Skip to the Moms

I’m reading 100 CHRISTIAN WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE 20TH CENTURY by Helen Kooiman Hosier and I’ve skipped to the moms.  There are several categories into which the chosen women are divided:  speaking/writing; Bible study ministry/education; and categories including arts; missions, social change, etc.  The last category, and the one with the fewest women included is  Marriage/Motherhood.

I intend to read every category and no doubt be blessed and inspired by every woman’s story, but I began with the most important category and I was not disappointed.  I asked the question regarding these women, and indeed all women who do great things for God:  “Yes, but who was the mother?”  This book delivered.  Indeed, the first mother mentioned was Mary Lee Bright.  That’s right, the mother of Bill Bright (Vonette Bright is one of the women honored in this book).

We all know the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman,” and we always think that is only his wife.  But it is also his mother, and if she does her job, she will be a key player in the success of his marriage, in the blessing and leading of his wife.  Naomi to Ruth is what we’re looking at here.

Skip to the mom.  Be the mom.  Bless the mom.   And then, whether or not you’re listed in a marvelous book such as 100 CHRISTIAN WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE 20TH CENTURY, you will nevertheless change the world.

Seriously! Me Read The Lord of the Rings?!!!

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I’ve stopped the lament about the dearth of edifying, smut-free, uplifting and thought-provoking books being published recently.  I’ve even taken a further step and am reading well-known classics (some are awful, by the way, and don’t deserve finishing) and lesser known but quite excellent books, such as Beverly of Graustark, and Elizabeth Goudge’s ever-so-marvelous Pilgrim’s Inn.

But today I have made up my mind to read books recommended by my family, books I’ve resisted for a number of years, throughout our home school journey.

hobbit-house

Experience says this is a good idea.  Case in point:  The HobbitSince high school when my girlfriend urged me repeatedly to read it, I have said, “It’s not my thing.  I know I won’t like it.”

My kids have also relentlessly pestered and badgered me to read The Hobbit, and finally, after years of resistance, I relented and read it.  And loved it!  And over the past three weekends, the three Hobbit movies have been our excellent viewing entertainment (greatly enhanced and understood because of first reading the book).

So where does all this go?  To the classic literature they have all read, the books they pity me in my ignorance of, and stubborn resistance about – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

girl-in-read-reading

There seems to be a sort of secret affinity and understanding, a club of higher thinkers if you will, that those of us who haven’t read The LOTR books simply cannot fathom.  Therefore, it would behoove me, methinks, to read these literary masterpieces and make everyone in my house believe there is hope after all, that miracles do indeed happen, and that Mom is redeemable – perhaps even interesting – now that she is learning the difference between an orc and a ring wraith, and can even speak a bit of Gollum.

Here’s the Challenge:  Read things you don’t think you’ll like, just to make someone else happy.  Who knows what could happen?  Maybe the next time I want them to read something marvelous about which they have reservations, they’ll just read it!

What a concept – reading something new and different just because it will make someone else happy, just because it’ll give you insights into their strange conversations, just because it’s the way into “The LOTR Club” of higher thinking individuals.  This sounds like a no-lose deal.

And who knows, I might even like it, orcs and all.

 

Do Try This at Home

english-cottage

I don’t usually say much about money, because I don’t have the II Corinthians 9:8 “enough for all my needs and an abundance to give to every good work” bank balance.  So, I figure I’m not really qualified to give financial advice.

But then, I look at people who earn more money than we do in our single-income, many-membered home, and who live without many of the luxuries that for me definitely qualify as “needs.”  A fire in the fireplace in wintertime is a need and a luxury, and one I never intend to do without, so help me, God.  Making my own chemical-free skincare is a need (especially in the high and dry Rocky Mountains) and a luxury.  Having money to do a little traveling, and more importantly the time and presence of mind to enjoy it, is a need and luxury (N&L).

The list goes on:  green coffee beans for home roasting; homemade Dijon mustard and money to buy books such as The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, wherein such recipes are found; and Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks. 

