What Does it Mean to Be Christian-Simply

It seems to me that somewhere in time the gospel became watered down.  The concern became more about “saving” others and less about personal relationship and accountability.  Focusing on others, and not ourselves, brings on judgement, condemnation, argumentation-all while the log exists in our own eye.

Raising children in a world where civil law mirrors scriptural morality less and less is difficult.  It doesn’t matter if you are talking about adultery, homosexuality, murder, slander, stealing, etc… The list is endless.  Why?  Because we are sinners. We live in a fallen world and each and every one has opportunity to make one single decision-the decision that changes everything.  Yet living in a world where social and civil law are far from biblical morality should be no surprise.  Scripture tells us about this world.  This world has always existed-a depraved and fallen world.  There is no doubt social media and network television amplify it, making us acutely aware, but it has always existed.

God’s word gives us very clear direction.  Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the One true God, and determine to follow Him in faith, we have but one great (greatest) commandment.  Contrary to what I see posted, it is NOT to love one another with abandon, with no teaching, equipping, encouraging, and accountability.  The one greatest commandment is this:

LoveAllHeart

I am to first and foremost love God with my entire being.  My relationship with Him matters most.  Am I following His commands?  Am I working to become more like Him each day?  Am I mindful of my own sin and seeking forgiveness and wisdom to change?  Those things matter most.  Out of a right relationship with God flows the ability to love others.  I am not equipped to love them as He does.  I am not judge.  I am not forgiver.  I am not savior.  I can only love them as I love myself, which pales in comparison to the love He extends.  I can only share with others what I know of Him.  I can only share with others what I have experienced of Him.  It is not a love that loves with abandon.  I do not love myself with abandon.  Like you, I am my biggest critic, and rightfully so.  If I am seeking to love God with all my heart, soul and mind, then I am seeking daily to shine the light on my own sin, to determine where I need to grow.  Most importantly though, it means my compass is His word, my standard for morality is not civil law or social law, but His law.

Today, my job as a wife, mother, friend, neighbor is to make certain my children and those around me know God’s word. My job is to encourage them and equip them to desire to know more about Him and to experience more of Him every day. My job is to remind them that we live in this world, but our home is in Heaven.  I am to teach them to put on the Armor of God.  (Ephesians 6: 10-18) I am to equip them to “live carefully-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  (Ephesians 5: 15-17)  This scripture is often used as a scripture reference by pastor’s exhorting us to make the most of every opportunity to witness, to go and share the gospel. That is not what this scripture is saying.  This scripture is reminding us to be careful, to realize the dangerous condition(s) we have or are slipping into.  It is a reminder to keep our standards high, to live according to God’s word.

Must we witness?  Yes.  In no way am I seeking to minimize or belittle our responsibility to share our faith.  However, if our eyes are so focused outward that we fail to see the depravity of our own lives, what good is our witness?  What if I focused more on HOW I lived being my witness and relied less on my mouth, my fingers posting to social media?

Coming to know Christ as your personal savior is a simple act of faith.  He requires absolutely nothing of you.  We must simply acknowledge one true God, who sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to live amidst humanity, and after being rejected by most, died on a cross that we might ALL have forgiveness.  He will always be rejected by many.  Yet, His blood still covers the sins of anyone desiring to know Him, follow His commands and live according to His ways.

I don’t agree with many, many things within our civil law.  I am thankful I am not of this world, but am of Christ.  I choose today to hold myself accountable, to speak truth to those with whom I have contact.  I will seek daily to be careful, to put on the armor of God.  I will train my children to do the same.  I will pray my actions are a testament to Him.  I will leave the judging to Him, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God.  I will not accept into my life anything that is not in accordance with His word, His will.  I will remember daily I am not perfect, I am a sinner, I am nothing without the shed blood of my Savior Jesus Christ. I will remember His love for me cost Him everything.  I will remember that He can not look upon sin.  I will remember He loves us enough to give us a choice-a choice to believe in Him, the one true God, to accept the Bible as the incarnate Word of God, complete and lacking in nothing, or to reject Him.  I will remember I am accountable for my actions, my words and no one else’s.  I will grieve for those who choose to reject Him and I will encourage and love those who accept Him.  I will live in accordance to civil law while on this earth, but I will live according to His word only.

