Monday, April 28, 2008

Lux Venit Reading Group

The Excellent Wife Chapter 5: A Wife's Understanding of Marriage

The subheading for the chapter is God's Purpose, meaning God's Purpose for Marriage .
Peace sums this up by saying,

"The goal of the Christian husband and wife in marriage is to have a oneness that is characterized by a loving spiritual and physical bond that glorifies God and thereby enhances personal spiritual growth...each partner helps the other become as much like the Lord Jesus Christ as possible."
This spiritual growth in marriage will not just happen, we have to pursue it. It will involve commitment, perseverance, diligence, and most of all the Grace of God to fulfill it.

Peace then gives us 4 Goals that will aid us in our pursuit.
1. Make marriage a matter of faithful prayer
2. Commit to a biblical course of action
3. Take personal responsibility for your own failures and repent
4. Submit and participate in the process of "mutual sanctification" (mutual sanctification in marriage is the biblical process of helping each other become as much like the Lord Jesus Christ as possible)

In looking at this list I realized how I do not see my marriage as something I need to give to much attention to. Don't get me wrong, my relationship with my husband is very important and I would never say otherwise, but do I make it a matter of prayer... am I helping my husband (and myself) to become more like the Lord Jesus... I pray for my husband, my children, family and friends, but I do not often pray for my husband and my relationship in marriage. I get so busy with the cares of the day, children, and the fires that often flare up that I don't really give too much thought to pray for our marriage relationship. If there is a conflict we address it and move on. But are we really growing together through that conflict or are we patching it up and moving on to the next thing.

This really burdened my heart and made me think; my husband and I plan to talk about what we can do to change this. I am grateful that I am able to talk to my husband about anything. What a gift God has given me in his giving of the marriage relationship and in giving me my husband. By God's grace I can nurture it and watch it grow.

I think that I (and my husband) are committing to a biblical course of action, which was the number 2 goal on Peace's list, by making sure we are diligent in making theses changes in our marriage.

Number 3 is taking personal responsibility for my actions and REPENTING. I will not be able to get to number 4 without going through 1-3 first.

Peace ends this chapter with some great practical suggestions for receiving reproof from you husband and also giving reproof to your husband. She says the reproof should be done privately, with gentleness and with the motive of restoring the other person (Pgs 40-46). I won't be able to go into them now, but they are a must read.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Hebrews 12:11-13

There are some other ladies who have thoughts on this chapter. Please stop by Leslie's Blog (our hostess for this book reading) and read her comments along with the others.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lux Vent Reading Group

The Excellent Wife
Chapter 4: A Wife's Understanding of Relationships

The Trinity is a relationship in which three eternal persons...reveal, know and love each other tenderly and perfectly for the other's good within the context of an eternal commitment. Stuart Scott.

The unity that God intends for us to have in relationships is only possible through Jesus Christ. Only in Christ can the relationship between husband and wife be godly, good and righteously intimate. The Godheads relationship is my model. As there is harmony in the Godhead there can be harmony in my marriage.

Martha explains in this chapter, how we are given a perfect example of what a godly relationship looks like in the Trinity. Wow, what an example. In the Trinity, there is love, harmony, oneness, and submission. She gives us a chart so that we can compare the characteristic of Fallen Man's relationships and the characteristics of relationship in the Trinity. How far I am from that perfect love.

When I read the section on "what God's norm is for our relationships here with each other...", my first reaction was I would never say that. Here's what she said.:

In order to be perfect in unity, you must stop asking yourself questions like "what will it do for for me? or What will I get out of it? Instead ask How can I glorify God? or How can I walk in a pleasing manner with God and enjoy Him as I go?

First I said, I would never say "What will it do for me," then I thought about all the times when my husband would ask me to do something for him, and if I really didn't want to do it I would find a way not to. In my mind I wasn't saying "What will it do for me," but after reading that chapter I realized that it was the same thing. The reason why I didn't want to do it was because of me - It did not benefit me. If I'm not thinking of how I can glorify God in what I do for my husband, children and my friends, I will certainly fall in to glorifying myself very easily.

This is not to say that we should never think of ourselves, because we are to take care of ourselves. And that requires thinking about what is best for you at certain times. But, in our relationships God ask us to think of others first. And in our marriage it should be our husbands. Not to concern ourselves with how we will benefit form what we do, because God will provide what we need. I am not supposed to worry about getting back from my husband what I give to him. My focus should be to do what is pleasing to God and He will provide for me through my husband at times and also by his own hand.

