Keeping “Godly Homemaking” in Perspective

August 11, 2010 at 6:29 am (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, Homemaking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

Last night Nathaniel and I (along with Elijah) attended a Bible study where a man named Titus from Nigeria shared about what the Lord is doing in his country and the need for literacy so that people can read God’s word for themselves.  It was a wonderful presentation, and a great wake-up call to consider how we can be supporting the suffering body of Christ around the world–through prayer and giving.

During Titus’s presentation, he took a small portion of time to discuss the problem of finding clean water that is an everyday reality for most rural people in Nigeria (and all over Africa).  A picture popped up on the screen of a woman carrying a very large pot on her head–so that her family would have some to drink and some with which to wash clothes.  This of course had an impact on my heart, realizing how incredibly blessed we are to have clean, running water, and how important it is to consider the needs of others, but it also made me think of how foolish we can be sometimes over here in the West, trying to paint an elusive picture of the perfect homemaker…of the “godly” homemaker.

The women in the picture had to walk miles for the water they needed, carrying a large pot and sometimes a little baby the whole way.  This could take HOURS.  Imagine if three or four hours of your day were spent walking and gathering water.  Would you have time to pursue “godly” hobbies like sewing or knitting or baking cookies?  Would you have the time to attend a ladies brunch and Bible study?  Would you have the time to post to your blog (assuming you do not have a smart phone)?  Would you have time to teach your kids Latin?  Make all of your own clothing?  Prepare every meal from scratch?  Would you have the money to buy only organic produce (because, of course, that is the most “godly” thing to do)?

How can a Christian woman in Africa be “godly” when she cannot do all the things that many conservative Christians in the West say a “godly” homemaker should be doing?

These thoughts only added to a lesson my Father has been teaching me lately.  Being a godly wife and mother isn’t about being the best housewife on the street, it’s about being godly in the role God has given me as a wife and mother.  It’s not about the outward stuff, as though the kingdom of God consisted in eating and drinking…or frugal shopping or an 1800’s-like lifestyle or wearing nice clothes.

The kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

I’m afraid we can get all too consumed with outward tasks and outward adornment (modest, of course), and outward actions, that we forget about the fruit of the Spirit.  That we fail to be godly because God is barely in the equation anymore.

Being godly starts with God.  It starts with His work in humble hearts.  Seeking Him is of far greater value than making your own bread or using cloth diapers or growing your own organic vegetable garden.

The point here is not that any of these things is wrong.  The point is that they do not make you godly.  Nor are you ungodly if your house doesn’t look or function just like Susie Homemaker’s.   Godliness is seeking Yahweh, being empowered by the Spirit and motivated by love to obey God and joyfully serve Him in whatever life-situation or role you find yourself in.  It speaks more to attitudes than to actual tasks.

So let’s revisit our Christian wife and mother in Nigeria.  How can she be godly?  She undoubtedly rises early to prepare food for her household.  She praises God for His provision.  She cares for the needs of her husband and children–her heart is grateful to God for them and compassionate towards them.  She walks however long it takes to find water for her family.  And along the way she is perhaps meditating on what little bit of Scripture she has access to this week.  Or maybe she sings praises.  Or maybe she delights in the sunshine or rain that her Father has given her that day.  She lovingly nurses her infant, and shares what she knows about Jesus with other women along her path.

She may be very godly.  And all you would see is a woman walking a long way to get water.  And then working hard when she returned home.  A woman who, at the end of the day, may have nothing more to show for all of her labor than this:  she, her husband, and her children … are still alive.

(Assuming they were not attacked by Muslims that day because of their faith in Jesus–another reality of the Christian life in Nigeria).

She is godly because she is filled with the Holy Spirit of God and manifests the fruit of His work in her heart.  She may not know as much as you and I about theology.  She may not even be able to read the Bible for herself–only clinging to the slivers of light that came through the teaching she heard at the small gathering of believers that she attended earlier that week.  But every word of God that she finds, she devours.  And she trusts in Him to provide and protect, and to keep His promises.

May we consider that our Western, task-driven, formulaic, and sometimes legalistic view of what it means to be a godly woman might just crumple when held up to the light of God’s word.  We are not to compare ourselves with each other or with a cultural ideal.  We are to seek the Living God.  May we be Spirit-filled believers who put the skills and gifts God has given us to good use in the roles that He has placed us in.

More to come on this subject…

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A Chaste Bride

March 12, 2010 at 1:21 am (Family, Friends & Ministry, Homemaking, interviews, Marriage, Purity) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Amy’s Story

Abigail says: When I was nine or ten, my family began attending a small, Bible church half an hour away from us.  It was the fellowship and the precious people who drew us there.  My father had always encouraged me to learn wisdom from watching those around me, and he quickly pointed out to me three young ladies at the church whom he recommended as virtuous girls, worthy of imitation.  One of them was a young woman named Amy.  She seemed old to me at the time (about my current age ;)), but as I watched her cheerfully serve, teach, reach out to the younger children, I began to understand how powerful a woman’s single years could be, when devoted to the Lord.  I remember  Steve visiting our church with Amy’s family and watching their story unfold was like peeking over the top of the candy counter to see something exciting.  I think I might have been twelve when I sat in a cushioned pew at their wedding and watched Amy’s father give her away with a promise that has echoed in my mind ever since:  he promised Steve that she was a chaste bride.  When Lauren and I decided we wanted to share the testimonies of women who are seeking to live out the command to be sensible, pure workers at home, those words haunted me until I sent Amy a message.  Below is her story!

Pearls & Diamonds: What do you say when someone asks “So, what kind of job do you have?”

Amy W: I LOVE this question! I will share a typical scenario of how this conversation goes:

ME: (Enthusiastically) “Oh, I LOVE my job! I work with INVESTMENTS!” (Then I look them in the eyes, and SMILE !

THEM: “REALLY? Wow!” (They usually look very satisfied or impressed with my answer.)

ME: “YES! My top investment is my husband, and next to him, are our four beautiful girls!” And the compensation is really good too – actually incomparable! I know it will pay huge dividends in the end! It is a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun, too, and very rewarding!

THEM: (With a positive look of new revelation) Oh! Wow! That is GREAT! You know, that is REALLY TRUE!!

ME: I wouldn’t trade it for anything else! You know, I’ve never yet heard a woman regretfully say, “Yes, I’m afraid I spent too much time with my husband and children! I wish I‘d done more for myself!” But I’ve heard plenty of them regret that they missed so much because of other priorities.” (Then again, I look them in the eye and give them my warmest smile so they (Lord willing) know that I don‘t share the enthusiasm for my “job“ with any criticism toward their choices!)

THEM: Wow! That is really great that you ARE ABLE to do that!

ME: It does require sacrifices to live on one income, but the reward is definitely worth it!

P & D:  Have you always desired to be a homemaker? What inspired your desire to marry and keep a home? How did you prepare for marriage before it was an option?

Amy: Undoubtedly the little seeds of love for making a home were planted in my heart from my most tender years and onward by watching and adoring my own mother and father; desiring to be like my mama, and dreaming of marrying a man just like my daddy! Our home was very close and loving. In my mind, who would not want to make the same when they grew up? We were also encouraged to play with baby dolls, make mud pies, and develop our maternal qualities! My father wisely began training my mind and heart regarding young men while I was still very young, so as to help me not give my heart or emotions away before the appropriate time. I still remember sitting at the table as a family (the place where so many good memories and training took place) and my father looking at my sister and me and asking, “Girls, what will you do some day when a young man asks you to go out on a date with him? What will you say?” There were giggles and a few smirks from older brothers, but my dad instructed us that we should refer the young man to him. As we got older, this was not a command, but rather, through training and prayer there was instilled in my heart the desire to do what was right. So one way I prepared for marriage was by keeping my heart with all diligence; by not practicing divorcing relationship after relationship through dating.

