Saturday, January 22, 2005

Do What God Says Do and Let Him Take Care of the Rest

The Bible references to women being guides of the home and guards of the home are:
First Timothy 5 verse 14,
Titus 2

The commandments for men to be providers for their familes are:
First Timothy chapter 5 verse 8,
Second Thessalonians chapter 3 verse 10

The roles of men and women were defined in Genesis, where man was commanded to work by the sweat of his face and a woman was to be a helpmeet to her husband and to bear children. This can be found by reading the first three chapters in Genesis.

The command for a woman to be the provider for her family cannot be found. It was given to the men. They were also to be the leaders in the church. The command for a man to guide the home or be a keeper at home, is also not found. The clear, distinct roles of men and women are shown in many examples throughout the Bible.

If you want to see the results of the role reversal that is going on today, read this article "Men Working," at http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/artman/publish/Responsible_Manhood_20/Men_Working_A_Tract_to_My_Fellow_Men_364100364.shtml

I've heard several times of women who read the Bible's command for women to be keepers at home, guard the home, guide the home, and be wives and mothers, come to a heartfelt conviction that they could no longer go to work with the rest of the pack every day. In spite of the fact that things didn't "add up" financially, these women made the commitment and stuck to it, and guess what happened? Somehow, someway, they survived, and they kept their children. What I mean by keeping their children, is that their family is loyal and their children are well adjusted, faithful church members and faithful to the teachings of their parents and the Bible. They aren't troubled people.

Let's have a look at the financial question that many women face when trying to quit work, or avoid going to work. My counsel has always been: "Do what God says do, and let Him take care of the rest." Adding up every expense and then concluding that you can't survive without the mother going to work, leaves God out of the picture. If He, in his wisdom, decides what is best for you, how can we say, "But Lord, we won't make the car payment or the house payment, or have food and clothes?" While it is good to plan, sometimes we are guilty of looking too far ahead and trying to solve everything ourselves and leave God's hand out of it.

I know several women who have taken this advice to do what God says do, and let the rest fall into place. Today, none of them are living under a bridge. In fact, if you were to interview any poor displaced woman living from a bag or living under a bridge, you would discover that she didn't get there because she was sincerely obeying the scripture to take care of things at home, or because she quit work in order to take care of her husband and home school her children.

Sometimes things don't add up on paper, but when you step out in faith, letting God provide, you'll find that things fall into place. Just do what He says do, and watch what happens. I know several families that have found that they are actually better off without the wife's salary. Children are less sick or troubled, which cost less money. Food is less processed, which promotes better health, which costs less money. Mother at home means less wear and tear on vehicles, and even the possiblility of having only one car and one repair expense. Believe it or not, you can live with one car, and I've done it for many years. I had grown so used to using my husband's car when he was not using it, that when I finally got another one for myself, it sat outside for days before I remembered I had one! I was waiting for him to get home so I could use his!

Being without a car means less expense for insurance, gas, repairs, parts, tires, and so forth, but it means also you'll accomplish more at home. The more you stay home, the less you'll spend and the more you find you can save, or discover more ways to make money.

But, back to the idea of leaping out on faith and staying home, even though it doesn't look like you'll "make it" financially. One of the keys to doing this is to be diligent once you are at home. You've got to run the place like you mean business. You can't go home just because you want to avoid responsibility. You've got to go home with a purpose: to make that place the best dwelling place you can imagine, for your husband and children. This is going to take some work, but it also brings a lot of pleasure, as your work will create beauty and order and a lovely atmosphere that makes all who enter say, "I LOVE coming here!" Once, after a day out doing essential shopping and errands with my children, we returned to our humble home out in a country area, and my youngest son kissed the floor. "I am so glad to be here!" he said. Instead of home being a source of stress, you will find out it is a place of comfort for everyone and they would rather be "in" than "out" of it.

There are some sacrifices you'll have to make, if you really are determined not to go to work. You may have to find a cheaper way to live, or you may have to figure out how to change your living situation. If you cancel subscriptions and newspapers, or cable television, you can avoid paying out several hundred dollars a year. All these things are pleasures but they aren't worth trading mother going back to work. There are sites all over the web that show women various hints on how they can come home, and "make it," but even without doing these things, I know without a doubt that it is possible for a woman to be in the role God wants her to be in, and survive, without losing everything. Even so, in my opinion, there is no posession worth keeping if a woman has to put her family in the care of others in order to go to work to save some object.

