Loving Your Husband

Titus 2:3-4 says that older women are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands.

The word love in that verse (philandros) is only used once in scripture, and is an affection shown specifically by a wife for her husband. This leads me to believe that a wife has the unique ability to show unconditional love to her husband in a way that nobody else on earth can. Wow – what a privilege!

Through living out this gift of marriage and walking with many wise women, the Lord has taught me a few very practical ways to love Kirby that have helped us cultivate a rich, life-giving marriage.

Pray for Him

Pray that the Word of God would dwell richly in your husband. Pray that he would prosper in all he does. Pray for him as you fold his laundry. Find specific passages of scripture to speak over your husband. Our prayers are powerful and life-changing.

Serve Him

In the middle of writing this, I asked Kirby to share some practical things that I do that communicate love to him. To no surprise, dinner made the list. If you know Kirby, that statement won’t surprise you either. The man can eat! But through his sort-of comical response, he reminded me that service doesn’t always have to be extravagant. It’s the everyday. He serves me in more ways than I could number, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to love him through serving him right back.

Protect and Build his Reputation

Proverbs 31:23 is a statement that, at first glance, seems a little out of place. The whole passage describes a woman that we all desire to be, and simultaneously get frustrated with because she sometimes seems out of reach. In verse 23, it states, “her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders.” I believe that his wife had a role to play in building her husband’s reputation and in his being known and respected. Ladies, we’ve been given a true privilege in being able to know our husband so intimately. Let’s use that privilege in a way that highlights his strengths, builds his reputation, and sets him up for success in life. We really do have more power in this area than we usually give ourselves credit for.

Get to Know Him

I know this one sounds redundant, considering we’re talking about the man we married. But I didn’t realize when I first married Kirby that he doesn’t express or receive love in the same ways I do AT ALL. We’re polar opposites. I feel loved most through quality time, physical touch, and acts of service. Coming into marriage, I thought that that was how to make anyone feel loved. However, I learned that Kirby feels loved the most through words of affirmation and gifts. Get to know how your husband receives love best. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages can help get you started in discovering your spouse’s love language, as well as your own. It’s well worth the investment.

God gave us a true gift in our husbands. I pray that as women we would make the most of every opportunity to show love, honor, and respect to our men. As we do, may our homes and our marriages be blessed beyond measure.

This post was written by Catherine Dunn. To learn more about her, click here.

Dearly Beloved, We are Gathered Here to Witness…

I am an old married lady. Well…not really old, just old married. A conference I attended a few years ago brought to my awareness the rarity of my marriage’s condition. Apparently, being first-time married 20-plus years and my husband and I both having parents with 45-year first marriages put us in a minority of around 10% of the nation’s population.

I remember celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary at a nice restaurant in Albuquerque. Our waitress inquired how long we’d been married, and when we told her fifteen years, she looked surprised and said, “Wow, that’s a really long time!”

Our culture is becoming increasingly unfamiliar with marital commitment.  I believe we have a unique opportunity to communicate a kingdom message to those around us by building marriages that endure.

If you are like me, I imagine you are not thinking your marriage is your primary evangelistic tool. And, if you are like me, you might even cringe at the thought of how you’ve “witnessed” to others in the past (Thank you, Husband’s 1990’s Wardrobe, for being an all-too-easy prey of wifely jokes). But let me encourage you with the words Jesus spoke to his (very imperfect) disciples in John 17: 20-23:

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one… And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me… May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

If we think about the context of this passage, very few of us would tie it to marriage. Most of us relate it (and rightly so) to the universal body of believers. It is about being unified, and not fighting over nonsense like church building carpet colors.

But stretch your minds for a moment with me:  the context of marriage is definitely “becoming one” and living in unity. Therefore, we have a position to communicate a message through our marriages.

As an old married person but with limited space here, I’d like to offer one pointer for marital harmony and improving our kingdom witness: Speak kindly ABOUT your spouse TO others.

Years ago, before Lyle and I married, we decided there are enough people in the world who tear others down, so we needed to build each other up, especially when we’re in conversation with acquaintances. We all know how easy it is to unload on a friend about your husband’s pile of dirty socks, but do we realize the detriment that can do to our kingdom impact?

In Titus 2:5 (Amplified Version), Paul asks wives to honor their husbands so that the Word of God would not be dishonored.

People of the world often only see the Word through how we handle life. If we, as wives, speak praise of our husbands, we will honor our men, and thus help create an enduring marriage.

Who will be witnesses of our message?

This post was written by Shelli Jarvis. To read more about her, click here. 

