I was pondering my wifely skills and shortcomings (praying He will “cleanse me from my secret faults”) this morning and asked God the question: What does it mean to “help” my husband. I know this word (Genesis 2:18) comes from the same Hebrew root translated in Psalm 54:4 where is says “God is my helper.” Being like God to my husband? Lord, what does that look like? God loves unconditionally and faithfully. God always forgives, always hears and listens, guides and guards, and looks for ways to bless. He helps.
Helps. The Ministry of Helps, I’ve been learning, is simply that: helping where help is needed. It includes but is not limited to, Holy Spirit-led ministering via a hug, listening ear, kind word, thoughtful deed, card, letter, call, or even an e-mail that says, “You’ve been on my heart and I just want you to know I love you,” etc. And all of that is best served with Word-based, Holy Spirit-led prayer.
Is that something Christians just know how to do? Apparently not or they’d also know the joy of it, and do it more often. And more effectually. Listen: No one needs a “woe are we, such worms who only deserve death” prayer. No one needs our lies added to Satan’s because we’re scriptural illiterates who think God has good days and bad days, and it’s a roll of the dice, and He’s probably not going to help anyway, but it’s worth a shot. We guess. Maybe.
People need prayers of faith based on the truth of God’s Word about His great and never-ending love for us. People need prayers from people who know what Jesus accomplished on the cross. They need prayers from people whose hearts are actually filled with the very Spirit of God because they’ve accepted the gift of Jesus and what He accomplished at Calvary. People need to be ministered to in the power of this Love.
I weep when I begin ministering like this at church. My heart is so grieved as I pray for people and realize their desperate need of prayer and of a caring touch, that sometimes I can hardly speak through the slinging snot. What a picture, right? No one seems to care that I have to blow l my nose throughout the prayer. What they care about is being cared about. I realize as the Holy Spirit reveals hearts to me during prayer, that people are broken-hearted and disconnected. They are weak, weary, and vulnerable to that ever-prevalent lie of the enemy: No one cares a single thing about you.
I have learned that even my adult children, who have been taught from their very beginnings that they are more precious than words can say, are susceptible to this lie. And since this lie comes at them continuously in some form or fashion, I must continuously speak and pray the truth.
The tendency is to see a problem in an adult child’s life and to lament it, pray that situation changed or certain influences removed, and to frown really hard in the meantime. But those children need equipping. “Equipping” sounds like tools and gear and rules and how-to instructions. But those are physical things, and must be preceded by the spiritual.
Let me clarify. I’ve been considering the incredible pressures my children face right now. I’ve been doing a little more worrying than I should (any worrying is more than I should worry) and a little less praying than I should, and a little more speaking the problem than I should (yep, ANY speaking the problem is more than I should speak). My daughter, Hannah, for an example, is fighting numerous hard battles right now. She wants to excel at all things, and let no one down ever (especially God) while in the midst of extreme responsibilities and demanding/needy people, but without extreme support.
Except for her parents. We are extreme support. We are equippers. We don’t say, “Well, Hannah has her act together, Hannah reads the Word and prays more diligently than do her siblings, Hannah will be fine,” as we focus on the others.
No! That should not be the reward for her efforts. The squeaky wheels shouldn’t be the only ones getting the grease. When I sense there is a difficulty, and when I don’t, there is still a difficulty, or very possibly a host of difficulties. It’s time, not only to pray for Hannah as usual, but to pray with her. To let God use me to bless my child.
As He does. It’s such a blessing when I call and say, “I want to pray for you,” and then to be used by God to speak things I had no idea about, but that bless and strengthen and help her. I did this recently only after several days of prayer and consideration, and a two-hour quiet time with Jesus in the Word and in prayer. This meant that through my prayers He was speaking to her heart, blessing her heart, strengthening and helping her, giving her perspective on things that were troubling her. Bringing her peace, power and an undergirding for her day. Equipping her. It’s my job.
The Word talks about equipping the saints, and we’re all too ready to sign on for that: Oh come all ye saints and listen unto me. I shall equip you!!! But we are to start where it all starts. At home. We come before the Throne of Grace for our personal equipping, putting on the full armor of God, hearing His voice, heeding His voice, seeking Him and basking in His goodness and grace. Then, and only then are we equipped to equip.
