Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Lady Writes About Women for a Month, You'll Never Believe What Kind of Mother She Really Is!

LRM commented on my last post, "...perhaps there will be some "sequel" posts?? I hope so." Here you go.
The last three mornings I've won the "Worst Getting the Children to School Routine" award - without even trying; it came naturally. It involved lots of ugly things you don't really want to hear about: threats, whining, loud voices, frustrated people, repeated threats, tears.... lots and lots of tears.
God is faithful; sometimes painfully so, as a friend of mine pointed out recently. Less than an hour after posting the  report of my 'take away from this month of blogging', God pointed out some very specific ideas about delighting in my top assignment.

"Is whining about what you should fix for supper every night delighting in your top assignment?"

"What about sighing about getting everyone settled in bed every night before you can lay down your weary head?"

Wellll.... you see, Lord, I'd kinda rather deal in theories here. Do we have to be so specific? I think you know how that conversation went down.
If there's one thing I hate about writing a series, it's worrying that I sound like I know it all. I know I made some single people feel that way, and that only underlines the high possibility that I made a lot of other people feel that way too, in who knows how many ways.

God and Satan have been busily at work in my mind the past couple of days. I find it hard to discern between the two of them some days, ever had that problem? "Now, is that just Satan trying to discourage me and make me believe lies? Or is that God reminding me that I asked to be kept humble, so He's taking me at my word?" Let's just say it's been really easy to live out of my feminine bent towards feelings, rather than facts.

I think maybe it's time to lay all of that aside and ask myself this: "Were you really serious about delighting in your top job assignment? Because if you are, you've got some serious work to do!!" 
I'm searching for someone who is writing a series on, "How to make the rubber meet the road", any leads for me? Extra points if you share personal experiences.......

Sunday, January 31, 2016

31 Days: What More Shall I Say?

Well, here we are at January 31st. How do I wind this thing down to a close? As usual, at the end of a month on the same subject, I am pretty much completely over this discussion now! This year's schedule of posting every other day wasn't nearly as stressful. I had been jotting down ideas for months, and was able to have most of my posts written out ahead, then edit and adjust as the day came along. I didn't get into the subject nearly as deep or personal with only half as many posts but that was easier on my emotions and maybe yours, as well. :)

I'll stick a word in here for you fellow bloggers - if you've considered doing some sort of series, take up the challenge! I promise you it will be a learning, growing, stretching experience and I don't think you'll be sorry. I recommend it, in other words.

I told several people throughout this month that I don't want to be just writing words, I want this 31 days to change me. A lot of the time I've felt like a hypocrite, writing things I know to be true in my head but have barely experienced in my heart. I've clung to the hope that because one has to start somewhere, hopefully writing it all out is at least a beginning.

It should probably be no surprise to me that the most stressful post of the month brought the biggest eye opener to my heart. My confession, two posts back, to my 20 year old feelings of choosing a lesser path by choosing marriage was not a light one. That simple admittance was a big one for me and I cried as I asked the Lord to forgive me for all the ways my refusal to accept and delight in the beauty of His plan has affected my role as wife and mother.

I guess if there is one thing I want to take away from this study, it would be this: I want to learn to accept my assignment of 'cleaning the ball closet' as the top priority on my list. With that acceptance I hope to find delight in keeping that 'ball closet' in tip top shape!  I want to allow the gifts God has given me to shine through in the accomplishment of my top assignment, regardless of whether that makes my 'ball closet' look like the lady next door or not. Should the Lord bring along opportunities to use 'my many other gifts', I want to be ready and willing. But if 'cleaning the ball closet' remains my only assignment in this life, may He say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant," upon reaching the other side.

That's a pretty tall goal, and well I know it, but that is the seed that this 31 Days has sown.

Thank you to all of you for reading along this month. I've enjoyed your comments and input so much...yes, every last bit of it. :) You bless my life!

"Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Friday, January 29, 2016

31 Days: What Do I Do With All These Gifts?

Let’s pretend we’ve all gathered for the annual church house cleaning. We receive our assignments, and you discover you’ve been assigned the ball closet. Now the ball closet is a very small closet in a dark, out of the way corner of the basement. It’s cluttered with balls and bats and gloves and all manor of other game playing equipment. The closet has a door on it that remains shut so that no one can see the mess inside. How are you feeling? Are you thrilled about your assignment?

Let’s suppose you are a very out going person and you love interaction with other people. Maybe you are not at all scared of heights and would love to climb the ladder and wash the ceiling fans in the auditorium. Perhaps you enjoy painting and would be delighted to help with the nursery renovation project. Lets say you love nothing more than making windows sparkling clean; in fact, you brought your Norwex rags along so you could get the windows done right! It could be you are good with cantankerous old church house vacuum sweepers and wouldn’t mind a bit taking over the sweeping job and figuring out what the problem is. Or, how about you especially enjoy working with children and would be delighted to oversee the project of getting the children involved in scrubbing all the chairs.

Ball closet? Humph.

Blame it on our society or whatever you wish, I think a lot of us women secretly have the same feeling about being a wife and mother that you are having about cleaning that ball closet. “Here I am with all these gifts; these talents. And just because I’m a woman I am supposed to sit at home where nobody even sees me and clean, cook, wash, wipe noses, feed babies, change diapers, discipline children… Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. What about all these gifts I have??”

I love the comment my friend, Karen, made on the post ‘Why Are We Discontent?’ She said, “People are only discontent when there is something else they would rather be doing.” I’m afraid that kind of hit’s the nail on the head for me sometimes! To often, over there in the corner of my heart where the rebellion towards the woman God created hides, is the resentment towards being assigned to “just cleaning the ball closet”.

I’m not suggesting that a wife/mother can never invest in any activities other than raising children and keeping house. Every husband and wife have to make those kinds of decisions between themselves and what is ok for another mother to do on the side might not be ok for me. There are also seasons in the life of a mother. When my children were ages 7, 5, 17 months and newborn would probably not have been a good time to be writing blog posts for 31 days! Doing something different, that we enjoy, can be a refreshing change of pace from the daily grind of life. I enjoy scrap booking and sewing and making something creative with my hands can sometimes be that “needed break from motherhood that will actually make me a better mother”.

So how do I know if I’m being resentful of ‘just cleaning the ball closet’ or if it’s ok to do some other things on the side? I think for me it’s important to accept that ‘cleaning the ball closet’ is my first priority. I think Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 6:24 holds a principle that applies to us women, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” ESV Accepting that being wife and mother is first on my list is my best cure for being discontent - then there will be nothing else I would rather be doing! :)

Another thing to consider has to do with a comment made on the post ‘Have the Men Changed Too?’ Rosina said, “One way I believe men have changed is in their involvement in church. Since many churches tend to be geared toward and run by women, men just aren’t as interested anymore.” I think this is true, and there are other areas besides church that it could apply to.

Some of us women are gifted in leadership and public speaking and other talents that, if we are not careful, can snuff the life out of our men. Men are not like women. If someone tries to take over one of my responsibilities, I’m likely to get defensive and say, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s my job!” My husband, on the other hand, will probably sit back and say, “You wanna take over that job? Knock yourself out!” If we want the men to do their job of leading, we are going to have to be careful how we use our gifts. I think there are places for those gifts to be used but this is something we need to keep in mind.

I don’t feel like I’ve covered this very well and I’m sure there’s more that could be said. I’m trying desperately to get this thing done today yet and being a hypocrite in the very things I am preaching….. I would love to have your input. What am I missing? What else should be added? For now, my ball closet is in dire need of some attention…..

Thursday, January 28, 2016

31 Days: Follow up on "Should We All Be Married?"

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”  
                          -- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The “feelings oriented’ part of me would like to run and hide under a rock and shed tears over the fact that the much prayed over and carefully thought out words that I posted yesterday were misunderstood by some. The fact is, though, that without other people’s input I will never learn anything more than I already know, and learning is, after all, what I have been trying to do through this writing project. So, thank you to those who have given their input. Now that I have stirred the hornets nest, let me attempt to clarify some of the Things that seemed Thingish before they got out into the open. (If you haven't read the comments on yesterday's post you might find them interesting.)

