Friday, February 13, 2015

What My True Love Looks Like

I hardly ever talk about my marriage relationship. Pretty sure I don't want to gag anyone with my bragging on how great Bruce is....but, whatever, it's Valentines Day and it seems like maybe you could cut me a little slack or take an Imodium if you feel here goes!

True love...

1. True love realizes that I am not perfect and so instead of pointing out and keeping track of my mistakes...he manages to help me laugh at myself and find humor in the everyday.

2. True love realizes that I know nothing about cars and so instead of even asking me to register it, change the oil in it, change the wiper fluid in it, or even clean it out....He takes care of it. About all I do is gas it up....and most of the time I don't do that...he does.

3. True love helps with house work because I help with church work. We both feel equally called to home and church. I LOVE that about Him.

4. True love is invested in our kids. He spends time with them having fun, learning and working. I am not training them alone.

5. True love establishes boundaries. He says "no" when He needs to and "yes" when he can.

6. True love sets a good example. I learn from him daily. He's forgiving and energizing and loving....all things that sometimes don't come easy for an insecure skeptic.

7. True love doesn't always have to be right. Even when He is. He can back off, down or turn around in matters of trivial pursuit.

8. True love irons his own clothes...and everyone else's in the family-- after I match them all up.

9. True love doesn't buy me flowers....because he knows I'd rather have his time....building raised beds outside for fresh flowers and veggies.

10. True love loves God more than me. And I'm good with that...because by loving His father more he can love me more.

Sometimes when we are young we forget to look for all the lovely ways our beloved loves us. For me...I spent many Valentines Days disappointed that I didn't get what someone else got, or I didn't get to go to a fancy smancy restaurant or on a trip. And then I started keeping track of my gifts and then I realized....Bruce loves me in our own way....Our lives are busy and when he lessens my load....He's taking care of me...When he is training our kids....He's taking care of our earthly investment that God gave us....When He backs off in an argument....He's saying...he loves me enough to humble himself....When He laughs with me....He reminds me that life is about enjoying all these moments...not just the perfect ones.

And since our love is messy....I'm thankful for every imperfect moment that we share.

So today or tomorrow or whenever you celebrate....remember it's about all the moments....not just the ones that happen on February 14.

For us....we are headed to the funeral home....with our kids to say goodbye to a man I've never met...but love because of what his investment with his family has given the world....A man who raised and invested in a son, who raised and invested in his two sons, that are investing their lives in the ministries of our church here and in a third world country. That's some true love worth celebrating!

See...true love never really dies.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Baby Jesus is Still Here

Why is there such an excitement to decorate and get things ready at Christmastime? I find myself looking towards Christmas as soon as all the stores start putting out the merchandise....which of course is earlier and earlier every year. I start looking at recipes, using Pinterest to organize my craft projects and flipping through magazines for the latest fads in achieving the best look for our home. I really love the holidays....until they are over.

Then there's the dreaded untrimming of the tree, the sprigs of evergreen that are forEVER embedded in your carpet. The hauling away of the dead tree or the packing up of the artificial tree. The The dust that seems to be covering everything and the lights.....don't even get me started on the lights. And while the end result is that everything is tidied up and back in is A LOT of work. ...maybe that's when they should serve the eggnog.....Ok...only joking!!!!

This year I thought I had just about remembered to get everything back up to the attic and out to storage shed in one day. Bruce had helped and the kids had "participated" in helping. We had it knocked out in a couple of hours. Until later that day I went outside and realized I had forgotten the nativity set off the front porch. No biggie....I just brought them into the foyer and figured we get them upstairs soon.

Until "soon" still hasn't happened. Baby Jesus is still here. In the foyer. By the front door. His little naked body swaddled up greeting everyone as they come and go. My piano students find it comical. I find it ... comical and a little reassuring. Jesus is still here.

Jesus doesn't leave because we wrap and pack Him up. He's with our coming and goings. He's profusely aware of us....and sometimes..just like on the porch at Christmas, I forget He's even here at all. No...He's not in baby form anymore.....but His spirit is in my heart....always. His presence filling each space.

