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Can Christian Marriage Books Harm Women? A Review of The Great Sex Rescue

Can Christian marriage books actually harm women? (Spoiler alert, the answer is yes.)

 

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS POST 

Sheila Gregoire, who blogs at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has written for years about the topic of sex in marriage, and over the years as she walked with women through their struggles in this area, she noticed that no matter how much healthy content she put out there, people still had the same questions and problems.

 

As she asked more questions of people and dug deeper, she learned that most people who were experiencing significant obstacles to physical intimacy with their spouse held deeply entrenched beliefs about sex that they had obtained from Christian marriage books. Some of the beliefs were good, but some were not. Some were subtly harmful, and some were more overt.

 

 

Here are some of the harmful ideas the women Sheila talked to had gotten from Christian marriage books:

 

-A wife cannot ever say no to her husband when he wants sex.

-Wives need to have frequent sex to prevent their husbands from pornography or affairs.

-Women whose husbands are addicted to pornography or have committed adultery are partially to blame.

-Wives whose bodies are not attractive as they used to be (even from life’s normal changes and not from lack of care) should work harder to be “hot” so their husbands won’t be tempted to lust after women with better looking bodies.

-Women’s pleasure during sex is not important; only the man’s.

-Husbands are entitled to having sex whenever and however they want with no say-so from the wife.

 

The effects that these ideas have on women are devastating.

 

Feeling obligated to have sex or feeling afraid that she is responsible for keeping her husband from sin makes a woman feel resentful, fearful, or used. In many cases those beliefs are the underlying source of sexual pain.

No one should experience physical or emotional pain from sex with their spouse. Sex should not leave a wife feeling resentful or fearful or used or even frustrated. Sex should be about experiencing deeper intimacy and oneness with one’s spouse.

 

THE PROBLEM WITH LOVE & RESPECT

As Sheila continued to ask more questions of the women who were reading her blog, she had her attention drawn to the fact that a best selling marriage book, Love & Respect, was the most frequently mentioned Christian marriage book that had done significant harm to women.

 (Side note: As someone who works with Christian women escaping domestic abuse, I can tell you that if you ask around among these women, you will learn that Love & Respect was their abuser’s playground. An abusive man uses the term “respect” as a weapon to control his wife. Any time she refuses his unreasonable demands he claims that he does not feel respected by her and that is why he acts unloving to her. He holds basic kindness hostage, knowing she will strive to meet every demand in order to feel loved. And when she still does not receive love from her husband, she believes it is her fault because she still failed to make him feel respected. Instead of realizing that this form of coercive control is abuse, she believes from the book that she can help him be more loving to her by doing whatever it is that he says makes him feel respected. She does not realize that there will be no end to his demands. No husband should be making demands, large or small, of his wife, and to do so by manipulating her desire to be a godly wife is ungodly on his part. There is nothing in the Love & Respect book that explains to a woman that this dynamic is abusive. Any offhanded disclaimer that a woman experiencing abuse should seek help is of no value because virtually all abuse victims do not even realize what they are experiencing is abuse. This is especially true if the abuse is perpetuated without physical violence but instead by using a godly wife’s tender heart against her by making her feel that she is to blame because she somehow failed as a wife.) Update: After more questions, I've started working my way through writing an entire series that explains the problems with Love & Respect very thoroughly. You can read the series on Love & Respect here.

So horrific was the abuse being perpetuated in the name of this book that Sheila tried to reach out to Focus on the Family (whose logo appears on the book and who promotes the book heavily) to make them aware of the hundreds of women who had told their stories of having Love & Respect weaponized against them by abusive husbands. She thought they would be horrified that so many women were being abused with this book’s ideas as one of the primary weapons. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to be concerned. In fact, they at first ignored her altogether, and then ultimately stated that Sheila’s efforts to raise awareness about the problem was a “concerted campaign against the book” and that she was at fault for having misread and misjudged the book.

 

But here’s the thing. Perhaps enabling abusive men to use the book to control their wives was not the intention of this book. But that can’t erase the fact that hundreds of abusive men ARE using the book as an excuse to control their wives.

