by Audrey on July 10th, 2014

I received the following as part of a long letter from a very perceptive young woman a few years ago.  She asked so many great thought-provoking questions but the one I am sharing today is one I have been asked countless times over the years. Below is her question as she penned it.  My reply follows.

"Do you honestly feel as though every woman will LOVE mothering?  My sister struggles.   She loves her children, she loves her family, but she doesn't love the job of mothering.  I know older ladies that gave their children their all, but they are glad that season is over with.  They don't miss the diapers, the dirty dishes, or constant laundry....but they were diligent and committed during that season."

First of all, the issue is not whether all women will LOVE mothering.    Although most women possess an instinctive love for their children and will mother them, God tells us in His Word that the kind of love women are to have for their children must be taught.  Secondly,  if I had some time with your sister,  I would ask her why she struggles.  And I would listen to her answer.  Then I would ask if there is a misplaced longing to be somewhere other than where God has placed her. 

See, I really believe that one of the reasons so many young women struggle with "wifing" and mothering is because we want so many other things.  Husband and baby get in the way.  Women want it all.  Please understand, there is nothing wrong with pursuing interests - seriously - there isn't. BUT,  interests can be set aside - they can wait or they can be done/pursued in a woman's spare time.     A mother has to remember that her family can't be managed in her spare time, nor is mothering an interest or a hobby.  If we invest too much of our time in our interests - our families will suffer.   

Here’s the thing - if you have a husband and children, they are your ministry - they are your fulltime job - and a fulltime job cannot be done properly in a woman's spare time.  Mothering is not a hobby - it is a calling.  If God has given children to you, then you are called to be a mother.  Period.

And if we struggle with the calling, we have to ask God to give us the heart for His calling in our lives.  We have to ask Him to give us undivided hearts. 

Yes, there are struggles with any calling and/or job.  I immediately think of Jonah whom God called to go to Ninevah but he did not want to go.  His struggle with his calling didn't relieve him of his responsibility or his obedience to God.  God said go.  God put that calling on His life.  And we know from his story, that Jonah didn't love preaching or calling the people to repentance. Yet that's the very assignment God gave to him.

Most moms, I believe, just need a fresh perspective about this high and holy calling.  God never promised us that being a wife or mother or homemaker would be easy.  What job is?  I mean, really?  In fact, God's curse on women was in these very areas. God didn't change His plan because Eve sinned - she'd still be a helper to her husband and mother to children - yet now these areas in her life would bring struggle.  This is the reason God says that young women must be taught even to love their husbands and children.  This is the reason older women are supposed to know doctrine as it relates to home and family.  Temperaments have nothing to do with it.  I constantly have to bring my feelings, attitudes, and selfishness under the scrutiny of God's Word.  He is the One Who gave this calling to mothers - not me.

I am a sinful fallen woman who wants what I want - yet God hasn't given up on me.  Satan is always there tempting women to place everything and anything above His calling - even good, spiritual things.  He hates EVERYTHING God loves.  He wants to ruin EVERYTHING God planned.  We have to decide if we want to cooperate with God or the evil one.

If you have children, mothering them God's way is your calling.  

For those of us who are parents, He wants us, as His people, to raise a godly heritage and once again this job, this responsibility cannot be done in our spare time.  A husband and wife work together, each in their primary spheres of influence, to get the job done.

And please understand,  just because a woman is past the diapering, dirty dishes, constant laundry stage in her own life (though frankly, I don't know if that ever ends unless you isolate yourself from people or remove yourself from the presence of young mothers and children), doesn't mean that any of those tasks are demeaning or beneath her.  Those very things are humble service - ways to demonstrate to our families and others what Jesus taught when He poured water into the basin, washed the disciples' dirty feet, and then wiped them with the towel with which He was girded. He took off his own towel to take care of His men.  We, too, have to take off our towels and wipe our children's feet. 

