Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 30: Letter to Your Husband

We made it!! Here we are at day 30.  Bittersweet, right?

So, today's topic was a wrap up of everything we gleaned from this devotional and an opportunity to put it all to work in a love letter to our husbands.  Jennifer asks us which part of the challenge was the most difficult part.  For me, it was just beginning.  I think a love letter is an ultimate and very profound way to end our journey in this devotional so I wanted my love letter to begin just as my emotions are about it.

As far as giving it to Torey, I'm not sure how I will do that.  But I certainly am praying over it for just the right moment and way to give it to him.  What did you ladies find to be the hardest part of the letter?  Do you think you will publish it through Jennifer's webpage?  I haven't decided myself yet.

Again, thank you for taking this journey with me ladies.  I am so so so thankful for each of you and all that you've shared.  My faith has exponentially grown and I feel like I've grown so much as a person as well.  Not to mention, I feel more at peace day-to-day and feel more happiness in general.

Here is Jennifer's day 30 youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDtSWNoYIoo&feature=share&list=UU4eNMsClvcxA8kRdpQwEBNw&index=1

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 29: The Unveiled Wife

I cannot believe tomorrow is our last day of this study! This has been such an amazing journey, ladies! I hope you have gained so much from this devotional and this blog. I know I definitely have!

Unveiled Wife: 
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Today's challenge is to commit to memory the verse above. I thought the video today was really good as well as the reading. I love the imagery Jennifer paints while the wedding ceremony and the bride being unveiled. I think this topic goes right along with the last two days of our devotional about intimacy. Through intimacy with God and our husbands we can be come the unveiled wife.

Today I pray for each of us that we will turn to God as scripture says and we will experience true freedom and peace. I pray that this journey and devotional will bring us closer to God and our husbands and that we will continue to grow as wives and followers of Christ. I pray for each of us, that whatever our struggles are today (mine seem endless today) that we would turn to God and give everything to Him! I pray that we will not lean on our own understanding but trust in the Lord and allow Him to make our paths straight. AMEN!

What is one step you can take to be unveiled before God, as well as with your husband?

I can start by memorizing today's verse. Then I can pray more and reveal my heart to God and to my husband through acts of intimacy. 


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 28: Intimacy in Marriage

I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend.

Today's topic is one that I wish would have been earlier in the devotional.  I struggle with intimacy in my marriage personally and I am really glad that Jennifer included it in her devotional.  I learned a lot about the other ways to increase intimacy with Torey by honest communication, sexual intimacy, praying together, confessing sins to one another, doing date nights (I have never thought of date nights in the context of intimacy before - cool!), sharing goals and dreams, serving and blessing each other, and pursuing each other passionately.  I also learned that over time these things will build trust, faithfulness and confidence in each other.  I feel like there are definitely ways that Torey and I can build intimacy after all of our brokenness after our son was born.  That process will be a rebuilding process that will take lots of time.

I also like how Jennifer says that marriage will reach fulfillment when we both work towards oneness, but we both each are called to do our parts despite what the other is doing or not doing.

Is there anything that keeps you from initiating intimacy with your husbands?  I find that for me, feeling vulnerable and that my husband fully knowing me and judging me keeps me from initiating intimacy at times.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 27: Intimacy with God

Good Afternoon Girls,

I cannot believe we only have 3 days left of this study. I am really going to miss blogging each day and going through this study with each of you.

Intimacy with God...I thought today's devotional was beautiful. I was really in awe reading and thinking about all the ways God woos me with his love and how desperately he desires intimacy with me. It is truly a love story. Somethings I highlighted and reflected on are that "Intimacy is the process of drawing closer to another." That reminds me of another verse in scripture: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8. But what keeps us from being open and intimate with God? Many things.... sin, fear, pride, fear of being vulnerable, etc. I think the very same things that hinder us from being completely unveiled and intimate with our husbands are the same things that hinder us from being intimate with God.

"Sin hinders intimacy, but forgiveness restores it. Sin hinders intimacy, but love redeems it." I think personally, my pride of thinking oh I can handle this or that hinders me from intimacy with God. We know pride is a form of sin, too. I think something else that happens is we get in the mindset of God already knows everything, He sees everything, so why do I need to communicate everything to him? But he longs to hear from us and the closer we get to God, the more we feel his presence, the more we can experience the blessings of peace and joy in our lives and the more we can be a light for others.

How will an intimate relationship with God affect your marriage?
The closer I am to God the more I see positive changes in Justin, the more I see him desire to be a spiritual leader, the more we pray together, the more we have peace.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 26: Hiding From God

This devotional was very eye-opening for me.  I never thought about how often I "hide" things from both God and my husband. Most of the time it is not intentional, but it happens pretty regularly. I tend to bottle up my emotions when it comes to certain things. By nature, I am a worrier. I have always been that way. However, my husband is not. He does not let things bother him. In fact, his carefree attitude often makes me angry.  I feel like I always have to be the one to make the hard decisions and map out our future. 

After reading today's devotional, I realized that I am resentful about this. I have never told him about my feelings.  I have "hidden" my feelings about this issue because I feel that he may not understand my viewpoint. I have realized that we probably need to discuss this subject, but there is never an easy opening to strike up a conversation on this topic.  I know that by continuing to "hide" this from him will only make things worse. My resentfulness will grow and will begin to affect other areas of our marriage.  It is probably time to talk it over and let him know how I feel.

