Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Frugal Friday: Gathr ~ A Company that Gives You Products!

girl with shopping bag

 

A friend recently introduced me to Gathr. When I first read what she “bought” for $20/month, I thought it sounded too good to be true. After looking into it and asking a bunch of questions, though, it sounds like a great deal.

Here’s a summary of what it is and how it works. Gathr offers bundle packages, pre-packaged or custom made, that you buy for a set amount a month. These packages include great products like:

  •          $10 Amazon Gift card/month
  •          $10 Living Social credit/month
  •          $10 Target Gift card/month
  •          $10 Toys ‘R’ Us gift card/month
  •          Ad-free Pandora subscription
  •          Shop-Runner subscription (free 2-day shipping at certain retailers)
  •          Identity theft, malware protection
  •          Magazine subscriptions (National Geographic and more)
  •          And so much more!

I wanted to package my own for $20/month, so I was given 3 choices + a monthly bonus + cash back at priceline.com. I chose the $10 Amazon gift card (monthly bonus), $10 Target gift card, $25 Restaurant.com e-gift card, and online subscription to Consumer Reports ($6.95 value).  So, for $20/month that I pay, I get $51.95 worth of products/gift cards!

Now, would I regularly subscribe to Consumer Reports or even buy monthly restaurant.com certificates? No. . . but that is a “bonus” beyond  the $20 that I would spend at Target and Amazon.

The best part is that there is no expiration on the gift card codes. So, every month that I renew my subscription with Gathr, I just email or text myself my codes. For example, yesterday I opened my account, went to “My Stuff,” and redeemed my Amazon code. This simply put $10 credit, to be used any time, in my Amazon account. I also texted myself my Target code, and it was available on my phone to be scanned at Target (which I used yesterday, in fact, to get some AMAZING deals on diapers!).

Gathr promises no commitment and allows you to cancel at anytime. So far, I’m loving it! 🙂

If you’d like to give it a try, you can sign up here. This is my own referral link, which will give both you and me an additional (one-time) $10 Amazon gift card as a thank you if you join using my link!

Don’t you love it when companies give you products/money?! 😉

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}

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Thursday Thoughts: Hoping When Hope Seems Gone

ImageLast time, I talked about a woman’s hope in God that leads her to submit. Peter gave the example of Sarah as a woman who hoped in God. I wrote this lesson about Sarah, which was so encouraging. John MacArthur’s chapter on Sarah in his book Twelve Extraordinary Women was very helpful.

Of all the women in the Bible to be used as an example of a hope-driven submitter and a gentle/quiet spirit, I’m not sure Sarah would have been my first choice. But as we learn about her life, we can see how she had great faith in the God of all hope.

Abram & Sarai’s background in Ur: Genesis 11:28-32

Before Sarah’s name was changed, she was Sarai, which means “my princess.” She and her husband Abram (before he was Abraham) were half-siblings, sharing the same father (Terah). Abram was 10 years older than Sarai. They grew up in Ur of the Chaldeans, a powerful and wealthy pagan city; it was a theocracy based upon worship of the Babylonian moon god.

The only description we have of Sarai’s first 65 years is that she “was barren; she had no child” (11:30). This was obviously the greatest point of tension for Sarai personally and within their marriage.

God’s promise (1st mention) to Abram & Move from Haran: Genesis 12:1-8

Abram (age 75) received a call from God to leave his family and country and go to a land He would show him. God promised to make of him a great nation. Abram obeyed God in faith (cf. Heb 11:8).

Sarai (age 65) obeys her husband in following him, living the life of a nomad (after having lived in a wealthy, urban area), and moving somewhere but not knowing where (12:5).

God’s promise to make of Abram a great nation (12:2) and to give his offspring land (12:7) must have placed a great burden on Sarai.

Sarah obviously had a key role to play in this plan. Abraham could never become the patriarch of a great nation if she did not first become mother to his offspring. She was surely aware of the Lord’s promises to Abraham. She certainly would have longed to see those promise fulfilled. As long as she remained childless, however, the sense that everything somehow hinged on her must have pressed on her like a great burden on her shoulders (MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women, 32).

