Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’re looking for specific resources, be sure to check out the topics in the column to the right. Otherwise, feel free to look around! ~ Kerry

Friday, November 5, 2010

Praying for Your Husband

Philippians 4:5-7 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Below is the prayer guide found in Secrets appendix. As you pray, allow the peace that God provides to guard your heart and mind.

For Your Husband

Relationship with God
Psalm 19:1-4 Pray your husband will see god at work in all creation.
Psalm 42 Pray your husband will be “thirsty for God.”
Psalm 103:1-18 Pray for your husband to experience God’s great love.
Psalm 139:1-18 Remember that this truth applies to your husband as you pray for him.
Isaiah 55 Pray your husband will seek God with his whole heart and find the satisfaction that only God can give.
Colossians 1:15-20 Pray your husband will come to know Christ as He is described in these verses.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Pray your husband will live in awareness of Christ’s return.

Righteous Living
Psalm 1 Pray your husband will be a righteous and “blessed man.”
Psalm 32 Pray your husband will be quick to repent.
Proverbs 4:23-27 Pray your husband will be a man of integrity.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 Pray your husband will avoid sexual immorality.
Hebrews 4:12 Pray that your husband’s heart will be touched in a life-changing way anytime he hears the Word of God.

Ability as a Husband
Ephesians 5:25-33 Pray your husband’s love for you will grow to be like Christ’s.
Philippians 2:1-8 Pray your husband will serve others with a humble heart.

Wisdom for Decisions
Psalm 62 Pray your husband will place his hope and trust in God.
Psalm 86:1-7 and Psalm 107 Pray that when your husband is in trouble, he will call out to God.
Proverbs 2 Pray your husband will grow in wisdom, insight, and understanding.

If Your Husband Is Not Yet a Christian
Hebrews 11:1 Remember that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Have faith in God and believe for your husband’s salvation.
2 Peter 3:8,9 Remember God’s patience and His desire for your husband to come to know Him.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


My husband and I are in the midst of a transition. Two weeks ago, we accepted new positions that require us to resign from our pastorate and to relocate.

We have experienced many different emotions in the past 14 days. Our kids and six-week old granddaughter live in the city we are leaving behind. We are also leaving many close relationships that developed during our 10 years in Wichita.

We know God is leading us and we are excited for our new roles. We are also saddened at the loss that accompanies this transition. This is our first move that doesn’t include our children. While they are adults, I can’t begin to put words to the emotions I am encountering at the thought of leaving them. I’m thankful we are only moving four-and-a- half hours away—we already have trips planned to see our sweet grandbaby.

In the midst of all of this transition, I’m reminded of the importance of prioritizing our marriage. It is the one relationship designed to endure every season of our adult lives. Children grow up, friends move away, and extended families rarely have the privilege of living close to one another. In the midst of so much change, God gives us marriage—a human relationship that is intended to last a lifetime.

I’m so thankful to be starting this new season with my best friend—my awesome husband! And quite honestly, I’m looking forward to this new adventure together!

I want to encourage you today to prioritize your relationship with your spouse, above any other relationship—it is meant to last a lifetime!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mother and Daughter Lead Together

One of my friends shared her testimony with me about forming a Secrets small group. I hope her experience encourages those that are considering leading a Bible study. Here’s what Guyla said:

Maybe it was the butterfly and the stunning pink and black graphics; maybe it was the title, Secrets: Transforming Your Life and Marriage; maybe it was the Lord. Whatever the reason, I was intrigued the first time I saw an e-mail promoting the release of this new Bible study for women. Almost immediately, I knew I needed to lead a group. I hoped my daughter, Melissa, would join me.

When I showed her the information, Melissa agreed it would be fun to lead the class together. We both felt that, as a mother/daughter team, we could bring our different perspectives to play in the group. Within a few weeks, we received approval to start the study in our church, set a date to begin, promoted the group, and developed a list of interested women. We were amazed at how quickly it all came together.

Our group wasn't large, but it was diverse. We had several young moms—one who had just left a difficult relationship. We had an engaged college student, a divorcee from an abusive home situation, and a woman experiencing challenges in a forty-year marriage. At the end of the series, the women expressed their appreciation for the class and felt it had opened their eyes to see their lives and their relationships from God’s perspective. Several expressed interest in taking the class again.

