Wednesday, June 20, 2007

a true story

by Laura Roberts

Once upon a time there was a girl named Laura. She lived in a cool southern town and was an American, verily, but did not act like a jerk-face like some Americans. She had a good friend named Christine who, in her inimitable manner, fell in love with a dude in a very peculiar way. This dude was very tall, which was good since Christine was in truth rather bizarrely tall herself, and said dude was also Australian which was also good, Australia being no longer peopled with criminals but rather with hotties. This dude's name was Mike, by the way. Christine and Mike decided to get married in Germany, the better to divvy up the whole experience to as many continents as possible, and they picked a day in high freaking summer tourist season. Laura was extremely excited to escape the Louisville heat and humidity for a little bit and share in the joy of her friends' wedding day, because they were so stinking awesome. So she went online to get a plane ticket, and lo, it was US$1400.

"Holy crap," she said. "But no worries, for I have frequent flyer miles in abundance from sundry trips to Europe and Hong Kong." So she called United and spoke to a very lovely woman on the phone, who told her how many frequent flyer miles she possessed, and lo, it was nearly 50,000.

"Victory!" said Laura. "I am a bit short, but still I shall reserve my plane ticket this very day." So she went to the United website to exchange her miles for a plane ticket, when what to her wondering eyes should appear, but a cost chart for the purchase of frequent flyer miles. Dismay and anguish flooded over her as she saw that, to purchase the additional necessary frequent flyer miles would cost her US$1100, nearly the cost of the ticket to begin with. And behold, there was much cursing of United.

"Piss and bollocks," mildly swore Laura, "That is more money than I make in a month." But, undaunted, she waited, checking prices periodically, looking at last-minute deals, and even scoping out those dodgy cut-rate consolidation companies. Even still, it became increasingly clear that adding to her already large-ish debt would not be either a wise or godly choice, nor allow for a particularly good wedding present for her friends. So she sadly resigned herself to watching the webcast of her friends' wedding, still praying for a lottery win that would allow her to fly first class to Germany, but not holding her breath.

But looking through tearful eyes toward the future, she began plotting to set aside a bit of money each month until she could afford the obnoxiously high plane ticket price to Australia to visit the above-mentioned couple, in whose joy she can share only from afar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

making of the dress

How many languages do you hear?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

HIBC Bridal Shower

My Wedding Dress:

A group drawing of the neighborhood where Mike and I will live:
(click on the image for a closer view ... what do you think? It appears that we live in a Palm Tree in between a shark infested pond and Germantown.)

Bridal Shower Mad Lib Story

Pay attention and listen well as I tell you the love story of Mike and Christine. It was about seven years ago that Mike came across a good girl named Christine. He was on his way to Pluto when suddenly his eyes were drawn to a cool ceature, too lazy for mere words. He was overcome with excitement and was sure that he had found the woman he was destined to share his tree with.

She gazed at him with her soggy turquoise eyes and his big toe began to run beautifully. Never before had he felt such exhiliration and he invited her to join him for a fortnight at McDonalds. She agreed and Mike threw her off her feet.

Christine was smitten with Mike. She loved his exotic armpit and the way he referred to her as Pooh Bear. Mike was equally excited by Christine's slow bellybutton and stinky cottage. He didn't even mind when she called him Piglet.

The couple dated for 50 million hours. Then, one oily spring dawn, Mike bowed his nose to the ground and asked Christine's mouth in marriage.

Christine was so exhausted, she responded immediately with "Oo Lala!"

Mike took this as an affirmative response and the couple are now preparing for their wedding day.

After the wedding, they are off to Under Yam Yam Tree where they plan to spend a dusty honeymoon enjoying each other's eyebrows.

Now wouldn't you like to know what happens next?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Christine Day

This is how my family celebrated Christine Day. We had a contest in which we broke apart Oreo cookies, licked off all the cream, dunked the chocolate cookies in the milk, ate the cookies, and gulped down all the milk (or barfed it up, like I did! So fun!).

Thanks to all those humans and kitties who wished me a happy birthday below (lol ... did you even read the deep thoughtful blog entry or were you just too excited about celebrating the day ... [I don't blame you]?)!

