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.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Like the majority of women my life tends to be a roller-coaster of emotions. Yet I know that my emotions are not to be trusted. There are so many things that influence how I feel at any given moment. Some influences are external, like the weather, my relationship with my husband or letters from family back in Scotland. Other influences are internal, like hormones, too little sleep or enough food in my stomach. No matter what is influencing how I feel, it is still my responsibility ow I choose to respond.
One of my big problems is an overdeveloped sense of justice. This will generally cause me to over-react at anything I see as unjust. I had one such experience this week. I took on another person's fight and found myself also taking on their anger. At first I was actually shaking, the feeling was so intense. I knew this was something I could not deal with on my own. Always when I find myself overwhelmed by other people's emotions I know I have to give it back to the Lord.
I go back to the fundamentals I was taught many years ago. I have to understand the aim of my life and the cost involved.
Firstly I am called to holiness.
"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15,16
God is more concerned about my holiness than my happiness. Conflicts in my life can show me which character qualities I am in need of developing.
Secondly I am called to suffer.
"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," 2 Timothy 1:8,9
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:" 1 Peter 2:21
The more Godly I seek to be, the more I will endure suffering. The closer I walk with God the more sensitive I become to what is right, and the more I stand out as a target for others.
The I am called to bear fruit.
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." John 15:2
"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." John 15:8
The more I respond correctly to suffering the more the Holy Spirit can work in me to produce fruit. In order to bear much fruit, I am purged. Being purged is a painful process. I am no different to anyone else, in that I don't enjoy being purged. Yet it is a vital process for my own growth.
The calling to holiness is something to be taken very seriously. It is connected to being full of the Holy Spirit. Being full of the Holy Spirit is more about how much of me does the Holy Spirit have, rather than me getting more of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants me to yield every single area of my life, nothing held back.
I gain this fullness of the Holy Spirit by being tested by the Holy Spirit. I need to anticipate that I will be tested. Trials and testing are what prepares me for my unique ministry. It is a means of the Holy Spirit to give me power and deepen my faith. This reminder of the battle against anger that I received this week has directed me back to precious passages of Scripture that helped me when I first started to battle this issue. I have once again been reminded to subject my emotions to my will, and my will to be surrendered to God's Word.
I need to respond with joyfulness and thankfulness, and with crying out to the Lord.
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
I am reminded that in overcoming testing I must give thanks in everything.
It comes from God's hands, and God is good.
God is sovereign (Romans 8:28)
It is ultimately for my good.
It can produce the character of Christ in me.
It teaches me God's ways. (Isaiah 55:8; Psalm 119:71)
If I respond correctly it will bring me peace. (John 14:27)
I need to find reasons to rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
God can do great things in me when I have an attitude of rejoicing.
I need to quench the firey darts of the enemy.
I need to wear the shield of faith from Ephesians 6:16
I am to take the armour of God and put it on firmly. I take up the shield of faith by quoting God's truth. Therefore I need to spend time in God's Word.
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 2 Corinthians 10:5
"Let our conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17
Living God's way is impossible without His strength and aide. Therefore I need to cry out for deliverance.
"And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Psalm 50:15
Finally I need to overcome evil with good.
"Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:9
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; "Matthew 5:44
The more I invest in my enemies the more my heart will be turned towards them. In this day and age of hatred this is where true witnessing takes place, by being willing to stand against the flow and love instead of hate.
I have a choice no matter what emotion I am feeling. I have a choice to do things my way, or do things God's way. May I always choose God's way.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Yesterday our church had a focus on the sanctity of life, to mark the national Sanctity of Life week here in the States. The very same morning our Sunday School class had a mini baby shower for one of the couples who are expecting their second baby in March. On the surface this would seem like a perfect confirmation that we as Christians are on the right track with this subject. However once my darling husband and I started to discuss the mornings events back at home we grew very disturbed by the very subtle undermining of the value of life that came out during the baby shower.
