Thursday, April 10, 2014

Faithful, Cheerful Service

*reposted from the archives

Ever tried to impress somebody with how tired you are and how much you have to do? You know the whole, "I'm up all night with babies. Someone is constantly dirtying my house as I clean and I just keep slaving away. Nobody appreciates me. I never get to go on vacation....." That whole routine? I'll admit that I've done it. And I'm really bad for doing this to my husband. I must want him to notice exactly how miserable I am! Oh wait, but I'm not miserable! So why do I do that? 

1. I'm insecure in what God called me to do. I want to be sure others realize that being a wife and mom is a full-time job too. And aren't people supposed to complain about their job? 
2. I'm trying to impress people. (Twisted thinking: who's impressed by whining?)People-pleasing never gets you where God wants you to go. I am working for God's smile, not man's approval. 
3. I've fallen into worldly thinking that says I must be miserable if life is not all about me and whatI want. 

Last time I checked nobody liked a complainer, especially God! (1 Cor. 10:10, Phil. 2:14-15) So I decided to shut up! (Or at least try to!)

And you know what I found? I'm the one that benefits! Yes, in an attempt to please God and stop discouraging my husband by constantly reminding him how hard my life is, I have found more joy. (And yes, it does discourage my husband. His goal is to have a happy wife.)

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." Proverbs 15:13. The last half of verse 15 also states, "but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast." What's in my heart? I've been studying a lot about how my heart affects my words and it's scary to think how much I reveal about myself with what I say! Do I have a heart for God and the work He has given me? 

So what is my new goal? Faithful, cheerful service! Here's some steps I'm taking to work on this. 

1. I don't constantly talk about how tired I am. And somehow I think I'm less tired too. I tell God about it and ask for help. I want others to see that God's plan works and it doesn't mean misery. What a great testimony to always tell people what a drudgery your life serving God is! NOT! 
2. I tell my husband how much I LOVE getting to stay home with our babies and take care of him and our home. I want him to know that I appreciate the opportunity and I love my life. Because I really do. 
3. I remind myself frequently that I am working for God's approval. If no one else ever notices anything I do or if no one else thinks anything I do is important, it doesn't matter. God says it's important and He notices everything. Because I of that I can keep going....cheerfully! My hope and my joy are found in God, not vacations, money, or applause.

Make your work look easy, even when it's not. -Beverly Hyles

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Homemaking Dreams

*reposted from the archives

My boys and I go on a walk almost every morning we are home from April to about October. It's gorgeous out and it helps deplete some of that almost-three-year-old-energy. We walk down our road, around the corner, and back to a cemetery. (We've lived by cemeteries since we've been married. Glad I'm not superstitious.) On the way back to the cemetery we pass a gorgeous old white house. I love houses, especially old ones, and I've always been intrigued by this one. 

This week an older woman was there when we went by. She stopped us so that she could look at Kevin- who was sound asleep in the baby wrap- and we started talking about the house. She said that at one point it was a bed and breakfast. Now I've always loved the idea of a bed and breakfast; I think it would be thrilling to own one someday. When we got back home I was daydreaming about creating a beautiful space for others to relax and recharge and cooking them delicious food. And I realized something.

I already do that. 

People go to a bed and breakfast for a home away from home. You are essentially a homemaker for other people on a short basis. Now with a business you are recognized as a business owner. You get rewards and accolades (and some bad reviews).  But in essence it would be the same thing I am doing now with my family.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Banks/ 

I may not have paying customers but there's nobody in the world that I love like my family. It might not bring in income but hopefully it will show results in our children's lives for years to come. I get to live my dream every day and I want to approach my work with the same enthusiasm that I was picturing pouring into a bed and breakfast. Make it beautiful, comfortable, comforting. 

Of course there is much more to it than the simple work. There's no intrinsic value of homemaking above anything else. We could have someone else cook, clean, change diapers, run errands, do laundry, etc. The spiritual aspect of homemaking is what elevates it to God's call on my life. Homemaking is nothing unless my husband and children are pointed to Christ by my work. Unless they serve Him more because I'm here.

The goal is that my presence in my home frees up my husband's time and energy to complete his work and serve at church. My presence in our home allows me the opportunity to teach and train our children. My management should save my husband's money so that we have more to give to church and missions. Our home should be a place where my family can recharge and be pointed to Jesus. 

If we have an atmosphere in our home that points to Jesus I will have to set it. That means my most important priority is my relationship with God. To properly serve God at home I must draw close to Him every day. I am nothing without Jesus and I cannot fulfill my purpose without Jesus. 

This means that the relationships in my home are more important than task lists. Being a cheerful wife is more important than ironed shirts. Consistent discipline of my children is more important than daily chores. Creating memories and managing our home atmosphere is more important than grocery shopping and running errands. Teaching toddlers is more important than doing laundry. Obviously, I believe those other things are important. We love a clean house to live in, clean clothes to wear. We have to cook and go grocery shopping. But I have to remember that those are just means to an end to what I'm really trying to accomplish. 

