Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Women Living Well Review and Giveaway!

I was blessed to be chosen to be on the launch team for a new book that just came out in the stores yesterday.  The book is titled, "Women Living Well," and is written by Courtney Joseph.  The subtitle for this book is, "Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home."  I think that we could all seek out more joy in all of these aspects of our lives.  We are busy as mothers.  Courtney is a mother of two children, she homeschools, and her husband travels a lot; so she has a lot on her plate just like many of us do. 

Being on the launch team, I was given an ebook copy of this book to read, review, and provide a giveaway for my readers!  I am excited to be able to offer this giveaway to you all because the truths provided in this book come straight from the Word.  Courtney backs up what she believes with what the Bible says, and provides ideas and insights about all aspects of the busy mom's life to try to help us to improve our own "walk with the King."

This book comes with so much encouragement for women.  Whether you are a newlywed seeking out how to balance your life with husband, homemaking, and ministry...or whether you are married for a while, balancing more than you ever imagined...this book will give you some practical ideas on how to get it all done.  You may or may not utilize all off the ideas, but you will certainly come away with more in your "tool box" than you had before.  As you read, seek God and ask Him how (if) this can be used in your personal life.  Courtney admits that she is not always the "put together" woman that you see on her blog, in her videos, or on her "outside," but she does her best each day to "walk with the King."  She has her priorities in order and is still able to get it all done much of the time. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Voices. They come at us from every side.
We listen to the voices on the iPad. The iPod. The iPhone.
But are we listening to the voice of the great I AM?"

"Just as we cannot charge our cell phone only once a week, being recharged in God's Word is not a once-a-week assignment."

"Are we thirsting for Jesus, or have we made ourselves so busy that we don’t even know our soul’s greatest need—solitude with God?
Do you want to be a better wife? Study your Bible.
Do you want to be a better mother? Study your Bible.
Do you want to be a better homemaker? Study your Bible."

"Women feel that they are placing themselves beneath a man when they choose to help their husbands.  I wonder:  why is it noble to help men in the workplace, help orphans, help widows, help your pastor, help neighbors, or help your parents, but degrading to help your husband--your groom, your lover, and your best friend?"

And these are only a few of the quotes that I have highlighted, and these come in the first fourth of the book.  Imagine what other great gems you are going to find as you read it for yourself! 

Because of my involvement in the launch team, I have been given the privilege of giving away a signed copy of Women Living Well!!  (If you just can't wait to see if you win the giveaway, you can get your own copy here.) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 13, 2013

FREE Printable, "Praying for My Husband from Head to Toe"

Since I had been focusing on marriage, I wanted to offer this to anyone who can use it. 
I made this particular one up by myself after seeing several different ones on the internet.  I give the Scripture reference for each prayer.  I do believe that praying God's Word is a great way to improve your prayer life and to pray for others.
This is my first time offering a printable of my own, so I am truly not sure if I've done it right...but if you have problems, feel free to comment here, and I'll get back to you and email it directly to you if need be.  :)
Thanks for reading!
Download the free printable "Praying for My Husband from Head to Toe" by clicking HERE.

Monday, September 9, 2013

K.I.S.S.! (Keep It Simple, Sister!)

Does your husband know that you love him?  Many times, we believe that we have to spend money to show our spouse our love, or do something “extravagant.”  However, the “little things” mean a lot.  The way that you show him that you love him on a day to day basis is what really speaks to his heart.  We usually don’t need to be reminded of these things in the “courting” phase or the “honeymoon” phase of the relationship, but often, after children and 40+ hour work weeks, the simple, daily things are pushed to the side.  We begin to believe that a weekend getaway or a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant will be the best way to show our love for one another, and we never find the time or the money for such things.  This is often when our spouse can begin to feel like their love tank is running on empty. 

