insights and lots of practical help.

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3

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Conflict in Marriage– the Biblical Way

How do you and your spouse deal with conflict in your marriage? Calmly discuss the issues? Yell and call names? Sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist?

Dealing with Marital Conflict Biblically

Come over to A Biblical Marriage and get some insight on how to deal with conflict how God tells us to.

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Lessons on Marriage from the Garden

We had a very mild winter here in Southeast Texas, and Spring is creeping in. Lots of early blooms are out– and the weeds are beginning to wake up too. Our neighborhood is called “Enchanted Forest” and before Hurricane Rita, our yard was full of beautiful, mature oak trees. (Now we have a few tall skinny ones left.) Part of having a “forested” yard is that very hardy vines grow alongside those trees, and when you plant shrubs, the vines continue to grow up among them. They are not vulnerable to Round-Up and most foliar weed killers- you have to dig them out, and many times the bulb is WAAAAAYY down deep.

Cross vine is one of our worst invasive vines. When you let it go too long, it will completely strangle a poor azalea bush.

crossvine2

When I finally got around to rescuing this pitiful bush, look at all that came up: there was lots more growing underground that you couldn’t see. Bigger than the bush it had covered up.

crossvine

Can you guess where this is headed?

This is what a single little crossvine sprig looks like: Innocent enough, right?

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But look what’s lurking below: Look very closely to see the leaves and visible growth: Most of it is below ground.

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Kelly’s post at Exceptionalistic immediately came to mind when I pulled this rampant weed up by the roots.

Here’s the deal: Lots of time, I counsel you to overlook things. After all, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8) and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7). However, you must also LET THEM GO. (Think of hanging the toilet paper the wrong way, or not at all, kicking the sheets out, procrastinating, etc…) If the issue so serious that you can’t let it go, and it interferes with your feelings for your spouse, it needs to be dealt with. Maybe it’s the symptom of a deeper problem- you resent his golf days with his friends not because you don’t want him to spend time with his friends, but you feel neglected. Or maybe there is a lack of transparency in the relationship that shows itself in tiny, unimportant little ways. In these days of separate Facebook accounts, telephones, the all-important “confidentiality” that the medical and insurance worlds insist on, and the blatant “porn mode” internet browsers, it would be very easy to begin to hide things from your spouse.

There are many issues in a marriage that will grow underground, like the roots of my crossvine. Left on their own, they can overtake your whole marriage and choke the life out. You must pull them up by the roots and dig out the bulb. Is it hard? Yep. Painful, tedious? You bet. Will it leave scars? Oh yes.

But our God is the God of comfort, healing, and rejuvenation. He not only gets rid of the problem; he replaces it with something better than it was before!

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners
 … to comfort all who mourn,
  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:1-3

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Killing Drama

Killing drama

I teach middle schoolers and high schoolers and I see plenty of drama. But I see it outside of school, too, in my adult world! The past two weeks I’ve seen several episodes of it. It frankly drives me nuts and makes me want to shake people. Here’s what it typically looks like:

Person A (Susie) says or does something. Person B (Sally) misunderstands, hears an inaccurate version, takes offense, or disagrees.

Drama killer: Sally asks Susie about it, lets it go, and/or agrees to disagree. No drama.

Drama stirrer: Sally comments on it to person C (Sarah). Sarah and Sally keep talking about it, and bring other people into the conversation. The version they are talking about now has little or no resemblance to the original.

It gets back to Susie (in whispers, and often even further removed) that Sarah and Sally were talking about her and spreading lies about her.

STOP! At this point, Sally and Sarah are the only ones with the drama problem. It’s like a 2-sided figure; it will die down soon– unless Susie chooses to add the base to the drama triangle. It’s her choice: She could A) roll her eyes, say “consider the source”, and go on about her business; B) talk to Sally and Sarah and come to the truth; or C) add the base to the drama triangle by talking to other people, asking if they’ve heard, defending her position, etc… Then the problem is everybody’s.

We have a Facebook page for our choirs, and I frequently see drama being played out there. It’s usually preceded by “I hate drama!!! I wish drama queens would just stay away from me!!!” or something of that nature. I want so badly to add “DON’T YOU REALIZE YOU ARE JUST ENCOURAGING MORE?” It’s only drama to you if you play along.

Some food for thought if you have more drama in your life than you’d like:

1. Don’t ascribe motives driving someone’s words or actions. You are not a mind reader, and most of the time they are not about you.

2. If a friend is short with you, doesn’t wave at you, or doesn’t return your call, ask yourself if that is unusual for them. If so, assume (once again) it’s not about you; maybe she has a headache, or she needs new contacts (Is she over 40 LOL? Vision nightmare!), or she forgot. If that behavior is normal, why would you expect anything else and get upset about it? Extend grace.

