Sunday, September 29, 2013

Nurturing a No-Nagging Zone

Proverbs 19:13b- A quarrelsome wife is annoying as constant dripping

We all have a list of things to do, and sometimes we feel that those tasks will never be accomplished.  When a task has a deadline, it increases the importance of that task, but what do we do when our spouse or child doesn’t feel the same urgency that we do?  Ladies..we tend to nag them.  It’s a natural response.  In my case, it’s an issue of letting go and not having control over the situation.  If I have control over it, then I know that it will get done on my timetable and I will be able to check it off my list.  However, life doesn’t work that way.

This passage in Proverbs compares a quarrelsome wife to water that constantly drips.  Have you ever had a leaky faucet? It can be a sound that wears on one’s patience and nerves, until somehow your brain adapts and you start to tune it out.  That’s what happens when we are quarrelsome or argumentative with people.  We wear on their patience and nerves until they start to tune us out.  Just last week I texted my son “I’m not going to nag you, but…” . I guarantee that he didn’t even read the rest of that message. 

The truth is in this world where most homes have two partners working outside the home full-time, and children with activities packing our calendars, we can get a little tired which can lead to irritability and stress.  I have no doubt that Satan loves to see our calendars full of activities and that he fully enjoys when we take our stress out on each other.  After all, he would love to destroy the family unit.  There is no other way he can hurt us so deeply or make us doubt God’s goodness than when we lash out on those we love and our family unity suffers.  We need to learn to pick our battles, and pick them wisely.

                Karen shares what choosing her battles has looked like in her marriage.
“I spent a good part of my first few years of marriage nagging my careful, thoughtful, SLOW husband to complete projects that he started, and to start projects that he didn’t think of and on and on and on.  What helped me to stop nagging was studying Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages.  This book helped me to see the good qualities that make my dear husband so careful, thoughtful, etc., and it helped me to see that my nagging was not good for my marriage.  I used to create false deadlines to push him along.  I used to try doing things myself to just get them done which infuriated him.  I used to leave notes and reminders.  I don’t do any of those anymore.  I let normal consequences occur, and that was difficult for me at first.  Now that I don’t nag him anymore, when I truly do need something done on a timetable, he listens and tries to do it in a timely manner.  We’ve come a long way baby!  Another thing that only God could do.”

We are under a lot of pressure to succeed.  Parents feel the pressure to perform at work so that they keep their job which continues to provide stability and financially for the family.  Kids are under pressure to succeed in school and in their extra- curricular activities.  Home should be the place where we can all come and not feel pressure, but there are things there that have to be dealt with too. 

Jeremiah 10:23 tells us “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course.”  God is in control.  We are not.  Our homes don’t need to be spotless, we don’t have to be involved in every activity and win top honors in all of them.  In some cases, these issues are prideful and cause more pressure than pleasure to those involved.  If your home runs smoothly, and is a no-nagging zone, would you share with us your tips for success?  Your experiences might help someone that can relate to your situation.  We would love to hear from you!

Passages to Ponder:

Colossians 3:21- Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

2 Peter 1:5-6 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises.  Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness.

Romans 8:6- So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 

Contributors: Karen Bromby and Kim McClure

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Popularity, Pop-Culture, and Purity

