Archive for Not So Common, Common Sense

Dear Moms, It’s okay to be unremarkable.


I’m so glad I didn’t have the internet when my kids were little. The internet has become a measuring stick for young moms that constantly tells them that they aren’t measuring up. It hammers away at your soul, a photo, a click, a comment at a time.

I know that if the internet was available to me back then, I would have felt crushed under its weight, because the photoshopped images are just too much perfection to try to replicate.

I have a message for young moms, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart: You will never thrive in life if you try to be remarkable in every area of life. You’ll sink, because it’s too much weight to carry.

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Don’t believe the lie of Pinterest– that every aspect of your life must be remarkable.

When I was a kid, the women around me were known for their “one really good thing.” It was like their little badge of honor, and we were all willing to ooh and ahh and revel in that one thing.

My great-grandmother was excellent at making Italian food. From the moment I stepped into her house, I was greeted with the smells of onions hanging overhead and garlic simmering in the pan.

My grandmother had a wonderful garden when we were young. We’d snap the beans off the poles and eat them. The smell of the grapes in her arbor transports me back to my childhood to this day. She was also known as our sleepover grandmother because we all begged to sleep there and play with her little puzzles, and drink hot cocoa and eat blueberry muffins.

That’s no longer the case in our digital age. We can’t just be really good at making fresh salsa or baking bread: we must grow our own organic food, have a house that is way out of our means and looks like it should be on the cover of a magazine, our teeth must be perfect, and clothes up to the minute. Our kids need to be ready for Yale at the age of seven and they must all be athletic, musical, and Mary Poppins-ish—practically perfect in every way.

It’s plastic, and fake, and crushing, to both the child and the mom.

I spoke with an iron-sharpening-iron friend this week about life. We spoke of heart ache and real life and the hurts that are inevitable in a very fallen world. We spoke of embracing obscurity in a world that promotes fame, and of doing the big things which turn out to be the little things after all. We spoke of pursuing faithfulness locally, especially when it’s unseen.

“The world tells us we need to be exceptional, when we really need to be faithful right where we are,” were her wise words.

Isn’t that what we all need to hear shouted from the rooftops?

Isn’t faithfulness in the little things, the local things, what really matters?

Where has God placed you? Look around you. Are you in a room full of little kids? Well, don’t despise this chance to be “missional” because this is where God has called you.

What does being missional in your home look like?

It looks like brushing and braiding your daughter’s hair and taking time to add the touches she wants.

It looks like being present right where you are, and making life “special” for those in your home, and not just for company.

And it looks a lot like faithfully tidying your home to make it pleasant for those who live under your roof, serving meals with loving touches to the people you love the most, and living a kind, quiet, peaceable life right where you are.

It means teaching those chubby cheeked kids about God.

It doesn’t matter what your facebook friends think about how great your vacation was or how nice your home is.

Our goal cannot be to impress others with our lives, but to imprint God’s ways of walking in love into our child’s heart.

I don’t know about you, but I want the people closest to me to love me, not because I can do anything for them, but because they’ve chosen to love me with all of my flaws and failings. And isn’t that what everyone wants in the end, to know that they are 100% loved by their people? The three tiered birthday cake does not necessarily speak love, even if all the other Pinterest moms are making it. Especially if you are irritated and frustrated trying to duplicate it. A simple chocolate sheet cake made with love and served with a smile will do the job better.

My youngest daughter is extremely perceptive. She has super thick hair like me and there have been many frustrating mornings where we try to get the snarls out of her hair. Many times there are tears because getting out the tangles hurts. It’s frustrating to both of us and it’s part of our morning routine that we both hate.  My little girl watches my facial responses as I pick up the brush to help her untangle. She watches to read me, to see if I think she’s a pain to need the help, or if I’m pleased to help her. I’ve made the conscious effort to smile and talk to her while we brush her hair because she’s at that awkward age where she’s trying to figure out how others perceive her, and if they like her. And If your own mother acts like you are a pain in the neck, what message does that imprint about their worth on their hearts?

Aren’t we all like little girls, trying to read our own worth in the faces of others? Isn’t this why we are so drawn in by this Pinterest stuff?

The truth is this: God loves you. He’s remarkable, so you don’t need to be. You’re already loved and accepted. You don’t need to seek for approval that you already have.

