When Inadequate Is Adequate

She didn’t have much.

Actually, compared to what we have, she had nothing.

But her little was enough.

Imagine the bleak scene: a starving widow in a desperate famine, preparing her last meal-a tiny bit of flour and oil- so she could feed her child and die.

[I’ve seen pictures of the famine going on in the Horn of Africa today. It’s not hard to recreate the horror of the situation.]

A stranger, a man of God, showed up and asked her for bread. She told him her situation. I can almost see the defeat and sorrow etched into the deep lines of worry on her face. Elijah tells her to step out in faith.

She did as he asked. She prepared the bread and gave it to the stranger.

She gave all she had, even thought it wasn’t much to look at. The flour and oil never ran out. He turned her little into a lot.

Her inadequate offering became adequate.

(click to continue reading at (in)courage)

From Blah to Awe {Book Set Giveaway}

UPDATE:  The winner of the book set is Lauren (comment #7).

I have one dream for my kids.

I don’t care if they are successful. I’m not hoping they will be rich or famous or even moderately liked in this world.

My dream is for them to have a deep abiding relationship with Jesus.

That’s it.

Because everything good and bad in their lives will end of being okay if that’s their foundation.

My hubby and I read a lot of books with our kids. We are currently reading It’s Not About Me :Teen Edition during our family devotion time. (My hubby and I always read aloud and filter for our kids if we don’t think it’s appropriate).

We loved reading You Were Made to Make a Difference by Max Lucado as well as a family. I highly recommend it.

When I was asked to review Jenna Lucado (Max’s daughter) Bishop’s new book for teen girls, I was interested in focusing in on some special one-on-one time with my girl.

It’s called From Blah to Awe: Shaking Up a Boring Faith. Nearly every night, when the younger kids are in bed, my oldest daughter and I (she’s 12), snuggle up and read a chapter. It’s been so good to talk about our faith or lack of.

We are still making our way through this book, but I love Jenna’s passion for teen girls and her call to them to love God radically, hungering and thirsting for more of Him.

My daughter is a regular girl and I’m seeing faith thru her eyes as we journal and talk about these things. It’s been good and I look forward to more.

If you’d like to win THE SET of You Were Made to Make a Difference, It’s Not About Me and the brand new book, From Blah to Awe, leave a comment.

This giveaway ends Thursday.

Read together as a family. You’ll be glad you did.

The Hamsters are Dead and Other Fun Stuff

Little Debbie died. Hostess is still hanging on.  What? You don’t name your fish after snack cakes?

My oldest came down the stairs with her limp fish, visibly upset about her beloved pet. We hugged her and said our “I’m sorry’s” and quickly changed the remaining fish’s water just to omit any further owner-error. My daughter bounced back quickly. Because in her words, “It’s a fish.”

But later that same night we heard a shriek and this same daughter discovered her hamster had gone to Heaven. Tears. This was obviously a bigger deal and I sent my bewildered husband into the garage to seek out a hamster-sized casket. A definite first for this family.

We said a few words and buried the business card box in the yard.

I tried to soothe my oldest and said “What would make you feel better?” <——–thinking a snack cake and praying to God she didn’t say another hamster. She said, “there’s only one thing I can think of that would take away my pain…………Can I have a cell phone?”

I patted her on the back and said No. (After I laughed hysterically). Yep, that girl will be fine.

The next morning before school my son came downstairs, lip trembling.

Yep, same story, last hamster.

My son was relieved because in his words, “Rodents are a lot of work. Now my room will smell good again.” Which is debatable considering his athletic shoes.

I’m not sure what caused all the pet deaths, but I might have caught my dog and cat googling the Pet Apocalypse.

This sort of narrows down the list of people wanting us to pet sit for them.

We’re choosing to laugh around here.

Make Your Wrist Happy {Giveaway}

UPDATE: Congratulations, Jen (comment 91), you have been selected as the giveaway winner!

(Disclosure) I’m not sure if that last one is still in the store. I might have bought it. Ahem.

Few stores pull me in like the Adopt Shoppe. I think it’s because I know I’m shopping really cute stuff for an amazing cause! Kate and her precious family are trying to bring their child home from Taiwan and your purchase helps!

So, shop for your naked wrists, shop for a great cause.

Today, one lucky reader will win $50 to this inspiring store. Tell me what you love in the comments to be entered.

Happy weekend!

Get to Know Your Spouse: Questions to Ask

He rushed in from work, worn from a long 12 hour day. Kids met him at the door, one asking for help with math homework, the other for basketball pointers. Our youngest held onto his leg with a death grip. We quickly kissed and I worked to get dinner on the table, knowing we’d have to shorten our family devotion, so we could make it to community group on time.

Our eyes locked with a long glance over the math book , one that said, “I want to connect with you.”

We both knew we had Mercy House reports to finish once the kids were in bed.

It’s a typical day at our house.

There’s a lot of talking in our house, just not so much with each other or privately.

I think that’s why we both push everything aside to make date nights possible. But let’s face it, connecting once a month isn’t enough. We make a habit of taking time (sometimes it’s over the phone or under the covers in the middle of the night) to ask each other questions.

