Saturday, December 29, 2012

There, at the End of All Things

My heart is bursting, today readers, with a testimony held inside for several weeks. A few of you, my dearest friends, know the trial I faced in October and November, a second-round battle with deadly meningitis. The night did come where I thought we would have to summon family and say goodbye, and I went through the darkest night of my life--not because I faced saying goodbye, but I faced the unknown--that unimaginable, unknowable God.  What did I know of Him?  What could I offer to Him?  I was terrified and felt  utterly lost, helpless, clueless.  I was shocked at my sudden lack of faith.  It seemed to me that other Christians always so confidently faced death!  Why couldn't I?  It shook me to the core.  Below is the testimony of that experience.  But first some words of gratitude for God and how He provided for me through it all: In addition to the tower of strength and rock of authority that God made my husband to be through this trial, my parents were there for me with their love and help (I was so blessed by all they did for me!), and as well, I reached out to a few faithful friends who sent up fervent prayers for me, and gave me wonderful words of counsel and encouragement while God led me through this valley of the shadow of death.

The experience is the nearest and dearest thing to my heart that I have ever walked through, and I am longing to share of it because of God's goodness, as well as in faith that the comforts I received through my trial will in turn comfort others.  Part of the words below are words as I wrote them to share my testimony with someone specific. Others are words I am sharing just on this blog. But here is my story of my journey to the End of All Things. 


I will tell you it was quite the eye-opening experience, coming within a minute and a millimeter of dying, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because it forced me to confront what I believe and decide what to do about faith.

I had a night in November where I thought we were going to have to call in the family, and say my goodbyes.  And that was a VERY hard thing to face—the hardest moment I have ever faced.  But the hardest part was not saying goodbyes. Although it broke my heart to think of leaving behind my husband and children, I knew they would be okay, and I have been so grateful, content and happy for years with the life God has blessed me with. The hardest part was being sure of what to believe about what was on the other side. I had to evaluate all I had ever believed or tried to believe about God, and heaven, and hell, and in those last minutes, I still had to beg Him to please let me know what to believe about Him, and let me know if I was ready to die! It was all so “uknown” and unknowable to me, even though I have had faith in God pretty strongly for about 10 years now.

And before that long night was over, He answered that prayer.  With no other options that made sense, I realized that God cannot be God if I understand all about Him. If so, anyone could take His place, and any of us could be God. That just doesn’t work, because we know deep down that we can have no faith in ourselves—which is why we lack peace and are always searching for something outside of ourselves!  In order for life to make sense, we need to be made by something greater than us, and in order for God to be greater than us, He has to be something we could never be equal to or fully understand or imagine, which would require absolute faith to believe in Him.

There at the end of all things, I learned I must have faith that God is God and that He is perfect, or I had no other hope. Because there simply is no other option.  There is no hope in man-invented religions or gods or theories that we can intellectualize and explain to our satisfaction.  That is not God. That is faith in ourselves—in what we can imagine, and see and touch, and that, by definition is not faith. Any notion we have been taught or imagined about what heaven will be like--those images are not faith! We've never been there! The fact is, we will all face the end of our lives and face things unimaginable, unknowable and unseen. Faith will be required of us at the end of all things. No one can know for sure what lies beyond, so there must be faith in something uknown, or by definition, there can be no faith, and thereby, no hope. And when you realize that you have no choice but to have faith in something, you realize that your only hope is that that “something” is God, and that God is perfect, and good, and exactly who He says He is, or there is no other hope.

I realized that I will meet Him, this unimaginable, unknowable God one day, but the big question was for me, what was He going to do with me when He met me?  Well, all He asks of me is that I have faith in Him and who He says He is, which includes having faith in Jesus, God’s son, who is God Himself incarnate, being sent to die for us to make it so I am worthy to live eternally with God. This is a crazy story to believe (and I have told God so many times), but in the end, I realized I must have faith in this, or I have no other option at all. There at the end of all things, I came to know that I have to have faith that He is who He says He is, and that those who believe in Him and His son, Jesus, will live eternally with Him—and that gives me hope of seeing my sister again, and those I love again one day.  And if I don’t believe this, the next best option is that we die and return to nothingness—to dust. And that just can’t be true—there are too many unexplainable things about life.  I think people can try and try and try to come up with something else to have faith in, but it will leave them searching and wondering until that end of all things, and then they will have to decide to have faith in the unknowable anyway, regardless of what they tried to know! Let me tell you, even if you have tried to know godly things about what to expect about heaven and hell--things taught by pastors and things written in books, you will realize there at the end of all things that those images and thoughts are nothing you can believe in, because you are truly facing unknowable, unimaginable things. It is faith to give yourself up to that! It is not faith to give yourself up to what you have "learned"or the things you have imagined in your head! Who has seen God?  They eye has not seen nor has the ear heard what He has prepared for them who wait for Him!

