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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife-A Review & Giveaway!

I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of reading and reviewing Darlene Schacht's new book The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife. 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth.

If you are not familiar with her, Darlene lives with her husband and children in Canada. She has been blogging and writing for years about how to be a Godly help-meet to your husband. I stumbled across her blog about a year ago and then had the ridiculous pleasure of meeting her at the Women Living Well Conference last August. (You can read about that here.) 

Darlene is kind, sweet, soft-spoken, humble and all kinds of warm goodness wrapped up in a tiny, Canadian package. She shares from her heart and it is so apparent with every word on the page.

Somehow, even though Darlene and I have met only once, she was able to talk directly to me with her wisdom. I messaged her after reading one section that jumped off the page at me. It was after a particularly long day of wearing many titles (mom, wife, ministry leader, friend, daughter) and failing miserably at all of them that I sunk into a hot bath and started reading Darlene's book. These words reached down into my soul and made my eyes fill with tears that spilled down my cheeks as I read. It was with blurry vision that I messaged her this excerpt:         
           
 "[In regard to A Loving Wife] She's not perfect. In fact she has days like anyone else where she feels the weight of the world on her shoulders. She wonders how she could fail so miserably, why she doesn't measure up to the other women around her, and how God could possibly love her on those days when she can't love herself." p. 78

Another poignant excerpt:

"[In regard to being A Passionate Wife] It's one thing to feel passionate about your spouse and another to be passionate about your marriage." p. 121

And these gems are not all that Darlene offers. She uses the SOAP method which is found at the end of each chapter. The SOAP method is Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. This method allows the reader to dive that much deeper into scripture and apply the truths learned to her own life. 

It was apparent to me just from reading the intro that this book is different. I cried buckets of tears at Darlene's beautiful gift of stitching together Biblical truths with practical, everyday advice. Unlike with other marriage books I have read, I never once felt like I was hopelessly failing as a wife while reading Darlene's book. I never felt that being a Virtuous Wife was unattainable. Instead, I felt inspired, grounded and empowered to embrace the role God has given me as my husband's partner and biggest fan.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife is top notch. It is filled with 147 pages of Godly wisdom delivered in a loving manner by a woman who has walked the path of mercy, love and restoration in her own marriage. She is authentic and genuine and I cannot say vehemently enough that you will come away a better wife after reading this book.

For your opportunity to purchase Darlene's book click HERE.

About Darlene Schacht

She is an Evangelical Christian whose number one priority is to serve Jesus Christ in every area of her life. 
She and her husband Michael live in Manitoba Canada. Married 25 years, they have four children (three still at home), a bird and two pugs. 

Their lives are basically surrounded with three things: faith, music and everything books.

She's an award winning and New York Times best-selling author through a book she co-wrote with Candace Cameron Bure, Reshaping it All.

Her articles have been featured at KirkCameron.com, ForTheFamily.org, and WomenLivingWell.org.

Find Darlene in the web here:

Blog: TimeWarpWife.com
Facebook: timewarpwife
Twitter: timewarpwife
Pinterest: timewarpwife

I was provided a PDF copy of The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Facebook Made Me Do It

"90% of those getting a divorce cite Facebook as the cause."

"I can't look at Pinterest anymore. I can never live up to those standards."

"I'm so sick of the posts on Facebook that make me feel like my life isn't enough."

"Who is she kidding? She's hardly the 'World's Greatest Mom' but she sure tries to look like it on Facebook."

"Reconnecting with [insert old flame here] on Facebook pushed me into an affair."

"Facebook is such a time suck. I waste hours scrolling through my newsfeed."

I read a blog post recently that said something along the lines of: "90% of people cite Facebook as the cause of their divorce."

I cannot speak to the accuracy of that statistic, but I have heard this reasoning from a lot from people in my own circles.

And hearing that always hits me wrong.

