Thursday, February 28, 2013

Don't Throw Away Your Confidence

Last weekend I went to a teen girl conference with some other girls and moms from our church. The speaker was Lynn Cowell who was AMAZING (Check her out!)

She was speaking of our confidence as females - how we tend to base it on our looks, or our brains, or if we get a promotion, or our popularity, or basically tons of things that we shouldn't be basing our confidence on. She was a great speaker, and we went home with a chart that she actually nabbed from "A Confident Heart" by Renee Swope. I wanted to share it because I think it is great! (For anyone, not just females!)

When I say... What if I fail?  God says... I will give you victory! My truth: 2 Corinthians 2:14 - Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

When I say... I don't have enough courage. God says... Be strong and do the work. My truth: 1 Chronicles 28:20 - And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.

When I say... No one sees me. God says... I see you. My truth: Isaiah 43:4 - Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.

When I say.. I feel overwhelmed. God says... Let my love and faithfulness guard your heart. My truth: Lamentations 3:21-23 - This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

When I say... I don't have enough confidence. God says... I will be your confidence. My truth: Proverbs 3:26 - For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

When I say... I'm not good enough. God says... You're royalty to me. My truth: Isaiah 62:3 - Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

When I say... I'm nothing special. God says... You are a masterpiece. My truth: Ephesians 2:10 - For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

When I say... I'm not strong enough. God says... I am your strength. My truth: Psalm 73:26 - My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

When I say... I don't know what to do. God says... I will give you wisdom. My truth: James 1:5 - If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.   

Monday, February 25, 2013

God is More Than Enough Review

I just finished Tony Evans' book called God is More Than Enough. This book was awesome. Evans goes step-by-step through Psalm 23 and looks at it in a very detailed way that I've not heard before. Now, I have heard a lot of sermons and lessons on Psalm 23, but every time I hear someone talk about it I hear new and different things. Evans really goes in depth on each verse and I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read and very easy to understand. I am definitely going to blog about this book because I think it's a book that a lot of people would enjoy and gain a lot from.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Say It Ain't So

No... no... say it ain't so! Someone please tell me I don't have pictures from LAST JULY that I am just now posting. This is insanity.

This picture is one of Hunter's creations. Are you surprised? Stephen was out of town when this happened (fortunately!!) and I just thought it was classic Hunter. I don't know what made me think to check on this little door inside our dishwasher, but it turns out there is a hole on the outside of the dishwasher (that is supposed to be there) and crayons fit perfectly in this hole, and drop down into this container inside the dishwasher. I had to remove the cover to find these crayons. Who knows how many cycles they had been through! Ah, clean, fresh crayons!

 Bri and one of her best buddies, Adrianna, from church

 Hunter and Kaleb playing in church nursery:

Angel Tree party back in October!

Play date with the Radneys!! I think this is from October??

Take a break to check the mail!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Put On Waders

I'm reading a good book right now, called "Draw the Circle". Apparently it's the sequel to a book called "The Circle Maker". It's basically a book about prayer and how to get serious about your prayer life. It's really good, but I especially like this chapter I just finished. It's called "Put on Waders" and I want to share some of the excerpts with you. (These are the author's words, not mine.)

This first part is in reference to a drought which happened in Mississippi fifty years ago.

A drought threatened to destroy a season of crops, so a rural church called for an emergency prayer meeting. Dozens of farmers showed up to pray. Most of them just wore their regular clothes but one farmer showed up in waders! He got a few funny looks, but isn't that faith at its finest? If we genuinely believe God is going to answer our prayer for rain, isn't that exactly what we would wear? Why not dress for the miracle? That farmer simply said, "I don't want to walk home wet." And he didn't. But everyone else did.

I can't help but wonder if that act of faith is what sealed the miracle. I don't know for sure, but this I do know: God is honored when we act as if He is going to answer our prayers. And acting as if means acting on our prayers. After hitting our knees, we need to take a small step of faith. And those small steps of faith often turn into giant leaps.

Sometimes we need to take a step of faith just to show God that we're serious. It proves our faith. Don't just pray about your dream; act on it. Act as if God is going to deliver on His promise.

