The End of All Things Is At Hand

February 14, 2011 at 1:40 am (Announcements, Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

At sweet sixteen, my Shadow and I decided to start a business, catering tea parties.  We’d grown up hosting them and it was high time to cash in our experience and make our etiquette pay for itself.  “Tea by Two” we called our party hosting, and drew out menus, business cards, flyers and wrote up advertisements.  We collected dishes and hats, tried out recipes and bought up ingredients.

You might think I’m going to say the venture flopped.

It didn’t.  It took off before we’d gotten in the cockpit!  Without even advertising, we landed several parties in less than a month, with requests to go out of town for more.  We turned over all our investments and pocketed a tidy little sum each.  It looked like we were gearing up for a roaring business.

Then something happened.

You might think I’m going to say that the venture crashed.

It didn’t.  But my Shadow came to me and said, “Um…I can’t keep up with this.  I hate to do this…but can I bail before this thing is flying too high?”

I was relieved.

We were sixteen.  Still trying to wrap up school and keep up with serving our families.  Neither of us had our own car.  Neither of us really wanted to dive into filing self-employment taxes.  We didn’t really want to travel very far for parties.  We were borrowing my family’s kitchen and freezer space.  We really only did it for the fun of having a little side deal.  And, we discovered, the pressure of performing made the tea parties not quite the same as the ones we’d hosted for friends.  After a few, it was okay to put that in our file of things that we could do in the future.

Folks seemed surprised when we relegated the project to “good memories”, deposited our earnings in the bank, gave away our dishes and hats and moved on.

But sometimes we have to lay aside even good things or things that are going well and refocus on priorities.

This blog has been a bit like my catering experience.

See, Lauren and I had become such good friends and, after she and Nathaniel got married, we talked so much about women’s issues and what we were learning—and how it was really the same, married or single—that we got excited.  First, we were going to write a book.  But book writing was a bit more intense than we were really shooting for.  That’s how we settled on a blog.

I don’t think either of us expected it to take off quite like it did.  We’re nobodies.  We don’t have famous dads or husbands.  We’re not really a part of many of the conservative movements.  We didn’t really even know there were other girls out there like us online.

Then came the dilemma.  Should we actually work this blog and try to go big?  After all, blogging is a platform to voice the things we think are true.  We were beginning to get advertisement requests, giveaway offers, reposting requests, awards, listings and even guest writing requests.  And of course, the inevitable mountains of spam as well as a few nay-sayers.  As we began to look around the web at other websites, we began to understand just how seriously blogging could be taken.

Slowly we began to be a little disturbed by how many girls there were online—and how much time was spent online—and how much girls were being influenced by online teachers whom they had never even met.  Including us.

We’d always agreed to keep the blog low priority.  I suppose some can call it ministry, but our primary ministry will always be to our families and to the folks God has placed in our sphere of natural contact.

As time has passed, Lauren now has, not only a big man to take care of, but also a little man to train and teach in the ways of the Lord.  She’s developing relationships with a great church body and trying to outreach to neighbors.  She’s been fine-tuning budgeting and homemaking skills and learning to balance time.  The internet can sure knock a hole in good time management!  And now she’s discovered a new blessing and responsibility, due in September.

So when she told me she needed to stop blogging, it was a relief.  For me, handling the webmastering had been complicated, since I’ve never actually had reliable internet.  Aside from difficult, it also made me feel guilty.  It seemed like, if we were going to blog, and people were going to read it, it needed to be done well.  Plus, we both appreciate presentation.  You know, new content, nice layout, domain name.  The works.  And I didn’t have time or accessibility for “the works.”  For both Lauren and I, we discovered that blogging began to suck the life out of our private relationship with the Lord.  If we discovered something in scripture or were convicted about an area we needed to grow in or if something rankled us or if we learned a powerful lesson or walked through a hard time, we felt compelled to share.  Like we were withholding something valuable from ladies who depended on us.  It became difficult just to worship humbly before the Lord, because others were watching.  And we became increasingly aware that, well, neither of us really need to be putting ourselves forth as teachers right now.

