Pretty Side Up

Most of my tablecloths have a pretty side and a not so pretty side.  If I sit down to eat with my family and notice that I put the tablecloth on wrong side up, I think, “Oops.  Oh well, it’s just my family.”  I’m a lot more careful when we have guests.  I make sure they only see the pretty side.  Shame on me.  Of course I’m not really talking about tablecloths.  I’m talking about those times when I act prettier for others than I do for my own dear family.

Shame on me when I snap in irritation at my husband or children.  I would never dream of snapping at a neighbor or church member lest they think I’m unpleasant to be around.

Shame on me when I make my impatience obvious to my family but with everyone else I cover it up with a smile.

Shame on me when I use harsher words with my family to make a point but choose my words more carefully and tenderly with friends.

Shame on me when I roll my eyes when my husband asks me to do something for him but act all eager to please when others do the same.

My family deserves my prettier side.  I do have one and I know how to display it when I think it matters.  Why would I rob the ones who matter most of sweetness but go to great lengths to brighten up for everyone else?   I prove my love for my family when I care enough to give them the best side of me.

Prayer for Today:  May I daily cherish my family, Lord, by showing them the same grace and honor I extend to others.

29342660_10215163093568834_8333560297520365568_n

 

Perhaps the Most Important Thing We Must Teach Our Children

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the knowledge that Neal and I are responsible for the three precious souls with which God has blessed us.  Their physical care, their emotional well-being, and their spiritual training are daily being molded by our guidance and example.  Even after 20 years of parenting, I still shake my head with the sheer import of that truth.  But really, I think there is one significant thing that our children must know, must believe, must do in order to be set for life and for eternal life.  They must always turn to the Word of God.  No matter where my children end up or what circumstances they find themselves facing, I pray their knee-jerk reaction will be to open the Bible.  Here are a few reasons why I think dependence on the Bible is the most important thing to instill in our children:

  • The Bible, and only the Bible, gives them the plan of salvation.  It ultimately doesn’t matter what any professor, religious leader, parent or grandparent says…God is the only One who does the saving and so He is the only One who gets to tell us how that happens.  And He has done that for us in His Word (Mark 16:16).  The Bible teaches our children how to have a relationship with God, how to pray, how to be a genuine Christian (Matt. 7:21).
  • The Bible provides answers for their questions.  Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  What is our purpose?  Lots of people have lots of interesting ideas about these areas, but our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 33:13-15).  Any who seek answers to life’s questions will be satisfied if they turn to the Bible  (2 Peter 1:3).
  • The Bible helps them weather the storms.  My children may one day face job loss, health problems, disappointments, powerful temptations, painful experiences, or marital strife.  They will probably receive advice from well-meaning friends and loved ones or professionals, but only the Bible will enable them to survive.  It will comfort them when distraught (Psalm 119:107), arm them for spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10ff), and help them remain faithful till death (Heb. 10:23).
  • The Bible determines what is right and what is wrong.  Doesn’t that seem like an especially huge deal right now with social media, news anchors, outspoken celebrities and politicians all telling us what to believe and what to accept?  Many people are embracing their feelings as their guide instead of what’s right and logical.  If our children hear such convincing messages often enough from multiple avenues, they might question how so many could be so wrong.  The Bible will warn our children about that (Matt. 7:13,14).  If our children know to turn a deaf ear to the world and listen only to God, they will be able to discern the difference between Satan’s lies and God’s Truth (John 8:31,32).

Truly, there are many other reasons why it is so important for our children to feel dependent on the Bible.  Job success, physical health, and becoming an upstanding citizen are all good and important.  But the single most important thing I desire for my children is that they go to Heaven.  How can we teach them to rely on the Bible?  They must see us always turning to God’s Word in every situation.  They must hear us answer their questions with, “Let’s see what the Bible says about that.”  They must experience for themselves the genuine faith that comes from daily Bible study (Rom. 10:17).  And after it’s all said and done, and they face Christ on their own, they will be judged by His Word.

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

Prayer for Today:  Lord, I beg You, help me instill complete trust in Your Word in the hearts of my children.

