Owning Our Need…..and Seeing What a Gift It Is to Do So

I’m sitting on the bed, choking back the words in my throat.

You know, that time of choking on words because you’re hearts rather choking on you? That was me the other day.

I’d been telling my man what a hard time I was having with the kids, and he told me about the hard things I needed to hear, myself. Ouch.

It’s never fun owning your wrong when all you want is for someone else to own theirs. But I had just read in Proverbs 10:17 that “whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.”

The words had jumped at me. Because for so long I had had a beef about the kids not wanting to own their wrongs………and here I was, doing the same thing.

You always have to be right.” The words stung me because it was what I hated most in them. My inner slogan had rather become, “Just own it!”

I swallow hard, and I own it. I’m not hearing them like I need to, and I project my thoughts onto their own hearts, feeling that I know what their motives are. Many times, mothers are spot on when the growing babies are in denial, stubbornly refusing to admit their wrong—but here I was, determined not to get my toes stepped on, and taking it too far.

Just because someone does something 20% of the time doesn’t mean they do it 100% of the time. And when there’s conflict, another is rarely 100% at fault even if they do have a fault.

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Bitter words can be saving words. And I knew in that moment that I had to do what I want others to do. I had to own my failure. Because when we claim the grace of God, we must also embrace each word of God—whether it feels good, or not.

If Jesus owned the failure of the entire world, how can we not own the failure of our own, one, small person—especially when He’s already paid the price for what we’re about to admit to?

The photo of the cross and nail pierced into its wood sits before me. What on earth do I think I’m doing when I don’t want to own my sin? How can I want to hear words of grace but ignore words of rebuke?

Jesus heard words from His Father that were so difficult to hear that He walked the garden late at night with drops of sweat glistening on His forehead as He begged God or a way out.

Really get this, soul—the Son of God was about to be blamed for, be crucified for, be mocked and whipped for, lie in a dark tomb three days for, this very sin you almost can’t even admit. He was about to own the burden of, carry the weight of, hold the shame and guilt of this sin you want to pass onto the back of someone else for the sake of your own skin.

Perhaps our crooked places would become a bit more straight if we listened in on every word of God, not just the easy ones. Perhaps we would save more souls than lead others astray as it mentions in Proverbs 17.

If the earth, which holds the only tangible source of power we know will vanish in light of God’s power, how can we hold onto anything of this earth that has no power at all?

God’s words have resurrected the dead. They’ve brought creation to existence when there was nothing. And each word He speaks to you is purpose-filled for a grand culmination of good in your life and those lives affected by you.

I choked back the words I wanted to speak on that couch, and allow freedom to wash over my heart instead. Because of it, I hope to bring more freedom to those around me.

Because every single word of God is good. And repentance, as well as grace, is a gift.

In fact, I don’t think we get to have one without the other!

When Moms Want to be Lit up More Than Burnt Out

I stare at the wall hanging in one of my favorite stores, then carefully place it into my shopping cart.

It was perfect. The words, the font, the message. And I purchased it without guilt because somehow I knew our home “needed” it.

I had just finished cleaning the best gun shop in town, and enjoyed chatting with the bright eyed little boy who occupied one of the back rooms while his daddy put in a few hours of work.

He walked on my wet floor and chattered incessantly when all I wanted was quiet. But he taught me a lesson.

I had left my own little boy at home with his daddy while I did my weekly job away from the house. It was hard to leave. Somehow, I always feel I’m not good enough of a mama when I pull out of that driveway.

Feeling like I’m not enough is a constant challenge for many of us mothers. But here was a little tyke with eyes so bright and happy they nearly blazed with confidence, and he was, get this, occupying himself in the back room of a gun shop.

And here I was, feeling badly that my own little boy was running around a large house and property with his dad and three siblings. Perhaps the boy alone in the room was happier than my own boy in the house—because love isn’t felt with things as much as it’s felt with rest and freedom in the atmosphere—and it may or may not be happening in either place.

 

I wanted to meet his mother. I did get to observe his father, and there was this relaxed, all is well with our world type of demeanor. He had the bright face, too.

Mothers, our kids do better with our sometimes-absent bright face than they do with our constantly present, stressed out countenance.

