Monday, November 21, 2011

Studying Proverbs 31 through related scriptures

Part I.

Proverbs 31:10. Who can find a virtuous wife? Her worth is far above rubies...
Below, I've listed some verses that supplement a study of each verse in Proverbs 31:20-31. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and you may want to create a study list of your own. However, I hope that reading the ones I've listed will help us add depth and balance to a study of Proverbs 31.

Ruth 3:11 -- (whole book of Ruth)
Genesis 2:23-25
Proverbs 16:11
Proverbs 12:4
Acts 9:36ff -- account of Dorcas/Tabitha
Proverbs 14:1
Titus 2:28
Proverbs 20:6
Proverbs 18:22

Proverbs 31:11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her. So he will have no lack of gain.

I Timothy 3:10-11
Titus 2:3-5
Proverbs 11:13
Proverbs 25:13
Daniel 6:4
I Timothy 3:11
Proverbs 13:17
Luke 16:10

Proverbs 31:12 She does him good and not evil all the days of her life

Titus 3:8
Titus 3:14

Galatians 6:8-10
Isaiah 40:21:31
Matthew 5:15-16
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
I Timothy 5:9-10
John 5:16-30
Romans 2:7
Romans 2:10

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 days of work in the home...

Catching up!


A key characteristic of the worthy woman is her faithfulness to the work entrusted to her. We don't often think of faithfulness as being a very exciting quality. If someone we love is faithful in their relationships and faithful in their work, we might even take it for granted. But, if someone is not faithful -- if they break our trust in some way or neglect their work or destroy their potential with bad habits -- then, we notice and are deeply grieved.

In the home sphere, you might have moments when you feel that others take you for granted. The world doesn't often applaud paid bills, done laundry, full pantries, and dust bunnies swept away. The efficient and talented keeper of the home might not receive many day-to-day compliments. If this is true for you, you must not think that your work goes unnoticed, however. Most likely, your family members and others value your persistence in well-doing more than you realize.

At any rate, faithfulness to the tasks given you pleases the Lord. It is a quality of His own nature, and He is the perfect standard for faithfulness. Studying, knowing, and relying on God's faithfulness brings us joy and peace. Imitating God's faithfulness -- however imperfectly we might do so -- adds productivity and joy to our lives as well.

For the word of the LORD is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness. Psalm 33:4

Monday, August 15, 2011

30 days of work in the home

If you are married, coordinate your work with that of your husband!

Imagine two beautiful horses pulling a lovely carriage. If one horse pulls one way and the other horse pulls in the opposite direction, what will happen to the carriage? It will fail to reach its destination at best, or it will tip over and be destroyed, at worst.

Of course, we are people, and not horses, and our work is more important than pulling carriages. Still, the illustration helps us think of what happens when a couple is not pulling together in life in the same direction.

For your work as home manager to be most effective, you need to work within your husband's leadership and by his side. Here are some ideas to help you be in sync with your husband's work.

1) Is there a special time of day when you and your husband most enjoy relaxed time together? Keep this time as special as you possibly can and strive to do your work at other times. During this time, it's best not to have large appliances making noise or to jump up and down to do this remembered task or that remembered task. Some happy time relaxing in each other's company is good for both of you..
2) Take a few moments on Sat. Sunday or Monday to pray about your upcoming week together. Coordinate your schedules. If you just can't fit this in weekly, try doing it monthly.
3) Talk to your husband before making concrete plans that would involve him or affect him in some way.
4) Ask your husband if there is anything he would like you to do today or this week. Also ask him if there is anything on his heart that he'd like you to pray about.
5) Take an interest in his work and his hobbies.
6) Talk about your goals in life.
7) Learn from other couples but don't negatively compare your husband to another man or expect that your relationship with your husband will be just like someone else's.

Happy Home Keeping!

Monday, June 20, 2011

30 days of work in the home

See the post for Monday, June 20, 2011 at the Merry Rose for a discussion of the fact that doing work with our hands releases feel good chemicals into our bloodstream. One of the most beautiful images in Proverbs 31 is of the worthy woman who works with eager hands in delight, who stretches out her hand to the distaff, whose hands grasp the spindle, who extends her hands to the poor and stretches out her hands to the needy and whose life's work is partly evidenced by the product of her hands. The picture of this woman who is so busy with her hands is one of a woman who is happy in her work and whose handiwork benefits her family and community.

Now, science has given us explanations for why we find that quiet work with our hands is so satisfying. It may be hard to get started on such tasks, but, once we do, a cycle is set up in which our bodies actually reward us with the pleasure of meaningful work and we wish to do such work again. I've covered the scientific side in my post at the Merry Rose.

The scientists who have discovered these built-in biological rewards for working with our hands generally believe that this is a survival mechanism built into our pysches and our bodies through blind evolution. Personally, I think this is a created response given to us by a Creator who, Himself, finds satisfaction in good work (See Genesis 1). I believe that He has put this part of His Image into our nature. He wants us to find satisfaction in our work. While it's true that the fall of man has added pain and frustration to tasks that were originally meant only to be productive and fulfilling, we find that work does add meaning to our lives. Working with our hands to produce concrete results is some of the most meaningful work we can do.

While God may not work with hands exactly as we do, we do find many places in the scriptures where it says that he delights in his works. Certainly, when Jesus came to us in human form, he knew the pleasure of doing good work with his hands. He was, as we know, a carpenter's son. Later on, he used his hands to heal and to make whole. What could be more satisfying than that?

Most importantly, Jesus stretched his hands out on a cross and died for us. That act caused him pain. But he endured it for the joy set before him of seeing many saved. He rose again.

What was one thing he did right after rising from the dead? He cooked fish for his friends.

How happy we can be in doing good with our hands, not just because of a physical reaction -- though that is welcome -- but because of the spiritual satisfaction of pleasing and imitating our Lord!

Happy Home Keeping.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 days of work in the home --

Memories and Mementos

The home worker who feels overwhelmed is often someone who is sentimental and keeps too many things because of the emotional attachment that the things represent. That's one of my weak areas.

Of course, a home is not a home without some items that represent meaning to us and to our families. As Mimi Does says in Busy but Balanced, "There needs to be a space for the mementos that support the souls of those of us living here -- objects with a story, creations made by small hands, treasures found in nature, collections gathered over time, photographs that ignite memories."

So, what are some wise tips for dealing with items of sentimental value?

1) Do not equate people with things. A lovely gift from a beloved friend can cheer up your home. A beautiful heirloom from a grandparent or parent can trigger happy memories. However, if you are keeping something that triggers only grief or pain or that you really don't like, remember that you don't have to keep it just because someone gave it to you. You can honor a living person or remember someone who has passed away in other ways.
2) As we move through the different seasons of our lives, different things will have meaning to us. Periodically evaluate what you are keeping and why.
3) If you have trouble making decisions about sentimental items, you can employ a number of methods to help you. Talk the decision over with your spouse, a trusted friend, or an adult child. Ask for their honest input. They may not be able to decide for you how you feel about an object. However, hearing their thoughts can help you discern your true feelings about it. Plus, if you are keeping something with the idea that someone else will want it some day and you find out that they will not, you can let it go.
4) Learn how to store photographs, linens, and valuable objects. If you do not keep them out on display or in use at all times, you will need to store them in a way that they won't fade, become discolored, or otherwise be destroyed.
5) Give each of your children a file box. Each year, help your child choose just a few things from that year to keep. Here again, some memories can be saved in ways other than by keeping every item. Take pictures of some things and store those pictures on your computer or in a photo box. Or, you can help your child write a short sentence about what an object represents before culling it from his or her stash.

Happy Home Keeping!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thirty Days of Work in the Home

Mental Work...

We are instructed to love the Lord with all our hearts, our minds, our soul, and our strength. Part of that means that we need to be attentive to how our minds work. If we aren't careful, we can let our minds drift along, sometimes drifting into places where our thoughts are blighted. A careful cultivation of our minds, however, will help us perform the work entrusted to us.