In the same way, I have "hidden" things from God as well.  I have always had issues with prayer because I feel that God knows what is in my heart regardless of whether I decide to tell him or not. I "hide" things by not openly praying about the things that I struggle with. It is true that he knows all; however, it is also true that by not praying I am neglecting my relationship with God. This is something that I definitely need to work on. I plan to make it a point to pray everyday.  I need to work on my communication with both God and my husband. After all, communication is one of the most important aspects of every relationship.

Another issue that I struggle with is justifying my behavior. I make excuses all the time for the things that I do. I tend to blame Ryan for a lot of the problems that we have experienced in our marriage, but the truth is, I have caused a far share of the issues.  I blame him for not communicating with me about his feelings and emotions.  However, as I said earlier, I have done the exact same thing.  I know that in order to grow my relationship with my husband as well as God, I will have to start talking about my feelings and letting them both know what is truly in my heart. It will be difficult, but I believe that it will be well worth it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 25: Fruitfulness

The fruits of the spirit include love, patience, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. All of these attributes embody Christ.  I know that I lack several of these attributes.  The two I need the most work on seem to be patience and joy. I am very impatient and get agitated very easily. As a result, I often come home in a bad mood.  My lack of joy is very evident to my husband. I can tell that this bothers him a lot. He seems to think that my unhappiness occurs when I am at home, which is not the case.

Therefore, I plan to pray that God will grant me patience for the things that are beyond my control.  I also plan to make it a point to leave my stress and anxiety at work rather than bringing it home with me.  I have always had issues with this area. However, Ryan makes it seem relatively easy.  Maybe I can get some pointers from him. Wish me luck!

What areas do you feel that you need to work on?  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 24: The Parts of Marriage

Happy Hump Day Girls!

It is so crazy we are already on Day 24 of 30!

Today's topic is all about the parts of marriage. I love the scripture reading and references to the  human body and its parts. Some things I highlighted from today's reading are:

" The example Paul chose simply explains how parts make up a whole"

" A foot, an ear, an eye are all individual parts, working alongside other parts to fulfill their function and to make up the whole human body."

"Likewise, as a Christian you become a member of Christ's body, working alongside other believers to fulfill God's will." "Everyone is given a different distribution of gifts by the Holy Spirit, they work in unity and in obedience to God."

 Your husband is one part and you are one part but together you are whole and make up the body of your marriage. Each of you bring different attributes to the table through your God given gifts via the Holy Spirit. Without both of your attributes, your marriage would not be whole or complete. I just want to encourage each of you today. Whether you have pinpointed your gifts or you can't seem to think of one gift you possess. God created you in His image (Day 1). That means he designed each of us with such create creativity and uniqueness. You may not realize it or you may doubt it, but your gifts make a difference in others lives, in your marriage, and to your husband.  Sweet friends, each of you possess a gift and have a purpose. Your gift may be to give financial advice or service to others, to show God's love by being a mother, to heal patients through chiropractic, to provide a listening ear to others, to encourage others, the possibilities are endless. So, even though you may not know exactly what your gifts are, recognize that God have given you great purpose and gifts through the Holy Spirit. We are called to use our gifts to care for the body (ie our marriage).

Just like you take care of your body daily, what are some things you can do to take care of your marriage daily to maintain it and keep it healthy?

I can pray for Justin daily and pay attention to his needs and care for his needs as a wife by being loving, supportive, encouraging, and respectful. I can also pray for myself for God to continue to mold me and change me into a Godly wife... A wife after God!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 23: Gifts of the Spirit

Good Evening Ladies,

I cannot believe how quickly this study is winding down.

Today's topic is about the gifts of the spirit. I know I have briefly mentioned this topic in my previous writings earlier in the study. Each of us has specific God given gifts. We are able to utilize these gifts through the gift of the Holy Spirit. As Jennifer mentioned in the video today, I do not spend much time thinking about the Holy Spirit. But to quote today's reading, " Remember all gifts are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do God's work." We are given our specific gifts and talents to glorify God and do complete and carry out God's work. I feel like this gives are lives true meaning and purpose. Have you been able to identify your specific spiritual gifts? Maybe you never really thought about the gifts you have within you through the Holy Spirit?

One of the gifts mentioned, and by far the biggest gift of all is Love. As Jennifer highlights the definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, we see that Love encompasses so much more than what the four letter word implies.  Within the gift of love, there are many different gifts, aspects, and opportunities to give the gift of love. For today's challenge I read the scripture in 1 Corinthians. I, like many people, remember this scripture very well as it was included in my wedding ceremony. I read the scripture and visited the website. The area of love I struggle with a lot is Trust. I struggle with trust because my husband has broken my trust in the past by lying and not being transparent with me. As the section about trust suggests, we are counseling at church with a Christian counselor weekly. Without trust intimacy becomes a challenge in a marriage. But we continue to pray and I continue to pray individually about this struggle. God has really been working in my marriage and slowly but steadily we press on improving and growing together.

So, did you take the challenge today? If so, what area of love do you struggle with?



Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 22: Prayer For Your Marriage

Good morning!

Today's devotional taught me a lot about how God can work through Torey and I if we invite Him into our daily lives and marriage through prayer.  I especially liked the verse from Mark about how if there are two or more people coming together in Christ that He is present.  How amazing is that!  I also learned that not only is it important for Torey and I to pray together about things we're thankful for, but also specifically over our marriage.  I am really looking forward to praying with him again when he comes home and also to talk about today's topic and all of the things we can pray for.

