Monday, January 30, 2012

Intentional Marriage - Husband Bashing

"When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."
James 3:3-12

The tongue is a powerful thing. Our words have such profound power. I think it’s sad that for some reason it has become ok or normal to bad mouth our husbands with one another. We take on a sarcastic tone and as we cut him with our words, somehow everyone ends up laughing and joining in. Husband bashing is almost like a fun secret past time for women and it’s becoming culturally acceptable in some ways. What appears to be female bonding over innocent, light hearted jabs at our husbands, is really a poison that begins a slow death.

My mom used to say when something was going wrong, “do you go to the phone? Or do you go to the throne?” Well… all too often, I go to the phone. It feels good to vent a bit and share with someone else my frustrations and anger. But when it comes to frustrations with my husband, going to the phone can be a spark that starts a forest fire. As women, we don’t want anyone to feel alone, and if a girl friend starts to bad mouth her husband to us and share her frustrations, it’s easy to join in.

A few weeks back I wrote about the importance of having a healthy community surrounding your marriage. The same goes for having healthy girlfriends to share marital frustrations with. There are certain friends we have that make husband bashing so easy, they’re almost like kindling to our spark. Those are often the friends we think of first to call when we’ve just had a fight or our husband did something that made us furious. And then there are friends, perhaps we’re lucky to have even one, who will gently cut us off in the midst of a rant and remind us to uphold our husbands with our words. A friend that will offer to pray, right then, for our marriage and not allow us to continue with our sharp tongue. A friend that listens and doesn’t encourage bashing. Do you have a friend like that? Are you a friend like that?

A little trick I do is to get in my car and go for a drive where I share my frustrations out loud to… my steering wheel! My rehashing of whatever happened with my husband often turns to a prayer where I’m asking God to forgive me for my part. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I take my frustrations to the phone instead of the throne, but if I can get away in the car, I seem to advert the possible bashing.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15:4

It’s just that powerful! Think about the word bash – to destroy or a party! Our words about our husband can be destructive to who he is, or they can be like a celebration of who he is.

The Bible tells us that out of the heart the mouth speaks. In the moment our heart has been wounded or upset, it’s easy to speak harsh words that can do far more damage than the initial incident with our husband. As women, let’s make a commitment to uphold our husbands in our words with one another. Let’s put an end to husband bashing and be the friend that redirects our sisters to the Lord when they are starting to say words they might later regret.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Embrace The Stomach Flu

As I mentioned over a week ago, my family got hit pretty hard with the stomach flu.  Mommy Immunity kicked in and I was healthy and able to care for everyone - praise God!

But here we are, over a week later, and my immunity ran out!

I'm embracing the camera in a new way - through drawings!

Here are the pictures my girls made for me to help me feel better - I'm in each one, can you tell!
We're off for a mini vacation, so I'll be back Monday with an Intentional Marriage post
Happy Weekend!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Intentional Marriage - Kids First?

As I’m about to post this, I just read of Heidi Klum and Seal’s separation.
Here is part of their statement:

“While we have enjoyed seven very loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul searching we have decided to separate," the joint statement read. "We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart. This is an amicable process and protecting the well-being of our children remains our top priority, especially during this time of transition.”

Although I don’t know them and we never know the full story of what goes on in someone’s life – it breaks my heart to hear of a couple separating simply because they’ve grown apart. If we are keeping our spouse our priority, against the odds, then we can’t grow apart. And “keeping the children a top priority” seems natural, but really we must keep our spouse our top priority in our marriage. Anyhooch, onto my post today!

From the moment we have them, we are enamored by them. They are so tiny, soft, sweet smelling, gentle, peaceful – what’s not to love and obsess over? They seem so fragile and completely dependent upon us. In those first months of newborn life, we eat, breath, and sleep (not so much) this tiny being who in one moment radically changed our life. And really only one other person can completely understand and relate to this new love – our spouse. In those first months we gushed over our babies together. Their mere presence bonded us closer together and deepened our love for one another. And then real life set in.

