Merry Christmas Mini-Shoot

I wanted to send out Christmas cards this past Christmas (2013) but really didn’t have the time/resources to do a full photo shoot with a professional photographer. So instead, I decided to try my hand at doing our own photos! It was quite hilarious, considering I do not have a remote control for my camera, so every shot was on a self timer with me adjusting the settings, posing Matt, and then clicking and running to get into position before the timer went off. Our outtake shots are quite comical, but I managed to get about 4-5 good ones. Enjoy!

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A Different Kind of Thanks

If you were to ask me three weeks ago what kind of post I would be writing for Thanksgiving day, I would have a totally different answer than the one you’re about to read. Nevertheless, I am thankful, and I want you to know why.

A little bit of background story condensed from long to short: In September I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Along with other symptoms, one of the most concerning to me was the possibility of infertility. At first this news was very overwhelming, but I still had incredible hope. I just knew God would allow Matt and I to have a baby in His perfect timing. I knew it. It just might take a whole lot longer than I originally thought. I doodled this line from the song “Sovereign” by Chris Tomlin and left it in my Bible as a reminder to myself.

photo-4 So imagine our COMPLETE surprise when exactly one month later, I found out I was pregnant! I cried a TON and delivered the news to Matt who also was in complete shock. For a few days! We were so very excited and didn’t waste any time thinking about names and imagining how drastically different our life would look come next June. I was immediately nauseous and couldn’t eat food fast enough. We told our parents and just a few of our closest friends and eagerly, impatiently, waited for our first appointment to hear that precious heartbeat.

The day arrived when we could finally go to our first appointment. I barely slept the night before. I was too excited. Even on the way there Matt couldn’t stop talking about how eager he was to hear the heartbeat and feel the reality of it for himself. I’d say we were not prepared for what the appointment would hold, but that wouldn’t be true. I believe with all my heart the Lord was preparing us the previous three weeks, but we just hadn’t put the pieces together yet. When I should have been 9 weeks and 2 days, our baby was only measuring 6 weeks. Our doctor gently and compassionately said the words no parents ever want to hear… “Crimson and Matt, I’m so sorry, your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.”

I felt like my world froze. All I can see when I think about that moment is that beautiful picture of our little baby peanut on the screen and all I can feel is Matt’s arms wrapped around me. Our baby had already entered into heaven before we ever got to see him or her. Before we ever heard that precious heartbeat. And yet, for a reason only able to be explained as the grace of God, there was peace.

I cried heavier tears that day than I ever have before. I felt more grief than I can even explain. It’s amazing how a six week old little life can have SUCH an impact on you. Yet in the midst of all of it, I’ve never been more thankful.

Never before have I ever been SO thankful for:

…my selfless, gentle, sweet, servant-hearted husband who loves me with nothing held back and has been there during this season every single second, even though he’s been grieving as well.

…the body of Christ who has blown us away with their generosity and the giving of themselves and their time.

…family and friends who are legitimate prayer WARRIORS. Whose prayers have literally carried us to the throne where we’ve been able to find hope and healing.

…kind, compassionate doctors and nurses who ALWAYS referred to our baby as a baby and understood that this life was precious and his or her loss is meant to be grieved.

…bosses who understood and let me take all the time off I needed when it was most important.

…vulnerable and transparent women who have gone before me and walked this same path, who have willingly opened up their old wounds in an effort to help me with my fresh ones.

See, if you had asked me three weeks ago what I planned on blogging about on Thanksgiving, I would have whispered, “That’s when we’re going to announce to everyone that we’re pregnant!!!” attaching a sweet sonogram picture and letting the world know we were parents.

But today, instead of announcing that we’re pregnant, I’m announcing that God is good, and His plans for us are good. He is holding our first child in His arms, and they are safer there than they ever would have been in ours. I’m announcing that the arms of Jesus are loving and filled with grace upon grace, and that they hold longer and tighter than anyone or anything on this earth could. I’m announcing that we are THANKFUL the Lord chose this path for us to walk. We are HOPEFUL for the future, and we are TRUSTING in Jesus’ master plan, which is far better than anything we could have put together ourselves. I’m announcing that suffering for the advancement of the Gospel, no matter what that looks like, is worth it.

