Archive for the ‘Gals’ Category

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The Mother I Meant to Be

In Gals,Home and Family on January 17, 2014 by The Spillover

Staci Eastin:

I’ve had two goals over the last decade or so: lose weight and be a better mother. And every morning in the mirror I see that the weight is still there and I’m still not the mother I meant to become.

My oldest is 17, and I’m running out of time. For him, the mother I was during his growing up years—the one who yelled too much and couldn’t stay on top of the laundry—is pretty much in the books. He’s gathering the trappings of an adult life: job, car, bank account, and W-2s. His days are filled with tasks accomplished without my help or input, things he would have needed me for just a couple of years ago. How did this happen? When did he become capable of this?

I’m proud of the man he’s becoming. And I know I’ll still be needed—I certainly still value my parents’ advice—but I won’t be directing the show. I have a few more notes to sing, but soon my spotlight will fade and I will exit stage left. I’ll still be in his life, but it will only be in cameo roles.

As a young mom, I despised being told to treasure the time when they were small. I didn’t want to hear that it gets harder later. Treasure this time? Right now? I was so exhausted that buttoning a shirt was a challenge, how could it possibly get any harder?

This advice typically came from a middle-aged woman who spent her evenings sipping herbal tea while her older children performed amazing feats like feeding and bathing themselves. Who was she to say that mothering gets more difficult? Surely she’s forgotten. Perhaps senility had set in, and she was remembering a time that never existed.

I can’t speak for all mothers, but what I think we’re trying to say—what I’m trying to say, anyway—is to treasure this season when time is still your friend rather than your enemy. I want to go back to when my list of regrets wasn’t quite so long and I didn’t have a ready answer for the things I wish I’d done differently.

The young years were hard. But there were Band-Aids for the skinned knees, dishtowels for the spilt milk, and fresh pages for the ruined crayon drawings. But now the stakes are higher. There are no Band-Aids for these grown-up hurts, and the failures have bigger consequences than a bare space on the refrigerator door.

His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22–23). I know this. The grace that was there when they were 6, 4, and 6 months is still here when they’re 17, 15, and 11. But now I’ve got new things to learn, and the dance steps required to shuffle offstage feel awkward and tricky. I’d rather repeat the songs I already know.

Be the best mother you can, but sanctification—for you and them—comes slowly. You will not be enough, and the good in your children will sometimes be in spite of you rather than because of you. That may sound depressing now, but it will be a relief later.

I still hope young mothers treasure the time. I hope their list of regrets is shorter than mine. And I hope I do a better job treasuring the season I’m in now, because I realize now I didn’t treasure it enough when they were small.

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A Mommy’s To-Do List

In Gals,Home and Family on November 11, 2013 by The Spillover

Courtney Reissig:

We live in a culture that celebrates productivity and efficiency. We like to see results. We like to get things done. We like when we accomplish something big. It makes us feel important. At least it does for me.

But here is something I’ve learned in my first year as a mommy.

Babies don’t like to-do lists. Mommies like me do. I find great comfort in my to-do list. And I find even more in that little checkmark next to each and every item on my list. Babies? Not so much. There is always a blow-out right when I need to finish the dishes. Someone always spits-up or spills something all over my freshly washed clothes. One of my boys always seems to get sick, or have a rough nap, right around the time I sit down to read a book, write an article, or watch a show. And forget trying to make a gourmet meal. Dinner time is when they often need me the most.

There are many days where I get nothing crossed off my to-do list, unless you count doing extra loads of spit-up covered laundry as productivity.

In the very early days of mothering my little miracles I would often feel resentment rising in my heart whenever I heard one of them stir or whimper before his nap was supposed to be over. I would stew in frustration over the fact that he needed me more than I anticipated. I had big plans for my to-do list. And unfortunately, he wasn’t one of them.

I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but one day conviction hit me like a nauseating illness. And I was undone. By God’s grace, I slowly started to realize that these babies are my to-do list. For me, productivity is found in the daily care of my own flesh and blood. When I stand before God one day I will not answer for how many articles I wrote, dishes I washed, or meals I made. But I will give an account for how I loved these babes. I will give an account for how I cared for their souls.

