Tag Archive | marriage

Judith’s Story: A Woman of Strength and Honor

Image created with Pho.to.Lab app

Image created with Pho.to Lab app

Quite to my surprise, I was asked to give a testimony of a virtuous woman. First, I would like to say how very unqualified I feel to be called upon to undertake such a venture.  I am convinced that a true virtuous woman would never stand to sing her own praises.  A true virtuous woman knows well the struggles of this life as she attempts to walk in righteousness, and because she knows how often she falls so desperately short, she could never claim such a title for herself.  No, this would be something that I would be unable to do.

Then, can you imagine my surprise when my husband leaned over in a church service where the focus was on this type of woman and said:  You are exactly that kind of woman.  I, then, understood something more of this virtuous woman. Indeed, she didn’t make that claim for herself.  Proverbs 31:28 says that her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

So it matters not what I may say about myself.  The real question is what does my husband say?  And, what do my grown children say?  I suppose the realization of the qualities that this woman possesses comes more in looking back in reflection over time, rather than at one specific moment in time.  It is the consistency, the steadfastness, and the faithfulness that has been repeatedly seen through the years more than what someone sees just today, that causes one to stand and praise his wife or mother as a virtuous woman.  So, where does it all begin – being a virtuous woman?

The beginning place is always with God.  And this, too, was the beginning place with me.  I had to realize Who He is – the Almighty God, Creator of all things, holy and righteous beyond our understanding, but so loving and merciful that He would come to this earth, be born into the body of a human being, willingly suffer and die, taking the sins of humanity – including mine – in His own body to save fallen man and reconcile them to Holy God.  What a God!

With this personal understanding of God, an additional thing took place in my life.  Perhaps it can best be explained by a verse found in 2 Corinthians 8:5.  There we find a phrase that says that they first gave their own selves to The Lord and to us by the will of God.  My life had been given to The Lord.  I no longer belonged to myself; I now belonged to the living God.  My life was no longer my own; it now belonged to The Lord Jesus Christ.  But the verse continues to say that they gave themselves to us by the will of God.  And that is where the focus of my life changed.  My life was the Lord’s and was to be spent for others.  The others that surrounded my life, first and foremost, were my family.  The Lord, by His grace, began to show me, step by step, and day by day,ways that I could serve them – ways that I could encourage them – ways that I could comfort them.

But in the day to day experiences of life, I found that I would tire as I served The Lord by serving others.  However, because I had given my life to The Lord, I now found that my strength came from Him – a strength far surpassing anything that I had known.  Scripture says that the virtuous woman is a strong woman.  She girds her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.  And strength and honor are her clothing.  It was to The Lord that I would continually turn to find this ever-present help and strength from day to day.  I knew that The Lord was my strength, and I could make no claim of possessing it myself.

The Lord also gave me great contentment in being a wife and mother, laboring in unseen ways. He taught me that a virtuous woman does not seek recognition of her own.  She seeks to honor her husband and delights in him being known in the gates. I knew, in my heart, that was what my life was to be about – exalting my husband – serving him and my children.  How did I maintain this attitude?  Once again, it is The Lord.  He has taught me that His ways are right and good; I must deny myself, and I must not strive for my own ways.  He faithfully reminds me that my life is not about myself.  It is about Him – it is about His righteousness – it is about His holiness – it is about His glory.  I would slowly get a glimpse of this truth – that I must, above all else, reverence Him and His Word.  I must seek to do those things which were pleasing to Him.

Living just one day at a time, serving The Lord and serving those around me turned into weeks, months, and years of serving The Lord.  Then, amazingly, those years turned into a lifetime of serving Him.  Please don’t think for a moment that these things were easy.  How many times I struggled with myself.  How many times I failed miserably in that which The Lord had called me to do.  It seems, however, as The Lord forgives all of those failures, He also erases them from the minds of our husbands and children.  We may remember them regretfully, but are humbled and amazed as we hear our children rise up and call us blessed and our husbands praise us.

And lest you think I could never become a virtuous woman I would like to encourage you.  It comes little by little, day by day, so often in the simple ways.  It occurs when you do your husband good day after day.  It occurs when you take time to listen to your children.  It occurs when you care for them day after day, when no one stops to thank you.  It occurs when you cook, clean, and do laundry for your family, repeating the same tasks time and again. It occurs when you continue working at these things when you would rather quit and take a nap.  It occurs when you reach out to help others that you see in need. It occurs when you speak truth to those around you because you truly care.  It occurs when you look well into the ways of your household, refusing to neglect your calling.  And it occurs when you do these things day after day, year after year, because these things please your Lord.

