Posted in Wednesday Work, What I'm Learning

Review & Remember

I learn a lot. Constantly. Maybe too constantly.

I learn things about my husband and children. I learn as I homeschool the kids. I learn about ministry. I learn new-to-me spiritual truths from Scripture. I learn new things about myself and ways I need to grow and change. I learn new skills through work. I learn and learn and learn.

The Proper Handling of Learning

I honestly love learning. It’s a passion instilled in my by my mother, who was constantly learning. I used to think she was insane, especially during my high school years when the intensity of my school schedule kept me constantly exhausted in my learning. But it didn’t take long to learn what she meant. It’s not just about the academic studying. It’s about an intake of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding that transforms who we are and how we respond to life and grow in our relationship with Christ and others.

And that is the kicker. Sometimes I take in so much learning that I forget to truly let it transform me. I learn, but do not process and retain. It comes in and gets buried somewhere under the next round of learning.

Sort

Because I’m constantly sifting through new in-flows of information through morning reading, school, work, ministry, and life in general, it’s hard to slow down enough to truly process it in a way that allows me to grow from the learning. But, I have to. So, the first step is to sift through the influx of information. Is it information that will propel me closer to Christ and further His kingdom? Or is it simply information that I need to handle the needs of the moment? The former should be processed. The latter should be used and discarded, even if it has to be relearned later.

Process

The second step is to process that which needs to be retained. I need to record it in a way that imprints it on my heart and mind in the immediate and maintains it for future review. That’s why I always grow more effectively when I am diligent to journal raw thoughts so they can be contemplated, revisited, and remembered.

Practice

Thirdly, I must practice what I’ve learned. That is accomplished in a variety of ways. One way is by taking the raw thoughts of my journal and rehashing them in a way that is understood by others. This is accomplished through talking things out with my family, writing blog posts and articles, and teaching others through homeschooling, a Sunday school class, or individual mentoring.

An Experiment to Try

I encourage you to try an experiment with me. Before you go to bed tonight, find a notebook, journal, computer, or something to write a few notes on. Jot down one thing – just one – that you learned today that needs to be processed and implemented into your life. Spend just a few minutes writing out (or talking out into your phone’s voice recorder, if that’s more your style) your raw response to that one lesson.

When you get up tomorrow morning, take a look at it, and write down one action you can take to implement that lesson into your life through the course of the day.

Then, tomorrow night, write down how you grew through the implementation and add one more bit of learning (or an expansion on today’s learning) and start the process all over again.

Create a new habit that will allow you to sort, process, review, remember, and grow through the learning that bombards you each day. And may we all learn together in a way that grows us in our relationship to Christ and our ability to bring Him glory and grow His kingdom!

Posted in Marriage Monday

When It’s Not Like This

There are days when I am very hesitant to write about marriage, and it’s not just when I feel like a hypocrite. When it comes to marriage, I write to a finite audience: those in functional marriages. I write from a limited perspective: marital health, trust, and growth.

But so many more types of marriage exist. Abusive. Destructive. Unredeemed. Bad. Or even the good ones that are so very different from mine in perspective, experience, history, and personality. Marriages from any of those categories may never fit with the topics and themes that fit with my experience and perspective.

Some will read my posts and say, “That’s so elementary! Doesn’t everyone know that?” Others will excitedly realize they are learning the same thing at the same time. Some will have a light bulb moment while still others will shrug their shoulders and move on – or even resent that I would insinuate that such a marital need exists. (The idea of date night comes to mind.)

But the ones that make my heart ache the most are those who will crumble at my words, despair adding to hopelessness as they once again see what their marriages are not – and may never be.

The “experts” say, “Write what you know.” So, I do. I know a functional marriage that is constantly growing, maturing, and building. So, that is what I write.

But my heart…oh, my aching heart is passionate for those who endure dysfunctional, even abusive marriages. I hurt for them. I pray for them. And I long to support them. So often we as the church want to give them the same advice and counseling we give to functional marriages, but it won’t work, just like my marriage thoughts won’t work. Instead, we have to hear them, pray with them, disciple them, and seek the Lord’s face alongside them.

If you are in a marriage that feels hopeless, painful, and full of despair – if you are in a marriage of abuse and neglect – please hear this:

You Are Not Alone

I’m heartsick over the number of women in abusive marriage, especially those within the church. There are too many! But by extension, that means there are also others who understand what you are going through. Yes, possibly right in your own church. They either are or have at one time been where you are. And I am praying that they will find you or you will find them. Some way, somehow. So you can know that you are not alone. 

You are Seen and Loved

No matter what you’e been told, you are not worthless. You are a beautiful, cherished child of God. He sees you. Fall at His feet. Seek His face. Oh, my friend, let Him draw you into His incredible arms of love and nourish you through the presence of His Holy Spirit and through the care of His children.

Help is Available

Real help. Not advice like this blog or other well-meaning people who can only speak from what they know. There is help that will walk you through a godly, biblical plan of action. Help that does not leave you in danger or despair. My prayer is that God will act to connect you to that real help.

