Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Preparing for Our Fall Garden

And just like that it's August 31st and the end of summer. How did that happen so quickly? Halloween will be here before we know it, followed by Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Whew!

The State of our Garden & Plans for the Fall

Our summer garden is pretty much over, save for a few lone jalapeno plants, a tomatillo bush, a slew of basil, and a lot of really pretty zinnias. {Note to self: Plant zinnias again next year; we had flowers all summer long, and they're still blooming!} This week we have been pulling up old plants, removing stakes, mowing down extensive weeds, and cleaning out the garden. I hope my dear sweet husband will get out the tiller this weekend to get the garden ready for planting next week. :)

For the past two or three years, we have planted kale, spinach, and buttercrunch lettuce in our garden. Last year we attempted sugar snap peas but never got around to putting up a trellis for them to climb. Let's just say, no trellis = no peas. There were plants galore but no peas to speak of! I have decided to be low-maintenance this year and forgo the peas although they would be super delicious. Instead, we'll stick with the tried and true greens that even I can't kill and some broccoli.

Fall Veggies & Their Health Benefits
Broccoli is my new favorite vegetable: Not only is it high in fiber and vitamins A, C, D & K but broccoli is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties as well as a cholesterol reducer and has been known to suppress tumors and detoxify the body. Wow! All that in a crown of broccoli! So I thought I'd try my hand at growing some broccoli this fall.

Kale, leaf lettuce, and spinach are rich in Vitamins A and C, high in potassium, calcium, and iron and are also a good source of fiber. These dark leafy greens contain cancer-inhibiting carotenoids--think carrots--that act like antioxidants and remove free radicals from the body before they can wreak any havoc.

Tips for Your Fall Garden


Source: USA Gardener
  • Frost-tolerant
  • Each plant will continue producing over time so you don't need many plants. Consider staggering your planting every 3-4 weeks so all your broccoli doesn't mature at once.
  • Requires full sun but cool and moist soil (add a layer of mulch, straw, or grass clippings to keep soil cool)
  • Seeds will germinate at ground temperatures as low as 40°F
  • Does best with organic compost added to the soil
  • Matures in 65-70 days

Source: USA Gardener

  • Hardy & frost-tolerant: Frost actually sweetens the taste of kale
  • Plant in late summer for a harvest from fall until springtime. {Honestly, you can't kill it unless you dig it up!}
  • Germinates easily in cool or warm soil with even moisture
  • Benefits from compost or manure
  • Matures in 55-60 days
Leaf Lettuce

Source: USA Gardener
  • Needs humus-rich, well-drained soil with plenty of nitrogen
  • Can be planted in late summer by first moistening the ground and covering it with straw
  • Requires plenty of moisture and may need to be watered frequently during dry bouts
  • Successive plantings ensure lettuce throughout the season.
  • Be sure to harvest lettuce regularly to prevent bitterness.
  • Will continue to grow until the first hard frost
  • Matures in 45-55 days
  • Requires six weeks of cool weather from planting to harvest
  • Needs well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil. Spinach is very sensitive to acidic soil, so apply lime to the area growing spinach.
  • Soil temperature should be no warmer than 70°F for germination to occur.
  • Drought and warm temperatures will cause premature bolting.
  • Cut spinach as soon as leaves are big enough to eat. If spinach is looking old and tired, cut the entire plant back to 1” tall to stimulate young, tasty growth.
  • Matures in 40-50 days
My plan for the coming weeks is to finish preparing the garden for planting: tilling up the hardened ground; adding compost or humus to the soil; and planting kale, lettuce, and spinach seeds and broccoli transplants. I will keep you posted each week to our progress.

Are you planning a fall garden? What do you intend to grow?

