Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Armed with Love: Boasting

"Love does not boast" I Corinthians 13:4

"I told you so," was on the tip of my tongue. I knew the best way to handle this problem, and of course, I was right. "If you had just done it my way we wouldn't be in this mess," I wanted to declare. As I looked at the down cast look on my husbands face, I knew I couldn't say that. He needed my support, not my judgement.

We learn in I Corinthians 13:4 that love does not boast. The King James Version uses the words, "vault ones self." When I was a girl I loved to watch gymnastics on T.V. At the Summer Olympics in 1984, Mary Lou Retton scored perfect 10 on the vault. It earned her the gold medal. I could imagine the feeling of running at full speed toward the horse, springing into the air, twisting, turning, and sticking the perfect landing. I was inspired to take gymnastics class after watching her amazing performance that summer. My experience was not so graceful. I was too chicken and weak to succeed at it.

We often use our words as a spring board to lift ourselves up higher than is naturally possible. We say things to give ourselves a boost, to make ourselves look better than we really are. Thayer's Lexicon describes this form of boasting as, "a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one's self excessively." Boasting is putting myself on a pedestal for all to see. While I stand up there I will give myself complements that need no response other then your gracious applause. We have very sneaky ways of doing this. We might say, "If I wasn't here you would all starve," or "If I want it done right I guess I'll have to do it myself." My personal favorite is, "I wish you would have listened to me. This never would have happened." The fact is none of these statements are true, but I say them to make myself look better and my loved ones feel worse.
Romans 12:3 says, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." This verse says we should judge ourselves honestly, not putting ourselves higher than those around us. My opinions and methods are not better than my husband's, they are just different. I am guilty of making mistakes also. Only God knows the outcome of our situations.

Philippians 2:3-4 takes this to the next level, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." I should humbly consider the things I say. My feelings are not the only feelings that matter. If I follow Philippians 2:3, I will consider other people better than myself and put their interests before mine. This is being a servant leader in my home. I would like to see my kids model this in their own lives, so I must display it in mine.

There is a time when scripture says it is okay to boast. Jeremiah 9:23-23 says, "This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." When my husband is going through a difficult time I want to boast, "Thank God! We have Him on our side. He can take care of us." I want to say, "We serve a God who is always kind," when my kids make mistakes. I want to keep my finger pointed heavenward to the God who sees us(Gen. 16:13) because His love never fails.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dump Cake

This recipe is in honor of my grandmother, Carolyn Dunn. I love her so much I named my daughter after her. She is a very kind and compassionate person. She is also a fabulous cook! My love of cooking has been past down from her. She has been making Dump Cake as long as I can remember. Dump Cake got it's name because it is made by dumping the ingredients in the pan. Dump cake is like a cobbler, but much easier and with better results. It can be made with any type of fruit, even pumpkin. Our favorite is peach. I've also made it using homemade apple sauce. Yummy!

Dump Cake

3- 4 cans of fruit
1 yellow, white, or vanilla cake mix
1 stick of butter (You can use margarine, but everything is better with butter!)

Dump cans of fruit in a 9 by 13 pan. Dump dry cake mix over it evenly. Pour 1 stick of melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and cake is firm when you shake the pan. There will be some liquid in the bottom. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Thanks for the good eating, Grandma! I think I'll make a Dump Cake for my husband,Larry, today. Happy baking and don't forget your apron!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Carrot Cake Cookie Bars

Easy desserts are always welcomed by a Domestic Warrior. I learned how to make these delicious bar cookies from my dear friend, Julie Hines. She makes a variation using lemon cake mix and white chocolate chips that is divine. I tried it with carrot cake Monday night and it was a major hit. If you need a quick dessert this is the one to turn too.

Carrot Cake Cookie Bars

1 box of Carrot cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 bag of white chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil until combined. Add the entire bag of white chocolate chips and mix. Spread into a 9/13 greased pan and bake 30 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Enjoy and don't forget your apron!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Armed with Love: Envy

"Love does not envy." I Corinthians 13:4

When I think of envy, I think of wanting something someone else has. I can't easily relate this to my spouse. After all, what's his is mine and what's mine is his. How could I envy him? In some translations of the Bible it says, "Love is not jealous." I think with both these words something is lost in the translation. I have been a little confused regarding envy. I've done some research that has helped me understand why love does not envy.

The word envy used in this verse is the word "zēloō." Blue Letter Bible defines zēloō as "to burn with zeal." Webster's dictionary defines zeal as, "fervor for a person, cause or object;eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor." Don't you hate it when you look something up in the dictionary and then have to look up another word in the definition to figure out what that means? Me too. Fervor is defined as, "great warmth or eagerness of feeling; passion; intense heat." Zeal means passion for a person, cause or object. This makes me scratch my head a little. I'm not supposed to have passion for my spouse? I thought passion was a good thing? Zeal can be used in a good or bad way. We are encouraged to pursue service for the Lord with zeal. Romans 12:11 says,"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." God operates in zeal all throughout the book of Isaiah which says,"The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."(Isaiah 9:7,37:32) Jesus was overcome with zeal when he cleared the temple of the money changers(John 2: 17). In all of these cases they have one thing in common. There passion was so great it expressed itself with a some heat, even anger.

