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.

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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!

Sheree

You’re Gonna Miss This

I was sitting at the kitchen table of a older friend pouring out my heart about how tired I was. Having five children in less than eight years had taken a toll on me. With tears brimming, I asked her to tell me everything would be okay and I wouldn’t die from sheer exhaustion.

“Honey, you’re gonna miss this,” she replied.

Miss this? Never going to the bathroom alone? Remembering at 2 PM that I haven’t eaten all day and having to settle for a half eaten hotdog lying on a now-hard roll on the kitchen counter? Waking up numerous times a night to nurse a baby or comfort a nightmarish toddler? Leaving malls or grocery stores with nothing I intended to purchase because someone decided to throw a temper tantrum for all to see? Falling into bed exhausted but not being able to fall quickly to sleep because I’m already dreading the undone tasks I’m now mentally adding to tomorrow’s already-full day? Reminding and disciplining kids who then keep interrupting, bickering and whining as if they’ve never been taught otherwise?

“You’re gonna miss this” wasn’t what I wanted to hear that day. I wanted to hear that a magic day was coming (soon!) when tantrums and whining and messes and undone task lists would end! I wanted to hear that now that my youngest was three I could at least start sleeping….

A few weeks later I found out number six was coming.http://www.bebeonline.com

Now I’m that older woman — and let’s pretend you’re sitting at my kitchen table. I know you’re tired. I remember how hard it was to train and discipline and teach kids who seemed to have either hearing deficits or serious memory issues. When I see the newly pregnant look on a mom’s face I can actually feel the nausea churning in my stomach. As Granma to eleven, I’m back to bathroom breaks being interrupted with “I’m thirsty!” or “Why is the door locked? Can I come in?” And I know how long those nights are when your newborn decides it’s finally time to be awake….and your love of sleep is temporarily suspended because you’re captivated by staring into little eyes that seem to be saying, “Wow, my Mommy is really pretty.”

You are gonna miss it. All of it. Even the hard times and the days when all you can think about is bedtime and the weeks when the laundry pile never shrinks.

Why? Because you’re Mom. You live for them. Hurt with them. And, yes, sometimes yell at them. You planned them…or learned to except God’s plan when they weren’t on your radar screen. You couldn’t wait for them to say your name — and even though you now sometimes wish you didn’t hear “MOM!” so often during the day, they will someday leave and you’ll eagerly anticipate hearing “Hey, Mom!” on the other end of the phone or when the door opens and they’re back home. You fight through your fatigue and anger and selfishness because being Mom means more to you than not having little people in your life that demand more of you than you have the strength to give.

The reason you will miss this is because your life is making more of a difference than you ever thought possible.  In spite of the fatigue and bouts with anger you are being used by God in more ways than you know. Who would have thought you would be shaping the lives of such adorable little sinners and have the breathtaking joy of pointing them to their need for a Savior? Do you see how often you are showing them Mommy also needs her Savior to give her strength and to forgive her when she sins…against them? How is it possible that you have been entrusted the amazing privilege of molding, shaping, teaching, and nurturing future adults who will take what they’re learning from you and pass all those things along to one generation after another as your legacy of godliness makes it’s way to those you will never know?

You are doing what God has called you to do. He is using you — a flawed, weak, sinful, tired vessel — to pour out to them what has been poured into you by the One who says, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

You won’t start sleeping again soon. It may be a long time before you see real fruit from your training and discipline. Tired days will continue because whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or are juggling work and motherhood, being Mom is the hardest thing a woman can do with her life. And even when they get older they will yell “MOM!” when they can’t find their homework or basketball shorts or the car keys they know they left hanging on the peg by the door.

But one day you’ll be sitting alone in your quiet house. No toys strewn about. No fingerprints on the sliding door. No school books sprawled on the kitchen counter. No lost keys or clothes. For awhile the quiet will be sweet and comforting. You’ll be able to have leisurely times with God and actually have time to think about what needs to be done today — and get most of it done! You’ll get through the grocery store in less than 30 minutes because you’re alone and you don’t need to buy as much stuff anymore. But then you decide to walk down the cookie and candy aisle because your son is coming home this weekend from college or you want to stock up on goodies in case the new little people in your life come by this week.

You’re happy to put gummy bears and goldfish crackers and Fruit Loops on the conveyer belt…oh, and Windex!…because soon there will be finger prints on the sliding doors again.  And you’ll look forward to Friday night when a grandson will be spending the night and maybe, just maybe, he’ll have a nightmare so Granma can hold and comfort him or he’ll get a boo boo that needs kissing.