I’m thinking knee-deep into this dilemma of wanting to fill every single gap I think I need to fill—and then find myself snappy and exhausted as a result. This summer, I’ve been taking a step back.

It’s hard. I’m wondering if my friends are offended because I haven’t had them over as much as I’d like to.

I’m wondering if my husband’s thinking I’m slacking on taking care of his needs.

I’m wondering if I’m enough, enough, enough—and I’m choosing to let go, anyway.

I fill that gigantic glass jug [the one I found at a yard sale for two dollars] with granola so the kids can eat breakfast before school, and I’m hidden away in my office with my Bible, laptop, and coffee. The next week, I purchase cups of instant cereal at the outlet store for a treat. My kids thought I’d finally joined the “fun mom” crowd until they read the ingredients—get this, the first ingredients were beans and lentils, and the fruity cereal was colored with paprika and beet juice.

I let go of two weekly commitments so I could add in two others for the benefit of our family.

I quit pinching every penny, and I purchase a few lovely things for our home along with teaching DVD’s to create a more restful school atmosphere.

Because the mind that never quits will soon have a brain that doesn’t know how to shut down. And when you’re pushed so hard for all things good you soon can’t be anything good.

I speak it to my husband, this thing of trying so hard to create a perfect life for my kids that I end up creating a stressful atmosphere. Because the body that never stops will soon have a brain that doesn’t want itself or anyone else to stop, either.

We were born to be, not born to perform.

Be kind.

Be loving.

Be full of smiles.

Be rested.

Be connected to the people who matter.

Somehow we’re conditioned to think that the busier we are, the more productive we are. Did you know we can spin crazily for a lifetime without producing the product of a moment?

Life is not so much about what we say or do or what model of parenting we choose as it is about what kind of presence we host. The peaceful presence of God determines what we say and do; therefore, taking time to know and commune with God is the most important gift we can give to our kids and spouses.

Cut your corners but don’t cut your time. If you’re willing to cut corners you will soon notice that you enjoy your extra time much more than you need the satisfaction of accomplishing everything.

And if you wonder if you’re a good enough wife, mother, or friend, remember that you are a human being more than you are a human doer.

I’m noticing an extra smile twinge the corners of my mouth these days. An extra moment to give. Extra energy to put out. I’d rather have extra energy to put out than have no energy because I’m constantly stressed out.

God is a Being, and you are made in His likeness. Because God is the Being He is, He does the things He does. He doesn’t do the things He does so He can be the Being He is. In the same way, you can’t afford to push too hard to do many things so you can be something.

You do the best thing because you already are something—and you don’t need to prove what already is.

When you allow His Being to enter your own, you will be love, peace, and kindness.

I pick up that wall hanging. I drink that coffee, alone. I have that quiet time. I create space just to be, simply to enjoy, breathe, and smile.

I’m done rushing about trying to do everything I think those around me need me to do—because I’ve seen that doing so much good takes me from being all things good.

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There is never too much to do—there is only an inward push to be too much because we think we’re not enough. Mothers get this—that push is a lie, and if you need to, drop that paring knife and go purchase onions that are already chopped.

In a burning world, we don’t need to be burnt out. We need to be lit right up, because we were made to be long before we were stressed with too much to do.

When Bitter Means Better

I’m standing outside a small meeting place in Seattle, chowing down food with a vengeance I hope no one sees.

For crying aloud, some of the friends I came with are fasting. But I’m this starving girl with a mouth so full I turn my head so no one notices. Those fasting days have been gone for awhile and life seems to demand a steady supply of food just to keep going strong.

A gentleman walks toward me, nods, and taps a finger to his brain. He knows. I need this food just to be able to think.

But there’s a booming voice inside and I tilt my head toward the open doorway as the African-American preacher shouts it out. “Bow in the name of Jesus Christ!”

I’m spellbound as he continues. His passion draws me in and engages my soul in all that matters most, as does the older lady with glasses on the mid-ridge of her nose, speaking of things that bring her to righteous anger.

I smile, then reach out and thank her for saying what I want to say. In a world of relativism where truth is perceived as judgment, seeing one dare to speak up for truths that are dying out is refreshing to say the least.

Friends, it’s still wrong to cheat on your spouse.

It’s still wrong to lie and steal.