Additionally, we memorized much Scripture during our schooling years, and this instructed my heart greatly! Just a small example: I remember reading Prov. 31 when I was about 14 and taking it very seriously. “…She will do him (her husband) good and not evil ALL the days of her life”. WOW! I thought ALL the days of her life? Does that mean today? I am not even married! I likely haven’t even met my husband-to-be. Yet I realized, as I pondered this question, that what I did today was not only a reflection on my father and my Heavenly Father, but also on the possible man who would ask me to take his hand in life. And how I invested my time now would also have eternal consequences. Another example I recall as a young teen was when I was memorizing Ex. 20:5. I remember thinking, “Oh, WOE is me! Any sin I choose to engage in (whether outwardly or in my heart) will have consequences on my own posterity!” So when tempted to do questionable activities, scripture instructed me, influenced me, and gratefully kept me from much sin!

Lastly, I was better prepared for marriage before it was an option by learning many skills that would be useful as a wife and homemaker. I was taught a sense of duty to our family. My sister and I both learned early to work hard, and enjoy working and serving others. We learned to garden, can and freeze produce, milk our cow and goats, care for animals, cut up meat for the freezer, manicure the yard, work along side our father to carry in firewood or help build a project, or work along side our mother to clean, organize, and decorate our home, sew and mend clothing, bake and cook nutritious meals, show hospitality, cut and trim hair, run errands, care for younger siblings and others’ children as well. We were also taught a sense of duty to our country. We learned to serve our community and country in love and care for the less fortunate, serve in-depth in political campaigns, teach children in various public schools, serve as interns at the state house and understand the world in the whole vs. our own tiny world of friends that surround us. And most notably, we were taught a sense of duty to God, the One who gave us life and breath itself! To serve and obey Him, and give Him our desires and our cares, to be a wise steward of money and other resources He has given us, and to live according to His design. Through building these skills, the Lord also built much-needed character into me to the same end.

Now as a married woman of 10 yrs on Feb. 5, 2010, I am so glad I did not wander aimlessly about on a bed of ease, or fill my time, heart, and mind with romance novels, frilly dreams, or frivolous short-term relationships. I have needed and used every single one of these skills I formerly learned, to serve my husband and family. I am so very, very grateful to the Lord for His Word and Spirit guiding me, and for my parents who trained , encouraged, and prayed for me in the way that I should go, as well as for others who influenced me toward more godliness!

P & D:  Did you have examples of godly women that you looked up to? How influential were your parents in your life and life choices? Were you close with your father? Were you close with your mother?

Amy: Yes, I had examples of godly women that I looked up to, but truly none even came close to comparing to what I saw in my own mother! I KNEW her! I lived with her! I saw and felt (to a greater or lesser degree) many of the struggles and challenges she faced through the years – which were nothing to scorn! I’ve heard many women come to my mother and pour out their aching hearts to her, and she always gave wisdom from the struggles and successes of her own life and walk with the Lord (which usually left them speechless and without excuse). Today she still supports and serves my father and youngest sister with sacrificial faithfulness! She is a prayer warrior! She taught me feminine virtues and the skills of womanhood! She has been a great comfort and inspiration to me over and over! Although she is not perfect, I cannot say enough! With the Lord’s help, I can only hope, pray, and strive to be half the woman she is! I was very close to my mother! I was also very close to my father! I felt I could share anything with them anytime! And I did! If ever I felt like I needed help or counsel for anything, they were there! Sometimes I had to wait my turn when another sibling was in line ahead of me, but they would always stay up as late as needed to talk and share with me! As I approached my later teen years and beyond, I would share with them everything about my relationships with others – particularly sharing with my dad my relating to young men. Any gentleman that became even a little extra friendly, I would share with my dad what I sensed from him. And I would also share with dad where I was with any young man.

P & D:  How did you spend your single years? What were the blessings of this time period? Do you have any regrets?

Amy: I already shared briefly how I spent my single years: learning to rejoice in serving my family, gaining skills needed for the future, memorizing and studying scripture, watching and training children, volunteering time at church, kid’s camp, and neighborhood Bible clubs, tutoring or counseling juvenile delinquents in the inner city, working in my brother’s race for public office, serving as an intern for him at the Statehouse, teaching in the public schools, visiting godly widows, gaining artistic and secretarial skills and more.

My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time helping the younger families in our church and community! I had no idea how tremendously big a blessing and encouragement a single, godly, young woman could be to a very tired young mother who is convicted to only have excellent role models for her children until I found myself in these shoes! There are so many silly young girls who waste a lot of time on vanity, movies, dating, novels, etc… who influence young children in such a way that after she leaves, it takes more work (several days of consistent training) for the already tired mother to bring her children back to where they were before the single woman came, actually turning any help she gave into far more work instead! There are so few singles who offer to help, and much fewer excellent, godly role models that a young mother CAN accept genuine help from! By far the most help I have ever received was from those who influenced my children toward godliness through their own life example!

P & D:  Was purity a large part of your upbringing? What kind of standards did you have for relationships as you were growing up? Did they change or become more personal convictions as your matured?

Amy: Maintaining purity in thought and action was taught very early in our home, but it very soon became a personal conviction (again through the guidance and instruction of the living Word). It was my personal conviction to be with male friends in a group or public setting only, rather than alone. And I may have seemed a bit stiff to male friends if they were the continuously-huggy type with girls, but it was not what I felt I could express or portray. My father also helped me understand how very differently young men think! (I Thes. 4:4-7) An occasional little hug at a graduation or some other “occasion” was okay, but beyond that – no thanks! And a beautiful outpouring from these convictions was the pure joy of true fellowship with many young ladies and gentlemen without a trace of jealousy or envy intermingled in these relationships! Because of this freedom from jealousy, envy, and the like, we (friends and I) were able to focus on studying the Bible together, prayer, and many ministry projects we did together for fellowship! This also resulted in more joy from being a blessing to others! These single years were truly so rich and full of growth and joy, despite the inner struggles of desiring a husband and home!

P & D:  How did you and Steve meet and marry? What drew you to Steve? How did you approach purity in your pre-marriage relationship?

Amy: Whenever a gentlemen would request to go out, or spend time getting to know me in a singled out fashion or purpose, I always referred them to my dad. Often that was enough to send mediocre guys out the door for good, and I was very grateful for a father who cared enough for me to spend the time necessary to respond to the guys who had enough backbone to actually go to him. This definitely kept a heavy load off my shoulders as there was never a better filter for any girl than for her father to screen the young man and keep all but “Mr. Right” at bay. But one day something unusual happened. I was house-sitting with my older brother for a few months at the home of a godly, elderly couple who visited many churches during their travels. Eventually they returned to their home with a list of all the “wonderful young men” from which I was expected to pick.. They were confident that one young man in particular was THE man for me, and so Ramona commenced repeatedly to request my permission to give him my address. As you all know, for singles there is never-ending help to find Mr. Right. I was usually able to dampen folks’ enthusiasm, but all my experience was to no avail with Ramona! Finally out of desperation, I told her she could call my dad and ask him. Without a moment’s hesitation she turned and called his number! After talking with my dad, he thoughtfully gave his consent to give the young man my contact information. I was floored! My jaw HIT the floor! And Ramona laughed triumphantly at my shock and prepared to send my address. I couldn’t believe this new response from my dad. Previously he had always graciously said no! Later I inquired of him his reasoning. He said, “Well, honey, you never know how the Lord might work.” That was it!