Melissa Gilbert’s My Prairie Cookbook was a gift, and having the time as well as the beautiful stamps and stationery at the ready to send a prompt and heartfelt thank-you note is, of course, both N&L.  And the time to peruse this book and suggest my daughter use it to bake sweet-tart apple muffins, to the delight of all participating parties, is the epitome of N&L.

clock

The time.  So often people say they don’t have time for such shenanigans as enjoying the making and partaking of muffins with their daughters.  They don’t have time for this or that.  For what are they working?

I’ve been there and done that – the endless, mindless, thankless grind, and the eating out and on the fly of non-food substances; the bounced checks and astronomical service charges because I didn’t have the presence of mind that “taking the time” gives us.

We all have the same 24 hours, and we can either use time as a tool, or it can be our enemy.  We deceive ourselves when we think we don’t have time to cook from scratch, to balance a checkbook, to write a friend a thank-you note.

mailboxes

Most people think the goal of time management is to get more done.  I say the goal of time management is freedom from enslavement to the clock.  Rather than getting more “things” done, how about getting more people loved and enjoyed?

And how does all this tie into money?  First of all, it leads to peace and satisfaction, something that we so often try to buy.  A great example is a breadmaker.  I used my breadmaker plenty until it went kaput, and now that I know the satisfaction of making the boule for artisan bread, now that I’ve tasted my child’s authentic French bread, I will never again clutter my kitchen counter with a breadmaker.

New tools are great for my husband’s shop (yes, I do have and love some kitchen tools, but there are limits).  My kitchen is a place where romance reigns, where money is saved and even made.  I am, in effect, making money, learning a new and fun skill, impressing other people (I’d like to say this isn’t important to me, but alas . . . ) and making an amazing treat when I make pear butter from the pears that have been too long in the window sill.  Said pear butter demands the making of super flaky biscuits for brunch, to which we invite the neighbors, adding eggs scrambled with cream cheese and a delicious homemade and homegrown turkey sausage (Christmas gift from same neighbors) and serving it all with a giant pot of delicious tea (giant and lovely teapot another gift which merited the sending of a thank-you note).

muffins

When I roast my own organic coffee beans nice and dark and aromatic, and convince my mostly non-coffee drinking family to share a small cup as we talk about what we’re writing, plotting, or planning, I am living in the rhythms of grace not often observed by today’s families.

coffee

I first heard of roasting green coffee beans at home from financial advice guru Mary Hunt, who convinced me there’s no comparison between brew-ready and home roasted coffees.  Mary Hunt also echoes wisdom I once received after praying about finances:  You can have anything you want if you stop eating out.

We are back to taking and making and managing time so that we can be creative and artisitic in the kitchen.  A functioning and active kitchen is at the top of the N&L list.  Let’s make a list, asking the question, “What do we gain when we cook and eat at home?”

  1.  Money!
  2. Skills
  3. Nutrition
  4. Joys of creativity
  5. Better tasting food (after a little learning in some cases)
  6. Family fun
  7. Self esteem
  8. Real mealtimes
  9. House that smells like a home
  10. __________________________________________ (your turn)

So here’s my money advice in a nutshell:  If at all possible, do it at home.  In many cases you will find what’s done in your kitchen is much more satisfactory than that made to exist on a shelf for six months, and often less expensive.

cash

But money management isn’t about what’s the least expensive, it’s about what satisfies the most, what’s really worth it, what is both N&L.  You may think chocolate covered peanuts are both N&L, but I say make them at home from quality ingredients (real butter for starters) and you’ll have more of your needs met (we NEED to create) with more luxury to boot.

Enjoy them over conversation with home roasted coffee, or perhaps while watching Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in Pride and Prejudice.  At home, where all good things begin and end, anyway.

english-cottage

P.S.  For more inspiration and ideas, join me Fridays at 2:00 Mountain Time, on 1360 AM radio, The Lion, in Johnstown, CO.

A Different Kind of January on the Home Front Radio Show

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Tomorrow on the Home Front Show (1360 am radio in Johnstown, Colorado) I have about three hours of material to fit into one.

I’m going to share from The Founder’s Bible excerpts entitled Saturate Yourself in God’s Word and A Most Interesting Act of Kindness.  I’ll be discussing how the Bible doesn’t talk about New Year’s Resolutions – rather, we are shown by example to make New Day’s Resolutions.