Women have far too long wanted the place of honor rather than the place of humble service. Yet,  it is in the home where we learn to be like Jesus.  Any woman can be super-spiritual with her Christian girlfriends at a women's retreat or at church or in some outside ministry somewhere.  But the rubber meets the road in the home. The home is where life is really messy, where sin natures rise to the most ugliest of clouds, tempers and growls and nastiness sometimes reign, and where nerves are tested to their limits.  Yet, it is also the place where, if we will allow Him, God will conform us to the image of His Son. Home and all the selfish, sinful people who live there, including our children,  become the tools God uses to make us useable for His Kingdom.  All this mothering is kingdom work.  But when we humble ourselves, embracing God's good design, and let Him do His work through us,  sin natures are subdued, ugly is replaced with pretty, tempers are washed out to sea, and nerves are calmed.

Do we struggle with it?  Of course.  But God calls us to it AND He wants us to lay any struggle we face at His feet.  His feet are clean.  He wants to make ours the same way.  How great He is to use all of it to make us more like  Him.  Let Him.

I could teach on this the rest of my life and still not even scratch the surface.

by Audrey on July 5th, 2014

 And as I was typing in the title for this post, instead of typing "housework" as a compound word, I decided to make it a command ~ House, Work!  Wouldn't you just love to tell your house to work?  Wouldn't you just love to give commands to all the stuff that accumulates? Like .... cobwebs,  disappear!  Vacuum, clean the floors!  

Why doesn't it work that way?

When I was a girl, my brothers, sister and I had to take turns cleaning the kitchen after supper. I disliked it very much.

One evening in particular, when it was my turn to do the dishes, it seemed we had the biggest meal we had ever had. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and loads of vegetables. Biscuits. To a little girl, the pots and pans seemed overwhelming.


I looked at the mess. I looked at the outdoors. I looked at the mess. I looked at the outdoors.

I chose the outdoors and out I went. I reasoned in my little mind that it wasn’t fair that I should have so much work to do. I thought my sister Hope always had the easy nights. I thought my brothers Tony and  Trent always had the easy nights and now Trent didn’t even have to do it anymore because his skin started breaking out.

Since my sister liked housework, I just figured that when she walked back into the kitchen, she would clean it up. See, not only did she like housework, she was kind.

I played and played outside ~ forgetting about the mess in the kitchen ~ until I finally came in. Then I saw it. Only now, the food had hardened on the plates. I complained to my mother. No sympathy. “It’s your own fault, you have made the job more difficult by running outside to play.”

I was devastated. Now, not only did I have to clean the mess, but also the job was more difficult and it would take longer.

But I learned something that night. Some things you just gotta do because you just gotta do them. Doesn’t matter if you don’t want to do them. Doesn’t matter if it’s not fun. I want everything in life to be fun.

I do remember being in the kitchen very late that night. After complaining and grumbling to myself a little while, I finally realized that I could choose to be cheerful and try to make it fun or I could choose to be miserable. But no matter which I chose, I still had to do the job. I chose, finally, to make it fun. I sang my way through the pots and pans. And I have since thanked my mother for making me do the job when, as I now know, would have been easier for her to do it herself rather than fight with me.

The memory of that night has helped me as a grown-up woman. See, I would still rather play in the yard than do the dishes.  I got that honestly, my mom is the same way.

But somewhere along my path of life, God seemed to hit me over the head with Proverbs 6:6-11

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer,
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”_
11 And your poverty will come in like a vagabond,
And your need like an armed man.

This passage has sustained me through many days of mundane housework. This is what God requires of me.

I should not need a chief, officer or ruler. I am to prepare for my family. I am not to be lazy. I am to be productive doing what needs to be done just because it needs to be done.

See, the housework thing is good for me. Even though I have spent far too much time complaining about the mundane tasks of housework, there is great satisfaction to be found in doing it. God has worked much joy and even fun into my life through it.

As I go about washing the feet of those in my home, I have time to treasure up things, to ponder them in my heart. I found myself doing that even as a young girl when my mom gave chores to me ~ cleaning out my closet, picking blueberries, snapping beans, picking butter beans.

Housework has a way of keeping me humble. Why? Because it is usually not appreciated. It is usually not noticed. It only seems to be noticed when it is not done and then it is expressed negatively like, “So Mom, what did you do with my stuff?”

Not, “Oh thank you mother dear for always washing my socks. Thank you for making this home so pleasant. You are such a wonderful mother. It is so rare that the laundry gets backed up.”

After years of doing housework, I’ve learned that it really is humbling. I suppose that’s why so many women don’t do it.

