Recently, I came down with some sort of virus. I was sick an entire weekend. Thankfully, by Monday, I was feeling better. I knew there would be chores to catch up on. I decided to start with the laundry. I opened the laundry chute and soon, there was an avalanche of clothes in the laundry room. I think I did nine loads of laundry in one day! The house badly needed to be cleaned and we had zero groceries. I stood in my kitchen, thinking, “Do I really have to do everything?” I was frustrated and irritated. After all, I had been the one who had been sick!

At that moment, I had a choice to make. I could continue down the WIM (“Woe is Me”) path, which would happily feed my sinful flesh OR I could choose to take my eyes off myself and fix them on the Lord. Both “paths” would have resulted in getting the housework done. But my motives would have been very different. The WIM path would have included the WIM soundtrack, full of negative, disappointing thoughts. In the second scenario, however, I would have thanked God that I was able to rest and sleep throughout the weekend—exactly what I needed to recover—and been thankful for my husband’s sacrificial care.

This is just one example of the countless times each day we have a choice: we can allow our flesh, our sinful nature, to guide our actions OR we can fix our eyes on the Lord and choose to be a fragrant aroma to our husbands and others. And no, I don’t mean the kind of aroma we associate with lotions or perfumes. I mean the kind of aroma that Paul writes about in Ephesians. “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Eph 5:2 NLT).  Paul exhorts us in another passage, But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, he has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume. As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us” (2 Cor 2:14-15 TLB).

It’s really a lovely image to consider ourselves as fragrant aromas to others. What do we do when we smell something fragrant and soothing? I know that I seek out the source of the fragrance. I love the smell of honeysuckle in the spring; when it blooms I love finding the bush and enjoying its sweet fragrance. Likewise, I know from my family’s reaction how aromatic food grabs their attention. They can be in four corners of the house, but when they smell something that stirs their appetite, they make a trip to the kitchen to find out what I am cooking. Sweet, wholesome fragrances and aromas are soothing to our senses and draw people together.

So…how can I be a fragrant aroma to my husband? God’s Word tells us. First, I must offer myself as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Romans 12:1). This means that I give up what I want, my desires (i.e. my desire to be served) and place others’ needs before my own. That is a very big hurdle to overcome, it does not happen overnight. It happens by continually renewing our minds according to the truth of God’s Word (Romans 12:2). It means that every day, moment by moment, we die to what our “self” desires and ask God to give us hearts for what HE desires. Change occurs through God’s Word. The more time I spend in God’s Word, the more my mind is transformed. The more knowledge I gain of my Savior, the more I will spread the sweet fragrance of Christ. My husband will notice this fragrance more than Calvin Klein’s Euphoria!

I have not always been a pleasant aroma to my husband. Sometimes, I would imagine I have reminded him more of burnt meatloaf than Christ! But God does not give up on us, and I am so grateful to say that He is gently revealing what I need to see. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Phil 1:6 NLT).

Growing in Grace

We are so encouraged by what the Lord is teaching current study participants as they continue on in the Falling in Love Again With Your Husband study!

When asked, half way through, “What is the Lord showing you through this study?” these are some of the answers we received revealing how God is working.

“The beauty of Christ submitting in everything. It’s become more beautiful over the past few weeks and I desire to follow the Lord more in my marriage,” current Thistlebend participant.

“How much I want to be in control. How much I struggle with putting my flesh to death. He is also showing me that I am a helper to my husband and it’s a beautiful thing,” current Thistlebend participant.

“Teaching me what my role is as a wife and how to glorify Him through it,” current Thistlebend participant.

“The Lord is showing me ways to love and honor my husband and helping me see my husband’s good side in a better light,” current Thistlebend participant.

“That submission is beautiful to the Lord! He is giving me guidance and, through prayer, the strength to submit,” current Thistlebend participant.

“How great my sin (especially pride) is and His intention for marriage,” current Thistlebend participant.

“Revealing fears I have of the Lord and revealing how much I need the Word of God, moment by moment, thought by thought,” current Thistlebend participant.

