Friday, 23 January 2015

Fighting the Enemy of "Failure" {Let it go}

I was chatting online to a sweet friend, recently. She was telling me about some of her struggles, and I was trying to encourage her. 

It got me thinking back to when I was in a similar situation to her.  It seems like so long ago, now.  Those days when I had only little children, and quite a few of them.  I know it's not as close together as some have them, but I had my 5th when my oldest was 6, and that was a c-section, with its longer recovery. 

I look back and remember how I struggled with so much.  I had a small house, which was REALLY difficult to keep tidy.  Lots of people, with all their "stuff", and not really old enough to help with the big jobs, makes life HARD. Cooking and cleaning. Doing school. We also hosted students from America at weekends, which was such a joy, but brought extra work, too. I baked a lot, and made my own bread.  Life was busy, but it was a battle.

You see, I look back - and I look AROUND  - and I see an enemy. It's an enemy that creeps into the heart and mind of most mothers, I think. 

It's self-expectation, and failure. 

We make demands upon ourselves, that no-one else places there, or we THINK others are placing there.  We THINK we should be doing X, Y and Z in order to be the perfect mother our children need.  We base it upon what we have decided life should be like, but when it doesn't work out that way we mentally beat ourselves up about it.  

We think we are failing.

We grieve over the time we were able to spend with our eldest - that same time seems to be spread so thinly now.  We feel that we are failing because the same activities cannot be done with other children that we did with the first. We started a lovely thing and cannot keep it up. We can try, but we can easily burn out if we even attempt to do it.

Sadness can quickly set in.  

I remember I had a baby book for Josh.  It was completed, with all the details of this, that and the other.  All carefully and excitedly filled in, as each milestone was reached.  I got on when I had Beth - about half of that was completed.  I bought one when I had Daniel.... it got a name written inside.  That was it!  I can remember feeling so guilty - that I was a failure because I couldn't even fill out a simple baby book! 

Laundry, which was so easy to keep on top of with one -  even between the demands of adjusting to life as a first time Mum - can quickly pile up. 

Dishes, which we so quick to wash up with just two adults, and a baby who didn't yet need dishes, now sit stacked up.

Toys, strewn around the house, with only little people to "help" - little people who are perfect at MAKING the mess, and not so much at the tidying up part.

Jobs you never seem to get around to doing, because even the basics are hard to accomplish..

All the while, in your mind, you are accusing yourself of being useless, a failure, just not keeping up, or meeting up to expectations.

The worst part, for me (and it still is!), is people saying "Oh, I don't know how you do it!", whilst inside I am screaming "I'm really not as wonderful as you think!".  The swan scenario playing out, every time someone sees your family - the calm exterior, whilst what they can't see, under the "water" of the closed door of your home, is you madly "paddling" to try and keep life moving.  Knowing you just have to keep paddling, but at the same time despondent that your paddling isn't moving you as quickly as you would like, or in the direction you had hoped.

I wish there had been someone to tell me THEN, what I know now.  A message I need to remind myself of, every time the mess starts to pile up further, and the jobs keep getting left that I think should be done NOW.

Not getting things done doesn't make you a failure! 

Motherhood isn't a test.  There isn't anyone standing there observing us, with a set of rules and regulations, grading our abilities to be a good mother.  There is no "right" or "wrong" way to be a mother, or care for a home.

You're not in some contest, up against the other Mums you know, in an attempt to gain "mother of the year" status.  

You don't even need to be comparing yourself to what you were able to do last year, last month, last week, or even yesterday. 

You don't need to hide the fact that you are a Mum who struggles, and who isn't "perfect"!  You don't need to push yourself even further to make sure your house is spotless when people come to visit, lest they think you are "failing".  

You need to look at today, and the strength and opportunities you have to do your best. YOUR best.  Not someone else's best.  You need to do everything in YOUR power, by God's grace and help, and within the limitations He has placed upon your life, to live your life.

Maybe you have  chronic ill health, which makes certain jobs nearly impossible?  God knows, and you can only do what you can do.

Maybe you are going through the struggles of pregnancy and morning sickness?  God knows, and the laundry that's falling behind because you are exhausted, or the dishes that never seem to be "caught up", will get done when your energy returns.

Maybe you have lots of little children who are always making mess, and you struggle to keep on top of it all.  They have fun, whilst you fret.  Don't! They grow up SOOOO quickly, and mess is not dirt. As my husband reminded me the other day "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox."  Children are our "oxen". Children = mess! But, there is "much strength" in children.  They are a blessing, and the mess they make will pass before you know it, and we will be bemoaning the fact that the phase passed in such a flash. 

