Day 2

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Today I am thankful that we receive unique and separate gifts from God. I so often hear my students complain that something isn’t fair. They get upset if one kid gets a box of crayons and they dont. They do not have the ability to comprehend that the receiver of those crayons lives in a household that cannot afford school supplies.

As adults, we understand it, but we still show jealousy toward those who seem to get everything handed to them. We forget that God has given us exactly what we need to carry out His plan for our lives.

My gifts are different from my husbands. I plan. He wrecks plans. I worry. He laughs when I worry. Our personalities are nearly opposites. Therefore,  our Godly gifts must differ. We compliment each other well. He can fill in gaps my shortcomings leave in our household. He steps in when I am weak.

Today I am thankful that God celebrates diversity. I am thankful that He provided a husband for me to work as a teammate through this life.
Blessings!

Finding Comfort

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I have written about this before, but I am a self-diagnosed stress eater.  When I get upset about work, overwhelmed by parenting,  or mad at my husband, I will sit and polish off a bag of chip with dip.  I won’t stop until the whole bag is gone! (I inherited this from my mother!)

Just the other day, I was reading a devotional.  I believe it was something written by Joyce Meyer, but I can’t remember for sure.  It said that each of us has an unfilled place in our soul.  This place longs for comfort.  Some of us fill it with food, others with retail therapy.  A few try to fill it in more dangerous ways with drugs or alcohol.

A minister at a church I attended years ago used to say that each of us had a “God-sized” hole inside of us.  This emptiness can bring despair and misery into our lives.  From this emptiness we have potential to make dangerous decisions, trying to fill the void.  I have known many young girls who try to fill that void with affection from men.  Occasionally, they get lucky and find a kind, caring, loving man to pacify the emptiness.  However, if the whole is God-sized, no human will ever completely fill the void.  No bag of chips will either.

We are created with a place in our souls to be filled by God.  We can search and search for other ways to fill it, but nothing will satisfy our soul like God can.  God intends for us to find comfort in Him. I am not saying that eating chips and dip in moderation is a bad thing, but it won’t fix your problems!  Believe me!  I have tried!  In fact, it just makes you sluggish the next day.

I believe God sends us comfort in many ways.  I believe that my husband was a gift from God.  He can’t fill the God-sized hole, but he tries to comfort me when I need it, encourages me, and helps me navigate through this life.  I often can find small doses of comfort in sitting on my back deck with a cup of hot coffee as the sun rises.  But this amount of comfort cannot fill the God-sized hole either.  Only a relationship with God can.

Here are some verses that remind us of God’s power and desire to fill the void within us.

John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The next time you reach for the bag of chips, or seek comfort in your own way, reach for God.  Strengthen your relationship with Him and find comfort in Him.

Blessings!

For the Love of a Husband

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Have you ever had a conversation with someone that left you feeling a bit jealous?  I rarely feel jealous of other’s belongings, but I sometimes long to have the relationships that others seem to have.  I have found that those relationships are not always as cheery as they first seem, but I think I found a marriage that I truly admire.

I work with a woman who has been married for 16 years.  Every time she speaks of her husband, she speaks in a loving way.  She tells us how much she adores him.  She has told us that she would marry him all over again.  She even tells us all of the great things he does for her.  At some point, somewhere between the comments about him cooking dinner and vacuuming, I began to think about how their situation sounds a lot better than mine.  ***Note:  My marriage is great.  My husband is great!  However, he doesn’t know how to run the vacuum, and we don’t want him to cook!***

The other day, she made a comment that really got me thinking.  She was telling me about her husband’s career and asking about my husband’s career.  I told her that her marriage sounded just perfect.  She replied that she isn’t perfect, he isn’t perfect, and their marriage isn’t perfect, but God is.  Since God is at the center of her marriage, she has no reason to complain.  Therefore, she chooses to share only positive things with others about her marriage and her husband.

I think my jaw dropped, and I just stood there speechless.  However, I heard her message loud and clear.  Her marriage may not be any better than mine, but she chooses carefully what she tells others.  She doesn’t make up lies to make her marriage look great, but she filters out the bad.  Her husband may snore, have a horrible temper, or never pick up his dirty socks, but she only tells us about his good qualities.