We’re both young women.  With lots of life to live and people to serve.  And things to learn.  And it’s lovely to share what God is doing and teaching us, but our priorities still have to be our families and those whom God has placed in our natural sphere of contact:  those who know us and see our lives, who can encourage us and grow with us and teach us and hold us accountable to practice what we preach.

And we encourage you to make those your priorities as well.

Yes, we’re bailing before this thing is flying too high.

From Lauren:

First I’d like to apologize that this post didn’t make it up a couple of months ago.  And I would cite this as just one of the many reasons I am glad to be saying good bye to blogging.  I have a lot to learn about time management (among other things)!  And, in truth, it was about six months ago that I first talked to my husband and then Abigail about quitting.  What prompted me?  Well, I read Jasmine’s good-bye post on her blog where she described the upcoming release of her new book and her excitement over all the things she would be free from and free to do once she stopped blogging.  Strangely, I found myself feeling jealous—no, not of her having a book published (that had me quite excited!), but of the freedom she expressed.  I took a walk and wrestled with what I was feeling and took it to the Lord in prayer.  It seemed quite clear that blogging was getting in the way of the things that I really needed to focus on.  And with Nathaniel and Abigail in support of the decision, I pulled away.  And what a time of refreshing it has been!  Since I am less focused on an audience, my God has made very, very clear what He wants to accomplish in my heart—and let me tell you, there’s a lot of work to be done!  His word is indeed a mirror that shows us what we really are, and His good Spirit highlights the messes He wants to deal with, accomplishing His good purpose!

And, of course, as Abigail mentioned, finding out Nathaniel and I are having another little blessing, and being currently swamped with morning sickness, taxes, and a host of other things…I have no regrets.  J  Well, except for all the unfinished series and anticipated articles that never were written…but I trust you all will forgive me and rejoice in what the Lord is doing with us now.  Maybe we will write a book one day.  😉  Blessings to you ladies who have joined us on this journey.  Your thoughts and encouragement have been much appreciated!

From Abigail:

Friends often accused me of being content.  But I declare myself innocent of the accusation!  The facts are, I rarely wept the deadly tears of the unmarried simply because I had other dreams that plagued me more than marriage.  Dreams that seemed undefined, but still powerful, hopelessly far from fulfillment and even, at times, irreconcilable with my convictions.  Sometimes I fought with myself over whether or not they were even godly.  I wrestled these dreams into a slumbering state of contentment over and over and over again.  This summer they came to life with more ferocity than ever.  In frustration, I cried out to the Lord, “You gave me these passions.  Now what am I supposed to do with them?”  Many of you have made the same demand.  Some of you face the paradox of the “godly desire” that is still unfulfilled.  For many, it is marriage.  For some it is missions.  For others it is motherhood.  For some it is just more.  Disatisfaction is a necessary part of growth.  But of this I am certain—that desires are not godly or ungodly in themselves.  Because we can worship “godly desires” by desiring them more than God.  And anything that takes precedence over God is certainly ungodly.  Godly desires are desires that are made to bow, yielded, to pay homage to God, to His Word and to His timing.  And when they are prostrate before the King, they may be pursued, time and truth permitting, as a pursuit of Yahweh Himself.  Since deciding to “exit” the blogging world, I’ve been trying to focus my pursuits.  The pathway has been very up and down!  And I begin to see how truly God is a God of creativity and ingenuity and that He abundantly bestows both as we make our way through a transient life.  I’m thankful for the ways that He’s been shaping my character, strengthening my backbone and stretching me—whether it’s finally studying medical stuff or navigating the real-estate market or negotiating services and compensation or—as of the past week—nannying a handful of children.

Once upon a time, before there was Pearls and Diamonds, I kept a personal blog.  Perhaps you will find me there.

We hope you will live your moments in light of God’s redemptive sacrifice of His Son, the Holy Spirit’s powerful filling and the eminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  To Him be the glory both now and forever, amen!

