Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Dealing with Typical “You’re Homeschooling?” Frustrations

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My husband and I are the first couple in our respective families to choose home education for our child. It is a decision we had come to long before we had our daughter, and one that we personally have felt convicted about ever since. Those of you who share the conviction understand how strong it can be, and yet those who look down on homeschooling can be quite passionate about their opinions on the matter as well. While we have been blessed to have families who support us (teasing and joking aside), I have had no shortage of jabs, insults, attacks, rude remarks and what I call “the look” from friends, strangers, acquaintances, etc.

I really had no idea how often it would happen until my daughter reached school age. We had done preschool at home and I have directed a homeschool choir for the past 6 years, so we were already well engrossed in the homeschooling community. Then my daughter turned five. Suddenly everywhere we went people began to ask her if she was in kindergarden. This is the question that does it. Here’s what often follows:

Acquaintance: “How old are you sweetie?”

Tabi: “Five”

Acquaintance: “And are you in kindergarden this year?”

Me: “Yes she is, although she’ll be starting first grade in about six weeks. We are home educators.”

Acquaintance: (*the look) “Oh, ok. And how is she going to be socialized?” or “Wow. You’re brave.” or “Well, I leave that to the professionals.” or “I’ve heard homeschooled students can’t get into colleges” or sometimes “Well I don’t think homeschooling is right. You don’t want your kid to grow up being different and weird do you?”

Yes! These comments are a dime a dozen. I hear these and many more constantly. Sometimes people hold their opinions and simply give “the look”, but I tell you, that look can be just as frustrating as the person who has to be reminded that not all socialization is beneficial or that colleges usually welcome homeschooled students because of their advanced study habits. It’s not easy to hear these comments or witness that “look” day after day. It’s not easy to be different. Yet, I’ve found that, while I don’t appreciate the response I get from people and wish that society as a whole were more open minded to accepting home education as a valid and fine educational choice, I have noticed that these anti-homeschooling remarks never sway my commitment to this path. I LOVE being a home educator and I know that it is the best choice for my family.

That being said, I want to share some tips on how to best deal with negative remarks towards homeschooling as a Christian and home educator:

1. Grace and Love. Remember that we are called to offer grace and love, even if we’re not getting it back. Smile. Be kind. Be gentle. Try not to let anger take over, but rather just be okay with it. Ask God to give you loving and kind words in your response.

2. Humility. Often our reaction to someone challenging our choices is pride. Homeschoolers can be very prideful about what we believe in and in a negative way. God never approves of a prideful spirit. We need to remember to put on humility and let that show in our response.

3. Facts. While speaking in love and humility, it’s okay to defend home education by sharing facts and information that the other person might not know. Try not to blast them with too much information, because that will come across as aggressive and we don’t want that. Just answer their points kindly and with information that makes sense.

4. Tolerance. This is a funny word that can be good or bad at times. While we want society to accept and respect home education, we also must be respectful and tolerant of those who have different opinions. The truth is, if people choose public school, it’s because they believe it is the best choice for their family. If we choose homeschool, it is because we believe it is the best choice. We don’t have to agree. What we do want to do is to respect one another and acknowledge that both they and us are simply doing what we think is best. I hate to see homeschoolers mocking and putting down public schooling just as much as I hate it when we are mocked. In this sense, we need to follow our convictions and respect one another.

5. Teach our kids to do the same. As often as we are confronted about home education, our kids will be confronted all the more. It is good for us to teach our children to be able to defend homeschooling in the same manner of love, humility, tolerance and with sound information like we should be doing. We don’t want to teach our kids to be prideful or judgmental, but rather to be confident, kind and loving when they are asked about their education.

I have one other bit of advice….choose your battles wisely! If I know that a certain person looks down on homeschooling and that a conversation about it is going to be pointless and frustrating, I may avoid the issue altogether. We don’t always have to be soldiers on guard to defend home education. We can choose peace over pointless conflict. It’s like the song says, “live and let live” right? haha

At the end of the day, these “looks” and remarks are going to keep happening and it probably gets worse as the kids get older. We have to try not to let it bother us and to remember that as Christians we are used to being different and standing apart. If we can reject the world to love and follow Christ, then surely, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can face challenge and even ridicule with grace and dignity, being good representatives of the homeschooling community.

God bless!

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How Does Divorce Affect the Kids?

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There’s no one answer that will cover all situations and circumstances when it comes to how divorce affects children. There are certainly circumstances in cases of various forms of abuse when children are better off living with one single parent than in a dangerous environment with both. Having said that, I’ve spent many years studying piles of statistics and reports showing with an overwhelming certainty that children of divorce suffer. Since around half of all children will at some point in their lives see the divorce of their parents (and half of those experience multiple divorces with parents), we are literally raising a generation of young people who have far more challenges, setbacks and long-lasting emotional baggage than our grandparents did. Just think of that for a moment. Half of the children today will be suffer from the affects of divorce, which often includes relationship problems themselves. The covenant of marriage may literally be going extinct.

Before going on, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am in no way trying to bring hurt and lay guilt upon those parents who have gone through divorce. Not at all. If you are reading this and feeling judged, please understand that this is not my intention and I am not judging you. Believe me, I understand very well the horrible kinds of situations you may be living in. I understand the hurt of unloving marriages. I understand what neglect looks like. I know how hard it is when two people are unequally yoked in their faith and unevenly matched in their personalities.

