When Church Hurts

I know most of my readers are church folks.  And anyone who’s been a part of a church for very long knows that eventually hurtful things happen in a place that is assumed safe and caring.  Why?  Because everyone in the church is flawed, broken and in need of the same transformation as you and me.

As a pastor’s wife of 40 years I have experienced what one man calls both “the beauty and the brokenness of the church.”  Sometimes the brokenness comes for the unexpected reason that we Christians too often and too quickly think we get things “right.”

You can read more of my story here.

It’s an honest story.  A sad story.  But a story where I hope you’ll see redemption and hope.

Because my story, like yours, includes God.

I would love to hear your feedback on this one.

Why June Cleaver Isn’t the Model for Godly Womanhood

Over at Redeemer Church we’re doing a series on Compassionate Complementarianism.  My first post in the series (that defines what that long word means for those who aren’t familiar) is below.  Today Jake talks about a couple of myths and misconceptions about this issue, including the truth that June Cleaver isn’t my role model.  Whew.

If you don’t know who June is that means you’re way younger than me. But suffice to say, she was a perky mom who always dressed nice (including pearls even when she cleaned and cooked) and had perfect hair, a perfect house and cooked perfect meals.  Oh, and really obedient sons.

You can read more about her – and other misconceptions about God’s call on men and women –  here.

Compassionate Complementarianism: Or Who Should Take out the Trash?

Male female graphicAs Christians, we want to embrace biblical truth and make it “look right” in our homes, friendship and workplaces.  But what happens when gender roles become the focus rather than compassionate, humble love?

Over at Redeemer Church we’re starting a new blog series today that talks about stuff like this.  You can read my first post here.

Enjoy your day!


Wanna Join Me Beachside?

I want to talk to young moms. Maybe you’re one…or perhaps you know one. I didn’t have an older woman to sit me down and tell me helpful stuff about motherhood when I had small children. My wonderful mom and sister were always there for me but their lives were full and perhaps I didn’t exude the kind of humility that invited them to share their hearts with me.

So at times I felt disoriented amidst the weariness and busyness of life with little ones. I labored to keep the future in my vision — but often I was just trying to make it till nap time.

Now my youngest is 18.  Yes, 18! Her six older siblings range from 22 to 34 and I’m Granma to eleven of the.most.adorable kids you’ve ever seen. For years I have sought to devote myself to embracing the biblical mandate to “teach younger women” (Titus 2:3). Once I crossed my 50th birthday I acknowledged that I’m officially one of the “older women” of whom Paul spoke. Blogging is one of the ways I can do that from my home and it’s been wonderful hear from some of you along the way.

Some of my teaching is in the form of sharing what not to do and who not to be. Whenever I write or speak, I’m amused that my most memorable comments are the illustrations about things my kids or I did that were wrong or sinful. My now 29-year-old’s toddler temper tantrums; the pity party I had with myself when I wanted to throw in the homeschooling towel; the afternoon I got so mad at my husband that I slammed a door on him and drove off to a friend’s house; the young adult seasons when I was afraid for the spiritual condition of a child. These are the real life things I’ve gone through that seem to bring hope to young mothers.

Why? Because God has been faithful to bring me through. Nothing through which I have walked has been without His help, grace, presence and care. Even the things that happened that I would never want to experience again have been used by Him for amazing good.

Starting on Monday my posts will be heart to heart musings for young mothers. My life is full of hardworking and devoted young women. At times I want to take them all away to the beach, get out chairs and umbrellas and spend hour after hour thanking them for every sacrifice they are making to lay down their lives for their families. I want to cook for them; make them laugh; pray for them; and say things like:

  • You are making an eternal difference with your life. Your sacrifices are not in vain.
  • Your children will not always throw fits and throw up on you and run the other way when you call them.
  • You will miss this season. (I promise!)
  • You won’t sleep again.  I wish I could lie to you, but I can’t. Just when they start sleeping through the night and stop falling out of bed they’ll be teens who will only talk to you after 10 PM…and then you’ll be pre-menapausal.  Sorry!
  • The effort you’re investing into training and disciplining your children will be fruitful. God promises.
  • It’s not all on your shoulders. What you do matters but only God can mold and change your children’s hearts.
  • God will use even your mistakes for good in your children’s lives. No mom has gotten it all right and you you won’t either. That’s why your kids need a perfect, sinless Savior.
  • You will persevere — and they will thank you someday. Maybe not till they have their own kids but that first real “thanks, Mom” will be worth it all.

