Chapter 16: Due Benevolence

March 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm (Uncategorized)

OK ladies, I began writing this a week before I even read the chapter for this month.  When I picked up and started reading Chapter 16, I couldn’t believe that it was speaking of the exact same thing!  Consequently this may sound a bit redundant, but perhaps it will drive home some of the concepts that Ms. Pearl brings up even more:

As a wife and mother and “older woman”, I try to seek out the passages in the scripture that refer specifically to these roles.  As I was asking the Lord about a specific situation and praying for a friend of mine, I “found” the following verses.  Because Mitch and I have been spending much of our time studying and clarifying what the Kingdom of God is, this passage stood out.  It is referencing what we have found to be one of keys of the Kingdom: understanding authority.

Here is the King James Version:

 I Corinthians 7:3-5: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

As I looked up each of the words that puzzled me, (ie. “due benevolence,” “power,” “defraud,” and “incontinency”) I began to truly see a fuller picture of the meaning of this passage.  I first looked into the Greek meanings of these words, and then I wrote a translation that suited the Greek but also made sense to me.

Here they are in the Greek:

Due benevolence- “eunoia” is found in this context only once and it means “kindness and conjugal duty”

Power- “exousiazo” means to exercise authority upon, control, from exousia meaning mastery, delegated influence-authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength

Defraud- “stereo” means deprive or despoil

Incontinency- “akrasia” means want of self restraint

My version would sound like this:

3The husband must fulfill his conjugal duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have authority or jurisdiction (or cannot exercise authority) over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority or jurisdiction (or cannot exercise authority) over his own body, but the wife does. 5Stop depriving one another of this conjugal duty, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your want of self-restraint or lack of self control.

As Mitch and I have tried to define authority in terms of the Kingdom of God, we have found that it is best understood (and seen in Christ’s example) as: Authority = Right +Responsibility.

If this is an accurate definition of authority in the Kingdom, then what does this look like in terms of these verses?  The wife does not have authority (right+responsibility) over her own body but the husband does.  And the husband doesn’t have authority (right+responsibility) over his own body but the wife does.

The significance of this is multi-faceted.  Firstly, the passage is stating a fact in the Kingdom of God.  It says it as it is and there is not an option.  This is the only place in the New Testament that discusses our conjugal duty and it is clearly set forth.  Secondly, my sexual body is not my jurisdiction—it is my husband’s.  My husband’s sexual body is not his jurisdiction, but mine.  If he has authority over my sexual body, then it is his right and responsibility to serve and care for it. This takes an incredible amount of “faith.”  We must trust the other with this very intimate and vulnerable part of ourselves. Equally, I have authority and must take the right and responsibility to serve my husbands’ sexual needs. This is a great responsibility and it takes much unselfishness to serve in this way.  But clearly, it is to be done. 

Jesus said to “seek first the Kingdom of God”.  Every kingdom is held in order by authority, and the highest ideal/standard in the Kingdom of God is a respect for and submission to authority.  As Mitch and I have discussed authority in other areas of life, we have seen that we can exercise authority, delegate authority, or abdicate authority.  When we apply this understanding of authority here, we might question ourselves in the following ways: 

  • Am I exercising authority over my husband’s body? 

o   Am I taking full responsibility?

o   Am I serving in a manner that is pleasing him?

o   Do I have a heart to serve?

  • Am I delegating my authority?

o   Have I knowingly/intentionally given this area of responsibility to another? (Most likely not.)

  •   Am I abdicating my authority?

o   To the internet?

o   To the TV?

o   To other women?

o   To my husband?

o   Who has taken over my responsibility?

o   Who serves my husband in this way? 

God has granted this authority to wives and we must commit ourselves to the exercise of this authority

…but do we live as though we believe this?

…are we prepared to give an accounting to the one who has delegated this authority to us?

As we accept our authority in this area, we can make sure that we are doing well.  We can check in and see if there is any thing else that he would desire.  It is so common to hear that men are totally frustrated sexually, and that women have little interest in sex.  This is because neither partner has taken their position of authority/jurisdiction seriously.

Have you ever wondered why God created sex as the means to procreate?  Why it is pleasurable and necessary for a healthy relationship? I read a book by Rob Bell called Sex God. This author/teacher builds on the premise that there are endless parallels between spirituality and sexuality. The desire we have within relationships is thoroughly linked to our desire for intimacy with God. Bell illuminates the fact that God is a God of connection. God desires that we connect with Him and with those He gives us.  The intimate connection between my husband and myself is a reflection of my connection with God. This leads me to another important idea surrounding this designated authority: the husband and wife relationship as a representation of Christ and the Church.  Christ has been given the right and responsibility for the Church by laying down His life for His bride.  Ephesians 5 talks specifically about this. “For man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak of Christ and the church.”

So, how are my husband and I doing at representing Christ and the Church? 

  • Do I ignore my man’s desire?

o   Do we as the church ignore Christ’s desire?

  • Do I consider my husband foolish for having unreasonable needs?

o   Does the church consider Him foolish for having such unreasonable needs?

  • Do I make excuses or push my husband away at every opportunity?

o   Do we push Christ out of our lives regularly? 

  • Do I live to please myself instead of thinking of how I can give my husband what he wants?

o   Do we do what pleases our self instead of considering what He wants?

  • Do I do things like keep the house clean or take care of the bills and wish that that would be enough to please my husbands instead of having intimacy with him?

o   Do we go about doing what we think is good for Christ, but are not authorized to do?  This is considered iniquity in the scripture and He says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  It is a significant and telling analogy.

What if it were the opposite scenario? What if my husband and I perfectly represented/symbolized Christ and His Church? What if my intimacy with God and my intimacy with my husband perfectly reflected one another in their ideal state?  I am convinced that the world would be much more attracted to the Lord.  

