helping my family yearn for the true bread that gives life.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

-Titus 2

Titus 2:3-5 is commonly used to describe how women ought to live and why: “so the word of God is not reviled.” Verses 11-14 expand on the why.

I often feel the works I preform throughout my day are meaningless…diapers, dinner, discipline, picking up the same toys every hour….Scripture tells me to preform my duties as a wife and mother with ZEAL! I am called to live out my days doing these things in love for my family and for my Lord, with my hope rooted in the appearing of Jesus and His glory. This means joyfully pardoning my husband (and holding my tongue) when he leaves his clothes scattered around, remembering how the Lord has greatly pardoned me. It means digging deep into the well of God’s patience during those nighttime feedings. It looks like having a conversation with my husband or playing with Jackson even though the dishes are still dirty, because my rest and peace comes from God, not from how controlled my surroundings are.

As I live this way to make the gospel beautiful and delight in Christ, my family will notice. Hopefully they will be drawn to adore and yearn for Christ! Thus, I get to join in God’s mission of creating a people for His own possession! Lord willing, I am ushering in the kingdom in my tiny apartment! What a high calling! I love how Gloria Furman puts in: “Feast your soul on the bread of life and do whatever you need to do in order to help people yearn for the true bread that gives life!” (Give them Grace).

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thoughts from a friend on submission in the midst of conflict:

I am thankful for the fellowship of my friend Abbie, who recently moved to Louisville. Not only is there something comforting about having years of history with someone, but the ability to be raw and honest without fear of judgement or misunderstanding. What a breath of fresh air this women has been!

Since she is also married, it has been nice to challenge one another in our pursuits of Christ and our husbands. She brought up an interesting question the other day: In conflict, can a women submit to her husband without the indwelling holy spirit and the help of Jesus?

In the world, women respond to conflict or failed expectations in a multitude of ways: Some endlessly serve and put on a smile with a desperate and longed-for hope of change. Others hold in frustration until they simply “can’t take it anymore” and blow up, throwing a dish or a bowl of salad on the ground (sound familiar?). Others threaten, leave the house, continuously nag, or even take control of the situation independently (“I don’t need him…”). Obviously the godly way, and probably the most effective way, to communicate an issue with our husbands would be to wait until our emotions have settled and approach the conversation in a calm, respectful, forgiving, and loving manner. But can all women in the world respond in this way? And even as a Christian women is it really possible to respond in this way? And are you sure throwing a bowl of salad on the ground or being a nag wouldn’t be more effective?

Through that conversation with Abbie, the Lord has been teaching me that we cannot crucify our fleshly responses or desires unless we are first made new in Christ and relying on Him alone. Even though many women in the world die to themselves to serve their idol of marriage or husband, they are still living, in a sense, to themselves and their idealistic, “if only” hopes. Therefore true submission in the hard moments of marriage, the kind that takes extending love and patience instead of bitterness and anger, requires us to lay down our lives and die, only to raise to new life in Christ. In Christ, we don’t have to draw from the well of bitterness, disunity, or pride. Instead, we can draw strength from the Holy Spirit who is ready to change us. Instead of overwhelming our husbands with sorrow and heaping guilt when they sin against us, we can ask Jesus to help us reaffirm our love to them (2 Cor. 2:7-11)! Forgiveness is the greatest picture of the gospel that we could ever show our husbands. When we go to Jesus and forgive them first in our hearts and then express our hurt or conflict, we are not only submitting to them in love, but we are allowing the true agent of change, the gospel, to work in their hearts. This is where lasting change will occur in our marriages.

But lasting change in us begins when we listen to Jesus’ sweet words to “come” and to “die.”

living out a gospel-transformed submission.

I know I am only a year and 3 months into scratching the surface of marital submission, but I feel like everyday brings an opportunity to grow in this area. If you’re unfamiliar or unsure of what it means for a wife to submit to her husband, basically it means that as a husband follows Jesus and submits to His Word, we ought to respect and trust our husbands. This is a COMMAND in scripture  for EVERY wife. (Ephesians 5:22-33) When a man is submitting to Christ, he will love his wife, stimulate a flourishing in her beauty, character, and holiness, and lay down his life for her. What women wouldn’t want to submit to a man like this!? This would not even be a battle. And sometimes a relationship between husband and wife looks like this.