Abram & Sarai’s Deception in Egypt: Genesis 12:9-20

Abram led his family to Abram, due to a famine in Canaan. Sarai was such a beautiful woman (even at age 65!) that he selfishly, cowardly, and faithlessly told Sarai ahead of time to claim that she was only his sister. Sarai obeyed her husband and followed this plan.

Sure enough, Pharaoh’s princes noticed her beauty, pointed her out to Pharaoh, and brought her into his house. Pharaoh gave Abram much livestock, likely planning to marry Sarai. However, plagues in his household resulted in Pharaoh’s finding out that Sarai was Abram’s wife. Sarai was then returned to Abram, untouched and unpunished.

God’s Promise to Abram Reiterated (2nd mention): Genesis 13:14-18

God expands His promise to Abraham, showing how much land would be his offspring and how extensive his offspring would be.

God Reiterates His promise when Abram questions (3rd mention): Genesis 15:1-21

Abram voices his concern about being childless to God. He is afraid that his heir will not be his own flesh and blood, but rather a servant in his household (Eliezer).God reassured Abram that his very own son will be his heir (15:4); God then reiterated His promise, making a one-sided, unconditional covenant with Abram.

Sarai tells Abram to take Hagar to bear a son: Genesis 16:1-16

Likely aware of God’s promise to Abram that he would have a son, Sarai is acutely aware that she had borne him no children. She is now 75 years old. Rather than waiting on God, she comes up with her own solution.

But as she considered her circumstances, Sarah concluded that a kind of surrogate parenting was the only possible solution to her predicament. If God’s promise to Abraham were ever going to be fulfilled, Abraham had to father children by some means. Sarah thus took it upon herself to try to engineer a fulfillment of the divine promise to Abraham. She unwittingly stepped into the role of God (MacArthur, 38).

At Sarai’s urging, Abram took his wife’s maidservant, Hagar, as his concubine. Hagar conceived and began to treat Sarai with disrespect and contempt. Sarai, provoked by Hagar’s disrespect, became angry and blamed Abram. Abram simply told Sarai to deal with Hagar as she wished. Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar, and Hagar fled. The Lord, however, told Hagar to return to her mistress and submit to her.

Hagar bore a son, Ishmael, to Abram when he was 86.

God promises Abraham & Sarah a son (4th mention): Genesis 17:1-21

God here changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s to Sarah.

God once more reiterates His promises to Abram, but this time he specifically includes Sarah. He states,

I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her (Gen 17:16).

Abraham asked that God not overlook Ishmael, yet God immediatedly emphasized that Abraham’s heir would be Sarah’s son.

God promises Abraham & Sarah a son in Sarah’s hearing (5th mention): Genesis 18:1-15

God again comes to reiterate His promise, but He specifically does so in Sarah’s hearing.

Sarah was obedient to Abraham’s commands to help prepare an elaborate meal on short notice for these unexpected guests.

Sarah laughed when she heard that she, at 90, and Abraham, at 100, would have a son. The Lord asked why she laughed, asking if anything was too hard for the Lord. Sarah denied laughing.

Abraham & Sarah’s deception of Abimelech, King of Gerar: Genesis 20:1-18

Having not learned from their experience in Egypt, Abraham and Sarah deceive another king, claiming that Sarah was only Abraham’s sister. Once again, Sarah is not violated in any way as God protects them. It is interesting to note that Sarah is specifically mentioned not to have been violated. She is soon to become pregnant, and it is made clear that Abimelech is not the father.

Sarah has a son and tells Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael: Genesis 21:1-14

Just as the Lord had promised, Sarah had a son. Sarah saw humor in God’s dealings with her. Just as she and Abraham had laughed when they heard God’s promise, she realized that others will also laugh at the thought of such an old woman nursing a child. She named her son Isaac, which means “laughter.”

One person’s “laughter,” however, did not amuse Sarah. She saw Ishmael mocking Isaac and demanded that Abraham cast Hagar and Ishmael out. While Abraham did not want to cast out Ishmael, because he likely loved his firstborn son, God told Abraham not to be displeased but rather to follow Sarah’s request. God emphasized that it was through Isaac that God’s promises would be fulfilled.