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Monday, August 29, 2011

10 Ways to Let Your Light Shine for Others

Our lives are busy. We run from school to pick up the kids, rush home to change clothes and eat a quick snack, and then head right back out to soccer practice or ballet. We're in a hurry, and our fast-paced lives often leave little room for time to serve others. Offering our precious time, energy, and money to people outside our family requires planning and concerted effort. Yet as children of God, we are called to serve those in need.
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 5:16
Here are 10 easy ways to shine your light for others. I challenge you to attempt some of these ideas this week.

(1) Prayer. Perhaps the easiest way to serve others is by praying for them. It doesn't cost a dime, and you can do it while driving in the car or cooking supper. Think of people in your life in need who aren't already on your prayer list and lift them up to the Father. Maybe you know someone who is struggling with cancer; pray for him. Maybe there's a recently widowed woman at church who could use encouragement; pray for her. Saying a prayer for peace and comfort for those in need is a great way to serve.

"If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."
John 12:26
(2) Send a card. Follow up your prayer by sending a card just to say, "I've been thinking about you and wanted to let you know you are in my prayers." Cards are a wonderful and simple way to brighten up a person's day, especially when you add a warm personal note. Who doesn't enjoy getting cards in the mail?

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love..."
Romans 12:10
(3) Visit a nursing home. Maybe you know someone at a nearby nursing home that you could stop by and visit. Even if you don't know anyone there, just walking around with your children and saying "hi" will bring a smile to an elderly person's face. Older people love spending time with young'uns and may not receive many visitors from their own families; a visit from you would truly brighten their day!

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
James 1:27
(4) Fix some extra supper to take to a new mom or shut-in. One of the greatest blessings after my daughter arrived were the meals my Bible study girls brought by. Not only did my family enjoy hot, home-cooked food, but I didn't have to fix it, which allowed me to relax, recover, and spend more time bonding with my baby. It doesn't have to be anything special, just whatever you are having that night for supper; keep it simple. She will be thrilled you thought about her.
"...through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Galatians 13b-14
(5) Make a "Blessing Bag." Jenae at I Can Teach My Child posted this awesome idea that she found on Pinterest and which I am stealing. A "Blessing Bag" is a Ziploc bag filled with snack foods, juice boxes, toiletries, and whatever else you have on hand. Fill up a bag or two to keep in your car, and when you spot someone in need, roll down the window and hand them a "blessing bag." It's an easy, nonconfrontational way to serve those less fortunate than you. My oldest daughter and I plan to make a couple this week. I think we might put a little Bible in there too!

"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet."
John 13:14
(6) Clean out your pantry! We are so blessed to have a full cupboard, freezer, and refrigerator. What about you? Let your child fill up a bag or two of groceries to take to an area food bank or women's shelter. Then, take your child with you to drop off the bags of food. Getting your kids involved teaches them the importance of serving others and develops in them a heart of compassion.
"But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" 1 John 3:17
(7) Clean out the toy boxes! Another way to teach your children how to let their lights shine is by having them box up toys and books they no longer play with or read to donate to charitable organizations in your area or even to your church nursery. I know my girls could easily spare a few toys and books. Teaching them to share with others what God has blessed them with will promote selflessness and empathy, qualities this world needs.
"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:18
(8) Donate blood. This service requires a little more work but is well worth the effort, especially now following the devastation of Hurricane Irene. Giving blood is a service that literally saves lives. For more information, visit the American Red Cross's website.
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
(9) Write. If you're a blogger, you have the opportunity to share your skills with the world. The blogosphere is your platform. Choose a topic you are knowledgeable about that could help people improve themselves in some way, and do what you do best: Write! This may not sound like a service, but consider the potential for encouraging others with your God-given talent.
"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11
(10) Be alert. If you open your eyes and ears, there are countless opportunities to serve others right in front of you. Getting the door for someone whose hands are full, letting a flustered mom with a crying baby go ahead of you in the check-out line, letting a driver in front of you instead of cutting him off: these are all simple ways to serve others, but they require tuning in to others' needs and tuning out of ourselves.