As leaders, we were continually impressed with the quality of this study. From the pre-planning information to the lessons and support materials, everything flowed together very well. The videos helped to set the pace for the easy-to-follow session plans. Gary Smalley's comments added to Kerry Clarensau's already astute teaching. The testimonies added a personal element. Discussions were a natural consequence of the many powerful “ah-ha” moments we all experienced.

Will we lead a second class of Secrets? Absolutely! We can hardly wait to see what God will teach all of us this time as we open His Word with Kerry. Without a doubt, Secrets can make a difference for women who are seeking the Lord’s answers for their lives and their marriages. The beautiful thing about God’s secrets is that they always improve our lives – and He can’t wait to share them with all of us!”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Unconditional Respect?

We expect our husband to love us even on our worst day. After all, they are instructed to love us as they love themselves (Ephesians 5:33). We are firm believers in unconditional love. :) But the idea of unconditional respect might be difficult for us to understand and can even be more difficult to express. However, the same verse that encourages them to love us also says, “and the wife must respect her husband.”

I’ve come to understand that a man’s greatest need is for respect. In fact, our husbands have great difficulty feeling loved without respect. Gary Smalley explains it this way, “He hungers for sincere admiration and respect; and he will gravitate toward those who admire him.” They connect respect to love so closely that they will actually feel despised when we are disrespectful to them.

God knows our husband hungers for respect, so He instructs us to meet that need. Personally, I want to show my husband more respect than anyone else shows him. Even when we disagree, I want to meet his greatest need through kindness, submission, approval, and trust. And the benefits are amazing—as I respect him, it helps him to be drawn to me…

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I’ve always been intrigued by the way Scripture describes King David—a man after God’s own heart. Many times as I read the Psalms or passages about David, I try to understand more about what it means to be a person after God’s heart.

The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles contain Israel’s history from creation to the Babylonian exile. Chapter ten shares the death of King Saul and leads us to the reign of David. The writer of Chronicles doesn’t spend much time telling us about the life of Saul, he simply tells us why he died:

“Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14, NIV).

This verse clearly describes things Saul did wrong—he was unfaithful to the Lord and he did not keep the word of the Lord. Yet we also see something Saul failed to do—inquire of the Lord. If we were asked to describe what it means to be a person after God’s heart, we might say to be faithful to God and to keep His word. But would we immediately think—someone who inquires of the Lord?

This is an interesting word: inquire. Webster defines it this way: 1. to seek information; ask a question or questions 2. to carry out an examination or investigation—to seek information about.

As we read chapters 14-15 in 1 Chronicles, we see David consistently inquiring of the Lord, and learning costly lessons when he didn’t.

David’s life reveals many insights into being a person after God’s heart—a willingness to wait on God’s timing, a hunger for God’s word, a humble attitude, a desire to praise, a willingness to be broken and repentant, and so much more.

But today I’m challenged to inquire of the Lord.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are We Fighting the Right Battles?

Recently while reading the Bible, a section of stood out to me like it was written in neon letters:

“‘Do not be afraid or discouraged….For the battle is not yours, but God’s….You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you….Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged….the LORD will be with you’” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17, NIV).

Immediately I felt the Lord speak to my heart about a few of the “battles” I am trying to fight. They are His—not mine!

What are the wrong battles to fight?

It’s easy to engage in the wrong battles and neglect the ones we are intended to fight. Here are a few of the battles that may distract us:
  • battling what someone else thinks about us
  • battling to fix or control someone else’s personal struggle
  • battling for successful results (when it is God who brings the increase)
  • battling to make things work out the way we think they should

What happens when we fight the wrong battles?
We learn an incredible lesson from the prophet, Haggai. He writes to the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. after a 48-year exile in Babylon. The Jews had allowed opposition from surrounding enemies to distract them from their purpose of rebuilding the temple that lay destroyed. Haggai told them:

“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it….You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house’” (Haggai 1:5-6,9, NIV).

For fifteen years, they allowed the battles with their enemies to bring discouragement and apathy.
  • Fighting the wrong battles caused them to lose the right focus, and they became self-focused.
  • Fighting the wrong battles caused them to be nonproductive. The harder they worked for themselves, the more futile their efforts were.
  • Fighting the wrong battles caused them to neglect the right battle.

What battles should we fight?

1. Fight the good fight of faith
The Apostle Paul told Timothy to “fight the good fight of the faith.” And He told him how to fight it: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:11,12, NIV).

We actively fight the good fight of faith by pursuing those things listed in this verse. When this is the priority in our lives, we find the fulfillment a close relationship with God brings.

2. Fight unhealthy thoughts
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does….We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV).