Are we still grieving? Absolutely. Are we still hurting? Every day. But in the midst of it all, we are fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).  He is LIFE. He is HOPE. And because He lives, I know our baby lives, and we will meet them one day in heaven where there will be no more sorrow, no more grief, no more tears. We will worship the Lord together, who is worthy to receive all the glory and all the praise. And for that, I am thankful.

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If you or anyone you know is suffering and grieving in any way, please refer them to this video. It has ministered to me countless times and I pray it will do the same for you.

Football Season is Upon Us!

As the world knows, football season is finally here! And in the south, that means college football dominates our TV’s on Saturdays. Fall is my favorite season of them all…and you know it’s arrived once Starbucks starts carrying pumpkin spiced lattes and your schedule now revolves around college game day. I don’t hate it.

Unfortunately, Matt and I are devoted to two different teams. Alabama (#1, obviously, the best, my namesake, and my heritage) and Florida (they’re okay, I guess 🙂 ) At least we’re in different divisions and we only play each other every 3-4 years, but we still enjoy a good trash-talk now and then. The truth is we cheer for each other’s teams UNLESS they’re playing each other, and then, all bets are off. Full fledged rivalry goes down at the Renney house.

So since we finally have a house of our own this football season, it was time for a little……..team spirit.

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I have one FINE looking husband, ya’ll. No shame.

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I thought it was perfect just like that. He didn’t seem to agree.

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But look at that look of pure joy on his face. I just can’t deny him that.

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There’s literally no denying which house is ours…As soon as you turn on the street, BAM!

Both of our teams won their opening games (even though Alabama looked pathetic compared to what they’re capable of) and we had a lot of fun welcoming college football season back again.

Three-peat anyone?? ROLL TIDE 🙂

Celebrating Two Years of Marriage!

Since January, Matt and I had been planning our two-year anniversary trip to Destin, FL and the first week in June we got to go! I was so unbelievably excited. Destin has always had a special place in my heart because my grandparents had a place there when we were kids that they had to sell about 10 years ago. I hadn’t been back since then, and so I was very eager to show Matt around the old stomping grounds and make new memories with him there!
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I’ve always loved the white sandy beaches of Destin and the beautiful blue green water. There’s nothing more relaxing than laying on the beach listening to the waves.

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The condo we found was AWESOME. It was a one bedroom, one bath condo within walking distance of the beach and it was so cute and cozy on the inside! I’d highly recommend this condo to anyone who wants to go visit there. If you want the details of it and how to book it, I’d be happy to get it for you. The owners were fabulous to work with and the condo was immaculate.

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This king sized bed was insanely comfortable. Nuff said.

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Our first day on the beach was perfect. The waves were a good size and the weather was beautiful. Our condo even had beach chairs and an umbrella for us to use so we got to take breaks from the sun when my pasty white skin couldn’t handle it anymore.

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I took my Dove chocolate very seriously on this trip. I couldn’t have agreed more with this sentiment. I believe it was 100% accurate.

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Matt doesn’t eat seafood, but I told him it was a priority for me to get some fresh seafood while we were at the beach. He did not disappoint. We went to The Crab Trap our first night and I got coconut shrimp. It was DELICIOUS.

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We also have a tradition of ALWAYS getting donuts while we are on vacation. Okay, maybe that’s just MY tradition. I don’t think Matt would care if we forgot. But when I saw that Krispy Kreme Hot Now sign on, I literally gasped and made Matt turn the car around. Yes, it’s that important, people.

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Look, I’m all about being healthy, and I know donuts have ZERO nutritional value, but seriously, has there ever been a more beautiful sight? Sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind and embrace the sugar. Mmmm…..

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Seriously it made my night. And of course we bought extra for breakfast the next day!

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Speaking of the next day, and for irony’s sake, I actually took Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred with me on vacation and I actually DID it! After my donuts of course 🙂 I was so proud of myself. Granted, I had planned to do it every day of vacation and I ended up only doing it once, but hey, that’s better than I can usually say.

