Saturday, October 31, 2009


Respect: That estimation or honor in which men hold the distinguished worth or substantial good qualities of others.
Noah Webster 1828
American Dictionary or the English Language
In simple terms respect is to honor others worth. The bible tells us that all men are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26). We are of great importance and worth to God (Psalm 139). Given this information we must be respecters of all. This is a little hard to swallow for me since my instinct is to only respect those who deserve it according to my judgement!
The more I think on what respect means, the more I realize I have been acting on and thinking of respect as a feeling. But, respect is not a feeling it is an action. It is a choice. As we have been training respect this week we have been talking about how respect is an attitude. It chooses to think of others first and to honor them, whether the person deserves honor or not.
We have been talking about respect in greeting and meeting people, in conversations, and in ongoing relationships. When we first meet a person we respect and value their worth as a child of God by being cheerful, attentive and polite. The children and I have practiced looking people in the eye, introductions and proper hand shakes. This is still in the training stage at our house as none of my children have offered a hand to someone new or used proper protocol for introductions. I trust as we continue to train this they will be able to use it in the world and it will show honor and respect to others. The first time I met one of our pastor's sons he smiled confidently, stuck out his hand to shake mine and spoke cheerfully and confidently to me. I was amazed that a 9 year old boy made me feel so special by simply greeting and meeting me! I pray my girls will do the same some day.
Other ways we respect those around us is by using good manners. We train our children to be polite and well mannered for others benefit. For little ones this means being polite in our play and sharing, eating politely and being patient with others. None of these things come very naturally to a child so they must be encouraged and trained.
When children are playing they must be coached and trained on the proper attitudes and actions. If we never require a child to respect others they will quickly alienate everyone around them! As parents we need to be willing to stop what we are doing and address the arguments over toys, address the loud or improper voices and address the greed that often comes when playing with others. I have found that if we approach this training from a heart of respect for the other person it will give more meaning than simply fixing the situation by taking away toys, separating children or redirecting. It is well worth taking the time to talk out the situation with the little ones. When a child snatches a toy from another I try and ask them questions like, "is this how you want to be treated? Did you ask first and then wait patiently? Did you get help from a parent when the other child wouldn't share?" This gives the children tools to use; ask, wait patiently, get help etc. This respects the other persons space, time and choice. If the other person refuses to give the item to the other child in a timely manner we should not get angry and argue, but, seek help from mom or dad.
When sharing a meal with others it is a good habit to train manners before hand. If we require good manners at every meal and work on them little by little as our children grow they will be habits that carry over into meals with others. Again, practicing and giving a child tools to use will prevent arguments, offenses and poor manners. No child is expected to like everything placed in front of them, cut their meat perfectly at age 4 or never spill. When a child does not like something it is wise for the parent to only give a small portion and for the child to politely say, "no, thank you, or just a little, please." We have a rule that you may not give your opinion about a food unless you are asked or you have something complimentary to say. This works well, but needs to be reminded often at our house!
Respect looks so much simpler as a child. You are to treat others well in all situations. As our children grow we will have more opportunities to encourage them to make the choice to respect even when it seems unfit for the situation. Our 7 year-old daughter has started to notice the sin or unwise choices other people make. We have had opportunity to encourage her to, "love and respect the person, but hate the sin." One of our pastors, Mark Darling, shared this in a sermon many years ago and I have held tightly to this. Others are not always easy to respect, but, we can train our children and ourselves to treat others with dignity and worth. Respect does not lie and honor those who have acted dishonorably, it does however, treat others with good manners. Let's encourage our little ones to show respect right from the start, honoring others with their good actions and manners will become a beautiful habit as they grow!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


There are 3 major areas that I focus training my children on they are obedience, self-control and respect. These are the foundation that needs to be laid before you can move forward with other character training. Without these qualities established you will not be able to train anything else! In this article I will talk about obedience.

Obedience is simply doing what you are told, when you are told with a good attitude. There is a chain of command that we all must be obedient to as Christians. Starting with God, the husband, then the wife then the children in family. In church it is God, the elders, then the congregation. In the work realm it is God, Master, then worker. Each of these areas mirrors the triune that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are. Just as Jesus submitted to his authority and was obedient even unto death we too must be obedient to our authority.