If you aren’t married or don’t have children, I hope you will still join me for this short series. And even if you’re a guy I think you’ll find help. You don’t have to be in a particular season of life to benefit from the hard fought struggles and lessons of another — and gain perspective and caring insight for the young moms in your life.

Pull up a beach chair and let’s chat.  See you Monday!

Wanna Attend a Conference This Weekend…In Your Living Room?

This weekend some of the ladies from our Redeemer Church are attending the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference right here in Orlando.  I have been eagerly anticipating this conference for the fellowship and teaching. Look who will be here:

John Piper. Tim Keller. Don Carson. Elyse Fitzpatrick. Susan Hunt. Mary Kassian. Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

If you aren’t coming to Orlando for the conference you can still attend!  That’s right, you can view the live stream at the GC website:


Once you click on this link you will see the stream connection.  It’s easy.  How gracious of them to provide this! The pre-conference begins at noon today and continues until noon on Sunday. You can view the full schedule at their website.

Have a wonderful weekend!


My Legacy Curriculum

Yesterday would have been Mom’s 86th birthday. Since her death in July 2000, I have missed her greatly. But for some reason, this year it hit harder than in recent years.

One of my favorite pics of her…so typical.

Missing her has been tempered by a deep-rooted joy in knowing she is in heaven. Mom had a genuine, tested-by-fire and saving faith in Jesus Christ. I was there when she met her Savior as children and grandchildren worshiped around her hospital bed. And her final words have helped me through some weighty trials over the past 13 years: “God is in control and everything He does is good.”

Over the past week my thoughts of Mom have produced musings about the legacy I want to leave for My People. I want my life to count for those I will never meet in this life. Mom died before any of my eleven and counting grandchildren were born. But her life has influenced theirs through my children and me. How? Here are just a couple of the ways…

We love to laugh. Especially at each other.

Mom (far right) with Aunt Ocie and Aunt Vergie on Jaime’s 13th birthday.

Hardly a day passed without Mom calling one of her sisters to tell them some hilarious (to her, at least) story about one of her grandchildren. Sometimes I used to stand at the door of the little apartment we added onto our home just to hear her “die laughing” with one of the Aunts about some antic or silly saying by one of the kids. Her ability to find and enjoy humor in everyday life situations taught me to do the same…and one of our favorite things to do as a fam is tell exaggerated stories about one another. We love to laugh because of her.

One of the many showers she helped me with!

Food isn’t just to keep us alive.

Being raised during the depression affected Mom in several ways, and one of them was the cherished place food had in being a family. Everything was homemade with very few written recipes. Except for the Stove Top dressing. Mom had me in the kitchen at a young age making fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, pies, mac and cheese, pineapple upside cakes and chicken n dumplings. And cooking was a fun event, not a duty.Because of her, our holidays, birthdays and just-hang-out-for-no-reason times always involve lots of food and lingering around the table laughing and talking.

We cherish family…a lot.

Mom grew up with 7 siblings who she loved and stayed connected to throughout her life. Her sibs were her closest friends. They turned to each other for help, comfort and laughs. After Daddy’s death from a heart attack when she was just 49, Mom’s relationships with other couples waned and my aunts and uncles took even more of a front seat in her life. They argued, disagreed, fussed, gossiped and got angry…but the phone call was eventually made to be reconciled. She was the one who first told my little Joshua and Jaime, “You need to be nice to each other because your friends will come and go but you will have each other for the rest of your lives.”

How many grandmothers do “dress alike” with their 3-year-old grandson? (May 1981, Josh age 3)

A few nights ago when Josh texted Jake at 10 PM wondering why in the world he hadn’t come over the watch a game with him, I smiled.  I reminded him that this is what happens when you grow up in a litter. The puppies love being together. We have Mom to thank for that.

We want to trust God and persevere through trials.

Mom lived a life of suffering and sacrifice. She dropped out of school at age 12 to clean homes to help support the family; raised her youngest brother as her own when she and Dad were just starting their own family; lost several children to miscarriage; worked nights as a waitress to bring in extra money; watched one brother die in a house fire and another to brain cancer; cared for my older brother after he was left paralyzed at age 21 in a swimming accident; lived with chronic pain for most of her life before and after 7 back and neck surgeries; and lost my dad just 8 months after my brother died at age 27.