Is there anything you ladies found to be holding you back from praying with your husbands if you don't already pray with them daily?  If you already pray with them, are there ever times when you don't want to pray with them because something is holding you back?  For me, I think I'm scared of feeling embarrassed if Torey thinks my prayers are silly.  I'm willing to put that fear aside though and to just dive in.  We'll see how it goes!


Wow, today's video is a heavy duty one from Jennifer.  I definitely recommend watching it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 21: Prayer for Your Husband

Good Morning Girls,

Is anyone planning to head to church today? I am! I am breaking my "I hate Sundays" cycle!

As I mentioned yesterday the next few days are focused on prayer. Yesterday we learned about humbling ourselves and praying for ourselves. Today Jennifer discusses the importance of praying for your husband. The focus verses for today are so fitting.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do you girls pray for your husband regularly? I could certainly stand to do more praying for Justin. Somethings I can pray for him are job opportunities, safety at work, his leadership in our marriage, and against the evil schemes that plot and try to attack/destroy our marriage. Jennifer also mentions encouraging your husband. I like to send Justin texts during his breaks with Bible verses or just let him know I love him and am thinking of him. I sometimes leave post in notes for him to get in the mornings before work. It doesn't really work out for us to pray together in the mornings before work because our schedules are so opposite, though.
I truly believe in the power of prayer. I think there is something so powerful in knowing someone is praying for you. Has anyone talked with their husbands about praying together or invited your husband to pray with you? It is such a powerful action to pray together. I will tell you this... As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was really discouraged this week and spent time asking God why a lot. Justin and I argued a lot more than we have been. Then I realized... we had been doing the devotional we do each night, but we had been neglecting our prayer time together. Satan will use any and every chance he sees to attack your marriage and through flaming darts at it. I love that Jennifer refers to prayer as our weapon against such attacks. I am slowly starting to recognize them more and more. The more I pray, the more Satan cringes, the more I recognize the evil schemes and the more I know how vital prayer is to my marriage and my daily life.


Day 20: Prayer For You

Good morning!  I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day yesterday.

Today's devotional on prayer was another good one.  I'm sure all of us grew up praying and learning that we pray to God whenever we want to talk to Him.  I didn't, however, realize that we are called to pray and that to have a more intimate and deepened relationship with God, we need to pray often and throughout each day.

I really liked Jennifer's list of things we can and should pray about and for.  I also liked in today's youtube video how Jennifer says that sometimes she feels like God is all-knowing and that she doesn't feel like she needs to explain what's going on in her life, but when she does she experiences incredible things and it deepens her intimacy with God.  I often feel like that, but today's topic opened my eyes that I need to be praying to God for all of those things I think He already knows.

Another thing I struggle with is praying for myself.  For the last probably ten years I have always prayed for others - for the safety and health of my family, and for others who need prayer.  I almost felt like that if I continually prayed to God for myself I would be selfish.  I now understand the importance of praying for myself.

Has prayer always come easy to you?  Or have you struggled in ways?


Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 19: Who You Are Called To Be

Good Morning ladies!
Happy Valentine's Day! <3 

Another great devotional today on who God is calling us all to be.  Jennifer chose some powerful scriptures and also gave the link at the end for other great scriptures as well.  I'm probably going to print that out and put it in my journal.  So to cut to the chase, God is calling us to be Holy as God is Holy, honor Him with our bodies, and love as Jesus loves.

I especially loved the part about honoring God with our bodies.  Since we are temples for the Holy Spirit to live within us, this encompasses physically being healthy but also mentally being confident and accepting.  The being healthy part is actually in the Bible (thanks to The Daniel Plan for pointing that out to me prior to today).  God calls us to be healthy and to take care of our bodies to honor Him.  I think that is truly powerful in my life because I have also been called to help patients to become healthy through chiropractic and nutrition.   Wow - it's definitely coming full circle for me in my life.

Jennifer also mentions that God is calling us to love His Word, meditate on it (which also means to repeat it in our head multiple times throughout the day), memorize it, saturate our souls with it and relish in the beauty of His call.  As I am eager to learn more of God's truths, I'm also a little overwhelmed by that task that He is calling for me to do!  I think there will be more Bible studies and devotionals in my future to help me with that.

Other callings Jennifer mentions on her linked page are that we are called to... be pure, to forgive, to be kind, to trust, to tithe, to be generous, to be faithful, to be monogamous, to pray, to flee temptation, to be humble, to teach, to not worry, and to not fear.

Are there any callings that and of you ladies struggle with daily?  I struggle with (and need to work on) loving others as myself, forgiveness, not worrying, and not fearing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 18: Diamond in the Rough

Hi Ladies,

Are you all ready to celebrate Valentine's Day with your husbands/families?