I have some very good friends who choose to abstain from social media for reasons that are valid and important to them. Kudos to them for taking a stand and safeguarding their relationship.

However...

Believing that your relationship is safeguarded solely because you are not involved in social media seems like only part of the puzzle.

Can Facebook/Twitter/Snap Chat/Google+ really cause anything?

I look at social media as amoral, like money.

In my thinking, if you are going to get a divorce or have an affair, you'll find a way to make it happen.

(And I think it's important to note that I have a previous spouse who used social media to be unfaithful to me.)

Can social media make access to others easier and help facilitate building relationships we shouldn't?

Yes.

Can Facebook make you exchange messages with someone other than your spouse, building an inappropriate, emotional relationship that shouldn't be there?

No.

Can Facebook make you have a clandestine meeting, remove your clothes, and participate in an intimate relationship?

No.

So, while Facebook and the like can most certainly make having an affair easier or more accessible, it cannot cause the affair.

An affair comes from something inside of you. A desire. Something "missing" that you are looking to fill with someone else.

I think it's so important that we take responsibility for our own actions.

No more saying Pinterest and Facebook make us "feel" a certain way or "act" a certain way.

We have a choice as to what we feel, think and do.

Made in God's image, we are powerful. We are given brilliant minds and access to the King of kings and the Almighty. We have a choice as to what we act on. We have a direct line to all the strength we could possibly need to endure and get out from under any temptation. (1 Cor 10:13). So let's not cast ourselves as victims by saying Facebook "caused" us to have an affair or to bully someone or to feel "less than" because of what other people post.

Do you think staying away from these things will help safeguard your marriage or your heart? Do you feel God has placed that on your heart to aid in protecting you?

By all means, do!

But please, please stop using anything other than what is inside of you as the impetus for sin.

It's true that we face many temptations every day; some from inside of ourselves and some placed in front of us to trip us up, but we always, always have a choice as to whether or not we act on them.

See something on Pinterest that makes you feel like you don't measure up as a mom or wife?

Realize that your worth does not come from a website, a person or any other place but God.

"Let's just go ahead and and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." (Romans 12:2-3, MSG)

Are you married or in a relationship and have you "reconnected" with someone or met someone new on Facebook and you're feeling the pull to deepen the relationship?

Realize that you have options. You can tell your spouse, and remove the "secrecy" factor. You can tell the other party in no uncertain terms that you are not interested, you can block that person, and you can even go so far as to deactivate your account.

Be honest about the thoughts in the back of your mind--those whisperings that are so quiet that you almost can't hear them and they're easy to block out. Even a freight train sounds like just a hum when it's far off. As it gets closer, the noise gradually grows louder, and before you know it, it's upon you.

Logging off Facebook may lessen accessibility, but it will not address whatever it is in your heart that put the desire there in the first place.

Only an honest conversation with God can do that.

"Open up before God. Keep nothing back. He'll do whatever needs to be done." (Psalm 37:5, MSG).

Facebook isn't the enemy.

Your friend who posts pictures of her beautiful [seemingly perfect] family isn't the enemy.

The guy who posts about one vacation after another while your strapped to a cubicle 40 hours a week, isn't the enemy.

The woman who showcases one fantastic recipe or Vogue-worthy outfit after another isn't the enemy.

We have a common enemy. And it's his job to make sure we point the blame everywhere but where it should be.

"Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." (Matthew 5:48, MSG)










Monday, February 17, 2014

There's A Story Behind Every Status

I don't usually like doing a "Bandwagon" post. 

My friend Ginny posted this at her blog today: 6 Ways To Tame Social Media Jealousy.

And it hit me in a special place today because....

Yesterday I put this as my Facebook status:

On Sundays Joe brings me coffee and then gets the kids ready for church. He's pretty amazing. 

That status fetched over 62 "likes" and a handful of comments.

All the comments on my page were complimentary. 

But some of the comments I received behind the scenes were filled with something else. 