The next day we went to the beach again, but unfortunately there was a double red flag so there was no getting in the water for us. BUT, that night we were so excited to get to meet up with our friends, Cosbie and Caitlin! They were in town with her family for vacation about 20 minutes from us, so we decided to make a double date night out of it and do something that we normally don’t even find time to do at home!

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After two attempts, this was still as good as it was going to get. Poor picture quality, for the win.

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After dinner we decided to go putt putt. I love talking smack with Matt when it comes to any kind of competition, even though there is a 99.4% guarantee he will ALWAYS beat me when it comes to anything competitive.

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Caitlin and I had a strange fascination with these fish. We seriously stood there and watched them longer than any kids that passed by.

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What is a date night without dessert? What is vacation without dessert EVERY NIGHT is the better question. After putt putt we hit up this awesome frozen custard stand. I could eat frozen custard over frozen yogurt, ice cream, or sorbet any day. It’s THAT good.

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And to further prove my point that dessert is always worth it on vacation, I opened up my sweet little Dove chocolate to this blessed reassurance.

On our last full day, we decided to go pier fishing. We wanted to go deep sea fishing on this trip but decided it really wasn’t the most cost efficient this time around. So we drove over to the pier and rented some poles, bought some squid (gross) and went to town. Matt has more experience fishing than I do, but if we’re being honest, we’re both completely lost when it comes to this skill.

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We had a lot of fun trying to pretend like we knew what we were doing and trying not to be jealous of the other people who were constantly catching fish while we just waited. And waited. And waited.

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While we were waiting we did get to see a few dolphins swimming around though!

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Every time I see a picture of myself with my hand on my hip I feel like I need to apologize. I wonder if/when this fad will no longer be the standard pose for every girl under the age of 30. I’m all about the skinny arm, but I believe we can all agree that this pose has gotten a little out of control.

ANYWAY, that night we decided to lay low, grab a $5 hot-n-ready pizza and have a game night. Remember how I said Matt beats me in anything competitive 99.4% of the time?? Well this is where the .6% came working in my favor! Literally, I beat him at every game we played that night. One round of Monopoly Deal and six games of Sequence. It was beautiful.

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In his defense, he did finally beat me one time. But overall, my Dove chocolate didn’t lie again.

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The next morning we had to pack up and head back home. But before we left, we drove around and found the exact place of my grandparent’s park that their trailer was in. We didn’t even realize it, but the condo we were staying in was .4 of a mile from theirs. I was so so so excited that we found it.

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I know that this was the exact location because that tree right there was planted by my parents and I remember it being MUCH smaller. Now after 20 years or so you can see how much it has grown.

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There are so many memories in that park right there. What I wouldn’t give to be able to re-live those days with my family, grandparents, and brothers.

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We decided to go for one more walk on the beach before we left. It was an amazing trip. Just what we needed after Matt’s crazy school year. I am so thankful that we got to celebrate being married two years in a place that has meant so much to me over the years.

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It blows my mind that we’ve been married for two years. I know that that is nothing compared to so many who have gone before us, but they really aren’t kidding when they say it flies by. Being married to your best friend is God’s greatest gift this side of heaven and I can’t imagine going through life without Matt. He has been the most amazing husband and I thank God for him every day. We have had ups and downs of course, but through it all, Jesus is our Rock and the foundation that we remain grounded in. I’m so excited to see what the Lord has in store for us in the future and I am so grateful that He has allowed us to take this journey together!

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart! I love you.

Three Years Ago

May 29, 2010 has such a special place in my heart. It was the day that the love of my life proposed to me and asked for my hand in marriage. I had just come home from college, and his sister had just graduated from high school. He planned an entire day for us with the cover of it being a day out for Christina as his graduation gift to her.

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We went to Helen, GA for the day and went to breakfast, played putt putt, got ice cream, went hiking up Amicolola Falls, and then went back to a cabin to get ready for “dinner” with his parents. Little did I know that while I was getting ready, he was transforming the cabin into a romantic setting to pop the question, complete with candlelight, pictures of us throughout the years, roses, and soft music.

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I really was in shock. He had gone all out. I never expected his proposal to be so extravagant. But he definitely took my breath away and made tears flow quite uncontrollably. I immediately knew what was going on and I couldn’t have been happier. He led me over to the table where he knelt down in front of me and read to me from a journal. He told me he loved me for the very first time and then asked if I would marry him. I had no doubts in my mind what my answer would be and quickly said yes! He pulled out the most beautiful ring I had ever seen and finally put that rock on my hand!

