Monday, December 6, 2010

Where I've "been"...and Lessons from the Sneaky Woman

Thank you for your sweet emails and comments. I am so sorry if I haven't gotten back to you. I have kind of checked out of life because I think I "ran out of gas".
After the last His Proposal conference, I have been out of town a lot to be with my grandmother. I have been leading a Bible Study at my house, homeschooling the boys, and all the normal things I do AND LOVE TO DO. I had not been sleeping much because Hope is the worst sleeper in the history of babies. Fatigue and stress just started to set in. I know that I am the most vulnerable spiritually and emotionally after I have a baby. It is just an exhausting first year! And, I stink at getting babies to sleep through the night so it seems especially hard for me for some reason. Something happened and I just kind of shut down. The enemy doesn't play by the rules. He attacks us when we are weakest. When we are most vulnerable and most tired.

It is in times of exhaustion that the gates of self-condemnation swing wide open.
"You shouldn't be in any type of ministry."
"You aren't smart enough to homeschool your children."
"You are a terrible wife."
"You don't deserve a godly husband."
"You are failing in every area of your life."

I recognized through different circumstances that I needed to take a break from ministry and pretty much all extra-curricular things and focus on my husband and my family. To return to my "first love", Jesus Christ (Rev 2:4). I just want to be quiet and sit at the feet of Jesus. I want to study the Bible without feeling rushed to prepare a teaching- Just sit and soak in the Word. I want to go back to the heart of the girl who said, "I have nothing to give you but I give you all that I am. If I can know you, I want to know you" the night I first fell in love with Jesus Christ.
My life seems busy and complicated. I crave what is quiet and simple and pure these days. I want to spend time treasuring and meditating. I want to really listen to my children when they talk to me. I like being home in my warm house decorated for Christmas. I LOVE being with Tim. I have neglected him by being so busy in different areas... distracted by life, ministry, and other people.

I have asked him to let me re-decorate our bedroom for my birthday/ anniversary/ Christmas present. We went to an amazing place when I was pregnant with Lake. It is called Canouan Island Resort. I had no idea where it was or how nice it was when I found a promotion on a travel website for it. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I seriously doubt we will ever be able to afford to go again and I am a chicken about leaving my children so I am going to try and recreate the memory in our bedroom so we can pretend we are on an exotic island (An exotic island full of children) :). So, I will take pictures of the before and after as we go.
This morning, I was reading Proverbs 7 with Bubba. We read the corresponding Proverb to the date. Proverbs 7 is all about who I like to call the "sneaky woman". My boys have learned a lot about the sneaky woman and what to watch out for because she is for sure coming at one point or another in their lives. The sneaky woman is a prostitute, a liar, a homewrecker, and a smooth talker. BUT, this morning as I read about her, I decided I wanted to learn from her and why she is so seductive to men. Here are some things that struck me...
I am going to title this section
"Lessons from the Sneaky Woman"
"7 Practical Tips on how to seduce YOUR husband"
1. She was available at night.
2. She had good food at home.
3. She had a really cool bed.
(nice sheets and it smelled good v 16,17).
4. She was undistracted and made herself completely available to him.
5. She built him up and made him feel special.
6. She was intentional.
7. She was passionate.

As I read these things, I saw some new ways to safeguard my marriage from "the sneaky woman". It isn't hard for me to love Tim. He is amazing and I am completely undeserving of him.
I joke that I married him for sex. :) That really is why we married so fast! Ha!!
I fell in love with him all over again last weekend as he watched the kids for me so I could go to the Beth Moore/ Kay Arthur conference.
FYI: The conference was INCREDIBLE. Those two ladies are real heroes to me. Of course, I struggled with condemnation about how much smarter they are than me and how much better they are at speaking and that I could never do what they do BUT... at the same time, I was motivated. Motivated to love God's Word like that and to serve Him with all of my heart and soul. Kay Arthur is 77 years old and is not backing down!
Kay Arthur taught me to stay faithful to the Word of God and to not cave in to our culture. Beth Moore taught me to stop and "treasure" things the Lord shows me in His Word and in my life. She also cautioned us to make sure we don't lose Jesus in life and ministry. Priscilla Shrirer taught me to not depend on my own strength and to empty myself of anything I am hanging on to that makes me depend on my own strength... to move out of my abilities and into the GOD MARGIN. It was such a blessing to go this conference. There is one more in June in Louisville, KY. The conference is called Deeper Still. I would seriously encourage you to go. I think we are going again. I went with some girlfriends and my mom.

So, I am determined. Determined to invest into both my marriages. My marriage with my first love, Jesus, and my marriage to my second love, Tim. Everything else in my life is a product of these two relationships.

After the onslaught of condemnation that was burying me, the Lord spoke to me loud and clear through this verse in Acts...