Today's topic was really encouraging to read this morning. I love Diamonds (what girl doesn't?) but especially because my sorority's (Alpha Delta Pi) gem was diamonds. I highlighted the statement," Despite the harsh conditions required to form a diamond, its name is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning unbreakable. This precious gem of utmost quality and concern is considered unbreakable."  Does anyone feel unbreakable today? I feel completely broken. I have really been struggling this week with a lot of things. But I found today's reading to be encouraging. First, I completely agree with each and every bullet point Jennifer made today regarding the pressures of the world. I put so much pressure on myself to be the "perfect wife" to always be on and to always perform. I feel I need to have the house spotless, the dinners cooked, the laundry done, the lunch made, the school work done, the errands run, etc. It is exhausting!! Not to much all the other lists regarding appearances, body image, the guilt of spending time with family members when they ask you to, and the pressures at work. But these pressures are not of God. These pressures stem from what the world tells us. It is overwhelming to juggle all these pressures, isn't it? I end up being bitter and tired from juggling all these tasks and Justin comes home to a hot mess of a wife after work. We have even talked about all these expectations I place on myself in counseling. Even though we talked through it all and Justin's made it clear he doesn't need a 4 course meal every night or a spotless house he wants me to be happy and relaxed during our time together instead of a spaz! He tries to even share in the responsibilities around the house.  But I struggle to break the mentality I have based on what the world tells us. I have made it a goal this Sunday to break the cycle of "I hate Sundays!"that I mentioned this past Sunday. I have talked with a friend and we are planning to go to church together (this breaks the I don't want to go to church alone mentality), have lunch afterwards (meaning my school work should be done before Sunday this week), have leftovers or dinner in the crock pot (that takes away the stress of cooking), and we are working on cleaning the house by doing small things like vacuuming/mopping one night, bathrooms another, etc.( this breaks the whole I have to deep clean everything thought) and enjoy the afternoon by pinteresting, making a tie blanket, or watching TV (Trista and I have talked and we both have trouble just sitting down and watching TV when there are a zillion other tasks to complete.) So this my goal for Sunday... to break the stress and pressure put on me by me and the world. I need to remember to persevere in my relationship with God and my husband and to refute what the world tells me.... which are usually all lies.

So what about today's challenge? What are some of the biggest pressures you feel on a daily basis and how do they affect you?

I shared a few of mine today in my writing. I am going to jot down the list as Jennifer suggests and try to write the positives... that will be the challenge for me... the positives.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 17: Wisdom Calls Out

Happy Wednesday!

Today's topic on wisdom is something I think as wives, we desperately need.  I know, in my own situation, I feel like I need to be in control and with that, comes me making my own decisions.  I lack the effort to ask God to guide me with wisdom, even in my everyday life.  I'll be honest, I ask him for wisdom when it comes to tough things in life that I don't feel I can do on my own, but I don't ask for His wisdom about everyday things, like raising my son.

I learned today that God's wisdom trumps all other wisdom and makes other wisdom look foolish (including my own!).  It's the only true wisdom and it's worth is incomparable.   I also found it interesting and awesome that if you desire God's wisdom, ask for it and he will give it generously.  I also liked how Jennifer mentions that if we strive to seek His wisdom and live more like Him, we will gain wisdom through the process of transformation.  It's coming full circle!

In what instances have you acted on your own wisdom instead of God's wisdom?

I feel like I've taken my own reigns in raising my son, when I should be seeking God's wisdom in doing that.  My son is 18 months old and is not talking yet, so I have been trying "everything in the book" to guide him to begin talking.  I think this is one I need God's wisdom for.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 16: Reverence for Christ

Hello Ladies,

Happy Tuesday!

Today's devotional topic on Reverence for Christ is one that I struggled with early on when it was mentioned in the early days of our devotional.  I couldn't see past the idea that I needed to submit to my husband along with God in order to live out his will.  It just didn't sit well with me.  I'm glad Jennifer devoted an entire day to the topic to open it up further.  I'm also glad she listed numerous scripture readings.  After reading and rereading today, I've come to the conclusion that submitting to my husband isn't really that bad of an idea after all.  Actually, I've come to find it a little humbling. I think that if I sustain my faith in God, that faith will definitely rub off on my husband and he will see that leading our family in love is a very important thing.  And, if I let him lead us, he will feel more worthy (although I know we learned that we need to find total worth from God and not entirely from our partner) to do so.

I also loved the quote from Matthew Henry about how God created the woman and about how He created us to be equal, to stand side by side, to be protected by man and to be near his heart to be loved by man..not to be on top or to be trampled on by him.


P.S. I LOVE her sweatshirt!  I may have to order one sometime!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 15: Fear Not

Good Evening Girls. How was everyone's Monday? DAY 15... can you believe we are already halfway through this devotional!?

I read today's devotional this morning at work. I was planning in my mind what I would say about fear. Then, tonight I experienced fear myself. Here's the story...

I was excited to get off work a little early today since our last patient cancelled. I was able to leave the office around 5:30 pm which is about 30 minutes earlier than I normally leave. I was mentally going through my list of things I could accomplish before Justin got home from work at 6:30 pm. I was going to run the vacuum, write this blog, make dinner, feed the dogs, etc. I drove home talking to my mom on the phone like I do most days after work. I pulled into our driveway and I noticed my mom's bedroom light was on. I had come home at lunch and didn't remember seeing any lights on. No cars were in our driveway... it was just me. Fear instantly came over me. Why was there a light on? Was someone in the house? I stayed on the phone with my mom and went into the house. I went into the kitchen and put my things down. We keep the bedroom doors shut while we aren't home to keep the dogs from going into them and making a mess. Her door was shut but I could see light through the space between the door and the frame. I looked at the door for a few seconds. I heard a noise and thought I saw movement from under the door. I got my keys and left the house. I went back outside and got into my car and locked the doors. At this point I was really freaking out. Justin got off work and came home as fast as he could. He got home and checked the house. The touch lamp on one of the nightstands was on. I made him check the entire house to make sure no one was here. The light is very sensitive and sometimes it just comes on by itself, which it has done in the past. Pretty creepy! I was full of fear this evening. I think my pulse has returned to a normal rate now... whew... Maybe you all can get a good laugh from my crazy story?? :-)

Here's what I was originally planning to discuss tonight... I think we can all relate to the subject of fear. I really liked the focus verses today.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you.
Isaiah 41: 10

I found great comfort in this verse. And it is very applicable to my little run in with fear this evening.
Other things I highlighted from today's reading:

" fear can grip the heart, cloud the mind, and steal opportunities to experience audacious, awe-inspiring moments."