What I tell myself every day is that these days will not last forever, and not in a pep-talk, you can get through this kind of way. Reminding myself that these days are numbered is a wake-up call to treasure the little moments that seem to get in the way of my to-do list. The tasks will always be there. These babies will not.

Obviously, I can’t forget my necessary responsibilities. There are legitimate things that need to get done. My kids do need clean clothes. And so do my husband and me! We need to eat. A clean house does make everyone feel a little more put together. But I can work against being a slave to trying to do too much. I can learn to be more flexible with the interruptions. They aren’t a death sentence to my productivity. They are God’s way of telling me to stop and savor the moments.

So as I start this Monday with a to-do list staring me square in the face I want to focus more on the little faces that so joyously greet me every morning. They won’t be here forever. And the dishes can wait.

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Gel-Pen Faith

In Gals,Home and Family on October 2, 2013 by The Spillover

From Lizzie at Femina:

Not too long ago a young woman was over at my house for some reason that I cannot remember. Now on a typical day  at my house you would find dishes in the sink, junk on the floor, a baby unloading a drawer, laundry on the stairs, and about 410 things on my to-do list. Children are always coloring, wielding scissors, and gluing things on the window when I’m not looking. Hopefully, you would also find me running around in the midst of it, because long experience has taught me that giving up on it won’t get results. I don’t remember what exactly was going on when she came by, but at some point she commented that she was the sort of person who liked things to be really orderly. It wasn’t a criticism and it wasn’t offensive, although it did make me laugh. Because, lo. Me too.

The thing is, when I look over my past I feel that God has written it on the wall here, there, and everywhere that He doesn’t care about that. That part of my personality that used to seem like a positive attribute  is something that God didn’t treasure. He has asked me to put that on the altar. When push comes to shove and it is either the house or the kids, God choses the kids, and He tells me to. When it is the laundry all done or the kids all loved, it had better be the kids. When it is mom as an uptight dictator about the shoe placement or the mom who is laughing at the huge spill in the kitchen, I know which one God wants me to be.  He wants me to be  joyful, hard-working, full of gratitude, laughter, and above all He wants me to have spit-spot closets. Wait. Does He? All but that last bit.

Of course God is honored when I am combining joy with closet organizing. Laughter with clean floors. Gratitude with getting all the dishes done. But you know what? If something has got to go around our house, it better not be my attitude. Because that is the one thing that God actually told me to keep track of.

As I look back at my life I can see that almost every time that there was something that I felt good at, or capable of, or confident in, God would give me a wonderful opportunity to lay it down. There is a way of looking at it that says, “God just keeps not letting me be happy! He just makes the conditions perfect for me to be miserable! He knew that I need a certain amount of alone time every day and He keeps not giving it to me!”

But this is the way that I see it. Those things that I consider part of my personality – loving to decorate, loving to cook, wanting things to be beautiful and organized and perfectly crafty and satisfying. I believe in these things. But I believe in them as things that I can use to honor my Creator. Back in the days when I wasn’t being challenged, these things came naturally, and I believed in them because I could cobble together reasons that they were good. But they primarily came from my own strength. I could be that way without really any pushback. So God brought the push back. He made it take more than the capacity I think I have to do these things. He said to me, “I know you like it, and you think you believe it. Now I’d like to see you do it without yourself.” God isn’t interested in my strength. He is interested in my obedience in weakness. Do you hear that? God said enough with my hobbies and my preferences. Lets see about her obedience and her faith.

When we believe something, we can sign our cute little names on the dotted line. Children are a blessing? Check! You should be full of joy? Check! You should honor your husband and love your children? Check! Enjoy all the days of your life? Check! Watch me go with my cute little gel pen in my journal!

So then God gives us those children. And now we believe something that He has told us, but we are not dancing around ready to sign our names on it anymore. Why not? Well because we feel like fussing about the laundry. Because it is messing us up to believe this, because now our faith about this is not abstract. So we feel broken. Like the things that we believe aren’t coordinating with our emotions anymore. Like we can’t find ourselves. Like the old us with the journal and the gel pen had a much better grasp of motherhood than this weird lady we have suddenly become.  Why so much brokenness? Doesn’t God love us?

God has brought me through this time and again. It is like He holds up my little statement of faith from my youth and says, “cute.” But He doesn’t want me to sign my name on it.  He wants me to put myself on the altar. Enough with this chit chat. God wants to see action. Take that belief, and live it. Not when you have all the emotional strength to do that, but when you don’t.