So maybe you've forgotten about Jesus after Christmas...He's packed away safe and secure until next Christmas season. It isn't too late to remember...For our family that means we have a small nativity out all year long in our dining room. Sure...people ask about it but that's even better...we get to share the story. Maybe you can find someway to remind yourself that Jesus is still here....that He is Emmanuel, God with us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Am Afraid

I've lived a lot of my life being careful...

careful not to offend...
to be nice...
to act right...
to take the high road...
to keep my nose clean...

But I've done these things mostly because I've been afraid..

Afraid I would offend you
Afraid I wouldn't be accepted
Afraid I would be misunderstood
Afraid I wouldn't be liked
Afraid I would turn you away from Jesus
Afraid I'd get in trouble

But I'm kind of over it.

It has gotten me no where.

And as I've been studying God's word about really isn't biblical.

Kindness is God's way....but so is honesty.
And sometimes kindness isn't niceness.

Truth is God's way....and sometimes that's a hard pill to swallow.
But it doesn't change the fact that lies and half-truths and anti-biblical opinions are poison.

Acceptance with man is a far cry from acceptance with God.
And He accepts me....a freckly faced southern girl that is insecure and unsure.
Who never knows quite the right thing to do, say or wear..  so she plays it safe. Nice.

But lately my fears are changing....

I'm afraid if I don't walk in love and truth and boldness that my daughter might not either.

I'm afraid if I don't learn to speak with that balance of truth and love that HIS voice might not be the one heard after I'm gone.

I'm afraid if church is just someplace I go because as the pastor's wife it's the right thing (yes, even me)...that I will have led a life full of Sunday's and Wednesdays that are nothing but hypocrisy.

I'm afraid if all I contribute to this world is niceness...then my influence will disappear like a I NEVER really lived.

I'm afraid if all my son sees is a mother who allows herself to be ruled by her emotions then he will not be equipped when choosing a spouse for himself one day.

I'm afraid that God will find every work I've done on this earth just smoldering pathetic pile of ashes because I was so worried if you would like me or not.'s been like a wake-up call. And not a fun one. But these are fears that need to overtake me...not the ones that are full of self absorbed "I's".

So's time ....time to be afraid for the right reasons.

What about you? Do you struggle with people-pleasing? With thinking being nice is always the right way?  Do you allow mistruths to define you because you are too afraid of the cost of confrontation? Do you worry about your kids seeing your insecurities?

Let's make a pact..let's pray for each other...let's seriously consider the damage we are doing in our homes and in our communities.....and let's turn it around. Let's be willing to talk about the tough stuff but instead of worrying about our feelings ....worry about what God says. Let's quit being offended and be Biblical. Let's worry about teaching our kids to weigh it all by the scale of God's Word...not emotions, or political correctness or niceness.

Let's quit being afraid about the wrong things.

I'm in....what about you?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

50 Shades of Dishonor

I like what Andy Stanley says, "If you miscalculate in your checkbook ledger, that's a mistake. If you have an affair, that's sin." Sometimes we confuse "mistakes" with "sin"...there's a difference.

I NEVER...or almost never jump on the bandwagon and point out particulars in our culture that I disagree with. Mainly because I am sickened by the pompous "Christian" culture that so many of these issues are laced with. But today, I'm throwing caution to the wind and begging you not to support the 50 Shades...of dishonor movie.

There are many reasons that I won't see it.  There's the sultry commercials that indicate it is full of unmarried sex which Biblical and cultural statistics say is unhealthy for long-lasting marriage. There's the basis of abuse which should make every woman rise up in bold and angry disdain. There's the fact that this man would view intimacy as a game of manipulation. And so many....many many more reasons...

But as a Christian...who does go to the movies...I cannot see this movie because of this....

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

You see....these images will be ingrained in your mind FOREVER. Much like the scene from a popular horror film (Children of the Corn)  I saw as a child and will never ever be able to forget....the images in 50 Shades...images of sensuality that were originally meant to be a lovely, God-honoring act, will be left as cheap, erotic images in your mind. 

