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..."