If someone misunderstands your words in a way that hurts them, wouldn’t you want to re-frame what you said in a way that undoes the harm? If having your words misunderstood in a way that harms women is regularly occurring why would you actively promote the words that are harming people? Why wouldn’t you seek to ascertain what is causing the misunderstanding and then re-word what you want to say in a way that cannot be misunderstood and cannot hurt people?  (Here is a link to an open letter Sheila wrote to Focus on the Family about Love & Respect.) 

 

SHHH…JUST LISTEN

If you are in a good marriage with a loving husband, perhaps your mind is having a hard time grasping exactly what I mean by “harm.” I understand. I have been there too. I have seen women who speak about their pain and thought, “Phsst. She just needs to grow up and quit getting her feelings hurt so easily.” Abuse and the emotional pain that women experience at the hands of a controlling, selfish husband is only a vague, nondescript idea in the mind of someone who has never experienced it.

It is only when you sit and listen to their stories – their descriptions of living in a world where they have no human value and are nothing other than an object to be played with – that you can begin to grasp how “not okay” we should be with what is happening to them.

I wish I could invite you to hear the stories I hear. Stories from women in churches just like yours. Stories where everything looks nice on the outside, but at home behind closed doors wives are made to stay up all night scrubbing the grout on the tile with a toothbrush while largely pregnant. Stories where their husbands will not give them money for groceries until they fulfill his repulsive sexual fantasies. They are told they are lazy and stupid when dinner is on the table five minutes later than their husband said it had to be. And then they clean it all up after he throws it on the floor. They listen to his words as he screams that he wouldn't have done that if she hadn't been so lazy. When they go to their pastor's wife, they timidly try to tell her that things are not going so well at home, but they don't realize they should tell her they're being abused. After all, they've read Love & Respect at the ladies Bible study, and want to be a godly wife, so they think that their husband won't do that anymore if he feels more respected. They will just work harder to get dinner on the table faster next time. Meanwhile, the pastor's wife, believing there are only some hiccups or communication gaps, gives her a different book to read which reinforces more of the wrong concepts she believes. “Maybe if I give him more sex he won't feel so grouchy.”

I cannot invite you to listen to these women's stories because they are theirs to share when and how they want. However, I can share the collection of public comments that Sheila compiled from her blog posts about Love & Respect. Comments where women told of how Love & Respect affected them. I invite you to browse the document and just listen to some of the snapshots of these women's lives. Don't listen to object, (“but that's not at all what I got out of that part of the book!”); don't listen to dismiss (“she used a curse word in her comment; her story is invalid!”); just listen. Listen to love your neighbor and to feel what she has felt. Your analysis can come later after you have taken the time to just listen. Please be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19.)

You'll see stories like this:

“I can attest firsthand that following this theology with my abusive husband almost left me dead by his
hand. When we first dated/married, I would stand up to him when he was in one of his rages, and when
our marriage was fractured I turned to biblical advise to learn how to “fix” what was obviously my issue
if he was constantly so unhappy. When I lost my fight, so to speak, he turned even more dangerous, trying to provoke me into a fight. I left the day he genuinely tried to choke me to death, and I refused to stand up to him. I now know I did everything I could to save our marriage, but following this bad advice to be even more submissive almost cost me my life.”

Here is a link to the complete data compilation of comments Sheila received about Love & Respect.

 

Although the question as to whether or not Christian marriage books can be harmful has already been answered, perhaps the bigger question is, “Should we be okay with things as they are when our Christian marriage resources are being weaponized against women? If we liked a book and found it helpful should we dismiss the voices of those who were hurt by that same book?”

 

THE INSPIRATION AND IMPETUS FOR THE GREAT SEX RESCUE

The disheartening realization that a bestselling Christian marriage book was actively harming women while still being intentionally promoted by a large Christian organization caused Sheila to wonder what other Christian marriage books might be contributing to the same problem.

She decided it was time for her to dig deeper into the beliefs that were hindering couples from experiencing true intimacy and re-frame those beliefs in a healthier way. 

