Take your wife to work

I walked in my husband’s shoes today.  I have been married to this man for 26 years and I have never had a “take your wife to work day” before.  Now mind you this was not just any “take your wife to work” day.  I actually flew half way around the world and experienced what he experiences when he travels for business.  In the nature of what he does, he sends hundreds of emails each day to communicate many pieces of a puzzle that he is a part of.  While in China In order to communicate effectively with the American part of his puzzle, he awakens at 3 a.m. in order to have 2 hours of time to communicate all he needs to and answer all the questions that he needs to before those in the U.S. leave at 5 p.m.  (China is 12 hours ahead of the U.S.)  Then he spends a few minutes on the treadmill, showers, eats breakfast, catches up on any other work he needs to before departing from his hotel at 8 a.m.  He is then driven to different places in order to meet with different customers.  Many times spending an hour in the car between stops.  At each of these stops he is dealing with issues and problems that have arisen.  Managing people and problems and language barriers effectively.  Then back to the hotel for a few more hours of work before going to bed by 8 p.m. in order to get up and 3 a.m. and start all over again.

This peak into his day gave me a new level of respect for him that I quite honestly have never had before.  He manages a lot of different things every day from people to problems to projects.  As I sat and watched him and listened to him, I realized how much he does. He carries mountains of stress on his shoulders every day.  I see why when he comes home at night, he does not need to be hit with a list of my complaints.  He has been listening to complaints all day.  What he needs from me is a warm smile.  A word of encouragement.  A listening ear about his day.  My problems can wait for a while till he has time to unload his.

I saw the need that he has for me to respect him.  He is with people all day that show him respect.  When he comes home, he needs to also be respected. Romans 12:10 says to”…outdo one another in showing honor.”  Since I love a good contest, this verse has always challenged me.  As Dave’s wife, I should be seeking to honor him more than those he has been with all day.  I may have been at work all day myself and be overwhelmed with my own set of circumstances, but the Scriptural challenge in Romans 12:10 is not conditional.  As a matter of fact, no Scriptural mandate is conditional.

As I have been on this trip with Dave, I have tried to not be demanding of my needs. Rather, I have tried to go along with his schedule and see the world through his eyes rather than try to have him accommodate my agenda.  I realize that this is not always possible in everyday life, but for these days of “take your wife to work” I can be flexible for him.  This is what has given me the ability to see his life through his eyes.  This has helped me to gain perspective.

I have walked a mile in his shoes, and after 26 years of marriage I respect him in a new way.  I see him with different eyes.  I love him more deeply. I want to outdo the honor that others have shown him.  I may not have fruit waiting for him on the table when he walks in the door, but I can take care to be a better student of what he needs when he comes home and make every effort to be what he needs.

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Shiny or Tarnished

 

This summer, while my in-laws were visiting, my mother-in-law offered to clean my silver coffee service that had been my Grandma’s.  This coffee service sits on display in my china cabinet in a protected environment, but still over time the silver and the oxygen react to make it go from the shiny silver it should be to this grimy and tarnished coffee service that it shouldn’t be.  This is not something I put on my list of things to do every day, so I am happy she willingly offers to clean it for me periodically when she comes to visit.

The tarnishing of my silver coffee service did not happen overnight.  It is a slow progression with a reaction between the oxygen and the silver.  Slowly, without even noticing the change in the silver, I will look at it one day and think how dirty and tarnished it has become.  It has not been used.  It has only sat there in the china cabinet collecting dust and reacting to its environment.

The Christian life and the silver coffee service have some similarities.

  1. We could say that the oxygen is similar to the sin that is around us. We can either react to it in a positive or negative way.  Obviously, the silver is an inanimate object not being able to react intentionally, but we as Christians can choose how we will respond to the sin that is around us.  I can choose to forgive when someone hurts me or I can become bitter over the hurt.  The act of forgiveness is intentional.  Bitterness can also be intentional as we choose not to forgive.  As we experience the many hurts in life, we choose which direction to take.  The route of forgiveness keeps our hearts soft to the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit, no tarnishing.  The route of bitterness leads to a hardened heart that is tarnished by a continual burden of sin it bears. What about pride and selfishness?  These are internal fleshly desires that we must continually be aware of.  These are easily seen by the words that come from our mouths and our actions.  A humble, selfless person intentionally looks for ways to meet the needs of others and ways to encourage others. A selfish and proud person becomes tarnished by their sin and becomes so ugly, others do not want to be near them.