To prove that I’m not judging you, I’ll confess here that my own marriage has been difficult. My husband and I got married quickly without taking time to get to know each other. While my husband is a great man, a wonderful and loving father and an attentive, affectionate husband, we have faced many challenges. We don’t match up like some couples do. We don’t think the same way. What has kept us together these years, and kept our home a place of peace, love and encouragement for our daughter, is that we love Jesus Christ, believe that He desires marriage to be for life, trust Him that He will honor our obedience and we lay aside our own issues to walk in love and unity. We may not have started out with a fiery love, but we have grown in a deep love and commitment for one another. Sure, we could have just gotten divorced when we realized we were not so well-matched, but when I look at my daughter and how she smiles at us when Mommy and Daddy cuddle on the couch, I know it’s worth it. We have been blessed and we love each other, but it’s been hard work and it has required sacrifice of what we think we deserve in marriage sometimes. God is faithful.

That being said, let’s talk about the kids of divorce. The statistics show with no uncertainty that the majority of kids coming from homes of divorce suffer emotionally, academically, financially and even physically. I won’t get into a bunch of statistics here, but if you have the time and are interested, take a look at some of the links below. The information is both alarming and disappointing. You can argue about individual circumstances, but the truth is the children suffer.

Most kids from homes of divorce suffer immediate and long-term affects. They struggle in school keeping grades up. They often drop out of sports and extra curricular activities. They tend to experience emotional problems such as with depression, guilt, confusion and instability. They often cannot comprehend why it is happening. Many times they lose a relationship with one of the parents altogether. When parents start to date other people, they suffer with bitterness, jealousy and anger. They feel replaced or rejected.

Teens of divorce tend to get into more trouble. They are more likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex early on. They may look to fill that sense of emptiness within them with unhealthy and unsatisfying substitutes. Some run away from home. Teen pregnancy is more common. Some end up in juvenile detention.

Children of divorce often grow up to be people who are insecure and anxious. They are unhappy in relationships and don’t have a sense of what family should look like. They tend to need counseling and therapy well into their adult years. They are more likely to experience divorce themselves or to never want to marry. They have essentially lost faith in the institute of marriage. Some continue the unhealthy lifestyles they may have flirted with in the teen years. The prisons are full of men and women who grew up without a father in the home. The statistics and numbers prove this.

At the end of the day, one can’t ignore the facts. In the majority of cases, divorce is not the best solution for the kids involved. In the majority of cases, parents are choosing to serve their own interests rather than those of their kids. In pursuit of their own happiness, they are failing to see what it is doing to the little ones in their care. Children need both parents. They need stability. They need to see how God’s model of family should look. Children are better when parents make it work. There used to be a saying that kids are happy when parents are happy. That’s just not the case. Kids are happy when parents love each other. They are happy when parents respect each other. They are blessed when parents follow the Word of God and what it says about marriage and family.

Today, and always, I’m praying for marriage. Praying for people to not give up so easily. Praying for people to work hard at it and to lay aside their own feelings if need be. I’m praying for Jesus to be the focus of the home and the Bible to direct the household. I’m praying for kids of divorce to be sheltered from the pain and aftermath. Praying for them to experience healing. Praying for them to break the cycles of divorce in their own lives.

This generation is different than any other. It is filled with young people who have experienced the pain of divorce. If the cycles continue, the years to come will bring even more of a breakdown in marriage and family. Yes, we are seeing the dawn of the extinction of marriage. We need to fight back. If you are reading this and you are considering divorce, please pray. Please get wise counsel from someone who believes the whole Bible. Please know that there is hope for reconciliation in Jesus. If you’d like to speak to me, feel free to contact me at chelsea_mccafferty @ yahoo.com (without spaces). God bless you!

Statistics

18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics

Focus on the Family – How Could Divorce Affect My Kids?

Divorce Statistics

Josh McDowell’s Blog – Broken Home, Broken Kids

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One Kind, Thoughtful Word

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“She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

One kind word. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Sometimes the only thing a person needs is a kind word or two to bring them back from a place of hurt and sadness. A kind word can bring healing, forgiveness and encouragement.

The Proverbs 31 Woman, known for her virtue and goodness, knew how to use her words to minister to others. Scripture tells us she had both wisdom and kindness coming forth from her mouth. I absolutely love this and absolutely confess that this is an area in which I have always struggled. My tongue has always been like a wild fire – quickly lit, difficult to put out and ever-so destructive to anything in the way. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. I want so much to be like this woman who uses her tongue to offer up kind, thoughtful words to family, friends and the lost. This is the prayer of my heart.

I love that scripture says she has wisdom in her words first. I think so often we neglect to think our words through before blurting them out. Even if they are what we perceive to be kind words, we need to execute wisdom and judgement in what we say. So often the wisest people I’ve met have been the ones who are slow to speak, because they season their words with consideration and prayer. Before we speak to someone about anything of importance, we should always be in prayer. Before giving an answer, we should ask the Holy Spirit to direct our tongues. We should consider scripture and God’s character in issuing our words, and we should never, ever give counsel of any kind that contradicts His Word….no matter how we feel about it.