Please know that I’m not telling you to go to church or not to go to church. I have gone to church a lot the past eleven years, but haven’t gone regularly for over three years (although we have had home church meetings every week for three years now), and am not inclined to go back much even though I have more faith in God now than I ever have before. I enjoy going to churches, because they do speak of the One I love, and I love hearing about Him.  And if God wants you to go to church, and you feel you must or that you want to, that is your business. I’m simply sharing with you now that all my faith is placed in God and who He says He is (and the modern church has nothing to do with that faith!). I pray continually, here at home—and have for eleven years now.

Backstory (many of you have read the details of this testimony in posts long ago!): God confirming my faith through this illness this year was really just confirming all I have lived for the past ten years. I have had true faith in the true God since about one year before we moved to Ohio in 2002.  At that point, our marriage was in ruins and I didn’t know how to save it, and my mental health was hanging by a thread—I swear I thought I was going to have to be committed to a mental institution for life.  Back then, I was at the end of all things, too, and I didn’t want books, or counselors, or churches (I had tried all that!). I wanted perfect help. My only hope was that if a God had made ME and had made MARRIAGE, then this God would have the perfect help and know the answers, would He not?  I prayed to this perfect God that I hoped existed, not knowing who He was or if He was even there, but it was my only hope and option. I was brought up in church so this is not anything I learned there. He actually answered me. I was a bit surprised to hear it, but hear it I did, like words right out of the sky one day while I was driving, crying, distraught, desperate for help and answers, and begging for the 1000th time to whoever God was, “What is the truth! Where are answers and help?”   

And I heard it plain as day, “The Bible. All you need is the Bible.” I stopped crying, so shocked at the unexpected answer, and said to myself, “What? Really? Just the Bible?” And I thought about it for a few days. It’s all I could think about, the message had been so clear. Then I went to a bookstore and at random purchased a few books to compare the Bible to some other books I had read that had seemed so good, and then it became perfectly clear. Suddenly it made perfect, simple sense. If God was perfect, and He wrote a book, then it would be a perfect book and need no other help or explanation.  So simple and easy--and easy to miss in this over-saturated, over-media-soaked, information age!  I began doing, simply, what the Bible said regarding my marriage and myself, and things turned instantly on a dime, and I was amazed. And I realized that God's "yoke is easy" and His "burden is light" just like He says it is (but many people have never experienced).  My mental health problems went completely away—we’re talking countless years of crazy depression! Our marriage instantly started on a path to peace and we have never looked back—and it is now in such a state of happiness and union that is far beyond anything I could have ever imagined it could be.  And I learned why most people who go to church can’t say this—they simply don’t DO what God says to do. They hear it, and it sounds good, but instead of doing, they shout “Amen!” about it!

After God proved Himself so mightily in my life, I committed to Him with a vow, and promised Him that whatever He showed me were His instructions to do, I would do them, I went to church quite a bit because I wanted to learn more about what was in the Bible, so that I could simply do it and find the help and peace I wanted.  I learned, and continued to find help—but I realized that most people around me in church were not experiencing God the way I was. They loved to feel good and cheer about God, and do lots of busy things to be involved all about God, but they didn’t simply just hear and do the simple things God says to do, and their lives weren’t much different than anyone else’s who didn’t go to church.  Not many seemed to comprehend at all that my life really had changed and I really did have help and peace, although they loved to say “Amen!” if I ventured to try to tell them. But I didn’t care—because I knew how I had been helped. I just kept looking to God. I knew I would never look anywhere else for any help or answers, because I was now perfectly, continually helped!

