How to Encourage Your Husband {When Everything in the House Breaks}.

Do you ever have one of those seasons in your household when everything seems to break or fall apart at the same time? Several things have “gone wrong” around the house recently and it can be very frustrating.
Today we realised we would have to replace a glass window we thought we could get away with not replacing. And then, when I went to put a load of dishes through the dishwasher, it started having a bit of a fit – a fit it has done before and which eats at our pockets.
I could see the frustration and disappointment in my husband’s face, and my heart went out to him. 
When things like this happen, I believe there are three things a wife can do to really love and support her husband. Here’s what I have been thinking of and seeking to do for my husband as we look at having to spend more money on broken stuff.

encouragehusband

1. Stay positive {even if you feel worried about money}

If you’re like me, you can feel the worry and fear about money when things keep breaking and the bills start piling up. There is something about money that causes sinful emotions to wrap themselves around the human heart. {In fact, did you know that Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic, even salvation?}
I learnt very quickly as a young wife that it did not help the situation if I started worrying, fretting and adding anxious emotions to the situation. Feeling those own emotions as the provider, my husband would feel worse, more stressed and full of doubts when his helpmeet was freaking out.
By far, the most helpful thing I can do for my husband in this situation is to stay positive and calm.
 
“It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful wife.”

Proverbs 21:9

2. Affirm his work & role as provider

I’ve said before that how we, as wives, take care of our homes speaks volumes to our husbands. Our homes and the things in it – though things – are evidences of a husband’s hard work, love, and willingness to spend himself for the sake of his family. When there is a season when things around the house keep breaking and money keeps disappearing, this is so demoralising for a husband.
A husband might think to himself, “I am so tired. I work so hard. Everything keeps breaking and all the money I earn – that I want our family to have for our needs and enjoyment – keeps getting sucked dry. I’m useless. I don’t provide enough. I’m not man enough.”
It’s hard for us women to sometimes understand our men and how they work {especially when they don’t talk about how they’re feeling!}, but I believe their silences, anger, moodiness about household mishaps often stem back to their identity as men.
So encourage your husband that he is enough, that he’s doing an amazing job, and that things will be okay!

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25

3. Manage the house well & seek solutions

 

A very practical way we can encourage our husbands around the home is to care for it well. Not only does this mean managing and caring for everything in the house with respect and hard work, it can also mean adjusting our expectations of what we have.
Today when the dishwasher broke and the look came over my husband’s face, I put my hand on his arm and said, “Honey, we don’t need to get it fixed. It is a luxury item.” And it is. Between the cracked window that keeps out rain and cold and the dishwasher, one of those actually needs to be fixed.
I am perfectly capable of washing dishes and have been for most of our marriage. Even though I have loved the last year of having a dishwasher, it is a luxury. If it means taking the load off my husband, I can go without, easily. Sometimes we can make sacrifices around the home just as our husbands do when they work so hard for us often in situations and pressures we don’t fully know about.

 

“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”  Proverbs 31:17

As wives, we’re called to support and encourage our husbands. If we are able to stay home, it is a privilege and a blessing. Our husbands have the pressure of working in the world under people who do not know the Lord. Their work environments can be really hard places to work in. They can feel enormous pressure to earn lots of money and buy bigger houses and more things. But we know that life isn’t about those things. It is about loving God and our families {both at home and at church}. Let us take the load off our husbands by doing our best at home, making do when the need arises, and encouraging and blessing our husbands by working hard with able hands around the home.

How do you encourage your husband when household things get him discouraged?

A Wife’s Primary Role

If I could sum up all the verses directly related to wive’s in the Bible, this is what I believe God wants all wives to know:

Your primary role in marriage is to support your husband.
Now, as a sort-of feminist teenager, I would have squirmed with indignation at such a statement. Even though every fibre of my being longed to have a man to love and be loved by, the thought that my main role in marriage was to support him – well, I don’t think so!
Why did I feel that way? What was it about the idea of a woman supporting the man she loves make me go all icky and angry? If I were to talk to my teenage-self, I would cut right to the chase – and the hidden thoughts of my heart – and point out the two reasons why.
NOTE: If you are being abused – emotionally or physically – I am not talking to you. You need to get help or get out now. That is not a marriage God wants happening and will provide for you just as He provided for Israel escaping slavery. I am addressing wives in a normal, imperfect but fairly healthy marriage relationship.

1. “You think being a support to a man is something derogatory.”