Sarah’s death & burial: Genesis 23:1-2

Sarah died at age 127, when Isaac was 37 years old. She is the only woman in Scripture whose age and place of burial are mentioned.

NT references to Sarah

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore” (Heb 11:11-12, emphasis added).

Sarah’s faith had. . . been well tested. She. . . demonstrated her absolute trust in God’s promises. And the stamp of God’s approval on her is contained in those New Testament passages that recognize her for her steadfast faithfulness” (MacArthur, 50).

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:5-6, emphasis added)

Lessons to take home

Despite her many failures, Sarah was praised as a holy woman with a gentle and quiet spirit who obeyed her husband

We also can follow in her example and have faith that God will always remain faithful to His promises, for nothing is too hard for the Lord.

**The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: Kids are People Too

ImageMy husband and I were recently talking about the fact that we want to be careful to treat our kids as people, fellow humans who deserve respect. For example, we are teaching our son Calvin not to interrupt. Yet sometimes, we interrupt him without thinking, because “he’s just a kid” (or rambling or whatever). We are trying to remember that if he is talking, we need to give him the attention that we would want if we were talking.

Another example is the giving of treats. We could eat all of the ice cream or the special dessert that the kids picked out after they’ve had their first share. They would never know. Yet, we try to remember that they are (little) people who also enjoy these special treats just as much as–if not more than–we do.

With all these thoughts in my head, I was happy to read the blog post, “our children, our neighbors” by Jen Wilkin at the beginning of wisdom. I’ve enjoyed reading her posts. She posts only occasionally, but when she does, it’s really good!

She mentions that there seem to be few verses in Scripture that directly talk about parenting. But then she reminds us of a powerful truth: “children are people.” She goes on to say:

Because if children are people, then they are also our neighbors. This means that every scriptural imperative that speaks to loving our neighbor as we love ourselves suddenly comes to bear on how we parent. Every command to love preferentially at great cost, with great effort, and with godly wisdom becomes not just a command to love the people in my workplace or the people in my church or the people at my hair salon or the people on my street or the people in the homeless shelter. It becomes a command to love the people under my own roof, no matter how small. If children are people, then our own children are our very closest neighbors. No other neighbor lives closer or needs our self-sacrificing love more.

She goes on to give a (non-exhaustive) list of verses to help us in our parenting when we forget to love our children as our neighbors. I especially loved the last one; pretty sure I need to put in on my fridge too:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Here’s one of her closing paragraphs:

It is true that our children are God-given responsibilities we are to steward. But we will only steward them as we should by remembering that, first and foremost, our children are people we are to treasure. When we treasure our children as our neighbors, we remove from our discipline any hint of condemnation, shame or contempt. We alter our language to communicate love and value, even when we must speak words of correction. And we replace our prayers of “please fix my frustrating child” with prayers of “please help me to love the little neighbor You have placed in my home, even as You have loved me.”

I think I’m going to print out this whole article, actually, and put it on my fridge. I think I might also do a Bible study for myself in the future on loving my neighbor, so I can apply it better to my closest neighbors–my husband and the other little people in my home, my kids.

**Please, Please, PLEASE–especially if you are a parent–read the whole article. It will greatly benefit and encourage your soul!**

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

 

 

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Monday Meditations: A Prayer for “Homes Built Firm upon the Saviour”

ImageYesterday, Dave preached on how the local church (and family members) are to care for their own church’s (godly) widows. 1Timothy 5 makes it clear that doing so is pleasing to God and exemplifies godliness. To neglect to do so shows that one has “denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (v 8).

We ended our service with a hymn of response to God, a prayer for “homes built firm upon the Saviour.” I was very moved by the text and the prayer echoes my own. Here is the text, authored by Barbara Hunt (sung to the melody Finlandia/ “Be Still My Soul”):

O give us homes built firm upon the Saviour,

Where Christ is Head, and Counsellor and Guide;

Where ev’ry child is taught His love and favor

And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:

How sweet to know that tho’ his footsteps waver

His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

 

O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers,

Who always place their hope and trust in Him;

Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers,

Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim;

A home where each finds joy in serving others,

And love still shines, tho’ days be dark and grim.