My friend went on to say that when she focuses on his good qualities, the bad ones just don’t seem as important.  She told me that it is much easier to love someone when you don’t dwell on their shortcomings.  That is only fair, right?  We don’t want our spouses to dwell on our shortcomings, so why should we dwell upon theirs?

I am grateful that my friend has been placed in my life.  I love her reminder to me about treasuring my husband and our marriage.

Blessings!

Home Sweet Home!

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Whew!!! Vacations are amazing!  I love spending days with my husband.  We just returned from our last trip of the summer.  I now have three days to whip this crew into shape before this momma returns to work!

My husband is an amazing man!  He spent the vast majority of our recent vacation doing things for the kids that he doesn’t normally do.  He changed diapers, poured cups of milk, fed Darling Daughter (not easy without a highchair!), played non stop, and put kids to bed.  However, he is now back at work!

Our normal routine is about to return.  In three days, I go back to teaching full time.  I am not sure my family is fully prepared for rushed dinners, laundry that has to wait until Saturdays, hours of Mommy grading papers instead of playing games together, and earlier bedtimes.  Yeah, I know!  I should have eased them back into those earlier bedtimes!

It is an odd feeling to see summer end and fall begin.  I have mixed feelings.  I adore spending extra time with my family, the freedom of not working full time, and all the fun summertime activities.  However, I also love fall.  I love fresh starts at work.  I love watching a new class of fifth graders settle in for an amazing year.  I love the food associated with fall.  (You know what I mean!  Baked cinnamon apples, soups, brown beans and cornbread!)  And then, of course, there is football!  We ALL love our football in this house!

So, today, I write with sadness as I say goodbye to another amazing summer.  But I also feel the excitement of returning to work, returning to routine, and welcoming fall into my home. 

Blessings!

When Looks Really Do Matter

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Beauty is only skin deep.

Pretty is as pretty does.

True beauty lies on the inside.

We have heard all of the sayings.  We try to convince ourselves that our looks are good enough for God, good enough for the world, and good enough for ourselves.  However, do our looks really matter?  Did they matter to the Proverbs 31 woman?

Looks probably mattered quite a bit to her, but maybe not the way our society promotes beauty.  She would never grace the cover of a magazine in a bikini or revealing dress.  Modesty would have been a huge priority.  However, we know that she worked hard to prepare clothing for her family.  She tried her best to make them all look good.  She wanted to present her family to the world as a well clothed group.

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes. (Proverbs 31:13, 22-24)

The chapter goes on to say in verse 30 that “beauty is fleeting.”  So should we value beauty or not??

Here is my opinion.  As always, my opinion evolves as I age and grow.  At this point in my life, my goal is to make sure my family dresses well.  I want everyone to have clothing that is clean, fits well, looks attractive, and is modest in nature.  My husband and I must look professional for our careers, so we pay attention to our closets.  We don’t spend a lot of money on clothing, but stores like TJ Maxx and Target keep us clothed.

We all know that when we see people whose clothing doesn’t fit, who appear dirty, and those who look disheveled, we form an opinion about them.  The Proverbs 31 woman tried to promote her husband’s social status by ensuring that her family was clothed well.  To me, that doesn’t mean expensive, designer clothing, but it does mean clean and neat.

What about the hair, make-up, nails, and jewelry?  As with anything else, an obsession with it would detract from our relationship with God.  We cannot spend our lives worrying about looking perfect.  It won’t happen.  We are created to look different, individualized.  We should embrace our differences and our features.

Having said that, there are times when I go to the expense of nice jewelry, professional hair coloring (shh…) and cut, and get my nails done.  My husband works in a world where looks do matter to many of his clients.  To some of his clients, appearances show a social status.  In order to make my husband look good, I need to look good. ( I know, rough life when my husband is forced to pay for a manicure for me!)

I remember hearing stories as a child of churches who wouldn’t allow women to wear jewelry.  I know there are sects of Christians who still believe and practice this.  They do not allow make-up or professional hair and nail services.  I disagree with them.  I do not believe that God considers valuing the way we look as a sin.  Only when we put beauty ahead of Him or treat others poorly based upon their appearances will God become angry with us.

I know this is a touchy subject.  I could go on to discuss weight and our family’s journey to fitness, but I will save that for another post!

Blessings!

Not Perfect, But With a Purpose

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I sat down and reread Proverbs 31.  Since I began writing for this blog about two months ago, I think I have read it at least one hundred times.  I finally realized this time that the Proverbs 31 woman was NOT perfect. Instead, she lived her life with a purpose.  That is a much more attainable goal! I need to stop striving for perfection.