The first thing that really stood out to me was the materialism involved. I come from a country where we don't do baby showers (or any other kind of gift showers), so I find this concept rather strange anyway. This is going to be a second son for the couple involved, so I was surprised we were having a shower at all. The couple themselves had "registered" for gifts, but only for a few extra items and a few luxury gifts they didn't already have. Once I got over the shock of discovering that you can register for baby gifts I did think they themselves had not been very materialistic. When asked by another person why they had so few items listed and most of them very inexpensive they replied that they already had most of what they needed from their other son. I agree that there is no need to repurchase goods we already have just because we can.
However the first concern was nothing in comparison to the lack of value that was generally given to life. Hearing one mother proclaim that her third child was an "Oops" and that she really only planned to have two broke my heart. I pray that this child never hears their mother describe them in such a way. This does however seem to be an epidemic attitude amongst the couples we know. Children are seen as a burden, not a blessing. The couple having the baby also intend to stop at two. They have already selected a day to have their baby and to get "fixed" at the same time. As I said to Rob the mother is not being fixed, she is being broken when she has that surgery. It is choosing to become voluntarily infertile for no other reason than a lifestyle choice. How that must break the hearts of the women in our class who had no choice about being infertile. How it breaks my heart at such disregard for the way God made us.
Every person in that room yesterday would agree that abortion is wrong. They would say they agreed with the sanctity of life message. Yet their choices are at the thin edge of the wedge that ends in abortion. It is an attitude of children are a burden that allows the next step of murder. It is the attitude of control over fertility that justifies the death of millions of humans every year. Once we start to take over control of our fertility we are reinforcing the arguments of the pro-choice groups. It is a subtle evil that has almost completely taken over in our social circles.
My wonderful husband and I do not have any children yet. We do not even know if we will be able to have children. We have only been living together for five months. Yet before we even got married we agreed that our family size is not our choice. God will decide how many children we have. We know we will have children. We don't know if we will be blessed with any of those children through birth. We do know that at some point we will be blessed by children through adoption. We hold the value of every human life very highly. It is not our place to prevent a child from being born. We hope and pray that we are blessed sometime soon. We trust the Lord that He knows when the best time is.
Neither of us would have chosen to wait until so late in life to get married. Yet we were both willing to trust the Lord in our choice of spouse. The Lord knew when the right time would be to introduce us to each other. Because we met at exactly the right time our relationship was able to blossom into the wonderful marriage we now have. In the same way we completely trust the Lord for our family size. We both long to be parents, but we know that at exactly the right time we will be. We have a heart for each precious child the Lord brings into our home. We look forward to meeting and getting to know each and every child we parent. We hope for a home that is bursting at the seems one day. We would love for a family meal to require more than the ten chairs we have around our table.
The sanctity of life will only be preserved when we all start valuing every human life as the precious blessing it is. When we open our hearts and homes to more than just two, or at a stretch three children, then we can say we believe in the sanctity of life. When we are willing to surrender our fertility to the Lord instead of controlling it ourselves, then we will be able to have a tender heart to all life.
When the life that is and the life that is yet to be are both treasured, then we will have sanctity of life.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Before my darling husband had even proposed we had several in-depth discussions about the nature of marriage. We both recognised that the day and age in which we live is not very supportive of marriage. It is too easy to give up at the first sign of a problem. Spending years dating and learning to end relationships only adds to a persons experience the hidden message that it is perfectly acceptable to walk away when a relationship gets tough.
Rob and I never actually dated. We lived 5000 miles apart, so dating was not exactly a high priority for us anyway. Regardless of our physical proximity to each other, we both knew that dating was not a good idea. We were friends. At first we started writing monthly letters to each other. This was a good time of getting to know the basics of each others' lives. Then after several months I went to visit some other friends in Florida for two months. During that time we spent more time together deepening our friendship. I discovered that Rob preferred telephone conversations to letter writing. So we began to chat on the telephone as well as write letters. It was during this time that we had found out enough about each other to consider the other as a potential spouse. We had one conversation about the nature of our relationship, and agreed we would continue to be friends while we both prayed for God's leading if anything else was to come of it.
Another few trips across the Atlantic Ocean, (one for me and two for him), and we were still friends seeking God's will. I already knew God was leading me to Florida, and had secured a job at the school operated by Rob's Church. However the legalities of immigration got in the way and I was never in the position to take the job.