Yet her smile and veracious commitment to serving others remained through it all. In her early 70’s she accepted a job to be the companion of “an old lady” (of 80) — and

Vacationing in Cape Cod with us in 1996.

came home with funny stories (like the time this dear woman was confused about the Grand Canyon being in New York City). Through pain and declining health she babysat grandchildren, made biscuits and fried apples for whoever was craving them, taught me how to start Thanksgiving prep days in advance, reached out to neighbors with food or help with their own aging parents…without a complaint.

It’s an amazing thing to watch my children mirror the persevering love for God we observed in Mom. As they’ve gotten older, I have brought them in on her story more

Her favorite times were when all her kids and grandkids were together (1988 at Fairfax Covenant Church, Fairfax, VA)

and more. To them, she was Nannie: vibrant, fun, loving, involved, and cheering them on at basketball games (even when Janelle was running down the court about to score for the other team). Because of her faith and joyful trust in God, they knew nothing of her life of suffering. But they did know that she and her sisters climbed up onto the roof of their little house and threw the cat off repeatedly to find it if it would indeed have nine lives.

I have my legacy curriculum. God, by Your grace and power help me to pass on to my people what she passed on to me.

It’s True…I’m Officially Old

All this talk on homemaking has me doing quite a bit of thinking. I’ve been looking through old notes (some of teachings I’ve done over the years…smile) and have enjoyed re-learning some precious principles from God’s word. According to t Titus 2:-3-5, as an officially older woman I have the mandate to teach younger women to love their homes (among other things). I’ve heard it said, “More is caught than taught.” I want to be the kind of woman whose passion for my home is “caught” by the younger women in my life.

Up until this point, my blog has been more conversational than instructional. It will stay that way. But I wanted to share some “teaching” I’ve shared in years past in case these timeless truths from scripture will encourage your heart as they have mine. I’m hope this isn’t too long and boring for you.  🙂

My review of this important passage is reminding me of 5 things:

1.  Homemaking is a Divine Assignment

  • This assignment carries with it all the blessings of obedience and the consequences of neglect.
  • This is not an option to consider but a God-given mandate to intentionally and actively pursue.  (Paul didn’t say, “Find out who in the church would like to be a homemaker and then provide some help for them to do this.”)
  • Our created design as women is to be a “home maker” in every season of life.
  • This passage isn’t written exclusively to married women:  being a keeper at home is the responsibility of women in every season of life and we do well as mothers to help our daughters to embrace their unique contribution to helping keep our homes.
2.  Homemaking must be taught.
  • Though some are more naturally gifted in domesticity (cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating a home) this passage is saying all must be taught.
  • This “teaching” should begin with the heart not the practical process.
  • A God-centered homemaker must be taught to place biblical value on what you are doing; to esteem working busily at home; and to grow in your affection for this divine assignment.
3.  Women learn about homemaking from other women.
  • In our media-saturated culture the temptation is to “learn” from books, magazines and television.
  • These are not always bad – but if our steady diet of “teaching” about homemaking comes from Martha Stewart or Good Housekeeping or even blogs we are opening ourselves up to greed, comparisons with others, discontent, and an impress-others approach to our homes. Nothing can replace the face-t0-face fellowship of women helping women.
  • Notice:  Paul puts the responsibility of teaching onto the older women in the church but he does not give them the sole responsibility of initiative.  Younger woman are responsible to seek out counsel, mentoring and teaching about being a homemaker.  Don’t passively wait for a church “program” or for an older woman to come to you.
4.  The home is the place of feminine management.
  • Keeping a home requires skill.
  • The wise woman who desires to glorify God by actively embracing her role as a homemaker will not settle for “getting by” but will seek to grow.
  • No wonder skillful homemaking and management must be taught by experienced and wise women.
5.  Ineffective homemaking has potentially serious consequences.
  • The most important consequence: God’s word is reviled (maligned) when we do not embrace the mandate for biblical womanhood found in Titus 2. We “render ineffective” the very word of God by our disobedience, giving the world around us cause to resist the gospel due to our poor example.
  • A secondary consequence:  Robbing the next generation of the legacy of biblical womanhood. If each generation even subtly resists a joyful, skillful approach to homemaking the next generation is affected.
  • The potential for godly influence is great!  We have the privilege of imparting to our daughters, sisters, neighbors and friends a biblical vision for womanhood and homemaking.  Your influence could be THE difference in whether or not your daughters and granddaughters actually love and care for their homes. And the potential for influencing saved and unsaved relatives and friends is significant!
  • The world is watching!
Remember, we can only fulfill our responsibility to be skilled homemakers with God’s help. No requirements of scripture can be achieved in our own strength! What wonderful news it is to know that those of us who are believers have been graced and empowered by Him to do all He has called us to.
Is there an older woman in your life to whom you can turn for prayer and help with homemaking? I have an older friend I am going to email right now to see when we can talk. Even at my age, I know how important it is to have older, godly women in my  life whose wisdom and example inspires me.