I’d point out that it is the man bit that makes me feel icky. You see, if I were thinking about my primary role in friendship, and that it was to “support my friend”, I wouldn’t think twice… But because it is a man, this means there is something inherently bad/derogatory/abusive/slavish about it. 
What a lie! A lie from our fore-mothers gone awry, a lie from the history of men abusing their position of protector/provider, and a lie from the enemy who just wants us all to be as far away from God’s good design as possible as it can be.
When we put the baggage of history aside and we look into the sweet Word of our God, the Truth we see right at the beginning of the world – before sin and abuse and manipulation and lies wormed their way like cancer into our beings – that God created a stunningly gorgeous woman to —
be a helper
be a companion
be a lover
It is inherently within us to be nurturing, supportive and a help. We absolutely love it. Why do we love planners and organisers and nesting so much?? And, quite simply, we long to love. We long to love the men God has blessed us with. We just get lied to and we fall prey to the sin that “so easily entangles us” {Hebrews 12:1} and therefore, live in fear.
But God addresses this fear in 1 Peter 3:6, when He reminded us of Sarah who,
“obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not give way to fear.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t call my husband ‘lord’! Ha! But, my heart respects him and his position of protector and provider. This is the same thing. And so, I support him by respecting him and honouring the position God has put him in and the position He has put me in. If I want to be a biblical, godly woman like Sarah – who was honoured in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 – I am to obey God and not be afraid. 
Obeying God also means trusting Him to help me and help my husband if things do start to go wrong – which they will, by the way. We are sinners and we will sin against each other. Your husband will make mistakes and sin against you. But God knew that and knows that now. Even when we make mistakes, living His ways is still far better than living the ways of this world.

2. “God wants you to focus on His Word for you and not your husband’s.”

Teenage-me: It’s easy to focus on what another person should be doing or what they are supposed to be doing but aren’t. You might think, “Well, I’ll support my husband if he is loving me like Jesus.” If only he were more: kind, loving, protective, manly, stronger etc. Or, if only he would: provide better, be less lazy, help around the house more, be a better father.
I’m afraid, this is another lie. Obeying God is never a dependent clause. Just as He never asks us to love another depending on their behaviour, nor does ever love us dependent on our behaviour. He loves us unconditionally. And, even though we are fallen creatures who hurt and sin and disobey, we are still called to love one another more than ourselves {John 13:34-35}.
This means that our support of our husbands is not dependent on their behaviour. We can’t say, “Well, if he would show me more affection then I would feel like being more of a support to him”. That’s just not how it works. This is a form of comparison, which is a sign of a distrustful and ungrateful heart towards our God who generously gives us all good gifts {1 Timothy 6:17}.
Again, we are to be like Sarah. Do you think Abraham was perfect? Do you remember that he was a coward, pretended Sarah was his sister, and gave her to another man to be his concubine {Genesis 20}? Talk about a model husband! How hurt, betrayed, grief-filled Sarah must have been. They had an imperfect, sinful marriage.
But. 
She respected her husband and God calls her righteous for it. In their mistakes, God would have stretched them, helped them learn to love one another more than themselves, and to trust and obey the roles He has created for husbands and wives. Isn’t that what He asks us in our marriages today?
The above picture is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But, for all the 1950’s of it, such a picture shows a wife being welcoming, warm, and supportive to her husband as he walks in the door. Does she struggle with fear and the desire to rule her husband? Of course! Who doesn’t? But, if she truly loves the Lord and desires to please Him above all else {including her feelings and sentiments}, then she will strive to be a loving and supportive wife to her husband.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Have you struggled with any of the lies mentioned?
Categories UncategorizedTags

You Can Slow Your Life {and your family will thank you for it.}

It’s Saturday night and we put our son to be at 5:55pm. I don’t think he has ever been to bed that early. But he was tired and burning up. His eyes were puffy with tiredness and when we said, ‘Early night tonight, buddy’, all he said was, ‘Yeth’. {Yes, he has a cute lisp.}

This week, despite ever being conscious of how we spend our days, has overtaxed our children. Compared to other families, it may have been a fairly normal week, but for us, it was busy. My kids don’t do well with busy. They tend to get a bit crazy and, at worst, come down sick with temperatures. Hence, a toastie of a little boy, in bed an hour before his normal bedtime.

And me? I don’t do well with busy either. Introverts with a tendency to be anxious go better with a slow life. So, when I make sure our life is stable and peaceful, it’s not just for the children – it’s for me, too. Happy mummy, happy campers.

Living a quiet and slow life is a passion of mine. But I’m not perfect at it. There are still weeks where we get out too much or there isn’t enough downtime at home. Sometimes it cannot be helped, but for the most part, it is possible to live a slow life.

Principles for Slowing Your Life Down
Keep family your main priority. When your family come first, it is much easier stripping the unnecessary away. Perhaps you’re like me {in Myers-Briggs, I’m an INFJ} and you love helping. If someone needs help, I will put my hand up. Or, when we commit to something, we really commit {and so go to the group even if it is the last thing we should be doing}. As a wife and mother now, I say no to everything that does not add to our family life. Even if it would add to my life but would cost someone else in the family, I say ‘no’. This may seem extreme, but this full-on motherhood thing is only for a season. I won’t always have this amazing opportunity to pour everything into my family. Oneday, I can do things for ‘me’. But right now, they are my priority.
Accept the different seasons. As mentioned above, there are many seasons in life, and each will mean saying ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others. We don’t need to feel guilty about this – it really is a fact of life. Limitations during different seasons are not meant to be constricting; they are perimetres for keeping the ebb and flow of daily life in check. Within those boundaries is great freedom and peace. Just like seasons of life, there are also the seasons of the year: we slow down in winter, and become more active in the warmer months. This is a natural timeline that God has made for our lives, but we have forgotten it in our modern life.

