Category Archives: Marriage & Family

To Initiate or Not?

I know that my role as a wife and helpmate is to respectfully present my views to my husband and then follow his lead and support his decisions.

But the Lord continues to fine-tune my understanding of how subtly and unintentionally I can undermine Tom’s leadership. I have learned that there are times when it is or isn’t appropriate to be the initiator.

 

If Tom has asked me to initiate, and if I’m agreeable to taking that responsibility, then it is appropriate. But if I become the initiator because my husband isn’t doing what I feel needs to be done, then I’m over-stepping my bounds. In such a case, he will most likely feel disrespected and I will feel frustrated because my expectations aren’t being met. It would be far more productive to have a respectfully honest discussion of our expectations and look for solutions.

 

When Tom prefers that I initiate, he responds well and its mutually edifying. But if there’s a task that I feel needs to be accomplished, and I initiate before he’s in agreement, there’s the risk that I can come across as controlling (undermining his leadership). Tom may not even be able to pinpoint or verbalize how he’s feeling, but it won’t feel good and he may subconsciously (or consciously) resist my efforts.

 

Frustration is the result of unmet expectations. So, as individuals, and as a couple, we need to evaluate our expectations of ourselves, and of each other. Are they realistic? Do our expectations match? Can we define them?

 

Our aim is to work together as a team. This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll do everything together, but it does mean we’ll have the same goals and game plan.

 

So, when is it ok for me to initiate? When it’s mutually edifying!

Respect and Patience in Action

Some lessons need to be continually re-learned or refined. Such is the case of learning to listen humbly and respectfully to the other person, and also remembering to patiently give them the time they need to process my ideas or suggestions.

 

I had once written the lyrics to a song. In my first version, my approach was to use a series of word pictures to capture those ideas. It was written in a third person format, from the perspective of an observer.

 

I showed it to my husband, Tom, and he said it would be nice if it could be in the first person. I said I didn’t see how that could be done in this case, and that there are many popular songs written in third person. Since I wasn’t showing an openness to his idea, he backed down and said maybe the musician would have some ideas. I was in a hurry to get the musician going on it, so I sent it off. What I should have done was say, I don’t see how its possible, but I’ll put it aside and pray about your idea and see what the Lord does.

 

The real issue here was not that I didn’t respect Tom’s suggestion (though I suspect that may be how it felt to him), but rather, that I couldn’t see how to implement his idea. That, of course, is where prayer comes in!

 

God is merciful, however. Three days later, He got my attention through an entirely different situation. Tom and I were planning a trip to visit a relative who is battling life-threatening cancer. My focus was entirely on how we could be helping her family. So, when Tom suggested we take a day or two off to go visit some friends that lived in that state, I thought his idea was selfish, but thankfully, I responded correctly and said we could ask our friends if they’d be around and explain that we weren’t sure how our plans would pan out. He agreed to that plan, and I sent an email. (As it turned out, the Lord provided the perfect opportunity to visit them, which proved to be a blessing to all of us!)

 

As all of this was filtering through my thought processes, my song came to mind. I prayed, and God helped me to incorporate the first- person perspective into the song.

 

So, there are two sides of the coin to look at here, as well as how we can help each other in this process.

 

  • Humbly and respectfully listen to what the other person has to say, bearing in mind that regardless of what their motives may be, or what we think they may be, God could be speaking through them. (I try to bear that in mind even when unkind people say things to me, but my husband is very kind and gentle.)

 

  • If we are the one presenting an idea or suggestion for the other person to consider, we should bear in mind that they may need time to process the idea, and not be offended if they don’t immediately jump on our band wagon. We should keep in mind that we could be the one that isn’t right, or that the Lord might have a compromise in mind that would meet both of our needs. Time, patience, and prayer will reveal the solution.

 

 

  • When we feel that the other person isn’t really taking our position into consideration, we might say something like, “Could we pray about this for awhile? I don’t really have peace about it, right now.” That is far more helpful than just giving into the person. And the presenter needs to back off and actually take time to pray about it.

