Thursday, May 31, 2012

A widsom day

I jolt awake. My eyes open and find the clock. It's 6:25, but I feel like I could sleep another three hours. I climb out of bed, careful to get the monitor unplugged to take with me without waking my sleeping husband. I make my way downstairs, grab some oatmeal out of the fridge and put on my laughingly weak coffee.

Find my place at the table and open my Bible. I write some prayers down for my family and for a new friend who is trying to reconcile her marriage after an affair. From the monitor I hear her wake up. She starts talking, and then yelling, "MommyDaddy! MommyDaddy!" I go upstairs and quietly tell her to lay down and be quiet, it's not time to get up yet.

Back downstairs, I find my way to Proverbs. I love Proverbs. So much wisdom. This morning, it's wisdom on wisdom. Proverbs 2:6-11: "For the Lord grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe." I sit and soak that in for a minute. The older two come down stairs. The light on their clock has alerted them. That means it's time. I glance at the clock and ask Libby if she will turn on the upstairs hall light so Remi will know it's time to get up. As soon as the light turns on I hear her excited response over the monitor. It's 7:00. The day begins!

Have a wonderful, wisdom-filled day, my friends!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Free will is tricky

The whole issue of free will is a tricky one. When we are seeking Christ every day, striving to look more like Him and less like our sinful selves, free will isn't really a big deal. When we are seeking to have our will resemble His, He will transform our desires and our will. Making decisions in that aspect is a no brainer. Does it follow with what the Bible says? Do I feel something from the Holy Spirit telling me this isn't a good idea? Our "yes" and our "no" come from seeking God first.

But, what about a person who is in Christ but has walked away from Him and is not seeking out His will? When my husband was having an affair, he fell into this category. I even remember saying, "I am begging God for His will for me and for Scott and for our marriage! But, Scott is not. He is living out of his own free will. He can choose to do whatever in the world he wants. What if he doesn't listen to God?" In this time where I felt completely out of control because the rest of my own life and the life of my children was being chosen by someone who was not seeking God, all I could do was rest in the peace of God and ask Him for His will in my life. And I asked Him to change Scott's heart. I didn't know how it would work, but I believed it would.

In Proverbs 16, it says three different times that basically we as people can make our own choices, but God ultimately has the final say. In verse 1 it says, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer" and verse 9 says it even better, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord determines our steps." I fully believe that everything happens because God allows it to pass through His hand. If He doesn't want it to happen, it won't. Even the hard things He allows, and there is always a higher purpose, a greater story than our own hurt in the moment. These two verses, and the third in verse 33, say exactly what I have suspected all along. We can make our plans, but at the point that God says "No", they change. In my situation, Scott's plans were for a divorce and for a relationship with the other woman. I would not accept that this was God's will for our marriage, so I prayed that His will would come to fruition. And in His timing and in His way, God said, "No". God changed Scott's heart over time. He literally took Scott's heart, his feelings and his thoughts, and He changed them! He has the ultimate power, even over our free will.

If you are in a situation where you feel hopeless because someone you love is not seeking God, rest in the peace that God still has the final answer. Pray for God's will in His timing, and leave the rest to Him!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the middle of chaos

We had a very busy weekend! It was good, but busy. I find myself sitting here trying hard to come up with the words to write on some verses that I read this morning, but the words are not coming. Looks like that is a post for another day!
This is all I've got. We had a very busy weekend, as I'm sure all of you did! We had two different gatherings with family and friends, some outside pruning, some swimming, and a full scale overhaul of the kind's bedrooms. Yesterday afternoon, as we were leaving to go to my parent's house to eat and swim, I remembered at the last minute that I left inside the salsa and chips that we were supposed to take. Scott turned off the car and gave me the keys. As I was going back inside, I just smiled. This is my life. I am so blessed. And I love it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Be still

