Monday, March 30, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - See The Good


What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Enter your link below and link back here somewhere within your post!

Today I am sharing my Grandmother with you. She was an amazing woman who lived to be 100 years old and was a shining example my entire life of finding the good in just about everyone.

Growing up, I could not remember anyone who she EVER said anything negative about. She was widowed three times in her life. When she would think back on my grandfather she would say, "He was a peach of a fellow..." while her entire face lit up emitting the warmth of the love felt within.

Evidently her second husband wasn't such a "peach." He had sold himself as a wonderful man to my grandmother and the family until after the vows were exchanged; but apparently changed dramatically as her husband and a father. But I don't recall ever even having the slightest inclination that he was selfish, demanding and mean to my father and aunts until my dad mentioned it to me when I was older.

It wasn't that she was lying to herself about people; she was just sure that there was good in everyone - pure gold that simply needed to be sought and found. And when she found the slightest sparkle within you; you wanted with everything inside of you to prove her right. She had a rare and beautiful gift of seeing the positive and drawing it out. You walked away a better person just for having met her.

Thankfully, her third husband was a rare gem who adored her and did all that he could to make her happy. Sadly, it ended up being the shortest of her unions, but possibly the sweetest.

Too often we don't take the time to look past a glaringly negative trait or life choices. My grandmother never sat me down and told me that I should look for the good in others or that "if you don't have anything nice to say, you don't say anything at all..." The way she lived, full of love and grace, wrote that truth deep inside my heart.

I can still hear her say, "...and I love you!" to me. I never questioned her love. I never had need. I knew no matter if I made a bad choice here or there that she would still find my good and somehow, that made it all the more important to me to choose well. Never underestimate the power of unconditional love and seeing the good in others...

Click on these links to read about more Titus 2 Women!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 28 - The "eaves" of Marriage

"Bruce Wilkinson says in his 25 plus years of counseling he has come to the conclusion that just about every marriage problem he has encountered has been the result of one or the other partners in a marriage being in violation of what he considers the most important verse in the Bible as it relates to marriage. That verse is found in Gen 2:24, which says: For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh."*

Shortly after my husband and I said our, "I do's" and left our reception we were off on the adventure of "our lives" together. We were so excited to be off in a tropical setting as man and wife. Just the two of us...

We had planned to finish our honeymoon, come back home to finish packing for a day or two and head off to another state where my husband was to undergo a training period for his new job. However, while we were in our tropical bliss, the plans were changed and we found ourselves returning to the States homeless for a month. His start date was bumped back a full 30+ days. What is a newlywed, unemployed couple to do but to move in with the in-laws? They very graciously welcomed us into their home thrilled to have more time with their son.

However comfortable, it was somewhat difficult. We were still figuring out our roles as "man & wife." The whole "cleaving" issue was a no brainer on some levels...but the "leaving" part was not happening. To my husband's parents, we were still "their son & his new bride." (Being fair to them, they were just beginning their "in law" part of their own life adventure.) He quickly fell into the familiar "son" role and I struggled to find a place where I "fit." We both felt the frustration building between us and made the decision to go on a road trip. A U. S. road tour trying to see as many of the major sights as we could while visiting various family members along the way. Not only did we create tons of wonderful memories together along the way, but we were again able to do the beginning stages of "leaving and cleaving."

However, because we physically left his parent's home, did not mean that we had properly "left and cleft" so to speak. We still dealt with residual issues each time we had disagreements, visited with each other's parents, etc.:

*It is easy when your spouse is not agreeing with you to want to invite another person into the discussion who will most likely side with you AND give you substantiated evidence for why you are correct. (Although, this can turn the person's hearts and minds against your spouse...)

*It is easy to fall into your "daughter" or "son" roles respectively when visiting with the parents leaving your spouse frustrated and floundering for their own "role." (Even if it seems to make your parents happy to have "their child" for a short time.)

*It is easy to share exciting news or life difficulties with your parents (or close friends) before even mentioning it to your spouse...and it is easy for said parents (or friends) to accidentally mention it in conversation with your spouse before you have even told them...

I am sure there could be MANY other examples, but the basic premise here is that we need to loosen other relational ties and commit to establishing and maintaining this union of marriage with our spouse. That is not to say that you have to literally move states away from all that you know and love or never visit family or friends again; it simply means that your marriage relationship/spouse needs to be placed first in your human relationships. You must "become one." Jesus said it this way in Mark 10:6-8 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one." (NIV)

Here is a brief "test" that you can take with your spouse to get a feel for how effectively you have done these "eaves" of marriage. Keep in mind that you cannot fully cleave to your spouse until you have done the "leaving" portion...


"If you are unsure whether or not you have "left", here is a test to see where you stand. Please take this with your spouse and answer questions with a scale of 1 to 7. 1= Very False 7 = Very True Here are the questions:

1. We were successful in leaving our parents when we got married.
2. Leaving family and other close relationships has been a harmonious process for us.
3. Even though we may have problems from time to time in our marriage, we resist the temptation to run home to our parents.
4. Both of us are free from manipulation of control by our parents.
5. Neither of us has tried to force our spouse to be like one of our own parents.
6. We have established our own residence away from our parents.
7. We are not financially dependent upon either set of parents.
8. While we may enjoy frequent talks or visits with our parents, our sense of emotional well-being does not depend on such communication.

