Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Giving Presence

     My six year old made a comment to me several months ago that went something like this: "Mommy, you play on your phone all the time."  At that moment, I was actually responding to something important, so I pointed that out to her.  A few weeks later, she said again, "Mommy, you are on your phone sending messages all the time."  Each time she said it, I automatically felt and acted defensive.  The problem?  She was right.  Don't you just hate it when that happens?

     We live in a world that is very "social"...Well, maybe we should say we are very "connected"...No, that's not exactly right either.  What are we then?  I have over 1,000 "friends" on my Facebook, and this blog has been viewed a little over 9,500 times.  Wow, I must have some social life, huh?  NOPE! 
     Social media can be a great tool.  It keeps me in touch with my family that lives 500 miles away, it helps me stay up to date on old friends from high school who I otherwise would have lost touch with completely, and it has helped me to "talk" more with people who were just acquaintances before.  However, it doesn't help me to never feel lonely, and I surely don't feel more social.  What does it do more often than help me stay connected?  It disconnects me from those who are right in front of me.

     In order for us to feel that we are "up" on what's going on in our news feed,  we must constantly check in.  That means, when I'm playing with my kids, I'm constantly scrolling my Facebook.  When I'm visiting with a friend, I'm commenting on posts and pictures.  When I go stay with my parents who live away from me, I'm seeing what is going on back in my hometown.  I'm so connected to online people, that the flesh and blood in front of me is being ignored.  It feeds a loneliness, because I leave these moments feeling unfulfilled.  We take our phones into doctor's office waiting rooms to fill the time, thus ignoring those around us.  We occupy ourselves on road trips, thus leaving the driver in his/her own silence.  Why?

     I asked myself why it is that we can't give those who are with us our presence.  I don't want to just sit in the room with someone, I want their attention.  I don't think that is too much to ask.  I also don't think that is too much to give.  It is safe to say that in my life and the lives of many of those close to me, time is as precious of a commodity as money.  Time is dear to us, yet we waste what we have by ignoring our friends and family so that we can stay "connected".  Shame on us. 

     This very post has been marinating in my mind for a while, and every time I thought about not writing it, something spoke to me about it in the form of a commercial, a Facebook post, or even an online video.  I didn't know why, but last night as I was laying in bed, it finally hit me.  God wants our presence too.  Ouch.  I spend so much time talking about and working for God, that I know He sometimes feels like that friend sitting across from me at lunch eating in silence while I scroll through my news feed.  I'm going to be honest, as I prayed, I mostly had to apologize for giving my time, but not my presence.  How hurt He must feel!  How lonely my mind and soul felt after all that silence between us. 

     I am not saying that is anything wrong with social media.  I love it.  I use it. I don't see either of those things changing.  However, let's learn to not cling to people who may or may not be sincere, who may or may not even be who they claim.  Let's give those around us the best gift of all, OUR PRESENCE!  It was not easy to set my phone down upstairs at my mother's house and go downstairs to sit with her.  What if someone needed to get in touch with me?  What if something important happened and I didn't know?  What if someone needed prayer and I missed it? You know what?  It was wonderful.  No, I didn't get to post twenty pictures of all of us sitting around chatting, but I also didn't miss half of every conversation that occurred.  They had my presence.  AND THEY NOTICED!

     As women, mothers, wives, friends, etc, let's give those around us our presence.  Let's touch the lives of those who are right here with us.  Let's be present in the lives of our children.  Let's be present in our relationships with God.  That is my challenge for all of us, here is my prayer:

God, we love You.  We love our children, our husbands, our families, and our friends.  Help us to give them all of us when we are in their presence.  Help us to give You our best attention.  Keep us from distractions, even those that are well intended, so that we can truly connect to those who are important in our lives.  We praise and love You, amen.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Confidence vs. Entitlement

     I think we can all see the bothersome trend in generations today of a sense of entitlement.  It seems to have started with my generation, but as a teacher, I can see it progressing.  It seems that among children, those who work the hardest in school and extracurricular activities tend to have the biggest sense of entitlement.  I've heard students (and even their parents) say things like, "I'm a perfect student, can't you just overlook this one little thing?"  or "I'm an athlete; I can't get in trouble."  The insinuation is that a "good" kid should get a break from the rules, because he/she usually tries to follow them.  As Christians, don't we also sometimes have this same sense of entitlement?  "I serve You, God, so I shouldn't have to deal with this issue." Or maybe, "I try so hard, Lord, why can't something in my life just go right?"  Maybe I'm the only one guilty of this.