{Source}
Do what makes life a joy. ‘The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ Reading books on the couch, cuddles close, kisses buried in golden curls, tickles with boisterous boy-giggles. This is pure joy and it is enjoying Him in the moment because His hand is all over it. Stuffing kids in cars, rushing here, stuck in traffic there, tempers rising, irritation. There is no joy there. And it isn’t what life is about. Walks in the park, make towers with blocks, reading good books, painting pictures, planting bulbs in winter soil for the spring. Glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever.
Keep your eyes wide open. Don’t just accept the status quo because that’s what everyone does. Just because busy is what our culture endorses doesn’t mean it’s good. Read our culture, read history, put everything into perspective. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit kooky. In the end, what other people think of us doesn’t matter – it’s Him we’re wanting to honour. Let us submit ourselves under His way of living for each of our own lives.

{Source}
There are other things to keep in mind, too:
  • re-evaluate when needed
  • keep Scriptures hidden in your heart to keep you focused on what is important for your family
  • be bold even when you feel nervous to be different
  • keep communicating with your husband and his dreams for your family
  • accept the busier moments in life {ie. Christmas} then return to slow as soon as possible
  • watch and listen to your child’s cues {they may not be able to articulate their need for more or less}

The blessings of a slow life are just enormous. And I don’t believe it is something you can regret. As mother’s, if we were constantly busy, we would look back and think: ‘I wish we had taken things more slowly; enjoyed the little years more; read more together; had more home days…’ But I don’t think, in living a slow life, we’ll look back and think, ‘I wish we had been busier.’
It’s never too late to start. It’s okay to quit clubs and extra life fluff to scale back. It may take awhile to adjust – your bodies will be used to going, driving, spending, hurrying. There will be urges you need to master. But a morning will dawn and your heart will think of the slow day ahead and be content. 
And, I promise, you will be a more patient, more enjoyable, more joy-filled wife and mother for it.

Why Being A HelpMeet Is Not Beneath Me {Or You}.

The voices that speak to the troubled heart of a woman today are many, subtle and just soul-destroying. And the Greatest Liar of them all? His delight is purely in the downfall of all that was beautifully made in the beginning. He is thrilled and has made fools of us all. Wherever the pendulum swings – male abuse of being a head to the emasculating domination of a she-male – he is behind it all
The Bible is the only place we can find the hope, the solace, the nourishment, the endorsement, the understanding, the answers, the freedom and the beauty all women today crave. Today, I want to point our struggling hearts to the theology of women being helpmeets. I pray God just sets you free from any lies and snares and doubts about this incredibly holy calling.

“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make a helper fit for him.'” Genesis 2:18



First, woman was needed.

It is easy to gloss over the fact that God said that “it is not good”. We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? My heart can become dull to the fact that nothing in creation had been “not good” until Adam needed a companion. But did you know that the original Hebrew sheds a little more light to the heart of God as He made beautiful Eve?
The Hebrew used for “not good” here means positively bad. And I don’t mean the positively bad that we’ve run out of chocolate in the house! No, when God saw Adam hanging out with his animals, He saw that without companionship, life would have no goodness.
Woman, you are good. You are needed and are just plain lovely and good.
Note too, that it didn’t take God by surprise that Adam was lonely. God didn’t make everything without Eve in mind; rather, he waited until Adam realised himself that he was alone. Adam discerned that he needed someone {Genesis 2:20}.
Second, woman was a helper-partner.

Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book Helper By Design: God’s Perfect Plan For Women in Marriage fleshes out this verse {and surrounding verses} to show that God gave Adam six tasks to do in the Garden: Rule. Relate. Reproduce. Reflect. Rejoice. Rest. She says,

“Adam and Eve were unique in the creation, and although he was made from from the dust of the earth {and Eve wasn’t}, she complemented and corresponded to him. Eve wasn’t some other sort of creature; she wasn’t beneath Adam, nor was she superior to him; but rather she was created as his partner, equally in God’s image and called to glorify Him. pg.35
“Fundamentally, a wife can take steps toward helping her husband by seeking to understand the specific ways in which God has called him to rule, relate, reproduce, reflect, rejoice, and rest.”pg.37
God’s original plan for human kind hasn’t changed. In our spheres of home, work, and other influence, we are called to glorify God and enjoy Him forever by ruling and subduing His creation. Specifically in marriage, a wife’s role is to come alongside her husband and care for him, nurture him, strengthen him, encourage him, rebuke him {when necessary}, love him, and seek to learn him as a person and God’s calling for him.
A wife may have her own form of paid employment. She may be a mother. She will have other pursuits and interests outside the home and that are uniquely her own. That is very needed and God will use her mightily as she submits those things to Him. But, her primary calling if she is married, is to be her husband’s helper.


