Friday, November 21, 2014

21st Century Women Versus Pilgrim Foremothers


(Originally published in November 2011. Each year at this time I enjoy working on this post a little more, sometimes removing portions or adding to others, or even changing the title. So if it seems familiar...only not...that is why :))


The inscription on the Monument to the Pilgrim Mothers in Plymouth, Massachusetts reads: “They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God without which nations perish.”

Years later, America's foe, British general Lord Cornwallis said:

“We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women.”

Finally, French journalist Alexis de Tocqueville concluded his great work Democracy in America:

"If I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply:
To the superiority of their women."

 
Why is there a chasm separating our Pilgrim foremothers and 21st century women? If Tocqueville were around today would he attribute America's now weak condition, to the women as well? Is it merely that the years bring changes in clothing, hair-dos and modern conveniences? Surely it's more than that which separates us from these hard-working, resilient, reverent and faithful women.
It is the state of our souls.

Our text-messaging, dinner is pre-made, God-is-my-cosmic-genie-generation has come so far in less than 400 years. Pilgrim women served the God of the universe: Sovereign and just, all-sufficient, even in death; the source and passion of their existence.

An Acceptance of Hardship and Trials

How many of us would travel across an ocean in a cramped, disease infested vessel in desperate conditions, in order to begin again in a location that might prove even more hazardous? Today we avoid any hardships we can. In 2014 our hardships include dilemmas such as

our husbands don't make us happy,

our church doesn't meet our needs, or

we can't find anyone who understands us.

These woes stand in contrast to women such as Mary Fish and Elizabeth Prentiss who endured the grief of widowhood, death of children, financial destruction, poor health, war. Yet their journal entries show that their approach was so different to these trials, than I fear mine would be.

We have lost our theological anchor.  Puritan women were strong because they believed Puritan theology. Virtues that were rooted in sound doctrine began fading throughout the 19th century until, during the 20th century, womanhood was ripe for the self-centered feminist ideas that were trickling down the pike.  In 1620, difficulties were a way of life, and the pilgrims looked forward to Heaven when their toiling would be over. Today we are not so Heavenly minded. We love the world and the comforts it offers us.

When the Lord sends a trial into my life, my first reaction is to rid myself of it. Somehow, someway! I must instead recognize God's hand of providence and learn through what the Lord is teaching me, letting my rule for faith and practice be God's Word

Generational Vision

Many of us live for today, always struggling to be self-fulfilled.  However, the women of 1628 were going to the New World knowing that they themselves might never benefit from it. In William Bradford's history of the Plymouth Settlement he writes:

"...they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations...for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work."

Willingness to Sacrifice for Their Posterity

Our pilgrim mothers were willing to sacrifice--unto death--for the sake of their children. After living in Holland for eleven years there were many causes (war with Spain on the horizon, poor living conditions) for their decision to go to the New World, not the least of which was the spiritual rescue of their children. Most history books do not include the fact that the small group of Separatists left Holland because they were losing their children to the corrupt ways of the Dutch.  Bradford writes:

"But still more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses...leaving their parents. So they saw their posterity would be in danger to degenerate and become corrupt." --William Bradford


How many of us would go to this extreme to remove our children from evil influence? Sadly, I can think of many times I have not even been willing to stand against parental peer pressure or social awkwardness for the sake of my children and the influences they come under. Lord, help us!


Just Passing Through

Finally, these women were "other worldly." Most of us live for the moment, concerned with what's before our eyes, clinging tightly to the possessions we own, the children we have, the futures we think we control. We begin to hold those gifts as idols in our hearts, forgetting the One from whose hand they were given.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth Col. 3:2

I want to strive to live as they did; as if I have no attachment to this world. We shouldn't feel comfortable here if we are citizens elsewhere. And the sooner we realize that our identity is in Christ, and not in our earthly riches, education, social status, the good opinion of others, or anything else, the sooner we will get serious about bearing His image, accomplishing His will and being about our Father's business, as they were. As soon as we stop thinking with temporal minds, we will begin to do great and courageous acts such as the women of 1620 did.

It was replied that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both met and overcome with answerable courage. --William Bradford
 
 
J.I. Packer said that Puritan women were great do-ers, great hopers and great sufferers. He was right.  They were great souls serving a great God and we serve the same One. Women have changed but God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Our ease and luxury doesn't naturally bring us maturity such as they had. Those women faced the wilds of the wilderness but our generation faces the wilds of moral collapse.  May our great-great-great-granddaughters be as encouraged by our example as we are by our Pilgrim foremothers.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lilla Rose Giveaway and Mystery Hostess Party




I haven't mentioned Lilla Rose in awhile, so it is time for some gushing and LRL (Lilla Rose Love).

