Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Past, Present, Future (part 5) - Emotional

Have you ever been around one of those kids that is so whiny the thought of being in the same STATE with them makes you cringe? What about the kids who throw themselves on the ground (or stomp around) and scream when they don't get their way? How about the older kids or even teenagers who use tears (not sincerely crying over a hurt - there is nothing wrong with that for a girl or guy - John 11:35 - even Jesus wept!) to manipulate situations and circumstances to get their own way? Then there's the one who slams doors and throws things and yells. And we can't forget the ones who sit off by themselves pouting and silently plotting and planning or the ones who pick fights with everyone just to be able to vent some pent up anger!

I don't think there's a sane person in this world that would describe any of these as emotionally stable! And the scary part is that each one of these individuals will grow up to be adults and unless we do something now to train them, they will continue with these habits into adulthood. Would any of us want to be married to someone like this? No, no, no! A million times no! So why would anyone else?

The Bible has a lot to say about nagging and complaining wives. See Proverbs 19:13, Proverbs 21:9 & 19, Proverbs 25:24, Proverbs 27:15. These are in addition to all the examples of wives in the Bible.

As these verses show, if they are emotionally unstable, they'll bring harm and not good to their husbands. But once they are wives it'll be too late to train them to be emotionally stable. It's got to begin NOW!!

This is all good to know, but how do we put it into practice? I know there are people who will disagree with me, but I believe in spanking for a bad attitude and not just defiant actions. However, I also believe that spanking for bad attitude without teaching them the right attitude is not healthy. I believe both need to happen.

Recently, Elizabeth has been telling me that it's funny to be rude. Um . . . no! I don't quite think so! Each time she says this we talk about how being rude is bad and God doesn't like it and that she'll get a spanking.

But God showed me this wasn't enough. I need to teach her the Biblical way to act. If God doesn't like it when she is rude, how does He want her to act? Immediately, the Fruit of the Spirit came to mind. Galatians 5:22 tells what they are: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.

 It crossed my mind that she is kind of young for all that. God then kindly pointed out that if she can learn to count to 10 and can learn colors, shapes, animal sounds, and the 26 letters of the alphabet, she can learn these 9 words! Of course, He is right! So, we recite these several times a day. She loves it! When we finish she says, "more" (her version of "again"). The cool part is that Jennifer (and soon Samantha) is hearing these long before she can say them so that by the time she can say them, she'll already know them! She's learning now even though I can't see it! (I need to keep that in mind in all things!)

However, just learning the words is not enough. I've got to teach all of my girls what the words mean and how to apply them to life - even from birth. In order to do that though, I have to know that information myself.

LOVE - I didn't dig too deeply into love. 1 Corinthians 13 spells it out pretty well and, in doing so, also gives practical examples. I couldn't improve on it!!

JOY - Joy is not the same as happiness. The latter is based on circumstances. I don't know that it is possible to help them put this into practice right now. True joy, and PEACE as well, come once Christ is in control of a person's life.

PATIENCE - One of the ways we teach patience is by putting their food in front of them, but not letting them eat until everyone has been served and we have prayed. We will begin teaching this to Samantha the day we bring her home as well. There are different viewpoints on feeding the baby - on demand or on a set schedule. I feed on a 4 hour schedule and I stick to it rigidly except that I don't wake them to eat. (If they're tired enough to sleep through it, they must not be too hungry!) I'm not going to starve my children, but I do want them to learn to wait for things. (That said, I don't think badly of those who feed on demand. A mom's gotta do what works for her family!) There are many, many ways to teach patience to a child of any age!

KINDNESS - Kindness is taught by having them say "please/thank you", "yes/no ma'am/sir", but also in the way they say things. "Hey! Gimme that!" is not acceptable. Neither is screaming for it. When they need help, they have been taught to say "Momma/Daddy/etc, please help". Kindness is also taught by having them share with and help each other. Kindness is attitude and actions.

GOODNESS - This one is fairly simple for me to find direction for - haven't the last several (and the next few) blogs been about bringing good and not harm - and yet it is so complex at the same time - think about all God has revealed!!