Who can find a virtuous woman? Give your life first to The Lord, and then to those around you.  You may find, in time to come, that this virtuous woman is you!

Strength and honor are her clothing

And she shall rejoice in time to come.

Proverbs 31:25

Katherine’s Story: An Unfaithful Husband

Oh, it would never happen to me!  When I get married, my husband would never be unfaithful to me.  How sure I was!  And quite boldly I would proclaim that I would never leave my husband except for two things – physical abuse or unfaithfulness.  I would declare, quite frankly, that should either of these things happen, I would be “out the door,” never to return.  But the reality of life often hits hard, and when it hits, a marriage can be shattered.  You sit in that shattered heap of rubble and wonder, “How did I ever end up here?”

My husband and I had been married for several years, and was thought by most, including myself, to be happily married.  My husband’s career was quite successful.  We had beautiful and healthy children.  We had a very nice home, and from all appearances, all was well.  But all was not well.  My husband often stayed late at work.  He went out after work with friends.  A few drinks to relax after a hard week’s work –  what could be the harm?  But that lifestyle and many “few drinks” led to the bed of adultery and to much harm.

I was unaware of how deeply our marriage was in trouble.  I knew that there was a distance between us, but I didn’t know what it was.  I knew that he was gone often, but I tried to be understanding.  I wanted things to be different, but I didn’t know where to begin.  But God knew just where to begin.

The place that He began was not with my husband, but was with me.  He began to teach me, through His Word, how to be a wife to my husband.  He began to teach me how to be a help to my husband.  He began to teach me how to stand in support of my husband.  And after several months into becoming this new wife that the Lord was creating, the Lord did an unexpected thing.  Through a series of circumstances, the Lord removed my husband from his job, causing our financial state to immediately change.  As difficult as this seemed at the time, how graciously the Lord removed my husband from the very surroundings that were pulling him astray.  We were now in each other’s company almost constantly, and the truths that the Lord had taught me about being a wife were truly becoming a part of our marriage.  Though finances were difficult, our marriage seemed stronger than ever.

And then came that fateful day – my husband said that he wanted to talk to me about something.  I knew from the tone of his voice that it must be serious, and as I settled into my place on the sofa, I heard that still, small voice of my Lord say, “Just listen.”  I knew to be quiet and just listen.  My husband began to tell his story –  his story of unfaithfulness to me and to our marriage.  He said he would understand if I wanted to leave, and concluded with, “I truly am sorry.”  Still not having uttered a word, words began to come from the depth of my heart –  words that definitely were not my own words.  My words would have screamed.  My words would have accused.  My words would have lashed out to make him hurt as much as I was hurting.  But instead of hurtful words, I heard myself saying, “The Lord has forgiven me much.  I know that I must forgive you.”  The conversation was ended.  He again reiterated that he was sorry, and he went to work at a small job that he had begun.

The right words had been spoken, and again all seemed well.  But all was not well.  As my husband left our home to go to his job, I was left alone to face the darkest hour that I had ever known.  In the midst of hurt and despair that words cannot describe, I walked into our bedroom, closed the door, and wept, and wept, and wept before the Lord.

As strange as this may sound, there was a voice, though not audible, speaking to me.  The voice was very clearly telling me that my husband had a gun, and that I knew where he kept it, and that I knew that it was loaded, and that it would be so easy to end this whole thing.  As this voice cleverly attempted to pull my thoughts toward death, I so very clearly heard another calm, but authoritative, voice say, “No, she is mine.”  My Lord had spoken.

At that point, I was able to pick myself up from the floor.  I went to get my Bible, sat in the middle of my bed, and said, “Lord, speak to me.  I need to hear from you.”  The Lord God, by His Holy Spirit, walked me verse by verse through forgiveness.  He showed me, in the Scriptures, the truth of the words that I had spoken before but had not understood.  He showed me that truly He had forgiven me much and that I was to forgive my husband in this same way.  He took me, passage by passage, through the epistles where Christians are commanded to forgive.  Step by step, these are the truths (NKJV) through which He had me walk:

I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love … (Ephesians 4:1-2).

… and be renewed in the spirit of your mind … (Ephesians 4:23).