Lilla Rose is the maker of the unique and beautiful flexi clip.  Say good bye to plastic claw clips forever, ya'll.  Once you try a flexi clip you will never want to go back.  The flexi holds any hair type, helps you achieve a variety of styles, comes with a one year warranty and is affordable (prices start around $10).

The flexi is all one piece.  No losing the pin.  It stays attached! Good news for busy mamas.







There is a huge variety of clips, and lovely hairstyles just take seconds. That's more good new for busy moms ;)




 Lilla Rose also offers gorgeous you-pins and hair sticks.



The Gibson Tuck is one of my favorites.  So simple!  I did a video tutorial here. 










Elegant or casual, toddler or grandmother, there is a flexi for everyone.  You can see some beautiful clothing outfits with flexis as accessories right here.  Be sure to pin them on Pinterest!



The flexi looks great on scarves too!





You can shop here to see the full selection.  But for now, let's have a party! And a giveaway!  We've done this before and it was lots of fun.  Here is how it works:

This Lilla Rose party will have a mystery hostess who will receive all the hostess rewards.  The party will be open and available for orders for one weekThe person who places the largest order will receive all the hostess gifts.

And anyone who is a new Lilla Rose customer, *qualifies for a Buy 3 Get 1 Free deal! Yay.

As if you needed a better deal, Lilla Rose is offering free shipping today and tomorrow on orders over $40.

And no worries if you don't win the hostess gifts--just schedule your own online party.  I'm happy to help you!  Parties are easy and fun and you might just be able to wipe out a lot of Christmas shopping very quickly this way :)

Also, I am giving away this gorgeous scroll heart clip to one person today, in hopes you will help me spread the word about our party here.  So here is the party link to make your order.  I will *update this post with how the party is doing and what the free rewards are up to. *The party total ended at $304 and reader Heidi Cummings was the winner of all the hostess rewards!  Congratulations Heidi!

Enter using the rafflecopter below for your chance to win the free clip!










a Rafflecopter giveaway












Monday, November 3, 2014

Susie Homemaker and the Proverbs 31 Woman (Day 31)


An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
Proverbs 31:10

Proverbs 31 is the conclusion of the book of Proverbs as well as the October series, A Family Walk Through the Proverbs. I realize it is November...I'm late, lol! But I couldn't leave it hanging without finishing with Proverbs 31. Thank you, all of you who graciously commented or sent notes of encouragement.

Proverbs 31 has been on my mind throughout the month.  It contains a beautiful sketch of a noble woman and says a lot about her domestic deeds.  It affirms the home and domesticity.  But I think it is more than that.

It is easy to interpret what we read, in light of our own situation rather than read it and apply it to our situation.  So the tendency, if you are a SAHM like most of the readers here are, is to read Proverbs 31 and assume specific behaviors.

But I'm thankful that Proverbs 31 was for me before I was a stay-at-home-mom.  I'm thankful it is for my single daughters, my divorced friends and all the empty nesters (Someone else called them "open nesters." Their homes may now become more flexible to reach out hands to the needy and show generous hospitality to the Body of Christ.) I'm thankful that Proverbs 31 is for the widow as well as the new bride.

I'm thankful Proverbs 31 is not just for American women in the 21st century, but it is for women of history, women of the future and women in every location on earth.

It is for everyone.  Not simply for those who have the luxury and privilege and great blessing of staying home.

Proverbs 31 depicts a home-hearted woman, and we shouldn't back away from recognizing her domestic skills and trying to cultivate them. Domesticity is a virtue rooted in devotion to home life. A devotion to home life begins with a heart that has been redeemed from sin and is looking toward her perfect Heavenly Home. We are trying to make our homes a place of rest and safety (among other things).  So our domestic deeds are rooted in our theology.

Our deeds of domesticity reveal us as disciples of Christ. We love Jesus and we love his people.  We devote ourselves to caring for them.

Proverbs 31 is not about becoming Susie Homemaker and learning how to decorate with florals or plaids or gardening or learning to cook gourmet food.  It is more than finding warm winter coats for all the kids or learning to sew. It is about a woman who fears the Lord... and therefore her works praise her even if no one else does. Creating a loving home is a woman's privilege that can impact the Church and be felt in all of society.

