I don't enjoy missing church. John's fever has spread to the other two. Lydia had a fever last night, though she's fine today. She may actually be over the bug, but I generally like for the kids to be fever-free for at least 24 hours before they start getting out. Ethan has been fever-free that long, but he's had to do a breathing treatment and sounds like he's going to need another one. His chest hurts so terribly bad when it tightens up like this. I really feel badly for him. He just sits on the couch and stares out into nothingness and whines every once-in-a-while. So while Ethan sits and Lydia plays, I blog.
My mom and dad came over last night. We played Scrabble. I love that game. I hate that game. I hear you don't want to play that game with my brother David. I didn't come in last, but I never win.
I think Lydia's fever is on the rise...
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
"I am a Stay-at-Home Wife"
12 Aug 2004 | Lanier Ivester
“So, what do you do?” The question is posed relentlessly. In other words, "What label have you given yourself to prove to the rest of the world that you are not a drain on society?"
During my single years I had a lot of creative answers to that question: “I am a ballet teacher.” “I work at an old and rare bookstore.” “I am a student.” “I teach piano lessons.” Those years were ripe with opportunities to invest in other lives, to develop skills for the future, and to discover the calling for which God had uniquely designed me. During my five-month engagement, I quipped lightly, “Why, I am a bride!” Most people were amused by that, but I was serious. I saw it as a calling, and a very sweet one, at that.
I was spending every waking hour preparing, not just for my wedding, but for my husband. There was painting to be done and flowers to be planted at my new home where we were planning to hold the reception. There were the invitations to address and the endless decisions about cakes and bouquets and bridesmaids dresses, and although I had been mentally planning my wedding from the time that I was sixteen, I still had a lot to do. But far more important than any of that, I was getting ready to be a wife, and the vocation was so appealing and precious that tears would spring to my eyes at the very thought, and I would sometimes call Philip at the office with a little whispered entreaty: “Can’t we just elope…today? Right now?”
We had been married only six months or so when we attended a wedding of one of my husband’s friends. I found myself sitting at a table with an old acquaintance of his, a young single man. I awaited the inevitable. When the question finally came, I smiled brightly and squeezed my husband’s hand. “I am Philip’s wife,” I said, with all the pride in the world. His eyes widened, but not with the censure I had anticipated. He shook his head in a dumbfounded manner, and said, “Well, then Philip is a lucky man.”
I knew from the very beginning that Philip would love for his wife to be at home—not that he would require it, but that he would revere it, and that knowledge only solidified my unswerving conviction that he was the one God had for me. He had thought about it, and that was what he was looking for. But what man, in his inmost heart, wouldn’t admit that it would be nice to come home at the end of a long day to a good, hot meal; a pretty, clean house; and a woman who has given a little attention to her appearance? I realize that I am generalizing a bit, but if I am, it is on matters that basic biblical principles presuppose. “But let the older women teach the younger women to…love their husbands…to be keepers at home…” (Titus 2:4,5).
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word "keeper" means literally a guard, a stayer at home, one who is domestically inclined. We women are gatekeepers—no matter what battles are raging in our culture, we have been entrusted with the culture of our own homes, a culture within which tremendous ministry can take place, both to our families as well as the ones God brings into our lives. And for me, even though He has not blessed us with children yet, that is a full-time job. Once people have regained consciousness after I tell them that I am a stay-at-home wife, they usually say something like, “I wish that I could afford to do that,” or “What on earth do you do all day?”
There is no reply that will satisfy those who have already made up their minds that I am throwing away my life, or at least any potential for significance. But I was once asked by an older woman who was a stay-at-home mother of 11, “What do your days look like?” which is a much more intuitive question. She did not assume for a moment that just because I had no children at home my days were not filled with meaningful tasks.
We ladies need to reassess our motives in what we do. All that we do—from the housewife who is so occupied with her children that her husband goes to work with buttons missing off of his shirt, to the newly-married career woman who feeds her man on frozen dinners and take-out food. We were created by God to be a helper suitable. In other words, we are designed by God to be precisely what that man—that we have vowed before Him to love, honour, cherish and obey—needs. Such an understanding of the glowing realities beneath the surface of life exalts tasks like ironing his pants and packing his lunch and making his home beautiful to a place of honour, as far removed from the idea of subservience as the sacred from the profane.
I think that it is a shame that the old-fashioned custom of a wife being called by her husband’s name has gone by the wayside. What a symbol of pride and possessiveness—I am his! Mrs. Philip Ivester—he has given me his name, in very much the same way as our Lord has given us His. We are Christians—"little Christs"—not just people who believe in Him, but people who belong to Him. We don’t lose our identity in assuming such a handle; we accept it gratefully, joyously, knowing the new life within us for which it stands.
God often changed people’s names in the Old Testament as an outward sign of His ownership of them. They were not less themselves, but more—in all the abundance and freedom of God’s calling. If we are wives, it is a symbol of the fullness of our womanhood to be so named. I have been approached on two separate occasions by widows who thanked me most earnestly for addressing a letter to them using their husband’s name. These women were still proud to be identified with their men—and touched deeply that someone had proclaimed it in such a simple, commonplace way.
I am not a homemaker because I had too little ambition or education to make anything else of myself. No—I am a homemaker because God has given me the infinite honour of being a wife, and I delight in employing every ability that He has equipped me with in this glad career. I love being home. I love being intimately familiar with each creaking floorboard and each pattern that the sun makes upon the walls as it travels across the backyard. I love making bread and tending my garden and caring for a small menagerie of cats and chickens and a dog who thinks he’s human. But most of all, I love the happy look that I see on my husband’s tired face when he comes in at the end of the day. And I cherish the fulfillment that the Lord gives me in all of these things. Indeed, “my borders enclose a pleasant land”. (Psalm 16:6)
I am not saying that no married woman should supplement her husband’s income. I am only urging that she be sure of her calling. Too many women jump to some rather unfortunate conclusions when it comes to the concept of homemaking. They seem to associate it solely with child-raising, forgetting that in his divine order the Lord calls us to be wives before He calls us to be mothers. It is a wonderful thing to encourage women to be at home with their children, and I applaud those who have made sacrifices of their careers in order to invest in eternity. But we should be promoting the vocation of wife just as much, if not more, for the marriage relationship is the foundation of all family life. For the childless woman, home can still be a fulfilling place, as I have learned in waiting on God to bless us with little ones. To be sure, there may be less time for the tending of roses, but I think that the nursing of little rosebuds will be a fair exchange.
