Tuesday, April 1, 2014

30 Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 1 (& Giveaway!)

Yesterday I asked you all if you would join me in a challenge, a challenge to tell our husbands something that we appreciate about him, something about him for which we are grateful.  

Today, I'm going to kick things off with a giveaway of Nancy Leigh DeMoss' book, Choosing Gratitude.  You can go here to read more about it.  I'm not finished with it, but so far I'm finding it very convicting.  Another cool thing about the book is that it includes a 30 day devotional at the end. 

I'll leave the giveaway open until the end of our challenge and announce the winner on the last day.  

But first...what am I thankful for?  

I'm thankful for a hard-working husband.  I'm thankful that Dave pushes through the stress and boredom and challenges to consistently provide for us.  I'm thankful that he is committed to being good at his job and that he truly care for his clients (he's a real estate agent, in case you're new around here). 

Ok, your turn! And again, if you need ideas, go over to Nancy's "30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge". 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sharing with: Far Above Rubies, Time Warp Wife, Growing Home

Monday, March 31, 2014

Are You Thankful For Your Husband? (30 Day Challenge)

Every year as the month of November begins, I start to see many of my friends posting what they are thankful for.  

Day 1: I'm thankful for my family.
Day 2: I'm thankful for health.
Day 3: I'm thankful for a roof over my head.

And on it goes, all the way until Thanksgiving when we all have a chance to sit around a table laden with turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie and recite one more thing we are thankful for to our families.  

But here we are with April about to begin...with Easter only a few weeks away...and I'm wondering if we are still thankful or if we've forgotten.  

Yesterday, I started reading Nancy Leigh DeMoss' book Choosing Gratitude, and I have a challenge to present to you.  Actually, it's really originally Nancy's challenge and I'm asking if we Warrior Wives can make it our focus this month.  Nancy writes that as Christians, we have more reason than anyone else to be thankful: 
We are born in a state of inescapable guilt...into this hopeless situation comes the undeserved grace of God through Jesus Christ...undeniable guilt, plus undeserved grace, should equal unbridled gratitude (p.33-35).
 We're right in the middle of Lent and we're about to celebrate the grace of God in sending Christ to die on the cross for our sins.  Every day, for the next 30 days, I'd like to challenge us to 1) think of one thing we appreciate about our husband and 2) tell him.  Furthermore, I'd love to hear the things you appreciate as well.  Some of you - particularly those in difficult marriages - are going to have a harder time remembering what we appreciate; publicly posting what we are grateful for will hopefully help us to think of things.  

We'll start tomorrow.  I'll kick things off by offering a giveaway of Nancy's book and by posting my Day 1 appreciation on Facebook and Twitter.  If you're participating, feel free to comment on my post or reply to my tweet with what you are thankful for (and if you're thankful for the same thing, go ahead and copy mine!)  

If you need ideas, go to Nancy's "30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge" and read through it day by day.  Her challenge includes not just saying something encouraging to your husband, but also not saying anything negative to him or about him to others .  Honestly, that not-being-negative part may be harder to do - I struggle with having a critical spirit.  

Hope you're joining in!  If you are, leave a comment and tell me!  

Sharing with: The Modest Mom, Create With Joy, A Proverbs 31 Wife, Graceful

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let's Chat: Your Parents' Marriage

While reading Gary Chapman's book this week, I came across this quote: 
As I entered adulthood anticipating my hard-earned independence, I was stunned to discover that my parents' divorces seemed to affect me more each year, not less.  Even though I was successful academically and professionally, I found myself becoming more insecure each year about my emotional abilities.  As I began to see my friends marry, I started to question my ability to successfully create and maintain intimate relationships, especially my own future marriage.  I began to see how the marriages - and divorces - of my parents had influenced my relationships, especially when it came to trust.  And when it came to love, I was paralyzed because what I wanted so desperately was that which I feared the most.  (Jen Abbas, Generation Ex - quoted in Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, p.23)

I'm curious what you all think.  I'm pretty sure most of us have either 1) read about the studies that talk about the negative effects of divorce on children or 2) experienced a divorce within your own family.  If your parents were divorced, how has that affected your marriage today?  If your parents were married, what did you learn from watching their marriage (positive and negative)?  

My hope is that as we think about the ways in which we have been affected by our parents' marriage that we can begin to see our own marriages through our kids' eyes.  What will be our legacy to them?  Will it help them or will it hinder them?

Ready. Set. Discuss.

Sharing with:  Thought Provoking ThursdayThoughtful ThursdayGraced SimplicityServing Joyfully,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Training Boys to Be Good Husbands

I have three boys.  Despite the fact that I do go a little insane at times with the level of activity that occurs in my home, I love that I am a mom of only boys.  I have never felt deprived to not have a daughter (at least, not until I'm in the mood to watch "Anne of Green Gables" and no one is interested).  I wish that people would stop sighing and saying, "Bless your heart" as though I am to be pitied because I live with all boys.  