My husband and I weren’t even really speaking when I started this path back in 2001. But the peace came instantly as I tried to be a wife the way God told me to be (which was opposite of anything else I had ever heard or tried!), and eventually, my husband saw the change in me--and he sensed it far before he saw it. He went from having a manic, depressed, angry wife to having a happy, peaceful, sane wife. My oldest son and my mom saw the difference, too. They couldn’t help but believe in God more, too.  And all of us, because of this, have just continued to grow in His truth, have more and more faith in Him, to pray without ceasing to Him, and if we discover something He says to do, then we do our best to do it. And it has brought peace to our home, and even more amazingly, peace and love to our marriage, and unbelievable peace and sanity to my mind.  And even if we don’t know what is best to do in any given moment, we do know that all we have to offer to God is our faith—that is all He simply asks of us. Nothing more than that! That is what I learned there at the end of all things… faith is all I could offer Him. I had nothing else worthy to give a perfect God! There, at the end of all things, it didn't matter how many days I had lived, or how many hours I had spent in a church, or how much I had mentally prepared to meet Him with images and ideas of heaven. All that mattered was that I had faith in who He said He was. That was all I could have.

It was a sure trial of this faith of mine to go through the illnesses I have gone through the past three years, and this last round in October was the hardest. It certainly builds faith and patience to continually have to trust God with such trying circumstances. It really made me question what I believed, even with all the miraculous help that had happened in my life the past ten years. But since that time God revealed Himself to me over ten years ago, I  have always continually asked God to show me what is true and what is right, and to help me have the right faith, especially for the sake of my children (have you noticed it's easy to get our eyes off Him and on to the things of man?).  And that is exactly the prayer He answered by bringing me right to the End of All Things.  I can tell you for sure, that if you have any uncertainty at all about God (and if God is God, then any human should be uncertain about Him), coming to the end of all things you will realize that there is no way your human brain could ever find all the answers, and that the only hope is that God is who He says He is, and that He is perfectly good, perfectly Just, and His plan is perfect, and that not one thing ever happens outside of His perfect plan and power.  Not even my illness, or the death of my sister, or the death or trial of anyone, or any other thing that happens, ever.

And that is peace.

Because of our human nature, trial  is almost the only way to "finish" our faith--to perfect it.  Those toughest moments are those when we have to know what we believe, and then we realize we can't know it. And that alone is the basis of faith. Things unknowable and unseen. And of course, that is why God must allow it. He must offer us faith, because it is by faith only that we are saved.

I realized there, at the end of all things, that anything I could dream up or imagine about God, or heaven, or any human preaching or teaching I had ever heard, I could not cling to. That is not faith. Faith is trusting that no matter what I find God to be, He is the ONLY God and that He is perfect. I have no other choice or hope.  I'm glad that God tells me He is perfect and good! I've certainly read enough of the Bible (and obeyed enough of the Bible and saw for myself that His instructions WORK when nothing else I had  ever tried did help me!) the past 10 years to not doubt that it is His book! 

God also helped me with the confusion I felt there at the end of all things. Last year, I was concerned because I sat at the bedside of my aunt who died from breast cancer, and I did not understand her confusion and struggle with dying.  I encouraged her confidently for countless hours to give herself up to God, and didn't understand her despair, because I knew how much she loved Him.  So, I was so surprised to find myself so unsure and confused, just like she was, when I thought it was time for me to die.  As a Christian, I thought I would be sure and confident and ready. I was sure confident as I comforted my aunt!.  What went wrong?  And then just two days after my terrible night where I faced the end of all things, even though I had accepted God's gift of faith that He had given me there, I was still upset because I had become so confused about dying and whether or not I was ready. With nothing else to do, and of course, NOTHING on TV, I told my daughter to go pick a sermon back in the office from the shelves. I just wanted any words of encouragement from a man of God.  She picked of her own accord a video by S.M. Davis titled "Overcoming Discouragement" (I had not told her I was discouraged, but I think she could tell, and I think she was, too. Our whole family was pretty discouraged at this point!).  I watched it, and found it to be good teaching, but only mildly interesting. I found myself dozing here and there. I got a sweet confirmation when Pastor Davis mentioned as one of his steps to overcoming disouragement to reach out to your godly friends for support and counsel. That is one thing I had done, as a few of you dear sisters got a message from me asking desperately for prayer and counsel! Anyway, the video ended. I was an invalid in my chair, so I just waited for the tape to play to the end so that the VCR would begin to automatically rewind itself, at which point it would then power off.  But the tape didn't end.  Much to my surprise, there was a bonus sermon on that DVD, titled, "Finish."  I never knew it was there. And it was the story of a mother who was critically ill, and weary of her illness, and she was confused and discouraged, and asked Pastor Davis for counsel. She asked, "Is it okay to just refuse further treatment and just go home to heaven?"  He spoke about how he prayed immediately desperately for the right answer for her, and then shared about how he received just that. And the message was to "Finish."  If you cannot say that you have fought the good fight and have finished your course, then by all means you must do all you can to finish. Which means if there are reasonable options still for treatment and no peace about it being time to die, then the clear message is to fight and to finish.  