I Thessalonians 4:3
God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from sexual sin.
They need you to be bold and brave, and not shy away from talking to them about something that we didn’t discuss when we were growing up. Yes, I’m talking about sex.  Teenagers have recreational sex coming at them from every media outlet and social network.  Compare an episode of Happy Days to an episode of How I Met Your Mother, and you will see how much television has changed as far as discussing sexual activity.  Long gone are the days when Fonzie would allude to having a girl sleep over in his apartment.  Now, the characters are berated and ridiculed if they come home after a date, instead of sleeping over or bringing someone home.
They need you to take advantage of teachable moments and talk to them about society’s view of sex, the objectification of women, and God’s plan for sexuality.  Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are full of young women posting photos of themselves in little clothing, posed like a Kardashian so that every curve is seen.  Be a strong advocate and start these discussions.  It can be uncomfortable, but it is needed.
They need you to let them know that sex is intended to be an emotional connection of intimacy between two people that are willing to share their ENTIRE lives with each other, not just a way to pass the time on a Saturday night.  God wants us to be holy.  The word “holy” means worthy of complete devotion.  If we keep our sexual life holy, that means we are only sharing it with someone that has complete devotion in a relationship. 
They need you to let them know that the idea of being “popular” in high school with the boys because of sexual activity isn’t a new concept and it has been scarring women for years.  There is a double standard for girls.  It isn’t fair that the girl is labeled “easy” and the boy is heralded as a hero, but that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it has been for a long time.  Things such as wearing different colors of lipstick, nail polish or bracelets to signify how far they are willing to go with a boy is not showing self-respect and just feeds the fire of young men seeking to use them.  This is starting as early as age 12, because some girls want to lose their virginity just to get it over with, so they will be experienced.   
They need you to tell them that sexual purity is a gift to their future spouse.  The culture has changed as far as acceptance of sexual immorality, but God’s word hasn’t changed.  It isn’t uncommon to hear of girls asking their youth pastors how far they can go sexually before it isn’t okay.  They need to hear that they are worth the wait, and we can’t just rely on pastors to tell them.
They need you to encourage them even if you failed to live out this plan in your own life.   You might cringe when you read this, because you remember your own choices and know that you didn’t preserve yourself for your husband.  That can be a regret that is hard to shake.  Don’t allow yourself or others to remind you of that, and convince you that you aren’t worthy to talk to others about it.  God’s grace turns mistakes from shame into something with purpose.  Allow Him to do this through you.  The younger generation does watch the older generation, so we need to set the example.
They need to know that it isn’t too late!    God can redeem anything!  Jesus sacrificed Himself and suffered tremendously so that we can be redeemed.  Even if that line of sexual purity has been crossed, it can be forgiven and you can start over anew thanks to God’s plan of salvation. 
They need you to pray for them.  Pray that they would love and respect themselves, not craving attention in a way that could harm them emotionally and sometimes even physically with diseases.   Pray that they will know that they are worthy, and don’t need to gain “love” by doing things with guys and then telling the world about it.
Some of these things might shock you, but I assure you that “lipstick parties”, comments such as “If you don’t’ have sex, what do you do when you’re together?”, the codes for different colors of nail polish, etc. are all very real and not uncommon.  While many of us had pregnancy as our main concern in our youth, it’s now STDs that are developing at such a rate that medicine can’t keep up with treatments.  Many of these have life-long lasting effects that teenagers can’t comprehend.  I encourage you to open up a discussion with a young woman in your life, and be willing to really discuss these things with them.  At the least, you will know that they are hearing the truth as uncomfortable as it might be for both of you.
Passages to Ponder:
I Corinthians 6:18- Run from sexual sin!  No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.  For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.
Titus 2:12- And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures.  We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.
Psalm 30:1- I will exalt you, O Lord, for you rescued me.  You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Kathy Derda, Jodi Dunbar, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald, and Kristy Tolley