Thankfully, nothing much ever came of Ramona’s gentlemen for me. But a short time later I was helping at a Bible Memory camp when an unusually godly older couple whom I greatly respected and admired, and whom I’d known since childhood came and talked to me and (much like Ramona) asked permission to give my phone number to a “godly young man” that they had gotten to know through their home church. I began to thank them but defer their offer when I remembered what dad had said. “Well, Honey, you never know how the Lord might work”. This was a very similar situation, so instead, I told them I would go home and ask my dad, and if it was NOT okay, he would give them a call. Otherwise, they could give it. They mentioned he was shy, so he might not call anyway. Regardless, I talked to my dad first thing upon arriving home. I don’t think he thought much of it either. But a few weeks later I got a call from “Steve… who???” He said the Clarks had given him our phone number and he wondered if he might come down (a 3 ½ hr. drive) and meet our family. Thus began a casual friendship with Steve. That first day he visited, we all (he and our family) went to a picnic fellowship outing with our Bible study group at a nearby lake. There we were able to get to know each other better and share how we came to know Christ, how the Lord had grown us in Him, and how He was presently working on us. By the time Steve returned home I felt I had another brother in Christ with whom to fellowship; a new edifying friend in the Lord.

(There are a lot of details that time and room won’t allow me to share here, so I am leaving out a lot of unusual details and just sharing the more pertinent parts.)

After Steve’s initial visit (which I learned by the way, he does not have a shy bone in him) he occasionally visited our family and attended our Bible study or church fellowship with us, and he kept me updated through email about the Christian group he led on campus at the secular college he attended. About a year later I realized that I was beginning to grow in my respect for Steve, and later began to struggle with my own emotions toward him. This was not a result of any infatuation or emotional dwelling on him. Looking back I see even more clearly, that it was the Lord who placed him on my heart. Truly, HE drew me to Steve as I saw in Steve a sincere heart to do the Lord’s will unconditionally, and live 100% for Him! At this time I began to feel inwardly vexed because I knew a few other young men whose hearts were also very fervent toward God, but I was not drawn to them with quite this same respect. I fervently wanted to be certain that I was not deceiving myself, becoming infatuated, or playing foolish emotional games. But I also knew I was genuinely doing all I could (focusing on the Lord, His word, quoting scripture during times I struggled to get Steve out of my mind, praying and crying outloud to the Lord, sharing my heart of hearts with Him, asking Him for help and strength, and truly desiring to be obedient even if it meant I never married.) Still yet I knew I was very human and realized that it was quite possible to fool myself. To be sure, I went to my parents and asked them if they thought I was infatuated or was deceiving myself. They encouraged me as they shared that they did not believe so. I also asked them if I should cease any emails or contact with him. (This would not have been easy at this point, but I was determined to guard and save every bit of my heart for my future husband alone.) There was a long silence as my dad thought through the question and slowly (to my surprise) said he didn’t think I should cease the contact, but that I should continue emailing and do my best to guard my heart. And so together we began praying that the Lord would either remove Steve from my mind and heart, or show us whether or not he was the man I would someday join in life’s journey as my husband. So Steve and I occasionally wrote and he continued his visits of fellowship with our family and church and was a very encouraging brother in Christ, but made no sign of any additional interest. And I was increasingly careful NOT to give him any indication of my inward struggle or growing respect for him because I wanted to know for sure that it was not ME, and that it was the LORD that would bring the right man as my future husband at the right time!

Then guess what? Yep, that is right! As the Lord would have it, after Steve finished college he bought a one-way ticket to ALASKA and began flying as a bush pilot/mechanic!! So I was sure I had my answer from the Lord! No more emailing, out of sight, out of mind, right? Uhmmm! Well, okay, maybe not quite! The no more emailing and out of sight part was accurate. But the rest….! No way! In fact this was definitely the most difficult time of all! I yearned to have a husband and home, and now I knew THIS godly young man, whose respect for him seemingly would not leave my heart no matter how I tried to keep it from being there, and yet there was SILENCE from him! It just did not add up in my mind. Was I somehow making it more difficult than it really was? More than anything else, I wanted to keep my heart, focus, and energy on living for the LORD! I did not want any distractions! If I was to be Steve’s bride, I wanted the Lord to show me so I could move in that direction knowingly. If not, I did not want to lose the struggle in guarding my heart. But there were many nights I went to sleep on a wet pillow after crying my heart out to the Lord!

P & D:  Was it difficult desiring a godly husband and home before the Lord brought it about? How did you guard your heart and keep focused on the Lord?

Amy: Difficult??? Yes, ALL of difficult! Sometimes the struggle was incredibly intense! Sometimes it was so difficult I didn’t even want to have the desire for a husband and home at all because it was heart-wrenching to desire a godly thing but not be the one to actively bring it about. All I could do was to pray, be content with where God had me, and work hard to guard my thoughts and heart! (It has always been my personal conviction and belief that God created the man to be the head of the home, [Eph. 5:23] therefore he bears the greater responsibility before God for the home, and likewise, he should be the one to initiate any relationship with the intent to marry, rather than the woman initiating.) I couldn’t count the times I told the Lord I really DID want HIS plan and timing, but it was very difficult to wait on Him and His timing! I recall asking the Lord if it was his will for me to remain single, would He PLEASE take the desire for a husband and home AWAY! But the desire only grew, which caused me to lean on the Lord all the more, and in time made my walk with Him even deeper and more precious!

Eventually I came to the place (while Steve was in Alaska) where I desired a godly husband and home more than ever, yet I could truly say from my heart of hearts, that I was content and totally joyful in Jesus Christ alone! If I never married, I was Christ’s! I know this was none of my own doing, but was completely a work of the Lord, alone!

Interestingly, it was only AFTER coming to grips with giving Him my desires, CHOOSING to be content and trusting GOD and His timing that the Lord opened the relationship with Steve beyond casual friendship. Waiting on the Lord, and trusting in Him became a choice I learned to praise the Lord for…praising Him for all the things He was teaching me in this struggle that I would not have learned any other way. Just for the record, I sure did not FEEL like being content and joyful at times. Initially it was an act of TRUST and OBEDIENCE, but eventually the emotions followed! And, ahh, so sweet was the rest in yielding my spirit!

One August morning, after Steve had been gone a little over 1 year, I received a call from him. He was back for a time with an Alaskan missionary’s airplane! He had brought it back from Alaska to completely refurbish it with new avionics, an engine overhaul, and other repairs, and complete it with a new paint job.

Now Steve resumed his occasional visits. However they became more and more frequent! He invited my dad to go on a three day road trip with him to get the airplane engine overhauled in another state. Steve had worked with my dad on several of Steve’s family visits, but this one-on-one time was especially growing for dad and Steve’s relationship. They were able to talk a lot! Dad wisely took the opportunity to impart practical wisdom with which any father would want to bless a young man!

In early October, unknown to me, Steve made an appointment with my dad for a private dinner at a nearby restaurant. There Steve asked for permission to ask me more pertinent questions relating to marriage and life. My dad granted him permission. During the next few weeks we spent a lot of time talking. (Again, time will not allow as much detail here as I wish.) Then Oct. 25th, Steve flew to my parent’s home (without my knowledge) and asked my dad for permission to marry me. Again, dad granted him his permission and blessing.