*This post can also be found at:  http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/04/special-news-and-wise-woman-linkup.html

Marital Alzheimer’s

I watched my grandma ever so slowly succumb to Alzheimer’s.  It started with what seemed like innocent forgetfulness or simply not paying attention.  Then one day I was riding in the backseat of a car with her and she turned to me and fearfully asked, “Who are you?!”  Almost from that moment on her family became strangers to her.

Grandma’s battle with Alzheimer’s was heart-wrenching, especially for her husband.  Grandma, in her dementia, accused the man who had faithfully loved and cared for her of horrible things.  She used ugly words and would say things that just weren’t true, as if she were rewriting their history.  She forgot her love for him.  She forgot their precious memories.  It was tragic, but at least we all knew it wasn’t really Grandma.

Since Alzheimer’s is supposedly hereditary, I began researching how to prevent it.  Now I park in different places in a parking lot, do crossword puzzles, change up the daily routine of getting dressed, eat certain foods, etc.  I continue to look for ways to combat or at least delay it.  I don’t want to put Neal through the painful things my grandpa endured.

Sometimes we suffer from marital Alzheimer’s.  Amnesia is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  “Amnesia” is from the Greek, meaning “without memory.”  If we’re not careful, there can be a memory deficit in our marriages.

  • We forget what drew us to our spouse in the first place.
  • We forget the vows we made, the good intentions we had.
  • We forget that marriage is a commitment in which there are God-given guidelines.

So we make harsh accusations or rewrite history.  And then one day, after sleeping in the same bed with the same person for years, we wake up and ask, “Who ARE you?”

Perhaps you see some warning signs in your own marriage.  Do you feel disconnected?  Has intimacy become a distant memory?  Do you have a hard time recalling when you last held hands?  Thankfully, there are some ways we can prevent marital Alzheimer’s.

1.  Take care of yourself.  The better you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually, the better you act.  Eat right and exercise daily.  Spend time in the Word.  Pray often.  Get rid of emotional downers like resentment, worry, or guilt by addressing them.

2.  Stay connected.  Invest quality time in your marriage by making it a priority and protecting it.  The empty nest syndrome can catch couples off guard.  Reconnect now so you’ll still know each other when it’s just the two of you.  Make sure a portion of each day includes face to face time without the interference of devices.  Ladies, this means we need to log out of Facebook or Pinterest when our husband comes home.  We don’t want him to think we’d rather spend time connecting with hundreds of cyber friends than with him.

3.  Take your vitamins.  Just as there are several vitamins and supplements touted to prevent memory loss, there are things you can do to boost your relationship.  Study the Bible together.  Attend marriage seminars.  Find out (again) what’s important to your spouse and invest in it.

4.  Change up your routine.  Is your marriage in a rut?  Change things up by doing something different and unexpected.  Dress up for supper (even if it’s pizza), light candles, or eat in a different room.  Meet your spouse at work for a cup of coffee.  Change your hairstyle.  Go visiting together and call it a date.  Be creative and think of ways to keep things fresh and interesting.

It’s heart-breaking to see someone in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.  It’s painful for those who love that person, too.  But it’s even more tragic to see a marriage succumb to forgotten love and lost memories.  Let’s embrace our marriages so we can enjoy healthy closeness and happiness from the altar to the nursing home.

Prayer for Today:  May we actively protect our marriages, Lord, by staying close to You and to each other.

*This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/03/wise-woman-linkup_12.html.

Photo credit:  Anna Dodgen

From the Mouths of Teen Girls

The following comments were made by Christian teen girls at an out-of-state retreat.  They were asked some questions in a very casual setting.  I was just an observing visitor, but I was struck by their determination and sincerity so I started writing down their answers.

Sometimes we let teen girls down, assuming they need the same lessons on modesty, purity, and peer pressure.  While those lessons need to be taught, I think Christian teen girls crave deeper Bible study.  They want to be pushed to their spiritual potential.  Their hearts are thinking about ways to make a difference in their sphere of influence.  I was challenged and convicted by what they had to say and I think you will be, too.  Here are the questions and their answers:

*What is the Lord’s greatest rival in your life?