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Prior to our arrival at the cabin, his parents had delivered my favorite Italian meal, chicken parmesan, and had it stored in the cabinets. I would love to say we had a romantic dinner after this point, but I was so excited that I couldn’t even eat. All I did was cry, stare at my ring, and take pictures!

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After we got past the initial shock and celebration, we straightened up the cabin and headed back to Woodstock where he had all of our family and friends at my house for a surprise engagement party. The night just kept getting better and better and it will forever be etched in my memory as one of the best days of my life.

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Saying yes to marry Matthew James Renney was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. Up to that point he had slowly pursued me over the course of two years, writing me letters while I was away at school, praying diligently over our relationship, guarding my heart and protecting my purity. He loved me like Jesus does and I knew that by marrying him we were walking in obedience to what God has called us to in the life: to partner together to be a visual picture of Christ and His love for the church, and the church’s submission to Christ in the most harmonious relationship known to man. We fail often, but I’ve never doubted saying yes to this man. Happy Engagement Day Anniversary sweetheart! I love you dearly.

The Waiting Game

Many of you have been asking if we are closing on our house yet. I mean, we should be right? Didn’t I say about a month ago that we were only two weeks away from living there? Yes, I did. And quite honestly I counted my chickens before they hatched. If I’m being completely honest, I’m having the hardest time being patient in this process. We have not closed on our house yet and we still don’t have a date. We thought for sure we would get a date finalized for THIS WEEK, but we got an email from our lender today telling us it would be a few more days for the paperwork to process before we can even speculate about a date. It’s quite frustrating because the house is finished and we’ve already done our initial walk thru. Everything is ready for us to live there but we’re still just waiting on paperwork.

No one told me buying your FIRST house was such a LONG process! I’m so ready to be in our home and start making it our own. I’m ready to paint, move in, and start living in our new house. But, here I am. Waiting, trying very hard to learn through this process. I know we’ll get there eventually and it will be perfect timing, but I’m just praying I can keep a positive attitude the whole time until then!

Talk about an honest post, right? Thank you to everyone who has been asking, excited for us, and offering to help us move! Lord willing, it will be sooner rather than later, and I can post some updated pictures of the finished product of our home. But for now, we play the waiting game.

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Dedicating Our House

About a month ago we went and dedicated our house to the Lord by writing Scripture on the walls and praying for all that would enter our home. We really want everyone who enters our home to feel the love of the Christ and to be exposed to His hospitality. We felt the best way to remind ourselves of our main objective in owning a home would be to write the Word of God on the beams and foundation of our home so that we will always remember the center of our home is Jesus.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-9

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We wrote these verses on the walls of our master bedroom to remember that we are responsible to die to ourselves daily and to exhibit this kind of love to one another and all those we invite into our home.

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As the leader of our home and the spiritual head of our household, Matt wrote these sweet verses at the entrance of our home. I’m so thankful to have a husband who truly desires for his household to serve the Lord, Jehovah, the living God.
We are currently TWO WEEKS away from closing on our house!! I can barely contain my excitement. Every time we go up to visit our house I literally squeal with delight at all the progress that has been made. At this point, dramatic changes are happening EVERY DAY! It’s so fun watching it all come together. Thanks, everyone for your continued excitement and prayers on our behalf! We can’t wait to host you in our new home!

House Progress!

A few months ago I posted a brief blog about mine and Matt’s future house! The Lord has graciously allowed us the opportunity to be a part of a new construction community, meaning we get to watch our house be built from start to finish. Well…I have been slack in posting the progress so far and I know there are a handful of people out there (mostly my extended family) who would like to be in on those little details. So, this one’s for you, Aunt Linda 🙂

This is the first picture I posted of our property:

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The next time we went up there they had just gotten the underground piping, rods, plumbing, and that sort of thing done. So there is no picture of that because there was not a whole lot to see.