Third, woman was called to be like her Father.
When God created woman to be a helper, he wasn’t making a role or calling that was new. God made man and woman in His image and imparted to them characteristics and responsibilities that were part of His nature. {The fact that they are man and woman and need one another differently reflects the very nature of the Trinity.} In fact, God’s call on woman to be a helper was asking her to be like Him.
The very word “helper” in Hebrew is only used twice in the Old Testament. The first is when God created woman, and the rest is in reference to God and His great care of His people, Israel. Mary Kassian in her book Women, Creation and the Fall writes,
“In the creation of female, we see that a doormat or servant-slave was certainly not what God had in mind. God intended to make a counterpart for the man, a vital helper for him, perhaps in much the same sense as God is a helper. pg.17
Do you see that? When God made us to be helpmeets, He gave us a role that He fulfills to His people. This is such an important reason why the argument that women are inferior just does not stand and why our fear of being helpmeets is so sin-laden and culturally influenced. God made us to be helpers like He is. If it is “good enough” for God, why wouldn’t it be for us?

“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Psalm 54:4
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” Psalm 28:7
I understand the fear in the hearts of women when they start looking into God’s calling for them. So much of history is blackened by the abuse of men over their women. Yet, so much of history is also littered with women abusing their power of womanhood over men for their own purposes. We mustn’t ever forget that women are sinners and have equally distorted God’s design. 

Please don’t think that I have never struggled with this. Please don’t think that there aren’t feminist feelings floating around in my mind. There are and I do struggle. In fact, this has been on my mind recently, my soul has been wrestling with what I believe the Bible teaches to what I hear the world teaching. I am truly flawed. But, I don’t want what the world offers. Look how messed up this place is! I want God and His ways. I want what He has designed and which is lived out perfectly, beautifully and so sacrificially in the Trinity. 
Instead of fearing what isn’t truth, we must fear the Lord, just like Sarah did {1 Peter 3:6}. Not only must we fear Him {respect and honour Him}, we must trust in His ways. We must seek to pursue His very words to us and believe that the fears we hold, the lies we hear are not from Him.
He esteems women greatly because they are made to reflect Him!
He made us because we are wanted and needed!
He created us to nurture just as He nurtures!
He calls us to help as He helps! 
No, being a helpmeet does not make us less. And no, being a helpmeet is certainly not beneath us. It is a calling that is godly and requires serious commitment and faithfulness. Being a helpmeet is a holy calling, one that is worked out in the heavens, and can be, by God’s grace, lived out in all Christian marriages.

Please share your comments below. I would love to chat about this all.

Callings and Self-Doubt: Choosing Faith that You Are on the Right Path.

We all struggle with comparing ourselves to others {remember?}. And, as I am growing to see in myself, we all struggle with doubting ourselves next to others. Self-doubt is a massive continuing blip in the radar of my Christian growth.
Before we had children, I wasn’t like any of the wives I knew. I didn’t have a full-time job. I wasn’t helping us save money for when children came. There was great logic in those choices, but they weren’t our choice. I worked part-time {generally ten hours a week} and, for the most part, I considered being a homemaker {ie. Tim’s wife} my full-time job.
Oh, it was such a different path to take. Granted, I never, ever got negative comments or remarks – but I did get lots of people questioning me. 

Why don’t you work more?
Don’t you want more money?
What does Tim think?
Aren’t you bored?
What do you do all day?
The questions always got me. I knew, deep down that this was God’s calling on my life, and I knew people would disagree with me. But all the questions – and often what the questions didn’t say but silently did – were like little arrows of doubt. In those times, I really did have two people on my shoulder; one speaking positively to my calling, the other asking more and more questions, leading to deepening doubt. Even though I knew my own story and Tim’s, even though I knew why dedicating my life to my family was my dream job, I still doubted. I doubted simply because I feared man.


Each day we have a million battles we face. We battle the choice to have faith or reject the Gospel. We battle to believe the truth of God’s Word {and not listen to the hissing whisper, “Did God really say…?”}. We battle to choose obedience to God and not sin. We battle our culture. And sometimes, sadly, we battle our own family, friends and church.
Living a life of faith and conviction is ridiculously hard. Mere questions can be the marsh mellows of it all! Ridicule, persecution, misunderstanding, judgement and rejection are almost expected. And I am not just talking about God’s moral laws here {as opposed to the world’s standards}: I am talking about an individual’s call, their choice of occupation, a family’s way of life, their vision for the upbringing of their children…