"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." John 15:12
What are some ways you serve others? How can you serve someone today?
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Growing in Love for Our Husbands: R-E-S-P-E-C-T--Find Out What It Means to Him

This week marks our third in the series on "Growing in Love for Our Husbands." So far we have discussed two ways to grow in love for our spouses: "Submitting to His Authority" and "Captivating Him with Our Love".

Loving our husbands comes fairly natural, wouldn't you say? Yes, I love my husband, even though he's messy and a tad disgusting at times. I would say my love for him is unconditional: I love him regardless of his faults and quirks. Even when he annoys me, I still love him.

But what about respecting our husbands? That is a tougher question to answer. You might say, "Yes, I respect my husband when he sits down and talks to me or if he shows me the affection I need." But that respect is conditional upon him fulfilling certain expectations I have. To have unconditional respect for our husbands is pretty tough at times. Sometimes we just don't feel respect for our spouses, especially when we are feeling unloved by them.

Yet, the apostle Paul, carrying out God's commands, instructs us specifically in how we are to treat our husbands:
"Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."

Ephesians 5:33
Clearly, Paul tells us that wives need love and husbands need respect. The Greek word for "love" in this passage is agape, which is "unconditional love." Husbands are commanded to love their wives without condition.

As women we need love, don't we? How do you feel when your husband doesn't show you the care and affection you crave? Personally, I become resentful and huffy. Instead of communicating my feelings, though,I will clam up and stomp around until he asks me what's wrong. Sometimes I don't know what is bothering me, but I just want my husband's attention, his comfort or encouragement. Often when I'm in one of these states, I become disrespectful to him--I nag, complain, criticize, find fault, etc.--as a form of retaliation for his failure to meet my need for love. But not only is my disrespectful behavior contrary to God's Word, but it does nothing to encourage my husband to love me more.

In Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says that "[w]hen a husband feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife...[and] [w]hen a wife feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband" (16). This is what Eggerichs calls "the Crazy Cycle":

Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love.

According to Eggerichs, while the husband is expected to show unconditional love to his wife, the wording of the rest of the passage strongly suggests that the husband should receive unconditional respect from his wife (18). There are no conditions in Paul's statement, no if or unless clauses so our husbands can elect to opt out of loving us when they feel disrespected or so we can choose to stop respecting them when we don't feel loved.

Respect is not conditional on love.
Love is not conditional on respect.

We must commit to respecting our husbands even when they are not loving to us. Our husbands need to know we're their biggest fans. When we support them and show them the appreciation they need, they will feel respected, and, in turn, they will begin to give us the love and affection we crave. It's like the Golden Rule:

"Show him respect; he will show you love."

Of course this is not always the case. Unfortunately, there are men out there who, no matter how much you show them respect, will continue to be unloving and unmoved to change. How do we deal with a husband like this?

Consider 1 Peter 3:1-2:
"In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior."
Here, the "husbands" Peter is referring to are either unbelievers or errant Christians. These men are not pleasing to God and certainly do not deserve their wives' respect. Yet, Peter states that a wife's pure and respectful behavior towards her husband may actually win him to the Lord. Even if your spouse is not a faithful Christian, as his wife, you are instructed to treat him with respect unconditionally.

If you want your husband to have feelings of love for you, then show him unconditional respect.
Many times I have heard people say, "You have to earn my respect." As Christian wives, we cannot say that of our husbands. Even if my husband frustrates or angers me, even if he is hurtful or unloving to me, I must respect him as the head of the home as ordained by God.

Sometimes it is only by the grace of God that we respect our husbands.
Certainly, there are many women in marriages whose husbands do not deserve their respect. Maybe their husbands are negligent, preoccupied with work or extracurricular activities, even abusive to them. In those situations, it is imperative to ask God for wisdom and direction and to seek Godly counsel, but also to trust that He is faithful in keeping His promises. When we obey God's Word and treat our husbands with respect--even if they don't deserve it--we are displaying trust in God and spiritual maturity.