"it can be debilitating as it exhausts you  mentally, weakens you emotionally, and hinders you spiritually.

"Faith will radically change the way you view your husband!"

"Faith will lead you to communicate with your husband in amazing ways, intimate ways, where you won't be afraid of letting your husband know the real you."

I am a known worrier. I fear the unknown. I worry constantly and I think I have my whole life. I am not sure why. If I listed all the many things I have been fearful of or worried about it would probably take hours, even days. And Jennifer is right, fear is exhausting! In high school my anxiety reached a level that was unhealthy. I was not able to sleep at night because my mind was reeling with worries and fears. The doctor put me on prescription medicine for anxiety for a while. Prayer and scripture reading is somewhat helpful, but I have yet to overcome my struggle with fear. In my relationship with Justin, I have a constant insecurity or fear of him leaving me, getting bored with me, or following out of love with me. I have expressed these fears to him before. He always looks at me like I have 3 eyeballs and tells me I am so crazy. In talking to Justin about today's devotional  I asked him how fear negatively impacts our marriage. He shared with me some of the fears he has that negatively impacts our relationship that often leads to arguments. He shared that fear about finances and the fact that he doesn't have a "real" job lined up yet, fear about when our next argument is going to occur, and fear about the uncertainty of what the future holds for us in terms of jobs all have a negative impact. And I share a lot of those exact fears. Both of our fears combine lead to arguments, stress, and anxiety. We tend to snap at each other and as Justin would say, "have a short fuse" with each other.

I like how Jennifer refers to the unknown as an adventure. How did you guys interpret today's challenge? How will you go about today's challenge? I am still thinking about it.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 14: Forgiveness

Good Afternoon Ladies,

I hope your weekend has been enjoyable. I can't believe we have already reached the two week mark of our study! Whoo Hoo!

 I am in a funk today. I have gotten to the point that I dislike Sundays. Sundays used to mean church, good food, naps in the afternoons, and relaxing before the upcoming week. But now Sundays around my house consist of my mom packing and heading to the airport to fly out again for work (she has been forced to travel nonstop for her job over the last 6-8 months), Justin working, me not wanting to go to church by myself, me being a stressed out frazzled mess over schoolwork, cooking, cleaning, and getting everything ready for the next week. UGH!!!! I hate what it has become for me. Then, I sit down and open our devotional to today's topic... Forgiveness. Of course Justin and I have been fighting last night/this morning over text. Reading about forgiveness is a tough pill for me to swallow.

While today's story about a wife struggling to forgive her husband for his repeated struggle with watching pornography isn't actually the same thing I struggle to forgive my husband for, I can certainly relate to her hurt, bitterness, and tendency to want to hold a grudge. When Jennifer lists other sources of contention that may arise in marriage, I highlighted fiances (exactly what we have been arguing about over the last day), lying (that is a repeated offense in my marriage), and  family (my relationship with Justin's family-specifically his dad and sisters-that one is a deep one with many wounds; also my mom's role in interfering in our marriage-difficult because we are living in her house right now).

I totally get that we should forgive because Jesus forgave us and took upon our sins and died on the cross. That's the ultimate act of love and forgiveness. Here is where I struggle... maybe you girls can relate??
It is when the offense, issue, behavior, etc. is repetitive. It is really discouraging when I found Justin and I arguing about the same topic over and over and over again. It's like there is no resolve. It's like it is unsolvable problem. Things that I have made clear are not acceptable, hurtful, upsetting, etc. I did my part to communicate whatever the thing is and why and how it affects/upsets me. He vows not to do whatever that may be... but then... it happens AGAIN! and I get an "I'm sorry babe. I feel bad" or "I was gonna ________ (fill in the blank) or "I'm trying" In my head I am like yeah okay, I have heard this all before, or what exactly is it you're "trying" to do?! Can anyone relate to any of this? Or is it just me?

I have a hard time forgiving repeated offenses. And to some degree I believe behavior is cyclic. So I feel like if I forgive I am saying, yes, what you did is ok. It is not okay! I was reading somewhere, I can't recall now what it was, but it said when your husband apologizes instead of saying  the stock answer, "That's okay" say I forgive you. This way you are not condoning the offense or accepting it. You are simply offering grace and forgiveness.

Other things I highlighted in today's reading:
" A sincere apology should be able to stand alone."
And then in her prayer: " I pray that you help me to receive my husband's apologies, but also forgive him regardless of whether he is sorry or not.