 

When we humbly recognize that God can speak to and through each of us, and that each of us is capable of being right or wrong, it makes it easier to be patient and respectful toward one another. Instead of being competitors, we should become teammates. God intended us to be. This is love in action.

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Husband’s Lead

I have personally only known one woman who was intentionally manipulative. She married a man for his money. All the other wives that I’ve known personally married men they loved and respected, and they desired to be helpful, not hurtful.

 

Husbands, please know that most of us wives are not usually manipulative on purpose. When we appear that way, you are most likely simply seeing a woman who’s struggling with surrendering her desires or what she thinks is best, just as you probably struggle in surrendering your will to God’s and yielding to Him. So, when we step on your toes, please gently and lovingly let us know what we did to offend you. We can only change if we know and care that we did something hurtful.

 

Now I will turn my attention to my fellow wives. One of the most important skills we can learn is the art of being a good helpmate to our husband, which includes knowing how to follow his lead. I am still learning, but I’m happy to say that, with the Lords help, I’m making progress.

 

I will share a number of examples of where I made mistakes or did something right and discuss what I learned from those situations. I hope this will be helpful to you.

 

Mistake/Correct: In 1992, our family went to the annual company picnic. As one of the company owners, my husband Tom was busy seeing to everyone’s needs, which left me in charge of entertaining our young children. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good attitude about this and made a self-pitying comment to Tom. I should have understood his situation and made the best of it.

 

Later that night, Tom said he always feels guilty about ignoring his family at those things. This time, I did something right. I said, “A lot of men feel unnecessary guilt because their wives fail to recognize the Lords calling on their lives.”

 

It isn’t easy for a man to follow God’s calling, either. It requires sacrifices that they may feel guilty about. We wives need to do our best to ease their burden of guilt by sharing in the load and doing whatever we can to support them.

 

Mistake: In 1992, our family was on a mission trip to Mexico. Our daughter, Heather, had asked if we could use our car as the babysitting car and Tom said no. Later, when I was at the car that was being used for the kids, the owner commented that there were far too many children in the car and the boys were pretty wild. What I should have done is go to Tom, explained the situation, and asked if he was willing to help out. What I did was give the girls permission to go in our car. I also told them they could eat in the car if they were careful not to make a mess (which went against Tom’s rule of no eating in the car). What I did for the ministry was nice, but I should have been supportive of my husband.

 

I did it right! When our children were ages 11, 8 and 6, a friend of mine, who was going through a rough time, called to vent. We talked awhile, then my daughter Kristy needed me, so I prayed with my friend and hung up. I asked Tom if we could invite her and her daughter over later, and he wisely said I could if that didn’t take me away from my family. I decided not to invite her over. I needed to focus on my family and my friend needed to focus on hers.

 

Mistake in 1992: When our daughter, Heather, was 8 years old, our family was in a restaurant. Heather wanted a salad, but the waiter forgot it. I then asked Tom what we should do and he said she should first see if she could eat all her dinner. At that point, I should have remained silent and supported his decision. Our children knew that we considered Tom the head of our household, having the final say. If I had remained silent, Heather would have eventually accepted it. But I was fearful that she’d make a scene and spoil everyone’s dinner, so I wanted to make her happy and, whenever the waiter returned, and Heather looked at me, I asked Tom what he thought, and he finally gave in. I’d allowed Heather to manipulate us, which wasn’t healthy for her and, even worse, I’d failed to show respect for Tom’s authority.

 

Mistake: Sometimes, even when I’m not totally at peace about an idea of Tom’s, in an attempt to be supportive of his desires, I’ll bring things up when I should just wait to see if he follows through.

 

Yes, when Tom expresses a desire or an interest in something, I should listen respectfully, share my perspective, and pray about it. But it isn’t my role to bring it up again. I should wait and see if he mentions it again. I’m slowly learning that the best way to know what he’s truly interested in is to wait and watch to see where he takes the initiative.

 

I did it right! Tom knows what kinds of movies I can or can’t handle. In this instance, he was being protective of me and I appreciated it. Normally, I don’t like high action movies or violence. But I heard a lot of Christians raving about the latest version of Ben Hur, so I suggested seeing it. Tom asked if I felt I could handle it. I wasn’t sure, so he pulled up the movie trailer about it. I decided I’d pass and thanked him. It might be a great movie, but I wasn’t sure it was right for me. I was glad I followed Tom’s lead.