In what ways can we show our husbands respect? How can we apply this lesson to our own lives?

  • By watching our facial expressions. Are you an eye-roller or a smirker? Do you give your husband "the look" when you're upset or questioning his decision? Think about the faces you make and make a conscious effort to stop making them.
  • By watching our tone. Sarcasm conveys a questioning of authority that is not respectful to your husband. Also, avoid snide remarks that so quickly roll off the tongue and cause a world of problems.
  • Hold off on the nagging and criticism. When I tell my husband something repeatedly, he hears, "She doesn't respect me." If you are at home all day with small children, you may find, like I have, that I scold my husband like I do the kids. Not only does this annoy him, but he feels disrespected by it.
  • Avoid "instructing" him. After I became a mommy, I was instantly the "baby expert" and Daddy the student. I have to remember though that he is a grown man and doesn't need step-by-step instructions for every little thing. That belittles him.
  • Compliment him. Leave a note in his lunch or on the bathroom mirror thanking him for his hard work for you and the family. Show you appreciate him and his achievements.
  • My husband's suggestion for me: Give him your undivided attention when he's hugging or kissing you or trying to talk to you, even when you're in the middle of something. There's nothing more disrespectful than ignoring his attempts at love and affection.
What about you? How do you show your husband the respect he needs, and in what ways can you improve?
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of August 28th

This coming week I will be trying out some new heart-healthy recipes as well as incorporating more fresh vegetables into our meals. As a side job, I'm writing articles on colon cancer, and I have learned a lot about how important fiber-rich veggies are to preventing cancer. Therefore, I am trying to cut back on the red meat and up our intake of beans, fruits, and vegetables.

Here is our menu plan for the week:

Sunday: Spaghetti (from the freezer), peas, and Healthy Italian Breadsticks


The Pioneer Woman's Comfort Meatballs on mashed potatoes with cooked tomatoes & okra and glazed carrots

Tuesday: Stuffed poblano peppers with black beans and Spanish rice

Source: Shutterbean
Wednesday: Black-eyed peas (from the freezer), zucchini fritters and Tzatziki sauce, and corn bread muffins

Thursday: Barbecue chicken, steamed broccoli, macaroni and cheese, and fresh fruit

Pizza Night!!

Saturday: Annual Labor Day Fish Fry at my parents' cabin!

What's on your menu this week?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I'm on a "make-my-own" kick lately, thanks to Alicia at Alicia's Homemaking.
Today I made some more homemade ketchup. Delicious!
On Wednesday, I made whole-wheat bagels for the first time. Double-delicious!
Last week I made a batch of blueberry jam (triple-delicious!!).
And yesterday, I made vanilla extract.

"All -by-my-self," as my two-year-old would say.

Yes, I know I can buy it at Kroger or Wal-Mart, but vanilla extract--really good vanilla extract--is EXPENSIVE. We're talking $12 for a small 8-ounce bottle of Rodale's Gourmet Vanilla. That's $1.50 an ounce. Ouch! Plus, a fraction of that 8 ounces is water.

Of course you could buy the store brand or--dare I say it--imitation vanilla. But if you are a real cook or aspire to be a real cook (as I do), then you need to use the real-ly good stuff.

I'm here to tell you that you can make a 16-ounce jar of vanilla extract for under $15. That's double the amount of vanilla for only a few dollars more. Plus, if you use Swagbucks, you can use your free Amazon gift cards to buy the vanilla beans. {FYI: Swagbucks is a search engine like Google or Yahoo. By using it you earn points that are redeemable for really great prizes, my favorite being the $5 Amazon gift cards.}

Supplies (Cost in bold)

6 vanilla beans {I used these Madagascar beans} FREE with Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card
16-ounces of vodka {I bought the cheapest bottle I could find; top shelf is not necessary!} $10

16-ounce jar or bottle with lid
Kitchen scissors
  • Cut a slit lengthwise through the center of each vanilla bean. Leave 1-inch in tact on one end.
  • Place vanilla beans in the jar. Pour in 16-ounces of vodka.
  • Screw on lid tightly, and give it a little shake. Store in a cool, dark place for about 8 weeks. Shake jar once a week. {I "Sharpied" the date made on top as a reminder.}
  • After 8 weeks you will have real vanilla to use in all your favorite recipes.
If you try this recipe, let me know your thoughts. This is brand new to me, so I am learning too!