Please consider this new chapter soberly.  I believe that as we work in this area of our relationship with our husband we will surely see a change in our marriages and hopefully in the Church and its relationship with its Lord as well.

Blessings,

Amy

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Chapter 15: Sober

February 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm (Uncategorized)

We are beginning the “Titus Woman” section of the book and reading chapter 15 this month.  Although I desire to “walk in the Spirit,” I am always excited to find directives or examples specific to being a wife and mother in the scripture. Titus gives us that!  I just wanted to highlight a few segments and expand a bit on the meaning of sober. 

Let’s begin with the meaning of sober.  Our first thought when we hear the word sober these days relates to not drinking too much alcohol.   So most of us can say—“yeah, I am sober and I can encourage young women not to drink too much.”  As I studied the word in the Strong’s Concordance, I found that the original definition really has nothing to do with not drinking!  Ms. Pearl gives a truer definition in the beginning of the chapter.  Adding to that, I found the original definition to include, “of sound mind, safe in mind, moderate as to opinion or passion.”  Wow!  Now in dealing with our husbands can we say that we are sober?? –moderate as to opinion or passion!  I know that at times I can express my opinion passionately!  I know that I retort with great emotion at times.  This, ladies, is not being sober!  I confess it!  (Of course we can see the association with being drunk—when alcohol is consumed, one cares less and less about controlling one’s passion or moderating one’s opinion.)  This is an area that I want to work on…I truly want to be moderate as to opinion or passion in dealing with my husband and my children!  They too can challenge my sobriety!!

I really love a few of the phrases in the book that I will highlight here:

A sober wife makes herself the match of every circumstance.  (p.148) I love a good, quiet challenge.  In this phrase the gauntlet has been thrown.  It wells up in me a desire to best every situation.  I want to be wise and at the ready.  There is no room for laziness or idleness here. 

As wives, our life’s work should be to perfect how we may please our husbands.  (p. 151) Another great challenge.  If we put our whole selves into this endeavor, I promise that fruit will come of it. 

Make a new habit. Most wives…were not trained to honor their husbands…It seems natural to be angry rather than to seek change for the better.  (p. 154) Few women these days had a mom that was home with her kids during their growing up years and so often the examples of relationships were found on the television.  If you will notice, a lot of sit-coms have idiot men and domineering, intelligent women.  What is this saying to us?  (Kid’s shows and movies often make the fathers out to be idiots as well.)  Several of you have heard the story of how we got rid of the tv.  It relates to this, so I will briefly share it.  Mitch and I had been weaning ourselves of the tv for a while, mainly because it didn’t fit with our desire to “live with intention.”  So we put our little tv in a closet and brought it out to watch a particular show that I was interested in called Thiry-Something.  It was basically an evening soap opera.  After the show was finished we would put away our tv again.  But soon we realized that we were arguing and treating one another like the people in the show!  It was so obvious that it influenced how we viewed each other and it made us more challenging toward each other.  That did it!  We got rid of the tv all together and haven’t had one since—that was about 18 years ago.  What are the influences of our lives and are they building us up to be in the habit of honoring our men? 

How to be a Good Wife Today. (p.155)  Do they even have Home Economics classes offered in schools anymore?  I remember them in junior high, but I think they were abolished J by the time I was in high school.  I am sure they are not politically correct anymore.  So who is teaching the young girls how to cook, and manage their household?  I know that this is a huge lack that I find among the young women I know.  They really haven’t had anyone teach them how to run a household or care for their children.  It is the age of missing information!! We have all kinds of info at our fingertips, yet practical life skills are so little available.  Yes, we older women can pass on whatever skills we have learned over the years.  And it is sober to do so.

Keep in mind the other side of the coin of being angry is being hurt. (p. 160) I am not one to get angry very often, but being hurt on the other hand…This really relates to the true definition of being sober.   I love the idea of re-writing the story of our passionate outbursts (whether it shows as anger or hurt) to have a new ending.  This is an exercise that really will make us aware of how we can actually alter our future behavior.  Our efforts to continue to grow and mature as women of God will truly benefit us and our husbands and families. 

So “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

Blessings,

Amy

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Chapter 14: “Don’t Mess My Hair”

February 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm (Uncategorized)

Hello Ladies,

This month’s chapter from Created to Be His Helpmeet is really enlightening.  It caused me to think about the little things that I do and how these little things are interpreted by my husband as either reverence and honor or rejection and insult.  I find the story of the woman with the untouchable hair very eye-opening.  It is very interesting to me that she was completely unaware of her behavior, yet many who observed her response to her husband’s touch pitied her and especially her husband.  Her husband was viewed differently both by others, and especially himself when she pushed him away in order to maintain her hair-do. I have observed this kind of behavior before.  I have done things like this myself, like push my husband aside when he comes to love on me while I am cooking or “busy” with something.  It is such an easy, yet self-centered thing to do.  And our actions often reveal what is in our heart.  Is he more important to me than getting everything on the table just so?  What matters more to him—the food or an affectionate kiss and hug to help assure him that he is my priority?

Now, let’s step away from this very personal story of the woman and her hair.  In Ephesians 5, Paul speaks about husbands and wives and says, “This is a great mystery: but I speak of Christ and the church.”  I find that it is a great exercise to view the detailed actions of my relationship with my husband in light of the church’s (and specifically-being part of the church- my own) behavior toward Christ. When the church is more concerned about its appearance than its relationship with Christ, the church fails to give proper honor and reverence to its Lord.  How often do we find this in the church body?  How often have I done this very thing?  Do I care more about how I look to others than I do about receiving my Lord?  Am I giving due reverence to the Lord in all of my behavior?  Would He see it that way? Do I lessen His potency in my life because I let the trifling things garner my attention rather than focusing on honoring Him?  What is in my heart? 