Score 48-56 = We are not having any problems and have successfully "left".
Score 8-17 = You have not left and need to talk gently to each other and parents to work out a plan to leave. Note we do not need to beat up on the parents.....instead we need to understand that you need to take the initiative and let them know what is Biblically correct IN LOVE."

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the "eaves" of marriage!


*Above quote and test taken from*

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Trampoline Principle

A few years back when my dad was going in for a surgery my brother asked me how I was still able to be so happy with all that had transpired in my life. (My husband had just gone through a difficult season with his health.) I heard myself explaining that our life had been like jumping on a trampoline. Our lows had been very low, but our highs were pretty far up there as well. If you have ever jumped on a trampoline you know what I am talking about. When you first jump you don't go down or up very far. The more you jump and invest energy into jumping the lower and higher you get. When a friend is jumping alongside of you, you can actually jump in such a way that causes the other person to soar! It can be a blast where you can do stunts and fun things you could not do on your own or when you are on the ground.

God is faithful not to leave us in the valleys of life. He is also faithful to not allow us to solely live on the mountain tops. It is the balance of both that makes life vivid and full. Along the path between the valleys and mountains, He often blesses us with true friends. Those who laugh with us when we are happy, cry with us when we are sad. Encourage and lift us up when we are down and redirect us if we are wandering down destructive paths. Today I am blessed and thankful for those true friends in life who have jumped beside me on the trampoline of life and helped me to soar. I am purposing anew to be a true friend to others; to look for ways to help them to reach new heights.

If you don't yet have those kinds of friendships in life, pray that God will bring people into your path that you can jump alongside on this trampoline of life. It takes vulnerability, time and energy, but the view is great!

Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Proverbs 18:24b "but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother."

Many Blessings!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Becoming Golden

It is when we are real before God and allow ourselves to voice the questions of our hearts that He is able to answer and fill us with faith and a deeper understanding of both who He is and who we are in Him. When we strive to be the "perfect Christian" during trials telling ourselves that it isn't alright to pour our questions out before the Lord that He is unable to take us deeper with Him. Trials can be an invitation to draw close to Him-A refining fire IF we will allow ourselves to stay within the consuming flames.

My Mom died when I was 20 (she was 40 at the time). My College boyfriend of 3 years asked my Dad for my hand in marriage and then broke up with me. My husband suffers from a chronic illness (Crohn's Disease) and has literally spent up to a year in the hospital (collectively at different times) over our ten years of marriage. Surgeons have told us that he has been hours away from death. My Dad died when I was 32. I have lost all of my grandparents over the years. That covers some of the trials that I have had in my life...things that have shaken me as a person, tested my faith, and shaped me into who I have become now at the age of 36.

I have been "reflecting" this past week on my personal journey of faith. Trials and loss have been plentiful in my life. I know my refiner's fire well. Everyone has their own "story." Their own set of circumstances that contribute to who they become. I have lived both openly and honestly during the "flames" and I have also pulled out of the lick of the fire pretending to be purified, shiny and golden in order to appear like I am a "good Christian" while the corrosion slowly took over my heart.

There is a difference between going through a trial and allowing yourself to remain in the refiner's fire. Although you may not be able to leave your circumstances, remaining in the circumstances and riding the storm doesn't mean that you will come out the other side a better person-changed by the Lord because of what you have gone through. That is a choice made when you find the heat of the flames upon your soul.

I am writing today to encourage myself and anyone reading (I believe God has directed you to this blog if you are reading it.) to choose to stay within the refiner's fire when it comes. Be willing to be real. With others but most importantly with God. Bring your deepest questions, fears, desires, tears, and laughter before Him. Invite Him to reveal himself to your heart deeply. He loves you and longs for you to take your refuge in Him during the storms and trials of life. Looking back after the storms have passed, you will be glad that you did.

I love this Psalm written by David when he was in the Desert of Judah. I will share a small portion, but it is worth reading in it's entirety. Psalm 63:7-8 "Because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Cling to Him and sing in the shadow of His wings...

Refiner's Fire

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner's fire
My heart's one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You my Master
Ready to do Your will

Brian Doerksen / 1990 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing

(Copyrighted Material A Teachable Heart 2009)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - Never Return An Empty Dish


My mom died when I was 20, so I have come to value the advice and wisdom of other women. Some older, some not. I think we can learn A LOT from our sisters in Christ! I'd love for you to join in! Just answer the this question:

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Enter your link below and link back here somewhere within your post!

Today I am choosing to honor my friend, Theresa...

Theresa is a fabulous cook who is generous enough to bring me left overs and samples here and there! I cannot remember the first time that I had given her something in a dish, but when she returned it back to me it was, of course, washed...and filled! With moist towelettes. I said, "What is this all about???" She informed me that "in the south," you never return a dish empty...usually she would have filled it with chocolates or some yummy treat, but she was fresh out so she gave what she had...moist towelettes! I LOVED it! Since then I have tried to never return a dish empty. Once I literally had NOTHING to put in a dish, so I wrote out some of my favorite Scriptures and placed them inside the dish and then covered it with plastic wrap. The person I gave it to said it blessed them tremendously. It was simple,easy and free!