Kindness is such a precious attribute. Some women seem to just exude kindness by their nature. Others have to work to be kind. So much of that has been caused by our upbringing and backgrounds. While I do believe in personal responsibility, I do know that the fact that I grew up with a father who verbally abused all of us throughout my childhood has affected my own struggles with my tongue. I grew up listening to this man, who was supposed to be a spiritual leader, protector and covering, curse and scream words of hatred at my mother and occasionally us kids. If you think that doesn’t affect a person long-term, you’re wrong. It does. My default is words of anger and strife. My default is words that tear down and hurt. That’s the thorn in my flesh. Still, through the power of the Holy Spirit and a close walk with Jesus, I am able to overcome the flesh and walk in the precious newness of life. When, however, I neglect to spend time with my Lord, I am weak and tend to fall back into the struggles of the flesh.

God is so merciful. He is so kind. He loves to show us kindness and He loves when we are kind to others. God is glorified when our tongues issue wise, kind words that build up and edify His people. He is glorified when we minister to others through words of comfort, love and hope. He is glorified when our words are the gospel to the lost and new life to the dead inside. He is glorified when sisters in the Lord stop what they are doing to send a quick text message to encourage a sister who is struggling. He is glorified when a person returns a kind word for an ugly word and gives grace to an offense instead of anger.

Sometimes it’s just one kind word that makes all the difference in the world. I challenge myself and my sisters to pray for the Lord to fill our hearts and mouths with wisdom and kindness. I pray that we would be more discerning and attentive to the Spirit’s leading when it comes to reaching out with a kind word to a sister, brother, friend or family member who may need a little encouragement or a reminder of your love. I pray that we would be willing to speak with wisdom instead of allowing our words to run wild.

May our words be life-giving and hope-bearing. May they be filled with honor and glorifying the Lord at all times. May we walk closely with the Lord so that we are able to speak in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

One kind, thoughtful word….sometimes that’s all it takes.

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24

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The Popular Church Girl & The Other One

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Two young, married women join a local church around the same time. While both ladies are married and have children, they are different in appearance, personality and background. One of the women (we will call her Rachel) is lovely physically. She is slender, fit and lives a healthy lifestyle. She has four beautiful children, all perfectly behaved. Her husband is charming and popular. They have a comfortable income and a beautiful home. Rachel is sweet and friendly. She loves the Lord. There is nothing at all to dislike about her.

The second young woman (Leah) is also kind and loving. She is generous with her friendship and quick to serve where needed. She is well-studied in the Word and has a burden for the lost. She also loves Jesus. Leah is in a difficult marriage. She has made mistakes and the consequences linger, but she and her husband work hard to honor the Lord in their marriage. They love their two children and are committed to their family. Leah’s family struggles financially. There is rarely enough money each month to pay all the bills. Leah also struggles with health issues. She is overweight and doesn’t feel attractive by worldly standards, but her husband loves her and says she is beautiful.

Rachel and Leah are both welcomed into their new church home with open arms. They are both treated with kindness and shown hospitality. Yet, as the weeks go on, Leah begins to wonder if any of her new friends at church will seek a deeper friendship with her. A few months later, she is at church and is talking with Rachel. Rachel shares about how she has been invited to another lady’s house for a little get together with a few of the ladies. Rachel is surprised to hear Leah wasn’t invited. Leah also notices that Rachel seems to be surrounded by ladies after service each week. She is making lots of friends. In fact, they all seem to want to be her friends. Despite Leah’s efforts, she still hasn’t managed to make one good friend. Leah is feeling the pangs of loneliness and unwanted battles with jealousy. She prays for a friend…just one person who wants a deeper friendship with her than the typical Sunday chit chat.

The months go on. Leah watches on Facebook as every post that Rachel makes ignites a long list of replies. She and her family are invited to birthday parties, bridal showers and other events. During the week she receives no calls or emails. She doesn’t get invites to lunch. She is keenly aware that, for reasons she can only assume, she has not be counted worthy of relationship. She has no one who will check on her or know if she is going through a trial. She has no one to turn to when she needs a listening ear. She has no one to call a best friend…at least not from her church family.

This “Rachel & Leah” story is nothing new in church today. It is common. It is disappointing. It often goes unnoticed. The truth is, the church is sometimes a breeding ground for being a respecter of persons. Cliques and preferential treatment is far too common. There are always Rachels, who walk into the church and are immediate hits. They are popular, loved and preferred. People flock to them and seek to have meaningful friendships with them. There are always Leahs, who are the ones that are left unchosen and unselected as a friend of importance. They may be very pleasant and loved by others in the church, but they are never the ones that people choose as close friends. It’s really quite sad.

What is this preferential treatment based on? It’s usually the same criteria that the world uses, which is extra sad. Appearance. Wealth. Popularity. I think most people don’t even recognize what they are doing. It is a subconscious working of the flesh to prefer one person over another for these reasons. They are just drawn to them.

At the end of the day, both Rachel and Leah need close friends within in the church. They both need relationships. It’s so important that every Leah who walks into the church is singled out and pursued by someone. We need to keep watch for those Leahs who are slipping through the cracks and going home hurt every week because no one is trying to get to know them.

Sure, be friends with Rachel, but don’t forget about Leah!

