The Rebellious Wife

Late Saturday evening my husband and I were doing what we often do; sitting on our porch rocking, chatting, and listening to music. The kids have gone in after all their night time adventures and this is our alone time. We catch up, we dream, we aspire, we come back to reality, and on occasion we argue.

It’s interesting to me how a quarrel takes place. I don’t know if you’ve had this happen but we’ll be talking, fine and dandy, and all of a sudden Beef Stroganoff gets brought up and I have boxing gloves on. What we really got on the topic of was dinners. We both were expressing things we were tired of eating and Jason began making helpful suggestions. Quickly I saw them not as helpful but critical and demanding. Suddenly I felt a need to defend my cooking, my family, my families cooking, (family always has to come up right?) why I do the things I do and how I HATE beef stroganoff and refuse to make it. You can see where this is going right? At first it wasn’t all that heated. I used subtle sarcasm (a dangerous tool) to cover up my defensiveness. “If beef stroganoff was good it’d be in your mothers cookbook.” (a valid point if you ask me, that woman knows how to cook.) While I felt like my cooking was under attack Jason felt I was being unwilling to do something simply out of love for him.

By the time our argument peaked I was brewing with anger. I tried to justify why it was okay for me to maintain my position. “I have never loved cooking why are you trying to make me love it? This is who I am! Can’t you just be happy I make dinner?” Boy had I missed the mark.

The truth is I do have insecurities with being confident in “who I am”, even in the kitchen. I have so many women in my life who LOVE to cook and I can’t understand why I don’t but I don’t. The fact is though, my response to my husband last night was sinful. It was unloving, rebellious, prideful, and completely unnecessary. (Seriously, just cook the stroganoff, he never said you had to eat it!)

Meanwhile I’ve been reading a book called The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. And let me tell you I went to bed last night infuriated with that Martha. I had just violated every Biblical standard she outlined for me in being an Excellent Wife. I did NOT want to pick that book up again. Can you sense the spiritual warfare going on here? When I woke up this morning, after letting the sun go down on my anger, I knew I needed a word but not from Martha. (Though I do agree with most of what she offers in her book.) I needed the LIVING Word. I knew that God, his Word, and the Holy Spirit, would be the only thing my rebellious spirit would yield itself to. You see when you expose yourself to God’s Word, its active power will penetrate the most stubborn strongholds. I was convicted, I needed repentance, and I needed God’s undeniable truth to cut through my prideful heart.

First I prayed. I acknowledged my ugly sin. I prayed for God to soften my heart and speak the necessary Truths. I picked up my study Bible and looked up the words pride (prideful) and rebel (rebellious, rebellion). Here’s what I got and boy did it humble me.

Proverbs 16:20 Whoever heeds instruction prospers and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 15:31 He who listens to a life giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom and humility comes before honor.

1 Samuel 15:22-23 Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
*note from study Bible* Samuel does not suggest that sacrifice is unimportant but that its acceptable only when brought with an attitude of obedience and devotion to the Lord.

Romans 13:2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
*Under God our husband is our authority and as Martha Peace has pointed out in her book this is for our protection among other things. This is not always an easy principle to embrace, as you can clearly see by my behavior last night. But it is Biblical Truth.*

The beautiful result of seeking the Lord and his Word is he is faithful, gracious, and just. He will change your heart and align it with his. There was one key thing that needed to happen though for me to be rightly restored back to not only my husband but God and for my attitude of rebellion and pride to be totally demolished. I had to humble myself before Jason, take responsibility for all my sin, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Here is the real test. I could still feel bits of pride wanting to resurface. But I want to fight for what is right and godly. I approached Jason sheepishly and proceeded to apologize. And later I thanked God for such a gracious forgiving husband. He could have held a grudge but he didn’t.

And in light of Father’s Day this reminded me of how gracious, forgiving, and loving our heavenly Father is with us. I am thankful for God’s example, given to us in his Word, and for the men in my life, Jason and my dad in particular, who are striving to become more like Jesus every day. May we all seek to be a reflection of Him. 🙂

Fireflies and Frogs

It isn’t the last day of school or the intense heat wave that sets summer in. It isn’t the beach vacation or first days at the pool.

It’s the fireflies.

Even Billy Currington knows it. 😉“Summer comin’ through, a rolled down window, tearin’ down an almost two lane back road. Freedom and fireflies in the air.”

Last year we spent many evenings on the porch waiting for the sun to set and the fireflies to rise up from the lush green grass. I’m certain this year will be no different. We ran around last night grabbing the glow bugs and sticking them in a giant pickle jar. Caleb squealed with delight over the “butterflies”. He later discovered an old pink bb gun and proceeded to go around “shooting” them. Ryann and Micaila are expert catchers, far better than I, no doubt. They’d catch 5 to my 1.