What a wonderful message and help!  It helped me understand part of the reason why I did not feel peace about dying!  (the other part being that God was still "finishing my faith"). I was discouraged about facing another hospitalization, another round of ICU, another port inserted... but I was not sure of God's will or the right path.  This message had been unknowingly on our office shelf  for 10 years, and was at God's timing popped into the VCR unknowingly by my 13yo daughter at the very time I needed it! 

And you dear friends whom I reached out to at that time, you not only came through with prayer, but with email after email of love and encouragement for me.  What a blessing and a gift from God!

I’m hoping my personal story here may be tugging at your hurting heart.  I know that there exists in some of you the same feelings I have always had—that desperate longing to just know what to believe, and a longing for the real, true answers that WORK and bring peace.  I want to encourage you to just start asking Him about who He is, and ask Him to show you. You don’t need church, or anything else. You just need a heart hungry for the truth, and a desperate need to know who God is, and a desperate need for peace about it all.  I’m encouraging you to just ask Him, in no fancy words. You won’t need to do a thing—just ask with your whole heart for Him to show you, and He will. He is God, and He can do anything. He made you. He loves you. He wants you, He is perfect, and He is true.  You won’t have to be told anything else by me, or by anyone.  He will tell you Who He Is… I know He will.  He knows exactly your heart’s desires, exactly where it is empty and longing, and He knows exactly how to fix that to bless you with all that is dearest to you.

On the other side of this, how am I living now?  Oh, what peace! Am I saying I no longer need to learn more about Him?  No! I will even more earnestly strive to know Him. I will study and meditate on His Word, so I can live for Him.  But I know now that there is no required amount of learning I must do--because when it is time to meet Him, it doesn't matter what I know about Him. It matters only that I have faith in Him. My faith will be all that is required of me.  Now that I have had to confront that place of faith at the end of all things, my faith is so much more sureNow I see that every day is actually the end of all things. I never know when I will breathe my last breath and find myself in the hands of God.  For years I have asked God to make me one who seeks and watches daily for His coming, like He tells us to do!  I have begged Him to give me faith! I have prayed desperately for Him to make me to love Him (His greatest commandment)! I have prayed to be ever thoughtful and mindful that any day could be my last, because of my death or because of His coming. I prayed to be prepared--because He tells us to be. 

And now I am ready.  I find myself looking to the sky at any given moment and saying, God, if you are ready, then so am I! Please come quickly!  

Oh, He truly is the author and finisher of my faith!

I pray He authors and finishes yours as He has mine! Your trial may be different, but yes, your trial will come. Just know, there at the end of all things, HE IS.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Biblical Priorities for Women

Here is the second post in a row that I am republishing by request!  May God bless you as you continue to love Him and seek His will for your life!