This isn't some "name it, claim it" scheme. If it's not in the will of God, if it's not for the glory of God, it's a waste of time, energy, and money. But if the dream is ordained by God, then that step of faith honors God. And God will honor your faith.

We want God to go first. That way we don't need to exercise any faith at all. But we've got it backward. If we want to see God move, we need to make a move. If it seems like God isn't moving in our lives, maybe it's because we aren't moving. But if we make a move, God will move heaven and earth to honor our faith.

Based on my experience, that first step is always the hardest and longest step. It will require the most faith. It will feel the most awkward. But if we step out in faith, signs will follow. In fact, an avalanche of blessing will overtake us and overwhelm us. We'll be buried in God's blessings.

When the Israelites were on the verge of entering the Promised Land, God commanded the priests to step into the river. I'd much rather have God part the river, and then I'll step into the miracle. That way I don't get my feet wet. But if we aren't willing to get our feet wet, we'll never walk through parted rivers on dry ground.

At flood tide, the Jordan River was approximately 200 feet wide. That was all that separated the Israelites from their 400-year-old promise. But if the priests hadn't stepped into the river, they may well have spent the rest of their lives on the eastern banks of the Jordan River. And that's where many of us spend our lives. We're so close to the dream, so close to the promise, so close to the miracle. But we're waiting for God to part the river, while God is waiting for us to get our feet wet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Power of a Praying Wife - Week 1

 Please note: My husband is conducting Power of a Praying Husband at this time. Unfortunately, he does not blog and I don't have his notes. So all this is just for the women in the marriage. :)

Week 1 of Power of a Praying Wife - The Introduction

Why are we wanting to become wives of prayer?

·        NOT to have control over our husbands
·        We want to learn to rely on God’s power to transform each of us individually, our husbands, our circumstances, and our marriages.
·        We must want to DO right more than BE right
·        We must want to GIVE LIFE more than GET EVEN
·        We want God’s power to be invited into our husbands’ lives so he will have an abundance of blessings
·        If you don’t pray for your husband you will never find the blessings and complete fulfillment that you want

What other methods have you tried in your marriage other than prayer? The author talks about these methods she tried and failed – arguing, confronting, debating, and silent treatment.

What is the hardest part about praying for your husband? Your husband can hurt your feelings, be inconsiderate, uncaring, abusive, irritating, or negligent. He can hurt you like no one else. And that can really cut into your prayers for him.

We must realize that we do not have authority over our husbands. Or we shouldn’t, anyway. But we DO have authority over Satan. Luke 10:19 says “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” So when we pray, we can do a lot of damage to Satan’s plans. We have to just say, “I won’t let anything destroy my marriage.” “I won’t stand by and watch my husband be destroyed.” “I won’t just sit still while this invisible wall goes up between us.” “I won’t allow confusion, miscommunication, wrong attitudes, and bad choices erode our marriage.” “I won’t tolerate hurt and unforgiveness leading us to divorce.” God has given us the authority in His name to stand up against all the negative things in our marriage. You can submit anything that controls your husband to God in prayer – alcohol, work, laziness, depressing, abusiveness, fear…

In the book, the author talks about a time where she actually considered separating or divorcing her husband.  But she (and I) believe that those options are not the best answer to a troubled marriage. But she definitely understands the despair you can feel in a marriage, the hopelessness you can feel, the loneliness that can make you turn to someone else. Don’t write off your marriage. God can take the husband you have and make him a new creature in Christ. And the same goes for you too! Husbands and wives aren’t meant to fight, be miserable, live in total disconnect from one another, and divorce. We have to fight for our marriages and not give up, because as long as we pray, there’s a chance.

While you’re putting this effort into praying for your husband it’s going to be very easy to think, “Well, what about ME? He needs to be praying for me too!” The author here says do NOT count on this. Praying for your husband is an act of unselfish, unconditional love and sacrifice on your part.

Let’s Begin! The first thing we’re going to pray for – your husband’s wife!