I’ve been married to this guy for 17 years. We renewed our wedding vows six years ago during this difficult season and exchanged these rings. His has a special inscription on it. I’ve always known it was important to him. The other day he took off his ring while working out and called me frantically because he couldn’t find it.

I asked him, “What would you do if you couldn’t find it?” He said that’s not an option. And then he said, “it’s the most important physical possession I own. It represents so much to me.”

I had no idea.

But discovering this small bit of information made me feel closer to him. I tucked it in my heart and I’ve thought about it more than once.

Marriage takes work and communication. If you don’t ask, they won’t tell you what’s happening in their heart.

P. S. I searched the house while he was at work and found the ring in his pocket. Sheer joy returning it to him.

I’m wrapping up this little marriage series–for now. Thanks for sharing your hearts and being committed to love your spouse better. 

_______________________________________________________

15 days of marriage in review:

I Respect Him, He Loves Me

{Dear Mr. Welch}: On Writing Love Letters

100 Ways to Make Your Marriage Rock (pinned over 20,000 times on Pinterest and brought a dose of controversy)

Old Married People

Fun Ways to Say I Love You

{Dear Mrs. Welch} What I Love About You

The Key to a Good Marriage {Free Printable} 

A Marriage Redeemed [Our Story]

Getting Along: Marriage

200+ Date Nights

WFMW: 200+ Date Night Ideas

We have at least one date night a month. But I’m pretty sure we have just about talked our dear friends into a second dating co-op, so two date nights a month (without paying a babysitter) is looking good.

What is a date night co-op you ask jealously? It’s just babysitting swapping with friends. You take a turn. They take a turn. It cuts down on costs and my big kids who don’t feel like they need a babysitter, but don’t really stay by themselves yet, can play or help our friends with younger kids.

There’s really no excuse not to have a regular date night with your spouse! No money? Can’t find a babysitter? Get creative with the following ideas:

What date night ideas work for you? (p.s. alternating picture linky with text each week)



Getting Along: Marriage {Giveaway}

UPDATE:  Congratulations, Lauren Plummer (comment 73), you have been selected as the winner!

I love my husband. Always.

But every once in awhile, there are *moments* when I don’t like him.

Yikes. Can I be that honest?

I’ve always said the line between crazy wild love and a crazy wild anger are close.

Here’s the deal: you are probably a robot if you get along with everyone living in your home 100% of the time. It’s just not possible to agree on everything, every day of the year.

But it’s how you get along that’s key.

I’ll give you a for instance: my youngest was playing with my phone a few months ago and accidentally (or either she’s got a wicked sense of humor and she’s just way more techy than me) changed my husband’s ringtone to the “Alien” ring, which sounds a lot like, um, aliens are invading.

The next time I was searching for my phone in my own house (a weekly occurrence) I asked my hubby to call it. When he heard his Alien ringtone, he was slightly offended. I quickly explained and we laughed about it, but I didn’t change my ringtone. What can I say? I’m a simple girl and it had a ring to it (drumbeat).

He casually asked me to change it. I told him no, and I might have said, “Baby, your out of this world.”

(I’m on a roll).

So, a couple of days later, he changed my ringtone to a song he thought was romantic. And I guess it was a little, except HE CHANGED MY RINGTONE. This irritated me. Why? Who knows. But I changed it back.

And we continued this ridiculous back and forth for awhile.

The point? I have no idea.

Oh yes, the point is we could have made this a huge battle. I believe when marriages end for “irreconciable differences” it’s often probably about ringtones. After 17 years of marriage, we are still learning to pick our battles and  not make everything a war.

The bottom line: we are in this for the long haul and getting along takes two. It really all goes back to forgiveness for the little stuff and the big. And usually when I’m irritated or angry at my husband, it’s an issue with me.  If I step back from the situation and look at the big picture, I know my husband loves me deeply and the little battles shouldn’t become wars.

P.S. His ringtone is now a motorcycle revving up. He will be so proud.

One little way I’ve tried to get along with my hubby in the every day stuff is by thanking him for the small things he does. I married a great guy and I tend to take him for granted. So, when he fills up my van with gas or brings me a sweet tea, I’m trying to show him my gratitude more.

I saw this on Pinterest and created my own variety. It’s next to our bed. It’s fun to wake up and see a little note to each other occasionally.

You can make one too!

You just need :

  • pretty frame
  • a piece of scrapbook paper
  •  a dry erase pen (write on top of the glass and it just wipes right off!)
  • velcro (optional) I attached velcro to my pen and to the back of the frame to keep up with the marker.

I created one for a lucky reader today. Just leave a tip for how you get along and I’ll draw a random comment and send you a romantic framed message board and pen.

A Marriage Redeemed [Our Story]

Magical. It’s really the only word that described the week our family had just spent at Walt Disney World. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips — the kind you dream, plan, and save for — and it had been a fairy tale.

We were on the long drive home to Texas, the kids asleep in the back of our van, still wearing their mouse ears. I was tired, too, but on a high that comes from making dreams come true. I didn’t know my “perfect world” was about to end.