So when I get discouraged I'm going to remember my bed and breakfast dream. And then I'm going to remember that I'm living it right now. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

7 Reasons to Go to Church

I seem stuck on the number seven this week. I could probably come up with seven good reasons for anything. But for today let's stick with sevens reasons to go to church. 

Of course we have Hebrews 10:25 that commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. So we have a direct Bible command. Now it doesn't tell us how often or when. But the church in the New Testament met daily so we're hardly sacrificing meeting two days a week. 

But there are plenty of other reasons to go to church. You don't even need a Bible to see them. I love how God gives commandments in the Bible that are backed up by common sense. 

1. Bible preaching. We all need more of the Bible. And we need help learning some things. My Preacher is smarter than I am. He's studied the Bible for years and his sermons are so practical and applicable. I need to hear the Bible being taught. 

2. Fellowship with other believers.  We live in a world frequently isolated from other believers. We work, shop, and live with unbelievers most of the week. We need the time to refresh ourselves with like-minded individuals. To restore our spirit with the love our fellow church members have for God. 

3. A place to serve.  We need to work at church. It's a place to give something for God and to be involved in His work. The church was His arrangement and His setup. We need to be there serving. It helps our pastor and it reaches the lost and needy. 

4. A place to grow. We learn from the preaching. We develop new talents to use to serve God. We grow in practical skills as we work there. 

5. Practice in human relations. People are always the problem. It's a struggle to get along with people who are different from us and who do things different from us. Working in a church forces us to grow in our ability to relate with people. 

6. Faithfulness in building your life. Just the routine of regularly being at church for the services will solidify faithfulness and the ability to schedule your life. 

7. Relationships for your children. Your children will grow up with the influence of other godly Christians who care about them. They will be loved and have a place to belong. And if one day, you are having a difficult time reaching them, one of those church members may be able to. 

Church is a beautiful thing in spite of the flaws found anywhere with people. It's worth the time and energy it takes to be there and get the kids there. It's worth the effort and pain to struggle through relationships and work out difficulties. 

Why do you go to church? How has it impacted your life? 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

7 Lessons I've Learned Since High School

It always amazes me when adults tell  high school students that those are "the best years of their life." Really? What exactly did they do after high school? I enjoyed high school well enough but you couldn't pay me to go back and do it again. College was much better but this life here- I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

photo courtesy of iosphere/

Life gets better as you age if you are following Jesus. I'm not talking about circumstances; life usually has more problems and difficulties. But as a person, on the inside, life can get better. 

Here are a few things I've learned since high school. 

1. No one is quite as critical of you as you are of yourself. That's because nobody pays that much attention to you. They don't know what you wanted your hair to look like or that you don't like how your shirt fits. Most likely, people just don't care. They are too busy obsessing about how their hair looks. (And this is just in general. There will always be those who take the the job of critic but don't worry about them. They won't approve of you if you look like Miss America and win the Nobel Prize.)

2. Living in obedience creates confidence. Of course if you're making up your own ideas as a twenty-something year old, you will be uncertain. What do you know? But if you are trying to follow the principles of the Bible you are building on a firm foundation. Those are God's way. They don't need to be defended. Just do them. 

3. You don't have to impress anybody. And it's better to not even try.  How on earth do you know what will impress someone? If you are trying to impress people you will be the most wishy-washy person around. You will scope out their viewpoints and then change to please them. Don't even bother. Please God. Please your husband (if you have one.) Don't worry about anybody else. 

4. It's ok to be different. It's ok to be different from your classmates, your teammates, your co-workers. It's right to be different in the big things if they don't believe the Bible. Stand on truth.  And it's perfectly fine to be different in the small things even if you agree about the big things. You like music? Like music. Don't worry about whether or not your friends like music. You like to write? Don't worry about whether or not your co-workers even like to read. You like sports? Like sports. Be you. 

5. It's ok to be the same. I have some friends now that I have a lot in common with. And that's great. I don't have to make sure everyone notices me by pulling weird stunts to stand out. 

6. Life is a competition with yourself; not others. This isn't always true in school or even on the job. But it is as a stay-at-home mom. And it will help your competition with others if you are competing with yourself first.  I don't need to worry about whether I'm better than my friends. Am I better than I was yesterday? 

7. Give it your all. Other people will hate you for it. They will dislike you for loving God. They will dislike you for working hard, for being an engaged mother, for loving your husband, for taking care of your home, for developing your talents, for not making excuses.  Give it your all anyway. Life is certainly not a popularity contest. 

What about you? What have you learned since high school? 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Getting Your Work Done, Part 2

I've still been thinking about how to get your work done. Work is never-ending and time management can be a problem, especially for people who work for themselves. (And stay at home moms do. Nobody is standing around making sure I'm doing my work!) So a few more pointers. 

photo courtesy of franky242/

1. Don't sit down.  I've been thinking about things that help me get my work done and one thing I've noticed is that I don't sit down. I don't mean that literally. What I really mean is that I sit with a purpose. When I sit down I am sitting to do something. I am sitting to practice piano. I am sitting to read to the boys or play with them. I am sitting during quiet time to write. I am sitting because I set aside that time to rest. I am sitting to eat. Do you see what I mean? I'm not sitting on the couch when I need to be cooking dinner. I'm not sitting and watching tv when I need to playing with my children. Stay moving. 