Maybe you planned to follow some school book, and it's just not working out for you. It doesn't make you a failure, it just means it wasn't right for you and your family!

None of this, and many other things beside, makes you a failure.  Hiding your life from others won't make you "perfect", it just makes you good at hiding reality!  All that matters is that you are being faithful.  Faithful to God, in doing all you can to get through this day, this hour, this moment. Glorifying Him by your heart being right, and your attempts being, well, ATTEMPTED! Doing the next thing, and not dwelling on what you DIDN'T do.

If you are a mother of small girls, or if you are just a person who has exposure to the world, you may have heard of a song called "Let it go"?  When I was thinking about the concept of "the past being in the past" a moment ago, I thought of that song, and looked up the words.  I know there has been criticism of Elsa singing "no right no wrong, no rules for me", and it is something we have told our children that, from a Biblical perspective, is not correct.

For a moment, though, take a look at this song from the angle of MOTHERHOOD.



"A kingdom of isolation"

Do we make our life a kingdom of isolation, because we don't want to let people in to see what REAL life is like for us? 




"Don't let them in,
don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel,
don't let them know"

THIS IS MY LIFE!
I feel I have to put across some impression of having it all together, so that no-one judges me for not being a "perfect" mother.  I am quite sure that most people DON'T expect that, but I feel I will be failing the "team" of large families who homeschool, if I don't "fit" the "right" way to be a mother.



"Well now they know"

Well, now you know!  *grin*

I'M NOT! 

There, it's out.

My house is often messy. There is often laundry waiting to be done.  I shout at my children. I make mistakes.  I don't always get things done that I think I should. I waste time. I'm not always submissive.

Now you know.



"Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door"

Ok, so, slamming  door isn't really showing self control, but I am going to CLOSE the door on my days that are past - my jobs that didn't get done yesterday - the stumblings and sins of yesterday.  Today is  new day, with the capabilities that God has gifted me with.



"I don't care
what they're going to say
Let the storm rage on."

I don't. I don't care what other people say about what THEY think is the way I should live my life.  It's up to my husband, me, and our consciences before the Lord, to decide how our life needs to be. In the Bible it says to be "careful" for nothing. Full of care.  Anxious.  Worried. I cannot spend my life being worried about what other people think.  If they judge me wrongly, that is between them and the Lord.  I need to just keep being faithful right where I am.



"It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I'm free!"

You can be free from what others perceive as the "right" or "wrong" way to be a mother.  There ARE no rules on parenting - no man-made ones, anyway.  Other people cannot dictate to you how to live your life.  God's Word is always and only the "rule" for you.  That's it! Not your parents, your siblings, your family, your friends, or the media.  What you choose to do with your life, each and every day, can only be decided by you. God will give you, and only you, the wisdom to discern what needs to be done, and what can wait.



"I'm never going back, the past is in the past"

We don't need to keep going back over what we did in the past, or what we DIDN'T get done!  We can't dwell on the sins of the past, or the disappointments of yesterday, or the opportunities we lost, or the jobs that didn't get started, never mind finished. 



The Bible says

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1


Paul was speaking to those who felt they must follow all the rules and the law - circumcision, being one that was mentioned.  He told the Galatians they were FREE from the law - being a Christian isn't about "rule following".  Christ has set us FREE from that! Living like that is like being a prisoner.  Christ has saved us, not only from our sin, but being bound to follow laws that can not, and will not, earn us merit or salvation.  

Our day to day life, as mothers, is no different.  We mustn't become prisoners to fitting into the mould of "the perfect mother". Christ has made us free, and we can live our lives in the individual way that God has made us.  

Following God's commands? Yes! 

Following the laws and rules of others? NO!

Are you stuck in a life where you are always feeling your "failures", and only seeing where you are NOT achieving, rather than what you ARE doing?  

LET IT GO!

Are you worrying about what others will think about your life, and your struggles?

LET IT GO!

Do you feel you should be following the "rules" of motherhood, as others think it should be?

LET IT GO!

Mothers, set yourself free from the bondage of feeling like a failure, and let it go!









A Divine Encounter

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Women of the Word {Esther - For Such a Time as This}





When I was considering Esther, and what I would say about her, THIS is not what I planned on saying.

I had thoughts of husbands, and communication.  There's a lesson to be learned about that, and MAYBE I will return to it, but the Holy Spirit whispered a different message into my heart this morning, and that is what I will share.  Those quiet moments in the morning, when I manage to drag my tired body out of bed, to savour the stillness with my Saviour, are ALWAYS worth it.  Those are the moments when I hear His voice speaking to me.