When I was growing up, I remember going shopping with my mom and grandmother for clothes. They would encourage me to pick out my own clothes, which was really fun! From time to time I would find and shirt, dress, etc and tell them that I liked it. Momma would look it over and tell me, "It looks too grown-up." Now, at six or seven years old I could not comprehend that! After all, I thought I was quite grown-up!
When I was coming up, as I stated in my salvation testimony, I didn't grow up around the Bible. I am eternally grateful though, that I grew up with morals and boundaries. Breaking the rules was punished and good behavior was rewarded. My dad and mom, I believe, did the best to raise me to raise me to be a "good" kid. (I say "good," of course because no one is truly good)
When I got saved, I was green. And I mean green! I really knew nothing about God or the Bible. My Bible knowledge consisted of God made everything and He had a Son who died. No other details. I remember when my pastor would preach, he would refer to someone's life from the Bible. As pastors say oftentimes, "you know the story." For example, if he referred to Peter walking on the water, or David and Goliath, or the three Hebrew children, to save time he would often say "you know the story." I never, ever knew the story! It could get so frustrating. But I would jot down a fact to two that pastor would briefly mention about said story and go back in my Bible to find out what he was talking about. Sometimes it would take me hours. But I was really hungry to find out what God had for me in this new life as a Christian. There can be no better place to learn about God than His Word! I found that the more time I spent with God in His Word, the more He seemed to talk to me.
I've heard many times, "She dresses thusly because her church teaches that." Or, "That's just what the pastor preaches." The church I was attending at the time was by no stretch liberal. I really love that church, the pastor, and the people who go there. First off, I want that part to be clear. My convictions on dress do not coincide with theirs. Never did I try to argue with my pastor or supersede his God-given authority. As far as modesty (not separation) goes, I don't remember it being taught or preached. I'm not saying that it wasn't because I don't have a perfect memory. Through my sermon and Sunday school notes, I couldn't recall or find a message dedicated to the subject. As a few months passed, some of my close friends would mention in love that maybe I should try to cover myself more. I certainly didn't like being told such things and I wrote it off as them being rude, pushy, whatever. In my personal Bible study I came across this verse:
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; --1Timothy 2:9
So there is "women" and "modest" right there together. I was slightly irritated, maybe even mad, with God that he would put such requirements on women. Why did He want to pick on the women anyway? But soon enough the irritation left, I repented of my bad attitude, and I tried to do what I thought was modest. At this point I didn't truly ask God to teach me what was modest and what wasn't. I used my own judgment. Now, as I grew in the Lord, I learned that God's standards are always far above man's. I also learned that we can get all of our beliefs, even specific ones, from the Bible. This isn't just in modesty, but in everything.
I'm estimating that 6 months after I got saved I first encountered Deuteronomy 22:5 - The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. This seemed pretty straight forward at the time and I jotted "crossdressing, transgender" out beside the verse. I pictured in my head a man wearing a dress, made a yucky face and went on.
All these times are approximate, but I'd say that 8 months after I got saved I had quit wearing midriff shirts and shorts with 1-inch inseams. But what was modest exactly? I'd say that my shorts had grown to an 8 inch or so inseam. As I continued to grow in the Lord, the Holy Spirit would convict me and I would toss out item after item of my wardrobe.
I know there are other verses pertaining to ladies' dress, but the Lord used Deuteronomy 22:5 to speak to my heart. So, that is where my emphasis is. Near my first spiritual birthday, I revisited Deuteronomy 22:5. Again, as I reflected on the verse I thought again about the transgender issue. You know when the Lord speaks to you and it's like every fiber of your being tingles and it feels like He's staring you in the face talking to you? Well, I had one of those moments. It was like the Lord said to me, "Think this through a bit. If it's so wrong for a man to wear a dress, then why can the women wear pants?" I thought a bit. All I could come up with was "because I always have" and "because every lady wears pants." I drew no conclusions that night, but I prayed and thanked the Lord for a good Bible study and went off to bed. Over the next few weeks the Lord continually brought those verses back to my memory. I slowly began to wear my jeans and pants less. I did not at this point get rid of them. Mind you, I was still a teenager. My parents had purchased those clothes for me and I couldn't just throw them away with out my parents having a heart attack!
I want to stop a minute and point out something here. There is a difference between modesty and separation. Some would argue that pants can be modest and are better for modest girls whose can turn spontaneous cartwheels. I cannot agree, but can almost see the train of thought. If something is loose, then one would think it is modest. But pants, even the loosest sort still cling. The idea with pants modesty, but it is more so separation. Separation is a basic Bible principle. Not just in the case of gender, but throughout Scripture separation is a fundamental truth. There are many, many places in the Bible where God says that He wants men and ladies to be just that...completely different. Men and women are made with different needs and tenancies. We are each given drastically different roles in the home and in the family unit. Our hair should be noticeably different. We have different roles are parents. We have very different roles in the church. When God teaches separation in anything, there is no room for gray. There is black and there is white. Why is dress seen as a gray issue?
