A smile costs you nothing, but it is such an incredible blessing to those around you. You may not see your own facial expressions, so it is easy not to think about them much, but those around you definitely notice them.
This week, I’d love to challenge and encourage you to:
Seek to give your brightest, most glorious smile to your husband and children when you first see them.
Every time you walk in the room and one of your family members are there, smile at them.
When your husband or children are talking with you (and it is not something sad or really serious), smile a genuinely friendly smile at them.
You don’t have to have lipstick or makeup on. You don’t have to have perfectly white or straight teeth to do this. You don’t have to have any special talent and it doesn’t take much time at all.
All you have to do is just share that glorious smile of yours with your family.
As believers in Christ, we have more about which to smile than anyone on the planet. So we don’t have to fake a smile, thankfully. If you aren’t feeling up to smiling much, spend some time singing praises at the top of your voice to the Lord when you are by yourself in the car or at home doing chores. As you focus on God’s character and all of the countless blessings He has given to you, you may realize you have a lot to be thankful for.
Receive God’s radiant smile and love for you. Do you realize that He rejoices over you with singing (Zeph. 3:17)? How beautiful and precious is that!?
If you are feeling overwhelmed on this journey, take a break. Rest in God’s love for you. Receive His goodness, His truth, and His healing for your soul. Focus only on thanksgiving and praise for awhile. Find your joy in Christ Jesus. Think about Philippians 4:8 kinds of things, which is God’s will for all of us as believers:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8
That is the most powerful thing you can do. As you draw near to Him, Your heart and soul will heal and shine. After He has filled up you to overflowing…
Radiate that glorious smile of yours to everyone in your family!
You are the “heart” of the home. You get to have a huge impact on the emotional and spiritual temperature in your family. I want to see you set the atmosphere to warm, safe, welcoming, and loving. Yes… your smile has that much power! And even if there is a lot of tension in your marriage and your husband can’t hear words from you right now, as you smile at him – you are showing him you are a safe place, that you have the joy of Christ in your heart, and that you have good things to give to him when he is ready to receive them.
What a priceless gift this will be to those you love. You may be shocked at what happens as you simply share this beautiful asset of yours with those you love.
Smile at your family without any expectations of anyone doing anything for you in return. Then let me know what happens as you focus on blessing your husband and children with your beautiful smile this week, my precious sisters. As you think about good things, and as you focus on smiling – does anything change in your walk with Christ, your own feelings, or your relationships?
A joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22
Those who look to him are radiant. Psalm 34:5
Rejoice in the Lord always. Philippians 4:4
There are many benefits to you personally when you smile – even a number of health benefits. Check out this article!
There seems to be so much confusion around the concept of biblical submission for wives. I’d like to discuss today something that biblical submission is not because a number of women think they hear me say that biblical submission means passivity:
I shouldn’t ever say how I feel or what I want.
I should have no opinions.
I should never disagree with my husband.
I should never share my insights, perspective, wisdom, or concerns with my husband.
I should be quiet all the time.
I should smile all the time.
I should let my husband decide everything in our marriage without any input from me whatsoever.
I am completely heartbroken to think that ANY wife would ever live like this!
This is not biblical submission. For a wife to give up all of her ideas, her personality, her influence, her identity, her personhood, her emotions, and her input would be complete passivity and inactivity – not biblical submission. I am not sure how I can be more clear than this. I don’t know ANY healthy husband who would want his wife to act like this. All of the remotely decent husbands who comment here want wives who can think and feel and be intelligent partners with them.
I can always be full of the joy of Christ (Gal. 5:22-23). I can choose to smile simply to bless my husband. I may not always smile, but God’s joy can put a real smile on my face almost all of the time! If I am being sinned against or something is really wrong, I may not smile – but I can look to God, trust Him, rest in His sovereignty and peace, seek His wisdom, and praise and thank Him for His goodness.
In our own human strength, apart from Christ, the best we can do as men or women is to be passive and uninvolved or dominant and controlling. We tend to swing from one sinful extreme to another. But there is this place in the center where we can soar far above human ability as God’s Spirit empowers us. That is where we must be as godly men and women – in the center of God’s design for masculinity or femininity.