Before we can establish obedience in our children we must first put obedience in place in our lives as parents. Are we obedient to God? Our husbands? The bible? These are questions we must ask ourselves and make sure that we are right before we start to train the little one's God has placed in our care. As a person under authority we are not of ourselves but must seek the will of our Father God and husbands in training. What do they want us to require obedience in? What actions do they want us to take to get there? What is most important to them? How do they want us to implement obedience training? How can we be more obedient to them?

Once you have established your standard and superiors will, then you can start making plans to train your children. This takes time, commitment and dedication. Training that is done haphazardly and without consistency will only breed frustration for the children and the parent. When we are working on training we set aside a special time of day to talk about the subject (obedience) and establish the definition, expectations, and consequences. We will talk a lot about when we may need to be obedient and what it looks like. I will try and play some games to high light obedience with the children. One we simply call the obedience game. I give silly commands to the children and they must say, "yes, mommy," and go do them. I might tell them to go run around the house one time, ring the doorbell and then come lay down on the couch. Or maybe it is running into the kitchen and hiding under the table. I always make this game fun. We also act out the ways to be obedient. Practicing right and wrong in a theatrical way. This is the practicing before the situation. Another big part of training is prepping the children before we go to do something. Before going to the store, church, a friends etc we will pray, talk about my expectations and what are the right things to do. We also discuss what is not right and I try and give a cheerful encouragement such as, "I know you girls can do a great job at the store today, let's look for a way to bless each person we see maybe by smiling at them or using quiet voices, we're Lebens we can do this!"

We are working on quick obedience at our home also. It breaks my heart when I notice that a child does not quickly obey their parents. I wonder how many times children could have been saved from painful accidents by simply listening when a parent said, "STOP!" Obedience to our words the first time is of the utmost importance not just out of respect for authority, but, because it may mean the difference between life and death. Each time I repeat myself over and over and my children do not obey my heart aches because I know that I wouldn't be able to keep them out of harms way with my words.

One way to ensure that our children are obeying and doing the what and when is by requiring them to answer us with a, "yes, mom." By doing this we know they have heard and understood. This is one of those repeat, repeat, repeat things. I have to remind my children to say it, but, that also means that they have heard. If I ever feel my anxiety rising it is usually because someone has not done what I said, when I said, with a good attitude and then I know I need to correct the situation. The more I set aside time to correct the situation and deal with it now, the less I will have to later. We can model this well for our children by responding to them in kind. When someone asks for something I love to say, "Yes, Julia I would be happy to get you a glass of water." When we model that we are happy to serve and help our children they will recognize this and want to do it too.

Attitude is where I find the most gray area. I believe this is Satan's easiest accessible way into our children's actions. We may not always see the rolled eyes, or always discern the improper tone of voice. But, when we do we must require the utmost respect. We must recognize that this is not of the Lord and has no place in our homes. I've noticed that as my children get older they become better at the what and where, not the attitude. I try and catch them and encourage them to evaluate the heart behind the attitude. I may ask a question like, "Is this a way you would speak to Jesus when serving him?" "Are you speaking from the goodness in your heart?" I want to make sure that our children recognize that an attitude of sass is not of the Lord and is sin. Because this is such a sly area I have to purpose to recognize and deal with it. As my children get older it becomes less of a discipline situation and more of a coaching and praying situation. For the little ones it remains simply you must obey with a cheerful attitude or you will be disciplined.

We have a lot of room for improvement in the area of obedience in our home. It takes work. I confess some days it is easier to overlook the offense then to deal with it. My sin of passivity never equals God's righteousness. If I am going to change my complacent ways I must choose to teach it first and then deal with the issues. I must choose to notice when the children do obey and praise them. This is not easy, but it is well worth it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Training our Children for the Lord

The need for training in my children's lives has been made unmistakeably clear to me this past week. I have gone back to the basics of why and how this training will need to happen. Putting it here in writing will hopefully make me accountable to acting out this very needed and tremendous job.