… put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness … (Ephesians 4:24).

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification,  that it may impart grace to the hearers … (Ephesians 4:29).

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you,  with all malice … (Ephesians 4:31).

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you … (Ephesians 4:32).

And again:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above ... (Colossians 3:1).

Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth ...”   (Colossians 3:2).

… put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him ... (Colossians 3:10).

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering … (Colossians 3:12).

… Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against one another; even as Christ forgave you, so must you do ... (Colossians 3:13).

Yes, my Lord had spoken.  I must forgive my husband, just as my Lord had forgiven me.  Then, my Lord brought me to yet another passage:

… so that on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow ... (2 Corinthians 2:7).

Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him … (2 Corinthians 2:8).

… that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things …  (2 Corinthians 2:9).

… I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices … (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).

I had no doubt – I had asked to hear from my Lord, and I had heard.  I knew that not only was I to forgive my husband, but I was also to comfort him and to reaffirm my love to him.  This was truly a test.  Would I be obedient in all things?  By a work of God’s grace that I cannot explain, the Lord enabled me to walk in His truth.  Exactly how I was to reaffirm my love to my husband I was not sure, but I was committed to do what my Lord had spoken.  I had regained my composure, had settled my heart, and was prepared to obey my Lord.

The telephone rang.  The person on the other end of the line said that my husband’s grandfather, who had been a special part of my husband’s life, was dying, and if my husband wanted to see him, he needed to come right away.  My husband’s grandfather lived out of town, and of course, no one knew all that had transpired in our home that morning.  I, however, knew exactly what the Lord wanted me to do.  I knew that our finances would not allow my husband to make the trip.  We simply had no money.  But God always knows exactly what He is doing.  A Christian friend had sent me some money, some while back.  She said she knew that I wouldn’t want to keep it, but begged me to keep it because she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord had told her to send it.  Because she was so sure, I tucked the money and envelope away, with a prayer.  If the Lord had actually sent the money, I would wait until He showed me its purpose.  I called my husband, delivered the message about his grandfather, and prepared myself for him to come home.  I knew that I was to tell him that I was committed to the Lord, committed to him, and committed to our marriage.  I was also to give him the money from the Lord and offer to go with him to visit his grandfather.  That was the beginning of the working out of the forgiveness that the Lord had worked within.  My husband did see his grandfather before he died, and at the same time, a new season of our life was born.

Although the Lord had done a wonderful work, the reality of life is still real.  Each step of the way, I had to lean hard upon the Lord, listening keenly for His voice.  Nauseating pictures of my husband with another woman would arise in my mind.  I would have to refuse to think upon those things and replace those thoughts with the truth.  My Lord had forgiven that horrible sin, and I must not and would not allow my mind to dwell there.  Time after time, I would have to refuse to allow myself to think on the sin, and force myself to think only upon the Lord’s grace and forgiveness.  Slowly, through days, weeks, and months, the thoughts came less and less.   I had to work through the feelings of rejection, the feelings of insecurity, the impressions of myself as undesirable, and the question of “What was wrong with me?” I also had to work through the times that my husband would turn to me for intimacy when everything within me would want to push him away.  But as always, my blessed Lord would speak truth to my heart, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”  And with a desire to obey my Lord, I would willingly submit.

Do any of those thoughts ever return to my mind?  On very rare occasions they do, but as before, I must steadfastly refuse them.  They are not thoughts from my Lord.  It is the enemy speaking; he is called the accuser, and he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy.  I simply respond with, “It is forgiven.”

There is no way to describe how fully and completely the Lord does a work.  Many years have passed since those hurtful days.  The Lord has truly healed and blessed our marriage.  My husband and I sincerely love one another, and both of us fully enjoy married life.  What the Lord has created is a stronger marriage than we ever possessed before.  How is this possible?  The only answer that I can give is that if you belong to the Lord, He loves you with an  everlasting love.  He will care for you in every situation and circumstance.  The greatest challenge that you will face is to trust Him, to hear Him, and to humbly obey Him.  Don’t refuse the only One who can truly help you!  He truly is the only hope that we have!

I’ve grown so much since those naive days when I thought that this would never happen to me.  None of us know what life holds for us.  And as to the bold assertion that I would never stay with a husband who was unfaithful to me, stay I did.  “Why?” – you may ask.  “You had every right to leave.”  The only answer that I have is that my God is a God of forgiveness, and He tenderly spoke truth to my heart.  These words I will never forget, “Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  Glory to His name!