 

  1. If I used my silver service every week, it would get polished every week. Lack of use causes it to be tarnished.  As a Christian, God has given me talents and abilities that He wants me to use for His glory and for His kingdom.  If I do not use them, I become tarnished. God did not create me to sit in the china cabinet so people can look and admire me when they walk by.  He created me for use.  I may get a little dirty.  I might have stains. (If I would use my coffee service every week it would become stained with tea not coffee.)  I might have a dent.  I might need to forgive. I might need to swallow my pride.  I might need to let go of my rights.

 

Jesus did not come to earth to be put in the china cabinet and be looked at.  He came to serve and to sacrifice.  He came to seek out people that needed living water, healing, raised from the dead, forgiveness of sins, eternal life through His death.   He came not to get, but to give.

Is there someone who keeps causing you pain?  Choose every day to take the offense to the Lord and let Him help you forgive so the bitterness does not tarnish your heart and your life.  Are you sitting in the china cabinet so you don’t get tarnished?  Open the door, jump off the shelf, and fill yourself up with tea and then go pour it out on a thirsty soul in need.  What are you good at?  Are you using that skill to further God’s kingdom?  Or are you not willing to share because you might get stained, dented, and dirty with use?  Isn’t that better than being tarnished from misuse?

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”     I Peter 3:8

Faith is the Purpose

 

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For the last 21 years, my life has been devoted to being a Mom and homeschooling our daughters. I have spent countless hours devoted to these three beautiful young ladies.  Last week, though, I began to get a feeling of purposelessness. What would I do without them here to care for? All three are attending Cedarville University this year.

I have lots of things that I like to do.  I have lots of things that I need to do.  I could probably fill a 24 hour day with 36 hours of work, but I don’t want to just be busy.  I don’t want to just get through my days until my girls come home for a break or sit by the phone waiting for them to call.

We moved 2 years ago and I began trying to prepare myself for this moment in time then. I started thinking about the things that I love and trying to discern what I could do as a career that would also allow me flexibility.

I want to have time for people.  I like discipleship.  I love teaching God’s Word.  I love studying God’s Word.  I love walking beside others through the challenges of life. I love ministry.  I want to use my nursing skills and education to go on mission/service trips. I love being a Mom, and I would love the opportunity to help others be better Moms and learn from my experiences.

So how do I roll this all up into a neat little package and make it my purpose and also figure out a way to generate an income?  That is the challenge for me that I have not figured out. I got my real estate license last year, since my dad is a builder I have a love of houses. I love meeting new people and helping them find a house they can make memories with their family.  This offers me the flexibility that I long for.

But I still feel purposeless.

Being a nurse and a Mom have helped me to realize how much I value caring for others.

I don’t have any answers just searching and praying and leaning into God for the direction He desires for me.  He created me with a purpose and He wants me to find it. He also wants me to trust Him for this purpose.  It is not called faith because we can see; it is called faith because all we can see is a loving God who wants us to trust Him.

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  They were fed every day for 40 years with bread and quail from the hand of God.  They could do nothing but have faith.  Faith that the manna would be there in the morning.  Faith that the quail would be there in the evening.

I must have faith.  I know that my life is not purposeless, and God does have a plan for my days.

Through the process of writing these words God has washed over me His love, His peace, and His comfort.  There is nothing like the flood of God’s presence in my heart.

Rather now than feeling purposeless, I sit in eager anticipation of what God has for me.  If you are reading these words you have also witnessed what God can do when we verbalize our faith in Him and know that He will direct.

God wants me “to walk by faith and not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). Remembering that as much as I want control, God is ultimately in control.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Empty Home, Full Heart

I started preparing for this day the moment I heard, “You’re pregnant.”  The moment we celebrated their birth.  Those first steps.  Those first words.  The first time I heard, “Mama.”  The first time they threw their arms around my neck and said, “I love you, Mama.”  We celebrated little achievements like losing a tooth and bigger achievements like being selected for the part they wanted in the play.  That first skating competition accomplished without falling down.  The game winning goal.