Training has not always been a part of my personal life or my parenting. Up until about 4 years ago I had never thought of training in terms of personal character growth or in teaching and growing character in my children. Traditionally I just waited until I did something wrong and suffered the painful consequences. In my ignorant ways I had done the same for my children. When I first heard about pro-actively training my children it was a huge blessing. Not only for my children's sake but for my own also. No longer would we have to wait until we did something wrong and then be corrected to learn to do right. I was captivated by the idea that we could have success instead of failure.

We all have moments in our life when we make poor decisions or do wrong and need correction. As we grow these times should decrease. We should study and learn what is good and right and then do it. Sadly I have not always afforded my children this opportunity. I have waited for them to wrong and then taught them through pain. This is not ideal. Pain should never be the only motivator we have to do good. When we do not train and set forth our expectations of ourselves and our families we set everyone up to fail. When we do train and clearly communicate our standards and expectations we set ourselves and our families up for success.

After hearing about training several years ago and being taught by a wonderful, Godly, wise mother some of her ways I have grown to love training. It has been a beautiful tool at our home and really blessed the time our family spends together. One problem that I have continually faced is that I have wrong expectations or rather unrealistic expectations. I somehow believe that if I instruct the children on how to do something once, then they know and I will never need to tell them the same thing again. Oh what silly, foolish thinking that is! I set myself up to fail every time I get off track and think that my job is somehow done now that I have gone through things one time! The truth is training is continuous. Repeat, repeat, repeat and then repeat a little more. It happens all day, everyday. Whether I am purposefully training or not, it is still happening. When I have backed away from training and let the children to themselves I am training them to follow their own ways. This NEVER works and I reap such a poor harvest during these times. But, when I am on my game and dedicated and focused on my children's training oh what a beautiful result and harvest that has.

So how does one stay committed all the time? This is something I have needed to figure out, but, haven't. It use to be that I would fall into old habits of frustration and yelling. Now I see the cues much sooner in my children when they have not been receiving the training they need. Praise God he always brings me back to a place where I recognize our families need to seek him, his ways and his word. We are currently in one of these times. I pray that I don't become complacent, but get continual reminders to train, even when I think the children have it down.

Why is training so important? I believe training is extremely important. The main reason is that God has charged me with the job of preparing the children he places in our family for him as adults. He has given me around 18 years to prepare these children for his service. This is a huge job! God has wonderful and what are going to be sometimes difficult plans for these little ones in my care. My greatest joy will be to see to it that these girls are prepared for whatever God might use them for. This is the primary goal, but, there are lesser goals that come with it. I want our girls and family to stand out now and look different from the world. When people see our family I want them to see something different in the hope that they may be attracted to the difference and give us an opportunity to point them towards God. Training also has some benefits of bringing peace and joy to our lives. A child well trained will bless your home and others as well. The child will also enjoy a more calm and secure life.

Exactly how do children benefit from training? Children benefit by feeling prepared and secure. When we pro-actively train our children for different situations and when we communicate what our expectations are they will understand and know what to do and how to do it. When children are given boundaries and have a clear understanding of what will happen if they cross that boundary they are empowered to make their own choices and don't need to feel lost or confused.

Training creates freedom. We nor our children have to feel like we are controlled by our emotions. Preparing and practicing helps us to not be at the mercy of our feelings. We can learn to choose to be self-controlled. This creates freedom and feelings of peace not the confusion and frustration that results from a misunderstanding of what is expected and happening around us.

It is tempting to believe that children just like to pitch a fit or fuss to get what they want. This is simply untrue. Children from babyhood on are capable of using self-control and cheerful voices. Children do not like to feel out of control and to fuss and whine. They have been trained that this is the way to get what they want.

What we train and how is not the principle here. The principle is that we are to do the training that God commands. That will look different in each family. As I started to think about what it was God wanted me to train I looked to the bible, my husband and respected families that had successfully trained God-fearing and serving children. I am so encouraged by knowing that God will equip us to raise up a generation of children who run for him with his character evident in their life. That goal makes every long training moment and all the teaching well worth it. Praise God that he does not make us wait until our children are adults to see all the fruits of this labor. He gives us momentary glimpses of the fruit our training is producing now. I pray that these moments will motivate and encourage our family to continue on and yours as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are you a Constitutionalist?

