With Love

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise
If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say

credit to:  for King and Country

The words hit me like a brick wall.  They’re just the attitude adjustment I need today.

They take me back to my bible quizzing days.  We spent a whole year studying 1&2 Corinthians.  I knew the answers, but I didn’t truly understand the impact of the words.

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have
love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:1

No matter what I do, if I do it without love, it’s worthless. 

If I sing without love, it’s just hollow noise.  I sing the songs because I know the words and remember the tunes.  Do I sing with love or do I waste my breath?

If I do my housekeeping without love, I leave a bitter taste.  I get angry because no one is helping me, or because no one says “Thank you”.  I’m bitter because I go to work, then expect to keep house like I’ve been home all day.

If I write without love, am I just a clanging cymbal?  Just another repetitive homemaking blog?

Look at our menu for this week.  Clang.  

This is how I clean.  Clang. Clang.

Try this new recipe.  Clang.

This is our daily routine.  Clang. Clang.

It’s so easy to let passion turn into mundane.  The fire fades and I keep pushing.  My excitement turns to routine.  My mind wanders and I’m on auto-pilot.  I start to settle for “good enough” instead of my best.  The work starts to look like a burden.

The radio announcer said today, “Love should never be a burden.”  Think about that.  It’s true.  If you love something, how could you ever see it as a burden?

But, isn’t the converse true?  If we see something as a burden, we’re not doing it with love.

How can we be the loving people God has called us to be, when we’re whining and complaining about these “burdens”?

So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love

credit to:  for King and Country 

devotions, Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31: Week 4

First, I want to say that I am learning so much through this study!  This week, I was reminded of a very important lesson:  We need to listen if we want to hear God.

The Proverbs 31 woman gets up and out of bed before the rest of her family.  Why?  Because she needs to prepare for the day before the craziness begins.  The first part of being prepared is focusing ourselves back on God.

When I started this study, I assumed that I didn’t need to do my short morning devotionals anymore.  But, I didn’t do this study early in the morning, either.  This study isn’t as easy effortless.  It involves looking up scripture (not already printed in the margins), writing out answers (where did I put that pen?), praying (something I didn’t do as often with the other devotional)… it is just more effort!  More often than not, I would do this study in the afternoon, after most of my day was already over.  Hey, at least it was getting done!

When I realized I had drifted away from my morning quiet time, I prayed for discipline to get up early and do this study in the morning, “like I’m supposed to”.  I had just bought Beautiful on God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George to compliment this study so now I had the perfect plan.  Bad idea.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  I’m not a detailed-neat-freak-perfectionist… it’s worse than that.  If something can’t be done right, or “perfectly”, I will put it off until it “can be done right” and it doesn’t get done.  It took one day after my “new plan” for me to completely stop working through this study.

Thankfully, I have been doing the study with my mom.  My accountability to her pushed me to catch back up.  I haven’t caught up in the new book I got, but that’s okay.  I don’t roll out of bed and do this study every day, but that’s okay.  I do recognize that I need to start my day off on the right foot, with the right focus.  If the craziness of the day has already begun, I read something quick and easy.  If I’m up before the sun, I take some quiet time to dive deeper into the Word.

I am going to be more intentional this week by focusing on God in the morning, before my day starts.

One thing I can do before I get out of bed every morning is pray.  I took the challenge from Sheila Wray Gregiore to pray for my husband every day.  Since I’ve been remembering to love him with his love language (words of affirmation), I chose the challenge to pray for him more often.

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devotions, Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31 Study: Week 3

The most important lesson I learned this week is to bring my husband good not harm, all the days of my life.  In such a simple verse, Proverbs 31:12 says so many things!

How do we bring good to our husbands?  We can cook him good (and healthy!) meals.  We can compliment him (remember my plan to intentionally compliment my husband).  We can ask him what he needs and help him, eagerly

The challenge this week was to approach household tasks with an eager attitude.  Being 38 weeks pregnant and in full-fledged nesting mode, this challenge was easy for me!  I spent the week tidying the house and getting ready for the baby.  I cooked dinner most nights because I had a chance to rest during the day.  It is so much easier to serve my family with an eager attitude when I have a chance to recharge (instead of working all day and working all night).

Serving grudgingly does not bring good to your household — it brings harm.  A bad attitude is a poison that will infect the rest of your family.  This challenge would have been really tough if I had still been working.  It’s far too easy for me to adopt that negative-nancy, woe-is-me, martyr attitude when I’ve been at work all day and come home to work some more.  But, God called us to bring our husbands good all the days of our lives, even the days we’re working late and tired and pregnant.

Something that helps keep my attitude in check is Colossians 3:23 (NLT), “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.”  By serving eagerly, we’re showing God’s love to our family, setting a good example, and bringing them good.

To be more intentional this week I am going to prepare and serve dinner at least twice at the dining room table, where we can spend quality time as a family. a-wise-woman-builds-her-home friday favorite things | finding joy Blog Button Final Covered in Grace Photobucket Photobucket Growing Home Photobucket Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

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devotions, Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31 Study: Week 2

My mom joined the Good Morning Girls’ study with me 🙂 And you’re right — it is so much better with someone to go through the study with you!!

