Thursday, October 22, 2009

Are You Lifting Her Up?

Yes men, are we lifting up our wives and our daughter’s? I was recently convicted about all the things my wife does around the house that goes unnoticed or goes without a thank you. My wife hurt her neck and was pretty much on her back for two weeks. I had the privilege to take care of her plus all the other responsibilities that she normally handles. I have to admit, there were times I got frustrated with the endless work of running a household and family. I was taking care of my wife, home schooling our youngest daughter, driving my oldest daughter to school and picking her up, volleyball games, laundry, folding and putting them away, breakfast, lunch, dinner, cleaning house, and the list goes on. Just writing about it makes me tired. Well God spoke to me. He reminded me that we should do all things in love and without complaining. That was a big one for me; I was totally feeling sorry for myself. I thought I use to do a good job of supporting my wife with words of encouragement, but I realized there was room for improvement. God revealed how beautifully he designed my wife Raquel. Everything about her is a true woman of God. There are things about her that I truly don’t understand, but I ask God to reveal those things. That week was a long week for me. I have to admit; when I left for work I felt relieved. I am a firefighter, so when I leave for work it is a 24 hour shift. I do get a break away from the hustle and bustle of our household. My wife doesn’t have that luxury. Her job is endless. When the week first began and I was running around trying to juggle all the hats my wife wears. I was just trying to get things done. You could say I was checking boxes. I really wasn’t putting all my effort into it. I then realized, who am I serving, me or my wife? I love the way my wife keeps our house. It is clean all the time and organized. There is definitely a comfort and a peace in our home that my wife brings through her service to us. She has great attention to detail. The colors, the furniture, and the way she arranges the house, I love it. I felt God tell me that I should take care of the house the way my wife does. I know I won’t have the same attention to detail that my wife has, but when I put forth the effort to do the chores the way my wife does, it speaks love to her. I am to nourish and cherish my wife. As her husband I mutually submit to her. It doesn’t bother me that the bed is not made, but it bothers my wife. So when I make the bed, I do with a joy in my heart. It is an honor for me to serve my wife in these areas that means so much to her. Not only am I dying to myself and putting my wife before anything I may think is important. I am also speaking volumes to my daughter’s and adult son on how a husband is to treat his wife. I want my daughter’s to see what a godly man looks like. I know I’m not perfect. I blow it as a husband and a father, but I also use that opportunity to teach them how to apologize and ask for forgiveness. I have had to ask for forgiveness on many occasions. Our actions as men are more influential in our children’s lives then our words. We must be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Our words will fall on deaf ears if we don’t do as we say. It is my responsibility to teach my children who Jesus is through how I treat their mother. I want my daughters to settle for no less than a godly man who loves the Lord and treats them the way God commands them to. I’m still a work in progress, but we must continually ask God to show us how to be that godly image to our wife and children. I’m learning everyday how to lift my wife and children up with kind words. There are times I must remind myself to thank my wife for all she does. It doesn’t always come natural, but God is definitely working on me in these areas. He is working on me because I have been inviting Him into these areas of my life where I struggle. Our words can tear up or tear down. Proverbs 12:18- “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” This is so true, not only for our wives, but our children need to hear encouraging words also. I realize how important it is to our children. My oldest daughter is 13 years old. It is an age where she is very self conscious of her appearance. My words as father speak volumes to her even if at times she acts like it doesn’t. I know as men we could do a better job of lifting up our wives and children not just with words but also with what we do with a servant’s heart. I don’t want to ever get to a point as a husband or father, and soon to be grandfather, where I feel I don’t need to try to better myself. Some of us have more work to do than others, but that is ok. We as men need to make that choice, and then invite God to show us and lead us to be better husbands and fathers. Don’t try to fix it all at once. It will be too over whelming and you will get frustrated and give up. Start with small things that you can stick with. Consistency is very important to our wives and children. It could be as simple as just saying thank you and please. It doesn’t take much, but when your wife see’s you trying, you will reap more than what you sow. Like I said before guys, it is time to step up to the plate. Think about it as it is the bottom of the ninth inning, two outs, bases loaded with a three-two count on you. Are you going to be the hero with the game winning hit or walk off with your head down? I don’t know about you, but I’m running off that field as the hero with thousands of people cheering. I encourage you to start today to lift up your wife and children. We need more heroes in our homes. We need more men who are willing to fight for their families. We need more men who edify their wife and children with words of love, kindness, patience, joy, and with a smile. We need more men who are willing to encourage each other as men.