 

The first step was to collect data on exactly what ideas Christian women were taking away when they read these books. Together with her daughter and her friend Joanna, an epidemiologist trained in statistics, she launched “The Bare Marriage Project,” which is the largest, most scientifically sound research project into Christian women’s experience that has been done to date. This project surveyed over 20,000 women asking about their sex lives, their marriages, their beliefs about sex after marriage, their upbringing, and more. The data collected from this survey gave Sheila and her colleagues the insight they needed to identify what wrong ideas women were believing about sex in marriage.

 

The next step was to create a rubric and use it to evaluate books on marriage and sex based on twelve teachings about female sexuality. Books could score between 0 and 48 points, with 0 being the most harmful and 48 being the most helpful when it came to what a book taught about sex in marriage. The scoring rubric evaluated what each book taught about: lust and infidelity (e.g. whether a wife holds any responsibility for her husband’s sexual sin,) women’s sexual pleasure (e.g. does it emphasize that sex is meant to be mutually pleasurable or is a man’s need for release all that is mentioned,) and mutuality (e.g. does it emphasize the husband's responsibility to work toward intimacy or are all the expectations placed upon the wife.) (Unfortunately, Love & Respect scored a zero.)

 

The final step was to write a book detailing what wrong ideas about sex in marriage women were believing, which books had the most likelihood of perpetuating those beliefs, and then rescuing and re-framing those beliefs in a healthier way. The goal was not to have the last word, but to open up the conversation and encourage husbands, wives, and church leaders to entertain different perspectives beyond those that circulate in the best selling Christian books.

 

The result of this effort is called The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended.

The Great Sex Rescue Christian Marriage book

 

It is obvious that this project is of grave importance to Sheila because she cares so much about people, and she is not okay with Christian marriage books helping some people if they are also going to harm others. I fully stand behind her in that. 

 

ADDITIONAL HARMFUL EFFECTS OF POPULAR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE BOOKS

I mentioned the problem of husbands using the premise of Love & Respect to control their wives, but I'd like to share some additional kinds of harm that have been done by popular Christian marriage books. I will let the data speak for itself, in the form of quotes from The Great Sex Rescue:

 

-“Women who get married believing they need to have sex with their husbands to help prevent their porn use are 19% more likely to experience significant sexual pain unrelated to childbirth.”

 

-“What often makes this even worse for Christian women is that we feel like God condones our pain because we’re told the Bible says we can’t say no.”

 

-“To our amazement, and our great dismay, far too many Christian books include incidents of marital rape or other forms of sexual assault and then dismiss these incidents as unimportant.”

-“We are left with the strange situation in which the people who most strongly relate to the examples given in Christian marriage books are often the ones acting the least like Christ.”


-“We suspect that the teaching that sex is something men are owed by their wives is being used as a weapon by abusive husbands.” (As a domestic abuse advocate, I don’t just suspect this, I know it! It’s pretty much standard practice for abusers to use this concept as a weapon.)

 

-“When asked how they felt after sex, used was the word 16% of women in our follow-up survey chose.”

 

-“When the books, magazines, blogs, radio programs, and conferences in your Christian circle are all telling you that every time you say no to sex, you are being selfish due to the depth of his need, you may start feeling guilty about having any needs at all.”

 

-“Our concern is that many Christian books, in their efforts to free couples of sexual sin, reinforce pornography’s view of sex by encouraging men to use their wives’ bodies without consideration for their hearts.”

 

-“Of the thirteen Christian bestsellers we analyzed on our rubric, only three books asked all the following of husbands:

  • stay faithful (without offering caveats)
  • make sex pleasurable for her
  • do not insist or expect sex of any kind when your wife is physically or emotionally unwell
  • seek consent from your wife”

 

“However, these same books that couldn’t ask the bare minimum of men asked, on average, over five of the following of women (and five books asked all of them):

  • Have intercourse as frequently as the husband would like.
  • Have intercourse even if he is watching porn or has a lust problem.
  • Understand that without intercourse, her husband is more likely to have an affair, and if he does, it will be partly her fault.
  • Help him reach climax in some way even when she is on her period, recovering from postpartum and not sleeping, or during any other problem she may face, since her problems are not reasons to refuse sex.
  • Prevent weight gain to stay attractive.
  • Let her husband feel that he is a good lover (without necessarily any caveat that he should actually be a good lover.)
  • Initiate intercourse and be enthusiastic.”