We moms are also ready to sign on for equipping our kids first, and our husbands next, or last, or never. But that essential time in the Word and prayer will straighten out all the crookedness in our thinking, and we will come to see the truth about “helping” our husbands: We are acting as God’s most essential ambassadors, His equippers.
Just as the Queen of England has no need to drive the car, neither do we have to be front, center, and “in charge” when we know our true worth to God as Homemakers. Let us embrace, accept, and occupy our thrones as He intends.
I was asked this question by a “working” woman and I didn’t answer. I knew she didn’t have time.
But I’m going to give it a try, as it’s early still, and by day’s end I’ll have done so much I won’t recall it all.
I awoke around 6:00, thinking of yesterday’s blessings and thinking of God. I “slept in” until 6:20, which is 7:20 in Texas. After a quick face wash teeth brushing, it was time to pull on my warm robe and to call my daughter, who was on her way to class at Kenneth Copeland Bible College, and to thank her for sending to me some of her class notes on prayer, as well as a lovely scripture.
She was, as always, happy to hear my voice. I shared devotionals with her, and talked about revelations from the day before, what was on her agenda, and then prayed with her before she left her car and started her classes.
It was then time for my early morning “encouragement cuddle” with John, which he seems to think is necessary to give him strength to get out of the warm and cozy covers. Next came the fun job of picking warm clothes for this bright and chilly Rocky Mountain day – black jeans and thick black socks with a black, pink, and blue plaid Betsy Johnson flannel shirt (nice and long and flattering).
This accomplished I returned to my Quiet Time with God, listening first to Joel Osteen’s timely words which were direct answers to questions I had about a few of my endeavors, including writing.
I went from Joel to Audrey Mack, whose thoughts about the joining of the Spirit and the Word gave me more prayer fodder. And somewhere in there the complicated became simple, and I knew exactly how to solve a writing problem that had been vexing me for some time.
Wow, wow, wow. I didn’t waste time. I wrote. An entire chapter.
I then awoke Seth with a coffee promise, put the heavy whipping cream into a warmed Mary Engelbreit cream jug, heated cups and put on the percolator. Such a joy, the soon gurgling coffee rising up and showing off through the glass atop the percolator.
John had already told me he didn’t want breakfast (we ate late last night), so I talked food talk with Seth as we satisfied our tummies with very creamy coffee. We also covered a bit of history – things like the amazing tonnage of steel the US produced in peacetime Depression years, when various automakers went from steel to aluminum, then “after-market” work on less than stellar truck engines, and finally, comparisons of 20th-century world dictators.
Next we went through the fridge freezer and found nothing for lasagne, which Seth thinks is the thing for dinner tonight. He took off to my writing cabin, where there’s a freezer full of meat (he is very fond of coming home with sausages, bacon, deer, and various other treasures).
Somewhere in all this I wrote a letter to our son, Benjamin, who is overseas in the Military, and tucked it into a card. John found a lovely verse to add (Psalm 139:9-10 NIV) and Seth added a couple of words as well.
We will make a special trip to the post office soon to mail this along with a letter to a loved one in prison, and I’m about to write a short letter to Rebekah, as well. Don’t we all love to get real mail?
Sending real mail is one of the lost arts of this age of “working” women, but I am determined to do my part to keep it alive. That’s what homemaking is about, keeping the worthwhile alive. That’s what home is: Life.
“What do you do?” she asked, truly curious about how I spend my time.
So far this morning I have also washed the sheets and a white blanket, and put in a load of jeans and dark T-shirts. I have resisted the urge to fold the whites done last night, as there are major things I want to get to today, and I can fold the whites later, perhaps when my daughter Jane calls me back (I called her as well this morning, but she was at work early and couldn’t talk).
Back to the utility room: Ignoring the whites, I filled a pot with hot water, vinegar, and a little bit of Dawn, because I’m about to scrub the trim and railing in the stairwell, as it is high time it was painted to match the trim at the top and at the bottom of the stairs.