In a disconnected world, where people post to social media to impress people they barely know, and where we measure our motherhood and worth by glossy graphics and Pinterest collages, we’d all benefit by simply dwelling well within our own borders to thrive there.

If you are feeling a little unremarkable by the world’s standards this morning, that’s okay. We don’t need to be exceptional. We need to be faithful in our little tasks. God is God, and He put you where He wants you.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

 

The Wrong Discussion We’re Having about the Cat Call Video

I watched the now viral “cat call” video. If you’ve not heard of it by now, it’s of a woman walking silently through NY for ten hours with a hidden camera, to document how many men yelled to her, whistled, “complimented”–if you call “hey baby” a compliment. (Guys, it’s not. It’s creepy.)

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For those of you wondering, YES, she was dressed modestly. Mkay? Moving on.

People are discussing whether this is sexual harassment or not. The internet is debating whether this is normal, too much, or if women are just big whiners about this stuff.

What I dislike about this discussion is that it addresses the symptoms and not the root.

The cat calls are annoying, vulgar, harassing, and unwelcomed.

But the bigger, most obvious question is this:

When you steal something, when did it become normal to taunt the victim of theft? or

Since when was it okay to look at a woman to lust after her and to let her know you are doing it?

How morally adrift do you have to be to not only do something unacceptable, but then yell out and celebrate it to the victim.

What ever happened to propriety and decency and shame? How about knowing right from wrong?

Oh, I know. People will say I’m prudish and that boys will be boys.

But this isn’t the same thing. It’s boys being in your face with their moral failure at your expense.

I mean, I know that lusting after women is a struggle for men. I get that.  It use to be a silent struggle because it was socially unacceptable.

WHEN did society become so bold–so corrupt–so shameless—that a perpetrator now feels free to let you know that he has just accosted you with his eyes? To.Your.Face. What do we do with that?

It’s a new low.

It’s taking something that doesn’t belong to you and then telling the person you committed the crime.

For men who not might understand why this is so offensive, it’s like going into a bakery, running your finger through various frostings to test them out, then yelling compliments to the baker and walking away. Newsflash: The cakes weren’t yours to test, Buddy.

It’s not just wrong and ignorant and infuriating, but it’s flagrant disregard for anyone but yourself. It’s a result of the ME-centered world we live in, which says, “Hey, do what’s best for you!” and apparently, a new low, “And then let everyone else know you just disrespected them in the process.”

Badly done.

 

 

7 Tips For Dealing With Toxic People

Today I’m sharing some of the best advice I’ve been given for guarding my mind and heart when it comes to toxic people.  Nothing mind blowing, mind you, just plain common sense, because if we’re not careful, their craziness will affect us.

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I often get email from hurting women in need of advice about dealing with what I call a toxic person.  I posted some of this on FB after a woman shared some of her “crazy person” struggles with me, so some of this is not new.

When I say “toxic person,” I mean a person who is unhappy/hateful inside and chooses to attack you because of their own bitterness. Their modus operandi seems to be seek and destroy. They vacillate between two extremes: Flaming anger in the form of outburst, attacks, and slander, or the “You’re dead to me approach” which is a little more humorous.
In “You’re Dead to Me”, they’ll maybe they go out of their way to exclude you or ignore you (and then of course let you know that they did! lol)

Or maybe they pull out the old silent treatment, complete with stoney faced scowls and glaring eyes. Lucky you. 😉 Either way, it’s not actually true avoidance because they want you to know what they are doing. (I know. It’s exhausting just typing it.)  A better description would be the long distance, passive-aggressive attack.

Anyway, you get the picture. They look for a way to make you hurt. They attack anything associated with you: your reputation, a ministry, your kids, your marriage, your clothes, likes and dislikes, your personhood. * **

Sooo, say you’re dealing with a “prickly/toxic person.” I don’t know why they are prickly and neither do you. Maybe they’re insecure, or jealous, or just plain unhappy in life. Maybe they’ve been hurt themselves and have dealt with it in negative ways. How do you deal with them, while loving them, and not “owning” their junk?

7 Tips for Dealing With Toxic People

1. Remember this truth:Nothing other people do is because of you, it’s because of themselves.”

You aren’t responsible for someone else’s bad behavior or words, they are. Nasty words and actions are a reflection of their heart. Rude behavior is about them, not you.

We are all responsible for our own actions and words. You are responsible for you and I am responsible for me. And I can choose whether or not to let your words, actions or reactions affect me.