When I started in the role of being a helpmeet homeschooling housewife mother (ten years ago from this republishing 12/12), I was definitely a novice.  Prayer was my survival line, and God sent many beautiful women into my life through friends, speakers, and blogs as example and encouragement.  I had never kept a clean house, I had never been organized, I had never even considered the need for a schedule, I had never been a true helpmeet to my husband (more like a husband destroyer), I had never been consistent in training my children, I had never homeschooled, I had never sat down and taught my children about Jesus or how to live for Him.  I had just NEVER…
But God was clearly calling me, so I jumped in with both feet.
I have pressed on towards the mark of a being a godly wife and mother and managing a godly home, day in and day out, for several years.  Sometimes, it seemed like I was getting nowhere. There were spells in there where for weeks at a time it seemed there were no changes and I had lost my motivation.  But always, with constant prayer, came the mornings where I awoke with a new resolve to make a fresh start and try again, and press on.  As time wore on and I kept God’s best in my heart, it became a way of life, awaking each morning to, with constant prayers of help, try again… and again… and again… and again.
I would read about women who SAID they could do this.  Elizabeth George seemed to have it all together.  And what about that Emilie Barnes?  Whew!  And Flylady? Linda Dillow?  Debi Pearl? Teri Maxwell?  Sure, they can write a good book–but were they really pulling it off at home?  Was it really possible?
Nowadays, I often take a step back and look around.  It is an eye-opener for me--and a testimony of God and His ways. They work!  I see shocking things. Amazing things are evident in this home:  Happy marriage, happy children who are thriving at all different ages, a clean house, and a homeschool that stays ahead of schedule. I can take no credit for these things other than being a woman of prayer.  These things are all for God's glory. They are a testimony that His ways work.  The testimony of this home is not that MY ways work. The testimony is that loving God above all and seeking Him first is what works!
If God can do this for ME, He can do this for ANYONE.  He can do this for YOU!
I KNOW this is all God’s doing.  I know me.  I have known me all my life.  I have never been a person who could do things like this. All I know is that I have been praying for these things for several years now, and those prayers have been answered.  I understand these things are God’s will, and I know that the Bible says that if we ask for anything according to His will, we will receive it.  But it is truly miraculous! How did God do this? How does it all work?
One thing I would like to share is how God used His principle of PRIORITIES to keep me on track. Every time I prayed for help, feeling overwhelmed (oh, countless thousands of prayers), He always somehow pressed His priorities upon my heart.  The past few months, as ladies have emailed me for counsel, as I take their questions to the Lord in prayer so that I can give them a response, God very often leads me to reveal His priorities to them.
PRIORITIZING is most definitely a biblical principle. God prioritizes His commandments for us. There is a biblical application for prioritizing that orders everything from God Almighty right down to cleaning out the silverware drawer in my  little home.  Prioritizing biblically is so important, in fact, that I would call it the KEY to success for a godly life.  Satan keeps our homes in uproar by getting us to focus on things that are not the priority, and therefore we just spin our wheels and get nowhere in our walk with Him.
God clearly commands us to put Him first in our life.  He makes the priority clear. 
Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
(Deuteronomy 6:7)
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, saying, Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
(Matthew 22:35-38)
Then, as a wife, God makes my next priority crystal clear.  My top priority, next to God, is my husband.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:22)
One thing that I remember God doing consistently with me is keeping these first two priorities straight.  When we put first what God wants us to put first, then everything else falls into place. Easily. God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light.  He says that. Why should my calling to be a godly wife and mother be difficult?  Why am I surprised that, by putting God first and making Him Lord of my life, by casting my cares upon Him and putting His yoke upon my shoulders, it has happened: the yoke is easy and the burden is light?  Am I to doubt God’s Word?  Of course not!
The first priority is God.  Have you made God your first priority? Is He your King?  Do you live each day to please Him?  Are all your decision made to please Him? Are you worried about pleasing Him?  Do you have a proper fear of the Lord? Are all your actions centered around your motive to please Him?  If not, pray and ask to be this way.  This must come first.  Without this first, all efforts are just works of the flesh and will gain no end for Christ.  On reflection, I remember the point many years ago that I realized this. I put at the top of my daily prayer list for months that God would be my first love, that I would truly realize who I am compared to who He is.  I prayed to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I still pray that prayer regularly and ferverntly, because I know it is the key. It is the greatest commandment.  All else "hangs" on this–it says so in the next verse!  If you can keep this greatest commandment, everything else falls into place.  When you wake up each morning, and do each thing as unto the Lord, how could your home NOT become a more beautiful place? How could your children not be trained and taught more lovingly?  How could your husband not be blessed? 