My first plan for today was to deal with apples. I have a big box completely full (given to me yesterday at church) that I plan to turn into apple sauce, pie fixins, etc., but that will wait until afternoon. The stairs must be done first, while the motivation to scrub is living (which is why I must stop blogging – I have already written a blog post this morning about homeschooling!).
I am no doubt leaving things out – like the skimming of a magazine, straightening the living room, sweeping under the table, and in the foyer, checking mousetraps, the underlining of a favorite verse in The Passion Bible, with a mental note to share it with Hannah, the daughter who gave me this Bible for Christmas last year.
I hear the truck – Seth has returned. It’s time to do something.
Praise the Lord, first of all, for the endlessly rewarding, challenging, and beautiful gift of Home.
Blessings all over you, Dear Reader!
First: Tune in tomorrow, Friday, April 28 at 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time to:
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Finally: Click on the “Live Radio” button
and, voila! You are listening to Bev and John and who knows who else on The Home Front Radio Show!
Threaded through topics such as conversation skills, creative decorating solutions, prayer that builds faith, the Founder’s Bible and the founding fathers, and wise men and brave women, will be tomorrow’s theme: Boldly taking dominion, and with charm and grace!
Thanks for being there!
When my daughter Jane was ten and carrying on about the latest Hollywood sensations, John pulled a face at her taste. “Well, who do you think is pretty?” she demanded.
“You. Your mother. My mother, my granny, my sister,” he replied. Out of all the brilliant things John has said, that was one of the most brilliant.
That was years ago, but this morning I awoke thinking about how our society makes heroes out of quite and very unheroic women, at least as compared to those near and dear to me. What, I wondered, would I say to anyone asking me, not who was pretty, but who was beautiful, heroic, worthy of praise and emulation in my life?
“My mother, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, my friends, my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters.”
I remember my dad talking about my grandmother chasing a poisonous snake who was trying to escape under their house. “You’ll not get near these children,” she shouted as she brought a garden hoe down on it, severing it’s head. When I was little she used to put The Happy Goodmans on to play for me. She deftly peeled what may have been the world’s best tomatoes (grown in her weedless garden) with her ever sharp paring knife, sliced them into thick, fat, juicy slices and served them to me with salt. One day, I vowed, I would do that for someone.
But how would I ever emulate my mom? I’ll never be as strong as she is was my silent concern. She never stopped moving except maybe once on “slow” days for a cup of coffee and a Lucky Strike. She was up before us to put a fantastic breakfast (a platter full of meat, eggs, biscuits, gravy) on the table, to starch our jeans, and then off (for the second time) to her many-thousand chickens. She was up waiting when I got home from basketball games (once it was 2:00 a.m. and there she stood, leaning on the kitchen counter for support, smoking her Lucky Strike). She didn’t say “I love you” she did love.
And then there’s my mother-in-law who taught my manly man husband to cook, can, sew, clean, iron, and to always be clean, neat, and presentable. So when our youngest, Seth, was born, John brought the older three to the hospital looking like little dolls. The nurses went on about it. “Who dressed those kids?” one asked. I was bewildered. Who do you think?
“John did,” I told her. “Well, I never!” she said. “Just look at them. All spit and polish!” And so I looked. Their clothes were ironed, Benjamin’s hair parted perfectly, the girls’ hair curled, their eyes shining. In other words, looking like kids should look when they’re coming to see their new sibling and their mother. Did other dads bring the kids to see mom looking any other way? Evidently. Talk about dumb as a post.
And who was to thank for that? My mother-in-law. Well, and John being smarter than a post.
And then there are my sisters-in-law (brothers’ wives) who stayed with my brothers through thick and thin, who are excellent mothers, citizens, and friends. As for John’s sister, even when her life was falling COMPLETELY apart, she was fun, kind, and positive. How many women “leaders” can say that? These sisters of mine! All of them are absolutely indispensable to the welfare of all of us blessed by their presences in our lives. I really could never say enough about any of them.
I won’t even start with my friends, except to say that my dad was right when he said to me years ago, “Bev, you’ve always had truly good friends.” Indeed I have. They have filled gaps, dried tears, inspired, listened, commiserated, advised, and loved me through some pretty dark days. Real women, that’s what they are.