One key element of keeping the mind strong for our labours is to be gratefully acknowledge God. We need to set our hearts and our minds on Him. Romans 1:21 says, "For even though they knew god, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1), we lose wisdom when we let our hearts drift away from God. We become more easily confused and also more susceptible to believing things that aren't true. We may get caught up in fancies that distract us from our purpose in life, as well as from our daily work.

Another key to developing our minds is train our minds to reach conviction, rather than to keep endlessly wavering between options. In 2 Timothy 3, we read about people who hold to a form of godliness but deny its power by their sins. Such people entice women who are weak-willed and are weighed down by sins, led on by various impulses, and who are always learning, but are never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

How do we avoid being easy pray for false teachers? At least partly, we need to repent of sins in our own lives and learn how to bring our impulses under God's gracious gift of self-control. We also need to make sure that when we learn godly truths, we put them into practice. It is a fine thing to be always learning, but not if we never reach the point where we take hold of the truths we learn about.

This passage is referring to choosing between true doctrines of the scripture and false teaching. However, a milder form of this can be found in general indecisiveness. Sometimes, we will over-analyse matters to the point that we can't make up our mind one way or another. This is a bugaboo of mine. I find that I can use the Internet to feed my habit of researching something, hoping that I will find just the right bit of information to help me make a choice. Yet, the truth is that there are many matters of opinion in life. In those things, we pray, we ask advice, and we step out in faith, rather than continuing to paralyse ourselves with indecision. We can and should train ourselves to make good, solid decisions and to act on them. This will enable us to do our work effectively and efficiently.

On the other hand, we guard our mental development by avoiding rash and hasty conclusions. Acting on rash impulses can cause us to make mistakes in our work, to spend money foolishly, to waste time, to speak too hastily, and, most of all, to misjudge others. In that last regard, Proverbs tells us that the first to present his case seems right until another comes forward and questions him.

We need to think the best thoughts in order to do the best work.

Happy Homemaking!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thirty Days of Work in the Home --

Love is in the Details....

1) Develop systems for remembering people's names, birthdays, and other important events.
2) Write letters of encouragement, as well as thank-you notes and bread and butter notes. Not only do this in your personal life, but also write letters of appreciation to stores, companies, and services that provide you with outstanding products and service.
3) Don't be afraid to tackle hard conversations, such as negotiating a price for services or talking to a store manager about an inferior product or dealing with a customer for your home business who simply won't be satisfied. However, keep your speech politely firm. Don't be harsh and don't let the encounter degenerate into an argument. If the conversation's going nowhere, re-group and try again at some later point or pursue another avenue of doing business.
4) Take care of little messes, tears, or spots before they become bigger messes.
5) Keep a detailed calendar and refer to it often. One calendar is better than trying to keep separate calendars for separate things. The only exception is that you might also keep a general family calendar, on which everyone in the family can see whet his happening that week.
6) Neat hair, a neat purse, and neat shoes, combined with a smile, will go a long way toward giving you an overall neat and professional appearance. Your work day will go better if you attend to a few little details of your appearance. This is true even if you spend all day in the home.
7) If you are working on a project and find that one piece isn't working as you planned, re-do it before going on to the next part. Taking too many short-cuts can sabotage your finished work. For example, if you are sewing, and you miss-sew a seam, it's better to pick it out and re-sew than to forge on and try to make it work. If you are a perfectionist who takes forever to finish a project, however, you may reach a point where it is time to move on even if something isn't just perfect. The happy-go-lucky among us may need to check our work often and re-do that which needs more attention. The perfectionists among us need to learn when "well enough" truly is "well enough".

Happy Home Keeping.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thirty days of work in the Home

Give yourself fully to the work....

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

How should we devote ourselves to the works God has planned for us? Fully, Paul says. He also says that we should let nothing move us from our work.

Have you ever been moved from the work the Lord has laid out for you? I know that I have. Here are a few things that I have let interfere with my service to the Lord: fear, insecurity, selfishness, and lack of focus. I am so thankful that the Lord provides aid so that we can stand firm and not be moved by distractions.

In talking with other women, I find that fear is a huge distraction for some of us. It's hard to give yourself fully to your work and to worry, too. In fact, the Anglo-Saxon roots for our English word worry means a mind that is divided. In order to work fully, we need a single mind. God will give us this single mind if we trust in Him. We need to apply the familiar prescription in Philippians 4:4-8, which is to pray about everything and to worry about nothing, while focusing our minds on things that are uplifting. Remembering that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose helps, too.

Some women become moved from their work by trying to meet the world's expectations and God's expectations, too. Or, they may wonder exactly what God wants them to be doing. If you find yourself in this situation, you may find it helpful to study the scriptures with an attitude of trust and to obey what you find there. God gives many clear directions about the works he wants followers of Jesus to fulfill. Start with those you understand. Be faithful in a little and you will be given more. In addition, pray for God to guide you and to open doors for service. Also, ask others what gifts they see in you.

Some women are moved away from their highest purposes by these time wasters: watching too much TV, spending too much time on the Internet, getting too caught up in the news, spending too much time on the phone, or habitually staying up late and feeling to tired in the morning to be about our work.

We can be moved fully from the work God has given us when we cram our schedules with too many things -- even with good things. There are many lovely ways to occupy our time in God's good creation. However, our time here is limited and our mission here is urgent. So, we must pick and choose the best things and say no to those things that would throw us off track.

I remember that when my children were small, a wise and older woman shared about a time when her children were very young. She determined to sew beautiful Easter dresses for her little daughters. As she worked, however, she inadvertently neglected other needs that the children had. Her three little ones pulled on her for attention. Finally, she realized that for that particular Easter, it was more important for her to meet more important needs than it was for her to make fancy dresses. She said, "I learned that day that I cannot always do everything God wants me to do and everything that I want to do, too." She resolved to thereafter choose God's best use for her time.

Sewing Easter dresses may not be an issue for us. However, at some point, we will all have to make choices to stand firm in our work and not to be pulled aside by distractions -- however alluring they may be.

As Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness..."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thirty days of work in the home --

Read how many small businesses use Twitter to grow as by super-charged word of mouth.
The other day, I meditated about Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many." I have always loved this verse, but it hit me in a new way. I thought about my marriage. Do I have the attitude that I came to serve? Or, do I lean on my husband to help me out all the time? Do I serve him eagerly and humbly? Or, do I take him for granted? Hmm...

I also thought about the story in Luke of the paralytic whose friend brought him to Jesus. It's interesting to me that the account says, "When Jesus saw their faith...." Do you think of faith as something that people can see in your life? Do you think of it as something that God can see? Sometimes, we make faith to be an ethereal thing. But, in the Scriptures, faith is accompanied by concrete actions prompted by that faith.

Among other things, faith can be seen or not seen in the things we do, the values we act on, the way we spend our time, the way we spend our money, and the way we react to situations. Isn't it exciting to think that with the Lord's help, we can cultivate in our hearts a faithful response to God that He can see?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thirty Days of Work in the Home -- Day XI

Make Grocery Shopping and Menu Planning Easier

1) If you have an android phone, check out Our Groceries. This free application lets you add items to your grocery list in a second. Not only that, but if you and other family members carry android phones, each of you can add to the list so that the other person will see it. In this way, you can synchronize your lists.
2) Check out All You for a list of daily freebies that you can register for. The site also provides coupons, articles about saving money, and recipes. You might consider ordering the magazine All You, if you think that the coupons in each issues will not only pay for the subscription price, but save you a little extra money, as well.
3) Follow blogs in which the bloggers have done the work of finding out what grocery sales and coupons are best in your area. For example, Southern Savers and Faithful Provisions are geared to the area where I live.
4) Make a menu and a list. You can be flexible with your list if you get to the grocery store and see an exceptionally good deal or some unexpected item that seems especially appealing. However, you will save money if you work from a fixed plan rather than just selecting what seems good to you at the moment.
5) If you tend to grab little things that seem as if they don't cost much money, take a look at your cart before you check out and ask yourself if you really want each extra thing you have put in your buggy. Even little items can add up to take a big bite out of your grocery budget. Stores know how to arrange little things so that they will catch your eye and cause you to think, "Oh, I could use that." Before buying, be sure that you really want or need something that is marketed to you in this way.