Esther.   "Fair and Beautiful".  A girl, carried away in the captivity.  Her parents are dead, and she lives with her cousin, Mordecai.  They live in a foreign land, far away from all that they knew and loved - most certainly separated, by traumatic circumstances, from those they held dear.

Esther.  Taken into "custody" - a prisoner.  A year spent preparing herself for a glorified beauty pageant. All her days spent amongst those primping and preening - all for  the possibility of becoming the Queen of a mighty ruler. Paraded before a godless king, to have her beauty admired.

Esther.  The one admired by those around her  - her inward beauty most likely shining forth, even then, as well as that outward beauty.  The one chosen by the King, obtaining grace and favour in his sight, over all the other maidens.

What struck my heart this morning was this.

She was a woman who accepted.

She gently, quietly, without fuss and drama, ACCEPTED her situation.

Who would CHOOSE to be taken captive, as a young girl, far away from all you held dear?

Who would CHOOSE to be paraded, like an animal in a market - gazed upon, weighed up alongside the others - to be the potential Queen of a ruler looking only upon your outward appearance?  An ungodly King, apparently easily influenced by those he places in power alongside him.

Esther didn't choose the situation she was in, yet she calmly accepted it all, and MORE.

She became a woman who owned her life.  She became a woman who accepted what God had given her as her portion, and poured herself into it.  She emptied herself into the situation she was in, and redeemed it to the glory of God, by redeeming the people of God.

She quickly took upon her role of a supportive wife and helped to save him from the plotting of his enemies (chapter 2:21-23).  She didn't have to do that.  She could have sat quietly by, whilst the husband she didn't choose for herself, and a man who had so easily dismissed his previous wife, was assassinated.  But no, that was not in her nature, nor a reflection of the inner beauty she possessed. She owned her life by being everything that she should have been.

She placed herself in a place of potential sacrifice, in order to approach her husband.

"If I perish, I perish."

She was willing to die for those she loved.

Knowing the King, and what had happened to Vashti, she didn't admit defeat, and think there was nothing she could do. Instead, she immediately fasted and sought a solution to the dire situation. She found herself in a state of affairs that put those she cared so deeply for at risk, and she went about making sure that she saved them.  She set aside her earthly comforts, to seek heavenly counsel about her situation.  We are told she fasted, and this invariably, in scripture, goes hand in hand with prayer.  It's an assumption, but one that is not unlikely.  She put self aside, in order to live fully, sacrificially, and with compassion, in the situation she was in.

What lesson did the Holy Spirit whisper in my heart, this morning?

We cannot always choose the situations we find ourselves in.  In God's sovereign dealings with our life, we may find ourselves in a place not of our choosing.  We may experience heartache.  We may be thrust into situations that are hard. We may have to go through trials that test us on many levels. We may be in relationships that require patience and grace.  We may be in marriage that is far from perfect.  We may be far from those we love.

It's not right for us to fight the perfect plan of God.  It's not right for us to grumble, to complain.

God did not create us to live a mundane life, where we don't embrace the season we are in and live it with passion.

We are to be "Esthers".  Esther was the outliving of the words of Paul.

"For to me to live is CHRIST, and to die is gain".

He didn't say "For to me to exist".

He didn't say " For me to endure".

He said, "For to me to LIVE".

We can only live fully, to God's glory, if we do everything in our power to live it for HIM.

To honour Him.

To praise Him.

To obey Him.

To joyfully embrace and own where He has us.

It cannot be done in our own power.

It cannot be done for our own gain.

God has placed you in your situation "for such a time as this".  Like Esther, you have a work to do, right where you are.  The circumstances don't dismiss you from this delightful duty - they simply dictate the way you will live it out. Each with our own story, to HIS glory.

Our lives can be lived as ones of incredible influence, just like Esther. No matter where we are, or who we come into contact with, we can influence others greatly, for God's kingdom, if we accept our circumstances, and live fully devoted to God. I am sure Esther never imagined, as a child fleeing persecution, that she would be so greatly used in the wonderful plan that God had for the redemption of His chosen people. Esther, willing to be used. Not sitting by, simply existing. Willing to go, with confidence, to live a life of boldness. A life that would be recorded for the generations to come, to read of her willingness to serve in the hard places.

Am I willing to live that kind of life? To accept, with humility and a burning passion to see Christ glorified, RIGHT HERE?

I don't need to be in a palace.  I don't need to be on the mission field.  I don't even need to go outside of my HOME.

God can work in me, and through me, if I am willing to live a life that is bold and full - owning my life, glorifying Him, and faithfully following His lead.