It was now October 28th, and I was about to complete my work day at the local home-care office when Steve appeared at the front desk with a beautiful bouquet of 12 red roses! I was shocked! His visit was very much a surprise, as well as red roses! He asked if I was ready to go! He said he had called my employer (in another city) and had gotten permission for me to leave work early! Once outside, Steve offered to take me flying. We went home, changed clothes, put the roses in a vase of water, and set out for the airport. An hour later we were flying near a well known lake in Missouri where we landed and walked quite a distance before arriving on the lake shore. It was a beautiful evening as the sun was just lowering behind the horizon. The pink and yellow from the sun was reflected in the water, and the waves swept gently against the rocky shore. Steve and I looked out over the water and I was taking in the awe of God’s creation when Steve turned and faced me. He took my hand and knelt down. I thought since he took my hand we must be going to pray, so I too knelt down beside him. Steve gave me a puzzled look as I knelt down beside him. Then his eyes looked deep into my own as he paused, smiled, and said, “Amy Joy, you are the love of my life! I believe the Lord can use us to serve Him better together than apart for the rest of our lives! Will you marry me?!!! It was only then I realized I was not necessarily supposed to be keeling down beside him. But no matter! I returned his smile, paused momentarily to choose my words carefully to reflect my true heart, and said, “Steve, I would be honored to be your wife! Yes, I will marry you!!!” His look of an eager question in full anticipation was replaced with extreme joy and relief! At first we were too joyful to speak. Just sat smiling and living in the moment! Then Steve stood up and worked his masculine fingers deep into his jeans pocket and brought out a soft, small wrapping. He knelt back down beside me on the shore and carefully unwrapped it to reveal a beautiful engagement ring with a single, brilliant diamond on the top! I loved it! (Of course!) How had he known? I was secretly hoping we would not go ring shopping together, but that STEVE would pick out a ring HE liked for me. If he liked it, I would love it! He slipped it onto my finger and exclaimed how much more beautiful the ring looked on my hand! The sun was quickly retiring, casting long shadows over the road as we walked quickly now, to return to the plane before darkness fell completely. On the way, Steve explained the significance of the ring he had chosen. There were four strong prongs surrounding a very pure diamond. Whenever I looked at my ring, he asked me to think of two of the prongs as representing Steve’s arms, the other two prongs, the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ. He asked me to think of myself as the diamond with him and the Lord surrounding me, holding me secure!

Soon after our engagement, I remember thinking, “What if Steve really wants to show more physical affection as the wedding draws closer. How far is okay?” Immediately I prayed and asked the Lord. And just as immediately, the answer came to my mind. If Steve wanted to link fingers, or at most, hold my hand, that would be okay, but I would most prefer nothing at all until our wedding day. Not because the desire was not there to be more affectionate, because it was, but rather because our relationship had developed, first becoming one in spirit, and secondly, becoming one in soul (mind, will, and emotions). I did not want the focus to be on the physical aspect (which would be a natural outcome of becoming one in spirit and soul) until after our wedding.

Only a few short days later when visiting his parents’ home, Steve asked if we could talk about physical expression (or the lack thereof) before our wedding. He said the most physical he was willing to be was to link fingers or hold my hand if I wished, but that his first preference would be to save all physical affection until our wedding day so that our focus and priorities would remain on the Lord! My heart rejoiced as I heard him speak the words! The Lord had laid on both of our hearts the EXACT same desire; HIS desire for us! And although there were all the normal desires to express our love for each other through hugs and holding, we were grateful to have the support of each other and conviction and confirmation from the Lord that carried us in purity to our wedding day! The only exception to this was on the occasion that we prayed together. Steve always took my hand in his in prayer.

Since Steve wanted me to return to Alaska with him, and the missionary organization was needing their plane back as soon as possible, our wedding date was planned for Feb. 5th, barely 3 months away! I was now 24. After keeping my thoughts and body under submission for so long, and with everything now happening so quickly, the fact that I was now engaged to be married very soon did not even seem real. It was a very joyous and busy time, wrapping up my life there with so many, preparing for our wedding, and preparing to accompany my new husband to Alaska!

P & D:  At your wedding, your father promised Steve that you were a chaste bride. How could he say this with confidence?

Amy: My dad KNEW me, and we had an extremely close and excellent relationship! He knew my convictions and saw me live with the Word as my guide. He didn’t just know WHAT I did, but I also frequently shared my thoughts and motives with him and went to him for counsel and advice. From my youngest memories I can recall, there was a growing relationship with growing trust that was not unfounded. I trusted my dad, that he truly had my very best interest and welfare at heart. I strove to be as transparent as possible, realizing he would be best equipped to protect and provide for me in this way. And he trusted me as well! As I look back, I am still amazed how much he really did trust me, yet I knew it, and always wanted his trust to be backed with a genuine reality that I was worthy of such trust, not giving any false front, or sneaking anything behind his back. Again Scriptures such as Prov. Instructed and influenced my life. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” So, this is MY answer. But I thought rather than assume why he could say this, I would just call my dad and ask him why he could promise Steve, with confidence, that I was a chaste bride. Following are his words he shared with me:

“Why could I , with confidence, promise Steve that you were a chaste bride? Well, whatever I said to you, Amy, you listened to; what I had to say was important to you, whether it was regarding your car, or work, or your friends, or relationships. It did not matter. In all areas I could tell that you were paying attention to what I said. I knew you paid attention in many little ways. I knew there were no unusual responses that would have occurred if your relationships had not been completely pure. There was no rebellion. I never did sense rebellion in you, which was a tremendous sense of blessing to me. You were not afraid to ask some hard questions. You did at times. It was not like our relationship was superficial. Rather, it was very heartfelt! We were (and still are) VERY close! This made a tremendous difference! Even as you are asking me this question before writing Abigail back, you are not assuming my thoughts. You are willing to take my perspective on it! I appreciate that! I also knew the people that you associated with. And (with good reason) I trusted the people you roomed with. I knew the music you listened to, the services you went to and listened to… everything all figured in pretty well, so that I was confident that you were the person that I thought you were. Our relationship, and my trust was nothing that we cooked up over the last few days or years, but was longstanding since you were a very little girl! It was not a short-term thing. I had had some opportunities to counsel and instruct, pray and teach and work with other young ladies and young men in various situations in the past, and so I felt that it was not my own “think so”, but there was enough experience with others, that I was confident with what I was doing with my own family. This was not a brash, foolish, prideful confidence, but a confidence born out of ministry and experience from working with people for some years previous to your marriage. I believe the confidence that I had was born in our relationship and the understanding that I had of you, your situation, and your life.”

P & D:  You’ve moved around a bit–sometimes rather far from “home.” Has it been difficult and how have you worked to make a “home” for your husband?

Amy: LOL! Yes, as I write, I am 3700 miles from our folks and family! And if we excluded our last 2 moves, we have averaged moving about every 6 months. It was a lot easier the first couple of times with few to no children! I am glad I can laugh about it now because there was a time in our marriage that I would not have. I think this is so, because I was so deathly sick with pregnancies and Steve was gone working as a pilot so much of the time, (often days or weeks and occasionally months at a time!) It was extremely difficult for me! When single, I was VERY active in our church and community. It was not unusual for me to put 100+ miles on my car in one day. I love people, and I knew and interacted with many people! So to get married, and 10 days later move away from EVERY one and everything familiar to me, and arrive in the bush of Alaska, with the only way in and out by airplane or dog sled, with ice and blowing snow or dark clouds of mosquitos outside (depending on the season), this was hardly peaches and cream to a now pregnant and sick, outdoor-loving, tom-boy, country girl who had to stay inside, alone, day after day!

The Lord blessed me with severe sickness in pregnancy and unhealthy outdoor weather as it forced me to come to a complete STOP from the pace I was so used to. This was vital to my ability to be a successful wife and mother as I needed to learn to stop focusing on ministering to others all around me as I had done before, and to refocus on the Lord and my husband alone! This refocus also enabled me to keep my priorities right, and kept me from engaging in outside activities. This was very healthy and bonding in our marriage relationship. All my energy and creativity went into knowing, loving, serving, pleasing, and praying for Steve, keeping our home as a tidy and orderly haven for him and a center of hospitality and ministry, and reading and preparing for our coming baby!

Additionally, some of the greatest things I did to make a home for Steve were actually simple things that I learned in our home growing up; things that were strengthened in my single adult years as well, and applied on a more intense level within our own home and marriage. These were, to take great delight in my husband, focus on Steve’s strengths and overlook any weaknesses, strengthen my communication skills with him, find joy, contentment, and a grateful spirit in every thing (both the good and joyful times, and the very challenging and difficult times) and learn to take my cares to the Lord and TRUST HIM, rather than being a nag or striving to change things outside my jurisdiction.