“That I need to put my flesh to death,” current Thistlebend participant.

God is moving as we go through this study and we are so thankful! Many women mentioned their new given perspective of submission. How do you view submission?


The Falling in Love Again With Your Husband study thus far has been very convicting, revealing so much hidden sin in my heart. It has also been very practical helping me think through ways in everyday life that I can apply right now to put my flesh to death, by God’s grace, for my marriage. This past week the Lord provided many opportunities for me to practice these new ways of thinking that He has been revealing to me.

As awful as I know this sounds, I hate going to the grocery store. It’s my least favorite errand that I do each week. My husband has recently started a new health kick and we are wanting to meal prep his lunches each week for cost effectiveness and for his health. This sounds great, but for whatever reason I have made this a huge deal. I spend time each week planning out what our dinners are going to be each night and making the grocery list, and now, because of lunch prep too, that’s additional items to buy at the grocery and more time because I need to figure out what my husband will want for lunch each week. Two weeks ago my step three of my “Taking the Truth to Heart” (This is what participants of Thistlebend studies share in their small groups each week. This prompts participants to identify specific sin from scripture and then helps participants think through practical ways to repent. This is how small group members can hold each other accountable as we share the following week how that step three action went.) was that I was going to bring my husband into my scheduling of the week process that I do, which includes meal planning.

I go to the grocery every week on the same day. My husband, earlier in the week had asked me what I thought about him doing something on this particular day that I go to the grocery store and I said I didn’t care at all as long as he was home early enough for us to go through the grocery list and schedule and me still have time to go to the grocery at a decent time so that I could get home early enough to prep his lunches with him. He agreed to this. To make a long story short, because of different circumstances that took place, he was gone much longer than he had originally thought and instead of going to the grocery in the afternoon like normal, it put me going to the grocery around 7:00 in the evening, making me home even later and still having meal prep to do, which threw our nightly routine together completely off.

As I was waiting for him to come home, I was praying. I wanted to respond in anger in my flesh, but because of what the Lord has been teaching me in my study I knew that would be a wrong response. Praise God, I did have a desire to respond in patience, understanding and love. I prayed for God’s help to allow me to respond in this way, to not be frustrated. I wanted to respond cheerfully and grateful that I could serve my husband in this way. He came home and he wanted me to go with him somewhere else before going to the grocery!! My flesh was burning inside me, but thankfully the Lord gave me grace to respond well and do what he had requested we do. This all sounds great, the problem, however, was that there was still flesh reacting inside me through expectations of my husband. There was a part of me that kept thinking ‘he will recognize he wronged me, he will apologize and realize what an inconvenience this is for me.’ He never did that, however. As I’m going through meal prep and the grocery list with him I am getting more and more frustrated as he acts like everything is normal. My flesh blew up in frustration towards my husband and started an argument as I left for the grocery store.

On the way to the grocery store I was praying about how hard this was for me. I was praying ‘Lord why should I not bring the point up to him that he has wronged me and that he should apologize?’ I literally had a burning inside as I was trying to go the Lord’s way, but everything inside me wanted to go the opposite. When I got home, thankfully, my husband and I were able to discuss things and everything was resolved, until the next day.

The next day, because I got home so late from the grocery, I spent my entire day in the kitchen during nap times preparing my husband’s lunches since I did not have time the day before. It took longer than normal because he wasn’t helping me like he normally does. Not only was I making his lunches, but I was trying to prepare our son’s meals for the week, prepare a meal for a family that had just had a baby and prepare our dinner for that evening too.

Again, I prayed all day, asking the Lord for grace to prepare his meals with a grateful heart, a servant’s heart, desiring to do this for him and not to be frustrated at the circumstances. All day, the Lord gave me grace to do just that, I was so thankful, but yet again, my flesh appeared in my expectations. My husband came home and asked how my day was and I listed off everything I had done only to receive a normal response from him. I had been thinking ‘he will see the sacrifice I made for him to do this, he will be so thankful and understand the extra time this took today that wouldn’t have needed to be taken had he not done what he did yesterday.’ Because he did not respond how I expected him to our night suffered as I was cold shouldering him and responding harshly and he had no idea why. As I write this out now, the pride in desiring the recognition and praise is so clear, but at the time my flesh was so blinding.