But we have also been preparing through the disappointments and changes in life.  Friendships that brought pain. Difficult school assignments.  Broken bones. Torn ACLs. Brain surgery.  Failed skating tests.  Getting cut from the team. Job disappointments.  Moving.

Every conversation.  Every hug. Every tear shed.  Every spontaneous laugh.  Every meal we have eaten together.  Every vacation.  Each moment we have made a point of spending together has prepared us for this day.

I don’t want to go home and face an empty house.  No more messes in the kitchen from a smoothie that was made.  No more crumbs on the couch from a chocolate chip cookie that was eaten.  No more swimming towels to wash after an afternoon spent in the pool so we can become, “sun kissed and glowy.”

An empty house brings joy and sadness to my heart.  I did not invest these last 20 years into your lives so you would sit at home and do nothing.  I invested in all these things so that when you were ready you would leave the safety of our home and become the young ladies God intended you to be.  Praise the Lord for Cedarville University and their stand for the truth of God’s Word and desire to teach you the things we have desired to teach you at home.

My nest is not empty. Rather, I have time to be intentional in other ways and with other people that God brings to me.

Dear girls, don’t worry.  I miss you like crazy.  I will always have your rooms ready for you to come home to.  I promise I won’t turn them into an art studio. There will always be fresh bread for you to have for breakfast and warm chocolate chip cookies to enjoy. I will come to visit and will always have time to talk on the phone.

My prayer for you is that as I have invested in you, you will likewise invest in others.  My heart swells with pride when I see you put into practice II Timothy 2:2, “The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses the same commit thou to faithful men that they may be able to teach others also.”

For me this is an end to a very large chapter of my life, but I long for the next chapter that God will write with my days. There will be tears of sadness as I miss the last chapters that have been written.  There will be tears of joy as I hear the new stories you write with the days of life.  I never truly understood how fulfilling, satisfying, and rewarding being a Mom could be until I held you in my arms, watched you live life, and kissed you goodnight… Even though our home is now empty, my heart is overflowing.

Mom, Look well to the ways of your household

girls in Grand Haven

I have been thinking about motherhood quite a bit lately.  Mostly, because my role as Mom is changing and will change drastically in August as they all head off to college.  I have loved having all of our girls home for the summer.  It is so nice to have the house full.  The messy kitchen means they are in it eating.  The messy living room means they are relaxing after a hard day of work.  The extra food I am making and all the desserts that get made and eaten means they are here eating what I make.  The shouts from the other room, “Mom,” fill my heart because I know that I am needed for a wise word or a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on or cry on.  I love these days, but I know they are fleeting.

I try to be home when they are home.

I was challenged last week as I listened to a pod cast to be intentional.  Not one to step away from a challenge, I realized that I could be more intentional than I had already been.  The speaker talked about spending time with his adult children doing a study with them.  I realized the material was important, but the time spent being intentional and growing together was actually more important. It shows my girls how important growth is.  It shows them that I don’t want to be stagnant but want to keep growing in my walk with the Lord.  It also shows them that I would rather do it with no one else but them.

I found a book that was a quick read with a good message. Short chapters that could be quickly read when we happened to all be together for a few minutes.  Easy chapters to digest with a challenging message.  I have read books to my kids since they were little.  It was always something we looked forward to and often they would want me to read more.  Mostly, because we were sharing an experience, picturing a story in our minds together, enjoying the power of the written word TOGHETHER.

We read our first few chapters on the beach in Grand Haven as we ate strawberry pie and watched the sunset.  We didn’t share too much tantalizing conversation.  We did share an experience.  We shared a memory.  We shared many laughs that we rehearse together and laugh again.

So as these days of summer are way too short and all of my sweet girls are set to leave to go to college in a few short weeks, I want to be all here.  I want to be intentional.  I want them to look at home as a place they can’t wait to get to that fills them with love and laughter and lots of good food.  I want them to remember all the little things I taught them, because they build into big lessons that build their character.

A house is a place, but home is the people and the love that fills that place.

I challenge you, Moms, fill your home with lots of good food.  Be there when your kids are there. Be ready to listen.  Look for ways to be intentional and fill their hearts with love. Today builds on the past.  If yesterday wasn’t great, make today better.  Be intentional about tomorrow.  You will have no regrets.