  •  “School is more of a priority than spiritual growth.”
  • “Selfishness–doing things on my terms, not His terms.”
  • “Cramming so much into my schedule, but God isn’t one of them.”
  • “Questioning God during situations instead of believing Him.”
  • “More time on entertainment instead of Bible study.”
  • “My friends–wanting to be like them instead of realizing God always trumps my friends.”
  • “My priorities–God can’t just be another priority, but the center of all my activities.”

*What are some ways you fight temptation in your life?

  •  “Just say no.”
  • “Walk past trouble.”
  • “Stay far away from negative influences.”
  • “Letting go of friends who make bad choices.”
  • “Pray constantly and surround myself with godly influences; change the atmosphere.”
  • “Have a person that will help you make right decisions.”

*What can your parents do to help you get closer to Christ?

  •  “Stop letting me make everything else a priority.”
  • “Tell me NO when I need to hear it.”
  • “Push me, remind me that my faith is what’s most important.”
  • “Simply ask me, ‘How’s your relationship with Christ?’  Checking in…”
  • “Use Scripture to help me apply things personally in my life.”
  • “We don’t go to any church activities outside of worship.  I wish they would push harder.”
  • “Sit down and study with me.  Set the example.”
  • “More Bible studies as a family.”
  • “If I’m too tired to go to devotionals, push me.”
  • (With tears) “I feel like just by making it more of a priority in my dad’s life would make it easier for all of us.  Skipping church makes it look like an option instead of a priority.”

*If you had one day left to live, what would you change?

  •  “I’d fix things that ruin my influence.”
  • “Say sorry for the things I’ve done.  Reach out to people.”
  • “Be more outgoing with my faith.  Set everything right with God.”
  • “Tell others why I love them.  Find some way to serve on my last day.”
  • “Tell everyone about the Lord.  Apologize to my family.”
  • “I’d realize nothing else matters but sharing the gospel.  I wouldn’t wait for the ‘right time.'”
  • “I’d tell everyone I’m saved, where I’m going, and that I want them there, too.”
  • “I would ask everyone, ‘Do you know if you’re going to Heaven?'”

Let no one despise your youth,

but be an example to the believers

in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

(1 Timothy 4:12)

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the teen girls in our lives.  Help us to treasure them, encourage them, and learn from them.

This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/02/wise-woman-linkup_18.html

mombutton+200x.jpg

Higher Ground snapshot (Not the young ladies whose answers I shared)

I’m Ruining Our Children

A couple of weeks ago I sent my husband a pathetic email.  It went something like this:

Dear Neal,

[A long paragraph here about how I think I’m ruining our children.]

Love,

Dummy-head

You see, that day I was feeling particularly incompetent.  Our youngest son was struggling with one of the questions in his 10th grade grammar book.   I ended up having to tell him, “I’m sorry, I can’t figure it out, either.  Just skip this one.”  You should’ve seen the look on his face.  That wasn’t the first time that has happened, but usually it’s math that has me stumped.  I felt unqualified and unequal to the task.  I wanted to quit.  Thankfully, my husband knew exactly what to say to encourage me and that made all the difference.  He reminded me of the big picture, our end goals, and the fact that I can rely on God for help even when trying to figure out 10th grade grammar.  I’m grateful that I don’t have to be brilliant to homeschool my sons!

Have you ever found yourself unequal to a task?  Do you say no to opportunities because you feel like you’re the wrong person for the job or you’re not good enough?  Perhaps someone asked you for parenting advice and all you can think about is how you’re still trying to figure it out yourself.  Perhaps someone asked you to teach a Bible class, but you’re all too aware of your spiritual weaknesses.  Or perhaps someone asked you to speak about your Christian walk and you feel like a hypocrite because you know you’ve messed up, hurt others, sinned big time.      The truth is perhaps you’re not qualified, but God is.  We can help others because He helps us. We make mistakes and don’t always know what to say or do, but we can rely on God’s wisdom and strength to tackle a task anyway (1 Chron. 16:11; Psa. 31:24; 2 Cor. 12:9,10).   I’m glad I don’t have to be perfectly sinless to shine the Light!