FAITHFULNESS - There is a verse that comes to mind when I think of this word and it pretty much sums it all up. Psalm 15 talks about who is worthy of entering God's presence and worshiping in His sanctuary. In verse 4 it says, who "keep their promises even when it hurts".

GENTLENESS - This is much like kindness. In fact, www.dictionary.com has them listed as synonyms. Teaching it? Well, don't snatch things from someone else - ask kindly. Don't throw - hand it or place it softly. Don't scream - talk softly.

SELF-CONTROL - Self-control is a biggie. I think more people struggle with this than with any of the others except maybe patience. And those two seem to go hand-in-hand. "I want what I want (lack of self-control) when I want it (lack of patience)!" Self-control is the ability to say "no!" to self. I don't give my girls fruit snacks just because they see them in the pantry and want them. They have a pop-up playhouse that we get out occasionally, but I don't get it out just because they ask for it. I don't pick them up every time they cry. A big part of self-control is self-denial. Until they are old enough to reason and deny themselves on their own, it is my responsibility to do it for them.

I will always meet all of their needs to the best of my ability, but I will guide them to emotional stability by denying some of their wants much as it hurts me to do so. In this way, I am bringing good to my future sons-in-law so that one day my girls will be able to bring good to those chosen men also.

**Side note A: If anyone has any more clarity or practical life application on these areas, feel free to share here or as a comment on the Facebook link.

**Side note B: There is a book I highly recommend on the subject of raising children. It is by Michael and Debbie Pearl called "To Train Up A Child". There are parts that I don't agree with - as there will be with any author - but I do believe that they have heard from God!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Past, Present, Future (part 4) - Mental

I've been questioning recently the purity of what I've been allowing into the minds of my daughters. There are so many things that affect this area of their lives that it is difficult to keep up with it all.

First of all, is what they are seeing on TV pure? Am I allowing them to watch things that put an emphasis on the male body? People who know me very well at all would probably laugh at that question. It is a known fact that we don't watch anything over PG and that our TV standards are just as strict as our movie standards. That said, I was watching a movie recently where the main character had his shirt off for a good portion of the movie. He was just a kid (teenager actually) so it didn't affect me in any way, but as I sat watching this movie, I realized that had my girls been awake and watching, I would have turned it off. (Which also leads to "if it's not okay for them, it's not okay for me and I should have turned it off", but that's another topic entirely!)

Why would I have turned it off? Well, the guys on TV are chosen not only because of their acting ability, but also because of their physical appearance. Most men do NOT look like the men on TV. Chances are, their husbands will not look like that either. Not only does that create opportunity for lustful thoughts and desires in their hearts, but it also plants the seed for discontentment with the men God has created specifically for them. Even if their husbands do look like those men, 1.) they should only be looking at their husbands' body and 2.) their husbands most likely won't continue to look that way! He is going to age! Life is going to happen. Changes outside of their control will take place. God showed me that my daughters need to be taught that there is so much more to look for in a man than his appearance. If I don't teach them that, not only am I causing her to bring harm and not good to her husband, whoever he may be, but I am bringing harm to my sons-in-law as well. How? I am putting into her mind - unconsciously though it may be - that the man on the screen is the ideal, the standard on which to base all men - even the future Mr. Right.

Secondly, God showed me that I also need to be careful about what I allow into their minds regarding women on the screen and in magazines. We've all seen these ideal women and most of us have longed to look like them - their hair, their clothes, their accessories, their bodies, etc. When we do this, we lower our confidence about ourselves. Then we begin comparing ourselves to the people around us. As a result, we become proud because we DON'T look like her or - more often - we become depressed because there is always someone who looks better or who has better things. It is my responsibility to teach my daughters that this is not the ideal and to guard her from believing it is at ALL COSTS - even if it means we never watch TV!!! I've got to teach them to look to the Bible for the ideal and to see themselves as beautiful just the way they are because they are created the way God intended (Psalm 139). I've got to teach them that true beauty is on the inside and that it'll reflect on the outside.