     In response to the trend, there is a rather disturbing answer.  I see parents all around me who do not want their children to grow up with a sense of entitlement, so they make sure to tell their children constantly that the world "owes them nothing" and "they have to work for everything they get in life" and"nothing is ever free or easy".  These statements are true, but sometimes the ideas are taken too far.  In addition, they tend to point out their children's flaws so that their children don't think that they are superior to anyone, and therefore deserving special treatment because of being better.  They don't mean to tear them down, they just want to show them that others are just a special and deserving as them.  Sadly, the lesson seems to eventually lead to a child who has no confidence at all.  They seem browbeaten and humbled to the point of....I don't even know, shame, worthlessness, hopelessness?  It's most sad to me because I know most of these parents mean well.  They really do just want their children to know that they have to work for what they earn in life.  They don't mean to tear down the confidence that they are supposed to be building.

     I worry about these issues with my own children, and, after a particularly hard day with Princess, I felt myself struggling with these two opposites.  She made comments that sounded very entitled, and without even knowing what I was doing, I began pointing out that God gives us things, not because we can possibly deserve them, but because He loves us in spite of our flaws.  I saw her start to crumble emotionally and realized what I was doing.  I immediately repented to God for failing to build up the fragile heart he had put under my care.  As equally importantly, I apologized to my little Princess and reminded her that she was "fearfully and wonderfully made", and I took a more gentle route of explanation.  At that moment, I began to ponder in my heart how a parent could walk the line between confidence, which we are in charge of building in our children, and the entitlement attitude that the world will try to get them to adopt.

Let's see what the Bible says about how we build our children:

Ephesians 6:4 ESV  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

 Proverbs 23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child

Psalms 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.

     Wow, these scriptures sure do show me a thing or two about parenting.  It made me feel better though, that there is a line to walk between making your children behave with an attractive attitude of grace and gratitude and building up their vulnerable little spirits.  For a moment in my life, I was in danger of becoming that parent who withheld praises for fear of making my child feel that the world owed something to her.  HOWEVER, maybe if I constantly remind my kids that this world is not their home and God has perfection awaiting us in Heaven, then they won't be concerned with what the world has to offer.  In order to do this, I have to first fully embrace that fact myself.  I can't live in constant worry about what the world thinks of me (thank goodness, because I'm not feeling a lot of love from the world lately), and I have to live in confidence that God is in control.  I have to show them that the things that are given to me in this life, the things I earn, the things I give away, etc., all belong to God anyway.  He puts us in charge of things, and we must care for them as His property, not ours.  We aren't entitled to anything, but God loves us enough to give us blessings in life, and there's nothing wrong with being blessed. There is also nothing wrong with blessing our children.

     What I want more than anything in life is to be the best child of God I can.  I also want to be a great wife and wonderful mother.  I truly believe that if I become the best child of God I can, He will show me by example how to be a magnificent parent.  Keep your heads up, sisters, we'll figure this mommy thing out together.  Here's my prayer today:

  "God, we love you so completely.  We ask you to help us raise our babies to be confident in a world that will try to tear down their confidence.  We know that the unconditional love you show us pours through us and on to our children.  Help us to express that fact to them in a way that will make them strong.  Help us to also teach them that this world will not fulfill them, only You will.  We ask that You give us wisdom, strength, and confidence so that we can be great examples to our babies.  We love You, we love You, we love You. Amen."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

a strong willed child against a crappy job

 Picture this:  You have put all of your dear children to sleep after a long, stressful day.  You sit down on the couch to watch your show (the one chance you get a day to relax and be entertained).  Just as your mind begins to check out for a while, you hear the padding of little feet down the hallway, and you believe that one of your little cherubs is coming for one last goodnight kiss.  Sure enough, little Tank with his angel grin comes into the room.  You notice he is holding his hands out and mumbling something.  You see that there is something on his hands, and your mind goes to the worst case scenario...Yep, poop.  There are lots of glamorous moments in parenting life, but there is NOTHING glamorous about potty training (even when the job is done).  Why on earth would he poop and then proceed to try and take care of the problem himself?  How on earth does the amount of poop that comes out of a toddler turn into so much when smeared on every surface in his room (can I get an amen)?  How on earth do you get his clothes off and him in the tub without getting in on his face?  (I resisted the urge to just cut it down the back)  WHY? WHY? WHY?  I say with no apologies that I HATE potty training.  I have actually offered to pay my mother to do it for me.  She refused.  I understand why though, it's a crappy job, literally.