Resolutions in January?  January, rather than being fit for get-up-and-go activities, is much more suited to hibernation, fireside chats, and thick socks and sweaters.  And even if you live where it’s 80 degrees, just think of January as a lovely time for recovering from the holidays, for thoughtfully and prayerfully and gently easing yourself into the new year.

But back to the Home Front Show (Friday, Jan 6 at 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time):  I’m going to call on the written words of wise women tomorrow, regarding marriage and homemaking.  I’ll be sharing marriage thoughts from my own book, The Maker’s Marriage, as well as choice words from Dr. Laura’s The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.  Time permitting Edith Schaeffer will be quoted, and I’m going to rock a few boats with thoughts from Bringing up Bebe.

As almost always there will be a plug for Home Schooling.  Bringing Up Bebe is actually a book I recommend for moms who can’t wait until their kids are old enough to send to school, and another author who probably never thought she’d be used for this purpose is Jane Brocket.  I’ll be suggesting that Jane’s books might be almost all you need for a fabulously fun and productive home school curriculum for girls.

The show will go on – to other topics, in particular that of personal identity, and protection from “identity theft.”  In December I started talking about identity theft in our society, but didn’t get very far due to time constraints.  So, January’s shows (every Friday at 2:00 p.m. MT) will all at least touch on this, with a special and eloquent speaker on the subject joining us for the final January show.

The Home Front Show is all about building your home through building your faith.  So, as I always say on the broadcast (or something to this effect), “Do you have a friend who could use a boost?  Call her or him and say,Tune in to the Home Front Show!'”

THE INESTIMABLE POWER OF GOOD BOOKS, AND SOME FAVORITES FOR ALL AGES

A child in the direst of circumstances, experiencing the darkest of childhood horrors, can learn of, and be programmed to seek, better worlds via the reading of good books.

But what is a good book?  One of sacrificial love, heroic acts, and a victorious ending.  One reflecting what and who we are – created in the very image of God to create new worlds, to overcome old evils, and most of all, to love forevermore.  Such a book, if we’re very lucky as adults, will be full of beautiful description, and if we’re children or reading along with children (yay!) will grant us the privilege of gazing upon anointed artwork.

Escape from “reality”?  Not so much as adventurous travel to a higher and more honest “reality.”  That’s because a good book, perhaps especially the most amazingly fantastical of them (think Tolkein, Lewis, Rowling) draws us into and takes us along with people becoming more than they ever dreamed or imagined they could be.  And that is what we really want in a book – humans being who we truly are, doing what we’re truly capable of doing.  More than conquerors.

Enough of such reading and a child will decide that the paltry, dingy, and the defeated is the fantasy, and that he/she is going to live on a higher plane, just like that hero and that heroine in that most excellent of gifts – a good book.

Toward the end of promoting your and your child’s literary delights, I have, with the assistance of my children (now more or less grown-ups) compiled an abbreviated list of excellent reading.  Many of these books are endorsed by not only all four of our (my and husband John’s) children, but by John and me as well.

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So, here goes, more or less ordered from early read-aloud picture books, to adult literature.

IF I HAD A LITTLE TRAIN by Larry DiFiori

GOODNIGHT GORILLA by Peggy Rathmann

BARNYARD DANCE by Sandra Boynton

GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU by Sam McBratney

TIMOTHY TATTERCOAT by Maryel Cheney THIS IF ONE OF MY FAVORITE READALOUDS

HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson

FROG AND TOAD (ALL OF THEM!) by Arnold Lobel ANOTHER FAVORITE READALOUD FOR MOM

LITTLE CRITTER (ALL OF THEM) JOHN’S FAVORITE READALOUDS

THE COMPLETE PETER RABBIT by Beatrix Potter

STELLA LUNA by Janell Canon

THE LADY AND THE LION by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and Laurel Long (marvelous illustrator)

FIVE DOLLS AND THEIR FRIENDS by Helen Clare

THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE by Elizabeth Goudge

BALLET SHOES by Noel Streatfeild

PIPPI LONGSTOCKING by Astrid Lindgren

MRS. PIGGLE WIGGLE by Betty MacDonald

THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by Kate DiCamillo

MARY POPPINS by P. L. Travers

HANK THE COWDOG and all other books by John R. Erickson

BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C. S. Lewis

THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain

A LITTLE PRINCESS and THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS, ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, and THE LONG WINTER by Laura Ingalls Wilder