3. Give people the right to disagree with you and respect their opinion. This is America. (Let me plug Dr. Carson’s Prayer Breakfast Speech here– he addressed this very thing so eloquently!)

4. Give people the right to be wrong. Some people will ascribe motives to YOUR words or actions that are incorrect. This is usually based on what their own motives would be in a similar situation and says more about them than about you. Explain to them if you feel you must, but sometimes they won’t believe you. You’ve done your part. Move on.

5. Refuse to take offense. See the word “take” there? That’s a very active word. Don’t hold your hand out and accept it, even if they meant to offend you. Let it fall at your feet, or better, at the foot of the Cross. I don’t have a leg to stand on concerning my right to be offended when I see how Christ responded to His offenders.

6. Realize that God is a God of peace, not drama.* If you’ve been stirring up drama, repent and ask forgiveness, then learn how to change those destructive ways.

Here is the magic word to rid your life of drama, sort of like a “Magic Eraser”: WHATEVER…

What? Your best friend’s sister ran off with the refrigerator repairman?

Drama killer: Think, “What a shame. Her poor family,” and pray for her and them.

Drama stirrer: Keep talking about it! Speculate about why she left. Share “prayer requests” with all your Facebook and Twitter friends.

What? Somebody thinks I’m selfish because I’m not teaching Bible school this year? (This is assuming you’ve prayed about it and God has not called you to do it, in which case you are not selfish.) Drama killer: WHATEVER. It’s between you and God. Others have the right to think what they want to. Even if they are wrong.

Drama stirrer: Explain your reasons to everyone, but certainly not the person who supposedly thought it to begin with.  Post a vague Facebook status hinting about your being so glad you pray and seek God’s will, and are obedient to it no matter who comes against you.

What? A coworker thinks I have fewer projects to do than she does?

Drama killer: WHATEVER. I’m too busy doing projects to participate in drama.

Drama stirrer : Tell all your friends in the office how much work you take home every day. Stress how valuable you are, and how you gladly take on extra projects because you care so much about the company. Say what a shame it is that “some people” are so selfish.

(true story from my life this week) What? A classmate that you don’t like called you a slut?

Drama killer: WHATEVER. If you don’t like her, why would you place importance on her opinion? Are you one? If no, then she obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about. If so, well I guess the truth hurts. Change it if you don’t like it.

Drama stirrer: Punch her in the face 5 times. Be proud of yourself and make sure all your friends know the whole story.

What? A few people questioned something you did?

Drama killer: Don’t take offense, even if the questions were asked in criticism. Answer the questions (privately, to the people who asked) and go on.

Drama stirrer: Get offended and self-righteous. Make a public speech to everyone, put them in their place, and dare them to question you further. (This is like at school, when one staff member has done something wrong, then the whole staff gets a lecture and we are wondering what it the world is going on!)

Here’s what I tell my kids at school: Their problem doesn’t have to be your problem. It becomes yours only if you accept it from them. So let’s practice… all together now… “WHATEVER…”

(See my post “Don’t Play” for further tips on avoiding drama.)

*For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. Romans 14:33

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 1 Thessalonians 5:23

May the God of peace be with you all… Romans 15:33

… Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

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A Fruitful Marriage– New Series at A Biblical Marriage

Just in time for Valentine’s Day– a post about the Fruit of the Spirit in Marriage featuring LOVE! (To enjoy Nat King Cole’s beautiful voice while you read, click here.)

A marriage where both spouses are fully committed to the Lord will be beautiful showcases of the fruits of the Spirit! The Bible is full of commands and instruction about love and how to love. The way we love our spouses should show God’s love better than in any other relationship.

What is the biggest obstacle in your marriage that prevents you from practicing agape love consistently?

Visit me at A Biblical Marriage and jump into the conversation! (Come on, click over… It will only take a minute!)

Photo by Coolm36

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Bib or Apron?

  Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

Our preacher did it again– he teaches the Word and applies it! He asked, “Are you wearing a bib or an apron?” And while he was applying the Scripture to immature Christians, I of course immediately said, “That applies to marriage too!”

Many marriage problems are not marriage problems at all, but are people problems. I’m continually harping on the fact that people — we — are naturally selfish. Look at a baby. Does it care that you have slept only 4 hours? Is it concerned that you have 2 other children to care for? Of course not! What about later, when he is expected to share? Does it come naturally? Not for most children. But hopefully, as a child grows older, it learns to be less self-centered and more others- centered. When two emotionally mature adults marry, they still have problems that any other married couple have, but they can work through them.