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,  according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus  throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Woman – Precious in the Sight of God © 2002.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

What Is a Meek and Quiet Spirit?

image … whose adorning … let it be the hidden man of the heart

even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,

which is in the sight of God of great price.

1 Peter 3:3-4

 

We hear much of the Christian woman having a meek and quiet spirit.  Many loudly object.  Others rigidly attempt to conform.  But what is a meek and quiet spirit?  Do we really understand the meaning of that phrase?  Or – have we taken someone else’s meaning, or – have we even invented a meaning of our own?

Let’s look at those words in the Scripture to understand, first of all, what a meek and quiet spirit is, and then, how that kind of a heart will affect the whole of our lives.

Meekness is not a word that just describes what a woman is to be.  The word, in actuality, describes what every Christian should be.

  • Moses was described as a very meek man, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3).
  • Jesus said of Himself:  I am meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29).
  • In His teachings, Jesus Himself declared: Blessed are the meek:  for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
  • The wise man who is endued with knowledge is described as a man whose behavior demonstrates the meekness of wisdom (James 3:13).

We can readily see, then, that meekness is a quality that should be possessed by all Christians.

What, then, does this word meekness include?  Meekness is referred to in 1 Peter 3:4 as being in the hidden man of the heart.  It is an inward quality – something hidden – hidden deep within the Christian heart.

The heart of meekness knows of a certainty that God’s dealings with us are good.  The Scripture declares:  If God be for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?  Therefore, meekness does not resist, meekness does not fret, meekness does not worry, and meekness does not dispute.  It is a heart that is settled upon both the goodness and the power of God, upon both the love and the might of God.  It simply trusts God to do as He wills, according to His good pleasure.  This quality of meekness should be evident in all of God’s people.

Quietness will, of a necessity, accompany meekness.  Because meekness dwells in the hidden man of the heart, quietness will result in that life.

Does this mean that the meek person will never speak?  Although meekness will certainly affect the way that one speaks and the extent to which one speaks, the primary meaning of this word does not deal so much with speaking as with the demeanor of one’s life.  With a heart that is settled and resting in God’s goodness and His control of every situation, a calm assurance will be exhibited in any and all situations.  To grasp an understanding of the word quietness, we will again return to the Scriptures.  (Note: The word that is underlined in each reference is the same word translated as quietness.)

  • We are instructed to pray for leaders and those in authority so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:2).
  • We are commanded and exhorted by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work and eat their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:12).
  • Again, we are exhorted to study to be quiet (1 Thessalonians 4:11).  This verse has the meaning of:  Make it your aim to exhibit this calm, undisturbed demeanor.
  • Listen to the same word used in Acts 21:14:  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”  One can hear the heart resting in God’s will.
  • Again, listen to this same word used, though translated in a different way: And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment (Luke 23:56).

The word quietness seems to carry with it a meaning of:  undisturbed, peaceful, calm rest.  Think back to the word meekness.  Can you see how easily these two words go together?

As we join the meaning of these two words, we find a meek and quiet spirit to be that inward heart attitude that is assured of God’s love and control and rests peacefully in Him, no matter the circumstances.

As we look back to 1 Peter 3:1-6, we find the context of this passage to be for the woman who has a husband that does not obey the Word.  What is to be her heart attitude?  Should we see a fretting heart, a resisting heart, or a complaining spirit?  According to the truth of the Word of God, no.

On the contrary, we should see a woman who, by her pure and chaste behavior, adorns the doctrine of Christ so that her Lord may be seen in her life.  From that meekness and quietness that is within, comes a calm outward demeanor, fully trusting in her God.

Did you notice that 1 Peter 3 began with the word likewise?  That word is saying that just like what has been previously described, she should exhibit the same attitude.

Look back into 1 Peter 2:18-20.  Wouldn’t a servant with a harsh master also have to possess a meek and quiet spirit to respond in a godly manner?

Then read on – in verses 21-24, we see the wonderful example of that meek and quiet spirit demonstrated by Christ Himself as He entrusted Himself to Him who judges righteously.

And for our final thought – Do not think that meekness and quietness will only be exhibited in the husband and wife relationship.  In all circumstances of life, and in every situation that arises, the Christian woman should find her heart resting in the goodness and the power of God.

