Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What “Doing Life Together” Really Means

She is the one who more than once has shown up on my doorstep, husband and little one in tow, with warm food and beverages in hand. But most recently I’m thinking of last Thursday. Complete with comfort food, including ice cream, they gathered around our table. At the end of a long day, in the middle of a long season of waiting, they met us in our mess. They got angry at injustice when we were angry, and they mourned loss when we felt it’s pain.

And I’m the one who cleans up her little one’s spewed hotdogs from the kitchen floor. Then wipes the spit-up from my shirt all nonchalant and before the long night is over, we do it again. (Thank God for Ikea rugs, synthetic and made for rinsing with the hose.) And just when we think things have turned around the night turns into ER visits and swollen babes. And we both blame ourselves over text the next several hours for discovering the baby’s peanut allergy. But we did it all together. 

And if we’re honest with ourselves isn’t that what we all really want? Don’t we all need a friend whose home we can show up to in yoga pants? Who is on the list of people we let enter through the back door? Who has seen us in despair and can call on us to get a broken-down-car from the “bad side of town” during the dinner hour?

That’s what (in)RL is all about. This free woman’s conference is about moving toward genuine relationships in real life. This year we're taking a closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient. Women share stories of how they've chosen to stay through hard marriages, challenging parenting, worthwhile friendships. How choosing to stay has freed them more fully and unexpectedly than if they'd cut and run.

Won’t you consider registering for (in)RL taking place through meet-ups all over the globe April 26-27? If there’s not a group meeting in your area perhaps you’ll consider being a host like me? Because if you’re honest, isn’t doing real life with others what you really want?

 If you’re registering or hosting be sure to let me know in the comments below so we can share this experience together.

Monday, February 25, 2013

First Quarter Reading

Last year was a difficult one and I read fiction almost exclusively. Coming into a year of new beginnings I have a much more intentional reading plan. Here's the list of what I'm reading so far in the first quarter of 2013:

Were you a part of the 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge using Kathi's book?

See my of Rebekah review here.

I've been enjoying Mary DeMuth's wonderful cookbook centered on community. Review coming soon.

I'm starting this one soon. Excited.
I'm reading Prayer as part of the Bloom Book Club. It's not too late to join us.

With a subtitle like, 60 Days of Imperfect Progress, I knew this one would be speaking my language. Review forthcoming.

I completed Overcome on a flight from the West Coast back to the East Coast. It's a must read for anyone in ministry. 

So what's on your reading list for 2013? I'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Gift for You: Free Printable

In January I shared my Prayer for an Imperfectly Perfect Home. My sweet friend Molly turned the prayer into a lovely printable. It's perfect as a framed reminder.

 And you can download yours free here.

If you do download the prayer would you do the following:
  • Hop on over to Molly's blog and thank her
  • Share: Tweet, Pin, and Facebook it 
Let me know in the comments below if you'd like to see more printables like this one in the future.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Of Colombian Orphans And Spider-Man

There's Spider-Man sticker on my bulletin board. It's very nice bulletin board with a black frame perfect for a professional environment. So you see a Spider-Man sticker is a bit out of place.

But what you don't know is that bulletin board used to be in my home office until that office became a bedroom for a sweet Colombian boy we hosted in December. And for Christmas he got some lovely Spiderman stickers in his stocking. And when he asked if he could cover the bulletin board with them I didn't have the heart to tell him no. I couldn't bear to have the "you're flying back to Colombia in a few days" conversation with him. And so I said, "yes."

I've heard that once you have children you must get used to the idea of your heart walking around outside your body. Well what I do know is that with every sticker I ripped from that board another piece of my heart went walking around Colombia with it.

And so there's a Spider-Man sticker on my bulletin board and I'll never be the same...(My friend Molly and her sweet little Drew will never be the same either. Click over here to read how our hosting adventure impacted their lives too.)