Stormie, the author, talks about her favorite prayer she liked to pray for her husband – “Change him, Lord!” I think we’ve all said that a time or two! But the more Stormie really started praying that she realized what she had to say, and what we should all be saying, is “Change ME, Lord.” It’s easy to say that we don’t need to change, and we don’t need improvement, but God sees things we don’t see. He doesn’t have to look at us very long to see attitudes and habits that are outside his perfect will for us. This is hard for us to see when we know our husband has been unkind, or unfaithful, or abusive, or just plain mean. But God sees our unforgiveness, or anger, or self-pity or revenge just as bad as those other sins. God can resurrect the deadest of marriages, but it takes humbling of ourselves. It means letting go of the past. It may even mean losing an argument here or there.

Step 1 –UNITY
Matthew 19:3-6. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Verses 5 and 6 are the really important ones here. Do you believe that you and your husband are one in the sight of God? You need to think of the areas where you and your husband are not working together as a team. WRITE THOSE AREAS DOWN so you can focus on them. Pray over these areas, asking God to unify you and your husband. Ask God to show you what you can do to bring you guys together in unity in those areas. Praying for your husband brings unity, just because prayer can wash away those feelings of anger and resentment that you might be holding onto.

Are there any areas in your marriage that make you feel hopeless? List these areas so you can begin to pray diligently for those things. Tell God how hopeless you feel. That you feel like things can’t change. Start praying that God would give you the faith you need to believe that he can answer this prayer and bring about change in these areas.

If your husband isn’t a believer, this is probably one area in which you really feel hopeless. If you are met with irritation whenever you bring up God to your husband, the best thing to do is probably keep silent and pray. 1 Peter 3:1 and 2 tells us that you can win your husband to the Lord by the conversation you keep and the fear of God that you show. And even if your husband is a nonbeliever you can still pray all of these prayers for him and you.

Joel 2:25. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
These areas of your marriage that you feel hopeless about – the things about your marriage that you wish you could change – the things that just eat away at you inside – these things are draining your marriage. But in this verse you can see God’s promise that He will restore us when things have been eaten away at our lives. Look at the locust as the devil. He eats away at us until we feel totally dragged down, tired of fighting for our marriage, tired of fighting with our children and our husbands, and we feel like giving up. We feel like we’re putting time and effort into something that’s not worth saving. But that’s not true at all. It will take time and it will take a lot of effort on your part and praying on your part, but God promises restoration, and we all know that God cannot lie.

Matthew 12:25. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
Is there any issue over which you and your husband are seriously divided? Write this down and remember to pray about this issue. It could be finances, the job that one of you has, adoption, decisions about your children, even things you believe in your faith. Jesus says that a house divided against itself won’t stand. That’s why you have to be so strong to continue praying about these issues. Nagging your husband to change his mind about something he feels strongly about is not going to work. It’s going to cause more strife between you. Yelling at him, making a list of “pros and cons”, pointing fingers at him – none of these things are constructive. And you’ve probably already tried them all! Start praying that God would show you, first of all, if you’re right about your opinion. It may be that you need to rethink some of the things you feel strongly about. Part of marriage is compromising and giving in. You can’t always be right. Once you feel like you really are taking a stand for God’s will in the issue, then you can begin praying for change in your husband’s heart.

Do you have any anger, unforgiveness, hurt or disappointment toward your husband? Think about the things that have caused you to have those feelings toward him. We’ve got to confess those negative thoughts about our husbands and repent about them. It’s hard to do this because as humans we feel so right in our emotions – even the very negative ones. But the prayer of confession and repentance has to come before you can begin praying for your husband with a right heart. If you even feel like you don’t even want to pray for your husband, ask God to give you that desire. He will. You should want the best for your husband because that will bring the best to your whole family. You may have to pray this prayer every single day, but soon you will see that you do want to pray for your husband and you do want all the best for his life.

If you’re angry at your husband, tell God. Don’t let it fester and get worse every day. 1 Corinthians 11:11 says “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” Think of it this way – your husband is someone who God loves very much. If someone called and asked you to pray for a family member, you would. Consider this as God asking you to pray for someone he loves very much.