Wild Men

wild-men-1Even after being raised as the only girl among brothers, this little lady had some eye-opening learning curves to scale as a young wife to a real-live, flesh-and-blood man and a mother of two rough-and-tumble sons. Oh, I should have been used to the constant wrestling, the competing, the bleeding…the frequent stitches, athletic events, and sheetrock repairs. However, when I found myself yoked together with the love of my life and responsible for managing our active household of little lads whom I absolutely adored, I’m afraid my uber-responsible, controlling side rared up and rather ruled the day.

You probably know the feeling. That twitching, worried, hyper-protective maternal instinct kicks in, and we believe with all our hearts that Momma Knows Best in All Things! And what Momma wants is to keep all her babies close and safe and free from trouble, preferably surrounded by bubble wrap.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that I had an instantaneous transformation, laid down all my control issues at the altar, and have walked 100% free all the days thenceforth. What I can say is that my Father God gave me moments of insight and revelation into the masculine heart and soul—and that led me to come into agreement with Him and how He wired these guys we all love.

wild-at-heartReading the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge was so impactful in that season of my life. I accepted how my husband and sons were designed by God to be aggressive warriors, adventurers, and leaders. For example, they desire to be respected and trusted as they do hard things, carry heavy responsibility, face danger, rise up to meet challenges, and overcome adversity without being rescued or micromanaged by me.

Truthfully, God used all of this revelation to start healing deep places in my own feminine soul as well, inviting me to get in touch with beauty, softness, nurture, comfort, and the freedom of submission in a way I had never experienced until then. I made crazy-wild choices to actually trust my husband’s decisions for our family instead of resisting, learning to lean into his leadership and trusting the Father’s voice in and through him, to me and to our children.

Over seasons of walking with the Lord as a wife and mother, I continue to relinquish my fears to Him when they arise. Basically, I have come to such a solid and peaceful place of faith in the fact that God’s will is for there to be order in our home. I invite you to join me in that place of faith for your home. That order and peace is totally worth fighting for!

What a generous gift that the masculine and feminine hearts are absolutely being restored and healed in our generation, as we continually surrender to the ways of our Father’s kingdom.

This post was written by Jill Brown. To read more about her, click here. 

Re: Honor in the Workplace

A little child is walking in the woods holding a light and looking at a glowing red door on the path for a mystery or imagination concept.During the month of January, we will be reposting some of the top posts from 2016. We hope these will encourage you and connect to your heart. Stay tuned for all new posts coming in February 2017! 

When my husband and I moved to Plainview, we were newly married, swimming through life with love and a whole lot of immaturity!  We joined Harvest, and God began to put my husband and I on a path of learning honor that started in our home.

I began to learn that honor was a state of my heart.  It didn’t matter what Jodie did or didn’t do or deserve, my heart was called to honor this man. Wait, what??
That would require me to humble myself, bite my tongue, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform my heart?  YES!

I was given the incredible opportunity to have a family and be called to work outside the home. I was also put on another path: learning to honor in the workplace.  As much as I often struggled with whether to work or stay home with my kids, God always led me to a place of work outside the home.  For a long time, I beat myself up over what I thought Christian women would say about me if I didn’t stay home with my kids.  But I knew God had called me to work outside the home; so I embraced it, gave it my all, and have chosen to not be ashamed to walk in God’s best for me!

So, how do we as women embrace honor in the workplace?  How do we cultivate a heart condition/environment that honor will flourish in?

There will always be many work situations that are both positive and negative.  You may work for the best boss in the world, or you may have a boss that is controlling and rules with an iron fist.  Either way, does it change God’s desire for us to live from a place of honor?

How do I respond when my boss makes me mad?  What if I disagree with a decision that was made?  How does my “talk” about him/her show honor?  What if they make a mistake? How do I respond?  What if others try to draw me into their negative conversation about my boss?  Do I do the same amount of work when I am monitored and when I am not?

Ephesians 6:5-8 says,

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

 

This scripture is pretty straightforward.  Do your “work” as unto the Lord.  But if the state of our heart has not embraced the foundational truth of honor, then this scripture will be offensive, out of reach, and defeating.

How do we begin this journey and get on a path of honor?

It begins with surrendering and believing who we are in Christ. If I don’t believe who I am in Christ—that I am righteous, whole, and lacking nothing—then my boss, husband, or any authority figure can send me into a “tizzy” real quick.  No matter what my boss does, I am ok and secure in Christ.  My faith is not in man but Christ alone.

I can honor my boss and cover him/her because of who I am, not because of his/her merit.  We can’t change anything on our own.  We can’t “will” or try harder for our heart to change; only the Holy Spirit can do that.  In the process of allowing God to transform our beliefs, our choices can start to mirror God’s heart.  When I learned this powerful, life-changing truth, my world was turned upside down, and my “work” blessings have multiplied 100-fold!

