I apologize for the late notice. My sister is visiting this week so I’m taking an unplanned week off from writing on the blog to prepare for her arrival and to enjoy our time together while she’s here.
I have a confession to make. I am not the most disciplined person. I struggle with late night munchies, keeping the house clean, and staying on top of my devotionals. This Lent season, I want to be more disciplined. Today is the start of the Lent season, Ash Wednesday. Here’s some facts to help you better understand Lent.
What is Lent?
Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent ends on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). There are 3 main focuses of the season:
1) to reflect upon your sins and your need for a Savior (Romans 6:23),
2) to renew your commitment to Christ, dying to self daily, often done through prayer, self-examination, and fasting (Luke 9:23), and
3) to remember that Christ conquered sin and death (Romans 8:1-4).*
Who should celebrate Lent?
Traditionally associated with the Roman Catholic Church, Lent is a season worth following or at least understanding in the Protestant denominations. Scripture doesn’t mandate or mention either of these terms, but the practice of regular prayer, repentance, mourning in ashes, and fasting is mentioned.
How can we celebrate Lent?
Lent is celebrated or observed in a variety of different ways from “fasting” from a specific item, to placing ashes on one’s forehead as a reminder of your sinful state and your need for a Savior, to devoting oneself to prayer or meditation in an effort to grow closer to God. Lent is also the perfect season to practice discipline.
Why is discipline important for self-care?
- Discipline allows you to build your character. You can’t expect to learn how to play the piano, to break a bad habit, or to transform into the likeness of Christ in a day. These things takes time, patience, and effort. When you are disciplined, you are equipped with the tools to begin your journey toward achieving your goals. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained.“
- Discipline equips you to withstand temptation. Jesus gives us the tools to be disciplined in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Watch – be aware, look out, plan ahead. Pray – dialogue with God.
- Discipline instills in you greater self-awareness. Discipline makes you aware of your weaknesses and strengths, and this awareness makes the process of setting and reaching goals easier. When you know what will trip you up, you can plan ahead by setting up boundaries, accountability, and rewards to greater motivate you. You also avoid disappointment due to unrealistic expectations.
- Discipline offers better time management. Discipline allows you to increase productivity, to avoid hang-ups and hiccups along the way, and to better achieve your goals in a timely manner.
- Discipline unveils God’s character. To exercise godly discipline, you must first know the Gospel, believe its message, and live out its truth. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Staying deep in God’s Word will equip you with better understanding of who God is, what God has done, who He has created you to be, and how to grow into His likeness.
This Week’s Lent Exercise: Discipline Yourself
Pick one of the following ideas to incorporate into your Lent season.
- 40 Days of Prayer - Pick 40 people in your life whom you can pray for over the next 40 days. Some suggestions include your spouse, kids, family, friends, co-workers, church, school, government, neighbors, and those who serve you (i.e. medical professionals, restaurant workers, hairdressers, store clerks, babysitters, teachers, etc).
- 40 Days Unplugged - Unplug from your computers, smart phones, televisions, etc for 40 days. I understand that modern technology is sometimes required for work or basic essentials (i.e. calling your spouse to say you’ll be home late or creating a PowerPoint presentation for your boss). Set specific guidelines for yourself only using technology for absolute essentials. If you can’t completely cut technology out of your life, try eliminating excess use (i.e. avoiding watching TV with your spouse in the evenings in favor of talking or connecting through an activity or fasting from social media in favor of connecting with people off the Web). Here are some tips to get you started.
- 40 Days of Encouragement – Write a note of encouragement every day for a different person in your life.
- 40 Days of Organization - Purge clutter from your life by spending each day in a different part of your home getting rid of things. See this idea and this one on Pinterest for ideas on where to organize. Here are some great tips to get you started.
- 40 Days of Confession - Use this practical model of daily confessing to become more aware of your “problem areas” in your walk with God and to practically tackle sin in your life.
- 40 Days of Water- Fast from juice, tea, coffee, milk, and soda. Choose water as your only beverage. Reflect on the symbolism of water in the Bible. Do a word study on water.
- 40 Acts of Kindness - Do a random act of kindness each day for someone in your life. You can focus solely on one person (like your spouse) or pick 40 different people.
- 40 Days of Thanksgiving - Keep a gratitude journal. Each day make a list of things you are grateful for, and watch the list grow throughout Lent.