I am talking about the personal, quiet, submissive belief one has before God that this way – this choice, this path, this conviction – is uniquely given by the Lord, to them, for their life. Everyone has callings that submit under the law of the Gospel.
We have authors, painters, teachers, leaders, servers, mothers, fathers, missionaries, single individuals, bridge builders, carpenters, evangelists, singers, bloggers. Under the grace of the Gospel, we have individual callings. And they will be different. You, and I, will be different. And amongst the many battles that we face each day will be the battle to believe, to hold on to, to grasp the hem of God that this calling is ours. No matter what questions are asked. No matter who asks those questions.
Self-doubt is one of the ways in which the enemy gets God’s people off track. Indulging, believing and participating in self-doubt causes us to be like the person James speaks of, the one who, when asking for wisdom,

“must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” {1:6}
When we are being tossed about in the waves of self-doubt {which is not faith}, we are ineffective disciples of Christ. We are crippled by our own selves and will not thrive in the calling God has given us. 
Paul, throughout the Epistles, repeatedly began his letters stating his calling, or appointment to service {1 Timothy 1:12}, or apostle by command {1 Timothy 1:1}. He claimed his calling and, despite believing he was the worst of sinners {vs.15}, he knew his calling to be true and that it was a mercy of Christ.
Though we are not Paul, we too are disciples of Christ and have our own callings. I am called to be a wife, mother, homemaker and church member. I have talent-callings I must use for God’s service. And, as a married couple and as parents, Tim and I have decisions we must make in regards to the atmosphere of our family, the upbringing of our children and the way in which we use the blessings God has given us. We will look different. But being different to others doesn’t mean being wrong.
So, dear friends, choose to have faith in your calling. You will be different, but don’t let questions cause you doubt. Hold fast to your appointment, use questions to show God’s mercy in your own life, and be thankful for God’s unique care and concern over the way your life is lived, in practice and purpose. 

Please share your calling and any struggles you have had of self-doubt in it.

How to Recognise True Manhood.

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” ~ Proverbs 31:10

I know this is written by a mother to her son, but I believe we can ask the same about manhood: An excellent man who can find? What makes an excellent man? What is true manhood? I think it is nothing like what our world manipulates men to be today. I think a true man is as precious as gold in our day and age. 

This week a New Zealand Olympian publically admitted to having a pornography addiction. He wasn’t forced to “out” himself {that is known of}; he willingly shared this difficult and very personal struggle by his own free will. He is a Christian, with a beautiful wife and young son.
He is a brave man. 
Is he a perfect man? No. But is he more manly than the men who make, promote and sell the filth that Willis got sucked into? Yes. Undoubtedly, it isn’t good that he has struggled with this sin. But I believe, without knowing him, that his actions of sharing his sins signal a strength of manhood in the very place of weakness.
Because, that is what makes a man. His actions.


I feel as women we think true manhood is perfection.  A man who has a good job, a good income, comes home and cheerfully cares for everyone, who tenderly knows all his wife’s needs’, and leads his family without fail. A man who never sins. A man who never struggles with anger, or lust, or addictions, or laziness.
Sure, that sounds like a great man. But he doesn’t exist. And neither does the perfect woman. {Try turning the tables and imagine how it feels for a man to measure you up to the “perfect” woman he has created.}

For years now, I have shamefully created in my mind what I believed was true manhood. I measured my husband up to that, and have spent much energy {with internal judging, criticism, grumbling} trying to “help” him become “the man” I believed God wanted him to be. It was my job to be his Holy Spirit – that is part of my job as his helper, isn’t it?
I have been so wrong.
Here I have been, trying to manipulate and shape an already amazingly imperfectly true man, into someone he can never be – who he shouldn’t have to be. I have put incredibly high expectations on him. I haven’t loved him for him. I have sought what I thought he ought to be when the man he already is is the man who really is enduringly manly.
Kimberly Wagner, through God’s timely grace and rebuke, has pointed arrows at my carefully constructed facade of “Husband Holy Spirit Helper” in her book Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. I picked up this book thinking it would help me in one way only to have been absolutely blindsided and floored before God in humble and repentant need.


//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=thelifofthimo-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0802406203&asins=0802406203&linkId=Q6PFBUY772V2JYEY&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

There have been many ways this book has challenged me and forced me to face ugly parts of myself. But I do believe the biggest way has been to show me how to really love my husband again – like I did at the start, when I loved him for him. Yes, this was before life happened and hurt happened and the up’s and down’s of married life happened. Along the way I have grown in my understanding and appreciation of God’s design for men and women in marriage,but I have lost what it means to flesh out the gospel in marriage: to accept, to step down, to come alongside, to be kind-hearted when faced with faults and sin and hurt, to believe in the best.
And I have lost sight of what God thinks a true man is. 
For those who are lost too, who are searching for a way back to loving their husbands well again, purchase this book and be amazed. But before you do, read this passage and have a fresh vision of who your husband is and what a true man he really is:

“True manhood shows up in daily choices that require character qualities like courage, integrity, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. It’s being a man of honor – taking personal responsibility, fulfilling duties, demonstrating valor, and showing willingness to sacrifice and lead for the greater good.
  It is rock-solid strength that forges ahead with the determination to make it through the storm. True manhood stands guard over loved ones with protective eyes. It manifests the tenderness of a benevolent heart that seeks to provide for those in need. But, most importantly, knowing his strength is not derived from himself, a true man walks in humble dependence on the One whose image he bears. He lives out the gospel by fleshing out the character of his Warrior-Savior.”
 