So Theresa..."You go girl!" Love & HUGS!

Read more Titus 2 Tuesday posts by clicking the links below!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 27 - Couples That Laugh Together...

***I have decided to start my Spring Cleaning; so I will be posting some of my favorite previous posts this week. I will still be reading and leaving comments; just not writing. I hope you will enjoy them!***

Laughing with your Spouse

One of my all time funniest memories with my spouse was made when we were in a volleyball league together. A group of us at our church had decided to form a team at a local recreational center. Sadly however, I think we were the only two who had actually really played before. We had joined it for "fun," but all of you who know us know how competitive we both are. It was a humbling season to say the least. I don't think our team won a single game (except maybe the one we won by forfeit because the other team didn't show up!) But we had a lot of fun with our team.

There was one team in particular who we played twice. The first time they creamed us and instead of being good sports, they just outright disrespected and made fun of some of our team members. When we realized we would be playing them again, our competitive spirit got the best of my husband and I. We worked hard with our teammates to make sure it wasn't going to be a repeat of the first go round.

We were doing well. Scoring points. Making them take us seriously as competition. That is when their "star" server began serving. She would throw the ball up in the air and then jump up to the ball and hit it over in a serve. It looked cool. She was good. They scored a few points with her serve. Then it was my husband's turn to serve. Adrenalin was high. He decided to match their energy and service. He threw the ball up, jumped to meet the ball in a serve....and TOTALLY missed the ball. It was FUNNY! O.k., maybe it was one of those moments where you had to be there to see the humor in it, but I laughed so hard and I could NOT stop. I am laughing now as I write this just remembering it! (He laughed too after the initial embarrassment-he's great like that!)

What is my point in telling you all of this? Laughter is such an important component in marriage. Think back to when you were dating, engaged, and first married. Do you remember laughing together? As we age and life gets so serious and busy it is easy to forget to laugh together. Remember to be willing to laugh at yourself. We have also had slap happy late nights watching funny movies. I'd love to hear what you and your spouse do to pursue laughter. You can comment by clicking on the "comment" button beneath this post.

A merry heart does good, like medicine; but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22NKJV)

Many Blessings!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

She Speaks!

If you have never heard of the She Speaks Conference with Proverbs 31 Ministries you need to check it out! It will be held July 31st - August 2nd in Concord, NC.

She Speaks offers tracks for Speakers, Writers, Womens Ministry Leaders, AND also a Next Generation track for those up and coming leaders of tomorrow. I had the privilege of attending last summer and it was amazing. I ended up doing a combination speaker/writer track as God has been cultivating both within my heart.

From the first session, it was obvious that these women were real, transparent, and had so much to offer each of us who were lifting our own stories and lives up to the Lord and asking if He was really calling us down these paths of ministry. A few things that God spoke to my own heart throughout the conference:

1. I don't have to "have it all together" before the Lord can use me.

2. God alone equips those who He calls and does it for His glory and to establish or grow His relationship with His children.

3. I needed to step out in obedience and faith to what God was calling me to.

Although I thought that I already knew those three things, God spoke it to my heart in a much deeper way than I had ever expected. It prompted me to draw closer, to trust deeper, and to take those first steps.

Here are some tangible ways that this conference has impacted my life:

She Speaks has prompted me to start this blog. (They have awesome break out sessions on blogging!)

It encouraged me to move forward with the curriculum that God had been prompting me to write for girls aged 7-9. I am almost finished with my book proposal to submit for possible publication. She Speaks has major Publishers on site to meet with individuals who are on the pathway to publication. You can sign up for face to face meetings with publishers and publishing agents!

I learned so MUCH about writing and publication in break out sessions and have been published in Proverbs 31 Magazine.

I would LOVE to attend again this year and submit my book proposal in person at the She Speaks Conference, but so far that is looking unrealistic with finances. I am praying that God will provide a way if it is His plan for me to attend. Lysa TerKeurst is offering a chance to win a full scholarship to the conference on her blog. You can also click on all of the links to read more about She Speaks!

What are you waiting for?! Go check it out!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Soul Stitches

Our Littlest One has progressed in his journey in boyhood to the ER for some stitches this week. (hit with a toy by a friend) He was such a trooper and barely seems to notice them at all. Except, of course, when I have to clean the area and apply the anti bacterial gel. Thankfully his wound was at the top of his forehead going up into his hairline so I don't believe whatever scar is left over will be glaring.

I have absolutely no hard feelings toward the little boy (or his mom) who hurt my son. I know that he is learning how to communicate and that he would not have intentionally wounded him. Littlest one is already asking to play with him again so I am sure that it will be one of those things that they will laugh about down the road.. "Watch it buddy or I'll hit you with the cow flashlight again!" or a simple "Moo!" You know, that tender way in which boys tend to play!

The toughest thing for me to think about in all of this is that my children will endure many more "woundings" in life. Not just the physical bumps and bruises, but the woundings of the soul. Things that will shake their faith in other people and ultimately God. I know it is inevitable and in many ways necessary, but not much fun to think about. One of our first instincts involving our children is to protect them from harm. But it is often through pain and struggle that we learn and grow in ways that we otherwise could or would not.

