So they're not dragons, and he didn't slay them, but don't you just love that smile? Left to right: El Salvadoran, hubby, me, princess
So they’re not dragons, and he didn’t slay them, but don’t you just love that smile? Left to right: El Salvadoran, hubby, me, princess

If you’ve been following my blog long, you know I adore my husband. For so very many reasons! But early in my marriage, I often missed out on his dragon-slaying heroics, not because they weren’t there, but rather, because I was far too focused on the burps and hiccups and casually-tossed dirty laundry. Our marriage changed dramatically when I surrendered fully–my mind, my thoughts, my perceptions–to Christ and began to view my husband through His eyes. (I shared a bit of this in a recent Crosswalk.com article. You can read it here.) Once I began to voice all those accolades God sparked within my heart, a gloriously beautiful and tender thing occurred–those dragon-slaying heroics became more frequent as my husband steadily stepped into his God-given role of provider, leader, and protector.

Today a sweet friend, author of At the Edge of a Dark Forest,(a book I’m reading now and LOVE!!!Connie Almony, talks about her dragon slayer and the impact each of us headshot1have on that hidden hero lurking within each of our spouses. She’s also giving away a copy of her novel, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, to one of you, randomly chosen from the comments left on this post. 🙂

Does Your Man Slay Dragons For You by Connie Almony

Whenever I begin to write a story it always starts as a romance. Of course, my characters take off and do things I’d never have expected when I first “birthed” them (they’re like children that way). But in the beginning, it’s always JUST a romance. With this in mind, I know there will need to be a defining moment where the man must slay a dragon (of some sort) for his lady.

You may think this idea is sexist and old fashioned. “Why can’t the woman slay a dragon for him?” You ask.

Well that’s fine and dandy, and most of my heroines do some slaying too, but if I’m going to fall in love with the man (which is unnecessary for me with the ladies I write) he will need to be willing to take a personal risk to get the heroine what she needs.

In my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, my female protagonist, Carly, explains this idea to her counterpart, Cole, when he teases her about her penchant for reading the genre. He, being a double amputee, wonders if he could measure up as a dragon slayer.

He does!

Why?

dragon-46429-mBecause dragons come in many forms.

Early in my marriage, I’d scheduled one of those free offers to check our heating and air conditioning to clear it for winter service. FREE, I thought, who could pass up FREE? I was a little naïve back then. Of course, after the check, the technician handed me a very long list of repairs we could have done at a “reduced” price by their company if I signed NOW. I was warned, if not done soon, the whole unit would blow, costing me thousands of dollars in the end. My heart pounded. What should I do? I don’t want to miss this opportunity, and I didn’t want to risk the larger expenditure that would surely come.

I called my husband as the technician huffed loudly and tapped his toe in front of me. I could hear the comforting smile in my husband’s voice as he asked to speak to the man. I handed him the phone. They chatted. A few minutes later, the man gave me back the phone and packed his things as my husband told me not to worry. He’d consult a friend who could advise us and potentially do the work for much less than this company. He did, costing a third of what I’d been quoted.

I don’t know why this seemed a big deal to me, but I felt like a dragon had been slayed that day. A dragon in the shape of a scam-artist who’d infiltrated my home and planned to drain me of my life’s blood … or at least some cash. It gave me great peace to know my husband knew how to interrogate this man to get to the truth, to call on resources, and to ensure his family’s home was properly cared for.
My husband slays dragons every day in his office, where he manages employees, ensures goals are met and a salary is gained to feed his family. He is my hero. My knight in shining armor. He is also the biggest encourager in my writing. I am blessed.

I once listened to a woman complain that her husband never thanked her for the work she did in the home. I hear ya lady—it can be a thankless job. But I was stopped cold when she recounted how he asked of her, “When have you thanked me for going to my job every day?”

I wondered, “Had I ever thanked my husband for his provision?” I hadn’t. I try to rectify that now … To thank him for the work he does and most of all delaying HIS dream of being a writer (for which he is very gifted) to provide for his family so I can pursue MY dreams.

Thank you, Rick Almony, for slaying all those dragons!

Have you thanked your dragon-slayer today?

Dark Forest--Final CoverAt the Edge of a Dark Forest:

Cole Harrison, a war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.

Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.