Here are a few simple ways to refuel your sweetheart’s “love tank.” 
  • Steal some kisses!  As you pass in the hallway, stop him and give him a kiss!  Find other ways to “sneak” in kisses throughout the day.
  • Send  him text messages.  Don’t talk about what you need him to pick up from the store, just tell him something that you love about him.  The point is not to just communicate, but to let them know that you are thinking about him!
  • Show interest in his interests.  Even if you aren’t interested, find something about his interest that you can “participate” in.
  • Be the one to make the first move!  Reach out and hold his hand.  Sit next to him and put your hand on his knee.  Give him a shoulder or foot massage unexpectedly.
  • When your spouse arrives home from work, meet him at the door, looking presentable, and greet him with a welcome home kiss.
  • Set up a cheap and/or “at home” date night.  Many times, my husband and I have waited to have dinner until the kids were in bed so that we could have an “at home” dinner date.  We have also had “cheap” date nights simply by taking a walk together while someone was able to watch our children for a while.  (Although I believe that "date nights" are important and that it is good to go "out" sometimes, who you are with is the important part, not where you are.)
  • Compliment him!  Know his strengths, and praise him for how he uses that to bless you, your family, and others.  Make sure that some of your compliments are done in front of others--especially his parents!  This will let them know how much you love him as well! 
  • Most importantly, and oftentimes most neglected, TELL him that you love him!  Tell him often!  Tell him what you love about him!  And, tell your children that you love their daddy!  You and your husband will be their example for marriage if they are ever blessed with a husband or a wife, so make sure that the example that you are setting is what you want for them.
This is my final post in my series of posts concerning marriage.  You can find previous posts in the marriage series here:
How Familiar Are You With Your Husband?
A Failure to Communicate?!
Boundaries Within Your Marriage

Boundaries Within Your Marriage

Soon after my husband proposed to me, our pastor asked us to set up a few “pre-marital counsel” sessions. One of the things that we discussed in one of our meetings was about setting boundaries within our marriage. I did not really think much of it at the time. I am not sure that I quite understood the impact that boundaries really have in a relationship, and especially in a marriage. After almost eleven years, I can now see what an important role they should have played all along.

This is one of those things that you will never know about until you begin talking through it with your spouse, but it is so essential to the livelihood of your marriage. One of the most important areas to set boundaries in marriage, in my opinion, is in relationships with friends of the opposite sex.
When we were married, both my husband and I had friends of the opposite sex. We both went into the marriage thinking that these “friendships” were fine and that they really didn’t need to CHANGE any because, after all, they were just friends. Then, as I would listen to my husband talk about the times he spent with these female friends before he and I met, I started feeling a little sad. Then, I realized that he wasn’t responsive or showing any expression when I would tell him about times that I shared with my friends that were men. But, neither of us talked about it–which made for a bigger mess as the years passed.

After realizing that these friendships were causing some distance between us, I set up a meeting with our pastor and
his wife for another “counsel session,” except this time it wasn’t so light and giddy as it was in those engagement days. I explained to them what had been happening and how I felt. They stated that they had talked to us about this at the beginning and how important it was to have boundaries, especially in our friendships with those of the opposite sex. Basically, neither of us “got it” until we had already hurt the other. If we had just kept going, the faithfulness in our marriage could have been jeopardized.

From my experience, these boundaries with friends of the opposite sex need to be set in two areas. 

The first would be in communication with and about the “friend.”  In my opinion, communication boundaries should involve three things:

1.  How often?  You are part of a family now.  The friend has his/her own family.  Do not take time away from your family to give to him/her. 

2.  How much?  As husband and wife get to know one another throughout the marriage, friendships from the past will come up in conversation.  Dwelling on them and letting those memories take over is where a problem can begin.  You can usually sense from your spouse when he’s heard enough.  I certainly know that I have been able to with my husband.

3.  Public phone conversations only.   If the need arises for a phone call to a friend of the opposite sex, my husband and I have decided that we have these conversations in each other’s company.  This way, nothing can be assumed about what was said in that phone conversation.

The second area for setting boundaries would be in spending time together.  In our marriage, we have decided that it is best to always keep company with friends of the same sex.  If a situation arises that would require time spent together one-on-one, it should be discussed and different arrangements made.

These boundaries may seem drastic to some; they certainly did to my husband and me during those first “counsel” sessions.  However, as our marriage continued, we saw the importance of these boundaries.  If boundaries like these are kept, the likelihood of any compromised faithfulness within the marriage is greatly reduced.  My pastor and his wife have followed these same boundaries in their own marriage; this year, they will celebrate 44 years together!

I have been doing a series of posts on marriage.  You can find the previous posts here:
How Familiar Are You With Your Husband?
A Failure to Communicate?!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Failure To Communicate?!

I received an email recently from a longtime friend and sister in Christ.  We often share prayer requests with one another.  She asked me to pray for better communication between her and her husband.  As she described her situation, I could relate.  The exact scenario that she described had happened in my marriage as well.  I began to think about why communication in marriage seems so difficult.  The only person that we can change is ourselves, so we need to look there first for solutions.