Proverbs 31:27 “She looks well to the ways of her household…”

Musings from a 50 year old

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I turned 50 a few days ago.  I am a half a century old.  I am over half way through with life.  The odds are not in my favor to make it to 100.  This is another year full of change for me.  It seems to be a common thing in my life right now, so I guess I better get used to it.

As I consider the years to come, I want to make sure they have the most meaning.  I want to enjoy the journey and not get lost on the details. I want to be sure that the people that need me to touch their lives, I do. I want to make sure that I notice each friend that needs a smile.  I want to be so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that when a person comes to my mind, I pray or reach out with a quick phone call.  Maybe they need a note of encouragement. I want to be in tuned to God’s Word, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and aware of the needs around me.

God has blessed me so abundantly that I want to be sure that I share this wealth of blessings with others.  I want to be so focused on being thankful there is no room for complaining.  I want to be so aware of those around me, I forget to be self-absorbed.  I want to be so busy recognizing the accomplishments of others there is no room for pride. I want to be so in tuned to others and asking the right questions, I forget my own personal struggles or realize that mine are not really that bad.

Jesus took His “me time” by getting alone with His Father.  Is that the way I view “me time?”

Jesus didn’t worry about impressing the masses, He wanted to make sure the individual felt loved and cared for.  The women at the well was at the bottom of the social ladder, yet Jesus made her feel like the most important woman in the world.

Jesus reminded us that if “you have done it to the least of these my brothers (and sisters) you have done it unto me.”  Do I order my day around the least or try to be seated next to the most?

Do I walk away from a conversation regretting what I said or did not say?  Does the person walk away from me feeling like their day was brightened and their load made a little lighter? Or did I say something that made them feel hurt and despondent?

Do I focus on people or problems?  Do I focus on people or paychecks?  Do I focus on people or personal gain?

I am reading about the life of Elijah right now in my devotions.  I have been praying that my walk with the Lord would be like Elijah’s.  He was fervent for the Lord.  Ready to be bold. Ready to care for the needs of others.  May the next 50 years of my life be filled with the faithfulness of Joseph and Daniel and the fervency of Elijah.

Lessons from a Cake

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Dave has been wanting me to make him a Bundt cake that he found in the newspaper a few weeks ago.  I finally took the time to make it yesterday.  I had read the ingredients to make sure I had them all so that when I did get time, I would not have to run to the store.  I failed, however, to read all the instructions.  I started making the cake.  I got out my mixer and started adding ingredients.  I turned on my oven to pre-heat it. I started looking at the details of the process of making this cake.  It said to put the cake into a cold oven and then turn it on.  I had to turn off my oven (which was already at the temperature I thought it was going to need to be) and open the door hoping it would cool off before I needed to insert the cake.  In the middle of the cake a pudding like substance was supposed to be placed.  I was supposed to make it earlier so that it had cooled by the time I needed it in my cake. OOPS.   So I made it and put it on ice. That should work.  Needless to say despite all of my errors the cake turned out pretty decently, I am told.  One little thing I should have done that I didn’t, prepare the pan the way they said I should have because my cake stuck using my way.

I should have read the directions in their entirety days before taking the time to make the cake.  The problem was I have made many cakes from scratch, so I thought I knew what I was doing.  However, this cake was a bit different than what I had done before.

We all make mistakes, but do we learn from our mistakes?  Do we allow the mistakes we make to keep us humble?

God told Solomon he could ask for anything, and God would give it to him.  Solomon asked for wisdom.  God was so pleased with this that He gave Solomon everything else he could have asked for.  The moral of this story is that Solomon became corrupted by this lavishness.  He had everything.  By the time he gets to the end of his life and writes the book of Ecclesiastes, he realizes that “all is vanity.”

What does this have to do with my cake?  I find that when I make these errors in judgement, my pride shows itself.  I had made cakes in the past so I assumed I knew what I was doing. Only I didn’t. It was my pride that was showing itself. Solomon gave into every pleasure his heart desired. Later realizing that the lavishness and excess did not satisfy. His pride got in his way and it led to his selfishness. As incidents happen in our lives that remind us of our humanity and frailty, we must allow those moments to remind us what is truly important.

“Fear God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).