As I began living out the truth about honor, God began to show me, as the picture above so beautifully portrays, I was like a child who needed foundational truth. I needed to embrace the reality that honor is not about the other person; it’s about the condition of my heart.  The result of growing in honor is a doorway to endless possibilities and blessing.

Come join me on this journey?

This post was written by Amy Meek. To read more about her, click here

Re: Honor in Marriage

wedding-ring-hands-740001-jpgHappy New Year! During the month of January, we will be reposting some of the top posts from 2016. We hope these will encourage you and connect to your heart. Stay tuned for all new posts coming in February 2017! 

Not long after we were married, Curtis and I moved into a small, old farmhouse WAY out in the country. We were pretty much newlyweds, and I was blissfully unaware of what life would be like out in the country. For the most part, it was fun. Some of our favorite memories of marriage are when we lived in the country. But it was also where we had our first big argument.
Well, it was a fight. I’m just going to be real.

I came home one afternoon after work, and the toilet was in the dining room. In. The. Dining. Room. Curtis had a saw and was cutting a hole into the wall of our one and only bathroom. He proceeded to tell me that we had a leak, and he was fixing it. I asked him, WHEN HE WAS GOING TO PUT THE TOILET BACK IN THE BATHROOM!? He told me we would be without water for several days, but he put a bar of soap out by the windmill and some toilet paper outside if I needed to go to the bathroom. Y’all, he was serious. I FREAKED!!!!!

Although we both come from good, God-fearing families, we came into our marriage with two TOTALLY different experiences. For example, when something broke at Curtis’ house, they fixed it. When something broke at MY house, we called a professional to fix it.🙂  This seems very insignificant. But I soon found out that this was important to me. Honestly, the toilet in the dining room was merely an inconvenience that I had to experience. It was certainly not the end of the world, and we laugh about it now (Because when things break, he still fixes them himself).

In hindsight, this was one of the first lessons I learned about HONOR in my marriage. My expectation was disappointed by reality. Ladies, this happens in every marriage. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. We all react differently when we are in our “pain cycle.”   As for me, I spoke loudly and erratically. Well…I yelled, ok?

After I calmed down and we talked about it, Curtis informed me that it was not ok for me to speak loudly and erratically to him when I’m upset. That’s just not how things were going to be resolved in our home. And he’s right. Even though I felt like I had the right to be angry with him, I still had to learn how to honor him when we disagreed (Or when he was going to fix something that was broken).

Proverbs 31: 12 speaks of a wife of noble character relating to her husband: “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” 

Notice it doesn’t say she will bring him good, not harm….only when she feels loved and cherished by him; or only when he listens to all of her problems and gives her his undivided attention; or only when he comes home from work and helps her cook dinner, cleans up the kitchen, helps with bath time, and puts all the kids to bed. It doesn’t say she will bring him good, not harm…only when he becomes the spiritual leader of the home; or only when he stops looking at pornography; or only when he treats her the way she expects to be treated.

If I’m honoring my husband ONLY when my expectations are being met, then I’m not really honoring with God’s grace. Actually, if this is the only time I honored Curtis, I would be setting myself up for an unhealthy marriage, an unhappy husband, and an unsatisfied life.    

So what does HONOR look like in a marriage when your expectations are constantly being disappointed by reality? It looks like:

  • praying for your husband even when you really want to speak loudly and erratically
  • learning to be patient when you really want to nag
  • treating him the way you want to be treated when you are frustrated with something he’s done (or not done)
  • being his cheerleader even when you think you know how to do it better
  • being his advocate when others put him down
  • learning how to manage your home so you’re not co-dependent on him

So what if your problems aren’t just the run-of-the-mill marital problems? What if there is abuse or addiction? Get help. There are so many incredible professionals who can help you walk through any and every kind of situation.

We’ve got to start letting go of trying to “fix him,” and start seeking the One Who created marriage, knows our every desire and need, and brings us complete joy in this life when we surrender to Him.  We all have the ability to be a wife of noble character, whose husband has full confidence in her–to be a woman who fears the Lord. This takes honesty, diligence, vulnerability, repentance, and perseverance. This will take a lifetime of learning who you are in Christ and how you can be one flesh with the man God gave you. Don’t give up, friend! I want to encourage you to examine your heart and look for new ways you can honor your husband today!

This post was written by Allison House. To read more about her, click here

The Truth about Gossip

quote - lisa“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

Am I willing to bet you have heard this passage spoken over a couple at their wedding? Two people are lovingly looking into each other’s eyes, and promising these words over their future. Today I want to challenge you to look at these words through a different lens.
Gossip.
The dreaded word that makes every woman grind their teeth.