Thanks to Mike, June 15 is now internationally recognized as Christine Day. If you haven't already gone out to purchase or cut your own Christine Tree, do so now before the day is over.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

a quest ended

Many of you long time readers know that I have had a goal over the past two years to one day write a book that would enable women to encourage the men in their lives, whether in the church or family, to lead lives that would honor God and serve the church. My purpose in doing so was because I had never come across such a resource.

Over the past two years while attending seminary, I personally sought the advice of various complementarian spokesmen (and women) concerning my endeavor.

My first semester in a systematic theology class, I raised my hand and asked the professor:

"What can women do to help reverse certain harmful trends in feminism in the church and marriage? What can we do in the church to encourage the men to lead?"

Perhaps I merely surprised this man who is so influential in speaking on complementarian matters, but his answer did not seem sufficient for me.

After a moment of silent thought, he responded, "It seems to me that the best answer is to do nothing."


"To the extent that it creates a power vacuum and them men are forced to fill that void."

On another occasion, I attended a special lecture by Dr. Randy Stinson from the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood titled, The Feminzation of the Church: Detecting and Correcting It (click to listen). I was delighted with the title of this lecture, certain that my questions would be answered here. I became discouraged during the Q&A when men on my right and left, before and behind were called on to submit their questions. Was I being ignored? Perhaps, Dr. Stinson thought I objected to his diagnosis of the church's present situation. No! On the contrary. But time ticked by and my hand grew tired of seeking recognition. Finally, with five minutes left Dr. Stinson turned to address my question.

"Dr. Stinson, as a woman fully concerned about the lack of male leadership, desiring to remove certain harmful trends of feminism in the church, I affirm what you see as a danger in the church. I would like to ask what do you recommend that women do to encourage their brothers to step up and lead? What can women do to reverse those harmful trends?"

Later, others came to me and remarked that they'd found my question very helpful, but were discouraged that the lecturer had supplied no concrete advice for the listeners.

Over the semesters, I asked similar questions to other students, professors, and visiting lecturers only to have similar results each time.

My own discouragement had almost turned to despair. Was there no one who had gone before me that had asked these questions? Had no one given careful thought to these matters? When I discussed my concerns with my peers, they acknowledged that my concerns were valid and pleaded with me that should I come across answers that they would like to be the first to know.

Was the burden to lie solely on my shoulders?

My quest was specific:
Marriages and churches were occupied by men and women shaped and molded by feminism: women who demand leadership and men who grow increasingly apathetic toward the spiritual condition of their family and the church. Marriages are wrecked by selfishness and false expectations. Churches are dieing as men leave leadership positions. Women step up filling that void, and men merely warm the pews one day a week moving closer and closer toward the back door.

What can a woman do to influence the men in her life to be the men God would have them be? How can she influence them to be spiritual leaders in their community and home? How can she move them toward godliness?

My burden has lifted.

In Gary Thomas' book, Sacred Influence, I see the answers to my questions.

While this book was written specifically for wives, I believe that the truths found therein are applicable for all women who seek to influence men toward godly living in their home, church, community, work, etc. They are not motivated out of personal gain so that they may manipulate men to succumb to their vision of how men ought to be. No! This book is for women who are dedicated to their men living lives glorifying God out of reverence for Christ.

Be forwarned! This is not a book that lays out a step-by-step process on how to transform your imperfect men into Jesus Christ. Instead, you will find your own imperfect life being transformed if you, like Thomas urges, let the transformation begin with you.

Are we so self-righteous as women that we are so consumed with the faults of men that we have become blind to our own? God forbid!

In the six posts below, I have presented excerpts from the first six chapters of Sacred Influence. These help to build a foundation for developing a heart and environment for change, beginning in the heart of the woman. The chapters following are listed below:

7. A Claim, a Call, and a Commitment
Focusing on Personal Responsibilities

8. Understanding the Male Mind
Learning to Make Allowances for Your Husband's Masculinity

9. Jeanne-Antoinette
The Power of a Persistent Pursuit

Part 3: Confronting the Most Common Concerns

10. Ray and Jo: Taming the Temper, Part 1
Self-Respect as a First Defense against Your Husband's Anger

11. Taming the Temper, Part 2
Learning to Navigate through Your Husband's Anger

12. Rich and Pat: The Magic Question
Helping Your Husband to Become More Involved at Home

13. The Biology of a Busy Man
How to Help Your Man Put Family First

14. Pure Passion
Cementing Your Husband's Affections and Protecting His Spiritual Integrity

15. Ken and Diana: Affair on the Internet
Winning Back the Husband Who Strays

16. John and Catherine: Finding Faith
Influencing a Nonbelieving or Spiritually Immature Husband

I will not post exerpts from these chapters because I strongly recommend that you purchase the book for yourself so that you may be convicted through the Scripture, sound doctrine, and personal insights of women who have gone before, founded in Sacred Influence's pages.