2. Don’t take it personally.

Very little about what others say or do is about you. It’s about them and their experiences, fears, insecurities, and their own inner workings. Sometimes people will attack with words, to your face or behind your back. Don’t take it personally. Don’t put any mental energy into it. “What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally.” Don’t take in their poison and internalize it! Call it what it is: Their poison.

3. Don’t assume anything.

When someone uses their words against you, don’t assume that it has anything to do with you. (See rule #1) They might be spewing venom at you or trying the slow-drip injection method of sending hate your way, but even with all that, don’t assume that their behavior toward you has anything to do with you. It’s about them.

It’s tempting to want to get into it with them. Don’t. Especially if this is their pattern. That’s exactly what they want. A feuding heart wants someone to feud with.

If you refuse to fight or ignore the behavior all together, they’ll look for someone else to attack. (Hopefully. Is it horrible to hope that!? lol Sorry, I hope it’s not you!)

If you choose to return “evil for evil” or “tit for tat” then YOUR actions and words are YOUR problem. Then, it would be about you.

4. Refuse to Be Like Them. 

“Watch and Pray, lest you fall into temptation.” I know that this is out of context, but the principle can be applied here.

People who hold grudges are on self-destroy mode and they don’t know it. Perhaps they’ve never been forgiven themselves, or have never learned to forgive others. The result is a heavy, guilty, unhappy conscience.

As Christian women, we don’t have options when it comes to forgiveness. The commands are clear: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” End of command. No caveats or exclusions.

When you remember how much you’ve been forgiven by God, you’ll be able to forgive others of their wrongdoing toward you.

We should never take it upon ourselves to dole out punishments for other people. That’s not our job. That’s God’s territory. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”

Our job is to have faith and trust Him to do what He says He will do. He’s not a liar. He’s powerful enough to take care of us and promises to do so. He will avenge wrongdoing. Maybe not on your timetable, but at exactly the right time.

5. Pray for them. 

We all need prayer and praying for someone who “persecutes you” or “despitefully uses you” is a command of God and one that we cannot omit. If you want to obey God, you’ll love your enemies and pray for them. You can’t hate someone you are sincerely praying for.

6. When appropriate, model normal, kind behavior.

First off, when is this not appropriate? When physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is present or probable. It’s not your job to deal with that person.

But barring extreme cases, kindness is always classy. Be kind. Be above reproach with your words. Let your actions reflect Christ.

7. Live your happy life, and smile. This, too, shall pass.

You are responsible to live your life and you only have one. Life wholly and fully.

These principles will actually stop you from choosing to internalize the actions of others, and from accepting the affects of their anger and bitterness into your life and mind.

It will allow you to see past their hurt and actually love them and perhaps minister to them. At the very least, you’ll not be giving them the same tit for tat treatment that the rest of the world gives them back. Maybe something about the love of God in you will make them want to know more about Him? Maybe kindness will break the bone? 😉 Prov. 25: 15

We’ve all dealt with this before in one way or another and I feel for all of you who are dealing with this right now! I know how hard it is to trust that God will bring about good through this situation!  I’m praying for you!

I know this list is not complete. What ways have you found to deal with toxic people in your life?

 

*The Bible calls this HATE and MURDER in the NT, and NO Christian should ever be acting in this way. It is a sin to hate even one person. It’s also a sin to not love someone as you should, according to 1 Cor. 11. Now, our love is rarely as “Christ loved” or as “fervent” as it should be, but to succumb to hate or to choose to withhold love from someone is just plain devilish.
**Sometimes in ministry we have to deal with/counsel toxic people. Know your limits. You can’t help them if you begin playing their games. Objectivity/wisdom is needed to see through their behavior. Sometimes you can become the target. If so, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to affect any change in them. Refer them to someone who can help them, or a licensed counselor.

Do Small Things

What would the world be like if we encouraged each other to do small things?

We’ve all heard “Do Great Things”….

But what if doing truly great things means doing exceptionally small things?

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In a Christian world that encourages the “radical,” I believe we’ve underestimated the “ordinary.” And in doing so, the ordinary has become the exception to the rule.

Moms everywhere,

{yes you, who just plopped down for a five minute break to catch your breath between diapers and dishes, whining and sippy cup searching}

what if you are the one truly changing the world?