Interested in forever impacting the life of a Colombian child? Watch the video of our hosting program above and contact Embraced by Grace. Got questions? Click here. But hurry, the deadline for the summer hosting program is this Friday, February 22.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Book Review And An Exciting Invitation

 Last year was a fiction year. Do you ever have those? 2012 rocked our world and my reading capacity didn't go much beyond some brainless escapist reading. While 2013 finds me with a more intentional non-fiction list I stumbled upon this gem, Rebekah, published by the wonderful folks at Revell Books.

Rebekah tells the Biblical story of Rebekah and Isaac found in Genesis. While you've certainly read this story many times before you've never read it like this. Author, Jill Eileen Smith, paints the story of a beautiful romance filled with highs, lows, grace and redemption. The book did start out a little slow for me and I'm not usually a romance reader. But before I knew it I was drawn into a story that had the perfect amount of romance to make your heart flutter without the smut of the typical mainstream novel.

And now for an exciting announcement...

Jill Eileen Smith will be a featured guest on a live video chat this coming Tuesday, February 19th at 7:00 PM EST!  It’s free to attend, and you can meet Jill and ask any questions you have for her!  Go here to RSVP and find out more details about this event. 

Jill will present ten facts and/or possibilities you may not know about the Patriarch Isaac's wife, Rebekah. She'll also be taking you questions about the people of the Bible and any of her books. So please plan to join us!

(Rebekah was provide to me by Revell Book to review but all opinions are my own.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Praying for His Parenting (5-Day Challenge)

(This week we're doing Kathi Lipp's 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge to rock our Valentine's Day. It's not too late to join us.)

Don't have kids? Pray for your future children or for your husband to use his time wisely as Rob recommends.  All of us could be better at that.

 Contributed by Rob Tiegen
When Kathi invited me to share some thoughts on how wives can pray for their husbands in their fathering I was excited but a bit overwhelmed.  There are countless ways each man needs prayer as a father, so in ten seconds I had thought of ten different things that I would love to know my wife was praying for me about.

As I continued to think it through, I decided to focus on just one thing -- time.  This is something that God has been burdening my heart with in my own life lately.  I would be encouraged to know that  my wife was standing in the gap and holding me up in prayer as I face the challenge of making ample time to spend with our kids.

I've been reading a great book titled Sticky Faith:  Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark.  The authors include disheartening statistics about the 40 to 50 percent of "church kids" who leave their faith behind in the college years.   As a father who is trying to raise my kids in the Lord that is a hard statistic to hear.  I desperately need prayer to make time with my kids, because time leads to relationship, and relationship opens the door to sharing my faith with my children through each stage, age, and challenge that comes their way.

As important as it is to work hard to provide for our families, to set an example of service to our churches and communities, to stay physically fit, and to connect with our wives, kids desperately need their dad's time so they can receive love, spiritual guidance, and training.  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (ESV)  The passage is assuming the father is sitting, walking, and ending and beginning his day with his kids.  The deep truths of our faith are passed on during intentional time together.

Wives, your husband will benefit so much from your prayers and encouragement with this.  Pray for your husband to have a heart to spend time with your kids. Since you probably organize the family calendar, make room for him to take each child out for some one-on-one time.  When you see him making a positive connection with your son or daughter, point it out and be his cheerleader.  We need to know that our wives are in our corner praying for us and encouraging us to keep pressing on with our kids, even when it's hard.  Ask God to create opportunities for us to pass on our faith, and for opportunities for you to be an encouragement to him as well.  Your love and support mean more to us than you can know.  Thanks for praying!

Friends -this is Kathi. I want to take the verse that Rob shared with us above and pray it for the men in our lives today:
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (ESV)
Heavenly Father, I pray that your words, your love, your direction would flow through my husband's heart. I pray that my husband would find time in each day to pass on your wisdom to our kids. Lord, let every moment they spend together be something to grow both my husband's heart and my child's heart toward you. And Father, show me ways every single day to call out those things in my husband that are your way - your good and perfect way. Amen

Thursday, February 14, 2013

God's Plan for Your Husband's Life (5-Day Challenge)

 (This week we're doing Kathi Lipp's 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge to rock our Valentine's Day. It's not too late to join us.)

 Contributed by Dineen Miller

My husband doesn't know God. He's a great guy, but he just doesn't believe God exists. Yet there I stand in this marriage with this man I adore, and I see God's plan for his life all around him.