A few years ago my world was rocked when a woman from our small church took her life. She had relapsed into alcoholism in a moment of weakness and was overwhelmed with guilt. I remember weeping and being filled with conviction because I knew I missed so many chances to get to know her better. She needed relationships. She had some, but maybe if she had more she would have had someone she felt she could turn to. I don’t know. What I do know is that there are too many Leahs out there, of all ages and backgrounds, who are getting completely overlooked in church. It is a shame. It is wrong.

I’ve committed myself to loving Leah. I’ve committed myself to seeking out Leahs who need friendship. I am completely committed to loving all of my sisters, regardless of how the world would measure them up. They are daughters of the King and so precious to Him. Thus they are precious to us!

I am committed to Leah because I know Leah. I understand Leah. I have been Leah at times.

If you are Leah, I pray you will understand that your worth is not measured by worldly standards, but by the Creator of the Universe. He made you wonderful and well worth friendship and love. Don’t give up. Perhaps you will find another Leah who needs you as much as you need her.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said,“Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:1-13

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Real Tears with Jesus

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As a writer and blogger, it is my deepest desire to be real in my writing. I have no intention what-so-ever of painting myself as a perfect Christian, woman, wife, mother or even friend. I don’t have a need for people to see me as anything more than the real me – a woman who longs deeply to be who the Lord wants me to be, but is completely and totally flawed. There’s no use in denying it. Like Paul, I consider myself to be the chief sinner. I can’t wait for that day in glory when my flesh no longer desires sin and the enemy’s lies never even come close to the ear of my heart! Oh what a glorious day that will be! Until then, you’re stuck with this mess of a friend…this flawed wife and mother…this imperfect, perfect-only-by-grace woman.

While I’m perfectly happy to be upfront and honest about my shortcomings, my pain is a different story altogether. You know, we all go through difficulties, trials and valleys. We all struggle at times in our lives. While I desire to be real with my readers, friends and family, I also know that I am prone to hide away when I’m in pain. I’m prone to hide the hurt, the struggle and the tears. My closest friends know that when I am going through hurt, I tend to isolate. I prefer to cry alone.

And yet….I’m not alone.

“You have kept count of my wanderings,
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56:8

In those hurting times, when my heart is failing and the tears flow freely, while I may hide away from the world, my Jesus is there. He’s always there. He knows every tear that slips away and every broken beat of my heart. He remembers them and cares. He understands what I’m sure no one else can. He holds me, rocks me, comforts me and reminds me that I can cry real tears with my Jesus. I don’t have to be brave or put on a show. I don’t have to pretend my life is perfect and that I’m beyond the pain that we experience in this life. I can just cry. I can weep freely and allow my tears to be caught up by my Savior who loves me.

If you’re hurting today and hiding away, remember that you can cry out to Jesus. You can be real with Him. He sees your heart and He cares for you deeply and truly. He knows every tear and every heartache. He may not take away the circumstances that are bringing the pain, but He will most definitely carry you through them. He will most definitely be near you and capture your tears in a bottle. You can cry real tears with Jesus and He will turn your mourning into dancing when the time is right. Thank You Lord!

 

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Too Much Talking in Discipline

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Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I’ve always found it important to explain to my daughter why she is receiving a negative consequence for her bad behavior. What’s the point of disciplining her if she doesn’t realize why she is being punished and how this re-direction is going to benefit her? I want her to know what God’s Word says and how we are to walk in the world. I want her to someday be a shining example of a Godly young woman, who is respectful, kind and courageous. I guess I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I want her to learn to respect her elders and to season her words with honor.

Still, I recently studied this discipline technique where the instructor reminded me that sometimes explaining everything to a young child is ineffective and just frustrates the child. In other words, if the issue is pretty black and white, over-explaining it or trying to lecture a young child about what he or she has done wrong ends up creating more conflict and less learning. In this training session he gives examples of how one simple explanation is sufficient. If a child continues to try to debate the issue, it becomes unfruitful to go back and forth with him/her to try and get your point across. Simply enact the disciplinary measure and leave it there.

I found this to be interesting and true. Especially for young children, too much talking, or talking to them like they are little adults, can end up sounding more like a parent and a kid debating than a parent usurping authority in the situation. I see it in my own home. Say, for example, my daughter does not want to eat her dinner but wants an ice cream instead. I tell her that she cannot have dessert unless she eats her dinner. She starts throwing a fit because she doesn’t like my answer. Instead of simply disciplining the behavior, I continue to try and explain to her why eating ice cream instead of dinner is a bad choice, how I’m trying to look out for her health, why she needs to honor and obey me, etc. Meanwhile, my daughter’s hearing nothing because she’s in a full-blown hissy fit, whining, crying and throwing herself on the couch. See what I mean?

If the child knows what he or she is doing is wrong, they may not need any explanation, or a short one will suffice. Obviously there are a variety of circumstances in which a more thorough explanation is in order, but usually a quick, straightforward response is all that’s needed to answer a request and correct a misbehavior.

Now there’s one more part to this that wasn’t in the video I watched (it was a secular training course), but that to me makes a huge difference. We don’t need long explanations during a time of discipline because hopefully we are instructing our children before they get into trouble what is expected of them. In other words, teaching our children what the Word of God says about how we are to conduct ourselves, what our household rules are and what we expect of them is much easier and pleasant when we do it before everyone is frustrated. It should be done when everyone is happy and getting along. Then, when problems arise there is already a foundation there for most issues.