It’s still wrong to beat your kids.

And get this—it’s still wrong to embrace a gay or transgender lifestyle.

Most of the people who say truth is relative and life should be gauged by one’s own happiness [if you want to live a gay life-style, do so], don’t truly believe what they say. When rubber meets the road and their spouse cheats on them [for the sake of his own happiness], they have no trouble labeling it wrong with the most severe judgment.

The problem rises when we choose to label certain things wrong because they affect us, but claim truth to be relative for other areas that don’t affect us.

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A sovereign God Who created the universe gets to choose what is best for the whole of His universe. The fact that humans are able to pronounce such great displeasure and judgment on things that rock their world, but declare others judgmental for hanging onto truth in a rocking world, is but proof of their mortality.

We are humanly capable of defending our own hearts but mortally incapable of living for the heart of God—unless we are indwelled by the Spirit of God.

Spiritual warfare doesn’t just happen. We must speak it out, seek it out, proclaim it out.

We must fight for it, deny for it, reach for it.

We must dare push through the wall of apathy in our culture, and engage the deepest things of God in a world which allows things of the surface to rule.

You don’t have to be burnt up in a burning world; you must be lit up in a dark world. And you must know that, as light overtakes darkness, so every single truth of God will overtake the apathy and relativism of man.

I bite into a flax seed, and its bitter flavor pierces my mouth. Where did that come from? Sweet granola with bitter seeds?

They’re bitter, but entirely nutritious—and the whole of the granola is crunchy sweetness, chock full of nutrition for a day out.

When truth seems bitter, know that it is God’s invitation to wholeness, a life made sweet with His presence. You cannot claim the Presence of God without giving yourself wholly to the heart of God.

Some of the bites you take may have bitter flavor. Take them anyway, and your life will be blessed with the entirety of God’s gift of life, just as my granola was crunchy and sweet even though it was filled with bitter flax seed.

If I had left them out, that bag of granola would have missed one of the most nutritious ingredients. Leave out the truths with a bitter sting to them, and you begin to merge away from the entire picture of wholeness God wants to grace your life with.

As the booming preacher shouted it out, “Bow in the name of Jesus Christ,” so may your life walk it out, “Truth is found in the heart of God.”

How to Be Something for Your Husband Without Having to Be Everything

I scrubbed up the mud marks from the bathroom drawer, the one I had freshly painted the other day. How kids can take merging beauty and turn it upside down in one day baffles me, still.
Painting white over ugly brown wood is one of the most rewarding things—and though it’s hard work to renovate the old, it’s one of the most refreshing, fun things to do.
Just the other day, I had stood by while two men loaded up an old, free hutch into my dusty mini van. It barely fit, but there I was, eyeing some old piece ready to be coated with chalk paint before it would grace the first office I had ever had. I was nearly giddy with excitement over having a lovely piece for all those books I had been storing away for some years because the shelves were always full–and some books, well, they don’t go on the family book shelf!
My man walked by as I painted away. “Thank you for making our home a lovely place to be,” he commented.
We had just bought our first home, and I had a few moments to swipe the brush after a full day of gardening. The extra rooms turning into each of our offices was a bonus I hadn’t expected—and many nights I’d lay in bed scrolling Pinterest for inexpensive ideas on how to turn ugly into lovely.
But the son needed T-shirts today, and new shoes. “Part of the reason I have been growing my hair out is because I feel like it matches the clothes I have, Mama. I don’t have any T-shirts.”
I hit the road with this son of mine, the one who has an adult head on young shoulders, and loves hanging out with older, wise kids. His shoulders are getting broad, hunky. And he tells me of his deepest heart while we drive.
I treasure it more than I treasure most things. I’m in awe that he trusts me. And we drive from one place to another in search of the clothes he needs until he’s well equipped.
He walks by as I’m painting, later. “Mama, how do you like my shoes?”
I look at him, and his satisfied eyes let me know his heart is cared for once again. I don’t really care that his shoes aren’t my style, because happy hearts are more than a style—they are a miracle, a blessing not to be taken for granted.
He runs off for his weekly swim with friends. And I don’t regret a minute of the time or money I spent on this child, because that’s how he hears love. Spend time with him, and his heart settles peacefully. Care for his needs, and he’s confident as he goes out. Hear his deepest thoughts without criticism, and he keeps nothing back.
I keep swiping paint. Old cabinets are detailed, and it takes a few hours just to put on the first coat. I’m weary when I’m through, just when my man asks if I’m opposed to him going to the gym.
I shake my head. I’m envisioning a quiet night with the little boys while everyone else is out. Clean up, shower, chocolate……and then, he asks if I’d like to go with him and read while I watch the little boys swim.
I hesitate. “Any good wife would join her husband,” my mind reasons.
“I want a shower, chocolate, and Pinterest,” my hormone-wracked body argues.
“I think I’ll stay,” I say. “I’m not feeling well, and I’d love a quiet night.” He nods his head. He gets it. The days have been maxed for him, too, and I’ve found him alone in mind-repose on quite a few occasions lately.
This thing of not needing to be everything for everyone has taken me years to learn. And as I showered the day’s dirt away, I realized it again.
When I’m not trying to be everything for him, I get to be something for him.
I got to love on him last night in one of the best ways he really gets love.
We got to hold each other numerous times today.
I got to interrupt my project to care for a business call he needed me to make.
I got to put food aside for him when he returned, hungry and sweaty, from the gym.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s this little fear-thought the enemy of peace wants to thrust into my head when I decline an outing with him, even if it’s only to the gym. “What if some other pretty girl with a perfectly toned body does arm curls beside him when you’re not there?”
And I feel the pressure of it all, this need to be everything at once no matter how tired I am. I decline anyway—because I’m learning slowly that driving myself hard for too many good things will drive me away from the one good thing.
 