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The Love Hate Relationship with Summer

Summer.  It is amazing to me how we as moms can have such a love hate relationship with summer.  Come about April most of us begin to long for the “lazy” days of summer.  We are tiring of the lunch making, the homework, the after-school activities, the schedules.  We dream of days filled with no schedule, moments by the pool, sleeping in a little later (if we are lucky), no back packs to check, no homework to battle through.

Then summer hits.  BAM!  Within the matter of a few days we begin to seek out activities.  What will we do with these children all summer?  The camps, birthday parties, family vacation, reunions, etc… fill the calendar and we realize that in no time at all we will back at it.  We gaze at the long list of all we thought we’d do this summer and realize there is no way!

It is a love hate relationship.  But isn’t much of life that way?  Too often we look forward to something missing the moments right in front of us.  We find ourselves in the midst of the time we anticipated and we panic, we realize we have failed to plan or the reality of our limited time hits us in the face.  In a matter of moments we can go from dreaming to being overwhelmed and panicked. The words ” I’m bored”, are uttered by a child and our emotions go through the roof.

Our family intentionally cleared our calendar this summer.  No family vacation.  No camps.  We decided instead to simply be at home, a home we just had the opportunity to build.  We decided to go with the unexpected, to spend more time with family and friends.  I decided to keep pursuing better health and engage in more of my creative pursuits.

beachseatSounds great doesn’t it.  A “lazy” summer at home.  Well, let me be honest.  Two weeks in and the above picture is where I think I want to be.  I’m missing the family vacation.  I’m doubting our decisions-even though we reached them as a family.  I see what others are doing and I feel the comparisons creeping in.  Why?  Why do we go there?

I know why I do.  I take my eye off the prize.  I look around more than I look within.  I forget that I am right where God wants me to be, with the people He has entrusted to my care for just a little while.  I forget that through prayer and seeking we made decisions we believed were best for us.  I forget to trust He will see us through, even the leaner times, the darker times.

So, while I have moments wishing I was in a chair on the beach, I am going to focus on being where I am.  I’m going to treasure the moments by my pool listening to nieces and nephews laugh, taking in the squeals of high school girls, breathing in deep the quiet moments captured sitting alone in the sun by my little space of paradise.  I’m going to be thankful for a home in which we rest, land safely.  I’m going to appreciate the fact my 16 year old daughters would rather be here than elsewhere, that they still share with their dad and I.

Summer is here.  I have anticipated it.  I’m going to rest in it-soak it up.  I’m not going to rush it.  I’m not going to fall prey to the comparisons, the regrets, the looking around.  I’m going to take today for what it is and be-be in the moment, be grateful, be content.

#NOCOMPAREDARE: My Business

This month Mary & Martha has challenged women to a “No Compare Dare”.  It is a timely message for me.  And as I have followed others within the company, consultants, and their customers in taking this dare, I am reminded how quickly we as women can become discouraged or defeated by the simple comparison game.  Satan knows his way into our lives, and all too often we allow him to take hold.  I am guilty.

I Peter 5: 8-10 says, ” Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings, and the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” NIV

In my organizing business my partner and I spend time working with our clients regarding their time management.  One of the things we try to impress upon them is the importance of being aware, self-controlled.  It is important to know how time is spent, to know how one wants to spend time in order to meet goals, and then make adjustments.  Life can’t be lived on auto-pilot.  Discipline and self awareness are key to being organized.