LITTLE WOMEN and LITTLE MEN by Louisa May Alcott

A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle

TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L. M. Montgomery

KIDNAPPED and TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson

THE GOOSE GIRL TRILOGY by Shannon Hale

HANS BRINKER AND THE SILVER SKATES by Mary Mapes Dodge

THE LEGEND OF HOLLY CLAUS by Brittney Ryan and Laurel Long

THE BLACK STALLION by Walter Farley

UNDERSTOOD BETSY by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST by Richard Henry Dana

LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER by Deborah Wiles

THE NICKEL PLATED BEAUTY by Patricia Beatty

THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON by Johann David Wyss

PRINCE ACROSS THE WATER and THE ROGUES by Jane Yolen

THE PERILOUS GARD and THE SHERWOOD RING by Elizabeth Marie Pope

RASCAL by Sterling North

THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND by Elizabeth George Speare

MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN by Jean Craighead George

CROWN DUEL by Sherwood Smith

THE STORY OF KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS by Howard Pyle

CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E. B. White and Garth Williams

ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe

OLD YELLER by Fred Gipson

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart

BEAUTY by Robin McKinley

BY THE GREAT HORN SPOON and anything else by Sid Fleischman

THE MUSHROOM PLANET SERIES by Eleanor Cameron

A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST and FRECKLES by Jean Stratton Porter

RIFLES FOR WATIE by Harold Keith

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O’dell

DRAGON CODEX SERIES by R. D. Henham

THE HARRY POTTER SERIES by J. K. Rowling

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte

JUBAL SACKETT and THE LAST OF THE BREED by Louis L’Amour

THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY by J. R. R. Tolkein

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen

DADDY LONGLEGS and DEAR ENEMY by Jean Webster – ALL TIME BEV FAVORITES

BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens

STRANGER AT WILDINGS by Madeleine Brent (ANYTHING BY MADELEINE BRENT!!!)

THE P. G. WODEHOUSE COLLECTION by P. G. Wodehouse

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL by James Herriot

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

 

These are a few books that at least two of us agree to be exceptional books.  Obviously this list could be much, much longer and include more of your favorites as well.  But I hope that you find something there you’d forgotten about and want to read again, as well as something you always meant to read, and something you never even heard of, such as Daddy Longlegs, or By the Great Horn Spoon.  Happy Reading Adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

Is This Romance or a Colossal Waste of Time?

woman reading photo

So many books, so little time.  Why, then, am I reading the most forgettable of books?  Because I am trying to escape laziness by being lazy.  Say what?

I recently read two very different books.  The second one is so forgettable (by a very successful modern author) that I won’t bore you with its title.  The first book, however, sent me to Alibris.com to see what else I might find by the author.  I started this book during Thanksgiving week, so it took a while to finish.  But even as I was busy with other quite enthralling and enjoyable activities, I was thinking about the book, about the main character’s dilemma.  I was, as I explained to my family, “intensely involved’ in this story.

book on desk with glasses

Right.  The name of the book:  Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  This book enhanced my thinking, revved up my mental engines.  Like another recently enjoyed excellent book, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Lady Audley’s Secret satisfied my heart’s desire for new insights and revelations, as well as reacquaintance with deep and almost forgotten heart’s truths.

So, why again do I pick up twaddle and use up precious hours of my life reading it, and then forgetting it as soon as possible?  It’s called “escape” and aptly so, but to where?  I escaped to intriguing worlds with Mary Elizabeth Braddon and with Elizabeth Gaskell, but with the author who must not be named I escaped to . . . I don’t remember.

 

beautiful library

So many bad (inane, intelligence insulting, smut-filled) books.  So many good books.  I choose good.