Those are two really powerful statements. Sometimes I feel the "I'm Sorry" I hear from Justin is not sincere, only words he is used to or programmed to say. But I am focusing a lot of today's prayer. I think we talked a little bit yesterday about how some of us struggle to apology or accept apologies in order to reconcile. I know I do. I am the queen of holding grudges and keeping a score tally. This is a topic I need true prayer and meditation on scripture in order to break because for me... it is a life long habit.

In closing today, I just want to say... I love you ladies and am so thankful for your dedication to this study, to our friendships, to God, and to your husbands!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day 13: Coated in Pride

I hope everyone is enjoying this weekend and staying warm.

Day 13... Pride. Today as I was reading my pencil was going nuts highlighting scripture reading and Jennifer's writing on pride. I am guilty of being prideful, no doubt about that one. I first wanted to talk about the focus verses for today.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

To me in this verse the term fall could mean a failure, a fall in my marriage. A fall usually causes harm and even injury, right. Pride happens just before a fall. It is sort of like cause and effect. This verse really stuck out to me when I was reading today. So I thought I would start with it.

Also, the verse Matthew 5:5 is part of a set of verses called the Beatitudes. It is a powerful set of verses in scripture. If you haven't ever read them through before I would just encourage you to take a minute and read them. They are Matthew 5:2-12.

As for Jennifer's writing today, here are somethings that I highlighted that stuck out to me and that I identified with.

" Pride will convince you that your opinions, your actions, and your ways can all be justified as right"
" I can do it on my own"
" it keeps you from praying"
"it will keep you from apologizing, and it will keep you from forgiving"
"Pride gives birth to bitterness and resentment."

Wow! True, True and True! Does anyone else really identify with these statements, or is it just me?
The first 3 months of my marriage was a disaster. I had so much bitterness and resentment towards Justin for many different reasons (having to live at my mom's instead of having our own place, him not having a job lined up, him being delayed in finishing his school program, etc). Night after night, argument after argument the devil was really attacking our marriage. Our marriage was under attack as if we were a small country being bombed by our enemies left and right. I remember even saying during several of our fights, I can do it all on my own, I don't need you. Now as I write this today I am so ashamed of all the hurtful things I have said and done to my husband out of pride. I cannot get back those 3 months, I cannot take back the hurtful, prideful words/actions I already said and did. I can only continue to ask God to change my heart and move forward in doing my part to make my marriage grow. I can ask for forgiveness and move away from my pride.

In today's video, Jennifer talked about how in the beginning she used to think, I'm not the problem. What's wrong with my husband." I had the same mentality. And I would get angry at God and ask why are you allowing this to happen. I am trying and nothing is working." Nothing was working because I was still full of pride, bitterness, and resentment. With all of that how can their be any room in a person's heart to love and forgive. It was not until I actually started praying for God to change my heart, forgive me for my actions, and start trusting in His plan for us that our marriage has slowly started to turn around. Of course we had done several other things to improve it such as joining a Life Group at church, doing the Love Dare devotional together each night and praying together afterwards, and going to counseling through our church each week.

I am curious ladies, do you and your hubby pray together regularly?

Pride keeps me from reconciling with my husband after conflict. I don’t want to give in and make it seem like what happened was ok, and for some reason I convince myself that making-up sends that message. In my hurt I want my husband to feel hurt too, so I withhold forgiveness, kindness, love, compassion. But this is not what Jesus teaches! Over the years I have become much better at laying down my pride to preserve my marriage!  
- Jennifer Smith


Friday, February 7, 2014

Day 12: The Armor of God

Happy Friday!

Today's topic on the full armor of God is an in depth topic. I remember referencing part of today's scripture reading on one of the other days in the beginning of our devotional! I love that this devotional forces me to get into scripture. I am glad she didn't list the scriptures on the page. It would have promoted my laziness to open up my Bible each day. Of course that is what the devil wants... he wants me to feel like oh I don't need to open  my Bible and read scripture daily. Yeah Right Satan....

The topic of the full armor of God is scripture I have read before and am familiar with. I have heard sermons on this topic and it has been covered in other devotionals I have done before. But I love how Jennifer takes the time to break each of the pieces of the armor down and how she relates it to our marriages. Today's challenge is actually a good challenge to try out. It will take some rereading of the verses to get down all the pieces of the full armor but once you do it several days in a roll you will get it! I can just picture each of us getting ready in the mornings, putting on all the pieces of armor to take on the battle field known as our daily lives.

Here are a couple of quotes I really liked from other wives:

What “flaming arrows” threaten your marriage?

I see flaming arrows as lies and insecurities from the enemy about my husband’s love and care for me. I often say things out of my hurt after believing deception from the enemy like, “He must not care because...he did this or didn’t do that!”

And they are moments I allow discontentment into my heart, believing that what I have isn't good enough. The attitude that stems from disappointment is ugly. - Jennifer Smith

We as wives are responsible for what we assume our husbands are thinking. With God's hand on our lives and marriages we have to put our faith in God and marriage and no matter what the enemy puts in our marriage we have to lean on God.

The enemy puts many things in our marriage (lies, deceit, hurtful words, and unfaithfulness but if we put on God's armor: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of spirit) we can defeat the enemy." - Gwen Ladner Dodds


I really really identify with Jennifer's quote. I have even said things like that to myself before. Now I see these were all attacks on my marriage in the form of lies and insecurities. 

Which of the pieces of armor do you struggle the most with? 