As moms we often joke that the only time we get to be still is when we are in the bathroom. Sometimes this is closer to the truth than we would like. But the Bible tells us specifically to be still. I am discovering more and more that the reason God tells us specific things over and over in the Bible is because they go against our nature. He doesn't have to tell us to eat. He doesn't have to tell us to breathe. He created us to already do those things. He does have to tell us to trust Him. He does have to tell us not to worry. And He does have to tell us to be still. All you have to do is look around you to see our natural tendency to go go go and have access to everything at our fingertips. We don't wait for food. We don't wait to tell someone what we want to tell them. We don't wait to check our email. We don't wait even when we should.
God knows that we need to be still, to recharge, to re-fill in Him, and He tells us so. You will find that you will feel less stressed and less overwhelmed when you take time to be still before the Lord and recharge in the beginning, middle, or end of the day. Read His word, write in a prayer journal, seek to be drenched in His peace and His love even for just a few minutes, and you will have what you need to face the day.
Be still!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Never once did I ever walk alone

 I have posted this video before. It is one of my favorite songs. It's called Never Once, by Matt Redman. If you have read through our story of a marriage ripped apart by an affair and redeemed by God that I posted earlier in the week (part 1, part 2, and part 3), you may see that this song is special to me with new eyes. It sums up everything that I have felt about God in regards to my marriage, our separation, and the struggles that we went through prior to the affair, during, and afterwards.
If you don't have time to watch the video, I also posted the lyrics below that you can read. My heart shouts out that He is indeed faithful! I have never EVER walked alone. 

 Never Once, by Matt Redman

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Oh, dear friends, He is!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What we have learned

Thank you to all of you who have taken time to read through our story of a marriage broken by an affair and redeemed by God's hand (parts one, two, and three). Indeed, we are opening ourselves up in a significant way. Through the course of our separation and struggles afterward, though, I said many times that I would not let our experience go in vain. I felt like it would be all useless if I didn't allow God to use it to help those beyond myself and my husband. I would never do anything without Scott's okay, and we both had a significant amount of healing to do before we were ready to talk about it on this level.

Scott and I don't claim to be professionals in any area (except for maybe the study of each other and our children), but there are some valuable things that we have learned through our experience. I would like to share some of those things with you. Hopefully they can be of some help to someone.

First, it is never too late to work on your relationship with your spouse. I became determined that I was going to treat Scott with the respect and honor that God called me to as his wife (the Bible says, in essence, "whether he deserves it or not") until a judge told me I wasn't married to him anymore, and even if it came to that I wouldn't have given up until I had a clear message from God telling me to. I have heard of several situations where a couple divorced and even then God restored their marriage and brought them back together. Once we reconciled, Scott became determined that he was going to love me like God called him to love me, even if I wasn't acting lovable. If you are in a place in your marriage where it is just too hard, you and your spouse have "grown apart", or if you just don't feel the love that you used to feel, God can change that! The first thing you need to do is trust that He can and will, and go to Him in prayer. Pray fervently, never-ending if need be, and have faith that He is hearing you and wants to bless your marriage. He will even give you the desire to work on your marriage if you don't have it. It will take time. You and your spouse didn't become unhappy in your marriage overnight, and it won't be an overnight fix. If you have been praying and aren't seeing any changes, that just means you need to keep on praying and waiting on God to move. The second thing you need to do is focus on yourself. I don't mean focus on yourself and what you need from your spouse, but focus on how you have been contributing to the hurt and pain in your marriage and work to change that. Often times the hardest thing we can do is take an honest look at ourselves and ask God to show us where He wants to grow and change us. Those times bring great sacrifice of our own will, but they also bring great rewards.

Second, prior to our separation we were always proud to say that we were a couple that never fought. We talked all of the time, even through some of our marriage ceremony, but when it came down to it we never talked about conflict. We never argued, we never resolved hurts and disagreements, and this was ultimately a big predicting factor of our separation. I read a statistic once that said one of the biggest predictors of divorce is the avoidance of addressing conflict. I wrote a post on dealing with conflict in marriage a while back, and if you and your spouse have a hard time working through conflict, I would encourage you to read it.

Third, Scott and I have both learned a lot about how to actually treat each other. We read the book Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs and it really opened our eyes. It showed us how we had been literally sabotaging and destroying our relationship because we were going about loving each other all wrong. In the Bible, God specifically tells men to love their wives, and He tells wives to respect their husbands. As I have said many times before, the only thing I can control is myself, same as the only thing you can control is yourself, so I mainly have advice for wives. A few weeks ago I also wrote a post on how to speak his language (on respect). Check it out to see some suggestions on how to show your husband respect. God is good and His laws work. If you take the initiative, regardless of whether or not you feel like it, to show your husband respect, unless he is a psychopath or an abuser (both of which are seriously grounds for separation and divorce, do not stay in a situation in which you are in danger) he will respond by showing you love.

