Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Responsibilites as a Wife - Love my Children - Part 1

So I'm certainly no parenting expert. And about a million books have been written on how to love and care for our children. What I do have is God's Word. That's where we will go today (because what is more valuable than the Bible for life and advice?) to answer the question:

How do I love my children?

Since we are exploring this morning:

My Responsibilities as a Wife, Biblically

2. Love my children (Titus 2:4) - they are his kids, after all

1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love is. It's often read at weddings, or talked about in the context of marriage. But why not use it as a parenting guide? Let's look first at the text:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails.                                                                          1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Before we dig in, I've got to be honest. This has been a rough parenting week. Rough two weeks. Yesterday, my oldest and I had a battle about what she was wearing to school. My youngest caught a cold, it turned into an ear infection, decided to pop some teeth and stop napping all at the same time. He's spent much of the day loudly complaining. Around 6pm, I literally locked myself in my bathroom and prayed to Jesus  that I wouldn't do something I would regret!

Having patience is difficult, but a part of loving your children. We need patience to wait for them to learn to tie their shoes. We need patience when they ask for "just a little longer" snuggling. We need patience when they've spilled their sticky apple juice for the fourteenth time that week. We need patience when they ask for help picking out their outfit then choose something else to wear as soon as you walk out of the room. Or wet the bed. Again. I could go on. But this is just my kids. I imagine in other stages, we need patience for them to come back to the Lord. We need patience for them to make good choices with friends, or schoolwork, or to change the way they act towards you. We need patience to wait for them to find the right spouse, or give us grandbabies.

Patience may come easier to some personality types than others, but ultimately, its just a fruit of the Holy Spirit. If we desire to love our children, we need to ask the Holy Spirit for patience. Its not going to come "naturally." In fact, this morning, I'm going to ask the Holy Spirit for patience. Because I do absolutely struggle with loving my children in this way. Case and point: getting 4 children to the bus stop on time; 2 on the bus, 2 along for the ride.  Thats 4 pairs of shoes, 4 coats, 2 backpacks, 2 lunches, 1 bike, 1 helmet, 1 stroller, and one frazzled mom who is trying to feed them, teach them a Bible lesson, and get them out the door on time without yelling. I don't always accomlish it (both the on time part or the not yelling part). Only with the help of the Holy Spirit will I do this.

So how do I love my husband? Love my children. They are his kids, afterall.

Love is kind. Here's another way to love my children. Websters dictionary defines kind as "showing tenderness or goodness; disposed to do good and confer happiness; averse to hurting or paining; benevolent; benignant; gracious."

Kindness seems connected to goodness. Yet another fruit of the Spirit. There is a connection here... if I want to love my children, I need to ask for the Holy Spirit's help, and ask for Him to give me His fruit! Here's how I see this playing out, for example: With my daughter, I speak gently to her, and not harshly. I don't exasperate her with my expectations on her. I give her more hugs and hold her hand more, if she'll let me. I do little things for her that are unexpected that show her that I love her, like writing her little notes for her lunchbox, or giving her little gifts that she didn't ask for. I can't do this alone. Come, Holy Spirit, come.

More to come...

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Responsibilites as a Wife - The List

After a recent conversation with a friend, we asked the question, "What are our responsibilities as wives, Biblically?" Based on that conversation, we took a walk through the Word and made a list. It's certainly not all inclusive, but its a good start. I'm sure it will take me a lifetime just to get the first two.

In this post, I'll write the list. In coming week, months, hopefully I will begin to flesh out each one, giving the Scripture meaning and depth. Here goes:

My Responsibilities as a Wife, Biblically

1. Love my husband (Titus 2:4)

2. Love my children (Titus 2:4) - They are his kids, after all

3. Be self-controlled (Titus 2:5)

4. Purity (Titus 2:5) - not even a hint of sexual immorality (Eph. 5:3)

5. To be busy at home (Titus 2:5)

6. Kind (Titus 2:5)

7. To be subject to my husband (Titus 2:5), as to the Lord, in everything (Eph. 5:22-24)

8. To leave my parents, and cleave to my husband (Eph. 5:31)

9. To become one flesh (Eph. 5:31), to have sex with my husband (1 Cor. 7:3)

10. To give my body freely to my husband and don't hold back (1 Cor. 7:4)

11. Respect my husband (Eph. 5:33)

12. Do not repay evil for evil (Romans 12:17)

13. Pray for my husband (Romans 12:12)

14. Forgive him (Matthew 6:14)

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Responsibilites as a Wife - Love my Husband

Since I would like to think through these things, get them off the page, off a list, into my heart and into my actions, I'm going to work through each item on the list. Join me.

My responsibilities as a wife, biblically
1. Love my husband (Titus 2:4).