For me it is the Gospel of Peace and the Shield of Faith. I often experience anxiety, fear, and insecurity. It often comes to the surface in the form of lashing out at Justin. I see it now, but it's taken a long time for me to realize. For the Shield of Faith, it has been hard to understand and trust that God's plan is so much Bigger and better than anything Justin and I can plan for ourselves. In waiting for God to show us where he is taking us with jobs has been frustrating. I lack patience, as I think most people do. We want things to fall into place NOW! But I think God just giggles at us struggling while he already has all of the pieces of the puzzle put together and all of the plans in place. We just have to trust him. Sounds easy, right?! Easier said than done! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day 11: Pure Joy

Today's topic was on creating pure joy by being a living sacrifice for God. I'll be honest, this is a topic I often find myself struggling with because I have selfish tendencies when it comes to taking care of my family or myself.  I don't always give of myself or make sacrifices outside my home.  I do sacrifice much of my own wants or needs though for my husband and my son.  I prayed about this in my journal that God opens my eyes and heart to blessing others more often.  Don't get me wrong, I am definitely the type to hold the door for a mom struggling with her baby or I give a warm smile to a total stranger in a store.. I just feel like I can do more, much more.

I love the story about the two wives where the one wife leaves the cupcake and warm message at the door for the other.  I have been blessed in much the same way a few times in my life and it can change your heart in a second.  This devotional topic really has me thinking of ways outside the box to bless others who may or may not need it.

Do you ladies find it easy to be a living sacrifice?  And do you have any fears yourself about this calling from God?  My fear is my humanly selfishness creeping it's way back into my life.


P.S.  I KNEW IT!  As I was reading through the cupcake story, I had a feeling it was Jennifer's story!! :-)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day 10: Perfect Posture

Today's devotional spoke to the fact that even as Jesus was carrying the cross to his inevitable crucifixion and death, he held perfect posture.  He composed Himself with humbleness, compassion, selflessness, patience and unconditional love all the while feeling pain and knowing His destiny.

I loved how Jennifer says, "attitude is the posture of your heart and it is almost always expressed physically through your body language."  How true is that!?  I struggle with attitude issues once in a while and I felt like this devotional topic really spoke to me and reminded me that if I choose to live like Christ did with those attributes mentioned above, that I will experience better communication, true love, a home filled with peace, and create an atmosphere for intimacy with God and with my husband.

This morning Torey and I spent some time discussing the last four days' devotional topics and scriptures as well as challenges.  He said that he has noticed a change in my overall happiness and compassion.  He sees God working through me and I feel it is changing the dynamic in our home.  I hope to continue to build the light that God has lit within me as mentioned in Day 9's devotional on being a good wife.

Today's challenge on making myself more aware of my attitude expressed through my body language will be a true challenge for me.  I'm often not aware of my effect on my husband and my family when I'm upset, but I will be diligent and try my best to make myself aware.  (I'll be praying about this one too.)

What did you ladies find are positive and negative examples of postures expressed towards your husbands?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 9: The Good Life

Good Morning Ladies! We made it to Pigeon Forge last night. We had a great dinner and then relaxed at our suite, which is in my opinion nicer than our room we stayed in at the Orpyland Hotel after our wedding reception. We are so blessed to be able to have this time together and such awesome accommodations.

Ladies, don't feel overwhelmed if you haven't been able to post over the last few days. Don't be discouraged. Just jump back in and pick up where you left off. Satan wants you to feel like it's too much to catch up but that's simply one of his many lies and schemes to keep you from growing closer to God and your husband.

Ok today's topic... Today's story brought tears to my eyes. What a powerful story of unconditional love. I know in my own thinking and mindset I would have been very frustrated if I were in the wife's shoes. What an amazing example of mirroring Christ's love story.

When I got married and even today I always thought being a good wife meant cooking, cleaning, laundry, being a domestic goddess so to speak! It is exhausting! It is a topic we have been discussing in counseling. It's actually a point of frustration for us. Justin keeps saying I want you to relax and take it easy today (this is usually over the weekend when he works) and I ignore his statement and go right into deep cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, any and every task under the sun. I end the day being cranky and tired and he ends it being frustrated. While I do think God is all for me serving my husband and putting his needs before my own, but I think in our case it's extreme and over the top! I think I need to learn balance and come to the reality that is it okay to take time to relax and have down time.

What is one way you can be a good wife today?
For me I can take a deep breath and left all my millions of thoughts and stresses go and enjoy my husband. I can take the time today as we head out to the attractions and activities and just have fun with him, laughing and celebrating our time together.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Day 8: Confident Worthiness

Happy Monday Ladies! Today starts a new week. I pray your week will be full of blessings, peace, and companionship with both God and your husbands. I thought I would get a head start posting this week since we will be hitting the road around middle of the day today.

This devotional has hit the nail on the head for me every single day! God is really using this book as a tool to show me areas I need to improve and areas to grow in. And I am slowly seeing things change for the positive. We still have bad arguments and still have our struggles, but I am really starting to see God working in our marriage.