P & D:  As a married woman, are there struggles to be content?

Amy: There is always the fleshly pull from the world we live in to lower myself to its illusion of what a woman should be. We get pressure from the news, through magazines, the beauty salon, schools, institutions of work, at the grocery store, on billboards, and from the next door neighbor. But in our many moves, I often found one of the most intense influences toward DIScontentment was surprisingly the church! It is easy to let my guard down at church when I am talking with a brother or sister in Christ, and suddenly feel great pressure from them to conform to the world‘s mold. I find that I NEED the influence and power of the Word and Spirit daily! It is Jesus Christ who renews my mind and spirit, cleanses my heart, keeps me pure, guides my way, restores my soul, and keeps my affections set on things above! It is His Word hidden in my heart that keeps me from sin against Him (Ps. 119:11). When I am not in His Word, then it is very easy to be discontent and even complain when there are so many blessings to focus on and for which to be grateful! When I am in the Word and living in the Spirit, I find I am truly grateful for everything – even the most painful, heart-wrenching or near death times, though they are very difficult.

P & D:  Is the purity struggle still alive?

Amy: Gratefully, the purity struggle for me was over at our wedding altar! Although not completely perfect, my wonderful, godly, masculine, self-sacrificing, loving, handsome, best friend, husband, and hero, Steve, truly has my heart! Absolutely, ALL of it! He was and is my only lover and I am so very grateful I never dated anyone else or gave them a single kiss or even a fraction of my heart! Steve is mine, and I am his!!! (SONG 2:16)

P & D:  You have how many little girls? Paul commands older women to train the younger to be sensible, pure workers at home. How has this affected your raising of your daughters?

Amy: Steve and I have been richly blessed with four beautiful daughters! (I had 1 miscarriage and do not know if this baby was another daughter or a son.) I have always loved kids and enjoyed and interacted with them a great deal when single, but I never realized just how deeply the joy could flow in having four daughters of our own! I am learning over and over again that children are often the very best at keeping us accountable to do what we say because all training of children is far more caught than taught! They see and know who we are by watching us more than by what we verbally articulate to them. They are true immulators. They also often show others who we really are behind closed doors by what they say and do when the doors are open! So Paul’s command to train the younger to be sensible, pure workers at home has influenced me to be all the more transparent, and live my life within my home for the Lord and for my husband with joy, and openly share my life with my daughters as I live it. I intentionally teach them the skills my mother taught me, and as we home educate our daughters and so spend each school day close together, I strive to view the “interruptions” of each day as teachable moments that God divinely appointed, and try to utilize them rather than hurry over them. I also strive to portray before them the joy I have in serving my Lord, my husband and my family, and express to them the love and delight I have for their father, and exemplify honor to him! Further, we are teaching them the Word of God so that they will recognize error from sound doctrine, so it will reprove them, correct them, and instruct them in righteousness. (II Tim. 3:16) They are also learning to hide God’s Word in their hearts so that they will be sensible and not silly women led away by man‘s “wisdom“, and so the Word will purify their hearts and minds and keep them from sin.

P & D:  What does it mean to you to be a sensible, pure worker at home?

Amy: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I believe a sensible, pure worker at home is one who fears God rather than man, whose focus is on the Word of God rather than the ways of others. A woman who truly fears God launches into her work as a wife and mother with a passion, and uses her home as a base to minister the life of God to others. From there she can assist, encourage, and pray for her husband in a way that no one else could; she can train and disciple her children; she can use her talents to encourage, bless, and refresh other believers, help the needy and model the life of Christ. Her home/family is a reflection of her diligent work and faithful stewardship, seen both in her husband and children, as well as the home itself (as orderly and efficient as possible).

P & D:  Anything else? Feel free to share anything that’s on your heart!

Amy:  * When God gives you a standard or conviction based on His Word, do not allow others to influence you to lower it in any way!!! MANY times I was told by many people that my “standard” was too high, especially at it related to a marriage partner. As my heart was tender to receive wisdom from older godly people, this was very difficult because I heard this from them as well! But I am SO, VERY grateful that I did not lower anything! And God (in numerous ways, over and over, too many to write here) confirmed that Steve was the right man at the right time, and I, as a married woman now, am truly eternally grateful to the Lord for HIS wisdom and guidance!

* I want to encourage all young ladies that feel like they don’t have the “perfect” father or situation, to seek counsel and help from a godly father figure – someone who can “screen” potential young men for you. A godly “father” will be able to see things that women cannot see in young men. They will be able to protect and help guide you and save you from substantial grief as a married woman!

* Write down your convictions as God reveals them to you. If they are written down, you can read over them and strengthen them in your own mind and heart so that when a young, handsome man tries to woo you, you will not deceive yourself or become emotionally charged and unable to see clearly, but can go back and look at your list, and think sensibly about him.

* Memorize God’s Word! It will reprove, correct, and instruct, you as needed! Surrender YOUR will, dreams, desires, and hopes to the Lord! Determine to obey the Lord no matter the cost! (It is really an invaluable investment!) I love what John Quincy Adams said. “Duty is ours. Results are God’s” You will never have regrets with God at the controls!

Steve and Amy just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary!  They are back in Alaska and about to move again…

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Leftover Pie!

December 10, 2009 at 9:46 am (Homemaking, The Domestic Economy) (, , , , , , , , , )

When Nathaniel was out of town for a couple of days I wasn’t very motivated to cook for just one person. Fortunately, I had made a huge batch of taco meat (5 lbs) before he left. We had tacos at least twice, then I figured I’d munch on it the rest of the week while he was gone. But after about 3 days of taco meat, I began to have mixed feelings.

So, I decided to make use of the leftovers in my fridge—using them to jazz up my taco meat. I had some creamy corn leftover from a church function, some rice from stir-fry night, and some green onions just begging to be eaten. Toss in a can of beans and cream of mushroom soup, top with cheese, bake, and voila! A new meal! I was even able to mix it all in the pan—so very few dishes to clean! This filled a 13 x 9 inch baking dish…so I’m not sure what I’ll do when I’m tired of my taco meat in this form…freeze it???

This was fun and just reminded me of a tip I could share on living frugally. Since the baby has arrived, it’s been a challenge to keep up with normal household responsibilities. I asked and Nathaniel agreed that I could cook in bulk and we could eat the same thing for several days in a row if necessary. This saves me time and money. Eventually, I’ll turn this into cooking in bulk and dividing into portions to freeze so we have a greater variety during the week. But for now, this works, and works well. And it has given me lots of opportunities for making “Leftover Pie”. In the past I’ve been less-than-praiseworthy when it comes to using up items in the fridge before they go bad. This has been a fun way to avoid that! Having a few cans of cream of mushroom soup, corn, beans, and other staples on hand means you can stretch out just about anything!

What kind of “Leftover Pie” have you made lately???

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Non-stick cooking spray?

October 20, 2009 at 7:32 pm (Homemaking, The Domestic Economy) (, , , )

domestic-economy

When I read the care information…

…for the set of pots and pans we received as a wedding gift, I found that cooking sprays that you buy in the store are not recommended—they actually can harm your cookware (and some would argue they’re not good for you anyway). Instead, the instructions suggested taking a small squirt bottle and filling it with the oil of your choice. So, I tried it and it works quite well. I keep a little bottle of olive oil near the stove (not too close, you’re supposed to keep stored oil away from heat sources), and whenever I do stir-fry or cook eggs I just grab it and spray the pan. It won’t come out in an even mist, but it allows you to control the amount of oil you put in the pan and coats it well enough. I found a small squirt bottle for less than a dollar in the bathroom/beauty supplies section of a local grocery store.