     Okay, so it's been forever since I have posted, and mostly it's because I have been waiting to tell you about my successfully potty trained twins.  Alas, I am still fighting the fight in this crappy job called potty training.  With Princess, potty training was a breeze: we had a heart to heart explaining why she should use the potty, we talked about how big girls didn't wear diapers, and voila, she was well on her way.  It wasn't flawless, but once we actually went through with it, she understood the point and tried her best.  I always thought she was pretty strong willed, but she was also eager to please which helped the process.  Enter Tinker Belle.
     Here's the thing about Tinker Belle, she does NOT CARE if big girls use the potty, she does NOT CARE if going pee pee in her panties equals a puddle in the floor and icky legs.  She does NOT want to use the potty.  We, my friends, are at an impasse.  Dean and I have no idea where to go from here.  I have felt horribly about this for months.  It's not that I thought potty training would be super easy with twins, but I simply feel like I can't reach them, and Tinker in particular.  I can't get her to understand the importance of potty training.  She simply won't take it seriously.  Then I realized, "SHE'S TWO!  Not much is important in her eyes right now.  It's not the end of the world!" My kid won't use the potty.  Big stinking deal.  Why, then, do I feel like my kids should be fully potty trained at two and a half?...Well, here's my thinking.  I have said before that I think every moment in life lends itself to a spiritual lesson.  Here are a few lessons that I've recently picked up from my "crappy job" of potty training.
1. I'm prideful when it comes to my kids. --This is a sin I work on constantly in my life.  I want them to look, act, and feel perfect at all times.  Obviously, with a blog bearing this name, I do not feel that I ever reach that moment for long.  The sin is still there, and once I realized early in motherhood that I was putting unneeded pressure on Princess in order to achieve perfection, I tried to stop the behavior and assess the cause.  I have worked nonstop for the better part of five years to lay off a little when it comes to Princess.  I had to realize that when Psalms says, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made", it means that our little personality quirks are part of that as well.  Sometimes she doesn't want to match.  Who cares?  Sometimes she doesn't want to sing that cute song for people.  Big deal.  The twins have taught me so much about letting go and not "sweating the small stuff".  Not enough, I suppose.  I decided this week that my untrained twins are teaching me a little humility in a good way.  I have always believed I can do the things I set my mind to; however, my heart needs to be in the right place.  At this moment, I want to be able to say that my kids are all potty trained just out of vanity.  Lord, forgive me.  What a silly girl I am.  One day, when they are grown and leaving home to start life on their own, I seriously doubt that they will hold it against me that I didn't have them potty trained by two and a half.
2. The mommy pressure.--My mother thinks that two years old is the perfect age for potty training.  My brother and I were both trained at two, and she assures me that I was not an easy student in the school of potty use.  I suppose I feel, as most girls do, that my mom knows everything about motherhood, and therefore, I should copy her model for everything.  It's not working right now.  I'm trying mom.  I just can't seem to handle pee in my floor as gracefully as you must have. I cry sometimes when dealing with poop.  Here's the thing, my mother was/is, in my opinion, the best version of mother in the world.  She is most definitely a Proverbs 31 woman, and her children definitely rose up "and called her blessed".  
3. I don't like failure.--Now some of you will think this is silly, but I'm betting lots of you mommies out there will understand this one.  In my rational mind, I know that not having my kids potty trained yet even though I have tried to do so, does not equal failure.  However, there is always that part of me that sees every delay as a failure.  I know that one day the twins will be potty trained.  However, a part of me feels that I evidently have not tried hard enough or they would be trained now.  I have always been blessed with a great sense of self worth.  Critics don't bother me much, because there are few people in this world I try to please.  (My mother has always found this amusing and refreshing since I actually get along with most people in my life despite this fact.)  On the flip side, I have always been really hard on myself.  I don't really need anyone to point out flaws, because I can guarantee you, I have already noticed them.  I finally realized this to be a spiritual problem when I was out of college and working.  I needed a goal, an immediate goal, and for the first time in a long time, I didn't have one.  I always relied on the fact that I was smart, motivated, and blessed.  There are times in life, though, where a little dose of failure can be healthy.  2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us,  9“'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."  Am I saying this applies to my weakness in potty training?  Not necessarily, but I do think that there's a hint of something in it for me in this situation.  It tells me that I don't have to be able to do everything.  I don't have to be strong in every area.  I don't have to be the perfect mother in my own strength, because I have a God who is a perfect parent and who will help me along the way.  