 

I did it right! Tom and I decided to attend more events together (besides church and family events). So, one day I shared a list of concerts and he selected the Beach Boys. I said I’d see if we could get tickets. There weren’t many left, but I was able to get two good ones. Then he asked if I had included our son. I said no, but he was welcome to see if he could get tickets for Shon and his helper if he wanted to. I said they wouldn’t be near us, however. I was about to leave, so I gave him the information and said he could call if he wanted to. (He did, and he was able to get them seats.)

 

This is an example of being a good helpmate. I was following up on an interest Tom had expressed, I did him the favor of making the call, and I consulted him about which tickets to purchase before doing so. When he later asked about Shon, I gave my approval and left it in his hands. (If I had had strong feelings about wanting a date just with Tom, I would have expressed that desire and then left it up to him.)

 

A mistake corrected: Tom and I facilitate and host a Bible study in our home. One day, I handed Tom some discussion questions and asked which ones he’d like to discuss. He glanced at them and laid them aside, so I said no more. I realized my mistake. What I should have asked is whether or not he wanted to use those questions at all! So, I decided to say nothing more until closer to the day of the study.

 

The day before our group meeting, I asked Tom what we would be doing. He said, Don’t we have some written questions? I said I did and asked if he wanted to see them. He said he did, so I printed a copy, handed it to him, and said he could select the questions he’d like the group to discuss, and he did.

 

Do you see the subtle difference? In the first instance, I was taking the lead and placing him in a secondary position. I had selected a format and then gave him the role of choosing the questions. The second time around, I let him take the lead, by simply asking what he wanted to do, without offering any suggestions. Once he had a plan, I was able to assist him by making a copy of the questions and letting him decide which ones to discuss. Since it didn’t matter to me which questions we discussed, that worked out fine. If I had wanted to share my opinion about which questions to discuss, I could have said, “Would you like to discuss which questions to cover?”

 

A mistake corrected: An important issue came up that could negatively affect a friend of ours. For reasons I won’t go into, we wondered whether or not to tell our friend what had happened. I gave Tom my opinion, but I forgot to ask his opinion! So, the next day, I asked what he thought, then said I’d follow his lead, and I did. I also prayed for protection upon everyone involved. It turned out fine and our friend received the necessary information in another way. So, I’ll call this example a mistake corrected. My failure to ask Tom’s opinion the first time was wrong, but when I realized what I’d done, I corrected it.

 

Mistake: Tom and I were discussing an item we had loaned to someone and Tom stated when he would like it back. I said, “You’ll need to let them know that. He said, “Yah, yah” in an annoyed tone that said I should say no more, and I didn’t.

 

What I should have said was, “What do you plan to do about it?” I need to learn to let him resolve his own issues unless he asks for my opinions.

 

What I had said most likely sounded like a command to him, even though I didn’t mean it that way. I have been learning to stay out of the middle of other people’s issues unless invited in, and since this was more Tom’s issue than mine, I was letting him know he (not I) would be the one to bring the matter up to them. I am a problem solver by nature and it takes a lot of prayerful re-programming to learn to let other people solve their own problems and speak for themselves.

 

Mistake: Tom had offered our rental house to someone. After we discussed it, we decided that may not be the best solution for her or us and that he would talk to her about it. A few days later, when she and I were hanging out, I mentioned it to her, and she was actually relieved. However, I was guilty of usurping Toms initiative. Just a little while later that day, Tom told her, and then I mentioned that I’d already discussed it with her. If I’d been patient just a little longer, Tom would have handled it. If I want him to handle something, then I need to let him!

 

I did it right! One day a situation came up in our son’s household that needed to be addressed. (Our disabled son has 3 roommates and numerous helpers, so situations do arise at times that require our intervention). I reported the incident to Tom and asked how he wanted to handle it. He said he would talk to the people involved and I said ok.