Blessings,

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Sarah’s Paradox

March 13, 2010 at 1:23 am (interviews, Marriage, Purity, Singleness) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sarah’s Story
Lauren gives some history:  Sarah is a dear friend whom I met nearly 11 years ago when I first started attending a wonderful little Bible church back in my home state of Texas.  It was the beginning of high school, and I was a one-year-old believer.  I didn’t fit in all that well with churched kids, since I was mostly Bible-illiterate.  But Sarah was one of the first people to welcome me and made me feel right at home (dispelling any stereotypes I may have held about homeschoolers).  Eight years later my then-fiance Nathaniel and I attended her wedding to Evan, and a few months after that, she was one of my bridesmaids.  Nathaniel and I still try to get together with our wonderful friends whenever we’re in the same state!  It’s always a great time of fellowship, sharing what the Lord is doing in our lives.  I hope you’ll enjoy as Sarah shares her story.
P.S.  You might happen to recognize her husband, Evan…he played the evil reporter on “The Widow’s Might.”

Have you always desired to be a homemaker? What inspired your desire to marry and keep a home?

I have the blessing of being the daughter of a very godly woman, an amazing teacher, and a homemaker extraordinaire!  From as early as I can remember she poured her life into teaching me to love our Lord and others and to live to serve.  The older I get, the more I realize how she threw her intelligence, creativity, energy, diligence, and love into every task, even the most mundane, and how she shaped and guided my development as a young woman through her example and through her teaching.  By living in her home, I never saw homemaking as an inferior choice or something to be done in half measures.  It always seemed such a high calling, to be a teacher, chef, interior decorator, advisor, accountant, and so much more…just like my mother.  Now I am even more amazed at all she did and how her love for the Lord permeated her life at home.  I still want to be just like her when I grow up…

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?

One day when I was about 17, I realized the paradox of wanting to be a homemaker.  I sat down with my parents and said “Ok…so, for my entire life you have been grooming me to be a wife and mother.  When I help Mama in the kitchen it is “so that you can be a good wife.”  When I am playing with a neighbor’s child, you say “You’ll be such a good mom!”  When I am in charge of preparing meals one day a week, it’s so that I can be ready to run a home of my own.  When I work in the garage with Daddy, it’s “your husband will love working with you if you…”  When I get ready to teach the younger kids at our church, you say “Here’s something that you can do someday with your kids!”  Everything you taught me aims toward a husband and a home!  Then, as soon as I am close to the age to be able to actually think about having a husband and a home, all I hear is “Don’t think about it!  Don’t pursue it!”  What am I supposed to do, erase 16 years of brainwashing from my head?”  (As you can tell from this conversation, I am still learning the whole gentle and quiet thing!)

My parents have hearts that are captive to the Word of God, so they understood my dilemma and gave me godly advice for the next years of my life.  They told me, “You are right…there is a paradox there.  You (rightfully so!) desire something that you cannot actively pursue.  But here is what you need to do: Pursue serving the Lord.  Cultivate the gifts that He has given you to the best of your ability, and prepare to spend your life serving Him – either alone or with a husband.  That is what He has called you to do.”

We talked about my goal of going to school and earning a teacher’s credential lest I ever need one in order to homeschool my kids.  We talked about the love and facility that the Lord had given me for language.  We talked about some options that I should pursue with my life.  But I was still struggling.  “So you mean that you want me to just go on blissfully planning my life as a single woman and then just drop the things that I am pursuing if a man walks into my life?”

Their answer: “Quite possibly!”  Of course, my independent spirit rankled at the thought of having to set aside my own plans.  I would much rather have just married before I had plans I would have to give up!  Why go to all the trouble of making plans only to drop them like a hot potato?  Wouldn’t that mean that my plans were not really a part of God’s will for my life?  Was I being rebellious to pursue something other than being a wife and mother?