“Submission refers to a wife’s divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband’s guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Christ is her absolute authority, not the husband. She submits “out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21). The supreme authority of Christ qualifies the authority of her husband. She should never follow her husband into sin. Nevertheless, even when she may have to stand with Christ against the sinful will of her husband… she can still have a spirit of submission – a disposition to yield. She can show by her attitude and behavior that she does not like resisting his will and that she longs for him to forsake sin and lead in righteousness so that her disposition to honor him as head can again produce harmony.” (pg. 61)
We die to our old sinful self. We die to sin. We die to wanting our will more than anything else. Then we are living for Christ through His power in us. We embrace and promote His will. We become His ambassadors. We allow Him to love through us. We allow Him to influence and bless others through us. We take up His desires, His priorities, His goals, His wisdom, His heart, His mind, His power, and His Spirit. Christ allows us to keep our personalities, our personhood, our human emotions, our own free will, and our own thoughts and opinions. We do not become mindless robots. We do not unplug and sit like an abandoned, unplugged, old computer in a closet. We are intelligent, emotional, spiritual beings who are able to think on our own – but we willingly yield our lives to Christ, trusting Him to lead us through our husbands.
When He prompts us to be quiet and pray – that is what we do.
When He prompts us to speak up respectfully, that is what we do.
From this position of great strength in Christ, we submit to our husbands.
This means, we honor their God-given leadership and we treat them with genuine respect because they are our husbands and because God commands that we do this. We do it to honor Christ above all else. The main time that submission is an issue is if a husband and wife cannot agree. In fact, if we always agreed, there would be no need for submission. But we will not always agree – which is why submission is necessary in marriage – in order for one person to be ultimately accountable to God for the decisions and management of the family.
When I don’t agree with Greg, I share the issues I have respectfully as God prompts me to – and then I let Greg know that I trust him to make the best decision for our family as I pray for God to direct him and give him His wisdom. Ultimately, my trust is in Christ Jesus and His sovereignty to work in our lives – not in Greg. God’s wisdom is worthy of all of my trust. (By the way, there are plenty of things a biblically submissive wife will decide on her own, within the parameters of the loving leadership of Christ and her husband. She doesn’t need to run every single possible issues past her husband, usually just the bigger ones that they agree on.)
We are to share our concerns, our ideas, our feelings, our perspective, our wisdom, our desires, and our perspective with our husbands. We have “influence authority” just like a king’s advisor has. The king has “positional authority” and his advisor has “influence authority.” I may choose to use my influence authority to influence my husband to sin – like Eve did. Or I may choose to use my influence authority for God and to bring praise and glory to God like Esther did with the king, her husband.
It would be tragic for me to take the abilities and influence God has given me and bury it all in the dirt and do absolutely nothing with it. No! May it never be!!!
We cannot shine for Christ if we lay down and become completely passive and do nothing. What is the purpose of us even being there if we are not being godly stewards of the position God has given to us as wives and mothers?
I hope that this might help to clarify some of the confusion some ladies have had and prevent women from attempting to become passive, inactive, and invisible in their homes and relationships.
Greg introduced me to the podcasts of Wayne Grudem recently. I am so excited to hear this godly man teach! He was the general editor of the ESV version of the Bible. He knows Greek. He is the Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix seminary. He has written many books about theology. He is part of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I had heard David Platt mention that council in his sermons at times. Greg told me that David Platt referenced Wayne Grudem in some of his teaching. I am thrilled to see this statement that I am about to share – it explains things much more clearly and concisely than I ever could! This is a summary of all that I have been teaching and exactly what I believe the Bible teaches! Who knew!?!? What an excellent resource Wayne Grudem is and the site about Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is, too. I just had to let you in on these resources – can’t keep them to myself! (Please keep in mind that we must always carefully weigh what any human says against Scripture and prayerfully test what is said.)