Reflecting back on some of the woundings in my own life at the hands of others I can see some that were both intentional and unintentional - can't we all? The unintentional are easy to forgive and offer grace for. The intentional cut deeper and often with jagged edges that require a bit of stitching within our souls. Just as with a physical wound, it is essential that the wound is thoroughly cleaned and washed; an antibacterial agent applied to guard and protect the wound while it heals and to help reduce the scarring.

Our Creator and the Lover of our souls is waiting, as a loving parent, to wash those wounds with His own blood. He will quiet us with His love. He is the "balm of Gilead" to our hearts and souls. He will protect our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and help us to forgive. He is mighty to save and to heal. We will no longer to be slaves of those who have wounded us; but free from the anger and bitterness. Our lives may be forever changed from the situations; but as Beth Moore says in her Esther study: "You cannot separate your past from your destiny." Often, it is our "soul stitches" that give our destiny wings.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Psalm 3:3 "But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head."

Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Luke 6:28 "bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

May He quiet you with His love today,


The Interview

I have seen this interview (family meme) all over the place. I think first on Facebook and then at His Girls Blog, Life at 7000 feet, and Gretchen's place, Jewels In My Crown Someday too. I was a little hesitant to do it (not sure what my little darlings might say!) But I was truly curious how they would respond so last night (in an attempt to distract my sick daughter,) we gave it a whirl.

My husband wasn't home from work yet so has not been interviewed; but you can do this with your spouse as well!

Beauty is my 8 yr old daughter.

Gentle Strength is my 6 yr old son.

My commentary to some of their comments will be in parenthesis.

1. What is something your mom/wife always says to you?
Beauty - "I love you!"

Gentle Strength - "Be good. Be kind. I love you. You say a lot of nice things!"

(Awe, what was I afraid of? That they might say, "Lose the drama" - daughter or "Please stop doing that!" to my son who has a new found love for burping??)

2. What makes your mom/wife happy?
Beauty - "Watermelon & seeing me after school."

Gentle Strength - "When I obey and do the right thing. When I am quiet so the baby can sleep."

(All true...I was delightfully surprised that my daughter is aware that I enjoy seeing my kids when they come home from school.)
3. What makes your mom/wife sad?
Beauty - "When I disobey."

Gentle Strength - "When I am being horrid."

(Where did he get the word, horrid?!? He totally cracked me up!)
4. How does your mom/wife make you laugh?
Beauty - "Water balloon fights"

Gentle Strength - "Mostly Dad makes me laugh...O.K., when you "steam roll" me when I am hiding under the covers in bed."

(I had no idea that she enjoyed the water balloon fights so much last summer! It has been months and that is what pops into her mind? I truly cannot compete with my husband - such a creative & fun guy!)

5. What was your mom/wife like as a child?
Beauty - "Obedient & a fun girl!"

Gentle Strength - "Didn't like hot dogs. Small, nice, cute. Probly got into trouble a little bit."

(Still chuckling over the hot dog thing...he is amazed that a person could NOT like hot dogs! & yeah, 'I probly got into trouble a little bit!')

6. How old is your mom/wife?
Beauty - "I'd say...39"

Gentle Strength - "43"

(Clearly we need to communicate that mommy is MUCH younger than that! ;))

7. How tall is your mom?
Beauty - "Between medium to tall"

Gentle Strength "7 inches or so"

(Oh, we have some math skills to work on! I am actually 5' 10")

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Beauty - "Relax at the Spa"

Gentle Strength - "Sleep"

(I must make a REALLY big deal of it when I do go to the spa every few yrs... and I have been sleep deprived since the birth of our Littlest one who is the energizer bunny in person!)
9. What does your mom/wife do when you're not around?
Beauty - "Take care of all the messes & Littlest one. All sorts of things."

Gentle Strength - "Stuff on the computer"

(Both are completely right!)
10. If your mom/wife becomes famous, what will it be for?
Beauty - "Being the best mom in the world." (keep in mind that she is ill & I've been waiting on her!)

Gentle Strength - "You're already famous for MOPS!" (I had to laugh at this one! We do run into people all of the time when we go out who know me from MOPS - I didn't realize he thought I was "famous!" LOL!)

11. What is your mom/wife really good at?
Beauty - "playing croquette & tennis."

Gentle Strength - "Skiing and MOPS"

(We haven't played croquette in a couple of years...?)
12. What is your mom/wife not very good at?
Beauty - "I don't know..."

Gentle Strength - "Nothing. Well, maybe skiing the blacks"

(Definitely skiing the blacks! And so many other things...)

13. What does your mom/wife do for a job?
Beauty - "A mom & MOPS"

Gentle Strength - "MOPS. Easy. Everybody knows that!"

(We have been a bit 'MOPS' saturated lately!)
14. What is your mom/wife's favorite food?
Beauty - "Pizza & Watermelon"

Gentle Strength - "Pizza."

(Pizza & watermelon are right up there with steak, sushi, etc. )
15. What makes you proud of your mom/wife?
Beauty - "She is unique. And she takes care of me when I am sick."