For each of you, if you put God first, then your husband second, things will fall into place in a slightly different order after that, at God’s leading.  But it will happen.  Here is how it fell into place for me… (to the best of my recollection)… just by putting God first, by staying in His will…
I loved God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength…
I wanted to be obedient.  I soaked up His Word and His commandments and I followed them. I still do this every day.
I saw that God tells me, a wife, to submit myself to my own husband as unto the Lord.
As unto the Lord. That clearly makes this priority number two.
That is no little thing.  You see, God is first in my life. I live to please Him, to obey Him, to serve Him.  That means I must also live to obey my husband, to serve my husband, and to please my husband.  It falls into place because of God’s command for me to do so (and I am following His commands because I am putting Him first).  It is as simple as waking up with a smile and hug for my husband, and then as serving God, helping my husband prepare for his day however he needs.
But don't get confused or sidetracked!  There are oh so many scriptures for how to be a godly wife and a wise woman so that I can be a crown to my husband!  Where to start?  Prayer, of course.  So I prayed, "God, make me submissive to my own husband.  Help me to serve him, and to please him.  To be a crown to him, to make him the king of our home so that you can direct his heart (The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will. Proverbs 21:1).
So, what makes my husband a king?  What makes me a crown to him? 
First, as God answered this prayer for me, God revealed to me I had to change in the areas that my husband needed me most.  First for me?  To give my husband a loving, serving attitude.  A loving gaze. A forgiving heart.  A loving smile.  I prayed for that.  Don’t think it was easy.  I prayed.  I ran to the bathroom many times to vent my anger, frustrations, and tears to the Lord with fervent pleas for help.  But I prayed. And over time, God did it. 
Next, God dealt with my submission. Quiet submission. A listening ear.  A supportive attitude. A wholehearted "being on board" with my husband’s life, his decisions. It was tough. But I prayed. And prayed.  God did it.  He is still doing it…
I was convicted to REVERENCE my husband.  To not complain about my husband or even slightly ridicule him in any way to others.  In public, I made sure my gaze was always loving, appreciative, and full of pride so that others would know he was a good husband.  A discontented scowl or even a stressed look subconsciously could lead others to think my husband was less than "king."  Oh, how I prayed for a true heart of reverence!
Then, I prayed for God to help me praise him and bless him to others.
Next, pleasing my  husband in little ways was the next step God had for me.  Giving of myself. Serving. Doing things for him. Constantly. Looking nice when he arrived home.  Making sure the children were clean, calm, and happy when he got home. I encouraged their love for Daddy and encouraged their excitement to see him at his return each evening.  A warm hug of greeting.  Never averting my eyes in my displeasure or disapproval.  Always returning hugs and kisses warmly. Filling his water glass. Simple.  But I prayed…
Then God had me take this one step further. How about a nice, well-prepared meal on the table when He arrived home each night?  Dear Lord, please help me to organize my kitchen so that I can prepare a healthy menu!  As a matter of fact, help me to feed my whole family in a way that glorifies you.
Then, I realized my children had to treat their Dad as the king. I prayed.  God had me train them in this manner, referring to Daddy as the leader at all times. God had me turn my children’s hearts towards their father. How much damage I had to undo! How many times had I complained to the children about him? Or vented my own frustrations?  I repented. I prayed.  We changed. The children changed.
Then, while still praying without ceasing to love God and to please Him, God prompted me to care for my  husband in a way that his home was a haven of rest and support for his purpose and calling in life. There should be no stress at home so that it was a peaceful haven that perpetuated his ability to focus on his work.  That means I needed to make sure the home was orderly. Neat. Quiet. Uncluttered. I didn’t interrupt his reading or work time. I stopped complaining.  I stopped saying any negative things about anything in his presence.  I prayed. And  prayed. 
I then started by organizing his clothing (closets and drawers) so that he could find his clothes easily.
  Then by getting better and more faithful with the laundry so that his clothes were always clean.  I was convicted by my husband having to dig through a basket to match his own socks, or get a pair of clean underwear out of the dryer.  I made sure that enough clothing was cleaned and put away each day that he didn’t have to hunt.
Then I made sure that at least the area from the back door to the living room was clean each night when he arrived, so that he didn’t open the door to a mess.  That clean area gradually grew as we grew in the habit… over three years, that habit extended to the whole house.
Then, as my husband and I grew closer in our marriage, and we began growing in the Lord together (you see, I was making him the king and God was working in his heart), I asked my  husband what he wanted me to work on at home.
He said "scheduling and being productive in schooling the kids."