Happy Home Keeping

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thirty Days of Work in the Home

Unless you are single with no roommates or other family members around, you share your home with others. As with any other organization, some members will be highly motivated to work and others will need a little inspiration. Plus, not all members will do things in exactly the same way.

Since the woman is often the full time keeper at home, she may be the first to notice when things need doing. Since opposites attract, married couples often experience the following:
1) The husband is naturally neat and thinks in an organized fashion, while the wife has to work harder at it. 2) The wife is naturally neat and thinks in an organized fashion, while the husband has to work at it. When you add children and, perhaps, grandparents or other people staying in the home, things can become complicated!

What's a home keeper to do? Here are some ideas:

1) If you do live alone for some reason, do little things to make life special for you. It will be easy to think, "No one really sees how I live. I'll do only the basics." However, your residence will feel homier if you do add sweet little touches, such as soft music, a candle burning, or a flower. Plus, if you keep a house that makes your own heart sing with joy to come home, you will be ready to show hospitality to others.
2) If you are married and your husband takes a great interest in how the domestic side of your life runs, don't take it as a slam on your own home keeping skills. Rejoice that you are likely married to someone who will hang up his slacks and throw his socks in the hamper. If your husband can more quickly see how things can be organized efficiently or how you can cook or clean more effectively, rejoice that your husband can help you. Of course, if you feel that your husband's expectations of your performance in the home are unrealistic or that he is overbearing, you may need to discuss this with him or even get help from wise counselors. Otherwise, you will likely find a way to work together that will bring great satisfaction to you both. You can find a way that you feel comfortable shining as keeper of your home, working alongside your husband, and respecting his leadership.
3) If you are married and your husband is not in tune with the domestic side of things, don't stew. He may not know or understand all of the little things that go into creating a smoothly running house. In this case, view it as your opportunity to be the woman whom her husband can trust fully to manage the domestic side of life. Win him without nagging by your example of keeping a sweetly running home. If you need help, ask politely and respectfully and be specific.
4) In the above scenario, plan how you would like your home to run and how you would like it to look in terms of everything being in place. Talk to your spouse once about why you would like a well-run household and ask your husband what he thinks about your plans. Ask for his support in specific ways. For example, you might ask him to help you teach your children how to work in the home. If you lay out your plans in a reasonable manner, your husband will likely show an interest in what you are doing. Don't nag, however.
5) Model good working habits for your husband and your children. Let your life speak without words.
6) Do expect children to do their age-appropriate share of chores. As we discussed, it's necessary to teach your children before just throwing the expectation out there. Use chore charts. Have your very young children work alongside you as you clean their room. Give them simple chores to do in the kitchen. Have reasonable expectations for teens, as well. If they drive a family car, they must help keep it clean, for example.
7) Help your family establish a place for commonly used items. Make it convenient for people to find and to return scissors (safety scissors if you have young children in the home and out of reach of little one's hands!), tape, pens, garden tools, brooms, etc.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

30 days of work in the home

Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. Ecclesiastes 11:6

Today, I used this same scripture in my post about finances at A Merry Rose.
The more I pondered this scripture, the more I realized how much wisdom it contains. It certainly applies to work, especially to our work in the home.

Here are some things that this speaks to me:

1) Don't slack off in my work. Sometimes, I will make a good start and run out of steam. Other times, I will take too long really getting going. Working steadily all day long, allowing for some healthful breaks, is the most productive things to do.
2) Obviously, this speaks to not putting all of your financial eggs in one project or one endeavor. Or, to quote an old-fashioned non-Biblical proverb, "Don't put all of your eggs into one basket." We don't know which of our projects or investments will succeed, and we need to have a diversified financial strategy.
3) In terms of time, we are to have an over-arching, unifying purpose to our lives. For the disciple of Jesus, the overall mission of our earthly years begins and ends in Christ. However, under that umbrella of the overall purpose, we need to be faithful in a number of responsibilities. It's not wise to concentrate on one area of our life and neglect the others. There are parts of my work that I enjoy more than others. Yet all of it is important and must be done.
4) We shouldn't get discouraged if we try a project and it doesn't work out as we planned. Most of our efforts will be fruitful, but some will not. Perhaps, we will make a mistake while sewing and have to rip out seams and start all over. Or, we plant a garden, and hail comes. We must be thankful for things that do succeed.
5) We do well to commit all of our labor to the Lord.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Legal Beagles -- Do you know the laws regarding your work in the home

1) Do you know what housing codes, zoning codes, home owner's covenants, animal codes, liabilities regarding animals or property or home business, etc. apply in your area?
2) If you want to operate a business from your home, do you know if you need licenses? Home business insurance? If you hire someone to help you, do you know what tax responsibilities you might have? Some home business have very few, if any, legal requirements. Others may call for more legal documentation.
3) If you allow someone who is not in your immediate family to stay in your home for an extended time, do you have a written agreement of what is expected from each party? Having one can save a lot of headaches for both you and the person who is staying in your home.
4) Do you know how long to paperwork related to personal and business taxes?
5) Do you understand any leases you have signed? Mortgages? Even if it's after the fact, go back and educate yourself.
6) Do you keep up with contracts for improvements to your home or household services? Warranties?
7) If you trade via E-Bay or Craig's list, have you checked any legal matters related to your transactions? Do you keep written records of the transactions you have made, even if it is an informal letter of agreement between two parties?
8) Are your sidewalks, steps, and porches up to code? Safe?
9) If you have a pool, is it surrounded by a fence and safety gate?
10) Do you keep up with current recommendations for Internet safety and privacy?
11) If you are a homeowner, do you know your rights as a homeowner? If you are a renter, do you know your rights as a renter? If you are a landlord, do you know your rights as a landlord?
12) Do you know legal restrictions in your state or area regarding how young a babysitter may be?
13) Do you know how to remove your name from unsolicited market lists, calling lists, etc.
14) Are you aware of your rights regarding loud noises from the street that enter your home?
15) Are you aware of your rights regarding radio, T.V., cable T.V., phone services, Internet service, etc.?
16) Do you know your rights regarding freedom to worship?
17) When was the last time you read the Constitution of the U.S.? Do you understand the hearts of the founding fathers with regard to the laws they enacted? Do you understand the original intents behind the amendments?
18) Do you understand laws that affect home schooling, public schools, private schools, etc?
19) Are you prepared to be a juror should you be called?
20) Do you know your legal rights regarding intruders, trespassers, and people who create nuisances?
21) Do you know your legal responsibilities if you suspect that a child is being abused? Do you know the requirements of any organization that you are involved in regarding this issue?
22) Do you know what your rights and responsibilities as a voter are?

We don't have to go to law school to live happy and healthy family lives. However, it's good to have some knowledge of any legal aspects that could affect your family. This will keep you from inadvertently breaking the law and incurring penalties. It will also help you maintain your rights to privacy and security in your home.

A study of the city, state and federal laws with regard to homes, neighborhoods, and farms in your area makes a good home school course. It's a good way to introduce your children to the practical aspects of the law.

Understanding a little law history can help us also interpret our country's constitution in a right way. This, too, makes a good subject for home school.

Happy Home Keeping!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thirty Days of work in the Home Day 8

Treating your work in the home or in a home business with a professional attitude:

Those who excel in their work, be it what they do in the home or what they do in business (and home business), generally conduct themselves with a professional attitude.

