Monday, July 16, 2012

a guest post from Karen....

I'm so excited to have a couple people guest posting this week. If you've read my blog for long you know that I'm passionate about being a mom. I love it, but I think it's tough work and we need all the encouragement we can get. I'm praying that these posts will do just that.
 Karen sharing her thoughts today. Karen is a friend from my old church in California and someone I look up to as I raise my kids. You should check out her blog here when your done reading.

I was honored and blessed when Jessica asked me if I could contribute something to her blog from the perspective of a mom who has “been there.”  She shared with me some of the struggles that she and other mothers she knew were facing, and asked if I could speak in order to encourage.   I didn’t think twice about it because one of my biggest joys is being able to encourage young wives and mothers in any way I can.   I don’t always feel that I have something to offer, but nonetheless I choose to offer what little I possess in hopes that it will build up another, and that God might magnify my meager efforts.  

I do relish an opportunity like this because I believe strongly in the importance of a woman being in her biblical role as a wife and mother in her home.  It is a difficult, challenging, tiring task as we all very well know, but one that is rewarding in a way that no other vocation could offer.   In spite of that, the blessings do run deep.  Our children bring us such amazing joy.  It is a privilege and an honor to be entrusted with children, which are an amazing gift from the Lord.   I have found no greater joy than being a wife and mother.
About 20 years ago, I was once the mother of three children under 4 years old.  By this I mean a newly turned 4 year-old boy, a not quite 2 year-old boy, and a nursing newborn baby girl.  Up to that point, motherhood hadn’t been all that hard, but adding a third child really amped everything up for me.  I remember just trying to figure out a time to go to the grocery store when one of my three wouldn’t need to eat, sleep, or worse yet – need a restroom or diaper change!  If you have multiples, you are likely nodding your head in agreement.   It wasn’t easy to get out, or stay at home for that matter - and I was exhausted every day.   My husband used to drive up regularly from work at 5:30 pm and sometimes I would watch out the window for him because I was so anxious to have help!  If he had an evening meeting, I would often despair and wonder how I would make it until 7:30 bedtime!  

But spiritual things were happening within me.  I really realized then that my life was not my own.  That most of my time was given up for others now.  I was being greatly sanctified in those years.   I thank the Lord for the pressure which caused me to see my own sin and deal with it.  I learned a lot about myself and some of my own wrong thinking about what my life should be like.

It is hard to not let motherhood consume you, when you are mothering continually.  During those years, I don’t feel like I was the wife I should have been.  Sometimes, as your family grows, you inadvertently shift your focus more to the children and less to your husband.  Motherhood is plain tiring.  And I probably allowed myself too many activities outside the home which further zapped my energy for my husband.  You shouldn’t feel obligated to have a “ministry” or many outside activities that draw you out of your home at this time of your life.   Your children are enough of a ministry and consume much of your time.  Figure out ways to reserve some energy for your husband.   Do your best to keep life simple and be careful how you spend your time.  It’s okay to say no to good things.

It is easy to forget that the priority relationship in the family is the husband-wife relationship.  All other relationships are subject to this relationship.   You may think you are being a good mother by devoting so much of your time and energy to the children.   But, it is very important to realize that you are no better a mother than you are a wife.  If your marriage suffers, your children will suffer no matter how good your “parenting” is.

I am not here to say, “have that weekly date night” or some other formula I think will work to keep your relationship strong.  Yes, it is certainly beneficial to have time alone away from the children, but that may not be feasible or practical at times.  I’m speaking more of a mindset and a heart attitude that puts your husband as the priority above the children.  You are still his helpmate and he should be the primary object of your affection.   You can look for ways to demonstrate this even in the midst of busy motherhood.  
A few years ago, I gave a talk at our church about loving your husband.  Here are a few points from that talk that you might find encouragement in.   These points can encourage us all practically how to love our husbands and make them a priority.

  • We ought to have tender thoughts about our husbands.

  • We need to measure our thoughts against Phil 4:8.   “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

    We should think this way about our husbands.  

    What we allow to occupy our minds will determine our actions and speech.

    Think about what attracted your husband to you in the first place.  

    Think upon it.  

    Our thoughts affect how we feel.

  • We ought to have tender behavior toward our husbands.  

  • Prize your husband.

    No person should be more important than our husband, and no one should be the recipient of our most affection.

    Our lives should be oriented around our husbands.

    In the Genesis account of creation, we discover we were created to be our husband’s helper.

    Gen 2:18 it isn’t good that man should be alone.
    I will make a helper comparable to him.

    God gave Eve to help Adam.

    Here is our job description as wives.

    I am my husband’s helper.

    The man needs the help, the woman needs to help.

    Marriage was created to provide companionship in the work which God has called man.

    He is oriented to the task, and she is to be oriented toward HIM.  

    Once the children come we do not center our lives around them, but our husbands shall remain first in our hearts.  

    We must prize him highest.  

    Incidentally this is best for the children anyways.  

    It provides security, and a biblical model for their future marriages.  My own children (now adults) have expressed this to us.  Our marriage and love for each other made a greater impression on them than any “parenting” we did.

    We want to model to our children that Dad comes first in the home, and we want our children to follow that biblical example.  

    Eph 5:33.  The wife must respect her husband.  

    To respect means that she reverences, honors, prefers, praises, admires and loves him exceedingly!  

    Does your husband feel prized by you?  