Then my mom gave me an analogy I have never forgotten.  “Sarah, when is it easiest to steer a car?  Can you steer a parked car?  No!  But when a car is moving at an appropriate speed, it is no problem to direct it wherever you need to go.  Think of your life like a car.  If you sit there, you are making it more difficult for God to steer you.  Just start moving!  He’ll guide the course of your life, sometimes in directions opposite from your plans.  But if you are willing to submit to His “steering”, you are not sinning when you start moving.”

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

With this advice from my parents, I went to college at Oklahoma Baptist University and earned a degree in Spanish Education, allowing me to be credentialed to teach K-12.  During this time, the Lord blessed me, taught me more that I could ever imagine, and prepared me for where He has placed me now.  My first year away from home I learned that all my life I had been saying that I trusted and depended on God, but when I was removed from all my “props” – my family, friends and church – He showed me that I had really been trusting in those good things rather than solely on Him.  It was a difficult but sweet time of drawing near to the Lord in dependence, realizing my desperate need for His grace and strength each day.  Through those four years, He blessed me with some wonderful, godly friends, and allowed me to learn how to be an excellent teacher through the classes I took.

How did you and Evan meet and marry? What drew you to Evan? How did you approach purity in your pre-marriage relationship?

Evan and I had actually known each other since junior high.  We had been quite good friends as young teenagers.  I loved the way he would sit and talk with me about things that mattered!  As we grew to be good friends, people started teasing us about liking each other.  I was so concerned that our friendship would be ruined that I didn’t even consider romantic attraction an option.  (Evidently Evan’s view differs here – he was just biding his time…)  As Evan started college and then I went away to school as well, we gradually stopped seeing each other as much at church and with our families, who were good friends as well.

As I finished my sophomore year of college, I spent a month in Venezuela with some missionaries, came home, and prepared for my junior year.  I felt that it was a point at which I needed to decide what I wanted to pursue after college.  If I wanted to be a missionary or a teacher, it would take planning to be ready as soon as I graduated.  I was very worried, and once again had a long conversation with my mother about what to pursue as a young single woman who wanted to serve the Lord.  Oh, and I should mention that the winter before I had developed a very bad crush on Evan…

Lo and behold, the very week that I finally stopped worrying about my future and trusted the Lord to continue guiding my life as I pursued Him, Evan asked me to start courting him!  We enjoyed a year and a half of deepening our already-existent friendship, thinking and praying about our futures, and spending time together without being teased incessantly by our friends.  We were careful to be together only in our families’ homes or in public places during this time.  Physically, we moved along slowly, only progressing to hand-holding after a year of going out together.  Looking back, we chuckle about the awkwardness of a relationship where you are aiming toward marriage but must be careful to remain pure.  Thanks to the Lord and to being surrounded by friends and family with high standards, we do not feel that we were overly tempted to be impure during our courtship.  Following our parents’ advice, and due to the Lord’s timing, we were only engaged for a short period of time (3 months), which was a great aid in maintaining purity.  Even those three months almost seemed too long to wait!  We were happily married in July 2007…after approximately 8 years of friendship and 2 years of courting.

How has God sovereignly worked in your life to prepare you for serving Him with Evan?

It has been so wonderful to see the small ways in which the Lord prepared me to be Evan’s helper.  My mom loved music, so I grew up in a home where it was always played and where I was encouraged to play and sing to the Lord.  Evan is a very skilled musician and a choir teacher, so now I can relate to the things he loves the most.  Also, while I am not the most spontaneous and flexible person, my father was, and my husband also is.  In learning to submit to and serve my father, I learned many little lessons that have helped me submit to and serve my husband.

What have been some of the challenges and rewards of making a home for your husband?

I think my favorite part of making a home for Evan is that he loves having people over to visit and fellowship.  It is so rewarding to prepare my home to be an inviting place where he can carry out his ministry of hospitality.  Ministering at his side in our home, at church, and with unbelievers in our community is such a privilege!

As a married woman, are there struggles to be content? Is the purity struggle still alive?