Our enemy is at work planting doubts and temptations; these unhealthy thoughts lead to unhealthy behaviors. But the good news is that we don’t have to allow negative thoughts to remain and affect our behavior. As we pursue God, He gives us discernment and the power to bring every thought under obedience of Christ.

3. Fight apathy and laziness
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).

We can’t give up! We must keep our eyes on Christ and follow His lead in doing good. He will bring deliverance for every battle in His time!

4. Fight in prayer for others
“[Epaphras] is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12, NIV).

Many battles are spiritual (Ephesians 6:12). When we wrestle in prayer for others, we are much less likely to wrestle with them in our words, attitudes, or actions. While verbal or emotional wrestling produces wounded relationships, prayer gives God the opportunity fight the battle and bring the best solution.

When we experience emotional and spiritual fatigue, we should take a look at the battles we are fighting. The good fight of faith strengthens us and never leaves us battle-weary. Let’s take our positions, stand firm, and see what the Lord can do!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grace So Amazing

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth come through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14, 16-18, NIV).

Grace…The Lord is taking me on a journey to understand this simple, yet incredibly complicated word. He is challenging me to think grace-filled thoughts, to speak gracious words, to have graceful attitudes, and to encounter people with the grace I have so freely received. Let me share with you a portion of my journey.

The more I study, the more I’m convinced that grace isn’t simply something we receive, it is something we must give. There are many verses that don’t actually use the word grace that challenge us toward grace-filled living:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2, NIV).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for the building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 29, 31-32, NIV).

Galatians 6 encourages us to encounter others with grace, even those who are caught in sin. We are to restore them gently and humbly. I have asked my self, do I tend to think of others critically and judgmentally, or with a desire for them to experience the redemptive work of grace?

My thoughts, words, and actions toward others must reflect God’s redemptive thoughts, words, and actions toward me. Freely I have received, freely I must give. I desire to allow the amazing grace Christ has lavished on me to pour through me to every person I encounter, especially to the person closest to me—my husband.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Embracing vs. Embittering

Have you ever found yourself grumbling over difficult circumstances? I know I have…

To be completely honest, a few months into this new challenge I began to feel extremely overwhelmed. And that is when the grumbling began…“How am I supposed to give 100% to the national office and 100% to our local congregation? I don’t like being away from my husband, family, and church family one week a month.” Grumble, grumble, grumble…went the self-focused melody of my heart.

The writer of Hebrews even warns us in Hebrews 12:15 against a bitter root that can grow to cause trouble and defile many. It is so easy to grumble and complain as we walk through difficult situations. We may even feel justified in our bad attitudes; but despising our circumstances leads to bitterness, rebellion, and hardness of heart. That bitter root will impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

Embracing hardship leads to maturity and a wonderful harvest of righteousness. But how do we embrace hardship as God’s discipline?
1. Recognize that He is Master and I am servant.
2. Believe God will work all things for my good.
3. Believe that where He leads, He will provide (strength, peace, wisdom,…).
4. Live for His eternal purposes, not my temporal ones.
5. Trust His love!
6. Depend completely on Him!

It is amazing what happens when we simply change our focus from self-centered pity to humble submission. There is joy and peace! I’ve discovered that many times it is not our circumstances that need to change—it is us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Heart Still Fluttering

Even after 27 years of marriage, my heart still flutters when he holds my hand! I absolutely LOVE spending my life with Mike. As I thought about this, I realized that it’s the little things that make this possible—
• We treat each other with kindness and respect.
• We have prioritized our marriage above any other relationship.
• We say, “I’m sorry” and “Thank you.”
• We spend time together (even if we have to get creative with our schedules).
• We talk, laugh, cry, pray, and dream together.
• We keep our promises.
• We look for simple ways to say, “I love you.”

Never underestimate the impact of little things on a marriage.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dancing in the Rain

Several weeks ago I was having a “blue” afternoon. Nothing major was going on, I was just bogged down by mundane routine and everyday frustrations. I was sitting in my office working and trying to fight off the grey cloud that I felt hanging over my head, when it started to rain. I really LOVE sunshine, and the rain just added to the heaviness in my heart.

A few minutes after it started to rain, something outside my office window caught my eye. I turned my desk chair to see the movement and was instantly captivated by one of the most precious sights I’ve ever experienced. Our neighbor’s 12-year-old daughter was dancing in the rain…she was whirling and leaping with her face upward and her arms outstretched—soaking up every drop of rain possible. Her ballet moves were beautiful, but it was her innocence and uninhibited enjoyment of the rainy moment that was so compelling. Something in my heart longed to dance with her.