***

Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and, LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.
You can also meet her on the following social media outlets: TwitterFacebookPinterest

 

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! In what ways does your spouse help you slay dragons? Pause and list them all right now, then thank God for them. It’s easy to lose sight of the heroics in the busyness of life, but they’re there. Let’s take notice! And let’s attempt to respond in kind. 🙂 (using both meanings of the word.)

We all want our spouses to be heros and heroines, but do we also want to be heroic–in our love, encouragement, words, our servanthood, our persaverance, and our commitment to Christ? Because we have no control or say in how our spouses respond. God’s assumed full responsibility for them and their behavior. But we are responsible for our responses–for being our spouse’s helpmate, encourager, and cheerleader. The question is, how are we doing? What are some things you do, each day, to honor the hero in your spouse?

Some ways to show your appreciation:i-love-you-786729-m

1) Tuck a note in his/her lunch or jacket pocket telling him/her what you love most about him/her

2) Send him/her a link to a sappy song, telling him/her it made you think of him/her

3) Buy a card for them and actually send it to them in the mail!

4) Engage in an activity they love (with them, of course!)

5) Buy them their favorite treat and let them know you bought it just for them

6) Send them random texts letting them know you were thinking of them

7) Ask them how you can pray for them then commit to doing that.

Share your thoughts here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

sorrow-and-worry-692910-mIt’s a choice I never wanted to make. It tore me up, tore my daughter up, and I’m pretty sure, it tore my husband up as well. But when a situation arose where I had to choose between my husband and my child, I knew there was really only one choice I could make. For if I followed my mother’s heart, the one that longs to buffer my child from every pain and surround her with nothing but abundant blessings, I honestly believe I would’ve robbed her of that which blesses her most–parents with a healthy, united marriage.

It was 2012, and my daughter and I were content. Happy. We lived in a great cul-de-sac filled with involved parents and great kids. The kind of neighborhood where parents kidsplayingfelt safe allowing their kids to play outside on late summer nights. We were involved in a growing church, had our hands in meaningful ministries. Our evenings were filled with family dinners, lots of hugs, and plenty of laughter.

Only my husband wasn’t happy. Not fully. Long story short, things outside our home had become toxic, and he was ready for a change. For peace. When his boss offered him a transfer to the corporate offices in Omaha, he saw his chance.

But this chance came at a price. We’d have to sell the home we loved, one we’d spent a great deal of time and money-making our “own”. We’d have to leave our church and the connections we’d made. Worse, we’d have to uproot our high school daughter. Surviving high school is hard enough. Her trying to navigate the inherently awkward halls as a newbie? The thought made me ill.

I’ve seen her weather enough broken friendships, unexpected rejections, and cliques to know this was going to be tough. Painfully tough. I worried about lonely lunches and even lonelier weekends as she waited, and waited, and waited to establish safe, lasting friendships. In fact, I worried myself sick, and prayed for a solution. One that could provide a much-deserved blessing for my precious husband while allowing our daughter to finish high school in Kansas City.

I knew if I complained or fought against it, my husband would stay. Because that’s how he is, always putting others first. But I also knew how much he needed this move, how much he deserved it. And I trusted if I put my husband first, God would bless our daughter for it.

So we went, and I’m pretty sure the summer that followed was the toughest our daughter had ever faced.

And I wondered why? Why did what was good for one have to come at the cost of another?

It didn’t. It just took time for us to catch sight of God’s blessing. Which is what this move has been–a blessing. For all of us. On New Year’s Eve, as I listened to giggles rising from a basement of teens, I thought back to our move and all God has done since078. God has returned to us all we lost in Kansas City triplefold. And our daughter? She didn’t really lose anything. Her truest friends held on, and they remain close to this day. But now she has many more friends to add to her circle. Great friends. Christ-centered friends.

In short, this move turned out to be exactly what our daughter needed.

Because when we do things God’s way, everyone wins.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this.

But… before we do, I want to invite you to pop on over to a new blog I joined with some of my sweet writer friends, Faith-filled Friends. We started this blog so we’d have a place to talk about our books, our characters, our fun research outings, and all the other things that make us smile. This month, we’re hosting a launch give-away. Join the conversation and get entered into the drawing for some great books and precious jewelry. 🙂 And make sure to subscribe, because you never know when there’ll be other gift baskets to win.