Although you’ll never get a Grammy for singing the best lullaby,

Or have your name written up in Bon Appetit for your teddy bear pancakes,

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Or make the pages of National Geographic for your amazing discoveries,

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what if the daily “small” that you share with your loved ones is the most important of after all. 

If you’ve been on the receiving end of these small, tender mercies, you’ll know that these small things change us and form us into “civilized” and loving people. They teach us how to love. They communicate, “You belong and are worth the effort.”

These tiny acts, almost too small to mention, shape the person and

as that wholehearted person raises their wholehearted child,

generational influence begins.

Some examples of small kindnesses that I’ve received that are indelibly etched on my mind:

  • Entering my Noni’s Italian kitchen, greeted by the warm smells of garlic and chicken, and her rushing to offer me ginger ale and cookies or grapes.
  • My grandmother, taking me out for blueberry muffins and hot chocolate with whipped cream. Her cards, with her gorgeous handwriting sprawled on the front. Her little bowls of cookies and goldfish that she’d take down when we’d stop over.
  • As a child, my own mother’s influence was the greatest. She spent time with us. She lugged us all over creation, she entertained our friends and was a mother to anyone who entered our house. She was hospitable and then some. She served tea, she served meals. No one ever went hungry in our house. She made a difference to us kids and to all of our friends.
  • Peter’s mom always has time for people. Even when we were dating, she’d sit and talk. She’d offer tea and drinks. She made me feel included instead of “under inspection” as a daughter-in-law. She makes and serves Sunday dinner every week and has for as long as I’ve ever known her. To some this may sound like drudgery or menial work, but I can tell you as someone who has experienced her Italian cooking that it means the world and communicates love because she loves us and loves to cook for us.

So, when you feel like everything you do is small and unseen,

when you’re tempted to think,

it’s just a cup of tea,

it’s just clean sheets,

it’s just a friendly chat,

it’s just a meal, or clean laundry, or a little note, or teddy bear pancakes,

remember that your small deeds communicate. They shape another person. And especially in motherhood, we’re showing love to the littlest among us, the least of these. It’s teaching by example. It’s pouring your life into anyone God put into your path.

It’s like doing it for Him. And that totally matters.

Embrace the small things. In a world that is so fractured and independent and dysfunctional,  we could use more of the small and self-less and loving.

Hospitality 101 Series

My sweet friend Niki asked me to share some ideas for extending hospitality in the home, a topic that I am happy to cover because it is near and dear to my heart.

In the last few years, I’ve been asked to speak several times to women’s groups on using the home for hospitality, and it seems that God is moving women to open their eyes to all that we have at our disposal in our homes for the sake of the gospel. (Stuff we often take for granted or complain about!)

I believe hospitality is one the most underestimated, under-utilized ministries in the church today.

I believe our homes are the “hidden talent” (Matthew 25:14-30) of our modern day churches, because it is a resource that is rarely used. Women today value being out of the home doing “important things.” But God says that by being a good manager of your home, and by caring well for your family and others, and by extending our hands–and homes–to the needy via hospitality, the gospel will be well spoken of.

In the scope of all church history, American women have so much!  I wonder what God’s response will be when we are asked how we used our goods (homes, clothes, meals, technology, etc…) for His sake? Were we good stewards of His gifts? Or did we use them for our own pleasure and indulgence? Will it be “Well done, good and faithful servant.” or “You foolish servant!”?

I often imagine the gasping, wide-eyed, mouth-gaped-open look of amazement in the faces of the other saints in heaven, when they realize all that I had at my disposal as a middle-class American woman, part of the top 5% richest people in all the WORLD. I imagine their excitement, their leaning in a little closer to hear what I MUST have done for our Lord with all THAT at my disposal, expecting to hear great things! It haunts me, actually, that thought.  It prompts me to steward our home well.

I encourage women to reach out of their comfort zones and into the community for the sake of the gospel. I joke and call it “Espresso Evangelism.” –Invite a neighbor in for coffee or to just to encourage her. Read out, instead of getting stuck in the rut of only associating with the women of your church, like it’s some kind of country club.  Invite a mom from the community over to your home and befriend her. What are her needs? The gospel? Parenting help? A listening, supportive ear? Counseling? Material goods?

It starts by simply using what you have. Look around you. Of what has God made you a steward? A teapot? A tea cup? Share it for the sake of the gospel.

I love this quote:

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR LIVING ROOM AS A LAUNCHING PAD FOR NEW LIFE, HOPE, MINISTRY AND MISSION.

and this one:

The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God.

