Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Weekly Writes: RnR "Homemakers Creed & Proverbs 31"

After my friend Lori came over for coffee and coffee cake where we had an inspiring little chat about the book Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman, she found and printed me this Homemakers Creed from www.timewarpwife.com. When I got to the end of the "I believe..." statements I was floored. YES, YES! THIS IS WHO I WANT TO BE! THIS IS WHO GOD CALLS ME TO BE! I didn't know other women felt the same way I did?! So I thanked her (probably a million times), went home and framed it, hung it up and realized, "Well, crud. I forgot to sign it." I was frustrated because I had to cut it so it fit and lined up just so, there was no way I wanted to take it out.

I think it was divine providence, lol, because God knows that by signing it once doesn't mean that I'm going to uphold each statement each day. In fact, I need to read and sign it daily. So instead of signing "on the dotted line" with permanent ink, I erase my "dry-erase marker" signature, reread each statement, and sign it right on the glass. Hopefully I'll have each pledge memorized someday soon.
Let me tell you why.

A couple weeks ago Kyle got sick and I found myself starting to feel a little selfish. I cleaned the house, I made supper, I took care of Brielle and he got to lay there and rest. Then Brielle came down with the fever and I cleaned the house, I made supper, and I took care of a sick baby all day and night. Then I got sick and I cleaned the house, I made supper, and I took care of Brielle. Each time I felt that nasty selfish entitlement sneak into my brain I heard part of that creed in my head: "... my family deserves my best daily." And when I allow selfish entitlement to creep into my brain and stay there I forget that my husband did a load of laundry, or the dishes, or went to the grocery store and bought me ice cream, or took Brielle for a bit so I could rest, and spent 10 hours at work providing for his family (and he doesn't feel good either). I forget to be kind to Brielle when she wakes me up at 2 am because she does not feel well and she just wants mommy to hold her (without griping and complaining about how tired I am). I forget that a heavy sigh over the 5th diaper explosion of the day does not give Brielle the best of me when I usually talk and play and make her giggle. Afterwards this selfish entitlement does not make me feel better, it simply makes me feel worse. By reading and rereading Proverbs 31 and this Homemakers Creed AND LIVING BY IT, I began to feel joyful about doing the dishes that piled up while my family was sick, and when I realized that I was doing this task "... as unto the Lord." I also began to see a difference in my attitude when I told myself over and over again that "my family deserves my best," even if (ahem, when) I don't feel the best.

Lately I've been reading Gloria Furman's book, Glimpses of Grace, where she takes you on a journey in seeing the joy despite the mundane. Through this book God has convicted my spirit countless times and at the same time, I've felt encouraged, inspired, and hopeful. I study God's Word whenever I get the chance, began memorizing scripture, worked harder than I ever have, and struggle with feelings of selfishness daily (ugh!), but now understand now how to ask for God's help. It seems that everywhere I go I'm bombarded by little reminders of what it means to be a good wife and mother, like this amazing post on "Butler, Party of 2's" blog, where she talks about what it means to be a godly wife. Although I knew each of these (and nodded in agreement over each point she made), I need constant reminders (like the Homemakers Creed hanging in my kitchen)! Because I'm not a perfect wife and I'm not a perfect mommy.

You see I've known what kind of mom God was calling me to be for awhile now. My alarm goes off every morning with this reminder: Proverbs 31. (And yet I still hit snooze thousands of times and sometimes I even turn it off and go back to sleep! ugh!) The wife and mother described in Proverbs 31 is a hard one to live up to and I've read it countless times, and forget it. I honestly think it's another that I should memorize and hang next to my Homemakers Creed so that when I feel that selfish entitlement creep into my brain I remember what a God fearing, beautiful, hard working woman looks like: (What is in parethesis are my own comments and are not part of Proverbs 31.)