One would think that because the above is such a part of my “message” to clients I would not struggle personally with the comparison issue, but oh how I do.  In fact, even just yesterday I allowed satan a stronghold in my life, my business. Yesterday I lost two clients (one lost her job the other decided to sell her home in lieu of getting it organized) and had a potential client decline our services in favor of another.  When you are a young business, still building, those kind of things seem HUGE!  Immediately I began comparing- to others in the organizing business, to friends running their own businesses, etc…  The thoughts in my head became negative and self-defeating.  Did I lose the jobs because I failed to be alert?  No.  Did doubt, fear and discouragement set in because I failed to be alert?  Yes.  I allowed my thoughts to wander and instead of focusing on what was true, bowing my knee in prayer, I opened the door for satan to begin his whispers.  I didn’t resist.  I didn’t keep my thoughts on the truth.  Fortunately I have within my circle women who hold me accountable. In one simple text a dear friend, and business owner I admire snapped me back to reality.  Her words were not harsh. They were simple and straight forward.  They were spoken in love and with authority.  In that moment I became aware.  I suddenly became alert, seeing what I had allowed to happen.  I didn’t just snap out of it.  No, when we let satan in, he’s hard to remove.  He isn’t some little pussy cat, no he is a roaring lion.  He is on a mission.  No, it takes faith, it takes strength and fortitude to make him leave.

My business is my #NOCOMPAREDARE focus.  How do I keep satan at bay?  The same daily disciplines that keep me focused on the truth, on my priorities.

  1. Rise early and let His word (scripture) be the first thing to enter my mind.
  2. Sit in stillness allowing His word, His thoughts to permeate my mind.
  3. Pray for His will.
  4. Pray continually, with all thanksgiving.
  5. Be honest with my sphere of influence so they can hold me accountable, speak truth into my life.
  6. Be alert throughout the day to shifts in my thinking, my mood…

I dare you.  I know you struggle.  We all do.  The comparison game.  It’s so easy.  We are bombarded with messages, with visuals via Facebook, Instagram, television, radio, stores, friends…  None of us is immune.  It will happen.  We just need to be alert, to capture the thoughts before they take hold, remembering that satan is the author.  Let truth prevail.

truth

Block It

timeblocking

Distractions.  Do they plague you as much as they do me?  The phone buzzing with calls and texts.  Social media beckoning me.  The requests of children.  Tick-Tock, the clock ticks.  Minutes pass into hours and if I am not careful the day has passed and no progress made in areas of priority.

One of my favorite time management practices is to time block.  There are many things in my day I can simply do as time permits and some I can even do while multi-tasking.  However, if I am going to make progress towards my priority areas and goals, I have to set aside time to focus, to work with intentionality.

time-blocking

My weekly calendar often looks similar to this.  As mentioned, I don’t time block everything, but I do time block the priorities. Anything related to my businesses goes on my calendar in green (my favorite color and representative of money).  I put personal objectives in red, often highlighted in pink.  Time blocking helps me focus.  I am a visual person.  When I see the time literally “blocked” on my calendar I respect it.  I protect it.  This allows me to then keep these designated hours and to work without interruption.  I often turn my phone on silent, tell the girls what I am doing and how much time I need (when they were younger I often sat a timer) and then with gathered supplies set to work.  I rarely have huge blocks of time, but even 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time affords me the opportunity to get a lot done.  If I am seeking to make progress on a major life goal, this uninterrupted time is a necessity.

I also us time blocking when I begin to feel life is out of control.  Sometimes life changes, we enter a new season.  Our kids enter school, we begin a new job, additional family duties develop, we develop new hobbies etc…  Sometimes it is simply that I have lost site of my goals, I have stepped back from personal discipline.  Whatever the reason, when life feels out of control, my stress level rises, my productivity declines, I use time blocking to track a week.  Using time blocking to track your time gives you a glimpse into your reality.  Where is your time really going?  What is using up your time?  I am a firm believer that KNOWING, creates change.  When I am really aware of, KNOW where my time is going, then and only then can I begin to manage my time.  Not KNOWING, means my time is managing me, and that is when life becomes chaotic, stressful.

