A peaceful home starts with a plan

Contemplating how to be a Titus 2 woman, I'm simmering on verse 2: be "working at home." Whether you work outside the home or not, a woman has work to do at home.
When you read of the Proverbs 31 woman, the listing of her tasks is dizzying! From shopping, to fashioning, trading, to serving the needy, the woman of this Proverb has a full plate. But notice verses 27-29:
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 her praises her:
"Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
This woman, worth more than precious jewels, is a worker at home, looking out for her entire household. She is not "sitting around watching Oprah and eating bonbons." What I infer is that if her family thinks so highly of her, they must feel peacefulness in their home; lack of worry and fear. This woman is wise and her family doesn't fear the future.
James is a book of Christian lifestyle application and I was struck in my studying this past week regarding wisdom:
Earthly wisdom wich is unspiritual and demonic, motivated by jealousy (keeping up the the Jones') and seeking it's own way, will yield a life of disorder, chaos and evil. But the wisdom from God is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good consequences, doesn't show favoritism and is sincere. This godly wisdom will yield a life of righteousness because it is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:15-18, my paraphrase)
Do you see the contrast of a home marked by chaos and a home marked by peace? Part of our job as workers at home is to sow peace into our home. For me this peaceable home begins with a plan. Years ago, I was taught how to keep a focus notebook. My application has shifted with technology. Six years ago, a Focus Notebook meant hauling around a 1" binder wherever you went...with the invent of smart phones and iPods, we can make our load much lighter and smaller. We'll uncover five topics

  1. Daily Focus
  2. Calendars
  3. Menu Planning
  4. Shopping
  5. Addresses and Mail.

Today, I'll start with the Daily Focus. This is meant to help prioritize time. Every day of the week, you set to accomplish a list (no more than five things) that are a priority for that day. If nothing else is accomplished, these will be. And when they are accomplished, if you have time left over, you can do other tasks or things you enjoy. Everyone has different priorities. I remember that gal who taught me this saying (to a room of young moms), "If it's a priority that you get a nap every day, then put a nap on every day's focus." This way of organizing your time, will not allow tasks to become "long over due." (Like mildew growing in the bathroom.) It also allows you to focus on the important, yet not urgent things in life (because you've completed them before they became urgent).
Here's an example of my Daily Focus:
Run 30 minutes - squats, lunges & abs
Menu Plan with Coupon Clipping and make Grocery List
Wipe down Kitchen
Walk/Bike 40 minutes - triceps, biceps & abs
Clean windows & dust
Run 30 minutes - shoulders, back & abs
Intentional discipling girls 
Walk/Bike 40 minutes - squats, lunges & abs
Community Bible Study 
Run 30 minutes - triceps, biceps & abs
Vacuum & Mop
Clean bathrooms
I like to leave this day open...in case something comes up.

It's also a good idea to stop every now and then and have a good "think." (A concept I borrow from a Billings mentor, Ann Streeter.) You know how Pooh bear would just stop and think? So should we stop and think about how things work (or don't) and adjust according to try accomplish our goals.
Begin today to make a list of the things you need to accomplish on a weekly basis and place each item to be accomplished on one day. Remember to leave Sunday (or the day of your choosing) blank so that you are obedient in observing a sabbath. Also, if you have an app that you find aids you in your Daily Focus, share it by placing a comment below.