The second definition of envy in the Blue Letter Bible is, "to boil with envy, hatred, anger." This is the kind of passion that is so strong it burns within you, even causing hatred or anger. To zealously pursue someone is to desire someone so greatly it consumes you. You want to possess the person. For me envy boils down to one thing: control. I start to feel this kind of burning when I feel as if I've lost control. I get angry when things don't go my way. I want my husband to want to spend his time with me. When he chooses to spend time doing something else, like play video games, I get angry. (Okay, God, I see how lame this sounds right now.)

Why am I like this? I think it comes down to the very beginning. We can look to our mother, Eve. After Eve sinned in the garden she received some very hard consequences. Painful childbirth was one of them. The other one is this, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.(Gen.3:16)" My desires, passion, even, dare is say, zeal are for my husband because of the fall. However, he is in charge of his own feelings and behaviors. I can't control him no matter how hard I try. Why would I want to? I relate this to God. He could have created us only to love Him because He is all powerful and can do whatever He wants. We could have been robot drones to love and worship him. If he forced us to love Him would that really be love? No. He created us with free will because love can only be given freely. I want my husband to also be free to love me. I don't want him to love me out of obligation, or because I have expectations I want him to meet. I want us to share a mutual affection that is only made better and stronger together. So I'm going to quit nagging him to get off the computer. I'll quit complaining when he's late home from work and forgets to call. I'll love him freely and release him to love me freely as well. Next time you start to feel that passion burn within your belly because your expectations have not been met, remember "love does not envy." These battles are best won with aprons on!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Armed with Love: Kindness

Love is kind. When I think of being kind I think of being nice. I want my teenage children to be nice to each other. Many hundreds of times have I said, "Treat people how you want to be treated." I want to be treated well, so I will treat other people with the same respect. The problem comes when someone treats us badly, then we want to treat them worse. After all, they must want to be treated bad. They have acted badly towards me.

Kindness goes far deeper then just being nice. Kindness is described by Richard Trench as being,"the expression of a beautiful grace." Kindness is the action of grace. Grace is something you can't earn and you don't deserve. Giving some one a gift is kind because we give it out of love, not because they deserve to receive it. Kindness isn't treating people how you want to be treated, it's treating people better than they deserve.

Kindness is attractive. We were attracted to God because of his kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 says, "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" We want to be in relationship with God because of his kindness. He treats us better than we deserve. The reward for our sin should be death, but instead God gives us eternal life through Jesus (Romans 6:23).

We probably worked very hard to attract our current spouse by being kind to them. When we were first dating, Larry would bring me a little gift every day. It wasn't an expensive gift. Sometimes the gift wouldn't cost him anything, but he still wanted to show me kindness and give me a treat. To me those little gifts were priceless. He still does this. He'll bring me a soda when I really need one, or a little piece of chocolate out of the candy dishes on his customer's desks. I still appreciate it and feel loved. This kindness shows me he was thinking about me through out his day.

I also showed him an extra amount of kindness when we were first dating. The first day Larry came over to a family gathering he got a terrible bloody nose. All the woman in our family rushed to take care of him. I sat by his side and cared for him until the bleeding stopped (which took a while). He knew he wanted to be a part of such a kind family. Not long after that I went to his house when he was sick to take care of him. I enjoyed nursing him back to health. What? Now I run from the room and shut the door when he's sick. I used to baby him, now I want him to man up. This is not kindness. I want to treat him with an extra level of grace, not just when he is sick, but also when he is well. I should treat Larry with more kindness than I treat everyone else and that kindness will draw him to me. I should be so kind he feels as though he does not deserve such good treatment.

Being kind takes extra effort. The extra effort is what makes the recipient feel humbled by the action and therefore loved. This type of kindness is represented by David's mighty men in 1 Chronicles 11:10-19. David had a few super heroes on his side. They were able to win battles and defeat hundreds of men. He was privileged to have them as friends. At this time David was hiding out in a cave that overlooked his beloved hometown of Bethlehem. The Philistines have captured the city. He is reminiscing about his life as a shepherd boy and how sweet the water from the well tasted after a long day with the herd. The mighty men loved David and would have done anything to make him happy. During the night his three friends snuck past enemy lines to fetch David water from that well in Bethlehem. When they offered the water to David, their kindness humbled him. He poured out the water before the Lord saying, "God forbid I should do this! Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?" He knew the water they offered was too good for him. Their offering was only good enough for the Lord.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if our kindness got the same reaction? What if our spouse said, "The kindness you have showed is not good enough for me, it is only good enough for the Lord. I feel loved by God because of you." What efforts can you make today to show more kindness to those around you? Do something special for the one you love every day.