Mark Soto

Monday, October 19, 2009

Letting Your Husband Know You're Proud of Him

(by Sabrina Beasley. Archived here.)

My husband, David, has been working on a large project that takes up a lot of his free time. He has sacrificed time, energy, and money to make everything work together, and at moments, he's wondered if it's worth the effort.

One day when he was working particularly hard, I came into his office with a glass of iced tea, looked him in the eyes, and said, "Sweetheart, do you know how proud of you I am?"

He looked at me almost with relief, then looked down and said, "Would you still be proud of me even if none of this works out?"

"Of course, I will be," I softly assured him with a kiss and a smile. "I'm most proud of you for taking initiatives and seeking to do what's right for our family."

His eyes lit up and his face seemed comforted. As I departed the room, leaving him to his work, he took a deep breath and the rhythm of his fingers typed out a heartier tune. Just that one small comment from me seemed to give him the peace of mind and the energy that he needed to keep going.

If I were to guess, I would say that most of us wives are proud of our husbands. But if someone were to ask your husband, "When was the last time your wife let you know that she is proud of you?" What would he say?

Shaunti Feldhahn, author of For Women Only, surveyed 1,000 men to find out their emotional needs. On March 28, 2005, in an interview with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine on "FamilyLife Today," Feldhahn said:

"For men, their highest need is not to feel loved and cherished, as it is [for women]. It's to feel respected by us and trusted by us and, in fact, we can spend so much time trying to show our husbands that we love them, saying, "I love you," and doing all these things to show love, but if we tease them in public or make them think we don't respect their decisions or don't trust when they make a choice, they will feel disrespected, and they won't feel loved."

Feldhahn isn't the first to discover this truth. As a matter of fact, the Bible has been teaching us this fact for centuries. In Ephesians 5:33b, the apostle Paul is clear in his instruction to wives: "… the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."

If it has been a while since you've shown your husband that you're proud of him, don't let another day go by without communicating your admiration. Here are ten suggestions to help.

1. Just say it. Those five little words, "I'm so proud of you" are sometimes difficult to spit out, especially if it has been a while since you've said them. They may feel awkward at first, even "cheesy," but once you begin, this little phrase won't seem so strange anymore. But don't just leave it at "I'm proud of you." Tell him why: "I'm so proud of you for spending time with our son. That means a lot to him and to me."

2. Brag about him to others. If you have children, you already have plenty of bragging practice. If little Suzie wins the county spelling bee, you put her trophy in a place of honor and tout that your little girl is a genius. But we wives often forget that our husbands crave the same type of praise.

Did you show off the new paint job he did in the bathroom? Did you buy a frame for the certificate he received at work? Have you shown your friends the lawn or garden he nurtured all summer?

While bragging to others, don't forget to include his parents. Not only will they feel proud to know that their son is a great husband, but they will also feel encouraged that his wife recognizes it.

3. Dream with him. Early in our marriage, my husband would often tell me of his visions of entrepreneurship. I'll never forget when he told me about his plans to build a hotdog stand. He even had a name picked out and a logo developed. He also had several other business ideas in mind, like a coupon book and a local magazine—he thought they were ingenious ideas that were eventually going to make him rich, rich, rich!

Of course, all I could see was my security flying out of the door. But then my mother's voice called back in my mind, echoing her premarital advice, "Remember to dream with him."

Men often enjoy dreaming about the future, even when it's not currently possible, while women tend to think in the present, counting costs, roadblocks, and impossibilities. I used to think that if I allowed David to dream that I was non-verbally giving my permission for him to begin. In reality, I've found that the opposite is true. He actually begins to see the practical side of things for himself.