 

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,

The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;

Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster,

And praise is natural speech to ev’ry tongue;

Where mountains move before a faith that’s vaster,

And Christ sufficient is for old and young.

 

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!

We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;

Their bonds of love no enemy can sever

If Thou art always Lord and Master there:

Be Thou the center of our least endeavor:

Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.

 

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

 

 

 

 

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Tasty Tuesday: Taco Salad Supreme

taco saladThis salad was SOOO good. And this comes from someone who wishes I was but is not a salad person. I like salads when they are loaded with delicious stuff like meats, cheese, fatty dressing, real bacon bits, every topping imaginable, etc. But a salad with some tomatoes and a bit of low fat dressing is just not my thing (unlike my husband who will eat handfuls of raw spinach all by itself!).

Now, this salad is pretty loaded, but it is loaded with deliciousness and healthy stuff. I highly recommend it. The recipe is from a cookbook I have called Healthy Heart One-Dish Meals. I will copy the recipe here exactly, adding any changes I made or recommend in brackets.

I know the ingredient list looks long, but it’s actually pretty basic. If you are looking to cut out extra fat, you could probably cut out or reduce the cheese and sour cream, believe-it-or-not, because the salad is so flavorful and moist. I recommend not leaving out the cilantro; it gives a great boost in flavor!

Ingredients

3 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Vegetable cooking spray

½ pound freshly ground raw turkey {I actually used ground beef, b/c I had ½ pound already  thawed, but it would be just as good with ground turkey or even chicken strips)

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed {I’m not a corn-in-my-food person, but I found this a good addition}

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper {I liked this, but between this and all the chili pepper, my husband thought it was too spicy. I will probably cut this out in the future}

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained {mine were not no-salt}

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice {I used lemon juice}

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon vegetable oil {I used olive oil}

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper {I used black pepper}

8 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce leaves

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese {I used regular}

1 cup seeded, diced tomato {I didn’t seed mine}

¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives {I used more}

½ cup nonfat sour cream {I used light}

{I also added sliced avocado on top}

Directions

  • Coat tortillas on both sides with cooking spray; cut into ¼-inch wide strips. Place in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet; bake at 400* for 15 minutes. {I found 15 minutes way too long; mine were done after about 7}.
  • Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Add turkey and next 3 ingredients; cook over medium heat until turkey is done, stirring until it crumbles. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and beans; cook until thoroughly heated. Set aside.
  • Combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients; cover and shake vigorously.
  • Combine lettuce and vinaigrette {I combined mine in my salad spinner; this allowed the vinaigrette to coat the lettuce but drain off a bit, which I thought was perfect}. Place 2 cups lettuce mixture on each plate. Spoon turkey mixture over lettuce. Top with cheese and remaining 4 ingredients; serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 4 servings.

There you have it, folks! A delicious, easy, healthy, satisfying dinner. I was actually full the rest of the evening, which I thought was pretty impressive for a salad-as-the-main-course meal! 🙂 If you’re looking to go meatless, you could probably even substitute the meat for another can of black beans or pinto beans. I might try this some time too.

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Frugal Friday: Homemade Yogurt/Greek Yogurt {Made in Your Crockpot!}

yogurtWhen I first heard from a co-worker that you could make homemade yogurt, I was flabbergasted. I assumed it would require a lot of hard work and a bunch of ingredients. I was wrong.

It is so easy, and it is unbelievably cheaper than buying it–especially for the Greek yogurt. And it’s healthy. Can’t beat that! 🙂 I can’t remember where I found this exact recipe, but every recipe I’ve seen is a similar variation of this one.

Now, you do need yogurt “starter.” Basically, this is just some yogurt–bought or homemade–that has live, active cultures. I always use plain, full-fat yogurt for this, whether it’s store-bought or some of my leftover homemade yogurt. For every 4 cups of milk, use 2 tbsp of starter. Here’s the instructions:

Turn the crockpot on low. You can probably use any size, but my small one is perfect.