But I really do want to be like Psalm 131 records, O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

You know, as I write this,  I know there are many overwhelming issues facing our nation. Too difficult for me to solve. I cannot solve them - yet, I can organize a closet. I can eventually get to the bottom of the laundry basket ~ if only for a short time. I can plan, prepare, and then serve a nutritious lovely meal for my family. I can set a pretty table.

I can change the sheets on the beds. I can get the tub clean (usually). These things are not the sum total of my being. These chores are not all that I live for (not even close), but there is satisfaction to be found in small matters. Some things are too difficult for me, but I can maintain a home, teach grammar, potty-train little people, read books, and proof papers. These things quiet me just like the Psalmist goes on to describe: Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.

When I do these things for the Lord and have my perspective kept in check through His word, I hope in the Lord for my nation. And I trust Him that I do so much for my country when I do so much for my home.

And you know what is so great about mundane, home things? Jesus Christ relates. He sympathizes with me. He knows what it is like to just do the next thing. He knows more than I do. He is constantly cleaning the messes of people's lives, messes He did not make. And you know what else? Wasn't God so good to have His own son grow up in a regular home - with a mom who was there making a home for Him?

Another thing I’ve learned. Housework keeps me out of trouble. If I am busy maintaining the affairs of my home, I can’t be watching daytime dramas. Nor can I be a meddler, a gossip or a busybody.

This is precisely what Paul had in mind when he was discussing young widows in 1 Timothy 5:13-14: And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach . . .

(Try that for a career goal on a college application!!)

Housework lets my children and my husband know that I care about them. That I am here. It becomes a training ground for them, too.

Of course, I still wish I could command my house to work.  I still wish I could snap my fingers like Mary Poppins. I really do. But I can sing doing the chores like her. I really can.

It is necessary to keep house, to do housework. I do so want to make a home and build up my family. I do it for them but even more, I want to do it to bring glory to God.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

So, housework shows my obedience to God. Doing housework has nothing to do with whether or not my family or anyone else appreciates me.  Our culture may never really appreciate mundane work. To be honest, I cannot ever remember a time when I was growing up in my parents' home telling my mom that I was so grateful for her work in the home. Maybe I did but I certainly don't remember it.  

But you know what? God cared about her work.  And I've told her since I became a grown-up.  She taught me how to keep a home (even though I, many times, shirked my duties) and I am so very grateful.

The writer to the Hebrews, in chapter 6, says this: For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

So, yeah, there are many issues facing our nation. And I will pray for and carry out my civic duties. But more importantly – I’ll carry out my home duty, raise my children to know the value of housework, teach them to be great Americans and lovers of God, and I will keep my house.

And then, we'll go play in the yard.

by Audrey on June 28th, 2014

June 28, 2014  ~ My 34th Wedding Anniversary

Not too long ago, I was in waiting room and on the coffee table was an issue of Brides magazine. Seemed fitting for me since my anniversary was quickly approaching.  I picked it up and began to flip through it ~ admiring the beautiful dresses, the beautiful veils, the beautiful hairstyles, and of course the beautiful brides.

The ads were beautiful too.  But I was drawn in by one in particular that stated:

Marrying the Wedding of Your Dreams . . .

Wow.   Did I read that correctly?  I looked again.  Yes, that's what it said.

Not the man . . . but the wedding.

And it hit me.  For so many young women, it's all about the wedding.  All about the bride.

Now, that's not bad - it is such a special day.  And it's natural and right for a young woman's heart to want to be beautiful on her wedding day.  And so she should.

But goodness - a great marriage is not about a great wedding.  It's not about a great event.  A woman may have a fantastic event planner who can guarantee a great event - but he/she can't guarantee a great marriage.  Great marriages are built.  The wedding is just a doorway.

And of course, we all know that a bride doesn't marry her wedding.  Even the the one who created and designed the ad knows that.

A bride marries her man.  And her man is not supposed to be just a prop - or an accessory to HER big day.

It's not just her day.  It's his day too.  It's their parents' day as they give away their daughter, as they've prepared their son.  Most importantly, it's God's day.  At least it's supposed to be.  For believers, it is supposed to be a sacred worship service.  Somehow we've lost that in the planning of an event.