How can you incorporate more professionalism into your work life?
Here are some ideas:

1) Learn some principles of etiquette or business etiquette, as is appropriate for what you do. You don't have to become Miss Manners or Emily Post. You simply need enough practice in etiquette to feel confident in social or business settings. Even if you operate a home business of the type which rarely calls for interpersonal interaction, it's still wise to know how to conduct yourself in a rare client meeting or to know how to send professional emails.
2) Be a problem solver. When something happens that is not according to your plan, do your best to deal with it. Do not complain or become easily discouraged.
3) Keep improving your skills and polishing your talents.
4) Find inspiration for your daily work. Help yourself stay inspired.
5) Don't become discouraged when you are wrong. Apologize if you need to. Repent if it involves sin. (Not all flubs are due to sin.) Then, get on with the business of living.
6) Do your best to do your work in a timely fashion. If you have promised someone that you will do something by a certain date, do it. (Think twice before promising!)
7) Be considerate of the time of others. Be on time for appointments. Call if you are unavoidably detained.
8) Do not assume that if a woman is home all day long that she has the time to watch your children any time you need her to, shuttle your children to activities, be on the phone for hours, devote hours to your pet volunteer project, or do an errand that you can't get to. If a woman is home, it is probably because she has made her home and family a priority in her life. This role takes a lot of time and demands respect. If she wishes to help you as she is able to, that's wonderful. However, don't presume.
9) If you are a full time keeper at home, don't be afraid to say no to requests for your time that will keep you from fulfilling your role. One lovely thing about being in the home is that our time is more flexible than those who work in an office a certain number of hours. Women who are full time keepers at home have traditionally given some of their hours to serving others outside the home, as well as to developing friendships. However, it is possible to take on so many outside activities that you fail to care for your home and family, which are the reasons you are home in the first place. Don't let false guilt cause you to overload your schedule with outside things. Pray and determine what the best use is for your time.

What does God say about work?

Good works are our adornment; if we claim to be godly, we should demonstrate it by lives devoted to working for the Lord: Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. I Timothy 2:10

Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Titus 3:14

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sewing Productivity Project

Oops -- I forgot I have two big non-sewing-related projects going on this week, so I'll have to wait another week to join in the sewing productivity fun. But, head on over to Tilly and the Buttons and join in the fun without me. I'll catch up with you later! :)

So far, I have two projects ready to be finished: an apron from a kit and a skirt that I cut out while my dear professor and engineer hubby and I were watching a movie. We enjoy watching movies together, and I want to use some of that time for cutting out projects to increase my productivity. However, we were watching a movie in which the clothes and scenery were almost better than the story, and I found it hard to look at my work and the screen, too.

I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone else progresses.

Thirty Days of Work in he Home -- Young people and work

Tips for Parents:

For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Mary Poppins

1) Teach children Biblical concepts of work.
2) Teach children how to find out skills they need to know. You will not be able to teach them every work skill they might ever need to know in adult life. Teach them how to learn from books and from sound advice. A young friend of mine (10 years old) read two books about gardening and planted her own garden.
3) Make a list of work skills that you do want your children to know by the time they are adults. Both boys and girls would benefit from knowing skills such as the following: knowing how to sew on a button; knowing how to cook a few meals; knowing when to have the oil changed on a car; how to shop wisely; how to handle money, etc. Every adult needs a few basic survival skills to utilize in situations such as before marriage, if single for life, or if married and a spouse is ill or absent for a short time. Teach those skills as is age-appropriate.
4) Learn what chores are appropriate for what age children, and assign children chores. Doing some work to help the family household is so beneficial for children. Don't just hand out chores and assume that your children know how to do them or that they will perform them to your satisfaction. Break them down into steps and help your children to complete each step if they have trouble doing. Always teach and train first. Only after a child has mastered a skill should you enact corrective discipline.
5) Cultivate the attitude that we all love each other and want to keep our home clean and usable. Also, cultivate the attitude that we want to be able to share our home by showing hospitality. Involve children in hospitality. Help children to develop a concept of family love and teamwork.
6) Take note of any special talents for work or any particular interests that a child has. Help the child develop those particular skills. Working with a child's own God-given nature will bring the child greater joy and satisfaction in life. However, also teach the child that we can't just live up to the responsibilities that we most enjoy. We must do everything that is needed.
7) Help your child to see the benefits of work. Encourage the child for a job well done. As you go about your lives, occasionally point out things that are well-made or gardens that are beautifully kept or the way someone brought a group together with good leadership. I'm not talking about doing this in a "Why don't you do it this way" approach that overwhelms the child. This is just to help the child cultivate an eye for excellence, usefulness, and beauty and to appreciate the results of work.

For young ladies of 10- young adulthood:

1) Cultivate your own eye for things well done. Especially notice how older women do things. Take note of what is effective. Do not be critical of others. Look for the best in others and learn from the best in others. Everyone does something well.
2) Try your hand at a few different skills or crafts until you find some that truly interest you. You might discover a talent you didn't know you had or a passion that will serve you well for years to come. If you don't enjoy the skill or craft and it is not necessary to your life, now's the time to find out. In many cases you can come back to it later if you find that you want to take it up again. Some things, however, are best learned when you are young and take years to master. Don't give up something just because it takes hard work and you might be a little bored with the need to practice. Think in the long term if something is worth long years of learning and practice to master. Let your parents help you decide if it is right for you or not.
3) Keeping your room clean, your bathroom tidy, your clothing neat and fresh, and your personal care items clean and in neat order is good training for managing a larger house later on in life.
4) Helping to care for older people or babies and toddlers provides wonderful experience that you will find useful in later life.
5) Don't let yourself be influenced by peers who complain about chores or who look down on working hard to learn something. Remember that hard work will yield its joys, both now when you are young and as an investment in a happy future.

Happy Home Keeping!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You are a home economist!

Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow. From Hello Dolly

Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 are two famous passages about women and work, particularly in their roles in the home. There's another verse that needs to be considered, as well. In I Timothy 5:14-15 Paul tells Timothy, a young minister, how to cope with a problem a church was having with widows who were becoming busybodies and idle talkers. (Let you think Paul was down on women, he addressed problems with men as well, in this letter.) Paul counsels younger women to "get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. By younger, he meant under the age of sixty!

The word keep house is oikodespoteo. It comes from the word oikonomos, from which we get our English word economy. This form is similar that used in Titus 2 to mean keeper at home or busy at home. The first unit of economy in history was the home, farm, or family business. Oikonomos means a steward of the home, the manager of the home, and the person to whom the owner of the home has entrusted the management of his financial affairs. It can refer to an overseer of a farm or landed estate. It can also refer to the person who is in charge of a city's financial affairs or the one who manages the financial affairs of a ruler. Throughout most of history, the concept of economy referred to the home unit or small business or farm. It was only in the last two centuries that we have come to think first of economy as a system of economy for a nation first and only secondly in terms of home economy.

So, if you have a home, you are a home economist! You may have another job, but, even so, you are also an economic manager of your household. You may work in tandem with your husband and under his direction. You may enlist your children to help with household economy. But, at least one of the hats you wear is that of home economist.

The form used in I Timothy 5:14-15, oikodespoteo, literally means to rule or guide the house.
How important that is! Now, it's true that the widows of Paul's day may not have had as many other career options available to them as women of today do, and, therefore, ruling or guiding a home provided them with meaningful work. Likewise, men of that day had fewer career options as well because 1) there weren't as many kinds of work as there are now and 2) most people -- male and female -- were expected to stay within the social sphere and job of their parents. Even so, the need for someone to guide and rule the home is just as great today, as it was then.

Today, we still have children who need love, discipline, and teaching. We still have household budgets to oversee, bills to pay, taxes to prepare, and resources to allot for our family's needs. We still have a need for clothing, food, and shelter. We still have the emotional needs for family and home. We still have the need for home as a place where we show hospitality to others, reach out to the needy, and share in faith and godly love with our family members and neighbors. The church is also our shelter in these arenas, but godly homes and godly home managers are necessary, as well. Whatever we do, we can't neglect this role in the home.