One friend told me that her husband reminded her that he helps get their children ready.

Another friend told me that she felt defeated reading that about my husband because she struggles with wanting to change her own. 

I posted what I did as a way to publicly praise Joe. I so often find fault in him (and tell him all about it) that I thought it would be nice to point out some strengths. And the truth is, I was feeling guilty about laying in bed while he bathed and dressed all of the kids...and I don't think he was singing songs of joy while doing it either, if you know what I mean.

However, as with most things, what I intended isn't exactly what happened.

And I think it's important to share what happened mere hours after posting those words of praise about Joe.
The short version is: Joe has been working 6 days a week for the past month or so. While the paycheck is always nice, I have had the worst cabin fever/winter blues ever. I am hanging by the proverbial thread and I could snap at any moment. 

He knows this.

Because I tell him.

A. lot. 

So...when we finished eating after church, and 2 of the kids were still needing to be put down for nap, Joe got ready to go grocery shopping.

And I saw red.

I feel like I've been seeing his back a lot lately...as he's leaving to go to work or to the store or to shovel the drive or to work out.

And of course, he HAS to work, the driveway needed shoveled, he wants to be healthy, so that involves working out, and let's not even get started on what a gem he is for doing the grocery shopping...

The rational side of my mind can tell me all of those things.

It's the emotional, I-feel-like-I'm-all-alone-and-trapped-in-this-house, side that tends to yell loudest and be heard.

We ended up in a huge fight. I needed him to stay. He didn't understand why. I think he feared for his life at one point. I had visions of running away.

It was a tense and ugly 30 minutes.

The point of this isn't to talk about my husband behind his back (I got his permission before writing this), but to balance what so easily and often happens when we see a 17 word post on Facebook and don't get to see the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes of someone's everyday life. 

Joe isn't perfect. Neither am I.

But we work at it. 

Most of the time.

And it is so important that we don't take one post (or 1000s) on social media and blow up a story in your own minds that we don't know to be true. 

I am queen of this, mind you. But I am usually on the other side of it--making up fanciful stories about people in my newsfeed.

So, let's give each other the benefit of the doubt, ok? Let's stop supposing we know what goes on behind closed doors and start being supportive of one another. 

That mom who posted about taking her "kiddos" out for a day of fun? 

Her husband may be absent at home emotionally and physically, and she chose to make a nice day for her kids.

That woman who is constantly posting pictures of her beautifully decorated house? Maybe her marriage is falling apart and she is choosing to surround herself with beautiful things to try to fill the emptiness.

That wife who posted about how awesome her husband is? Maybe she is trying to salvage her husband's dignity after she publicly humiliated him with some "good-natured teasing."

That woman who posts scripture after scripture? 

Maybe she's fighting the hardest battle of her life and those scriptures are more for herself. 

That girl with the page full of selfies? 

Maybe she hates herself so much that she tries to find the most flattering picture in order to feel better. 

I fight it: the urge to weave stories about who or how a person is based on a snapshot of their life. 

Being on the other side of it was an eye-opener. 

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

That Time That I Really "Got It"

One of the things I love about homeschooling: all of the teachable moments we have.

One day, while we were talking about the Pledge of Allegiance, I was able to launch into a beautiful discussion about what it means to "pledge" yourself to something and how important it is to really know and think about what that means. It was amazing to watch the little light bulbs go on above the boys' heads as we talked about each word of the Pledge of Allegiance and how serious one should take those words. Even more amazing was how the conversation segued into talking about our liberties here in this country and how we all must be willing to stand up for them, even if we have to stand alone. 

I stressed to them that they will be called on at different times in their lives to stand for different things and they may have to stand alone. I stressed how they need to be committed to those things and not be afraid to speak the Truth. 

What started out as a 15 minute lesson on the Pledge turned into one of the most out-of-this-world conversations that finished with my 7 year old son asking Jesus into his heart.

It doesn't get any better than that. 