 

“Instead of saying ‘no man should be satisfied unless his wife is also regularly satisfied,' too many books have said, ‘men feel more satisfied if their wives are satisfied, so wives — make sure you’re satisfied,' without any charge to him to care for her needs.”

 

Below are some additional comments I have seen made by other women that were unrelated to The Great Sex Rescue which confirm the far-reaching negative effects of these wrong ideas:

 

-“I actually followed this [advice to have sex regularly to keep him from affairs] to a T  in my first (very Christian) marriage. Not only did he take advantage of this but he cheated on me. Multiple times.”

 

-“Women were taught to prioritize meeting that “need” no matter what they were feeling emotionally or what else was going on in their marriage.”

 

-“What an overwhelming message to Christian women and wives: you are disposable and valuable only for what physical pleasure you bring to your husband. No wonder so many women are unhappy in their marriages and struggling to be a good spouse and still trust God.”

 

WHO SHOULD READ THE GREAT SEX RESCUE?

-Anyone who finds sex within marriage to be a source of guilt or shame

-Anyone who has found themselves in physical or emotional pain after sex.

-Anyone who fears that having sex too infrequently will drive their husband to pornography or adultery.

-Anyone who enjoys intimacy with their spouse, but also hates the days they feel obligated.

 

 

WHAT IF YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND HAVE A GREAT MARRIAGE AND SEX LIFE?

I am truly happy for you and thankful you are in a marriage where both spouses seek to love God and each other well. However, even if you are not personally experiencing any struggles with sexual intimacy in your marriage,  I still strongly recommend reading The Great Sex Rescue

First of all, it will empower you to recognize teachings that have the potential to harm others. When you have a husband who loves you as Christ loved the church, you will read marriage books through that lens and you will speak to other Christian women from that perspective. But women whose husbands are not loving them well will read the exact same books and see them in a way that places all the responsibility for their husband’s sin on them.
Knowing what harmful ideas other women are getting and which books they are getting them from will give you the ability to steer your friends and those you mentor away from anything that has the potential to damage them or damage their marriage. There is no need to recommend books that have the risk of causing harm when there are healthier alternatives available.

 

Second, when you start to examine unhealthy beliefs about marriage and sex, you may realize that some of what you believe yourself has also been harmful in subtle ways. I’m not saying that I hope you dredge up some imaginary marriage problem that you never knew you had, but it’s possible you may find yourself untangling ideas that are not quite right. I’ve discovered over the years that the more I read perspectives that are outside of my own, the more I grow as a person.

 

And that is really the heart that I see behind this book – to help you think about marriage and sex from a bigger perspective. You don’t need to agree with every single word written in the book – in fact, you probably won’t – but you should listen and learn and grow. You can do a world of good for others when you listen to their experiences. You can protect other women when you realize what angle they might be seeing a certain aspect of marriage from and why the explanation of it from popular books is not what they need to hear.

 

Together, we can work towards stopping the harm that Christian marriage books have done to women, and we can encourage them with better messages that can help them untangle the lies they have believed about God's wonderful gift of intimacy with their spouse.

 

You can pick up your copy of The Great Sex Rescue here.

Valentine’s Day Bible Verses (with printable)

I've noticed a lot of people land on my blog by searching for Valentine's Day Bible verses. I have a cute little set of Bible verse valentines for kids, but I thought it would be nice to add a set of Valentine's Day Bible verses for adults too!

 

I wanted all these verses to focus on the love of God toward us. These would be great to use for giving to grocery store clerks, etc. along with perhaps a piece of candy. I think a reminder of God's love along with a thoughtful gesture would brighten anyone's day.

Some other ideas for using these Valentine's Day Bible verse cards:

  • Write a note to a friend on the back
  • Display in your home to remind yourself of God's love
  • Keep in your Bible

I'm sure you can come up with even more creative ideas for using these, and I hope they will be a blessing to you.