As Martha Peace says, "Chaos and disorder create tension and contention. It drains her (a wife) of the needed eneergy to work on her relationship with her husband and children. A wife should make it her busienss to find out how to keep an orderly and clean home and stay organized with her grocery shopping and meals. There are many good books on the market or in the library that are very helpful, and if this area in her life is out of control, she should seek the resources to change."

Practical: What one thing can you do today to be a good financial manager of your household? If you are a young girl at home, how are you doing at managing your allowance or any funds you earn by babysitting or doing chores?

Happy Home Keeping!

Friday, April 8, 2011

30 days of work in the home Day V

The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook. William James.

Allow an extra cushion in your schedule.

Finding that balance between adhering to a schedule and being flexible can be challenging for all people who live and work. It is especially so for someone who's work is home and family.

When I was a young wife and mother making schedules and carrying date books with every time slot filled was very popular among my friends and I. One mistake that we made was not to leave any "cushion time" in our daily schedules. That's not very practical for keepers at home, as our primary focus is the people in our home. As we all know, loving our husbands and children, as well as our neighbors, means capturing some special spontaneous moments. It also means taking care of unforeseen needs.

For example, when your baby takes his first few steps, that's a moment to stop everything and celebrate! Likewise, you might decide on a pretty day that it's time for a family picnic. Or, your child might need help with school work. Perhaps, a project you're doing will take longer than you expected. Maybe, a neighbor will go into labor, and you will go over to her house to watch her children.

Because we need to adjust our schedules to whatever a day will bring, it's good to put some cushion time in your daily schedule. One way to do this is to allot an half-hour to two hours of unplanned time each day. Another way is to have one morning toward the end of the week that is completely unplanned. If you choose the second route, you can push any tasks that don't get done into that time slot.

If you choose to allot a significant amount of each day to unplanned time, make sure that you keep a master list of things you would like to do or need to do. If you find that you don't need the unplanned time for any other purpose, you can choose something off your master list to do. This will keep you from feeling unfocused. Once in a while, you can simply relax and enjoy the time as a period of rest and renewal. All work and no play makes Jill a dull woman.

What God says about work:

Proverbs, being God's book of practical wisdom, has a lot to say about work, productivity, laziness, and the results of our attitude toward work. The following are just five of the many verses in Proverbs that discuss work and productivity. Notice that the person who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. Negligence is destructive. If we are negligent and slack, we will lose ground. Our assets will be destroyed through neglect and, thus, they will slip away from us.

We will reap positive rewards from our work if we work diligently and in season.

1) He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11.

One who is slack in his work is a close relative of one who destroys. Proverbs 18:9.

3) Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing. Proverbs 20:4

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor Proverbs 12:24

5) The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. Proverbs 21:25

Happy Home Keeping!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

30 days of work in the home --Day IV Tips for Wise Work

Tips for Wise Work:

1) Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Where do your talents lie? What season of life are you in? How much time do you have to devote to certain pursuits. Some home keepers take on more activities than they can fulfill during their particular stage of life or given their true interests. It is not necessary to grind your own wheat or to have a large, organic garden, or to sew all of your family's clothing in order to manage your household well, though, if you want to and can do these things, it is fine. Focus on the areas of home keeping that your husband and you decide is best for your family. Take into account your talents, time, state of health, interests, and other factors. Know that you can change your focus as your family's needs, your interests, and your available time changes.
2) By experimenting with a new area of housekeeping for a time, you may uncover and develop skills that you didn't know you had. Don't try every new area of home keeping at once, though.
3) If you are considering operating a home business, take some time to plan before starting. In the example of the Proverbs 31 woman, her business transactions were the natural outgrowth of her work in the home. What do you do in the home that could be turned into a profitable home business? What are your passions? What is your training and education? What areas of home management or other experiences in life have given you a particular expertise? Is there a market for what you want to do? If there isn't a ready-made market, is it possible to create one. (Think about this soberly, not with wishful thinking.) Who would be your typical customer? Will family members help? Can you hire help? Or, will you be doing this entirely by yourself? Plan a home business strategy as carefully as someone would plan any business.

What God says about work

Work without grumbling and complaining: Philippians 2:14-15 says, "Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among who ye shine as lights in the world."

Our society is saturated with grumbling and complaining, especially about work. If you do your work without grumbling or complaining about it, you will stand out in a way that brings glory to God. In this, we need to watch our hearts and our words, because it's so easy to get sucked into a mode of complaining. We can complain silently, by brooding on how hard our work is, or we can complain verbally, by chiming in when others complain. If we approach our work with a martyred attitude, we can make our families and others feel that they are a burden to us. If we approach it joyfully, knowing that even the parts of our work that we don't especially enjoy are valuable, we will make others feel loved. We will also more likely draw them to Christ.

2) Not complaining about work means not complaining about the people connected to our work. Don't complain to others about your husband, children, parents-in-law, hired helpers, co-workers, boss, etc. Pray about your relationships. Deal with disputes in a godly way by first talking only to the person involved. Seek help to resolve conflicts, if needed, but do this discreetly and without complaining about the other person.

3) Work with a view in mind of a life well spent. In I Timothy 5:10, we find this description of widows who have served the Lord well..."has a reputation for good works and has reared children, has practiced hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has relieved the afflicted, and has been devoted to all kinds of good works." If you find yourself edging toward being older and wish that you had spent your life on different purposes, don't give up. It's never too late to invest in doing good.

Happy Home Keeping!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thirty Days of Work in the Home -- Day 3

Thought for the Day: "The countless, mundane tasks I perform day after day are critically important to the development of lives I care so much about. this makes me feel very valuable, and it imbues everything I undertake as a Family Manager with a sense of significance. This means that making sure there's milk for breakfast is just as significant as making sure that I get a magazine article on time. It means planning a party for high schoolers after a football game is just as important as a radio interview." Kathy Peel, the Family Manager

Tip of the Day:
Schedule your on line time. Either have a rough plan for every day or schedule it for that day. For example, you could allow so many moments for reading and commenting on the blog posts of others, so much for writing your own posts, etc. Set aside certain hours for blog upkeep. Taking a day off from the Internet once a week or once a month is a good idea, as well. Help your children schedule their on line time, too. Exercise wisdom and discipline in your and your children's use of the Internet.

What God says about work: The Hebrew word work used in Proverbs 31:13 is 'Asah'. It's various shades of meaning when translated into English include "to make, to do, to prepare; to create, to construct, to accomplish, to work, to labor." It is the same word used of God's creative activity in Genesis 1:7; 1:26; 1:31, and in many other places in the Old Testament.

In I Corinthians 15:58, we read, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor if not in vain in the Lord."

"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." NIV

This specifically speaks of the work of the Lord, which God has all believers to do. The therefore follows a discussion by Paul in which he calms fears and misunderstandings the Corinthian believers had about eternal life. He reminds them that the fear of death and the power of sin no longer rule over us, for Christ has given us the victory.

Paul encourages the Corinthians (and us) to abound in the work of the Lord or, in other words, to give ourselves to it fully. The Greek word is 'perisseuo', which means to superabound, to excel, to be abundant, enough and to spare, over and beyond, and beyond what is necessary.

We are to have this attitude in our ministry to others: helping in some role to spread the gospel, serving the poor, encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ, serving the sick, showing hospitality, etc. However, having this attitude in our work in the home, knowing that what we do there also pleases the Lord, will help us to find joy in our work.

Abounding in our work or giving ourselves fully to it means that we will not just see how little we can get away with but put love and heart into what we do. We will serve people as if we were serving Jesus. One example we can take is that of the woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7:36-50. Her gratitude for the forgiveness Jesus gave her and her love for Him prompted her to serve Him with everything she had. She did not let criticism from others stop her from showing love to her Lord.