The subject of confident worthiness... I love the scripture passages she chose for today's focus verses.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139: 14

I have a hard time with my insecurities. I think some of my wounds are deep seeded in my childhood and my relationship with my father. I came from a broken home, my parents were divorced with I was very young. My father is of the Muslim religion. I spent my childhood going back and forth on court mandated visits to see my father near Tulsa, OK. My mom would always tell me "Your father loves you in his own way." After about the age of 10 I never saw him again. We emailed several times when I was in undergraduate at APSU but nothing since. He has no idea I am a doctor, married, etc. So from this broken relationship with my father it was not until I was already grown up that I realized the damage it caused. I have a hard time viewing men in general in any light other than a negative one. I am insecure in that I always have the mindset that Justin will eventually leave me or not love me or get tired of me. I am always seeking Justin's approval, encouragement, etc. My fear and insecurity gets in the way of me letting God be my everything.

For today's challenge I am looking forward to discussing this topic with Justin on our drive up to the mountains. I think it might be a bit too cold for a walk outside, but we can admire God's beautiful masterpiece from the car and discuss worthiness.

I found this posting from another wife:

Black, fat, bald-headed, and ugly were words used to describe me growing up. I carried them around with me for many years, and I believed them. I tried to find my value and worth through a lot of different things, and everything failed. It was not until I got saved that I realized that I did not have to claim those words that were spoken over me! It was a tactic of the enemy to keep me from God, and blessedly I am onto his lies. Of course I am not perfect, and I do doubt my worthiness, but I can now look in the mirror and see my beauty shinning through. God's love for me and understanding my true value and worth through Him did that!!

Day 7: Marriage is to make you Holy

Can you believe a full week of this devotional has already gone by?? I love it!! I hope each of you are getting as much out of this has I have been. I pray we continue to stay committed to this devotionals and that we will not fall to Satan's silly distractions and tactics! Amen!

Sanctification: To be set apart. A process of transformation to become more like Christ.

I loved Jennifer's analogy with the refining process of Gold and our refining process in our journey as Christians. We each go through "fires" and each "fire" brings about purification. Personal "fires" and "fires" within our marriage."

I also love today's challenge. I haven't had my wedding ring for that long. But I never really spend time just looking at it in reflection. I am looking forward to taking some time today and looking at my ring and reflecting and praying for my marriage. I pray daily and for many things, but it's rare for me to just specifically pray over my marriage, asking that God's will be done.

Here's Jennifer's post from Day 7:
Another area my husband has helped me grow is in manipulation. That is a sin that I have always struggled with! It was something I learned and did often towards my husband to hurt him like I thought I hurt, to justify my point in a matter or win him over to my way of thinking, or to give into my will. My husband is a strong man of character and does not tolerate it when I manipulate. He calls me out immediately and tells me how it hurts him. This challenges me to evaluate the way I think and how I react to certain situations in marriage. I have grown so much in this area, God is rewiring me so that I operate more like Him and less with the bad habits of sin I have learned somewhere in life. 

What transformations are you currently experiencing as a wife or Christian? 
For me right now, I am beginning to recognize Satan's attacks on my marriage. I am beginning to be thankful for so many things that my husband does, is, and has helped me with or shown me. As a Christian, my prayer life is becoming deeper and my connections with fellow Christians is growing. I guess a banner statement for all of this is that my walk with Christ is growing and my faith is being restored after a long period of "drought". 


Day 6: Ministry of Reconciliation

So sorry I got behind yesterday. I was going non stop from 8 am- 10:30 pm last night. I didn't know I could pack that much into a day... Whew!

I hope everyone has had a good weekend. Justin and I will be leaving tomorrow for our get away. Prayers for safe travel are welcomed! I plan to take my laptop with me so I hope to keep on track with our devotional. Feel free to post whenever you are ready, though. Don't feel like you have to wait on me.

Ok today's topic... This is a very practical and important part of marriage I think. I never thought of reconciliation as a ministry though. Here are a couple of quotes from today's reading that really touched me.

" Reconciliation redeems relationships, restoring harmony, peace, and agreement. "
"Your pride will tempt you to withhold, your intellect will try to justify what is fair, your heart will attempt to manipulate your motives"

I really identify with the second quote. That just about covers all my rationals when reconciliation is needed, yet I fight hard against it. I am so guilty of holding onto past hurts and offenses, keeping a running tally, and I am very reluctant to apologize when it's warranted. This is yet again another area God is revealing to me through scripture and this devotional that I need his intervention and guidance with. Does anyone else feel the same? I think for me this is a big area Satan uses as a stronghold. Justin is usually the first to reconcile. I am often guilty of being stubborn and unwilling to let it go and make up or mend our relationship.

Here is something Jennifer said that I couldn't agree more with:

For me it comes down to pride and a defensive stance I take to seek justification and validation for my feelings. When I feed my heart reasons why I am right or reasons why I should not give in by apologizing or forgiving, I lose sight of the fact that my husband and I are one and on the same team. The longer I allow pride to rule in my heart the harder it becomes to reconcile. What I am learning is that humility yields the right to be right, which is necessary for two sinners to remain one.

A quote from another wife:
It's so easy for me to forget that there is a purpose for my marriage, that God brought us together for a reason. It's easy to just go about "normal life" & ignore His purpose for us daily. Through my marriage God has shown me what forgiveness really is. It's not saying that I'm over something & then holding it against my husband when I'm having a bad day. Can you imagine if that was God's way of forgiveness? He's shown me that it is letting go of all the hurt & never looking back at it. I'm not always good at this but when I do genuinely forgive my husband, God gives me an overwhelming peace & I know it reflects His character.

Just curious... what are somethings that keep you girls from reconciling with your husband? or allowing you to mend your relationship after a fight/argument?