My Home: My Ministry

Yesterday I introduced you to Barbara.  She taught us the importance of having a biblically informed vision for our homemaking before we rush into all the practical ways to take care of our homes.

The home is the perfect place for planned times of fellowship and ministry.

Something the Lord has been reminding me of lately is that my home is a place of ministry. It’s not just where my family sleeps, eats and showers. The Christian home is the context where the love and presence of God can be experienced on a regular basis.  A place where the gospel is lived out in tangible and life changing ways.

So many women see ministry as that which happens outside of the home. I am tempted to do that, too! When our church’s small group meeting ends and sweet fellowship transpired, I feel blessed to have witnessed such personal and Spirit-led ministry. During worship on Sunday morning when people are cared and prayed for, I am filled with joy at the ministry that took place.

My son-in-law honoring my daughter on Mother’s Day. Such a sweet time of ministry.

I’m re-learning that some of the most effective ministry that happens in my world is in my day-in-day-out life as a homemaker.

Ministry is what happens with God visits His children with His empowering, comforting, hopeful, convicting, instructing presence. What more regular place can this happen than in the warmth of our own homes?

Being a homemaker is the call to make a home where Jesus Christ is welcomed, honored and given free reign to pour out His love and presence! Whether the home we are making is a college dorm room or a large five bedroom house, we have the awesome opportunity to create a pleasing and pleasant environment where the Spirit of God is free to move; friends and family are served; forgiveness, patience and hope is experienced; and the distractions of unnecessary clutter or the embarrassment of disorder don’t prevent us from opening our homes to whoever the Lord brings. Beginning with our own family.

Celebrating milestones = wonderful ministry opportunities!

This is the kind of vision that has recaptivated my heart.

Having a ministry minded vision for homemaking didn’t come easily for me. During the early years of marriage I saw homemaking as a list of chores to get done so I wouldn’t be ashamed if someone showed up at our house unexpectedly. I enjoyed an orderly environment, but as a pastor’s wife I valued ministry outside the home as the “really important” stuff that happened in our lives.

Over time and with the help and example of godly women in my life, I began to see that the primary goal of effective home management was not to get more done, but to get the right things done. I learned that having a ministry mindset to my homemaking duties gave me inward motivation to create a culture of love and service to my family and friends. I learned that busyness doesn’t equal ministry. I can be busy all day doing things that don’t contribute to the culture I longed to create.

Hospitality are special times of ministry.

And I learned that while my vision for homemaking needs to remain constant, my season of life requires flexibility. During various seasons of my life (pregnancy, up night after night nursing a newborn, caring for sick children or relatives, special projects that required an unusual amount of time or energy, difficulty sleeping, etc) I simply couldn’t/can’t keep up…and I’ve needed to be ok with that!

But when my vision is in tact, I am able to bounce back from these “off” seasons to a renewed commitment to embrace the joy and privilege of being a woman called to make a home for my family and friends..saved and unsaved.

Unplanned moments can happen when ministry is the focus of our efforts.

Being a godly homemaker requires a lifetime of sacrifice. We cannot do this on our own. Yet the One who laid down His life for the sake of others can give us the strength to do the same. Living a life laid down is no easy thing. But as Christians, we have access to a throne of grace where we can run to find mercy and help in our time of need (see Hebrews 4:16 ).

I have been running to that throne quite a bit recently. And I’m getting lots of help.  I love it.