I challenge you this week to time block.  Either block off the tasks you know you have, or simply take this week to learn something about yourself-where your time goes.  Time blocking is a tool.  Time blocking requires discipline.  Time blocking can be ever evolving.  However, if you want, like I want, to be an effective woman, time blocking is the key.

Use this form to track your time. PlannerPadCopycat

BECOMING-Not Finished (another look at the Proverbs 31 woman)

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Industrious, thrifty, organized, virtuous, confident, modest, kind, merciful, creative, resourceful, loved, blessed.  Do you ever wish you were all those things?  Does reading that list of attributes exhaust you or deflate you?  I have said it in weeks past, and will say it again.  The Proverbs 31 woman as described in those passages, was not a perfect woman, nor are the passages a description of her in one moment in time.  The passages describe the entirety of her life-who she became.

We are becoming.  So often we want a list and we want to check it off-maybe even twice.  We want to be finished.  In reality though, were we to find ourselves finished, life would be over.  Scripture reminds us we are becoming.  We are ever running after the goal, seeking to be strengthened as we approach the finish line.

becoming:  
Adjective:  1.  that suits or gives a pleasing effect or attractive appearance, as to person or thing:

a becoming dress; a becoming hairdo.  2.  suitable; appropriate; proper:  a becoming sentiment.
Noun:  3.  any process of change.  4.  Aristotelianism. any change involving realization of potentialities, as movement from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality. (Dictionary.com)
I love the definition of becoming.  I want the adjective to describe me and I want the noun to be taking place.  What makes me be pleasing , suitable?  The change taking place in me.  Becoming more like the one who created me.
The Proverbs 31 woman became who she was after years of becoming.  She sought wisdom, she sought to grow, she sought help.  As she grew, as she became, she did.  All along the way though, she had to make decisions.  She wasn’t becoming just because she lived.  She was becoming because she decided she wanted to.  She set before her priorities. She made a decision every day to guard those priorities, to work towards becoming the woman she felt God calling her to be.  
We too must decide.  Being organized, thrifty, caring, industrious, strong all require action on our part.  It doesn’t happen because we are by nature any of those things.  They each require some action, something we have to decide to do.  And, in order to take any action, we must set aside time to be engaged in those things we know will help us become the woman we want to be.  I can’t be thrifty if I am daily making runs to the grocery store picking up dinner items.  I can’t be caring if I constantly forget friends’ birthdays, fail to block off time to serve others, run late.  I will not be physically strong and able to work/serve if I am not exercising and eating correctly.  Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t just happen.  It requires choice, daily choice, daily sacrifice, daily obedience.
I challenge you, and myself, let’s not be finished.  Don’t give up.  Don’t allow fear or frustration to keep you from decisions. Don’t get overwhelmed.  Let’s continue becoming.  I want to be that attractive, effective woman.  I want to continue growing and changing so that when my time on earth is done and I attain my reward it will be said of me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Think about your priorities.  Block off time this next week to focus on doing something-even just one thing-to become in that area.  My weakness-exercise.  I’m blocking off time 4 days next week to exercise for at least 30 minutes.  We can become. 

Having a Housekeeper-It’s Biblical!

“…and portions for her servant girls.” Proverbs 31: 15.

So often we study the Proverbs 31 woman and then sit in awe or defeat.  We compare ourselves to her, a lifetime of achievements and qualities captured in 21 short verses.  We lose perspective.

This woman of God lived a life well lived.  She was blessed, praised and honored.  She did much.  She ran multiple businesses, she managed family finances, she took care of herself physically and emotionally.  She provided for her family. Her days started early and ended late.  But more than what she did, which is where we often focus, we need to consider who she was.  We should study to learn about her qualities, not her achievements.

We have already discussed that she was pure, trustworthy, loyal, industrious, and thrifty.  Most of all we know she feared the Lord and sought His guidance daily, hourly.  It is in the seeking to know who she was that we will find the lessons He has for us.