Happy Home Keeping

Monday, April 4, 2011

30 day study - and works with her hands in delight

Day II --

Thought for the Day: (Building on Ideas from Beautiful in God's Eyes by Elizabeth George) Some tips for happy and productive work:

1) Pray daily for the people in your home. As you move about your home, pray for the person whose room you enter or the person whose clothes you sew, etc. Pray when you cook. Pray for guests who will be coming or who have just left. (If you also work outside the home, take your habit of prayer there, as well. Pray for your boss, co-workers, etc.)
2) Pray for God to give you joy in your work. Pray for God to give you strength. Ask Him to guide your planning. Always depend on the Lord in everything. Search the scriptures to seek His will for your work. Proverbs 16:3 "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."
3) Memorize scriptures that encourage you to be joyful in your work. Recite them to yourself when you feel your motivation flagging.
4) Do you work as unto the Lord. Put all of your heart into it. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" Colossians 3.
5) Be patient with yourself if things don't go smoothly. You might be sewing a skirt, and find that you have to rip a seam out a little and sew it again. Or, you might mop a floor and the dog scoots across it with muddy paws. These little frustrations can seem like a huge deal in the moment. I know that I can easily feel that I don't have time in my schedule for mistakes, accidents, or interruptions. Yet, I also find that if I just patiently deal with things and move on, I will make progress.
6) See tasks as challenges, not as burdens. Put your creativity into your work. Look for more efficient ways to do things. Or, see how pretty you can make the results. Or, see if you can turn some of your work into healthful exercise. Yes, it's hard to be creative when cleaning a toilet. Every job -- even one that might seem glamorous -- has a certain amount of tasks that are routine and unexciting. But, if you are continually viewing your overall work with a creative eye, you will find more joy in it.
7) Take rest breaks when you need to. God created our bodies and knows that we need rest. Some well-timed breaks can give us energy to accomplish more. Be disciplined, though, and get back to work when it's time to.
8) Be thankful for each day. We only have a short time, in the eternal scheme of things, to accomplish the work God has for us on this earth. Every day is a new opportunity to do something meaningful with our earthly lives.
9) Don't get overwhelmed with the hugeness of your work. Break it down into small steps. Work little by little.
10) Keep your goals in mind. Envision the results.

Thought for the Day: At the end of every day, remind yourself of what you have accomplished that day and thank God for it. Include things that may not seem very noteworthy to others -- such as changing diapers or managing to get yourself sweetly presentable on a day when four of your children have the flu. It's wise to think of what didn't get done and to note what still needs to be done. However, you will be happier if you also take the time to note tasks and activities that you did get to.

What God Says About Work: After the fall of man, work became associated with a certain amount of fatigue, frustration, and pain.

In Genesis 2, God tells Adam of one of the consequences of his sin -- a consequence that we still experience today:

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food."

However, even though our work in a fallen world can be frustrating at times, that does not do away with the fact that God created it and blessed it and that it is good. In Genesis 2:5-15, we learn, "And the Lord god planted a garden eastward in Eden, and the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

The word keep (shamar) means " to hedge about, to guard, to protect, and to watch."

We also learn in Genesis 2 that God said it wasn't meant for man to be alone and that He created a woman, Eve, to be his help meet -- his companion.

Genesis 1 gives an overview of the creation of man and woman in God's image, along with God's blessing and the work for which men and women were originally created:

"Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'
The'n God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.' And it was so."

Work is inspired by God, created by God, and blessed by God. As Jesus said in John 5:17, God, Himself, is always at work. "Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." We know from other scriptures that every work God does is good.

When Jesus as God's Son in the flesh walked the earth, He demonstrated this quality:
"And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."

As we already noted, Proverbs 31 says that the worthy woman does her husband good all the days of his life. In this, she is imitating the heart of God. She also provides for her family, reaches out to those in need outside of her family, and watches over the affairs of her household. She does not eat the bread of idleness. She works eagerly and willingly.

If we are tempted to laziness, giving in to it brings us pain, dullness, lack of results, poverty (though not all poverty is caused by laziness), lack of good, and even depression. Attending to the work God gives us brings fulfillment, productivity, fruitfulness, and satisfaction. Plus, we have the joy of doing our work for the Lord, as a gift of love and thankfulness to Him.

Happy Home Keeping!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Proverbs 31:13 with her hands in delight

Thirty Day Study of Our Work -- What God has to say about blessings of work, organizing our work, attitude toward work, and teaching our daughters (and sons) how to work -- Day I

Proverbs 31:13 describes the worthy woman this way: "She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands. " NIV 2011 version

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." KJV

She hath sought wool and flax, And with delight she worketh [with] her hands." Young's literal translation.

According to the online Hebrew Interlinear Bible, the word translated "willingly" or "eagerly" does have to do with delight.

Managing a home takes lots of work. No matter what other type of work you might be involved with, be diligent about the amount of oversight, planning, and labor involved in managing your household. Because our work in the home directly involves our most beloved family, we don't want to skimp on this ever so important sphere of life.

Titus 2 counsels younger women to be busy at home (among other things) so that God's word won't be maligned. Here is a second and even more urgent motivation for our work in the home. A woman who takes care of her family and her home brings glory to the Lord. A woman who neglects these things can cause His name to be spoken of in an ill manner. People do watch us to see if we are at home who we say we are in public.

This doesn't mean that we live our lives for the approval of other people or that we take too much credit or blame for how other people respond to the Lord. It does not mean that we become uptight about having the "perfect" home and family. It does mean, however, that we recognize the importance of our work in the home and that we depend on the Lord to help us.

If we let our society tell us that the work we do in the home is of little importance, we can't expect to be very delighted about doing it. However, if we know in our hearts that God's word is true -- that He sees and rewards our work in the home if done out of mindfulness for Him -- we will find joy in fulfilling our tasks. On an off-day, we may wake up with an aching head and long to stay under the warm covers rather than get up and get about our tasks. However, love for the Lord and for our families compels us to arise and be about the business of caring for our home and family. We are rewarded with the sweet knowledge that we have been faithful stewards of matters dear to the Lord and to our own hearts.

Our children will pick up on our attitudes toward work. If they see we attach importance to what we do, they will, too. One of the best gifts we can give our children is a love for good work. Another gift we can give them is to teach them to be attentive to detail in their work. Still another gift we can give them is to help them identify and utilize their God-given gifts in work.

Work -- it's a good thing!

Happy Home Keeping!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Heart of Her Husband Trusts in Her -- Feelilngs and Commitment Part II

Agape Love:

Agape love, sometimes translated in English versions as charity or love, is based on choice. It is a decision to love. It is a selfless, sacrificial love that acts on behalf of another's best interests. It is an attitude of the heart and a way of life. We love not because the object of our love is so lovable, but because we accept God's love and learn from Him to love the way He does.

If emotional feelings are the heart of love, then agape is the bones. Without bones, a body would collapse. Without agape, our emotions of love would eventually collapse. Agape love keeps us standing and walking in love, just as our bones help us to stand and walk. Agape love is not dependent on circumstances, on how we feel in a given moment, or on how the other person responds. Agape love is firm commitment, and it never fails.

Agape love does not fluctuate according to emotion. Yet, if agape love exists between a husband and wife, between a parent and child, or in a godly friendship, it fosters the experience and expression of loving feelings in their time. The marriage which is built on agape love, for example, will experience many wonderful times of passion for one another, as well as many happy times of felt companionship. The couple will truly be able to say of each other, "This is my lover and my friend".

If only one person in a relationship is committed to agape love, agape is still powerful. It pleases God when we demonstrate agape love. Agape gives with no thought of return. Many a married person has won their spouse to a faith in the Lord simply because they kept patiently, year after year after year, treating their spouse with agape love. In the same way, numerous loving parents have helped troubled children.
When we read I Corinthians 13, we see that it speaks of how we treat one another more than it speaks of how we feel about one another. We can decide in any given moment whether to be patient or to give way to impatient urges. Even though we may feel hurt, we can remember how God forgives us and choose not to keep a record of wrongs against another person. Even though we have our own needs, we can choose to put another's needs ahead of our own.