In addition to catching fireflies my girls enjoy trapping all the night time frogs. A past time they had with their cousins. Micaila attempts to do so with as little contact as possible. Ryann on the other hand….. She.just.don’t.care. She had 7 in a bowl in a matter of minutes. With apprehension I picked up my first frog in about 20 years. It took me all of 5 seconds to run to the sink and sanitize my hands. I’m so glad that my kids find it entertaining to play with both frogs and fireflies. I’m also glad I have been influenced by women who showed me that it’s not only okay for my kids to get dirty, touch bugs and frogs (and whatever else their exploring outdoors finds them) but it is good for them. 🙂

I sometimes feel insecure about not having “some THING” to do at our house. We have no pool, trampoline, or playground. We have 2 broken 4 wheelers and a few bikes. I don’t know why I think coming over to simply play isn’t enough. It always was when I was a kid. But imagine me…. “Hi Miss Smith, would Jill like to come over and play with frogs and fireflies today?” No seriously, fake names but that really happened. The minute I begin feeling insecure though, I am reminded that my children lack no good things. Not only do they have an abundance of material possessions but they have each other. They play for hours on end with all sorts of natural stuff, using those wonderful imaginations God gave them, and building their relational bonds. Just like I did as a child. I definitely would enjoy having a pool, or a playground, or atvs that were running. Those things are good. They provide unique avenues for our children (and us!) to grow in courage, maturity, confidence, strength, endurance, etc., but I don’t believe that we are deprived in any way because we don’t possess such entertainments. And I don’t want my children to believe that either. I hope we can continue to cultivate contentment and thankfulness for all God has given us; from our toys to the fireflies. I am certain these simple traditions will be some of our fondest memories. And at any rate we are fortunate to know people that do have other sources of fun. Both the kids and I are practicing gratitude for the friends and family that are so generous with us. 🙂

Win, win. 😉 Happy Summer!

Ultimate Satisfaction

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We just returned from our annual family beach trip. To call it anything less than wonderful would be wrong. The Grahams have enjoyed Gulf Shores white sandy beaches for over 30 years now. I’ve been privileged to participate in this tradition for the last 13. At this point we can’t all fit in the cozy beach house, so my father in law, Randy, puts us up in roomier accommodations. We’ve tried splitting up before and it just wasn’t the same. Randy has always been big on being together for this week and I have to say I am thrilled that he can afford this luxury for us. It’s a real treat waking up and being greeted by Jason’s sweet mother as she cooks bacon and serves up her delicious lemon pound cake. I love this woman. 🙂 Not only are my in laws lavish with their children but they also include my parents on this vacation. I find myself at a loss for words to express the delight this brings me. I’m very grateful that he is so generous with my family. I am so incredibly thankful for the grace of God and our parent’s friendship. While I know Randy’s intentions for inviting them have much to do with being a gift to me, it also helps that they all like each other’s company. 🙂

This year seemed to be extra exciting and fun. I don’t know if it’s the ages of our kids but I feel like I enjoyed playing with them more than ever. We snorkeled, kayaked, played ball, biked, fished and found many sea creatures and shells. I was definitely a lot more tired by the end of the week! beach1

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Look at these sweet cousins. Isn’t baby Michael getting so big and handsome?

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So what it’s like coming off this magnificent vacation? I have to say I am happy to be home. It is awesome getting away and I love being with family. I am grateful for the opportunity to rest, relax and have fun. However each year I am reminded that all the pleasure and luxuries this world offers are truly not as fulfilling as the sweet simplicity of daily life and consistently being with Jesus.

I strive to meet with Him each morning even when we are away from home. Unfortunately my social nature kicks in and by day 4 my quiet time takes a backseat to chatting with family. I know this is not sinful and my faith is much more than a formal devotional. God wants us to partake in the enjoyments of life. We can glorify him in everything we do. What I find happens is when I don’t begin my day centered on Christ the rest of my day follows suit. Just like any day, vacation can quickly become self-centered and I cease to intertwine my Creator with what He has afforded me. It’s easy to become distracted by pleasure and get caught up in over indulging not only my flesh but my kids too. And oh how rotten we become!

One thing that goes out the window for us is diet. I learned many years back that it truly is better to let it go rather than be the only one moderating everything tasty and sweet. Before I decided to embrace this laid back approach I struggled with resenting the ones who kept offering all the goods to my kids. So yeah in a case like this,…. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! 😉 The only problem with this line of defense…. You can’t be surprised when your kids whine about the size of their ice-cream even when IT IS THEIR 3rd serving for the day! (Because yes, popsicles are an acceptable breakfast item this week) :-/ Not to mention it’s 10pm, we’ve just finished a few rounds of putt putt golf and mommy risked her life (and yours!) riding the oldest most rickety wooden roller coaster known to man. All for you precious children. 🙂 By the time we were making the drive home I was practically throwing dunkin donuts at my kids and telling myself “Just a few more hours and it’ll alllll be back to normal.” You better believe our first dinner back was plain shredded chicken, smashed cauliflower and a salad! Time to retrain those pallets kiddos. And our manners!