Meet Barbara

When I started my little blog, I had no idea who would visit here. Over the months, I’ve been blessed to hear from a wide variety of readers: grandmothers, singles, moms with kids of varying ages, and even some guys (married and single). I especially appreciate the humble men who visit here! I pray that God will use what you read here to increase your appetite for godly womanhood in your wife or future wife. The lady in your life (or who will be in your life) is blessed to have you!

Godly womanhood is the noble pursuit of all, even guys who want to encourage biblical values in your daughter, wife, girlfriend, sister, or the gals in your church or small group.  And it’s not something that just happens! Ladies can be raised in the home of a godly and devoted wife, mom and homemaker and still not have the training and skills to manage a home.

copyright: Perfect Plan Resources

Like my friend, Barbara (not her real name). She grew up in a home where her stay-at-home mom and hard working dad sought to raise their children to love the Lord. They were actively involved in their local church and regularly had people in their home. Barbara learned at an early age to help out with dishes and other household chores, and was happy to help entertain her younger siblings. While she was eager to attend college with hopes of becoming a physical therapist, her greatest desire was to be a wife and mother.

During her teen years, though, Barbara’s life became busy with school, youth group, babysitting, hanging out with friends, and sports. Family meal times often happened without her and household responsibilities increasingly fell to Mom and the younger siblings. When asked to help out with cleaning or helping with her siblings, Barbara apologized for not letting her parents know about the test she was studying for, the birthday party she was attending or the extra practice the coach scheduled.

Then came Jason. Her parents were happy to see their relationship blossom and saw him as a good choice for their daughter. In time, they were married and Mom was excited about watching her daughter become a wife and homemaker. The early months were fun and exciting. Even though she was working full time, Barbara used wedding gift cards to decorate their small apartment and enjoyed cooking several nights a week.

Before long, though, the apartment was regularly messy and meals consisted of drive-thru take out or microwaved frozen dinners. Jason wasn’t complaining, so Barbara figured he either didn’t really care or understood that she was busier than either of them had anticipated prior to the wedding. Plus, they had agreed that he would help out so he didn’t mind ironing his shirts or pitching in with cleaning.

Barbara’s busyness was not the issue: it was what she was busy doing. During a book study with some ladies in her church, Barbara was encouraged to start keeping track of how she was using her time. She didn’t realize the number of hours every week she was spending on her computer, watching television, and splitting errands up throughout the week that could have been combined into one outing. When she evaluated their food budget, she was surprised at the number of nights per month they weren’t eating at home and realized that even home cooked meals were thrown together without much thought.

In talking with her mom about what the Lord was doing in her heart, it hit them both that Barbara just didn’t have the practice or skills to manage a home. Barbara asked her mom to help her learn how to plan meals, stop overspending on their food budget and devise a cleaning schedule. She was excited about how these new initiatives would help her become a more organized and devoted homemaker!

Yet months later she was discouraged. The plans they made together just weren’t working. Being more organized was much harder than she anticipated.

Barbara’s understandable discouragement came because she started at the wrong place. Her desire to respond to the inward stirrings to be a more responsible homemaker were an evidence of her humility. And her urge to do something in response was the correct one.

But the changes needed to begin not with meal planning or a cleaning schedule but deep in her heart. With the help of others, Barbara started asking herself questions like:

  • Why does the Bible elevate homemaking as the worthy pursuit of the godly woman?
  • Why is it important enough to be listed as one of the main things younger women need to learn from older women? Hmmm…isn’t it just supposed to come naturally?
  • How does responsible, skillful homemaking glorify God? Is it really that big of a deal as long as things look nice when people come over?
  • Does diligent homemaking have to look the same in every family? Why or why not?
  • What did the use of her time say about what she valued and prized as important?
  • If he knew she wouldn’t react defensively, what would Jason say are the things he would like to see changed in how she cared for their home?
With the Holy Spirit’s help and after careful study of the scriptures, Barbara caught a vision for homemaking for the first time. She repented of some sinful attitudes and patterns of laziness (as defined by “doing what I want instead of what I ought” according to a pastor friend of ours) and began to find hope in God’s power to change her heart. Consequentlyher former temptation to give up when she lacked motivation was replaced by hopeful trust that God was doing a work that He (not she!) would complete.
Like Barbara, perhaps you have struggled with putting the cart of new ideas and “I’ll try this” attempts to be an effective homemaker before the horse of having a grace-informed vision for seeing your home as a place for ministry that glorifies God.
Proverbs 29:18 warns that “without a vision the people wander aimlessly.” While homemaking certainly isn’t the context for this warning, the principle is helpful: without understanding the value and purpose of being hard working “keepers” of our homes, we will wander from one idea to the next — and likely give up when sin patterns, lack of training or discouragement set in.