When we realised I would not be moving for the job we began to have more serious discussions about the future. I knew he was thinking about us marrying, but I was certainly not expecting a proposal when it came. Rather I knew he was coming to visit later in the year for my sister's wedding. I figured if he proposed it would be then. I was shocked to say the least when a few months before that I received a letter from Rob that would change my life. My dear sweet husband proposed in a letter. He knew how much I enjoyed letters, and it would be something to keep forever.
Once engaged we got down to discussing the hard facts and truths about marriage. It was much more real now that we were discussing specifics rather than just general ideals. We agreed that divorce would never be an option for us. However we also agreed that being unhappily married was also not an option for us. We were choosing right from the beginning to be happily married for the rest of our lives.
But what does that mean in practical terms. Simply put it means we choose to make sure each other are happy. We choose to be "in-love" with each other. I can honestly say we were not "in-love" with each other before we got married. Love is a choice, not a feeling. We chose each other, and every day we continue to choose each other above all else. I do things he likes because I know he likes them. Rob really enjoys that when he comes home from work dinner is on the table, or almost ready to be. He is tired and hungry when he gets home. This has become important to me because it pleases him. I always try to have dinner ready, or almost ready during the week. He works hard to support us, the least I can do is support him. Rob also likes to get up early, even on a Saturday. I don't. I've never been a morning person. I like staying up late talking or reading. I choose to always go to bed when he does, and get up and have breakfast with him in the morning. I do this because I choose to have a happily ever after in my marriage. It isn't all one way either. Rob lets me get into bed first whenever there are clean sheets on the bed, just because he knows I like that. He will even sit snuggled up with me on the sofa to chat, just because he knows I like the physical closeness.
Choosing to be happily married is a comitment. It is remembering those vows from our wedding and meaning them anew every day. It is working through misunderstandings and breaks in communication quickly, as soon as they happen. This is not always easy. I don't particularly like this part of marriage. I can sometimes enjoy the sense of power that comes from Rob knowing he has upset me. But if I hold on to that it will be like a cancer that will spread and destroy our marriage. Instead we will sit down at the kitchen table and discuss whatever just happened. It usually begins with me asking if he knows why I'm upset with him. Rob is usually clueless the first time he has done something. So I explain why I'm upset and then it doesn't happen a second time. If I've upset him we do the same, though he is harder to upset. It doesn't matter what we are doing, we stop and talk it over. That stops roots of bitterness from growing between us.
Choosing to be happily married is looking out for each other. Rob and I have quite similar personalities in many ways. This can be a good thing, but not always. We both have a tendancy to become short with each other if we get over-tired or our blood sugar is low (isn't that true of everyone though.) So we have to look out for each other in this area. For Rob there is no point discussing anything important late in the evening. He is too tired and won't remember. Instead we leave serious discussions until breakfast if possible. If either of us becomes short tempered the other will suggest it's time for a snack or rest. We don't try to resolve much if one of us is in need of food or rest, it's a pointless exercise. For us it's usually Rob needing rest, or it's me needing food. He gets up early every day and runs at full speed all day long, making him more likely to need rest than me. I don't have too solid a schedule to my day, so sometimes I forget to eat regularly. That makes me more likely to have low blood sugar. Knowing this we look out for each other, choosing to protect each other and our marriage.
Choosing to be happily married is choosing to put the other person before ourselves. It will be seen in different ways for each individual couple. It is choosing to be selfless instead of selifsh. If you are already married it means you no longer think as I, but rather as we. Instead of focusing on what you want, think on what your beloved would want. You pour yourself into them, and let them pour themselves into you. If you are considering marriage ask yourself if you truly want to serve that person every single day for the rest of your lives, because that is what it is going to take. Marriage isn't all moonlight and romance. Marriage is the everyday, day by day, service for the benefit of your spouse. Some choices are more difficult than others, but choosing happily ever after should not be one of them.
Today we each have a choice. I know what I am choosing, do you?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Choosing to stay at home has freed me to serve. In the last 24 hours that has become abundantly clear to me. A women in our Church is ill right now, with five children and a husband to look after. I am free to help her because I stay at home. Another family has been ill and their toddler can't go to daycare because of the illness. I am free to help them because I stay at home. Our church has several missionary families all visiting this coming week for our annual missions conference. We can host a family because I stay at home.