At the end of Chapter 14, there is the “Time to Consider” section.  Ms. Pearl suggests that we take time to think about and lists things that we can/“should” do that will cause our husband to feel our honor, reverence and respect.  Have you tried it yet?  It is amazing that as I have tried in little ways to defer to my husband, touch him, welcome his affections and overtures, I have really enjoyed a more amazing friend, a more peaceful home and a more affectionate lover. I have found that the trivial little things that attracted my attention are not nearly as big.

 Now I am also going to consider how I might show my Lord reverence, respect and honor in the little things.  I look forward to seeing what the outcome may be.

Blessings,

Amy

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Chapter 13: Deception

August 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm (For Wives, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Greetings ladies,
There is a story that exists from the ancient Greeks that concerns a contest between two renowned painters. One very skilled artist created a still life painting so convincing that birds flew down from the sky to peck at the painted grapes. He was convinced that if the birds were duped, then he must be the superior painter. The first artist then asked his opponent to pull back a pair of very tattered curtains to reveal his painting. But to the dismay of the first, the curtains themselves were the image that the second painter delineated and they were painted with such precision that the first artist was truly fooled.
During the Renaissance, this illusionism was revived and perfected as seen in the great dome paintings of the cathedrals. Over time this style of painting, which refers to the art technique of painting extremely realistic imagery in order to create an optical illusion, was dubbed by the French of the Baroque period as “tromp l’oeil” meaning “fool the eye.” In our time, many variants of this technique can be seen in the “forwards” in our email boxes in the form of amazing building paintings that look like parks with people walking in them, or works by chalk artists that create holes in the concrete that people avoid walking on. My sister tells of it showing up in the Seattle Solstice parade in the form of people painting their naked bodies to look like police uniforms and riding their bikes around in the parade. Movies can now form this same type of illusion utilizing the device of the “green screen” with amazing accuracy.
Though the Greeks first told the story of the contest, tromp l’oeil has been around since the Garden of Eden. The serpent deftly crafted the deception that led Eve to doubt the truth. He then went on to paint the falsehood so convincingly that Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” The eyes of her imagination were fooled and Satan was the winner of this contest of illusion.
In the 13th chapter of Created to be His Helpmeet, Ms. Pearl spends much time talking of this deception and our vulnerability to such ruses. We as women “give ourselves over to emotional imaginations and create a world of hurt for ourselves and those around us.” (pg.129) I have done this very thing. Years ago, I began a painting of ungratefulness that lead to a masterpiece of tromp l’oeil. After years, the Lord gave me “a thorn in my flesh” that led to the opening of my eyes to the truth. The aftermath was one of pain and distrust that took years to mend. As I look back on that time, I see now that I was truly deceived. I believed a lie as though it was absolute truth. The deception began with a blank canvas and as I painted bit by bit with ungratefulness, delusions, subtle rebellion, it ended with a completed painting that looked like reality to me. I was completely convinced in the untruth. I asked for the curtains to be pulled away when the curtains themselves were the actual oeuvre.
We have an enemy at work and his first and last ploy is to deceive and destroy. It seems obvious that when we have rebellion in our heart that we give an opening for this enemy to slip in and begin to weave the web of deception, but it may be less evident that ungratefulness is a gate that opens us up for deception as well. I have seen in many instances in my own life and in the lives of other women I know that when the attitude of the heart is ungratefulness—even the smallest discontent can grow into a huge lie that alters our behavior and can change our lives. (Rom 1:21-Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.) Wanting a more affectionate man, wanting a man that will be a leader in the church, wanting a man that notices the little things, wanting a man that will spend more time with the kids, wanting a feeling of passion that doesn’t seem to exist for our man, wanting a little more help around the house, wanting a man that will take over with the children and give me a break, wanting to be noticed more, wanting something other! When we first think a thought like just one of these, it seems to be little… “I am not asking for much” but then we say it more often, then we begin to notice other things, then bit by bit, stroke by stroke the little thing becomes bigger and more real and soon we are dwelling on how difficult life is with this man. In its fullness we say, “I could do better on my own.” That is the oldest trick in our enemy’s book. Read again the account of Eve with the serpent.
So why am I basically repeating the words of Ms. Pearl here? I really feel that we cannot be reminded enough to be aware. I myself am asking the Lord if there is any area in my life where I am ungrateful, where I am allowing an opportunity for the deceiver to paint a tromp l’oeil work in my life. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Love and blessings to you all,
Amy

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Chapter 12: What is a Woman to do?

April 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Greetings dear ladies,

We have been reading Chapter 12 for April. Are you all still with me?

Often what we dwell on when we read through this book, Created to Be His Helpmeet, is all that a woman can’t /shouldn’t do.  (ie I Tim 2:12 -don’t teach, don’t usurp authority, don’t talk; I Cor 14:34-keep silent in the church)

Ms. Pearl clearly shows the limitations for women in the church.  I appreciate that someone has defined this and elaborated on it using the scriptures as a guide.  It is my belief that our modern world has really pushed women to take on authority that was never delegated to them.  When I finished this chapter, though, I felt discouraged. I realized that dwelling on all that we are not to do in our position as women and “helpmeets” was becoming rather frustrating.

This led me to ask the Lord the next logical question:  “What then is a woman to do?  What does a virtuous woman look like?  Does she look like a down-trodden slave or doormat with her hair in a scarf and never saying a word?”  I believe that the Lord answered my query.  “No,” He said. “Read and I will show you the beauty of the woman that I have fashioned!”

I began to study the scriptures to seek out how He describes a virtuous woman and what kinds of things she does.  I focused on the positive words, the descriptive words, the action words and found that there was as much being as doing in the descriptions. I am going to share a brief list of the words used.  The many attributes to be respected and admired in the virtuous women that God describes are amazing.  Instead of brewing over all that we can’t do as women, I could instead seek to attain all that God would desire us to be and do, and receive the blessings of following His order.