Then, join the conversation at Living by Grace as we chat about making difficult choices. Can you relate? Have you ever felt as if God were asking you to choose between a child and your spouse? If so, what did you do, and what was the result? Why do you believe it’s imperative, not just for us, but for our children as well, to put our marriage first?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

I’ve been called, by those who know me best and care for me most:

pitbullA pit bull (“but in a good way”)

A tornado (Um… thanks???)

Stubborn, determined… bull-headed

A bull in a china cabinet

(Okay, so maybe hubby wasn’t complimenting me on this one. In fact, I think he was a bit irritated. Ok, a lot irritated.)

And  yes, there are times when my bull-headed, get-‘er-done attitude creates havoc, but there are other times when I’m thankful. Because there are numerous things in life that require a fair amount of bull-headedness.

Would it surprise you to hear my bullheadedness isn’t new? That hints of it (and at times, explosions of it), can be seen throughout my history?

Where did it come from?

Because I believe God is my sovereign Creator, I also believe a chunk of this was crafted in me when He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139). But another chunk, that ever-growing chunk, is the product of struggling. Of encountering an obstacle, choosing to face it head on, and choosing to stay in the fight until the fight is over.

That is a choice each one of us have, each and every day.

When our job becomes stressful, our boss demanding, we have the choice to stay engaged and proactive and to rise above… Or to withdraw, either through a written resignation or an emotional one.

When our marriage feels hopeless, we have the choice to stay in the fight–not with our emotional retreatspouse, but in the fight for our spouse… Or resign, either through divorce or emotional retreat.

Every time we choose to fight, a part of us and that for which we are fighting for grows stronger.

Similarly, every time we choose to cave, a part of us and that for which we are fighting for grows weaker. And it becomes easier to disengage, to walk away… to quit.

I have a friend whose daughter has been battling an insanely difficult and often debilitating illness for a long time. This fall, she went to college. Away from home and the safety of her parents’ house and the close proximity of her primary care physician.

And she struggled. With illness that bombarded her weakened immune system. With discouragement that tore at her very core. With homesickness and frustration and the ever-pressing decision: Should I press on, even if I never make it or fail in the end; or should I retreat emotionally, mentally, and physically?

Her parents watched her struggle with this decision, prayed for God’s clear guidance, and I’m pretty sure, had it been their choice, they would’ve whisked her home, safe and sound.

But this young woman persevered, and this December, she successfully completed her first semester of college.

And yet, this completion was much more than a task checked off, for so much more happened in the journey.

A part of her was strengthened.

And regardless of what career she chooses, or even if she signs up for another semester, that strength will remain, equipping her for her next struggle.

Please hear me, I am not saying everyone with illness should always push through. Sometimes, we must drop a few balls and slow things down, to give ourselves time to rest, heal, and manage effectively those things that remain. (You can read my thoughts on that here.)

What I’m saying is, we should be quick to pray, quick to persevere, and slow to quit. And victoryfor those of us who are parents with breaking hearts as we watch our kids struggle this Christmas… hold on, because the triumph is coming! And when God carries your kiddo over the finish line, they’ll be stronger for it!

Additional posts and resources you might find helpful:

Are We Overstressing Our Teens?

Are You Stuck in Haran

Knowing When to Quit

How Big is Your God

Pummeled by the Waves

Stronger Still by Edna Ellison

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Think back to some of your greatest struggles.

What did God teach you through those?

How are you stronger today because of those struggles?

What are you facing now?

How might your attitude during the struggle affect your inner-growth after ? And what specifically might God be wanting to strengthen in you?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

MeandSteveThis past July, my husband and I celebrated eighteen years of marriage. And every time we celebrate yet another year, I’m reminded of the day when everything almost fell apart. And all I can say is, praise God He intervened, for if He hadn’t, I would’ve lost the love of my life. (You can read more about our early struggles and how God turned things around here.)

Getting married is easy. You fall in love, put on your wedding-gown-and-fountain-cake glasses, and say those words you can’t imagine not keeping. Words like, “I will always love you,” and “I will stand by,” and “I will cherish you.” But then life happens and our sinful nature rears its ugly head, and suddenly, those words aren’t just words anymore.

They’re our key to marital survival.

Last Sunday our church launched a series on marriage–one I believe will give all of us tools to build marital intimacy. Because it *is* possible. More than that, it’s God’s design. So, for those of you who are married or are considering marriage, I encourage you to listen to this sermon series—because honestly, when we do this love-thing God’s way, we find it works. Marriages thrive. Hearts heal and are united in a beautiful way.