From this meek heart will flow an undisturbed peace and calm that will be exhibited in her life.

Truly a meek and quiet spirit is an adornment that is precious in the sight of God!

It is evidence of simple faith, trusting in the Faithful One.

The above post was first printed in Dawning Light © 2002.

Rachel’s Story: A Difficult Husband

How in the world can I live with this man?  He is so overbearing, so contrary, and downright impossible.  Those were the thoughts that continually ran through my mind.  My husband was never physically abusive, but he was so sarcastic, so  negative, and so critical that I was emotionally spent.  I had arrived at the place where I was constantly stressed.  I cringed when I heard his car drive up in the driveway.  I did love him, but I certainly did not like him most of the time.  I settled into a place of knowing and expecting his disapproval of most things that I did or said.  In every situation that arose, it was “his way or no way.”  Although we had been married for several years, I was ready to give up and get out.  It was then that The Lord intervened.

The Lord began to show me that too often Christians expect things to be easy.  The Lord never says that life will be easy.  Many times, in fact, we are placed in difficult situations so that He can, not only grow us, but also shine through us, all for His glory.  Such was what I came to understand.

Through the years of our marriage, I had learned to lean on The Lord often.  I had learned to forgive often, yet I still struggled.  I would often cry out to The Lord to show me how to cope.

One thing that I had learned in my life was to turn to the Bible to find answers.  And that is exactly what I did.  I began to study marriage, as God addressed it in His Word.  Over and over, I kept coming to the same truth – Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.  But over and over, I responded the same way – Lord, You just don’t know how difficult he is.  This is just not possible for me.

Time and again, I would read the same truth – Wives, be subject to your own husbands.  And time and again I would tell The Lord why this would not work for us.  I had convinced myself that I was the exception to the rule.  It just wouldn’t work in my marriage because no one knew how he was.

I am sure that I had read these scriptures before, but one day I came to 1 Peter 3 in a whole new way.  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.  I sat in absolute amazement!  The truth was the same, but for the first time, I saw us right in the middle of that verse – that if any obey not the word.  Right there! That described my husband perfectly.  I always battled back and forth in my mind as to whether my husband was an unsaved man or an unspiritual man, but either way he definitely did not obey the word.  That was us, a perfect description of us.

But the astounding truth was that the wife was commanded to submit just as any other wife.  The truth captivated me!  I went back to that verse day after day, and it seemed that little by little The Lord opened the scripture to me.  Just because I had a difficult husband gave me no excuse.  I heard over and over – Even if he is difficult, submit anyway!

Then, on one of my return trips to that verse the word likewise caught my attention.  Likewise, I thought: Like what?  Like the scriptures that preceded this one.  So I backed up to the previous verses.  Here is what I found:

We are commanded to submit to governmental authorities – even if they are difficult ones.  (1 Peter 2:13-17)

We are commanded to submit to our masters (bosses) – even if they are difficult. (1 Peter 2:18-20)

Then, we are given the ultimate example – Jesus Himself, when He was mistreated.  And what a perfect and precious example (1 Peter 2:21-23).

He did not sin in return when He was sinned against.

No evil was found in His words.

When He was spoken to in a harsh way, He did not speak harshly in return.

When He suffered, He did not threaten in return.

But this is the thing that He did do: He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.

Words cannot describe what that word LIKEWISE came to mean to me!  I was supposed to respond just as my Lord had responded.

Humbled, I fell to my knees crying out for The Lord to help me be submissive to my difficult husband.

But The Lord wasn’t finished teaching me yet.  Without a word …. Without a word … Without a word!  I was to submit to him.  No arguing. No complaining.  No whining.  Even when, and especially when, he was difficult, I was to submit, with a good attitude, but without a word!  It was to be my behavior, just as it was Jesus’ behavior that spoke!  How much I had to learn.  The Lord wanted to use me as an example to my husband, right in the midst of the difficulty.  Oh, how I would need the grace of God to walk here.

But this is exactly where I did walk, by God’s amazing grace.  I did not walk here perfectly, but it did become the pattern of my life.  Attempting, from the heart, to walk in obedience, with a meek and quiet spirit, I was enabled to arrange my life under my husband, even in the difficult times.  I walked right here for many years! And years later, an incredible thing happened.  God saved my husband!  I praise God for His intervention into our marriage.