And it won't be a will be sin. It's not like our whole nation doesn't know what's coming. We know. Every morning talk show is covering it. The news is antsy with anticipation. Magazines at the checkout are full of backstories and tips on spicing up your marriage. It was on the New York Best Seller list for 20 weeks...And society is sadly...excited. But as a Christian do we care about what God says about these things??....are these things true...according to scripture? are they honorable...according to scripture? are they just...according to scripture? are they pure...according to scripture? are they lovely....according to scripture? are they commendable....according to scripture? are they excellent...according to scripture? are they worthy of our praise...according to scripture?

I hope I'm hearing a resounding NO. Then why would I spend a couple of hours of my time, fully engrossed in capturing images into my mind....when they have no reason to be there. Why glorify sin? Why cheapen my marriage? Why discolor the beauty of sex in marriage by making something less that holy the standard for fulfillment? Why dishonor my husband by thinking of another man in a way that is full of lust and desire? Why allow for feelings of discontent to flood into our marriages? 

Listen....I'm not preaching to the unsaved....I'm talking to those who know better....those who for reasons of entertainment, or girls night out, or ladies night will go see this movie...and the next day or week be sitting in our churches and in our homes wondering why we feel so disconnected to our husbands. Wondering why we feel dirty. Wondering why I feel ashamed. Wondering why my heart and soul found the need to engage willfully in the pleasure of sin for a season. Don't do it. Don't allow ungodliness to be your standard. Don't allow for the devil to pervert God's gift of sex in marriage. Don't allow erotica and dishonor and abuse and impurity to cloud the beauty of what God has given you with your own husband. 

And for single girls....PLEASE....don't lose your purity over this movie...because purity is lost in way more ways than the sexual act. Save yourself...every part of you....your eyes....your ears...your body...for the one God is preparing for you. God has something pure and holy ready for you within His plan. He loves you enough to have established a standard that would both protect you, bring you great joy and satisfied your God given desire to love another person completely. He has someone waiting for you! Don't spoil yourself. Don't bring 50 Shades actors into your future marriage. 

The mind is powerful. Images stay with us forever. God knew that...and that's why He said to be careful of what we spend out time thinking about. It's for our protection and ultimately His glory. Glorify God in your marriage and your mind. Don't go see 50 Shades. Don't cheapen what God created to be beautiful.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Bribe

My son...

"Mom....I'll treat you to a large diet coke with my Sonic gift card if you don't make me do math today."

I say, "No, Tucker"

He replies, "What if I wrap 8 crispy dollar bills around that Sonic gift card?"

"No, Tucker"

He asks.... "For realz.....How can you resist me??"

"I don't know son...I don't know. Because after homeschooling you today....I could sure use a diet coke!"

The bribe always looks good. And touches a spot in our lives that makes it very enticing. In my's diet coke. Trivial yes, but in a weird way, that drink had become an idol. I didn't think I could make it through a day without 1 or 5. And Tucker knows this has been a source of extreme discipline in our home over the last month. On January 1, I declared our home a diet coke free zone. "Don't bring it in the house", I declared. And so I've managed to control my cravings by the sheer absence of the drink....and an economy size bottle of aspirin for my detox headaches.

Temptation comes in many forms....not just bottled up in my 9 year old son. He's hilarious...but uses the same tactics as the enemy...who doesn't happen to be so hilarious or cute. I just happened to be very aware of Tucker's tactics....and not always so aware of the enemy's tactics. Why???....because I watch Tucker like a hawk. He's nine. He's a have to. Unfortunately I don't have that same awareness with the enemy. And yet...he's out to devour a kill, steal and destroy me and my family....and I'm not even paying attention to all the traps He sets for me.

The trap of laziness
The trap of going through the motions
The trap of parenting from the couch
The trap of anger
The trap of negative thinking
The trap of worry

And so many more that the devil wants us to fall into.

So how do we avoid the traps?? Here's a couple of things I know work...and I'm sure there are more...