Weddings were "thought up," if you will, in the heart of God.   He is the One who performed the first wedding ceremony and at that time, no one was registering for gifts or shopping for wedding dresses.

Nope.  It was just Adam and Eve and God.  And they were making a serious covenant to each other - and to God.

And their wedding?  It was gorgeous. She was a beautiful bride. We know what Adam thought of his bride when he saw her for the first time. Just read Genesis 2.  That first groom was expressive!  And we know how God decorated the venue - with onyx stone and gold and four rivers and beautiful trees and flowers.

And we also know what Jesus said about marriage:

"Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?'  Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

Marriage is a holy covenant.  We don't just say "I do,"  we say "I will."

Love is not some floaty emotion.  It is built on a covenant.  And it grows with time.  It is a commitment to love, not a feeling.

When Carl and I got married back in June of 1980, we chose a song to be sung at our wedding with these lyrics:

I could never promise you on just my strength alone

That all my life I'd care for you, and love you as my own

I've never known the future, I only see today 

Words that last a lifetime would be more than I could say

But the love inside my heart today is more than mine alone

It never changes, never fails, never seeks its own

And by the God who gives it, and who lives in me and you

I know the words I speak today are words I'm going to do

And so I stand before you now for all to hear and see

And promise you in Jesus' name the love He's given me

And through the years on earth and as eternity goes by

The life and love He's given us are never going to die.

We loved that the words acknowledged the fact that on our own, we could never love each other the way God intended.  We loved how the song acknowledged a complete dependence upon God to hold a marriage together.

We will have been married 34 years on June 28.

Our marriage is not perfect but it is great.  It's not perfect because neither one of us is perfect.  That pesky sin in our lives keeps us from having a perfect marriage.  We've had struggles, very difficult times . . . we are sinners and we live in a sinful world.

Over the years I have pouted way too much.  I have been moody and argumentative at times.  I have not always respected my husband the way I should have.  I have not always loved him the way God requires.

But I want to.  I am growing.  I am maturing.  And I know that as long as both Carl and I grow in our relationships with God - our marriage will be strong.  I always tell young women to care more about a guy's heart for God than his looks (or whatever else she thinks is so important).

All these years later, if Carl and I were having a renewing-our-vows ceremony, there's a song by Brooks and Dunn that I love.  I'd ask Carl to sing it but I don't know - don't think he'd do it.  Don't think he knows it.    I used to have it as a ringtone on my phone for my husband's calls to me but changed phones and well, you know how that goes.  The lyrics go like this:

I dropped to my knees in that field on your daddy's farm.
Asked you to marry me, all I had to give was my heart.
While other kids went diving into swimming holes,
You and me dove off into the great unknown.
We were barely gettin' by, takin' care of each other.
Then I became a daddy; you became a mother.
Was an uphill battle nearly every day,
Lookin' back I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm proud of the house we built.
It's stronger than sticks, stones, and steel.
It's not a big place sittin' up high on some hill.
A lot of things will come and go but love never will.
Oh, I'm proud.
I'm proud of the house we built.

Still workin' our way through the land of milk and honey.
At the end of the day there's always more bills than money.
I close my eyes at night and I still feel
The same fire in my heart I felt out in that field.

I'm proud of the house we built.
It's stronger than sticks, stones, and steel.
It's not a big place sittin' up high on some hill.
A lot of things will come and go but love never will.
Oh, I'm proud.
I'm proud of the house we built.

Oh, look at us today.
Oh, we've come such a long long way.

I'm proud of the house we built.
It's stronger than sticks, stones, and steel.
It's not a big place sittin' up high on some hill.
A lot of things will come and go but love never will.
Oh, I'm proud.
I'm proud of the house we built.

I'd change a few of the lyrics though.  Carl dropped to his knees in the parlor of my dorm.  

And I know I'd say "I'm proud of the house God built."  

See, God has been the One Who has kept us together.  I married a man whose love for God was bigger than his love for me. My husband married me ~ a woman whose love for God was bigger than my love for him.  A wedding doesn't build a marriage - God does.

And because of His building - we've come such a long long way.  

Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain .......

by Audrey on June 20th, 2014

It's coming up.  My wedding anniversary.  