The following article was thought provoking for me, maybe it will be for you too. This is written by Chuck Baldwin and archived HERE.

I originally published this column back in January of 2005. Since then (and especially lately), many people have called and written with requests to republish it. So, with a few minor revisions, here it is.

More than thirty years as a student of American history, constitutional government, and the Holy Bible leads me to the conviction that the two major political parties in this country (at the national level) are equally culpable in stripping America of its founding principles. In my opinion, both the Democrat and Republican parties in Washington, D.C., have zero fidelity to the U.S. Constitution and zero respect for America's foundational precepts.

In my studied opinion, neither the Democrat nor Republican Party (at the national level) has any intention of slowing the out-of-control expansion of government. Neither party has demonstrated any loyalty to preserving and protecting our constitutional form of government.

Like National Socialists and Soviet Socialists of old, the only thing that concerns Democrats and Republicans today is who is in power. Both are equally willing to destroy the freedoms and liberties of people without conscience or regret as long as their party remains in control.
I am absolutely convinced that without a renewed allegiance to constitutional government and State sovereignty, there can be no resolution to America's current slide into socialism and oppression. Therefore, it is critical that we cast aside our infatuation with partisan politics and steadfastly stand firm for the principles of federalism and freedom, as did America's founders.

Might you be a modern-day Minuteman who understands the principles of freedom and federalism? I offer the following test. Read it and see if you, too, are a Constitutionalist. (Yes, Martha, this is another Jeff Foxworthy spin-off.)

1. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that every congressman, senator, President, and Supreme Court justice is required to obey the U.S. Constitution.

2. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that before the United States invades and occupies another country, Congress must first declare war.

3. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe the federal government should live within its means, like everyone else is forced to do.

4. You might be a Constitutionalist if you think that taking away people's liberties in the name of security is not patriotic, nor does it make the country more secure.

5. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to see politicians be forced to abide by the same laws they make everyone else submit to.

6. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that we have three "separate but equal" branches of government that are supposed to hold each other in check and balance.

7. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government has no authority to be involved in education or law enforcement, or in any other issue that the Tenth Amendment reserves to the States, or to the People.

8. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that gun control laws do nothing but aid and abet criminals while trampling the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens.

9. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the income tax is both unconstitutional and immoral, and, along with the I.R.S. and the Federal Reserve, should be abolished.

10. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe the federal government had no authority to tell former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore that he could not display a monument containing the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery; or to tell a Pace, Florida, high school principal that he could not pray before a meal.

11. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that Congress or the White House or any sovereign State is not required to submit to unconstitutional Supreme Court rulings.

12. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that freedom has nothing in common with illegal immigration.

13. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that outsourcing American jobs overseas is not good for America.

14. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the United States should get out of the United Nations and get the United Nations out of the United States.

15. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that it is not unconstitutional for children in public schools to pray or read the Bible.
16. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the Boy Scouts are not a threat to America.

17. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government should honor its commitments to America's veterans and stop using U.S. military personnel as guinea pigs for testing drugs and chemicals.

18. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that U.S. troops should never serve under foreign commanders or wear the uniform or insignia of the United Nations, and that they must never submit to illegal orders, such as turning their weapons against American citizens, or confiscating the guns of U.S. citizens.

19. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government has no business bribing churches and faith-based organizations with federal tax dollars.

20. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that federal agents who murder American citizens should be held to the same laws and punishments that any other citizen would be held to. (Can anyone say, "Waco" and "Ruby Ridge"?)

21. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and the FTAA (and similar agreements) are disastrous compromises of America's national sovereignty and independence.

22. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to see congressmen and senators be required to actually read a bill before passing it into law.

23. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that it is the job of government to protect and secure God-given rights, not use its power to take those rights away.

24. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that there is nothing unconstitutional about the public acknowledgement of God and our Christian heritage.

25. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that government bailouts and "stimulus" expenditures defy virtually every principle of free enterprise and are a flagrant leap into socialism.

26. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that airport screeners have no business touching women's breasts, using sophisticated machinery to look through passengers' clothing to see their naked bodies, confiscating fingernail clippers, or denying pilots from carrying handguns.

27. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that many public schools' "zero-tolerance" policies are just plain stupid.

28. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that parents have a right to homeschool their children.

29. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that governmental seizure of private property is plain, old-fashioned thievery.

30. You might be a Constitutionalist if you are personally determined to not submit to any kind of forced vaccination.

31. You might be a Constitutionalist if you oppose any kind of national health insurance.

32. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that U.S. troops are not the world's policemen, that they are not "nation-builders," and that their purpose is only to defend American lives and property, not to be the enforcement arm of international commercial interests or global elitists.

33. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that the county Sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer of his district and that federal law enforcement (much of which is unconstitutionally organized, anyway) is obligated to submit to his authority.

34. You might be a Constitutionalist if you are determined to oppose America's merger with any kind of regional, hemispheric, or international government, such as the North American Union.

35. You might be a Constitutionalist if you oppose sending billions of taxpayer dollars as foreign aid; the U.S. State Department meddling into the private affairs of foreign countries; and ubiquitous foreign entanglements that require vast sums of money, create animosity and hostility towards us, and expose us to foreign wars and conflicts in which we have no national interest.

36. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to meet one single congressman or senator besides Ron Paul who acts as if he or she has ever read the U.S. Constitution.

Well, how did you fare? Are you a Constitutionalist? If so, your country desperately needs you to stand up and fight for freedom's principles before they are forever taken from us. This means never again voting for anyone--from any party--who will not preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution. So, don't just take the test; make the pledge!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Wise Woman

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

This morning I somehow managed to nearly simultaneously build and tear down my house! During lunch our girls were sitting at the table eating vegetable alphabet soup talking about the letters, telling each other their sounds and commenting on how good mama's soup was. They were also looking at their place mat maps of the world, universe and U.S. quizzing each other on where things were. This was a very proud building up my family and home kind of moment. Then I started to clean up, got out the mop and proceeded to pitch a little tizzy fit in my head because nothing looked clean! Yikes, how quickly I started tearing down what God has blessed us with. So this afternoon when I read the above verse in Proverbs how very convicted I was that my thoughts were wrong.

I thought I would blog a little about some of the ways that I have been trying to build my house in the area of my husband and children.

Pete is an extremely easy man to please so luckily building up my marriage is not a terribly difficult thing to do. The big thing I have found is that I need to ask questions and be willing to put into action what my husband says. I have tried to ask how he wants his children's days ordered, his children to look, his wife to look, his schedule kept, his money spent, his food prepared and his house managed. In each of these areas I had some idea of what he wanted but, I have always been a little surprised at what has been really important to him. Each man is different in their desires so I won't go into specifics here, but, I do believe we can really build up our homes and relationships with our husbands if we are willing to follow his order and desire for things.
There are also little things I have done to try and honor my husband as the head of our family. I try and serve him first at all meals and wait for him to lead us in prayer. When we go out I try not to have expectations of him gathering or packing things as he does not always know where I keep things. I try and anticipate his next need and have things prepared for him. If he is working outside in the hot weather and I notice he hasn't come in for water I will try and take him a drink. I try and look for little things that he may want done, say stopping to make a deposit at the bank or filing papers. Again all of our husbands are different in what they like done but we can really bless them by being perceptive and attentive to what they may want done. I have a friend who knows that her husband really likes things to smell nice so she will often light a scented candle before he is due home from work. Another friend of mine has told me how she knows her husband likes a clean kitchen, so she will try and clean it up before he's due home. My husband really likes it when I run all my errands at one time, so I try and be on top of things and run multiple errands at once. There are so many little ways we can build up our husbands and homes by recognizing and doing what our husbands prefer.

I also wanted to add some ways that we practice building up our girls. We try and take time for them individually by taking them on dates. Each of them enjoys different things so we will try and take time aside to do what they enjoy. This does not happen often, but, that makes the time even more sweet as it is such a rare occurrence. I also try and make waking up in the morning a special time. I love to let the girls know I have missed them while they have been sleeping and give them some cuddles before we are off and running full speed into our day. When the children have an idea they want to try I try and let them with in reason. One of our girls has been wanting to try more baking and sewing in her spare time. If possible I allow her to do what she can and help, it always ends up being a great time of bonding for us. Some other things we like to do are read chapter books together, bake, look at the National Geographic and talk about the pictures, go on nature walks/hunts, and play games.