We have discussed Esther in the past.  When Mary Margaret visited she talked much about Esther’s characteristics.  The Bible talks about her being virtuous and finding favor with all those around her—particularly the king.  Here are the highlights about Esther from my notes from Mary’s talk:
Esther:
1. Was surrendered
2. Had the ability to respond to quiet promptings
3. Exemplified that uneventful beginnings can lead to incredible endings
4. Not fearful

Also here are 6 characteristics of Esther that we can emulate:
1. A grace-filled charm and elegance
2. Unusual restraint and control
3. Continual teachable spirit
4. Authenticity
5. Modesty
6. Humble respect for authority
We have discussed Ruth recently too and here are the highlights about Ruth from Ready for the Season:

Ruth:

1. was steadfastly minded to go with Naomi and finally Naomi gave off talking about it and let her go along.
2. Ruth was willing to labor in the fields for food for them (she volunteered).
3. Ruth asked permission of the authority.
4. Ruth labored in the work—she gleaned until evening, and then beat out all that she had gleaned.  She did this until the end of the harvest.
5. Ruth was obedient.  Ruth 3:5 Naomi tells her exactly what to do.  Ruth says, “All that thou sayest unto me I will do.”
6. Ruth didn’t follow after popularity or riches.  Boaz recognizes that she would be an incredible “catch,” that she could easily go after the young men or a wealthy man.
7. Ruth was a virtuous woman (Prov. 31).
8. Ruth was redeemed.

Abigail is a terrific example of a woman who was married to “the wrong guy” and yet she was gracious and virtuous despite her bad match.  It says in the first part of I Sam 25, “She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings.”  When David asked very humbly for food and drink for his men, Nabal (Abigail’s husband) refused and insulted them. David was ready to fight Nabal for his rudeness and swore an oath to destroy him and all that were associated with him.  The following story is worth reading through because it is such an incredible example of beautiful strength and humility in a difficult situation: (Parentheses are my additions)

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. (Respectful) 24 She fell at his feet and said: “My lord, let the blame be on me alone. (Christ-like willingness to suffer although innocent) Please let your servant speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25 May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is Fool, and folly goes with him. But as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my master sent. (Apologetic) 26 “Now since the LORD has kept you, my master, from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, may your enemies and all who intend to harm my master be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my master, be given to the men who follow you. (Generous)  28 Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the LORD will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the LORD’s battles. (Contrite) Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. (Speaking blessing) 30 When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel,(Understanding of God’s purpose) 31 my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself.  And when the LORD has brought my master success, remember your servant.”  32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.” 35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

Following this event, Abigail returned home to find her husband at feast and very drunk.  So she didn’t mention it to him then.  (Prudence) When Nabal was sober, she told him how he was spared by her actions. (Honest) He seemingly had a heart attack and within ten days Nabal died. When David heard of this he took Abigail as his wife. When David’s servants came to fetch her for David she said, “Here is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master’s servants.” (Servant’s heart/ Submissive)

Abigail, like Esther, took a great risk in doing the right thing.  She went to ask for forgiveness for her husband’s behavior for the sake of all those in her area of responsibility. She was surely blessed for her behavior.   (Thanks Daphne for the suggestion to look into the story of Abigail)

There are numerous books written on the subject of “women of the Bible,” so I won’t continue with all the other major figures, but I will mention a few of the obscure names and a few adjectives that describe them.

The Shunamite Woman:  (I Kings 4:8-37) hospitable, faithful

Elisabeth: (Luke 1:6) blameless

Tabitha: (Acts 9:36-42) doing good, helpful to the poor, handy

Lydia: (Acts 16:14-15) worshipper of God

Romans 16 lists several others:

Mary (vs 6) hard worker

Phoebe (vs 1-2) servant of the church, helper

Priscilla (vs 3) laborer with Paul

Tryphena and Tryphosa, and Persis (vs 12) hard workers in the Lord

Rufus’ mother (vs 13) as a mother to Paul

Of course Proverbs 31 tells much about a virtuous woman.  Rebecca summed up the verses when she wrote to us about the Proverbs 31 woman a year ago.  Here is the list she compiled:
v. 11 – Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
v. 13 – She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
v. 15 – She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls
v. 17 – She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
v. 18 – She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
v. 21 – When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
v. 25 – She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
v. 26 – She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
v. 27 – She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
v. 30 – Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Other verses that speak of women say these things:
I Corinthians 11:7 says that praying and prophesying are to be done with heads covered.
I Corinthians 14:35 says to ask our husbands at home any questions of spiritual nature.
I Timothy 2:9 encourages us to be adorned with good works, receive instruction (quietly and with submission), continue in faith, love, sanctity, and self restraint.
Titus 2:3-4 says that a woman is to be reverent and holy, teachers of good things, teach young women to love their husbands and love their children—teach them to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, kind, obedient to their own husbands.
I Peter 3:1 be Christ-like in your submission (when reviled, revile not), have chaste conversations, and respectful behavior, be gentle and quiet in spirit.
Ephesians 5:22-33 as the church is to Christ, so are wives to submit to their husbands

As Mitch and I have begun to teach our young girls what it is to be a woman, we have stressed that outward good looks (being pretty) is temporary, but being beautiful is what is on the inside.  It is what is in the heart that shows in our actions and attitudes. (Virtue) We are continuing to encourage our girls to be beautiful.

So, what does a virtuous woman look like?  Her attitude of the heart and actions that proceed from her heart bless all those who know her.  She is not the image that our modern misunderstandings may conjure.  Instead, she is a hard working, active, productive, wise, strong, generous contributor to her household and community.  She is the embodiment of the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.)  She is the example of how the church should behave towards Christ.  She is submissive, yes, and this contributes to her beauty, it doesn’t diminish it.  She does not balk at this situation, but out of reverence for Christ receives her position in the order of the Kingdom.  In other words, she is beautiful!

Blessings, Amy

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Chapters 9,10,11: by Keli M.