Monday, 19 January 2015

My first knitted hat {Capucine}

Well, today I finished my first knitted hat.  One of my online friends, who hand dyes yarn, had shared the pattern on Ravelry.  It caught my eye, and when I looked at it, I figured my limited knitting skills could give it a whirl! Conveniently, I also had some chunky yarn I could use, in a gorgeous, bright colourway.

Beth needed a new hat, so I figured it would be perfect for her.

The pattern I used is called Capucine, and it's on Ravelry for FREE! Yippeeeee!






For this pattern, you will need 5mm circular, and optionally some 5mm straight ones, for the weight of yarn I used.  I used Robin Candyfloss, in the Ferris Wheel colour way. (Number 4457)

You start off on the straight needles (or the circular, if you prefer), and then transfer onto the circulars for the crown of the hat, knitting in the round. I had to look on YouTube to find out about "join in the round", but it was very simple!  I have shared the video I found the most useful (I have actually subscribed to this channel on YouTube, as her instruction videos are very clear and helpful).





In this video, she talks about making sure none of your stitches are twisted, but in this pattern you are joining quite way through, so it's not an issue.

This pattern is INCREDIBLY simple, and only requires a few, basic stitches.  Knit and purl, and then two types of decrease stitches -  knit two together (k2tog), and slipslip knit (ssk) - the latter being new to me.  Here's a video for that one.






The crown section is in stockinette, but because it's knitted in the round, you don't have to do any purl rows! I still feel a bit "ham fisted" purling, so that pleased me greatly! The way the decreases work in the crown, you end up with a lovely spiral effect at the top. I love it.

Now, to my two bugbears.  None of it was to do with the pattern - all to do the materials and equipment. Oh, and maybe me....

First the yarn.  It's a yarn that is created by a very fine twist of fibre wrapped around a thick, fibrous strand. This means it is VERY easy to stick your needle THROUGH the yarn, or get a TINY piece of fibre twisted into the wrong place.  On the whole, it was easily fixed by either fixing the stitch straight away, or lifting it off when you knit into that stitch on the next row. It was mildly irritating, rather than it putting me off ever using that yarn again.

My next issue was with using the cable.  I bought myself the Knit Pro Starter set, with a metal, wooden and plastic tip, in 4 mm, 5 mm, and 6 mm. (One of each)  It came with 3 three cables (one of which has gone "walk about", annoyingly, but they are very fine, so it could have slipped somewhere - alternatively it grew toddler sized legs....), and I used the smallest  I had.  When I got to the last, maybe, ten rows, there were very few stitches left to work with, and I was using a 60 cm cable (the cable itself is 40 cm, but once you add the tips, it's 60 cm).  It took me quite a bit of fiddling and faffing, pushing and pulling the cable through various spots along the stitches, to be able to knit the stitches.  FINALLY, by the last couple of rows, I realised I needed to pull all the work onto my left hand needle, and knit them onto just the tip of the right hand needle.  Once they were knitted, I pulled them all back round the cable to the left hand needle again.  It didn't feel very "natural", and it could well be that I was just being a bit dim. I must ask on the crochet/knitting group I am on, as I know someone else who made it. (She told me she used a shorter cable, so I will research that!)

Other than that, it was a REALLY simple pattern.  I made the tassels by just cutting the yarn to the length I wanted, and looping them on through a stitch along the edge, with a crochet hook. I did the old technique like you would use to attach a ribbon on a bookmark. Is there a name for that??  For the "pom pom", which I feel, technically, was more like very thick tassel, I tied  length of yarn around the centre of a "pile" of yarn. I decided, first of all, what length it needed to be, then cut it all.  I kept checking how big a "bunch" it made, to see if it was the desired size. Really technical, I know. I then pulled the piece of yarn, which I had securely tied around the "bunch", through the crown of the hat, and secured it on the inside.

Et voila.

Hat!




Front




Side



Back

The pattern mentioned adding felt birds, but with a highly coloured yarn, I didn't think that was necessary.

This is, overall, a good pattern for a newbie knitter, like me. I only started it at the end of last week, so, I doubt it took more than  few hours, total. 

I will share about the other things I have knitted, soon, as well as getting back to sharing about some of my crochet projects from last year.






Friday, 16 January 2015

Making mistakes can be hard to fix {life-lessons from a newbie knitter}

Sooooooo, I have recently hopped over from the world of crochet, to the world of knitting.  I am thinking I may need to rename my "crochet" tab as "yarny yummies" or something like that!

I have really been enjoying the challenge of learning something new.  I still love crochet, but pushing myself to try new things, and learning to knit, has been very satisfying! There is something quite therapeutically beautiful about the uniformity of knitted stitches.  So far, I have completed two items - a shawl/scarf, and a sleeveless cardi for Tabitha. On my needles, right now, I have a cardi for myself, and a hat for Beth.