I'd say that for a whole month I went without wearing my jeans. It was really hard considering that I only had 2 casual skirts. As a teenager, I didn't have the means to just go out and buy a new wardrobe. I looked over the sales racks after work and found things here and there. The Lord quickly provided what I needed. Soon, I met my first temptation. At the time I was 19 and working as a teller for a bank. We were having a casual day: jeans and t-shirts. I dreaded that day. Yes, by this time the Lord had provided a jean skirt. But the dress code plainly stated "jeans." The teller station that I worked at was a drive-thru building all by itself. No one ever saw me from the below the waist. Instead of asking my boss if it would be appropriate for me to wear the jean skirt, I just wore my pants. I felt like I was trying to hide from everyone. When another teller came in to relieve me for lunch, I nearly jumped up and tried to cover my bottom! I felt so naked. As I was out to my lunch break, I prayed and told the Lord that this was just no way to live. I knew the Lord had spoken to me through His Word about wearing pants and I deliberately disobeyed. I promised the Lord that I wouldn't do it again. I felt so much better after I had gotten things right, but a still small voice remained saying, "no one else may have seen you, but I've seen you all day."
When I got home I got together my jeans and pants, folded them and put them in a box in the back of my closet. No, I did not get rid of them. The only reason that I didn't was because I felt that since my parents had bought them, I had no right to get rid of them. They were mine, but they weren't mine. I hope that makes since. I don't know whatever happened to that box. I will add, though, that if you are praying about going dresses/skirts-only, that you do get rid of them. If you are a teen, then you should definitely talk to your parents first. They worked had to clothe you, and you owe them that much. If you are an adult and are praying about tossing your jeans/pants, then I would say certainly get them out of the house. Talk to your husband first though, and let him know what the Lord's been speaking to you about.
Since that day, I have had a few temptations to go back to jeans. I was told I was being a "legalist" for following the Bible and the Holy Spirit. To be honest, I didn't really care. I knew beyond all shadow of doubt what the Lord had done for me. I could be called a legalist for hating contemporary Christian music, or for believing that the King James Bible is the Word of God, or for whatever other reason you can make up. Why just the pants issue? Other temptations can rear its ugly head too. When it gets cold, it can be very tempting to go buy the sweatpants, but I've learned there are other ways to stay warm: thick trouser socks or thermal underwear under a no-split skirt do quite nicely. You wear a long no-split skirt and no one can tell. I've been out in sub-freezing temperatures many times in a skirt and felt more fine while pants-donning counterparts are shivering!
Getting back to the beginning of my testimony, I didn't quit wearing pants because the church taught it. I did it because my foundation was based in the Word of God. All I did was ask God of a true and sincere heart what He wanted me to do, seeking His will. I am nothing because of that; it is all by His grace. I didn't get these convictions from man or church. It came straight from the Bible.
Other verses the Lord has shown me:
And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach. --Exodus 28:42
Don't miss the little point for the big point. Yes, this is the priests garment, but look at the reason for the length...to cover their nakedness.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. --Genesis 3:7-10
They covered themselves. I don't believe this was as it is in pictures, with one little leaf covering the secret parts because the leaves (plural) were sewn. Adam confesses that even though he was wearing a sort of garment he was still naked.
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. --Job 38:3
notice, like a man. His legs were bound up, compassed about, like a man. Gender separation!
To me, one of the loudest witnesses after God's Word is history. Even the world knows that it has not always been as it is now. You'd have to be crazy to think that the world, in general, is more holy now than 100 years ago. Read this excerpt from Wikipedia:
During the late 1800's, women started wearing pants for industrial work. During World War II, women wore their husband's pants while they took on jobs, and in the 1970's pants became especially fashionable for women.
So we see here that once women left traditional, Biblical roles they began wearing pants. Another example of gender confusion. We also see that pants solely for fashion started in the 70's. What else came from the 70's? Feminism, social progressive teaching, hostility toward government, birth control pills, the rise of rock music, the hippie movement and much else that stands in defiance of God's teaching.
My aim is never, ever to hurt anyone. I also don't want to lift up myself. God knows I am nothing outside of Him. My goal here is to simply explain what I personally believe, why I believe it, and to give my testimony of how it came to be. My only wish is that someone be blessed by reading.
I guess that the best way to share my keeper at home story is to start at the beginning. Although I was not reared in a Christian home, my mother was a full-time homemaker. She was there when we were little. At the time I certainly took it for granted. It was just the way of things. I didn't understand how much my mother contributed to the family. All I knew was that I didn't have to spend Mondays here and Fridays there, like some of my classmates No matter if I was sick or well, I could be at home. As we got older, mom went back to work when I was about 12 and my brothers were 10 and 6. My grandmother lived next door, but mostly we three children were left to ourselves. My grandmother called fairly often to check on us. She cooked breakfast for us. All-in-all, it wasn't terrible. We got into a lot of stuff we shouldn't have. Don't let your mind wander; there was nothing illegal or even shameful to mention going on. There was a lot of squabbling among the three of us. Some of the squabbling escalated into fist fights.
As I became a teenager, I began thinking about the future. Nothing serious, really just daydreaming here and there. Of course, I envisioned careers and college and majors and homes and cars. Staying at home was never mentioned I remember, though, working on a class project. We were collecting things for a time capsule that would be opened at a future class reunion. One of the questions that each student was to fill out was “Where do you plan to be in the next ten years?” Thinking ahead, I thought of how old I would be in 10 years. I would be nearly 28. It seemed so old (lol)! I didn't know anyone who was 28. All I could think was what my mom was doing when she was 28: a full-time homemaker. It brought back a flood of childhood memories. But I remembered too how hard it was on my mom. The only definite conclusion that I could come to was that I wanted to be married with children.
Not too long after I graduated was when I got saved. I'm not going by my own reasoning anymore; I have a heavenly guide.
When I met my husband, I was working a full-time job as a bank teller. I also had a part time job on Friday night and Saturday night working at a grocery store. I also was taking six college credit hours. I liked having the extra money, that's for sure. I didn't really spend exuberantly, but I did put away a good deal of it. When Jeremy and I were married, I never really considered staying at home. I wasn't rebelling against anything, working was just something that I had always done. It had not occurred to either of us to ask God what He wanted. Besides, everyone around me drew a paycheck, it must be okay! Jeremy and I had decided for sure that once we had children that I would be at home with them.