So much could be said about the conduct, personal habits, compassion toward others in need, resourcefulness, wisdom as a wife, and hard work ethic of the Proverbs 31 woman. Entire books have been written on this and rather than barely scratch the surface of each of her qualities, I am going to list a few resources for you. 

Happy Homemaking, sweet friends.



Homemaking Resources
Biblical Womanhood in the Home, Nancy Leigh Demoss
Praise Her in the Gates, Nancy Wilson
Fruit of Her Hands, Nancy Wilson
Feminine Appeal, Carolyn Mahaney
Becoming God's True Woman, Nancy Leigh Demoss (and others)
Keeping House, Margaret Kim Peterson
Female Piety, John Angell James

Other posts in this series:

Day 1: 31 Days of Waling Through the Proverbs
Day 2: Teaching Them to Search for Treasure
Day 3: Discipline, Love and Not Withholding Good
Day 6: Go to the Ant and Age Appropriate Chore Lists
Day 7: The Stuff Hollywood Movies are Made of
Day 13: A Companion of Fools
Day 14: Demolition Woman
Day 17: On Social Media and Being Deemed Intelligent
Day 22: How to Accept Our children For Who They Are
Day 27: Knowing Your Flock
Day 28: A Merciful Mama

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thanks For That, Mr. President

 
"Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”


That was a portion of a speech President Obama made in Rhode Island yesterday, proving once again, that we live in a culture that degrades motherhood and women in the home.  Families who are willing to swim upstream in our culture are dangerously low.  Press on, Mamas.  Don't listen to this stuff.  The ministry you carry on in your home, as you bring up your little ones breathing the clean air of the gospel, will have affects that last far longer than a paycheck.

So wipe those little bottoms. Wash your dishes in faithfulness.  Fold the laundry as unto the Lord and persevere in putting a hot meal on the table each evening. Because even if President Obama doesn't want you to make that choice, God does and so do your children.

 
"...the springs of an empire's prosperity lie in the domestic constitution, and in well-trained families...Even one such family is a contribution to the majestic flow of a nation's greatness.  Can such families exist without a woman's care, and oversight, and wisdom?  Has it not grown into a proverb that home has ever been the nursery of great men, and their mothers their instructresses?
 
It may be said as a general principle, that woman is not only the mother of the body, but of the character, of her children.  To her is first entrusted the instruction of the mind, the cultivation of the heart, the formation of the life.  Thought, feeling, will, imagination, virtue, religion, or the contrary moral tendencies, all germinate under her fostering influence. The greatest power in the moral world is that which a mother exercises over her young child.  The dominant direction which is to determine the whole course of life, lies concealed in the first years of infancy; and there belongs to the mother"

--John Angell James






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Merciful Mama (Day 28)

 
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13
 
As we live our lives at home...sitting down, rising up and walking along the way, we sin against each other.  The need for repentance is constant. Our conversations should be full of grace and seasoned with salt, but often they are not.

I believe one of the greatest lessons we should teach our children is the habit of asking forgiveness, and repenting of sins towards each other and God. We need to pray (and teach our children to pray) for the grace to see their sin and the humility to confess it.

We need to teach them not to try and justify their sin or blame shift it to others.  We need to teach them that "I'm sorry, but..." isn't asking forgiveness.  And the only way to teach them this is for them to see us do it. We can teach them the principle but they will only demonstrate it when they see us doing it.

Do they see and hear us confess and repent when we exchange harsh words as husband and wife?
Do they hear us ask for their forgiveness when we have spoken or disciplined in anger towards them?

I fear that often I expect my children to apologize to their siblings during conflicts, when it is too rarely modeled for them by me.  When they learn the lesson of confessing sin to God, they will find mercy:

"but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."

They will find mercy from the Lord, and they should find mercy from their parents too.

I want our home to be a place of mercy. 

I want our home to be a place where forgiveness is the rule.  Deep and wide forgiveness and mercy that no one deserves but that they receive anyway. A place where sin can be brought to light, repented of, and mercy extended from Daddy and Mama.

Mercy when the jelly jar gets broken, mercy for childish messes, mercy for young adults who may mess up in ways that bring serious consequences. Forgiveness and mercy toward the spouse that spoke hurtful words in anger. Mercy toward ones who don't deserve it.  Costly mercy.

Mercy as a lifestyle because we have received so much mercy from our Sovereign Lord and we want to reflect his glory.

His purifying mercy will develop in us humility and gratitude to pour out more mercy on each other.



Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13


If you have missed the rest of this series:
Day 1: The Wise Increase in Learning
Day 2: Teaching Them to Search for Treasure
Day 3: Discipline, Love and Not Withholding Good
Day 6: Go to the Ant and Age Appropriate Chore Lists
Day 7: The Stuff Hollywood Movies are Made of
Day 13: A Companion of Fools
Day 14: Demolition Woman
Day 17: On Social Media and Being Deemed Intelligent
Day 22: How to Accept Our children For Who They Are
Day 27: Knowing Your Flock


Monday, October 27, 2014

Knowing Your Flock (Day 27)

 
 
 
Know well the condition of your flocks,
    and give attention to your herds
Prov. 27:23

This is such a wonderful verse, especially when you apply it to motherhood and our own small herd of children :)

The New King James Version of this verse says:

"Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds;"

Be diligent. Give attention...it requires a lot of effort and time.

It is a common temptation for us to look at the state of our flock and not like what we see. We feel like failures, guilt is our constant companion and so we look for other areas of "ministry" where we can feel successful. But following the relationship with our husbands, our children are our first duty before God. How are they doing spiritually, each one of them? We must be diligent with our primary ministry before we take on other responsibilities. Our children are our ministry. Our mission field.

It can be exhausting at times to remain steadfast in our duties, but God will give us grace one day at a time. We shouldn't look for success or "fulfillment" outside the sphere he has so lovingly placed us. (Not saying we can't minister other places if our herds are attended to. Only that first things come first.)

It is a weighty thing to know that our children are our disciples. It is weighty to shepherd their souls and push them in every way we can, towards Jesus. It is weighty to realize they will imitate the behavior we model for them:

  • We can't expect them to be cheerful if we're always sullen.
  • We can't expect them to be thankful if we're always complaining.
  • We can't expect them to love Christ and his Church if we're not giving them a close-up example of this love in our own lives.

Discipline

Discipline done for our sake, the parents, and not for the child's sake really isn't discipline. I am grieved to think of the many times I discipline because "I've had enough!" rather than my love for the child. It's hard to remember when several small humans just declared a Lego war, that discipline is for them not me. If I discipline out of anger, then my motive is not that they would be conformed to the Word of God. If I am angry I'm the one who needs discipline, not the child.

Discipline is out to correct and restore. It should yield peaceable fruit of righteousness, like self control.

Listen

Giving attention to our flock means listening to our children, not ignoring them. Listening also when they are quiet. Sudden quietness usually means something.

Awhile back our family returned from an outing where other children were present. I noticed one of my children had become unusually quiet. After quite a bit of probing he told me through tears that another child had called him stupid, made fun of him and other kids laughed. (There had been a serious debate concerning which continent lions lived on). He was humiliated. And being a child who enjoys being considered "tough," this was hard for him to admit that he was wounded.

We talked about forgiveness a lot. Forgiveness even when the other kid doesn't ask for it. I wiped up the tears and we had pizza for supper.  All was better.

Encourage

Often children misbehave (or whine...or have attitudes) because they need more encouragement. Sometimes I reflect back over a period of time and realize I am much heavier on "no's" and correction than I am "yes's" and encouragement.

Recently I saw my son running, laughing and enjoying the same child who hurt him not so long ago.  I saw him help the other kid up when he fell, and tears filled my eyes when I watched him brush leaves and dirt off the other boy's back. I saw sincere forgiveness and no hint of grudge bearing (oh how convicting is the humility and forgiveness of children?!). You better believe I pulled him aside later and told him I saw Christ's love and forgiveness in those actions. He beamed. 

Mothers have such a unique position to investigate thoroughly the state of their flocks, and love those little sheep with our diligent attention and discipline. We can use every opportunity to guide and teach and discipline our precious little lambs. Lord, make us faithful. For your glory!



If you have missed the rest of this series:
Day 1: The Wise Increase in Learning
Day 2: Teaching Them to Search for Treasure
Day 3: Discipline, Love and Not Withholding Good
Day 6: Go to the Ant and Age Appropriate Chore Lists
Day 7: The Stuff Hollywood Movies are Made of
Day 13: A Companion of Fools
Day 14: Demolition Woman
Day 17: On Social Media and Being Deemed Intelligent
Day 22: How to Accept Our children For Who They Are

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How to Accept Our Children For Who They Are (Day 22)





Proverbs 22 contains a beautiful and highly quoted verse:

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6
 
 
Taken in context of the entire book of Proverbs, we read this verse in reference to wisdom, part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.
 