Do it when it must be all His strength. Do it because you believe, not because you feel. Do it in faith.

This has been happening to me long enough now that I can see His hand in it. I can see the tremendous mercy that it was for me (the wedding coordinator for other people) to be the sick bride. I remember standing at the window in my parent’s room looking out at all our wedding guests arriving. I didn’t want my dress on because it would make me throw up again. And as I saw them all coming, I could also see that God was giving me a chance to walk in joy down that aisle. I knew I believed that the wedding was just about the vows, and about honoring them for the rest of my life. That all the rest was just superficial. God didn’t want me walking down the aisle in superficial joy. He didn’t want me to be buoyed up by the fun, and the dress, and the flowers. He wanted me to take His joy and walk with it. And if that was all I had, it would be enough.

This is a pattern. I felt capable of being a mother, back before I was. God gave me more to handle than I could possibly handle on my own strength. I felt capable of keeping house. I’m sorry. I don’t know if I can stop laughing about that. Anything that I felt capable of doing,  God will both make it seem impossible and simultaneously ask me to do it. And there I am – in the sweetest place you can ever be – relying on Him. Walking in faith. Living in joy.

This broken feeling is only broken if it stays there. If it stops in self-pity. If it wallows in grief about the lost emotions of our journaling days. But this is richer. When we seek His joy instead of our own, when we lay our best on His altar, and we have nothing left for ourselves, that is when we are truly accomplishing His purpose in our lives.

We are not broken. We are being healed. We are not alone. We are in His hands. We are not overwhelmed. We have a champion. We are not stupid. We are being made wise. We are not weak. For He is not weak. We are not hopeless.  For we are His.

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Seven Ways for Busy Moms to Get in the Word

In Gals,Home and Family on September 11, 2013 by The Spillover

Courtney Joseph:

Fall is almost here, and for most moms this is the beginning of the busiest season of the year. Back-to-school to-do lists lead right into Thanksgiving and Christmas to-do lists, and we will not find rest again until January 2nd. And while God’s word sits on our shelves waiting for us to get a slow moment, the world bids us to keep busy. Get those kids signed up for soccer, piano, gymnastics, basketball, football, and the list keeps going. You just name it, everybody else is doing it.

The world tells us to get our calendars full and stay on the move. If you don’t, your kids might miss out, or they won’t be cool, or they won’t learn important life lessons, or they won’t be socialized, or they won’twon’twon’t. “Get busy and keep busy” is how the unspoken mantra goes.

The world says this chaotic running around is what the good moms do.

But the truth is that we need slow moments.

It’s in the slow moments that God speaks to us through his word and we speak to him in prayer. This is when we step away from all the busyness in order to fellowship with our heavenly Father. This is when we come to his word for the precious purpose of drinking from the living well — Jesus Christ.

Here is a simple guide for busy moms who want to build more of these slow moments into their everyday — moments to stop and drink deeply from the living well.

1. Choose one passage of Scripture for the week. My favorite passages for meditating on come from Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels, and the Epistles.

2. Write the passage on a note card, and slip it in your pocket or beside your computer. Pull it out periodically, and read over it. Keep it in your purse all week long, and pull it out at convenient times and read through it.

3. Read the passage first thing in the morning. Read the passage as soon as you get out of bed, so it’s the first thing on your mind that morning.

4. Open your Bible to that passage, and place it on the kitchen counter. All day long, when you walk through the kitchen, pause, read the passage, and then move on.

5. Read the passage out loud. Read it to yourself, and read it to your children during mealtime and at bedtime.

6. Reread the passage before you go to bed at night. Bookend your days with the reading of this passage of Scripture.

7. Write the passage at the top of your to-do list. This way, every time you look over your to-do list, you can review the Scripture passage.

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When the Not-Yet Married Meet: Dating to Display Jesus

In Gals,Guys,Perspective,Soul Food on June 6, 2013 by The Spillover

Marshall Segal:

Dating is dead.

So says the media. Girls, stop expecting guys to make any formal attempt at winning your affections. Don’t sit around waiting for a boy to make you a priority, communicate his intentions, or even call you on the phone. Exclusivity and intentionality are ancient rituals, things of the past, and misplaced hopes.