By the way, here was Neal’s reply to my whiney email:

Dear Kathy,

[A long paragraph here filled with sweet encouragement.]

Love,

Lucky-head

Prayer for Today:  May I never let doubt or discouragement keep me from serving You, Lord.

IMG_0401

 

**This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/02/wise-woman-linkup_11.html

Meet the Jackson Women, Part 3 (plus recipes!)

405106_3780956771775_48306294_n

Our final interview in this series is with my dear friend, JILL JACKSON.  She is an easy-to-love Christian woman, and you’ll enjoy reading her practical parenting tips!

Share a little about yourself, please, by way of introduction.

“Jason & I celebrated our 16th anniversary in September.  We have 3 daughters (Natalie, 14; Kara, 11; and Allie, 8).  Jason preaches at East Main St. church of Christ and works at the Christian Courier.  Most of our time is spent homeschooling our girls.  I am currently teaching Allie’s Bible class on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Sometimes I help with administrative tasks at the Courier, but now that we have several teenagers in our family, we delegate most of those tasks to them.”

We’ve heard about the Christian Courier from Betty and Sandy.  What can you tell us about it?

“The Christian Courier is a wonderful avenue for educating the lost and keeping the saved saved.  It began as a monthly newsletter, and is now that and much more.  We have a website where articles and sermons can be accessed.  We hear many wonderful words about individuals searching for the truth who stumbled upon the Courier online– some of which later obeyed the gospel.  We are constantly told by preachers, elders, and others within the Lord’s body that the Courier is a useful resource for their daily lives and Bible study.  We are proud to be a part of something that provides sound doctrine, encouragement, and beneficial study aids to others.”

*Visit https://www.christiancourier.com/ to take advantage of this wonderful Christian resource.

The first time I was in your home, you served steak and creme brulee.  I’ll never forget that incredible meal!  What’s your go-to company meal?

“Southern BBQ, of course!  We love to fix ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and baked beans.”

*To try a couple of Jill’s favorite recipes, see the end of this post.

If you could give only one piece of marriage and/ or parenting advice, what would it be?

“My one piece of parenting advice would be to parent your children with the relationship you want to have with them as adults in mind.  Do you want your home to be a place your children look forward to bringing their families to?  Then as they grow up, your home needs to be a place of peace, security, and happiness.  Do you want to be someone your children can look to for spiritual guidance and wisdom?  Then as they grow up, they need to see you studying your Bible, hear you talking about spiritual things with them, hear your prayers for them and others, and see you walking the walk.  Certainly loving, spiritual parents rear their children with the number one goal of helping them get to heaven, but our focus on that important task should not cause us to lose sight of the joy of parenting.  Good parenting should cultivate a relationship between the parent and child that brings much delight to the lives of both through all stages of life, not just the years the children live in your home.

My one piece of marriage advice is to have a healthy marriage you must have healthy habits.  One can’t expect a strong marriage if their marriage is full of selfishness, score keeping, or a spirituality that lacks roots.  Healthy marriages are a result of a union that has Christ at the center, that looks to the needs of their spouse, that proactively focuses on turning good intentions into intentional actions.”

What do you do to stay motivated and encouraged in your ministry work?

“I think about the fact that while my hospitality may be encouraging to the visitors in my home, those who benefit the most are really those within my home– my children.  By being hospitable to others, I am seizing an opportunity to train them to be hospitable when they are grown.  The same could be said about anything we do, from teaching Bible class, preparing food for someone, visiting someone, etc.  What I choose to do today shows my children what my priorities in life are and instills those priorities within their hearts.  That is what encourages and motivates me aside from the obvious that these are works God expects and delights in.”