We are no longer strangers and sojourners. We have come home to God. Everybody who trusts in Jesus finds a home in God.”


I’ve told Niki that I feel kinda silly writing some of these ideas down, because so much of it seems like common sense. She told me that if you didn’t grow up in a home where hospitality was modeled, then it isn’t common sense. So, next week, it’s Hospitality week here on the blog, so gear up for some basic Hospitality 101 type posts.

But before we start, I want to point you to some older articles I’ve written on the subject, and also share some of my favorite articles around the web.

In the comments below, tell what you’d like to learn in this series or share your favorite hospitality tip, won’t you?

Is Your Church A Country Club?

 

I have been brainstorming ideas for an upcoming ladies event in New Hampshire where I was asked to speak.

A few weeks ago, I was discussing this with a friend, and asking her advice. I asked what she felt was the most pressing need for Conservative Christian women today.

Her answer: Reach out to the unsaved community.

She said that if she had to do it over again, she would have gone to library reading groups, MOPS groups and the playground strategically, instead of spending her days mainly with church women.

Turns out, this is exactly the topic that I was ASKED to speak on by the ladies ministry coordinator. Amazing how God works, huh? Seems like this is the topic  on everyones minds lately, because it’s come up a lot lately and I’ve been asked to cover the topic several times now.

Somehow, Conservative women are NOT known for their involvement in the community. How do we expect to be salt and light when we are hidden away in our own little worlds?

And as much as “church” is a great place to be, our friendships must reach past the church walls. This seems like a no-brainer, but somehow it is not.

Christians should never let the church become their Country Club. You know the mindset. The old WE don’t associate with THEM kind of exclusivity. We only associate with others who believe as we do…and for heaven’s sake, MY kids will certainly not be playing with YOUR kids if you disagree with ME. (pride, pride, pride.)

Churches should be a refueling center. Command central, if you will, where we hear the teaching of Christ, so that we can go out and do something with it. It should be the place where we worship, fellowship and reconnect with those who are in the same battle we are in.

AND THEN WE MUST GO OUT.

Here is where many of us fail. We adopt the “non-contamination” mindset which is anti-biblical. We are told to be in the world, but not of the world. And you cannot be involved if you don’t —–> go in. But, we don’t really want to deal with the messy lives of others, thank you very much.

When you realize what you have been saved FROM…

And that but for the grace of God, there I also go…

You quickly get off your high horse,

And mount one that is swift to share the good news with those who could also benefit as we did.

Imagine telling Christ how your week was spent.

  • Well, Lord, I had lots of fellowship with other like-minded believers. At church, in my home, on Facebook…
  • And…I read my bible and prayed…a lot.
  • And, I even prayed for some unsaved family. (bonus!)

And perhaps He might ask,

But what about those around you who are dying and going to hell? Did you tell them that that was not necessary? Did you tell them that I died for them so they could come to me? Why did you play in your back yard and ignore your neighbors? You are my ambassador, but you really don’t have too much to say for me.

IF we really believed that the gospel is what it is… and 

IF we really believed that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, and

If we really loved others the way that we were loved…

How might our lives look different?

 

Conservative Christian women are known for many things.

Unfortunately, in many cases, LOVE is not one of those things.

And although I am thankful for the many loving Christian women that have been great examples to me over the years (like my own mother and mother in law) I am saddened by the lack of love displayed to “strangers” in the name of separation.

  • When you meet someone on the street and do not greet them, how dwelleth the love of God in you?
  • When you are rude to the cashier, how dwelleth the love of God in you?
  • When you make distainful comments about someone’s problems, how dwelleth the love of God in you?
  • When you look down your self-righteous nose at someone else’s “stage” in Christian growth, how dwelleth the love of God in you?

Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”——->It is hard when you have young children. I get that. But we need to be creative. We cannot be silent with good news like this.

And we cannot expect the “fish” to jump into the boat. Even in 2012 we must be fishers of men.

What creative ways have you found to reach out in love to your neighbors?

 

Self Control: Your Safety Net.

I don’t care for trampolines. Truth be told, my kids have to ASK every time they go on one, because they know how much I hate them. I envision horrible neck injuries. But, when they came up with the kind with the safety net around them, I eased up a little knowing that there was at least some protection.

Self Discipline/ Self Control is like your little safety net. We hate that word and bristle at the thoughts of self discipline, but it is your friend.