You can find part one of the series, “Lose Your Way,” here, and you can return to this page each week to find the next sermon in the series.

And now I’m going to go listen to this song for the third time this morning, thinking of my forever-love and what God has done in our marriage. Love you, Stephen Slattery!

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this!  If you’re married, is your marriage as intimate as you’d like? If not, how might God want to change that and what might be your role in instigating that change? Perhaps ten years ago, I read an interesting title of a marriage book, one I think of often. The title was, “Why Should I be the First to Change?” So now, I pose this question to you. 🙂 And I suspect that question could apply to any marriage. Pause to consider close marriages in your social circle. What are some things you notice about this marriage? Any traits or behaviors you might wish to adopt? Join the conversation in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Wow, it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve updated this blog. I apologize. We’ve been moving–yes, again. Only a short distance this time–down the street. (Long, boring story that has nothing to do with today’s post. 😉 ) But with moving comes packing, fence and deck painting, unpacking, cleaning, and more cleaning. Did I mention cleaning? 😉 And amidst it all, I’ve had my share of crabby days … this morning being one of them … when the garage door repairman tracked black oil across our tan carpet. Oy! Now if ever I needed to pause and pray that my head didn’t instantly explode (creating yet another mess to clean), that was it.

Funny God arranged for this post today, well before my need arose. 😉

Invoice or Love Letter by Cheri Swalwell

“Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word tells me that I am a letter being read by everyone. I pray that I won’t be junk mail today. I pray that I won’t be like a bill making people feel like they owe me. I pray that I will be a love letter, a thank you note, and an invitation to celebrate life.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” (www.girlfriendsingod.com)

Wow – After the day I had earlier this week, the prayer above really convicts me. I could blame it on the Heatwave, excessive stress, change in routine, any number of things. Honestly, though, it all boils down to me making the choice to let my emotions have the best of me. I wasn’t only miserable myself, but I managed to spread my bad mood to those I love the most too.

MH900178785I think God showed me that prayer on purpose today. You see, I realized yesterday, even as I was saying the words in a not-so-nice tone, how I sounded and how unfair I was being. So, last night, I first asked forgiveness from my Heavenly Father for being such a poor example to those He entrusted to me as well as those unfortunate souls who happened to cross my path. Then I apologized to my kids themselves for being “the wicked witch of the mid-West.”

This morning, I was determined to have a different sort of day. I asked questions instead of accused, found things to compliment my kids about instead of criticizing, and even though it’s my job to keep my children focused on “completing tasks to their best ability,” I chose the better way to go about that goal.

When I opened the cupboard to grab a container and everything fell out on top of me, my response was much different this morning than it would have been yesterday. Did I let my kids off the hook for their laziness? No, but I was very clear in my expectations, delivered with love this time. Does that mean that they were thrilled to hear the message today because it was told in a different tone of voice? No, but that isn’t the point.

I am realizing, and the prayer above just reemphasizes, that it is my responsibility to show this world an accurate example of Christ’s love. I am God’s letter. If I am going to proclaim that I am a Christ follower, then I need to show Christ in my life always, not just when my hair looks good, the scale shows numbers I like, and the temperature is in the low 80s with a breeze. I will even take my convictions one step further. I think it’s more important to show Christ when in the middle of a Heatwave, my stress level is through the roof, or Murphy’s Law has decided to set up camp in my front yard.

People who are looking to see if Christ is the answer to their life are going to look, probably doubly hard, at how a Christ follower handles life on a day-by-day basis, during good and bad days. And, even though I won’t get it right all the time, I pray that I’m learning from my mistakes (like yesterday) and will do better the next time. After all, I don’t want to be accused of false advertising.

***

Cheri_portrait-2Cheri Swalwell is a wife, mother, and avid reader, but first and foremost she is a Christ follower. She has a degree in Psychology and has been blessed to be a guest on a variety of blogs including Christiandevotions.us, Circle of Friends, and Crosswalk.com/family. She is a regular contributor to book fun magazine. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her blog: http://journeysfromtheheartofawifeandmother.wordpress.com or “like” her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell. She loves to interact with her readers, so feel free to connect with her at clSwalwell99@gmail.com.