Fierce Women, pg.179

Can you see your husband in this description? In many of these traits, some, or just a few? It doesn’t matter if you can only see one quality in your man. The fact that he is trying makes him a man.

What we, as their wives, have to control in ourselves is the expectation that he be these Christ-like qualities now, all at once, perfectly. Just as we will take many years to mature into feminine Christ-like characteristics, so we should not expect – nor demand – these things of our husbands.

Accept our men now, as they are, extending grace and compassion. As they see that they are safe with us, that we aren’t like dripping taps {Proverbs 27:15}, then they will – God-willing – desire more and more true manhood. Like Kimberly Wagner said, real men need real women.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32

Thoughts: What is one way you can affirm your husband’s masculinity today? Can you think of one quality from the description above that you can thank the Lord {and your husband} for?

This post contains an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting me.

When You’re Stuck in a Homemaking Rut.

I think just like any other job out there, all homemakers can get into a rut at different times. In fact, because we are our own boss/manager/self-evaluator/trainer/teacher, and therefore spend much of our time working alone, it can be easier to get slack, behind and unmotivated than other vocations.
For me, in most areas of my life, I tend to be an “all or nothing” type of gal. I struggle with balance. Tim and I get this about me and, though it can get me into trouble sometimes, both of us extend myself grace and help me get on track with the things I get unbalanced about. 
As all of us wives and mothers know, we are busy people with many things demanding our time and resources and focus. Lots of women can multi-task really well and balanced everything in the right priority. But me? *Snort* I really struggle to multi-task the big things in life.
Oftentimes, this can be the keeping of our home.

Like I said in my last post, there are so many other more successful homemakers out there who can teach us how to do things and keep our homes well. I am not one of those women! But, because I struggle, I can get along side of you and encourage you with what helps me, a semi-skilled housewife.

Here is what helps me:

Get Your Heart & Head in the Right Space.

As Christian women,we need to continually soak our minds and hearts in God’s truth to help us live lives worthy of our calling {Ephesians 4:1}. Know the Scriptures that specifically pertain to our roles as wives and mothers, have a firm grasp of Christ’s love and grace through the Cross, and work hard at putting those truths into practice {James 2:17}. Read good books to encourage your vision, help you learn new ways to care for your home, or simply read about another person’s growth.
Whether you journal these verses in places you can regularly see or memorise them or pray through them regularly, we need to continually put these truths in the foremost of our thoughts each day. It is so easy to follow our weaknesses, or wander astray from our purpose by things from outside our families. I journal and I write verses and quotes in my bullet journal planner
Believing and fleshing out God’s truth for homemaker’s gives us joy and hope as we learn to love all the things that must be done {<<< Great blog post, read it!}.

Do the Next Thing.

I first came across this source of wisdom through Elisabeth Elliot who shared this beautiful poem {see second page of newsletter, on the right}.  The Lord brought this to me at the time in my life where I could not even get off my floor without great grief. All I wanted to do was sit, cry, wallow and beat my chest to the Lord. I cannot, for the life of me, remember how this poem came across my path, but it helped me immensely. It helped me teach myself, when I could do nothing, to do the next thing.

Source

And it works beautifully in the slow-paced, rotational flows of a homemaker’s life. When there are a million different things to do, do the next thing. Whether you do the next thing on your long list, or do the next thing that catches your eye. Just do it. And, as you keep on doing the next thing, you will work your way out of your rut.

Keep Going…And Going.

I find that when I can’t be bothered, or when I really would just rather sit down and do something lazy, or when I find myself getting sucked into busyness outside our home, if I determine to do the next thing, and then the next, my motivation and heart for homemaking come flooding back in.
There is great satisfaction in homemaking. Despite what the world tells us, there is great success and accomplishment in taming this domain of ours. Once we get back into the swing of things, our joy and hope for this work settles in our hearts again. We see the purpose and the plan in caring for our families in this way. We see God’s hand in the small things of our daily lives, and we know he is pleased with our work to serve him.
On days, weeks, or months, when it’s hard to make our homes – just keep going. The joy will come back.

What do you find helps you when you find it hard to care for your home?

How I Meal Plan.