There is one further thing that I would like to share.  Some while later my husband was asked to give a devotion to some young men.  He prepared his devotion privately, and I never knew what he said.  But one day, years later as I was cleaning and sorting some files, there I found a notepad with his notes from that devotion.  And there it was!  I had never shared 1 Peter 3 with him, but there it was!  He had begun his devotion with 1 Peter 3, and gave his testimony of how The Lord had worked through my behavior.

I held that notepad tightly to my chest, and cried and cried and cried!  In a mighty way, I had learned that God is so real, and He is faithful to His Word!

May I encourage you … No matter how difficult the situation, don’t leave God out of the picture.  Don’t refuse or argue with the only thing that can help you.  Don’t rationalize truth away.  I had made every one of those mistakes!

Go to His Word.  Hear Him! Cling tightly to what He says, especially in the difficulties! And trust Him with the results!  He is faithful!

I had wondered how in the world I could live with this man.  Now, I knew how!  It had taken me years to learn, but now I knew!  Even today, all I can say is: Thank You, Lord!

Peanuts on the Porch

imageIt was a Friday evening.  My husband had gotten home before me.  I could hear him bumping around out on the back porch.  Curious about what he was doing, I stepped to the door, and I could see him arranging things outside. Now, even more curious, I went out to where he was.  I had to smile.  Do you know what he was doing?

My husband was out on the porch preparing for a “porch date”!  I stood there admiring him for a few moments, thinking back on a multitude of memories – memories that wouldn’t really mean much to anyone else, but ones that meant so much to me.

I reflected on how our “porch dates” began. What has become a tradition for us began in the earlier years of our marriage when, quite frankly, we had no money to go on a real date. Although both of us had college degrees, my husband had chosen to start a small construction and remodeling business, and together, we had made the decision that I would homeschool our son.  These two decisions meant that both of us would leave well-paying jobs for the unknown!  By faith, we did exactly that!

The benefits for our family is a story of its own, but it was during this time, when we had so little money, that we learned how to plan simple (and cheap) family time and date time.  “Porch dates” were an unexpected outgrowth of these lessons learned.

“Porch dates” were simple.  We would set aside time, just for us, to sit on the back porch, have a simple snack, and just talk with one another.  That’s it! That’s all!  Just uninterrupted time for one another. (We didn’t even answer the phone if it rang!)  The best thing about the porch dates was how much each of us looked forward to that uninterrupted time!

But that day, as I watched him prepare the porch, pulling up the chairs and ottomans,  it became even more special.  He had taken the time to prepare one of my favorite snacks – boiled peanuts! For those of you who may never have heard of boiled peanuts, they are prepared by boiling newly harvested peanuts while they are still “green”.  This manner of serving peanuts, rather than roasting or parching, is a very “Southern” thing!

You may wonder why boiled peanuts are so special to me. I gained a love for boiled peanuts as a child.  I was raised in southeast Louisiana, and my grandparents farmed there.  When they harvested the peanuts, they would boil them, and we thought they were delicious!  My grandmother would also bag and freeze them for later.  I loved to go to my grandmother’s, mostly because she had time for us.  And a part of those memorable times included the boiled peanuts!  Interestingly enough, on some of our recent camping trips when we were able to take our grandchildren along, what do you suppose we brought?  You guessed it – boiled peanuts!  I only hope that I can create as many loving memories for my grandchildren as my grandmother did for me.

Why do I share these seemingly insignificant memories with you?  I share them to encourage you to cherish family traditions and maybe to start a few of your own.

I also encourage you to plan your own style of simple dates with your husband.  Recall something that you both enjoyed together in the past, and do it again, and again, and again!  It might just become your favorite tradition.  You know, even though, now we can afford dinner out, sometimes we prefer just to have a “porch date”, instead!

I’m thinking that this weekend I will plan our “porch date”.  David loves to sit by the fire barrel.  I think I will get chips and salsa, or maybe popcorn and lemonade, or I might get a little extravagant and make s’mores by the fire.  Who knows?  It might just turn out as special as peanuts on the porch!

Vanessa’s Story: God’s Faithfulness to the Single Woman

Sharing Your Story, one of the components of Wisdom and Kindness, provides a place for women to anonymously share their stories.  This category was developed with the ultimate intent of emphasizing God’s faithfulness, even in the difficulties and struggles of life. Each story is true. Each story is anonymously written.  Each story is written to proclaim the hope that is found in The Lord! May The Lord bless!