In my situation I know that my husband wants to do the same thing for me. And since we are both fallen creatures we fail each other all the time, but we will both continue on. As Stuart Scott said so eloquently, we want to love each other tenderly and perfectly for the other's good within the context of an eternal commitment. And this will not just happen, my natural tendency is to "self. " As I daily spend time in the word, learn from and be encouraged by others, such as, doing book studies like this one, and committing to my husband, he and I progress into being more and more like Jesus together.

This study of The Excellent Wife has been so rewarding to me and we are only on chapter 4. Come join us, it's never too late. Leslie at Lux Venit is hosting this book study. Please stop by her blog and benefit from her wisdom and experience as well as the many other ladies that have joined her.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Our Children See...

I've been meaning to do this but never got around to it. I see on Crystals Blog that it was Anti-procrastination week, so when it came to my mind again to type this, I sat right down and did it. Thanks Crystal.

My husband and I are living in a very expensive part of New Jersey, right now we are renting. Our plan was to rent here for possibly 2 years and pay off some old debt so that we could then pursue buying a home. Not to long ago my husband came home and told me that our landlord is not renewing our lease because he decided to sell the house. OK, well that sure changed our plans. We have a son in college, we need to pay off some debt before we even begin to look for a mortgage and now we only have until the end of August to do it.

If you knew my husband you would know that when things like this occur, he moves into action. He needs to solve this problem and solve it now. Consequently, the expression on his face was rather strained for several weeks. My 3 year old daughter was drawing a picture of me and her daddy one night. Though we both had no arms or hair our faces were very different. I have a big smile on my face while my husband looked a bit stressed. We asked her why daddy wasn't smiling like me, she responded, " I drew mommy with a smile face and daddy with a worried face. Daddy always has a worried face."

Needless to say my wonderful husband purposed in his heart to make sure that his daughter would not have to "worry about daddy". It was a gracious gift from God and an opportunity for Him to show me and my husband how our response to adversity affects our children. WOW!!!

God has graciously blessed us with a house we can afford and we are very thankful. As difficult as it is to find an affordable home in New Jersey, because the taxes are so high, our loving Father has provided for us by his grace and mercy. Thank you Lord.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lux Vent Reading Group

The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Chapter 3: A Wife's Understanding of Sin

In reading this chapter we see two things that Martha Peace wanted us to look at

  • Our understanding of sin
  • God's provision for eternal life in Him

If we don't have a correct view of sin we can never know the true God of the Bible. "Mans sin affects every area of life including the relationship between husband and wife." Page 20.

A Correct View of Sin and Our Provision for Sin
  • Sin is universal, no one is exempt
  • Sin may be obvious to others
  • Sin cannot be hidden from God
  • Sin is justly punished
This is how Martha Peace puts it all together, "All men sin. Their sin may be open and obvious or hidden thoughts and motives. Because God is omniscient, He knows every thought and deed of a man. Because He is holy, He has to punish sin. Fortunately for mankind, God, out of His heart of love and mercy, provided a payment for the penalty of sin. God's provision was the Lord Jesus Christ." Page 21.

Having an incorrect view of sin, along with a lack of understanding of what Christ has done for me has caused me to view the shortcomings of my husband with anger and selfishness, not love and forgiveness.

If I really looked back and saw where God has brought me and how he has washed me, how he has justified me, and how he is sanctifying me, I would have a difficult time being so impatient with my husband.

But my merciful God has a provision for me in this state, Repentance. Martha Peace says, "Repentance is a process that usually involves more then just confessing to God or our spouse. It takes time and work. That's why we are instructed to, ...discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness. 1Tim 4:7.

Our salvation comes by what Christ did on the cross, but to live a Godly life, in everyday situations, we will need to do something, replace our old thoughts and habits with Godly ways of responding and acting.

1 Peter1:17-19,
was a verse Martha Peace quoted at the end of the chapter. The beginning part of this verse says, "...conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon the earth;..."
I see this "Fear" as the fear of the Lord. Pro 15:33 says, "The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor." Wisdom that is so needed for us to be godly wives.

This I remind myself each day,
2Pe 1:3 , "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,..."

He has made provision for me. Thank you Lord. If you would like to join us in this wonderful book study, or even if you just want to read what the other ladies have shared, stop by Lux Vent, for Leslie's thoughts and links to others.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where I am...