So, I wrote a schedule.  And each day, we pressed on, and to honor my husband because I was putting God first, I woke up each morning with the conviction and goal to be more productive and have some semblance of a schedule.  Oh, how I prayed.  We failed. We rewrote the schedule. We tried again. We failed and failed and failed. We tried and tried and tried. We adjusted and fine-tuned and kept at it. God showed us what worked for us. I cut phone time, and internet time, and errands. I cut down on field trips, and after two years, dropped the co-op.  I heard women say, "We tried the schedule thing but it didn't work for us," and laugh it off with a shrug then continue to run about their chaotic lives.  But to honor God I continued to please my husband, making it so my husband could trust me with how I spent my time.  The schedule finally morphed into a lifestyle and routine.  Now, I  only go out one day a week for errands and shopping, and all our other outside-the-home activities are God-directed and there is plenty of time. We grew and our routine grew with us. Little by little, we streamlined, adjusted, and added more until we were able to fit it all in easily in a way that works for our family.   Our days are now relaxed, orderly, and full of completed tasks with plenty of time and then some… Shocking. Amazing.  Nothing short of a miracle of God. Because I kept Him first.
Then I realized that my children were a reflection of my husband’s leadership and my submission.  I prayed to train them more consistently.  And prayed.  It has been many years of new training methods–and oh, the fruit we are starting to reap in this area!  What a blessing!  Don’t ever give up! I’m telling you!  Press on in your training! Teaching God’s ways, and teaching God’s Word!  Oh, how many hours and tears I spent in prayer for God’s leading for how to deal with major training problems with my children.  He always answered. He always guided.  Always. He never failed me.  He still guides me daily in this area!  Over the past ten years, God has led us continually until where we are at the present (December 2012), where our teaching and training is 90% God and the rest falls into place, as far as the academic school and household work.  I teach the things of God to my children and exhort them continually, and as He promises everything else falls into place. Not just into place, but easily and effortlessly.  Like I said, our academic school stays FAR ahead without putting much thought or effort into it at all. Because we put God first!
Somewhere in there, I finally was convicted to be a healthier me–not for me–so that I would look good (which had always ALWAYS been  my motivation), but so that God would look good and my husband would look good.  To honor God and to honor my  husband. I prayed for the self-control, and God gave it. I went from a size 14 to about a size 8, then settled at a size 10 for good–setting no goal for myself, only the goal to honor God and my husband.  Amazing.  After all the years of stressing over my weight and making useless resolutions!  Finally, in God’s timing, for the right reasons… with fervent prayer… the spiritual growth needed to lose the weight. 
Then, I realized that to be a crown to my husband, I needed to spend his money wisely.  No one should ever think he did not provide enough for our family, especially when he was doing the work God called him to do. 
I prayed for God to help me spend money in a way that honored my husband, and made it so the heart of my husband could safely trust in me (Proverbs 31:11).
And little
by little
by little,
while putting God first
and my husband first after God
I stayed in God’s will, and all my prayers have been answered.  We’ve built on those things one by one, as each day, I keep these priorities straight.  God brings to mind what to work on and what to do, always in line with His priorities. 
Don’t get it backwards! 
You see, several years ago, my marriage was in RUINS!  Putting my husband first was the last thing I wanted to do! I was angry at him. I harbored unforgiveness.  I felt he owed me many apologies and many other things.  In my eyes, he was an unloving, horrible, jerk. The last thing I wanted to do was put him first!
Oh, how easy it would have been to focus on just the house, or the children, or their homeschooling activities.  In the name of God, I could have become a supermom who directed all her energies towards these things! I did not want to put my husband first!
But I would have never succeeded.  I would have worked myself into mental exhaustion and mental illness--and I have come across many wives who have done this, in the name of doing godly things.  I know–because that’s where I was when God straightened me out.
And I put God first.  And by doing so, I knew the only way to be obedient to God was to put my husband first.
If the marriage is not right, then the home is not right.  Then the children will not be alright. Then the homeschooling will not be alright.
I remember thinking it was going to be the hardest thing in the world–putting my husband first.  You see, I wanted to put him at the bottom of the list.  But my way was not God’s way. 
And I loved God. And I promised to do it His way.  And I am so glad I did.
His way is the ONLY way. 
And it works.
I have now learned that God’s priorities for me, as a wife and mother, flow like this:
1. God
2. Husband
3. Children
4. Others
My home management and ability to get things done naturally fall into place when I keep those things in order.  I manage my home the way I do because my priority is God, and then my husband.  I train the children the way I do because I am obeying God and honoring my husband.  And as I train them, they are learning the chores and the character that are necessary because we are putting God first and Daddy as the head of our home.  Then together, as a family, God uses us to serve others.  Because I have put God first and my husband second, my home is now orderly, and I have time to write this blog to encourage others.  I have time to make a phone call to encourage a lady at church, or drop of some fresh baked bread to an elderly lady, or to meet a struggling mom at Burger King to listen and encourage.