- 40 Days of Meditation - Pick a different Bible verse each day to meditate on – reflect on the meaning, write the verse in your own words, pray the verse for your life, and ask the Lord to show you a way to act on the verse.
- 40 Days of Praise - Spend five minutes a day in prayer just praising God. Use the three-fold method: Praise God in adoration (love Him), praise God for who He is (His character), and praise God for what He’s done (His work).
This is Whole Woman Wednesday #1. For more Lent ideas, see my Pinterest board.
As a young girl, I remember the proper thing to do was to wear a belt and tuck one’s shirt in. Things changed when I went to high school and was told this “fashion style” was no longer considered “cool.” I have yet to tuck my shirt in again, and only on rare occasion do I wear a belt.
We live in a generation where belts don’t seem to be as important in our wardrobe choices. However, in Roman times, belts were crucial to holding a soldier’s armor in place and protecting a soldier’s vital organs.
The apostle Paul mentions the belt of truth first in his series of placing on the full armor pieces of God. Why would Paul start with a belt? Why not the Sword of the Spirit or the helmet of salvation? A Roman soldier’s belt would act as a girdle to keep his armor together and hold his scabbard, consequently, holding his sword. Without the belt, he would have no place to carry his weapon on his person. The belt also acted to protect his kidney and liver, critical to human survival.
Now I imagine you aren’t planning to charge into battle with a sword in your hands and a full suit of armor anytime soon. However, the Bible does tell us that there’s a battle raging on around us.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:11-13
Deception is the oldest trick in the book for Satan. The Bible calls the devil “the deceiver of the whole world.” Satan deceived Eve, convincing her to take the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As a human, you will fall prey to deception and trickery. This is why you must protect yourself (and your marriage) from the lies of Satan with the belt of truth. Over the next five weeks, we’ll explore 5 different lies of Satan and how to combat them with the belt of truth.
Lie #1: Your spouse is the enemy.
I don’t think any couple goes into marriage as friends and expects to one day wake up next to the enemy. Your spouse is NOT your enemy no matter how frustrated, angry, or hurt he/she makes you feel. Marriage has an enemy – Satan.
In the Garden of Eden, the devil weasels his way into marriage by presenting an “appealing alternative” to God’s plan. Eve, in her naivete and her curiosity and with the gift of free will, chooses to sin, and her husband, Adam willingly follows her.
Isn’t this how it always happens? Anything or anyone could potentially become a “satisfactory substitute” to your spouse if you aren’t aware of the enemy’s schemes and lies.
This is what leads to putting other priorities above your marriage, even good ones like family, friends, or work. None of those things are bad in that of themselves, but when couples start putting their kids and jobs before their spouse, and family’s/friends’ advice before their spouse’s, they set themselves up for disaster.
This is what leads to affairs and pornography addictions. When you believe your spouse is your enemy, you are more susceptible to seeking comfort, satisfaction, and pleasure elsewhere.
Some signs you may believing this lie
- You expect the worst.
- You jump to conclusions, without asking for your spouse’s input.
- You don’t try to talk to your spouse because you believe you already know his/her response.
- You feel your spouse won’t care about, won’t understand, or won’t listen to what you have to say so you stay silent.
- You expect to argue frequently.
- You accuse your spouse before having all the facts and before evaluating the situation through God’s eyes.
- You don’t look forward to seeing your spouse, and make up excuses to stay away.
- You’re afraid to make your spouse mad by bringing up a concern so you stay silent to avoid an argument.
Buckle the truth around your waist
- Take a proactive approach to the enemy’s attacks. Acknowledge your marriage is under real assault from the devil. Incorporate regular times to communicate and connect throughout your week. Fortify your marriage by reaffirming your love for one another on the marriage bed.
- Respect your spouse. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Allow him/her to explain before jumping to conclusions or throwing around accusations. Speak up when you’re hurt, angry, or frustrated in a timely manner.
- Understand Satan will twist the truth to his advantage. In the Garden of Eden, he tells Eve, “You will not surely die.” In truth, Eve didn’t die a physical immediate death, but the consequence of sin is spiritual and physical death. Satan may not outright tell you to cheat on your spouse, but he may twist it to his advantage with a variation like, “If it feels good, do it.”