I've been married nearly 34 years. I declare I am just not old enough to have been married so long.

When I think about my husband,  I am often reminded of the reasons I married him.

Like most young women, I had a mental list of what I wanted in a husband . . .

On my list for husband were things like this: he would be taller than I was, he would be rugged, and he would definitely be handsome. He would love to laugh and I, of course, would be the center of his world. He would look into my eyes and tell me that I was the most beautiful thing in the world. He would work hard to provide a living for our family of at least six children. He must love children. And he would definitely be southern.

Growing up in the South, I never thought I would marry a boy from anywhere else.  For me, however, it wasn’t just a southern thing – it was a Carolina thing. North Carolina – where I came of age or South Carolina - where I was born.

Well, I remember the first time I saw the boy who would become my husband.  I was a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It was my junior year. I was very involved in the ministry of Cru (though then it was called Campus Crusade for Christ) and some of my friends and I went over to a sorority house one Sunday evening for College Life. College Life was a meeting filled with singing, skits, a testimony or two and a message to share the gospel with the students who came. On this particular night, a tall, lanky, dark-haired boy dressed in very non-preppy clothes got up to share his testimony. He opened his mouth and spoke in what sounded like a foreign language to me and to most of my friends. He said in a distinct New England accent something like, “My name is Carl Broggi and I grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts.”

Everyone laughed, including me. Who was this guy? Worcester? How do you pronounce that? (Just so you know, it’s pronounced “Wista.”) Please understand, we weren’t laughing at the content of what he said – just the way he said it. He didn’t say y’all and hey.

Sometime later, I heard that he was the new staff guy on campus who had raised his support very fast. I also heard that he shared the gospel constantly and students were praying to receive Christ with him all the time. I heard him teach a few times at our Crusade meetings and learned so much. That’s about all I remember about him that year.

At the time, I was not remotely interested in him - mainly because of, well, a lot of reasons. My senior year, however, I found myself back at Carolina ready to share my faith with students, lead a Bible study on my hall, finish my studies, get my degree, and prepare for the mission field. 

I dated some but I was focused.  And I was ready for God to use me with no strings attached. I thought I was ready before but I was really ready now. It was at the first Campus Crusade leadership meeting where I had a conversation with the new staff guy – Carl Broggi. He asked me about my summer and my previous relationship. I told him about both. I also told him about my plans for missions.

Not long after that, after another Crusade meeting, I headed over to the local ice cream shop with a group of friends. Carl was one of the guys with us. Standing in line, he asked me if I would like to go to dinner with him on Friday evening.

I was a bit surprised but after thinking for just a moment, I agreed. I was not interested in him the least little bit – after all, he was not a southerner, not a Carolina boy, didn't dress very well in my opinion, not a student, and he drove a Volkswagen bug. Not exactly a cool car. But he loved the Lord and I thought I could learn a lot from him.  And to be perfectly frank, I had no idea that he was really interested in me. He might have been thinking, “She’s not a northerner, she is too fashion-conscious, she’s a student, and she drives her daddy's Buick.” Well, anyway – at the time, he seemed too godly to be seeing a girl as anything but a sister in Christ.  I had a lot to learn.

But just to make sure he wouldn’t think this was a “real date” or anything, I offered to pay for myself that night. I don’t do that anymore.

When it became evident to me that he was interested in me as more than just a sister in Christ, I’m not sure. But at some point, I knew. And I was very uncomfortable with it. So uncomfortable that I told my friend Cathy I didn’t like it.

I thought she would empathize but instead she quipped, “Well, what’s wrong with Carl?”

Nothing was wrong with him. In fact, there was so much right with him. But I still didn’t like his interest in me. Really – I just wasn't and I told her all the reasons he was not for me.   As I spoke those reasons outloud, everything I said seemed stupid. And I knew those reasons were stupid. Especially since I thought I was maturing as a believer. 

Not too long after this, I was making a trip to my parents' new home.  They had moved the previous summer while I was away on a missions project and I had never made the drive from Chapel Hill.  I asked a couple of different friends to come with me but they couldn't so I thought about Carl.  Would he like to come?  He did.  

My mother really liked him though she did ask, "Audrey, who is this man you've brought with you?"  I still think it's funny when I think of her question.