  • Remove your starter from the fridge.
  • Pour the amount of milk you’ve decided to use into a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 185 degrees (use a candy thermometer). You’ll get the best results with whole milk, but I have combined whole and skim with no problem.
  • Once the milk reaches 185 degrees, remove the saucepan from the burner, cover, and  place pan in a sink ½-full of cold water.
  • Let milk cool, stirring occasionally until the milk lowers to between 90-110 degrees.
  • Measure yogurt starter into a bowl and pour 1 cup of the warm milk over it and stir together.
  • Pour the remaining milk into the crockpot, then stir in the starter/milk combination.
  • Put the lid on the crockpot, TURN IT OFF, and unplug. Wrap a heavy towel around the crockpot and let it sit for 6-10 hours.

For regular yogurt. . .

  • After the yogurt has set for 6-10 hours, place it in the fridge overnight without stirring. In the morning, you will have yogurt!

For Greek yogurt. . .

  • After the yogurt has set for 6-10 hours, place a cheesecloth over a strainer. Place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth-covered strainer.
  • Let the yogurt drain until the yogurt has reached your desired consistency.
  • Once finished draining, place the yogurt in the fridge.
  • The liquid that drains from the yogurt is called whey. This is a high-protein part of milk. We use ours in our fruit smoothies. There are many other uses for whey that I’ve heard of but never tried.

I try to save a few tablespoons of my homemade yogurt for my next batch. If you’ve done this a few times, you may notice that the yogurt starts to not thicken as much. If this happens, try buying some fresh yogurt for your next starter.

Although this is somewhat of an all-day recipe, the active time is very minimal. I love to eat this with fresh berries and homemade granola! 🙂

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}

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Thursday Thoughts: Hope-Driven, Gentle, Quiet, & Submissive Women

ImageFairy tales tell variations of the same love story over and over again. Handsome boy meets beautiful girl. Boy and girl instantly fall in love. The couple is soon married and lives happily ever after. With just about every fairy tale, chic-flick, and love story promising a handsome, kind prince and a happily-ever-after ending, young women tend to look for a mate and enter marriage with fairy-tale expectations.

The reality of marriage can sometimes jar these expectations. H. L. Mencken, an American journalist in the first half of the 20th century said, “Strike an average between what a woman thinks of her husband a month before she marries him and what she thinks of him a year afterward, and you will have the truth about him.”

The reality of having to submit to this husband who perhaps is not quite the prince you imagined him to be is even more jarring. Regardless of their husbands’ walk with God (or lack thereof), godly wives graciously submit to their husbands with a gentle and quiet spirit because they hope in God.

The Conduct of a Godly Wife

1 Peter 2:13-3:7 discusses Christian submission. Peter begins by commanding Christians to submit to civil authority.  He then specifically addresses slaves, then wives.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2)

The command to submit (v 1)

Peter addresses wives, particularly wives of unsaved husbands. He commands them to submit to their husbands—whether or not they are saved. Submission is a choice on the part of the wife, not a demand on the part of the husband. The responsibility is the wife’s.

The culture of Peter’s day would have been amazed to see a wife who did not adopt her husband’s religion. Plutarch, a Greek historian who lived around A.D. 46-127 described this cultural thought: “A wife should not acquire her own friends, but should make her husband’s friends her own. The gods are the first and most significant friends. For this reason, it is proper for a wife to recognize only those gods whom her husband worships” (Advice to Bride and Groom 19, Moralia 140D, italics added).

The unsaved husband (v 1)

The unsaved husbands are described as those who “do not obey the word.” The phrase do not obey emphasizes the rebellion of the husband who refuses to submit to the Word of God.

The method of winning (vv 1-2)

Rather than submitting to whatever her husband’s desires may be regarding her devotion to God, the wife is to attempt to win her husband to God. In all other areas in which a husband is not asking a wife to sin, she is to submit to her husband.

One of the reasons Peter tells these wives to submit to their husbands is that the husbands might be won without a word. The point is that a wife can only give the word (the Gospel) so many times to her husband before it turns into nagging and badgering. Once the Gospel has been given, she is to win him over, not with her words, but through her conduct. The wife’s conduct should be pure, in fear of God.