I beg to differ. It’s not that this new line of thinking is necessarily untrue today, or that it’s not the current and corrupt trend of our culture. It’s wrong. One of our most precious pursuits, that of a life-long partner for all of life, is tragically being relegated to tweets, texts, and Facebook pokes, to ambiguous flirtation and fooling around. It’s wrong.

Dating That Preserves Marriage

There is a God. And this God created and rules his world, including men, women, the biological compulsions that bind them together, and the institution that declares their union and keeps it sacred and safe. Therefore, only he can prescribe the purpose, parameters, and means of our marriages.

If fullness of life could be found in sexual stimulation, or if it was just a matter of making babies, the “forget formality and just have sex” approach might temporarily satisfy cravings and cause enough conception. But God had much more in mind with romance than orgasms or even procreation, and so should we. So must we.

When people in the world are expecting less and less of each other in dating, God isn’t — so among the single we have to work harder in our not-yet married relationships to preserve what marriage ought to picture and provide.

Mom, Where Do Weddings Come From?

Nothing in my life and faith has been more confusing and spiritually hazardous than my pursuit of marriage. From far too young, I longed for the affection, safety, and intimacy I anticipated with a wife.

Sadly, my immature and unhealthy desires predictably did much more harm than good. I started dating too early. I stayed in relationships too long. I experimented too much with our hearts and allowed things to go too far. I said, “I love you,” too soon. And now my singleness is a regular reminder that I messed up, missed opportunities, or did it wrong.

Maybe dating has been hard for you, too, for these reasons or others. Maybe Mr. (or Mrs.) Right has started to look like Mr. (or Mrs.) Myth. Maybe you’ve wanted the relationship or liked the guy or girl, and you’ve never had the chance. Maybe all the suggestions and advice you’ve collected has become a confusing mess of good-intentioned contradictions and ambiguity. It’s enough to leave you like an 8-year-old, asking, “Mom, where do weddings come from?”

Expecting More from Marriage

The vision of marriage we see in God’s word –– the beautiful, radical display of God’s infinite, persevering love for sinners –– makes it worth it to date, and date well. The world’s approach can provide fun and sex and children and eventually even some level of commitment, but it cannot lead to the life-giving Jesus after whom our marriages are to take their cues.

Friends who enjoy sex with “no strings attached” will find pleasure, but not the peaks waiting on the other side of mutual promises. The happiness of marriage is not only or even mainly physical. With the sex, there ought to be a deep sense of safety, a sense of being loved and accepted for who you are, a desire to please without the need to impress. When God engineered the sexual bond between a man and a woman, he made something much more satisfying than the act itself.

Those who recklessly give themselves to a love-life of dating without really dating, of romantic rendezvouses without Christ and commitment, are settling. They’re settling for less than God intended and less than he made possible by sending his Son to rescue and repurpose our lives, including our love-lives, for something more. More happiness. More security. More purpose.

And the more is found in a mutual faith in and following of Jesus. With this “more,” we can say to the watching world, don’t settle for artificial and thin loyalty, affection, security, and sexual experimentation when God intends and promises so much more through a Christian union. And a Christian union can only be found through Christian dating.

If Christian dating, the intentional, selfless, and prayerful process of pursuing marriage, sounds like slavery, we don’t get it. If low-commitment sexual promiscuity sounds like freedom, we don’t get it. Jesus may ask more of us, but he does so to secure and increase our greatest and longest-lasting (sexual) happiness.

How Then Shall We Date?

For those whose roads are marked more by mistakes than selflessness, patience, and sound judgment, take hope in the God who truly and mysteriously blesses your broken road and redeems you from it, and who can begin in you a new, pure, wise, godly pursuit of marriage today.

Here are (some) principles for your not-yet marriages. It’s not nearly a comprehensive or exhaustive list. They’re simply lessons I’ve learned and hope can be a blessing for you, your boyfriend or girlfriend, and your future spouse.

1. It really is as simple as they say.

In a day when people are marrying later and later and more and more are resorting to online matchmaking, we probably need to be reminded that marriage really is less about compatibility than commitment. After all, there has never been a less compatible relationship than a holy God and his sinful bride, and that’s the mold we’re aiming for in our marriages.