Now, during the two years that I was married and working, I will testify that our home was always messy. Not just untidy, but really dirty! If we had company unexpectedly stop by I was always embarrassed and stammered with excuses for the house. After working outside the home all day, who has energy to come home and start another day's work? Jeremy did his laundry and I did my laundry. We were eating out a lot. If we ate in, it was something prepared hastily. Cooking from scratch was unheard of on the weekdays.
When the came for me to quit my job, I was about 3 months pregnant with John. I remember one of my female co-workers asking me, “What are you going to do with all your spare time?” I didn't really know how to answer, so I simply said, “Well, I suppose there's always work somewhere to be done.” It really was wonderful to be able to put my complete energy into my home.
Being at home wasn't always a fairy-tale story though. Jeremy and I sacrificed a lot for me to be at home. Financially, it was a struggle. Jeremy had to work odd-jobs here and there to help make ends meet. We always ate in. We couldn't afford nice cuts of meat. We could never afford beef. We lived on a strict, tight budget. New clothes for anyone were totally out of the question at any time. To repeat the phrase that everyone uses: we couldn't afford for me to stay home. I firmly believe, through experience, that any family can afford to live on one income, with a meager handful of exceptions. Jeremy and I learned so much about sacrifice through this time and I will be the very first to say that it was a very small sacrifice for the rewards received.
I now am working as a full-time keeper-at-home and mommy. I am so incredibly happy as such. I got to teach my little one how to do everything. I had the satisfaction knowing that I had the privilege of being the primary shaper of this little ones life. I taught me little ones to roll over. I heard their first coos. When my husband gets home, dinner is on the table. He gets to come home to a nice tidy home (most of the time!) and could just let go of the cares of work. Nothing imaginable is more fulfilling than giving and sacrificing myself for my family.
Somewhere along the line, someone had asked me if I would return to “work” (like I'm not working now or something... :-) haha), once the children got school age. I replied that our plans were to homeschool. Then it was asked, if I would once if we quit homeschooling or when the kids finished school. I didn't really know what to say. I had never really given it much thought.
At that point I started out to learn what I could about women working outside the home. This is still a learning process for me. What I can conclude is that it's certainly not wrong for a woman to earn wages. After all, the Proverbs 31 woman contributed monetarily by selling her linen. As long as the home is tended to and the family is guarded and protected (taking the Greek of the phrase “keeper at home”), I can't see anything wrong with financial contribution. If earning wages was put ahead of, or interfered with the tasks of caring for the domesticities of home, guarding the family, bringing up the children, or being a wife, then it would be more like a weight and would need to be laid beside. From the best that I can tell, it is absolutely dangerous for a woman to work with men, and even more so, to have a man other than her husband as her work authority (i.e. her boss).
What about my friends who don't share my view? It's like I tell my children: “if you just worry about yourself, then you'll have enough to worry about.” Life is too short for me to give thought to what others do in their homes. If my opinion is asked, or if the subject comes up in conversation I feel like I am equipped to explain where my convictions lie. Condemning never helps anyone. If someone doesn't agree with me, I'm okay with that. I flatly disagree, but there's no reason to break fellowship.
I count my life at home a joy, privilege and honor. My prayer is that the Lord will give me many, many more years as a keeper at home.
I love to hear stories of how people are born again. It's a story that I never, ever grow tired of sharing my account. It is rather lengthy, but nonetheless, it's my testimony.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. --Psalm 40:2
Sunday, September 21, 1997
After the sermon on this Sunday morning, I stopped fighting God's beckoning and accepted Him as my personal Lord and Saviour. I was gloriously saved. I remember when the burden of sin I was carrying was lifted from my shoulders. What was truly amazing about it what that I didn't even know that I was carrying it. I guess if you had two 20 pound ankle weights bound to your ankles from the day you were born, you would be used to toting them, right? I remember how the whole world seemed different. At the time, I was a college student. I was 18. The next day I remember walking through one of the grassy areas, going from class to class. I remember taking a deep breath and actually appreciating how wonderful everything was. The air was sweet. The grass and trees were beautiful. The birds sang in such harmony. The sun made seemed to shine right down on me. Everything just seemed so ... different.
I had so much more that lead me up to that Sunday morning. I was not raised in a Christian home. I love my parents. I think they did the best they knew to do, to raise me right. I also believe that if they had known as young parents that God was “important,” for lack of a better word, they would have had us kids in church. They taught me that there were consequences for certain actions. They taught me to make good decisions. But, I grew up knowing nothing, absolutely nothing about God. I knew there was a God of some sort. Jesus was born of Mary and Joseph. I knew Adam and Eve were the first people. That sums up anything I knew about God.
I never hated church or God or anything. I had several friends who went to church. I was invited to go to church summer camp a few times, but I would never have gone off with a load of people I didn't know that well. When I was 16, a friend of mine, Julia, invited me to go to a Southern Baptist Church for a Wednesday night youth night. It was the first time I had ever heard Gospel preaching. I didn't understand everything. But I knew that I needed to get something right. Looking back, I see that God the Holy Spirit was drawing me. I was upset and crying, but wouldn't go to the altar to speak to the youth pastor. I was scared...frightened, really. Why was I suddenly feeling something wasn't right? My friend who invited me told me that I could talk to her mom if I felt better about talking to someone I knew. But my mind was made up. If I just ignored the problem, it would go away. Julia invited me to go to church with her again, but there was noooo way I was going back there. I didn't know this until a few years after I got saved, but Julia and her mom (her dad was stationed overseas at the time) prayed for me every night. I've never had the chance to thank Julia. She was, as far as I know, the only person who was burdened enough for me to pray for me.