I know of women who work, put their children in daycare, and hire housekeepers to look after their homes. In just a few years I've seen the stress on these women age them to the point that they look older than I am, and I'm a grandmother. It isn't worth it. These women are not working so that their families will have good character or be better people; they are working to pay for something. Their wages are not high, and they are burning both ends of the candle.

The Bible clearly states that young women should marry, have children, and keep the house and home. Why would God tell us to do something and then make it impossible to do it? I've heard the argument that this sort of life worked "in Victorian times," but now it is not possible, because of the economy. The economy is a relative thing, and even a nebulous thing, because each person creates their own economy. Some people even prosper in hard economic times, because of their Biblical approach to economy. We must not be guided by the news reports about the economy. Your economy is your own, and it is up to you how you manage it. Sometimes you'll hear news reports that in order to survive, the average family must bring in a certain amount of income. If you pay any attention to that, you'll end up back at work. It isn't true that women could stay at home only in the past, but not these days. It used to be said that "two can live as cheaply as one," and it is still true, if the couple are sharing their posessions, rather than buying one thing for each person. The Bible principles worked, they say, in Victorian times, but they work today or in any age. They can be put into practice, no matter what the current economy is. If they worked in the past, they'll work for us, today.

If you really want to obey the Word, you've got to trust God to provide for you, but my motiviation for obeying the command to stay home, is so that I might help my family develop the character and obedience that will gain them the heavenly reward, and that I myself will be in compliance with God's will. To complain that I do not have this or that, or have very little or no money, is to question His provision for me.

You may be thinking about quitting work, and trying to add up your household profit and loss sheet, but I'll tell you right now that it won't add up. If you are waiting for it to balance out, you'll never go home. Just go home and see if He will not open up the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing that cannot be contained. Do not go into homemaking expecting God to "pull his share of the load," however, but do it because it is the right thing to do. Forget about the rewards right now, and just do the right thing.

See also Titus 2

Organizing For Success

If you find yourself getting up in the morning and dreading the work ahead of you at home, or hating your house, you probably lack the benefit of organization. Just close your eyes for a minute and imagine what would make you want to get up and face the day with pleasure. When I do this, I see clean, shiny surfaces in the kitchen, uncluttered floors, and a sparkling, nice smelling bathroom.

If I were to escape the clutter, I would go to a shopping place where everything is cleaned up and in order, or a hotel where the beds are made and the tables are clean except for meals, or the house of a friend who seems to have everything picked up and put away. After thinking about this, I can more easily identify the problems of disorganization that are keeping me from enjoying my home.

Accumulated work, such as piles of clean laundry not folded or put away (or worse, laundry not even washed yet), dirty cookware and dinnerware strewn from one end of the kitchen to the other, bedrooms with clothes and piles of blankets and other clutter, and a living room full of things that don't belong in there, put a tremendous amount of stress on me. Chaos may not bother some people (or at least, it appears not to), but it makes me feel stressed and depressed.

About twenty years ago I was reading about this new phenomenon in women called "chronic depression." The author was using a type of therapy that, although very ancient, was new to that generation of people. She suggested that you clean one thing. Just one thing. Organize a kitchen shelf or cabinet, or wipe the sink in the bathroom. Afterwards, if you still feel discouraged and depressed, clean the floor. Admittedly, most people who are feeling depressed, aren't going to have the gumption to get up and move around, but her point was that the hands engage the mind and change the chemistry of the brain in some way, when a person is organizing. I tried this, and it worked. It helps if you have someone who cares about you to dig in with you and coach you along.

The phone is my best tool in this kind of circumstance. Clutter makes me panic to the point that I don't want to face it, so I call my daughter, or she calls me. Sometimes she is facing a huge task and just wants some inspiration. While I'm talking to her, she moves about and washes the dishes and cleans off the surface in the kitchen, or starts doing the laundry. What we talk about would fill volumes. I sometimes wish we had recordings of these talks, because there are so many ideas about the home and family that we discover and pass on to one another. We would call them "Kitchen Tapes" or "Laundry Tapes."