What will I do now that my quest has reached it's end? Lord willing, I may learn these spiritual principles now and put them into practice so that I may bless my future husband with a wife given over to living a life worthy of her calling as "helper". In time, I may rise to the challenge of Titus 2 and train other women to love their husbands and children.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the puzzle, part 4

My friend Sonja and I think we figured it out last night ... and the new piece I got today pretty much seems to confirm our guess. (The mobile phone is Sonja's ... she thought it would be helpful to show the size.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

the mystery of love between a man and a woman

Meredith, who plans on attending Mike and my wedding at the end of this month, writes a thought provoking comparison of love for God and love for spouse.

Read here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 6

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 6

Chapter 6
The Helper
Embracing the High Call of Marriage
Genesis 2:18
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."
God designed the wife to help her husband. (78)
Proverbs 12:4
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.
Ephesians 5:21-22; 25
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Paul describes an idealistic view of a simultaneous commitment to the other’s welfare. (79)

The church must not teach the submission of wives apart from the sacrificial love and servanthood required of husbands. (79)

Laura Dillow suggests, “Submission is your only hope of changing your husband. Your husband will change as you allow him to be head of hiis home and as you are submissive to him. He will not change by your nagging, belittling, suggesting, reminding, or mothering.” (80)

The catch is that submission, from a biblical perspective, is determined, not by the worthiness of the person to whom we submit, but by the worthiness of the person who calls us to submit: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, emphasis added). (81)

Jesus’ submission to his parents even though they were not worthy:
Luke 2:51
And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
If you submit “out of reverence for Christ,” you are never obligated – ever – to do anything that would offend Christ. (81)

“Lord, how do I love my wife today like she has never been loved and never will be loved?” (81)

The spiritual weight of fulfilling my role as a leader who sacrifices and serves and looks out for the good of his family matures me as a man in Christ. It confronts my laziness, my self-centeredness, and my accursed male autonomy. Lisa’s calling as a helper keeps her from pride, self-centeredness, and frivolous living. (82)

If you have entered into God’ invention called marriage, your role is to be your husband’s helper. This does not diminish you any more than the Bible diminishes God by calling him our helper. In fact, being able to help assumes, in one sense, that you have something the person you are helping lacks. If you cease to think of yourself as your husband’s helper, the marriage will suffer, because that’s the way God designed marriage to work. (83)

You shouldn’t become a wife and then act as though you’re still single. (83)

“How can I help my husband today?” (84)

[O]ur motivation has to come from reverence for Christ more than doing one thing in order to get something else. (85)

If you really want to move your man, you must treat him the way God designed him to be treated. (85)

The issue isn’t what makes me or Lisa happy; the issue is what makes God happy. We don’t direct our lives by what makes us comfortable; we try to order our lives by what brings the maximum glory to God and by what will fulfill our call to proclaim the message of God’s reconciliation. (86)
Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

the puzzle, part 3

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 5

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 5

Chapter 5
The Zarepheth Legacy
How You Can Learn to Appreciate an Imperfect Man

This presents you with a spiritual challenge. You will have to fight the natural human tendency to obsess over your husband’s weaknesses. When I urge you to affirm your husband’s strengths, I’m not minimizing his many weaknesses; I’m just encouraging you to make the daily spiritual choice of focusing on qualities for which you feel thankful. The time will come when you can address the weaknesses – after you’ve established a firm foundation of love and encouragement. (60-61)

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Obsessing over your husband’s weaknesses won’t make them go away. You many have done that for years – and if so, what has it gotten you, besides more of the same? Leslie Vernick warns, “Regularly thinking negatively about your husband increases your dissatisfaction with him and your marriage.” Affirming your husband’s strengths, however, will likely reinforce and build up those areas you cherish and motivate him to pursue excellence of character in others. (61)

Nurture Instead of Condemn

God challenges you to maintain an attitude of concern and nurture instead of one of resentment and frustration. (62)

