Jesus the Homemaker

The Word of God tells us to “guard our hearts” and that sounds like a defensive posture, which sounds, well, defensive.  But it’s actually a preparation and strength posture.

I think of it in physical terms as the Keep of the Castle.  Guarding our hearts means keeping our hearts.  “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

The Keep is where the goods are, the sustenance, the abundance.  For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).  Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

What is spoken will be.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us that there is the power of life and death in the tongue.  Focus on the word “power” there, and let’s ask ourselves this question:  Who has the power here – are we going to speak for Satan, words that will destroy our own lives, or are we going to speak for the Lover of our souls, the author and finisher of our faith?

James 3:2 says, “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body.”  The only thing more amazing to me than how little Christians know about the tongue’s power of life and death, is how often I speak as though I am a total tongue-power ignoramus.

I know and believe the Word’s admonitions regarding the tongue.  I have read and re-read Joyce Meyer’s Me and My Big Mouth. I know that I guard my heart, indeed my entire life, when my tongue is harnessed to the Holy Spirit via prayer and diligent attention to the Word.  I know and believe and have experienced the devastation wrought when I go ahead and wound my very own soul by speaking death words.

Death words are words of darkness and doom, of doubt and dismay.  Words with the power to open my heart right up to fear.  Then comes the physical manifestation – an actual poisoning of my entire system, also known as stress.

We guard our hearts with our tongues, and we guard our tongues when we guard our hearts.  A lovely life circle.  Or, we can go our own way . . . and say whatever the HELL (that’s where it’s from) we FEEL like saying.

What would Jesus have us say?  “Poor poor pitiful me?”  “Woe is me, I’m so misunderstood and unloved?”   “Why does this always happen to me?”

The answer is “none of the above.”  He would have us say, “God is my refuge, God is my strength, a very present help in trouble.”  He Himself would say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” and “Where’s someone I can love and bless and heal and help?  Come unto me!” (John 7:37).

“Come unto me all ye who are weak and heavy laden.”  We weaken ourselves when we SPEAK the weakness.  Weakness is only a temporary fact, but it is not the truth of the matter.  The truth of the matter is what the Word of God says about it.  He is my shelter (Psalm 61:3), my strong tower, my very present help in trouble.  Sing the song I Will Arise (listen to Phil Driscoll do it first), “I will arise and go to Jesus.  He will embrace me in His arms.  In the arms of my dear Savior, oh there are 10,000 charms.”

What again, would Jesus say?  He would speak from a guarded heart, words of life.  His heart was guarded by his focus on and love for others.  He freed Himself to the beautiful life that is a life of caring for others.

Like, um, well, a Homemaker.

I Did Not Need My Economics Degree to Figure this One Out

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Just as I predicted, with the election of Donald Trump, the American economy is exploding.  And I believe that will mean fewer marriages ravaged by financial stress, more opportunities on all fronts, and most of all, I hope it means more moms will be able to be at home.  Homemakers, homekeepers, hearthtenders.

I not only hope, I earnestly and diligently pray that we are about to, once again, become a society where people are nurtured in the most excellent place of all – home.  And by the most blessed and privileged of all people – homemakers.

I wasn’t so privileged when I got the “education”, bought the Italian pumps and sported the chic haircut.  I had a fancy office all my own and a degree – a piece of paper – to prove I was somebody.

But now I have “medals”.  “You and John have medals,” a lady at church recently said to me after we stood together as a family before the congregation.  The pastor had asked our oldest son to come forward for prayer, along with John and me, before leaving for officer training in Fort Benning, Georgia.  Our other three joined us as well.  The pastor prayed, John prayed, and I managed to pray through the tears of an utterly full heart.

There were other words spoken and joys shared and then those words from a lady I didn’t know.  “You and John have medals.”  She paused and I waited as she gazed at our children.  “Your children are medals.”

Indeed.  And we fought for them.  We fought financial fears when I chucked that fancy job to stay home with Benjamin.  “It’s an opportunity to trust,” I said to John when the doctor said if I didn’t abort Hannah I would not survive.  Told I would miscarry Rebekah, again we donned the full armor of God and we fought.  Recovering from the C-section that brought us Seth, I battled for my health and vitality, and John prayed me through those wearying days.

Attempting to hear God and not our own insecurities or preferences, or the opinions of others, we stood our ground when we decided to home school.  John prayed as I sought self-discipline, self-control and patience.

Always, we suited up for battle with the Word of God in our mouths, saying what He said about our children, rather than what we wanted to spew out of our mouths.  This child is impossibly strong-willed, stubborn, willful, and I am at my wit’s end with her!  was the thought.  The words were prayers and positive scriptural confessions:  “This child is my great and glorious gift, fearfully and wonderfully made for God’s purposes and she will live in the light and bring blessings all the days of her life.”

And so on.  Through the years I have made the most powerful and eternally profitable investment a woman ever has the privilege to make:  I have raised my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  I have been a homemaker.

For John, the husband who supported my determination to do whatever it took to raise my children (for a time we took all four of them with us on our trim and tile jobs) I am grateful beyond all measure.