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."
Acts 4:13

I can't begin to describe how much this verse encourages me because I am not smart... I am very ordinary and there are many things I can't do but there is one very powerful thing I can do...
He is where we get our power, our courage, our wisdom, our love for people, & our words to speak. I hope if anyone is ever astonished by me it is because I have been with Jesus. Nothing else. I am learning that life really is simple... even if you have a heart for ministry. The one requirement for successful ministry is to spend time with Jesus. How do we do that? Prayer and studying His Word, and hanging out where He hangs out- with the poor, the downcast, and the broken.

I pray you are all encouraged, spending time with Jesus, and are safeguarding your marriages
(even you single girls are safeguarding your future marriages NOW).
Here are some things God has been teaching me during this time of reflection and quiet:
Love and Serve your husband before all others.
Don't let the sun go down on your anger.
Keep short accounts of anger.
Don't let bitterness take root and poison your soul.
Pray before you speak.
None of us are worthy of ministry.
None of us have an invincible marriage.
Marry a man who loves God.
God has very specific plans for the nation of Israel.
We are living in the last hour.
Take the Bible literally.
Watch your doctrine closely.
Ask God to teach you how to pray.
Eat healthy and exercise.
Love people where they are.
Find out what pleases the Lord.
Cry out for understanding of His Word.
When we see Jesus, we will be like Him. We will see Him as He is.
We can't earn our salvation but we can earn or lose rewards.
Invest into and encourage girls younger than you are.
Don't let offenses build up so high, you can no longer be vulnerable to people.
Homeschooling my children is one of the most intimidating things God has ever asked of me but also one of the most rewarding.
Read the Bible MORE than books by man so you won't be deceived.
Keep your bedroom a sacred and holy place.
Hide God's Word in your heart: Memorize Scripture.
I cannot do what God is calling me to do...but He can and He is faithful.
Protect your quiet time with Jesus... don't let your life crowd it out or everything will implode.
Walk in the Spirit in marriage or the enemy will win.
Focus on the needs of your husband.
Turn the TV off.
Share the gospel with someone today.
Spend more time in the Word of God than on facebook and you will have victory over sin.
God is near in your suffering and has great gifts for you in the valley.
Don't be handicapped by insecurity.
God can save your marriage.
**God leads single girls to godly husbands: Just pray, serve Him, and wait. Don't try to manipulate it. Marry a man to be able to serve God more powerfully and bring Him more glory. Marry a man that makes submission a no-brainer.
Bondage and Worship are mutually exclusive.
Jesus sets the captives free so that we can worship.
The blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from ALL sin- not just "some" sin.
Jesus is coming to restore EVERYTHING.
My passion in life is to: Spend time with Jesus, love and serve my husband, love my children and teach them the Word of God.

Love you girls!
Be blessed.
He is coming back for us...

"He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets."
Acts 3:21


Anonymous said...

Truly enjoyed the post - have been missing them.


Nic said...

So good to read a post from you today!

VIC said...

Thank you for writing this. I needed this to put my heart and mind back on track. Merry Christmas to you, Tim, and the boys!

HIS Child said...

I love you girl. You bring such joy to my heart, the truth in HIS word to feast from. Enjoy your time this Christmas.

Love ya,

Becky said...

Gosh, I've missed your posts! Sorry Hope isn't sleeping that well - I can definitely relate and just remember "This, too, will pass."

Just wondering what you mean by having a "really cool bed?" That struck me as kinda funny.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

thank you for your post - it's blessing for me!
AMEN for everything you said!

Lynné said...

I completely needed to read this post tonight.....thanks Stephanie!

Anonymous said...

I've read this post many times now - so much in your words to relate to, ponder more deeply, and apply -
there's such beauty in your humility and passion and wisdom - thank you.


Erin Southwell said...

I loved this post.

You are ANYTHING but ordinary. You have DEFINITELY spent time with Jesus.

I have been so convicted lately to be set apart and to set our family's life apart from how society would tell us to live it. One big (huge for me) change we made when we sold our house and moved into our rental was to not connect cable. We are tv-free and the change is like being set-free!! It's so peaceful! I would encourage anyone to try this. I didn't think I could live without HGTV but I never even miss it!!

I'm also working on our bedroom in the rental-I want it to be "a sacred and holy place."

Love you!

Anonymous said...

I never comment on blogs, but that was great. I remember too well the trials of getting a baby to sleep through the night - and my baby just turned 18 - it won't last forever, but some nights will feel like it. You will get through it though. I really appreciate your no nonsense, straight forward advice. Keep it up!

~Ang said...

Love that take on the sneaky woman!! HOw cool is that! LOved seeing you at the conference. :) Love you!

MarthaYvette said...

ooo my. Stephanie I can never get through reading your post without full on crying!!! I have been married for 27 years, 3 children 16, 15 and 13 and this speaking to me!!!

thank you for posting this.

abigail said...

my name's abby-- i was in Mallory's bible class when you came and talked to us! & we all LOVED YOU! you are so real and good! God bless you for what you're doing
And i'm also kay arthurs granddaughter :) haha funny how that worked out when i found your blog that you were talking about her conference! She's actually sick right now, please pray!

Have a great day! You rock

AussieSaver said...

I am going to print out these lessons and carry them in my purse