Give Your Husband the Benefit of the Doubt

Many women accuse their husbands of being uncaring or unloving when, in fact, he may just be incompetent! He’s not trying to be stubborn, uncaring, or unfeeling; he just honestly doesn’t know what you need or what he’s supposed to do. (63)

Respect the Position Even When You Disagree with the Person

Ephesians 5:33
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Your husband, because he is a husband, deserves respect. You may disagree with his judgment; you may object to the way he handles things – but according to the bible, his position alone calls you to give him proper respect. (65)

Give Him the Same Grace That God Gives You

Form Your Heart Through Prayer

Practice praying positive prayers about your husband. (66)

But over time, thankfulness makes a steady and persistent friend of affection. (67)

Drop Unrealistic Expectations

If you don’t die to unrealistic expectations and if you refuse the cross, you’ll find yourself at constant war with your husband instead of at peace. You’ll feel frustrated instead of contented, and disappointed instead of satisfied. (69)

Your Husband Isn’t a Church

My husband is a man, not a church, and it’s not fair to ask him to be all things to me. (71)

Ask God to Change You

As soon as you recall your husband’s weaknesses – the very second those poor qualities come to mind – start asking God to help you with specific weaknesses of your own. (72)

Get Fresh Eyes

When your husband feels more respected and appreciated at work than he does at home, a precarious situation erupts. Eventually, his heart may gravitate to the place he feels most cherished. (74)

In the midst of living with this kind of frustration, it can be easy to forget the things that first drew you to your man: his sense of humor, his thoughtfulness, his spiritual depth, or any number of other strengths. Though you may become blind to these qualities, that doesn’t mean everyone else will. Respect is a spiritual obligation and discipline. Give your husband his due! (75)

Sacred Influence, part 4

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 4


Chapter 4
The Widow at Zarephath
Understanding a Man's Deepest Thirst

What happened to the widow so long ago continues to happen in many marriages today. Elijah’s miraculous provision for this woman became commonplace. What once seemed like an extraordinary occurrence – flour and oil that never ran out – soon became a common blessing, so expected that it ceased to be noticed, much less appreciated. After a week or so, it was just the way things were. (49)

James 3:2
For we all stumble in many ways ...

Only one perfect man ever walked this earth, and he never married. Since every wife is married to an imperfect man, every wife will have legitimate disappointments in her marriage. Are you going to define you husband by these disappointments, or will you pray that God will open your eyes to the common blessings that your husband provides and to which you often become blinded? (53)

Don’t resent your husband for being less than perfect; he can’t be anything else. (54)

Because we so deeply value affirmation, whenever we don’t get it, it feels like living with one long, loud, psychic scream. And we tend to react like this: “If I can’t please her by trying my hardest, then why should I try at all?” I’m not saying we should react this way; I’m just saying that’s how we usually do react. (54)

Without feeling appreciated, admired, and genuinely respected, your husband probably will never change. If you notice a lot of tension in your home; if you notice a high level of frustration and anger in your husband’s life; if you sense a discouragement leading to passivity (where he underachieves); if you notice an “escapist” mentality, where he spends his free time playing computer games or watching sports, escaping the home with excessive recreation – then, more times than not, you’re looking at a man who doesn’t feel loved, appreciated, and respected. (55-56)

Your first step – the primary one – is to love, accept, and even honor your imperfect husband. (56)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

the puzzle, part 1

What did Mike get me for my birthday?

Sacred Influence, part 3

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 3

“Be Worthy of Me”
How God Uses the Weaknesses of Others to Help Us Grow

What if your husband’s faults are God’s tools to shape you? (37)

This should be the goal of every husband and wife – a man aspiring to be “worthy” of his wife, and a wife aspiring to be “worthy” of her husband. (38)

1 Timothy 4:15, 16
Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

You see when you grow in character, when you sink your spiritual roots deep, when you learn to hear God’s voice and build your mind with his wisdom, when you allow his Holy Spirit to transform your character and reshape you heart – then you can make your husband fall in love with you over and over again, and he’ll be all the more motivated to maintain your respect and affection. Nothing compares to being married to a godly woman – nothing. (39)

The reason it’s so important for you to concentrate on your own growth is so that you can avoid the sin of pride, which constantly tempts us to focus on changing our spouses while neglecting our own weaknesses. (39)

Luke 6:41-42
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.