April 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Being on your husband’s adventure:

This month when reading our chapter in Created To Be His Helpmeet, I was struck by how the last three chapters seemed to flow together to me.

In the books, Wild At Heart and Captivating, John Eldridge talks about how men and women are made, how they fit together in God’s design, and how the true heart of a man is wild and adventurous like God. As a man matures he wants a woman to sweep up into the adventure God has put him in. As I read about Jezebel, I thought about how she not only undermined her husband and took on his masculine role, but she created her own adventure, instead of embracing her husband in the adventure God began in him, to become their journey together. I am sure in Jezebel’s mind she justified her actions as keeping order in the kingdom, but what she really did was take control. Her own journey ended with her being devoured alive by wild dogs. Hmm.

I wish the lady whose husband had decided to become a dairy farmer had read that story. Maybe her letter would have read differently. There is a clue to her discontented heart at the very beginning of her letter: Remember the line where she says her husband does not read the Bible as much as she thinks he should, but she will get to that later? She liked her life because she thought she had some control over it. When her husband realized his dream and went for it, she acted like a spoiled little child, not a grown woman. Why could she not be happy for the man she loved to finally experience his dream of being home and spending more time with his family?–Because the journey to get there was not comfortable and it was no longer in her control, according to her own schedule.

If my husband kept his job as a public high school principal and moved us to a dairy farm, I would support his endeavor. If he was late I would get out to the barn and milk the cows myself so we could spend what was left of the evening together. The lady in the letter complains about her husband messing up her dinner schedule and how hurt she is by that. Obviously she is only thinking of herself, which will kill a marriage in no time at all. Marriage was never about just one person. My marriage has never been about just me. It is not just about my husband. It is about a relationship designed by God in perfect union, it is about the community of the family, and it is an example of what Christ did for us and who we are as the Church. Is the Body of Christ going to tell Him to keep up with her schedule? Are we going to say to Christ, this is not what I bargained for?

We serve a mighty, Holy, and awesome God, and He is the King. When things come our way that we do not expect, let’s try not to react, but to respond in a manner befitting the Bride of the King. We are such a vital part of our husband’s adventure and how God is training him. We can either embrace the journey and all that God has for us both in it, or we can sit there and sulk about not getting our own way, miss the Glory of the Lord, and possibly bring about our own destruction.

Blessings to all,
Keli

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Chapter 8: Life with my Visionary

February 9, 2011 at 6:29 pm (For Wives) (, , , , )

Hello Ladies,

I wanted to greet you all and talk a bit about the new chapter in Created to Be His Helpmeet.  It is my favorite chapter of the book!  I had read all of the Pearl’s books and had been receiving the Pearl’s newsletter for years when a couple years ago they put in an excerpt from their pending book in the newsletter.  It was an abbreviated version of this chapter about 3 kinds of men.  Mitch read the article early one morning and when I woke up he was very excited and told me to get our friends Russ and Laura Marr and Wayne and Keli Marshall to read the article and get with us that night.  He had an epiphany!  That night we got together to discuss the article.  We laughed over the course of the evening as we discovered together the “type” each of the men were.  Mitch is very much the Mr. Visionary—he had the vision that morning that everyone should understand this insight of the 3 types of men!  Russ, the Mr. Steady was asked to read the article and he, very used to Mitch’s inspirations, patiently complied.  Keli hadn’t had a chance to talk to Wayne all day about reading the article, so when he got home from work she told him that Mitch wanted him to read it and then come over.  What was Wayne’s response?  “Read it to me while I ride my bike.”  Then after Keli obediently read it to him he asked, “What type am I?”  We still laugh at how Mr. Command Man couldn’t recognize himself.

Our three families have been fellowshipping for years and we just marveled how God put us together with each of the three types of men, so that we would share together in all parts of Himself when we received each other.  Since we all first read the chapter, we have really appreciated each other’s strengths.  Mitch has been so grateful for Russ’ steady, enduring character especially during the tumultuous Photomatic years.  And Mitch has regularly consulted with Wayne on administrative issues that have come up in work.  Russ and Wayne’s gifts have been a continuous blessing to us.  I know also that Mitch’s visionary nature has inspired both Russ and Wayne at times to move into new areas in their lives and business.  With the insight from this chapter it has also given us patience with the differences between us.  I am sure that Mitch’s continuous idea stream and untiring energy have tried the nerves of the other men, and yet knowing that these are characteristics of the Visionary they are able to understand where he is coming from.  We are more able to understand Russ’ seeming inactivity or delay in action when it comes to making a decision.  He is a steady man, a deep well of wisdom and maturity that requires time to think through things.  We must be patient and know that where Mitch may run ahead, Russ is going to wait on the Lord.  There have been times when Wayne has come over and taken over.  Mitch jokes that Wayne tells him what to do in his own home.  He loves Wayne and now knows that this is the command personality that takes care of business and delegates when he sees the need. Mitch doesn’t take it as a criticism of his ability to run his own household.

Knowing what type Mitch is sure has helped me understand my man also. Mitch is the ultimate Visionary with a bit of Command thrown in for fun!  Some may envy the innovation, energy and sense of adventure that I live with daily.  It has its benefits. We have travelled all over and constantly are active in our life and our minds.   On our 5th Anniversary he took me camping and secretly brought our wedding clothes, a steak dinner, flowers and candles.  What a great, romantic thought!  But there are times when the adventure has taken us to crazy, difficult places.  We have been very poor and with notices being sent informing us that our house was going into foreclosure.  When Mitch believed that our eyes shouldn’t ingest artificial light, we stopped using lights in our home and just used candlelight for a while.  He also started businesses that ended up being a lot of work on my part to make them happen.  Photomatic is not the only one.  We have seriously talked about being Amish, moving to a commune, dropping off the grid and farming for survival.  He’s drug me on a couple 200-mile bike treks and on a car camping trip up to Canada in November when I was 6 months pregnant, sleeping in the car in 20 degree weather for three weeks.