And sometimes it doesn’t. I can’t speak into what it looks like for a man to patiently lead and love his wife when she is difficult and unwilling because I am not a man. I praise God for His grace toward Kevin when he responds in patience toward me, but sometimes I don’t know how he does it! I admit that I can be difficult, nagging, and disrespectful! And Kevin would admit that sometimes he is not being a man worthy of being of being submitted to. Sometimes he is not submitting to Christ and being lazy. I bet most husbands and wives can relate to these seasons in marriage. Sometimes, your spouse will not be the godly man or women you thought you were marrying.

So, women, what do we do in these times? When our husbands are not so easy to respect or submit to? In a pre-marital session on Relating from Soma Community Church, I was struck when the speaker’s wife said,

“I have already determined in my life that I am going to submit to Jesus. That’s all I need to do. And I can submit to my husband because I submit to Jesus. Not because my husband is worthy, but because Jesus is worthy.”

That has stuck with me for two years so far, and I am so thankful! I have heard so many women say things like, “Will he ever change?” “Am I the only one turning from sin and pursuing Christ?” “When will he stop spending his time this way?” “I am tired of his negative outlook,” or something similar–You are not alone! And if you have ever told yourself, “that’s it! I am tired of being a “good, godly” (eh hem…and prideful?) wife! I am tired of forgiving him! I am going to ___________ (fill in the blank with whatever would disrespect him or hurt him) to get back” You are not alone!

Every woman has been in this place, and Peter knows it can be so common that he writes about it! 1 Peter 3 starts off by commanding, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2)” This is hard to persevere in, but only if you fail to read into the word “likewise;” the way Jesus went before you in 1 Peter 2:18-35.

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly…For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…”

Jesus is not just our example for submitting to sinful man, we were the sinful man! He bore our sins patiently and laid His life down for us! He did not condemn us or retaliate, but extended love to us, making us right with God! And because Jesus lived and died in such a way, we are humbly empowered to also live the same way in relation to others–especially when we are being sinned against! This is what it looks like to live out the gospel in our marriages! We GET to show a beautiful picture to the world what the gospel looks like!

 

So let us be encouraged women. Firstly, we are not enslaved to our sinful desires to “get back” to get our point across to our husbands. Jesus freed us from that and to something better! And God will use us, as we persevere in holiness and humility and follow Him, to work in our husbands.

And secondly, God never promised us that it will be easy to submit to our husbands. God never promised that our husbands will always lead us or our children the way we hope they will. He never promised that our husbands will change in this or change in that…What God does promise us is more and more of Himself forever as we seek him. God promises that Jesus will be enough for us when we are afraid or burdened. God promises that the Holy Spirit will change us and empower us to love and honor our husbands.

We can submit to and respect our husbands simply by submitting to and loving Jesus, who is worthy! We can trust that he will be faithful and sovereign over us, our husbands, and our marriages–and will glorify Himself in the process! Amen!

One Year with Kevin!

I can’t believe yesterday marked one year of marriage with Kevin! What a great blessing to my life. We have grown so much this year. Moving to Louisville was hard! We left a small church where we were known, to a big city and a big church where we felt lost in the crowd. We left college life and a social life, to the grown up world of bills and budgets and trying to make friends. It was hard and at times we felt like each other’s only friend and biggest enemy at the same time. But God has been so good to us! We have grown more out of our own, selfish worlds, and more united as one team and best friends. I have loved getting to know Kevin better and figuring out how to maneuver through life together. Even though we (mostly I) have resented and distrusted God’s plan for us here many times, He has shown such grace to us in giving us friendships, a sense of family, and ways to use our gifts in Louisville. We have received so much more in this year than God ever ought owe us. I am so thankful.

I love you Kevin! Happy anniversary!

How I am preparing to be a wife…One year later.