- Think of your love for one another. Review your wedding vows regularly. Practice gratitude daily. Reaffirm your love for one another frequently.
- Help your spouse see your perspective in a gentle, loving manner. Be specific about your timetable for getting things done. Give concrete examples of ways your spouse can improve or help you fix a problem. Give your spouse grace in the learning curve.
For more on affair-proofing your marriage, click here.
This series’ schedule has changed.
- Mar 3rd – Believing Truth: Is Your Spouse the Enemy?
- Mar 10th – Believing Truth: How Important is Spiritual Intimacy
- Mar 17th – Believing Truth: Is God a Cosmic Killjoy?
- Mar 24th- Believing Truth: You Are Not Alone
- Mar 31st – Believing Truth: You HAVE to be Perfect, Right?
Stay tuned for the schedule following March 31st.
Giving chocolate to others is an intimate form of communication, a sharing of deep, dark secrets.” ~Milton Zelman, publisher of ‘Chocolate News’
On Wednesday, the “circle time” question of the day at my work program was “What’s your favorite dessert?” I didn’t hesitate. Chocolate! Chocolate, for me, has the amazing capacity to pick me up after a bad day, wow my mouth when I want something decadent, add a simple pleasure to my meal, and make me feel more like a woman. Chocolate is the perfect treat to spice up a date night. Chocolate is the perfect springboard to add sensuality and romance to your evening. Enjoy 10 more ways to add chocolate to your date night!
- I Need S’More of You. If you have a fire pit, Mexican chimney, fireplace, or even a stove, you can do this Give Me S’more Lovin’ date night at home idea. Make this sweet “I Need S’More of You” card as an invite (free printable from The Dating Divas). Set up the essentials – graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate squares and add in a few new favorites – i.e. chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chips, chocolate graham crackers, cinnamon graham crackers, apple slices, strawberries, Reese’s peanut butter cups, raspberries, pear slices, etc. Get creative. You could even make this s’more milkshake if you’d like.
- Warm Me Up. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate to share. Bring peppermint sticks for a minty flavor or cinnamon for a spicy flavor. Dress warm. If you’re a late night owl, curl up under the stars or if you’re an early-riser, watch the sunrise. Don’t forget an extra-large cozy blanket to snuggle with your sweetheart.
- Portraits and Pasta. Enjoy a romantic Italian dinner at home and pair with making your own chocolate portraits. For an extremely decadent dessert only dinner, try this chocolate pasta with chocolate hazelnut cream sauce, white chocolate shavings, and fresh berries recipe.
- Kaleidoscopes and Kebabs. Make your own kaleidoscopes (why? Because it’s fun!). Purchase skewers and grill your favorite meats (chicken, pork, beef tips), veggies (broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes), cheese (if you like) to serve over a plate of white steamed rice. For dessert, try these yummy brownie kebabs and drizzle with hot fudge sauce.
- Pizza and Pandora. Make this delicious brownie pizza and slow dance to your favorite songs on Pandora playlist (or other music playlist) in your living room.
- Wax on! Wax off! Get creative with this one. Make your own chocolate wax seal. Pair with watching The Karate Kid, making chocolate-scented candles, or writing each other sweet love letters.
- This Girl is On Fire! Wear something red, hot, and sexy. Pair a spicy food (such as Thai, Indian, or Mexican food) date night with these delicious flaming strawberry chocolate cupcakes.
- Hit the Trails. Make this yummy chocolate trail mix. Bundle up and head out for a late winter hike or geo-cache adventure.
- Date Night in 5 Minutes. Make chocolate pudding. Serve in crystal or fancy glass dishes. Sit on the front porch and feed each other under the stars.
- Deliciously Desirable. Serve this dangerously decadent chocolate cheesecake and challenge your spouse to a game of strip chess or checkers.
Check out last week’s post – 10 Ways to Add Chocolate to Your Date Night.
There’s been heated debate over U.S. Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner’s reaction to her low scores, leaving her in 4th place. Pictures of her stunned, disappointed face have gone viral. I’m not here to argue that she should’ve gotten a higher score or that she got the score she deserved. However, I do think this is a great opportunity to talk about sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “fair play, respect for opponents, and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition.” Being a good sport is important to the effectiveness and morale of a team.