When you get way beyond your own capability to cope with the clutter, you are just going to have to take some time out to get back into shape. You might have to have a few meals out, or bring in some prepared food, so that you won't have to stop and spend a lot of time in the kitchen. In my case, on "kitchen day," the cleaning and organizing and de-cluttering left no room to cook.

I've been spending about a year getting organized. During this time, I've seen something about myself that I need to be aware of: sloth comes gradually. The house doesn't get stuffed to the gills in one day. The closets, shelves, and spaces gradually accumulate things. It comes from putting something in them and not dealing with it at the moment. You think, "I don't know whether I want that or not, but I'll keep it for now." The "I'll keep it for now" things can add up, until you have to take full days off from normal work, and deal with them. Once you dig yourself out of this accumulated clutter, it is best not to bring it in again, or, think carefully about where it is going to be put and what it will replace. If something comes into the house, something else must go, unless you have gotten down to bare essentials and really need to build up your supplies again.

These accumulations cost time and money. If you keep just one thing a month that you don't use or need anymore, in a year you'll have 12 things to put somewhere. Modern homes do not have the attics and the storage areas to accomodate this. In 3 years, you've got 36 extra things. It could be a seasonal decorating collection, for example. I've had to go through these things because they lose their appeal and freshness sometimes, and no long interest me when it is time to get them out again. While I may keep one or two items with sentimental value that I will use, I want to be free to make something new or buy something that I like, and not add to the heap. Time has to be taken to keep it in order, dig around it when you are looking for something else, or re-fold and re-sort it to keep it out of the way. It costs money in the sense that if you can't find it or it is too hard to access, you will end up going to buy another one.

In five years, a collection will amount to 60 items. In ten years there will be an accumulation of 120 items. Whether these are clothes, dinnerware items, decorating things, sewing supplies, pieces of furniture, accents for the home, or tools, they've all got to find a place to stay. If you inherit your parents' household items, you will have double the problem if you bring it into your house. Biblically and traditionally, the parents things go to the grandchildren rather than the children. Your things go to your grandchildren, and on down the line. So, while you may keep one or two items in memory of your parents, pass the other things on to the children, if they will appreciate them.

Having too many things means you'll always be moving them or cleaning them or trying to manuever around them. One of the tricks of getting an organized, streamlined home, is to remember the early settlers, who just had what they needed, and took care of with pride. The less you have to take care of, the more of your time is freed up to do things with others. If you are like me, being disorganized can keep you from showing hospitality or writing a letter or sewing a little blanket for someone, or even sewing your own clothes. My goal is to get the house so easy to clean that it doesn't fall apart at one end while I'm cleaning the other. The secret is to reduce the amount of things you have to clean and organize.

After you've spent several months going through everything room by room, observe how your day goes and watch what you have to pick up and move or clean. Then go through the house again and get rid of even more. Things that accumulate dust will have to be dusted, and that takes time. It is fine to do this if you've got help, but if your children are really small or grown and gone, you'll have more responsibility if you've got extra things to polish, dust, wash, and so forth.

Being de-cluttered is so freeing. It clears your mind and lifts a burden from you. If you've ever heard someone say they are depressed, inquire into their home life and see how organized they are. When my daughter was a teenager, she and I used to go and help young mothers who were discouraged and depressed. We began by bringing them an afternoon tea in a basket and serving it, and then we set about to straighen and clean their front room, or the room that people first see when they enter. We even arranged wall hangings and things in a pleasing way. Then we did the kitchen/dining area. The rest was up to her, but we gave her a lift, and a jumpstart so that she knew where to start.

I'll never forget one young woman we visited who had such a messy house that she wouldn't let anyone in the door. She had a tiny place to live, and was hoping for something bigger someday, and had allowed herself to lose interest in it. When we got finished cleaning and organizing, she not only wanted to stay there, she recognized what a valuable piece of real estate it was.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Modernism/Liberalism

You might wonder why I occasionally include something to do with the media, politics, or popular beliefs, when addressing the subject of homemaking. It is unfortunate that the homemaker can't be left in peace by these influential powers. As I see more and more influence being exerted on to the role of the homemaker from the modernist or liberal forces, I find it necessary to address them. When I say "modernist" I am not referring to these current times, as much as I am to a set of beliefs called "Modernism" which had its beginnings in the late 1800's and dominated the thinking of 20th century citizens.