Yes, Carl was a nice person. Yes, I liked him as a nice person. But that was it.

As time passed, I grew to really like Carl. He was funny, yet he was serious. He was tall. He loved the Lord. It was difficult not to be impressed with his knowledge of the Bible and his love for God’s Word. He was 23 years old and had only been a believer five years but he had a zeal for the Lord unlike any I had ever seen in a young man. His heart seemed to beat to share the gospel with people - any person. It was like he was in debt – and the only way to be released of the debt was to deliver the gospel. He had fervor, still does, to make Christ known to anyone who would listen. He possessed a boldness to keep right on teaching and preaching Jesus no matter what.

I didn’t have this boldness even though I had been a Christian since childhood.

I had so much respect for this Carl Broggi. I was impressed but I was not in love. It wouldn't be long, however, before I learned respect is the foundation for real love.

I could tell Carl loved me. And by Thanksgiving, heasked me to marry him. I said yes. I’m not even sure why I said yes other than somehow I knew he was God’s choice for me. We began planning a June wedding – to take place after I finished my classes and internship and before staff training in Colorado.

He talked to my dad. I met his family. He kept working at his job as I was finishing my degree.

Sometime in the spring, I was walking across campus back to my dorm after my last class. I had to go through what we called the “Pit” – it was an outdoor brick courtyard between the Student Union and the Bookstore.

As I was approaching the Pit – I could tell a crowd had gathered, as it often did – and I could hear someone preaching. I could also hear jeers and hecklers.

As I got closer I could tell that it was a traveling campus preacher – one who had been at Carolina before and one whom so many students hated. Then I heard a voice change – almost as if someone was handing off a baton. And this voice was familiar. In fact, too familiar. I soon realized that Carl had stepped in to help the preacher and he was preaching Christ with the boldness and compassion that I had only read about in the book of Acts. As the issue of Christ took center stage, the jeers and the heckling increased. It didn’t seem to bother Carl.

I stayed back, near the wall – embarrassed – I just wanted to slither into the bookstore unnoticed. Then some girl I barely knew said to me, “Isn’t that your fiancé?”

“Um . . . well...” and I ducked away. Inside the bookstore, someone else I barely knew came up to me and said something like, “Why aren’t you out there? Isn’t he your fiancé?”

I am so ashamed to say it – but I just wanted to get away. Though I had been bought with the blood of the One they were preaching – I didn’t want to be identified with them. So, instead of standing there praying for the preacher, for Carl, and for the students who so desperately needed Jesus Christ, I slithered my way back to my dorm and all I could think of was how Peter denied Jesus.

Carl and I never discussed it.

Then, a few months later on June 28, 1980 Carl and I walked the aisle and said our vows before God and man. I became Mrs. Carl Broggi.

Well, it’s been nearly thirty-four years, five children, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, and nine and a half grandchildren since then. I am still impressed by this man and I know what real love is. It’s not the stuff that Hollywood offers and it’s different from what I thought love was in my pre-Carl days. It’s deep. It’s not about being northern or southern, dressing preppy, or driving a cool car.

A few years ago, I was reminded of all the reasons I was impressed by and grew to love this man. We were in Vienna, Austria on our way home from one of our Ukraine mission trips. We had a day in the city and wanted to see as much as we could. Our hotel was near an open market area where we found ourselves taking in the cathedrals, parks, and even an Austrian public school. There were all sorts of ‘artisans’ in the square, including two mimes. One was dressed as an angel, standing on a pedestal. The other was dressed like the grim reaper. Seizing the opportunity, my husband stood beside the angel and using them as props began preaching the gospel.

It was like he was part of their act. Or, I should say they were part of his act. At first, I thought, what is he doing? Then my mind flashed to Carolina’s pit and Carl’s preaching. For half a second, I thought about ducking into a nearby bookstore. But I didn’t - I knew God was giving me a fresh opportunity to stand my man and be identified with him.

See, years before in Carolina’s pit, I had slithered away. Well, in Austria’s pit, I was not going to slither away. In fact, I got out my camera and took some pictures. I felt like saying, “That’s my husband! Listen to him – he’s got a message for you that you don’t want to miss.” I told our children, “Be proud of your dad – pray for him – and pray for those who listen.”