Wives do not submit in order to satisfy a husband’s vanity or to promote his reputation. Neither do they submit to show how godly they are, nor to avoid conflict, nor to impress the neighbors, nor to manipulate their husbands, and not even because she thinks he is wise. She submits because of her relationship with and trust in God (Schreiner, New American Commentary, p. 152, italics added).

Augustine, a Christian convert during the 4th and 5th centuries (though heavily influenced by Catholicism), wrote the following about his mother, Monica:

[When she] was bestowed upon a husband, she served her husband as her lord. She used all her effort to win him to You, preaching You to him by her character, by which You made her beautiful to her husband, respected and loved by him and admirable in his sight. . . . Towards the very end of his life she won her husband to You (Confessions 9.19-22).

A godly wife will fear the Lord supremely. Thus, if her husband ever asks her to sin in any way, she is not be obligated to obey (see Acts 5:29). However, even this must be done graciously.

The Character of a Godly Wife

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

A warning against focusing on the external appearance (v 3)

At first glance, Peter seemingly warns that women should not braid their hair, put on gold jewelry. . . or wear clothing! Peter’s teachings regarding women’s appearance were actually an echo of the Greco-Roman writers of the day. Their point was not that women should refrain from making themselves attractive, but that they should not spend undue time and money in order to make themselves showy and/or seductive.       

A focus on developing an internal beauty (v 4)

Rather than focus on their outward appearance, women should focus on developing their relationship with God, their “hidden person of the heart” (v 4).  While clothing, hairstyles, makeup, jewelry, and physical beauty all fade, Peter states that the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit will never fade.The phrase “very precious” is the same word that Paul uses in 1 Timothy 2:9 for “costly attire.” What is precious, costly attire in God’s eyes is a gentle and quiet spirit.

Not only is such a gentle and quiet spirit very precious in God’s sight, but it is attractive in the eyes of a husband. It can be attractive enough, in fact, to perhaps cause an unsaved husband to be won over to the Gospel.

I spent a bit of time with our ladies talking about what it means to have a “gentle and quiet spirit.” I think we often think of a “mousy” individual who doesn’t talk much when we think of gentle and quiet. I looked up many of the verses in the New Testament that use words like gentle and quiet to try to get the full picture. One of the verses that I highlighted was Matthew 11:29, in which Jesus says,

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from mefor I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (emphasis added).

Jesus is the example of gentleness we are to follow. This was the God-man who could handle a bruised reed without it breaking and who could hold a smoldering flame without it being extinguised (cf., Matthew 12:20). As we exemplify Jesus’ gentleness, we find “rest” or quietness for our souls.

As I studied the word quiet, I found that it often refers to “a tranquil disposition free from the inner turmoil that causes disturbances in the community” (ISBE). As we become more like Christ and his gentle nature, we will find our hearts at rest in him. We will develop a “gentle and quiet spirit.”

In such a culture as ours—as well as Peter’s, one can imagine—examples of women with the conduct and character of a godly wife may seem rare. If such seems the case, one needs only to turn back to the Old Testament for examples.

The Children of a Godly Wife

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:5-6)

OT examples in general (v 5)

Peter states that “this [with a gentle and quiet spirit] is how the holy women. . . used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands” (v 5). We could cite many examples here: Hannah (1 Sam 1), Abigail (1 Sam 25), and many more.

These women did not submit to their husbands because they thought their husbands were smarter or superior. They submitted to their husbands because they were “holy women who hoped in God.” They trusted God, his promises, and his commands, and they submitted to their husbands.

Sarah, an example of submission (v 6)

Peter then specifically cites Sarah, the wife of Abraham. The women of old submitted to their husbands, “as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (v 6, italics added).

Verse four made it clear that submission requires the correct attitudes. However, we must note that submission includes obedience.  “Nothing less than obedience is required. In other words, submission does not merely involve being considerate or adapting to one’s husband” (Schreiner, NAC, 156).