Gentle Strength - "She's a good mom. Ya know, feeds us, takes care of us, sends us to a good school."

(I tried to get more specifics on the "unique" part...she only said that there isn't anyone else like me...)
16. If your mom/wife were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Beauty - "Supermom" (to which my son said, "There isn't a cartoon character like that!")

Gentle Strength - "Maybe Jerry (the mouse) from Tom & Jerry?"

(Truth is my family doesn't really watch cartoons. We're bookworms. *shrug*)

17. What do you and your mom/wife do together?
Beauty - "Read. Clean up. She helps me when I am sick." (Do you see a theme here?)

Gentle Strength - "We go on dates. We eat together. We play together. So much I can't even say...

18. How are you and your mom/wife the same?
Beauty - We both like watermelon

Gentle Strength - "We both like Phinneas & Ferb."

19. How are you and your mom/wife different?
Beauty - "Different hair color." (Oh, I hope she keeps those blond locks!)

Gentle Strength - "Well, she's a girl. But mostly, she doesn't like candy or ice cream very much."

(So true...minus the chocolate thing...)
20. How do you know your mom/wife loves you?
Beauty - "She gives me popsicles when I am sick & ice cream in the summer."

Gentle Strength - "Food, home, good school, cool backpack, takes care of me, fuzzy nuzzles at night."

(Oh I hope they know.... I do, so very very very deeply love each one of them!)
21. What does your mom/wife like most about your dad/yourself?
Beauty - "He is loving."

Gentle Strength- "He is strong."

22. Where is your mom/wife's favorite place to go?
Beauty - "The beach, pool, or a clean room."

Gentle Strength - "Colorado."

(The beach is my favorite place, but I will settle for a clean room to chill out in if I have to!)

It ended up being more fun than I anticipated & I learned a little along the way too!

Blessings & peace to you today!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You


Here we are at another
Titus 2 Tuesday! It is easy to join in-just answer the question below:

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Enter your link below and link back here somewhere within your post!

This week I am honoring yet another "virtual" friend, Gretchen. Not only is she witty, original, and someone who is real about her Christian walk; but she is also wise beyond her years. (Yes, I said "beyond" even with your birthday!)

Check out what I learned from her (her photo and phrase):

"Unplugging from the blogosphere today."

There are days when I have to "unplug" in order to maintain balance with my face to face world. It is not an easy thing to do. I almost always have things swirling in my mind that I would love to write about. Plus, I enjoy reading all of your blogs and posts so much that it genuinely bothers me if I get behind and miss some of them. But when Gretchen posted this, I couldn't ignore the sense of freedom it provided me knowing that others share that same need.

Oh, and this is my all time favorite post of hers so far!

So, what have you learned from another woman this week (or ever)?

Enter your link below and enjoy reading all of the Titus 2 Tuesday Posts!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 26 - Holding Patterns

We've touched on the highs and lows of marriage, but what about when you are living the day to day, ins and outs of marriage? This is truly where most of our marriage lives are spent. If it were graphed; these patterns would probably look similar to a heartbeat. There are the ups and downs of everyday joys and struggles, but it has a sense of consistency about it for longer periods of time.

I was speaking with someone today who was asking what I thought about the difference of "loving your spouse" and "being in love with them." This could probably be termed many different things, but essentially I believe she was needing me to validate that most of us don't have that giddy "in love" feeling every day. Not even every month. Let's get real here because I believe that another one of those "messages" that we are bombarded with in our culture is that if we've "lost that lovin' feelin'" that it's "gone, gone, gone, whoa whoa whoa..." we must have missed our true soul mate and they are still out there somewhere just waiting for us.

Imagine with me that you are about to go on a trip. An anticipated vacation perhaps. You are sitting in the airport waiting for your turn to board the plane that is going to transport you to your destination. The speaker finally comes alive and your row is called. You board the plane, stow your small bag(s) and buckle in ready for the adventure to begin. The door closes, air pressure begins to change and an attractive stewardess shows you how to properly buckle your seat belt. She also visually demonstrates where the exits are if you were to need them in case of an emergency and holds an air mask up to her face while pulling the straps to ensure that you understand.

At this point, the captain welcomes you and also mentions that you will be taxiing the runway shortly. The plane jolts and then glides down the runway, but you are the last of what seems an endless row of planes awaiting take off. The person beside you is engrossed in the "SkyMall Magazine;" the child behind already using the back of your seat as a springboard of activity...

All of what I just described is not necessarily part of what you had anticipated your adventure to be - in it's fullness, but it is part of the adventure none the less. The same can be true of marriage. There are the day to day activities of life to be lived.

This is where I want to encourage you to shake it up just a little though. Too many of us just float through life without really living it. Too many are married without the joy of a marriage. I'm sure that it will come as no surprise to you when I say, go out of your way to pursue your spouse. Engage them in conversation. Join them in their every day activities. Lighten their load now and then even if it means taking on more yourself for a bit. Go out of your way to love them. Love can be a noun or a verb. While it is nearly impossible for it to always be a verb; choose to make it a verb as much as possible. You will experience more of the "highs" in marriage if you do, and when you do go through the lows, you will already have an established relationship that can walk through the valleys together.