Recently my husband (when I asked him how I could love him better) told me he'd feel so loved if I'd make his coffee in the morning and bring it to him (while he's studying his Bible!). It seemed like an easy request, and of course I consented. I want to love my husband. I do love my husband. Of course I want to practically love him.   ... So why am I struggling so much with my attitude about this? I feel like a servant girl or a gopher or a secretary bringing coffee to her boss. Probably because there is nothing in this one for me. I'm being selfish. Love is not selfish, or self-seeking. Love does not look for "what's in it for me." Yet that is the place I'm in.

See, the other ways Todd feels loved are 1) physical affection and 2)words of encouragement. OK, 1) physical affection. This one is easy. Though I'm not a touchy-feely sort of gal, its easy to love Todd this way because we will sit on the couch, I will rub his feet and he will TALK TO ME. My love language: quality time. This one is a win-win. Or 2) words of encouragement. God made me an encourager. This also comes easy. Plus, his immediate reaction is so gratifying when I tell him what a wonderful man he is. And I honestly mean it.

But serve him??? Oh boy. When I take spiritual gift tests, service is always as the bottom of my list. And I already serve him and my family constantly: I make their breakfasts, lunch, dinner; I clean their bathrooms and wash their clothes; I make annoying phone calls (like to insurance company) and run errands. Now I have to bring him his coffee???

As I write, I'm reminded of Philippians 2:1-7:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and in purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant...
If I want to have the same attitude as Jesus, I need to take on the "nature of a servant." That means I need to have the character, the attributes of, to act like a servant. Jesus served me when "he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8b). If I call myself a Christ-follower, than that means I follow the example of Jesus, my Savior and my Boss. That means I serve my husband, and know that not only am I loving him as I'm directed to in Titus 2, but I'm following the example of Jesus as I do it.

As I write, the coffee started perking. I set it up on automatic start last night before I went to bed. Was that really that hard? It took me about 30 seconds to do. Is there anything in it for me? On the surface, no. But in my heart, if I could just get my attitude right, there is something for me. I enjoy the satisfaction that I'm following Jesus, practically. I'm being a servant, like Jesus was. And it's not like I'm dying on a cross here. I'm making coffee. I think I can do that.

Father, I need help with being a servant. It's a struggle for me. I'm tired of serving, and I confess that I resented the request, even though I asked for the feedback. Please forgive me for my selfishness. I do have encouragement from being united with Jesus. I do find GREAT comfort in His love. I do enjoy fellowship with your Holy Spirit, walking and talking with Him. Please help me to be one in spirit and purpose with Todd. Please deliver me from my selfishness, and help me to consider Todd better than myself. Help me put his needs above my own. As I pray that, please Father, take care of me as I serve my family and others. Please help me to be a servant, as Jesus is a servant. Help me to follow Jesus in word AND in deed. Help me to love my husband as you asked me to because you love me MADLY and you want me to THRIVE in my marriage. Thank you, Father, for loving me. Amen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Cry of a Mother's Heart

Dear God,
I listened to a woman speak today who had raised 4 boys and was now recently an empty nester. She passed around pictures of her boys as young men. They were so handsome. Some were married, some with girlfriends. One in a football jersey, playing for Princeton. They could have been my boys in 20 years. They were blond, athletic, smiling. They were following the Lord and loving beautiful young women.
Now Im in tears. Why?
It seemed like a glimpse into my future. My heart’s cry is that my children love you, marry a handsome man and beautiful women who love you, and to walk with you. They don’t have to be star athletes, the smartest in the class, rich or famous: I just want them to walk daily with you (because then I know they will find joy and peace despite the trouble in this life), and to get married to wonderful people.
God, I find such joy and peace in my husband. He loves me so wonderfully, and I feel so blessed to have him. I desperately want that for my children – to know the intimate, beautiful, deep love of another. And not just friends, but a husband, and wives. Because to have a spouse is to have a partner, a co-worker, a friend, a lover, a listener, a buddy, a playmate, a protector, a co-adventurer.
Father, I so deeply desire a spouse for my children. Would you give Maggie, Josh, Finn and Zac a spouse. And not just any man or woman. One who loves you, deeply, daily, honestly. One who chases you, finds you, is found by you. One who walks with you daily, searches your word, prays, intercedes, talks casually and prays reverently. One who confesses sin. One who desires to know you.
Please Daddy, I don’t want my children to be alone. I want them to enjoy the deeply satisfying love of a spouse. Would you give that to them? Would you help them to set their standards high and wait? Would you make them into good partners. Would you help them to walk in sexual purity before marriage and in marital faithfulness after marriage. Please help their eyes only to be for their spouse. Please help them to be honest, real, vunerable, loving, respectful and unselfish.
I know my kids are sinners, as I am. Please help them to take the way out from temptation that you promised them.  
Love, your daughter and their mother,
J Jen