Um, yes!  It is SO important to realize that home, husband, job, child, and circumstance have NOTHING to do with being content!  Contentment is resting in God and delighting in His provision, no matter what is in my life at the moment.  The sad thing is, no matter how He blesses, my sinful heart still finds something to complain about.  It is my daily battle to find joy in the moments and the circumstances that God sovereignly places in my life.

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A Couple More “Blogs Worth a Look”

November 17, 2009 at 1:38 am (Announcements) (, , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

There are two blogs I’ve been wanting to highlight for some time. Both have been a great encouragement to me when it comes to godly living and practical homemaking. 🙂

The first is Desiring Virtue, where my friend Jessalyn writes. Here you’ll find GREAT practical tips and encouragement on all kinds of things: from cloth diapering to spending time with the Lord to budgeting and cooking! I absolutely love her blog! Check it out!

The other is Pursuing Titus 2, which contains a plethora of articles and studies on topics related to, you guessed it–being the kind of woman God calls us to be in Titus 2! While I heartily encourage others to enjoy this site, I also want to advise caution for younger readers. This blog deals with some subjects that may not be appropriate for young or unmarried ladies. So, as always, seek your parents’ wisdom and counsel before browsing this blog.

That’s all I have for today! May the Lord bless you as you seek to please Him!

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Telemarketers and Cultural Studies

October 29, 2009 at 5:19 pm (Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Am I “unemployed”? I think to myself as the telemarketer rambles off her list of options to describe my situation.

“Are you working full time, part time, retired, or unemployed?” she asks.

Hmm…Well, I guess I could say I work full time, but that wouldn’t be what she means.

“Uh…unemployed,” I answer.

I suppose if we had caller ID I could avoid answering these questions altogether. But since we don’t, I’ll have a little fun musing over these uninvited interactions.

The phone rings. I answer. A man on the other end of the line politely asks if this is the “female head of the house”. I say “yes” while thinking, “I’m not the head of this household, my husband is. And I’m happy about that. You can call me the lady of the house and my husband the head–I won’t be offended!”

This is not to make a big deal over words or labels. I just think it’s interesting how careful our society is to assume that you might be a feminist and you might be easily offended. Hooray for political correctness!

I know being a stay-at-home wife and mother is not the norm these days, I just find it interesting that hardly anyone worries about offending people like me. Maybe stay-at-home moms are in general too busy and too fulfilled to be easily offended???

I did get a rather refreshing phone call the other day:

“Are you working full time, part time, retired, unemployed, or a homemaker?”

>Smile<

“I’m a homemaker.”

laurens-sig

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Identity Crisis

October 5, 2009 at 9:42 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Submission) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Identity crisisI knew that coming home from Nathaniel and Lauren’s house might be difficult. I’d been away for two weeks, basically managing another home while poor Lauren struggled to survive gestational pemphigoid. So I’d steeled myself. The truth is that God created people to leave and cleave—not to leave and come back and leave and come back. But sometimes we must stretch ourselves to serve others. Mentally I’d reminded myself that my home ran on a different schedule—not just whatever schedule I wanted to create. Like an expert pilot, I glided into the landing without a bump.

But what I hadn’t prepared for was my Mom’s homecoming. See, we’d traded places, and while she took care of my sister-in-law and nephew for a week, I ascended to the throne of Scottsburrow as Queen by proxy. When she returned a week later, it was as if Richard the Lionhearted had come home and I, the pretender, was back to the millstone. Or so it felt. Suddenly tasks I’d been successfully completing for the past three weeks were being scrutinized and redesigned. One morning, two days after her return, I broke down and started crying. “Seriously, can’t you even trust me to make a salad? I’ve been running this house for a week and you come home and act like…” Like what? Like you own the place?

I felt like a newlywed daughter when her Mom comes to visit and takes over the kitchen. Except for one problem: it was Mom’s kitchen. Not mine.