But I won’t mislead you. They aren’t the only ones who need the grace of reality to set back in. I experience all sorts of BIG thoughts and emotions mixed with guilt and angst. One minute I feel bad for having such an awesome vacation. “Am I even allowed to have that much fun?” The next minute I feel convicted for feeling bad. Because I do believe we should enjoy what God provides us and be grateful. Sunday evening I sat on the front porch and pondered over why I felt so unsatisfied. For a whole week I didn’t have to think about anything other than being happy and having fun. Dreamy right? Yet ultimately I felt rather empty and needing something else. (eh hem, Jesus.) On one hand I am reminded of Paul. Who would tell me “I have learned to be content WHATEVER the circumstances.” Though I am certain Paul learned contentment not in the “what” or “where” but in WHOM. We were created to be satisfied by nothing less than the Holy Almighty God. And though I truly AM THANKFUL for our luxurious vacation it was a great reminder that my contentment and satisfaction will only and always be found in Christ Jesus. 🙂 Worldly pleasures really are “a chasing after the wind.” I’m not saying it’s sinful to have wealth and pleasures. Just when we over indulge and leave God on the back burner. Which by the end of the week I believe is what I was starting to sense.

Since I know we can learn from any and all experiences in life, here are some of my takeaways. 🙂 God does want us to enjoy those fun and rejuvenating moments with family, friends and HIM. So enJOY! 😉

Jesus IS better than all the money, food, drink, shopping, tans, youth and beauty you’ll be exposed to. Don’t get sucked in. Stay centered on Him! Pray without ceasing and always give thanks.

My kids are sinners just like me. Be gracious with them as God is with me.

Vacations are sweet but ultimately, wherever I am, what I need/want most is DEFINITELY Jesus. *Fades in theme song* “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.”

 

 

Sharing Our Spiritual Convictions

I recently was having a conversation with my friend about struggling to explain to others why I do the things I do. More specifically when it’s a conviction of which I know the Lord led me to. When I get put on the spot with “So why do you do that?” I begin fumbling through my answer and dancing around the truth of it. It’s not that I don’t want to be straight forward and share “Well God impressed (_____) on me and I want to trust and be obedient to the Spirits convictions.”

I get fearful.

I’m afraid that as I begin sharing about a conviction whoever I’m speaking to may feel awkward, judged, or offended (which is definitely not my goal) if they don’t share the same stance. The last thing I want to do is come off judgmental and hurtful.

Example: Within the last couple of years I have transitioned over to wearing tankini’s and one piece’s. You may remember a post I wrote 2 years back, The One Piece Challenge. The video I attached was what the Holy Spirit used to begin stirring my heart towards this choice. Since then by way of scripture, articles, and other personal testimonies God has revealed to me the importance and positive effects of this choice. He’s shown me many reasons for why I want to wear swimwear that’s a bit more covering but God has also revealed the condition of my heart and motives on this matter of bathing suits.

So there I was sitting next to a new friend, who is wearing a bikini, and she asks “Why do you wear tankinis?”

“Umm… well..” *awkward fumbling and dancing around answer*

I want to be prepared to give an answer (the real answer) without fear of offense. So I sought a few wiser then myself regarding “why do I struggle with this?” and here are some things the Holy Spirit spoke in the midst. I hope this helps anyone who has ever found themselves in a similar situation.

Make sure your heart is in the right place. Most of the time when our motives are truly godly people will know it. There was a time that my heart wasn’t right and God impressed me to pray through these verses.

*Psalm 139:23&24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

*Psalm 26:2&3 Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my  mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.

Trust God. Trust His convictions. Trust Him as He gives opportunities to share what He’s laid on your heart that He’ll take care of the rest.

*Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Be concerned with God’s approval alone. I have to reconcile the fact that at some point God’s truth will offend somebody. It did in Jesus case. I won’t please everyone but I’ve made it my ambition to please God.

*Galatians 1:10b If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Be confident, gentle, and humble in your speech. HOW we share things is crucial. Rely on the Holy Spirit to help you share things graciously.

*Proverbs 3:26 For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.

*Psalm 25:9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.                                                                                                

*Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.                                                                      

*Philippians 4:4&5 Rejoice in the Lord…..Let your gentleness be known to all.                                                                                                              

*Colossians 4:5&6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.                                                                                                           

*Romans 15:5&6 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (My Zondervan NIV study Bible notes verse 5 “Not that believers should all come to the same conclusions on matters of conscience discussed above, but that they might agree to disagree in love.” Helpful to think about when with fellow Christians.)

Prepare yourself beforehand. I’ve found that a lot of times I can sense (clearly the Holy Spirits nudging) the possibility of being asked about something. Praying through all these scriptures would be wise. 🙂

*Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked spouts off evil things.                                                

*1 Peter 3:13-16 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you are to suffer for what is right, you are blessed……But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

God wants us to trust him in our obedience regarding convictions but also trust him as we share how he is working in our life. He will use the testimony of our joyful devotion for His glory. 🙂