Don’t Let My Words Discourage You

Please. As much as I would love to speak encouragement into your heart and life, the reality is that my words are not for you. You may glean some truth or encouragement from them. Or they may benefit you somewhere down the road. But, most of them will not help you walk your marriage journey.

I love marriage. I am so thankful for the opportunity to mature and grow with my amazing husband. I smile when I think of others who have found what we have found in marriage – some from the get-go and others in the form of beauty from ashes. Wherever you are in the marriage journey, I pray for you to know its beauty. And when you read my words and say, “But it’s not like this for me!” know that my heart and prayers are with you and for you, even when my words are not.

Posted in Friday Faith Nuggets

A Blown Mind

I enjoy a good, fictional story. Whether it’s a movie or a book, I like the experience of working through the tale from start to finish and enjoying the nice, neatly wrapped package of an introduction, a crisis, a climax, and a resolution.

Yes, I know life is not like that. Life never presents us a concluded story. From birth to death, life is one long, complex, interwoven series of stories that never truly find solid conclusion. They are ever evolving, ever changing, and ever intermingling with one another. When we watch movies, read novels, or even dive into biographies, we are essentially pulling a single thread – maybe even two or three – from a much more complex piece of fabric. We focus on this relationship or that experience, but the remaining realities such as work or extended family or history that, in real life, strongly impact those threads are only side thoughts and setting for our compact story.

And you know what? That’s okay! It is not wrong to enjoy the narrative of a few threads, even learning powerful truths from that narrative if we choose our entertainment well.

The problem comes, though, when we apply the same reading style to Scripture.

Too often, I read God’s Word with a desire for a nicely wrapped package. I enjoy meditating on a passage for days on end, but if I have my preference, each day will bring a thought that I can wrap my head around. Even if the learning grows each day, I want something tangible and solid every time I meditate.

But, it doesn’t always work that way. Some days, what I end up with is the birth of a realization. The first tricklings of learning that completely evade understanding. In a nutshell, my mind is just blown, and it feels like the millions of scattered pieces will never come back together.

Sometimes, the light bulb begins to come on within a day or two, and increased depth of learning follows understanding. But other times it’s a slower development. I’ve hashed through certain mind blowing concepts for years on end, pulling in a piece here and an edge there, assembling the most challenging puzzle I have ever encountered in an attempt to get even the smallest glimpse of what the final picture looks like.

As overwhelmed as I feel when my mind is blown by Scripture – as much as I prefer the nice, neat, storybook package of study, learning, and growth – I am learning to crave this type of open-ended learning more and more. I’m learning to hunger for questions that take weeks, months, or even years of study and exploration to answer.

The written Word that we hold in our hands, creation all around us, and even God’s active work in our daily lives and throughout history are all just a tiny glimpse of the essence of the Almighty King of all existence. He is so much greater. So much more profound than anything we can imagine. His gifts of revelation represent a depth that our hearts and minds will never fully reach, no matter how many years we are given on this earth. But that should never prevent us from diving!

If our minds are not blown at least every now and then, it is not evidence of the vastness of what we know. Instead, it is an indictment against us, showing our failure to even try to plumb the depths of the revelation our amazing, loving Father has so graciously given us.

Oh, may I hunger more and more for a glimpse of just how much I have left to learn.

May I never fear a blown mind.

Posted in Reviews

The Captivating Lady Charlotte

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to review The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller, and I enjoyed it immensely. So, when The Captivating Lady Charlotte, book two in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series, came available for review, I was delighted to take the opportunity.

Once again, readers can visit a world where the meeting of social class expectations is critical and deviation is frowned upon. Novel after novel has been written about socialites who have bucked against the expectations of their class or their parents, declaring that love or personal ambition is more important than fulfilling social expectations. But is that always the case? Can embracing the expectations sometimes be the correct solution?

That, in a nutshell, is the conflict in The Captivating Lady Charlotte. And Carolyn Miller handles the conflict beautifully, processing through both the spiritual and social aspects of the question. How does independence flow with maintaining a relationship of honor and respect with one’s parents? Can social constraints and expectations always be categorized as positive or negative? When is a desire to break free of social expectations honorable and when is it self-centered?

Throughout the process of grappling with this conflict, Carolyn Miller also explores spiritual growth and relational dynamics while weaving a beautiful romance. Readers who enjoyed getting to know Nicholas and Lavinia in The Elusive Miss Ellison will enjoy seeing them again as their lives intersect with Lavinia’s cousin Charlotte.

Once again, my lack of familiarity with the culture and social construct of British high society in the early 1800’s left me pulling out the encyclopedia or running quick web searches now and then to explore just what the author was referring to when a specific destination or “current” events story was mentioned. What induced daily conversation among Britain’s elite in 1814 did not always reach the American history books of my day! But, although it might have been easier for me as the reader to have had a little more explanation worked into the storyline, it was also fun to stop and do a bit of research on my own, learning something new about a segment in history with which I have limited interaction.

Carolyn Miller’s second installment in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series is definitely one that I both enjoyed and gladly recommend. My daughters are enjoying the series right along with me, and we look forward to reading book three, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, when it comes out this fall!