Is there anything for which you need to ask your husband to forgive you? Oh, this is one we do not like to talk about! Ask God to show you if there’s anything you need to repent about – your attitude, an action towards your husband, even neglect. If that is revealed to you, write it down so you are absolutely aware of it. Ask God to give you the courage and the humility to ask your husband for forgiveness, and communicate to him that you have a desire to change.

Tell your husband that you’re going to be praying for him every day. Ask him if he has any prayer requests. This may be scary for you if your husband isn’t even a believer, but in my experience even when I’ve asked a nonbeliever if I can pray for them, they can always come up with something. It’s almost like they don’t want to believe but deep down they believe that prayer does work. I think this is a really important step because I think you’ll be shocked at the response your husband will give you. I remember when I first asked Stephen to share his prayer requests with me, and it wasn’t anything I would have guessed was weighing on his mind. It will make you and your husband open up more to each other and realize what his major concerns are. Most importantly, don’t forget to pray for him for these things! It does no good to know his concerns if you don’t take action. A lot of times I have found out that knowing what things are weighing so hard on Stephen’s mind make me a better wife. Knowing the things he’s going through at work or that he is really concerned about something makes me want to do something special for him, or makes me want to make sure he doesn’t have to worry about the house being cleaned up, and makes me be nicer to him even if he is a little snappy. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget that other people are going through so much mentally (even our spouses, who are probably our best friends).

Step 8 – ANGER
Proverbs 21:19. It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
Are there any issues in your marriage where you find yourself registering the same complaints or criticism over and over? Write those down. Ask God to show you when to speak up about these issues and when to just keep silent and pray. In my experience, when I complain about something my husband does, I usually do it in such a way that it makes him defensive, which makes me rebound with something, and so this argument that could have been avoided altogether gets blown out of proportion. Staying silent is something I have learned that I need to do. 

I shared three scenarios that may take place.

Scenario 1 - Your husband messes up (maybe says something snippy to you or criticizes you). You mouth off to him about what he says to you. Fight ensues.

Scenario 2 - Your husband messes up. You stay silent, pray about the anger you probably feel towards him. You forgive him. Later on (minutes, hours, days later) he apologizes. You are in your happy place.

Scenario 3 - Your husband messes up. You stay silent, pray about the anger you probably feel towards him. You forgive him. An apology never comes. But you're okay with that because you've forgiven him already.

You need to be okay with both Scenario 2 AND 3. You need to forgive without an agenda. Without expecting an apology. But staying silent is pretty much always the best way to go (in my opinion).

It’s definitely foolish to share every feeling and thought that you have. Honesty can hurt, and it doesn’t always show the whole truth. Our goal shouldn’t be getting our husbands to do what we want. Distinguish carefully between what is truly right and wrong. If it isn’t clearly wrong, keep your opinion to yourself. Or pray about the things and then, as God reveals it to you, reveal these things for a calm discussion. There are times we’re supposed to just listen and not offer advice. Obviously you don’t want to be a doormat, and you’re not supposed to be. But once your husband has heard your thoughts and feelings, don’t keep pressing him and start fights from doing so.

Psalm 62:5. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
Are there any expectations of your husband that you have that he’s not living up to? Write down what they are. Pray, asking God to show you where these expectations don’t match up to reality. Start to put these expectations on God so he can meet your needs.

Stormie talks about some basics that people expect of a marriage – fidelity, financial support, honesty, kindness, protection, physical and emotional love… but when it comes to specifics sometimes we try to make our husbands live up to every need we think we have. If we have a big list for our husbands to live up to and then we get angry or disappointed when they can’t, we are the ones in error. Stormie says that the biggest problems in her marriage occurred when her expectations of her husband didn’t coincide with the reality of who he was. The changes that you try to make happen in your husband are doomed to fail. Ask God to make any necessary changes. Accept your husband the way he is and pray for him to grow.