This is an article I came across searching for the book mentioned below:

The High Calling of Motherhood

by Ginger Plowman

If I have to answer one more insignificant question, wipe one more runny nose, or bandwHERE age one more boo-boo today, I'm going to pull my hair out…and maybe the hair of whoever is standing close by also! "I've had it, kids! I'm going to soak in a hot bubble bath and I would strongly advise against any interruptions. Unless someone is dead or dying, do not knock on this door!"

As I ease down into my vanilla scented-bubbles, I pray, "God, is this really what I'm supposed to be doing? I mean, don't you have something really important for me that requires a little more skill that tying shoes and cutting the crust off sandwiches?"

Let me back up and tell you about myself before I reached this point in my life. I wasn't always bordering on the brink of insanity. It wasn't too awfully long ago that I really had it all together. I successfully managed a booming and well-respected business, counseled others in organizational skills, and drove a pretty cool automobile that would NOT seat an entire soccer team, and me, comfortably. I enjoyed television shows that were not hosted by singing vegetables or a purple dinosaur. I never found the milk in the pantry and I never experienced the sheer panic of trying to remember whom I was calling before the voice at the other end said, "Hello?" Yesterday, I placed an order by phone. When the sales lady asked me for my address, I had to put her on hold. I absolutely could not recall my own address. It did finally come to me as I was reaching for the phone book to look it up.

What happened? The stick turned blue. I have traded in Victoria's Secret for the stretchy comfort of Hanes Her Way. I have boxed up my contemporary Christian music and now you'll find me rockin' to "Silly Songs with Larry." Yep, it's good-bye "20/20" and hello Elmo.

Sometimes I think that just getting dressed and making it through the day is all I ever accomplish. "Isn't there something more that you wanted me to do today, Lord?" Finally, I hear that still, small voice. I may not have found a cure for cancer or conquered world hunger, but as I soak in my tub, God gently reminds me of what I did accomplish today. I had the privilege of listening to the hopes and dreams of a handsome young man who thinks I'm the greatest woman in the world. He stands just over three feet tall and only gets really excited over Legos and pizza, but he is funny, charming, and never boring.

I also got to see a bright and precious smile illuminate the sweet face of my five-year-old daughter as I took time out to invade Barbie's house with green aliens. As she squealed with delight, my heart melted.

I did have a few minutes of well-appreciated privacy, as I was able to sit on the potty without someone banging on the door. I actually jotted this rare event down in my journal under "miracles." I got to read a couple of great classics. Out loud. Move over Dickens, we have moved on to the works of Dr. Seuss. I was also able to dust, organize, clean, counsel, and cook. I kissed away the boo-boos and washed away the tears. I praised, rebuked, encouraged, hugged, and tested my patience, all before noon.

Yes, my greatest accomplishment today was nurturing the two precious children that God has entrusted to my care.

Now let's talk about my greatest challenge today… and every day. It is raising these two precious children in the ways of the Lord. God does have an important job for me and it does require much skill. It is my calling, my priority, my struggle, and my goal. I will rise to the occasion and accept the task at hand. I will love, nurture and train my children the way that God has called me to do.

Moms, we need to be reminded of the awesome responsibility that God has given us. When we respond to the high calling of motherhood with passion, the rewards are far greater than any we could ever gain outside of that calling. The joys of motherhood are rare and beautiful treasures that can be easily missed if we don't seize the opportunity to grab them.

Being a mom is more than being cook, chauffeur, maid, counselor, doctor, referee, and disciplinarian, (just to name a few). It's molding character, building confidence, nurturing, training, and guiding. There is no calling as consuming, challenging, and rewarding. And there is no calling as worthy of our efforts than the high calling of motherhood.

* This article is adapted from Ginger's book, Don't Make Me Count to Three! published with Shepherd Press. (Available fall 2003)

Ginger Plowman is a wife, mother, author, and the founder of Preparing the Way Ministry for which she speaks on biblical parenting across the country.

"There is no calling as consuming, challenging and rewarding and there is no calling worthy of our efforts than the high calling of motherhood." Amidst my frustraion and my tears I would not change a thing. Though my three year old daughter and I are going through a rough time at the moment, I am so blessed to be called her "mommy." This book was recommended to me by my Pastors wife... I am adding it to my reading list. If anyone has read the book I would sure love to hear your comments on it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hymn of the Month

This month my daughter and I are working on a song by Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend called "In Christ Alone." I first heard this song when I was listening to a Family Life Today program called Hymns That Lift Our Hearts and Minds, a series on hymns in the modern day church. You can listen to the program here; I highly recommend it. From the Getty website,...