Baked beans
1 52 oz can of Van Camp’s pork and Beans
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs mustard
1/4 c molasses
1 c. BBQ sauce
(Optional–chopped up brisket or pork roast)
Mix all ingredients well. Pour into a glass 9×13 baking dish. Cook, uncovered at 325 degrees for 75 min. Let stand 10-15 min before serving.
Peanut butter cake
1/2 c butter
1 c water
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c oil
2 c flour
2 eggs
2 c sugar
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Frosting:
1/2 c butter
1/3 c milk
1/2 c peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
Combine butter, water, peanut butter, and oil. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour batter into a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 min.
Frosting:
Heat butter, milk, and peanut butter until comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Pour hot frosting over cake.

Your Marriage is Better than You Think

There may be times when you’re not thrilled with your spouse or your marriage.  Do you feel like you’re not communicating well?  Do you feel like you’re the only one who really cares enough to make an effort? Or perhaps you feel like the only spark left in your marriage is the kind that comes from friction.  While your feelings may be valid, your marriage is worth a little self-examination.  Particularly, why are you now viewing your relationship unfavorably?  Why are you frustrated?  It could be that you have more control over the way you see your marriage than you think.

Your marriage is better than you think when you ignore the busybodies.  “A whisperer separates the best of friends” (Prov. 16:28).  Who is telling you your marriage isn’t good enough?  There are some who seem to enjoy sowing seeds of discontentment.  They plant doubts in the minds of those who are married, creating problems where none existed before.  Your own parents or siblings can do this by making negative remarks about your marriage.  Have they ever questioned the actions of your spouse? Coworkers and friends might make comments like, “I don’t know how you put up with that.  I know I wouldn’t!”  Some comments are veiled criticisms.  “Would you like me to replace that light switch?  I know your husband’s not much of a handyman.”  Next thing you know, you start noticing that there are a lot of things around the house your husband has neglected to fix.  You may have been content before, but now you’re more aware of all the annoying things your spouse does.  And you’re embarrassed that someone else had to point it out!  Sometimes your friends don’t have to say anything.  All they have to do is raise their eyebrows a little and suddenly, you resent your spouse.  The truth of the matter is we are easily influenced by the opinions of those around us.  Thoughtless remarks that hint that our spouse is inconsiderate, lazy, stingy, or clueless can be taken to heart if we’re not careful.  Only listen to things that promote your spouse, even by family members.  “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Prov. 12:18).  Your wise friends and family members, the ones who are worth listening to, will say things that build up your marriage, not tear it down.

Your marriage is better than you think when you embrace your differences.  You may have heard the story about the little girl who said to her younger brother, “Why don’t you ever admit that I’m right?”  Her brother answered, “You always think you’re right.”  The girl said, “Well, I always AM right.”  The boy said, “Ha!,” and walked off, muttering under his breath, “Some day I’m gonna get married to get away from all these arguments.”  One of the most popular official reasons for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.”  In her book The Challenge of Being a Wife, Ruth Hazelton has a chapter entitled “How to Stay Friends even though Married.”  She wrote, “Perhaps the biggest problem of all is the fact that he is a man and she is a woman.”  Chances are, you didn’t marry someone exactly like yourself.  You think you need to be stricter with the kids and your spouse thinks you need to be more understanding.  Your ideal vacation involves a spa hotel and outlet malls, while your spouse would prefer tent camping in the wilderness.  You want to wind down listening to the Marriage of Figaro, but your spouse is blaring Led Zeppelin.  Sometimes you wonder how on earth you ended up together.  You’re so different!  You don’t get him, and he certainly doesn’t get you.  Dr. Harley, creator of the website “Marriage Builders,” said, “Couples are usually most compatible on the day of their marriage, and things go downhill from there.  Why?  Prior to the marriage, they make great effort to be compatible.  They try to understand each other’s likes and dislikes and then try to accommodate those feelings.  They are more willing to change their behavior to become more compatible.  Trouble is, once the marriage takes place….mission accomplished!  Now they are married, so they can focus on other things—careers, children, etc.”  You’ve probably seen a young woman out to impress her man.  She grins all the way down the aisle as a beautiful bride.  And then she waits to be impressed.  Before long she tearfully announces that she is disappointed.  Her man does not impress her as a husband.  He does not impress her as a father.  Did he really change, or did her mindset?  Perhaps your marriage seems less than ideal because you’re no longer trying to impress.  You’re no longer trying to accommodate.  Remember what used to motivate you to put all that effort into being compatible–you WANTED your spouse, differences and all.  View those differences once again as attractive traits that complete you.