Because a good thing, at the wrong time, becomes the wrong thing. 
I’m learning that the pressure to be everything will keep me from the blessing of being
something he needs most of all.
I stay home. I clean up, shower, and spoon that chocolate ganache into my body which has been demanding hormonal balance all day long. As I shower, words begin flowing into my head and I can’t wait to finish and type them out.
 I wonder, would they have come had I been bone weary at the gym, trying to be something for someone when I could have been simply me, loving from my small corner as best I could?
Sometimes, love is as simple as gladly interrupting your favorite project to make a call for your man.
Sometimes, love means you smile and offer him food when he comes home.
Love means you take your son to town when you’d rather be home—that you spend the money on clothes for him when you really want throw pillows for your new home, instead.
I’m painting away, and this son walks up again. “Mama, look.”
He’s dripping blood, and I swipe away, this time with wet paper towel. I know taking him into the house is my version of love for that moment. Placing a bandage on his forehead becomes a privilege, an honor, a special moment because he’s here, and he holds my heart, and I hold his.
Love requires you to give until you’re full, not dish out until you’re bare.
Get this, mothers and wives—you don’t need to be everything, because you already are something so vital to your loved ones’ existence, and you’re irreplaceable.
When you calm down, breathe deeply, and love hard in all those small moments, you give your man something so precious that it can’t be replaced by some girl at the gym doing her big moment of weight lifting.
Do your own thing, and do it well.
You don’t need to compete with Hollywood—just care for your body, maintain your weight, and do well with what God’s given you.
You don’t need to prove anything—just be entirely full of Proven Love.
You don’t need to be the best cook—just work to please your man with his favorites every once in awhile, just because.
You don’t need to be an entrepreneur—just find out what your gifts are, and utilize them well.
You don’t need to save every penny—just make the most of your man’s budget—and pick up those free pieces of furniture beside the road.
You don’t need to do it all in one day—you just need to embrace the process of each day.
My hutch is partially painted, and I didn’t join my man at the gym. I’m so human I can’t do it all, and I’m so finite my energy is dependent on rest and sleep.
Why is it that women tend to live as though they should have no human needs at all? Why the guilt over saying no to those we love?
Because we fail to see that in saying no, we get to say yes. In saying no to more activities, we get to say yes to extra room for love to grow in our hearts.
I enjoyed the process today. I slowed down, and relaxed. Each bite of chocolate was a gift, and when the crew walked in, I got to smile and welcome them home.
Because perfect love never meant perfect performance.
I get to paint the hutch partially. I get to accomplish what I want for others, partially. I get to know it’s OK, because my humanness was never meant to compete with God’s perfection.
Embrace the journey, and know that, when you don’t perform perfectly, you get to know and show Perfect Love—and that is all that will ever last. Refuse fear of failure, and make way for peace in the process.
Give your all to small moments, for they make up a large life of love.