2. Challenge yourself to just "one more thing." If you just keep moving you can get so much more done. Think "one more thing." You can always do just one more thing. Write those 500 words, read that book to your baby, fold a load of laundry.  Or set a timer and work for ten or fifteen minutes.

3. Write stuff down. I love a list. And I really like crossing things off the list. So I make a list.  I don't list many of my daily things, like practicing piano (although I do track it) or getting ready for the day or reading my Bible. I would write down daily things that I was struggling with doing consistently. 

 I write down the days we are doing preschool, the cleaning for the day (it's so big that it's nice to cross off and it changes daily), if we have any errands, if I am doing something for someone outside our family, etc. A list will help keep you focused. Maybe you do need to write down three important things. If you are having problems spending time with your kids, put it on your list. Or keep track of it every day. Maybe you need to put "cook dinner" on your list if you are struggling with that. Find where you need to focus and make your list help you. 

4. Plan ahead and prepare. For example, a few weeks ago we were going to clean the church at 4:30. Justin was going to meet us there when he got off work. So during quiet time I thawed and seasoned my meat, and formed hamburgers. I peeled and cut up potatoes for fries and left them sitting in cold water.  And I cooked the bacon for our burgers. That way when we got home I could just turn on pans and put the food in.  No stressing about how long it was going to take or debating stopping for food on the way home. The hard work was already done.

Fix the diaper bag the night before. Pick out everyone's clothes the night before. Lay out the preschool work before you need it. Prepare: most of the time you know what you are going to be doing. 

5. And one last note. All the work will never be done. Never! Just yesterday, we got a crazy amount of work done. And while I was cooking dinner and playing with the boys I kept seeing things that needed done. And I just overlooked them. I am one person. The work will still be there tomorrow. 

Don't worry about finishing your list or having the perfect house. Just do what honors God and blesses your family. And remember, "only God gets His to-do list done." 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The King and A Mother

Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.  And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Daniel 1:4-5
These children were captives from a foreign nation and the king had no interest in them besides what they could do for him. Because he wanted something back he poured resources, time, and skills into shaping these children. And it paid off. I don't know how the others did but we all know how Daniel turned out. And Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were no slackers either.

I think we mothers could learn something from this king. These children of mine are precious to me. I'm not after what they can do for me but what they can do for God. There is an eternal purpose in rearing these children. My motivation should go far beyond the king's. Nourish means "to promote growth." It's an active word and an active role. It's adding the positive and not just removing the negative. Nourishing requires my involvement and my interest.

-I am "in charge" of this kingdom. This home world that shapes my children's worldview is almost entirely my domain. It is my privilege and my responsibility to create a home that honors God.

-I am to promote the growth of our children: spiritual, physical, mental, emotional. If I am not interested, who is? Who else is going to care about these precious babies like I do?

-I am to nourish with purpose and intention. The men that were in charge of educating and training Daniel's generation had a vision and some goals for their work. They knew what they wanted the end product to be. What is my vision as a mom? Do I understand the task before me?

My children have the ability to learn: my purpose is to mold them to serve God. They will absorb what they see to be true in our lives. Do my children matter enough for me to grasp God's vision for mothering? Do they matter enough for me to leave lesser things to devote the time and skills necessary to loving and training them?

So often I'm convicted about why the right purpose doesn't motivate us the way some worldly purpose can. We will work and strive for money, for promotion, for fame; but not for God's kingdom and purpose. Where are our hearts centered?

What is your vision as a mom? How are you living out your vision for motherhood?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fab 5: Freezer Foods

Freezer food is a great time-saver for cooking! I love having already prepped or ready to prep food in my freezer. I try to keep these items stocked at all times.

photo courtesy of patpitchaya/

1. Roasted, cubed chicken. I add this to everything. Soup, pasta, casseroles, you name it and it saves serious time. No mess, no fuss. And much cheaper if you buy the chicken on sale!

2. Hamburger meat. Now when I was pregnant with Kevin, I actually froze cooked and seasoned ground beef. Much more of a time-saver but I don't do that on a regular basis. But we eat a lot of hamburger so I keep it around.

3. Black beans. I buy a big bag of dried beans, cook them in the Crock-Pot, and put them in freezer bags once they have cooled. It's cheaper and less salty.

4. Boneless, skinless chicken. This is only prep handy if you take the chicken out of its original packaging, cut off any fat, and freeze flat in freezer bags. It's a cinch to thaw and then cut up to use in your favorite recipe. Because thawing chicken in those original packages makes me want to be a vegetarian.

5. Frozen veggies. I always keep peas, corn, and broccoli. They don't spoil, they're really easy to measure to add to Micah's food, and they're cheap!

What's always in your freezer?