As a mom of all boys, I would like to assure those of you with only daughters that most Boy Moms are doing their very best to raise their sons to be good husbands.  

As evidence, here are a few snapshots of my life and the lessons we're trying to teach them:

1) Send your wife flowers for no other reason that that you love her and want her to know you are thinking of her.

2) When Mom goes away, Dad can competently provide care for the kids. (This picture was taken while I was away for a week at a biblical counseling conference - everyone is happy!)

3) Boys can and should know how to cook.

4) Boys can and should be able to clean a house.

5) It's ok to want to have some input in decorating your home.  

6) Good dads play with their kids, interact with them and cuddle them.

7) A husband should (whenever possible) do the work that is hard for his wife to do.

8) Good husbands show affection towards and enjoyment of their wife.

9) Form relationships with godly men and be involved in church (like Dave is in leading a small group).

10) I wish I had a picture for this one, but above all, love God, pursue God and obey Him.

What qualities, attitudes, and actions do you most want to encourage your sons to carry into their marriages?

Sharing with: Thought Provoking Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday, Graced Simplicity, Serving Joyfully,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Let God Fight For Your Marriage

With a title like "Warrior Wives", I spend a lot of time on this blog encouraging you to fight for your marriage.  I'd like to think I'm inspiring some of you to never give up on your husbands, to believe that there is hope for even the most hopeless of situations and to demonstrate Christlike love even for a man who appears to not deserve such a gift.  

I realize that some of you reading are in a place where you feel like you have done everything you are called to do and your husband is not responding positively.  Maybe he has been confronted by others and is defiantly refusing to change.  Maybe he is stuck in an addiction and seems totally lost to all help.  Nothing is getting through to you. 

Today, I'd like to simply encourage you to think of God as your Warrior.  God will go to battle for you and all you need to do is stand behind him and allow his protective love to cover you. Listen to what Psalm 91 says...
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
If you feel like all your battling for your marriage has come to nothing, don't give up hope. Please know you are not alone in this fight.  God is fighting for your marriage and for your husband too.  Could you ask for more? 
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Romans 8:31)
Sharing with: Time Warp Wife, Growing Home

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Banish the Bossiness

Well, I was going to let Matt Walsh speak for me, but maybe this needs to come from a woman.  

Have you all heard about this new "Ban Bossy" campaign?  It goes a little like this: 

- Girls - and only girls - are called bossy.
- Girls are called bossy when they attempt to lead.
- When girls are called bossy, it hurts their self-esteem and discourages them from leading in any way.
- Ban the word "bossy"!  Let women be in charge! 

Despite the fact that I am a woman - an opinionated, direct, bossy woman -  I have some issues with this campaign.  My main problem is with the premise itself, as expressed by this graphic from their website.  

Their argument is that telling a girl she is bossy is the same as telling her not to be assertive or not to have an opinion or to sit-down-shut-up-smile-and-become-a-passive-doormat.  It is not the same.  

When a woman is called bossy, it's because she is using her assertiveness in a negative manner.  She is ordering people around with no concern for their desires, wishes, needs, or concerns.  She is simply plowing ahead with her own selfish agenda with no attempt to cooperate with others or change her mind.  

This is not a good thing

Let's see what Scripture has to say...

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes but a wise man listens to advice. (Prov 12:15)
A wise woman does not decide independently to follow her own agenda.  She does not ignore input.  She listens to others and accepts counsel.  A bossy woman is doing exactly the opposite.  

And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.  She is loud and wayward...(Prov 7:10-11a)
No, I am not saying a bossy woman is a prostitute.  In her book Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, Mary Kassian explains that the Hebrew word translated as wayward "means 'to be stubborn and rebellious'. It reflects a defiant, self-willed, obstinate, 'nobody-tells-me-what-to-do' frame of mind (p.60)."  In other words, a worldly woman is bossy.  

Being bossy is a bad thing.  Let's just call bad behavior what it is. 

If a girl is being bossy, she should be corrected.  It isn't helpful to her in the long run if we worry that her fragile self esteem will be damaged and never tell her how to act assertively in a godly manner.  Listen, women, as well as men, are made in the image of God.  God declared our creation to be "very good".  Men and women are one in Christ (Gal 3:28). Some of us women are more direct and assertive than others, and I do believe that if God gifts a woman that way, He didn't make a mistake.  We need a woman to have the drive to complete a difficult task, to effectively manage and organize a project and to communicate clearly.  If a woman is honest and direct and able to lead, these are good qualities.  But they have to be used in a godly, respectful way. 

Bossiness is a perversion of true leadership. 

So, I don't believe we need to "Ban Bossy", at least, not in the sense of banishing the word "bossy" into the abyss.  Keep the word because it accurately describes a set of behaviors and an attitude that we do not want encouraged in women.  But banish the bossiness because really, ladies...it's just unbecoming of us.  We can do better.  

Ready. Set. Discuss.