Because I raised my older children as a single mother, or rather they were raised by the daycare center and the public school system, I know the immeasurably high cost of a “real” job, of a society-sanctioned career.  I know the ever-diminishing returns on that kind of investment – investment in the world’s ways.

“I simply can’t go through that again,” I said to John when we talked about my returning to work and finding childcare for Benjamin.  It wasn’t just about my baby, it was about me, and my peace of mind.  It was about that deepest of needs in my heart, the need to make a home for my family, to be a homemaker.

A homemaker who is also a homeschooler has it made in the shade, especially if she has a strong and good husband.  Her life in no way resembles the stereotype of the harried and frantic chicken-with-her-head-cut-off mommy.  Rather, if she seeks the impartation of wisdom freely given via simply asking the Holy Spirit and reading God’s Word each and every single morning, she grows ever more skillful in battle, ever more confident and in full receipt of her rewards.  Her life is lived in rhythms of grace, rather than in sorrow and regret.

If I had it to do over in what I call my “first life” I would have cleaned houses and taken my babies with me, or lived in a tent by the river, or moved in with family.  But I would not have sacrificed my children on the altar of career, I would not have bought the line that I “couldn’t afford” to do otherwise.

I would have said, “What I can’t afford is the breaking of the little hearts and spirits of my children by leaving them in the care of, at best, indifferent workers while I go and chase the almighty dollar.

I am eternally grateful for this second chance, but regarding my older children, there are no overs.  I urge and exhort you, if you have young children being raised by others as your heart yearns for them, pray and believe God for the highest of callings and privileges, that He will make the way, that He will be the author and the finisher of your parenting, your marriage, your family.  Your home.

Then say joyously to all who ask who you are and what you do:  I AM A HOMEMAKER.

House vs. Home

A house is a place to shelter for the night.  It warms the body, but not the soul.

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A home is a place of refuge, restoration, rest, relaxation, and replenishment.

Do you ever wish someone would come in to your house while you’re gone and clean it, organize it, and best of all, decorate so it feels welcoming when you open the door?

Well, here’s the bad news and the good news.  You’re it.  Yes,  that’s a ton of work and you may feel a little learning-disabled in this area, but the satisfaction gained from cleaning and organizing and making your house a home, a nest, is beyond measure.

Put on some motivational music (Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll should get you going, or Phil Driscoll’s Soldier will work if it’s a real battle you’re facing) and get started.

Put a load of laundry on (if you don’t have a washer begin by gathering up the laundry and putting it by the front door in preparation for a trip to the laundromat) and put the dishes in the dishwasher and/or in the sink to soak as you go on to the next thing.  Now clean the bathroom(s) and then break for fun.  No, I don’t mean bon bons and a TV show (NO daytime TV in a place of refuge).  I mean a break for some decorating.

Rearrange some furniture and hang pictures in places they’ve never been.  Use things in ways you haven’t before.  Maybe even use an entire room in a new way.  Try a different spread on your bed, especially if the one you have is one of those “in-style” atrocities so many of us have, in some fit of insanity, mistakenly purchased (there is a demon grouping in Hell responsible solely for the design of ugly home furnishings).

Now, back to work.  After things are picked up, clean the floors, dust, and wash the baseboards.  Did I say this would be easy?  Anyway, I haven’t said anything about washing windows and screens or cleaning the utility room, have I?  There’s no rest for the best, and as the HOME keeper, you’re the best.

What about your horrid closets and the mess under the kitchen sink?

That’s for another day, a day you need extra therapy.  That’s right.  There’s not a shrink on earth who can clear your mind like a cleaned out and organized closet.

So, now it’s looking lots better, you’re feeling lots better, and the house is feeling more like a home.  What else can you do?

Cook something that smells delicious (bread is always good), or simply put some vanilla and cinnamon in a pan of water and put it in the oven on low heat.  Open the windows and let in the light.  Put out stacks of books that won’t impress anyone with your amazing intellectual tastes.  Include colorful and fun books, crayons and coloring books, easy puzzles, joke books, and especially beautiful children’s picture books.  Don’t have any?  Yay!  You get to go to the library.  Not now!  When you’re finished, or next week, whichever comes first.

Put on beautiful music and be sure there are throws, quilts or blankets on the couches and chairs.  Decorate with Monopoly, Clue, Pictionary and other forgotten board games.  Set one up on an end table, ready for play.

And now, it’s time for tea.  While the water’s heating, go take a quick shower and put on something comfy.  It’s time for a nice cuppa and a not-particularly-memorable but quite easy-to-read book.

If you’re still feeling a little blue after all this (not really likely) change the tea to hot chocolate.  Stir up some raw sugar (or use honey and add after mixture is warm) with a little salt and some cocoa.  Add milk, cream, half-n-half, powdered milk, or evaporated milk (or any combination thereof), vanilla flavoring and/or almond flavoring and heat until almost boiling, stirring often.

Serve in just the right mug with extremely well-buttered toast and don’t even think about calories.  If you think you could use more protein after all that work, go for it – get a second cup of hot chocolate.

P.S.  A little cornstarch will turn this into chocolate pudding – get a recipe – don’t cook like I do with a wing and prayer.