I was amazed this last time that my husband and I were in the valley together...we were actually able to enjoy a bit of the lushness of the greens and the scents of the flowers together in the midst of the pain and sadness. We don't have it all together; we have days where we don't like each other very much just like everyone else. Those are normal feelings, maybe even trends; but it doesn't have to be your every day "normal." Step out and make love a verb in your relationship. That lovin' feelin' is often found when we do.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spotlight Interview

Christian Women On-Line is a wonderful site filled with great articles and links to many wonderful blogs. A Teachable Heart is one of the "Spotlight Interviews" this month, click here if you would like to read my interview. (Yes, my name is spelled incorrectly in the title; I am told that they are working on that!)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Update on the Madak Teachings

Many of you know that my step mom, Beth, has been in New Guinea assisting some missionaries as they teach the Bible (for the first time) in the Madak people's native tongue. You can click here or here to read further. They have now taught all the way through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ - here is the latest update!


"THANK YOU for all your prayers!!

We are happy to announce that we have completed our first phase one Bible teaching program here in the village. We humbly thank all of you who prayed, wrote letters of encouragement, and those who have made it possible for us to live here in PNG and have this ministry with the Madak people. You are truly partners together with us in reaching the Madak.

The final week of teaching went well. Unfortunately, many people were absent on the day we presented the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Various things going on in the village and community prevented many from coming. So, we did a thorough recap and review on the final day of teaching as well. Fortunately, there was good attendance for the final lesson. It is hard to know exactly just what people are thinking.

We need to do of lot of follow up with people one on one. The Madak people are very self conscious and for them to stand up publicly and admit that they were wrong in their thinking before and have now believed the truth is very difficult for them. Yes, we wish they wouldn't worry about such things, but that's the reality of things here. So, we'll be doing a lot of follow up with individuals in the days to come.

We do have clear testimonies from two men already. We believe that they are both saved. Robin (Karl's translation helper) and a man named Paul Tomailin. There are several other people who we believe will give similar testimonies as well once we have a chance to talk with them individually. We are excited to see the Lord building His church here in Papua New Guinea.

We already have an invitation from a neighboring village to go teach there. We will be considering this and maybe in the months to come, we'll begin to make plans for another outreach. In the mean time, we will be getting a pulse on those who did attend the meetings regularly. Our next step is to get the believers involved in a discipleship program and further Bible teaching.

Thanks Again for all your prayers and support... we would ask that you not stop now. The work here is really just beginning. We are trusting the Lord to do big things here in the village as He begins to work through these new believers. Thanks for the HUGE part you play in the Madak work.

The Madak Team,

Chris, Peggy, Leah, Micah and Levi Bittner

Karl, Maribeth, Laura, Matthew and Rachel Greeb

April Fish

Sharon Muhill"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Butterfly Struggles

My daughter has been struggling with a few issues lately. She has become cognitively aware of the cocoon that surrounds her life and the writhing and struggling has begun as she discovers her own strength and beauty. How I am tempted at times to trim away parts of her struggle; to seemingly make things simpler, easier. Yet I know that this struggle has been custom designed within and without for her benefit. So I pray for wisdom and strength of my own as I encourage and guide her. There have been and may again be moments of rescue needed; but for the most part, I can see that my role is changing. Bittersweet as it is; there is nothing my mother's heart longs for more than to see my beautiful butterfly stretch her fully developed wings and fly...

The Struggle of the Butterfly

author unknown

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared and he sat and watched the butterfly as it struggled for several hours to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared it had gotten as far as it could. The man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would expand and be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! in fact, the butterfly spent its whole life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. What the man, in kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved freedom.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through life without obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been.

And... we would never fly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - You Are Never Too Old


Here we are at another
Titus 2 Tuesday! It is easy to join in-just answer the question below:

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Enter your link below and link back here somewhere within your post!

I am dedicating today's post to my amazing step mom, Beth. Our family was blessed to have her become a part of our family a few years after my mom died. She was my dad's rock through his cancer, and continues to be a blessing to us all even after his passing.

The thing that she is currently teaching me: You are never too old to live God sized adventures. She recently had a birthday which bumped her into the 7th decade of her life. Yet, she has answered the prompting of the Holy Spirit and is doing missions work in New Guinea as I type right now. She left back in October and will not return to the States until June. She has assisted missionaries in the bush, stayed with a couple in Australia for a bit while working out her Visa, and has been teaching at a missionary school.

Her e-mails are always filled with lessons that God is speaking to her own heart, love for people that she meets along her journeys, and anticipation for what is yet in store. I thank God for her strategic placement within our family.

I love you Beth! ("Mom")

Head on over to these blogs to read more lessons from Titus 2 Women in our lives!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 25 - Highs and Lows Part 2

Thank you for those of you who shared a bit about your ups and downs in your own marriages after the last marriage post. I know your experiences will inspire and encourage all who read them!

Some of the low points that we experience in marriage are temporary. Situations and circumstances change, emotions and hormones balance, and you and your spouse can move forward from where you had "left off" so to speak.