My laundry will NEVER be caught up. There will be dirty dishes in my sink within an hour of starting the dishwasher.  As soon as I mop the floors, someone will spill something.  I live with a grown man and a four year old boy.  The floors around the toilets always need to be cleaned!

My kids are great, but they still fight.  Superhero Son will need me to help him academically for years to come.  Darling Daughter is constantly doing something she shouldn’t do.

My marriage will always need me to put in the hard work it takes to be a good wife.  I will always have a career that demands my attention.  Finally, I will always have God to serve.

I cannot accomplish everything every single day.  It isn’t possible!  I may be created in God’s image, but I do not have God’s power.  I will never be perfect!  There!  I said it!  You should say it, too!   You will feel much better once you realize that there is a better way to live.

From now on I will strive to live my life with a purpose instead of with perfection!

Blessings!

Around the Colvin Cottage: Surprise Vacation

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Where am I while writing this? I am at a luxury resort and spa hidden in the mountains of Virginia.  My husband’s company sent us here, to The Homestead, for a short getaway as a reward for his hard work. I don’t experience anything like this as a teacher! The business world has crazy cool benefits!

We are hanging out in our room for a while before getting dressed for dinner and dancing!  We just had tea in the Grand Hall. We have been contemplating what to do tomorrow. We may hike or get massages.  Perhaps we will swim in the naturally heated pools, heated by natural springs!

This is kind of crazy for us! We don’t vacation very often without the kids. In fact, we spent a few minutes looking at kid-friendly activities just in case we ever bring them here. We probably will spend the remainder of our stay focusing on each other. We know we neglect each other on a daily basis. We spend way more time and energy on our kids, jobs, responsibilities, even hobbies. Bonus trips like this one help keep our marriage strong!

What are you doing to strengthen your marriage?

Help Meet? What is a Help Meet?

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Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29

Sunday mornings can get rough around here!  We begin our day in a lazy sort of way.  I sit around in my pjs drinking coffee.  The kids stay in their pjs until breakfast is finished.  My husband stays in bed as long as he possibly can.  (Occasionally the kids drag him out by jumping on top of him until he cannot possibly go back to sleep!)

Around 8:30 everyone goes into panic mode.  We realize that if we are going to be at church by 10:00am, we better get moving!

Yesterday morning was no exception.  I hurriedly got both kids ready.  Superhero Son didn’t like ANY of his clothes.  Darling  Daughter needed a nap and cried while we all rushed around her.  Finally, only five minutes late,  I was ready to leave.  As I picked up Darling Daughter to carry her through the pouring rain to the car, my husband asked me for a screwdriver.  I looked at him like he was a big doofus and asked, “Why do you need a screwdriver?  Get in the car so we can leave!”  

His reply went something like this, “I have to drive separately.  I have to go to work after church.  I need to put new license plates on the new car before I leave.  The thirty day tags ran out!”  

I took a deep breath….and went off on him.  I am sure everything I said sounded perfectly acceptable to me at the time, but was probably mean.  While I was ranting about never getting enough help with the kids, always being late, feeling unappreciated, overworked, and overwhelmed, I got the screwdriver out of the drawer.  I picked up Darling Daughter, again, and ran both kids through the rain to the car.  

While driving to church, still fuming, I prayed that God would allow me to calm down before I got to church.  I suddenly remembered something my pastor said about every man needing a help meet in his wife.  He explained a help meet  as a wife who served her husband.

I don’t appreciate that expectation in my life AT ALL! I have never thought of myself as submitting to my husband in any way.  I was not raised to be that kind of woman.  I am independant, strong, and bossy!  My husband would agree with everything, especially the bossy part.  

But in the moment of driving through the torrential rain, listening to a screaming baby, wondering if my husband got the license plate on without getting soaked in his work/church clothes, it occurred to me that maybe God is calling me to be my husband’s help meet afterall.  Maybe God knows that my husband needs an assistant.  My husband needs someone to do his laundry, cook his dinner, and take care of his kids because he works crazy long hours.  He needs someone to boost his confidence when facing poopy diapers, scraped knees, and potty training.  Yesterday morning, he needed someone to tell him where the phillips head screwdriver was because I was the last to use it.