As a girl and teenager, I figured that boys thought pretty much the same way that I did. I didn’t pay much attention to what anyone wore – so why would guys be looking at me? I wasn’t very caught up in clothing. I almost always wore jeans and a t-shirt, except I would wear a dress or skirt on Sundays for church.
I didn’t think that clothing was very important or made any real statements about anything about a person. I was horrified to dress immodestly out of embarrassment. But girly clothing seemed too expensive for my budget of $20/month as a teenager and it seemed uncomfortable and fussy. Dressy clothes didn’t fit me well – they almost always gaped in the chest area and were too tight in the belly. Shopping for clothes was always very frustrating for me. Still is!
I did start dressing up a bit more in college, when Greg asked me if I could wear dresses more often. When I got my first job as a pharmacy technician, I wore dresses to try to look more professional. Then a week after we got married, I severely sprained my lower back. Suddenly all the beautiful dressy, girly shoes were a thing of the past and I had to find shoes that didn’t hurt my back. Tennis shoes didn’t seem to go with feminine clothing at all, so I just stuck with jeans at home and khakis at the pharmacy for many years.
GROWING UP I FELT AWKWARD AND UNFEMININE!
I mostly remember feeling VERY unfeminine when I was in elementary school. I was kind of my Daddy’s “son” until my little brother (7 years younger than me) was old enough to take over that position. My twin sister was “the girly twin” and I was “the tomboy.” I didn’t relate much to a lot of the girls. I didn’t like the drama – and I became a target of some of the more popular girls in class who enjoyed teasing and making fun of me in upper elementary school. I got glasses in 5th grade – which made me feel even more awkward and un-pretty. So, I retreated into a bit of a shell.
A boy made fun of my twin sister and me on the bus one day in 7th grade in front of everyone in the loudest voice, “You guys are SO FLAT!!!!!!” And he laughed hysterically and pointed at us.
I began to believe that guys couldn’t be attracted to me – that my body was too “flawed.”
I believed that being feminine was impossible for me. I was convinced that I was not “woman enough” because of the curves I lacked and my self-consciousness sky-rocketed. I felt judged and completely rejected by the world’s standards of physical beauty. I believed I was invisible to guys. Any guy who was friendly to me – I assumed just wanted to be my friend. I couldn’t accept that a guy would actually be attracted to me as a girl – so I became completely blind to how guys actually saw me or any interest guys may have had in me.
If I ever did hear teaching about godly femininity or modesty, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention because I didn’t think those things really applied to me. I didn’t feel much like girl, and didn’t think I looked very beautiful. I didn’t understand the power of a feminine body or spirit. And since I had close to zero understanding of how guys think, I didn’t realize I had anything to be concerned about.
AS A YOUNG WOMAN
A lady at Victoria’s Secret measured me when I was about 25 years old. She laughed loudly and said, “Oh, girl! We don’t have NOTHING here that would fit YOU!”
In fact, the only lingerie that fits me to this day is from the little girls’ department. Like – the children’s department.
Now, I am actually totally fine with my figure. In fact, I love my figure and am completely confident in my body these days. I am so thankful for the body God has given me. I am able to see the positives and even accept the things I used to see as “flaws” as beautiful. I am grateful to God that Greg loves my figure and has always been very accepting of my body.
Me (April) and our son – a month before I turned 30
I LOOKED YOUNG
Another issue about my appearance was that I usually looked MUCH younger than I actually was. I will be 41 this March. Usually – people these days think I am in my twenties. But people regularly asked me if I was 12 years old until way after I was 30. That got really old! Patients didn’t take me very seriously at work in the pharmacy many times. They didn’t think I could possibly be old enough to be a pharmacist. One man demanded to see my driver’s license because he didn’t believe I could even be 15. I was 27 at the time.
So – my figure made me look 12, my face made me look 12. I just never really could accept that I could feel feminine, womanly and beautiful. It seemed impossible to me for a long time.