As I thought about how to respond to my friend, I went to the Bible first.  I also gleaned from personal experiences in my eleven years as a wife.  Here are the things that I came up with for improving the way that we communicate with our husbands:

We need to be careful about what we say and how we say it.  “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)  Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  Who are those who hear?  It could just be your husband, if you are having a private conversation, but it could also be your children.  I try to be extra, extra careful of my communication with my husband when our children are in the same room!  They learn how to communicate by watching us.

Our communication also needs to show submissiveness.  Submission in communication is difficult to define for me.  Where is that line?  Does it change from day to day?  Situation to situation?  Couple to couple?  A great example of this, which I must say that I am guilty of way too often, is that when our husbands start to talk to us about a certain issue, we interrupt to defend ourselves or our position.  He might say, “I feel like you ignored me in front of your friends yesterday.”  Before he can continue, and maybe even before he finishes that first sentence, his wife says, “You shouldn’t feel that way!  That’s ridiculous!”  Sometimes our husbands try to tell us how they feel, and we shut them down.  Yet we complain that they do not listen to our feelings.  Listen to him like you want him to listen to you.  Reply with grace and love as you would have him to reply to you.

Let him lead.  I was given this advice from an older, Christian woman.  As women, we like to talk.  Men are not as vocal.  Let him begin most of the conversations.  If he doesn’t talk much, just enjoy being with him.  Doing this helped me to see submissiveness in a new light.  It also allowed me to get to know my husband better and to become closer with him.  If he begins the conversation, you know that it is definitely something that he is interested in talking about.

There have been times in our marriage that I felt that I could never say anything “right.” This was usually because I meant a certain thing by what I had said, but my husband heard something totally different.  I have heard of this in other marriages as well, so I am guessing that it is common among husbands and wives.  Men and women communicate differently–no doubt.  After a situation like this would happen, my husband would react to what I had said, which had nothing to do with what I had meant to say.  As I realized how often this was happening, I began responding with, “I am sorry if that is what you thought that I meant or that the way I said it made you think that is what I meant, but this is what I am trying to say…” and I would try again.  (“A gentle answer turns away wrath…”  Proverbs 15:1)  After many years of this, we now laugh about it because we so often misunderstand what the other was trying to get across.  “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I don’t know if you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!” (Source: Unkown)  So very true!

Timing is important!  Take time to think about what you are going to say.  The first thing that comes to your mind is not always the best thing to say.  Although this holds true with all relationships, I believe that it is essential in good communication in marriage.  Proverbs 15:28 says “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer…”  James 1:19
reminds us to be quick to listen, but slow to speak.  My husband asked me a question recently as I was getting ready to walk out the door to run errands.  I gave a quick answer, because I was in a hurry.  It quickly turned into a disagreement.  If I had only slowed down and given a better answer, we could have avoided the issue that was created.  Another issue on timing is to not discuss issues with your husband while he is trying to watch a football game or at bedtime.  When he is distracted or tired, he is more likely to “tune” you out, which will tempt you to want to begin nagging.  Even before I was married, I was determined to not be a nagging wife.  I had heard so much about wives always nagging their husbands, saying things over and over, and continuing to talk about the same issue for more time than it’s ever going to be worth.  Many times nagging will lead to interrogating, and then the wife begins to sound more like the mother.  “Why didn’t you take the trash out?  I have asked you to do it several times today, and it’s still sitting here by the door,” would be something appropriate for me to say to my son, but not to my husband.

Our husbands are not our girlfriends.  When I talk to my friends, I usually give them every little detail of a situation, and they do the same with me.  We like the little details.  Men, however, do not.  My husband prefers the condensed version.  Actually, he had gotten to the point that he never listened to any voicemails that I had left for him because he said that it always took me forever to get to the point.  (My more recent voicemails are, “Hey, it’s me.  Call me back.”)  When you have a burden that you want to talk over with your husband, I encourage you to talk it over with a trusted Christian lady first (if the situation is appropriate for sharing)…she will likely want the detailed version.  Pray about it before you talk to him about it as well.  By this time, you have gotten past the emotion of the situation and can give him the facts…condensing it for his listening pleasure!

Most importantly, pray for your husband and for the communication between the two of you!  A few of the Scriptures that I pray over my husband regarding communication are Psalm 19:14, Proverbs 19:14, and Ephesians 4:15.

The issue of communication in marriage is not something that we can avoid.  We should strive to communicate with our husbands in a manner that would be pleasing to the Lord.