My post yesterday was not intended to be a Marriage vs. Singles article but a Today’s Society vs. God’s Plan article. My whole premise for this writing project has been, “What was God’s plan when He created woman and how does that compare with the society we find ourselves in today?” What I have found in my search for what God intended, is that God created Eve for Adam; He created us to be a helpmeet. What I have seen in the society we live in is that women do not need to accept this truth; they can be whoever and whatever they want to be, however they want to.

By saying that, I do not mean that marriage is the only thing a woman can be fulfilled in. But I do believe it is important that we teach our girls what God’s plan was in creating woman, that He made us to be a helpmeet; for relationships - to nurture, to love, to care for, to feel. Why? So that if they do everything just right they will meet Prince Charming and live happily ever after? No. So that whether they end up married or single, they can live happy and fulfilled lives and be soft and open to what the Lord brings their way.

We live in a society that does not encourage women to embrace God’s plan. When I was asked to date at the age of 20, I admit to you that I felt a bit of embarrassment/shame in saying yes. There were more singles around me at that time who were doing notable things with their lives than there were married couples, and at that young age, there was a part of me that felt like I was choosing a lesser path by choosing the one that would lead to marriage. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that to myself until now. That twisted view of God’s plan for me as a woman has affected my marriage in more ways than I will probably ever realize.

So, again, I think it is so important for us as women to be able to accept and embrace the role that God created us for. It will allow us to be happy, fulfilled women whether we find ourselves in the married or single category.

As far as the idea of our society forcing single women to ‘man up’ and make their own living? I wasn’t saying by that that I think single women should be able to shut down their lives and sit around waiting to get married. I think our society has forced single women into a role God never created them for: being the breadwinner. I know of single women who keep jobs they dislike simply because they are good paying jobs and they need the money to pay bills and take care of themselves. I think it is sad if there are single women who would love to be involved in ministry type of work and they are unable to because the pay would be too small. That’s where I think it would be beautiful to see fathers or the church stepping in and helping single women be able to fulfill that God given desire to love and nurture and care for others, rather than just making money to pay the bills and support themselves down the road.

In closing… I don’t believe there is one perfect way that all of this must look. We live in a fallen world and misunderstanding and judgement flow both ways. Single women and married women’s lives are different and that means we won’t always see things the same. But we were both created by God for a special purpose! Let’s embrace our womanhood and be soft and open to what God has in store for our lives.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

31 Days: Should We All Be Married?

I can almost hear the rumbles already, and I started writing this weeks before anyone is reading it. “So are you implying that God’s perfect plan is marriage and anyone single is less than the woman He intended them to be?”

I’ve dodged this post for days; worked on every other post but this one. I’ve had arguments about this thing and this, right here, was one of the reasons I rebelled when God came tapping on my shoulder to write about the subject of women. This feels like a hurtful subject, and I don’t like hurting anybody. It would be easier to tiptoe around the thing, to give vague answers and explanations and leave it all in the grey but I can’t do that. So, now that I’ve made everyone tense up and prepare for battle with all my disclaimers, here’s the truth: I cannot find in the Bible any support for the idea that women should seek anything except marriage. God made woman specifically to be a wife; that’s what woman was created for. He could have created Eve to just be Adam’s friend but He didn’t.

I know there will always be single women. It’s a proven fact there are more men on this earth than women, so just for that reason alone there will always be some unmarried ladies; it is not a sin. But, I don’t think the large number of single women these days is due to the eligible men deficit being that high. I think it is primarily because our society has completely switched the role of women from “created for man” to “created for themselves” and the church has fallen into their footsteps. Marriage is looked at as this necessary evil that we all want, yes…..eventually. But to be married at 21 is to have missed out on the best years of your life!

I’m throwing my hand up here and saying, “Hold on just a minute. Let me finish!”