HAVING A SON TOOK ME EVEN FARTHER FROM FEMININITY FOR AWHILE
Then we had our son and he LOVED to be outside- all the time. He would run for hours. So I continued in my jeans and a pony tail for going to the playground almost every day and running around in my tennis shoes. In fact, if I didn’t wear tennis shoes, I couldn’t catch my boy when he was 2-3 years old! I soon cut my hair short, even though I knew my husband loved it long. I was all about being practical. Who cared what my husband thought anyway, right? That was my mindset at the time. Turns out that short hair took WAY LONGER to style than long hair – for me, at least. I MISSED my long hair and decided I didn’t want to cut it short anymore after that.
April in 04-2006
THEN WE HAD A BABY GIRL
I started thinking more about femininity when I had a daughter and she was starting to be old enough to want to wear dresses every day and to love princesses. I loved how romantic the long dresses looked in her stories and realized that the effect just wouldn’t be the same if the princess was wearing jeans and a t-shirt! Maybe clothing makes more of a statement than I had ever really considered before.
Our daughter – 2 years old
I began to study femininity and God’s design for women/wives/moms and the way God made men and women to be so marvelously different from each other. I began to understand that a woman has a great deal of power in her appearance that affects her own attitudes and also significantly impacts most of the men around her – including her husband.
I was so excited to discover that I could actually feel feminine and womanly!
ME!?!? Who knew!?!
I could have a gentle, peaceful, vulnerable, delicate spirit.
I could be soft and beautiful.
I could be the follower in my marriage instead of a take-charge leader, barking out orders and giving commands.
I could wear girly clothing (once I found the right styles for me) and I did finally feel like a woman – especially in long, flowing skirts. The clothing actually did make a difference in my feelings about myself. Hmm…. that was interesting!
I realized that the more feminine I look and act, the more feminine I will feel and the more masculine my husband will feel. That helps to really BOOST the chemistry and attraction! What a powerful revelation!
I decided that I wanted to attempt to model godly femininity for my daughter – as well as my son – by my dress, my attitude, my voice, my expressions, my priorities, my character, my love for Christ – EVERYTHING.
MODESTY IS BEAUTIFUL
My understanding of modesty grew out of my study of godly femininity and also understanding men much better. Men think VERY differently from women and are tempted visually in ways I had never imagined. Kinda shocking for me at first! If I had known in high school what I know now – I may have worn a choir robe to school instead of jeans and a t-shirt every day! I think a lot of women think things like, “Oh, I’m too small, too big, too old, too young, too unattractive to have to concern myself with modesty. I am not a temptation to anyone.”
I know I felt like that.
Now, I know modesty is a gift we can give to others no matter what our shape/age may be. It is a way to show reverence for God, respect for myself, for my husband and for others around me (men and women alike). I REALLY love adding feminine clothing to the modesty equation- I feel softer, lovelier and more beautiful. I noticed more men holding doors open for me and offering to help me. I noticed that I feel so different when I “dress the part” of being a woman.
Clothing can tell the world you are a lady and it is interesting to see that people actually do treat a woman differently depending on what she chooses to wear. Skirts and dresses remind me that I have the honor of being a woman and that I am thankful I don’t “wear the pants in the family.” It is a subtle reminder to myself to savor my identity as a woman each day, to embrace my femininity, and it is a reminder to my husband that I am a delicate, beautiful, feminine woman to be cherished and adored by him. I like that!
Am I saying all women should dress just like I do?
I am just sharing my story.
My favorite definition of modesty is that it is “humility in clothing.”
If we have a spirit of humility- as Christ certainly did, and we are emulating Christ- then we will desire our clothing to draw attention to Him not to our bodies. And I will have mercy on my brothers in Christ by seeking to wear clothing that will not distract or tempt them to lust after me. And I will model modesty for my daughter so that she grows up seeing that modesty is “normal” and understanding the gift of her femininity and sexuality and how to properly use it and how to guard her great gift.
I think the subjects of modesty and femininity are fascinating. I kind of felt like I was building my identity as a woman from scratch 5 years ago. I pray that we might discover God’s beautiful design for femininity and live it well. And I pray we might pass along God’s ways, wisdom and perspective to the generations coming behind us.