My husband, Terrell, and I had been married for 10 years. We were good friends in Bible college, and our friendship was one of the best parts of our marriage. After many years of full-time ministry, we had recently settled into the new roles of salesman and homemaker. Life wasn’t perfect with two preschool-aged kids, but we were happy … happy and hiding a dark secret.

Terrell and I were talking on the drive home.  I don’t remember what led to his confession. It just happened. I remember thinking, This can’t be real. I must have misunderstood him. He’s telling me about a friend; this isn’t my best friend’s secret.

But it was: My hubby had just told me he was addicted to pornography. Just like that, the fairy tale ended.

I’ll never forget what I did next: I unbuckled my seatbelt and climbed into the back of our van where my children were sleeping. I crouched between their two car seats, pulled my knees up to my chin, and cried. I stayed back there for a long time, until I could finally make eye contact with the stranger in the rearview mirror.

This was the beginning of a dark and painful journey that would change my entire life. Perhaps it was my naivety about men and how they are created, or my ignorance about the vast world of lust and pornography, but Terrell’s confession hit me hard. Although I never once contemplated divorce, I did suggest living as roommates at opposite ends of the house.

We embarked on a long, gut-wrenching healing process. My search was for forgiveness. Terrell’s was for freedom. We went to a marriage counselor who deals with this specific issue. He dealt more with me than with my husband, by the way; the counselor was so proud of my husband for resisting and fighting against the deviant, sinful world for so many years and offered him simple tools to resist temptation. But I was scared. I didn’t know how to trust Terrell again. I was emotionally fragile and spent a lot of time blaming myself.  I wondered what I could have done differently.

Terrell and I dove deeply into recovery. It became our full-time job. We existed to overcome. I threw away every magazine and catalog in the house and installed securities on our computers and phones. We read books and online articles. We prayed, cried, begged, yelled, and tried to find each other again.

There were setbacks along the way for both of us. I was paranoid Terrell would be tempted. Terrell was tempted and paranoid to tell me. But we waged war against the enemy that tried to destroy us. Ultimately, we knew with God on our side, we would win.

In the midst of such devastation, something unbelievable began to happen just days after Terrell’s confession: With the secret exposed to the Light and focused attention on our relationship, we began to experience an intimacy that was previously unknown in our marriage. God birthed something new through our pain and began turning our ashes into beauty.

My husband learned to kill lust by starving his eyes. He refused to even glance at an image that was tempting, and in doing so, I became his only target — just the way God intends. My family (mostly unaware of our struggle at the time) mentioned on more than one occasion that we’d better be careful or we might end up with a third child.

We did — about a year after our Disney vacation. Her name is Grace because that’s what God gave us. We renewed our marriage vows and exchanged rings with a secret inscription that still fills my eyes with tears.

Forgiveness is a choice and one I made. It was instant, and it was gradual. It was easy, and it was hard. It was something I had to choose more than once. I’ve learned that forgiveness is a way of life. Trusting again is the challenge. And since husbands tend to be human, I knew Terrell would let me down at some point. The greatest lesson I learned is to put my trust in God, who has never disappointed me.

Six years later, I don’t think I fully grasp what it cost my husband to risk it all on that drive home. But he was tired of fighting, he wanted total freedom, and he was willing to lose everything — the wife he loves desperately and the kids he cherishes — to have it.

His Story:

I was 10 or 11 years old when the deep, sharp hooks first stuck in my soul. My innocence was gone, and a 25-year fight began: the battle between desiring God and satisfying the flesh. Like most young men, I was unequipped for a war like this. No one ever talked about lust and pornography, except to condemn it as sin.

I lived a vicious cycle of repentance and sin in isolation. I thought marriage would be the cure. It helped, but then Kristin and I purchased our first computer.

On that drive home from our dream vacation, I couldn’t take any more of my private nightmare. A week earlier, I had finished the book Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (WaterBrook Press) and I wanted freedom. With every word I spoke,  I knew that I might lose my marriage and my kids. I was scared, but I had more to lose living a lie. True repentance is a 180-degree turning from sin toward God.

I wasn’t prepared for the damage or the pain my secret would cause our marriage, but God was ready. He graciously stood by us. My beautiful, innocent wife became Jesus with skin on and offered forgiveness. I dove into God’s Word. With each day, counseling session, accountability meeting, and late-night talk, our marriage began to heal. Sin cannot live in the light.

Six years later, I can declare that God is faithful. If you struggle with pornography and lust, let me encourage you: Don’t believe Satan’s lies. Lust is not a “problem.” It’s sin. God’s Word declares, “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Freedom is available.

Reprinted from HomeLife, January 2012, 34. © 2012 LifeWay Christian Resources. Used by permission. Be sure to check out future articles from Kristen Welch in the February 2012, April 2012, and June 2012 issues.www.lifeway.com/homelife.

The Vintage Pearl has gift certificates for the perfect last minute Valentine’s Day gift. Just in case you’ve waited until the last minute. You know who you are.