Finally, I would encourage anyone who is married, whether you are having problems or not, to periodically see a marriage counselor. There is always a stigma attached to going to a counselor for any reason, but in the whole scheme of things, if the embarrassment you feel about going to a marriage counselor to work on issues in your marriage is greater than the need you feel to do the necessary work to heal your marriage, your priorities may be a little off. Find the time. Take the initiative. A good, Christian marriage counselor can do wonders for you personally and for your marriage. If you are in my area and are interested, I will be more than happy to give you the name and phone number of the marriage counselor that Scott and I went to. If your spouse refuses to go, pray for God to change his or her heart, and begin going yourself.

These are all some very important and effective changes and steps that we took in our relationship, and God has blessed it many times over. I pray that they would bring some healing to your relationship as well :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A marriage restored (Our story, part 3)

This is the third part of our story of a marriage that was ripped apart by sin and restored by God's mighty hand (you can read part 1 here and part 2 here).

When Scott came back home, instead of things getting easier they got harder. We both felt like we were doing the tremendous work of digging ourselves out of a great hole. He came home with a deep desire to work things out, but as the days wore on and he still shared a work environment with her, he began to doubt. Thankfully (and strategically ordained by God, I am certain), he continued to meet weekly with the friend of ours who he met with the day he came back home. Those regular meetings were like a boost of strength and conviction for Scott every time he went. I began the difficult work of facing what had happened, and was trying to find my way to the top of the deep deep hurt that I had experienced. We both continued to see our marriage counselor, but this time it was different. The counselor knew what had happened, since while we were separated I continued to go to him by myself, and when we went we were able to start moving forward from the very beginning. We read a lot of books together and separately (I would be happy to share titles if anyone is interested), we talked A LOT about what we had gone through even prior to the affair, we decided on some things we were going to do differently, and, most importantly, we spent a lot of time beseeching God on behalf of ourselves and our marriage.

One of the things that our counselor told Scott in one of the early sessions after we got back together was that he was going to have to realize that I was going to need to talk through what happened. I was going to need to talk, to cry, to say mean things about the other woman if I felt like it (without him defending her), to be affirmed by him, and to process through what happened, over and over and over again. I am so thankful that he told Scott this, because that is exactly what I needed. And through it all, Scott remained patient with me, he answered questions for me (sometimes very difficult questions), he was honest with me (even when the honesty hurt me), and he didn't try to deny anything that happened. I have heard of several situations where a couple was trying to work their way through the hurt of an affair and the person who had the affair was very intolerant of talking about what happened and just expected their spouse to get over what happened as soon as possible. I am SO thankful that Scott was not that way. I think the reason why he was able to do this, aside from our counselor warning him that it would be coming, was because he could see in me a change from the woman I once was. I treated him differently, with respect and dignity, no matter how I was feeling. I could also see a change in him. As God worked in his heart, I could see a different man emerge. The man he was becoming was one of dignity, of honor, of a genuine desire to know and love God. We both, in our own ways, had spent some time in the refining fires of God. Those fires were very hot and painful, but they had done (and continue to do) the necessary job of refining us both.

The journey to recovery we were on was not a short one. It was, however, one that had the very hand of God on it every step of the way. Instead of being a constant upward line of healing, the recovery line after an affair looks more like a roller coaster, with ups and downs. We would have good days and we would have bad days. Sometimes our day would start out good, turn bad in the middle, then end up good. Satan was not happy that our marriage had overcome the destruction he had planned for it, and he did not give up easily. Thankfully, God continued to carry and lead us through, even in the times that we didn't even have the strength to lift up our eyes to Him. I struggled with forgiveness, with pain that hurt to the very core of my being, with trusting him again, and at times with even being unsure that I had the strength or desire to continue on in our journey. He struggled with guilt, with rebuilding a character that he had destroyed with his choices, and with regaining my trust. Beyond the first couple of really tough weeks, his loyalty and desire for me and our family has never waivered. God opened Scott's eyes to what he almost lost, and he has never looked back. I struggled through, and it it has been very helpful for me to have his strong arms to depend on during the times when all I could do was cry.