It’s a sad fact that, the older I grow, the more difficult it seems to share working space with my Mom. People who quiz me about being a grown daughter in the home or press me about being single ask all the wrong questions. Actually, I have plenty to keep me busy. And I’m not in a hurry to find a man. But sometimes, I sure would like some elbow room. And I’d like to put things where I would put them to find them, instead of having to think like someone else to find them. When my biological clock starts ticking, it almost invariably sounds like an egg-timer.

The truth is, ladies, I don’t believe it was God’s perfect intention for adult daughters to be at home. Judging from the science of the matter, I suspect His original intent was for us to marry much earlier than is the current mode. However, I know for certain that He works through our circumstances and in my case, I am quite sure that I am exactly where I should be, in obedience to Him, when I’m standing in the middle of my mother’s kitchen.

The difficulty facing me is actually not that I need my own kitchen, but that I need to be reminded of the laws of ownership.

Throughout my entire life I have struggled against the “bonds”, trying to snatch the pen to rewrite both the story and the byline. In my early teens this identity crisis took a different form as I wrestled with God over an unalterable fact: I am a woman. That might seem obvious to you, but to me it seemed an obvious mistake. What in the world was I supposed to do as a woman? Have my own cutesy little kitchen with gingham curtains? If I’d simply been given that elusive Y chromosome, I’d have been a man, able to decide my own destiny, chart a path for my own life and serve God! In fact, I knew exactly what I wanted to be! I’d have gone to the dirtiest, lowest, poorest, most violent streets and neighborhoods and poured out God’s love and truth. I would be able to give myself entirely to God!

Then one day I had the rare enlightenment that scripture and the Holy Spirit conspire to bring. “Shall the clay say to the Potter, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” In that misty, moisty morning, staring into the cool, blue sky I had an epiphany. I rephrased my wish to express the true tones behind my sentiments. “If only God had made me a man, I could really be what He wants me to be!” Actually, I could do what I want to do. A simple truth arrived home on the whisper of a fall breeze. Serving God means submission to His will.

He made me a woman. I must be the most obedient woman I can be. For now, at least, that doesn’t include street-preaching in the ghetto.

That was my identity crisis. Well, my first one. My most recent one came when my Mom arrived home to invade the cozy little nest I’d been maintaining. I’d been enjoying managing “my” home and suddenly I felt as if I’d been cast out on my ear. I didn’t fit into my own house. And just as suddenly I wanted to get out and have my own kitchen. My own laundry room. To do things my own way. And then came the despairing reminder that marriage simply transferred my allegiance. Instead of being stuck in my Mom’s kitchen, I would still be subject to some man telling me what to do and when to do it. I’d almost thought the old thought of complaint, the “I’ll never get to do things my way” thought, when the horror of my attitude bombarded me like a stampede of overweight elephants.

I despised God’s order of authority, forgetting that even Jesus was under authority. He’d praised the centurion for understanding this elusive truth. Jesus didn’t please Himself. He pleased the Father. And with that realization came the reminder of God’s authority, laid out by the pen of Paul. “Children, obey your parents.” And then, “I want you to understand that the head of every woman is a man, and the head of the man is Christ and the head of Christ is God.” Children are subject to their God-ordained authority. Women are subject to their God-ordained authority. Men are subject to their God-ordained authority. Even Christ learned obedience through the things He suffered. All things are subject to God.

I shame-facedly admit that, but for the grace of God, I’d have been a feminist. Thank You, Lord, for Your great mercy. But the fact of the matter is that when we reject any tiny part of God’s authority system or God’s creation or what God has done, we reject God’s authority over us. We deny God’s ownership of us and of all creation. Because it’s not my life that could have been so wonderful if I’d been a man—it’s God’s life that He created in a way far different than I would have. Wonderfully different. With a divine purpose that will likely keep me forever wondering. And it’s not my Mom’s kitchen—or my kitchen. It’s His. And He has put my Mom in charge of it, for now, and He has placed me under her. And someday when I have “my own” kitchen, it will still belong to Him. I will still be under His authority structure. I will still be His creation.