My body naturally was tuned to these tiny beings and their every needs. When they were hungry, my milk came in. When they cried, I knew exactly what they were communicating. If there was a new spot or bump on their skin, I discovered it. My world quickly revolved around these precious people who captured my heart. Being so vulnerable and dependent upon us, how could we not put them first in every way?

But do they still come first when they are 2? When they are 5? When they are 15? What at first is a natural, unavoidable positioning of hierarchy, can easily become the new way of life. But that is dangerous. Especially to a marriage. Especially when there are multiple children. As moms we are in high demand! How many times a day do you hear, “Mommy”? Sometimes I wish I never heard that word again! But they look to us for everything and our natural response is to meet their needs. With three small children who call upon me endlessly, at 7pm when they are in their beds, I am done. I have nothing left within me but to turn on the TV and just stare. Every now and again I might get up the energy to go meet a girlfriend for a movie, but it is a grand effort! Oh yea, and then there is my husband. Um... what do I have left to offer him? When the kids come first in my life, that means everyone and everything else comes second.

You’ve heard it said, “The best way to love your kids is to love your spouse.” A healthy marriage and a strong commitment (not just in word) between husband and wife creates a safe environment for family. When the kids see mom and dad talking, laughing together, kissing, holding hands – everything is right in their universe. Their foundation is solid. There is nothing to fear. They gain extreme confidence. When mom and dad pass like ships in the night, live like roommates, barely exchange a word – there is less peace in the home and not as much stability for the children. Have you ever been in a minor disagreement with your spouse over something silly like “who took out the trash last week?” and you barely raise your voice yet the children jump in with, “STOP FIGHTING!” They don’t like any kind of discontent between their Mommy and Daddy. That is why we must NOT put the children first, but put our spouse first. Plus, that is God’s grand plan! In our lives we must put God first, then our spouse, then our children. If that order gets rearranged, then there is chaos.

So how do we practically put our spouse first when our children demand so much of our physical, mental and emotional being? We must become aware of who we put first and if it is not our spouse, then we need to have a little change of heart. We can schedule more time with our spouse on the calendar, but if they don’t come first in our hearts, then nothing has really changed. A change of heart leads to a change of attitude and a changed attitude results in a changed person. As Moms, sometimes I think there is a fear of letting go of the control of our children, trusting God with them, and meeting the needs of our spouse first. But when we do, there is nothing but blessing.

Prayer – each morning ask God to focus your heart on your spouse.
Pray that God would open your eyes to see their needs that day and how you might bless them.
Pray that God would make you mindful of your spouse through the day. When you are thinking of your spouse during the day, it leads to little things like phone calls or texts, maybe when you’re at the grocery store and you see his favorite beverage or snack and you pick it up. Maybe that means you run and put on lipstick before he comes home from work! Sounds little and silly, but when you are thinking of someone, you tend to do things for them and it truly shows that they are a priority to you.
Pray protection over your marriage and that the enemy would not allow the children to come between you and your spouse.
Pray that God would give you a heart to completely trust Him with your children. Let go of the control that tells you you’re the only one who must do everything for your children.

How do you put your spouse first?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lemons Into Lemonade

As I mentioned Wednesday, we’ve had a rough one lately! When the little one was sick in his room, the girls kept asking to make lemonade. Our lemon tree knows no season and produces more lemons than we can use year round! So even though it’s January, we had more than enough resources to make the sunny beverage and we needed something sunny to brighten up the dark cloud hanging over our house. I know it’s cliché, but it kept running through my head,
“when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
7 days of the stomach flu for my family was more lemons than I could handle! But my little girls brought great wisdom with their plea to make lemonade – we can make something lovely out of this situation.

Today in my Bible study, a woman shared about her life when one of her young daughters passed away. She mentioned the parable of the talents from Matthew 25:14-30. A man going on a journey called his servants together and distributed his wealth amongst them. Each one took the money and did different things with it. Two men invested it and multiplied it. The other buried it because he was afraid.
      She said, no matter what God gives you, be it wealth or hardship, what’s most important is what you do with it. This struck me. I’ve always heard this passage preached about in regards to the gifts and talents God gives us – are we using them for his glory? But I’ve never heard someone talk about being responsible and wise with life’s hardships and tough circumstances. With the death of her daughter, she decided to glorify God with it and every year her family goes to work at a camp for families with a terminally ill child because they can identify with the pain and hardship and they go to offer hope.