 

Valentine's Day Bible verses

 

The verses included are:

  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

 

  • For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

 

  • But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

 

  • We love him, because he first loved us. (I John 4:19)

 

  • Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us… (I John 3:1)

 

  • As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you…(John 15:9)

 

  • Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. (Psalm 63:3)

 

  • For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…that ye…may be able to know the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:14-19

 

 

These printable Valentine's Day Bible Verse cards are inside my resource library. My email subscribers have access to everything inside the resource library for free.

 

If you'd like to join, simply enter your email address below, and you'll receive a link to the resource library where you can download these, along with anything else you might like.

 

You're all set! Check you inbox for the link to the resource library where you can download your printables.

 

What Does the Bible Say About Injustice?

What does the Bible say about injustice? This is the question I was asking myself today as I found myself angry and discouraged once again about the evil that permeates our world.

Every day I become aware of more abuses of power and more blatant lies that are being told – lies which benefit the powerful at the expense of human beings who have no value to the powerful other than to be used as their pawns.

When I see this I feel so helpless. I want to scream out to anyone who will listen and warn them of the lies they're being told. I do not want them to be harmed by evil people who pretend they are there to help them.

As I pondered today, “What can I do? What should I do?”, I asked God to bring to mind scripture that would guide me.

 

The two scripture passages that he brought to my mind when it comes to what the Bible says about injustice were Psalm chapter 2 and Ephesians chapter 6.

Psalm 2 speaks about powerful people who reject God's authority. If they continue on this path, their end is destruction. And yet, God in his mercy continues to be long suffering. Just as in the days of Noah – the people had 120 years to repent until finally God's judgment fell – even now wicked people feel that they can continue to reject God without consequence, but it is only because of his long suffering  and kindness that judgment has not already occurred. (2 Peter 3:3-8) The conclusion in Psalm 2 is a warning for the powerful wicked people to submit to God's authority because otherwise they are headed toward destruction, but those who put their trust in God will be blessed.

 

Ephesians 6:10-20 speaks about the need to put on the armor of God because our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the devil and supernatural forces of evil. The conclusion is that God's children need not be discouraged and afraid, but instead should be strong in the Lord, should continue in prayer, and should preach the gospel.

 

The thread that ties all of this together in my mind is the gospel – the good news that God loves the world, that he is merciful, and that he continues to be patient in giving his enemies a chance to repent.

 

While it seems that evil is having the upper hand, it is merely because God loves ALL, and his patience is far beyond our human understanding.  When we compare ourselves to people who do terrible things, it is easy to feel we deserve God's goodness more than they do. But the truth is that compared to a holy God, even people who might score far higher on the goodness scale than others can still never meet God's standard of perfection. It is when we realize that we did not deserve God's forgiveness ourselves that we can accept God's patience with and desire to forgive even those who are so wicked.

 

So what do we do while we wait?

 

We tell others the good news that there is salvation in the name of Jesus. We proclaim the truth that God loves the world and that he is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

 

I wish I could fix all the injustice in the world. I wish I could silence lies, stop oppressors, and right all the wrongs. And while I firmly believe in speaking truth boldly and standing up for what is right, the most important aspect of truth that I must shout far and wide, to every creature, is the truth of the gospel. After all, the gospel is the only thing that will bring peace, that will teach people to love one another, and will end oppression and abuse of power.

How do I know this? Consider the following:

When Mary learned that she would be the mother of the Savior, she said, “…his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” (Luke 1:50-53)

The Christmas song O Holy Night alludes to this idea in its third verse:

 

Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.

And the words from its chorus, “Fall on your knees” and “Christ is the Lord” remind us that one day every knee will bow and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2:10-11)

 

It is so tempting to want to fight injustice in the world with my own strength. I wish I could singlehandedly take out all the bad guys and rescue all their victims. But the truth is that I can't do that. Only Jesus can change hearts – both those of moral people and those who participate in very wicked practices. And God loves each person so much that regardless of how wicked their deeds, he patiently waits for them to repent of their pride and to be reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.