I have often joked about verse 15.  Before children, when I was working 60+ hours a week, volunteering in my community and with our youth group at church, I had a housekeeper.  In fact we had her for 16 years.  She became our friend, an extension of our family.  Her daughter grew up in front of us.  We shared laughs, tears, trials and joys.  I was blessed to have her help, her friendship.  On occasion, my husband would question our need for her.  (You see I am one of those people that would clean up to get ready for the housekeeper.  I know.  That’s a whole other discussion.)  On more than one occasion I would whip out Proverbs 31:15 to justify my decision.  I mean after all if this revered woman in scripture clearly had maidservants, then I should most certainly follow suit.  So there you have it ladies.  Having a housekeeper is indeed biblical!

Well, remember that thing called perspective?  In deed the Proverbs 31 had maidservants.  She lived in a day and time that financially, politically was one of the darkest and most difficult times in Israel.  Families often found themselves unable to provide for their children, thus abandoning them or selling them.  Recurring battles and plunder left many children orphaned.  Living in a trade community there we enslaved girls brought in and sold or traded, some even abandoned after the merchants were finished with them.  Yes, human trafficking existed even then.  As such, families who were able, families who felt compelled to help, would take young boys and girls in as bond servants, offering them safety, shelter and provisions.

The Proverbs 31 woman also had need for help.  Again, due to the times, life was difficult.  Much was required if one was to have food and provisions.  It required sacrifice, planning, diligent labor, ingenuity and physical strength.  It would have been virtually impossible to do it alone.

courtesy Town & Country
courtesy Town & Country

While I’d like to stick with the whole “having a housekeeper is biblical” thing, the real lesson is so much more.  It’s not about the housekeeper/the maidservant.  Again, it is about who the Proverbs 31 woman was.  She was wise.  She spent time considering all that she had and needed.  She sought God’s counsel as she attempted to plan for the future.  She was confident enough to know she could not do it all, she could not be all.  She knew what and when she needed to delegate. She saw her plenty and knew she was called to serve, to rescue, to help.  She provided for her maidservants as she did her family.

This woman did not live in abundance.  She had plenty.  But even the plenty she was willing to share, with her maidservants (vs 15) and with the poor and needy (vs 20).  It wasn’t about having more for the sake of having more.  It was about having plenty/enough and being willing to stretch that to help meet the needs of others.

This woman did not work from a place of pride.  She was humble.  She sought to work hard, give her best, yet she knew and accepted what she could not do.  A part of her resourcefulness was knowing what to delegate and to whom.  Once she chose to delegate, she then taught/trained those whom she sought help from.  Her ways were gentle.  She worked alongside them.  She cared for them.

So many lessons for us.  When I seek help am I doing it to stretch my plenty or to obtain abundance?  When I seek help do I humbly come alongside that person teaching/training and working alongside?  Do I use the extra time afforded me by having help to do something worthwhile?  Do I look for the needy and offer them help?

I don’t have a housekeeper any more.  Some days I miss her terribly.  But finances changed, my work load lightened, my daughters grew and the wiser choice was to take our plenty and use it wisely.  I now delegate to my daughters, working alongside them to train them and teach them how to care for a home, provide for a family and serve others.  We open our home to serve others.  We look for opportunities to help meet needs in our family, church and community.

We all live in different circumstances.  Our plenty is different for each of us.  And some of us our blessed with abundance. Remember, to that one, much is expected.  Having help is important.  Knowing what and when to delegate is critical.  Let’s remember those lessons from the Proverbs 31 woman.  Let’s dig deep and look at who she was, not just at what she had or did.  In the end it is all about stewardship.  Stewardship of our time, our resources and our plenty.

Battling Failure

It is Monday.  Yep, it is a Monday.  I had big plans for today.  A great blog post, clean house, some advanced cooking for the week completed, research for an organizing project…  Big plans for a big week.  Instead, I literally got knocked off my feet and my day derailed at 6:00 a.m.