I’ve never really blogged about stuff I do around the home. I mean, there are just so many more capable and talented women out there already doing a great job at helping us homemakers, I certainly don’t have much to add! And my talent? Well, my husband loves my cooking, but he’s biased, right? *Smile*
Still, I have been a homemaker eight years now. I wouldn’t call myself a newbie! So I thought I would share how I menu plan in our home – and if it encourages, inspires, helps one other struggling homemaker, bonus! 
And just so you know, when Tim and I were first married, he was by far the better cook. I couldn’t cook and he could only cook three meals… That first year had some hilarious moments of trial and error {like the time it took six hours to bake lasagne!}
After a few years, I felt very confident in the kitchen. I don’t cook gourmet. I cook happy, family, comfort food. And it is wonderful. So, if you’re looking for how to perfectly cook a salmon or how to bake creme brulee – I would search somewhere else 😉

PS: This isn’t one of my meals. I wish I could make such fancy looking food!
Frequency: Weekly
Over the years I have tried planning meals at different frequencies, but weekly works best for us {considering we shop weekly!}. I also find that I am more likely to stick to a short-term plan than a long-term one. 
Repeat meals: 2-3
In recent months, I have found that it works really well for our family if we have the same meal on the same night every week. There are two meals I know my kids will eat a tonne of: sushi and fish’n’chips. So every Wednesday we have sushi {homemade} and every Tuesday we have fish’n’chips {frozen} with homemade tartare sauce {oh my, amazing!} Every Friday the kids have something simple, and I cook Maharaja Pies for Tim and I. It’s a date, every week.

New meals: 1-2 monthly

I read somewhere years ago that most people have 9-12 meals they regularly make and rarely break away from this mold. I find this is true for me, but every now and then I like to try something new. I usually do this on the weekend.

Quantity: For the most part, I double the batch so Tim can take some for lunch {he’s a builder and gets mighty hungry}.

Sources: Sophie Grey and Chelsea Winter {both popular New Zealand chefs}, recipes picked up along the way {eg. this Creamy Cajun Chicken from Pinterest}

Menu Display: DIY Chalkboard

Tim made this for me for Christmas. He is just the loveliest, most thoughtful of guys.

Method of Planning: With four set meals a week, I only need to think of three. These remaining meals tend to be easy pasta or rice dishes, like Jambalaya or Pasta Bake or Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken. Just super easy, using fresh vegetables etc. The night before I shop, I list all the things we’ve run out of, then I list the ingredients needed for meals. At the supermarket, I throw other things in that are specials or I remember we need. I go to the cheapest supermarket in town and I generally spend under our budget from $20-$50.
*
So there you have it! Nothing fancy, simple family meals. We have things we love, and things that are good for us. I think the habit that has revolutionised the way we budget food and meal plan is having set meals each week. This has made things so much easier and, surprisingly, we don’t get bored. Perhaps we all love routine, but my family love knowing what’s coming on a particular day. And having a night like Wednesday Sushi Night will hopefully be a family tradition the kids remember their whole lives.

Your turn. Do you meal plan differently? Do we share a similar process? 

The Best Encouragement A Weary Mother Will Ever Need.

I’ve already mentioned this week that we are exhausted. Sleep is really strange at the moment – between the cold I had and Rosalie just not knowing night-time is for sleeping – my days feel long and heavy. Disciplining, mothering intentionally, keeping house, loving and caring for my hard-working {and equally exhausted} man, connecting with church fellowship… All are necessary for the good life, the abundant life.
And my life is abundant. I love it.
But abundance doesn’t mean it isn’t always easy. Jesus lived the perfectly abundant life. He laboured, he fought, he loved, he cherished, he gave, he poured out, and ultimately, he died. And he said that he – the Christ – was the abundant life!
If we compare his promise of abundant living to what our western world says is “the good life”…Well, there is no comparison. Only complete contrast.
Within me battle two desires: 
  • the desire to have Jesus’ version of the true, good life,
  • and the desire to have it easy, like everyone else.

But we cannot have it both ways. If we are truly his, we are in him and he in us… so life is going to be hard work.
Today, after another really hard weekend which never stopped, and a night that was full of children waking {one for over two hours, ahem, not mentioning her name} and earthquakes and left-over coughing, we woke up before dawn {because our kids like to make things interesting}, and I thought,

“Why? Lord, I prayed for good sleep. Why???”
When I got home from dropping Josiah off at kindy and I put Rosalie down for a sleep, I really fought with the Lord. I prayed,
“Father, I really want to sleep right now, but my soul needs you. Please, please speak to me. Give me encouragement and strength through your word.”
And this is what he said:

“He [Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” ~ Colossians 1:28-29

Now, I have slowly been going through Colossians in my quiet time. These were the last two verses left of the chapter. I had no idea they were coming, but here they were, and they spoke directly to my bone-weary soul.
Why do we do this? Why do we live this life? Why do we work so hard each and every day, pouring everything we have out for our children and our husbands and our homes and our friends?
We do it all for Christ. 
Don’t stop reading. This isn’t some cliche – this is God’s Word speaking directly to you, as it did for me. We do it for him! He is our goal, he is our end! 
Every word of correction, every moment of the night we are awake with children, every time the ground shakes us out of the sleep we were barely having, every time we just want to have a moment’s peace because we don’t think we can keep going – –

He is our joy to behold, our “hope of glory” {vs.27}, he is our purpose, our goal, our end for all our efforts. And, he doesn’t leave it there.