There is a reason the Bible doesn’t have a book devoted to how to choose a spouse. It was not an oversight on the part of the God of all history, as if he couldn’t see into the 21st century. The qualifications are wonderfully clear and simple: 1) they must believe your God (2 Corinthians 6:14) and 2) they must be of the opposite sex (Genesis 2:23–24Matthew 19:4–6Ephesians 5:24–32).

Now undeniably there will be more involved in your discernment while dating. Apart from questions of attraction and chemistry, which are not insignificant, the Bible articulates some roles for wives and husbands. Men ought to protect and provide for their wife (Ephesians 5:25–29). Women ought to help and submit to their man (Genesis 2:18;Ephesians 5:22–24). Fathers ought to lead their families in God’s word (Ephesians 6:4). Parents must love and raise their children in the faith (Deuteronomy 6:7). So admittedly we are looking for more than an attractive person who “loves Jesus.”

That said, many of us need to be reminded that God’s perfect person for me isn’t all that perfect. Every person who marries is a sinner, so the search for a spouse isn’t a pursuit of perfection, but a mutually flawed pursuit of Jesus. It is a faith-filled attempt to become like him and make him known together. Regardless of the believer you marry, you will likely find out soon that you do not feel as “compatible” as you once did, but hopefully you will marvel more at God’s love for you in Jesus and the amazing privilege it is to live out that love together, especially in light of your differences.

2. Know what makes a marriage worth having.

In our worst moments, our objectives are small and misguided. We just don’t want to be alone on a Friday night anymore. We just want to post almost-candid, artistically-framed pictures with someone on a bridge somewhere. We want a guilt-free way to enjoy sex. We just want a guy or girl to tell us we’re handsome and funny and smart and good at our job, etc.

If marriage only offered us these things, though, it really wouldn’t be worth it. Many will try to deny that, but the divorce statistics are enough to establish that marriage asks more of you than most could have ever imagined on their wedding day. Most of my married friends would say that what seems fun and pretty and unbreakable at the altar did not feel as clean or easy even days into their lives together. It’s still intensely good and beautiful, but it’s costly, too costly for small aims.

Marriage is worth having because you get God in your lifelong commitment to one another. Marriage is about knowing God, worshiping God, depending on God, displaying God, being made like God. God made man and woman in his image and joined them together, giving them unique responsibilities to care for one another in their broken, but beautiful union.

What makes marriage worth having is that you, your spouse, and those around you see more of God and his love for us in Jesus. If you’re not experiencing that with your boyfriend, break up with him. If that’s not our priority, we need to get a new game plan and probably a new scorecard for our next significant other.

3. Look for clarity more than intimacy.

The greatest danger of dating is giving parts of our hearts and lives to someone to whom we’re not married. It is a significant risk, and many, many men and women have deep and lasting wounds from relationships because a couple enjoyed emotional or physical closeness without a lasting, durable commitment. Cheap intimacy feels real for the moment, but you get what you pay for.

While the great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy, the great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity. Intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity. The purpose of our dating is determining whether the two of us should get married, so we should focus our effort there.

In our pursuit of clarity, we will undoubtedly develop intimacy, but we ought not do so too quickly or too naively. Be intentional and outspoken to one another that, as Christians, intimacy before marriage is dangerous, while clarity is unbelievably precious.

4. Find a fiancé on the frontlines.

This is a throwback to a previous post. The idea is to look for love in the right places.Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper. Instead of making it your mission to get married, make your mission God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that.

This does not mean that we should serve because we might find love. God is not ultimately honored with that kind of self-serving service. No, it simply means that if we’re looking for a particular kind of person, there are good, safe, identifiable places those kinds of people live and serve and worship together. Get involved in a community like that, serve each other, and look for God to open doors for dating.

5. Don’t let your mind marry him before the rest of you can.

While this may seem like it’s much more common among women, I’ve been single long enough around enough single guys to know it’s not exclusively a female problem. The trajectory of all truly Christian romance ought to be marriage, so it should not surprise us that our dreams and expectations, our hearts, race out ahead of everything else.

It simply isn’t that hard to imagine what your children would look like or where you would vacation together or how family holidays would work or what kind of house you might buy. And just like sex, all these things could be really good and safe and beautiful, but in the context of your covenant. Satan wants to subtly help you build marriage and family idols that are too fragile for your not-yet married relationship.