When you demand that someone change for your sake, you’re literally trying to bend the world around your comfort, your needs, and your happiness. That’s pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness – and God will never bless that. (41)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 2

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 2

The Strength of a Godly Woman
Becoming Strong Enough to Address Your Husband’s “Functional Fixedness”

Dr. Melody Rhode – functional fixedness – men’s reluctance to change; men don’t normally change if what they’ve been doing seems to be working for them. (29)

You have to be willing to create an environment in which the status quo becomes more painful than the experience of positive change. (30)

If you can stand strong and secure in your identity and in your relationship with Christ, courageously making it clear how you will and will not be treated, you will be amazed to see how the respect you show yourself rubs off on your husband. (32)

When a woman stands up and says, “This will affect our relationship and my view of you,” most men will at least start listening. (32)

God’s provision and strength will help you face the consequences of obedience. God won’t leave you alone, regardless of what happens. God, not your marital status, defines your life. (32)

Melody – “A woman’s power needs to be surrendered to God and used for his purposes, not our own.” (33)

Fear gives birth to paralysis – and sometimes inaction is our greatest enemy. Marriages can slowly die from years of apathy. (34)

Deuteronomy 31:8
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."

We have to make deliberate choices; we have to be active and confront the weaknesses we see in ourselves and in each other. (36)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 1

Gary Thomas' book Sacred Influence is unique among the Christian marriage books. It was written for women who seek to worship God through their lives and marriage by a man who values women as sisters-in-Christ but who also has an insider's view as to how men desire to be treated. I've read through a number of books (or potions thereof) that attempted to be a how-to on how to motivate husbands to be more loving and spiritual, etc. I was distressed that many (if not most) of the methods prescribed bordered on manipulation. Thomas avoids such tactics altogether and emphasizes that a wife must first examine her own life before she attempts to remove a speck in her husband's eye.

If her marriage is to change for the better, she must let God begin that change in her own life.

Taking the basic premise that marriage is meant to make us holy, not necessarily happy, from his book, Sacred Marriage, Thomas applies it directly to the wife. Not in a harsh, scolding, pulpit-thumping manner. On the contrary. In fact, Thomas' heart was moved for wives who find themselves one-flesh with husbands who are emotionally distant or selfish or condescending or negligent or all of the above. No woman is married to a perfect man, thus, she should never expect him to be perfect. In all of this, Thomas hopes that wives will turn to God to fulfill all of their needs.

Over the following days I will be posting highlights of each of Thomas' chapters. I strongly encourage every woman to obtain a copy of this book so that she might be humbled and empowered in her walk with God, particularly in how she interacts with the one she has chosen to love for the rest of her days.


Chapter 1
The Glory of a Godly Woman
Understanding Who You Are in Christ

definition of self:
  • based on the Fall – “I’m worthy because men like me.”
  • based on your relationship with God – “I’m worthy because I’m made in the image of God, am loved by God, and am regularly empowered by God to make a difference in this world.” (22)

How the Bible views women:
  • Women mirror God’s own character and image
  • Co-regents of the world
  • Included in Christ's genealolgy
  • Praised for recognizing Jesus as Lord while Pharisees and Disciples scoffed
  • Of equal value in the eyes of God
  • Supported Jesus in his most trying moments
  • First to witness the resurrected Christ (22-25)

You need to
  1. understand the glory of being a woman made in God’s image;
  2. experience the strength you have as the recipient of his Holy Spirit;
  3. and find refuge in the worth and purpose you have as his daughter. (26)

God, not your marital status or the condition of your marriage, defines your life. (26)

When Marriage Becomes Idolatry:
In this section, Thomas asks the following questions to point wives away from depending on their husbands to be as God to them.

Who is your refuge?
Deuteronomy 33:27
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, Destroy.

In whom does your hope lie?
1 Peter 1:21
who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Where will you find security?
Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Where will you find supreme acceptance that will never fade or falter for all the days of your life?
Isaiah 62:5
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

If you’re trying to find your primary refuge in your husband, if you’ve centered your hope on him, if your security depends on his approval, and if you will do almost anything to gain his acceptance – then you’ve just given to a man what rightfully belongs to God alone. (27)

In addition, how will you ever find the courage to confront someone whose acceptance so determine your sense of well-being that you believe you can’t exist without him? How will you ever take the risk to say what needs to be said if you think your future depends on your husband’s favor toward you? (27)