Sarah is set up as an example because she obeyed Abraham and called him lord. In Genesis 18, the Lord appears to Abraham, promising him and Sarah a son in their old age. Sarah was in her tent but overheard the promise. She laughed to herself because the thought of she and Abraham having a child in their old age was ridiculous. She then thought or said to herself, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” (v 12, italics added).

This passage is the only place in the Old Testament where we see Sarah call Abraham “lord.” This was the passage to which Peter was referring. It is interesting to note that her only-recorded reference to Abraham as lord was not to his face. Rather,  it was how she thought of him. In an every-day situation, she showed her respect for her husband’s leadership by referring to him as lord. This showed that her habitual, regular way of treating him was with obedience and respect!

We wives are considered Sarah’s “children” if we also continue to do right and not fear. Wives who hope in God will obey God and submit to their husbands with obedience and gentleness, not fearing the results.

  • An unbelieving husband may cause fear to rise. Lack of “obedience” to his sinful commands may have negative consequences. One may also fear that a husband will never be saved.
  • Perhaps even obeying a godly husband may bring fear to one’s heart. Remember some of Abraham’s decisions? Twice, Sarah was taken into a king’s harem, because Abraham was afraid to admit they were married (Gen 12; 20). She was probably also terrified when Abraham, obeying God, went to sacrifice her only son Isaac (Gen 22).

Whether a godly woman has a believing or an unbelieving husband, her hope in God will cause her to overcome that fear and obey with a gentle and quiet spirit. Even for a wife who doesn’t necessarily “fear” her husband, her hope in God will motivate her to obey God and submit to her husband even when her husband does not perfectly fulfill his role as a leader and godly husband.

Conclusion

It is the responsibility of every believing wife to submit to her husband. Though particularly challenging for the wife of an unbeliever, the command still holds true. In fact, her submission, as well as her gentle and quiet spirit, may actually lead her husband to accept the Gospel.

All women should model themselves after the examples of godly women in the OT. We can especially look to Sarah (more on her next week!), who exemplified a hope in God, causing her to submit to and obey her husband without fear.

All women, whether married or not, young or old, should look to Christ as our example of gentleness and develop that character in our own lives and thus have quiet spirits.

**The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: When Life Feels Mundane

ImageI remember when I used to work as a nurse in the hospital, and I’d wake up early on the morning of the first of two or three 12-hour shifts, and I’d think, “Yay! {please note sarcasm} I get to wake up and work hard for 12+ hours, then come home and go to bed and then do it again, and again. . .”

Now that I stay home with my kiddos full-time, it’s a little bit different, but the hard work and repetition of changing diapers, disciplining children, planning for/shopping for/cooking meals, cleaning up the kitchen, laundry, etc can still feel mundane at times.

This week, I read Paul Tripp’s article, “Groundhog Day,” and I found it very encouraging and full of hope. I encourage you  to read the whole (short) article here. But here’s a couple tidbits to whet your appetite.

He said that part of our problem is that we focus on the mundanity of life; rather, he says, we should “zoom out.” In doing so, we can learn 2 important things:

First,

There’s more to life than this moment you’re living in. Paul says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). If your faith didn’t have a future, and if your story didn’t end with eternity, it would be a colossal waste of time. . . . But by zooming out, you know that your life has a direction. Your sanctification has purpose.

Second,

Zooming out and focusing on eternity will also remind you that there’s more to come. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Revelation 7: “He who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat…and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17).

What an encouragement! May God help us to remember, especially on those mundane-feeling days, that believers’ lives are not a waste and that the best is yet to come!

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

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Tasty Tuesday: Light and Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

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My mother-in-law made this dish for us years ago, and I really enjoyed it. She gave me the recipe, but I kind of forgot about it until recently. My husband and kids really enjoy this dish, and it’s hearty enough to be the only side dish with a meal (we had it with fish last night). I did double the recipe this last time, baking it in a 9×13 pan for about 10-15 minutes longer.