His inventive mind has pioneered the practices of homebirth, no insurance, home school, family bed, no TV and many other ideas that have worked well for us.  I know that if I were with a different kind of man, I would be a completely different woman—and it wouldn’t be good.  God made me for this Visionary.  It has had its ups and downs, but I have learned to (and the insight from this chapter has helped me) enjoy the adventure.  When Mitch would have an idea, I used to start right in telling how hard it would be and all the cons of the idea because it made me nervous and I would start envisioning all the work that it would be for me.  I have had to learn to hold my tongue when a new business idea comes pouring out and just let him relish in the idea for a while.  Mostly he just wants to explore the thought and once he verbalizes it, he can then let it go.  So now I just say, “That’s a great idea, honey.  I love you.”  My goal is to actually truly enjoy the idea along with him…the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  I share this to encourage any women who have a Visionary husband.

Sometimes I think the wives of Steady guys need a support group.  It does seem to be more difficult.  But remember, ladies, you’ve never had to live in a 900sq foot house with 4 kids in your bedroom so that you could run your husband’s side company out of the other bedroom!  Don’t long for what you don’t have—the grass isn’t necessarily greener!  Many women that I have known that have steady husbands struggle to be grateful for them as Ms Pearl mentioned.  I have close family members that are prominent examples and the relationships ended in divorce.  What a tragedy!  They could not appreciate the benefits of having a hard worker that always had the bills paid, or the constant, dedicated (although not very passionate) love, or the quiet, wise words that never embarrassed or exhausted them.  Remember that these steady men are so valuable to the Kingdom and are such solid foundations for the command men and visionaries. This stability allows the Command man respite after intense confrontations.  It allows the Visionary to sore higher because he knows that a tether is not going to let him fly too far and melt his wings.

I have seen negative and positive examples of wives of Command men in my life.  Keli is one of the positive ones.  She has learned to honor and submit with grace to her husband.  No matter what he asks her to do, she does it faithfully and with a great attitude.  And he absolutely cherishes her.  My grandfather was the largest personality that I have ever met.  He was the ultimate Command man.  Wow! But my grandma handled him beautifully!  She appreciated him so much and would just chuckle when He did something overbearing.  She is great!! Grandpa also cherished Grandma and adored her.  They had a beautiful relationship.  He has now passed away and she still refers to him as her “sweety”.  Another close family member is married to a Command man also.  She has fought him and bowed her back at his every command.  It has made him crazy! They have a very volatile relationship and they have really struggled.  It is amazing how recognizing and receiving the man God gives us–and being grateful for him–makes life a blessing and vice verse.

The most valuable thing about this chapter is not just that it helps us recognize the type of man we married, but it encourages us to embrace the man we married and teaches us ways to be the kind of helpmeet that enables our man to thrive and become all that God envisioned him to be when He created him.  I believe He not only knew our men (as He knew Jeremiah) before they were in their mother’s wombs, but He knew each woman that would complete the man He created.  He “fashioned” Eve as a perfect compliment to Adam—no other created creature was suitable.  She was shaped from his very bones.  I am convinced I am fashioned for my man and I desire–and am committed–to helping Mitch achieve all that God has for him.  If each one of us asks God to reveal who are man is and how to walk in the calling of helpmeet for that specific man, and then each commits to being grateful for that man and serve him as he needs, I believe God is faithful to provide all that is required for the task.  And what a blessing it is to walk in this calling.  Peace and joy is the result of this obedience.

I pray that God would continue to reveal the fullness of this calling to each of us as we seek Him.

Blessings,

Amy

 

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Chapter 7: Submission as Religion

January 22, 2011 at 6:13 am (Uncategorized)

One thing that I would like to share is that the Lord has lately reminded me that we can make a religion out of anything.

The wikipedia definition of religion includes this:

“The term “religion” refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.”

I want to be sure that what we are doing is not sharing conviction and practicing rituals for the sake of forming a communal faith that we can take pride in or form a tabernacle around.  Much of what our book talks about is submission.  We don’t want to make a religion out of submission.  I got a warning from the Lord about this after talking with several different friends that were becoming frustrated in their positions as wife.  I asked the Lord, ‘why does this role feel un-fulfilling to women?”  He said, “Because submission is not all there is to being a woman of God.” I realized that I was on the verge of settling into this role and building a religion out of it.  If we do this, then all that we do—even though it is all good—becomes iniquity.

Jesus tells a story about this:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  Matthew 7:20-24 (King James Version)

If we do anything outside of what the Lord is showing us, we are “ye that work iniquity.”  This places a burden of accountability on us.  It is absolutely crucial that we do “seek first the kingdom of God.”  Submission is a good thing and He has asked us to do this, but that is not all that He requires.  There are also plenty of good things to do that He does not require.  We must do all that He asks, but no more. What a shame it would be to do so many wonderful things thinking all the while that they are good things for God and all the while He is thinking, “But I never asked you to do that.”  If we seek Him and His Kingdom, I believe that our role will be simplified.  If we serve our husbands and children with the joy of the Lord and with gratefulness, God will use us as “little Christ’s” in our homes and then it will pour forth into our communities and spread from there.  As we learn to “do only what we see the Father do” I believe we will be completely content in the work that He has set in advance for us to do.

Let’s ask the Lord about our roles.  Let’s seek Him daily as to what He would have us do.  Let us become not only submissive wives, but women of impact in the realm where He has placed us.

Mama Amy

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Chapter 6: Esther’s inspiration

October 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm (Uncategorized)

This is not necessarily about Chapter 6 from our study of Created to be His Helpmeet, but it is what the Lord was teaching me the month the ladies were reading Chapter 6 together. This was first written in 10/07.

Esther inspires. After reading about her, I began to ask myself some questions.