It is a grace dependent work and one that requires great wisdom to train up a child, no matter how many you have.  Kind friends have encouraged me before that I have "so much experience" with children, therefore I must know what to do in every situation.  But the truth is, all children are different.  And while we can make some blanket rules for the whole family, there is no herd approach to raising children. 
 
Verse 22 says to train up a child. Not children.
 
In the way he should go.  Not in the way they should go.
 
Singular not plural.
 
A herd approach, stuffing all children into a mold, would deny the wonderful creativity God has displayed in each individual child, to carry out the purpose He has for their lives.
 
Children must learn obedience.  Boundaries.  This prepares them for wholehearted obedience to God, later on. But to believe that we can raise ("train up") all children the same way, and that means how we discipline, correct, bless and reward, would be unwise.
 
Knowing Them Well and Accepting Them For It
 
Maybe it goes without saying, but this means we should know our children well. Children are unique.  They have their own inclinations, gifts, strengths and weaknesses in character.  This diversity is good.  It brings a richness to our lives and relationships.  Maybe one child memorizes easily and one has a love for studying insects and one has a friendly ability to put others at ease. Maybe one has a gift in music and one would spend all her days studying history.  In all of these gifts we can encourage our children to be good stewards of those abilities as well as the opportunities God brings into their lives to serve him through it.
 
It is easy to be drawn to and more easily accepting of the children who are most like us. But if you didn't feel accepted, would you feel that you belonged? (It took me awhile to figure this out so I'm hopeful this will help someone :)  If not, bear with me here.)  Home, more than any other place in the world, should be a place that we are accepted for exactly who God made us to be.
 
I think our own fears of rejection by others, as well as our lack of acceptance toward those in our family for who they are, is rooted in our lack of understanding that God accepts us.  The Baptist Shorter Catechism says:
 
Justification is an act of God's free grace unto sinners effectually called to Jesus Christ, wherein he pardons all their sins, and accepts them as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and received by faith alone.
 
This acceptance through Christ brings peace with God. Completeness and harmony and fulfillment.  And the one who lives in light of God's acceptance can now go and reflect that acceptance to others, free from the burden of trying to be accepted, as well as the expectation that others must earn our acceptance. I fear that often we expect our children to work harder to become accepted by us, rather than enjoy them for who they are.
 
We demonstrate acceptance of our children and their differences from us, when we take joy in those differences, knowing what balance it brings to the family, to the glory of God.  My highly structured kids bring balance to my loosey-goosey-ness (just made up that word).  My extroverts stretch me to get out of my comfort zone and be friendlier than I tend to be.  Part of their "training up"means I encourage them and build them up where I see God has gifted them.
 
Accepting them also frees me from trying to elevate myself through my children's social or academic accomplishments. Did I mention it took me awhile to get here? 
 
Keeping It Straight
Acceptance is not the same as tolerance. Acceptance is based on love and truth and the motive is the glory of God.  Tolerance is rooted in self-indulgence.  Tolerance is a cultural idol and refuses to recognize the reality of sin. 
 
And so we come full circle back to the beginning of this lil' ol blog post:  Train up a child.
 
Instruct him
 
Guide him
 
Correct him
 
Discipline him
 
with diligence and love.
 
And now, parents, let me beseech you to think seriously of this.  You have imparted to your children your own corrupt nature....And in consequence....they will perish forever, unless these evils be counteracted.  But God has in mercy put into your hands means to counteract them.  Make known to them his works and his will.  Pour into their ears his praises.  Let them see that you think of nothing, care for nothing, fear nothing, and love nothing as you do him.  Let them see that you care, comparatively, very little what their situation is in this world, provided they receive a Christian's portion in the world to come.  Do this, and add fervent persevering prayer; and the corrupt nature which they have derived from you shall be changed by God's grace, a new heart and a right spirit shall be given them, and they shall be thus prepared to perform the same good office for their children, which you have performed for them. ---Edward Payson
 
 
 
Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6
 

If you have missed the rest of this series:

Day 1: The Wise Increase in Learning
Day 2: Teaching Them to Search for Treasure
Day 3: Discipline, Love and Not Withholding Good
Day 6: Go to the Ant and Age Appropriate Chore Lists
Day 7: The Stuff Hollywood Movies are Made of
Day 13: A Companion of Fools
Day 14: Demolition Woman
Day 17: On Social Media and Being Deemed Intelligent