Later that night when I was alone I was again praying to the Lord about this, telling Him how I was feeling and how I just wanted some recognition. The Lord, in his sweetness, gently asked me, ‘what about the sacrifices your husband made today? Did you acknowledge those?’ My husband that particular day had sacrificed working out to come home and go on a family walk with us instead and this was a big sacrifice for him as working out and staying healthy is very important to him. After that question the Lord asked me, ‘what about the ultimate sacrifice that I made for you? Do you acknowledge that?’ These were not audible questions, just questions that were brought up in my thinking by the Spirit. I was so convicted as my self-focus was so clearly revealed in that moment.

Thankfully I was able to confess this to the Lord and confess to my husband and I was given the grace as well to acknowledge and thank my husband for the sacrifice that he had made that day for our family. Even sweeter, the Lord allowed him to thank me for what I had done that day.

The next day during my quiet time, my Falling In Love Again With Your Husband homework prompted me to read 1 Peter. I read verses that said, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:13).

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” (1 Peter 1:22-23).

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Be his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls,” (2 Peter 2:22-25).

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God,” (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Now I know that these examples I just shared with you could constitute some eye rolls from many of you as I use wanting praise and recognition and not receiving it as an example for “suffering,” but just stick with me here for a second. I kept thinking about how angry and hurt I was that I wasn’t being recognized for the sacrifices I was making. How I FELT the need to make this clear to my husband that he wasn’t doing something that I needed from him. Jesus, though he made the ultimate sacrifice for me by dying the most excruciating death on the cross for my sins, did not need recognition from man because He trusted fully in the Father. The scripture says, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return, when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly,” (1 Peter 2:23). Jesus was mocked, beaten, totally humiliated in ways that I can’t even comprehend and not once did he mutter a simple, ‘you just wait’ or ‘you’ll be sorry’ or ‘if you only knew what I was doing for you or how I could stop this in an instant.’ He felt no need to put in his two cents because He trusted completely in the Father to take care of everything.

Right after 1 Peter 2:22-25 scripture says, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands…” (1 Peter 3:1). I shouldn’t need recognition from man for anything I sacrifice to do because I can continue entrusting myself to Him who judges justly. The Lord revealed my pride, my idolatry of self, my unbelief in the Lord to recognize and love me perfectly and he revealed my fear of not being recognized at all through these two examples with my husband. And He also revealed that I can have an eternal focus on even small “sufferings” like going to the grocery at a different time than I normally do. Scripture says, again, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God,” (1 Peter 4:1-2).

I love how the ESV Study Bible continued to explain those two verses, “More likely, Peter’s point is that when believers are willing to suffer, the nerve center of sin is severed in their lives. Although believers will never be totally free from sin in this life (cf. James 3:2; 1 John 1:8), when believers endure suffering for the sake of Christ they show that their purpose in life is not to live for their own pleasures but according to the will of God and for his glory,” (pg. 2411).

As we learned a few weeks ago from one of Laurie’s lectures as she quoted Westminster Catechism, what is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Not to receive recognition from a sinful man or look to him to supply my needs, not to have my little routine go smoothly every day, but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever—whatever the cost of that may be. Whether it be suffering in the form of putting my schedule down and not saying anything to my husband about it and loving him anyway (really loving him, not faking it) or whether it be suffering in a much more severe way that maybe you understand much better than I right now in your marriage.

I’m praying for an eternal focus, not a in the moment focus. “So we don’t lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). May we all pray for the grace to “…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:13).

I would love to hear your feedback on if you’ve experienced anything similar to this in your own marriage. Where is it that you struggle the most to submit? Let’s chat in the comments!


Planted for His Glory