I know that one day I will look back on this potty training moment in life and chuckle about it.  I know that far more difficult situations are on their way.  Therefore, I am choosing to be thankful that this is even an issue in my life, because that means I must be pretty blessed to be worried with it.  I laughed the other day when my mom asked me how potty training was going.  I said, "Well, the optimist in me wants to tell you that Tinker Belle used the potty once.  The pessimist in me wants to tell you that she peed in the floor five times.  You pick which one you listen too."    That's how we are in life though, right?  We try to look at the bright side, but the clouds roll right in.  Here's my prayer for any mother who is in a moment where she is struggling to succeed.  Maybe you too are trying to potty train.  Maybe you're struggling to breastfeed.  Maybe you are trying to get back your prodical child.  Maybe you are getting ready to send your new graduate out into a scary world, and you just don't feel ready.  Either way, let's lift each other up:

Dear God, thank You for being a God who cares about the small things.  Thank You for seeing my details and concerning yourself with them.  Help me to keep my perspective in life.  Forgive me for my vanity.  Forgive me for thinking myself so strong that I don't seek you in every moment of my life.  Draw me towards You.  If failing makes me better, then God, let me fail.  You are the only success I need in life. Help my friends who are dealing with issues different and bigger than mine.  Bless them, Lord, and touch their hearts. We praise You, we praise You, we praise You. Amen.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Keeping Mommy healthy


"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

     I know that I'm probably the least consistent blogger of all time, and I love you for staying with me.  In all honesty, I always think of and miss my blog when I'm not actively working on it.  However, my blog seems like a little joy that is easily stolen.  Dinner must be made, laundry must be done, but my newest post?  Well, that can wait.  And it does so much more often than it should.  I blogged almost a year ago about going through a spiritual storm.  That storm ebbed and flowed for a long time.  It started before I posted about it, and it continued to be a bit of a struggle afterwards.  I was suffering from chronic fatigue and headaches, and those physical struggles caused me some spiritual setbacks.  When I would go to my doctors, they would try their best to treat me, and they would sympathize with my symptoms, but nothing seemed to offer any relief.  Eventually, I just gave up and took the medications that would treat the symptoms.  They continued. 

     I love that modern medicine can do so much for us.  However, I think sometimes we as patients limit the medical field.  When I would go to the doctor, it would be when I had finally gotten so tired, and then sick from lowered immunity, that I was treated for something that was an effect of the problem.  A few months ago, I found myself at my wits end.  I had made life changes such as transferring to a teaching position where I would be under less stress, I had worked on my spiritual growth, and I was not "sweating the small things" (as much).  It seemed to help a little, but I was still having far too many migraines, and I was absolutely exhausted all of the time.  One weekend, I was so tired, I barely got off of the couch.  My husband was afraid of what was wrong.  Something had to change.

   I decided to explore new options.  After struggling over a year, I went to a woman's health specialist.  My mother highly recommended a doctor not too far out of town, and honestly, I wanted to go to a doctor who had never met me.  It's hard for me to convince anyone who knows what my life is like that I'm more exhausted than I should be.  I work full time, I have three "lively" children, and I do extra things on the side; my life is busy.  Here's the thing though, I knew I was feeling worse than I should. For an entire YEAR of my life, I allowed people around me, including family, friends, nurses, and doctors (all who I know meant well), to tell me that I felt the way anyone who lived my life should feel.  I sort of wanted them to tell me nothing was wrong, because part of me knew something was wrong, and I was secretly afraid of knowing what was ailing me.  It doesn't make sense that I didn't seek help sooner now, because I got to a point where I realized that I was missing out on actually living the experiences of my life, because I was just surviving them.  What kind of living is that?  Didn't God mean more for my life than that?  I needed help.  I got it.