How to Foster Honor in a Younger Generation

The younger girl spoke vehemently, and I watched the older lady wilt.
I watched her wilt because she knew what I saw—that tones of such a nature are rarely becoming when directed toward a person three times your senior.
It was awkward. But more than that, sad. How honor loses it’s seat in our society baffles me. And as she spoke, I knew there was truth her mother needed to hear, but was unable to hear because it was spoken with such heat and disrespect.
Years of the same old had brought the ugly side forth. Like a dam waiting to burst, the girl’s heart had finally had enough, and she was letting her mother know. But in letting her mother know, there was an even more vital thing she didn’t know.
When we speak the ugly reality, we must speak it in an honorable manner.
 

 

 
There is little left in our culture to properly define and exemplify true honor. In other cultures, we read of children standing when a parent enters the room; here, parents are sassed about and disrespected while kids slouch in front of the TV, remote in hand, guiding their way through another movie which most likely feeds even more disrespect.
When our girls grew older, they began loving high school romance movies. Their father and I put a stop to them because these shows fostered selfish, vain, immature attitudes, rich-kid lifestyles, and pre-mature making out. Many of the main characters showed anything but honor to those around them.
It wasn’t easy to say no to the girls. We wanted them to have fun. But rather than spending hours in front of the TV watching shows that lead them away from God more than toward Him, we tried to foster hard work, intense play and recreation, and more reading rather than more of those shows.
Fill your child’s life with the good and they will have little time for the bad.
What are we feeding our kids? And why?
It’s not uncommon to walk into a home and have a child ignore your presence completely because his eyes are glued to his video game. If you say hello, you get a quick, reluctant response as if you’re not worth the time and effort to greet.
In our culture it is not unusual to see men wilt while wives emasculate them and strip them of their dignity—in public, at that. We forget that to a man, honor speaks love—just as to a woman, time, tenderness, and affection speaks love.
We attribute a man’s need for honor to an egotistic desire for recognition and status, while forgetting that they were created a certain way for a reason—and it’s not sexist to affirm that need and put forth effort to meet it.
In many other cultures, the elderly are cared for, respected, and seated at the table with their families; in our culture, they are often passed over, neglected as grown kids run their own families, and despised as “old fashioned” when they try to speak wisdom into a younger generation.

 

 

 

When a president in the most powerful country of the world is elected, people drive cars with demeaning bumper stickers and run protests until people get hurt. This happens regardless of which party is elected—because people have forgotten that in the same breath as we’re asked to honor God, we are asked to “honor all men, and to “honor the king”. [1 Peter 2:17]
In our culture, we’ve forgotten the dignity of honoring a person for his office or calling more than for his perfection. We’ve lost our fear of God, and of those whom He’s placed in powerful positions. We forget that despite our greatest efforts, God still has the final say of who enters the oval office in the White House.
When David was on the run, trying to escape a wicked king who was hunting him down out of sheer jealousy, he had opportunity to kill the king himself. Rather, he cut a corner off Saul’s robe as he slept—and later berated himself for doing so. He warned his men severely not to kill God’s anointed.
His honor moved Saul to repentance, and he returned from his jealousy driven man-hunt in shame. [1 Samuel 24]
David was able to show honor because he first possessed it. Only when honor is known vertically [with God] can we show it horizontally [to others].
The young girl in the first paragraph was obviously frustrated with her relationship with her mother. I spoke with her, for the trial had lasted for many years.
“You must continue to be honest with your mother, but you must change your tone. There’s a way to own your feelings in an honorable manner.”
Ladies, we can twist our faces into an angry knot—or we can express our feelings in a loving manner.
We can speak vehemently and forcefully to the aged—or we can allow powerful truth spoken in love to work its own force.
We can shake our head in disgust at our men—or we can get into their heads and learn more about them, including how they are hard wired to need honor because that’s what God created them to need.
When we speak to our men, we need to treat them with the same courtesy we treat our girlfriends. Every relationship only lasts with certain dynamics in place, including your marriage. Never expect your man to put up with tones and attitudes you wouldn’t expect your friend to put up with.
If a friendship cannot thrive with certain things, neither can your marriage. Accept that fact, and cease to blame your man for being so sexist.
We can ignore the aging parents, or we can sit them at our dinner table and glean from their years of experience before walking the same journey. We can absorb the fact that we wouldn’t even exist had they not given their own time and energy for our well-being and care.
“Your mother needs to hear the truth,” I urged the young lady. “But she will hear the hard things spoken in a soft way much better than she will wade through a rebellious attitude. Allow raw truth spoken in love to work its own power.”
 