Your marriage is better than you think when you want to make your spouse happy.  Instead of allowing disagreements to make you disagreeable, you can enhance your marriage in such a way that both of you come out on top.  “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition, or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3,4).  God’s advice is for us to have a new mindset, different from the selfish society in which we live.  Marriage isn’t about how your spouse can make you happier, it’s about how you can make him/ her happier.  Wanting your spouse’s happiness means you don’t have to have the final say in every disagreement.  Instead, let God have the final say.  Wanting your spouse’s happiness means instead of criticizing, you daily look for ways to verbally admire and appreciate.  Wanting your spouse’s happiness means instead of taking him/ her for granted, you’ll cherish each day as a gift from God, thanking Him for the blessing of your marriage.  You won’t want your spouse’s happiness if you don’t have a Christ-like mindset.  If you are caught up in your own desires and expectations, your selfish heart will be blinded to your spouse’s needs.  As always, God knows what is best for us.  Trusting Him means putting your spouse’s happiness before your own.  You’ll be thrilled when you notice that you end up being the one to find so much more joy in your marriage.

Prayer for Today: By emulating Your Son, Lord, may we show the world what it really means to have “a marriage made in heaven.”

*This article can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2013/12/wise-woman-linkup_17.html

 

Photo by Traci Sproule Photography

Godly Parenting: An Interview with Sheila Butt

In 2011, I was given an assignment to interview a Christian parent.  Having three sons myself, Sister Butt seemed an ideal candidate.  Stan and Sheila Butt have brought up three sons in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).  She graciously allowed me to share this interview here on my blog.  It is encouraging to see a mother who has successfully raised boys to grow into faithful men, active in the Lord’s church.  All three of her sons preach the gospel!

*Besides your spouse and the Almighty, who was the most helpful to you as you trained your children spiritually? In what ways?

The body of Christ had the greatest influence on our children.  When Stan Jr. was in law school at Emory University, he wrote an article describing the church’s influence on his life.  He said the church made him a stronger person.  We often had Bible teachers, preachers, and missionaries into our home whom we greatly credit as having influenced the spiritual growth of our children.

*Were there any book or articles you read that were a help?

Next to the Bible, I enjoyed Dr. Dobson’s book “Hide or Seek.”  This book describes the importance of building a child’s self-esteem.  However, I soon realized that it is more important for a child to have “Christ-esteem.”  For a child to say, “I can do anything” is one thing; for a child to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is quite another.  That child will have the proper respect for God and will also develop humility and compassion.  Many children with high self-esteem will never develop those characteristics.

*Did you have any specific technique or persistent plan that you utilized through all of the children’s training?

We believed consistency was key to effective biblical training. We gave three answers, “yes,” “no,” or “I’ll think about it,” and did not feel we needed to justify every answer.  When our sons were young, we held them close.  When they grew into teenagers, we gave them more responsibilities and let them have input into the decision making process.  In addition, we were consistent with Bible quizzes at bedtime and prayer.  The quizzes took place during our nightly devotionals, and helped build their basic Bible knowledge.  The prayers were daily and out loud.  They knew our hearts and we knew theirs in the presence of God.  The practice of this blessing cannot be overemphasized.

*Besides potty training and the Terrible Two’s, what was an unusually hard time for you as a parent?  How did you get through it?

We did not experience the Terrible Two’s because our children learned to obey and were not allowed to be “terrible.”  We felt that being two years old was no excuse for misbehaving.  As a result, we enjoyed every year of our children’s upbringing.  I admit, though, that the most difficult stage was when our sons started driving.  It was hard not to think of all the bad things that could happen.  I had to trust in God, and my children, and pray they would make good choices.

*What is your favorite memory as a parent?