 

Ingredients

1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped broccoli {I used about 2-1/2 cups of chopped fresh broccoli that I steamed in the microwave for 5 minutes }

1 cup sour cream {last night I doubled mine but forgot that I had just under a cup of sour cream left; I used homemade yogurt to get the full amount, and it worked great!}

1 cup creamed cottage cheese {I used low-fat small curd}

½ cup Bisquick baking mix {I used homemade baking mix}

¼ cup margarine or butter, melted

2 eggs

1 tomato, peeled and sliced thin

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350. Grease 8x8x2 dish. Spread broccoli in dish.
  • Beat sour cream, cottage cheese, Bisquick, margarine, and eggs with beater 1 minute. Pour over broccoli.
  • Arrange tomato slices on top.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake until golden brown and when a knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes. {I find it always takes a little longer}

I usually put some salt and pepper on my serving, but it’s good without it too. Enjoy! 🙂

{In a couple future posts, I’ll post on making homemade yogurt (easy!) as well as homemade Bisquick–both money savers!}

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious!}

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Monday Meditations: They WILL Listen!

ImageIf you are anything like me, evangelism is a daunting task at times. I often get nervous talking to people, I hate knocking on doors, and I even have a phone-phobia. It’s nerve-racking to go to people and tell them that the way they think and live is wrong, even if you’re giving them life-changing, life-giving truth!

I have become increasingly convicted about my lack of evangelistic efforts as of late. Now that I don’t work outside of the home anymore, I have almost no outside contacts in my community. In fact, other than church, I typically go out once a week to go grocery shopping; that’s it! I’ve even thought about trying to go to the same cashiers at my stores in order to try to develop a bit of a relationship, but the cashiers are either trained to move customers through super quickly or they speak to their baggers the whole time in another language!

It’s really easy for me to come up with excuses as to why I don’t evangelize:

  • I have no outside contacts, and I’ve tried to (kind of)
  • I gave to our church’s evangelism fund, so that counts, right?
  • I participated in our church’s evangelistic effort
  • I invited someone to church.
  • I evangelize my kids every day (true and necessary, but not a good excuse)
  • My main ministry is discipling and teaching the Christians in our church

See?? I’ve got a good list of excuses!

So, I was talking to a friend and decided I needed to do SOMETHING! She told me about our library in town, which has reading hours for the kids once a week.  She said she’s gone a couple times and has noticed that the same moms come each week and that they talk to each other. AHA! Here is an opportunity to meet women in my community (with whom I even have some similarities–little kiddos!), build relationships with them, and give them the Gospel.

As I was thinking about this, I still felt nervous. You may think I’m silly for being nervous, but I suppose that’s just me. Anyway, I was praying that the Lord would give me boldness. Once I get talking, I usually am fine. But I need the boldness to initiate conversations.

All of this to say, my husband’s sermon yesterday kept bringing tears to my eyes. He didn’t know any of my thoughts about this, yet he preached a message in which God began to answer my prayer for boldness!

Dave’s message sought to answer 2 questions from Acts: When did the early church meet? and  How did the early church evangelize people? In answering the second question, he brought us to Acts 28. Paul was under house arrest for giving the Gospel, and some Jewish leaders came to ask questions and here what he had to say. Some were convinced, but others did not believe, and Paul reminded them what the prophet Isaiah said of the Jews who would hear but not listen to the truth. Paul concludes his speech to them with this gloriously encouraging, emboldening verse:

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen (Acts 28:28).

When we give the Gospel to people, they will listen!! Does that not encourage your heart? I know that encouraged my weak heart. Every time Dave said “They will listen,” I teared up. What does Paul do after that? He proclaimed Christ “with all boldness” (v 31).

Of course, we don’t know who all will listen. Clearly not everyone listens. But some will listen! And this is why Christ is patiently delaying his coming. People are still listening! God is still saving people. And I can have the privilege of being a part of that. As I am faithful to proclaim the Gospel, they will listen!

Would you pray with me that God would give me (and you) boldness? Pray that God would allow me to build a relationship with even just one woman I meet at the library this spring and summer. Pray that I would give the Gospel, that she would listen, and that the Gospel would save her!

***Quick update: I just found a great resource for iPhone users! My favorite Gospel tract is “Two Ways to Live” by Matthias Media. They have a FREE app for the tract. You can read about it here. I just downloaded it and am super-excited!

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

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