 

 

 
We mistake pretense for honor, but nothing could be further from the truth. When we learn to speak honorably, we have an open door to speak even more clearly. Honor never implies shutting down or putting up with wrong or hurtful things.
Being an honorable person simply means that you show respect as you disagree with another. Others will listen more carefully to you—not less—when you begin to know and possess your own honor.
Honoring others is not only for their benefit, but also for yours. When you see the value God places on you, you will be loathe to represent yourself in a manner others find distasteful and even disgusting. No one, not even your girlfriends, appreciate seeing a woman put down or dishonor her man, her friends, or her kids.
Own your worth and dignity by speaking honestly, but honorably!

How Your Man Loves You

She waltzed into the room with a delighted grin on her little face, and handed him the blanket.
Our son had just turned six years old. The youngest of four, he had asked for a small party, so when the few gifts were opened, he turned to me and asked, “Where are my other gifts?”
“You only wanted a few people here, son, so all your gifts have been opened,” I explained. Embarrassed, I continued, “What else were you hoping for?”
“A blankie,”he replied.
And so it occurred to little miss blond-head that she had her very own blanket in the car and could gift it to her friend. She ran back inside, arms loaded with an ancient, stained blanket and a broken truck, handing it to David with the air of I just solved all your problems.
David stared. “This blanket is dirty!” he declared loudly. “And this truck is broken.”
“That’s why I gave it to you!” Mari announced loudly.
The adults sat in helpless gales of laughter while I harbored secret embarrassment and distress. Was I the parent of the last child, or what? My son defied everything I had tried to teach him, that parties are not all about gifts, and that gratefulness trumps the accumulation of material things.
There’s nothing like being a parent to humble your entire spirit many times over. And late that night, David was still muttering under his breath over how rude his little friend Mari was to give him broken gifts.
He never once understood or appreciated her simplistic desire to satisfy his wishes for a blanket, and her willingness to give him her own. All he could see was the broken truck, and his disappointment over it.
Now, may we ask ourselves, how many times do our men try to love on us while we turn a dissatisfied face the other way and continue in discontentment?

 

Rather than expect to be loved in a certain way, we need to receive the love they are already showing. Some wives may struggle for years with the lack of heart to heart sharing in their marriages, while others notice the extravagant love glowing from these quiet men’s eyes whenever they look at their wives, and long for the same.
They may not know how to communicate as well as some people, but ladies, they adore their women
If your man adores you, if he tries his best to love on you, by all means allow yourself to notice and appreciate it. Not every woman has a man who cares for her. We may gripe about our lack in certain areas while entirely missing out on the fervent love being extended our way.
Men often give love in ways women have difficulty receiving. Perhaps your man doesn’t talk much or take you on dates or remember each event. But does he love you, truly? If the answer is yes, you can learn to so appreciate his love, that the lack of what you desire takes lesser precedence in your heart than the love you feel.
You may be wistful for certain areas of expressed love, but you can learn to be grateful and blessed in other areas of love shown your way. Of course, don’t hesitate to let him know how to love you better—good men want to know—but never allow ungratefulness to render you bitter and unlovable.
A faithful, committed man is the best gift God could give you. Receive him in love, give him regard and favor for his love to you, regardless of how it’s shown. Appreciate him, and show it lavishly.
Thank him by your own warmth and love given back into his heart. Never, ever pull away from a man who loves you because you have unfulfilled desires. Rather, receive his love fully and allow the knowledge of it to fill your heart. From that platform, express your other needs to him in love.
Don’t be like David, who focused on the broken truck more than the gift of a life long, personal blanket!