Several mothers have asked me, "How do you know what is God’s will? How do you know what to work on?"  I learned this by trial and error, but in retrospect (oh, don’t you love hindsight), every time I measured the things on my plate according to God’s priorities, one thing would always sift to the top for any given moment.  God’s Word –God’s priorities–became my measure.  I would search my heart for something I knew was displeasing to God or my husband, and something–one thing– would always come to the top of the list.  That would become the priority.
In addition, there were many times I tried to jump the gun on God’s work in my life.  Oh, I read so many great books and great articles about fabulous godly women who were everything I was praying to be! I got so inspired! I would get out my journal and outline all kinds of goals and fasts to back them up.  But oftentimes, these always fell through, because I had my eyes on me.  I was dreaming of the wonderful me that I was going to be.  My eyes were not on God.  The great efforts fizzled and died.  Usually it was because the problem I identified and wanted to target "in the name of God" was not the problem God wanted me to target. 
You see, we often don’t want to work on the things we need to–they are the things we don’t like.  Satan likes to keep us stirred up with all kinds of wonderful godly ideas for being a godly woman–but if they are not what God wants us to work on, then Satan is successful. We get nowhere.  How often did I outline wonderful goals for housework, homeschool, dieting, fasting, Bible reading, and more, only to be ignoring serious heart issues of reverencing my husband, supporting my husband, because I was harboring unforgiveness and didn’t want to work on this area?  When I straightened things out according to God’s priorities, everything else fell into place.  When I began to reverence my husband, some of those household goals were accomplished as a part of that reverence.  With no true reverence for my husband, why in the world would I be motivated to keep this home beautiful for him?  The motives, if any, would not be godly!
God’s priorities work for a reason! He knows what He’s doing!  When He instructs us wives to put God first then husbands next, it’s because that is the way it works. 
Eventually, I learned to WAIT upon the Lord. Follow His leading.  Quietness of mind and heart, even after reading a great article that inspired me, would always bring God’s leading, and it would always come in line with God’s priorities.  God first, and then my husband, and then taking a next step that would honor, reverence, serve, and please my husband, then everything falls into place as needed. 
One year, I distinctly remember finally "getting" the hang of this–the waiting on God part.  God finished dealing with me in the area of humility–took me through what I called "humility boot camp."  When God clearly graduated me from that (for a season), I was anxious to see what we were going to work on next.  I found myself sitting down and outlining all sorts of wonderful goals:  writing a recipe book, character training for the children, new scheduling practices in our home where we attempted to fit in even MORE… but in my quietness one morning, I knew to just wait.  I put aside my doodling and plans. I asked God, "What next? Where do you want me to grow?"  While I waited for His answer, I did my best., moment by moment, just doing all things as unto the Lord — a smile for my husband here, a sweet gentle response to a child there, a consistent spank to a toddler there, singing through cleaning the bathroom…   And eventually, God pressed upon me with a great burden where I needed to grow next.  Finances. 
Ouch!  You see, if I had my way, I wouldn’t have chosen to work on this. Part of me still liked my loose spending habits that got me a new sweater here and a milkshake there.  I didn’t want to face it.  But I was on to Satan’s tricks now.  How easily I could have been distracted into outlining other areas to work on!  Godly things!  But no, I had learned, God’s way is not my way.  He set the priorities.  This was the area where my husband needed me next.
I wrote several "Financial Accountability" posts as God took me through this phase of growth. Oh, how many times before had I tried to do better with a budget and with my shopping decisions.  I had improved, but was still failing.  It was now God’s timing.  Before, my attempts were half-hearted.  Now, I had no choice.  It was God’s clearly revealed will for this time in my life. Many of the things I tried to do before and kept failing, because it wasn’t God’s timing.  This time it was.  I am still amazed at the results.  My husband actually said to me during this time, "I honestly don’t think we’re spending too much money anywhere." 
Shocking. Amazing.
All God’s work. God’s timing.
I know my post is long.  I deliberately make them long sometimes.   I feel that if God is leading someone to read this, then God will provide the time and the interest to make it to the end.   I just wanted to shout about the goodness of God, the perfection of His ways, and sing His praises for thousands and thousands and thousands of answered prayers.  I had to make a record of God’s awesome works, and God’s awesome ways.  There is no end to His goodness, and He’s not even close to being finished with our family yet!  Oh how we pray to grow in Him and to become more pleasing to Him!
He is so good.
Lord, help me to love you more!

Many blessings and prayers for you, dear reader, as always.

Mrs. E.
Mrs. Erik Anderson
Camilla Anderson