You’re gonna miss this, young mom. That doesn’t mean today won’t still be hard. But try to remember to think about the older lady who gave you some advice that perhaps you don’t wanna hear…but that you’ll be sharing with your daughter or other young mom someday because you found it was true.

P.S. This post is dedicated to Jaime, Rachel, Rebekah, Lauren and Canada. Thanks for the fingerprints on my doors.

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!

The Friend I Almost Lost

For the third time in 3 years the pregnancy test was positive. But it was 1986 and they were known to be inaccurate sometimes so Benny and I decided to test again.

Yep, for the third time in less than three years we were expecting a baby.

Josh (almost 8) and Jaime (6 1/2) were thrilled.  We were relieved because two little brothers had rushed into their lives in the past 2 1/2 years. And one of them was a tantrum-thrower!

About six weeks into the pregnancy I was put on bed rest in an attempt to keep baby number five alive, but Dr. Crowe told me to prepare myself to miscarry. During the weeks that followed Josh and Jaime potty trained 2 1/2 year old Jesse, played with 14-month old Joey, made lunches, did household chores and took good care of Mommy until Daddy got home each day. We all prayed daily that God would protect their baby brother or sister.

Janelle Marie was born on September 4th to the delight of a family who had prayed for her birthday. As I held my baby girl in my arms tears streamed down my face. God had spared my daughter’s life. She was an adorable, smiley baby who captured the hearts of all who came in contact with her.

Memories of “Missy” (a name her brothers still call her) are flooding my mind today. I’m smiling about the time she excused her disobedient choice to cross the street in front of our house alone with, “Mommy, I couldn’t help it. My feet just starting walking into the street!” I can’t remember the number of pages (no cell phones back then!) we received from babysitters asking us to call home because she was throwing tantrums and refusing to go to bed. After searching Northern Virginia for Dalmatian panties to complete a themed 6th birthday party, she opened them and rolled her eyes: “Underwear. Dalmatian underwear.”  There were annual vacations to Nags Head, North Carolina, including Dowdy’s for rides and cotton candy — where in 1997 God spared her life a second time when her courageous daddy was willing to sacrifice his own to save hers.  How many hours did we all spend watching BRYC basketball games with Jaime and Mel as her coaches? Oh…and who would have thought the13-year-old who passed out when a doctor started drawing her blood would someday become a nurse! My favorite memories with her include twelve years of homeschooling at kitchen tables on Rockwell Road and Rosalie Way.

All teens have some rough times — Janelle’s were uniquely hard. Some painful family challenges were followed by moving from her beloved childhood home the week before her 13th birthday…just days before a mono diagnosis required several months of quiet recovery. Another move less than a year later to Orlando resulted in a lengthy season of few friends while she battled grief following the death of the best grandmother ever. Missy responded to the loneliness and boredom by reaching for doctrinal books on her dad’s bookshelves. Those years forged a depth of relationship with God and love for truth that helped her develop convictions, cultivate spiritual gifts and experience the hard fought treasures of providential loneliness.

Her later teen years also brought challenges in our relationship. Mothers and daughters often misstep during these awkward years when one is trying to provide needed motherly guidance (and sinning along the way!) and the other is trying at times to push the envelope of young adulthood prematurely. I remember one especially hard day when our mutual accusations and hurtful words sent us both to our rooms in frustrated tears. Janelle’s affection for the rightful claims of scripture resulted in her reaching out to a wise older woman in our church to help her through bitterness toward me, and I likewise solicited counsel for ways I was tempting and exasperating her. I cherish the day when we were able to ask one another’s forgiveness.  Her humility opened the door for the warm and delightful friendship we share today.

18 months ago we waved goodbye as she drove away from her wedding reception with the godly man for whom she had waited and prayed. One of the convictions her lonely teen years produced was a robust commitment to trust God to bring her a husband in His time rather than  search for one through causal dating. Eric captured her heart two years before she captured his, yet her dad and I watched her trust God’s will to unfold without manipulating to get her way. When Eric approached Benny to discuss his desire to pursue a deeper friendship with Janelle to investigate whether marriage might be in their future, Benny told him some news. As a young teenager Janelle insisted that any young man who wanted to consider her as a wife would have to gain not just his permission — but that of her four brothers.