And then the other day, when three of my kids came to me in gang-like formation to tattle on each other, I launched into my typical "we must treat each other nicely and with respect" lecture.

One thing led to another and the next thing I know I'm explaining to them, again, how Jesus loves everyone and He died for everyone's sins; even the people who didn't like Him. 

I started telling them about how He was beaten until bone was visible, whipped, tormented, made fun of, spit on, and humiliated by being hung on a cross, naked in front of a crowd. 

And before I knew it, I was bawling. I could barely talk because I was filled with so much emotion. It's a story I have heard and even told countless times...but for some reason, in that moment, sitting in the kitchen with 3 of my babies looking at me all wide-eyed, it hit me with such force. 

And pardon me while I get all "church-y" up in here. 

Jesus is real. 

He was a person like you and me. 

He had flesh and blood and bad breath.

He felt pain and humiliation.

He felt fear and apprehension.

He felt the whips and the thorns and the nails.

And He did it all for us. 

He didn't have to submit Himself to any of that, but He chose to so that you and I would never have to pay the consequences of our sins. 

As a kid, I used to think God was pretty pathetic to make His own son die. I couldn't understand how God giving His Son showed His love for me. 

As I got older, I began to realize that children open a wound in your heart that nothing will mend. 

And looking into my children's beautiful, little, round faces with eyes as big as saucers, listening to me talk...I totally got it.

If you have children, you'll know what I mean when I say there is nothing I won't go through to spare my children. I would sacrifice myself in a heartbeat to keep them from anything painful or unpleasant. 

Knowing that immeasurable love for my children gives me a glimpse into God's love for us. 

And it totally blows me away. 

Do you realize that love?

Have you ever really thought about that day over 2000 years ago when Jesus was dragged through town like a side-show? When He was beaten and humiliated? For you? 

Have you ever longed for someone to love you completely and wholly, for exactly who you are and where you are? No matter what you've done?

Are you looking for someone who will 

It's Jesus. 

Run to Him.

"Every person the Father gives to me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go." (John 6:37, MSG)





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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On Those Days You Just Lose It

So today has been one of those craptastic days that creeps along and you think it will never end. The kind of day when you work overtime to keep your patience (and fail miserably), where you snap at the kids over stupid things, where you find yourself sighing and groaning like a wounded animal, and spend 10 minutes in the closet crying out to God about how overwhelmed you feel.

There isn't any one thing that sets you off on these days. It's a perfect storm of "little" things that build and boil over until you explode. 

In my case, when blast off occurred, I stole away to the closet in our playroom and railed at God through tears and with clenched teeth. I raised my voice and used a sharp tone. 

I said some unladylike things and honestly spoke my bleeding heart. 

I unloaded all the things that have been making me feel like a lobster in a pot or a melon in a vice grip. 
The pressure has been unbearable, yet I've been able to keep it at bay; simmering just below the surface.
But today, there she blew. 

I yelled at God about making me go through this life of struggles. Of asking for patience and being given situations to hone that patience instead of just zapping me with patience!

I cried about feeling pulled in a million different directions and being torn between the things I want to do and the things I know I should do. 

I sobbed about the mounting pressure that threatens to crush me; about the beautiful babies who need me for almost everything, but I feel depleted. 

I begged God to take away the ugliness inside and to rid me of the madness of my own thoughts. 
And by the time I was wrapping it up and apologizing to God for being so out of control, my sweet little 7 year old tip-toed into the room and asked if I was okay. 

Am I okay? No. Not really.

Are any of us really "ok"?

But I will be. And something that keeps me going is knowing that I'm not alone. 

And God can handle it when I lose it. He can take it when I speak truthfully to Him. After all, He already knows what I'm thinking. 

"God, You've kept track of every toss and turn through sleepless nights, each tear entered in Your ledger, each ache written in Your book." Psalm 55:22, MSG.

God is here. He gets it, even when I don't. 

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