THIS BOOK WAS SENT TO ME BY KREGEL PUBLICATIONS IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST REVIEW.
Posted in Marriage Monday

The Hypocritical Wife

I often feel like a hypocrite when writing marriage articles. One reason is because I struggle so much in my own role as a wife.

Far too often, I feel incapable of speaking my husband’s love language. It comes across much more often as criticism than love, no matter what my intentions may be. I make choices that cause problems instead of solving them. I am needy, and I have a personality that often thrives on things that drive my husband crazy. I struggle to communicate the tasks and issues that fill my day, leaving him feeling uncertain about how to involve himself or help.

The failure seems even more profound on the ministry side of life. I hear other ministers talk about the ways their wives encourage and edify them by knowing the right words to say or sharing the right Scripture or quote with them. They know how to encourage their husbands in struggles and keep them going when they want to quit. I don’t.

Yep, it’s true. I’m not a great wife. Yet somehow my husband still finds me wonderful. He still says he made the right decision all those years ago and wants to keep right on going in this crazy thing called marriage. And goodness knows I’m not going to be foolish enough to run away from an amazing husband who will put up with all of my failures!

And this is why I write.

Despite my failures and my issues, our marriage has worked for nearly nineteen years. We are still growing and still committed to the bond created all those years ago. So, as I share, I get to pass on to you those things that make “us” work. I get to share our successes and our progress. I get to offer you a glimpse into lessons we have learned through experience, growth, and Scripture. And hopefully, in the midst of all of my imperfect sharing, you may also find encouragement and growth that will strengthen your own marriage.

I know I am a very imperfect wife. But, I am an imperfect wife who is loved by an amazing man, washed clean by a holy Savior, and hungry to share the grace and growth that has been mercifully granted to me!

Posted in Marriage Monday

Pride

We all know that pride can destroy a marriage in so many ways. Pride keeps us from admitting wrongdoing, acknowledging the wisdom of our spouses, or even simply being willing to allow someone else to get their way even when there is no clear right or wrong. It keeps us from becoming one flesh because we each want to maintain our independence and individuality.

But there is also an aspect of pride that can be strongly beneficial to a marriage: pride in one another.

How often do we vocalize pride in our spouses? And when we do, how well does it resonate? How well does it match the other thoughts we communicate to or about our spouses?

Contemplate this scenario. Over and over again, a child is harped upon to be better at this or work harder at that. Nothing is ever good enough in his behavior or his accomplishments. Every now and then, the child hears his parents say, either directly to him or to someone else, that they are proud of him. But, can he truly believe it? Or has the weight of the criticism mounted so high that the proclamation of pride has a hollow ring to it?

I think this is often what happens in our marriages as well. We criticize, harp, fuss, and complain to the extent that any mention of pride in our spouses falls flat. They just don’t believe us. The rest of the world probably doesn’t either.

My husband makes me proud in so very many ways. Doug plants seeds for so many things that he cannot or will not take credit for. Someone else gladly takes the credit and the glory while he stands humbly by in the shadows. He is more of a servant than anyone I know, but he does so quietly such that few people see his service. He is observant and brilliant. He sees needs far in advance and lays the groundwork for them to be met, sometimes even waiting years for his efforts to come to fruition. He knows how to help others succeed and is not hesitant to give them the limelight. In fact, he much prefers that over any of the light shining on himself.

Because his brilliance and service are quiet and behind the scenes, he is frequently seen as someone without many successes of his own. As a result, he receives so much more criticism than praise from the world around him.

As his wife, I want to be the opposite. I want to make sure to express just how proud I am of him and rave about his strengths and accomplishments. I want him to know how proud I am of him.

Just as selfish pride can destroy a marriage, so can withholding pride in our spouses. May we always be proud of them. May we pour into them. May we never hesitate to tell them and the world just how awesome they are.

Posted in Friday Faith Nuggets

There’s More

All my life, I have heard verses and passages quoted about not being afraid. One such passage is found in Psalm 56.

When I am afraid,I will put my trust in You.In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.What can mere man do to me? Ps 56:3-4

Like many of our favorite passages, however, we stop there. What can mere man do to me? We like to stop there, because it gives the insinuation that man can’t really do anything to us. It almost has a super hero feel to it, doesn’t it? I’m on God’s side – you can’t touch me!

The problem is that David didn’t stop there. In fact, he went right on to lay out just exactly what “mere man” was doing to him! They were distorting his words and lying in wait to kill him.

When David stated that he would choose to not be afraid, he wasn’t saying that there was no reason to fear. On the contrary, he outlined several reasons to fear. But then he came right back to what God could do in the face of man’s capabilities.

There are many things man can do to us. There are many things we can and will endure in the spiritual battle against the principalities of this world. The key is not that we’re invincible. The key is that we serve a God who can answer any and every threat. No action by man or spiritual forces stands outside His strength, wisdom, power, and will. For every threat, God has a name. Protector. Sovereign. Judge. Provider. King. Comforter. Master. Ruler.

God With Us.

The passages that we pull out and memorize, knowing they offer comfort and guidance, are fantastic tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit. But, let us never forget that before and after every familiar passage, there is more. More richness. More promise. More conviction. More power.

God is more.

So, what can man do to us? Plenty. But we must never forget that God is more.