 

After he talked to them, I wondered if he had shared the solution with our son. He hadn’t had time. I wanted to let Shon know, but I prayerfully decided to keep quiet and not even say anything further to Tom. Here’s why: if I had said anything to Shon, or even suggested to Tom that we should, Tom most likely would have felt I was saying, “You didn’t do a complete enough job in handling this.”

 

Interestingly, because I handled this correctly, he listened to my perspective on another related issue and agreed with my suggested solution. (This second issue was less complicated than the first one.)

 

In conclusion, I simply want to say this: wives, if we want our husbands to learn how to lead, then we have to learn not to! Since neither they nor we are perfect, we need to exercise patience and grace in the learning process. But we can rejoice in the fact that we are making progress!

 

 

 

 

 

A Serving Attitude

In Luke 15:11-32, the Lord was not only merciful and gentle with the prodigal son, but also with the older unforgiving son, urging him to repent of his sins: jealousy, a lack of forgiveness, hostility, etc. A proud, self-righteous attitude grieves the Lord deeply. Its impossible for such a person to reflect His humble, gentle spirit. Also, pride always causes division. God desires unity among His followers.

 

In Luke 15:29 (NIV) the angry brother said, “…All these years Ive been slaving for you…” (The emphasis is mine.) He perceived his work as slaving. As a young mom, I struggled with feeling sorry for myself when I perceived my role as one of a “slave” to my family, instead of seeing it as a joy and a blessing to be home full time, serving a wonderful husband and three precious children. The jealous brother focused on what his father hadn’t done for him, instead of focusing on the blessings he had received. Thus, he became jealous of his younger brother, instead of rejoicing with everyone over the brother’s return.

 

As a young mother, it dampened my spirit when my children weren’t willing to help me, and I was delighted when they cheerfully assisted me. As God’s child, it pleases His heart when I obey Him cheerfully.

 

I pray the Lord will grant me a cheerful heart that wants to serve Him in whatever humble way He chooses and help me not to get that slave mentality that only causes resentment and despair.

 

My Husband, My Protector

God established the husband as the head of the house. Yes, the husband is expected to be considerate of his wife’s views and feelings, but he has the responsibility of making the final decisions, and God holds him accountable for those decisions. Therefore, it is important that we wives yield respectfully to his authority.

 

One of the roles of a husband is to protect his wife. I confess that it has taken me quite awhile to fully appreciate that aspect of Tom’s leadership. One of my weaknesses is that I’m very naive and easily manipulated. I have a lot of compassion and like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I can easily get sucked into their emotions. This makes me very vulnerable to dishonest or manipulative people. I am ashamed to say that there have been times when I failed to recognize and appreciate Tom’s God-given insights and have thought he was just lacking in compassion. We have had a few uncomfortable situations with housing homeless people that have helped me to gain an appreciation for Tom’s point of view!

 

Sometimes I ignore Tom’s lack of peace about something and don’t give him adequate time to pray about it. When I continue to bring something up that he’s unsettled about, I am being insensitive and manipulative. While it may not be consciously intentional on my part, I’m guilty of trying to get him to do my will, to put it bluntly. Or, I’m impatiently trying to push for a solution before he has one.

 

One of Tom’s weaknesses is that he sometimes gives in, just as Adam gave in to Eve when he should have intervened between her and the serpent. Whenever one of us gets pushy and the other one gives in, we both suffer.

 

How are we attempting to correct this behavior? For my part, I’m asking the Lord to make me more sensitive to my husband’s feelings, taking note of when he seems to lack peace about something. If I sense he isn’t at peace, or if he says he isn’t at peace, I need to step back and give him time to think things through. I need to trust God and not panic as the hour of decision approaches and no solution seems to be materializing. God always comes through in His timing.

 

For my husband’s part, he is learning to speak up and simply tell me that he isn’t at peace, and that he needs more time. Then I will back off and just pray for him.

 

It may take us a life-time to perfect this, but were improving.

Thankfully, there is always hope in the Lord!