I will share a bit more about that in another post, but right now I want to share about a lesson the Lord spoke into my heart, whilst knitting.

You see, I have come across a fairly major issue with knitting, that you don't have with crochet. The issue of fixing mistakes.  In crochet, you work out pretty quickly that you have gone wrong, and you just rip it back to where you made the mistake. You could, often, leave it there, and it may not be noticed by any other than the very experienced eye. However, I fairly quickly realised that knitting is a whole other hand craft.  The biggest issue with knitting is dropped stitches.  If you drop a stitch it can ruin the whole piece you are working on.  You have two choices - learn how to pick up the stitch, or rip it back. Sometimes you may just realise you have made a mistake, or knitted an extra row, or not changed something soon enough.  There are two methods to get back to where you need to be - take it all off the needles, then hope you can pick all the stitches back up again, without dropping any, or painstakingly, and SLOWLY, go back, stitch by stitch, to the point you made the error. Neither is easy.  I made the error of not reading the pattern properly, and had to go back quite a way to fix it.  It was TORTURE! All because I didn't read the pattern properly. Other mistakes are just through carelessness, or trying to do things in a hurry!

"What's the lesson?", I hear you ask?

Well, it's simple.  If you are not careful, you can create problems in life that are really hard to undo.

The one that sprung to mind was the words I speak.  Since I was little, I have had a battle with my tongue.  "Think before you speak" is something I struggled with, and still do, to a certain extent. These days, "before you type" is just as applicable.  If I don't speak the right words, it's ever so difficult to "undo", and get back the point I was at before the words got out.  It's so easy to hurt others, even without intending to, by saying things you shouldn't or speaking at all.  In my marriage, in my home, with my family and friends, and with online connections.  When you say things you shouldn't repair can be made, but it always takes time, and careful attention, to make things right.  If you don't fix it, you will end up with "holes" in the relationships you care about, and things can entirely unravel and fall apart, leaving an unusable mess.  Relationships can quickly unravel if we make the mistake of using unwise words.

Maybe it's not words.  Maybe it's choices we make. Maybe we don't read the "instructions" of life carefully enough, before launching headlong into life.  If we don't refer to the only "instructions" we ever need - God's Word - we can so easily go wrong.  Then, we end up trying to "undo" our foolish choices and make things right.  Thankfully, we have a gracious and forgiving God, who chooses to forget our sin, when we come to Him in repentance.  However, actions have consequences, and, humanly speaking, we may end up having to try and repair the "mess" we have made in our lives, but going OUR way, instead of God's way.

I have certainly learnt the importance of carefully checking the pattern, and following it carefully.  Taking my time, and not rushing, so I don't end up spending valuable time fixing mistakes, instead of creating something beautiful and useful.  I need to make sure and apply the same principle in my life, where relationships are so much more vital to make beautiful and useful.




Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Women of the Word {Vashti - how not to be a good wife}

Before I launch into looking at Esther - that young girl who went from humble beginnings to Queenly status - I think it's very important to look at Vashti.

The book of Esther is intriguing. No mention of God at all.  Yet, filled with a story of redemption.

Esther - an example of strength and bravery.

Vashti - an example of how NOT to be a wife.

Let's get the back story, First. King Ahasuerus decided to throw a lavish party. It was no small feast - it lasted one hundred and eighty days! At the end of this great feast, where he displayed his power, he threw a shorter feast - seven days - in his garden.  It was a place of great beauty, reflecting the great riches of the Kingdom, with colourful hangings, marble and a multi-coloured flooring!  All the people drank from golden cups - each one unique. They didn't drink with excess - it all fell within the limits of the law.  It must have been quite a feast!

At the same time, Vashti made a feast for the women, separately.

On the seventh day, the King requested that the Queen should come to him, so he could show off her beauty to those gathered.  He quite obviously admired the good looks of his wife, and wanted others to appreciate such.

Then came the problem.

Vashti point blank refused to come.

It made Ahasuerus angry.

He consulted his wise men, to decide what should be done.

It was decided, according to the law, that she would no longer come before the King, and her estate should be given to one "better than she".

All of this was decided for one pivotal reason - they didn't want  Vashti's in-submission to be a bad example to the women in the kingdom. They needed to see that it was something that was wrong, and had consequences.

As much as the kingdom of Ahasuerus was an ungodly one, there was much wisdom in their views on marriage.

Here is the basis for the decisions of the wise men.

"Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. 
For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. 
Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. 
For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house."
Esther 1


Vashti's actions could potentially cause other women in the kingdom to "despise" their husbands, and lead to "contempt and wrath".  In other words, it would lead other women to think they could copy the actions and attitude of Vashti, leading to anger and contempt. It wasn't the way marriages were supposed to work.  Going against the way that things should be would cause hurt and damage.