“He told me he loved me.” “She said she would never leave.” They’re the seemingly priceless sentences that don’t always cash. They’re often said with good intentions, but without the ring — and without a ring, the results can be devastating. Guard your heart and imagination from running out ahead of your current commitment.

6. Boundaries make for the best of friends.

The most oft-asked dating question among Christians might be, “How far is too far before marriage?” The fact that we keep asking that question suggests we all agree we need to draw some lines, and that the lines seem pretty blurry to most. If you’re pursuing marriage and it’s going well, you’re going to experience temptation, a lot of temptation.

Sexual sin may be the devil’s weapon of choice in corrupting Christian relationships. If you don’t acknowledge your enemy and engage him, you’ll find yourselves wondering how you lost so easily. Some of our best friends in the battle will be the boundaries we set to keep us pure.

While spontaneous plunges into intimacy look great in chick-flicks and feel great in the moment, they breed shame, regret, and distrust. Let’s try talking about touching before touching. Trade some titillation for trust, surprise for clarity and confidence. Make decisions prayerfully and intentionally before diving in.

Boundaries are necessary because on the road to marriage and its consummation, the appetite for intimacy only grows as you feed it. You are biologically built that way. Touching leads to more touching. Being alone together in certain situations will welcome fierce temptation. Even praying together or talking for hours upon hours on the phone can create unhealthy overdoses of intimacy with not-yet spouses.

If we’re honest, we much more often like to error by wading into love too far rather than waiting too long to take the next step. You will be hard-pressed, though, to find a couple regretting the boundaries they made in dating, while you will very easily find those that wish they would have made more. As followers of Christ, we really ought to be the most careful and vigilant.

Boundaries protect, and boundaries provide the trenches of trust-building. As we establish some mutual boundaries, small and large, and commit to keeping them together, we develop depths and patterns of trust that will serve our intimacy, covenant-keeping, and decision-making should God lead us to marry each other.

7. Consistently include your community.

Dating is a matter of doing your best to discern a person’s ability to fulfill God’s vision and purpose for marriage with you. While you might be the one with the final say, you might not be the best person to assess at every point. Just as in every other area of your Christian life, you need the body of Christ as you think about who to date, how to date, and when to wed.

While it’s rarely quick or convenient, gaining the perspective of people who know you, love you, and have great hope for your future will always pay dividends. It may lead to hard conversations or deep disagreement, but it will force you to deal with things you did not or could not have seen on your own. You’ll find safety with an abundance of counselors (Proverbs 11:14).

Invite other people to look into your relationship. Spend time together with other people, couples and singles, who are willing to point out the good, the bad, and the ugly.

8. Let all your dating be missionary dating.

No, I am not encouraging you to date not-yet believing men or women. When I say missionary dating, I mean dating that displays and promotes faith in Jesus and his good news, a dating that is in step with the gospel before the watching world. I want us to win disciples by dating radically, by confronting the world’s paradigms and pleasure-seeking with sacrifice, selflessness, and intentionality.

Men and women in the world want many of the same things you want: affection, commitment, conversation, stability, sex, etc. And eventually they will see that the ground under your lives and relationship is firmer than the flimsy flings they know. They’ll see something deeper, stronger, and more meaningful between you and your significant other.

Do the people in each of your lives know and love Jesus more because you’re together? Do they see God’s grace and truth working in you and your relationship as you walk through life together? Are the two of you thinking proactively about how to bless your friends and family and point them to Christ? More and more, as the world is watering down dating, your relationship can be a provocative picture of your fidelity to Christ and a call to follow him.

Pursuing Marriage the Right Way

Is this dating perfectly safe? No. Will it keep you from being hurt or disappointed? No. Will it guarantee you never go through another break up? No. But, by God’s grace, it may guard us from deeper heartache and more devastating failure. My prayer is that these principles would prepare you to love your spouse in a way that more beautifully and dramatically displays the truth and power of the gospel.

If you are like me, you may have blown it on multiple fronts already. Maybe you’re blowing it right now in a relationship. Be willing to make the hard decisions, large and small, to pursue marriage the right way today. Whether you’re ultimately married to one another or not (or married at all, for that matter), you will thank each other later.