Oh, and one more thing!  Beware the “poignant” books.  This usually means the author’s life stinks and he/she wants yours to, also, via reading this tripe.  Try instead something whose very feel in your hands makes you say, “I wonder what’s in here.”

old books

Yay! Chapter 3 of The Maker’s Marriage

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” – Proverbs 15:4

donkey

Beverly has got her a good man.”—Leona Webb, my grandmother, upon watching John do his usual stellar job in changing Rebekah, using his perfectly folded cloth diaper. I store up and call on such memories any time the enemy of my soul tries to make me discontent. And, what’s more, I share such stories. I brag on my man.

3 – Them Positive Confessions

 First Words Count Bigtime

       Her name was Sharon, and she was an obvious and victorious Christian. She was my beautiful and joyous neighbor, striding across the parking lot on her husband’s arm. When she asked how things were going, my litany of defeat was the wrong answer. “Oooh, Girl,” she said, “Quit makin’ them negative confessions!”

Your first words, in any situation, set the tone; they give the invite—either for blessing or breaking, for life or for death. Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Look at the following two scenarios and then determine which one sounds more like my friend Sharon’s probable response to any marital discord:

  1. “That’s it. I’ve had it. I don’t have to listen to this crap.”
  2. Long and deep breath, concentrated thought and internal prayer. Father, you promised me wisdom. Help me to understand what’s really going on here. Help me to see my mate as you see him. Give me the words. Speak through me, Holy Spirit.

Incidentally, Sharon had a special place in my heart simply because she was the wife of an OU football player.

“Who cares?” you say. “How is OU football relevant?”

Do you not know? Have you not heard? OU football is relevant to all things, especially my and John’s first argument.

We were having Thanksgiving at my dad’s and we ruined it for everyone, arguing over Oklahoma vs. Arkansas football. When John started badmouthing the Sooners and I came right back with cut-to-the-bone remarks about the Razorbacks (to which John said I was just as obnoxious as any other Sooner fan). We knew nothing about the power of first words. We were simply focused on having the last word.

*****

Recently John and I got a little tiny bit crossways over the care and cleaning of wooden cutting boards. When he responded to my learned wisdom with an unbelieving “Who told you that?” my mind instantly went into turbo-charged overdrive. But right in the middle of the thoughts, I think I know a little more than you about a few things, and I am not the village idiot, and I don’t have to give you chapter and verse, I put on the brakes and started trying to see things his way. He does not think I’m the village idiot. After a few moments wherein he picked up his book and began pretending to read as I watched and tried not to grin, he looked at me and grinned back.

Who, really, gives a flying flip about the care and keeping of wooden cutting boards? I do, I do, I do. I’m right. Go find the info on the Net and prove it to him. Or just shut up, give him a hug and let God handle it.

If it turns out John is right (using harsh soap and hot water and scrubbing my lovely boards) I will simply smile and say, “Well, Honey, I should have known you were right. What was I thinking? Where do I sign up for the Germophobe Club?” He’ll then give me a bear hug and call me a smartass and wonder why he ever thought he could have the last word. I just can’t lose, really. And neither can he.

Oh, you want to know the details, so you can see who’s right and who’s wrong? After all, you say, “There are different protocols for cleaning up after raw chicken as opposed to chopped walnuts!” The point is simply, “Are we really going to get crossways over this?” If pride’s on board (giving Satan legal access) then yes, we will get crossways. Two people cannot live together in real harmony of spirit when pride is in operation. Pride’s presence will result in both people thinking and saying “I” and “me” thoughts.

John and I once cooked dinner for a young couple with two little ones (one a newborn), and were enjoying their company immensely. But when the toddler got stinky there was an immediate battle about who would change him. I empathized with the stay-at-home mom who, when the husband said it was her turn, came back with, “I’ve been changing him all day. It’s your turn.”

In John, I am blessed to have a husband who wanted his turn, who was smart enough to know I had gotten my fill of “turns.” But still, when my babies were wet or dirty, I just handled it. Whoever found it, whoever was closer, took care of it. We looked at caring for our children as a duty and a privilege, and as a joint and joyous effort. It was not a competition in laziness.

Of course, I wasn’t always so sharp. In fact, I was more than a bit overwhelmed with my firstborn, Vann. My dad came by to check on us when Vann was three weeks old. He found Vann crying in my arms as I wailed and dropped tears all over my baby’s sweet head. “One of you,” Dad said, “is going to have to be an adult.” Not me, I immediately thought. I looked down at my child. Oh.