A crowd gathered – some laughing, some standing, and some pausing before they turned away. But some were listening. Out of the some who were listening emerged four teenage boys. When Carl finished preaching, these boys approached him and began asking all kinds of questions about the gospel.

I was in awe of this man – who was tired from preaching and teaching non-stop in Ukraine. This man who had been sick with a stomach virus the entire time kept giving out the gospel and answering people’s questions. He was amazing.

Still is. And let me tell you, this wasn’t an isolated incident. This is how he lives his life. Always ready to share the message of salvation. This man I married bleeds the gospel of Christ. He lives to share the gospel with anyone, and I mean anyone who will listen.  In all these years, he’s never wavered.

Other reasons I love and respect this man? He is faithful. He is gracious. He is business-like. He doesn't return evil for evil. When slandered, he perseveres. And I, who know him better than anyone, who has lived with him for nearly thirty-four years, who knows all his flaws - I am still impressed and I am more in love today than I was when God opened up my heart to him. The world can’t touch the love that God gives, deepens, and grows.

I’ve been to lots of weddings over the years. I am always reminded that the ceremony is just a doorway into a lifelong marriage. I am reminded that the real beauty is not the wedding itself – as important as that is – the real beauty is the covenant kept. A wedding is a sacred trust and a picture of Christ and His bride. A marriage is really about God. Our wedding invitation so long ago declared, “God has called the two of us to be one flesh, united in Him, to reflect the image of His Son.” That’s what it’s all about. Reflecting Him.

Now - about that mental list of a future husband? Well, Carl is taller than I am (lots), he's definitely rugged (you should see him under the hood of a car or working in the yard) and handsome. He loves to laugh - loudly. From time to time (though he’s not given to overdoing it), He looks into my eyes and tells me that I am the most beautiful thing in the world. He works hard and we are content. He makes a living that has always provided for our five children and me. He does love our children and I guess now, after all these years in the South, he is definitely southern. But . . . I am not the center of his world. That place belongs to God and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I am thankful today that God, in His sovereignty, brought Carl to North Carolina all those years ago. Who, but God, would have ever placed a Boston College graduate from Massachusetts on a Carolina campus? Hey, I guess I really did marry a Carolina boy after all.

​Part 2 coming soon ... all these years later ....

by Audrey on June 18th, 2014

I hosted a homeschooling conference for moms back in 1998.  I hosted another one this past Saturday, June 14th, 2014.   The following article is one I wrote for the appendix section in the notebooks I gave out at the first event and I shared them again last Saturday.  I told the women I’d make them available.  I know not everyone home schools - but since we did, I get asked about it a lot.  I didn't do everything right.  I sometimes felt like a failure.  I sometimes took my eyes off Jesus - but He always brought my vision back into focus.  He helped me.  He worked through me.  My children are so much better than I will ever hope to be.  My prayer is that these thoughts will encourage you whether you homeschool or not.   I called this article "Homeschooling Stumbling Blocks."  All these years later, I still stand by them.
Homeschooling Stumbling Blocks
·          Not seeking the Lord about His will for your family
·          Borrowing someone else’s convictions

·          Expecting your first year to go as smoothly as those who have been at it a while
·          Homeschooling without husband’s support and encouragement
·          Disorganization or unwillingness to plan and organize your days
·          Undisciplined kids
·          Comparing yourself unfairly to others
·          Floating from one curriculum to another – never settling in
·          Failure to develop your own educational philosophy -why you do what you do
·          Failure to connect with other moms for support and encouragement
·          Failure to give your children the time they need