My favorite memories were the days each of our sons decided to put on Christ in baptism.  The only thing that compares was watching our oldest son baptize his own daughter into Christ.

*If you could do anything over again in training your children, what would it be?

Stan and I discussed this question together and we feel we can honestly say we have no regrets.  We readily admit that we were not perfect parents, but we used Deuteronomy 6 as our child-rearing guide.  We spent time with our boys, and made each decision in view of eternity.  Our children knew we loved the Lord more than anything else in this world.  We can only say that God has made up for our imperfections, and we are eternally grateful to Him for that!  To Him be the glory!

*Your children are faithful Christians, and even serving God in mighty ways.  What would you tell other parents to do to achieve the same results?  What do you consider the greatest factors in their upbringing that led to this?

Instilling love for the Lord in your children is the greatest factor in bringing up faithful children.  They should love God above all else, even their parents.  Children should recognize that every talent or ability they have is God-given.  And parents should pray that their children will use their talents to serve their Lord and fellow man.

*What do you see as the biggest mistakes parents are making today?

I am saddened by children who are not made to obey simple commands like, “Come here.”  I am sad when parents call their children ugly names like “little fool.”  I am sad when parents are paralyzed by the wild behavior of their children.  I am sad when I see parents so busy giving children what they didn’t have, that they don’t give them things they did have (which were much more precious)!  I am sad when I see parents taking their children to worship, but neglecting to give any Bible training at home.  I am sad when parents care more about their children’s physical appearance than how their heart appears to God.  I am sad when parents are more interested in homework from school than in ‘heartwork’ from the Word.  And I am so sad when we spend more time at the ball field than on the battlefield for Christ.  It makes me so sad to see parents who are much more concerned with what goes into their children’s mouths than what comes out of them.  I am afraid that the prince of this world has managed to confuse many parents about what is truly important.  The effect of this may only be realized on the day of judgment.  I pray that the Lord will open the eyes and hearts of young parents and give them the courage and the backbone to be parents whose children will glorify God!

Amen!  She added some extra thoughts on parenting in general:

There is only one way of raising children and that is with prayer, the wisdom of the Word, and the determination to do the very best one can to shoot those arrows in the right direction.  That takes intention, practice, and faith in the Word.

Great thoughts!

Prayer for Today:  Thank you for successful mothers like Sheila Butt.  May we learn from her wisdom and experience.

Sheila K. Butt

How to Have a Great Marriage, One Day at a Time

It’s just easier to tackle big things in small chunks.  I want my marriage to be happy and solid, all the time.  Since I know where my weaknesses lie, that can be an overwhelming prospect.  I know I need to stop being selfish, swallow my pride, smile more, be patient, sacrifice, compromise, grow up…. Oh boy, we’re doomed, UNLESS I view each day as a manageable challenge.  Bite-sized bits of  well-being add up to a lifetime of wedded bliss.  So here are some daily do’s and don’ts that might just spell the difference between a dreary marriage and a dreamy one.

1.  Commit your marriage to God.  First thing in the morning, whether you’re on the treadmill, carpooling, or sipping coffee on the patio, pray about your relationship.  Every day, ask God to help you be a loving spouse.  Thank God for blessing you with a life-long best friend.  Determine to make sure everything you do in your marriage glorifies God.

2.  Refuse to fall into the critic trap.  Everything gets a rating these days.  Want to know whether or not a movie is worth watching or a car is worth buying?  Check out the rating.  Whether it’s books, products, or recipes, you can look it up to see how many stars it rates.  We even get to determine whether or not we ‘like’ someone’s facebook status.  It feels like we’ve been conditioned to voice our opinion on everything.  “I like this.  I don’t like this.  I agree with this.  I disagree with this.”  How dangerous that can be in marriage!  If we’ve been conditioned to spot imperfections, the relationship will never measure up.  Don’t critique your spouse; just do your part each day to make it a 5-star marriage.