But how does this affect their future husbands? This part is kind of awkward since I'm talking about my little girls, but it's the truth and it needs to be said. A husband wants his wife to be confident. He wants her to be proud of her body. The Bible tells husbands and wives, in 1 Corinthians 7:5, not to "deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time . . .". It is her Biblical responsibility to use her body to bring pleasure to her husband. Now, if she has all these mental images of how she should look, she isn't going to be confident about how she does look and it'll affect this area of her marriage and bring him GREAT harm.

It'll affect it in this way, but it could also affect many other aspects of their marriage as well. She may spend money they don't have to change her appearance and as a result put them into debt, she may do drastic things that affect her health, etc. It may seem far-fetched but the people who do these things are real life people who have been given bad mental images.

As I've been writing this, I've realized that it goes beyond what they see on TV. I started thinking about the books I read. I only read Christian fiction, but even those have the "ideal man". I have found myself getting mad at my husband because he doesn't do or say things like that "ideal man". The thing is, that "ideal man" isn't real! I'm simply comparing my husband to another person's idea of what he should be, to another person's desire for man to be. And even if that man was real, I shouldn't be comparing my husband to ANY man. This is all very dangerous because is breeds discontentment in my marriage and will cause much harm if not dealt with properly. God takes what is meant for evil and uses it for good. However, Satan prefers to take what is meant for good - something as innocent as a Christian novel - and tries to use it for evil.

The point? I have to be extremely cautious and on guard CONSTANTLY about what I am putting into my mind and into the minds of my daughters. I have to be very purposeful in what I allow them to watch, to read, to listen to, and to where I allow them to go, and even who I allow them to hang out with. God entrusted them to me and I MUST make sure I am guarding their minds - not just for their sake but for the sake of their future husbands - that I will bring them good and not harm and that they in turn will bring good and not harm to their husbands "all the days of their lives".

Parenting is a hard job, but the Bible says, in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." That is a promise from God Himself. That reward makes the journey so much easier!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Past, Present, Future (part 3) - Physical


1 Timothy2:9 says "I want women to be modest in their appearance."

My oldest is only 2 right now. Is it even possible for her not to be modest? Probably not. I mean, she's cute . . .  of course :-) but there is nothing about her body that would attract a male's attention at this stage of the game. This can be said of my younger daughter as well. 

So, when does that change happen? Is it when they're in high school? Is it when they turns 13 and become a teenager literally over night? Is it when they hit puberty and mother nature begins wrecking havoc on their hormones?

I don't think there's a "one size fits all" answer. I believe it's different for every girl. That's why it's important that the training begins the day they are born. If I don't start at Day 1 the change will come and I'll still see them as "my babies" while men are beginning to notice them as women.

Well then, what does the training look like?

First off, let me say that modesty is not just about the clothes we wear. It's also about the way we carry ourselves and the way we act. A girl can be dressed in the most modest outfit and still be immodest. How is she standing? I would say 99.9% of girls know when they're standing or walking in a way to draw attention to their bodies. How is she talking? Do body parts have a constant place in her conversations? Not just her own body parts but those of others as well? I know a girl who is constantly discussing herself or her husband or her son. It's not appropriate! It's not modest.

I have a responsibility to teach Elizabeth and Jennifer and Samantha how to walk and talk in ways that are pleasing to God and honoring to their husbands.

And clothes . . . 

Again, there is nothing seductive or immodest about a 2 year old in spaghetti straps or a 2 piece swimsuit or if her belly shows when she raises her arms or shorts that might be a tad too short - the list could go on and on. However, for 3 reasons, I've got to go ahead and dress them now in the way I expect them to dress later on.

1.) 1 Peter 3:3 says, "Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes." There are more important things than the way she looks.

2.) I don't want to be the mom that misses when her daughters go from little girl to woman and as a result cause a man to stumble.

3.) There won't be much of a battle (if any) later on. It'll be accepted that this is the way we dress. They may ask why and I'm gladly going to tell them (whether they ask or not because it is my responsibility to teach them), but there won't be any "but you've always let me before" argument!

With that said, there is one more question to be answered.

How is teaching them to be modest relevant to teaching them to bring good and not harm to their husbands all the days of their lives?