I have two dogs.  We have a love hate relationship.  Most days I love them, but Monday and Thursday when I am cleaning and handling home maintenance I hate them.  This morning, the cute white one, decided to attack the front window with vengeance and bark her head off.  Now mind you, I had yet to get my first cup of coffee drunk.

WinterSpringSummer 009

I ran to the window, sandwich bread and knife in hand, to politely “shoo” the dog away from the window.  About the moment I took my last step toward the window, the “lovable” black and white, thirteen year old, I guess now partially blind, dog decided to join in on the barking chorus and lunged straight through my legs.  The leg already in mid air was propelled into the air forcing my other leg up off the floor.  Sandwich bread and knife went flying, as did the rest of my body.  I have a bulging disc in my neck which I am acutely aware of.   In a moment of panic I decided it would be best to try to twist my body, as if at this age I have any control, and land on my side so as to avoid any further neck injury.  I have no doubt it looked as ugly as it felt.  I landed instead flat on my side, elbow and knee slamming into the hardwood floor.  My neck popped as I tensed the muscles trying to keep my head upright.  All I can say is that in an instant I became aware of every muscle in my body.  Throbbing pain.  I really didn’t want to cry.  I wanted to fling two dogs out the window.  Instead I cried. Mostly because I had fallen and couldn’t get up.

Have you ever been there?  That moment in time when something bad happens, a mistake, a misspoken word.  You go straight to negative, angry, bad.  The hopes of the previous moment are gone.  Your confidence, your strength.  It flees. It so often amazes me – how quickly I can go from good to bad, how quickly I can begin to feel like a failure, the one person who can’t get it together, get the tasks done, spare the moments for the friend, laugh, find time for the hobby that feeds my soul.  Been there?  How is it I can get there so quickly?

I have battled the pain all day.  Truth be known I have battled the ugly thoughts all day – not about the dogs, not about anyone, just about me.  I have battled the urge to give in, to declare defeat.  I have battled the tears of physical pain, mental fears and heartfelt hurts that Satan so quickly reminds me of in these moments.  But I chose to push through today. I didn’t get it all done.  The exercise meant to help me push back on the infringing age 50 got set aside.  I could have stopped and stayed right there.  There have been times I would have.  Frankly it is easier.  It’s not beneficial though.  No, giving in to the fear of failure, the lost hope, the darkness never helps.  How do I push through?  I focus on what I can do.  It wasn’t a lot today, but it was something.  I made those calls to friends I knew were struggling needing a word of encouragement.  I read back through the cards and notes I keep in my “special box”, words of encouragement from friends,clients and acquaintances.  It’s hard.  Pushing back, pushing through takes strength, commitment.  The pain is still here.  The tear still appear in an instant. But, the darkness is lifting.  The lies brought on by thoughts of failure I are pushed back.  Truth sets in.  It slowly heals, like a salve gently pouring over the wound.

Friend, if you have had a terrible, no good, very bad day, stop and regroup.  Remember who you really are.  You are here for a purpose.  Mistakes will happen.  Falls will occur (let’s just hope not brought on by a dog).  You learn.  You keep going.  It will hurt, it will be hard, but you are worth it.  You were made to make a difference.  You were made in God’s image, His child.

I am probably going to hurt more tomorrow.  And I have a feeling I am still going to be thinking negative thoughts about these two stinking cute dogs.  But the darkness of failure has passed.  I’m learning.  I’m gonna keep going.

“Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes-It’s Impact, My Thoughts

If you are a recovering perfectionist like me, I highly recommend “Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes.  It was an easy read.  It grabbed my attention in the first few paragraphs.  Not just because I am a recovering perfectionist, but I am a woman.  A woman who seeks to serve God with all my heart, mind and body and yet feels like I miss the boat all too often.