Our healing process has been just that, a process. One of the things that our marriage counselor said to us early on was that our experience was like a deep deep wound. When tending to a deep deep wound, you can't just put a Band-Aid over it or it will get infected. You have to get in there and clean it out, as deep down as the cut goes. Then you will have to wait for the pain to stop, and for healing to occur. Finally, two full years later, I can say that we are there. Two years may seem like a long time to someone who is just going through what we went through, but at the time I felt like the pain would NEVER stop, that I would NEVER forgive, that we would NEVER make it out of the hole. The memories will never leave us, and the affair is something that will always be a part of our past. But, the pain stays away (for the most part), and through our experience God has made a ministry for us. We are both passionate about marriage, and we are always telling couples to take care of each other. We would encourage a couple that the best thing they can do for their spouse is to have a great relationship with God, and the best thing they can do for their children if they have them is to have a great marriage with each other. Divorce is never easy, never clean, and it never happens without the children and spouses being destroyed. I don't care what anyone may tell you about their own supposed happiness post-divorce, it never ever works out well. That is a lie straight from Satan himself. Because he wants to destroy you.

I can honestly say that our marriage now is better and more fulfilling than it ever was before the affair. I have seen Christ, have experienced His wonderful, grace-filled hands around me. I will never go back. He has opened my eyes to see my husband for who he was created to be: my husband, not the sole source of my happiness. God has opened Scott's eyes to see the role of leader that God created him to be. These are things that we both struggled with before. Although it was the most painful thing Scott and I have ever experienced, we would both say that we can look back on it and be happy that it happened. If not for the affair, our marriage would possibly still be the train wreck that it was. That is a tricky thing to say, because I don't ever want to come across as saying that I think someone should have an affair to make their marriage better. You do have the choice to make your marriage better before it ever leads to something like a divorce or affair. Trust me, do the hard work of cultivating a healthy marriage. It does take work, and it will take work every single day, but it is so much easier than dealing with the aftermath of a divorce or affair.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We survived an affair (our story, part 2)

This is the second part of our marriage story (you can read the first part here). It is neither easy nor glamorous, as the movies might make you think about marriage. It is real life. Really, it is a story that shows God's great strength, love, and grace. I share it in the hope that someone else would be encouraged.

When our new baby was born, it seemed like Scott withdrew from me even more. He began sleeping in another bedroom, because I was nursing the baby through the night, and he also began to retire early in the evenings with his computer. One Friday, when the baby was three weeks old, he excitedly told me that he was going to be staying up late that night because the Buckeyes were playing late in a March Madness Tournament game. When evening came, we put the two older kids to bed and then when we came back downstairs he said he was going to go to bed. He got his computer and went upstairs to the room he had been sleeping in. I knew that he planned on being up for a while, so the fact that he had left me in the living room with our new baby made me feel very uneasy. After getting the baby to sleep, I put her in bed and then went into the room where Scott was. He was laying in bed and watching a House re-run on the computer, and I crawled into bed with him. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "nothing." Mustering up determination that I didn't know I had, I told him that I knew something was wrong, that when I hugged him it was like I was hugging a brick wall for all the affection he returned to me, and that I wasn't going to leave until he told me what was going on. I stood my ground, and then he finally realized that I was not giving up.

He said, "You really want to know the truth?"

I said, "Yes, I do."

 He said, "There's someone else."

At that very moment, my world began to spiral out of control. Trying to grasp at something to right myself, I began peppering him with questions. Yes, she was married as well but was going through a divorce. Yes, she had a daughter about the same age as our son. No, I didn't know her, hadn't met her. Yes, he loved her. No, he didn't know what he wanted to decide from there. No, he didn't know if he even wanted to stop seeing her. No, they hadn't had sex. Yes, she wanted to be with him. Yes, if they stayed together he would help her raise her daughter. No, she didn't want to have anymore children. And on and on it went until, at least for the moment, there was nothing more to stay. I told him that of course he could stay, but only if he agreed to stop seeing her. He said he would have to think about it, and talk to her about it when he saw her at school in a few days. I went back to my bed, where I prayed and wept the entire night.

After a few days it was clear that I was not able to get through to him at all about how we could work on our marriage and that it could get better. Once he got the news of the affair off his chest and no longer felt like he had to pretend, I could really see how much I had lost him. He decided that he didn't want to stop seeing her, and he didn't want to be with me. I told him that if he couldn't stay away from her then he had to move out. I later learned that as soon as he got his own apartment, their affair progressed from emotional to physical.