And I love that I'm part of that plan just as I know my husband is part of God's plan for me. My husband's work, his challenges and trials -- I see them all coming from God's loving hand to bring him into a relationship with Christ.

Several years ago God impressed upon me to pray for my husband as if he were already a believer. As I started this journey I began to see that, aside from his greatest need to know Jesus, his day-to-day needs were much the same as a believing husband.

Each January I set a time aside to seek God for specific needs and Scriptures to pray for my family, and each year God is faithful to give me a specific verse or verses to pray for my husband and daughters. Each time reveals a piece of God’s plan for my husband, like pieces of a puzzle, and with each piece, I learn to trust God's plan more and more.

This is the verse God spoke to my heart to pray for my husband in 2012:
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:19
What a powerful truth from God's Word! Because no matter where we are in our faith journey, it's all about God's unfailing and life-changing love.

Lord, help my husband to fully understand Your amazing and passionate love for us. Fill him with this fullness and revelation of You and help him to firmly establish his identity in You. I pray that Your love will be the guiding force in his life, whether he sees it or not. In Your name, Jesus, amen!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Praying for Your Marriage (5-Day Challenge)

(This week we're doing Kathi Lipp's 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge to rock our Valentine's Day. It's not too late to join us.)

Contributed by Kathi Lipp:
"Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them."   John Calvin
When things are going well, there is nothing better than being in love with the man you have committed your life to. When you agree on finances, plans, and what to have for dinner, there is almost nothing better than the safety and security of going through life with someone you love.

But when life is stressful, there is no place the stress shows up faster than in your marriage. And that is just plain painful. I know when I get overwhelmed, stressed out, or scared, Roger is the one I naturally take those feelings out on. I don't mean to -- really! But he is usually the one standing closest to me when things explode, and he takes the brunt of the hit. One of the things I need to remember in that situation is that God did not intend for my husband to become my emotional dumping ground. God wants us to bring every worry, every anxiety, every problem, every sin to him.

I want you to be encouraged. I want you to know that you are already doing more for your marriage by committing to pray for him than most wives will ever do for their husbands Just the simple act of praying for your husband and asking for God's direction is a huge step in having a better relationship with your man.

When I dropped the agenda I had in praying for Roger (though not without a lot of conviction and soul wrestling), I had a new freedom in my prayer life. It wasn't up to me to change Roger into the kind of husband I wanted. God started to show both of us that we needed to stop looking to each other to meet all of our needs and start looking to our Creator to meet them. It took a lot of the pressure off Roger, and off me.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Heb. 12:14–15)
Dear God, Sanctify our relationship with your holy presence, that we might be for each other a blessed oasis in a dry and desert land. Help us to resolve disagreements and hurts gently, with love, patience, and abiding respect, so that neither bitterness nor resentment will ever take root in our hearts. Let the divine light of your love so shine through our marriage that we present a holy example to others and lead them to your truth.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Praying for HIs Emotional Health (5-Day Challenge)

 (This week we're doing Kathi Lipp's 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge to rock our Valentine's Day. It's not too late to join us.)

Right now, at this very moment, my family is going through a crisis. My husband Roger and I are making some decisions that will affect our family for a long time to come. And I'm grateful that my husband is in a place where he is emotionally and spiritually strong enough to lead. But he would be the first to admit that he's not always been in that place.

Roger has gone through some dark times in his life. And I know that your husband has, too.

Instead of being surprised when my husband hits those dark times, I want to be prepared. Prepared with scripture. Prepared with encouragement. Prepared with a soft place for him to land, as well as a wife who is strong because I've been working my prayer muscle on his behalf.

I don't know what that dark place is for your husband, but I have a few guesses:
  • A battle with depression
  • The stronghold of pornography
  • A feeling of worthlessness
  • A dependency on drugs or alcohol
  • The feeling of inadequacy -- at work or at home
  • Insecurity about his future and the future of his family
  • Fear around finances
When those times come up (or maybe most of your marriage has been in the midst of one of these) the best thing we can do for our man is pray.