3.  Dare to be transparent.  Life is too short for guessing games.  Share your feelings.  Don’t be hard to figure out.  Be transparent in your affection.  Let your spouse know beyond the shadow of a doubt that your love is growing day by day.  Don’t fear rejection (or ridicule from others); just make the most of every opportunity to generously give your heart.  Every day, greet your mate with enthusiasm, and voice your admiration.  What spouse would hate that?

4.  Neglect the cyber world.  Is your marriage getting smothered by social media or other online activities?  Are you always looking at a screen?  Is the outside world connected to your hip?  Unplug!  Step awaaaaay from the tentacles of technology.  Do you really have to check every text, inbox message or email as soon as it shows up?  Sure there are advantages (I say as I’m blogging), but there should be some boundaries.  When the work day is over, enjoy real face-to-face time.  We have a goldendoodle puppy, and we learned real quick that as long as we take time to play with him, he behaves better.  If we neglect to stop what we’re doing to play fetch for few minutes each day, he acts up.  Forgive me for comparing a spouse to a dog, but the same basic principle applies.  Which am I spending more time with? My laptop or my mate?  Put it to the test and see if this simple philosophy enhances your marriage:  when your spouse walks in the door, everything else can wait till tomorrow.  My guess is that instead of feeling like you’re missing out, you’ll feel like you’re catching up.

5.  Don’t focus on what’s fair.  If you’re going to all this trouble to do your part, it’s easy to expect immediate reciprocation.  Well, it might take some time, or it might never happen.  The important thing is to not fixate on who’s doing what, who’s giving more, who’s compromising.  Focus, instead, on going the second mile, out-giving, and acknowledging even the smallest effort on your spouse’s part.  Miserable marriages are filled with a sense of entitlement.  There’s way more joy in looking for ways each day to offer yourself freely.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful blessing of marriage!  May I show my gratitude to You by making the most of our precious union.

328393_2555253925271_1371653170_2901698_540112883_o
Renewing our Vows

21 Reasons Why I Love Being a Preacher’s Wife

Yesterday Neal and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.  How do I feel after 21 years of being married to a preacher?  Very, very blessed.  And here’s why, in no particular order:

1.  Our coworkers- We work with the best people.  They’re all Christians.

2.  Uplifting events- Gospel meetings, seminars, lectureships, and ladies’ days provide lots of opportunities to get revived, refreshed, & renewed.

3.  Encouragement- Through the years we’ve been given some thoughtful notes.  Sure, we’ve also received some criticism, but who hasn’t?

4.  Prayers on our behalf- Many Sundays involve someone praying, “Please bless our preacher and his family.”

5.  Opportunities for growth- There have been more than a few moments when I’ve been nudged out of my comfort zone.

6.  Hospitality- We’ve enjoyed open hearths and open hearts in all kinds of homes.

7.  Great meals (because of #6)-  🙂

8.  Life events- We share in the lives of others when they get married, give birth, and bury their loved ones.

9.  Compassion- Some of my stumbles and goofs have been pretty public.  I’m grateful for the patience and love we’ve been given.

10.  My sons’ role model- Their dad is a preacher who always speaks highly of the Lord and His church.

11.  Mission trips- We don’t have to take time off from work; it IS our work.

12.  Fellowship- I can never get enough.

13.  Kindred spirits- I love the instant bond that forms when meeting other preachers’ wives.

14.  Support- The church family is so good about being there through thick and thin.

15.  Elders- God bless them for their labor of love.  They have the best hearts and make the best bosses.

16.  Baptisms- We rarely have to miss them.  Day or night, we can stop what we’re doing and head to the building.

17.  Preachers- We get to be around them, and get to know them.  We sure like them!

18.  Bible studies- I’ll never get tired of seeing the Truth work on the hearts of genuine searchers.  Joy and tears.

19.  People- We’re with all kinds…working, struggling, sharing, caring, learning, growing.  It’s what our job is all about.

20.  Friends for eternity- There are so many that we’ve met and loved through the years, and we never have to say goodbye.

21.  My husband- He studies, prays, leads, and puts God first.  What’s more attractive than a man with an open Bible?

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for my preacher, for Your church, and for the blessings you shower upon all of Your children.  

Gospel meeting in West Palm Beach