Now, before I get to the nitty gritty...

I am a woman, trying to share with other women what I find in the Bible. It is not my job to teach men, or instruct husbands. So, I will not be dealing, in any great detail, about what men should, or shouldn't, be doing.

I have simply come to this topic as a natural progression, studying through the women of the Bible, and I am not trying to make a point out of something that's not obviously there.

That said, what can we see from Vashti, and what can we then conclude from what the Bible teaches, elsewhere?

Firstly, what can we learn from this chapter, from the incident with Vashti?

* Vashti, as a wife, was expected to obey her husband.

* Vashti didn't obey her husband.

* It was wrong to disobey her husband.

* Vashti was being a bad example to other wives.

* Men are to rule their homes.


Amongst many, this would not be popular or tolerated.

Obey husband? Men rule in the home?

Seriously?

Surely this is just a heathen kingdom's rules, and not at all in line with GOD'S teaching?

Erm, wrong.

If you are a child of God, who longs to serve and honour Him with every fibre of your being, the ruling given in this Persian kingdom is EXACTLY the same as what God requires of you.

EXACTLY the same!

Don't believe me?

Read on.

"thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Genesis 3:16


This is an edict given in GENESIS.

THE BEGINNING.

Husbands, ruling over the wife.  This is the start of it all.  The fall.  The curse.  The punishment given to women.  We are to be ruled over by our husbands, and it's our CURSE.  We won't like it, and our spirit, by nature, will fight it, tooth and nail.  Ergo - it's not going to be easy, but it's what God has ordained.

It's so disliked, even to this day, that feminism has reared its ugly head, and tries to imply that this must mean that women are somehow lesser beings by this requirement, and we must battle to gain equality.

What sad, sad falsehood.

God has created us equal, in His sight.  He loves women and men equally.  He hears and answers our prayers equally.  He desires to bless us equally.  We are equal.

However, due to sin, and our fallen nature, He established that there needs to be order within our lives.  There can only be one leader in every marriage.  It's not actually the man.

No.

It's GOD.

He is the ultimate authority, and we are both, as husband and wife, under His authority, and expected to obey Him.

Life, of course, throws out, time upon time, instances where decisions have to be made, and leadership is required.  God has planned that the husband is to take that role.

GOD.

HE decided.

Now, please bear in mind, I am NOT talking to non-Christians here.  I am talking, primarily, to those who claim Christ as their Saviour.  I am telling you that GOD chose that this is the way it should be.
This ALONE should be reason enough to want to follow it!

It's not about being bossy, oppressive, or most of all misogynistic. It's not an excuse for men to exert unloving, and harsh, command over their wives.  It's about taking on the role of "the buck stops here, so I need to make choices as the head of this home", and the wife lovingly accepting that's the way it should be.

I'm not saying that wives have no opinion, no point of view, or any other such nonsense.  If a man loves his wife as Christ loved the Church, He will want to hear what his wife has to say, and treat her as a spiritual equal, with respect and love.  It doesn't mean that she gets to be disrespectful and obstinate. It doesn't mean she has leeway to be self-centred and manipulative.

Look back at the verse in Genesis. The husband rules.

The example of Vashti is a clear one, regarding respect for our husband.  If your husband asks you to do something that is not wrong or sinful, then we should desire to respectfully do it.  If we respect that role of leadership that God has placed in his hands - which is no small thing, and bears the weight of responsibility to God for each decision he makes - then we should WANT to submit. If we want to honour GOD, we will want to honour our husband.  He is accountable to God for the decisions he makes, which require our submission - we are accountable to God to submit to our husband.  It's that simple.

Biblical headship is ultimately about protection, not "being the boss". It's about Christ protecting families, husbands protecting their wife and family, and wives protecting their family and caring for their home. We all have responsibilities to rule well, and to honour the Lord in how we do it.  So, as wives, if our husband asks us to do something, we submit.

I once saw a graphic that explained it well, and I have attempted recreated it myself.






You can see here the way it all works.  It's about caring, protecting, and ruling well.