"There are two reasons we write modern hymns," explains Keith. "First, it's to help teach the faith. What we sing affects how we think, how we feel and ultimately how we live, so it's so important that we sing the whole scope of truth the Bible has given us. The second reason is to try and create a more timeless musical style that every generation can sing, a style that relates to the past and the future."

"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

If you have the time, listen to the FLT Program, they will sing this song. It is amazing and beautiful, but mostly it is doctrinally sound and full of the truths of God.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm Organizing...AGAIN

After reading chapter 1 of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, I knew I had to change my way of doing things around here. I had a weekday schedule that I was following, but ever since I took my son back to college (3 weeks ago) my schedule has been lost and has not yet resurfaced. This seems like a great time to get back into my weekly routine and also change some things that I desperately need to change so that I can move forward in being the kind of wife that God has called me to be.

This is my revised schedule:

Weekday Schedule: MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, and FRIDAY

5-5:15 AM - Make Coffee

5-6:00 AM - Morning Devotions (Table Talk Magazine)

6-7:00 AM - Read (Bible Study Book or Excellent Wife)

7-7:15 AM - Empty Dishwasher

7:15-7:45 AM - Make Beds, General Straightening

7:15-7:45 AM - Start Laundry

7:30-8:00 AM - Ellisabeth Up

7:30-8:30 AM - Ellisabeth’s Morning Shows & Cup of Milk

8:00-8:30 AM - I shower and dress and comb hair

8:30-9:00 AM - Breakfast (E’s Bible Chapter from Sunday school, practice memory verse)

9:-9:30 AM - Clean Up Breakfast, Prep for Dinner

9-10 AM - Listen to Music (Sing our Hymn of the Month, and others)

9:30-10AM - Ellisabeth dressed and Comb Hair

10-12 PM - Chores (Mondays we do Supermarket Shopping, Wednesdays or Fridays are OPEN)

12-1 PM - Lunch

1:30-2:30 or 3 PM - Ellisabeth and Mommy Quiet Time

2-2:30 PM - Computer Time

3-4:30 PM - School Time

5:30-6 PM - Get Dinner Finished & Ready

6:30-7 PM - Dinner

7:15-8 PM - Evening Routine (Dad to get E ready for bed, Read and both pray with her)

8:30-9:30 or 10 PM - Time with Scott

10-10:30 PM - Evening Reading

10:30 – 11PM – Bed

Weekday Schedule: TUESDAY and THURSDAY

5-5:15 AM - Make Coffee

5-6:00 AM - Morning Devotions (Table Talk Magazine)

6-7:00 AM - Read (Bible Study Book or Excellent Wife)

7-7:15 AM - Empty Dishwasher

7:15-7:45 AM - Make Beds, general straightening

7:15-7:45 AM - Start Laundry

7:30-8:00 AM - Ellisabeth up

7:30-8:30 AM - Ellisabeth’s morning shows & cup of milk

8:00-8:30 AM - I shower, dress and, comb hair

8:30-9:00 AM - Breakfast (E’s Bible chapter from Sunday school, practice memory verse)

9:-9:30 AM - Clean up Breakfast, prep for dinner

9-10 AM - Listen to Music (Sing our Hymn of the Month, and others)

9:30-10AM - Ellisabeth dressed and comb hair

10-11:30 PM - School Time

12-1 PM - Lunch

1:30-2:30 or 3 PM - Ellisabeth and Mommy Quiet Time

2-2:30 PM - Computer Time

3-5 PM - Chores (OPEN)

5:30-6 PM - Get Dinner Finished & Ready

6:30-7 PM - Dinner

7:15-8 PM - Evening Routine (Dad to get E ready for bed, Read and we both pray with her)

