Archive | October 2014

Don’t Waste the Crust

I’ve never been one of those mothers who carefully pared the crust off the PBJ’s I served my children for lunch.

For well over 20 years now, I’ve been coaxing my kids to eat the crusts of their sandwiches using the following rationale:

  1. It’s wasteful to leave them.

    -and-

  2. That’s where most of the vitamins are.

And for well over 20 years, my children have accepted my mother-wisdom at face value and at least feigned an attempt to cooperate with this imperative.

But not too long ago, a couple of my (young adult) children decided to question the validity of this claim.

The crust is where the vitamins are? they repeated skeptically. “Seriously, Mom, that may be true of apple skins, but bread is bread. The entire loaf comes from a single batch of dough. The nutritional value is no different in the crust than it is in the middle.”

They’re smart kids. They’re also very articulate.

If you’d been sitting at our table that day, you might even have been inclined to agree with them….

But if you did, you would’ve been wrong, as they were. Fortunately, Siri was on my side for the ensuing debate.

I knew I’d read some relevant statistics on bread crust before, so I whipped out my trusty iPhone and within seconds had located this article which summarily proved my point: Cancer-fighting anti-oxidants are eight times more plentiful in the crust than in any other part of the bread.

Don't Waste the Crusts - lovinglifeathome.comSo what if bread crust is tough and chewy or hard to swallow? It’s good for you. It’s rich in dietary fiber and in nutrients that help your body grow healthy and strong.

That’s the reason I keep serving it to my children, and it’s the reason they (mostly) keep eating it.

Unfortunately, we sometimes approach life the way kids approach sandwiches. We prefer the soft and cushy parts. If we could leave those tough parts untouched on our plate — or if we could talk our Heavenly Father into trimming off anything that seems difficult to swallow — we’d do it.

I’m as guilty of this mindset as anyone. I’ve always prayed that God would teach me the lessons I need to learn in the easiest, most gentle way possible.

I’ve secretly hoped that if I stay attuned to His still small voice, God won’t have to shout through the megaphone of pain to get my attention.

"Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." - C.S. Lewis

But guess what? The tough trials, the hard challenges, the parts of life that make us lose our appetite — often those are the very things God uses to mature us, to strengthen our faith, and to nourish our relationship with Him.

And trials come no matter how intently we listen for His voice or read our Bibles or follow His promptings. We can avoid suffering unnecessarily by walking close with Him, but we can’t avoid suffering altogether.

Jesus told his followers, “In the world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) — it’s not a question of if, but when, and how will we react when it comes?

Scripture tells us plainly how God expects us to respond. We are to:

  • “Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

    -and-

  • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Perfect. Complete. Lacking in nothing.

That’s God’s goal for us.

So next time you find yourself in a tough season of life, don’t let it go to waste. Trust that your Heavenly Father has a purpose in putting that difficulty on your plate and accept it with gratitude, knowing there are things you can get out of the hard parts of life that cannot be found in any other way.

Just dip it in the pure milk of the Word to make it easier to swallow. (1 Peter 2:2)

"Consider it joy..."

A Battle Plan for Marriage

We're at War (and you are, too)WE’RE AT WAR…. That’s what headlines all across the United States boldly proclaimed on the morning of January 17, 1991.

The Masthead was so large, it grabbed my attention the minute I opened the curtains of our little studio apartment.

Wanting to capture this historic moment on film, I bundled my two young children up warm and ushered them across the parking lot to take their picture front of the newsstand.

Rather than the somber faces one might expect from the offspring of an Army Reservist, my little ones broke out grinning from ear to ear as soon as they spotted Mom’s camera, totally oblivious to the tumult that threatened to rock their world.

Doesn’t that typify what happens in other areas of our lives, as well?

When I look back at photographs taken on our wedding day, I can’t help but notice my husband and I were wearing those same naive smiles.

Like most couples, we had no idea that as we walked arm-in-arm down the aisle and out of the church at the close of the ceremony, we were marching into battle. We were oblivious to the fact that there was a war raging on the horizon and that, even as we smiled for the camera, our marriage was under attack.

Marriages are under attack. Here's the battle plan we're using to protect ours.Unfortunately, when the attack is particularly sudden or stealth, it is sometimes difficult to even identify the enemy.

Some couples act as if they’re at war with one another. They mistakenly believe they have married the enemy, but they are dead wrong.

Know this:If you are married, you have an enemy — an enemy that will do everything in his power to destroy your marriage — but that enemy is not your spouse.

Ephesians 6:12 warns us:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

And 1 Peter 5:8 tells us:

“Be alert and of sober mind.Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. looking for someone to devour”

From the moment your marriage ship was christened, Satan has been plotting to sink it.

He is crafty. He is relentless. He is on the prowl. But we needn’t succumb to his attacks.

We can win this war. But to make that happen, we need God’s grace, we need grit, and we need a good battle plan.

Our Battle PLAN for Marriage:

  • P = Pray

The best place to do battle for your marriage is on your knees. Couples who pray together regularly enjoy less than a 1% chance of divorce.

Marriage was God’s idea in the first place. It only makes sense to enlist His help in preserving yours. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 6:18, John 15:7)

  • L = Learn

Maintain a teachable spirit. Study what God’s Word says about marriage and about your responsibilities to your spouse.

Seek counsel from older, happily married couples who have remained committed to one another for several decades or more — what’s their secret?

Read good books about marriage, gleaning as much wisdom as you can and applying what you learn to your own life circumstances. (Proverbs 4:7, Psalm 25:4)

  • A = Anticipate

“Into each life some rain must fall.” Longfellow’s words are true of marriage, as well.

Expect an occasional gale. Prepare for it. And when storms blow in, don’t let them drive you apart. Hunker down and weather the tempest together, confident that the sun is still shining behind the clouds and the skies will eventually clear.

Anticipate also how your actions and reactions, both in good times and bad, will affect your spouse. Choices have consequences, so be careful that the decisions you make, the words that you say, and the things that you do are things that will build up and strengthen your marriage and your spouse rather than tearing them down. (Proverbs 14:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

  • N = Nurture

Just as a gardener must spend time cultivating his beds — weeding, watering, fertilizing and pruning the plants to keep them healthy and fruitful — you must invest time and energy into your marriage if you want it to blossom and bear fruit.

Spend time with your spouse. Work together. Play together. Dream together. Pray together.

Be patient. Be considerate. Be respectful. Love your spouse with the kind of unselfish, sacrificial, committed love Christ has for the church. Do all these things, and your marriage will not only survive, but will thrive — even in the midst of attack. (Mark 10:6-9, Malachi 2:15-16)

So my husband and I are fighting again. We’ve been doing battle for our marriage for 27 years now.

We have no intention of throwing in the towel, because we believe marriage is worth fighting for — and we know God is on our side.

Have you joined in the fray? What has helped strengthen your marriage against the attack? Please share in the comments below. We’re always on the lookout for new and effective strategies.