I wondered if I had somehow missed the opportunity to “dance in the rain,” to see the beauty in everyday moments and embrace whatever life brings with joy. Had I allowed the circumstances of life to overwhelm the best part of life—God’s presence? Psalm 16:11 says, “You fill me with joy in your presence.” While my 12-year-old neighbor may have just been dancing in the rain, she inspired me to embrace God’s presence in spite of the storms and to dance. (If you want to read more verses on joy, go to biblegateway.com and keyword search the word joy.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Love God? Love People.

Recently I’ve been so challenged by Jesus words in Matthew 25.
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'  37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 
 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 
I’ve been challenged to encounter every person as if I’m encountering Jesus Himself—realizing the way I treat others is how I am treating Christ. It is so important the way I interact with a server who doesn’t get the order right… or the child who uses our yard for mud wrestling… or a friend who is caught in some sin… or the homeless individual who approaches me in a parking lot…

In every encounter, I have the opportunity to show the grace God continually extends to me and the love He showers on me. Or I can respond selfishly with judgment, criticism, and disregard. But the more I experience His grace, love, and kindness, the more it naturally flows from my lives to others. God has helped me to understand that my love for Him is seen most clearly in my interactions with others.

This challenge isn’t just with those I encounter outside of my home. I’ve actually felt a strong conviction to treat my husband in the same way I would treat Jesus. And it has completely revolutionized what I think as I am interacting with him. To be honest—our relationship is more precious than ever before!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Meditation of My Heart

One of the first verses I memorized was Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Have you ever struggled with the “meditation of your heart”? I know I have. There are times when I tend to dwell on circumstances that seem overwhelming. And when my thoughts are not what they need to be, the words of my mouth reflect the fear, doubt, confusion, and despair that worry produces. No matter how hard I try to keep it from happening, my mouth just pours out what my heart has been meditating on.

I’ve only found one thing that really helps the meditation of my heart. And it is found earlier in Psalm 19:7-8—
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statues of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

His Word revives us, makes us wise, gives joy to our heart and light to our eyes!

When my heart seems to rehearse the difficulties life brings, I am gently reminded to turn my heart toward God. As I meditate on Him, not my circumstances, my attitude and words reflect His goodness. Allowing God’s truth to be the meditation of my heart has the ability to turn exhaustion into restoration, confusion into guidance, despair into joy, and discouragement into light!

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Love Valentine’s Day!

It’s so much fun planning simple ways to tell my friends how much they mean to me. And I still buy Valentines for my adult kids—they’ll never out grow Valentines, Easter baskets, or Christmas stockings as long as I’m around. :)

But of course, the very best part of Valentine’s Day is the special time alone with Mike! He just called me from our favorite bed-and-breakfast—The Castle Inn at Riverside. He’s down there, making our reservation and picking out our room. I have the best husband ever! I can’t wait for our get-a-way later this month! YAY!

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of lavishing love on those we care about. First John 3:1 tells us, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I believe He still sends us love notes too! Sometimes He sends His love in the giggle of a child, an embrace of an old friend, a beautiful sunset, a yummy meal, a quiet moment in His Word, or peace in the midst of heartache. I hope to recognize all of the moments He lavishes His love on me and my family—especially this weekend.

May my heart be so full of His lavish love that it can’t help but spill out on others!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Don't Be that Guy!

My husband is in the middle of a sermon series entitled, “Don’t Be that Guy!” He is looking at some of the lessons we learn in the lives of the “bad guys” found in the book of Luke. This past Sunday he walked us through the story of the Prodigal Son and examined the older brother (Luke 15:11-32). Mike called him the “I deserve better” guy.

While the older brother had always done the right thing—he stayed home, worked for his father, and didn’t waste his inheritance on wild living—his self-centeredness caused him to miss out on a great celebration, and so much more.

Listen to how the Message translates verses 25-32—
"All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day's work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, 'Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.'

"The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't listen. The son said, 'Look how many years I've stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!'

"His father said, 'Son, you don't understand. You're with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he's alive! He was lost, and he's found!'"
I love the father’s words, “You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours.” How had this son done all of the right things, but miss the joy of relationship with his father and the blessings of being his child?

Could it be because he thought he deserved better? Notice his words to his father. Basically he said, “I’ve never done anything wrong, yet you’ve never done anything for me!” Really? Could this son be that perfect? And has the father really neglected this son? It sounds like he had provided very well for him.