What is in your life today? Lemons or blessings? Either one, what are you doing with it?

*See you Monday for another Intentional Marriage post

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Can Do Hard Things

Have you seen this sign? It seems to be everywhere!
We Can Do Hard Things
For the past 7 days I have been fighting the feriocious beast that has ravaged my family. A flu like none I’ve ever seen has claimed 4 out of 5 in my family – me being the lone survivor… thus far! It was kind of the beast to space out it’s attacks every 2 days, just giving me a moment to catch my breath before hitting the front lines once again. Of course the beast decided to attack while my husband was on a 4 day stretch at work, leaving me alone to wage war. Upon his return, he became the 4th and final victim – yes, I’m saying final because I WILL NOT GET THIS!
No, I won’t.

I’ve been fighting a personal enemy for a few months, one that I will talk more about in future posts. But my enemy has left me almost powerless in many areas of my life as of late and has left me afraid that it will attack when I need to care for my children and will be unable to do so. I’ve almost felt paralyzed on many fronts. But in the last 7 days, as I’ve had to care for sick children like never before, run on perhaps 1-2 hours of sleep a night, alone while my husband was at work, I stared my personal enemy in the face and said, “I can do hard things.” As I sat in urgent care with my daughter last night, I felt my enemy start to creep over me and I thought, “please not now. please. she needs me.” I found myself, in a somewhat angry tone, say to God, “certainly if you can raise your son from the dead you can calm my body and mind so that I can take care of my daughter.” Almost immediately I felt at peace and thought again, “I can do hard things.”

After we got home with the necessary meds to kill the beast, I put her to bed and called my mother (a distant warrior who was fighting along side me through prayer). She said that with all I’ve been going through personally, this flu was the last thing I needed to deal with. I then told her about the sign – “Mom, it’s like these last 7 days have shown me that I can do hard things and my current struggles are not going to beat me. I can do hard things.” “No Raeanne,” my mom said, “you can do all things through Christ.”


PS - I know I haven't put up a new recipe this week on What's For Dinner - food hasn't been on my mind this week with the flu flying around!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Intentional Marriage - Remember When

        Last week I kicked off the Intentional Marriage series by sharing about the importance of having a healthy community that supports your marriage. I also started to tell the story of my crazy dental appointment! My conversation with my dentist continued for a few hours during which he shared with me that he was recently separated from his wife – that’s why he was asking so many questions. For a moment I felt sick to my stomach, but I quickly said a prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my words and give me wisdom and discernment. It was by no accident that I was in that chair that day and he had no patients after me. Our conversation perhaps did more for me than it did for him. He has 4 young children, he is about my age, some of the things he shared sounded familiar – what if this was me? We think it could never happen to us. No one gets married thinking that it will end in divorce! I was overwhelmed with emotion and this energy to fight for their marriage where they had given up. I asked him why he had married her. I asked what it was like before they had children. I challenged him to remember when they were dating. Pull out the wedding album and remember when it was all new.

        My father used to encourage people to sit down with all their home movies and photo albums before they ever make the decision to divorce. That is so wise. Simply remembering what drew us to each other in the first place can spark some old feelings. Even if our marriage is going well, taking time to remember the first time we met, first date, things that attracted us to the other – all of these things can strengthen our marriage and remind us why we chose this person to share our life with. Sometimes we can get caught up in our current struggle and frustration and we make rash decisions or say harsh words. We must take the time to look at the whole picture – past, present and future.

        Do you remember the first time you saw your husband? Do you remember your first kiss? Do you remember the first gift he ever gave you? Do you remember the first time he said, “I love you”?