Let’s talk about this. If you’re like me, you often fail to pray when you need it most. Most often because I get so wrapped up in the moment–in myself–God’s kingdom is far from my mind. But like Cheri said, it can be during our most difficult times that others will see Christ shine through–if we would but let Him. What are some ways we can align our hearts and actions more with Christ? And what gets in our way?

Share your thoughts and stories in the comments before or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

Biblical marriage is meant to be a beautiful thing–a living demonstration of Christ’s love and intimacy for and with the church. But marriage, no matter how blissful, should ever steal our hearts from our true bride groom. Today Joi Copeland shares a truth God showed her through Dr. Who of all things.

Me and Dr. Who by Joi Copeland

DSC_0641“I will not watch Dr. Who.” I told my husband not too long ago. I really should be careful with the words I say. A few weeks later, I found myself totally engrossed with Dr. Who.

I agreed with David Tenant when he said, “I don’t want to go.” I even told him back, “I don’t want you to either.” I really liked him as the Doctor. And then came along Matt and Amelia Pond.

I learned a lot from Amelia, a.k.a. Amy. The way she treated her fiance, Rory, to spend time with the Doctor really bothered me. It’s something that I struggled with for a bit. And then it hit me. Oh, boy, did it hit me.

In my life, don’t I do the same thing to Jesus? Oh, but I do! When I got married, I still spent time with God every morning, went to church, etc. But something, or someone, started to replace my Savior. Chris, my husband. Not because he put himself there, but because I did.

I became infatuated with “all things Chris.” I slowly began to look to my husband to fulfill my deepest needs, desires, and wants. Just like Amy did to the Doctor.

Amelia, the Doctor, and Rory often found themselves in perilous situations. She’d place so much trust and hope in the Doctor that Rory didn’t see the need to help. It was sad, really. At one point, she was stuck in a dark room apart from the guys, talking into a receiver so they could hear her. Rory often wondered if she was referring to him or the Doctor. It was heartbreaking.

Yet, I did the same thing. I looked to Chris to “save” me. It wasn’t healthy, not at all. Jesus is the only one who can save, who can fulfill the deepest places in my heart. He’s the One I ought to look to and to cling to in trying times.

Yes, God wants me to love my husband, and believe me, I 396685_love,jpgdo. I cannot imagine my life without him. Chris is my best friend, my lover, my soul-mate. He’s my confidante, my encourager, my biggest supporter. But he isn’t Jesus, and never will be. He can’t take away my hurt, heal my pain, or save me from my sins. He isn’t my Daddy, my Lord, my King. That place is reserved for Christ and Christ alone.

It took me years to come to grips with this, to realize what a pedestal I placed Chris on. So now, Jesus is back where he belongs, and I’m thankful I not only learned to love Dr. Who, but I learned a valuable lesson from Amelia Pond.

How about you? Who or what have you placed above our Lord? What did it take for you to recognize that and change?

***

Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom and also enjoys spending time with friends over a good cup of coffee or tea. She’s been a Christian for over twenty years. She’s the author of two books, Hope for Tomorrow and Hope for the Journey, and three novellas, Christmas Rayne, Letters of Love, and Sheriff Bride, Rob’s Story.

Let’s talk about this. How can putting your spouse above Christ actually harm your marriage? What does that look like, anyway? What does it look like to put Christ first and to rely on Him to fulfill our needs? Do you have any similar stories to share, perhaps of a time when you were looking to get your needs filled in some other way than turning to and drawing near to Christ? How did He bring you back to Himself?

Share your thoughts and stories in the comments before or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

Cheri_portrait-2Today we conclude our two-month Proverbs study with an insightful post by devotional writer, Cheri Salwall.  I like to think of the Christian marriage in terms of it’s missional purpose. We are our spouse’s helpmate not merely to make their life easier or to help them find intimacy, as important as those things are, but instead, God pairs us with our spouse so that we, combined, can fulfill a portion of His eternal plan.

In today’s post, Cheri speaks specifically to us wives, reminding us to encourage and uplift our husband’s daily, but I believe the overall principal–seeking to bring out the best in our spouses–applies to both husbands and wives.

The Happy Helpmate 

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31: 11-12).

 

I love marriage and family and all things related. When I was in second grade, I wrote an essay entitled, “When I grow up, I want to be a housewife.” I wanted to have a small farm and while my husband went off to work somewhere I would grow our vegetables, feed the animals, take care of our children, and keep the house clean.  In my seven-year-old mind, that was the perfect job.