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The Absent Hen

September 14, 2009 at 1:43 am (Godly Living, Homemaking, stories) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

ist2_3179230-mother-hen

Once upon a time there was a very beautiful hen, the pride and joy of the farmyard. Always she had an encouraging word for everyone, a smile, a pat on the back. Watching her from the farmhouse window one spring morning, the farmer thought to himself, “How wonderful it would be to have a whole brood of chicks just like my little hen!” This goal in mind, he set her on a soft feather-lined nest.

The little hen was so excited when the first egg appeared, warm and brown beneath her. It was so smooth and round and perfect. She vowed she would raise it to be a perfect chicken, to scratch and cluck and lay eggs for the farmer.

Soon her nest was filled with eight beautiful eggs, each one seeming more special than the last. Clucking delightedly to herself, the hen would settle in at night to think about all the things she must do the next day. And always, always she had an encouraging word for everyone around the farm-yard.

Then tragedy struck. Not the little hen, but Old Mrs. Goose woke up one morning to find all of her eggs broken, their jagged edges pricking up out of the hay. As she wept, the little hen was right there to comfort her. She scratched up corn to bring Old Mrs. Goose and sent her sympathetic notes.

Not long later an old duck came down sick and the little hen rushed to her side and stayed by her night and day for three days until she was well.

When she returned to her nest she discovered a terrible thing: one perfect, round brown egg was missing. Where could it have gone? How could it have been taken? She had loved those eggs and cared for them and sought the best for them. And she had left them warm and comfortable and well-provided for, hadn’t she? What more could eggs need? Sadly she shook her head and settled back onto her nest of seven.

The little hen visited all the other hens. Some of them had nests, some did not. All of them were delighted to see her. But one old hen, glad as she was to see the little hen, dared not even get off her nest to visit. “Pardon me, Little Hen,” she said gently, “but I’m afraid my eggs might grow cold.”

“What a pity,” clucked the little hen. “She is such a capable hen and she could be doing so much good for others. Her eggs will keep.”

When she settled back onto her nest that night, there was a frightening crash. One of the perfect round, brown eggs had gone bad and exploded underneath her! All that remained was an empty, shattered shell and a nauseating, lingering stench.

“This is terrible!” moaned the little hen, holding her nose as tears came to her eyes. “It must have been a bad egg to begin with! I did everything I knew to do!”

“What a tragedy!” said all the barn animals, sadly. “That hen is such a good hen, so kind to everyone, so eager to help and she has such a fine nest of beautiful eggs. And she STILL gets to much done!”

But the farmer said, “I wish that hen would stay on her eggs.”

When two sheep decided to take the plunge and get married, there was the hen overseeing the festivities. The cows complimented the lovely hay arrangements. The goats thanked her for the lovely things to eat. The barn fowl cheered her efforts and threw grain on the newlyweds as they rushed out to the pasture. The rejoicing continued late into the night.

During the reception a tiny chirp came from one of the round, brown eggs. The little hen could not hear it over the sound of music and dancing. A tiny crack appeared in the side of one of the eggs as a little chick began to peck its way out of the shell—too early! Soon it had shaken off the pieces of shell and began searching for its mother. No one was there to tell the little chick that a nesting box is too high for a little chick to climb out of. It tumbled from the nesting box and lay still. Tired but happy the little hen walked slowly back to her nest. In the hay below she discovered the tiny, stiff form of her dead baby chick.

Again the barnyard mourned. “How can this happen to such a good hen?”

Not one of the warm, brown eggs ever hatched.

A slithering black snake ate one while the little hen was attending a first-freshening cow at her calving. A raccoon stole another while she was chatting with Mr. Turkey over afternoon tea. During the late frost, one froze and cracked while the little hen was sitting on Mrs. Duck’s eggs for her. One cracked and broke late one night as she turned them after returning home from a visit. She was just too tired and was a bit rougher than she’d meant to be.

The last egg was picked up and placed in a basket by the farmer’s daughter who was collecting abandoned pullet eggs for a picnic.

When the hen began to lay again, the farmer quietly instructed his daughter to pick up the little hen’s eggs. He sighed as he spoke, “No use letting that little hen keep eggs she won’t stick around to hatch.”

The hen hardly seemed to notice that her nest was always empty. She was so busy ministering to the other barn animals that she even stopped laying eggs at all.

The other animals watched in admiration as she fluttered about here and there, doing this and that, always with an encouraging word and a smile or a pat on the back. “What an amazing hen! She’s the best of her kind!”

But the farmer said sadly to his daughter as they watched the little hen scratching in the dirt, “Not much worth in a hen that won’t hatch eggs. Pretty little thing, and so cheerful and full of energy, but doesn’t do what she’s made to do. Guess I won’t be getting any fine chickens from her. She means well, but her focus is all wrong. See, those other animals? They’ve got me. She does so many things that are nice—but don’t have to be done. Times are hard sometimes, but really, they can get along without her. In the grand scheme of things there are lots of other animals that could pitch in and do what she does to help. But not a creature in this barn can hatch her eggs.”

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Three Beautiful Blessings

July 17, 2009 at 5:01 am (A Slice of Life, Articles, Godly Living, Homemaking) (, , , , , )

42-16297736I’m sitting here at my desk, eating some satisfying oatmeal and enjoying the fact that my house is clean. The bathrooms have been scrubbed, the spiderwebs swept away, the furniture dusted (except for a few missed spots where little hands couldn’t reach), the floors vacuumed and mopped where needed. Ah…it’s a good feeling.

And just what is my secret to being eight months pregnant and enjoying a nice, clean home? Three beautiful blessings. Three sweet sisters, ranging in age from 8 to 17.

Not long into my third trimester fatigue began to set in (actually, it just increased—I’ve been tired this whole pregnancy!). I don’t sleep through the night, and during the day I end up having to take a one to two hour nap. And if I ever try to plow through a day with no nap and little rest, moving from task to task, I end up wiped out the next day. My big belly and achy hips mean I move more slowly, wear out more quickly, and can’t fit into places that I used to (example: one side of our bed is only about 12 inches from the wall—this means making the bed is quite the challenge!).

Add to my regular responsibilities all the little things that must be done to prepare for our son’s arrival: wash baby clothes, research baby products, write thank you notes, read up on natural childbirth and godly parenting, get the baby/guest room ready, figure out how to organize baby items and where in the world to put them, find a pediatrician, pack for the hospital… Yes, I am preparing for motherhood!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being pregnant, even with its added challenges and limitations! But about a month ago I began to realize I just couldn’t keep up. Groceries, meals, laundry, bills, and budgeting have taken priority over cleaning to be sure. So when I heard through the grapevine that one of the families we knew at church loved opportunities for their girls to serve, I gave it some thought. And when I hadn’t gotten around to housecleaning for several weeks I became desperate enough to ask!

Asking for help was quite humbling. It’s not like I can’t dust or scrub or vacuum or mop (though my back tends to dislike the latter). Each time before the girls have come over I’ve thought to myself, “Why am I doing this? Can’t I take care of these things? I’m not incapable.” And that’s true—many women in my position just clean where they can and keep moving. I could, too. But once the girls get here and we get to talk and laugh and listen to music while they clean and I tackle things like deep-cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, and paying the bills, I begin to realize what a blessing I’ve been given. Not only do I get my house cleaned, but it affords me the time to do some things that I might not have otherwise been able to do that day. And aside from getting things done, we’re all encouraged by each other’s fellowship.

I share this to praise the Lord for the blessing of His people and to encourage you to think about what you could do to help someone in Jesus’ name. It’s summer time. And that means many of you younger ladies have some extra time on your hands. Are there people in your church or in your neighborhood who could use a hand? Are any sick, disabled, or just worn out from all of the responsibilities that they have to juggle? Are there any pregnant ladies, elderly folks, or single moms in your life? Or even mothers with a few young children? Can you clean, prepare a meal or treat to share, write an encouraging note, offer to watch the kids, or just be pleasant company to those who are lonely? I encourage you to make the most of your time this summer and make someone’s day a bit brighter. You may never know what a beautiful blessing you can be!

laurens-sig1

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Skip the Stores!