Vanessa’s Story – God’s Faithfulness to the Single Woman

Being single in a world where couples are “the norm” is not very easy and can present challenges in life.  It seems that everywhere you look there are couples or pairs in some form or fashion.  There are couples sitting together in restaurants, church services, ballgames, or other events.  Then there are the challenges that continually remind you that you are doing something by yourself.  For example, there is the waitress who asks:  Table for just one?  There are hotel rate packages based on double-occupancy.  And there are actually increased rates or up-charges for a single person going on a cruise alone!  Add this to the well-meaning people who are not satisfied that you have not married yet.  It takes a cultivated strength to keep a smile on your face when you are asked many times over:  So when are you going to get married? Are you seeing anyone?  It is easy to feel left out, like the “odd-ball” or that you are swimming upstream.

But, there is the upside!  I love the freedom I have to be impulsive and make plans at the spur of a moment.  My time is my own.  There is no coordination of schedules before accepting invitations to attend various events.  There is no one with whom to compromise on what I should cook for dinner or what color the house should be painted.  There is no one to get aggravated at me if I choose not to clean the house but rather spend the day visiting friends or family.  Yes, there are definite advantages that I certainly enjoy being single.

I love good food, trying new restaurants, and traveling.  Many people would never eat at a restaurant, tour a museum, or take a vacation alone.  They would choose to stay home.  But I had determined a long time ago that I would never let my single state prevent me from doing something that I really wanted to do.  I want to live life and not miss great opportunities because I feel funny doing things by myself or because I can’t find someone to go with me.  So, with a good book in hand, I’ll eat at a restaurant and enjoy a great meal.  With a prayer for protection, I’ll visit sites, museums and open air memorials in places like Washington DC, Paris, Monterey and others!  Over time, a certain independence, strength, and confidence is built within. Not an independence from God, but a healthy independence and confidence that was given by God.

So, have I ever felt lonely, or like an “odd-ball”, or confused and pained about being single?  My answer is ABSOLUTELY.  Singleness is not something I expected or desired.  There are not many days that my single state does not come to mind.  Sometimes it is as a fleeting thought, but other times it is more than that.  Often I review my life to figure out where I went wrong.  Was it always intended for me to be single? Did the wrong decisions I made earlier in life lead me to this place?  Or does God have someone in mind for me?  Occasionally it has been a weight sitting on my chest making me feel that I am being smothered.

And then there is Satan.  My enemy has used this vulnerability to drag me into a pit of depression that I’ve stayed in for weeks at a time.  These are dark days of deep pain.  The thoughts he has spoken to my mind have been vicious, demeaning, and have ultimately caused me to question the goodness of my God.  It has brought me to the edge of resentfulness and bitterness.  It has caused me to consider quitting the Christian journey of walking in obedience to Christ.  But deep down, I have a reverential fear of taking my life into my own hands and choosing my own way.  Proverbs 14:12 says: There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  I do not want to put myself outside the umbrella of God’s favor, blessing, and protection.  With that in mind, I reach deep and by faith alone start climbing out of the pit.  That is where God’s Word comes in.  What a precious Book!  Never has the Word of God been so real to me than when I am hurting and searching for relief.  God has been so faithful to me through His Word by healing me, nourishing me, and defending me against this enemy.  It has been my salvation and stronghold in times of discouragement, confusion, and pain.  Once I recognized the attacks of Satan in my life, I began using the weapon of the Word against Him.  James 4:7 says for us to …resist the devil and he will flee from you. Second Corinthians10:4 says: casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.  First Peter 5:9 says: whom resist steadfast in the faith.   I used these scriptures to resist the attacks that would come upon my mind and emotions.  It worked.  The Word of God works.

So, how has God been faithful to me in practical, everyday matters?  Well, He has blessed me with a great job with which I am able to support myself very well.  Finances can be a challenge for a single woman.  From the earliest days of my career, God has opened doors of opportunity, promoted me, given me favor with my superiors, and granted me the knowledge and understanding to do a job well.   Any time I start to get bored, a new project would be assigned to me.  I have also been able to travel, meet people, and make friends in new locations.  He alone has done this – not me.  I truly marvel at His blessing to me in this area.  I tell people that God handed me this job on a silver platter.  Many women have a husband with a good job.  But in my case, God has provided me with a good job.