     I went to one visit with my new doctor afraid that he would see me as a wimp, because I had convinced myself that this is what my other doctors and family/friends must think about me.  My biggest fear was him looking at my stats, and saying, "Mrs. Dean, you just have a lot going on, so of course you're tired."  I think I would have broken down right there.  Instead, he looked at my chart, and then asked me very specific questions.  I held my breath when he started to take a guess at my problem, and, to my surprise, he said, "Mrs. Dean, on paper, you look perfect, but if you are feeling badly, something's wrong.  Sometimes people who seem healthy are pushed aside if no disease is found, but I'm not going to give up on finding the issue."  I teared up a little, because it seems I rarely make it through a doctor's visit without crying anyway (which I've mentioned before).   I was so relieved that he was going to use his different tests and methods to find the issue.  A nurse took four vials of blood that day and gave me an appointment for the next week as well as a list of some vitamins to begin that very day. 

*Here's my request ladies:  IF YOU FEEL THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG, PURSUE IT!  No one knows your body like you do.  I could've saved myself a lot of exhaustion if I had gone to this doctor the first time my mother recommended him to me. *

     At my follow up appointment, I was even more nervous than at the first.  What if all of the tests came back normal?  What then?  Would he think I was a hypochondriac?  Would he believe that I was really feeling sick?  Was I just going crazy?  Would I be expected to just deal with the issues?  He pulled out the results.  The first result was good.  I felt relief and disappointment at the same time.  What he was checking were simple vitamin and hormone levels.  If something had to be wrong, those were easy things to fix, right?  I began to feel the tears building.  It didn't take long, however, for him to reveal to me that I was severely deficient in two major vitamins and I also had some hormone deficiencies.  Simple fix with natural vitamins, we hope. 

I've been taking the vitamins for a month now, and while I don't feel like I'm 15 years younger, I do feel better.  My mother and husband both say that there is a noticeable difference.  Why didn't I do something sooner?  Well, I'm the mom.  I don't have time to be sick or feel badly.  I have things to take care of here.  Don't you say the same things yourself?  Please ladies, take care of yourselves.  God tells us to do so, so why do we feel that we should be the health martyrs of our families?

Here's my prayer for us:
"Dear Lord, we thank You for these bodies You have given us.  We may not always feel they are perfect, but God they do so much for our families.  Help us to remember that our bodies are a temple, and how we treat them directly reflects how we care for our gifts from You.  We praise You for strength to push through physical ailments, but we praise You for Your healing hand.  We promise here and now to strive to take care of the temple You have chosen especially for us. We love, praise, and adore You above all. Amen."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Submissive Wife--Part 3

     Here's part three of the Submissive wife series!!  I thought about naming the post something else, since it seems that at least a few people are stumbling upon my blog in search of something else and feel it necessary to "enlighten" me on the error of my beliefs.  However, in a world constantly screaming at us to be "open minded", I think it's time for others to be open minded of my lifestyle.  The last two key elements of my decision to be submissive are:

Being submissive does not mean you do not help with the decision making.
      I'm going to be honest.  If being a submissive wife meant I had no control over anything that happened in my life or the lives of my children, it would be a much harder lifestyle to accomplish.  As I have said before, being a submissive wife doesn't mean you are someone's personal doormat or slave.  Dean has always been the kind of man who is very thoughtful about making decisions.  Even before we were married, he would seek my opinions and advice about big decisions.  Therefore, when we got married, we were used to confiding in the other about insecurities with certain decisions.  It wasn't perfectly seamless; I was used to being on the go constantly and spending money however I chose before we were married.  In turn, he didn't always consult me on decisions with his farm business.  These were hard lessons learned to a newlywed couple.  I had to be more conscious of his feelings if I had my whole weekend booked up with activities that didn't invole him. Honestly, going from a college student who only needed spending money to an adult with bills to pay caused the money spending issue to solve itself rather quickly.  I still try to take his feelings into account when making big purchases, and he does the same for me.  In turn, Dean has continually integrated me into the farm business.  I know I may not seem like the farming business type, but it's very interesting, challenging, and takes such dedication, that I can't help but love being on the "team" when it comes to our family farm.  I feel myself to be a very important aspect of Dean's decision making process, and he feels the same about being an important part of mine.  I felt like we had finally made it to this point when I realized that each time I made a decision (even a little one), I thought about the effect it would have on him.
     If you find yourself in a relationship where your husband does not take your feelings into account when making decisions or he does not involve you in the decision making process, hang in there.  One way to encourage this progress is to simply talk to him about the issue.  Ensure him that you want to be a part of the process even though you support him no matter what, and if he makes a decision that hurts your feelings, tell him in a LOVING way.  Also, as with anything in life, be the example.  Go to him and ask him how he feels about the decisions you make, even those dealing with your job.  Express to him that you are concerned with his feelings with every decision you make from which movie you rent to buying unnecessary make up.  These examples may be extreme, but if you want him to think of you each time he makes a decision, you must think of him when you make your decisions.  You'd be surprised at how touched someone can be when they realize you bought their favorite cereal without them even asking.