Teamwork has been a concept around since the beginning of time, and we could even argue before that, our God is triune – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone,” and created woman. I definitely agree that woman is more than just a teammate for man, but teamwork is essential in a marriage.
Marriage is the ultimate team – it’s two people coming side-by-side, playing by the “rules” of God’s Word, working together for a common goal of R.espect, E.ngagement/Friendship, A.uthenticity, and L.ove to achieve the prize - a happy, healthy marriage, a legacy of love, and eternity with Jesus.
How can you practice good sportsmanship in marriage?
1. Establish rules and stick to them.
A marriage needs healthy guidelines. Follow the Bible. If something doesn’t measure up against God’s Word, cut it out of your marriage. Although there is freedom under the Gospel, if you’re causing your partner to stumble, then you need to seriously reconsider including that “freedom” in your marriage. If your husband “fails to follow the rules,” a.k.a. sins against you, confront him in a honest, but loving way. If you fail, be humble, admit when you’re wrong, apologize, and work to avoid the problem in the future.
“Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching, helping people, correcting, and showing us how to live.” 2 Timothy 3:16
“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” 2 Timothy 2:5
Athletes need to show one another respect in order to function as a cohesive whole. Similarly in a marriage, a husband and wife need to respect one another in order to work together as an effective team. Recognize your husband has different strengths that he brings to the table. Listen to what your husband has to offer without interrupting or judging. My husband is much more receptive to my advice when I share my thoughts in a loving, gentle way as opposed to a condescending, judgmental way. Encourage your spouse in his/her difficulties or weaknesses.
“Let the wife see she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
3. Avoid gloating when your husband fails.
In professional football, “excessive celebration” is a referee penalty call. While I think it’s silly, there is some logic behind this. When a teammate parades around in a prideful manner, the other team is made to feel bad. Same thing applies in a marriage. Saying “I told you so” may be tempting, but this doesn’t build your spouse up. You may feel good about yourself for five seconds, but your husband won’t feel encouraged.
“Don’t rejoice when your opponent falls, don’t be happy when he stumbles…” Proverbs 24:17
4. Don’t get mad; get glad!
Seething in bitterness when something doesn’t go your way hurts you more than your husband. Let go of envy, and be genuinely happy for your husband instead of wishing him ill because you want what he has. Be your husband’s greatest cheerleader. Support and encourage him.
“Each of us should please others for their good, to build them up.” Romans 15:2
5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
If your husband succeeds and you don’t, it may be hard to be happy for him. When we first moved to Colorado, Adam and I were both out of work. He got a job within three months and a better job in six, and I waited six months for temporary work and two years for permanent work. Initially, I was jealous that Adam got to go to work every day and I was stuck at home. However, I tried to focus on the positive, recognizing Adam achieving a promotion within six months was a praiseworthy feat, and that he was providing for us. Avoid dwelling on the negatives.
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
6. Don’t play the blame game.
When you both fail, you may be tempted to point the finger. Don’t. Accept responsibility for your part in the failure. Recognize your spouse isn’t perfect, and extend forgiveness, grace, and mercy willingly. Talk about why you both didn’t succeed, and work on a solution together to prevent future problems.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Proverbs 10:22
7. Watch your body language.
This is what drew heavy criticism of Ashley Wagner. The way you stand, your facial expressions, your tone of voice all communicate to your husband on a level beyond words. Negative body language to avoid includes, but isn’t limited to, eye-rolling, sighing, roving eyes (looking at everything but your spouse), towering over, raising your voice, resting your hands on your hips, folding your arms across your chest, sluggish posture, foot or finger tapping, and turning away from your spouse during conversation.
“While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way…” 1 Timothy 4:18
8. Act like partners.
Make decisions together. Support your husband publicly and privately. Always speak positively about your spouse. Being willing to work with your spouse when you disagree with him.
“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Stay tuned to BHE for 2 new series this spring!
- Mar 3rd – Believing Truth
- Mar 10th – Staying Pure
- Mar 17th – Embracing Peace
- Mar 24th- Remaining Faithful
- Mar 31st – Protecting Your Thoughts
- Apr 7th – Standing on God’s Word
- Apr 14th – Praying Without Ceasing
- Apr 21st – Staying Alert
- Apr 28th – Praying for Marriages
beginning March 5th!