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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Losing Everything

Several years ago on a radio show, a mother called in complaining about her 17-year-old son sitting on the couch all day playing video games. The man hosting the show responded with a very uncommon response. He said that she was the parent and that she should take the couch away. He also said to take the video game away. But basically he was telling this mom that she was allowing her son's bad behavior and habits.  Isn't that is good advice?

We read in Luke 15 the story of the prodigal son.  Have you ever noticed in that chapter that the prodigal didn't come to his senses until he had LOST everything he had? He had to go way down to the bottom to be able to look up and see what he was missing.  Sometimes we GIVE our children...or maybe even give ourselves...way too much and then they/we become slaves to it.

Remember that YOU are the parent. Sometimes we as adults have to "lose everything" in order to come to our senses, as well. Sometimes we're no different than that prodigal.

As parents, our children are entitled to love, patience and a host of other godly qualities; however they are not entitled to things that we become slaves to such as cell phones, video games and yes, even cars. Take it away.  A great lesson for us parents, and actually, for all of us!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Nagging Reminders

(Note: I wrote this article last week for Come Fill Your Cup, an online magazine and also their Facebook page. I wanted to share it with all of you, as well.) 


When we got married, 28 years ago today (June 18), I was only 19.  My husband was 25.  We moved to southwest Kansas, which to someone who had never been away from my parents more than a week and who had lived a very sheltered life, was like moving to a foreign country (no offense to you all from SW Kansas!).  Seriously. It was so strange to me!

That first year and a half of marriage gave new meaning to the scripture, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”, Matthew 19:5. 

The concept of “leaving” in this scripture is very, very important.  We had both left our fathers and mothers, and that’s very important in the marriage covenant. If the wife or husband doesn’t “leave” their mothers and fathers, there will be trouble in the marriage.  If the parents are interfering in the marriage, there will be trouble.  It was probably good for us to be four hours away from “home”, though we both missed it terribly.  Young married couples don’t have to live four hours away to “leave”, but there certainly needs to be some space and distance between them to really “leave”, don’t you agree?

We quickly got acquainted with our new spiritual family, the church, and enjoyed our time with them.  Still, it was just the two of us as a physical family.  We were definitely “joined together” in our new life together. 

The KJV of Matthew 19:5 uses the word cleave instead of joined. The Greek word for “cleave” in the Matthew passage means “gluing together forming a bond of the firmest kind”.  A carpenter joins two pieces of wood together with carpenter’s glue and clamps.  Sometimes the pieces are cut into a pattern on the edges, then matched with the other piece in a puzzle sort of fashion, then glued. The idea is that two pieces of wood bound together are even stronger than one by itself.  Our marriages should be glued together by our Father’s Carpenter glue.  We must be committed, but it must also be the total commitment of two hearts.  It won’t work unless both hearts are committed and both are totally committed.

We were committed.  And we still are, 28 years later.

Our marriage hasn’t been perfect.  It isn’t perfect because my husband and I aren’t perfect.  We both mess up. We both say things we shouldn’t say.  We both do things we shouldn’t do.  But we are both committed to the marriage commitment we made to each other, and most importantly, to God.

Marriage is tough, but sometimes, as adults, we make it tougher than it should be. Many times, just like with children’s fusses and fights, it’s our own selfishness and pride that gets in the way.  Those problems result in arguments that are really just childish and silly.  

One thing we laugh about now is about something that started a few years after we had been married.  My husband would say I was nagging.  I really didn’t understand the nagging part, so really tried to figure it out.  I read the scriptures about nagging.  I looked up the definition of nagging because I honestly didn’t understand what I was doing wrong.  The definition was “reminding someone of something that they already know”.  This confused me even more!  

I remember talking to my husband about the “nagging” and asking him the question, “How do I know you already know it if you haven’t done it?”  I wasn’t being sarcastic or rude or meaning to be disrespectful at all.  I truly didn’t know.  I’m not sure he knew, either.  I wanted to understand so I could change if I needed to.

Now fast forward to a few years ago.  I had asked about something and my husband made the statement, “Lori, I will never remember that if you don’t write it down.”.  It was then that I realized what I never could have known early on in marriage.  It was all in what was perceived. 

My husband perceived my words early on in marriage as nagging because it looked as if I was assuming he had forgotten.  And a few years ago I was assuming he would remember, but he knew he would probably forget.  What changed? What had happened in those years in between where now he needed/wanted a reminder, but then he didn’t?  About 25 years of marriage had happened! 

You see, in 25 years a lot can change.  We change.  We mellow.  We become less proud and more patient.  We learn each others’ strengths and weaknesses.  Our attitudes change, our bodies change, our minds change.  Hopefully and prayerfully we have spiritually changed for the better, growing in the fruits of the Spirit.  In marriage we change because learn to depend on each other and help each other more and more.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24

If there’s one thing I want the younger generations to know, it’s that men and women are different.  Obviously they know that physically, but nowadays it seems as if some want men to be more like women emotionally.  They want them to be able to feel as they feel and to know what they are thinking and want them to cater to their every whim.  And you know what?  It just can’t happen!  Men and women were created differently (not just physically) by God for a reason.  They are wired differently than we are, so they aren’t going to see things or feel things in the same way we do.

So, when I would remind my husband of things and it was perceived by him to be nagging, it was good for me to study it and strive to not do those things that made him feel less competent.  And now that we’re older and he needs a reminder, I need to do that for him, as well….and be respectful about it.

We went to a marriage seminar a few winters ago.  Trish Clarke spoke during the women’s session and said something that made a big impression on me.  She said, “If it is in your power, as a wife, to please your husband, why would you not do that?”.  Wow!  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

If something is within my power, as a wife, that will please my husband, why wouldn’t I do it?  If I say something that I know will displeases him, why would I say it?