Being a submissive wife will make your husband a stronger, more confident man.
     I think the most important job of a wife is to build her husband up.  Women and men are astronomically different, but one thing we both crave is to be encouraged, complimented, and supported no matter what.  My husband is a very confident man on many levels; however, sometimes the pressure of running a family business, and even a family, can make him second guess himself.  We all understand that on some level.  No one wants to fail.  Everyone wants to be wonderfully successful in life, and being in charge of the success of others can be burdensome.  I have learned as a wife to always express my support and how proud I am of my husband.  I always thought he knew how proud I am of him, but during our marriage, I have learned that I have to constantly reinforce the way I feel about being on "his side".  I'm his biggest fan, and I make sure I tell him often.  If he makes a difficult decision, and I know he is worried about it, I make sure I tell him that I am behind him no matter what, even if his idea fails.  It is important to him, and when he has to make those hard decisions, it makes him stronger in what he chooses when he feels that I am behind him. There are times when he must face others who question the decisions and express concern.  He doesn't back down when he knows I support him.  He is stronger because of the fact.  I love that his love for me is so strong that he trusts me as his top support.  He may be the president of this life we live, but rather than the first lady, he makes sure I feel like the second in command.  When a man feels that he has the world on his shoulders, it helps to know there is someone there to help him balance it.

Here's my prayer for the last post in the submissive wife series of my blog:
"Dear Father, we adore You.  Thank You God for being bigger and stronger than we ever could hope to be.  We pray Your blessings on our precious husbands.  We ask that You give us the strength and wisdom to protect our family units by being the wives You have called us to be.  We give You all the praise for every lesson learned and every success achieved.  You, Lord, are our first love, and we thank You for giving us a relationship that strengthens our understanding of love.  Thank You, God, for these ladies who encourage me.  Bless them, please."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Submissive Wife--Part 2

Okay ladies, I know it wasn't supposed to take so long to get the part 2 post out, but I have been trying to evaluate myself as a wife and be the submissive wife I feel I should be before I go trying to encourage anyone else to do the same.  However, I feel like now is the time to look into some of the things that hold us back from being the submissive wives we should be and some of the things that can make submission easier....

1.    Being a submissive wife is easier to a Godly husband.

   I know this sounds obvious, but look at the statement closely.  Many Christian women who are looking for a husband say that they want a “Godly man;” however, what they mean is they want a man who is a proclaimed Christian.  A godly man is one who isn’t just saved but he is also a man who seeks God in every aspect of his life.  He is a man who understands the family unit and the parallel it holds to the relationship between Christ and the church.  He knows that taking a wife means he is responsible for her safety, well-being, and the spiritual state of the entire family.  Why then, do so many Christian women settle for a man who is not godly?  I think the biggest reason is due to our natural instinct to connect ourselves to a mate.  I’ve seen so many young ladies get to the point in life when they just want to be settled, so they begin to panic over finding a mate.  They end up settling alright, but sometimes it’s for someone who is less than she deserves.  I know there are some thinking, “Geez, Rae, it’s not that easy to find a man who is compatible to me, lives where I want him to, does what I think is the right kind of occupation, AND is Godly…”  I’m being facetious, but think hard about what our criteria for the “perfect man” tends to be.  When did being Godly become less than the first priority for choosing a spouse?  When did we stop teaching our daughters that the most attractive trait a person can have is to love Jesus? Shame on us!  We want our children to choose someone who “is a hard worker”, “makes you happy”, and who “makes you feel loved.”  I’m not saying those are bad traits, but if a person is Godly and truly seeks to live a life pleasing to God, don’t you think those other traits will fall into place?  I’m lucky.  While Dean was not as focused on his walk with Christ when we met as he is now, I always knew that God was important in his life in a very real way.  He could say the same about me.  Therefore, if you are in the situation that you and/or your significant other aren't in the right place spiritually, get moving (closer to God, that is).
    Now we must deal with the issue of what to do if you are already in a marriage with an ungodly man.  If possible, submit.  Proverbs 31:10 says, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”  Even a man outside of the will of God can appreciate a wife with “noble character”.  Now, I know there are circumstances in which a Godly woman has to choose to either submit to God or her ungodly husband.  I sincerely hope none of you are in that situation, but if so, I think you already know the right choice to make.  I’m no marriage counselor, so please don’t try to read into this for an excuse to stay in or get out of a relationship with an unsaved person.  That, my friend, is between you and God.  Feel free to email me though, and I will offer all the support I can give.