"One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;"
I Timothy 3:5


Yes, it's an instruction to those being considered as Elders, but given that they are in a position of example, we can safely say it's how  ALL men should behave!  Ruling WELL their household, which includes the wife, as well as the children.  Ruling well means loving like Christ loves us.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." 
Ephesians 5:22-24

"Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Ephesians 5:33


This is the biggie.   We submit to our husbands as we submit to the Lord.  Maybe that is where we need to start, in our hearts. DO we submit to the Lord, first and foremost? Are we desirous to honour Him, love Him, respect Him, and obey Him, above all else? Listening to His voice, over the clamouring voices of the world?  If we are, then we will WANT to submit to our husband.  Christ is the head of the Church to lead her, guide her, protect her, teach her, love her.  In the same way, the husband is the head of the wife. Christ isn't domineering, abrasive, unheeding, and without love and care.  Neither should the husband be. Likewise, as we, as a church, should be subject to Christ - in EVERYTHING - so should we be to our husbands - IN EVERY THING.   We need to deeply respect our husband, and SHOW it.

Herein was the downfall of Vashti.  She did not respect her husband, and his desires, and was plucked from her lofty position as wife of the King, and all honours and riches were taken away. He didn't ask her to do anything wrong or crazy. He just asked her to come to him.  To leave what she was doing, to come to him.  She didn't want to.  That curse that was put upon her, as all women, was fighting within her, and she gave in to self.  

Like Vashti, when we choose NOT to respectfully, and humbly, come  under the authority and protection of the headship of our husbands, as God has ordained, we put ourselves in harms way. We are sinning, and choosing to disobey God, when we fight against it.  It displeases God.  It grieves His heart. It's not for us to judge whether our husband is making the best call - it's up to us to respectfully obey, and leave it in the hands of the One under whose authority our husband stands. 

As for the reasoning behind Vashti being removed from her role as queen, we read that it was so that her actions were not a bad example to other women.

We can see, similarly, what I Peter teaches  us.

"For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 
Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement."
I Peter 3:5-6

We have the GOOD example of women like Sara - she loved and respected her husband so deeply, she called him "lord".  Yes, LORD.  We are her daughters - we are from her lineage, as those who faith in God.  We need to follow her example, and BE an example to others, too.  To the world, watching what real love should be.  To our daughters, growing up and learning how a good marriage should operate. To young Christians, wanting to learn how to live a life honouring to God.

*sigh*

It's a HUGE issue.

It's a HARD thing.

It's simply not easy, and we will battle with it until our dying day, because it's part of our curse.  Our child bearing years will pass, and so passes that part of the curse - but, until our husband passes to glory, it's our duty to submit to our husband.

Hang on.

Let's just finish on a positive.

If submitting to our husband is submitting to God's will, how should we be doing it? Yes, it's our duty. Yes, it's a command.

The Psalmist sums it up.


"I delight to do thy will, O my God:"
Psalm 40:8


DELIGHT.  That's how we should do God's will.  With delight.  With joy.


"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."
Psalm 119:2 


If we obey God's commands, and seek to follow after Him with our whole heart, we will be blessed.

I can tell you, unequivocally, when you don't honour and obey your husband you will NOT be happy. You will NOT be blessed.  You will be miserable. Seeking self, and thinking you know best, will NOT lead to joy and happiness. Ask me how I know.  Actually, don't.  Just take my word for it.

Is it easy? 

No.  Fighting against sin and self is not easy.

Not every husband is easy to submit to, I must add.  Men are sinners, just like women.  They don't always lead and rule with the love and grace that they ought to.  Does that mean we shouldn't have to do our part? NO! We are only ever accountable for ourselves.  Leave it to God to judge our husbands.

Is it worth it? 

Yes. Obeying God's perfect will is ALWAYS worth it.  I can tell you, hands down, that my marriage has been more joyful, happy, blessed, and strong, when I have submitted to Robert.  Do I always get it right? Do I always do what I should? Shamefully, no.  When I do, we have such sweet union, and heartache is averted. 

Don't be like Vashti.  Don't be headstrong and self-willed.  Delight to do God's will, and see the blessings that come your way.





TheJoyfulKeeper

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tots on a Tuesday {Trouble, but totally adorable, Tabitha}

So far, my "Tots on a Tuesday" posts have been more about what I do with my little boys, who are 4 and 2.

All of a sudden, it's Tabitha that's also becoming my "Tot"!

She is getting bigger, and suddenly getting more "grown up".  She is understanding more, doing more, and trying to talk more.  I told her she needed her nappy changed, and off she toddled and got a nappy and wipes! She's no longer my baby, she's growing up.

Today, that truth hit home in a slightly different way.  She's started doing things that I remember Simeon doing - pulling the children's plates and bowls out of the drawer they live in.  Then, she was pulling my purse out of my handbag, which I quickly returned to where it belonged.  This afternoon, I was doing science with the older children, and thought Simeon and Tabitha were just playing upstairs. I should have learnt by now - silence, with tots, is not always golden...

I went upstairs, later on, to find a trail of disaster.

