Praying through Proverbs: 31 Days of Marriage Strengthening Prayers

I’m thrilled to let you know that I’ve teamed up with my Canadian blogging friend, Darlene Schacht of Time-Warp Wife, to offer a 31 day marriage series this October. We’re Praying through Proverbs with married couples all over the world at her MarriagePrayers.Today site.

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I’ve read Darlene’s blog for years and her articles have helped me become a better wife in so many ways, so becoming real-life friends and now working on a prayer series together is a huge honor and blessing.

You can read all the details about this beautiful new series in Darlene’s lovely announcement.

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Left to Right: Mandi, Ashleigh, me & Darlene at Allume 2014 in Charleston, SC

Tell me one good thing going on in your own life right now – I’d love to rejoice with you.


The Most Important Thing To Remember in 2015

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I had it all planned out in my mind – an incredible organization post to start 2015. Links to fabulous printables, inspiring words… basically some huge fan-fare to celebrate this time of year when everyone is making their annual organization goals.

But when I tried to write that post, the words just wouldn’t come this time. Because it wasn’t from my heart. Because I know that organizational tools are fun, but those tools won’t do the work for us.

Organizing is hard. Organizing can be discouraging. Organizing isn’t always fun.

And honestly? Organization isn’t always the most important thing.

While so many of us (including me) are gearing up to declutter in January, some others are just trying to get through today. My preacher’s 17 month old niece died of cancer on Monday. So tiny. So precious.

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Their family is spending their New Year in a funeral home, mourning a life that had barely started to live. They’re trying to answer questions from Alaina’s tiny siblings and cousins who don’t understand why she’s lying in a casket and will never wake up. How did she get to Jesus? they ask. Why can’t we go visit her?

Hospital bills have piled up but that’s not yet their main concern because they’re just trying to survive the moment.

Condolences are offered, prayers are cried out from Christians all across the world, and yet we know we can’t take away the family’s pain. It breaks my heart and tears stream down my cheeks as we sing the 4th verse of Jesus Loves Me in church tonight:

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

By the end of the song, I’m a snotty mess and rush to the bathroom to finish crying so I can clean my face and hands.

For 2015, the most important word on my heart isn’t organization. It’s intention. I want to intentionally choose to be with my kids. I want to be intentional about my writing goals so I can serve my readers without neglecting my family. I want to choose the best because I’m not promised that the best will be here tomorrow – I’m only promised this moment.

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Yes, I do want to be intentional about reorganizing my home. But not just for the sake of organization. I want to reorganize my house so that I can be free to spend more quality time with my husband and children. Our house is easier to keep clean when there’s less clutter. And we can welcome people into our home without panicking.

We can relax better. We can snuggle up with a good book without a glaring mess in our peripheral vision.

I have amazing organizational plans for 2015 that I’m going to share with you within the next few days. But for now, let’s make a decision to live 2015 with intention. We can simplify. We should know our why.

And yes, let’s organize. But let’s organize with purpose so our homes can serve our families, not the other way around.

Special Note: If you’d like to help the Day family, will you consider donating a few dollars to go towards Alaina’s exorbitant medical bills? No amount is too small – even $5.00 is a blessing – and I’d love for my readers here to rally around the Day family so we can show our love and support in their time of heavy grieving.

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When You Want to Adopt… But Your Spouse Says No

{NOTE: This is different from the type of article I usually write, but sometimes I sit at my laptop, put my fingers to the keys, and words fly out that surprise even me. I hope it encourages some of you who are having a difficult time getting on the same page with your spouse. I’ll be back with a new organizational post tomorrow!}

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I thought I’d have four children. Two girls and two boys.

The only problem with my plan was that my husband disagreed. “Only two,” he told me. “I can take care of two. I can be a good dad to two.”

“Yes,” I answered. “And we can be good parents to more than two as well.”

More talking. More late night whispering. More praying.

“I want to adopt,” I announced, several months later. “I know we agreed that we’d only adopt if we couldn’t have biological children, but so many kids need good homes and we have a good home. We’re the perfect people to do this.”

“Only two,” he repeated. “I can be a good dad to two.”

I reminded him of how I’ve had this desire on my heart since I was 13 years old. Yet, he stood firmly by his decision.

I’ll pray, I decided.

I spent weeks in deep prayer. I wanted to be as fair as possible, so instead of asking God to change my husband’s mind, I diplomatically prayed this:

“Dear God, Thank You for giving me a husband who is a good father to our children. You know that I want to adopt and he doesn’t. You know there are so many orphans out there who need good homes. I know that Your will for Nathan is the same as Your will for me in this. Please change one of our hearts and bring us to the same page. Thank you for loving us and adopting us into Your kingdom. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

I fully expected God to change my husband’s heart. I’ve heard so many stories about how the husband wasn’t on board but God worked behind the scenes. And I could hardly wait for my husband to come to me, seemingly out of the blue, and announce that he wanted to adopt!

Only it didn’t happen that way. God didn’t change my husband’s heart.

{Join me over at My Joy-Filled Life to read the rest –>}

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8 Ways to Deal With Difficult Relatives During the Holidays

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We work hard to decorate our homes and make or purchase gifts, then we spend days lovingly preparing food, serving, and trying to make the holidays a special time for our loved ones.

But what happens when our gifts or food – our love offerings – are rejected or ridiculed?

It hurts, for one.

It’s enough to make a person want to crawl into a hole and hibernate until the holidays are over and everyone has returned home.

And as tempting as that little hibernation hideout may sound, there are a few things we can do to make those gatherings easier:

1) Have realistic expectations.

My husband once told me, “Expect from someone what they’ve shown you to expect in the past.” When he offered that advice, I had a huge aha moment as things started clicking together in my mind.

And while sometimes ungratefulness from others comes as a shock and catches us off-guard, nearly knocking us off our feet, there are a lot of times that we can expect it.

2) Try not to take it personally.

When someone responds negatively to you, realize those words or actions ultimately have nothing to do with you and everything to do with the condition of the other person’s heart.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

3) Respond Kindly.

Don’t fuel fire with more fire! Douse it out with love.

While responding with love won’t necessarily make the other person realize the error of their ways, it will keep your own conscious clean. Like my mama used to say, “It takes two to tango.” If the other person wants to tango, then let them dance alone.

It’s also important to remember that we only see the outward behavior. We don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes to know what another person may be going through. We can retaliate or we can be compassionate. Let’s choose compassion.

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21 (NKJV)

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I’m honored to be guest-posting for Mandy Kelly today. Join me on Mandy’s blog to read the other five ways we can deal with difficult relatives during the holidays (or any other time).