8:30-9:30 or 10 PM - Time with Scott

10-10:30 PM - Evening Reading

10:30-11 PM - Bed

The times are for me to use as a guideline and to generally keep me on track each day. I will not be RIGID about this schedule, if something were to come up that required my attention I would just handle it and if time permits continue on where we left off. Most things can be done the next day. The purpose of having this schedule is to make sure that I am doing all the things I need to do to have a God honoring home. And when my husband comes home; I want to be able to spend that time with him that he needs and not be preoccupied with the cares of my home. This is not to say that everyday will be like this. There will be plenty of days that things will not go according to my plan, but for the most part if I have a general path to follow each day I pray that my family will benefit greatly and that God will be glorified. Crystal at Biblical Womanhood has been doing a series on managing your time and becoming a more organized and effective homemaker; its called Finding Time, click on my link and check it out. It has been very helpful to me. She also reviewed a book called Get More Done in Less Time by Donna Ott, and highly recommends it . Crystal says,

I've been feeling like having more organization in my life...That my lack of organization and forethought in a number areas was wasting precious time and energy.

Wow, does that sound like me. Read her post on this topic (scroll down to This Week in Books - Week 7). It is very encouraging. I'd love to hear from you to find out how you organize your days and I look forward to growing in grace with you all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lux Vent Reading Group

The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Chapter 2: A Wifes Understanding of God, God's Protective Authority

Leslie at Lux Vent is hosting a book study of this wonderful book. Please go to Leslie's website to find out the details and join us if you can.

My apologies for being so late with my post. My daughter and I have been battling head colds for the past week. Despite my foggy brain, I am ready to share on this weeks chapter. It begins by talking about our view of God, what is my view of God? Quoting Martha Peace

The God of the bible is the sovereign, just, and loving Ruler over all the earth and all His creatures. He is the potter and we are His clay. We are to bow in humble submission and adoration before Him...We are to serve Him, rather then Him serve us...Understanding your proper position as a creature serving the Creator is foundational to clearing up any mis-perceptions you may have about God and his protective authority over you.

Understanding that God is a sovereign, just and loving Creator is one thing, living my life to reflect that is another. Martha gives us her wisdom by giving us 3 topics to look at:

I- What wives need to know about God
II- What Wives need to know about themselves
III- How Goad designed this for their protection

I-Gods purpose for me as a wife is to be a helper suitable for my husbands. If I'm wondering what ministry God has for me, I need to look here first. I am to serve and glorify God by being a helper, suitable, for the one he has given to me as my spouse. How? Only with God's help. Scripture tells us,

Psalm 116:5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.
The author tells us,
"Because God is Holy, His Care over (us) will always be good and righteous. (We) can completely trust him."

How wonderful it is to know that we do not have to do this on our own. I need to remind my self of this often. Gods has unlimited understanding and strength, he knows all about me what I want and most importantly what I need. Because His understanding is so great I can trust that whatever he allows in my life will be both best for me and give Him the most glory. That is something to meditate on. My joy as a wife will come when I realize that my loving and gracious heavenly Father has planned good things for me. I can be fulfilled and excited about this. The worlds view of a wife is so far from this; we get bombarded with their ideas everyday. But opportunities like this book study help encourage and strengthen us all.

II- For the Christian wife the focus should be, "Am I doing the good works that God has intended for me? If not, then why. Martha suggest that our fear is a factor, and I agree. For me it would be my fear of failure stemming from my pride (If I do this I may fail and people will know) and as the author puts it, "fear of not getting my own way" (not trusting that God knows what's best for me regardless of what I my think).
There is hope, the Christian wife does not have to sin; I have been set free by Christ work on the Cross, to think and do what is right. God's grace gives me this power.

III- The author brings this all together by telling us,
"the way that we experience this fulfillment is to actively choose to place ourselves under the authority of our husbands"

and in doing this we place ourselves in the protection of God. I doesn't mean that my husband will always make the wisest decisions, but it does mean that whatever happens God will be working in my life to conform me to His image and bring glory to Himself. Wow.
Why does the wife need protection, that's a question that usually doesn't get addressed much. But it is a question that is addressed in the bible and one I need to understand. We are all influenced by the world, and the Devil, but the bible also teaches me that "women are easily deceived,"read 1 Timothy 2:12-14. It may be tough to hear but it is so true. Through my own experience I can surely attest to this fact. In Gods infinite wisdom and for his own purpose he has created us, and He has provided a way to protect us. I for one am grateful.

This chapter has so much to say, I read it over twice and each time I saw something else. My only closing comment is that God has created such an order and a path for his people, the Christian wives, and it is my responsibility to know it and follow it. In becoming a wife and then a mother I have also agreed to do what is needed to best serve my husband and my children; I am thankful to be going along this path with other women such as you all.