4. Listen to your husband when he tells stories in public ... and don't correct him! Have you ever been at a friend's house when your husband tells a story wrong? He may get most of it right, but he leaves out some interesting sideline or he gets the person's name wrong. The standard response is, "No, that's not the way it went. Here, let me tell it." And then he's left looking like a moron in front of your friends.

Let me challenge you to stop disagreeing with your husband on the little things. There may be times when he gets some details wrong, but no one is taking score about who gets the fine points right most of the time.

5. Look him in the eyes and smile. Just the way you look and react to your husband can give the impression that you are honored to be his wife.

Think about what it would mean to him if you stopped what you were doing, looked him in the eyes, listened and smiled. This action sends the message, "It pleases me to spend undistracted time with you and to hear what's going on in your life."

6. Resolve conflicts in private ... and avoid body language that undermines your husband in public. We all get upset with our husbands at times; that's part of marriage. But don't drag it out in front of others. Your friends won't see you make up later, and they'll be left with a lasting impression of a wife's disrespect for her husband.

I've been guilty of this, most often when bitterness from an earlier dispute carries over into our plans with friends that evening. When I consider my heart, I find that instead of love, my motive for huffiness is revenge, and deep down inside I hope to hurt him like he's hurt me. So I might roll my eyes at something he says, or elbow him, or put on a look of disbelief. Body language like this quietly undermines your husband in front of others. He may not know what you're trying to say, but he'll read it to mean, "I'm not proud of you, and I don't respect you."

7. Take his side. There's no one that's easier for a wife to pick on than her husband. You are all too familiar with his annoying little habits, and the areas where he needs improvement. But when others start to pick on him, take his side. The jokes might seem innocent, but if you make fun of your husband publicly, you are choosing to degrade him when you could esteem him.

The next time your husband is the brunt of teasing, stick up for him by talking about his good qualities and abilities. You don't have to act offended, but instead act proud of who he is and what he has accomplished. As a result, you will show your honey that even when you are given a choice you still choose to give him the respect that he deserves.

8. Cheer him on. Have you ever wondered why there are cheerleaders at a football game? They aren't helping the players throw the ball, run faster, or play smarter, but their job is just as important. They encourage the players by letting them know that someone believes they can win.

Husbands need cheerleaders, too. They don't need someone to fix their problems for them or even tell them how to do things. As a matter of fact, to try to fix their problems can insult their masculinity. What they need are wives who believe in them.

A great example of this kind of cheerleading comes from Meredith White of Longview, Tex. When her husband, Faber, was going through medical school and working long hours, Meredith knew he was struggling just to make it through each day. So she started "What's it Wednesdays" and would plan a weekly gift or surprise for her sweetheart. "Every week I looked forward to Wednesdays for that reason," Faber says. " It definitely helped me through a particularly hard time in my schooling."

9. Be interested in his projects. Every man I know has a passion for something, from watching sports to putting together model airplanes. My husband likes to play Fantasy Football from August to February. I have to admit there are times when I force myself to keep from rolling my eyes at the mention of the word "football" because I want him to know that I support his desire to fellowship with his friends and take part in clean sportsmanship.

This all boils down to starting a conversation with your husband. If he is busy researching in his office, sit down and ask him about his newest venture. "What are you working on, Sweetheart?" is a good way to begin. He may give you a short, non-descriptive answer like "Oh, just some stuff for Fantasy Football." Then that's your cue to start asking questions. Ask him how he's been playing, how he plans to improve, and don't forget to end with an encouraging word about how, "he's going to blow them all away at the finals this year."

10. Teach your children to respect him. It's easy to openly criticize your husband in front of your children, but when was the last time you boasted about him instead? Your words of admiration will not only make your children feel more secure as they witness their parents' love, it will also encourage them to speak as highly of their father as you do.