Brother Chuck mentioned 4 characteristics of immature Christians, and they are the same for immature spouses.

  • They are unable to digest the “meat” of the Word and were stuck in the elementary lessons. Immature spouses are unable to unable to digest the “meat” of real relationships, including the challenges that come along with them. Instead, they withdraw, either physically or emotionally.
  • They are incompatible with their spouse. Jealousy and quarrels abound. Remember that Godly marriages have a supernatural enemy who hates God and us, and wants anything glorifying God to fail. When we fight with one another, we can’t fight him. He doesn’t even have to fool with us because we’re not a threat to him.
  • They are unstable, tossed to and fro depending on the mood of the day or the advice of whomever they are talking to.
  • They are irresponsible. Any marital problem is laid at the feet of their spouse; it’s never their fault!

apron     princess bib edited

What are you wearing today?

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Armor Up your Marriage

armor up your marriageIn my last post I wrote about my husband’s motorcycle accident at the end of November, and how his riding gear– a full face helmet, riding gloves and boots, and an armored jacket– saved his skin, and I believe, his life. (Read “Armor Up!” if you missed it.)  I got to thinking how God provides protective armor for us spiritually, and also in our marriages.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms… Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:11-12, 14-17

Stand against the devil’s schemes

It’s important to remember that God created and ordained marriage, and it is meant to be an earthly representation of the relationship between Christ and His church. Marriages that follow God’s rules are the foundation of healthy families, which in turn build a Godly society. And our enemy hates everything about marriage. Humans can do plenty of wrong, selfish things on our own, but remember when your spouse has stepped on your last nerve that the devil is scheming against your marriage. Your spouse is not your enemy– Satan is, and all the authorities and powers of this dark world. The armor that protects our spirits can also protect our marriages.

The belt of truth

The other day a salesman counseled Mr X to buy something that was more than he wanted to spend by saying, “Well just buy it and don’t tell your wife!” (He not only didn’t buy it, but told the man that he has too much respect for his wife to do that. WOW!) I remember before I started teaching school, a close friend my mother’s age advised me to write a check for groceries a little over the amount and hold that money aside as “my” money. Telling “little white lies” to your spouse is NOT okay. Neither is neglecting to tell them something you don’t want them to know, or doing something you know they don’t want you to do and hoping they don’t find out. You’re MARRIED. You are ONE FLESH. Don’t keep secrets. Nothing about you is not their business. Deception is like a little tree that grows up between the cracks in a sidewalk; it gets bigger and bigger and eventually breaks the sidewalk to pieces.

The breastplate of righteousness

In addition to general instructions on the Christian way of life, the Bible gives Christians very detailed instructions on how to behave in marriage. (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7 to name a few) In a nutshell: Husbands are to love their wives with Christlike love. Wives are to respect their husbands. They actually submit to one another, loving with servant love, but somebody has to have controlling interest. That’s how I see Biblical submission of wives. The husband has the ultimate authority because his is the ultimate responsibility. I rarely watch TV and one of the big reasons is that I can’t stand the way husbands and dads are belittled and made fun of. Ladies, if you badmouth your husband that is wrong. Men, if you put your own needs ahead of your wife’s, that is wrong. If we want our marriages to be protected by God’s armor, we have to operate by His rule book.

The Gospel of peace

A Christian home should be a place of safety and peace, an oasis in a dry and dusty land!

  • Husbands,  love your wives and never treat them harshly. (Ephesians 3:19)
  • Wives, remember It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. (Proverbs 21:19) Beware of husband-bashing parties that sometimes develop when a group of girlfriends get together.

The shield of faith

I know this Scripture is talking about faith in God, but faith in your spouse is an important thing, too. Don’t assume the worst when they say something wrong; look for a different explanation. (Maybe he’s not a self-centered pig; maybe he had a really bad day at work. Maybe she isn’t totally selfish and insensitive to your needs; maybe SHE had a really bad day at work!) Often we put on a happy face out in the world, then really let our hair down at home, with the one we trust the most. Be careful not to take that trust for granted. Give a warning ahead of time if you are “out of sorts” as we say in Texas.

The helmet of salvation

I can’t stretch this one to apply to anything but God. But to put it in a marital context, if you are both believers, you are not only husband and wife, you are brother and sister in Christ. You share a common relationship with your heavenly Father. Everything that Christ exemplified and is written about relationships — selflessness, kindness, forgiveness, longsuffering, etc— also applies in marriages.

Marriages in our world today are subjected to all kinds of hazards, from sick children to leaking dishwashers to lost jobs to infidelity. The protective armor of God can deflect many of these “flaming arrows” and can give us strength to fight the battles that will come. Armor up!

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