Monday, September 16, 2013

Yielding to Yes

Ecclesiastes 11:4
Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.  If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.
Sometimes, it’s just as important for a Christ follower to say ‘Yes, as it is to say ‘No’.  God gave Solomon great wisdom and understanding, as well as knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore.    I Kings 3:12 says that God told him that He would give him a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have.  So, when the person with those traits speaks advice, we should listen. 
Here, Solomon is telling us that waiting for things to be perfect will result in you doing nothing, because things will never be perfect.  Some folks have a tendency to “watch every cloud” when making a decision, therefore ending up missing the opportunity that presented itself.  Others may make a quick analysis and decision.  Which end of the spectrum are you on, or are you wisely planted in the middle?  I find it interesting that when speaking with married couples, it almost always seems that one of them is a cloud watcher, and the other is one to make quick analyses and decisions, which tends to strike a good balance in their relationship.
My family is currently in a transitional period.  I have a son who is away at college, and I have a daughter who is a senior in high school.  My husband recently accepted a job 7 hours away from our home.  We have moved several times.  In fact, my friend, Shawna tells me that I owe her another “M” page in her address book because she filled hers up changing my address so many times.  When my husband and I made the decision to accept his job here 5 years ago, we determined that we would not move our kids again until they finished high school.  So, over a year ago when murmurings started happening about this new position opening up, we stayed firm in that decision.
I prayed and thanked God for the opportunity that was being presented to my husband, but I also asked Him to delay the start date until my daughter graduated from high school.  Running down a list of why the date should be postponed, and reasoning out the logical thinking that I had going on in my head.  Wow! That’s bold, huh?  Telling God WHY He should do something.  Well, guess what?  He didn’t listen to me.
 He did, however, provide a peace in my heart and as the time approached and things became official, I actually had a sense of security about the whole thing.  After all, with every move we have made, I have met some amazing people that have blessed and enriched my life in immeasurable ways.  Why wouldn’t I trust Him to take care of this situation?  I had no reason except my prideful ways of thinking that I knew best.
To no surprise, I have already been proven wrong.  We, luckily, get to see my husband frequently as he is traveling back and forth a lot, but in the time that he has been away, about 50% of that time has been spent somewhere else: doing research, in meetings, etc. preparing for next year.  Let me sum up what that would have looked like if God had done this on my timeline.  45 year old woman whose youngest child just went away to college is in a new town, with no established relationships other than her husband who is out of town 50% of the time.  That, my friends, would have been a recipe for disaster.  Instead, while he is transitioning and prepping for next year, I get to be surrounded by familiarity and enjoy my daughter’s senior year with her.
He knows best!  If we truly believe that God has our backs, then we should have a spirit of adventure and a willingness to try things when we feel we are supposed to.  God doesn’t provide a spirit of fear.  He provides a spirit of power, and love.  If there is something you feel called to do, or if there is a major decision looming on your horizon, trust Him and if He is telling you to go for it. Then…GO FOR IT!!  Ask God for wisdom.  He loves a humble heart.
We might be at a place in life where we are in this position, and we might be at a place where we are watching our adult children find their “pace” in decision making.  Share your experiences with people and let them know how faithful God has been to you.  What are you waiting for?  Yield your pride to Him, let Him guide you and honor Him by saying “Yes”.
Passages to Ponder:
2 Timothy 1:7- For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
I Kings 3:10- The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.
Job 12:13- But true wisdom and power are found in God;  counsel and understanding are His.
Contributors:  Karen Bromby and Kim McClure

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Foundation of Faith

Matthew 19:5
And He said, "This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one."
I saw the picture above on Pinterest and it really spoke to me.  We, parents, always hear that our children are watching and learning.  When those children get to be teenagers and young adults, what have they learned about marriage by observing us?  It’s a scary thought.  When it's time to choose a spouse, it's one of the most important decisions they will make.  It not only affects their future, but the future of our families as well.
When discussing this topic, we discovered that many of us had grandparents who prayed consistently for us in this area.  I remember my grandmother telling me that she was praying about that, and at the time I didn’t think much of it, but I am so thankful for it now.  Today, I pray about this daily for my children.  It is important for them to know that God does care about this, and while they might be like the young me and not think much of it, hopefully they will be thankful one day too.  We wish we could just protect our children from making poor decisions to avoid the pain that comes with the consequences, but we can’t. So, we have to do what we are called to do which is to pray unceasingly for them, and set an example through our own marriages.  We have no idea what lies before us.  It could be sickness, job loss, moving, etc.  Our kids notice how we handle these situations and where we find our strength. 
Marriage can be a beautiful union when both people share the same faith in God.  This is important so that when issues come up, both people take them to the Lord to be resolved instead of getting advice from the world.  Unfortunately, in our current society, the corruption of the family unit, starting with the marriage is so twisted and tossed around in the public eye that we are constantly bombarded with news of infidelity among celebrities.  If someone better comes along, and catches your eye, divorce is considered “doable” if you have the support of your friends and family.  Hold up and wait a minute!  Your family and friends are NOT in your marriage unless you’ve let them in by complaining and gossiping about flaws, mistakes, and bad habits.  These actions do not reflect leaving your parents and clinging to your significant other.   
What can we do?
·         Stress the importance of sharing the same beliefs and of respecting people.  Let them know that you can’t change people.  God can, but the person has to be willing to be changed.
·         Pray for the protection of our own marriages daily, asking God to help us love unconditionally and selflessly.
·         Make sure your actions toward your husband- both privately and publicly are respectful and loving.
·         Let your children know that your priorities are: God first, marriage second, kids next.
Keep the lines of communication open with your kids about their relationships.  Be honest with them and share your experiences. They might not “hear it” but they are listening.  Pray that you find the right words to say and even though they might bring home a few “toads” along the way, ask God to protect their hearts, their purity, and their character until He reveals the one that He has chosen for them. 
Passages to Ponder:
2 Corinthians 6:14- Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.  How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10- Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Jams 5:16- Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Contributors: Monica Brown, Kathy Derda, Jodi Dunbar, Kim McClure and Kristy Tolley

