Tag Archives: Family

To Guard Your Marriage, Guard Your Tongue

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Thanks to Kristen Hogrefe for hosting this week’s blog on her site, KristenHogrefe.com! Be sure to check out her site for more godly encouragement.


 

As you may know, Kristen just tied the knot with a great guy (woo hoo!). Now, I know she’s overwhelmed with newlywed life, and she’s being bombarded with advice she probably didn’t ask for. Still, as the “big sister,” I feel the need to share the following bit of wisdom I’ve learned over the course of eight years of marital bliss:

To guard your marriage, guard your tongue.

Here are a few practical ways to bless your marriage through your speech.

 

1 – Don’t be Ugly

One day your hubby will spill his drink on your beautiful new couch, forget your anniversary, or run over your favorite rose bush with the lawn mower. In that moment, you’ll want to scream at him for being careless, forgetful, lazy, or just plain mean—but don’t do it! Instead, take a breath. If that’s not enough, take a hot shower, put on your comfy jammies, and blast the BeeGees.

Remember that this is your partner in life. You’re on the same team. Then sit him down, make sure you have his attention, and tell him how you feel. Even then, don’t yell or say anything ugly because you’ll regret it later.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18 NAS).

 

2 – Don’t be Critical

Reality check: your hubby will never cook, clean, or take care of the kids the way you do. He is a man, after all, and men always approach these things a bit different than we do. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t help around the house or that his quality of work should be less than yours. However, when you see him wipe up a disgusting mess on the floor with your dish towel, take a breath. (There’s a lot of breathing in marriage. Go ahead and practice counting to 10 now.)

Start by thanking your hubby for cleaning up the mess. After all, if he were still living alone, it would probably stay on the floor for a long, long time. Then say something like, “Hey, honey, I like to use those towels for the dishes, so it’s probably best not to use them on the floor. Let’s use paper towels next time, okay?”

If your hubby understands why you do things a certain way, he’ll be more apt to follow your lead. But be careful here! If you correct everything he does, you’ll become overly critical, and he’ll start to tune you out. No one wants to be a nag (or live with one), so pick your battles wisely.

“It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9 NAS).

 

3 – Keep His Secrets

As soon as you get married, you learn little things about your new hubby. Some might make you giggle—like his penchant for bubble baths after a rough week. Others may make you cringe—like when his frugality leads him to buy frozen steaks from the dollar store. You may feel the desire to share these little secrets with your mom or best friend, but don’t! Marriage is a sacred union of two, and when you share your hubby’s secrets with others, you let them into your marriage…and nothing good comes from that. Enjoy this time as you get to know your new hubby, and assure him that he can trust you with his heart as well as his little quirks.

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip” (Proverbs 20:19 NAS).

 

4 – Speak in Love

While it’s important to avoid negative speech with your hubby, it’s just  as important to fill your conversations with positive speech. Is he worried about work? Tell him that you’re proud of him and that you’re praying for peace and new opportunities. Did he spend all day planting new flowers for you? Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and how great the yard looks (but avoid mentioning the fact that he ran over the last batch of flowers). This isn’t about platitudes but about finding something good, something sweet to say to the one you love.

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4 NAS).

 

Those are four different ways you can guard your tongue—but that’s easier said than done. The apostle James had this to say about it:

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:8 NAS).

That’s less than encouraging, right? So what is the answer?

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives. Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:1-3 NAS).

The truth is that we can’t control our tongues through our own efforts, but if we submit ourselves—including our speech—to the Lord, He will give us the strength and desire to do so. Here’s a simple prayer you can repeat as often as needed:

“Lord, please guard my marriage by placing a guard over my tongue. Keep me from saying things that would hurt our relationship, and give me the humility to speak in love and kindness. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The “Why” and “How” of Blessing Your Children

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When was the last time you said, “God bless you”? Odds are, it was probably after someone sneezed. But did you really intend to bless that person or were you just being polite?

We read about blessings throughout the Bible, but none of those instances involve hay fever or the common cold. In fact, God seems to take blessings very seriously.

The First Blessing

The first person we read about receiving God’s verbal blessing is Abraham:

“…indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:17-18 17 NAS).

Abraham’s immediate family carried on the tradition, with Isaac blessing Jacob and Esau. (See Genesis 27.) Later, when Jacob was about to die, he blessed his twelve sons, “every one with the blessing appropriate to him” (Genesis 49:28b NAS).

Our Right to Bless

As spiritual descendants of Abraham, we have the right to bless our own children. These are not empty platitudes, though, but words of real power:

“Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.’ So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them” (Numbers 6:23-27 NAS).

Years ago, my mother began to speak blessings over us kids, and it made a real difference. I know it helped me to focus on God and His Word, and it gave me hope for my future.

How to Bless

When I became pregnant last year, I knew this was a tradition I wanted to pass down to my child. But what kinds of blessings was I supposed to give him?