When my husband and I were in the early years of our marriage, he had a beautiful habit of meditating on I Corinthians 13. If we had any disagreement, he would recite that to himself and respond to me in line with its teaching.

What we must watch out for in our society is the idea that if feelings fade, something is horribly wrong with the relationship. I enjoy movies that are romantic comedies. Even in my favorites, such as "You've Got Mail", however, I see something disturbing. When a romantic comedy opens, we often see that the heroine is often engaged to a man who loves her and whom she says she loves. But, we also see that some of the romance has faded from that relationship. Then, our heroine meets a new man who stirs in her the passion she thought she had lost. She leaves the first man for the second. As viewers, we are supposed to assume that our heroine has finally met her soul mate. As the final credits roll, we enjoy the idea that she will live romantically ever after with her new beloved. But, would she in real life? Or, would she face a time in her new relationship when the feelings are not so rapturous? If so, what then? Would she, as so many people do, move on to yet another relationship, chasing feelings that can not be sustained on a day in and day out basis? Wouldn't a better romantic movie be that the heroine learns to love within the context of a committed marriage? That would be a movie about true mates of the soul.

Commitment to agape love keeps us from jettisoning relationships during times of flat or even painful emotions. If we stick with our relationships, we will find that happy emotions will likely come again and may even be sweeter than ever. Even if they do not, we are honoring a commitment we made before God. That is far better than wrecking relationships in order to vainly pursue satisfaction outside of God's will.

How can we, as women, nourish the commitment of love and the feelings of love? Here are a few ideas:

1) Remember that God showed his love to us by sending Christ to us when we were still powerless, ungodly and His enemies. Romans 5:6-8. Decide to love as He loved us. Read the gospels Follow Jesus' example. Notice how He talked to people and how He loved people.
2) When feelings are in sync with godliness, praise God! When they are in conflict with His will, choose His will and His glory over feelings. Luke 14:27; the book of I John.
3) Remember that our positive emotional feelings of love are stronger at times than at others. Decide that you will be committed to love no matter what your temporary emotions are.
4) On a daily basis, nurture feelings of love through actions and words. For example, set aside periodic times for romance with your husband. Read Song of Solomon and decide to be a lovely and loving wife. Send cards to a friend. Remember birthdays. Put these little things in your calendar and regard them as being as important as appointments. Little kindnesses and little moments of loveliness inspire relationship. This is even more important for your own heart than for the recipient of your kindness. Our feelings often follow our commitment and our action. The perfume of happiness lingers on the hand of someone who gives a flower to another.
5) Unspoken conflicts can put emotional distance in a relationship. Identify and work through any conflicts that might be sabotaging closeness.
6) Not spending enough time together can put emotional distance in a relationship. So, too, can having your priorities out of order. Make sure that you do spend time with the people who are closet to you. Having said that, we must balance this by encouraging and supporting our loved ones in things like ministry, work, hobbies, etc. We all need some time to develop in our own right. Likewise, it's not healthy to put our family ahead of God's righteousness and His kingdom. We need to continually pray about and get advice about the balance so that we are living according to God's priorities and investing in relationships.
7) Both men and women need respect and love. However, women generally look to love and feel respected if they are loved. Men generally look to respect and feel loved if they are respected. Men are advised to live considerately with their wives, which is a form of respect. (See I Peter Chapter 3) Women are also advised to learn from older women how to phileo their husbands or, in other words, how to express a kindly and affectionate love toward them. (Titus Two). Yet, in the marriage instructions in the Bible, we often see that men are told to love their wives and wives are told to respect their husbands. This is partly because men have a greater leadership role in the marriage. In order to carry out their mission to love their wives as Christ loves the church, they are supported if their wives respect them. The wife also fulfills her role better if she is loved and if she respects her husband's leadership. Yet, even above the need to fulfill important roles in marriage, men generally need respect from their wives. One of the greatest mistakes a wife makes is to underestimate the power of her disrespect to destroy her husband and her marriage and even to cause problems for her children. Likewise, it's a mistake to underestimate the power of a wife's respect to build up her husband, her marriage, and her household. Sometimes, women will not give respect unless they deem that their husbands are respect-worthy. Yet, I Peter 3 tells us that we are to respect our husbands even when they are not obeying the word. We have the power to do this because we trust God to take care of us. It's ultimately God to whom we are showing respect.
8) As women, we generally love to talk about, analyze and read about relationships. Our high interest in relationships is a gift for which we should be thankful. Yet, while men are also interested in good relationships, they are generally not as excited about analyzing them as we can be. Sometimes, we can wear our husbands out by always wanting to evaluate our relationship or by asking them to read book after book, instead of simply enjoying time together. If we are continually bringing up little annoyances or expressing concerns about our relationship, we can send to our husbands the message that we are both unhappy and ungrateful. This can greatly burden a husband, for most men desire to give their wives happiness and feel they have failed if their wives are unhappy. There is a time to speak up if we see that things are not right. However, if we see that our husband's eyes glaze over the moment we say, "Honey we need to talk...", likely we are over-doing it. There are times when we would all be wise to use fewer words and to practice more loving actions. The wise couple will pray and plan regular times to ask questions, such as "How do you think our relationship is going?" or "I've noticed you are quiet lately. Is there something the matter?" The wise couple will also foster an atmosphere in which each spouse feels free to open up about things on his or her heart. However, again, this must be done with lots of prayer and love and with a sense of healthy balance. Deep intimacy also can't be demanded; it must be given. The wife who grasps for emotional intimacy might see it slip away, while the wife who patiently and prayerfully plants seeds of love and respect will find it.
8) Keeping a sense of humor and spending time just having fun together helps to build healthy relationships.
9) Expressing gratitude on a regular basis fosters love.
10) In the gospel of John, Jesus links obedience and love, as well as obedience and a knowledge of the truth. Setting our hearts to do God's will makes all the difference in our intimacy with Him, and it also helps us to love others well. A good study is to read through the book of John and examine every passage in which Jesus talks about love, obedience, and faith.
11) Read the book of James and study the difference between sin and temptation, as well as feeling and attitude. Look at the difference between worldly wisdom and God's wisdom. Note the cause of conflicts between people and the cure. Decide to live by the royal law of love. Also take note of Proverbs. Truly, any book of the Bible contains lessons about how God loves us, how to love and trust God, and how to love other people.
12) Memorize the traits of love in I Corinthians 13 and recite them to yourself often.

Happy Home Keeping!

The Heart of her husband trusts in her -- commitment and feelings

Our society produces a very feelings driven, consumer driven mindset. Since this mindset appeals to our natural selves -- to our senses -- we all have to choose to walk in love and not in selfishness.

The positive feelings of love add incredible happiness to life. They are the spice and the color of marriage, of parenting and of great friendships. They are the zip and the zest, the fire and the warmth, the fun and the joy. There are different types of love that we experience at least partly in our emotions. The Greeks expressed them this way: eros, or romantic, sexual love between a husband and wife; storge, which is family love or natural affection; and phileos, which is brotherly love or friendship or affection. We also, if we are devoted to the Lord, experience awe and wonder and an indescribable, joy-filled love for Him.

We also see from reading the Bible that God has a range of emotions toward us, including a tender love for His own and a searching love for the lost. It is because we are created in His image that we can experience a wide range of emotions. God's emotions are holy and perfect, just as He is holy and perfect. He is the standard of love, and his righteous wrath is totally compatible with his perfect love. In the cross, we see his love and his justice meet. His emotions are not fickle, as ours can be.