Then Christmas time rolled around and we were SO busy–we didn’t get a chance to go up to the house (it’s about 30 minutes from where we live now) for a few weeks. So when we took my parents to see it for the first time, we drove right past it because we didn’t recognize it with all the progress that had happened since the last time we were there!

IMG_2339Obviously I was unprepared for it being this far along otherwise I would have changed out of my slouch wear. Oh well, still exciting!

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Matt standing on our staircase!

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When my family came up from Tampa we took them to see it too. We were excited to see our second floor coming together!

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I think it was ONE or TWO weeks later that we went back again and I was so excited to say we had a ROOF over our heads! It was so exciting because at this point the house realllllllly starts looking like a house and we can start envisioning ourselves being here very soon!

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My sweet husband letting me snap pictures of him inside our entryway 🙂

IMG_0520That’s right, baby. Lot #215. Under Contract. (!!!)

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This, ladies and gentleman is going to be the heart of the home: The Kitchen. Where we will have all of you over for dinner and coffee for some good quality laughs and memory making! 🙂

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Matt overlooking our backyard. I’m definitely planning on having my brother build a nice little pergola and an outdoor kitchen and entertainment area. Right, Jason?!

IMG_0538One view of our Master Bedroom. My second favorite room in our house. My first? ….

IMG_0550Our MASTER CLOSET! Seriously. If you ever come over and can’t find me, look here first.

We are so excited to share the Lord’s goodness in our lives. We truly would not be in this position if it weren’t for His provision. AND thanks to my gracious parents who have let us take up half their home over the last 9 months so we could save money. THANK YOU, Mom and Dad, for helping our dream of buying a home come true. Our hearts truly want to use this home for God’s glory and to share in His goodness with others. He is SO kind and loving, and we pray that we will be able to extend those same attributes to all who enter our home.

Stay tuned for even more progress updates to come!!

The Beauty of Submission

SUBMIT, WOMAN!

Have you ever heard those words? Either meant seriously or in a joking manner? Probably every woman on the face of the planet has in the very least been acquainted with the idea of submission. In America especially, submission is VERY unpopular word. The concept makes many cringe at the thought. It seems outdated and male chauvinistic. BUT, please bear with me. I promise by the end of this post you’ll have a different perspective with which to think about submission. And you might just like it!

First, we have to ask: When did submission first come into play?

Some believe at creation, others believe it is a consequence of the Fall of Man, and others might believe that it came much later. But I’d challenge you to look at Scripture with me a little bit closer. Let’s collectively zoom into Genesis chapter 1 verse 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Stop. In the beginning, GOD. Now, lets move over to verse 26 of the same chapter: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Do you see that? God said, ‘Let US, OUR.” Meaning none other than the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. It is in THIS relationship that we FIRST see submission. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will when He willing gave up the treasures of heaven to come to earth to die on the cross for our sins. Before he faced the cross, He prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). He didn’t want to face the cross, but Jesus recognized that the outcome of His death would make a way for mankind to be reconciled to God, bringing His Father glory.

Let this be clear: Submission is NOT a result of the Fall. Before the entrance of sin, God put Adam in the garden of Eden to ‘cultivate it and keep it.’ (Gen. 1:15) After this, the Lord said ‘it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’ (1:18). Did you catch that? Role responsibilities before Eve was even created! Before sin ever entered the picture! Man was to cultivate the land and keep it (work, provide, protect) and Eve was to be his helper (help-mate, come along-side to help accomplish his God-given tasks, submit to his leadership).

Okay, that was a long intro, but I promise it was necessary to have a proper understanding of the submission concept!

Ask yourself:

How do YOU view submission? Has this changed over the years or since you got married? Is it harder or easier? For me personally, I believe submission to be necessary, right, and true but even more HARD. Submission is hard! But we practice submission every day in all kinds of various relationships:

  • employer/employee
  • government/citizen
  • parents/children
  • husbands/wives
  • God/creation

Yet which one do we fight the MOST? Husband and wife. We have to remember that husbands and wives are completely EQUAL in value and importance, we just have different role responsibilities. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We are NOT in any way talking about a difference in value. God’s Word is exceptionally clear that men and women are created equally in His image. But just like a manager and an employee of a company are both vital to that company, they have to operate different roles and tasks in order for the company to run as smoothly as possible. Ephesians 5:22-23 reveals to us that God’s ultimate intention for headship and submission in marriage is to reflect the relationship of Christ and the church. “The husband is to mirror the sacrificial love of Christ by laying down his life for his wife, and the wife is to exemplify the church’s joyful submission to Christ by following her husband’s leadership” (138). God designed submission for His glory. When we recognize that, we experience far more blessings than if we are to continuously fight it.