Many may think that you have to live a sub-standard life as a single woman, but that is not so.  God has always given me “the best”, it seems, in many facets of my life.  I love Psalm 32:19 which says: O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee.  One of the words for “goodness” in the Hebrew language is “the best”.  The word “laid up” in this verse means “to hide, hoard, or reserve.”  What a great picture!  I can just see God reserving all of these wonderful blessings specifically for me.  An example of this is the opportunity to build a house.  Several options were considered, such as renting an apartment or buying an existing home, but things never seemed to work out.  God put it in my heart to buy land and build a house and that is what I did.  This was “the best” that God was giving me.  Although I was very intimidated taking on such a major investment on my own, I foraged ahead asking for God’s continued help and guidance throughout the whole process.  I was able to select flooring, countertops, and paint color without considering anyone else’s opinion!

I have a great family that loves me and accepts me as single.  I have wonderful friends, both single and married, with whom I can fellowship.  These friends are ones who make me feel valued for who I am at this point in time, not ones that try to “fix me” because something is “wrong” with me.  These people are a great blessing and I thank God for each one.

Lastly, and most importantly, is the opportunity to serve the true and living God.  Being single does provide the advantage of being able to spend time in the Word of God and in prayer to receive instruction, guidance, and knowledge.  He has put a hunger in me to learn more about Him.  God has been faithful to use me in His Kingdom’s work by providing me the opportunity to study and teach others.  I’ve been able to encourage others on an individual basis, counsel them, and point them to the Word of God.  I’ve been able to sow seeds in the lives of unbelievers.  To Him alone be the glory.

I realize there are many views about being single.  Some believe it is a dreaded curse and fear it.  Others wished they were single again.  Although I do not understand the why’s and wherefore’s of remaining single, my desire is to make the most of it and please Him.  Psalm 37:4 says: Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  The word “delight” actually means to be “soft” or “pliable.”  My encouragement for single women is to be soft and pliable under the hand of God.  Surrender yourself to God and ask Him to put HIS desires in your heart.  He will fulfill the desires He puts there when we surrender to Him.

You Can Be a Crown

Crown to Her HusbandHave you ever taken time to just meditate on a single verse of Scripture?  One morning, as I sat giving thought to a scripture, the Lord spoke so clearly to my heart.  A simple sequence of questions and answers brought my thoughts – and heart – to a very special place.

I had been studying the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, with whom we are so familiar.  I was reminded that the word virtuous meant strong. The virtuous woman is a strong woman, a woman that is strong in The Lord. But my thoughts were then taken to another verse:

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:

but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 12:4

I have to admit that I didn’t really understand the significance of the verse.  As I prayed, I asked The Lord to help me better understand.  Then, as I continued to think on the verse these questions – and answers – flooded my mind:

What is the result of being a strong woman?  …   She becomes a crown to her husband.

What was the purpose of a crown?   …   To exalt one to a position of honor.

What was true of the husband of the Proverbs 31 woman?   …   Her husband was known in the gates.

I could see that this verse was saying that a strong wife would exalt her husband.  I knew that it takes humility to exalt another above oneself, but I could feel The Lord calling me to do exactly that.  I was to exalt my husband to the position for which The Lord had created him. As I pondered the implications of this truth, my attention was drawn to the contrasting wife.

How was the wife described who is the opposite of this virtuous wife?   …  She makes ashamed and is as rottenness in his bones.

What does it mean to make ashamed?   …  Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: bringing reproach; degrading a person in the estimation of others

Did I exalt my husband or did I degrade him?

And what happened if I degraded him?   …   I would be as rottenness in his bones.

What does rottenness do?   …   It causes slow, often unseen decay.

Where does this rottenness occur?   …   In his bones.

What is the purpose of bones to our body?   …   Unseen strength and support.

What was the woman made from?   …  From the bone of the man.

Could it be that the wife is to be strength and support to her husband as she exalts him rather than a cause of inner decay within him?

I knew that the Lord Himself is to be a man’s source of strength, but I could also recall that The Lord made the wife especially as a help for him.

I could see that by my actions and by my words, I would either exalt and honor my husband or I would inwardly destroy him.  By what I said to him and about him, I would either build him up or tear him down.

Then I remembered that virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.  The heart of her husband had confidence in her because she did him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.

I thought some more.  I actually could be a crown to my husband.  I knew I would need the Lord’s help.  But somewhere in my heart, I simply heard:  You can be a crown!

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:  but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.          Proverbs 12:4