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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peanut Butter-Banana Breakfast Cookies

The other night I was searching the internet for "heart-healthy" desserts. My husband's blood pressure has been a little high lately, so I'm trying to cut back on the high-fat sweets that I love to fix and, of course, eat in order to help him. Poor guy just can't say no to a cookie. It's my fault, I know.

But I came across a recipe for Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies that looked super easy to fix and sounded pretty good despite not having any sugar or butter. So, I gave it a whirl, and they were delicious! My oldest daughter and I loved them! They are really easy to make, super moist, very flavorful, and with 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per cookie, I didn't feel too bad eating them.

If you like banana, peanut butter, and cinnamon like my daughter and me, then you will LOVE this breakfast treat. The husband ate it silently {Translation: "It's edible but not something I will ever eat again."} Silence is so revealing. :)


1 large ripe banana (1/2 cup mashed)
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used organic, no added salt or sugar)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)(I left these out.)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir together mashed banana, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, combine oats, flour, dry milk, cinnamon, and baking soda.
  • Stir the oat mixture into the banana mixture until combined, and add cranberries or raisins if desired.
  • Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, drop mounds of dough about three inches apart on baking sheets.
  • With a small spatula dipped in water, press down each mound to about 1/2-inch thick. Just guesstimate.
  • Bake for 14-16 minutes until browned.
  • Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
With my oldest starting back to preschool next week, these would be really quick and easy for breakfast on-the-go.

What would be really yummy would be to add some mini chocolate chips; however, that would defeat the purpose of "heart-healthy" eating, I know. Maybe every now and then! :)

What are some "heart-healthy" snacks you fix for your family?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Top 10 Reasons You Need a Bible Study Group

Last Thursday I reunited with my girlfriends for a brand spankin' new Bible study. My dear friend Laura started this Bible study in 2005. As a recent transplant in a new city, it was exactly what I needed to meet like-minded Christian women and be in the Word. Little did I know then that six years later I would still be a part of this amazing group of women. So, this week's Top 10 list enumerates the myriad reasons why every woman should be a part of a women's Bible study.
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Hebrews 10:25
(1) For community. Even introverts like me need a base of women to confide in, cry to, and laugh with. What better group than Christian women who love the Lord and want the very best for you! Each week my Bible study group spends about half our time together chattering about the goings on of the week, but that time of fellowship is what bonds us closer together.
(2) For accountability. Whether it's a desire to be more joyful, lose twenty pounds, or run a 5K, when we share new goals or personal challenges with each other, we hold one another accountable for making progress and working towards achieving those goals. As women we need other women to keep us on track and spur us on to accomplish our dreams. A Bible study group is perfect for doing that.

(3) For girls' night outs and weekend getaways. Sometimes girls just wanna have fun, so periodically (not as often as I would like, I might add) we meet for dinner and a movie. Also, once a year, usually in the fall, our group makes an overnight trip to my parents' cabin for fun, food, and fellowship. You'd be surprised how entertaining games like Charades and Apples to Apples can be with a group of silly women. But that fellowship time offers refreshment for our souls that busy wives and moms need.(3) For different perspectives. Although the women in my Bible study are roughly the same age, live in Tennessee, and are Christians, that is about the extent of what we have in common as a group. Some of us are from different states; some work away from home, some work at home, and others don't work at all; some have advanced college degrees; some are crafty, others like me are not; some are extremely competitive (even at childish games like Charades) and others are not, etc. We are a diverse group of women, yet we are united by our love for the Lord and a desire to grow closer to Him each day. Therefore, our Bible studies reflect our diversity. It is actually very refreshing to hear a different point of view on a scripture I have read numerous times before. That is how we grow as Christians.