The Bible tells us that a
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Logically, the self-controlled man is protected.

Protected from what?

We always think that we need to be protected from outside evils, and it is easy to indulge in the victim mentality: “Oh, so and so is out to get me,” or “The devil is after me.” (weird!)

But, it protects us from ourselves.

The sad truth is that we sin because we like to. Jerry Bridges states” What makes these sinful desires so dangerous is that they dwell within our own heart. External temptations would not be nearly so dangerous were it not for the fact that they find this ally of desire right within our own breast.”

If you live life by the seat of your pants, most likely you struggle with self discipline.

You eat what you want, when you want, because you want to.

You buy what you want, when you want, because you want to.

You say what you want, when you want, because you want to.

Enter self control.

It is your protection to keep you from sinning when you are tempted to overeat (gluttony), overspend( coveteousness) and blurt malicious things (anger).

“We desperately need the grace of self-control to avoid sin’s destructive cycles. When we recognize self-control as the virtue that spares us from sin’s negative consequences, we will welcome it eagerly as our friend.”- Carolyn Mahaney

So, today, choose one area that you are sinfully struggling with. It could be your tongue, your weight, your thought life, and just say NO to yourself. Build up that wall of protection, for your own good.

photo credit

 

Linked to Courtney

 

God Is Bigger Than Our Educational Choices

It’s back to school time and we  moms like to chatter about what is “upcoming” for our  kids this fall.

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Some of you are making plans to homeschool, like we are.

Some of you are sending your kids to private schools.

Some of you are sending your kids to public schools.

I was reading a little bit of the goings on over at Courtney’s blog as she shared her inward struggle with putting her son in public school because her husband thought this was the best idea for their family. I appreciated her honesty and transparency as she tells how she struggled to let her husband lead, and how God changed his heart. It was a great article!

But, in reading some of the comments, I got the feeling that some women actually felt as though home schooling was the only right(godly) way to educate a child. And other women, single women or those who had their kids in public schools were having to defend their choice.

This saddened me, because I wondered if I have ever unintentionally sent the message that home schooling is the only right way to train/educate  a child. I wondered if those who couldn’t educate their kids at home ever felt “looked down on” or like they were not considered a good mother. Imagine the unnecessary guilt this type of attitude lays on single or divorced mom who works hard to keep her family afloat, or for a mom who would love to home school but her husband has other ideas.

Guess what.

God is bigger than our educational choices.

I have seen parents raise godly kids who came from  home schooled homes, privately schooled homes, and publicly schooled homes.

And I have seen parents raise ungodly kids who came from  home schooled homes, privately schooled homes, and publicly schooled homes.

Schooling should be a means to an end, not the end all.  The home life  and the “spiritual temperature” of the parents heart towards God is the biggest factor in successfully training your child. (Are you cold, lukewarm or hot towards the things of God?)

If you and your husband disagree about how to educate your children and your husband decides that they need to go to public school, you are better off letting your husband lead and submitting to his authority  than you are nagging, manipulating and whining to get what you think is the educational ideal.

Of course, let him know how you feel about it, but after that initial conversation, no nagging, pushing, pouting or punishing.  We, as wives, have a mandate from God to submit to our husbands, but we have no direct mandate that our kids education must look a certain way. 

Our educational choices are an area of liberty.

We should never look down on others because they choose a different educational route than we do. This, of course, would be uncharitable. I have shuddered inside when I have heard women say (in their self-righteous tone of voice) “WE homeschool our children,” or “WE don’t watch this.” or “WE don’t allow that.” The emphasis being on them, of course, like we really care.(If someone really wants to know what you do, they’ll ask, thank you very much.) And when you speak to someone in a condescending tone of voice, you are proud, and your educational choices mean very little, because God opposes the proud.

I have appreciated, and learned from people with perhaps stricter standards than I who are humble. They are not the ones who are “in your face” with what they believe about everything under the sun. They are the ones who you have to ask, and they’ll tell you gently why their family has chosen not to do something or other.

I believe that we can still be enthusiastic about our families choices, as long as we are sensitive and compassionate to the feelings and situations of other people.

A wise woman considers the end result of her words. Are they  callous, critical or condescending? Are they ministering grace to the hearer and edifying?

In the body of Christ, we are to build each other up. As women, it is easy to compare ourselves to others and although sometimes that can be helpful, most times it is a set up for discouragement. Let’s be careful not to unnecessarily wound others in areas of liberty.