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The Everyday Question of Motherhood

In Gals,Home and Family on April 30, 2012 by The Spillover

From Christine Hoover:

As a mother, there is a constant, uncomfortable battle that rages inside of me. It is not the big or dramatic: Will I raise my children to love God? Will I train them to obey Him? Do my children belong to Him?

The constant battle of motherhood is more subtle, more everyday, more hideable. At the center is one question: Will I sacrifice? Or as Oswald Chambers poses in My Utmost for His Highest: “[Am I] willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?”

The Everyday Question isn’t answered one time, with the birth of a child, with the planning of school, or with the decision to discipline. This question — Will I sacrifice? — is answered everyday.

It’s answered when a child wakes early with a need, interrupting my quiet hour alone with the Lord.

It’s answered when a sick child keeps me from worship and adult interaction at church on Sunday mornings.

It’s answered when I am emotionally spent, but a child’s behavior requires my patient, purposeful response.

It’s answered almost every moment of the potty training process.

It’s answered as I systematically teach my special-needs son how to interact with others.

In motherhood, the Everyday Question is answered every time a child’s concern or need must come before my own, which is most of the time.

Too often, I attend to necessary tasks — leaving the stove to help with pant buttons, putting down the phone to search for a beloved toy, excusing myself from a conversation at church to take tired children home for a nap — while my heart grumbles. If I just had one moment to complete a task or have an adult conversation without an interruption.

The Everyday Question, however, asks not just about what I do but also about my attitude: Will I joyfully pour out my life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of my children? Will I serve my children out of obligation and duty or will I serve like I’m serving God Himself? Will I die to myself so that I might live to God in the specific calling He has given me as a mom?

The Everyday Question must be answered everyday.

Because motherhood is not so much the big, dramatic acts of sacrifice, but the little, everyday, unseen ones.

Because we can have a clean house and obedient children and not sacrifice.

Because we are so easily deceived to think we can live for ourselves and be faithful to God in our ministry as moms.

Jesus said that those who live for themselves will actually have an unfulfilling life, but those who lose for their lives for His sake will really experience life. As parents, our self-death for Christ’s sake not only produces fruit in our own hearts, but produces fruit in the hearts of our children, fruit that grows by the power of God. Let us, then, choose to joyfully give of ourselves for our children.

Everyday.

“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:11)

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)

Articles

Submission in Marriage

In Gals,Guys,Home and Family on November 17, 2011 by The Spillover

Mary Kassian at the Girls Gone Wise blog shares some thoughts in response to this question: “How has submission worked out practically in your marriage?”:

I’ve been married for 29 years—“just getting going” says my mom, who’s been married for 62.

“What it looks like” is a difficult question, since submission is not something foreign—not something “other”—to the character of a redeemed woman. Submission is not as much an “action” as it is an “attitude.” So it can’t be dictated by behavioral prescriptives. Submission boils down to a having spirit of amenability. It means being soft, receptive, responsive, and agreeable. Because of the misconceptions surrounding the definition of submission, I actually prefer to use the term “amenability.” Amenability comes from the French amener (to lead). An amenable woman is “leadable” as opposed to “ungovernable” She’s responsive to input and likely to cooperate. Amenability is part of the three-fold womanly disposition of 1 Peter 3:4-5, which includes gentleness, calmness, and amenability—which works itself out in a married woman’s life in submission to her husband.

So “what it looks like” on an on-going basis, is that I am soft, receptive, and agreeable toward my husband. I love responding to his lead. I respect who God created him to be as a man—and support his efforts to provide godly oversight for our family. I respect the position of responsibility that goes along with being a husband and father. “Respect” is probably the best word to describe what submission looks like in my marriage.

For me, submission is one of those things that is far more easily identified by its absence rather than its presence. I know that I am struggling with it when I am critical, impatient, defiant, and “snarky” toward my husband—when I refuse to cooperate and am unresponsive to input, when I rush in and take control, when I fail to “provide space” to allow my husband the opportunity to be a man and provide godly oversight for our family. In other words, it’s not readily apparent to me when I’m submitting, but it’s painfully obvious to me when I am not. I sense that I am disrespecting/ disregarding my husband, taking control, and pulling against him rather than for and with him.

(The full article has some other good stuff.)