Thirty-three years later, I am living my dream.  My husband grows a vegetable garden that I help maintain and eventually we will raise chickens for fresh eggs.  I’m privileged to work from home and take care of the kids while my husband goes off to work.  In our family, the children are very well aware their dad is the head of the household and their mom is his helpmate.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex describes a helpmate as “a companion and helper, especially a wife.”   Proverbs 31: 10-31 gives great guidelines of how to achieve the role of helpmate God placed inside the heart of women to fulfill.  Strong women are condemned at times in today’s society for emasculating their men, but I think it takes a strong woman to be the helpmate God designed us to be. Being a helpmate doesn’t mean never expressing an opinion; it means trusting your husband to make the final decision after you both have had a chance to discuss the issue together.  It means you use the resources God has given you, your strengths and talents, to come alongside your husband and help him be the best protector and provider he can be.  It means that you work together to help your family succeed.

Being his helpmate means that you intentionally seek to bring out the best in your spouse.  Being his helpmate means being his number one cheerleader, even if he makes a bad decision or two.  If the roles were reversed and you were in charge of leading, do you think you choose correctly every time?  When you blow it, what kind of a response is more likely to help you get up and try again – nagging and “I told you so” or the kind, gentle reminder that “I believe in you.”?

A helpmate is someone who will actively look to see what she can do to make the life easier for the one on the frontlines.  That could mean offering to pick up his clothes from the laundromat even if it’s out of your way, keeping the house “company ready” if his job is one that has people dropping by unexpectedly, or volunteering to balance the checkbook, keep the family calendar organized, and make the list of phone calls that keep a family running smoothly.

I have one friend in particular who willingly and lovingly steps into this role with her husband on a regular basis.  She casually mentioned one Sunday that she woke up early to fix her husband a hot breakfast before he left to perform on the worship team.  She supports his role in ministry and wanted him to have extra confidence by doing what she could to help him perform at his optimum instead of being jittery from too much coffee and no real sustenance.  Even though she is not actively participating on the team, in essence she is performing an act of service to God as well.

When I think of the Proverbs 31 wife, that is my mental picture.  She wakes up early, when necessary, to perform the duties she can in order to assist her husband in providing for their family – whether financially, spiritually, emotionally, or physically.  She sometimes goes out to work and earn money for extra expenses, without complaining, and makes sure that she wisely uses the income her husband provides to teach the next generation the importance of a budget and also to show her husband how grateful she is for his hard work.  She takes care of herself spiritually, physically, and emotionally so that she can perform at her optimal best, encouraging her husband to take time to do the same.

The last and most important part of being a helpmate is to have the right attitude.  When we lovingly doing our part to take over some responsibilities in order to lessen the load our husbands carry, we’re making his job easier.  Not just physically but emotionally.  When they knows we have come alongside them and truly want to help, they can then leave confidently, knowing they will be welcomed home and appreciated for their contributions to our families.  I think we would all agree that we perform at our best when we’re supported by those we love.

I want to encourage all of us to strive to be loving helpmates to our husbands.  When we all work together to please God in our actions and attitudes, everyone wins.

Cheri Swalwell is a wife, mother, and avid reader, but first and foremost she is a Christ follower. She has a degree in Psychology and has been blessed to be a guest on a variety of blogs including Christiandevotions.us, Circle of Friends, and Crosswalk.com/family. She is a regular contributor to book fun magazine. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her website at http://www.cheriswalwell.com where you can connect to her blog or “like” her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell. She loves to interact with her readers, so feel free to connect with her at clSwalwell99@gmail.com.  In addition, she has written two devotionals, A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Because They Need You and A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Taking it to the Next Level, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

flatecover_1_ (3)A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Taking it to the Next Level:

Do you ever feel like life is out of control and you just need a chance to stop and catch your breath? If you wrestle with questions such as fear versus faith or how to find balance in such a fast paced society, then A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Taking it to the Next Level is a great solution.  Get ready to relax with a series of 40 devotionals taken from the author’s blogs where she just talks to you, friend to friend, about life’s challenges with a spiritual perspective.  It’s small enough to fit in your purse or briefcase, great to give to a friend who needs some encouragement, and reasonably priced so you can pick one up for yourself at the same time.   Available at amazon.com.