"An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
(In other words, he will lack nothing, or want anything.)
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
(Not of body, but of mind, just like Christ. Psalm 93:1 "... the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt." In other words, the wife is a picture of the church, and her husband is a picture of Christ. Christ is coming back for his church (aka his bride, his people) so the wife is to submit to her husband just as the church submits to Christ [Ephesians 5:22-33] Eeeeek! Submit? You mean a woman is is to submit to her husband and that makes a happy home?! YES! That doesn't mean he should make decisions without you, or that you are not a team, it simply means that when it comes down to it, your HUSBAND is held accountable to God for the decisions you make as a couple, NOT THE WIFE. Sometimes it's best to shut your mouth, let it go, and refrain from saying "I told you so!" I struggle with this one, a lot, so my prayer is always, "Lord, guide me." Without that prayer, I wouldn't be kind, or helpful, or wise. When I finally do let go, IT'S FREEING! I don't have to worry about it! It's JUST LIKE letting go and LETTING GOD! He is in control and once you realize that you need to be submissive to CHRIST (your husband is a picture of Christ) and what HE'S DOING in your life, IT'S FREEING!)
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
(In other words, it is in the home where a man's strength is gathered for his "public" life. Have you ever seen a man in public where it is quite obvious his home life is not a good one?)
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
(She's not worried about the future! She does not fear want, or death, or disease, because she fears the Lord! What is there to fear in death for a woman who fears the Lord? She has confidence in the day of judgment! If she fears the Lord and trusts in Him, she knows that He has promised to take care of them (so there's no fear of having nothing).)
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates."
- Proverbs 31:10-31

I love the Summarized Bible's conclusion on Proverbs 31, "A virtuous woman who has command of her own spirit, who is pious and industrious, who is firm for the principles of God’s Word, is a rare prize. Such a one is of unspeakable worth, and he who has such a wife, should show to her great kindness and respect, and to God, thankfulness of heart." Wow.

Matthew Henry's comment on Proverbs 31 is extremely interesting, "This description of the virtuous woman is designed to show what wives the women should make and what wives the men should choose; it consists of twenty-two verses, each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order, as some of the Psalms, which makes some think it was no part of the lesson which Lemuel's mother taught him, but a poem by itself, written by some other hand, and perhaps had been commonly repeated among the pious Jews, for the ease of which it was made alphabetical." See?! If a pious Jew was expected to repeat it (memorize it) shouldn't I as well?

I believe the Homemakers Creed and Proverbs 31 go together like ice cream and cake. Let's compare:

HC: "I believe that faith and family are my top priorities."
P31: She does him [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (vs.12) "She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household." (vs.15) "She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet." (vs. 21) "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her" (vs. 26-28) "... a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (vs. 30)

HC: "I believe that I was created to be my husband's helpmeet."
P31: "The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." (vs.11-12)

HC: "I believe that serving my family is a privilege and an honor - one I will not take lightly."
P31: "She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands." (vs. 13) "She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household..." (vs. 15) "She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet." (vs. 21) "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (vs. 27)

HC: "I believe that my family deserves the time, the attention and the effort it takes to make our home a comfortable home."
P31: "...works with willing hands." (vs. 13) "She rises while it is still night." (vs.15) "Her lamp does not go out at night." (vs 18) "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (vs.27)

HC: "I believe that everything I do whether it be as simple as a load of laundry or as elaborate as a formal dinner party, should be done as unto the Lord."
P31: "... a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (vs.30)

HC: "I believe that some days will be harder than others, which is why I'm given the ability and the strength to choose joy."
P31: "She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong." (vs. 17) "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." (vs. 25)

HC: "I believe that my actions and my words affect my family, therefore I will strive to live my faith out daily."
P31: "She does him [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life." (vs. 12) "... [she] works with willing hands." (vs. 13) "She rises while it is still night..." (vs.15) "She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy." (vs.20) "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (vs.26)

The thing is, these are not popular ideals in today's society. In fact, while reading and typing these I feel overwhelmed! That is quite the undertaking! And yet, at the end of the day I feel blessed, not because I've met each of these tasks perfectly day in and day out, but because I can rest in God's grace knowing that despite my imperfections I can live each day with hope because of what Jesus did on the cross! I can serve others with joy because I have hope in an eternity in heaven. I can work hard knowing that it's what God wants me to do and someday (maybe not today, perhaps not even in this lifetime) it will be worth it. Because of Jesus, the way I live is different than it was three years ago! I can look at the cross and believe that I am forgiven and that I have a reason to LIVE! And I can look "forward to the reward of all that God has for us in Christ." (Furman, G. Glimpses of Grace, p.165) That gift gives me the desire to please God by how I live each and every day, even if I'm not the perfect "Proverbs 31" wife or meet each and every belief statement on the Homemakers Creed. I will do my very best to work hard, be kind, study God's Word, and serve as unto the Lord, even on the hard days.

**These are not a set of rules that women must live by in order to be saved. Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. (Acts 4:12) However, if you are truly a follower of Christ these expectations should be creeds that you want to live by because God is your authority, you will be held accountable to Him. This is what He's called you to be: a godly wife and mother and He's given us multiple verses in the Bible that show us what that looks like (including but not limited to Proverbs 31).

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