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Let Your Life Be A Light

Hebrews 10:24
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
Have you ever had one of those days when you feel sad or discouraged?  We all have.  Now, think about what made you come out of that feeling.  It's very likely that your mood was lightened because someone said a kind word to you, or took the time to see how they could help you and followed through with it.  We, as Christ followers, are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  We should be encouragers.  When we encourage others, we are speaking words of love.  We are allowing ourselves to be used by God for His purpose in the world.
The world needs to see and hear love through the actions and words of Christians.    Paul says in Hebrews that this is a way to grow in faith and live in obedience to God.  While doing good works is not required for salvation, helping others is a good witness.  When we motivate each other to do good things, not only are we encouraging the person to whom we are speaking, but we are also encouraging them to continue the good that they are doing.  We will never know how far doing something good for someone will affect other things in the world.    I’ve seen people post many times on Facebook about the person ahead of them in line paying for their coffee and that prompted them to do the same for the person behind them.  That is such a simple act that means a lot to someone, because it’s an unexpected kindness, a bright light in what might otherwise be a really dark day.  It’s like The Butterfly Effect, which is the idea that even the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can affect a series of actions that could have cosmic effects.
It’s important to build relationships with people.  Dr. Paul Brand points out that every cell in the body has a specific job, in interdependence with every other cell.  The only cells which insist on being independent and autonomous are cancer cells.   Look for opportunities to encourage others even with the smallest things.  Telling someone that they did a great job or asking how their day was might just totally turn around someone’s outlook on life. Small acts of kindness, like a word of encouragement can go a long way in the lives of others.  Most people just need to know that someone cares and is on their side.
You might be thinking “I can’t do that. I can’t put myself out there and show that I care.”  Well, just think of Moses and David and Paul in the Bible.  Many of the greatest things that occurred in the Bible were done by the most unlikely people, or people who didn’t think they were capable of fulfilling what they were asked to do.
 How do we know when we are being asked?  We don’t audibly hear the voice of God as they did in the Old Testament.  Have you ever seen a situation and a thought comes to your head to help in some way, and your heart starts to beat really fast?  That could be the Holy Spirit prompting you to act, to reach out and build a relationship by helping.  Our contributor Kristy shares that she tries to operate under the assumption that whatever kind word or deed she can give to someone might be the only bright spot in their day.  She has followed through with the Holy Spirit’s prompting to call someone to just say, “Hey!”, and to let them know she was thinking about them, and they have said that it made a difference.  That spurs her to keep her ears and eyes open for other opportunities.
So come on!  What do you have to lose?  Smile at someone, ask them how they are and listen to their response!  Decide to participate in an activity that will help others and invite people along to join you.  Choose to be positive and reflect the light of Christ through your words and actions.  You never know who will be impacted…but God does.  Allow Him to use you today!
Passages to Ponder:
Philippians 4:8- And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable,  and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
I Thessalonians 5:11- So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Tammy Holtzapfel, Jamie Leary, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald and Kristy Tolley