(4) For a brief reprieve from responsibilities at home.
I don't know about you, but there are days when I look forward to my husband getting home so I can have a break. Bible study nights offer a much needed respite for this mama of two littles; it's a time to relax and recharge with other women who also need this break from everyday life. It is an especially good night when I come home to two sleeping babies and a clean kitchen {hint hint wink wink, honey}.
(5) For encouragement. The primary reason I go to Bible study each week is for the encouragement I receive from the women in our group. My husband is a great encourager, but there is something about a woman's warm, optimistic words that soothes the soul and calms the nerves. I need it; in fact, I crave it.

(6) For coffee and delicious snacks.
Of course any time we get together, we eat; it's only natural for women to have coffee and food when there's lots of socializing going on. It's a nice way to feed our bellies as we feed our souls. Each week someone is responsible for bringing a snack. We have healthy snacks like fruit and veggies from our healthier gals and junk food like brownies and Little Caesar's pizza for our, well, junk food junkies :) Next week I'm in charge of food, so there will be a nice mix of healthy junk I'm sure.(8) For sharing personal struggles and seeking advice. Over the course of the years, we have shared our stories of loss, our fears, temptations, and weaknesses. Sometimes a member of the group might offer a helpful suggestion, and sometimes there is no answer. That's when we cry together, pray together, and encourage one another as best we can. There aren't always answers, but a hug, a prayer, and an "It's going to be okay" have a way of allaying fears.

(9) For praying for each other.
Every Bible study we begin by writing down and sharing our prayer requests. Now with a group of 12-13 women who love to talk that easily takes up an hour of our time, but some people need more details than others :) and some people just have lots of issues :) After sharing we randomly exchange prayer cards and pray for the person we draw over the course of the next two weeks. What a blessing to know that someone you love is thinking about and praying for you every day. Just this week I received the sweetest email from my prayer buddy that lifted my spirits and renewed my strength. It was just what I needed at exactly the right moment.

(10) For celebrating life's many blessings.
Over the years we have had I don't know how many showers and birthday parties for members in our group. We have showered the newly engaged and the mom-to-be, prepared meals for those new mamas, attended each others' weddings, and even celebrated the big 3-0 together. I hope we will still be together when we each hit the even bigger 4-0, which will be here before we know it!
What a blessing my Bible study group has been for me over the years: a source of encouragement, support, Godly counsel, and friendship that could never be replaced.

Do you belong to a women's Bible study group? I hope that if you do not, that this post will encourage you to look for one or maybe start your own.
Blessings to you...
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Growing in Love for Our Husbands: Captivating Him by Our Love

Last week we started a new series entitled "Growing in Love for Our Husbands" and began with a look at the ever-controversial topic of submission. This week, continuing with the thought of submission, we will discuss what the apostle Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 7 as fulfilling our wifely duties.

When man and woman join in the sacred bond of marriage, a union of sexual intimacy and commitment is formed. This design for sex within the marital covenant began "in the beginning," just as the hierarchical relationship between husband and wife began in the Garden.
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."

Genesis 2:24-25
But where do we fit in that "wifely duty" among the many other chores demanded of us? We are pulled in so many different directions as women that often times our relationship to our spouse comes in last place. You might be thinking, I have to feed everyone, do the laundry, scrub the toilets, teach the children, buy groceries, and on and on and on ad nauseaum.

Yes, we do have responsibilities to our family, but where should our husbands be on our list of priorities? After our relationship with God, our relationship with our husbands should be our highest priority, even over the children, the house, and our jobs.