This brave young man met with Josh, Jesse, Joey and Jake to talk about his intentions, and 6 months later all the Phillips men agreed to a proposal. He also invited the family to hide in the bushes at a nearby park the evening he put an engagement ring on her finger.

Missy, today I’m thinking about the day the doctor handed me a precious baby girl. It was truly one of the happiest days of my life.  I’m grateful that I’ve had a front row seat watching Him grow you through tough family times: losing Nannie; realizing at times that your only friends were siblings; having to accept help from a younger brother with Geometry and Logic; maintaining your convictions to wait for a godly man; and embracing Dad’s legacy of deep affection and sacrifice for the church.

You’re a big girl now. You have a husband and a home. Lord willing, you’ll get to Mommy your own children soon — after years of practice on a baby sister and a crew of adoring nieces and nephews. Someday I pray God gives you a daughter who brings you the joy you have brought me. If so, if you have a hard time finding babysitters willing to endure her tantrums or go through tough times in her teen years, don’t worry. God will give you and her both the grace and humility to walk through it all.

And then she’ll be one of your best friends.

Happy Birthday, Missy.

6 + 5 = She Changed my Life

Who wouldn’t fall in love?

Granma doesn’t have many rules but there’s one really important one: my Little People aren’t allowed to get older than 6. I’m unapologetically unwilling to make even one exception.

So today my firstborn Little Person turns 6 + 5.

Little Fairy Princess

July 19, 2001 was a birth day for me, too. It’s the day the Granma in me was born. Before then I was Princess to my Daddy; Sheree (pronounced wrongly quite a bit) to most others; Honey to Benny; and Mom to my seven J’s. But a new “me” was born when Kayla Sheree rushed into my world.

Watching my girl have a baby girl was breathtaking. Kayla made her entrance in a room of family members eager to welcome the first in a new generation.  That day she didn’t have to steal my heart. I gladly handed it to her. This tiny little person immediately clutched my heart till I thought it would burst with love. I had wondered for months how it would feel. Would it feel similarly to the seven times eager arms had held my own newborns? Or would it take some time to fall in love with someone to whom I didn’t give birth? I had been a birth assistant numerous times and felt a sweet bond with the little ones I watched come into the world. Would the warmth in my heart feel like that…or different?

That sweet smile remains…almost all the time.

Even today she loves being “Sissy”

I don’t remember answering those questions. I didn’t have to. I realized I loved her that first night I learned from surprised parents that she was coming; loved her more when I saw her tiny body on the sonogram screen; loved her again for being used by God to remind my daughter of what she wanted to be more than anything; loved that my Jaime Sheree wanted to pass along my name to the next generation; loved her with intense anticipation as I coached Jaime through contractions and assured her she would be worth it all. And then loved her all the more when I held her in my arms that first time. Because of her I had a new name.

I chose Granma because I wanted a “real” Grandmother name that didn’t sound anything close to Nannie. You see, no one could ever replace her. When my kids saw my mother, there was a sparkle in their eyes I only saw then. Nannie was the object of special love from my seven J’s. So I would be Granma and no one could compare me to “the best grandmother EVER!”

There’s that smile!

Watching her grow up has been so much fun! One of the perks of being Granma is that I get to experience all the delicious joy with none of the weighty responsibilities! From birth Kayla has been smiley and pleasant. A “starter baby.” I warned Jaime not to expect future babies to be so easy. She later thanked me for the warning. Smile.

The best thing Kayla did for me is bring light into several years of darkness. The years preceding her birth were hard ones for our family, culminating in the sudden death of Mom and Nannie in July 2000. Her birth almost one year later to the day reminded me that joy really does come in the morning. After she was born there was something to look forward to each day. Even when I didn’t see her, I got to ask, talk,think and journal about her. Pray for and anticipate seeing her. Hold, rock and sing to her.

She made me smile and laugh and hope again.

I will never forget the day she ran to me for the first time.  It was the fall of 2002 and she was 16 months old. I was standing in our church lobby on a Sunday morning when I saw Jaime out of the corner of my eye. Momentarily, I heard that sweet little voice and looked down. From across the room I saw her trotting toward me with arms extended. And it was there! The sparkle! Could it be that she loved me like my children loved Nannie?

And so I loved her again.