I have a lot of friends who are single, dating, or engaged. I too am not too far removed from these life stages. One thing in common with all unmarried women is the however-prevalent-idea of “preparing” to be a wife. Some think about it daily, pray about it often, and seek mentorship from a married woman. Others dread the thought of wifedom, but begrudgingly listen to a few biblical womanhood sermons a year and agree with the doctrine of complimentarianism. Most fall in the middle.

Regardless, I am learning one year later, how to prepare for this calling. Let me tell you–what I am learning, is not a new recipe or hospitality tip, but it’s so much harder, yet so much more familiar than I would have imagined. I wish someone would have told me this a year ago.


Most single (and when I say single, I mean unmarried) women I know “just want to be married.” I was in the same boat about a year ago. Once I got that great godly guy I had been looking for, all I wanted was to be engaged. I would say, “Once I get engaged then it will be so much easier, right!? We have a commitment, we can share deeper parts of our hearts, etc.” Then I got engaged. “If only we were married, it would be so great! Making out won’t bring rebuke from my triad, we won’t have to say good-night and drive our separate ways, we won’t fight as much…” Then I got married. And it was the hardest stage of them all.

No one really understands me, but when they tell me they “can’t wait to be married,” I laugh and say, “so you are really excited to die to yourself, your preferences, and your pride, huh?!” (Sorry, I guess that not response you wanted?) Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Kevin. I ONLY want to be married to him. I DO NOT wish to go back to dating and waiting and boundaries, but what I thought I was preparing for as a single women, DID NOT prepare me for what I would face as a married women. What I faced was an ugly, immature, crazy ME! Like, just yesterday, I threw a whole bowl of salad because I was mad! (No, this does not happen everyday…but still…its pretty crazy) All of my baby spinach greens, fresh strawberries, apple slices, and almonds lay on the floor as I cried on my bed. I could blame it on Kevin making me mad or my pregnancy hormones making me loopy, but I know it was just my sin. Now, that doesn’t quite resemble the portrait of a Titus 2 women, does it?

The truth is, the same girl who couldn’t stop making out during engagement, is the same women who threw the salad bowl. My circumstances have changed, but my sinful heart has not. At its core, I still struggle with self-control, patience, and steadfastness. It just looks different.

The truth about marriage, is that you are living with another sinner. So now the temptation for you to sin is twice as strong. Not only do you have to fight against your own idols and sinful urges, but now the sins of your spouse fall on you too! On our best day, we can be totally selfless, helpful, and encouraging, yet at the first sight of our husband’s sin we throw up our arms, feel like a fool for being such a “servant” and walk away sulking. God forbid I would persevere in my calling as wife if he won’t follow through with his!? Right? (sounds crazy, but this is how I feel and who I am)

The truth about Jesus is that he claims, “the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:3, Psalm 69) Jesus took every sin Kevin or I would commit or every command we would fail to live up to, and let them fall on Him. He bore with us, the weak, to bring us to God. His judgement and pain was totally unfair, but He continued to serve and love us with humility on the cross, and will continue to do so right on into the kingdom. CRAZY! Now read this…

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Now, may the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:1-7)

This passage teaches us to not only remember Christ’s work, but that NOW, we have been given the freedom, endurance, and hope to press forward in modeling after Christ. So whether you are the one weak and struggling with sin, or the one bearing the weight of your spouses sin, nothing is too great for us to press on in love though because Christ has taken our ultimate shame. Only after we are humbled by Jesus’ own love for us, can we model that love for our husbands.

So how do we prepare for this? Paul tells us in passages like Romans 12: 9-21, Colossians 3, or 2 Peter 1. Just live out the basic marks of a Christian! Virtues like: self-control, patience, outdoing one another in love, humility, not repaying evil for evil, purity, contentment instead of coveting…ALL OF THESE ARE THE ROOTS OF MY MARITAL CONFLICT AND ISSUES, yet I struggled with these core commends as a single women! How I wish I had been more focused on growing in these virtues and dying to my sin, than I was with planning my wedding or trying to bake bread from scratch.