And in the same ponderous truth of nature that proves that life is not a totem pole but a circle, I will belong to God. And He will belong to me. In a personal way, God has promised to be my God. He will be my Creator, my Master, my King—and my authority. In my longing to have something to call “my own”, He is the only thing I can claim, and all creation belongs to Him. I just need to understand where my identity lies.

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Virtue is Valuable

May 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm (Godly Living, Marriage, Meditations on Proverbs 31) (, , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

virtue is valuableI’ve begun recently to pour over Proverbs 31 and have been richly blessed by my time in God’s word. I don’t see myself as especially qualified to teach Proverbs 31 (I have much to learn!), but I thought perhaps my meditations on the passage may be of some encouragement to you ladies. What I’ve reflected on so far has been a great challenge and encouragement to me! So enjoy, and feel free to share your thoughts as well!

Proverbs 31:10 “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”

Sometimes it seems hard to find an older woman who I can look up to and imitate. There are many women who do well, but few who are truly excellent, few who fit the description of this Proverbs 31 woman. And so it’s easy for me to compare myself with those around me—especially others my own age—and think that I’m doing alright. The reality is, however, that I have a lot to learn! An excellent wife—an excellent woman—is hard to find, especially in a culture that devalues her. But her worth is far above jewels. And so I ought to seek out such a woman as though seeking a great treasure (perhaps one reason I’ve had a hard time finding this kind of woman is that I haven’t been looking very diligently!). And I ought to seek to be this kind of woman with the same fervency.

It’s easy to be discouraged as a homemaker. No one really recognizes what I do (though I have been blessed by a husband who does see and appreciate it—he’s a rare find!). Society as a whole scorns me for staying home when I could be working out in the “real world”. And even many of my brothers and sisters in Christ think I’m allowing my God-given abilities to waste away—I could be a political activist, a school teacher, or have some other position that would allow me to be a “world changer” for God. So I’m a poor steward of the grace of God because I’m seeking to obey His command to be a worker at home. Sigh…

Then I come to God’s precious word. And what does it say of the Proverbs 31 woman? It says her worth is far above jewels (or perhaps in modern terms, a second paycheck). Basically, what this wife and mother does is priceless—it is of the utmost value and it is beautiful to behold. The thing is, I fall so short of that kind of valuable character and work because, though I stay at home, I still have much to learn about what it truly means to be a worker at home, and to allow that good work to spill over and bless not only my husband and children, but also those in the world around me. That’s why this woman is so valuable, so rare. She makes a priority of serving her husband and family, of running her household effectively for the glory of the Lord, and in so doing, she is able to bless her entire community and adorn the good news of her God.

So this first verse on the “excellent wife” is both an encouragement and a challenge for me. It tells me that what I am pursuing is of great value—the time that I invest in serving the Lord by serving my husband is not wasted. I shouldn’t allow the world’s opinion to sway me in my pursuit of what God has called me to be and to do. At the same time, I shouldn’t be content with simply being at home, as though the decision to not take a job outside the home makes me godly! Or as though as long as I’m keeping up with the basics (getting food on the table, making sure the house is presentable when we have company, doing the laundry before we absolutely run out of socks, paying the bills on time) then I’m a good homemaker! All too often I am content to merely get by. A complacent woman will never be an excellent woman. A phrase used several times by the apostle Paul comes to mind: “Excel still more.” When I think of the excellent wife of Proverbs 31, and when I think of just how far I fall short of her strength of character and commitment to good works, it helps to remember that she is a rare and priceless jewel. I’m not alone in my “falling short”. But I should also be encouraged to be that kind of woman, to excel still more, and to seek to abound in these kinds of good works to the glory of God. And perhaps what is most encouraging of all is that by God’s grace at work in me I can become this kind of woman. No, not perfect, but one who thrives where she is planted and who excels more and more in her service to the Lord and to others, reflecting the character of her Savior in all that she does.

May God have His way with me!

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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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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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