In those days I was truly on my own, except for the blessed weekends when Dad bought my gas so I could go home to Mom. It was a tough job, but there was no alternative. One of us, as a wise man once said, had to be an adult.

What does that look like? First of all, let’s establish the fact that adult behavior very often has an inverse relationship with age. I have numerous memories of adult and responsible behavior as a child and as a teen, and even more memories of being a brat at age 45. Adult behavior begins with yielding to Jesus, and therefore operating in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Childish behavior whines, “I want what I want and that’s the end of it.” Adult behavior has the sense to know that first words set the tone, that first words are irretrievable, that the other person (remember, that mate God gave you to love, honor, cherish, bless, and fight for?) will be affected for good or for evil, depending on the words chosen.

First words go along with first actions. You will not get good actions in tandem with bad words. You will not rub your mate’s shoulders at the same time you say, “I hate your sorry self.”

Oh, you know all this, but you just can’t seem to stop with the harsh and hurtful words and ways? Jesus is the only permanent and complete solution to evil. And words that invite the devil to come on in and take up residence in your home are evil.

Again and as always, Jesus is the solution. To be more specific, the unconditional love, grace, kindness, goodness, forgiveness, and mercy of Jesus in you, will cause you to pass these things on to your mate. If Jesus doesn’t have your heart, if you haven’t accepted the gift of His love for you, if you aren’t spending time with Him every single day, then every time a problem or issue comes up, you’re in for it.

How much time with Jesus? That depends on how skilled you want to be in the fine arts of love and marriage. How much victory do you want?

Maybe your marriage is a battlefield. Change your weapons. In order for there to be Strife (remember Strife’s attendant putridness—confusion and every evil work?) you must be using the wrong weapons and fighting the wrong enemy. Repeat after me: “My mate is not the enemy. My mate is my mate.”

Words, particularly first words, are weapons, for good or for evil. Make up your mind for once and for all that your words will be weapons for good. And since we know from the Book of James that no man (in his own strength) can tame the tongue, you must harness yours to the Holy Spirit and get out of God’s way.

Yes, I know the pressure, the temptation to say what you’re feeling, is almost unbearable. I know when you manage not to go ballistic on your mate, you feel you have to tell someone. But resist! This is hazardous to the health of your marriage. The only one you can always safely tell is Jesus, and even then you must muzzle your tongue.

Satan can and will use everything you say against you. He’s the one pressuring you—endlessly, maddeningly—pushing, taunting, and provoking.

I remember once, long ago, when I decided to have a TV fast (the kids were little and I was beginning to use TV as a sitter) and I put the TV in the garage. The reactions were interesting. John didn’t care, the kids didn’t care. I, however, was consumed with a desire to watch all the Rocky movies. I couldn’t think of anything else. Well, I was smart enough (if barely) to recognize where this pressure and temptation came from, and to laugh at it. Note: If you laugh at the demons hissing in your ear, they will cease.

When I recognize fearful and untrue thoughts as what they are—lies, and refute them aloud with the truth (scripture), just as promised, the devil flees (“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7). When I eat half a jar of fudge sauce straight from the fridge and thoughts of defeat, recrimination and disgust come at me, I say, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” I’m choosing to believe II Corinthians 5:21 – “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” This doesn’t mean I particularly approve of my behavior, but let me tell you this one thing: If I’m going to speak someone else’s words about me, that someone is not going to be Satan.

Who’s Using Your Words?

Remember, the words you speak will determine your actions. You’d better make sure they’re words of life and love and light. The words you speak will be used by God to make a way for His will, or they will be used by the Great Deceiver. First, he will pressure you into saying them (“Go ahead and leave, see if I care,” is a good example of words from Hell), and then he will convince you of your right to say them, and soon you’ll actually believe them. Of course, when the inevitable regret sets in, he’ll get you with shame and condemnation.

But if you know Jesus, if you meditate on His Word, you will be strong in His love, and able to refuse the enemy’s guilt trip. You will understand how guilt strengthens sin’s power over you.