One day every knee will bow before Him. One day the wicked will be judged and the oppressed will be vindicated. Until then, let us tell the good news to everyone that Jesus saves.

 

The Bible verses I referenced in this article are not in any way an exhaustive exploration of the topic of what the Bible says about injustice. These are just a small sampling  because the entire theme of the Bible is the gospel, which overcomes all oppression (remember the song? “In his name all oppression shall cease.”) I hope that when you find yourself discouraged about the injustice and evil in our world that you will look up these scriptures and study them further.

How I Stopped Feeling Overwhelmed by Housework

I was recently musing over the past 10 years or so, and it is amazing to me how much of it I spent completely overwhelmed by housework and all the other responsibilities in my life.

 


My journals tell the story of my overwhelm

As I looked through some of my old journals, I saw so much of this type of thing:

“I've gotten so far behind on the housework with the baby teething. I walked around in circles all day because I was so behind and it made me feel overwhelmed.”

“I get overwhelmed by housework very easily when I see how much needs to be done.”

“I feel like I'm always running in circles and not actually accomplishing anything.”


Emails from my blog readers tell the same story


Every day, I receive emails that contain some variation of what I wrote above.

Everyone is overwhelmed!

And oh, how I understand! I understand so well!

But year by year, baby step by baby step, I've learned and grown and changed.

 

I do not spend my days overwhelmed by housework anymore

Bit by bit I have made progress until I no longer feel like the word “overwhelmed” is a central figure in my life.

Yes, I have my moments. But I actually wake up excited in the mornings, and I go to bed at night feeling satisfied with my day instead of feeling like a total failure.

Don't get me wrong. I'm in no way saying I'm now superwoman. There isn't usually a massive list of accomplishments I can point to at the end of the day. Life still has a way of throwing curveballs just like it always has.

What I am saying is this – I'm at peace and no longer overwhelmed by housework all the time. (Again, not that I don't have my moments.)


So…what is different? How did I stop feeling so overwhelmed all the time?

Life's circumstances change, but God our helper is always the same

I'm not going to lie. My circumstances are easier in some ways than they have been in years past.  I have much more energy than I've had in years past. Children who are older are (somewhat) more helpful around the house.

But if you're thinking that the only way you can stop being overwhelmed is for your circumstances to change, you're going to be overwhelmed for a long time, my friend. There will always be difficult things in our lives. Instead of looking for better circumstances, look to the Lord. Without him, we can do nothing. Sometimes it takes hard things to help us remember to depend fully on Him.

Knowing my priorities means I am okay with not “getting it all done”

I've learned how to set priorities and keep my focus there. I don't get all the things done, but I am clear on what is most important, and I can go to bed satisfied with my day even when other things are left undone.

My goal setting planner enables me to set big goals and turn them into a daily, bite sized to do list. As a result, I know exactly what I need to do each day, and I also know what things won't be a big deal if I don't get to them.

I work with, and not against my personality

I've learned that trying to force myself to fit into a mold that's not my personality only makes me rebel against it and makes things worse. So instead I maximize my time in a way that works for my personality. For example, I might know that having dinner on the table promptly each evening would help with getting everyone to bed earlier, which would in turn give me an earlier morning and more time to reach my goals. However, cooking is not my favorite thing to do, which means I can tend to procrastinate. I keep a list of quick and easy meals that are still nutritious, and I make them very frequently with no guilt. Just because some moms cook a certain way, that doesn't mean I'm a bad mom if I do. I just do what works for me. Trying to force myself to make more complicated things or have a certain number of side dishes might allow me to pat myself on the back for feeding my family the “right” way, but in the long run it would contribute to feeling more overwhelmed.



There are obviously many more details that go into my journey of becoming less overwhelmed, but since I can't fit 10 years of my life into one post, I do hope these main takeaways will help you like they have helped me. 

I can't promise to help you become less overwhelmed overnight, because learning to depend on the Lord and learning how to better manage our time is a lifelong journey. We should never stop learning and growing, but I hope that this article will be an encouraging step along the way.

For more information on the goal setting planner that I use, visit this page right here. It truly makes so much of a difference in my life!