Step 10 – RESPECT
Ephesians 5:33. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Are there areas that you have lost respect for your husband? Think about these things. Ask God to reveals ways that you might have demonstrated a lack of respect for your husband. Confess these things and ask God to help you see your husband the way that God sees him. Many times we disrespect our husbands with our attitudes, or talking about them in front of other people, or even by using sarcasm or what we think is humor. Words can hurt, and they can put a wedge between you and your spouse.

Galatians 5:22, 23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Do you have any habitually negative ways of responding to your husband that need to be changed? What are they? Write them down. Ask God to show these things to you. Write down the fruit of the spirit that you need in order to eliminate the negative habit of response that you have.

Step 12 – Read Proverbs 31:10-31.
Ask yourself the following questions with “Yes” or “Need Improvement”.
Are you a trustworthy wife?
Are you an asset to your husband?
Do you work diligently to make a home in which he can be comfortable and happy?
Are you careful and wise with money?
Do you take care of your physical health and appearance?
Are you a giving person?
Are you prepared for the future?
Do you make sure your family members have their needs met?
Do you generally move in wisdom?
Are you loving and kind?
Is your relationship with the Lord alive, intimate, growing and strong?

Don’t be too hard on yourself, but ask God to help you with each area in which you need to improve. Ask him to help you become the wife he wants you to be.

The Prayer (a bit long, but this is a beautiful, all-encompassing prayer that you can pray for your husband. Tweak it based on your circumstances!)

Help me to be a good wife. I fully realize that I don't have what it takes to be one without Your help. Take my selfishness, impatience, and irritability and turn them into kindness, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear all things. Take my old emotional habits, mindsets, automatic reactions, rude assumptions, and self-protective stance, and make me patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Take the hardness of my heart and break down the walls with your battering ram of revelation. Give me a new heart and work in me your love, peace and joy (Galations 5:22, 23). I am not able to rise above who I am at this moment. Only You can transform me.

Show me where there is sin in my heart, especially with regard to my husband. I confess the times I've been unloving, critical, angry, resentful, disrespectful, or unforgiving toward him. Help me to put aside any anger, hurt, or disappointment I feel and forgive him the way you do - totally and completely, no looking back. Make me a tool of reconciliation, peace and healing in this marriage. Enable us to communicate well and rescue us from the threshold of separation where the realities of divorce begin.

Make me my husband's helpmate, companion, champion, friend and support. Help me to create a peaceful, restful, safe place for him to come home to. Teach me how to take care of myself and stay attractive to him. Grow me into a creative and confident woman who is rich in mind, soul and spirit. Make me the kind of woman he can be proud to say is his wife.

I lay all my expectations at Your cross. I release my husband from the burden of fulfilling me in areas where I should be looking to you. Help me to accept him the way he is and not try to change him. I realize that in some ways he may never change, but at the same time, I release him to change in ways I never thought he could. I leave any changing that needs to be done in Your hands, fully accepting that neither of us is perfect and never will be. Only You, Lord, are perfect and I look to You to perfect us.

Teach me how to pray for my husband and make my prayers a true language of love. Where love has died, create new love between us. Show me what unconditional love really is and how to communicate it in a way he can clearly perceive. Bring unity between us so that we can be in agreement about everything (Amos 3:3). May the God of patience and comfort grant us to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5). Make us a team, not pursuing separate, competitive, or independent lives, but working together, overlooking each other's faults and weaknesses for the greater good of the marriage. Help us to pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another (Romans 14:19). May we be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10). 

I pray that our commitment to You and to one another will grow stronger and more passionate every day. Enable him to be the head of the home as You made him to be, and show me how to support and respect him as he rises to that place of leadership. Help me to understand his dreams and see things from his perspective. Reveal to me what he wants and needs and show me potential problems before they arise. Breathe Your life into this marriage.

Make me a new person, Lord. Give me a fresh perspective, a positive outlook, and a renewed relationship with the man You've given me. Help me see him with new eyes, new appreciation, new love, new compassion, and new acceptance. Give my husband a new wife, and let it be me.

Other scripture to look at:

  • Mark 11:24, 25
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • Matthew 7:7,8
  • Proverbs 24:3,4
  • Galatians 6:9