Other times, you grow and change as a person and there is no "picking up where you left off." No two people grow at the same rate, nor do they deal with stress and difficulty in the exact same manner. It is easy to see why it is during the lows of marriage and life that many look at their spouse and say that they "aren't the same person that I married." But in truth, what a blessing that they aren't! Imagine for a moment (especially those of us who have been married for several years) if your spouse was the same person in depth and character as when you married them...yes, they may have been more carefree and even more "fun," but is there any part of who they are now that you would miss? Are you the same person that you were when you said, "I do?"

Life doesn't stay the same. Needs and desires rarely stay exactly the same. Relationships are meant to change and grow. It took me awhile to learn this in our marriage. When my husband was in the midst of a long and difficult season of health I longed for those first couple of carefree years of marriage. I found myself almost demanding them. I realized that I felt that I deserved that easier, uncomplicated life. It was a defining moment for my maturity level when I realized that I had signed up for this. I had vowed to journey through life with my spouse - through the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. When we can finally stop demanding what we thought we deserved and embrace what we have; our love can deepen and grow with our spouse.

In a recent post titled, Our New Normal, my friend Ellyn shared this (Eli is the child that was stillborn into their waiting arms):

"It's been a long two years of ups and downs...and downs, and downs, sometimes to the point where I have wondered if we would ever get back to being the happy, carefree couple we once were. And I've come to terms with the fact that it probably won't happen...that we are both irrevocably changed because of Eli, that he has changed each of us to the very core of our being. Some changes I wish had not happened, and some of them are huge blessings. Either way, good or bad, they're there....this is our new normal, and we have learned to love each other through, because of, and in spite of our new selves."

Regardless of what each of our actual circumstances are, I believe Ellyn has beautifully articulated this concept. What have you (or your spouse) been irrevocably changed by? It seems the things we are prepared to deal with don't happen to us. Those that we never saw coming become our lives. God has purpose in that. In our weakness, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10-11) When we long for sweet fellowship with our spouse and they simply aren't there yet, He is. (I John 1:3; Exodus 15:2; Phil. 4:19) When we are in despair that our spouse will never overcome a specific sin or addiction, He invites us to come and lay our burdens at His feet and to trust that He is able. (Psalm 40:1-2; Matt. 11:28; Ephesians 3:20) When we have more disappointment or grief than we believe we can physically bear, He comforts us. (John 16:33; Romans 15:13; Jude 2)

In all trials of life, God is at the source of the solution. We have been created to be in relationship with Him. He has created and sanctified marriage. It is His desire for your marriage to be a beautiful, sacred relationship. So, what is your scenario? Are you committed to this marital journey with your spouse? Do you need to embrace a "new normal?"

Next week I am planning to post on "The In-betweens." Those times when you find your marriage in a holding pattern of life.

May God be stirring up your passion for your marriages!


Profound Pictures Prize Package

My beautiful friend, Ellyn, who I have introduced you to in a previous post, is raising funds for her son Seth's cochlear implants. She is raffling off an AMAZING prize package including:

a SLR camera of your choosing (Nikon or Cannon)

a 4GB memory card

a lovely camera strap

a Crumpler Photo Bag

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 software

AND a 12x18 ICanvas print

It doesn't get better than that!! You can enter to win by giving a suggested donation of $10. Although I am not one to normally post these kinds of events, this cause is near and dear to my heart and It would mean a lot to me if you would check it out. You will NOT be disappointed.

She has also provided a way for you to win additional prizes if you post about the raffle on your blog and add the "Profound Pictures Prize Package" button.

They will be donating additional funds raised to "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" and to "Rhyan's Hope." Two amazing non-profit organizations.

You can watch a video made by their sweet family here.

I hope you will prayerfully join in!

Blessings to you!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 24 - The Highs & Lows, Part 1

Many of us who are married have taken vows. Some said the traditional vows; others wrote their own. Most of us included a part where we vowed to stand by our spouse no matter what came at us in life. The part that has been most tested in my own marriage has probably been the, "in sickness and in health," section.

I knew my husband had a chronic illness that he would be dealing with most of his life; but I don't believe I could have known to what extremes his health would take us. There are times when it is tough being the spouse of someone with chronic illness.

Everyone goes through highs and lows personally - whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or Spiritual. I would like to discuss how to get through the time periods when your spouse is at a "low" in one or more of those areas. This is an area that I believe I have both failed in and done successfully over the years. It is often during these time periods when intimacy and communication are lost and Satan can effectively form a wedge between husband and wife.

Here are a few scenarios to allow you to further see what I mean by this:

A wife is pregnant. She is sick, tired, demanding (after all, her husband got her pregnant), and defeated (her body is losing shape and she wants to feel better). Her husband is frustrated, drained from burning the candle on both ends, and desires to be able to just relax...neither of their needs are being met.

A wife is dealing with the loss of a parent. She is emotionally spent, confused, hurt, and cannot seem to get motivated to do the tasks of everyday life. Her husband has been very understanding and has taken up several of the everyday tasks, but is now getting frustrated that his wife isn't "snapping" out of it.