For two months we were separated. Scott was determined that he wanted a divorce. He thought that he had married the wrong person. He thought that there was not any hope that our marriage could be good again. He thought that once he could be divorced from me and be with the other woman, everything would be much better. They would be fine. The kids would be fine. I would be fine. These were all lies that Satan had fed him over time, and he had been in such a low spot that he believed them. I knew this. I also knew that none of it was true.

The moment that Scott told me about the other woman was the moment that I met Christ face to face. With a new baby and a 2 and 3 year old, the reality of what had happened would have literally pushed me over the edge. Instead, Christ carried me through that time. With my eyes fixed solely on Him, on saving my marriage no matter what, and on allowing Christ to transform me into the person He needed me to be, I somehow stayed above water. This, I had decided, was my only option. I knew that my failed marriage was not all my fault, but I was somehow wise enough to realize that it was not all my husband's fault either. I learned that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't control him. But, I could control myself, and I wanted to use the opportunity to allow Christ to show me what kind of woman and wife I needed to be. I believed that God would bring us back together in His time, and I wanted to be ready. I had faith that God would change Scott in His time as well.

So I prayed, every minute of every day, and all through the night. I leaned very heavily on the shoulders of the people that love me and stepped in to help me (you all know who you are, and I love you dearly). God made sure that my needs and the needs of my babies were met, and in the meantime He transformed me. And in time, he transformed Scott as well. My prayers were that God would change the very heart of Scott, that God would bring Scott to his knees at the foot of the Cross, that He would break down the walls that existed between Scott and me, and put up walls between Scott and the other woman. And this is exactly what happened. Over time God began to open Scott's eyes. Finally, in God's perfect timing, He brought Scott to a place where He could speak to his heart. And He told my husband to come back home. The morning of our 6th wedding anniversary, Scott came by the house to drop the kids off on his way out of town. He and I talked, and I could tell that something had changed in him. I told him about the family reunion coming up that his mother had spoken to me about, and told him that he would be able to take the kids, even Remi for a while. He said, "Maybe we will all go together."

Two hours after he left my house, he called me. He told me that he had stopped by the other woman's house after he left ours, and he had broken things off with her. He said that he wanted to work on himself and our marriage. He didn't know if he was ready to come back home yet, but he was at least considering it. He didn't know exactly what that would look like, but he knew that it was the right thing to do. When he came back into town the next day, he made an appointment to speak to our pastor and great friend after work the following day. After meeting with him, Scott called me and told me that he was coming home. And he was staying.

This is part 2 of a three part story. You can find part 1 here and part 3 here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Story, part 1