The Allure of a Quiet Spirit

One day, I asked my husband, Tom, if he still found me attractive. He said yes. Then I asked if he still found me sexually appealing. He said, sometimes. I asked him to explain, and his answer surprised me because it had nothing to do with looks! (That’s actually good news, because the aging process has an affect on my physical appearance that I have limited control over, but with Gods help, I can control my actions.) Anyway, Tom said its a sexual turn-off when I become what he calls hyper. When I’m faced with a problem or a conflict, I tend to shift into problem solving mode. This can be good or bad, depending on how I handle it. Its bad if I’m impatient and want solutions immediately, because then I shift into what Tom calls my CEO mode. Though my intentions are usually good, I come across as controlling and insensitive, rather than submissive and gentle. And sometimes, without meaning to, I can say some insensitive things.

 

The solution is found in 1 Peter 3:3-6. It says, speaking to wives, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in Gods sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham…You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3:3-6, NIV. The emphasis is mine.)

 

What causes me to become hyper and impatient and want immediate solutions? I believe its caused by fear. I am fearful of the problem not getting solved, and fearful of the consequences of the unresolved problem. Fear, of course, is the opposite of faith.

 

So, whats the solution? Trust God. Put my hope in Him, believing He has the solutions, and that He will reveal them in His perfect timing. How does that translate into actions?

  • Pray (Discuss the situation with the Lord, seeking His guidance).
  • Calmly discuss the situation with my husband (perhaps even brainstorming on paper prior to, or during, a discussion)

 

  • Wait patiently & expectantly on the Lord. When I’m resting in the assurance that God will eventually work things out, I will be calm, gentle, and quiet in spirit, creating that softness that is attractive to a man. The more attractive we are to our husbands, the more inclined they may be to demonstrate the affection we desire. But, regardless of how our husbands respond, the wife’s role is to develop a gentle and quiet spirit, which comes by faith in God, trusting God to meet our needs as He sees fit. Then we will have that “…gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in Gods sight.” (1 Peter 3:4, NIV)

Considerate Love: A Husband’s Role

The Bible says, Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect (1 Peter 3:7, NIV. The emphasis is mine.)

In order to gain an understanding of this verse, we must know what in the same way is referring to. It is referring to the same verses 1 Peter 3:1 is referring to when it says, Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands (The emphasis is mine.)

Both of these verses are pointing to Jesus as our example. (1 Peter 2:21-23). To this (suffering for doing good and enduring it, verse 20) you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (The emphasis is mine.)

The Websters dictionary defines considerate as having or showing regard for others and their feelings; thoughtful.

So, what might it look like for a husband to show consideration for his wife?

  • Get to know how she feels about things. Ask her opinion when making decisions. If she seems upset, ask whats upsetting her. Listen to what she says. If you aren’t sure you understand, or even if you think you do, ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand her. Once she agrees that you’ve understood her, ask how you can help. Does she need a hug? Prayer? Just a sympathetic ear? Advice? Help with something?

 

  • If she does something to offend you, gently tell her that she has offended you. Don’t assume that shes aware of having offended you. If she apologizes and asks you to forgive her, do so, and tell her shes forgiven. If she asks how she should handle it differently, tell her. Gently instruct her. Don’t assume she thinks like a man.

 

  • If you are upset and need time to cool down, tell her you need to be alone for awhile to cool down and think things over, with the assurance that you will discuss it further later. Don’t just withdraw and leave her wondering what she did wrong.

 

  • Don’t ask her to go against her conscience. If she feels what you’re asking her to do is wrong, look for solutions, rather than getting upset with her because she disagrees with you. Jesus died for your wife’s sins. What are you willing to do to help her walk in holiness?

 

  • Tell her when she looks nice or when she does something well. Everyone needs encouragement. When things are going well its easy to take a persons good behavior for granted. Then when they do something that annoys us, we zero in on it.

I discovered this with our children when they were young. In order to help me become more appreciative of how often our children were being good, the Lord once had me put a tally mark on a card for everything they did right. It took less than a day for me to realize that was an impossible task because they were good about 90% of the time, but I had only been focusing on the 10% that demanded my attention and needed correction. That day I repented and focused on praising them throughout the day. It was amazing how that positively affected their behavior!