A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Because They Need You:

A set of 40 devotionals taken from the author’s blogs where she enjoys talking to you, friend to friend, about the joys and trials of raising children.  It’s small enough to fit in your purse or briefcase, great to buy for a friend who needs a little pick me up, and reasonably priced so you can buy one for yourself as well.  Get ready to be encouraged and challenged in a lighthearted way while taking a deeper look at the heart the author has for her own children and those she loves.  Sit down, grab your favorite beverage, and get ready to be uplifted while journeying together as parents.   Available at amazon.com.

What is one way you can show your spouse you’re their cheerleader today? In a typical day, do you tend to speak more words of encouragement or condemnation? If the latter, what are some ways you can actively guard your words?

Today’s reading: Proverbs 5:15-23; Song of Songs 5:9-16

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 5:18 Be happy with the wife you married when you were young. She gives you joy, as your fountain gives you water.

This week’s memory verse: Proverbs 6:16-17 There are six things the LORD hates–no, seven things He detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent. (To keep this verse manageable, I cut it off at 17. If you want to memorize all six things God hates, you can find it here: Proverbs 6:16-19

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Have you also heard, “The grass is greener where there’s more water?” Or, in other words, if your neighbor’s lawn looks more vibrant than yours, chances are he’s spent a bit more time with the upkeep. 😉

photo-1 copyIn today’s devotion, author and social-media-guru, Edie Melson, encourages us to cherish our spouse for who they are and not who we wish they’d be.

Cherish Your Spouse

Be happy with the wife you married when you were young.
    She gives you joy, as your fountain gives you water. Proverbs 5:18

 

Early on in our marriage, I decided it was my job to help my husband improve himself. I thought I was just acting like any good wife, but you men have another word for it—nagging. I never thought what I was doing qualified as nagging; after all, I was just trying to help!

What I was actually doing was getting ahead of God. He knows, so much better than anyone else, what each of us needs to become more Christ-like. But He knows something else—the order in which those changes need to be made. And my attempts to help were actually hindering my husband’s growth.

When I was looking for ways to help my husband grow, I wasn’t cherishing the ways he’d already grown as a husband and as a man. And it was driving a wedge between us as a couple.

There was another problem with my focus, it kept me from concentrating on my own growth. It’s amazing how easy it is to see someone else’s faults and not your own.

This attempt to help God doesn’t just apply to married couples. Nagging can enter into any relationship. Once I started waiting on God and concentrating on the things He wanted to accomplish in me, the rocky road of a new relationship began to smooth out.

I could see the long way God had yet to go with me, and the long way He’d come with my husband. I once again found joy in the man I’d chosen to share my life with.

Challenge: Who are you trying to help God with? I invite you to join me, and give the responsibility of change over to God and let Him work.

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. Her new book, Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers will be released on February 1, 2013. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media coach for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter and Facebook.

DSC_5705 - Version 2Connections:

Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers:

“So how much time do I really have to spend on social networking?”

It’s the question that plagues every armchair marketer. What is Social Media? How much time do I need to spend on Facebook and Twitter? Do I need Pinterest? What about my blog—who is going to follow it?

Social Networking can be overwhelming—yet it’s essential for a successful writer. With the right techniques, it can be streamlined and maximized to produce exactly the results you need to further your writing career.

Edie Melson puts this crazy world of social media into perspective and gives writers the tools needed to succeed and still find time to write.

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Let’s talk about this. Pause for a moment to consider how you view your spouse. More often than not, are you seeking out and appreciating his/her positive qualities, or do you tend to zero in on their weaknesses? I think we all have times when we’re a bit more negative than others, but that doesn’t mean we need to stay in negativity. I’ve often said, if you look for the negative, you’ll find it every time. But the converse is also true. If you look for the positive, I suspect, you’ll find it’s been there all along.

Today, I encourage you to write your spouse a letter, listing the five things you most appreciate about them.

What is one thing you can and will do to show your spouse you love and appreciate them today?

Few things wrench my heart like listening to one spouse speak negatively about the other. I’ve often wondered how I would feel to know Steve were talking negatively about me. Honestly, it’d break my heart. I’m blessed that he doesn’t do that, and I hope you can say the same.

Pause to prayerfully consider your marriage–your heart–in light of the words in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

What are some situations that challenge your patience? How can you show more patience in that situation? And more importantly, will you choose to?