    Does he feel valued by you above any other relationship in your life?
    Nothing should rival this relationship.

    1. We should cherish our husbands.

  • A lot of us answered that we would cherish our husbands in our wedding vows.

    To cherish means to hold dear, to nurture, to tenderly care for.  

    Cherishing involves showing daily expression of this.  

    There are many ways we can cherish our husbands:

    -Praying for them.  

    No one knows our husbands more intimately than we do – his weaknesses and strengths.  

    No one could be more effective in praying for him.  

    -Being a good listener.  

    Our husbands don’t bare their hearts and thoughts if we are not interested in them.  

    We need to be consistently encouraging him and showing gratitude to him for all he does to provide for us and his care for the family.

    Show him physical attention…  being close, sleeping close, sitting close…  showing tender warm expression of your love.

    Verbally communicate your appreciation and love.

    Just do all kinds of things for him that demonstrate your care.

    1.  We should enjoy your husbands.

    Do you love being with your husband?  

    Do you enjoy spending time with him?

    There should be nobody whose company we enjoy more and our husbands should know that.

    There is nobody we should enjoy helping and serving more than our husbands.  

    We are not to be merely dutiful.  

    But our duties should be fulfilled with absolutely joy and delight.

    Here is a question to ask ourselves.

    Are we dutiful or delighted?

    What is our attitude when we are asked to do something for our husband?

    What gets my attention first?  

    The things my husband wants me to do or my own to do list?

    Does he know that out of all the people I serve, that there is no one I enjoy serving more than him?

    We need to enjoy and take great delight in serving our husbands.

    1.  We should take an interest in what he enjoys.  

    You do not have to duplicate his enthusiasm or enjoyment.

    You need to merely take an interest.  

    Take an interest in what interests him.

    Even if it’s not your preference, take an interest and be willing to possibly participate in something he loves.

    Loving our husbands with a tender, compassionate love, enjoying him, delighting in him, this is what titus 2 requires of us as wives.

    Hopefully I have encouraged us to consider how to cultivate this type of love.

    But let us go a bit deeper than just loving our husbands just because God commands it.  

    There is a greater reason to do so, which is found at the very end of the passage in Titus 2.  

    “So that the Word of God may not be blasphemed.”

    In the notes of Titus in the MacArthur study bible it reads:
    “This is the purpose of Godly conduct – to eliminate any reproach on Scripture.  For a person to be convinced that God can save him from sin, one needs to see someone who lives a holy life.  When Christians claim to believe God’s word but do not obey it, the Word is dishonored.  Many have mocked God and His truth because of the sinful behavior of those who claim to be Christians.”

    And lastly, let us turn our focus to the one who has called us to live holy lives.  

    We all have utter incapacity to fulfill perfectly God’s commands.

    But God is the one who promises to equip us and empowers us to do every good work.  Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

    2 Cor.9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

    God is our strength and source.  His grace will abound to us so we can abound in loving our husbands with this tender affectionate love.

    So you can see that this all truly begins with a right relationship with God.   Nothing good will come from you.  It needs to come from the Word of God flowing in and out of you.  That means investing time to read and learn from God’s word.   I’m not talking about an hour-long study at 5:00 am in this phase of life.   I’m talking about an open bible on the kitchen table or reading a bit while nursing, a verse on a card on the bathroom mirror, an edifying conversation with a friend at the park while your children play, or whatever way you can get the Word of God in.  It means turning on music you can praise God to in the car or in the kitchen.  And most of all, it means making church a priority when you can.  I know that sick little ones do hinder Sunday mornings at times, but whenever you can, sit with your husband in church and worship!  Remain devoted to God, it is the path of blessing in your marriage and in your mothering.


    Kiley said...

    Karen i enjoyed reading your post this morning. I always go back to something my pastor's wife told me - Faith in the Lord is not hard. It should be easy.- Loving your husband should be the same way. Granted our sin loves to run us into the ground at times, but because of God's grace and forgiveness we get to dust ourselves off and return to loving the way we were meant to.
    Thank you for laying it out. I always appreciate women who can say with a truthful heart that its ok to slow down. That its ok to say no to good things. That its ok to not have your hour long devotional time in the morning.
    To draw close to God should be an all day thing. To think about him, to hold him close, to keep Him in our hearts through out the whole day. Thank you Karen for your role as a leading women and mom.

    brittany said...

    i needed this at this very moment. thank you SO much for sharing.

    MB@NewLifeSteward said...

    I appreciate hearing from someone else's mouth that it is okay to say no to goo things. I just had to say no to leading a Bible study this school year because my husband and I felt it would be too much of a commitment.

    Keeping first things first!
    Mary Beth @newlifesteward

    Katherine~ said...

    Karen~ I love what you have written here. I appreciate the reminder about priorities, and the fact that there is no magic formula for a strong marriage and successful parenting. No church involvement, dutiful morning Bible study, regular date night, parenting approach, ect. will guarantee success. The Christian life is about worship-- loving God and loving others. It's an attitude, a desire for God's glory, a passion to know Him and to be used by Him. Our husband and children will then be the recipients of Christ's love working through us.

    Thank you also for writing about stepping back from outside commitments during certain seasons of life. So many of us know that this is needful, but the pressure even from within the church can be great.

    Really, so much of what you wrote will be on my mind today, especially in regarding loving my husband! Thank you!

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