We are all guilty to some extent of gossip, myself included, but as I read this passage the words jumped all over me. We all know God is love; it is the core of who he is. As Christians we strive to live by this truth, to love your neighbor as yourself; husbands love your wives like Christ’s loves the church; or a mother’s instinct to love their children sacrificially. When our words are spoken in love, it rejoices, protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. I believe when we choose to speak gossip we are delighting in evil. Ouch. Which goes against the core of who God is. Double ouch.

As I type this truth, I am reminded of the times I have let gossip drip from my lips–like a leaking faucet I am unwilling to put the work into. Over time the drips turn into streams, which then starts pouring all over my heart and spreading into the core of who God has called me to be. Let’s turn the spotlight off ourselves; what if other people are choosing gossip and you are not?

Love is not passive. This passage doesn’t say to sit idly by. Look at the passage again: Love protects. As believers, if we want our relationships “rejoicing with truth” and not evil, we must use the words we speak to change the situation into one of hope. 

I challenge you to be the change you want to see. When gossip enters the room, there is no hope or protection for the other party; the truth is, we are speaking evil over them instead of love.

I heard it said once by Lisa Terkeurst:

It’s a much more effective use of time to pray for someone rather than talk about them.

I truly love this. What if women today choose this philosophy in all their relationships? We could all put our hurtful words aside and, in turn, have words of blessings pouring from our lips. My heart is not to make women feeling convicted; I am preaching to the choir. I want nothing but loving words to come from my mouth–after all, God is love. My heart is to strive to be more like Him. I hope yours is too.

This post was written by Madi Mikael. 

Culture of Honor {A Book Review}

book review- HonorEvery month, we feature a book review based on our blog theme for that month. For more great book suggestions, check out our Bookshelf tab here. (And for you non-readers, check out the audio book options!)

The blog focus this month has been honor, and when I was asked to do a review of a book on that topic, I choose Culture of Honor by Danny Silk.

Like most of Danny Silk’s books, he has a single, foundational idea that we must first learn. In Keeping Your Love On, he says it like this: “The only person I can control, on a good day, is myself.”

Creating a culture of honor can only occur when we lay down our need to control others.

Related to this, creating a culture of honor is about leading people to unleash “their true capacity for self-control and responsibility,” so they can experience “the freedom God desires for each of his sons and daughters” (p. 45).

In order for these two things to happen—first, our ability to self-control and not “other-control” and second, our ability to lead others to also self-control—we must firmly know our identity in Christ.

We control out of insecurity, self-protection, fear, etc.; however, our status as daughters in the kingdom releases us from the need to control other people’s behavior.

Once we understand our status, we can help others walk in the freedom of their status: as sons and daughters, we are unpunishable (p. 80). Jesus already took on our punishment.

So we have to first believe this about ourselves, and then we can create a culture of honor toward others because we believe it about them too.

Everything is fine with honor until someone messes up, right? And we get to see how we feel about sin (and punishment) based on our response to other people’s mistakes:

“If we don’t know how to deal with sin, then we don’t know how to deal with people. We inevitably create a culture of law in order to keep people from sinning. The message of that culture is this: ‘Contain your sin within yourself. Don’t show it to me; I can’t handle it.’” (p. 168).

But the new covenant is an internal covenant—we are free, and God intends us to exercise our freedom through self-control. He doesn’t put external controls on us.

But when people mess up, we freak out, and we need a system of external controls. We need to modify, or correct, or punish their behavior because we don’t know how to deal with people’s mistakes.

Two false ideas must be broken: the first is that love is control—“that which we love, we try to control” (p. 78)—and the second is that love is fear:

“What offense does to you is it justifies you from withholding your love. I get to withhold my love from you when you have broken the rules because people who fail are unworthy of love, and they deserve to be punished. In fact, what punishment looks like most often is withholding love. And when I withhold love, anxiety fills the void, and a spirit of fear directs my behavior toward the offender” (p. 93).

Wow.

Danny’s message is that honor empowers people. When I’m no longer concerned with controlling you or punishing you, I learn to ask the right questions: “What is the problem? What are you going to do about it?”

I put the responsibility on the individual to self-control and take ownership.

And because I don’t need to control, I can empower and call forth the real identity of the person—who he or she is in Christ.

The book is geared toward church leaders for a culture of honor on staff, but I found it widely applicable to my marriage, my friendships, and my students!

Here’s to self-control, not “other-control”! 🙂

This post was written by Laura Brandenburg. To read more about her, click here