When that man comes along, he will know, they will both know, that she has cherished her body and protected it for him alone. He will feel loved and honored by her because she guarded that which is most precious just for him - even when she didn't know who he was. He will definitely feel good and not harmed! He won't even need to ask. He'll know, by the way she dresses and carries herself, that she is a one-in-a-million. That's what I want for my daughters to be. That is what I want my sons-in-law to have.

Past, Present, Future (part 2) - Daughters

God has been showing me so much about raising daughters. I'm very overwhelmed, but I'm excited as well. Psalm 127:3 says that children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. But as I sat at His feet, all night, learning how to raise them, I'm excited and in awe that He thought me capable enough for this job. He trusted me to do it His way so much that He has given me 3 of them . . . so far!

He had been showing me things all day yesterday and throughout the night. I couldn't sleep because of all the things I was learning. And so, at 3:30 AM, I crawled out of bed even though I knew I had to be up at 8:00 AM to take Jennifer to the doctor for her 15 month check-up and shots. I simply didn't want to take any chances on forgetting any of these things. I HAD to write them down immediately. There is just so much here.

So far, everything falls into 5 categories with so much in each category that it will require several blogs! If He shows me anything else, I'll add another called "Other" but for now, the categories are:


I can't wait to share everything He is teaching me!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Past, Present, Future (part 1) - Husband

Proverbs 31:12 - "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."

Only 3 verses in and this chapter is already full of so much that I've never known before! On first reading this verse, the part that stands out is that she brings him good and not harm.

www.dictionary.com defines good as "moral excellence; kindness" and harm as "physical injury or mental damage; moral injury; evil; wrong".

That doesn't seem so difficult. Be kind to him. Remain faithful to him. Look out for his best interest. Don't cause him physical, mental, or emotional pain. Basically, treat him as I would want him to treat me.

As I was shutting my Bible, a little phrase jumped out at me . . . "all the days of her life."

First off, I think it's important to note that it doesn't say "all the days of his life". In order to do that, a woman would have to know him from the day he is born. It would also mean that, as soon as he is deceased, she could stop.

Secondly, I think it's important to realize that it's too late for me to treat him this way "all the days" of my life. I'm already 27 years into my life. I cannot go back and undo the past. What's done is done. I can learn from it, but I cannot undo it.

There are 3 parts to this relationship that I have with my husband: 1.) before we knew each other; 2.) while we know each other (dating, engagement, marriage); 3.) after we are separated by death. I've already said that I cannot do anything about before we knew each other. I am currently in the process of number 2. For number 3, assuming God takes him first, I still have a responsibility to bring him good and not harm. How do I do that if he is no longer here? I think it has to do with honoring him. Don't share his faults with others. Don't talk bad about him. Respect his name. It's no one else's business what took place in your marriage! Dirty laundry doesn't need to be aired just because he is no longer living.

I was struggling with this though. I kept feeling that there was something deeper than this that God was trying to show me. Then it hit me! "All the days of her life." I'm in the process of raising 2 daughters and soon a 3rd will join them. It is my responsibility to raise them so that they bring their husbands good and not harm all the days of their lives. Oh, there's so much here! How do I do this? What exactly does this mean?

I don't have the answers. I'm going to spend the next couple of days in seeking God and having Him reveal to me how to do this. I'm a little overwhelmed. No, that's not true. I'm very overwhelmed. I have a HUGE task ahead of me that I didn't realize before I had children. But God has blessed me with them and I believe He will show me how to raise them to be this kind of woman!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bone Cancer

Proverbs 31:11a - after being honest with myself - is a hard pill to swallow. It says, "Her husband can trust her . . . " On the surface, that doesn't sound so hard. I've been faithful to him in our marriage. I don't lie to him about where I go or how I spend time and money. He can trust me.

But is that all that word means? So, once again, I began my search with dictionary.com.

Trust: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc of a person or thing; confidence

     Reliance: confident or trustful dependence

I sat and thought about this for a very long time and realized that he truly can trust me, depend on me, have confidence in me to . . .