 

 

Keep reading:

 

 

 

How to Keep Your Cup Full, Even When You Don’t Have Any ‘Me Time’

With all the pouring OUT that we do, we homemakers can feel empty and burnt out pretty easily.

It's important to keep our own cup full. (Read: 13 Free Ways to Take Care of You)

And while we all can benefit from a cup of coffee drunk in silence, a few minutes of exercise, or a few hours out with a friend, there are some much more important things with which we ought to be filling our cups.

It is certainly true that you cannot pour from an empty cup. However, what is it exactly that your cup has in it?

My point here is in no way to discourage doing things that bring you joy and energize you. However, no matter your circumstances — no matter how difficult it may be for you to spend dedicated time reading a book, sleeping in, or taking a long hot shower — it is still possible to keep your cup full.

 

Consider the following:

 

1. When you live in God's presence, your cup is filled with joy.

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

2. Your life can be full of the fruit of the spirit.

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

 

3. Your life can be filled with the fruit of righteousness.

Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The fruit of righteousness is a result of knowing your identity in Christ — to cease from striving to follow the law and to rest completely in the righteousness of Christ.

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

I Corinthians 1:30-31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

You cannot produce the fruit of righteousness by your own effort. Only when you abide in the vine, Jesus Christ, can his life flow out of you. Any branch that is connected to a righteous vine will by its very nature produce righteousness.

 John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

 

4. You can be filled with the knowledge of God's will.

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Do you know how to understand what God's will is?  By renewing your mind with the word of God.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

(Are life's demands so difficult that you're unable to dedicate the time you'd like to reading the word of God? Read How to Find Time For God When You Can Hardly Find Time to Breathe.)

 

5. Fill your mind with good things.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

As you go through your day, you can fill your mind with scripture on audio, you can listen to Christ-centered music, you can take time to notice the blue sky, the fluffy clouds, and the song of the birds.

No doubt as you continue searching the scripture you will think of more things with which you can fill your cup.

It certainly provides a lift to your spirit when you can take time for an activity you enjoy. But no matter how often there is opportunity for you to do that, I pray you will still keep your cup full — full of the spirit, full of the joy of the Lord, full of the fruit of righteousness.

May you keep your cup full of the love of God, and may it spill over onto every one you meet!

 

Bible Verses for a New Year

As I compiled these Bible verses for a new year, I started to see a storyline emerge. It's a storyline that reaches into the past, gives us strength for today, and a bright hope for the future.

Can you look back and see the record of God's faithfulness? He was faithful to Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel. He has been faithful in my own life. Every morning the sun rises and every evening the sun sets because God is faithful. As we look forward to an unknown future, why should we doubt that he will continue to be faithful?

Looking to the past strengthens us and gives us confidence. Looking to the future gives us hope that one day all things will be made new. The promise of our salvation will be fulfilled completely as we leave behind this sin-cursed world.

And in light of both the past and the future, we find numerous instructions from the Bible that tell us how we ought to live in the present moment.

With the past, the present, and the future all in mind, here are some Bible verses for you to focus on as you head into a new year.

 

 


1. Trust in the unchanging faithfulness of God

Lamentations 3:22-23 It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

 

2. Find your strength in the Lord

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.


3. Allow the Lord to direct your steps.
 

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.


4. Remember that life is short and we must use each day wisely.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

James 4:13-14 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Ephesians 5:15-16 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.


5. Spend time encouraging other believers in their Christian walk.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

 

6. Turn your anxieties into prayer.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.


7. Seek the kingdom of God above all else.

Matthew 6:30-33 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.


8. Live within your identity as a new creature in Christ.

II Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.


9. Preach the gospel with your words and your testimony.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Psalm 96:1-3 O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

Psalm 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

 

10. Watch for Christ's soon return

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

 

11. Be strong in the Lord and keep your spiritual armor on

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

12. Look to the promise that God will one day make all things new.

Revelation 21:1-5 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

 

I'm excited to live today for God's glory because he has been faithful in the past, and he has a bright future planned for those who have placed their faith in Jesus!