        I’m reminded of communion. Luke 22:19 says, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” We take communion at church regularly to remember what Jesus did for us on the cross. It is the center of our faith. It is the beginning of our new life. We can easily go through life as a Christian, forgetting the power of the cross and the transformation it initiated in us. That is why we take time to weekly or monthly remember. In the same way we can go through our married life totally forgetting that young, attractive, sexy man that once caught our eye before we knew his name. We forget the butterflies and excitement of dating. We forget the plans we made and dreams we had. But we must remember those things regularly for those are the very things that started our life of glorifying God as a wife.

CHALLENGE: Take some time this week to remember when… make a list of the things you remember about your man before you were married – the things that attracted you to him – and share those over dinner one night. Pull out your wedding album or video and watch it together. As you remember the early stages of your love, ask God to continually show you new things to love about your spouse.

FLASHBACK QUESTION: How is your community?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Plan B

I have a sweet girlfriend who jokes that her life is filled with Plan B’s! Her initial plans don’t seem to work out and she is always forced to go with an alternate plan, or Plan B. I laughed as I told her, "perhaps your Plan B is really God’s Plan A."

Plan A was to hike up a hill and have a picnic on top.

Plan B was to have a surprise picnic for Grammie and Papa in the backyard.
Plan B was by far the best!
Are you up for a Plan B today?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10 on 10 January

1.  kids with the iTouch, buying me one more hour of quiet in the morning
2.  Magical Daddy that made Mickey Mouse pancakes before school
3.  Moma finally getting her cinnamon roll
4.  little Dude in the car, strumming his "guitar" to the tunes
5.  my men in Home Depot
6.  Lunch break
7.  my little lady at recess
8.  the project I helped the kindergartners with during my volunteer time
9.  the new Real Simple magazine that an anonymous person subscribed me to!
(I love you whoever you are!)
10.  the color we're thinking about painting the play room - any thoughts?!
ten on ten button

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Intentional Marriage – Community

Since I got married, and even before, I knew that marriage was hard. I witnessed 2 parents who went in and out of marital bliss (aka normal!) and because my father always said, “’divorce’ is not in my vocabulary,” they’ve always worked out their problems and issues.
But it’s not easy.
At all.
Now I know that first hand.

I think that marriage is a very powerful institution because it does not just involve two people, but it involves several generations. When a marriage suffers, many people, beyond the husband and wife, suffer too. I think that is why the enemy attacks marriages so frequently – he knows that if he can destroy a marriage, he is injuring several generations. That is why we must be intentional with our marriages.  Doing a series on marriage under the Intentional Family series has been heavy on my heart. It feels very loaded. I do not have a perfect marriage. My husband and I often talk about seeking out help, going on marriage retreats and doing whatever we can to better our marriage. So, I am not writing this series as a marriage expert! HA! Not at all! But as another wife, intentionally working on my marriage with the goal to glorify God as I serve my husband. I would love to hear your thoughts, struggles, victories… in your marriages throughout this series, so please feel free to leave comments!
Let's get started with round 1 - Community.

          As I sat in the dental chair, the new assistant and I were left alone for a moment so I asked her if she were working on becoming a hygienist. Her reply shocked me! She said that her real passion was to do hair, but it wasn’t paying the bills. So, she’s in dental school to become a hygienist part time and do hair the rest of the time! Then she added, “and I’m not planning on getting married or having kids so I’ll be able to do all this. I don’t want anyone ruining my life.” OUCH. With a lump in my throat I simply said, “oh, you like to do hair?” When the dentist came back I couldn’t get her bitter words and tone out of my head, so before the dentist put his hands in my mouth, I said, “I just have to say, don’t be bitter towards marriage. Sometimes a husband can help you achieve your dreams, not destroy them.”
          Moments later my dentist was gushing over my new wedding ring (my original one disappeared early last year and we got a replacement in November). With his head lamp shining on my ring, he couldn’t stop making comments. So I was compelled to once again make a statement! “I just have to say (I often start my mini sermons this way!), a beautiful ring doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have a good marriage.” Little did I know these 2 statements would turn into a 2 hour dental appointment / marriage counseling session!