I guess when I was about 17, I started dating a boy from a Catholic family. I went to church with him. I was still very scared of church. I started crying when we pulled up in the parking lot for the first time. I couldn't even go inside. I told him about going to the Baptist church and how scary it was for me. He promised me that Catholic church wasn't scary like a Baptist church. I never actually made it in the church service that day, but the next week I did. He was right. It wasn't scary. I didn't feel the conviction there. I could just sit and listen. I always left church just the same as I came in and lived the same from week to week. Later, I learned that the "scary" I was feeling was the Holy Spirit. God wanted me to know that I was lost and that I needed Him to make me whole.
After attending the Catholic church for over a year, I stopped going. I wasn't seeing the Catholic boy anymore. I was out of high school and felt it was time to grow up and stop playing “the good little girl.” Seeds of rebellion were taking deeper roots. I came dangerously close to getting involved in diverse wickedness. I stared seeing a guy that I worked with. He invited me to go to church. I told him that I was a Catholic (though I was never baptized or attended catechism), but I would still go to church with him. My mind was no where near God, but I'm so glad that I was on His. I was just going because my boyfriend asked me to go with him; I certainly was not looking for God. The church was again Baptist, but now I wasn't scared. After all, I was "spiritual" in my little religion I had made for myself. What was to fear? At that church, I heard the glorious Gospel preached clearly and concisely from God's Word. The same feeling I had before came again. Soon, it got to where I felt conviction whether I was at church or not. It gnawed at me day and night. During the invitation that September morning, I remember thinking that I was just so tired of fighting God. Why not just come to Him? So I did! I remember as I took the first step toward the preacher, that my feet felt like lead weights. But God just gave more grace. After that first step it almost felt like God just picked me up and walked the rest of the way for me. I told the preacher that I needed to be saved. I talked with his wife. She took the Bible and showed me that I was lost and bound for hell. But she didn't leave me at that. She told me that Jesus had already taken my punishment (whew!) and that all I had to do was accept His finished work. I bowed my head in prayer and asked Jesus to save me. I had prayed before that day many times. This day it was different. It felt like I was actually talking to God and He was hearing me. I didn't know what exactly to pray or what to say, but thank God He looks at the hearts.
So what did I do to get saved, you may wonder. Well, that's just the thing. I didn't do anything. Salvation isn't something you do. You can't do it. It's something that Jesus already did. God showed me that I was a sinner. Romans 3:10 states, ...there is none righteous, no not one. No matter what you can do it's not good enough. In order for you to be good enough for heaven, you have to be as good as Jesus. C'mon, no one is near that good! Romans 3:23 tells us that ...all have sinned and come sort of the glory of God. Nearly everyone agrees that they're not as good as God, but that's still not enough. Jesus knew that nearly everyone in the world would hate Him, but He still went to the cross. Why? Romans 5:8 tells us why: God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Jesus knew that He would be rejected, but even still He showed us His love by dying for us...making us a way to go to heaven. So we know we're not as good as God, and we know God died to make a way for us. But the question is still out there: How do you know you're going to heaven? Look at this: Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. I spent my whole life sinning. I was born in sin. I'm not a sinner because I sin. I'm a sinner because I am flesh and blood. If I barked, I wouldn't be a dog. The dog barks because he is a dog. That's what they do. People sin, not because they purposely try to. They were born that way. God says that someone must pay for those sins. Someone who can pay for them. What do you mean? Say my best friend was going to go to jail for a debt of $10,000. She could say she was going to pay, but she didn't have the money...didn't meet the requirement. I could offer to pay, but I don't have the money either...I fall short too. Someone who can meet the requirements must pay. God required a sinless, perfect sacrifice for sin. That was only 1 man - Jesus. He's the only One who can pay the wages (payment) of sin. If you don't accept the offer of the One who can pay, then you will be required to pay yourself. That would mean eternal death...in hell. The second part says, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ gave Himself as a gift, because He loves us and doesn't want hell for us. Acts 16:31 reads, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved... So, if you accept the fact that you're a sinner, that your sins separate you from God and heaven, that Christ died in your stead to make the payment for your sin-debt, and then simply believe Him, the Bible says he is saved. Now, take a look at Romans 10:13 - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Once you accept that God did so many wonderful things for you, call upon Him. That word "call" simply means to appeal to. And don't worry, God won't grade you on your prayer! "God, I believe you. Please save me." is plenty sufficient. Those years ago, I accepted these simple facts and trusted Christ's sacrifice. I promise you, that He is real. When someone as awesome as God gets inside of you, you know!
That day, he changed me. I'm not the same that I was. After God did so much for me, all I wanted to do was please him. I didn't know of Romans 12:1-2 yet, but it only fitting that since God had done so much for me, the least I could do was try to please Him. By God's grace, taught me so much. By His grace, He'll keep teaching me and conforming me to His image. I'll never be as faithful to Him as he is to me, but He always has been and always will be faithful. I still fail. I'm still a sinner, but I'll always be God's child.
It's one of those things, once you get really into it, you can't stop! I blogged for ages before and then stopped for a while and now I'm back. So hold on to your hats, folks.
Pray tell, why does John have a fever today? He is the strangest child in regard to sickness. Once day, for no apparent reason at all, he'll run a fever. And I'm not talking on of those puny fevers either. Today his temp is running between 102 and 103. He's not complaining of anything else hurting or anything. In fact, he's asked if he can go and play outside several times.
Here's how it happened: He and Ethan were outside playing before school. I called them in for school and they both seemed fine. We got through Bible; all seemed status-quo. Ethan left to go play while John and I started our phonics lesson. Then John started having trouble concentrating, which is sort of out of character for him. It just got worse. Then he was complaining he was cold. Well, today's high is supposed to be 81 or something. With the morning sum beaming hard through the window, he shouldn't have been cold. Like any decent mom, I put two and two together. So we wrapped up school and he's vegetating on the couch. Why he's feverish remains to be seen.