There are many, many things we can do to contribute to the growth and keeping of our families and homes. I pray that our girls and my husband will find our home so comfortable and so full of love that it is naturally where they always want to be. The only way we can make that happen is by investing our time and energy into our homes. I have a lot of growing to do in this area. I often think I need to invest my time in maintaining my house, but, that does not offer nearly the reward as investing my time in building it. When I think about what I want my children to remember it is not a mom who was frantically trying to keep her house perfect, but, a mom who was so invested in living for the Lord and her family that they could clearly see it in what I did each day and in how I showed them I loved them.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Others May: You Cannot

Others May: You Cannot-by G. D. Watson (1845-1924).

If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans,but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious He may let others get credit for the work which you have done,and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time,which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an Infinitely Sovereign Being, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in Jealous Love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle. Settle it forever, then that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others.

Now, when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and managementof the Holy Spirit over your life, then you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.

And Two Shall Become One

It is fall cleanup time again. This is the time of year when we give our yard some much needed TLC. Part of our fall clean up routine is pruning the trees and bushes in our yard. Each time we start planning for this or I see Pete pruning I am reminded of how we too are pruned by a master gardener. John chapter 15 talks about God being the gardener, Jesus the vine and we are the branches. Every branch that does not bear fruit is cut off, every branch that does bear fruit is pruned so that it can bear even more fruit. A more fruitful life is appealing, right? The pruning part is maybe not so appealing!

There are many areas of our lives that God prunes us in. Recently God took me through a drastic time of pruning in my relationships. I am so thankful that Jesus was the vine that I could remain in during this time. I do believe that his constant flow of life and comfort through the painful times of this pruning was a source of more fruit in the long run. At the time my heart ached and I was unable to see how this could help. Praise God, that I didn't need to understand, I just needed to abide in him. Now, into the next season after pruning there is starting to be new relationships and fruit. What a joy it is to see growth, to have my wounds healed and feel the new blooms starting to emerge in my life.

It seems like we are never fully pruned at one time. God was so good to know that in my humanness I could only handle one area of my branches being cut. But, there is some room for pruning in another area marriage. Anyone who is in a marriage and growing closer to becoming one with their spouse can understand, pruning in marriage hurts! In my incomplete view it seems like I am always the one taking the brunt of the cutting, but, this is a lie. We both are. As we grow together into one there is so much that needs to be pruned away. Selfishness, greed, temptation, judgement and so much more. Lately God has been pruning in the area of humility and serving. Jesus led the ultimate example of serving, he laid down his life for those he loved. We too must do the same thing in our marriages. So here I am feeling a little exposed and raw after a pruning by the Master, reluctantly ready to place his will before mine. Today I must fill my man's love tank, when I would rather be taking a hot, relaxing bath. Today I must stop being busy with the house and be busy with attending my entire attention to my man. Today I must choose to overlook an offense. Today I must put his needs and wants before mine. Today I must love first and receive love second. Just writing this makes me feel a little over-whelmed with the task at hand. As it should be because giving away my life so that I can share one with the man that God gave me to in marriage is a huge and rewarding task. No other area of my life outside of my relationship with God can offer true friendship, security and such tremendous love. So are those items worth losing my will to? YES! Does it hurt and take time, energy, and patience? YES! The pain of being pruned so that there can be new growth is sometimes terrible, but, the fruit that results is such a beautiful reward.

As we learn to abide in, rely on and trust in our vine to feed us, we can be sure that the Master will come through and prune out what may look good or nice, but, ultimately causes death. It is not always a pretty picture in the season of pruning, but the fruit in the next season is a glory to the Master, better than the last crop and more fruitful. Ladies we must learn to make God our master gardener and Jesus the one who sustains us. No magazine, self help book or guru can offer the harvest that our Lord and Saviour can. So next time you are feeling a little picked on and pulled apart, just remember there will be a season that you cannot see now that will result in a more substantial and fruitful harvest.