What am I doing in the Kingdom of God?  Am I becoming all that God saw me to be in His mind before I was in my mother’s womb? I believe that the time has come for me/us to live up to our potential.  God is calling me/us to be women of impact.

We are called to do the work that God has prepared in advance for us to do—to operate in the measure of our faith in the domain where He has delegated authority to us.  As Mary said, we no longer need to wait around for permission to become women of impact.  We must stop being spectators and begin engaging in the work of the Kingdom.  There is a battle going on and as believers we are a part of it.  Are we doing all that we are meant to at least prepare?

In the Cowart household the first step to cleaning the house is picking up.  It is preparing the house to be cleaned by getting it in order.  We “Step One” at least 3 times a day so that it is ready for whatever work or play is to be done next, whether that is a major cleaning, dinner preparation, guests coming, bed time, etc.  We “Step One” so that we are prepared for the bigger, more important things that are to happen in the home.

As I was quiet in the waking hours this morning, I felt that I needed to encourage us to “Step One” our lives.  If we are ever to become women of impact in our homes, with our families, with our friends, in the community, in our state, nation or the world, we must begin with the first steps.  We must begin to prepare ourselves for the bigger things that God has for us.  Instead of just waiting around for something to happen, let’s prepare ourselves so that when the call or word or prompt comes, we are ready and waiting.

I believe this involves several things.  I am sure the Lord will show us others, but this can get us started.

I must “Step One” by first surrendering, cleansing, and committing to the Lord and His will for me.  And then I must train for the work so as to be fit for whatever is chosen for me to do.  This I am sure would involve different things for different people.  Here are some areas that I see that need to be addressed in my own life and perhaps if I share them, they will help you move forward as well.

First, I must surrender my whole self to God.  I am my husband’s, but first I am God’s.  He created me and fashioned me, called me, transformed me and completed me.  He gave me to my family, but my soul must be surrendered to Him or I will be useless for anyone.  Esther was a surrendered woman.  She was totally willing to go and do whatever God required of her–even if it meant being a concubine for the pagan king.  Fully committing to whatever He may ask of me requires faith.  For my friend Mary, this means suffering tremendous physical pain on a regular basis.  She has been through 24 surgeries and continues to endure with a beautiful smile and a tenacity that is unbelievable.  My measure may not include this type of endurance, but am I committed to whatever it is that He may require of me?  Am I fully His to do with as He pleases? (This comes into question each time I conceive one of His children…am I willing to carry, birth, nurse, train, teach another child for Him?)

Next I see that I must cleanse (purify) myself of the pettiness of this world.  For example, I must no longer regard others from the point-of-view of this world. If I have trouble with someone because they don’t look or act a certain way or I am continually criticizing others, I am not looking from an eternal perspective.  I must see people and events as God sees them so that I am not constantly misinformed by a worldly perception.  I also must throw off self pity and self comfort.  I need to stop dwelling on my situation and circumstances.  Doing so focuses my attention on my problems and will only impair me in my move to greater things.  Everyone has difficult circumstances or physical issues or financial strains or whatever.  This should no longer keep us bound to our homes and couches and hinder us from preparing for the work.  What great man or woman of faith did not have some excuse that they could hold on to and keep them from doing the work?  We must get over it!!!  God knows that we are not perfect and He certainly never waited around for perfection before He used people in the past.  Esther was a woman that was in captivity.  She was not brought up in the royal palace, but was an orphan and an outsider.  She was taken from this lowly stance and brought to the palace as a candidate to be Queen over the largest kingdom of the known world.  It was required that she went through 12 months of purification before she could be chosen by the king.  I must take more seriously this purification process so that I might be ready when my Kings calls.  I must ask Him what I can do to prepare—what areas are holding me back from my potential.  I want to seek what will please the King in this area of preparation.  After the year of purification, every woman of the house of women where Esther prepared was given whatever she wanted from the treasures to adorn herself before she was taken to the king.  When it came Esther’s turn to adorn herself, she only took what the king’s chamberlain suggested would please the king.  She gained favor with everyone and least not the king because she was prepared and adorned as the king desired.  Let us seek our King and ask Him to cleanse us and then inquire how we should be adorned.  How can we let go of this world and its treasures and don our self in a manner pleasing to Him? (Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.  Romans 12:1-3)

I believe, next, that I should commit to the work.  I must not be wishy-washy in my approach to this preparation.  I must go into it fully knowing that I could be chosen or not chosen for the work.  It is up to the King what follows, but am I committed whatever He chooses?  Esther had no idea that she would be queen and yet in everything she did, she was pleasing to those around her.  It was an easy move from having favor with all those around to having favor with the king because she was obviously devoted to him even before she was chosen by the king.  Her conduct was always impeccable.  The dedication of her heart was seen in her actions.  She served the king in everything even before she saw him.  What a contrast to the prior queen Vashti who was a rebellious woman and completely insensitive to the king’s desire.  Is my commitment to my Lord evident in my daily actions?

Once I am surrendered, cleansed and committed to being a woman of impact, I believe the next step is to train for the work.  What soldier goes into a battle without training, or what athlete competes without preparing for the race?  If we are flabby, comfortable, content with being a couch potato in the kingdom, how can God use us for the battle?  Why would He appoint us to be bearers of His divine power, gifts of signs and wonders, or the higher works of service if we aren’t even willing to talk to Him much?  Am I “just a sinner saved by grace” that just goes around powerless and insignificant? Or is there something more for me to do than just be saved?  We are the Body of Christ in this earth—a living, breathing, active part of Him.  Is the head asking the Body to get off the couch and get the work done that He requires/desires?  Are we obedient to every word that proceeds from His mouth?  I want to begin to train for the battle so when the call comes for someone to work, I have readied myself in every possible way.  I want to pray and inquire of the Lord as to my measure.  I want to array myself with the garments necessary to present myself at the court of the king and do what He has called me to do. What did Esther do to train for her work?  She fasted and prayed on behalf of her people for three days and nights, and then she put on her royal apparel so as to be appropriately adorned for her task. She then went and stood in the court until the king saw her.  She had favor in his sight.  Esther was well prepared to risk her own life and do what was required to save her people from the injustice of evil men.  How can I train for the work if I don’t even know what will be required?  I can do as Esther did.  I can jealously guard my time with the Lord and give Him my full attention in prayer.  I can ask for wisdom.  I can intercede for the people.  I can know my gifts and my position in the kingdom.  I can adorn myself appropriately in humility, yet as a queen and an heir to the Kingdom.  I can then go and wait in the court of the King.  Perhaps He will give me favor and I will have the honor of serving Him.