Deprived of Saturday Morning Cartoons

Mom liked having one day per week when the house was tidy all at the same time. So while my friends were enjoying Saturday morning cartoons, my siblings and I were cleaning. I remember telling myself that my children would spend Saturday mornings leisurely sleeping in and then watching cartoons like the rest of the kid world.

They didn’t. “Saturday morning chores” are still pretty typical, even though only two of them are left at home. While things sometimes happen that prevent us from working together in the house on Saturday mornings, I love hearing the sound of the yard being mowed while the smells of pine sol and furniture polish fill the house on Saturdays.

It’s Mom’s fault.

One of the concerns I have for young women today is the number of distractions available to them that take them “away” from home. As a young mom, our only car went with Benny to his office each day and I didn’t have the internet (including email, facebook, pinterest, blogs, online shopping, etc) to pull me away from working in my home. I’m not suggesting that these things are wrong at all.  I enjoy all these things myself and am tempted to spend too much time on my own computer. If I had these options as a young mother I would certainly have been tempted to “leave” home through my computer, too!

At least my messy kitchen is brightened by homemade Mother’s Day flowers from my little people. 🙂

You don’t have to set aside Saturday mornings for chores to be a hard working homemaker. Perhaps your routine involves splitting up chores throughout the week or you have the financial ability to hire someone to help keep your home in order. The question is more related to the heart:

Do we believe Martin Luther when he says that what we do in our homes is of eternal value? Or are our responsibilities at home the things we “have” to do so we can get to the things we “love” to do?

I don’t love cleaning toilets and dusting ceiling fans and removing science experiments from the frig. I have friends who actually love these kinds of chores. Not me. I would much rather read blogs, meet a friend for lunch, cook, or take pictures of my grandkids. I’m just as tempted as the next person to put off the laundry or wait till next week to scrub down the shower.

The question isn’t how clean our homes are, but how devoted we are to the scriptural mandate to be hard working homemakers. Whether you are single or married, work outside and in the home or are a stay-at-home mom, live alone or have a large family, we ladies all have something in common: we have been called and graced by God to manage our home for His glory. As a college student your “home” may be a dorm room or your bedroom at home. You may have a small apartment or a large multi-bedroom house. And being a godly homemaker involves much more than cleaning and organizing, but includes creating a warm and inviting place where love is on display to all who enter your dwelling. But making a home does mean we have to work to keep it presentable, welcoming, peaceful and orderly.

Those of you who have been frequenting my blog know the Lord has been exposing some areas of drift in my life. If you regularly visit my home you know that it is typically tidy. After all, four pretty-much-adults are all that live here now. So the drift isn’t that I’ve been neglecting my home or haven’t cleaned my kitchen floor in months. The drift has been in my heart. Slowly and subtly, caring for my home became too much of a “chore” and less of a joy. In recent weeks I’m finding a fresh breeze of grace blowing through my heart, reminding me that the faithful stewardship of my home is first and foremost a response to the commands of scripture and then a way to imitate the One who came to serve rather than be served.

This quote from Charles Spurgeon speaking of the Titus 2 passage for older women to teach younger women is stirring my heart:

“There were some women [in Crete] who supposed that, the moment they became Christians, they were to run about everywhere. “No,” says the apostle, “let them keep at home.” There is no gain to the Christian Church when the love, and the industry, and the zeal, which ought to make a happy home, are squandered upon something else.”

I’m grateful for the relationships and opportunities that enrich my life — and they often require me to leave my home to make them happen. Yet there is a growing return to the joy of homemaking due to the work the Holy Spirit is doing in my life. His work is requiring that I say no to some things I really want to do so I can invest the “love, and the industry, and the zeal” that being a diligent and joyful homemaker requires.

Off to start the laundry and get a bedroom ready for overnight guests.  Yay!