Recommended resources: Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild (Mary Kassian) and Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (Kimberly Wagner)

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Giving Marriage Advice to Others

So, obviously I believe in giving marriage advice to others. Every time I publish a post, I am giving out advice.  And not only do I write advice to mostly total strangers, I also have conversations with friends about their marriages.  They know about mine and I know about theirs.  I meet with an older woman to talk through life issues, some of which include marriage questions.  I think it's very important that we use our discretion to find a few godly friends or a godly older woman with whom we can work on growing in our role as a wife.  (Note: I do not believe that we should be sharing EVERYTHING about our marriage with y ERYONE; use discretion.) 

But even though I believe that we should be counseling each other, challenging each other and encouraging each other in our marriages, I have also been convicted about the kind of advice I offer when it's my turn to speak.  

Last year, while attending my first biblical counseling conference out in Lafayette, Indiana, I had a lightbulb moment.  Every session I attended hammered home the gospel...the gospel...the gospel. Eventually, I had the thought, Gosh, I get it!  Why are we still talking about the Gospel??  Can we move on now?   Right in the middle of one of those thoughts, it occurred to  me that I didn't get it!  The Gospel was the whole point!  I realized that the Gospel had become to me what author Elyse Fitzpatrick describes as "white noise".  I had heard it so many times that I didn't even hear it anymore.  

Ladies, when the gospel becomes white noise to you, when you stop thinking about the gospel as your central motivation for everything you do, you will cease to give gospel hope to people.  You will simply hand out "to do" lists for solving every problem.  

"To do" lists without the gospel as motivation are ultimately pointless and utterly hopeless.

Listen, I'm pretty black and white.  Sometimes, it is honestly a struggle to listen to a person's struggles and not think, "Well, just stop it!" I tend to think in concrete terms of how to fix a problem and to offer practical solutions for how to act or make things better.  

 But listen to what one of my favorite authors, Kimm Crandall writes:
We must stop talking and start listening, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through our conversations instead of giving each other advice that just adds more to the already crowded list of things to do.  We are smothering each other with well-intended input when we often need to just listen and pray...the truly wise don't constantly trot out tips on how to better manage the chaos.  They know how much our real need is simply for Christ. (Christ in the Chaos, p.89)
Before anyone jumps on me and says, "Well, the Bible says we are to act a certain way and obey the word of God."...yes.  Yes, we are supposed to obey.  We are supposed to use our words wisely, respect our husbands, love our neighbors, practice hospitality, forgive, not get into debt, not get drunk, and stay pure.  But, "if we do these apart from a deep understanding of God's love for us they merely fuel our efforts to sanctify ourselves" (Crandall, p.80).  

Let me give you an example:  your friend and her husband are acting and feeling distant from each other.  They aren't talking or even noticing each other and this really bothers your friend.  Because he doesn't notice her, your friend feels unloved and neglected.  So your first advice is to start dressing in cute outfits instead of sweatpants, kissing him when he comes home from work and complimenting him regularly; that will help him notice her.  Do, do, do.  Is that advice bad?  No, not necessarily.  But a marriage isn't going to get fixed and a wife isn't going to cure her love "need" simply because she starts telling her husband he's awesome.  If putting on a pair of jeans is her only hope, that's dismal.  

Instead, let's think in gospel terms.  Well, God loves her.  God loved her so much that He gave up his only son, Jesus, to reconcile her to himself.  She needs to know that no matter what her husband does or doesn't do, whether he notices her or not, Jesus loves her and Jesus notices her.  And because Jesus loves her, she can remember that Jesus loves her husband.  Once she truly appreciates God's love for her, her actions can overflow in love towards her husband.  Maybe that won't make him notice her either, but it's still hope for her. 

I am not saving that "to do" lists are wrong or unnecessary.  You might be right that a friend needs a good smack upside the head and a stern reprimand for how she is behaving towards her husband or kids or whatever.  You might be right that she needs to stop freaking out and having anxious meltdowns all the time.  You might be right that she could be a little more organized around the house so that she wasn't constantly stressed out.  But when you hand out advice, make sure you are also giving her what she really needs - give her Jesus.  

Your friend's husband may never be kind to her - but Jesus will be kind to her.
Your friend's life may always be busy - but Jesus is always with her.
Your friend may be in tough, discouraging situations - but Jesus loves her.

Once you give Jesus and the hope of the gospel, you can use that as a springboard to come alongside her and help with some practical solutions.  We need Jesus and we need "to do", but please don't give one without the other.  
Counseling that neglects the Scriptures when seeking to answer these questions always eventuates in a bloated self-opinion and an enslaving and futile self-focus.  Counseling that neglects what the gospel says about us will eventuate in works-righteousness and its ultimate and inescapable fruit, either pride or despair, or a vacillation between the two.  Counseling that neglects the obligation forced on us by the gospel always eventuates in complacent laziness, excuse-making and loose living. (Counsel From the Cross, Elyse Fitzpatrick, p.92-93)