2.    Being submissive doesn't make you weak, but shows that you are strong.

     So many women today hate the mention of submission because they feel it is a term that signifies weakness.  I completely disagree.  Of all of the married women I know, those who are/ were submissive in their relationships with their husbands are by far the strongest women.  My mother, who is the strongest woman I know in my adult life, has worked hard to be a submissive wife.  I asked her after my first post how easy it was for her to become a submissive wife.  She and my father were not living for Christ when they got married, and I suppose I thought she would say that when they recommitted to Christ, it was easy.  She didn’t.  My mom, who is rebellious by nature (though she didn’t say that herself), said, “it’s still not easy 34 years in.”  That was NOT the answer I wanted.  I started thinking then about why she is such a great example of wifely submission in my life if it isn’t something that comes naturally to her.  Then it hit me; she is a great example of submission because of the fact that it isn’t easy and she does it anyway.  My mother has followed my dad all over the southern states, and honestly, she didn’t always want to do so.  Why did she?  My father told her that he felt God moving them to a particular job/place, so she went.  Wow, right?  I can’t imagine leaving behind my entire family like she did and just moving 600 miles to a place where we knew no one and had no connections.  That, ladies, takes strength.  Did she complain?  Yes. Did she cry?  Absolutely.  Did she mourn for the things and people she had to leave behind?  Of course!  However, she followed her husband, because she knew that is what God wanted of her, submission.

3.    Being submissive is a healthy example for your children.

     I truly believe that one problem with the family unit today is that children to often see their parents in a struggle for control.  They don’t know who the leader of the family is, so they see marriage as a battle of wills.  This gives them an unhealthy vision of marriage.  Rather than two people who uplift and support one another, they see two people trying to win a game of tug of war.  It teaches them to either not want to be married, or it makes them think that in order to be married, you have to constantly fight for control.  My five year old daughter is old enough to understand the idea of someone being the “boss”.  When she asked one day about who the boss is at our house, I sat her down and explained it.  I told her that I was the boss of them, daddy was the boss of all of us, and God was the boss of everyone.  She loved the idea of daddy being my “boss”, and while that term may hold negative connotations to some, I felt it was a good time to let her see that I don’t mind letting daddy make decisions because I know he will do what is best for all of us.  I also let her know that if someone is a “boss” over someone else, it is actually a hard job.  Being a boss is a big responsibility.  When daddy makes a decision, he has to be sure it is what God wants so that the outcome is a good one.  Now, I want to also add that if I make a decision at home when Dean isn’t there, he is always sure to back me up.  If I tell Princess that she can’t have ice cream because she didn’t eat dinner, he stands behind me.  If I tell her that she must go to bed earlier because she was naughty, he supports the decision.  It didn’t take her long to understand that trying to work us against one another would not end with her getting her way.  Do I make decisions in our household? Every day.  Dean works longer hours than I do, so I have to make decisions constantly.  I DO NOT make any decisions that are life-changing, finance changing, or will have big, long term effects on any of us without asking him first.  He, in return, does the same for me out of respect.  Neither of us would ever want to do something like buy a piece of land without consulting the other first.  I wouldn’t want to make my husband feel undermined in his place as our caretaker, and my husband doesn’t want to make me believe that my feelings are unimportant to him.  Therefore, we have always made those decisions together, and often, we consult someone outside who we trust to give us good advice before making those big decisions.  By working this way, we hope to show our children that being a submissive wife doesn’t make me unimportant, and being the head of the family doesn’t mean daddy doesn’t need or want mommy’s help and advice.

I have a part 3 post that will cover the other two sections of my reasons for being a submissive wife.  I would love for you all to share your own feelings and experiences of wifely submission.  Here's my prayer for us who are on this journey together towards Godly submission:

"Dear Father, help us to be consciously submissive in our marriages.  Please touch our husbands and bless them as the head of his home.  Let us be wonderful examples of Christians and wives to our children.  Please lead us towards Your will for us always.  Most of all, Lord, help us stay committed to being submissive wives even when it isn't easy.  We praise You, love You, and worship You only. Amen"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why I am a submissive wife.