1.) be stressed and grumpy by the end of the day.
2.) be upset about carpet stains and other little messes.
3.) be constantly cleaning and organizing instead of relaxing and hanging out.
4.) be worrying about debt and how to get it paid off.
5.) not be smiling and laughing and playful very often.
6.) be sad about not being close to family instead of enjoying the ones I do have.

There is probably MUCH more than those listed above, but this gave me plenty to start with! I was a little overwhelmed by just these few things God had revealed to me.

I fought it at first. There's nothing wrong with these things. But God showed me that I was consumed by them. They controlled my every thought and action. He also showed me that if I continue in this way Proverbs 12:4 and 14:1 will be more than just Bible verses; they will become reality.

Proverbs 12:4 says, "A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones."

Proverbs 14:1 says, "A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands."

These verses made me sad. Is this how I wanted my husband to view me? I can't imagine having the ability to be more precious than the rarest of rare gems and choosing instead to be as destructive as bone cancer. That grieves my heart like no other thought. To cause that kind of destruction to the man I love more than life itself . . .

And then Proverbs 31:11b caught my eye. It says "and she will greatly enrich his life". Hope sprang up in my heart! All I have to do is learn to be the opposite of those 6 things listed above and any others God reveals to me along the way.

It's not going to be an easy task. And the thought of being more precious than rubies doesn't seem to be enough of a goal anymore. The constant thought in my mind now is that if I don't change and become trustworthy in a positive way, my husband will waste away like a man consumed with bone cancer and my house will be torn down by my own hands.

God, give me strength to change!!


Typically, I prefer to read the New Living Translation of the Bible, but for Proverbs 31:10b, I like the way it is worded in the New International Version. "She is worth far more than rubies."

As I read this verse though, I began to wonder, "what's so special about a ruby"? And if it's so important that I am "worth far more" than one, what were they worth in Biblical times? What does that translate to today? 

After searching the Internet, I've seen that it's not the price placed on the ruby that made it so special. According to http://www.addmorecolortoyourlife.com/gemstones/ruby.asp, "In the Bible, only wisdom and virtuous women are 'more precious than rubies'". It also says that "Throughout most of recorded history, ruby has been the world's most valued gemstone. Even diamond was considered common in comparison to the supreme beauty and value of this glowing red gem."

This answers the "what are they worth" question, but it still doesn't reveal WHY they are so valuable and priceless. So I kept searching.

I discovered on http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v5/n2/rubies that they are "extremely rare" because "only special conditions, initiated by the Flood, could have produced these rare beauties".

That thought held me in awe! Think about it! The world was full of evil and darkness and through God's judgment on that sin, this beautiful and rare stone was formed. On top of that, if I follow his plan for womanhood, I will be even more valuable and precious to him and to my husband than that stone.

It may be a difficult to be virtuous and capable, but to be thought of as so precious makes the task so much easier. To think that God would see me, little ole me, in that way brings tears to my eyes and gives me a STRONG desire to live up to His standards!!!

Virtuous AND Capable

Proverbs 31:10a - "Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?"

I've read this verse many times. I could probably quote it in my sleep. But what does it really mean to be virtuous? I looked up the definition on dictionary.com and this was what it said:

Virtuous: conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright; chaste

Huh? I could probably apply this to my life if I sat and thought about it long enough, but I want to know, in the simplest terms: what does it truly mean to be virtuous? So I began a search of the dictionary. After looking up each word in the definition (moral, ethical, principles, conforming, excellent, upright, chaste), I've come to realize that being virtuous is a MUCH bigger task than I ever dreamed!

Virtuous: concerned with rules of right and wrong; lives according to the rules for right; remarkably good; honest; just; righteous; free from obscenity; stainless; sexually pure.

On top of all that (there's more?!?), I should be capable too.

After doing the same thing with the words of this definition, here is the word capable in its most basic form.

Capable: adequate for assigned tasks because of skill, talent, or training and doing so in the best manner with the least waste of time.

God has high standards for his women!!! Thankfully He doesn't leave us there to figure out for ourselves how to live up to these standards. The rest of the chapter is designed to show us how to do just that.