The Covenant...for Kayla

Every time someone near to my heart gets married I recall a study I did in 2006 called, Wisdom for Mothers by Denise Glenn and how impacting that study was on me spiritually, maternally and maritally. Even today, the application from this study still impacts our families' lives. In this study I learned the symbolic steps of making a covenant relationship and wish to share them with my dear future sister-in-law. I wish I had known the significance of common wedding ceremony rituals when I married the engineer.
Marriage is a blood covenant between a man and woman who choose to become husband and wife. It is the most binding covenant any two people can enter into. Once committed to the only way out of it is by death by one or both of the covenant makers. It is something never to be entered into lightly.
Researching blood covenants, scholars claim there are anywhere between seven to nine steps in making a blood covenant. Not all steps need to be completed but at least two for the covenant to be binding.
Here are the traditional steps in making a blood covenant:
1. The Exchange of Robes
The exchange of robe symbolizes putting on the identity of the covenant partner: "I put on you and you put on me." Traditionally, the couple exchanges rings. Wedding rings are worn to identify that they are married.
2. The Exchange of Weapon Belts
The exchange of weapons is symbolic of the covenant partners defending one another from enemies. A wife is in an covenant with her husband. He is to protect and defend her and she is to protect and defend him. Your husband's biggest enemy if Satan. Your greatest defense is to pray. Ephesians 6:10-20 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 are great scriptures to pray for your husband on a regular basis.
3. The Exchange of Vows
This exchange is a formal, solemn, binding vow. It is spoken between the two covenant partners and is permanently binding. When you take your marriage vows before God and witnesses, you enter into a sacred covenant with your husband. 
..if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10
This is our verbal vow to God, confessing Him as our Savior out loud which flows out of the heart. Marriage vows too should be a verbal affirmation because of the inner conviction in the heart. 
 4. The Exchange of all belongings when and if needed
This exchange puts everything on the table. What's the wife's is the husbands. What the husband has is now the wife's. All property is now common. However, the greater significance here is each covenant partner giving his strength to the other partner. You will carry your husband when he is weak and he likewise.
5. The Exchange of Names
In marriage, we put on our partner's identity. Traditionally, at the end of the wedding ceremony, the pastor turns to the witnesses and announces the new name of the couple. At that moment, the wife puts on her husband's identity. 
6. The Exchange of Blood
This exchange is the most binding and sacred of all steps. It seals the covenant relationship. In Genesis 15:9-18, we read how Abraham cut the heifer & goat, then prepared them with doves and pigeons as a sacrifice to God. Blood was on the ground, and then God Himself passed through the pieces of flesh, sealing the covenant. He had promised to make Abraham into a great nation.
When you walk down the aisle between two covenanting families, it is for you the aisle of blood covenant. Just as the animals were cut into pieces, your family and your husband's family sit on opposite sides forming an aisle and as you make your way down the aisle, you leave behind your old single life and enter into a new life. It is a walk that will forever change your life. When you arrive at the end of the aisle and take your husbands' hand walking toward the alter, realize that something has died. On every altar there is a sacrifice. You die to singleness, self-centeredness and selfishness. 
Cutting of the cake is symbolic of the cutting of the flesh of the husband and wife's bodies. But the bridal suite is where the actual covenant is cut. When you enter into physical union with your husband, the two of you cut the covenant through the shedding of your blood Your legs form and "aisle" for your husband's body to pass through to cut the covenant.
7. The Covenant Celebration Meal
The celebration meal is a feast to celebrate the union of the covenant partners. It is another symbol of the covenant parties becoming one. It usually consists of bread and wine that signify that the two have become one. Often eating cake (and feeding it to one another) signifies that part of each of us has gone into the other. When you drink wine from a common cup, it indicates that your blood has gone into each other since the life is in the blood, you demonstrate that you have taken each other's lives into yourself.
    8. The Mark of the Covenant
    This mark becomes a permanent reminder of the union between you and your husband. These are your future children. They will be a constant testamony to the fact that two have become one!
    Don't overlook the significance of the wedding ceremony as a permanent covenant between you and your husband. Make a conscience choice to close the backdoor on divorce. There is no way out of the covenant except through death.

    Start with you

    A life of service begins by focusing on yourself. That's a dangerous statement. It doesn't sound biblical. We're taught things like the acronym for joy:
    and Jesus himself said that "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many," (Matthew 20:28). We are called to serve, but service should come as a natural reaction from the healthy heart. Unless your heart is focused on Christ, you can't serve with right motivation.
    Even Jesus, the ultimate Servant, made His relationship with the Father His first priority. Before He began His public ministry, He spent 40 days in the desert fasting and worshipping the Father. Amidst His ministry, He took time to rest, get away and spend time with the Father. Why would we as wives, mothers, friends and servants not follow that example?
    Time with God allows us to examine our hearts and love ourselves so we can love others. Jesus taught that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). First love God. Second, you will realize your worth and from that you will be able to love others. Do you see the inference that to love your neighbor as yourself, you must first love yourself?
    Furthermore, Jesus taught that we can't lead and serve others unless we have our hearts right before Him. 
    Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:3-5
    It is impossible for me to lead my goldenheads and walk in faith with the engineer if I am not constantly examining my own heart. Time with God allows me to do this. Just last week, I felt this constant heaviness, ugliness, downcast spirit. I was a horrible wife and mother. Unpleasant. I spent much time wrestling with God, begging, why is my Spirit heavy within me? In that wrestling, God revealed to me unrepented sin of slander toward the engineer. As this was revealed and confessed, the weight was lifted and I felt like I could once again be in intimate relationship with the engineer and lead my goldenheads in example of my daily living.
    In my spiritual maturing, it has been my challenge, to spend more time with God in the Word, study and prayer (which makes my heart beautiful) than time spent on outward appearance. I strive to spend more time with God than time spend in my workout, fixing hair and makeup. I love the story of Samuel anointing the little shepherd boy David as king. David was least likely of his brothers to become king but God said to Samuel, 
    For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7.
    Take time to evaluate the quality and quantity of time you spend seeking your Maker. If the scales are not tipped toward time spent with Him but rather on outward appearance, begin making small changes in your routine to even out the scales. If the scale is mostly even, strive to make the time seeking Him even more weighty. There is no greater priority than to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (inner and outward beauty) will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33.)