I’m finding this information to be useful in disciplining my four year-old. I hope it can be useful to you as well. May our children grow up to be God-loving and God-serving young men and women! 🙂 That’s my prayer.

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Five Marriage Killers Part 5

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5. Money, Money, Money

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

Whether it be the secular world or within the church, marriages are ending rapidly, and one of the biggest causes for marital distress is financial discord. A large percentage of marital fights are over the issue of money. Whether it’s a lack of finances that is straining the marriage or someone who is spending more than they should, money problems can be rough. Family budgeting is an important aspect of family life, and yet somehow, even when we try to do our best, the issue of money can creep in and cause problems.

If you and your spouse fight over money issues, perhaps you fall into one of these general categories?

1. Unemployed Spouse. When the family is suffering financially and a spouse is unemployed, it can be very difficult. Sometimes that person is hard-working and desperate to work but unable to find anything. Maybe he just refuses to work and would rather live on benefits and do side jobs under the table. Either way, stress is going to be a major factor and it will affect the marriage if you let it. If your spouse is hard-working but has been out of work, be his number one support and encouragement. You have to understand that a man places great importance on how he is providing. Most men determine their self-worth on how they provide for their families. So if your husband has lost his job and is trying to find something, try not to add to his worry and troubles. Be his support, his encouragement, his cheerleader and his lover. Build him up because he needs it. He is hurting, no doubt. Trust the Lord to meet your needs, be creative on how to bring in extra money or stretch what you have, and remind your husband over and over that you love him and respect him.

If you are married to a man who refuses to work and take care of your family, you are in a difficult spot indeed. It must be incredibly hard to deal with and to remain a respectful wife. Believe me, I would have a few words to say to such a man, but God tells us to obey Him whether or not our husbands do. In other words, if your husband will not work, the most important thing for you to do is pray. Pray hard and pray without ceasing. Trust the Lord. Work hard yourself if need be. It’s not right for a man not to provide for his family by choice, and your husband needs a kick in the pants, but God has said it’s not you who is to give it to him. Pray for God to break through to him and trust the Lord to take care of you in the meanwhile.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

2. Overspending and Greed. Sometimes in a marriage, one or both will struggle with a heart of greed and covetousness. In these cases, it’s common for overspending, unwise decision-making and greedy living to come into play. This can lead to major marital problems. If one person is a spender and the other is prudent and wise financially, there will be strife that may come into play daily, weekly, monthly, etc. It will snowball into serious marital problems and even marital death. If both people are spenders, well then the couple is likely to come to ruin and extreme poverty. Few marriages survive that. So this is a dangerous place in which to be. If your spouse is a spender, or perhaps you are, it is important to get on track in terms of God’s calling for us to serve Him and not money. We need to address issues of covetousness and greedy spending. If your husband is the spender, you may want to respectfully address the problem and then spend time in prayer. You may ask him to get some help and counsel from an elder or financial counselor. Ultimately, if he will not change, all you can do is do your best to stay on track, do not nag and cause conflict, and pray. If you are the spender, repent of greed. Get yourself on the right track. Get into the Word. Don’t allow a love of money to creep into your heart and get a stronghold.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

3. Low-Income or Self-Employed and Struggling. So many of us, ourselves included, could be considered low-income though we have a strong work ethic and continue to work hard day by day. In this case you have honest, hard-working people who still can’t seem to make ends meet. As the bills roll in, stress accelerates and pretty soon the whole household is on edge. All it takes is one major and costly event (such as automotive repairs or a new waterheater) to through you overboard. In this case, fights are caused by the amount of stress put on the family. It is important that these trials not pull you apart but bring you closer together. Pray together, study the Word and then come up with ideas on how to move forward towards financial stability. Don’t play the blame game. Budget together and make it a family team effort. Be there to comfort one another and don’t allow your hardships to harden your hearts.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Financial problems can be a real marriage killer. Being aware of this and fighting back with our spiritual weapons is the best way to combat it. Remember that God is our provider and we can trust Him. If He cares for the birds of the air, will He not care more for His children? He knows what we need. Our job is to be honorable in our handling of the money that He allows us to steward and then to trust Him through the rest. We, as wives, are called to honor our husbands and to build them up, whether or not they do everything right. Understanding how important it is for men to feel good about how they are providing, it is important we do not tear them down but rather bring words of edification, respect and love to build them up.

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Five Marriage Killers Part 4

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4. Manipulation & Spiritual Domination

When we look at scripture, we see a long list of women who manipulated their husbands in order to get their own way. Let’s start with Eve in the Garden of Eden, feeding her husband bad fruit (Genesis 3). Adam should have been leading, but Eve took the reins and led them both into temptation and the first sin. Should Adam have refused to follow her into sin? The answer is clearly yes, which is why both were disciplined by the Lord. However, would Adam have ever considered eating the fruit if not for his wife’s encouragement? Perhaps not. How about Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 16)? Sarah’s deep desire to give an heir to her husband prompted her to convince her husband to commit adultery with her own handmaid, Hagar, and to produce the son of the flesh, Ishmael. Once the son of promise, Isaac, came along, there was tremendous friction and subsequent pain. We certainly cannot forget Delilah (Judges 16) and how she manipulated Samson, causing him to lose his hair, his strength, his connection with the Holy Spirit (for a time) and eventually his life.