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity

 

Want to read more? I highly recommend:

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarkson

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges (excellent chapter on having a Critical Spirit about non essentials)

Humility by Andrew Murray (classic read for any Christian person! I read it once a year. 😉

Why Choose Joy?

Because looking around without the lense of joy, this is what I see:

  1. Piles of shoes by the door.
  2. Dirt on the floor by shoes “not stomped” (by two boys who should know better.)
  3. Toys, left out, in cluttered heaps.
  4. Books in piles, in each room.
  5. Papers, crayons, bits and scraps of paper left in bowls.
  6. Cups left on the coffee tables.
  7. Curling irons, hairbrushes and makeup left on the sink.

But when I choose joy and get past my own selfishness, I see:

  1. Healthy children who come and go when some cannot even walk.
  2. “Boy”s who work hard and father-son time.
  3. Children, still at home, safe, under my roof and happily playing.
  4. Book lovers, each one reading what interests and inspires them.
  5. Creativity by my little ones who love to do art and cut up bowls of “paper soup.”
  6. Teenage daughters who sip tea and talk late at night.
  7. A household rushing out the door for morning worship-all of us together.

Learning to see what is important, and counting my blessings. My perspective changes everything. It is either grumbling or gratitude. And it’s my choice.

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Having trouble finding joy? I highly recommend these books:

Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Lord, Change My Attitude: Before Its Too Late by James MacDonald

 

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Hospitality Hints

I was talking to a friend today, and the topic of hospitality came up. She told me that I have the “gift” of hospitality. I told her that I am not sure that it is a “gift”, rather something that I observed in my mother.

Hospitality comes down to “other mindedness,“ or thinking more of another’s comfort than I do my own. It is using your home, or whatever resources you have available to you, as a place of ministry. I thought I would just jot down some common sense things that I learned by watching my mother, and others, that as I get older realize may not be quite as common as I realized.

“To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness for as long as he is under your roof.” A. Brillat-Savarin

A good hostess makes people feel at home. Even if you wish they were at home. (wink)

A good hostess is prepared. This way she can be relaxed with five or fifty guests in her home. You should never “let on” to your guests how much work went into your preparations. If you do not plan ahead, you will appear out of breath, exhausted or unorganized when your guests arrive. This makes others feel uncomfortable or like they are putting you out.

A good hostess looks out for the needs and comfort of her guest.  Does your guest need a drink? To rest? Help with a child? A snack?  Is what they need spiritual? Do they appear to want some counsel? Encouragement? Friendship?

All of this, of course, should be done casually. “Over-fussing” is also uncomfortable to a guest. Don’t insist that they eat, or go from one activity to the next. This is not thinking of what they want or need.

A good hostess knows how to hold a pleasant conversation. She thinks before she speaks, not vice versa.

Avoid these extremes:

  • Being unnecessarily opinionated. Who really cares how strongly you feel in the end? The Bible teaches gentleness and self control. You may win the “battle” but loose out on any opportunity to minister to that person again. Nobody confides in a hot head.
  • Being unable to carry on a give-and-take conversation. Because long silences are just… Plain… weird. Did I mention weird? :) And unfriendly.
  • Being unnecessarily silly.  “Did I really just say that? Out loud?” should never enter your head when you have company.(or ever, really.) You don’t need to say every little thought that pops into your head.
  • Being overbearing and dominating the conversation. Interrupting and talking too much shows that you have little regard for what others are thinking and too high a regard for yourself.

Do:

  • Listen well. Usually people have a lot to say and need a good listener. The Bible says that we should be “quick to hear and slow to speak.”
  • Listen to learn. You can learn something from everyone. If you invite wise people into your home you will learn from their experiences. Ask meaningful questions and learn from their lives. And we can always learn how not to act from moody, unpleasant or overbearing guests. :)
  • Learn to ask others about themselves, without prying into personal matters. A good rule of thumb is “If they want to tell you, they will.”  They will confide in you if they feel comfortable. Always assume that they don’t want to confide in you if they do not bring up. Never ask about personal things such as age, weight, salary, gossip, family matters.

Your goal is to meet the need of your guests. Good manners, social skills, a sensitive heart and a willingness to serve are really the only prerequisites needed for hospitality.

What additional hints have you found worked for you? Feel free to share!