    A week or so ago, God nudged me. He reminded me that this whole blog idea began as a way to minister as a Titus 2 woman to younger women. However, mostly, I use it to put my thoughts to "pen and paper." But I wonder if it's to be more than that. I know my highest calling is to abide in Him, my Maker, my God. And I will continue to do that but my focus of blogging may change. I will aim to teach what is good, how to love a husband (when I am so selfish), how to love my children (even when they are difficult), how to be pure (in a corrupt world), how to work at home, and show what it means to be subject to your husband.
    Being a married woman and a mom is a call of self-sacrifice. As I meet moms, I see different points of view, different choices, different callings even. And though it's difficult at times, it reaffirms our family's choices: for me to be a worker only at home. One works incredibly hard to earn a college degree. Time, tears, sweat, late nights studying, many financial resources...you finish the list. Then attaining the first job. A foot in the door, a step on the ladder, a starting place. In time, you develop into the leader and woman you were called to be in the workplace. And then comes the deliberate choice to lay all that down. The prestige and power you held at your hard-earned job. The options you had financially when you were a two-income household. To rip that from your life and offer it up to God so that you can treasure the people who are not destroyed by moth and rust (Matthew6:20). This is an example of what it means to be poor in spirit.
    I am not saying that working moms are not poor in spirit. Sometimes there is not choice financially, whether she a single parent or husband under or unemployed. Sometimes it's a matter of submission to your husband who asks his wife to work. Sometimes it's a matter of knowing who you are or aren't. But for the woman who is given a choice: to work outside the home or be in the home, I see it as a sacrifice of self. Romans 12:1, my paraphrase:
    Offer your whole self continually as a sacrifice to the Lord in logical response of worship to the grace by which He extended to you when He saved you.
    In preaching on this verse this weekend, our pastor said, because of your realizing what gift God gave when He saved you, "you can never go back to who you were." And really, in choosing to be a worker in the home, I may never be able to go back to the person I was before I made that choice. I have missed out on years of technology upgrading in the web development world, I would not simply be able to walk back into that field of work. An extended relative, whose husband became unemployed, who was a stay-at-home mom, struggled to find any sort of work and although thankful for an income, she isn't in the same field of work as before making the choice to be at home.
    Is it worth it? Honestly, sometime I need to remind myself that it is. But, it doesn't take me long. Discipling my children is a big job. And this isn't a sacrifice just for children. It's a sacrifice for the peace and calmness of your entire household. And my relationships are the only thing going with me to heaven. I watch working mom's lives and I may become jealous but I don't stay there. In a way, I have traded the chaos of running for just "being" sometime.
    And so I offer my whole self to God...including this blog.

    Helps me

    Perched up on the booster beside me at the wheel, my boisterous one, struggling to kick the finger sucking habit. Riding in the car is the worst...what else is a 4-year old to do? Boredom is when we tend to fall into tendencies we'd rather not do. Brainstorming how to help her succeed, we dig her Bible out of her backpack so she might have something to hold instead of sucking her fingers. Ten minutes later, she says, "Mom, my Bible helps me not to suck." So simple, so true! When we struggle with the temptation, "my Bible helps me not to ___."
    I know this is true. As I struggle with idolizing food. (Oh Jesus, when will I be set free from this battle?) I know that the times I've been set free in the past are the very same times I have looked to Jesus, quoted scripture and thanked Jesus. What I don't understand is why don't I remember that in the midst of the foggy battle.
    I lift my eyes up to the mountains--where does my help come from?
    My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
    Lord, help me always remember from where my help comes and look there and thank you for reminding me of truth through my child.