March 2, 2009 at 3:06 pm (Homemaking, The Domestic Economy) (, , , , , , , , )

domestic-economy

Are you in the market…

…for clothing, shoes, or home décor? And would you like to save a few bucks while you’re shopping? (Who wouldn’t?!?) Before you head out to your favorite department store (or even Walmart or Target), check your cheaper options first. Thrift stores and garage sales are excellent places to find great deals on all kinds of items. I recently bought a shirt at the Salvation Army Store for $2. Later that day, when I was in Walmart, I saw the same shirt still on sale for $12! Ah…success! Also check out Good Will, or any locally-owned thrift stores you know of.

 

Garage sales are perhaps a better resource if you live in a metropolitan area. Get the newspaper ads on Thursday or Friday and map out your plan of attack. Think about where the more expensive neighborhoods are and be sure to make them the priority. The folks with the most money will have the nicest stuff and will probably have barely used it! I got a never-worn name-brand sweater for a dollar! And if you’re looking for rugs, furniture, wall-hangings, curtains, or baby clothes and toys, garage sales (or the ad pages of your newspaper) are the place to start! Keep in mind that if you go garage saling on Saturday only, the sales that started on Friday morning are probably not the ones you want to focus on—they’ve already been picked over. You want Saturday only garage sales unless you actually have time to get out there on a Friday. When Saturday morning comes, get out there early and bring cash! And set a budget—all of the interesting things you’ll find at garage sales can tempt you to spend more money if you’re not careful!

 

On the flip side, when you have too much stuff, remember that you can donate to the local charitable thrift store or to a local shelter. Or, if you need some cash, you can have your own garage sale or post an ad in the paper (just remember that newspaper ads aren’t necessarily cheap).

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Vinegar

February 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm (Homemaking, The Domestic Economy) (, , , )

domestic-economy

Posted by Lauren

Do you like vinegar?

Do you like adding it to soups, enjoy pickles that are soaked in it, and love sauerkraut? I sure don’t! I can’t stand the stuff! And yet we have two gallons of vinegar in our house as I type. I could do without the strong taste of vinegar, but it has other strengths that I’m quite fond of…

Did you know that vinegar is a disinfectant? It kills mold and germs and can make your bathroom and floors shine? Yep, this is why I love vinegar—or, at least, this is when I love vinegar!

*Pour a quart of white vinegar into your empty washing machine and run it through a small cycle to remove soapy film that builds up in the wash basin.

*Pour some baking soda down your icky drain and then add a 1/4 cup of vinegar and watch the volcano erupt, knocking the nasties loose.

*Load up a squirt bottle with vinegar and you’re ready to go, armed with a VERY inexpensive household cleaner that is guaranteed not to put harmful chemicals into the air of your home. And it’s one that you don’t have to worry about little ones getting into—first off, it tastes nasty (my humble opinion), and secondly, it’s safe for human consumption anyway! 😉 You can search online for more cleaning tips using vinegar. Perhaps you use vinegar for some other household secrets?  We’d love to hear them!

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Drier Sheets

January 14, 2009 at 7:43 am (Homemaking, The Domestic Economy) (, , , )

domestic-economy

Do you use drier sheets?

Did you know that you can cut them in half and they will work just as effectively? And you won’t have to buy them as often! When you open a new box, just whip out the scissors and cut the sheets in half, that way they’re ready to use for each load!

And when you’re finished with the load of laundry, stuff that leftover drier sheet into your sock or underwear drawer to spread around the good smell.

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Soda for Baking and Much, Much More!

December 9, 2008 at 1:33 pm (Homemaking, The Domestic Economy) (, , , , )

domestic-economy

Baking soda…

…is a very useful ingredient in the kitchen, but it is also an amazing cleaner and deodorizer.

*Mix a tablespoon with some water to make a paste and now you’re ready to scrub away grime from hard surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom.

*Throw some in your next load of laundry to make it fresher and to use less detergent.

*Use it in your dishwasher to reduce the amount of detergent you use there.

*Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and let it sit for a few hours and then vacuum it up-this can remove unwanted odors and may help to reduce mold.

*Dump some in your smelly kitchen sink drain and let it sit for a while before rinsing. Or even wash it down with vinegar if the drain is somewhat clogged!

*Use it to absorb odors in your refrigerator or freezer.

*You can even brush your teeth with baking soda!

Are there any other ways that you use it?

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O to be a godly woman!

October 28, 2008 at 10:24 am (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, Godly Living, Homemaking, Love) (, , , , , , , , )

There’s a verse I’ve been meditating on for quite some time now, and I’m seeking to apply it to my life. I want to be a godly woman who represents Jesus Christ my Savior and my God in all that I do and in all that I am. Here’s the verse:

Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. ~1 Timothy 3:11

It’s a simple verse, really, and based on context, it is probably referring to qualifications for the wife of a “deacon” (the Gk means “servant”). Questions come to my mind: What does it mean to be dignified? The original meaning of the word is more easily understood in my opinion; it means to be “venerable”, or respectable/honorable. The Strong’s definition also says “serious”. I take this to mean that my character ought to be appropriate and honorable–in and of itself, as well as unto the Lord–and show that I take life and following God seriously. Do my words and deeds bring honor to the name of Christ? Or does my immaturity reflect poorly on Him? Do I take His word seriously and apply it to my life? Or do I read it and move on without seriously considering how what God says affects me? Do I realize how my actions affect those around me–and even generations to come? Do I consider these things enough to live for something more serious and more worthwhile than seeking my own pleasure in this world or simply living from day to day without serious, godly purposefulness? These are some searching questions that have helped me to look before I leap. (Be sure of this though: serious living is anything but drudgery and boredom. When we truly begin to live serious lives for God, we know the greatest joy that there is! And that is further motivation for taking God seriously–the fact that HE is the source of TRUE JOY for a believer! ~Psalm 16:11) 🙂

The next phrase is pretty self-explanatory: “not malicious gossips.” Now, it’s easy to say, No! Of course I’m not a malicious gossip! But we ladies need to watch what is in our nature–talking about others in such a way as to make them look worse and/or ourselves look better comes quite naturally! And we especially need to watch out for this in light of the prevalence of “prayer-request gossip”. Honestly examine your words. Does what I say give grace to those who hear? (Ephesians 4:29) Or does it tear others down? No matter what someone else may have done, do I honor them as having been created in God’s image, or do I cut them down by my words (whether they are present or not)? (James 3:9-10) This is a good way to identify if we are truly loving others, for “out of the heart the mouth speaks” (Jesus in Matthew 15:18-19).

“But temperate…” Some of you may have guessed that this word means “sober” if you thought of the temperance movement early in the 1900s. This understanding is consistent throughout Scripture–that we ought not to be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Since I don’t drink, this isn’t an area of struggle for me, but the principle can apply to other aspects of life–Do I allow God’s Holy Spirit to control me? Or do I allow things in this world to intoxicate me to the point that I don’t listen to His Word? Be watchful of distractions that might steal your heart from the Lord Jesus. I know I need to be watchful for them in my own life.

And FINALLY, this is the part of the verse that hits me the hardest: FAITHFUL IN ALL THINGS. That’s no small task! In fact, that makes a big deal out of every task! That I would be faithful, dependable, consistent…even in the small things or the monotonous things–that I would truly do everything with all my heart as unto the Lord, with the aim of bringing Him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:15-16). Oh that everything I set out to do I would do so as to present it as a love offering to my King! In my own conviction, this doesn’t seem to leave room for lazy procrastination. Nor does it mean I must be a workaholic, either. But that I would seek to glorify God in all that I do, pray and choose wisely what things to commit myself to, and then do those few things with all of the energy and grace that God supplies. WOW! I struggle to do that! I pray that God would shape me into a faithful woman–faithful to Him IN ALL THINGS–in obedience to His word first of all, and then in applying myself to the responsibilities and good deeds He has prepared for me. What amazing grace it is that God would concern Himself with the affairs of men! That He takes pleasure in His children learning to follow Him faithfully–OH! and that He gives them the grace and guidance through His word to do just that! What an amazing God!