I don’t have to become a slave to my husband, submit to his every demand, or let him treat me poorly.  However, I am called to be his help meet.  Genesis 2:18 says, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (KJV).  I imagine the Proverbs 31 woman was a great help meet for her man!

Blessings!

 

While Everyone Else is Sleeping…

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She gets up while it is still night; (Proverbs 31:15a, NIV)

Nothing fills me with more resentment toward my husband than working while he naps with the kids.  This is most typical on Sunday afternoons.  We eat lunch after church and change into play clothes.  He crashes on the couch to nap while I begin my chores for the day.  It drives me crazy!!!!

His grand excuse is that it is his only day to lie around and rest.  My usual reply is something like this, “Oh yeah? Which day do I get to do that?”  Honestly folks, I struggle with this one as much as anything else in our marriage!

To make my point a bit more poignant, I usually try to go to the gym on Sundays while my husband is home with Superhero Son and Darling Daughter.  When I return later, the house is usually an explosion of toys, snacks, toys, costumes, and more toys!  It will take me just as long to clean up as it did to work out in the gym!

So how do I handle this short of divorcing my husband?  

1.  Focus on my blessings.  My biggest blessings stress me out the most.  Taking care of our home, raising my children, working on a happy marriage, and teaching my students all cause stress in my life.  On Sundays I try to remember that each of them is a blessing granted to me by God.

2.  Plan ahead.  If I can get most of my housework, writing work, laundry, and papers graded on Friday evening and Saturday, that frees up Sunday.  If I am not feeling so bogged down in work, I don’t care so much that my husband is lying around the house.

3. Delegate ahead of time.  If I warn my husband around Thursday or Friday that I have a chore I would like for him to do, he is usually willing.  If I just start nagging once he is lying on the couch, forget it!

4.  Enlist the help of the kids.  Darling Daughter is too young.  She still isn’t walking.  However, Superhero Son can help with small chores.  He is learning to fold clothes.  He loves to run the vacuum and mop. (I really don’t know why!)  He also loves getting change for his money jar once a chore is complete.  

5.  Remember that I am cleaning, washing, writing, and grading papers because God has called me to do His work.  These are the blessings He placed into my life.  I do not complete my chores because I am Supermom or my family is more wonderful than anyone else’s.  I do it because God instructs me to do so. I know that He will always provide rest for me when I need it, even it is isn’t on Sunday afternoons!

Blessings!

Respectful Actions

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Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:11-12 (NIV)

Here is another well known verse about the relationship between a husband and wife.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

For all of you who just bristled at the thought of treating your husband with respect or rolled your eyes at the thought of your husband having full confidence in you, read on!

My marriage isn’t perfect.  We argue occasionally.  We pass each other in the hallway at times and barely speak to one another.  However, we both committed to having a Christian marriage  that put God first.  If we both agree to follow God’s will and plan for our lives, we cannot ignore God’s instructions laid out in the Bible.   I am called to bring only good things to my husband and to respect him.  This is not because I am a wonderful, amazing person.  Nor is it because I married the perfect man that any woman would fawn over.  It is because God instructs me to do so, and I am committed to serving God.

What does all of this mean?  I interpret the verse from Proverbs as meaning that the wife should help her man build a strong reputation rather than tear him down in public.  Here are some practical ways to show respect to your husband that apply to women of today.

  1. Only post positive comments about him on social media.  No matter how mad you may have gotten after an argument, don’t go air your dirty laundry online!
  2. Only say positive remarks about him to his family.  My husband totally called me out on this one not too long ago.  He made a purchase that I was totally against.  He spent way too much money on it knowing I didn’t want him to buy it in the first place.  I found out while we were having dinner with his parents.  Unfortunately, I reacted poorly and said a few remarks that belittled him in front of his parents. He later told me that he welcomed me telling him how I felt, but he was embarrassed by my reaction and my unkind words.
  3. Tell him often how much you appreciate his contribution to the family.  Focusing on what he does right rather than his shortcomings can drastically change the mood of the marriage.  Let’s be honest!  Would you want to come home if all you heard was what a terrible spouse you are?  No! Welcome him home to a positive environment.
  4. Finally, pray for him.  Often!  And tell him about it!  Let him know that you want God to take charge of your marriage.  Remember, you cannot change your husband, but God can!

Blessings!