A husband has just received a promotion and orders to move to another state. He is excited, but also feeling the pressure to "perform well" on the job. Much has to be wrapped up before the move. Balance of life has been shifted right now - his career has taken top priority. The wife has suddenly received the news that they will be moving. Her emotions are running high - she will be leaving friends, family, and a school she has felt good about her children being in. Her husband doesn't seem to care or have time to discuss her emotions and she is feeling like most of the physical/household pressures of moving fall directly upon her.

What is your current scenario? Are you or your husband in a "low" moment? Take a couple of minutes to write out your current marriage scenario (possibly in a similar way that I have laid out the above scenarios.) Are you able to see both sides and the possible frustrations each may be having?

Some of you may be in a place where neither of you are at a "low" but can you think of one that you have been through?

In these moments/periods of time (sometimes lasting months or years), marriages are either built up or the foundation is being torn down. What have you done to make it through the low times? Do you feel that you've ever failed during a low time-what can you do about it now if you have?

I will share my thoughts next Monday (Lord willing!) but I'd love to hear yours!

Blessings & Peace to you!


Transparency Series & Great Ideas!

Unfortunately, the flu bug has been spreading in our household and my computer time is minimal this week. However, His Girl, has an amazing "Transparency Series" that she has been doing that is worth checking out. She is a girl after my own heart and the comments left are as wonderful as her posts.

She has gone over personal transparency, transparency on our blogs, transparency at home and with our children (how much is too much), and transparency with our friendships.


I saw this wonderful "Do Something Daily" calendar over at MckMama's blog. It has creative ideas for things to do with your kids each day. I don't know about you, but I could use a little inspiration some days! A few of the ideas listed:
  • Put socks on your hands and dust around the house
  • Eat by candlelight
  • Go to a local school track to ride a bike, walk or run
  • Put a surprise in her shoes
  • Use a magnifying glass to find things outside
  • Organize photos
  • Make jewelry using things around the house
  • Play flashlight tag in the dark
I hope to be able to do some more writing of my own soon!! Please pray for our family as we work through this sickness! I just keep telling myself, "This too shall pass!" The above photo is where I'd love to be right now instead of cleaning up the yuckiness...on the beach in Aruba. I snapped this photo a few years ago on our vacation there.

Many Blessings!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - Friend Therapy


Here we are at another
Titus 2 Tuesday! It is easy to join in-just answer the question below:

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Enter your link below and link back here somewhere within your post!

Each week I ask the Lord to impress upon my heart who it is He would like for me to write about. Today He strongly impressed a virtual "Titus 2 Woman" on my heart. I admit; I questioned it for a minute - NOT because I didn't want to honor her, but because I hadn't thought about sharing someone who I haven't met in the "real" world.

So I am venturing out today and honoring a sister who has touched my life here in the blogging world~
Jeneil. Her blog is Rhemashope (or Autism in a Word). Named after her beautiful two daughters. Jeneil has such a wonderful mother's heart. Her oldest daughter has autism. Although I do not personally have children on the autistic spectrum; I have several close friends who are in the midst of walking the path that she has found herself on and I am continuously blessed by how she is able to share openly the struggles and joys of mothering. Her writing transcends and touches the heart of every mother. One of my absolute favorite things that she often says is, "A good friend is cheaper than therapy!" Amen Sister!!

But it doesn't end there.
Her first love is clearly the Lord. She has inspired me, challenged me, and encouraged me in my own walk with the Lord. She posted the other day about how God gave her a "theme" verse for her daughter when she was still in the womb. She has prayed it over her, written it on the door of her bedroom, and is claiming it over her life. I have several "life" verses that I have claimed as my own as the Lord has impressed them upon my heart; but had never thought about asking God for specific verses to be claiming and praying over each of my children as "theme" verses for their lives. I do pray Scripture over my children (like Daniel 1:4 over my boys and parts of Esther 1:15 over my daughter), but I am praying more specifically that God would reveal Scriptures specific to each of my children that I could claim and be praying over them.

I know that Jeneil is not looking for personal recognition in any way and that she seeks to honor the Lord in word and deed; so Jeneil, today I am praising God for the way that He is at work in your life. Thank you for seeking His face and following Him! God touches my heart through you.

We can learn so much from other women! Click on the links below to read what they have learned from "Titus 2 Women" in their lives!

Monday, March 2, 2009

We Interrupt Regularly Scheduled Programming....

Our family had a wonderful trip to the mountains of VA to do some skiing, tubing, indoor water park fun, etc. this past weekend. Somewhere amidst the adventure and fun, our littlest one has gotten the flu and has been quite ill. He is having moments of perkiness so I believe he is on the mend, but my normal "Marital Moment Monday" is going to have to be postponed.

Friday night when our littlest one was ill over and over (and over...) I literally had to lift up his little face and help him to keep his head up so he could "spit into the bucket" (as he called it.) He was so completely exhausted that he would fall asleep almost instantly after being ill. It was adorably pathetic and in the midst of it all I felt such a moment of tenderness with my heavenly father. Psalm 3:3-4 came to mind:

"But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah."

In these tender moments as a parent, it always hits me in such a fresh way that He loves us even more than we can love our own children. I am praising Him today for being the lifter of my head, for hearing my cries, and for bringing me peace.

May we all rest sweetly with the faith of a child in our Father's love and care.