Modernism, as a religion, is the same as Liberalism, and it is the belief that the Bible is too archaic to address the problems of modern man. Therefore, they say, man must be ruled by his own reasoning to find truth. The problem with this, is that once people reject the wisdom and example of the Bible in order to live right, and determine their own destiny by their own reasoning, they are ultimately going to be ruled by something else. While they imagine they are ruling themselves, if they reject the ultimate ruler, God himself, through his will, the Bible, they will become slaves to other rulers. Groups like the media, friends, false religions and government, will soon have people in their grasp. When people do not live by these eternal laws laid forth in the scriptures, they look like they are "up for grabs" and some other influence will snatch them away. We find people everywhere believing all the things that the news media spreads, and living accordingly.

For example, in the 70's the news media made several broadcasts reporting the state of the income of the average family, claiming that women no longer had the luxury of staying home and taking care of the family. They reasoned that the cost of living--the cost of the house, plus the automobile, and other things--was too high for a one income family, and that the women would have to go to work if the family was going to "make it." Many men came home to their wives after listening to such broadcasts on their way from work, and reported the "crisis" to them, putting pressure on them to find work or a second income source. Even our own mothers and grandmothers seemed to have no good way to refute this.

When the word "finance" or "income" comes into a report, it sounds very "official" and believable. Many women never stopped to think how their parents and grandparents "made it" on one income, and even a small income at that. They assumed it simply was not possible anymore because after all, times have changed. Their parents didn't have loans, mortgages, student loans or car payments. They reasoned that it was "impossible" to get a car or a house without getting into debt and having to make high monthly payments.

Fearing they would not have the security of a house, furnishings, clothing, and cars, many women went to work. In the end, the nation lost something very precious: the solid families, loyal to each other and to their country, that so characterised our nation in the past. Certainly you'll see many new houses with fine cars parked in front of them, but at what prices? And what price would you pay to have these things? Would you leave the children in the care of others in order to go to work to pay for these things? What would you trade your family for? Time spent away from them is time wasted. You can never bring back the childhoods that are so fleeting and fragile.

We are innundated with magazines showing the "ideal home" and kept quite anxious and discontent trying to keep up with a current trend. Instead of being concerned about making the home a safe haven away from the influence of the world, where all members have the same goal of pleasing God and doing good, families sometimes make materialistic priorities in the home. The perfect furniture and the new rug will not make a solid, God-fearing family. The only thing that will accomplish this, is the family spending much, much time together in the home, learning good values.

Over the years, our family has kept track of some of the families that used to question our sanity when it came to church, home schooling, mother at home, and so forth. Every single one of them who thought we had just gotten "too extreme" has sufferred terrible results in their families. Divorce, troubled adult children, adult children in prison and other state correction facilities, and many other sad experiences have befallen these people. When people reject the old, tried and true ways of family life, the world senses that they are floating without an anchor, and offers them all kinds of substitutes that seem bright and pleasant, but in the end are the wrong paths.

We've seen several families who thought having something was the best route to go, and that both parents working outside the home would be a way to teach their children the value of work. These children were "put out to pasture," a common expresson in the south, as they spent many hours away from their parents. Hard work doesn't necessarily mean working away from home for an employer and a paycheck. Children whose parents both work will not necessarily pick up the habit of hard work. It is a lesson that must be taught by example in the home, hour by hour and day by day. The mother is an essential and irreplaceable factor in this equation.

If you are working, let me suggest that you trust that God would not have told women to "guide the home" and at the same time making it impossible to do. The Bible is a guide for any era. It works now, just as it did in the past. Modernists claim that that "system" of mother being the guard of the home no longer "works," but there is an old saying worth memorizing: If you will work the Plan, the Plan will work. This naturally involves faith and trust, but any plan involves faith and trust. We can either trust in man's plan (modernism/liberalism) or go back to God's tried and true plan. Look at the results of both lifestyles and compare them. Look at the marriages, and the lives of the children. There you'll find your answers as to which plan works and which does not.

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