 

Husbands, be respectful and considerate with your wives, and you may find that they respond very favorably. But even if they don’t, entrust yourself “…to Him who judges justly…” (1 Peter 2:23, NIV) and do it as “…for the Lord…” (Colossians 3:23, NIV)

Husbands, Be Considerate

The Bible says, “Husbands… be considerate as you live with your wives…” (1 Peter 3:7).

Tom and I had been married eleven years before we gave our lives to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, old habits and selfish ways take a long time to change, even with the Lords help. (That’s why we shouldn’t judge others. Were all works in progress.)

Tom has given me permission to talk about an area in his life where he has made great progress: namely, being considerate of his wife. Tom is now so sensitive and considerate of my feelings, that I had nearly forgotten he wasn’t always this way. Ill share one example.

I have never been a pet person. There have only been a few pets in my life that I actually wanted. The rest came into my life either out of submission to my husband or to please our children. It wasn’t until the children were grown that Tom finally realized he wasn’t a pet person, either.

Over the years, we had rats, mice, birds, fish, a snake, cats, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits as pets. We had a very predictable pattern. Tom or one of the children would decide they wanted a pet. I knew Id end up being the primary caregiver, and I also knew Id be the one who’d have to find a good home for the pets when everyone tired of them. I tried to explain my feelings to Tom, but he didn’t understand. He didn’t bully me into it, he just kind of pouted until I gave in, feeling it was my role to make everyone happy. (Side note to parents: I recommend that before taking on a pet, you make a written list of responsibilities, assign people to those responsibilities, and establish what the consequences will be if people don’t follow through.)

These pets added a lot of stress to my life while trying to raise children, one having special needs. Not only was there the stress of taking care of the pets, but it was emotionally stressful to me when Tom decided it was time to give them away. I would pray and wonder if Tom would ever see the truth about himself. He finally did, once the children were grown.

Men, if you want your wife to respect you and follow your lead, then you need to listen carefully to what she has to say and take her feelings into consideration. Over time, Tom and I have found that we can usually find a compromise that’s satisfactory to both of us if well commit to respectful discussions and prayerfully seek Gods guidance.

 

 

 

 

Discerning What To Say Yes To

As I’ve been re-reading my old journals from when our children were young and observing daughter Kristy and her husband raising their own preschoolers, I felt compelled to write a note of encouragement to young moms. (The guidelines at the end are applicable to anyone.)

I think we can all agree that our children bring us many moments of pure joy in the things they do and say. And when were snuggling a resting or sleeping child, there aren’t adequate words to describe the love that floods our souls!

But if you’re at all like me, there are also moments where motherhood feels like a boring, thankless, unappreciated job. I remember how I longed for adult conversation and something a little more intellectually stimulating than conversations with preschoolers. I looked forward to my weekly women’s Bible study when I got a couple of child free hours and intellectual discussions!

In those days, I had this Bible verse posted above our kitchen sink:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Colossians 3:23). When I felt like no one saw, appreciated, or understood all that I was going through, I reminded myself that Jesus did, and He was there for me. I was doing this for Him, ultimately.

But there were times when I wondered if He’d ever use my strengths, and if He’d ever give me more than sleepless nights, changing diapers, washing clothes and dishes, etc. Id listen to older women tell me to enjoy each moment, and they’d talk about how swiftly these years pass by. I believed them, but that felt like light years away!

There are some temptations we need to be aware of in those days. Its the temptation to take on more than God has called us to. There are several factors that can cause us to make wrong choices (and stay at home moms are especially vulnerable). I will address a few of those.

 

  • No matter how delightful our preschoolers are, constantly tending to their needs is not very intellectually stimulating. Its physically exhausting, but our brain gets a bit too lethargic. My vocabulary dropped considerably during those years. My daily journals were another life-line for me. So, when were bored, ministry outside of the home looks very appealing.

 

  • Whether its self-imposed or inflicted upon us by others, we can find ourselves feeling guilty when we say no to people who present us with service opportunities. The Lord had to teach me that the need is not always the call. In other words, I’m not called to meet every need that is presented to me!