The second week of the study focused on the confidence our husband has in us.  My husband has more confidence in me than I have in myself most of the time.  One thing I decided I could (and should) work on is to build my husband up when he is not around.

We read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman before we got married.  My husband’s love language is, by far, “words of affirmation”.  Now that I know this, I think I do a fairly good job of keeping his “love tank” full by offering positive comments that build up his confidence and make him feel good.  Even just a quick, “Don’t you look nice!” before he leaves for work will do the trick.  It’s easy.  But, around other people…?

Too often, we complain about our husbands.  It becomes almost the norm.  Even if I’m not intentionally putting him down, I know I don’t say anything to others that would build him up.

When you love something, don’t you tell everyone how great it is?  A new movie, a store, a website, a song, a recipe.  We go on and on about how wonderful these things are.  Why don’t we do the same for our husbands?

Proverbs 12:4 says “A worthy wife is a crown for her husband.”  I want to be my husband’s crown!  I want to make him sparkle and shine and show everyone how great he is.
To be more intentional this week, I will compliment my husband every day – either to him or to others.   

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devotions, Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31 Book Club

Last fall, I joined a new bible study group at my church.  We are a very diverse group of ladies, but I thoroughly enjoy spending time with them every-other-Wednesday!!  We eat and chat about our families and discuss God’s word and how we can apply it in our lives.  But, because of vacations (and expected babies) we’re not going to meet during the summer months.

It will be nice to have a break.  But, I can’t help but be disappointed that I’m going to lose the accountability of a small group, at a time that I think I need it most.  With a drastic change of routine looming in the very near future, I need something to keep me motivated and accountable to spend time in God’s word on a daily basis — something more than skimming the “Daily Bread” devotional before I crawl out of bed in the morning.  Not that there is anything wrong with doing that — because I do — but I am so much more focused when I work through a study of some sort.

One blogger that I follow regularly is Courtney at Women Living Well.  When I learned about the Proverbs 31 study going on this summer, I was thrilled!  Courtney’s ebook, “The Proverbs 31 Woman – One Virtue at a Time”, has been on my reading list for awhile.

This Good Morning Girls’ study uses the SOAP method – which was new to me.  We only focus on a few verses each day, but have a chance to really dig into each verse!  SOAP stands for scripture, observations, applications, and prayer.  I’m really learning a lot using this method – even though we only focus on one or two verses every day.  Honestly, I was disappointed that the study skips the weekends!!

Yesterday on Facebook, Angela from Good Morning Girls, challenged us to invite a friend to join the study, because “you never know the difference you can make when you extend an invitation to someone.”  I had planned to do the study on my own because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay on the schedule right after the baby is born.  I’m always more-than-content working alone on something.  Maybe God has a different plan… I posted about the study last night on Facebook, inviting anyone interested to join me.  I’m excited to see what happens!!

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devotions, dinner, family, resolutions

New Years Resolution Check-Up: Dinner as a Family

My New Year’s Resolution was to eat dinner together around the dining room table.  
I cook dinner most nights of the week and we do eat together as a family every night.  However, most of the time it’s in the living room, off the tray table, in front of the TV.  But, the important part is that we are still eating together.
Why I want to do it:
Statistics show that eating as a family lowers all kinds of risk factors in kids:  risk of being overweight, risk of eating disorders, risk of drug and alcohol abuse… the list goes on and on.  My primary reason for choosing this resolution is more selfish:  I have my great-grandmother’s antique dining room table and six antique chairs purchased from our church… and I LOVE antiques.  I’d love to put them to use!!!  I also have great memories from growing up and eating at the table every night.  Dinner was served at 5:00 pm.  We always had a meat, potato, and vegetable.  We always sat in the same chairs.  We all helped clear the table.  Mom cooked.  Dad washed the dishes.  One of the kids set the table while the other one got everyone drinks.  The event was filled with tradition for us.  And, I would like for my children to experience something similar.
Eating at the table forces us into a routine:  setting the table, eating, clearing the table.  Without a routine, the work doesn’t get done.  The kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes and the table is cluttered.  

Eating at the table (and preparing to eat at the table) promotes teamwork and responsibility.  You can’t really teach a child to “set the table” when dinner is served buffet-style and eaten from a seat on the couch.  

Eating at the table encourages communication between family members.  It’s far too easy to sit in silence in front of the tv– but our dinner table is always filled with heated discussions.

Spark the conversation:One thing we started doing as part of this resolution is to use the “question jar” idea.  You fill a jar with conversation starting questions and each night you pick one out.  I recently attended the Real World Parents Seminar where I learned about a twist on this idea.  Mark Matlock has categorized 55 of the Proverbs into different themes and has created a card for each Proverb in the Wisdom Deck.  As a family, you can discuss which theme you think the Proverb belongs in and why, if it belongs in more than one, if you agree with what the card says, etc.  So, not only are you sparking conversation at the dinner table, but you’re also exploring scripture!!

Do you do devotions as a family?  When do you do it?  Do you use a devotions book?
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