·          Not having a proper balance of work/academics/ministry.  Successful homeschooling will incorporate all three.
·          Not being an integral part of a local church -- God instituted the church.  I think it is tragic when homeschoolers become isolated and form their own homeschooling churches.  Instead of coming under the leadership of a Bible-teaching church and using their gifts to build up the body, they gather in what they call “house churches.”  Most of this is totally unbiblical.  I would encourage you to get involved in a good local church, commit yourselves to serving there and watch God bless  your family.  Your family needs to be fragrant aroma -- not a divisive spirit.  And your children need to see and be a part of your active role in the local church that God appointed.  If you have a legitimate concern about the direction of your church or ministries that you personally don’t take part in, go to your leaders in humility -- pray for your leaders -- but don’t be a gossip and a tale-bearer and complainer!  If your church is straying from the truth of God’s Word, then that is another issue.  You should find another church (or perhaps start one -- open to all) just like everyone else, homeschooling or not.  But if your church has godly leadership you need to be a support and help just like all the saints Paul mentions by name in the New Testament who “supported the work of the Lord.”  He also mentions “brothers and sisters” who were troublemakers.  Let your children see your biblical involvement in Christ’s body.  This is another part of explaining to your children the “Joshua 4” principle.  And that’s leads up to the next stumbling block:

·          A divisive/critical spirit
·          An air of superiority concerning certain types of curriculum.  God is very creative and He leads people to use different things.  One style or one type is not necessarily better than another.  We are to encourage one another; not become prideful over curriculum choices -- that’s silly!!  As you begin to homeschool, you’ll hear lots of terms like “living books”  (Charlotte Mason coined the phrase).  In it simplest form,  it just means is that you are exposing your children to biographies and accounts of the events and people of history as opposed to just reading a segmented portion in a textbook.  Many homeschoolers are opposed to textbooks altogether, but I feel that approach is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Textbooks can be a launching pad, a springboard, to get you started.  In a textbook, someone has taken the time to organize the defining moments and people of history, science, literature and I find textbooks to be very helpful.  Remember, any curriculum will work if you are  excited about it and get into your child’s life.  If textbooks are all you have, use  them to your advantage and visit the library.  Don’t feel like you are less of a real homeschooler because you aren’t crafting your own curriculum from scratch.  Personally, I've been very very grateful for those who have developed wonderful educational materials.  However,  you still have to be discerning - and not chase after the "latest, greatest."  Keep it simple. 

·          Becoming so serious that you’re no fun!!
·          Relying too much on learning modalities or personality profiles -- while these can be helpful -- my own personal opinion is that too often they become a distraction.  Walk with God.  Grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just get to know your kids.  Spend time with them.  You’ll do fine.  God’s Word says nothing about learning styles, modalities, or personality profiles.  But He says everything about the fruit of the Spirit and becoming like Jesus.
·          Making law out of things that God does not specifically address:  homeschoolers do this a lot concerning food choices, clothing choices (I’m not talking about modesty here), make-up, courtship/dating, breastfeeding, home births, baking bread (for goodness sake!), music, group activities among teens, age segregation (our families do not have to be together at all times -- this is an extreme).  Most of the time it is a reaction to the fragmented culture we live in.  We are not to run to  extremes; we are to be sober-minded and weigh our decisions based on God’s Word.

·          Arrogance toward those who do not homeschool
·          Crowding life with activities that don’t fit with God’s purpose
·          Exclusive relationships -- an attitude of being better than others
·          Judging other people’s children
·          Being so consumed with “doing school,” there’s no joy. Love life!  Live life with your children and learn along the way - even when not at the books.  
·          Saying no to ministry opportunities without thinking them through

·          Unrealistic expectations -- there is a difference between living a life of expectancy and placing unrealistic expectations on yourself and others.  If I don’t expect my husband to meet all my needs, then I won’t be disappointed when he can’t.  If I don’t expect my house to look like House Beautiful, then I won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t; If I don’t expect my children to be perfect, then I won’t be disappointed when they’re not.  The most unhappy people are those who live with unrealistic expectations.  But the most content are those who live with a sense of expectancy about what God wants to do and can do in their lives.  That’s called faith.  And without faith, it is impossible to please God.  If I expect interruptions, messes, bad hair days, feeling tired, growing old, dirty floors, noise, then I have a lot better chance of living happily.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”    The Bible calls it contentment.  “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
·          Lack of prayer and dependence on the Lord is probably the biggest stumbling block for both those new to homeschooling and those who have been at it a long time.  We must depend on God for our daily bread.  Yes we plan, organize and schedule our days and years but God directs our steps -- one baby step at a time.

So that was my article.  And now, all of my children have graduated from our home and my last child will graduate from college in December.  And I'm so grateful to our Lord for His grace and His help.  He helps us in our weaknesses.  He really does.

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