Since we struggle with sin, our emotions can become mixed with selfishness. Our anger, for example, is seldom righteous, as His is. Man's type of anger cannot bring about the righteousness that God desires. Sometimes, since we know that our emotions can veer into sin, we fear our emotions, especially negative ones. Yet, God gave us emotions for a reason, and we should be grateful for the capacity to feel. Even painful feelings can be a part of love, for who is not stirred to help when a friend is being drawn into evil or grieved when a child suffers. Instead of fearing feelings, we need to bring them into the light, surrender them to God, and let Him teach us how to express godly emotions. He can change our hearts and purify our emotions so that we can love more purely.

As wonderful as the happy feelings of love are, they are not always consistent. Some mornings, we crave time with the Lord. Other mornings, we wake up with morning sickness and we must focus harder in our prayers. Some moments, we experience the heights of romantic and affectionate feelings for our husbands; other days, we fight being irritable with our beloved. Some moments, we are in raptures over our beautiful children; other moments, we are on our knees praying for the wisdom to help our children through tough times. Some days, we are full of happy energy and can't wait to play with our children at the park; other days, we have to push through exhaustion in order to meet their needs. Sometimes, we deeply feel the bond we have with close friends; at other times, we are hurt by something a friend said and are tempted -- wrongly -- to pull back our hearts.

Frequently, the ebb and flow of positive, loving feelings are just due to the dailiness of life. If married couples spent every moment in the blissful state of first love, for example, they wouldn't be able to get anything done. That's where the old saying comes in that a lifetime of love doesn't consist of gazing at each other's faces at every moment, but, instead, of looking together in the same direction. Those blissful feelings of first love should not die away; in fact, they should grow stronger with the years. However, it's unrealistic to expect that we will be on cloud nine every day of our lives together.

Sometimes, our feelings are affected by 1) the thoughts we've been dwelling on and 2) the state of our health. If we are feeling irritable with loved ones for no good reason, we need to ask ourselves what is going on in our mind and in our body. Are we feeding ourselves positive thoughts or are we dwelling on the negative? It's one thing to recognize and pray about problems and to talk about them, when appropriate. It's another to feed ourselves a diet of worry, unforgiveness, prideful thoughts, gloomy thoughts, and the like. Phil. 4:4-8 is for everyone, but I find it to be especially good medicine for the keeper at home. It helps us not only to cultivate peace, but love, as well.

If we find that our thoughts are centered on God and on good things and we still struggle with negative feelings, we may find that some physical ailment is tripping us up. We may be tired, hungry, experiencing a hormonally induced malaise, or otherwise suffering. At such times, we need to take ourselves in hand. We must do what we can for the health of our bodies. Yet, if we are experiencing bodily suffering over which we have no control, God can give us the grace to choose love over complaining. Instead of giving way to the peevishness (don't you love that old-fashioned word?) that comes from not feeling well, we can choose kindness, patience, and hope. Some of the most loving, compassionate people in the world are those who have fought to have love and faith in the midst of suffering. If we depend on God, He will comfort us so that we can comfort others.

See part II -- Agape Love.

Happy Home Keeping!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The heart of her husband trusts in her...growing in character

Thoughts for the Day...

On being orderly in mind and orderly in schedule: "Organized people think organized thoughts and that's why they use words like always and never. You would not hear an organized person say sometimes, usually, sort of, or 9:30-ish. Organized people have their minds set on just about everything. They don't guess, they don't try, they don't wait, they just do it. Things are cut and dried in the world of the organized." by the Slob Sisters.

Importance of Homemaking: "I am accountable for creating a climate of love, peace, joy, beauty, abundance, health, and order in my home. I am raising responsible citizens of the United States of America. What do you do?" by the Slob Sisters.

On how we view the past and present: It's never too late to be what you might have been. George Eliot

Developing Trustworthiness as a Keeper at Home:

We encourage our husbands (and other people in our lives, not to mention feeling happier in our own skins) when we are trustworthy in certain areas:

1) We demonstrate consideration for our husband and others when we are diligent in time management. When we are able to complete tasks on time and to be on time, we make life more pleasant and smooth for ourselves and for others.

One key to being considerate with our time lies in how we think. Timely people tend to think in an orderly fashion. They are definite about their plans and goals. They internalize good scheduling. People -- like me -- who struggle with time management are reluctant to commit to definite times and schedules and goals. We would rather take life as it comes and see how things turn out. We also don't want to disappoint anyone, so we are reluctant to say, "No, I cannot do that," and we take on more than we can handle and just hope it gets done.

A little flexibility is a good thing. We who are time-management challenged will stop and smell our roses! We will also nearly kill ourselves trying to do what you want us to do. But, when we allow ourselves to think and speak in vague terms -- I might; when I get around to it; maybe; let's meet around noonish; I'll try to get that done -- we fail to make concrete steps to manage our time. We do not do ourselves or our husbands or anyone else any favors by being indefinite in thought and action.

The woman who is trustworthy with her time makes her home pleasant for her husband and for herself. She also encourages her relationships by promptness.

2) We show love to our husbands, children, and others when we grow in our emotional maturity. If every small crisis throws us off, we will not be able to function in our relationships.

The mature woman understands that life presents challenges and even troubles, but she meets those with faith, determination, and hope. She is able to graciously work through emotional conflict with others. She nurtures a peaceful heart. She does not seek instant gratification but is able to wait and to work patiently.

The emotionally mature woman is not contentious toward her husband or rebellious to God's plans. She is at peace. She does not envy other women, but is happy to be the woman God made her to be. She knows how to strive for improvement without falling into dejection over where she is now. She is responsive to God's leading and is quick to confess her sins and faults. She is also able to accept forgiveness. She entrusts yesterday, today, and tomorrow to the Lord, and she focuses her attention on what she can do today.

She does not throw fits when things don't go her way, but she entrusts her circumstances to God and works to better the things she can. The mature woman knows that love is a choice, and she chooses to love even when her feelings may pull her to be selfish. In fact, one of the greatest signs of emotional maturity is the diminishing of selfishness in her nature and the growth of unselfish love.

A woman who is emotionally mature herself draws out the best in her husband and others.

3) The trustworthy woman is trustworthy with her tongue. She does not betray her husband's secrets. She does not gossip. She is not rude. She does not nag. She knows how to state her convictions with graciousness. She understands when it is time to speak and when it is time to be silent.

Mastering the tongue is one of the most challenging things in life. The woman who has learned to speak well-timed, fitting words is a true encouragement to those around her. A husband can delight in the woman who has the law of kindness written on her tongue.

4) The woman who is trustworthy treats her marriage as a holy thing. She also treats the marriage of others as holy and gives honor to those who are living a holy and single life. Her husband can trust her to be faithful not just in action, but in thought. She does not compare what her life might have been like if she had married another man or if she had never married. She does not indulge in fantasies of the perfect man. She cultivates a devout love of God and an appreciation for her husband in her thoughts. She chooses wholesome entertainment. Life may present her with opportunities to let her thoughts wander, but she chooses instead to fix them on things that are pure, true, and lovely.

5) The woman who is trustworthy does her husband good not harm all the days of his life. She prays for him daily. She thinks how she can serve him as she would serve Christ. (Note: women sometimes hear this as a put down to women, but, in truth, we are all called to love others the way Christ loved us. Christ did not come to be served, though that was his right in every way. He came to serve. We follow his example and trust God to lift us up.) The trustworthy woman is careful with her husband's reputation. If she seeks advice about her marriage or about something in her husband's life, she does so discreetly. She speaks well of her husband to others. She remembers that she is encouraged when well spoken of, and she extends her husband that same respect and courtesy.

The woman who is not married can grow in these qualities, as well, for they help all relationships. Every woman creates some type of home life around her and some type of atmosphere about her as she goes out and about. A woman of great character exudes a lovely, homely atmosphere even if she occupies a tiny work cubicle for most of the day.

The wife who keeps growing in great character is a wonderful blessing to her husband. Rather than weighing him down, he feels that she lifts him up. The woman of great character sows seeds of love that will reap a harvest in some way.

Happy Home Keeping!