These are just a few examples of women manipulating their men, but manipulation may not always be leading our husbands into sin. Sometimes it is simply leading them in a different direction than they feel God has called them. A man and woman get married and the woman wants to have a child right away, while the man feels they should wait for a few years so that they can spend time together as a married couple first. The woman seduces her husband and conveniently forgets to take her birth control pills. Whoops! Now certainly there is no sin when it comes to sex in marriage, nor is having children a sin, but the refusal of the wife to follow her husband and her clear manipulation is far from fitting behavior for a daughter of the King. Perhaps you want to move to the beach but your husband feels called to buy a home in the mountains. Circling the ads for lovely beach homes for sale and leaving them sitting on his favorite chair when he comes home is not the way to do it. Neither is crying and complaining all day and night until you get your way. These are tactics of manipulation and are not in line with God’s Word.

The same principle holds true when it comes to spiritual issues. Women are far too swift to take up the role as spiritual leader when they think their husbands are doing the job incorrectly. Spiritual domination by a wife can be a marriage killer. I know a young woman who was the daughter of a pastor, and she married a nice, young Christian man when she was about 19 years old. This young woman and I would chat about married life, and I was always taken back by her attitude of spiritual superiority over her husband. Her husband was raised in a different type of church than she was, and so there were small differences in doctrine. She would complain that after hours and hours of trying to convince her husband that his church was wrong and hers was right they would get nowhere. She called him stubborn, but I think the more problematic of the two was this woman who thought it was her job to teach her husband in spiritual matters. If I, as a friend and outsider, picked up so quickly and with such clarity that this woman considered herself far above her husband in spiritual wisdom and maturity, than there is no doubt her husband felt the weight of her spiritual domination on a daily basis. No doubt he felt disrespected and deflated at home instead of built up and edified.

Don’t get me wrong. It is fine for a wife to share with her husband in a respectful and humble way. Most godly husbands cherish their wife’s opinions and are more than happy to hear her feelings on various topics of faith, the Word and spiritual growth. However when a bossy, dominating woman sits across the table from her man and lectures him for hours about praying longer, throwing out any PG-13 rated movies they have, or his faulty views on the issue of whether or not the Bible speaks against tattoos, I have to question her spiritual discernment. God never intended wives to lead their husbands in spiritual matters, or to instruct them. Yes, she may be right sometimes, but her disobedience to the Lord is far worse a sin than her husband’s occasional bad decision. The correct response would have been to lift her husband up in prayer and to speak with the law of kindness on her tongue. God is the head of her husband, and He will complete the work He has started. A pushy woman is merely a hindrance to the handiwork God wants to do in her husband’s heart, and she ought to spend more time focusing on her own spiritual growth than worrying about that of her husband’s.

Now we look for a moment back to Eve. People love to debate which of the two was more to blame for the fall in the Garden of Eden. Eve was the first to fall into sin, being deceived and tricked by that cunning serpent, and she gave to her husband of the tree as well, who was not deceived but willingly disobeyed God’s instruction. Men love to talk about how women lead men into trouble, just as Eve led her husband into temptation and sin. On the flip side, where was Adam’s leadership or discernment? We don’t see him struggling against doing what he knows is wrong, or rebuking his wife. When it comes down to it and their sin is exposed, both man and women tried to pass the blame and both were punished and therefore both guilty. While figuring out who was more to blame is not necessarily an important quest, we do learn something quite fascinating and significant from this passage about our strengths and weaknesses as women and the roles we are intended to have. We will take a right turn in the Bible to 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

 

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

 

Feminists hate this verse. They love to label our brother Paul as being sexist and the Bible as being outdated and oppressive. Others will attempt to explain away this verse by saying that it was only for the early church and does not apply today or that perhaps it is acceptable for women to teach as long as they are under the authority of male elders. After all we’ve come so far in our mission to create equality between men and women, and to prove to the world that there is no difference between us, right? Wrong. The Bible doesn’t change because God doesn’t change. He created us for a beautiful role and purpose. As women we are precious jewels to our Heavenly Father and to our husbands, should we choose to follow God’s plan for us as wives. There is nothing belittling or insulting about this passage of scripture. Nor does it say it is for a time or a generation, and therefore we must accept that it is for all generations and still applicable today.

Let’s move on to the second part of the passage from 1 Timothy about Adam and Eve. Paul is explaining why women are to learn in silence at church and not to teach or have authority over men. Notice he doesn’t say it’s because women are not educated well enough in the Bible or that it is because at the present time woman were not treated as equals in society. Paul gives two reasons for creating these role boundaries. 1. Adam was created before Eve, and 2. Adam was not deceived in the Garden but Eve was.

Indeed, as we read back in Genesis 2 we see that Adam was created first. This does not mean he was more important than Eve or that he has priority over Eve. It is simply the order in which the Lord God willed for mankind. He has appointed the man to be the leader, going forth first with his wife following right by his side. Men are given a huge responsibility here. Teachers of the Word of God are always bearers of great responsibility as they must pray and study diligently not to lead anyone astray or misinterpret the Word. Secondly we see that Eve was deceived by the serpent. In Genesis, Eve makes the mistake of having conversation with the serpent, misquoting God’s actual words and then allowing the enemy to fill her heart with lies. She was caught up with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. As a result, she was deceived. She certainly wasn’t the only one in sin. Adam sinned willfully. The Word does not mention him being deceived, but he did sin. Perhaps in God’s deep knowledge of the character heart of women, He knows that we are often times more easily deceived and led away by emotions than our other halves. There is no shame in this, but the verse in 1 Timothy makes it clear that this commandment not to allow women to teach or usurp authority spiritually over men is not cultural or for Paul’s generation alone, but based on the will and wisdom of our Lord God.