And then there are my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters. Let me just say right here that there aren’t a handful of movie stars in history as lovely as these young women, as brilliant, funny, kind, or true.
I’ve said all this to say that we might stop taking note of celebrities who we’ll most likely never even meet, and start celebrating those women near and dear.
I nominate my dad for sweetest and handsomest dad and my kids nominate him for best grandpa ever.
If I had to describe my dad in one word it would be “kind.”
I said to my kids (not telling them my word), “I want you to tell me the first word that comes to your mind to describe your grandpa.”
“Stalwart,” Rebekah answered.
“Kind,” said Seth. “That’s the first word I thought,” Hannah agreed.
I think those two words are what every dad and grandpa should be: kind and stalwart.
And if he has giant dimples and an ever-present grin, well that’s just gravy.
There was lots of fun stuff happening, and I was loving every single minute of it, except when I looked at Rebekah’s tight, sad, face. I gave her hugs, I asked her if she was OK, I mentioned it to John (husband/dad), and I queried her siblings, “Do you know what’s bothering Rebekah?” I gave her more hugs (she seemed to want lots of them) and finally, I prayed.
Rebekah is a writer, and we’ve had an ongoing issue about her using up school, chore, family and personal time on the computer–not writing, but looking up and reading about the somewhat ridiculous antics of various celebrities. Recently when I asked her if she was writing she fibbed to me about it. I don’t mind lies as much as I mind a child acting like I am the village idiot. “Shut the laptop,” I instructed firmly. “Do NOT get back on there until I say so. You can write in longhand on your legal pads for now.”
And I went about the business at hand: celebrating: Hannah was born on my and John’s anniversary and this year was, as all years, a celebration of the unmerited, beyond-all-I-could-ever-ask-or-think-or-imagine LOVE of Jesus. Still, I noted and pondered and watched the expressive and beautiful face of Rebekah.
Hannah had her birthday date with John, John and I had our anniversary date, we celebrated both with a steak dinner and birthday/anniversary party, I went on my Hannah date, and finally, last night about midnight, Hannah, John and Seth were off to bed, and Rebekah found her way to a bit of quiet with me.
“Mom,” she said, “I got on YouTube today. And yesterday. And the day before.”
“Why?” I said a bit sharply, reluctantly looking up from watching Creflo Dollar teaching about what the Bible says about speaking in tongues (very interesting stuff).
She looked utterly miserable and I was filled with compassion. I scooted over on the couch and told her to come curl up next to me. I took her in my arms and kissed her head. “Rebekah, God forgives me absolutely when I make a mistake, and I forgive you absolutely.”
She began to cry, and I recognized that look, the sound of those sobs: I try and I try and I just can’t seem to do what I say I will do. I’m such a loser, blah, blah, blah.
“It’s OK, Sweetheart,” I told her. “Tomorrow we will talk and pray and make a plan about exactly what you want to be learning and doing and enjoying. I want to see you practicing your violin. Do you want that?”
She began to cry again. “I don’t know why I haven’t been doing that.” Back to the self-chastisement, the recriminations and condemnation.
I was inspired as I thought of the “roaring success” of breakfast (cooked by her and her brother, Seth, while Hannah and I were gone). “There’s no reason you and I can’t cook more together (she loves doing things with me). We’ll put that on our petition of things we want to learn and do. Now, you just don’t worry about anything at all. We’ll work everything out tomorrow.”
She was still curled up next to me, in my arms. She sat up. “I feel better now.”
I did a few things right: I paid attention to my child, amidst all kinds of diverting activities; I responded correctly to all those hug requests; I shared my concerns with other family members, so that everyone would be kind, aware that “something’s bothering Rebekah”; I made myself available; I listened and suggested solutions, and she listened to me, because of the most important thing of all: I said, GOD FORGIVES YOU ABSOLUTELY AND I FORGIVE YOU ABSOLUTELY.
The Bible tells us that it’s His kindness that leads to repentance. In receiving His kindness, we are able to extend kindness to our children and to our mates, and to ourselves. Let’s do it! Amen.