Pour over the scriptures and find the one (or dozen) that cover your husband, and pray. Pray like his life depends on it. Because to a large extent, it does.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would reign over every area of my husband’s mind. I pray that whoever he is without you is dead, and who he is in you is alive. I pray that his habits and hangups that he wants to be free from would be replaced by a hope only you can give.

Show him every day who he was designed to be, in you. I am so grateful for the love you lavish over my husband. Thank you for giving yourself for him. God, give me the eyes to see him as you see him; loved, adored, precious, cherished. Amen.

Contributed by Kathi Lipp.

Monday, February 11, 2013

When He Feels Inadequate (5-Day Challenge)

(This week we're doing Kathi Lipp's 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge to rock our Valentine's Day. It's not too late to join us.)

 Contributed by Arlene Pellicane

I always picture my husband with a huge "S" across his chest. He is my rescuer - the one who changes the car battery, solves my computer problem, and makes breakfast for the family on many days. What I sometimes forget is that "Superman" has a bad day in the office once in awhile. He might feel like a hero while the hot oatmeal is being served but a few hours later, he feels like he's barely in control of his circumstances.

That's when I can pray that the Lord will fill his heart and mind with peace and wisdom. When my husband feels inadequate, I can pray that his weakness becomes an opportunity to experience God's strength.

May this verse guide our prayers today for our husbands:
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Isaiah 26:3
Lord, help my husband to keep his mind totally focused on you today. May he trust in your steadfast love and in your ability to solve the problems that face him today. Keep him in your perfect peace. Settle his mind and heart. Give him courage because he trusts in you.

Kathi has provided a free printable including scriptures to pray for your husband when he is overwhelmed. Be sure and print it out so you can refer back to it often.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Giveaway Winner: Praying God's Word for Your Husband

And the winner is...

 Esther with the comment:
I'm in! My discipler told me before that you can never NAG a man into leadership, but you can PRAY that he rises to the challenge. This is a great idea. I need more accountability in my prayer life. 
Congratulations, Esther! Your book will be delivered to you soon.

Remember we start our 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge to rock our Valentine's Day on Monday. I'm looking forward to hearing your stories of God working in your husband through your prayers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preparing to Rock Your V-day: A Valuable Tool

 If you don't know, I'm hosting the 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge beginning Monday, so you can rock your Valentine's Day. We'll be using Kathi Lipp's book, Praying God's Word for Your Husband, (you can still enter the giveaway) and there will be a post here each day to guide your prayer time.

Free Printable: Creating a Quiet Time Routing

Kathi starts her book teaching you how to prepare for prayer. One of the most important parts of preparing our hearts for prayer is having a daily routine. Kathi has generously provided a printable to help you make your daily routine a habit. If you struggle with creating a daily routine (like me) than this is a great reminder to print and hang on the refrigerator, etc.

Be sure to come back on Friday when the giveaway winner will be announced.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rock Your Valentine's Day

(The giveaway winner will be announced Friday, February 8th.)

What if this year was your best Valentine's Day ever? What if after Valentine's Day 2013 your marriage was better? Your husband was better? And maybe even you were better? It is possible...

 photo iStock_000020730459Large-2-300x199_zps3b36fbda.jpg

If you want to have a Valentine's Day like no other then I'd like to invite you to join me in a 5-Day Pray for Your Man Challenge. Together we'll begin reading Kathi Lipp's Praying God's Word for Your Husband. We'll start the challenge on February 11th with a post each day to guide you in praying for your husband. Plus they'll be lots of free resources along the way to help you love your husband, improve your marriage, and rock your Valentine's Day!

I got the chance to hear Kathi speak at Allume last year. What I liked most about her was her genuiness and her practical, down-to-earth manner. Kathi Lipp is the author of seven books including The Husband Project, and Praying God's Word for Your Husband. She speaks 60-70 times a year (holy mole!) to women across the US about loving God and loving those God has put in their path. She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults and survived blending all those kids (when they were teens.)

Want to win a free copy of Praying God's Word for Your Husband? Then let me know you're joining the 5-Day Challenge in the comments below and what excites you most about it.