“Love Idol” was a fresh perspective.  I have never thought of how my drive to seek approval, perform (do for others), maintain order etc… as idols.  Yet Jennifer Dukes’ analogies were dead on.  Not only that, but she very openly discusses the impact these “love idols” can have on our families, especially our daughters.  It’s not just the perfectionist tendencies, ALL of us have “love idols”.  For some it may be more about holding one’s self out as the nurturer, playful woman who puts others above tasks, chores, performance.  It can often even be our service or ministries.

An idol is anything that captures our hearts, our minds.  We begin to think more of those things than we do God.  As we focus, our efforts become more about our ways, our plans, our thoughts than His.  I know, stings a little doesn’t it!?!

I recommend this book.  In fact, mine is on loan right now to a young mom.  It is an easy read, but a thought provoking read. You could get through it in a day or two, but I recommend taking it chapter by chapter and pondering.

My take aways:

1.  God continues to use writings, friends, music to remind me of the need to slow down, step back.  I absolutely will not find God in the hurried days of a cram packed life.

2.  I am uniquely gifted and created.  He has a purpose for me, one He will allow me to fulfill if I watch and wait.  Life is full of seasons, and in due season my gifts and talents will be used in various ways and in differing amounts.

3.  There is no doubt our families come before our service, our ministries and our work.

4.  The comparison game is dangerous and deadly.  Too often, I am comparing myself to my own too high standards, not so much to others.  I need to release those self-imposed standards.

If you are interested in the book or learning more about Jennifer Dukes go here:

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/love-idol/

Proverbs 31: An End to the Stay At Home Mom vs The Career Mom

I so often wonder why women hurt each other so very much.  I have experienced it at the hands of so called friends, I have inflicted it upon so called friends, I have watched my daughters stung by words and exclusion of so called friends, I witness it in the church and I don’t know a woman in the workforce who wouldn’t attest to the fact that women are hard to work for. Women, we are fierce and yet weak and insecure.  We compensate by building walls or building up our own self-esteem at the expense of another’s.

Last week I attended a women’s networking group for women in business.  The topic?  Negotiating.  Great speaker.  In fact she was a woman who had been through a deep spiritual experience as she sought to become the woman she wanted to be instead of the woman she was “posing” as.  Where did the presentation go?  Where it sadly goes so often-the harshness of women, our insecurity, our overcompensating.  It was refreshing though to be in a room of women I didn’t know, all there for “business” purposes, but all seeking wisdom on how to do life better, be better.

Wool&Flax

Proverbs 31:13-14 informs us of the woman’s work.  She worked with wool and flax making clothing, blankets.  She is compared to merchant ships bringing her food from afar, trading at the marina.  Clearly she worked, and worked hard. Does it matter if she worked for someone else, worked in a storefront or worked from home?  I have never understood the debate we create – especially at church.  Where and how we work is not a reflection of our spirituality.  Who we are at work or at home or at church is a reflection of our spirituality.  Whether or not we engage in the debate, judging other women for their choices, their efforts, their calling is a reflection of our spirituality.  Taking a side, defending our choice, by judging others is a reflection of our spirituality.

The Proverbs 31 woman lived in a very dark time for Israel.  Life was hard, resources were few and theft/plundering was common.  This woman of faith didn’t spend her time contemplating which “camp” of women she wanted to align herself with.  This woman of faith kept her eye on her priorities.  She knew she must bring good to her husband and family (vs 11-12).  She went to work.  She was industrious.  Somehow I don’t think this woman afforded herself much time for idle talk, games of Bunko, supper clubs or mani/pedis.  She was too busy seeing the needs in front of her, working to meet those needs and keeping her focus on God for sustenance, strength, and hope.  She struggled little with insecurity, not because she was proud, but because she kept her focus on God, His precepts.  She spent little time comparing and instead focused on serving any and all she could influence.  She focused on having excellent character, wisdom, skills and compassion.