As women we are to refrain from taking control of situations and decisions, even if we think we will handle them better. If you are a controlling woman, this will really be a challenge for you. If you are set in your ways and are married or planning to be married, pray for God to change your heart as I did before I was married. If you are one of those ladies who must have everything “just so”, pray that the Lord will give you a spirit of flexibility, patience and submission. God finds these characteristics so lovely in his children.

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Five Marriage Killers Part 3

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3. Sexual Stalemate

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25 “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.” Genesis 4:1

God created sex. He intended for marriage to be consummated by an intimate sexual fulfillment when two bodies are made one flesh. It is a beautiful gift that God gave His children for wives to experience sexual intimacy with our husbands for the cause of having children and for a pleasurable bonding with each another. The Lord God said man and woman would be one flesh before sin had ever entered the world, therefore we know that sex between a husband and wife is not sinful, nor is it defiled. It is in fact a lovely and most natural unity.

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled…” Hebrews 13:4a

Sex is a beautiful and honorable union when it happens within marriage. We see back in Genesis 4 that Adam “knew” his wife Eve and she conceived a child. Now we all know that the word “knew” is referring to sexual intimacy. This word is used throughout the Bible to refer to love-making. It’s so fitting as well to consider that a sexual relationship is the physical act of knowing someone so intimately that you are aware of every part of their body. This is why it’s so important for Christians to strive to remain pure until marriage. That intimate sexual knowledge is one that should only be shared between a husband and wife. Your husband should be the only one to know you that intimately and vice versa. It is so sad that the majority of people today miss out on the blessed experience of being their spouse’s one and only sexual partner.

God had a design for sex. He formed man and woman to be perfectly suitable partners for one another. In simple terms, all the parts fit, and when they do, the pleasure is incredible! Ladies, God designed us to be sexually involved with our husbands. As women we must recognize that our husbands have sexual needs that must be fulfilled. Science can show us why men seem to need sex more often physically. Their simple anatomy and reproductive system have been created in a way to need regular release to maintain a state of well-being. Sure men can go without sex—of course they can. The question is why should they? If their bodies were created, by God Himself, to renew and require release, why should we deny them the fulfillment of what their bodies are demanding? We should not. It’s simple.

While our men are driven by physical sensitivities to feel the need for regular sex, we women tend to need sexual intimacy on an emotional level. For many of us, it is through sexual bonding that we feel loved, connected and close with our husbands. I know when my husband and I have had to go for short lengths of time without intimacy it has left me feeling a bit disconnected and needing that physical closeness. If we need sexual intimacy emotionally and they need it physically, then it’s a win-win situation!

Women of today are deceived into thinking that a wife should never feel obligated to make love with her husband unless she feels like doing it. We are told that we should consider our own needs first and the needs of our husbands secondly. We are told that we have the right to say no when we’re not in the mood (or fake a headache as the magazines would say), and that our husbands must simply accept that and reign in their natural desires. Biblically speaking we see a sharp difference in the approach to sex. God tells us that, when we are married, our bodies no longer belong to us but to our spouse, and that we are to meet each other’s needs whenever they arise.

“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” 1 Corinthians 7:2-5

This passage starts out with a command and a way to avoid lust and fornication. Let every man have his own wife and every woman have her own husband. God knows that we are sexual creatures. He made us that way. He knows that we will struggle with lust and the desire to have sex. He knew that Adam needed a helper to meet ALL his needs—including the sexual ones. Marriage is the only right place to express that sexual nature of ours, therefore let a wife have her husband and let her husband have his wife.

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence and likewise also the wife unto the husband. What does this mean? The Greek word for “benevolence” is the word “eunoia” which means “goodwill and kindness”. Women should render unto their husbands the goodwill and kindness that is due to them. When the verse says it is “due” to them, do not be deceived into thinking that means you only give them the goodwill you think they deserve it. Our reverence of our husbands is not based on what they deserve. If you think of it that way then you have to swap it around and also say that your husband only needs to be kind towards you when you deserve it.
Do you think so highly of yourself that you think you will always be deserving of his best towards you? Do you really think you are perfect sister? I know I’m not. I don’t deserve my husband’s affections and love all the time. If we really got what we deserved, we would all be cast into the lake of fire. Thanks be to God and Jesus Christ, Who has shown us kindness and given us—not what we deserve—but His unending mercies and grace. Your husband may not deserve your goodwill but the Lord Jesus Christ is commanding you to give it to him regardless.

The passage goes on to talk about the wife’s and the husband’s bodies. “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” Now this goes against everything the world teaches today, doesn’t it? They tell women it’s perfectly okay to deny their husbands sexual intimacy because it’s their body. They give their hearty approval for abortion because they say it’s a woman’s choice what happens to her body. The Lord God of the universe says that when you marry your husband and commit your life to him, you give over ownership of your body to him permanently. If your body is a door, you give your husband the key so that he may enter in at any time. Wives, your bodies, according to the Word of the Living God, belong to your husbands, and you are not to deny them the pleasure that you have to offer.