I know what my single woman audience (if I have one) is saying, “So what do we do? Start asking men? Sit on our chairs waiting for Prince Charming to appear? Take the man on the street because he’ll have us??”

I’m not advocating that you do anything ridiculous, no. What I am suggesting is that you have a good long talk with the Lord and find out a couple of things about yourself. 1) Do you want to be married? 2) Do you act like you want to be married? I know, I know, that’s called Hard Up and people who are Hard Up are looked at as the lowest of low but this isn’t between you and the world, this is between you and the Lord. Are you open to being married?

See, here’s my little theory. I think, as a society we have taught women to believe they don’t need the men. Women can be whoever and whatever, however they want to and marriage is down there somewhere on the list of things we’ll do someday after we’ve done all the exciting things to prove who we really are. 

To complicate matters, once a woman reaches age 21, they’re expected to support themselves. What’s a woman to do, after all? We’ve essentially forced single women to ‘man up’ and earn a living and they sure aren’t going to be able to support themselves forever on Missionary and School Teaching wages, so what do they do? Start looking for better paying jobs. Who can blame them? 

Then the single men come along, and what do they see? They see women who are independent, settled into their well paying jobs, on the road to success…why would they bother to ask for their friendship when all the vibes these women are sending out are “I’m perfectly fine on my own.” “I don’t need a man.” “I have a career to pursue.”
That’s why I’m suggesting you sit down with the Lord and ask yourself and Him some honest questions.

Does that mean Prince Charming will magically show up by your side tomorrow? I doubt it. But it might mean that your heart will end up being a little softer, a little more open, a little more accepting of what God has called us women to be. 

This is my own opinion here: If you do find yourself in the position of single woman, I think it is important that you do the kinds of things God created you for. He created women for relationships; to nurture, to love, to care for, to feel. If you are a single woman, find something to do that allows you to fulfill the God given role He created you for. Don’t try to be a man; be a woman!

I know you think I don’t understand what it’s like to be a single woman and you’re right, I’ve never been in your shoes. I realize you have to take care of yourselves; pay the bills, get the car fixed, worry about the future. I’d love to see a world where parents or siblings or the church supported their single women so they could be free to do the kind of things God created them for rather than forcing them to support themselves. Can you imagine how that would change the world?! It doesn’t seem fair to me that a widow is surrounded with support just because she had a husband but a single woman is expected to care for herself. So you see, I am not against you - I am really for you! :)

But do check your hearts. Do consider the vibes you are sending and do have that honest conversation with the Lord.

Thank you for listening…now it’s your turn…

Monday, January 25, 2016

31 Days: Can I Accept The Beauty?

While I think it is important for us as women to be aware of our makeup and how living out of feelings can trip us up and make our lives miserable, I don’t think becoming ‘un-feeling’ is the answer to our problems. I think a better idea is to begin accepting the facts of what God has to say to us and work on changing our feelings about those facts. Without realizing it, a little beginning of that process for me was the day I looked up the verses about what God says to women.

The day I sat down and looked up all those verses about what God says to women, I also looked up verses about what God says to men. Then, I decided to compare the two lists. I tried to match up verses on the men’s side with verses on the women’s side that went together. I found this to be very, very interesting. Let me share my lists with you (again, in no particular order):

To Men To Women

Eph 5:22-25 You must be the head of your home; you must love your wife
* Col 3:18 You are to be subject to your husband

Prov 22:29 If you are skillful in your work it will earn you respect in the land
* Prov 11:16 If you are gracious you will attain honor

* Ps 112:1-10 If you fear the Lord your offspring will be mighty in the land
* Prov 14:1 If you are wise you will build up your house

* Matt 19:5 You must become one with your wife
* Gen 2:24 You are to become one with your husband

* I Cor 13:11 You must give up childish things
* Prov 19:13 No one wants to live with a contentious woman

* Js 5:12 You must have honesty and integrity
* I Tim 3:11 You must be dignified; not a malicious gossiper

* Col 3:19 Love your wives and don’t be harsh with them
* I Pet 3:12 You must be submissive and respectful