So I can’t go back to my engagement obviously, but through Christ’s forgiveness and grace, I can start over today. I can begin to prepare again to be a wife, but more than that, just be a Christian. Whether married or unmarried, whether they victim or the crazy one, sin is sin and turning from it to love someone else looks the same. We can look to Jesus, or substitute and our example. So the next time a single woman asks me how prepare for marriage, I will say, “how are you doing following the basic commands laid out to believers in the scriptures?” Start there. I will too.

harmony?

It’s funny how quickly the “honeymoon” phase of dating and engagement ends after the honeymoon. Whether the weeks leading up the a wedding are smooth and giddy, or exposing and weighty, something triggers after you get back from your whirlwind vacation of love. Somewhere in-between finding places for the boxes of clothes you’ve never seen eachother wear and running endless errands to banks, supermarkets, and Bed Bath & Beyond’s return line, sin and satan make those initial commandments you pledged in your vows, really really difficult to obey.

Ephesians 5 says, “Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (v. 22).” To men Paul commands, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…and love your wives as your own bodies (v. 25 &28).”

I’ve been thinking about the duties that scripture presents a lot. Both are commands of love, but have respective differences for each man and woman. In the scripture above, woman are called to submit, or be reverent towards their husbands. Other verses use the word “love” from the greek word, “philo,” referring to warm affection and respect (Titus 2, Eph 5:33). On the other hand, husbands are called to love, “agape,” their wives with a self-sacrificing service.

In Douglas Wilson’s book, Reforming Marriage, he points out that there is a harmony between what God requires and what we both need to give and to receive. Here is what he says, and you can tell me if you agree or disagree…

First, “the commands are given to our repective weakness in the perfomance of our duties.” Wilson claims that woman are fully capable of loving a man and sacrificing for him all day, while still complaining about him and believing he is a jerk. A man may try to love his wife by not giving trouble to her and “checking out.” So the pitfall for many marriages are for woman to slave for their husbands and households, but hold a posture of grumbling and disrespect toward them, and for men to turn to  apathy- both substitute the “love” God commands in scripture for the love that their sinful nature finds easy to give. But God calls us to be sanctified in our love, and thus, targets our weaknesses. Already I’ve seen this play out in myself. I can go all day cleaning, organizing the apartment, sweating in laundromats, and washing dishes, but is my posture toward Kevin respect and affection? No, lately its been annoyance and bickering…even if he isn’t doing anything to deserve an annoyed wife.

Second, “the commands have been given in regard to our respective needs.” The ways he commands man and woman to love one another serve the ways the other needs to be loved. For example, if wives are called to respect their husbands, that means men need respect. Likewise, woman need to be loved and feel secure. Wilson says “we are often like a man who gave his wife a shotgun for Christmas because he wanted one.” We default to give the love we want to receive from another. Instead, Wilson challenges wives are to focus on the abilities and achievements of her husband and communicate (verbally and non-verbally) that she respects and honors him. Men are to provide for, nourish, cherish, and secure his love and faithfulness for his wife. Obviously this doesn’t mean wives should stop taking care of the laundry or cooking if that is the role that she typically plays in a home, but may she never confuse the respect her husband needs for a clean bathroom.

So in my sinful struggle (already) to be affectionate and respectful toward Kevin in the monotony of the day-to-day, may we remember that we are called to love, not necessarily because the other has earned it, but because God has required it. Anyway, God requires our spouses to render to us far more than any of us deserve. Amen.

being a wife is all about Jesus.

“Likewise, wives,  be subject to your own husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1)

Any woman who has turned to the Bible for an understanding of what it is to be a biblical wife has encountered this verse.  Like an old familiar friend, we strive to know its meaning and go about applying modern-day relevance to this command.

It Starts with, “Likewise”
All too often, we skim over the most important piece.  We jump straight to the slightly heavy-feeling task of defining wife, submission, and the subsequent implications for our lives. We do not stop to consider the likewise.
Likewise changes everything. It means similarly; in like manner. 1 Peter 2 discusses Jesus’ mission, life, and death — so that becoming wife is even possible. Who he is and what he has done paves the way for women to be wives. Often, we look to the Proverbs 31 woman alone for our template of female godliness. We are tempted to think, “She was the wife who did it all. Let’s copy her”.