No doubt there will be some reading this fuming with hot anger. Let me address one point that is certain to come up and cut it off before it even begins. By saying the wife’s body belongs to her husband I am NOT saying that a husband should or has the right to force his wife to have sex against her will. It is very wrong for any man to force any woman to have sex, even his own wife. I am VERY against it. Whether or not a woman chooses to follow God’s instruction to give her body willingly to her husband is her decision to make. She can decide to disobey God or she can obey. That is up to her. I think I’ve made myself clear.

“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” 1 Corinthians 7:5

Ladies, the world wants us to believe that we should look after our own needs first, but the Word of God says that we are to care more about our husband’s needs than our own. Withholding one’s body from her husband is in direct contradiction to the Bible and I would encourage you ladies, if you struggle in this area, to pray for God to help you make things right and meet the sexual needs of your husband. Keep him satisfied at home and be the lover he’s always wanted you to be. And remember to enjoy it!

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Five Marriage Killers Part 1

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“Mawwage. Mawwage is wot bwings us togevah today. Mawwage that bwessed awwangement…” (from Princess Bride).

“Mawwage” is a blessed arrangement indeed, or it can be. It can be wonderful. It can be a joyful, lifelong union. Unfortunately, as far too many people today know, it can also be unhappy, broken, empty and dead. For many, marriage becomes some sort of hostile hostage situation, where both husband and wife are miserable and they can’t even believe they have come from a place of love to what exists today. Sometimes a marriage is decent. We could class it as mediocre or “okay.” Who wants a marriage like that? When two godly people are married, they may strive to stay married despite a real lack of joy and peace. While it’s honorable to stay in the marriage, we know that God wants His children to enjoy the gift of marriage.

This is the first part to a five part series on some of the behaviors, attitudes, heart issues and so forth women often do/have that bring disruption, disharmony, disunity and ultimately death to a marriage. The issues I’ll address are ones that are not always on the surface and often not given due credit for the problems they cause. I think most of us have flirted with or engaged in some of these activities at some point in our marriage, but as is the case with progressive diseases, they will eat away at a marriage until it is frail, empty and lifeless. So let’s get started ladies.

1. Disrespecting Your Husband

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” 1 Peter 3:1-2

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

While we know there is a Biblical mandate for wives to respect and honor their husbands, I think we often miss the mark because we aren’t quite sure what this “respect” is supposed to look like. I know that I have disrespected my husband in many ways over the years. I’ve heard the words from my mouth and seen a mirror reflection of the disrespectful expression on my face, and I’ve felt ashamed of my own failure in this way. I’ve repented on numerous occasions. I share this so that you know that I study this issue not only to encourage my sisters in the Lord, but also to challenge and train myself. We are in this together ladies!

What does it mean to disrespect my husband? What does it look like? How can I avoid doing it?

Well, to understand that better, we need a man’s perspective. Why? Quite simply, men and women are different (hopefully that’s not a surprise). We perceive things we see and hear and do differently. A man and woman can hear the same phrase and interpret it two vastly different ways. What is disrespectful to a woman might not be to a man, and vice versa. We need to know what our husbands find disrespectful.

In order to get some male perspectives, I interviewed my husband, father-in-law, my two brothers and my mom’s beau. The following are some of their thoughts on things a wife can say or do to make her husband feel disrespected:

* Making insulting and belittling comments such as putting down a man’s work and tasks that he’s trying to do is not good. Putting someone down or insulting them publicly is a big one too.

* Unfavorable comparisons with other men. “You’re nothing like so-and-so.” Also picking apart a man’s faults first rather than focusing on their strengths or on blessings is not good. It’s easier to stoke a fire when you have plenty of fuel.

* I’d say talking about all the nice things that all their friends have as if you are not providing as well for them. I read that was a common one. Just complaining about him not making enough money. Obviously sometimes there are problems that need to be addressed but women sometimes don’t understand how sensitive money can be to men. Dudes often base their worth on how well they provide.

* Sometimes if a wife starts to put other things first, even good things such as ministry, friends, extended family, etc, it can make a man feel disrespected and devalued. It makes him question his place in her life/heart.

* It’s disrespectful when a wife makes unfair comparisons. Sometimes a man is doing the best he can, working hard, but maybe he has less opportunity than someone else.

* Trying to humiliate a man or bring him down is disrespectful. Anything you do to show him that you think he’s not a good enough man, provider, husband, father.

* Not even acknowledging when he’s home from work.

* Rolling her eyes at his suggestions or ideas or when he’s talking to your kids in a disciplinary manner where they can see it too.

* It’s disrespectful when she makes big decisions (like making big purchases) without even talking to you about it because it’s “her money.”

* It can feel disrespectful when she doesn’t even ask if you’re interested in watching something on TV but just puts on what she wants to watch.

* When women talk to their husbands like they are children it is very insulting and disrespectful.

These are great, challenging points to consider, and there are many more. Feel free to share in the comments some of your ideas of what might come across as disrespect. The thing is we can so often do these things and think it’s no big deal, but these actions and words tear down our husbands and make them feel disrespected. We need to mindful to do the opposite…to build up rather than tear down.

I also would refer you to the guest article provided by my friend April from Peaceful Wife Blog called What is Disrespectful to Husbands. It has some great information and examples.

Stay tuned for the next part in this series!

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