I have been busy beyond words lately: school, Baptist Heritage Conference, church ladies' retreat, a fellowship outing with the ladies at church, I cooked a feast for the family that came to preach the heritage conference, a housewarming in the midst of it all. Don't get me wrong; I'm far from complaining. I love being busy. But it will wear you down quickly!
Upcoming is a youth outing and starting the Christmas skit for the youth kids. Sounds like fun!
Last night I got to spend some time with a dear couple who lives out-of-town. We don't get to see them often and they unexpectedly came to visit for a Wednesday night service. The mother of said couple and I have much in common: we don't come from Christian backgrounds, our families are not Christian, we both homeschool, we both have kids with severe allergies, we have similar beliefs and standards, and so much more. As we were talking about raising our children for the Lord, we both agreed that it would just be so much easier to raise a family if we had a Godly mother out there that we could turn to for advice. We both know that the women are out there...somewhere. As of late I have been especially needing some Godly advice from a rock-solid keeper at home. My friend and I wondered together ... We know these women are out there? Why can't I find one?
I have to insert a little parenthetical paragraph here. I love my mother and she is precious to me. She did all she could to raise me by what she believed to be right, but we were not raised in church. Since I have been an adult she has come to know the Lord and now tries to live for Him. I just don't want the above paragraph to sound like my mom is a heathen! ;-) Back to what I was saying ...
Sadly, I believe the answer is this: Women's lib and the working mom have become more the norm than the exception. As Christian women look around them and see that they're not "keeping up with the Joneses" or that their kids don't have what other kids have or whatever, the temptation is there to want to have more. These Christian women can find many excuses to find a job, and to make it seemingly alright with God and the Bible. When I look for someone to turn to for advice, I typically have to say to myself, "Well, she's at work right now."
As I begin to write on this subject, I want to say that I don't want to come across as haughty or prideful. But I do want to speak plainly and clearly. My goal is never, ever to hurt anyone. I am fully persuaded, by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, that it is the very rare exception for a woman to work a job.
The Biblical Base (foundation)
First off, I accept the Bible as my 100% full authority. If everyone around me believes that something is right and the Bible says it's not, I'm on the Bible's side. I want more than anything to be 100% right with the Bible and therefore, with God. I can honestly say that although I want to be perfectly right with God, even in the smallest thought, deed and attitude, I am not always. But it is a goal to strive toward. As I become more conformed to His image, the more I find myself consistently using right words, actions, deeds, thoughts, etc.
The Duties Depicted
When you think of a young lady, most would say I'm not particularly "young" anymore. But since I am still of child-bearing age, I'd say that Biblically, I fit into the young women category of Titus 2:4-5:
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
We all, of course, are but flesh and fall short of these goals. Let's look first at the word "teach." We young women must be taught to be these 8 things. Since we have to be taught, it's logical to conclude that it won't come naturally. I've always thought it was strange that we have to be taught to love our husbands and children. I married him after all, of course I love him! I carried my children and I can't help but love them. So why is it commanded to love them? I think it's because we see love as a feeling or an emotion. But that is not what true love is. When I love my husband or children the right way, I am always putting myself last and others first.
I promise I'm not getting off topic here. What does all that have to do with a woman staying at home? It has everything to do with it! We must be careful not to let our idea of what love is to be poisoned by the world. How many times have we all heard someone say, "I want Johnny to have more than I did when I was coming up. I just love him and I don't want him to do without." "I love Suzie and what she really needs an expensive private education, so I work to put her through school." What our families need from us is for us to be there for them any time of day or night. They need to be guided and guarded. It's something so vital that you can't leave it to the daycare worker, teacher or grandparent; It is not their responsibility. Working or doing something for someone is probably the most simple thing you can do for someone. But when you really sacrifice your whole self and put your whole life aside for someone, that in itself is truly loving. Christ is our example in this. As a baby, Christ was just as much God in the flesh as he was when he died on the cross as a man. He could have skipped the sermons and the teachings and the parables. He could have, as a baby, taken on the sins of the world and paid our sin-debt in full as an infant. But he didn't. He spent his entire life before that completely devoted to instructing his followers.
The Withholden Womb
Naturally and Biblically, it is every Christian woman's desire to have children. Sometimes God sees fit to not allow women to have children. I cannot imagine the heartache. Perhaps they have married. In this situation, would it be alright for a woman to work? I think that we can see from the Bible that it is still best for a lady to be at home. Again, we see in Titus 2 that she is to be a keeper at home. It does not say "keeper of the children," though that would be included. This word also does not at all imply she is to simply to keep the home tidy. When we examine the word "keep," we see that she is essentially the guardian of the home. The thought here is not so much on the domesticities of the home. What does the house itself need to be guarded from? Nothing! Instead, it is the wife's duty to be sure that what enters the home is wholesome, holy, and good. When I think of the word "keep," what first comes to mind is a soldier from the Dark Ages. The king was in the keep, in the heart of the castle. Around him are his strongest warriors to protect him. It is the most fortified point of the castle. If the enemy is to break through into the stronghold, he will have to take the life of the keeper first. He isn't just a keeper of the castle; His very life is consumed with protecting that which is dear to him. Nothing else comes first. Never would he say, "No time for training today, I have to tend my garden" or something to that affect.
The domestic side of the home is an after thought to a much bigger picture. A woman who loves those to whom the Lord has entrusted her, would only naturally want that home to be happy and beautiful. A keeper at home is a servant to those around her. What a better way to say to your husband, "I love you" than to have his home clean and his dinner on the table? If both husband and wife work this is not possible. I've tried it! After a long day at work the wife is just as exhausted as her husband. They both kick off their shoes and prop up their feet. Typically what happens is that the couple ends up eating out and spending up all the extra income made by the wife. Then the wife spends her Saturday playing catchup on the laundry and housework with no time for her children or husband. Once this habit is established it is extremely difficult to break. I know because I've been in that rut! Before I had children I held down a job. My home was never clean. I was always apologizing when we had unexpected company. We ate out many nights. If we didn't eat out we ate something terribly unhealthy...usually from a box and the microwave. When our first son was born, it was exceedingly difficult to get my flesh to keep (spiritually and domestically) house. I honestly would have found it easier to work 2 or 3 jobs than to work all day long feeling unappreciated and unnoticed. If we had just a glimpse of hindsight, we would have been on one income from day one. Sadly, we could have had perfect foresight by just reading God's Word and praying for his will.