We live in a world where our families are fragmented. In previous generations it was our extended family who helped in times of crisis or illness. As women we turned to our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and cousins when we needed help or advice. Who do we turn to when those very women are hundreds or thousands of miles away. My family are several thousand miles away and my husband's family are scattered across several states, with his closest relatives hundreds of miles away from us. Our situation is very common where we live in South Florida. Most families have few, if any relatives living in the same State. The women who are at home and available during the working week are usually either elderly, or they have young children of their own to care for. For the working women with children there is noone to turn to for help. Then there is me. I stay at home, making me free to help.
It is a great blessing to know I have a freedom few others choose. The sacrifices we make as a family for me to stay at home are more than repaid by the blessings of service. There has been noone in our Church recently with the time and the burden for our ladies ministry, and so it has been neglected. I am free to serve. I am excited about the opportunity to regrow this vital ministry in an atmosphere where women are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. I have time to give. I have love to give. I have experience to share. There is a gap in our wall and I can fill it. I know I will be blessed so much more than I can ever bless others. It is an priviledge to serve. It is an honour to serve. It is my calling to serve.
There are many topics that are burdens in my heart, and over the coming months I will share and explore each of them. Right now my priority burden is service. It is when we freely, willingly, gladly serve that we can impact the world around us. There are plenty willing to teach and to lead, but where are the servants? The one woman who had the single biggest impact in my life and faith was a servant.
Mrs Gray was a quiet, little, older lady in the Church I grew up in. From a young age I watched her quietly serve with no thought for herself. She had learned to serve from an early age. She had worked in a factory during the Second World War, where she lost part of a finger. She never made an issue of it. I only know because as a teenager I asked her what had happened to her hand. When I knew her she was already retired and a widow of many years. Her hands where crippled by arthritis. Still she quietly served. In my mind she was always in the Church kitchen. No matter the occassion Mrs Gray would be in the kitchen with a large kettle on the stove. She was always ready with a pot of tea and a listening ear. She discovered I had a love for cross-stitch and embroidery. It was a hobby she had loved too when she was younger. The arthritis in her hands meant she could no longer do such delicate fine work. The next time I saw her she had a large tin of threads for me. It was her lifetime collection. Without a second thought she gave it to me, a loud chatty teenager. In the midst of the turmoil of my teen years Mrs Gray was always there. She always had time to listen, and quiet wisdom to pour gently over me. Then one day the Lord called her home. It was a glorious day for her, but a sad day for our Church. We suddenly became aware of how important one quiet little servant could be. There was noone to replace Mrs Gray in the kitchen. Noone else wanted to serve the way she did. I don't recall that she was ever thanked publicly in our Church, until her funeral. It was too late then. Until the day I left that Church in my mid twenties, to move to another part of the country, noone had stepped in to replace Mrs Gray. There was not a single person in the Church willing to humble themselves to serve without thanks. We all had excuses, including me. I was busy with University, then going overseas as a short-term missionary, then when I returned I had to start a career. I saw the gap, but didn't think it was my place to fill. I was too young, too busy, too selfish.
It has been over ten years since I left that Church and began moving around the country on a regular basis. Finally I have stopped moving around and began to put down roots. I am part of a much bigger Church than the one I grew up in. Yet the need for those quiet little servants is just the same. I am called to be a servant. We all are. How we serve is unique to each one of us. For me, I want to serve like Mrs Gray did. I want to hear that "Well done, good and faithful servant." when I get to glory, just like she did. As a woman, as a wife, as a member of my Church, I have been given an incredible gift. I have been given the freedom to serve. I will never be just like Mrs Gray, but I can be just exactly like me. I am first and foremost, a servant of Jesus Christ. All I do should be in service first to Him, in reverence and humility.
May we each find the places where we are called to serve.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I realize that in the society I have chosen to live in I am very much in a minority. I do not personally know any other women who have made the choice to stay at home unless it involves children. Before I even arrived in America my husband and I had several discussions on the subject of me working outside the home. Since arrival we have again had the same discussion a few times. The immigration process took much longer and cost a lot more than either of us realized at the beginning. Economically it would make more sense for me to find a job until we become parents (if we ever do.) Yet we both continue to hold that the right thing for me to do is to stay at home.