What is an area your spouse has shown you patience? (I must admit, my list would be quite long here! Which is a great reminder to me to offer my husband the same grace!)

How does pride increase quarrels?

When I consider verse five, I’m reminded of Romans 12:10

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Quite honestly, I tend to honor myself above everyone else, including my spouse. But marital intimacy and growth demands the opposite–that I die to myself and think of my spouse first.

But if I’m truly honoring my spouse, I will refuse to make cutting or negative remarks. I will find ways to bless him, even when it is inconvenient or I am tired. I will not demand my own way but will instead, seek out what’s in his best interest and the best interest of my family. I will find ways to build him up throughout the day.

What about you? How has today’s devotion challenged you, or, what are some changes you’ve made personally that have blessed your marriage? Join the conversation in the comments below or by joining our Yahoo Proverbs study group.


Click to join ProverbsStudy

We live in crazy times. Many are facing long bouts of unemployment, wondering if things will ever turn around. Others are dealing with chronic illness or wayward children. We live in a fallen world filled with strife and uncertainty, sickness and death, but even in our fallen state, God reigns supreme. Today, author Mary Anslee Urban encourages us to actively grab hold of the peace Christ promised.

(Note: Mary Anslee Urban is giving away one free copy of her novel, Tapestry of Trust. There are three ways you can be entered into the drawing: 1) Leave a comment on this post, 2) share the link of this post on Facebook 3) Tweet the link. If you do option two or three, please send me an email to let me know.)

Peace for All Times by Mary Anslee Urban

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

The day started out beautiful. Crisp and cool, a nice reprieve from the late summer’s blistering heat. The calm before the storm. September 11, 2001.

The kids were in school. I had a million errands to run, and my husband, an airline pilot, was on his way to the airport. A normal day… until the report of breaking news.

Panic mingled with frustration as I sank into a family room chair and watched the twin towers crumble to the ground. Over and over again the media replayed the scene. A plane hitting, clouds of billowing smoke, lost lives. My sense of safety and security evaporated. How could this happen in America?

Not only was our country under attack, but the weapon of choice was the type of airplane my husband flew for a living, which made the tragedy much more personal. My worries compounded when my husband arrived back home. Airlines grounded, future unknown.

The airline industry had struggled for years, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Now I had equal concerns, safety in the cockpit and my husband losing his job. Before my despair could consume me, I sat down to read God’s word.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”—spoke to me loud and clear, and a gentle peace settled in my soul. God has overcome the world.

In the tough times of life, remember God’s peace is sufficient. He hears us, knows our pain and never will abandon us. This is our peace for all times.

Tapestry of Trust:
Surrendered Hearts—Interwoven Grace Isabelle had always envisioned Charlie Hamilton as the hero depicted in the romantic tapestry hanging in the Hamilton home. Then Charlie abandoned her to make decisions no one should make alone. Now, six years later, Charlie’s back, and despite Isabelle’s best efforts, she can’t ignore the longing his presence reignites. Charlie wants a second chance, but can Isabelle trust the man he’s become? Can she surrender her threadbare heart long enough for God to weave Isabelle’s own happily-ever-after tapestry?

Purchase Tapestry of Trust here.

Mary Annslee Urban is an author of Inspirational Romance. Her goal is to write stories that stir the heart about love, honor and God’s grace! Her debut book, Tapestry of Trust, White Rose Publishing, was released June 2012. Her second book with White Rose Publishing, She Came to See the Snow~A Colorado Christmas Romance, will be released Fall of 2012.

A Registered Nurse by trade, Mary also has been a freelance writer for newspapers in her area and has had articles published in magazines as well as online publications. A North Carolina resident, Mary and her husband have five children and 3 grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, long walks and anything chocolate!

Visit her online: maryurban.blogspot.com

The peace Christ promises isn’t a peace devoid of conflict but instead, an assurance that God is in control regardless of what our circumstances indicate. Christ died to free us from everything that holds us in bondage, including anxiety and worry. The next time you are feeling anxious, what are some things you can do actively grab hold of the peace Christ offers? (I’ll share my thoughts once I see yours. 🙂 )

Join us at Living by Grace as we take about grabbing hold of and living in the peace Christ has already provided.

And make sure to come back to Living By Grace Friday and Saturday for our in-depth look at the book of James.