Such a great big sister to Wyatt, Annie and “Nae Nae”

She keeps doing that to me. How can love keep growing like this? I love her for caring so deeply for others; working hard to help Mommy at home; spontaneously squeezing and kissing her little sister or calling Wyatt her “buddy”; getting excited about babysitting lots of nieces and nephews (and not just when Uncle Josh gives her money); thanking me over and over for “letting” her come over to help me clean; opening up to her mom about things she hasn’t yet realized most kids don’t talk to their parents about; kissing and hugging me at least 3 times before we leave; making me notes that tell me I’m the best Granma ever; standing next to me each Sunday morning so we can worship and hug; and exclaiming that she just had “the best day” of her life whenever we do anything special together.

She’s becoming a young lady way too quickly!

Does it sound like I’m pretty self-aware when it comes to her? LIke it’s all about what she does for me and how she has enriched my life and makes me feel special?

Her laugh still lights up my world.

Hmmmm. I think you might be onto something. One man said grandchildren are great because they are born with an understanding that their grandparents are far more wonderful and smart than their mom and dad ever realized. I’m sure part of why I adore Kayla is because she thinks I can do no wrong. (Like the day she asked why I had been crying and I told her it was because I had been asking the Lord to forgive me of some sin.  “Granma, you don’t sin!!!!” she confidently exclaimed.) Or maybe because she rescued me from a long season of heartache and sadness, so I’ve become overly focused on how my life has been enriched by her.

Becoming Granma ten more times to the Little People who have followed her so far has created explosion after explosion in my aging heart of fresh love for those with whom, by God’s saving grace, I will spent eternity. I regularly remind myself that they will become the grandparents of those I will not meet until That day.

No; being Granma isn’t about me but about spending myself to leave a legacy of godly womanhood for little girls to follow and little boys to look for when it’s time.

Recently she asked if I was planning to take her to Tea for her birthday this year. (Like her mother, I have to remember to think before I do anything with her because if she has fun it will likely have to become “a tradition.”) I asked how long she expected us to do this each year.

“Till I’m 6 + 100!” Looks like she and I will be having tea in heaven. What fun that will be!

But for now it’s time to get dressed for a birthday tea with 6 + 5.

My Computer Doesn’t Give Hugs

Yesterday I mentioned a helpful blog where my friend found some great homemaking tips. I enjoys blogs, and am obviously a blogger. Yet I have some musings about all this…

Technology has advanced more rapidly than I can keep up with — even though I work for my son who owns a technology company! The internet, skype, cell phones, facebook, twitter and email have made information and people accessible to everyone.  When google showed up on the scene it made instant information about any subject available 24/7. There, I can find an answer (not always a good one) to any question and find tips on any subject.

There are aspects of this I love!  Facebook allows me to connect with friends in meaningful ways and see and share family pictures; I can text family or friends with a quick question or “I’m praying for you”; and I can do a quick internet search to order flowers to send to a friend.

But relationships weren’t designed to be done by computer.

The interdependence by which God designed His people to live can certainly be supplemented by an encouraging email or thoughtful text. But when we spend more time in front of a computer or holding a cell phone than in face to face interaction with others something is amiss.

I’m glad my friend, Liz, found such good ideas on a homemaking blog. But believe me, she is the last person to depend on technology to connect with people. She would much rather chat over coffee than type on a keyboard.

I’m not anti-technology. I use my cell phone and iPad regularly  and often spend more time on my computer than is wise. There’s more safety, ease, quickness and self-protection in asking for prayer with a facebook status than stopping to call a friend. After all, she is probably too busy to answer my call anyway — and what if she asks the kinds of questions about why I need prayer that results in a lengthy, risky or humbling phone call? What if she picks up on the sinful attitudes I’m having? Or…hmmm…at times she can be a little quick to give (good!) advice rather than just patiently hearing me out and I just need someone to listen right now. Oh, and I really don’t have time to get into it all over the phone..and let’s see…it’ll be a week from tomorrow before we could meet for coffee.

Yep, I’ll just do the quick and safe facebook route…or should I send her an email?

So when it’s time for help or tips on homemaking, powering up the computer is a good option. But the impartation that happens when women sit face to face and share heart to heart is something a computer can’t provide.

A few days ago a first-time dad texted me with some breastfeeding questions for his exhausted wife concerning their just-born daughter. We had a phone chat and two days later the challenges continued. The baby was losing more than an average amount of weight and her new parents (and their pediatrician) were concerned. Technology had served its purpose but it was time for this new Mommy to get a hug and some help from a few experienced mothers.