So WHY do we fight submission? What in us makes submission so hard? Well, after the Fall, there were consequences. Right? Right. Genesis 3:16 lays out the woman’s specific consequences for her sin, “…Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Mahaney puts it this way,

“The form and context of the word desire actually has a negative connotation–an urge to manipulate, control, or have mastery over. Because of the curse, we now have a sinful tendency to want our own way and to resist our husband’s authority” (140).

So in reality, the submissive wife, who is portrayed as weak-willed in our culture, is actually a model of inner strength. By God’s grace, she has conquered this opposition within her own heart. “It is actually weakness on display when a wife is not submissive; she is only caving in to her natural inclination to usurp authority and demand her own way. That doesn’t take any effort at all” (140).

I think the reason we buck up against submission is not because we don’t agree with the command, but rather because it is HARD. We would rather be lazy.

We have to get out of our lazy-rutt and act in obedience to God no matter how much we might not initially want to. It is the only way our marriages will perform as God intended them to.

Ask yourself: 

Do I make it difficult for my husband to lead? [Think about your attitude, countenance, sarcasm, leading yourself or trying to lead him, shooting down his ideas, brushing off his requests, etc.]

When I was a teenager, a friend of mine was telling me about how his mom was constantly complaining about how her husband didn’t step up and lead the family enough. His response was, “Well if you want him to step up, you have to step down and let him!” That has resonated with me ever since. Oftentimes as women (and women who have a more outgoing personality or tendency to lead especially) we like to take the reigns and run with them. But then we find ourselves wishing our husbands did more. But in reality, we have to check ourselves and see if we are actually the ones who need to step down in order for our husbands to step up. There’s not room for two in the pilot seat.

Also, we cannot blame our husbands for our lack of submission. Just like we wouldn’t want them to blame us for their lack of leadership. We each have responsibilities and we need to take care of the ones directed towards us. Remember, Titus 2:3-5 says, “…being submission to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” [emphasis mine]. As married women, we are not to submit to ALL men, but rather to our OWN husbands. One man. ONE MAN, ladies! We can do this!

As a disclaimer, I must add: There are no excuses to this mandate (see 1 Peter 3:1-6) but there are exceptions. We should NEVER follow our husband’s leadership into sin. God’s authority trumps theirs, so if your husband ever tries to lead you down a path that would dishonor God and go against His Word, do not submit. Seek counsel and help from a trusted outside source.

The bottom line is this: Do you trust God enough to lead your husband to lead you?

Susan Hunt puts it rather beautifully in her book, The True Woman:

“The true woman is not afraid to place herself in a position of submission. She does not have to grasp; she does not have to control. Her fear dissolves in the light of God’s covenant promise to be her God and to live within her. Submission is simply a demonstration of her confidence in the sovereign power of the Lord God.”

Remember ladies, Jesus is the embodiment of pure submission. Let’s emulate Him in our marriages to our husbands so that we, too, may glorify God in our obedience to the Father. This is true feminine appeal that draws a watching world to the gospel of Christ.

The Rewards of Kindness

Chapter 7 of Feminine Appeal deals with the topic of “kindness.” This seems at first glance like a no brainer. But kindness is actually harder than we like to admit sometimes.

Have you ever been surprised at how unkind you can be? I sure have!  There have been too many times when I have caught myself thinking, saying or doing things that I am not proud of.

Carolyn Mahaney prefaces this topic explaining that in order to tease out the full meaning of the imperative to be kind, we must also address the topic of doing good. For goodness is implicit in the definition of the Greek word for “kind” in this passage. Kindness and goodness can often be used interchangeably, but there are actually some differences between the two traits. Jerry Bridges explains:

kindness: the sincere desire for the happiness of others

goodness: the activity calculated to advance that happiness.