We will accidentally say things and do things in marriage that will displease one another.  That’s just the way it is.  The problem comes when we deliberately do things that will displease one another.  That’s just wrong.

Being committed in marriage means looking out for the best interests of each other.  It means striving to please one another.  It means keeping God at the center of our marriage.

There are many ways we can undermine the role of our husbands and distort the biblical model of marriage, but there are also many ways that we can uphold His standard. Sisters, let’s all make sure that we are doing our part to help other women know and understand their part in the marriage covenant as a Christian wife.  Let’s make sure that we are being the teachers and examples that God has asked us to be for the younger women, and let’s make sure that we are living out the holy lives which God has called us to live.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"I'm Sorry"...A Huge Milestone

Recently one of my children had to be punished for something.  (For those who know me, it's easy to figure out that two are "punishable" age and two are not! Ha ha!)  The "crime" made me more sad than mad because of what this child had done. It may have been something they thought would just be fun and okay, but in reality, the child should have known better....and did know better.

I explained how I felt about what this child had done.  My husband set the punishment, which resulted in something being taken away for several days.  I really wanted this child to say two simple words (or three without it being a contraction :) ).  I wanted them to say, "I'm sorry."  But I've never made our children say I'm sorry.  I wanted them to say it without being forced, but with honesty and sincerity.  One of my children say it soon as they've done something.  Another one is quick with apologies, as well.  But the other two?  Well.....I'll just say it doesn't come easy for them to admit they are wrong in that area.  Of course, children aren't the only ones who have trouble with that phrase. Many adults can't say it, either.

So, I'll admit I was a little bit disappointed that "I'm sorry" didn't come.  But then it did come!  A few hours later this child came to me and said they were sorry!!!  I was so excited and told them that was the best thing they could have done.  The child knew it and said, "It's the hardest thing."  A HUGE MILESTONE.

Saying sorry comes easier for some than others, but it's important for us to say, "I'm sorry".  It clears the air. It makes things okay again.  Of course, saying, "I'm sorry" only works if the person apologizing actually changes.  It will not work if "I'm sorry" is sad over and over and over just trying to cover the "offense".  Saying I'm sorry is only sincere if there is a true desire and effort to change.  It is not repeating the same offense over and over again.

This makes me think of repentance and our relationship with God.  Sin seperates us from God.  Repentance brings us back to Him.  We can't continue in sin as Christians and expect His grace to just cover everything without doing our part.  Walking in the light means striving to live a life of holiness.   When we mess up, we must confess that sin and ask Him for repentance.  He will forgive us, but He wants us to acknowledge our mistakes.  And we will forget.  There will be times we won't realize we have sinned or we won't remember every wrong.  His grace is sufficient.  Praise Him for that!

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Romans 6:1-2

Saying, "I'm sorry".  It is a huge milestone.  Have you attained it?  Can you say it?  Who needs to hear it from you?

...yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Monday, June 6, 2016

Happy 18th Birthday, Jacob!

For the first time in many, many, many years, we celebrated Jacob's birthday on his actual birthdate!  I remember doing so on his 3rd birthday, which may have been the only other time.  Each year whenever we would plan his party, there were ballgames and other activities in the way, plus many of his young friends couldn't be there in the summer.  We eventually moved his parties to mid-May and continued them that way for a long time.
He really is 18, but he, himself, put the candles in and made it 81!  Ha ha! Here he is posed with his girlfriend :).  
My mom made the cakes - two strawberry ones at Jacob's request.  Yum!
Since we are remodeling our kitchen, we actually had the island cleaned off and were able to put wood across to make it usable!  
Serving and eating in the new part showed us how it will really be very soon!
Grilled hamburgers, chips, dip, and baked beans were on the menu.
Jacob has begun riding his bicycle a lot, so one of his aunts gave him a bicycle horn. He'll have fun with that and the silly string she gave him! 
He also got a much-needed clean, fresh, non-stinky golf hat. His girlfriend gave him that. I think she's sending him a BIG HINT! Ha ha!


I say it every year, but I mean it. I really can't believe how fast you have grown up!  It's been a joy to raise you!  You have a spirit within you that brings fun and laughter to our lives.  Thank you for that!

When you were younger, you learned that things affect you in different ways.  I'll always admire the way you can see those needs within yourself and how you work on them and allow God to work them out in you.  In 3rd grade, when you realized sugar bothered you, you stopped it.  Not many children would be able to recognize it, but not many at all would actually do anything about it even if they did notice it.

You also learned to have self-control, but more importantly to have God-control.  When you struggle with any emotions now, you know what you should do.  We have great memories from those years, huh?  And though you'll fail at times as we all will, I know that you will rely on God to grow your life in those fruits of His Spirit.  

I'm thankful that God allowed me the opportunity to be your Mom.  From the young years of you sleeping right by me, to the older years when you and I sang and danced around the kitchen to "I Wanna Be Like You", to our self-control/God-control talks, to our fun times together on mini-trips and your Junior-year-WDW-vacation, we've made lots of great memories together.

You used to say you were going to live right by us and you would say you were going to live with us until you were 35.  I think you have probably changed your mind about that :).  I know you'll not be here with me forever.  I would like to do it all over again.  But that's not possible, either.

So, Jacob.....I want this last year - your Senior year - to go by slow.  I want to enjoy it all with you.  You'll want it to rush by and it will....I know it will.

I love you very much, Jacob!  I can't wait to see what God has in store for your life in the future.  You have grown into a mature young man with many great qualities. I know that He will use you to further His Kingdom.  I pray that you always allow Him to direct your steps.  (Proverbs 3:5-6).  When you do that, you'll be just fine.

I love you to the moon and back!


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