The Hollow Haven
This is probably what I find the most discouraging is that so many well-meaning Christian ladies. Let's look again to Titus 2, starting now with verse 2:
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
I mentioned before that "young" referred to a child-bearing age. That would lead us to conclude that "aged" meant those women who have raised their children and are now seeing them as Godly adults. When we think of aged, we usually envision an old, frail, white-headed saint sitting on her rocker with her knitting. It certainly would include her, but is not limited to her. So, why did I start with the men? Well, the command to the aged women hinges on the men. "The aged women likewise" as the aged men. The aged women must be sober, grave temperate, etc (verse 2) AND ALSO be in behaviour a becometh holiness, etc (verse 3). That in itself is not discouraging of course. The aged women are to be the things listed in verses 2 and 3 so that they can teach the young women of verse 4 to be Godly. There is not a day that goes by that I do not need advice or encouragement. Sometimes I desperately need someone to go to and say, "Here's what my child did today. Did that ever happen to you? How did you handle it?" How I yearn for someone that I can trust to turn to.
The Godly women are out there, but where? What I've observed is that once a wife rears her children, or sometimes even when they go off to school, the wife finds herself unneeded. I haven't been through the "empty nest" syndrome. I did see my mom go through it. It was very hard for her. Once you put your whole into your children and then, suddenly, they are gone, it would truly be a difficult transition. No more laughter and busyness in the home. As women, we need to feel needed. I think this is why so many women enter the work force once the children leave home. They just need something to fill up their day. But there is such an opportunity and genuine need for the aged women to minister. The young women must be taught. I need to be taught! If the aged women are all out at work, who is left to teach the young women? No one. The young women don't know how to love their children or their husbands because no one is telling them how. It has been said that mothers leaving the home for the workplace is one of the biggest things crippling homes today. I only can partly agree. I think more of the problem is that the aged women are not making themselves available to teach the younger ones.
Some Distorted Defenses
This is a collection of things I've heard people use to try to justify a woman in the work force.
→As long as a woman keeps her husband / family / home first, it is alright for her to work outside the home.
A woman cannot properly keep (guard) her home unless she is there. It simply is not possible. Let's say that a woman puts 1 hour into getting ready for work (including driving time), 8 hours working, has a 1 hour lunch break and then drives home for 30 minutes. She has put 10 1/2 hours into her job. She needs about 8 hours to sleep also. That leaves her only 5 1/2 hours for what her family needs. From the 5 1/2 hours, you can subtract meal prep and clean up, shower time, and maybe a bit of time to try to pick up a bit of clutter left out. That doesn't leave much time for the home, does it. Not to mention time for Bible study and prayer time. Mother is exhausted and doesn't have the energy to set the spirit of the home. The house is a mess, dinner is never made, the clothes are dirty, no one is talking to each other, the parents have no idea what interests the children or what enters their minds. You tell me what's coming first.
→ We live in a society / economy that demands a two-income home.
I can speak candidly from experience on this one. Society demands that you or your children have store bought and name brand clothes, cable TV, extra curricular activities, nice vacations, cell phones, nice homes, little league, etc. Your kids don't need Hollister, they need you there for them. Your husband doesn't need a new golf driver, he needs a wife who loves him. You can live on one income. My Keeper at Home testimony explains how we did it. The problem is that we don't want to sacrifice or we don't want to make our children sacrifice.
→Even the virtuous woman worked.
Yes, that is true. Proverbs 31:24: She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. There is absolutely no indication that she worked outside the home. Verses 18-22 indicate that she had quite a knack for a particular trade and worked to add to the family income. Verse 18 tells us that her candle goeth not out by night. Once her husband and her family were seen after, with the time she had left at night, she worked toward this trade. Good on her! But it is not at all implied that the virtuous woman ever left the safety of her home and husband to earn her added income.
Look also at verse 16 of Proverbs 31: She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. I've heard this argued that the virtuous woman was involved in real estate. I cannot agree based on this Scripture. Just because she bought a field wouldn't necessarily mean that she was a real estate agent. The passages before this verse talk about how the heart of her husband trusts in her. The most that I can see from this verse that is concrete is that her husband entrusted her to make big, even financial, decisions without his supervision.
→God commanded that the corners of the field be left unreaped for the women to glean.
Yes, I've heard this one. But this one is just plain silly.
And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God. --Leviticus 19:10
When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. --Deuteronomy 24:19
Obviously, the corners were not left for just any woman to glean from. It was God's was of providing with those facing hard times.
→ It is alright for a woman to be under the subjection of another man (her boss), as long as her husband allows it and she remembers that her husband is her true head.
When a woman takes a position outside the home, she must obey a man (usually a man) who is not her husband. Let's take a relatively harmless scenario. Husband and wife have dinner plans one Friday night. The boss comes into the wife's office and tells her he needs her to work late. So, she phones her husband and tells him the situation. Being a sweet husband, he doesn't have a problem with her working over, although inside he is pretty disappointed. They cancel their dinner plans. Now, who did the wife obey? I didn't say who did she disobey because she didn't disobey anyone. Obey simply means to be subject to. Whose will was she subject to? Her boss! Also, women are told in Titus 2 to be obedient to their own husbands. We like to take that "own" word and nail it down, telling the young women not to be trying to please every man around her but her husband. Maybe that word "own" was in there first to the young women, but also to her husband as a reminder that he has no business allowing any other man to be an authority to her.