You can’t have the effectual rewards of one without the other. Just having the desire for the happiness of others doesn’t get you anywhere. And just doing things for other people’s happiness isn’t genuine–it’s people pleasing.

Just like talk and no walk, or walk and no talk. Only leads to hypocrites and “good people” with no explanation or display of the gospel.

First, we must ask for help before we try to do act in kindness or goodness. Just like every other topic we have covered. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit living within us. He is the One who produces this fruit in our lives. When we try to accomplish it on our own, we are going to come up short.

There are THREE main hindrances to kindness:

  1. Anger
  2. Bitterness
  3. Judging

1.) Anger

Just like a sponge, when circumstances arise that squeeze us, what is inside is revealed. Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” Anger is when we desire something more than we desire to please God. Expressions of anger reveal sinful desires in our hearts, cravings that are not being satisfied. Is that convicting? Often times we desire peace and quiet, convenience and ease, a clean and orderly house, appreciation and recognition, MORE than we desire to glorify God by being kind.

The solution is to humbly submit our sinful cravings to God. This requires humility, but we have God’s pledge that He will give grace to the humble (James 4:6). He will help us turn from anger and cultivate kindness (121).

2.) Bitterness

Bitterness is based upon somebody else’s sin who is close to us, and who did something to us. It has everything to do with the proximity to us. “As wives and mothers, we must be especially wary of developing bitterness toward our husbands and children–our closest relationships” (122). Ephesians 4:31 instructs us to “get rid of all bitterness.” So HOW do we do that?

The solution is forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” For when we remember how much we have been forgiven, only then will we have the capacity to forgive. By pondering the cross, our perspective can be transformed, because we then realize that all of our offenses against a holy God make us just as guilty as the person who has wronged us. When we can receive forgiveness from God, we must also extend forgiveness just as He did in Christ.

3.) Judging

Judging is looking for other’s faults, and without valid or sufficient reason, forming unfavorable opinions of their qualities, words, actions, or motives.” Also known as looking for the worst in others. Often we make negative assumptions about others only to find out later that we were completely wrong. Mahaney states, “Sinful judging can wreak havoc with the desire for our husbands’ and children’s happiness; therefore, we must be vigilant in our efforts to resist this temptation” (125).

The solution is repentance. We MUST enlist the Holy Spirit’s aid to making loving judgments. When we repent from judging, we will gain fresh passion for our families’ happiness. We must not presume we are judging a situation correctly. We must ASK if we are perceiving the situation accurately with humility and kindness.

Questions to ponder:

  1. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 of your kindness before marriage and now, how would the results fall? More kind? Or less kind?
  2. If family and friends were to use one word to describe your character, do you have any idea what they would say?

Scripture makes it clear what we should be known for:

  • praying (James 5:16-18)
    • No one can pray for our husbands and families better than we can!
  • greeting (Romans 16:16)
    • How do you greet your husband when he comes home? (or when you come home to him?)
    • Are you greeting/being greeted with enthusiasm?
  • listening (Proverbs 20:5)
    • Do you practice listening? I think this skill is increasingly difficult for our generation because we have so many distractions. We must PRACTICE the art of listening! Not just hearing, but understanding.
    • Have sincere interest in what our husbands and children are saying. Don’t interrupt, look away, yawn, or take over the conversation.
  • encouraging (Proverbs 12:25)
    • How do we talk to and about husbands and family members? We should be on the lookout for praiseworthy actions that glorify God–then give specific encouragement.
  • planning (Proverbs 22:3, 21:5)
    • Planning ahead to do good works. This is the “calculated” part of kindness and goodness. This could mean planning to hide ourselves and family from trouble as well as planning to initiate good works.

A lot of these acts of kindness do not lend themselves to immediate return. We must think of them as an investment for greater return later in life. “Marriage will become more precious. Motherhood will grow more dear. The rewards will start coming–with bigger and bigger returns” (133). Regardless of who takes notice in this life, God is watching. He is recording every expression of kindness and every act of goodness. What greater incentive could there be to advance our families’ happiness?

HOMEWORK:

  • In which of these five acts of goodness would you most like to improve on?
  • How do you plan on seeking to change?