1. Get in God's Word....because light reveals darkness.

2. Pause....Andy Stanley has a great series that we are studying in small group...He believes...and I do too, that many temptations could be successfully overcome by pausing and thinking about the cost to your future, your family and your faith. I agree.

3. Look for the way of escape. In other words....WAKE UP. Look around...what are your other options?

So next time you're tempted to take the bribe...drink the diet coke, cave in the the craving, spout off in anger or worry over something you have no control over....think about a Savior...who has already come to your rescue...paid for those things your tempted with...and look for the way out...the way He has already prepared....and kick the enemy to the curb.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Artificial Intelligence

I am not into science...or anything related to it. I don't even really know how I made it out of high school without a better knowledge....oh wait...yes I do. Artificial intelligence. It's the same way I've gotten through many predicaments in my life. Knowing just enough to get by. (Computers, math, crafting, gardening....the list could go on....I bring the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" to a whole new level.)

But it seems like God has a sense of humor and since I homeschool a seventh grader and third grader, I'm having to study science again....and artificial intelligence is not getting me through this. It's getting real...the struggle, the disinterest, the boredom of science. I'm sorry I've tried. It's hard to understand and frankly I don't wanna...I want to go read a good book or pluck my eyes out or pull weeds.....anything...but science.

I recently found myself having those similar words with God over an issue in His Word. You know the ones we like to skim over. For me, it's the ones that I struggle with the most....the ones that talk about my sin, my hurts, my failures, my disasters...I like to just read over those verses in righteous artificial intelligence and go on to the ones that talk about someone else's sin or just make me feel better. I want to hear all about God's grace and love and His care for me....but I don't want to dwell too long when He's talking about a sin I struggle with or He strikes a nerve. I don't want to understand my sin or what His word says about it any more than I do science...really.

Now don't get me wrong. I believe we should walk freely...out of bondage and embracing the things of God that make us live differently. I believe we should be changed by what we've experienced so that we don't walk with our heads hung in guilt and shame. But in that same gasping breath I want to also say that I believe we don't like to think too long on what we've been rescued from and every now and then, it's good to park it for a little bit and remember the goodness and faithfulness of Jesus. To pause over those hard verses. To reflect.

When I read over a verse in the Bible that hurts me a's a reminder that He is still working on me..that I am a grand design...that I have more to learn. It reminds me of where He's brought me from. It's humbling. And instead of skimming or skipping over it because it is hard, uncomfortable, uninteresting, boring or (cough, cough) convicting, I'm trying to stay there for a moment....trying to figure the scripture out...trying to be uncomfortable in His presence....IT IS UNCOMFORTABLE sometimes....and while He is my greatest friend....He is also my Holy Lord...and I am so not...holy sometimes. And that makes it uncomfortable.

At the the last breath....I don't want an artificial intelligence. I don't want to be the faker...who knows all the good verses and can get to Hezekiah the fastest (don't's not there) ...the one who can spit out scripture but has no real personal understanding of the work of God in their own life because they've skimmed and skipped over verses that were hard or challenging or convicting. I want wisdom and knowledge and discretion. And I will only get that by becoming a student of Jesus and His Words....not by pulling a science stunt...and just getting by with the help of a few notecards and a friend who takes good notes. I've got to dig in myself...stick it out in the awkward and hard and uncomfortable places and THEN....those verses about grace and love and peace and comfort mean infinitely more to me because I see where He's brought me from.

And I don't know about you....but there's nothing artificial about that.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Menu Monday

Hope your week is off to a great start....Here's what's cooking at our house this week:

Monday- White Chicken Enchilada Bake

Tuesday- Baked Ziti

Wednesday- Chicken Alfredo Bake

Thursday- Cilantro Lime Chicken

Friday- Slow Cooker Chicken

I used the recipes from A Passion for Savings. She has the grocery list already made for you, the recipes and the directions if you want to make ahead and freeze. Super resource!

By the way, I made the Teriyaki Beef and Broccoli over the weekend....and it was fantastic...served it over rice.