Grace and Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus the Lord!

laurens-sig1

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Lessons Learned…And Still Learning!

October 7, 2008 at 7:36 pm (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, God's Will, Godly Living, Homemaking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

As many of you have probably noticed, I have taken a break from blogging for, well, nearly a month now!  I’m sorry that I pulled away while in the middle of the series on situational modesty-I didn’t want to quit after dealing with only one situation!  I didn’t want to leave our readers hanging!

That said, I do not regret the decision to stop writing for a while.  My life had become rather disorderly and discouraging because of some wrong thinking and wrong actions that I had allowed to creep in.  So after talking with Nathaniel about my need for focusing on the basics, he agreed that I should put down the pen and take care of my top priorities.

And really, that’s what this has been all about-priorities.  God has created me and saved me to be first and foremost His daughter, His maidservant, His worshiper.  And He has given me in marriage to my husband Nathaniel, to be his wife, his helper, his home-maker.  My job, my career as it were, is to serve my God by serving my husband.  It’s incredible the way even good things can turn into major distractions when we set them up as more important than simple obedience to what God has clearly commanded in His word.  And such has been the case with writing for this blog.  I had begun to view it as my job, and I approached it in a professional manner, seeking to do my best, meet deadlines, etc.  And with the same mentality as the modern feminist, I eagerly threw myself into the task, the “ministry”, and allowed that to become more important to me than my wifely duties.

Having something else-something more visible to the rest of the world-made me feel important.  When people asked what I do, I could now say that I’m more than just a housewife-I’m a writer, too!  But why do I want more?  Why is serving God and my husband not enough?  Because I was seeking the praise of man, and I was allowing humanistic, feminist ideas to influence both my thinking and my actions!

It played out something like this:

Week one: I love being at home serving my husband.  I’m so glad that he supports me in staying home and not having a career-it’s such a blessing to be able to focus on serving God in our home.  With that in mind, Nathaniel has encouraged me in my decision to start a blog with Abigail-we really want to share a vision for biblical womanhood with young ladies, challenging them to obey what God has commanded us as women.  It’ll be a good outlet for my many ideas and writing.  God has done so much in my life to conform me to what He desires, and it has brought great blessing!  I want to share this with others.

Week two: Blogging is going well, we’re growing; it’s fun and challenging.  Spent too much time online reading and commenting on other blogs…I’ve neglected the laundry for a few days…I really need to get that done!  All in all, though, I’m managing things pretty well.

Week three: God seems to really be using our blog to encourage other girls in their walk with Christ!  There’s so much I want to write about!  I think I’ll write a series on situational modesty!  And I need to set deadlines…be really professional about this…other bloggers seem to be doing well by doing this or that…I think I’ll try that.  Might take a little more time, but the more people know about our blog, the more God can reach with our message about biblical womanhood!

Week four: Got up and saw Nathaniel off to work.  Then logged on to the computer.  I’ve got a lot to do today, and I wanted to get going on my writing.  Oh, dear.  I ended up spending three hours in front of the computer-writing and surfing blogs.  I’m such an information junkie.  Sigh…end of the day, what have I gotten done…whoa, I hardly got anything done that I intended to do.  And…well, I guess I’ll read a Psalm before I go to bed.

Week five: Three articles into the series on situational modesty.  It’s really been a blessing to see how ladies have responded-kinda calmed my fears that I’d be stepping on people’s toes.  My morning Bible study has been anything but consistent lately…and usually I end up reading God’s word for my writing more than to spend time with him…that’s not quite best, but at least I’m in the word each day!  I think I’ll go to the coffee shop to write and study…I feel more professional there than at home.

Week six: UGG…I do NOT want to write this next article.  The swimsuit thing was a lot of work, and people seemed to appreciate it…but this next article might really stir things up…I am dreading writing it!  Sigh…and there’s so much piled up here around the house…and I’ve been so emotional lately-it’s like I’m driven by my emotions.  What’s up with that?

Week seven: Ok, this article is not writing itself, so I’d better get started on it.  I’ll do an outline.  There, my notes are done.  Wow, that’s a lot to cover.  Oh, I want to write it now, but there is a huge stack of dishes to be washed!  Good grief!  I wish those dishes would just do themselves!  This takes so long.  How am I supposed to keep up with a decent writing schedule when it takes so long to keep up with things around the house?  And I just have to do it all over again the next day?!?!  I’m a writer, why should I have to deal with this stuff?  I’ll just get Nathaniel to help me clean up this evening…

Breaking point: Wow, I used to love serving and cleaning and organizing.  I love being at home, and I love being a home-maker for my husband.  So why have I not enjoyed it lately?  Gasp!  I’ve placed other things above the things that are most important!  I’m just like the career-minded woman-even though I’m not getting paid and I’m not even leaving my home, I have sought to escape my most basic responsibilities, neglecting them to pursue something else!  If I have as my highest daily priority something other than worshiping the Lord and serving my husband, if I am more eager to do that new priority than the other two, then I have 1) created an idol, 2) begun to embrace the feminist mindset that values personal fulfillment and achievement more than God and family, and 3) I’ve robbed myself of any joy in doing what I have been called to do, because I have come to see something else as a higher calling.

The major indicator of this problem that became most evident to my dear husband was my attitude of discontentment.  I simply wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out why.  I would talk to Nathaniel about how I felt, and he gently and wisely alerted me to what I was saying-I wasn’t content.  I was looking for the things around me to be just right in order for me to be able to function, to be disciplined, to be happy.  Instead of being satisfied in my Savior, and thankful for all He’s done for me and given me, and instead of thriving where He’s planted me, I had neglected to give thanks, neglected to stay put, and I sought affirmation from other people and comfort from doing whatever I felt like doing at the moment.  Living to please yourself really is the short cut to emptiness.

And when I’m empty I have nothing to give to others.  I cannot teach others to do what I am not doing.  I cannot spiritually encourage others when I am downtrodden.  I cannot serve my husband to the best of my ability when I’m worried about serving my readers (most of whom I’ve never even met).  I cannot glorify God in my writing if I am not glorifying God in my daily life!

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can fall into wrong thinking and allow everything to be turned on its head?  Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can allow something like “ministry” to get in the way of what God really wants us to be doing?  This was hard to take in once I realized what I’d been doing.  In brokenness I confessed my wrong thinking and wrong priorities and attitudes to my husband, and expressed to him what I saw to be a very clear solution (or part of the solution):  pull away from blogging.

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it far from you…Let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us…All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable…All things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by anything.  Scripture is clear.  I knew what I had to do.  I had to cut out the idol-and for an undetermined amount of time.  And this was best anyway, since I didn’t have anything to offer-no wonder I dreaded writing my next article!  I was running on empty!

I’ve had a lot to learn in the area of personal discipline over the past several weeks-my unwarranted loyalty to blogging was only the most obvious problem.  It seemed that everything was in disarray when I finally hit my breaking point.  And now things are looking up, so I’m slowly getting back to writing, though now with a new focus.  I’d like to share more of what I’ve learned in my “time off” in future posts, but I think what I’ve written here will suffice to bring you up to speed for now.  Just please learn from my mistakes.  Don’t allow ANYTHING to get in the way of simple, joyful obedience to the things God has clearly called you to in His word.

May we keep in mind lessons learned, and may we continue learning to please the Lord in everything we think, say, and do!  Grace and peace!

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