          My dentist asked how my husband and I make marriage work and I dove right in.
The first thing I said was how important it is to surround yourself with healthy marriages and healthy friends who will point you to Jesus in a crisis and not to an attorney. We can learn so much from our friends and can be easily influenced for the better or the worse. As women, if we are spending a lot of time around women who are husband bashing, it’s easy to join in (more on this in a future post). But if we are spending time with women who respect and admire their husbands, honoring him with their words, we too start speaking well of our man! We must be intentional with the people we surround ourselves with.  I really can’t stress enough that it is vital to a marriage to have support and encouragement from other couples that are seeking to glorify God in their marriages. If we are isolated in our marriage, we can easily feel like our problems are unique to us and that we are headed for failure. But it’s amazing how when we’re in community, we find that our problems are not always unique to our marriage and we gain support and encouragement by knowing we are not alone.

We kick off our marriage by celebrating with a large community at our wedding.  But we must continue to live in community long after the ceremony is over.  Community is key. A healthy community can provide so much in our lives and especially in our marriages.  Someone to listen and pray for you.  Someone to speak the truth in love and call you out when you are not being the wife God has called you to be.  Someone to encourage you and challenge you.  Someone who has your best interest in mind and wants your marriage to succeed. 
Surround yourself with people who are for you, cheering you on, encouraging you through your marriage.
 Teams do much better when there is a strong cheering section!

CHALLENGE: In this new year, pray that God would bring at least one new couple into your life that you can learn from and be challenged by.
*I feel that it is very important to make a disclaimer that if you are in an abusive relationship of any kind, get help immediately.  I don’t believe that God has called anyone to stay in an abusive relationship.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy Weekend

 This guy is on his way down to visit
And this lady has been here all week visiting, waiting for him to come!
So while preparing for company, this is a very quick post to say happy weekend!
*I'm switching it up and Intentional Family will start up Monday with a new series -
Intentional Marriage
(Intentional Woman will come later!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Embrace the Spa

Today my Moma and I are spending the day at the spa!
Here's a photo from the last time we spent the day at the spa together!

Don't worry, here's what we looked like after!
Hope your day is relaxing!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Last night I had to say goodbye to one of my very best friends. (Just one of those blocks in my life that has crashed down and is now scattered upon the floor!)  I don’t think it will really hit me for a few days or weeks – until I want to see her and her adorable family and I can’t because they now live so far away. God has called them to a new adventure in Tennessee. Looks like God is calling me to a new adventure without her by my side – at least not physically by my side! I’m grateful that she is a prayer warrior and constant support to me and my family and although she will be far away,
I know our friendship will only grow stronger.
I gave her a little goodbye gift. I told her it was only for her and to be placed somewhere that mostly she will see it – like her vanity or the laundry room! It’s a photo I took of several women laying hands on her, praying over her a few months back. I want her to know that she will always be covered in prayer.
Isn’t that one of the best things about the body of Christ? We are knit together by the power of prayer and we can intercede for one another anytime!
I will deeply miss my Gretchie!
But I’m hoping to rack up some serious miles flying out to visit!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Great Exchange

It’s a NEW year!!
As is in my tradition, I sat at the beach yesterday and recapped the past year. I think it might be the first time in my life that looking back, I can say, 2011 is a year that I am grateful is over. In the past month I’ve heard several people say 2011 was one of their worst years, a year they couldn’t wait to end. I didn’t really understand that until I honestly reflected on this past year and mostly agree. It was almost like each month of 2011 added one more life lesson block to the tower until the tower collapsed in the 12th month. All I know now is that with blocks all over the floor, I’m looking forward to a major rebuild this year! (In the weeks to come, I will share more details of the life lesson blocks, and most importantly, the crashing down of those blocks. I am confident that it will be a source of great encouragement and challenge to you, as it has been for me.) As I sat at the beach, the beautiful words of Isaiah came to mind:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
Isaiah 61:1-4

Here’s to The Great Exchange of 2012!~
Exchanging ashes for beauty, mourning for gladness, despair for praise!
Let’s exchange devastation for restoration, renewal and a grand rebuild!

Check out What’s For Dinner on the RIGHT > it’s back!
On Monday, January 9th, the Intentional Family series will begin with Intentional Woman.


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