I rejoice when I read Paul’s words about this shame-obliterating love in Romans 8:38, 39 – “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eventually, as you spend increasing time in the Word and in prayer, you’ll recognize thoughts that aren’t life thoughts, and when you feel the pressure to say what should not be said, you’ll be able to say life words back to the death words—you’ll know in an instant to take those thoughts captive (Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ – II Corinthians 10:5). You’ll be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that at the first hint of stress, you’ll be able to recognize and deal with its source.

The Fruits of the Spirit will become your weapons, your antidotes. When hateful thoughts come, you’ll counter and defeat them with Love (the really big gun!). When sorrow comes you’ll regain your strength by calling on Joy. Peace will annihilate worry, and impatience will give way to the formidable force of Patience. Rather than driving your mate away from the love of Christ with unkind words, Kindness will make both of you victorious! And rather than being a “control freak” (who is actually someone out of control), Self-control will rule you to such an extent that you won’t even notice the misbehaviors of others (except to pray POWERFUL prayers for them). Your weaknesses will become strengths.

The enemy of our souls attacks us when we’re weak, and in our weak spots. But we can look at these attacks as signposts, pointing us to the areas needing our attention, our nurturing, and concentrated prayer efforts.

Take Joy, for instance. The joy of the Lord is our strength, as we know from the Word, and from experiencing the power we feel when we’re joyous. Because I’m naturally a happy person, I don’t accept a lack of joy as normal. Do I still have to fight for my Joy? Absolutely! Because Joy is so important to a Home Maker’s success, the enemy will steal it if at all possible.

Do I walk in the Fruits of the Spirit all the time? I am there sometimes, in some areas. Other times, I feel myself getting all bent out of shape, and that’s my warning: Wait just one minute, Sister. What’s really going on here? Jesus, are you trying to tell me something?

Whadda Ya Say? Let’s Praise Our Mates!

clapping lady

There’s only one human whose opinion really matters to me. Recently John got up feeling terrible (an entire night following three entire weeks of coughing all night) and growled at me at the breakfast table. Because I’d given up sleeping next to him, and spent my night on the couch, I was not my usual wise and charming self. I snapped right back, slammed my uneaten breakfast in the sink and went on a walk.

In days of old I’d have stayed gone an hour or two—let him stew, right? This one took about five minutes. After asking God for wisdom (how did Satan get at us?) I thought of two things immediately: 1) I didn’t have my Quiet Time; and 2) just before our little tiff I said some very dangerous words—words of judgment. I judged people for judging people.

I was talking about the rampant divorce in the Church and saying that one major reason is because of how judgmental many Christians are about divorce. “What you judge will come on you,” I had said with just a bit of satisfaction.

You see, I was one of those divorced women who felt she had a huge red “D” branded on her forehead every Sunday. And when those family members who once judged me ended up with children who had their own marital issues (including divorce), perhaps I had been a bit smug.

Had I evaluated my own behavior, judging myself (For if we would judge ourselves we would not be judged. – I Corinthians 11:31) maybe I would have recognized I hadn’t quite forgiven those who judged me.

But God is patient, and always working with me, bringing me gently along. So, after my little walk and talk with Him, I went back to John, determined not to have my say and get my way and make him see the errors of his ways. I went back determined to join with him in kicking Satan in the teeth (and elsewhere).

Meanwhile our children were joined in prayer for us, and later told us they prayed almost exactly what we prayed. We prayed for additional issues (unbeknownst to them) that were uncovered through this event, and God grew us rather marvelously.

My “Ha, ha, ha’s” are now aimed at the enemy. And added to my never-to-be-missed-again Quiet Time is ever more fervent prayer for freedom for the Body of Christ.

Perhaps most satisfying of all is the sure knowledge that it will be a long, long time (I declare never) before I receive ugly thoughts, much less speak ugly words, to or about my darlin’.

*****

What do you say about your mate, about your marriage, and about yourself? Do those words line up with scripture? Are your words builder’s words or breaker’s words? Beware! Your mind will shut down to hear what your mouth has to say and will then act on it. If you say you’re sick and tired, you’re not putting up with it, it’s not fair, your marriage was a mistake, there’s no use in trying, your mate is a pig from Hell who gets to have all the fun, he doesn’t know how hard you work, etc., then your life, and you too, will be one big drag.