 

  • A desire to contribute something substantial to society. Ladies, raising godly children who will love, respect and humbly serve others is a very substantial contribution to society! When our children are young, its hard to see that, but now that I have three adult children who are all involved in serving others, I see the value of all the seeds that were planted in their hearts when they were young. Learn what Gods teaching you now, and He will use it eventually.

 

I would like to close with some tips that Ive found helpful in determining whether or not to take on a new commitment.

 

  • Ask God to guide you, and then give Him time to make things clear.

 

  • Check your motives: why do you want to take on this commitment? (Ask God to reveal your true motives. Sometimes we aren’t able to see our hidden motives, like pride, or a need to feel important, or a desire to do something more interesting than raising kids, or a feeling of guilt that we aren’t doing enough.)

 

  • If you’re married, ask your husband how he feels. If he isn’t supportive of you taking on the commitment, then don’t! (If you truly feel Gods calling you to it, then ask God to change your husbands heart, or yours, according to Gods plan.) As a side note, I want to mention that sometimes God gives us a vision years in advance of the fulfillment! Yes, He may be calling you to something, just not

 

  • Analyze the impact of this commitment on your family. Will you still have the time and energy to meet their needs if you take this on? And if you work, how will it impact your ability to do a good job there?

 

  • Will this commitment draw you closer to God or pull you away from Him? (Will you still have the time and energy to read the Bible, pray, fellowship with other Christians?)

 

It takes prayerful discernment to know which activities to be involved in. Every persons path is different, but God is faithful to guide us when we ask Him to.

 

A Helpmate or a Nag?

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. (Proverbs 31: 10)

I would like to be thought of by my husband, Tom, as more precious than rubies, so I’m trying to be open to continual learning. One thing I had to learn was the difference between being a true helpmate versus a nag.

I always wanted to be helpful to Tom, but I found that I was often coming across to him as a nag. I finally discovered the difference. A helpmate comes along side her husband in the things he is already motivated to do. A nag tries to motivate him.

I will now share an example of both. My first example illustrates a time when I unintentionally became a nag. Tom and I had bought into another persons vision for us and we began to develop a ministry around that idea. We got as far as creating a website and writing a two- day conference. Where I became a nag was when I kept asking Tom if he was ready to write his parts or practice the presentation. He said he would when he was ready. We just got frustrated with each other. Finally, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, Stop! So, I filed the materials and quit mentioning them. In time, Tom and I both realized that wasn’t our calling and we abandoned the project.

My second example illustrates a time when I was a good helpmate. Tom and I had always gone on mission trips together, but when an opportunity came up to go to Haiti for construction work, I did not feel led to go. Tom, however, was very excited about it and I was happy to help in any way I could. Tom admits that I’m more organized than he is, and he appreciates the help when I’m assisting him in doing something hes already excited about. So, I read the emails and called our doctor to find out the time line for the necessary shots and how to get the appropriate pills. Then I relayed that information to Tom and he made the appointment. I also printed out the list of suggested items to pack, asked him which ones he wanted to take, and accompanied him on his trips to gather supplies. One day, I remained after church with some of the team members to help vacuum pack clothes to take to those in need. I also organized a prayer team. Each day, when Tom called to share what they’d done, I emailed up-dates to the prayer team. I enthusiastically agreed to financially support one of the children in the orphanage. Finally, when the team shared about their trip in church, I video taped their individual talks and sent them to each team member. Even though I was not physically present with Tom in Haiti, we still worked together as a team, using our strengths to best advantage. It was satisfying to both of us and we rejoiced together over all that was accomplished.

We need to find out what our spouses interests are and encourage them in those areas. We should prayerfully rely on God to motivate our partner and keep our focus on helping them to accomplish their goals.

Is it all right for a person to express their desires and concerns to their spouse? Of course, if they do so lovingly and respectfully. But then we need to step back and wait to see if they do anything about it. If our desires are in alignment with Gods will for us, He will eventually bring it to pass, one way or another, if we rely on Him. If our desires are not in alignment with Gods, then He may need to change our hearts. I have learned that God is the only one who can truly motivate someone. If the Lord is in something, the motivation will come. To summarize, we should cheer our partner on toward theirs goals, and be helpful in ways that they appreciate.