* Ps 119:9-16 It is important for you to be pure
* I Cor 11:8-9; Gen 2:18 You are a helper suitable for man; you were made for man

* I Tim 4:8 Godliness is much more valuable than bodily training
* I Tim 2:9-10 What you do is more important than outward adornment

* I Tim 6:11 You should not go after riches but pursue godliness
* Prov 31:30 Fearing the Lord brings praise; charm or beauty won’t

* I Cor 16:13; I Tim 4:12 You must stand firm in the faith; you must be an example
* I Tim 2:11-15 You need to learn to keep your mouth shut and accept instruction

* Prov 6:20-29 Lusting after women is a snare to be avoided at all cost
* Prov 12:4 Shaming your husband must be avoided at all cost

* Eph 6:4; Col 3:21 You must not provoke your children to anger
* Titus 2:3-5 You are to love your husband & children; be pure, be kind; your first priority is keeping house

* I Tim 5:8 You must provide for your household
* Prov 31:26-31 You are to care for your household and not be idle or lazy

Do you begin to see the beauty in this woman God created?

He created male and female to compliment each other; to walk hand in hand together; to accomplish His purposes in a more beautiful way. Sure, a man can keep house and a woman can run a business and sometimes circumstances make either of those scenarios necessary. But in comparing the two lists of verses against each other, it seems so obvious to me that God created man and woman for specific roles - He is to provide for his family, She is to care for them; He must stand firm, She is to accept instruction; He is to be the head, She is to be in subjection. You can even see the difference in make up come through - He is admonished about bodily training; She is admonished about outward adornment; His vices are purity and riches, Hers are trust/giving herself to her man and beauty

I think a key to finding contentment and fulfillment as a woman might be found in choosing to accept the beauty in the role God created me for.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

31 Days: Why Are We Discontent?

The rebellion we women feel seems to go hand in hand with a lot of discontent and unfulfillment amongst us. I am part of a mommy group on face book. One day a mom shared her struggles with feeling unfulfilled at home. She shared how she would like to finish her schooling and do something extra besides being a mom and wondered what others would advise? Another time a woman expecting her first child asked advice on whether to keep a cleaning job or two after her baby was born?

In both instances I took note of the outpouring of understanding from a lot of women. There was a lot of encouragement to do classes from home for the first mom and to try to keep a cleaning job or two for the second one. A common thread was the idea that you need a break from motherhood; it will actually make you a better mother to do some other things on the side. There was also quite a bit of encouragement that there is no higher calling than motherhood and that you will never regret the time spent with your children but nearly every mother who commented gave assurance that they could identify with those feelings of discontent and unfulfillment.

I pondered this for a long while. I wondered if Ma Ingalls would have identified with those feelings? I wondered about my own grandmother? Somehow I couldn't imagine them entertaining those sentiments. But I knew if I was honest that I could identify! What was the deal anyway? What about this whole idea that we will actually be better mothers if we have some outside interests to give us a break from our mothering duties? That seems a little strange in some ways. Like a friend of mine wrote once, “That would be the greatest irony: to neglect my children so that I can write about motherhood!”

Is this ‘need’ of outside interests tied into our rebellion against the woman God created? Don't we tend to look at Ma Ingalls with a condescending look that says, "Well, that was then..."? The world around us has definitely lowered the position of a stay at home mom, have we as Christians lowered it too? I think it’s safe to say we’ve swung pretty far towards discouraging marriage in our little girl’s minds, rather than encouraging it. I heard someone suggest recently that even in our Christian circles, if a young girl were asked in a school assignment to write about what she wanted to be when she grew up and she wrote that she wanted to be a mother, it would probably be looked at as amusing rather than praiseworthy. Is it some of this idea that is affecting Christian women and causing the feelings of discontent and unfulfillment? What would happen if the words of Felicity’s mother would become engraved on every young lady’s heart - "Caring for a family is a responsibility and a pleasure. It will be your most important task, and one that you must learn to do well. I want you to be a notable housewife when you are grown."?