“I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

We work hard, we pour out to almost nothing – and, if we call out to him, he is faithful, he fulfills his word, he pours back into us. He gives us the energy to do this life. He gives us the power to do his work. And later, in Timothy, Paul says we are, in Christ,

“Equipped for every good work.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:17

Friends, if life is hard right now, don’t give up. We have got this. We’ve got this because of Christ. Not only is he our goal, he is our help. He is everything we need for this life because he is true life. 
Let me finish with this beautiful version from the Amplified Bible for your encouragement, as it is for mine:

“We proclaim Him, warning and instructing everyone in all wisdom [that is, with comprehensive insight into the word and purposes of God], so that we may present every person complete in Christ [mature, fully trained, and perfect in Him – the Anointed]. For this I labour [often to the point of exhaustion], striving with His power and energy, which so greatly works within me.” 

Tired mother, how are you? Has this Word spoken to you today? Please share. 

Why We Didn’t Say "I Do".

This week Tim and I have celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. It feels like a great celebration. These eight years have brought amazing highs and deep lows. There have been moments where it seemed unlikely that we would make it. But we did. And, by God’s grace, we’re still going.
Pondering the wonders and mysteries that is the Christian marriage, our vows have been running through my mind. I remember so clearly sitting down and picking which set of vows we would say. Belonging to the Anglican church {The Church of England}, we have set vows pre-written for us. We can choose to do our own if we like, but we decided to follow the traditional version that has been used by the CoE for centuries.
The vows are the most famous of vows. The ones you see in most movies. But there is a difference, and it is a difference that I treasure. The difference is that we didn’t say, “I do.”

We said, “I will.”

Being an English major and an ex-English language teacher, the difference is immediate. In grammar, the difference is this: the present tense compared to the future tense. One says I commit now, the other says I commit now and into the future.
Now, before I go further, please don’t think I am saying that every single person who has said “I do” is wrong or any such thing. It’s sad that I have to even add a sort of disclosure. We’re so sensitive to difference, even amongst Christians, that we often take offence when none was intended. Saying “I do” is just as fully-committed from the heart and mind as saying “I will”. The point of this post is to highlight something beautiful in the tradition of the Anglican church, the church which followed the Reformation and established what we now know as Protestantism.
Just like old hymns, testimonies of the pioneers of our faith, the eloquent words of great minds gone before – there is something beautiful and deep in the carefully chosen words of liturgy and traditional church confessions. So it is with the traditional wedding vows.
When we say, “I will” we are consciously pre-empting the “I won’t”.
We are saying, I have, I am and I will all in one. We are saying that, on the days this marriage is glorious, we will. And we are saying that, on the days this marriage causes us the deepest of sorrows and pain, we will. We will whether we feel love or fall out of love. We will whether we know the person next to us in the dark night, or not. We will try our hardest to commit to loving each other.
We will.
You see, marriage today is so irrevocably different to what God established it at the beginning. Aside from a few, it doesn’t image Christ and the Church. It doesn’t mirror the great love God has for us and us for him. It doesn’t gently reveal the beauties in the roles of headship and submission which reveal the mysteries of something heavenly.
Marriage today is a poor reflection of something great; a fleeting vision of something eternal. And, at the time of getting married, though I didn’t think there was anything bad/wrong/sinful in saying “I do”, coming from a broken family, my young twenty-one-year-old heart was stubbornly determined to make this marriage different from my parents. 
And let me tell you, without spilling the secrets of our covenant, choosing to say “I will” has made a difference. There was one particular moment, my face drenched in tears, as I stared at our wedding photos and couldn’t recognise that young couple, and knew only by God’s grace, could I continue to choose to say “I will” to my husband. And, it has been the same with him to me.
I am sure there is something poignant in creating your own vows, as many modern weddings do now. But if you are on the verge of getting married, I would love to encourage you to choose words that have stood the test of time. 
Choose words that were used when married couples did stay together…
Choose words that were used when marriage was understood to be a commitment before God. ..
Choose words you know that you can rely on when the going gets tough, because it will…
We can say meaningful words to one another at any given time in our lives as a married couple. But we have one chance to say, before God and to those who witness our wedding, words that truly commit to this covenant that mirrors our Jesus and us, the Church. As the minister says at the beginning of the service,

“We have come together in the presence of God to witness and celebrate the marriage of N and N, and to pray God’s blessing upon them now and in the years ahead.
Marriage is a gift of God our Creator, whose intention is that husband and wife should be united in heart, body and mind.
In their union they fulfil their love for each other.
Marriage is given to provide the stability necessary for family life, so that children may be cared for lovingly and grow to full maturity.
Marriage is a way of life to be upheld and honoured. No one should enter into it lightly. It involves a serious and life-long commitment to each other’s good in a union of strength, sympathy and delight.” {source}