How do I become a woman of impact?  I may not make up a ministry and start doing it.  I may not devise iniquitous deeds to perform on God’s behalf.  I may not supplant my husband and elevate myself a spiritual leader in his domain.  No, I may not concoct some “churchy” work to do and start doing it.  But I may surrender myself to the King, I may consecrate myself to Him, I may commit myself to His will, and I may train in preparation for a task that He may ask me to do.  This does not make me a woman of impact.  These are only the preliminaries for making me useful.  Once prepared, I must then stand ready in the court so that finally I can fearlessly obey when the call is given, as Esther did.  Only then will I be able to make an impact in the realm the King has delegated to me.

“God give me/us the discipline and courage to become all that you desire.”

Amy

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Chapter 5: Remember the Guy You Married? by JW

May 10, 2010 at 11:31 pm (For Wives, Uncategorized) (, )

Do you remember that guy you married?  Remember how much zeal and excitement you had for him?  For most of us, it seemed like an eternity before we finally got what we’d longed for so long.  Then we were so proud and full of love for each other that we planned (and for some of us, planned and planned…) a huge celebration, invited all of our friends and family to come witness and share our overwhelming love and devotion to each other.  Then we head off to our honeymoon and have more sex in one week than many of us have in 3 to 6 months!  People told us “marriage is work” and we thought “not for us – we’re different.”  Well, the older I get with more life experiences under my belt, the more I realize that even when I can’t possibly see how it could happen, if experienced people are saying something will happen, it usually will.  It doesn’t mean that we have to settle for it, but that we need to be watchful and aware.

Were we deceived in our bliss and hopeful thinking?  How did our exciting, good-looking-can’t-keep-my-hands-off-him man turn into the annoying, selfish guy we seem to be married to now? Are we in some fairytale story where a wicked witch cast a spell on us (the fair-maiden) causing us to marry a toad, who we thought was a prince, and now the spell’s wearing off leaving us trapped and discontent?  Now we’ve accepted our “mistake” and just gone into deal-with-it mode.  This is life – it’s just how it is.  “My husband won’t change,” “He doesn’t care,” “there’s no romance,” or “we’ve grown apart” is now the norm.  O.K. so it’s not that bleak for all of us, but it is different than most of us expected it would be.  Then children came!

All that to say; what are we going to do about it?  Seriously, the bible says we have the power God had when He rose Christ form the dead and placed Him above all authority (Ephesians 1:19).  That seems like it would be enough power to do anything doesn’t it?  Power to overcome our past and leave it with God forever, power to overcome resentment and pride that has built up against each other, power to act more like Christ each day, power to train up our children in the way they should go so they won’t depart from it, power to soften a hardened heart (toward God or someone who has hurt or offended you), power to have the joy and fulfillment in your life that you originally had going into your relationship with your husband!  The only way any of this will happen is under COMPLETE SURRENDER of your will, pride and life to God and COMPLETE OPENNESS (willingness) to HIS WAY of doing things.  You think it would be best to do something one way and the Holy Spirit is telling you to do it another way (which usually is a less comfortable way that doesn’t make much sense to you or your friends)  Well here’s something – God’s way is always the right way. Maybe not the easiest, but always better in the end than all our running in circles doing what we want and not getting the result we wanted.  “Well, if God would do it right, I’d give this to Him, but He just screws it up.”  “He wasn’t listening to what I told Him I needed or wanted.”   Some of us have a really hard time trusting God because He doesn’t do things like we want Him to.  We gave Him a couple of options that would work for us and He chose “E.) None of the above.”  Well, we had just better do it ourselves!  Men! Ughhh!  This attitude carries over to our husbands – if you think your husband can’t do anything right – chances are you don’t think God can either.  Think about it.

For all of us, the reasons why we don’t trust make sense and can be totally justified.  How we were raised as well as relationships with parents, friends, boyfriends and other people who may have disrespected our freedom in some way have all shaped us and how we function.  We need to see ourselves how God sees us and ask Him to take away the burden of how all these other people have shaped us.  The enemy has used many of these people to keep you from operating in the fullness of all that God has for you and from you helping others receive the fullness of God through you.  When you’re hurting it’s harder for you to help other people who are hurting because you are still nursing your own wounds.

So, now what? Jesus says He knows that we “need all these things,” and that we need to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33)  To me that means God knows what we need and He wants us to talk with Him about it and seek His answers and not our own.  His answers come through prayer and/or reading His words in the Bible.  Are you frustrated with your husband or children?  PRAY!  Read what God has to say about how each of these relationships are supposed to function under His plan.  Listen!  His kingdom is powerful and He says if we seek it “all these things will be added unto you.”  He has given you a desire in your heart for a good marriage and family.  He can help you achieve that desire if we’ll just do it His way.

If any of you have some scriptures to add regarding how God sees us, I would love to have them.  I wrote this letter Monday morning and was waiting to send it until I had gathered scriptures about how God sees us together, but I think I’ll send it out to you and let you help me finish this thing!  That’s all I got – hope you all have a great week and that we live in the promises that God has for us!

J

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