These verses, more than any others in this passage, convict me.  I so often fall prey to looking around, comparing my life to others, allowing the comparison game to drain me.  Fatigue sets in and my industriousness wanes.  In the end I hurt myself, my family and sometimes those around me.  My words become harsh.  Discontent can drive unnecessary spending.  My priorities shift and I become more important than He.

As women of faith can we see past a list of “to do” items in Proverbs 31 and really see the passage for what it is?  It is a description of a woman who found her worth in God.  It is a description of a woman who focused on her God, her family and her community – in that order.  It is the description of a spiritually, physically and mentally healthy woman.  Let’s put down our judgement.  Let’s pull away from the debates.  In fact, let’s agree there is no debate.  We work.  We seek to be industrious, trustworthy and compassionate.  We keep our eyes on God, we see needs around us and we work.

Being Mom Takes Time

2014-04-20 12.19.06

Being mom takes time.  I have struggled with what to write about today.  I am not one of those bloggers with weeks or months or pre-written blog posts dated and ready to post.  Some days I wish.  No, I’m a busy mom, a Christ follower just dabbling in this thing called the “blogging world”, primarily as a means of accountability.

I am a mom.  I own an organizing business and speaking ministry.  I home school and am very engaged in my church and association.  Life is full and if I am not VERY careful I can quickly allow my job, my volunteer activities to overshadow my being wife and mom.  Sadly, as I enter women’s homes or lives through my business or speaking ministry, I find far too many women have let this very thing happen.  They are well meaning women.  Most are women of faith.  Yet, being mom and wife has lost its place as a priority, second only to their relationship with Christ.  Their calendars and time are consumed with what they are DOING for their families instead of who they are BEING for their families.  They do things: buy an abundance of things; pay for an abundance of opportunities/lessons/activities; they drive from place to place keeping a schedule.  In the frantic pace of life though the stuff begins to overtake and the relationships begin to suffer, mom begins to suffer.

Being a mom takes time.  Not just time for cleaning, cooking, driving, purchasing, but time to be with your kids, your family. It requires focus and planning.  Too often the home is in chaos because mom has failed to block off time to be mom, doing the stuff and being present.

What is the solution?  I believe the solution is to constantly give thought to what kind of home you want to have.

First, dream.  Write it down.  Do you envision family meals and evenings playing board games in a home that reflects order?  Do you envision Saturday mornings baking in the kitchen with your daughter?  Do you dream of a home where everything has its place and at least 75% of the time is in its place?  Not perfection, but calm and beauty?  Cut pictures out of a magazine. Create a dream board.  (I keep a notebook with me that has my “dream” snapshots pasted to the back pages.)

Second, time block.  You’ve heard me say it before.  And I don’t just write about it, I live it.  the only way you will ever be the wife and mom you want to be is if you block off time to take care of the tasks you need to take care of.  Don’t just block it off, but guard it.  Multi-tasking is NOT a good thing.  In fact there are studies out now pointing to the dangers of multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking is really nothing more than being distracted.  Guard your mom time.  Drive the kids to school and lock your phone in the glove compartment.  Block off an hour when the kids get home from school or you get in from work to catch up, prep dinner.  Again, turn off the cell phone, turn off the television, put away the calendar.  If you are responsible for cleaning the home, getting the groceries, block off time to take care of those tasks.  They won’t magically happen.  You won’t “find” time to get it done.  You have to plan to get it done.

I don’t always like being mom.  I get tired of doing laundry, planning meals, running to Target.  What I do like though is knowing that at the end of the week my family and I have shared laughs around the dinner table, arguments have been minimized because we all had the clean clothes we needed.  I enjoy a less than perfect home, but one in which we are always ready to welcome friends and family.

Being mom is important.  Being mom takes time.  Don’t let life race by.  Don’t just be a doing mom.  Be a present, giving mom.  Make time to focus on your family and set the tone for your home.  It won’t be easy, you won’t succeed week in and week out, but when you get it right, you’ll be so glad you made time to be mom.