     It seems that submission is a dirty word to us today.  It is an even dirtier concept for marriage in our society.  However, I am a rebel to society in this case.  I feel that my willingness and ability to be a submissive wife is a key to maintaining a Godly marriage.  Please know that I am not here to upset anyone, and I don't want to debate.  However, I do feel that we hear a great deal from women who do not believe in submission to their husbands and very little from the other side.  So, here I am, unqualified as I may be.  Keep an open mind.
     I think the world hears the phrase "submissive wife" and pictures a June Cleaver type lady but one who is brow beaten, talked down to, and mistreated by her husband; or maybe one who lacks confidence, courage, or intelligence; or possibly a weak woman who simply can't stand up for herself.  I don't buy into this stereotype.  Do these ladies exist?  Yes, and I pray for them, their husbands, and their children.  However, I don't believe they are the portrait of submission that the Bible paints.  In return, we often think of men who believe in wifely submission and think of egotistical bigots who want a woman they can walk all over.  Do these men exist? Yes, and I pray for them, their wives, and their children.  The Bible tells us that a wife should submit to her husband, and that is enough reason for it to be a goal of mine. 
     Dean and I didn't really discuss this particular idea before getting married.  I don't know why, but for some reason it didn't seem necessary.  I grew up in a family where the husband was a natural, strong leader, and where the wife was a natural supporter.  This idea was instilled in me, but I can see where it could be a struggle for a woman who did not experience how well the pairing could work.  I think there are a few things we need to keep in mind when deciding to be submissive wives:

1. Being a submissive wife is easier to a Godly husband.
2. Being submissive doesn't make you weak, but shows that you are strong.
3. Being submissive is a healthy example for your children.
4.  Being submissive does not mean you do not help with the decision making.
5. Being a submissive wife will make your husband a stronger, more confident man.

     I can't possibly talk about all of these points in this one post, so I will have several posts about this topic.  I promise that I will post as quickly as I can about these ideas as I seek out wisdom and scripture to express myself.  I know that I am a lucky woman.  I rarely "feel" that I am submitting to my husband.  Dean is a wonderful man to be aware of his leadership in our family while making sure our children see that Mommy is a very important part of our success(es) as a group.  As we start on this journey together, those of you willing to follow along, I want us all to get in the Bible about the idea.  The two most obvious scriptures that come to my mind are:

Ephesians 5:22 which says, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."
Colossians 3:10 which says, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."

I want this to be our diving board.  Don't just look at these verses, but go to your Bible or online and read the whole chapters.  See what is going on, get a feel for the setting, and then digest it with prayer.  These scriptures offer up large orders.  Submitting my being to God isn't even that easy, and He is perfect.  Now I am asked to put myself completely in the hands of a mere mortal to the same extent as I do with my Savior?  AND He sees that as glorious to Him?  Wow.  Here we go ladies.  Let's start off this Saga with prayer for ourselves AND our husbands/future husbands.

"Heavenly Father, give me wisdom.  I feel so unworthy of even dealing with this issue, but I know it is what you want me to do.  Help me to gain the knowledge I need on this journey.  Help my sisters who choose to live this way.  Give them courage, strength, and your blessings.  Help our precious husbands as well.  Make them men who are worthy leaders, Godly leaders, and sensitive leaders.  Help our sisters who believe that submission is a negative trait.  We praise You, God."

Please know that I understand some readers will get upset about this series of posts.  I also understand that these posts could lose some readers/followers for the blog.  I know without a doubt there are people who will scoff, laugh, and shake their heads.  It's okay.  I am a pretty secure woman.  I welcome comments from anyone, but I will not let this turn into an angry or hateful debate of any kind, so I will only allow respectful comments to be made public.  I am writing this feeling like part of a minority trying to give voice to women who choose to be submissive in their marriages.  I believe that there are more of us out there than most people would like to believe.  I am fighting a cultural agenda that began before my time, while I refuse to buy into society's lies that tell me I am ignorant if I let a man have any kind of power over me.  There is freedom in submission to God; therefore, there is freedom in marital submission.

 Wish me luck.  Better yet, pray for me.