This is not a decision we have taken lightly. Like I have already mentioned it would be better for us financially right now if I had a paying job. However we firmly believe it is God's will that I stay at home. Throughout scripture it is made plain that God's plan for women is to stay at home. The book of Proverbs in particular has much to say about the woman who does not stay at home, and none of it is flattering. Rather as instructed in Titus 2:5 we should be "keepers at home," which means being content at home as much as practically possible. The home is my realm of influence. The home is where I can best serve my husband, and my Lord. Staying at home is a positive choice. It frees me to serve, and it empowers me to make a difference in the lives of other people.
Choosing to stay at home also entails some other choices. We choose to only have one vehicle. We choose to enjoy what we have instead of constantly looking for new and better. We choose to have freshly cooked meals every day. There is no need for expensive and unhealthy convenience food when I am at home to prepare meals that taste good and contain less salt and sugar than processed food. My husband gets to come home every day to a clean house where there are no chores for him to do. He enjoys my staying at home as much as I do.
Every woman who wants to do God's will can make the move to stay at home, if she really wants to. We each have a choice to make. We can compete and strive out in the world, just like everyone else. Or we can choose the peace and contentment of home. It is a simple choice, but not an easy one. Many don't understand why any woman would not work, some even think we are lazy for wanting to stay at home. If you have worked outside the home it is a financial sacrifice. There probably won't be the regularly changing new cars, or the exotic vacations. There probably won't be regular meals out at nice restaurants, or days out shopping at the mall. Instead there is learning contentment with what you already have. There will be time to make it yourself instead of buying ready made. There will be time to think of ways to romance your husband at home. There is time to not feel tired and stressed all the time, which is the one thing I hear most often from the women around me.
While I know I don't have it all figured out yet. I have always worked before. I started working delivering newspapers when I was 10 years old, and I pretty much always worked right up until I made the move to Florida four months ago. Sometimes I worked and studied, and sometimes I worked two jobs. Since leaving home at 18 I had to work to support myself, and living alone I also had a home to keep. This is certainly the largest home I've ever had, and it requires a lot of cleaning. We are also still in the process of painting walls and general decorating. I sewed all our curtains by hand and am in the process of recycling old picture frames to contain some of the artwork that will adorn our walls. My days are full and busy. Yet the same comment is made by all those who enter our home. There is a wonderful sense of peace in our home. It is a peace that we work hard to maintain. It is a peace that comes from contentment with what we have. It is a peace that is nurtured by us both centering everything we do on God. It is a peace neither of us want to loose.
Staying at home is a choice. It is a choice I am glad my husband and I have made.
Monday, January 12, 2009
So I've finally joined the blogging community in cyberspace. I should probably start by letting those reading know who I am.
My name is Lyn. I am a stay at home wife. My wonderful husband, Rob, and I have been married for just over 16 months. He is American and I am Scottish (British), which meant we spent the first 12 months of married life living 5000 miles and 5 time zones apart. We met when Rob came over to the UK on a one week trip. We kept in touch and a little over two years later were married. After a year of going through US Immigration I finally got a visa to come over to the US to live with my husband. I've now been Stateside for 4 months.
Rob and I are an older first time married couple. When we first met Rob was 39 and I was 32 (but only a few weeks away from 33.) When we got married Rob was 41 and I was 35. Neither of us had been married before. We are both devout Christians. I have been so from the age of 14, and Rob since the age of 30. We both try to live by the instructions of the Bible, and this shapes all the decisions we make in life.
We are blessed to live in the Treasure Coast area of South Florida, about two hours north of Miami. We attend an Independent Baptist Church, where Rob is a Deacon. We have a beautiful home that we are still working on decorating, and furnishing (it's a big project.)
My interests are mostly all things to do with homemaking, and also writing. I love to help others grow to maturity in their faith, as well as growing in my own faith through the work of others. This blog will mostly reflect these interests, along with some observations about married life and the differences of living in a new country and culture.