I called one of my daughters-in-law who also had some very challenging issues with nursing her newborn just over a year ago, and she contacted a dear friend who is a lactation specialist. This compassionate friend had supported Lauren through weeks of painful breastfeeding, calling and stopping by regularly to offer practical advice and encouragement — resulting in Lauren having to wean her baby girl over a year later.

Within hours Jaime, Lauren, Heather and I visited this new mommy and her beautiful baby girl, armed with Heather’s “cadillac” breast pump, hugs, prayers and encouragement.  When she took her baby into the pediatrician just over a day later she had gained over one-half pound and was peeing and pooping constantly. Her exhuasted parents are nevertheless relieved and happy.

Cell phones coordinated all of this — but skin to skin, face to face contact is what made the difference.  Heather wasn’t content to talk to Stacey over the phone. She wanted to see what was happening; patiently coach her; and give eye to eye encouragement. It’s not about whether Stacey continues breastfeeding or decides to use formula to grow her daughter. It’s about women caring for other women one hug and word of encouragement at a time.

So let’s use technology for the blessing it can be. But let’s not substitute it for the kind of life-giving face to face ministry that humbly says, “I need help. Can we talk?”

I texted the new parents earlier to see how their night went. Hmm….I’m gonna call them and see when I can stop by.

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.

Heart Roaches…yuk!

Mom had a great sense of humor and she hated bugs. Especially cock roaches. She refused to admit God created them. Rather, she said, they “crawl right of of hell.”

I inherited her hatred of these nasty critters. In fact, when Benny mentioned our possible move to Orlando 13 years ago my first response was, “Hmmmm…only if you promise we’ll have a monthly bug killing service.”  I heard the roaches in Florida could carry off small children, and wanted nothing to do with them! (Interestingly enough, I saw far more roaches in Virginia than in Florida. Whew.)

So when I walked into the garage last Thursday to find one of these child-snatching beasts scurrying around, I screamed for Benny. Mom convinced we that if you could see one, “all his relatives were hiding behind the walls.” I was imagining an army of just-crawled-out-of-hell creatures infesting my home.

It’s kinda the same way with sin. What is obvious and visible can be just the tip of the iceberg. My recent angry outburst at my husband was fueled by a family of subtle and “hidden” sins of self-pity, discontentment and self-righteousness. Behind the “walls” of my heart were the relatives of the anger scurrying around our bedroom that night.

Indwelling sin is the enemy of our souls. As believers, we are forgiven of every past, present and future sin…thank God! We have been declared not guilty and will never have to pay for our sins. But as long as we live, sin will crouch at the door of our hearts. And the only way to get rid of it is to put it to death like Benny took care of that cockroach!

Our sin nature taints everything, even our commitment to provide a warm, hospitable home for our family and friends. Our homemaking responsibilities – including cooking, cleaning, organizing, beautifying and managing – are affected by our sins of selfishness, laziness, self-pity, procrastination, anger, greed or other hidden sins of the heart.

Take it from me: Sin doesn’t “go away” as we get older; rather, it grows and becomes more ingrained and insidious.  (Consider the mold in your shower; what would happen if you just hoped it would go away?) My battles with procrastination and selfishness have not disappeared, even though my family is smaller and I have more discretionary time on my hands!

Sure wish there was a SINcesticide to apply to my heart!

Our commitment must be to embrace God’s will no matter what the cost. And the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ includes humbly inviting Him to search our hearts for patterns that hinder us from making progress as faithful and diligent homemakers.

God’s will is the ultimate joy and fulfillment of our lives. There is peace in knowing “I am in the middle of God’s will! In the case of our roles in the home, the Bible is not unclear.  It is clearly His will for us to be homemakers. What security!

I’ve been reminding myself that any sacrifice to obey the clear commands of scripture will be met with grace. When my sin results in not being responsible in my home, God is eager to forgive and help me. Whether it’s been days or years of sinful attitudes or actions our part, God is ready to forgive and grant fresh vision for our homemaking role.

Is the Holy Spirit lovingly exposing any sinful hindrances in your heart to being an effective homemaker? Me, too! I am loving having a clean conscience, the wonderful fruit of confession and repentance.

Next week I will be chatting about some practical steps to change. On a foundation of knowing the love and acceptance of God — and that our identity is not in what we do but in who we are as His beloved children — we can start the fun process of investigating helpful ideas to growing as homemakers.

That is, after an update from my weekend. My youngest graduates high school tomorrow!

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.