→When the kids were little, mom stayed home.
Great! Kids need mom. When they need to learn "don't touch," Mom should be there for that training. But what about when they're 16? It is such a burden to me to see teens that have no relationship with their parents. What happened? When the kids were little Mom was their best friend. Relationships don't just happen. When Mom has been at work all day and she only has that 5 1/2 hours to make dinner, clean the kitchen, do some laundry, sweep the floor and try to do a few more other odds and ends around the house, when does she have time to ask her kids, "How was school today?" If she does ask then she'll usually get an answer like "Fine" and that ends the conversation. It's great that Mom stays home with the babies, but the babies need you more than ever when they aren't babies anymore. If Mom isn't there to guide those decisions that the teen has to make, who will? If there is no relationship, the teen won't trust your advice.
→I work, but the kids don't go to daycare. They stay with grandma.
This is another one that puzzles me. I would agree that staying with a Christian grandmother is slightly better than daycare. I have a mother and a mother-in-law who are fantastic grandparents. But can I honestly say that grandparents are not parents. I see this even with my fantastic grandparents, but they let things slide. And I'm not saying this is shameful. Grandparents should get to enjoy their grandkids without having to worry about raising them. The character training should be 100% the duty of the parent and not the grandparent. If the kids stay with grandma, even just once a week, who is responsible for character training?
The Warranted Worker
So then, which woman may work? The widow may work. If she qualifies as a "widow indeed" (1 Timothy 5:3-5,9-10) the church should take care of her, but not every widow is a "widow indeed." The divorcee will have to work if she has no one who can care for her. But she would never allow work to interfere with church (i.e. not work on Sunday/Wednesday night), she would see that her children are with Christian caretakers and see that she is never too tired to lead family devotions or be so tired that she misses church. How about a single mother? Maybe she made some bad decisions before she was saved and now must provide for herself and her baby. There may also be times that a husband has a chronic illness and cannot work. Of course when he gets well, she would leave the workforce. I've also heard it where a wife was made to work by her husband. Yes, even though her husband is wrong to take her out of her keeper at home role, she must submit to his authority. It would also be her responsibility to be praying that the Lord changes the heart of her husband to allow her to stay at home.
If a woman is working just because her husband doesn't make enough to support their home then (1)either God is a liar or (2)their standard of living is too high. Woah! Are you implying God's a liar if we can't live on one income?
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. --1 Timothy 5:8
Another thought on the passage: When God teaches, he always leaves his teaching "black or white." There is no gray; no in between. Take a woman who is trying to pattern her life after Proverbs 31 and says that she achieves that by working outside her role in the home, citing verse 24. If it were possible for her to increase her virtue by earning income, than that is to say that if a woman stays at home and does not earn a paycheck, she could not fulfill Proverbs 31. When I read the passage, I see a man who is speaking of a particular woman, probably his own wife. Then he lists the reasons why she is virtuous: he trusts her, he doesn't lack, she's good to him, etc. When we get to verse 24, if we look at this as "she earned income," one would have to earn income to be a virtuous woman. That simply is not in line with the rest of Scripture.
So then, how can I fulfill verse 24? Mrs. Proverbs 31 was a lady who did all she could with all she had. As Jesus put it in the book of Mark, "she hath done what she could." With time left over, after fully and carefully keeping her home, she was able to make a few things to sell in the market. In my hometown, there is a Godly lady, a preacher's wife, who does this very well. She and her children keep a rather large garden. When harvest comes in, she and the children put their produce in the back of the the truck and sell it by the roadside. Her children are taught and molded consistently by her and she is never under the authority of another man! If her duties at home demand more than day, she is not obligated to go to "work." If one of the children is sick, she can stay at home with him (all sick babies want mommy anyway, not the sitter). She is still available to work in the church with her flexible schedule.
Nearly every verse of the passage suggests that the virtuous woman did all she could to make her husband's money stretch. She carefully managed what they had. There surely were conveniences of their day, but instead of using something pre-made or convenient, she saved a bit of money by just doing it herself. With a little creativity, you'd be surprised how much money you could save with scratch-cooking, making your cleaning products, taking time to bargain shop, looking around yard sales and thrift stores, you name it! I would see making the most of what your husband has a much more Scriptural way to fulfill Proverbs 31:24. Truly, Mrs. Proverbs 31 is saving more money than she could earn by tending to her home. If we as modern women will be honest with ourselves and God, the same is true of us.
Perhaps this post sounds a little old fashioned to you. What this world needs is less progressive modernism and secular humanism and more old fashioned Godly families. I would agree that it is old fashioned, but I'd invite you to read these lyrics from a song I love.
"I Guess I'm Just a Little Old Fashioned" - Albert E. Brumley
Here so many are breaking traditions
That are sacred the whole world around
Seeking only for riches and pleasures
That so freely in this life abound;
But I still love the precious old Bible,
'Tis my comfort, my guide and my stay,
O I guess I'm just a little old fashioned
But I still love the old fashioned way.
O they say I'm old fashioned for trusting
In the story of long, long ago.
And they say I've an old fashioned fancy
Just because I believe it is so;
Well, the whole world can call me old fashioned,
They can call me whatever they may,
But I'll still be just a little old fashioned
For I still love the old fashioned way.
In this world that is doubting and changing,
Changing ways that are old for the new,
There's a need for the old-time religion
And the prayers of the Christians so true;
May be Saviour who ruleth in heaven
Hear the old fashioned prayers that we pray,
May He keep us just a little old fashioned
For I still love the old fashioned way.
O I guess I'm just a little old fashioned
But I still love the old fashioned way,
Lord, I care not for the world and its glory,
Or the life that is modern and gay;
But I still love the songs about Jesus
And I still love the Bible so true;
O I guess I'm just a little old fashioned,
But my Saviour was old fashioned too.