In addition, when your kids, particularly as teenagers, make comments that disrespect their father, be sure to let them know that such speech is unacceptable. This is important for the unity of your marriage. And when your husband hears about your comments, he will feel a renewed sense of appreciation for a wife who demands his respect

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Will Carry You

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. If you have lost a baby, may the Lord comfort your heart and carry you until the day when you are able to hold your baby again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Family Picnic!

As iron sharpens iron,

So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17

Today we had a family picnic on the grounds of the church under the lovely big tree. Although today started out grim and overcast, the sun came out and showered us with gentle warmth while we shared food, conversation and encouragement!

The kids played 'til their hearts content--rolling down the green hills, frolicking in the grass, climbing trees and chasing one another!

What a blessing to be with all you special families today! If you were not able to join us today, we hope you will join us next time! We plan do to this again soon!
(And if you are not on our email list, but would like to be, please leave us a comment with your email address. Thank you!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Family Time!

I don't know about you, but sometimes we could use a little inspiration for family times! We want them to be sweet and fun and memorable--not the same ol', same ol'.

Here are some ideas to inspire special bonding times with your family! We encourage you to make "family time" a regular occurrence at your house!

  • Build a tent in the living room together
  • Homemade mini-golf
  • Pillow fights

  • Coloring contest

  • Blow bubbles

  • Walk on the beach

  • Set a goal to visit every park in your town
  • Puzzles
  • Bake cookies together
  • Shrinky-dinks! (remember those?!)
  • Make homemade playdough
  • Bike-riding
  • Build a tree house or play house together
  • Wash the cars together (usually turns into a water fight!)
  • Set pop-corn popper in living room with the top off. See who can catch the flying popcorn in their mouths. (Careful! Unpopped kernels can be hot!)
  • Board games
  • Spoil Mommy Day/Spoil Daddy Day
  • Date nights with Dad
  • Camping (even in the backyard is fun!)
  • Candlelight dinners for no reason at all!

  • Tea parties (even for boys!)
  • Friendly wrestling (even for girls!)
  • Frisbee
  • Fly kites
  • Write, direct and video a mini-movie!
  • Start a family blog together
  • Finger painting
  • Family worship at home
  • Read aloud
  • Play hooky from school and go fishing!
  • Make Valentine’s for all your neighbors and deliver them together.
  • Visit local museums (Many have at least one free day a month! Call to check!)
  • Picnic!
  • Day trip to the snow.
  • Go to Barnes and Nobles. Buy coffee for parents and vanilla steamers for kids. Sit in the children’s section, read books and giggle.
  • Bake something for your pastors together.
  • Sidewalk chalk!
  • Family movie night.
  • Learn to make water bombs from paper and drop them off the balcony.
  • Buy bubble wrap just so you can all pop it together.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stuff We Recommend #3

It's Not About Me
by Real Life Ministries

(click here to learn more)

Endorsed by Dr. C. Peter and Doris Wagner, Dr. Che and Sue Ahn, and Pastor Lou and Therese Engle! And now by Mark and Raquel Soto!

Blueprint for Marriage- Covenant Living Part 1

The American family is in big trouble!

The Harris Poll did a survey in the late 90’s. They asked college students to agree or disagree on some statements.

97% agreed that having a close knit family is the key to happiness; this is up 15% from 10 years prior regarding family.

Less than 25% of all the families in America are made up of a mom and dad married to each other that have children in the home who come out of that union of marriage.

60% of all the people who eventually get married live together first; People living together has increased steadily the last ten years.

In Western Europe, they are totally dismissing marriage.

The highest predictability for the ten most devastating things happening in our culture today is children who come from a broken home and specifically children who come from a father absent home.

Statistics show children from broken homes have a greater chance of poverty, violence,future felons, depression, teen suicide- ( between the ages of 10-14, suicide is up 120%; African American males is up 300%; White females is up 233%)

As the family is imploding, kids are seeing no hope to live. How sad is that.

The greatest prediction of domestic violence, promiscuity, gang violence, drug use, and sexual abuse is related to coming out of a broken home and fatherless homes. Christians are not immune; divorce in Christian marriages is now higher than in non-Christian marriages according to Barna and Gallup.