My purse (pocketbook?) was now upstairs, totally emptied, with the contents strewn across the girls bedroom.  The toy room had toys all over the floor.  There was an entire bottle of strawberry scented bubble bath tipped all over my bath in my en suite.

Yes, my tot is getting in "trouble".

To be fair, a good part of it was her older brother leading her astray.  Regardless, it heralds the beginning of a new phase.   I have come to realise this phase can be challenging...

For a first time mother, this phase can be exhausting, and leave you feeling like the men in white coats should be on stand by, ready to whisk you away.  It's a stage where they are working out they can DO stuff, and then doing it.  ALL THE TIME. It's a trying stage, for sure.  It doesn't need to be a negative one, though.  If you are going to be a mother who takes charge of her life, this phase just requires a few simple realisations.

* It's a time for training
The reason why a small person starts to get into mischief is because they are developing and learning.  They are trying out new found skills, and their wonderfully created little brains are working out that they can do things they couldn't do before. To begin with, it's not wilful disobedience, it's just exploring.  This is where the training part comes in, if you want to try to avoid immense frustration.  You need to then TEACH them what they should and shouldn't do.  Train them what's ok, and what's not ok. Take the TIME to do it. It doesn't just happen naturally, I have found! It's our role, as the parent, to teach them. It's not easy, and it takes a lot of time, and effort, but it IS worth it.

* It's a phase
When you remember that "this too, shall pass", it helps you get through it.  Sure, some days will seem looooooong, and you will be pleading for it to be bedtime, as your little one gets into one pickle after another. However, it won't be long before they are out of that phase, and have learnt what they can and can't do. They grow up SO quickly. I am sure it was just yesterday that it was Joshua I was training. Hang on, that was 12 years ago. Yikes.

* God provides for ALL your needs
You know those days where you are screaming, in your head at least, "I CAN'T DO THIS!"?  You're right. YOU can't. God equips those He calls, and He called YOU to be a mother.  He gave us our precious children, and will provide for all our needs, as we seek to raise them to His glory.  God providing for our needs isn't simply some promise for our "daily bread". It's for ALL our needs.  If you need patience to deal with a toddler, God will provide it.  If you need wisdom to discern how best to train your little one, God will provide it.  If you need physical strength because your day has been demanding, God will provide it.  If you need a sense of humour because the day has only been filled with despair, God will provide it. We can do it, because God is our strength.

* The trying moments balance out with the sweet
All those times when you feel like you say "no", over and over and over, and THEN, you get those precious moments when they hug you. Or they say a new word.  Or they finally obey when you tell them "no". Or they just SMILE at  you.  There are endless little precious moments when you realise that it's all totally worth it. Children ARE a blessing, all the time. Blessings are not dependant upon life being perfect. Blessings are not based upon things all going well.  Blessings are not based on how we feel, or how we act.  Blessings are a gift from God, seen most clearly when we look through eyes of thankfulness, and not frustration.

My day didn't end with that list of trouble.  Let's just say that poo was involved.  Thankfully I didn't jump to the conclusion that I first came to, and that naughtiness was involved. (You KNOW, don't you? - if you have small people, you KNOW that yucky, naughty moments can happen, right?) I remained calm, and ascertained that it was my shoddy nappy fastening that had caused the trial. That same adorable little person is still the one who, having given me a kiss goodnight, whilst I was in the middle of something, but didn't hug me, looked all sad and said "Mummy, CUDDLE"!

Tots can be trouble, without doubt, but totally adorable, too.







Monday, 12 January 2015

Matriarchs are moving {and winner of the Give-away!}

As part of my plans for a new year, I am attempting to be more intentional and organised with my blogging life. As I have said, previously, it's as much of a development of my own spiritual walk, as it is a ministry to others. However, I want to maximise its benefit to others, and one thing I noticed was that my readership is lower on a Monday. I am almost certainly sure that it's to do with the busyness of life, on that day.  So, in order to share the lessons from the women of old with as many as possible, they are moving to a Wednesday. I had thought of it before, but "Matriarchs on a Monday" didn't really fit in on a Wednesday, or any other day of the week, for that matter...

Finally, I thought outside of the box - the title just needed to work in for another day of the week.

Wednesday it was.

Women + Wednesday = works.

So, on Wednesday, we will see "Women of the Word Wednesdays"

Come back on Wednesday to read about Queen Vashti!

So, the WINNER!









MEGAN GREENWOOD!

Congratulations! You will receive an email from me, letting you know how to claim your prize.

Sorry to all the others who entered - how I wish I had a bottomless pot of money, to buy you all one.  If you are able, do buy yourself a copy, and if you are not, put it on your Birthday list!

My prayer is that many, MANY women are blessed by the message of this book.