In a couple of my blog posts I have mentioned the fact that my husband and I went through an incredibly difficult time in our marriage a few years ago. Lately I have felt like God is calling me to step out and share the whole story.
One of our pastors said something the other day that really blessed me and encouraged me in making this decision (it seems like they have been blessing me so much lately with their wisdom!). He said "when we have the opportunity to trade something that is not eternal for something that is eternal, we should make that trade every single time." In putting our story out there, I am choosing to trust in God to use it to help other people instead of holding on to my own comfort. So, here is the first part of our story of a marriage ripped apart by sin, and redeemed by God's Grace.
Untitled by *megan_elzey*
We grew up in a small town, and in some ways it seems like we had always been aware of each other. I was a year ahead of him in school, and during my senior year we were in the same math class. Being so close in proximity to him every day, I began to really notice him, especially when he began tripping me when I would pass his seat to go to my seat (hey, we were in high school). At some point my friend starting talking to me about him, because she thought we would look cute together. And he had a car. One evening I went to the Senior Night volleyball game in support of my friend. I noticed one of his friends there before the game started and asked him if he knew if Scott would be coming. He said he didn't know. About 10 minutes later, as we stood to sing the National Anthem, I saw him. The flag was located over top of the entrance, and it was at that moment that he arrived. In the mass of all the people, his eyes found mine. In that short amount of time that we stood staring at each other, we became completely hooked. I had begun my senior year planning to not have a boyfriend, since I was going to be going to college the next Fall. As I stood and stared at that tall, handsome boy with light hair and green eyes, all of that changed. I later learned that his friend had called him (on the pay phone, hee hee) and told him that I had asked about him. He immediately left to come to the game. Within a few days, we were officially a "couple". God already had plans for us that were bigger than we could have ever imagined.
We dated through my senior year and then his, and through both of us going to separate colleges. We had the normal issues that most other dating couples had, especially since we were so young, but through it all there was an underlying bond that brought us through everything we went through. On a beautiful day in May, 5 1/2 years after that volleyball game, we stood before friends and family and said our vows. We were young and naive, but we knew that we were best friends and wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of our lives together. What we didn't realize was that we were both taking a great deal of baggage resulting from our individual childhoods into our marriage with us, and as the years passed and life got hard, that baggage would rear it's very ugly head. We were doing the best we knew how, but through the stress of life, pregnancy, a miscarriage, and three babies born in less than 4 years, the way we were treating each other drew us away from instead of towards each other.
By the middle of my pregnancy of our third child, we had a 1 and 3 year old, and our 5 1/2 year marriage was in serious trouble. We began seeing a marriage counselor to work out our issues. We discovered a lot about the way we were treating each other, about my insecurities and abandonment issues stemming from my parent's divorce and the lack of my father's involvement in my life, about his feelings of never being good or capable enough carried over from his childhood, and our shared tendency to avoid discussing conflict.  While we were discovering many things during our therapy sessions, in between them Scott would still withdrawal from me. We would take steps forward with our counselor, and then steps way back when it was just the two of us.
Finally, during one of the snowiest days in February, our third child was born. Amid the joy of her arrival and wonderful home birth was the overriding feeling that our marriage was still in deep trouble.

This is part 1 of 3. You can find part 2 here, and part 3 here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When mothering is like one big long contraction

I had just gone down to the basement to tend to laundry when they started. "Mama! Mommy! Hey Mama! Mommy!" Already dangerously close to blowing my top, I realized that they weren't going to stop until I answered them. Leaving the laundry and stomping up the stairs, I threw the back door open and screamed "WHAT!?!?" The dispute over there being too many people on the trampoline was easily settled (umm, by me grabbing the guilty party off) and I went back inside to finish my laundry. It had already been a stressful morning. It just seemed like my kids were at odds with each other and I felt like I was having to correct them every 10 minutes.
Back inside, God gently drew my attention to the fact that I was stewing over it all, and I literally felt how tense my body was. My jaws were clenched, my brow was furrowed, and my body was tense with frustration. Immediately I was taken back in time to a few years ago, when my dear midwife was helping me through my difficult labors. After a contraction she would whisper to me, "Okay, now that's over. Just let it go. Relax. Take a deep breath. And we will wait for the next one."
When I have a particularly hard day and it seems like the kids are testing my patience over and over again, instead of letting it go I let each 'offense' pile up, and I get more and more upset each time. Then it gets to the point that I explode, and have to apologize for it later.
What I need to do is take a moment, relax, and let it go when my children seem particularly difficult. I need to remember those sweet words from my midwife, so that I will be able to calmly handle the next trial that will come my way on this journey of mothering and schooling three young children.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Make every effort to grow

Sunset (sooc) by *megan_elzey*
 "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sin." 2 Peter 1:5-9

I do not always seek to possess these characteristics in increasing measure. Sometimes I don't even possess these characteristics! I sometimes forget that I have been cleansed from my past mistakes, from the person I was before Christ saved me from it all. But God is always patient with me, even when I am frustrated with myself, and He always leads me back to the truth. Thank God that He is faithful!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When God calls us

 When God calls us to go out on the water, to take a stand for Him, to carry out His ministry in our lives, we have a choice to make. Satan will step in with attacks of doubt and fear. But if we take those doubts and fears to God, He will dispel them with His Truth every single time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Salvation is not

"Salvation is not merely the forgiveness of sins. God's goal for us it that, having been rescued from the bondage of sin, we might live daily in the glory of His presence and manifest His Holy character." (from my new NLT Study Bible that Scott got me for Mother's Day) I love this!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Cookout

 A cookout was the perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day, even if we did it a day early (because we knew it was going to rain all day Sunday). Some hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire just hit the spot! 

And of course, you can't have a fire without some music.

This kids even got in on the cooking action.