Suppose, however, that your words line up with scripture and you count your blessings all day long, always including that God neither gets fed up with you nor gives up on you. If also, you pray and read the Word morning, noon, and night, then your words will be life words, and your life will just get better and better and better.

Do you want your words to bring life? Do you want wrath long gone from your home? Find and memorize the following scripture from Proverbs 15:1—A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.

Yes, memorization sounds formulaic, and therefore suspect—perhaps not exactly what the Holy Spirit has for your individual situation. But here’s the beauty of it: the more time you spend with Jesus, even if it begins simply as a habit and/or because someone else suggested it, the sooner you’ll get to that place where you love being with Jesus, and it will just be who you are—someone who listens, hears, trusts, and obeys; someone who is blessed and highly favored by the Most High.

Relish, guard, and look forward to your blessing time with Jesus, where you learn what He has to say about you, your mate, and your marriage. Tuck those words and thoughts away in your heart. Soon, those words—life words—will be what come out of your mouth. You will be a blessing to yourself and all others in your sphere of influence.

Yes, you have influence, and yes, you want that to be a good influence. Everything you say to and about your spouse is powerful. Get this. Your words count (“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof .” – Proverbs 18:21) and your thoughts count, as they determine your words.

It’s Not That Complicated

So how do you change your thoughts? The Word fills the heart, which fills the head, which fills the mouth. (“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”– Matthew 12:34). It’s as simple as that: move in close to Jesus and keep the Word before your eyes, and coming in your ears. When you fill your heart with the Good Word of Jesus, you will speak good words.

It’s your choice. Are your words going to bring life or death to your marriage? Are you going to build your mate, or tear him down?

Spare yourself the grief of knowing you let the enemy use your words to hurt those you love, those whose hearts God has entrusted to you. Remember, this doesn’t only happen in an all-out battle. You can deeply wound that heart so attuned to you—the one so desperately in need of your absolute and always-faithful love, respect and kindness—with seemingly inconsequential words (no such thing). Just a tiny little whine about something they were “supposed to” do, or something they “should” be, will wound a weary heart.

God wants your marriage to be beautiful, so get your eyes off your mate’s issues and onto Jesus. If you don’t think there are areas in your heart He would like to heal and clean up, you have a pride issue. Repent! Otherwise, you are bound to wound your mate.

Warning: “Supposed to” goes right in the trash can with “should.” You are under grace. Refuse law, and stop trying to be the law. Your name isn’t Sheriff Wife. Your name is Lover Girl. (Think in fives: See Romans 5 and Galatians 5.)

The Builder Lady

farmhouse

Proverbs 14:1 speaks to me every time I read it: “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” The word “house” in this verse is translated from bayith, meaning “a house, especially family.”

Growing up and working on my dad’s construction sites gave me a good sense of what’s involved in building a house. Long before the homeowner served a lovely Thanksgiving turkey in her walnut-paneled dining room, there were plans, bulldozing, and slab pouring, plumbing, well drilling, and so forth. And this was just the beginning!

For the contractor, it was the beginning of headaches. Subcontractors didn’t show up and in some cases that was a blessing in disguise. Lumber store trucks delivered the wrong products, slabs resembled mountain ranges, rain never stopped, and the homeowner changed her mind about details almost daily.

But the contractor expected these little blips and even if there were times when he packed it up and went home early in hopes of saving his sanity, he always showed back up the next day. He was there for the duration. He was the “contractor”—he had a contract, an agreement, and he had a responsibility. And of course, he had the rewards: a beautiful finished product, a healthy amount of cash in the bank, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

More Than a Contractor

You, however, have much more than a contract. You made vows pertaining to a covenant. Even as your mission and calling are so much higher than that of a builder’s contract to construct a physical house, so are your potential rewards.

You won’t easily, magically, or instantly attain a strong and sure marriage and family. But if you are wise (and God promises us all wisdom for the asking) you can and will build your house, your family, your mate. With good words.

Suggested Reading: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell illustrates how great differences can be great strengths if we will let love have say-so; The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

Keys to Victory: Praise God that your tongue is a weapon for good; be the kind of woman your in-laws can brag on, because they love how you build their boy with your words; daily declare, “I take a stand against my enemy. My mouth is off limits. My words bring life!”