It’s All About Him, Not Her
Jesus alone is our means, our model, and our motivation for biblical wife. And yes, I do realize he wasn’t a woman.  Peter is telling us ladies that as Jesus subjected himself to obedience and suffering, we must likewise place our hope and purpose into the hands of the Father to be wives at all. He exchanged our sin for his righteousness so we could offer something of his love and selflessness in our marriages.

Mine before Mrs.
We belong to Jesus. God calls us to be his daughters as the core identity of our womanhood. For some, he will call to become wife in addition, but never in competition, to that identity. Being a godly wife flows from being a committed daughter.

4 R’s for the Biblical Wife
Reason: Worship
Genesis 1:27 tells us we are, male and female, created in the image of God. Our sole reason for living is to reflect the image of our Father in worship of Him alone. John 4:23 lays out the call, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” As women and as wives, we are to pour out our lives in worship to the King.

Role: Helper
The role woman was given by God in Genesis 2:18 is helper. It is the Hebrew word ezer which God also uses for himself in Psalms, John, and Hebrews. Helper is not a second-class position. It is a high calling accepted with humility and confidence. We are not vying with our men to “arrive” someday as something other than what we were called to be — a support, advisor, comfort, and friend to our husbands.

Response: Submission
Submission is the heart response of a godly woman who has put herself under Christ and her husband. It is an act of the will carried out joyfully and willingly because she recognizes the gift of grace she has received. Submission is the single-most precious place of safety and freedom that a woman could ever know. Deep belief and complete trust in Jesus to sustain a wife makes submission to even the most difficult man possible.

Responsibility: Respect
Ephesians 5:33 urges wives to see to it that we respect our husbands. It is a command and not a suggestion. It is our responsibility to communicate respect in our words, tone of voice, attitudes, and actions. True respect for our husbands will spring out of a hear that rejoices in the grace we as wives have received and the grace that we know our husbands need. They desire your respect; they need Jesus. The most respectful posture you can take as a wife is one of grace — the same grace offered to you in your time of need.

In Christ Alone
We try to muster up submisson, respect, and help for our men without humbly recognizing this thing called wife is made possible by Jesus alone. A marriage license and a sparkling ring do not automatically transform a woman into a wife who honors God. The grace offered and the righteousness bestowed at the cross is what makes you a godly wife who willingly subjects herself to her husband. Dying to yourself because the Savior died for you is the call for the biblical wife. Your marriage will thrive because of life found in Christ; recognizing your daily need for a Savior and dependant upon his righteousness alone.

find this article here.

Disregarding the 20. Focusing in on the 80.

“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.” (Phil. 4:8)

I never understood this verse. I thought it to be really flowery and I usually skipped over it. But recently, I began to understand its meaning! And oh how it has been transforming my thought patterns! In relationships (I see it springing up a lot with my fiancée), I hold expectations on people. When they fail to live up to some of those expectations, I am let down. The thoughts that run though my mind are usually not loving and affectionate, but rather critical and harsh- narrowing in on the other’s faults and weaknesses. Entertaining this pattern, will only lead to a cold, distant, and sometimes bitter, heart toward that person.

Elizabeth Elliot teaches that we let people live up to about 80 percent of our expectations. The other 20 percent we desperately want to change. We can either persistently and bitterly chip away at that 20 percent for the rest of our relationship with that person (without reducing it very much) OR we can simply enjoy the 80 percent and both will live happily.

Paul enlightens the truth that we are all sinners in desperate need of change, and instructs us to rather think about these things– whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise.  In doing so, we are choosing to delight in the radical nature of the other’s gospel change and evidences of grace annnd give glory to the Father! Not only will we feel affection toward that person when we might otherwise feel disappointment or frustration, but we will grow in our own sanctification, and feel the satisfaction of God being most glorified. Amen.

Father we humbly ask- change our thinking.