(This is the second post in a series about marriage.  The first post can be found here:
How Familiar Are You with Your Husband?)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How Familiar Are You with Your Husband?

While the word intimacy can go in many directions, I believe that there is a solid way to define intimacy.  Intimacy is a deep familiarity with another.  This definition is broad enough to cover all of the ways that intimacy can be experienced and expressed.  Some words that are synonyms or related to the word intimacy are friendship, belonging, closeness, and fellowship.  Our relationship with our spouse should bring those words to life.  When you think of friendship, do you think of your pals or do you think of your husband?  Is your husband a familiar friend?

I remember a time in my marriage when I would have thought of someone else if the word friend was mentioned.  I also remember that turning point when I realized that my husband was (and is) my best friend.  Once I realized that, things changed for the better in our relationship.  I was able to find a fellowship with him that was beyond anything we had experienced prior to that.  What happened to bring about this realization?

I noticed that we were not as close as I wanted us to be.  This made me sad because I loved my husband, and I knew that he loved me, but somehow the closeness just did not seem to be there like I felt it should.  I made it my mission to get close to him.  I know that I can only change what I do, and that the Lord will bless my efforts if I do it with the right spirit.  A few specifics come to mind when I think of the major changes that I made to bring about this new intimacy in our relationship.
  • Express interest in his interests.  My husband likes motorcycles.  While I don’t hate motorcycles, I also have no personal interest in them.  I asked my husband one day if we could go on our “date” night on the motorcycle.  His eyes lit up!  He said, “You really want to?”  I said that I did.  After a few rides on the back of the motorcycle with him, I started to like the motorcycle a lot more!  *wink, wink*  He watches videos online of new motorcycles that he wants to upgrade to at some point.  Guess who watches them with him?  That’s right, I go over to the computer and stand by his side watching the video along with him.  He makes comments, asks me questions about which color or design I like best, and just overall brings me into “his world.”  A friend of mine found it difficult to find interest in the things that her husband liked.  He was into guns and shooting competitions.  She found no interest in these at all.  One day, she decided to go along with him to one of his competitions, and she took along her camera.  Photography is one of her interests.  She took photos of her husband and his friends in the competition, and eventually made him a disc of all of the pictures she’d taken.  Her husband enjoyed this little gift so much that she now goes to competitions regularly, shooting pictures while he is shooting targets!  Be creative, but definitely find a way to show interest in the things that interest him.
  • Build him up.  Tell your husband what you love about him often.  Go back in your mind and think about those things that first attracted you to him.  Think about what he does every day that you may take for granted, such as simply getting up and going to work to provide for the family.  Take time to think about what it is that draws you to him.  Then, tell him.  I took it a step further.  After I told him, I also wrote those things in a little notebook.  I often write little things in it when I think of them throughout the day.  I also took time to go through our wedding video, pausing and playing, to write out our vows.  I put those in that notebook as well.  These are just little things to remind him that he is loved and that I am committed.
  • Touch him often.  Most men’s love language is touch.  It is just a fact.  So, touch your husband.  Hold his hand whenever you can.  I have come to the point that I will
    hold my husband’s hand in the car, on the couch, walking from the car to the store, even when we are lying next to each other in bed.  I walk over to him when he’s watching television, and just give him a peck kiss on the cheek.  If he’s sitting down and I come up behind him, I will play with his hair.  He usually stops whatever he is doing, and just enjoys the feeling.  Touch will usually be returned with touch, a “win” for both of you.
Get intimate with your husband.  It doesn’t mean that you have to stop everything that you are doing and head to the bedroom, but it does mean showing him more attention and getting to know him on a deeper level.  Being “one” with our husbands, as the Bible teaches, cannot be done without getting to know him on an intimate level.

Marriage Series

For the next four days this week, I will be posting about marriage.  I can just see some of the confused looks now, thinking, "I thought this was a blog about raising your know, Proverbs 22:6...raise up a child in the way he should, why a series about marriage?"

I truly believe that my husband plays a huge role in the raising of our children.  Even though he is with them less hours in a day than I am, his role is incredibly important.  I believe it's important for children to have both "Mama" and "Daddy" active in their lives.  I also believe that my marriage will reflect in my children as they grow up.  To have them raised up in the way that they should go, they need to see people living in the way that they should go in their day-to-day lives...which makes the relationship between my husband and I an important part of what they will become as adults. 

I hope that you enjoy this week of posts focused on Biblical marriage.