We are so blessed to be surrounded by family!

Friday, May 11, 2012

From my Kitchen Friday: Broiled Tilapia

This recipe is incredibly simple. I came inside last night to begin preparations for my broccoli-stuffed chicken breast dinner, but when I got the chicken out of the fridge it was still frozen. So, I switched gears to broiled tilapia, because the fish comes out so tasty, and it is very easy to make. This fish is a favorite even with my kids! I knew I was going to make rice (the slower cooking kind, not instant), so I got my tilapia out of the freezer and set it on a cookie sheet on the stove-top to thaw while the rice was cooking.
Of course, I always have a helper (or three).

Once you are ready to cook the fish (my fish was thawed in some places and still a bit frozen in others, and it still cooked perfectly in just a few minutes), brush it first with melted butter, then sprinkle a mixture of seasoned salt and bread crumbs followed by a sprinkle of finely-chopped almonds.

Put under the broiler for 6 to 7 minutes. The fish is done when is comes apart easily with a fork. I served mine with pan-cooked broccoli and rice. Everyone had extra helpings!

Broiled Tilapia
Tilapia fillets
2 Tbsp butter, melted
seasoned salt
bread crumbs
finely chopped almonds

1. Grease a pan that is suitable for broiling. Place fish on pan and spread with melted butter. Combine seasoned salt and bread crumbs (the exact measurement doesn't really matter, it just depends on how seasoned you want your fish to be) and sprinkle onto the buttered fish. Sprinkle on finely chopped almonds.
2. Place pan under broiler for about 6 minutes. You will want to keep a close eye on it, because the fish will cook quickly. It is done cooking when it flakes apart easily with a fork. Serve immediately.

You will want to be ready to serve the fish when it comes out of the broiler, because it gets cool (and therefore nasty not as tasty) quickly.


Posted on Feasting in Fellowship Fridays

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Warriors

My little warriors. I pray every single day that they will keep those warrior hearts. For there is a great battle that is being fought every day for the souls of my children, and it will continue as long as they are alive. One day they will have to make a choice, and my prayer is that God will have the victory.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Way beyond her years

We were sitting around the table this morning, the children eating their breakfast and myself studying the Word. Hudson and Libby began talking about how they have a busy day because they will be helping Daddy and Papaw finish up putting in our new wall oven. Remi said her typical response when she hears someone saying they are going to do something, "Meeee, too!" This began an argument about how Remi wasn't going to help because she was too small.

Finally, Libby ended the argument with this:

"Remi, we have been around the block a few more times than you, so we know what we're doing."

I guess I've used that argument a few too many times with her.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The insight of a 4 year old

In Hudson's 4 year old class at church last night, the teacher told the children that she wanted them to draw a picture of Jesus. Hudson told her that he couldn't because he's not a good drawer. She told him to just try his best. This is what he drew.

Isn't this really what it's about?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Samaritan Woman

She goes out to the well to draw water for herself and her house. It is the hot part of the day, and no one else is out there, for everyone else had come to draw their water earlier when it was cooler. But she, well she carries so much pain and shame and guilt from her life that she comes when no one else does, just so that she won't be stared at and ridiculed. But Jesus comes to her, expecting her to be there and knowing exactly why she is coming when she does.
She feels less than worthy going out to the well that day, but still Jesus sees her, and he speaks to her. John 4: 7 "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" He speaks to her. And not only that, he wants a drink from her water jar. This conversation breaks through centuries of hatred between His people (the Jews) and hers (the Samaritans). Masked by her status and her past, she balks at first. John 4: 9 "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" In other words, you are you and I am me, what could I possibly do for you? And Jesus does what He does best, He speaks the truth to her. They go back and forth a bit until she fully understands. She is talking to Christ, the Messiah, the One she has been waiting for! He brings living water that she needs to never feel unworthy, and unloved again! She has an experience with Christ that changes her.
And then she transforms! John 4: 28 "Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?'" In leaving her water jar at Jesus' feet, she is leaving her cloak of sin as well. She has been made new. And what is the only thing she can think to do? Tell everyone, the very people she has been hiding from.
The result is that people come. The town responds to her words and they go to Jesus to see if she is right. And ultimately, they believe. John 4: 39-41 "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers."
Has God changed you? Share it! Spread the news of His goodness, so others will hear and believe.