Dr. Mary Ruth Swope of Bless Your Children Every Day states we should “make sure that our blessings are in line with God’s promises and fit in with His plans and purposes for the one we are blessing. Remember, the most important goal for our children and grandchildren should be that they bring glory to God in all they say and do. If we keep that in mind, then our blessings will not become selfish or worldly in nature.”

I highly recommend Dr. Swope’s book. It provides a clear basis for our right to bless our loved ones, and it includes numerous blessings that you can use or modify as needed, such as blessings for authority, clear direction, courage, good health, and peace.

I didn’t have to wait for my little one to be born to start blessing him, though. In the book Pure Joy, authors Crystal Wade and Arthur A. Burk explain that parents can bless their children—whether they’re far away or still in the womb—by speaking the blessing to the child’s spirit. This may sound a bit weird, but the Bible does indicate that the spirit of a child is far more advanced than the child’s cognitive ability.

  • Isaiah said that God called him “from the womb” (Isaiah 49:1 NAS).
  • Jeremiah quoted God as saying “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” (Jeremiah 1:5 NAS).
  • In the New Testament, Elizabeth’s baby (John the Baptist) acknowledged the presence of Jesus and “leaped in [her] womb for joy” when Mary approached her while pregnant with baby Jesus (Luke 1:44 NAS).

Bless Your Children Today

During my pregnancy, Robby and I spoke beautiful, faith-filled words to the spirit of our little one. Now that he’s here with us, we continue to speak blessings over him.

I encourage you to do the same, to bless those within your sphere of influence, especially your children. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simply speak your heart. Your children will know that it’s something special, and they’ll come back to you for more.

Here’s a blessing for you today:
May you discover the beauty and power in the spoken blessing. May you find the courage and discipline to rise up and bless your children with God’s promises. May your family flourish as they walk in the ways of the Lord all the days of their lives. I bless you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Do you bless your children? If so, what has been your experience? If not, what’s stopping you? Please leave a comment below.


For my reviews on the books noted above and many others, check out my goodreads page.

 

4 Lessons from a Hungry Baby

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My little son Gordon is now 8 weeks old and, of course, he’s completely adorable. At this age, though, nearly the entire day consists of eating and sleeping, with the occasional diaper change and bath in between. I’ve now spent approximately 14,538 hours feeding him, and I’ve come to realize something: we have a lot to learn by watching hungry babies eat.

Here’s a list of four observations I’ve made and what we can learn from them.

1 – Babies are not patient

Gordon usually gives us clear hunger signals (like trying to eat his hands), but I’m not always fast enough to avoid the pterodactyl-like screaming that accompanies his little hunger pains.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, we often act like babies. Sure, we’ll give God a few minutes to sort things out, but if He’s not quick enough, we’ll pitch quite the tantrum. We would do better to realize that God loves us and has our best interest at heart. However, His ways are higher than our ways. When we find ourselves waiting for what we need or want in life, our faith should be supported by godly patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).

2 – Pacifiers and fingers don’t contain milk

Gordon will occasionally use a pacifier, and he’s just discovered his fingers. However, neither of these items contain the milk he wants. When he sucks on them and nothing comes out, he gets frustrated and spits them out. Then he’ll try to suck on them again. Finally, when I have a bottle ready, I often have to pry the pacifier out of his mouth in order to give it to him.

Life offers us a lot of pacifiers, including work, entertainment, and relationships. However, none of these things will give us the spiritual nutrition we need. If you’re feeling parched—or even starved—then it may be time to set aside some worldly things so that you can take hold of the great things God is offering you.

And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you (Luke 12:29-31 NAS).

3 – Drinking while pooping leads to gagging

Not to sound vulgar, but little babies have a hard time coordinating their bodily functions. If Gordon tries to potty while sucking on a bottle, he starts to sputter, cough, and gag.

Are you waiting for God to give you something, to answer a prayer or take care of some need? Perhaps you need to make room in your life by first getting rid of the junk, such as sin, emotional baggage, and clutter. Take care of business, then reach out for God’s provision.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:16-18 NAS).

4 – Gulping causes gas

Bottles are tricky because the milk flows so freely. When Gordon is excited (remember, he has no patience), he’ll gulp the milk like he hasn’t eaten in days. However, this causes him to consume more air, which leads to gas.

Our world encourages—even requires—us to multi-task to the point that most of us are not only over-worked, but we’re bone tired. We’re weary. We can’t hardly function because we’re overflowing with too many responsibilities, demands, and to-do lists. If this is you, push back. Take a breather. Seek stillness with God and ask Him to reset your priorities. Only then will you be able to slow down and truly appreciate the things He gives you and the places He sends you.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2-3 NAS).

 

Do these lessons resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below with your thoughts or encouragement for other readers.