I wondered how many times I have been like the older son. I’m not talking about being upset when others get a party. But how many times have I missed the joy and blessings of being a child of God, simply because I was so focused on myself and what I thought I was lacking.

I don’t want to miss a moment of the celebration! I’m determined to really enjoy the relationship God offers me. And I don’t want to take ANY blessing for granted—I want to recognize His goodness and be truly thankful!

If you want to hear Mike’s message, go to www.maranathawichita.com.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Loving God More Than Your Husband

Recently I answered an e-mail from a precious young friend, and I thought there could be someone else struggling with the same issue. My friend wrote:

“How do you love God more than your husband? Or desire God more than your husband? Before I met my husband, I committed to give my heart completely to Jesus and to just dwell in His love. But since we’ve been married, I have struggled to do that. Even my husband has noticed that my love for Jesus seems to have faded. I feel that I am just lukewarm, just living life, and I hate it. I have asked God to rekindle that flame that once burned in my heart. And I am beginning to make myself push beyond my own selfish comfort zone. I don’t just want to desire God; I want to move on to seeking Him out. Will you please pray that my heart will desire and love God above my husband? And that I’ll know how to love my husband too, and not choose sides?”

My reply:

I will pray for you! You are definitely taking the right steps—asking for a renewed hunger and humbling yourself before God. Here are just some thoughts about loving God more than your husband:
1. First of all, God knows that you are human—and that your husband is human and right there before you in flesh and blood. Naturally, we can be more captivated by what we can see and touch than what we have in faith. God completely understands this weakness!
2. As a wife you are to love your husband and give yourself unreservedly to him, and by doing that you are loving God!
3. But it is so important to keep these truths in focus—God is your Creator, your Redeemer, your Savior, your Guide, your Sustainer, your Strength, etc. And your husband is not.
4. However, you must know and live out this truth as well—your husband is your MOST important human relationship! He is your closest friend, life companion, lover, encourager, etc.
5. As you earnestly seek God and allow His Spirit to fill your life, your love for your husband will grow stronger every day, and your ability to have a wonderful, intimate relationship with him will as well.
6. Try not the think of it in a comparative way. Love God and seek Him with all your heart, and love and care for your husband like he is an extension of your own body.

I hope this helps! Love you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Maintaining a Balanced Life

“The man who fears God will avoid all extremes” (Ecclesiastes 7:18, NIV).

It is quite interesting that the book of Ecclesiastes follows the book of Proverbs. Both are written by the wisest person who has ever lived—Solomon. Yet at a first reading, these books may seem like a contradiction. In Proverbs 4:7, Solomon says, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” The entire book is teaching us how to attain wisdom and live a disciplined life.

Yet in the first verse of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” He goes on to say, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes was written at the end of Solomon’s life. He had lived a life of great extremes—if one wife is good, then hundreds are even better; if one palace is nice, then many are better; if knowledge of plant life is helpful, then knowledge of everything is best. Yet as Solomon aged, he saw the futility of the extremes and realized that life is meaningless apart from God (12:13).

Solomon tells us that there is a season for everything (3:1-8), and he encourages us with these words: “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is a gift of God.”

In chapter four, Solomon says, “The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” I believe he is describing the extremes of one who is lazy and one who is a workaholic. The lazy person may see the futility of grasping for wealth, yet he accomplishes little and disappoints those who depend on him. While the workaholic is driven by greed, he lives a life with full hands and an empty heart.

I believe Solomon would want us to understand that we should live disciplined lives that are balanced—working and resting, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, embracing and refraining. Some women may tend to work, weep, mourn, and embrace projects, and truly neglect opportunities to be refreshed. And at the other extreme, there are women who neglect work in order to only rest, laugh, dance, and refrain.

Here are some practical ways to make sure we are living a balanced life:

· Work when it is time to work.
· Sleep when it is time to sleep—try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
· Play more games—especially with those you love.
· Pray every day—and make sure there is a time of silence for listening to God.
· Take time to express thanksgiving and praise.
· Take time to celebrate the good things—every good thing is from God.
· Read more books—watch less TV.
· Call your family often.
· Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and take a walk every day.
· Don’t waste time on complaining; smile more.
· Don’t over commit; know your limits.

So how about you? Are there extremes in your life? How can you grow more balanced? Consider reading Ecclesiastes and writing down the ways you can avoid extremes.