In His Needs Her Needs, Willard F. Harley, Jr. discusses the ten most important emotional needs for husbands and wives and how to meet them. Foundational to a good marriage, he says, is affection for her and sex for him (59). Let me repeat that: Sexual intimacy (for the husband) and affection (for the wife) are foundational to a good marriage.

Women need emotional release: we need to be able to talk to our husbands about our day, to vent our frustrations, to be appeased and encouraged. When our husbands refuse to listen or respond, we feel unloved and unimportant.

In a similar fashion, men need physical release: they require sexual intimacy. In Proverbs 5:18-19, the wise king Solomon describes the beauty of God-given sex within marriage:
"May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer--
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love."
God intends for couples to experience mutual enjoyment and satisfaction in their marriages. There will be seasons of difficulty when marriage becomes dull and temptations may entice one or both partners to pursue a relationship outside the covenant relationship, but that is not God's design nor should it be an excuse for extramarital sex.

As wives we are to "captivate" our husbands by our love and by our attention to their physical needs. That means allowing our husbands free and full reign over our bodies. I know that is not a politically correct statement to make in our liberated day and age, but that is exactly what the apostle Paul tells us:
"The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
I Corinthians 7:3-5
The beauty of this God-ordained design, though, is that we also have full reign over our husbands' bodies. For many women that may not sound so enticing, but consider that as wives we are to submit to our husband's authority: he is the head and leader of the family. However, within the realm of sexual intimacy, both partners are on an even playing field: there is no head, only mutual submission. Wives and husbands are both commanded to submit their bodies to one another. Neither is to withhold themselves from the other with the exception of a brief spiritual reprieve for fasting and prayer.

In Love & Respect, Emerson Eggerichs says that when we deny our husbands the sexual release they need, they feel disrespected just as we feel unloved when our husbands deprive us the emotional release through communication that we need.

The common response when we feel neglected is to withdraw from our spouses and think, "Well, he's not talking to me, so I'm not going to be intimate with him. He's going to have to change if he wants my affection." That is a selfish human response. If we refuse our husbands what they were designed by God to need, then they are going to refuse us what we were designed by God to need. It's a vicious cycle spinning violently out of control until someone finds the attention he or she needs outside the marital sphere.

Instead of waiting for our husbands to change, we must step up and be the bigger person. We need to break that cycle, starting with showing our spouses the respect they deserve, fulfilling their desires, and telling them how much we need them. I love what Harley calls "the marital golden rule":
"Meet your spouse's needs as you would want your spouse to meet yours" (60).
When we treat our husbands in the ways they want to be treated, then we will find our husbands wanting to spend time with us and showering us with the affection we crave.

God has a perfect plan for the marital relationship: Husbands are to love their wives, showing them the affection they desire, and wives are to respect their husbands, giving them the sexual fulfillment they need. Wives are to be subject to their husbands; husbands are to be willing to lay down their lives for their wives. Husbands and wives are to submit their bodies to one another in an act of mutual submission.

As wives we have a duty to captivate our husbands by our love, meeting his physical needs and showing him how much we truly need him.

How can we show our husbands that we appreciate their desire for sexual intimacy?
  • Respond more often to him. {Stop the "I've got a headache" or "I'm too tired" excuses.}
  • Initiate sex every now and then. {Want your husband to finish that home improvement project he started six months ago? This is one surefire way to get it done.}
  • Understand he needs sex just as you need affection. {Don't deprive him hoping to get him to open up. It won't happen; if anything you will only push him farther away.}
  • Educate yourself. {If you are not interested in football and your husband is a diehard season ticket holder, then what do you do? Learn more about the game. This shows him how much you love and respect him and will result in the completion of loads more DIY projects.}
What are your thoughts? Did I leave something out that you think I should've discussed? Did I lose you somewhere? As always I would very much appreciate your feedback on this post.

Blessings to you...

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