Carle Zimmerman, a sociologist from Harvard University studied the rise and fall of every great empire of the world, more specifically the family in each of these empires. He concluded that families go through three stages in his book, “Family and Civilization”.

He lists the characteristics of the family in the final stage.
-marriage lost its sacredness
-alternative forms of marriage were advocated
-feminist movements flourished
-parenting became more difficult
-adultery was celebrated, not punished-( 94% of all sex depicted on
- television is of two people outside of marriage).
-sexual perversion abounded- especially incest and homosexuality.

Dennis Rainy of Family Life writes, “America is certainly one of the greatest empires of history and if Zimmerman’s observations on family sends a shiver down your back as they do mine, your concern might be even more urgent when you realize his book was written in 1947.”

We need to make a definitive declaration and commitment today that we have a crisis on our hands in America and we’re going to do something about it. It starts with us, our church, our communities and cities. Let’s not be politically correct. The politically correct ideology for everyone to say that everything is o.k. doesn’t work. It’s not o.k. We have kids committing suicide, kids killing each other. The number one medication in America is anti-depressants! We have families being torn apart by divorce. When are we going to say it is time to get back to God’s design for marriage? When will our marriages in the church start to reflect and reveal who God is? We need to go back to the drawing board. Go back to the original design. God’s blueprint , His design, the first relationship He established We need to ask God, what does marriage look like, what does a parent look like, what does a husband and wife look like?

How do we move forward? How do we get our marriages and families where 20 years down the road we sit around a table with grown children, with our families still intact? Yes it’s been difficult. There’s been arguments, rebellion, hurts, pain, ups and downs but we’ve been reconciled, restored, share unconditional love through Jesus. We need to hand down a legacy to our children of what a marriage designed by God looks like. That is where we need to go in marriage.

The blueprint for marriage is Ephesians 5:21- 6:4

This is the core, the vortex of New Testament teaching of what the family: Ephesians 5:21-6:4

And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head (servant provider) of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being Savoir of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

It tells us when God’s spirit fills us, controls us, we speak truth in love, we’re thankful for all things. When we allow God to fill us we learn to live out mutual submission, mutual love, mutual concern, mutual yielded ness, radical sacrificial love relationships filled with the Holy Spirit. We learn to live under God’s design for marriage, committed to caring, nurturing, mutual concern. He wants to show us, husbands, wives, children how to live in such a way we can have that close knit family. It is not only for our good, but will reflect His glory in our family. How we do family reflects God’s relationship with His people.

He has chosen family to be His metaphor, to be His word picture to the world. When we are not living this way in family, in the way that reflects our relationship with God the Father, we are marring the testimony of who God is.

So, how does it work? It goes back to Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:5-6,go back to the original, first marriage, Genesis 2:24, the first commandment. Ephesians 5:31-33 "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave (join) to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband. "

There is something mysterious about God in such a union with his people that there is an inner twining of lives. It is a oneness with us, it is pictured the way a man and a woman comes together to become one.

Marriage is the first application of close knit relationships in mutual submission to one another.

Oneness = Intimacy (transparency), one spirit, one body, one soul

God first, everything else is secondary to our spouse.

Marriage is God’s creation, a gift to us for intimacy, sexual pleasure, offspring, and to reflect His image.

We should be best friends, someone we can enjoy life with, laugh with, talk with, be passionate lovers. Remember its God’s plan. Not ours! The closer we draw to God, the closer we will draw to oneness in our marriages with each other.

In this fallen world we will fail at times, sometimes miserably. Why? So we can learn that there is something bigger than us. Marriage is God’s object lesson to teach us we can’t get there by ourselves, so that we have to be totally dependent on Him. He fills us with His unconditional love so we can give it away to our spouse and family whether we get anything back in return. The most fundamental relationship that will make us like His sons and daughters, if you’re honest, is a deep intimate marriage with all the conflict that occurs as you learn to love someone else who is as imperfect as you are. We have to shift our view of marriage from a contract to a covenant where there is no option out, but only to make it better. This is how marriage works. God’s original design.

Mark Soto