Pop Goes the Bubble

Pop Goes the Bubble!

I remember when Rachel was only 2.  She was in the bathtub, and passed gas.  She looked down into the tub, and excitedly exclaimed, “Oh!  Bubbles!”
Needless to say, I cracked up.  Even now, she is still fascinated with bubbles.  She can be in the tub playing, and I will hear her yell, “Mommy, come here!  You have got to see this bubble!”  Invariably, the bubble which brought her so much joy would be gone before I could make it in there.

There are many things which this world offers us which can seem so appealing and so pretty, but just like the bubble, in an instant, the “beauty” of it all is gone.  Let’s take a look at some scenarios.

The job that offers such prestige – prestige, which could fade at any given moment.  The job market doesn’t seem to be too stable these days.  Pop!   There went the “bubble.”  (That same job could require you to be away from your dear family and miss out on precious time that could never be recaptured.)  The O.T. is so clear about how we are to diligently teach our children about spiritual things.  How can we do that when we are gone so much of the time?  When we are finally able to be with them, who would have the energy or the patience to be instructing them in righteousness?

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not knocking women who MUST work outside the home, but oftentimes, working outside the home is because we MUST have this new house, this bigger house, this fancy car, the fancy clothes for us and for our children…….It becomes a matter of working, not to provide for the family, but to get THINGS to satisfy us.  Oops, did the “bubble” just pop again?

The lure of the mall.  We get bored so we go shopping.  We get frustrated, so we go shopping.  We get happy, so we go shopping….. You get the picture.  The mall is a lure to many women.  While we are there, we tend to buy impusively.  Later, when we get home, and have to explain the charges on the credit card, or why we don’t any longer have the money to buy the groceries, the temporary “high” which we get from shopping so quickly fades.

The lure of activities for our children.  I see so many families, who get their children involved in so many activities.  So many, in fact, that they hardly ever get to spend much time together.  They miss out on the precious family meal times, or the chance to just spend an evening playing games.  Too often, it ends up being a time where everyone is rushed, Mom is yelling, the kids are arguing……and the list goes on.  Once again, the “bubble” pops, and the glitter of this activity fades away.

There are even some things which are good, noble causes.  BUT, if God has not given us the OK to be involved in these activities, the “bubble” will pop again.  For instance, maybe you want to be involved in Women’s ministries at your church.  But being involved there can put another demand on your plate, which is already full, just trying to take care of the family, the house, the laundry, the grocery shopping.  You may be maxed out with just the everyday tasks that HAVE to be done.  Being involved in women’s ministries may make you feel like you are being a better Christian, or that you are doing your good deed by being there, but it could also be the thing that leaves you frazzled because maybe this just isn’t the “season” for you to be heavily involved in anything besides your own family.

Let me explain a little further on these things.  The Bible says that there is a season for everything.  I can give you a personal example regarding the women’s ministry.  (I used that illustration because it fit my situation.)  Our women’s group would meet on Tuesday mornings.  I wanted to be there and be part of the group, but I homeschool, so which is my priority?  Yes, I could rearrange the homeschool day so that I could teach later, but for me, my better hours of the day are in the morning.  If I didn’t get school done in the morning, chances were very high that it wouldn’t get done at all.  The teaching and training of my child on Biblical principles and academics was higher on the priority list than attending the women’s Bible study.  (A side note on this – now the women’s group is meeting on Wed. nights.  Since we are there every Wed. anyway, this has turned out to be a real blessing to me.)

I Cor. 3:11-13 says “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”  (NIV)

II Tim. 2:20-21 says, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also utensils of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble use and some for menial and ignoble use.  So whoever cleanses himself from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences will then himself be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.”  (Amp. Bible)

Father, may you help us to see clearly the purpose you have for us at this time.  Yes, it may change down the road, but help us now to see it, to embrace it, and to welcome it.  Help us to be content in the ministry where you have placed us, and to find joy in the journey.  Help us to focus our energies on the things which would bring honor to Your Name, and to pull ourselves away from those contaminating, luring things which this old world would love to offer us.  Help us to find that life abundantly – the life which is in You, alone.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

When I find that I am frequently feeling overwhelmed, I will take inventory of my life:
·    Have I been spending enough time in the Word?
·    Have I been getting enough sleep?
·    Have I been eating right?
·    Have I been spending enough time connecting with my husband?
·    Is it near “that time of the month?”
·    Have I been exercising?
·    Is there anything I need to cut from my life which will help lessen that “overwhelmed” feeling?
Occasionally, I will need to readjust my activities.  However, I recently had some changes that were brought about without my feeling the need to readjust.  Our computer at home recently stopped letting me access an online board that I had been a part of for many years.  At first, I really missed it.  I felt like it was my lifeline.  However, as time has passed, I realized that I didn’t miss it so much.

Granted, it is a great online community that has great value to women.  However, with my current responsibilities, I just didn’t have the time or energy to invest in the lives of the women there.  Honesty, as I would try to read some of the threads, I found that it was draining me.  I knew I had enough things in my own life which needed my undivided attention.  I just couldn’t devote any more time to an online community.

Since computer usage has always been an issue where I’ve had to be on guard, I realized that not being able to access that board was a blessing in disguise.  Since I’ve drastically cut back on my computer time, I rarely have feelings of being overwhelmed.

I share my story with you, not to place guilt on you for using the computer, or for joining an online board.   After all, there are some fantastic online communities that are a great help to others.  Rather, I share my story in case it might be a “light bulb” moment for you regarding some of your own activities.  If you are frequently feeling overwhelmed, perhaps you need to reevaluate and adjust a few things.

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

Overweight

Overweight

Do you frequently feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities?  Do you feel like you’re driving through life in the fast lane with a crash on the horizon if something doesn’t change soon?  Do you feel as if your life is out of balance?  It could be that you are overweight.

Proverbs 16:11 tells us that honest scales and balances are from God.  In Proverbs 20:23, we see that God isn’t pleased with dishonest scales.  When we climb on God’s scales, He’s not checking to see how much we weigh.  God uses the old fashioned scales that have the two shallow dishes where you can see if the scales are balanced.

When we get involved in too many activities, we may appear to be leading a very productive, balanced life, but we are really using dishonest scales.  We give the illusion that all is well, but God sees through that illusion to those feelings of despair because we feel like we’re on a fast track with no way of getting off.  God sees all of our activities, many of which we would even claim we are doing for Him.  Yet He sees the emptiness in our souls because we’ve gotten onto to a dishonest scale, trading activity for God in place of intimacy with God.

We’ve become filled up, but we’re overflowing with the wrong things.  The end result is feelings of inadequacy, feeling like we’re spinning our wheels and going nowhere.  We’re overburdened, overstressed, overtired, and overweight.  We are overweight because we’ve put on the wrong yoke.  If we put on the yoke that Jesus came to give us, we find that it’s easy, and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30) Once we put on His yoke, we will find that we are on honest scales.  The result will be a life that is stable, steady, centered, and balanced.

Are you overweight?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course

Do you ever feel like you are running an obstacle course in your walk with the Lord?  I sure have!  Isaiah 57:14 says to remove the obstacles out of the way.  I have had to do that in my own life.

I am an avid reader, but as I have grown in my walk with the Lord, I have had to change what types of books I read.  I found that if I read books that had cuss words in them, chances were high that I would end up reverting to that nasty old habit.  I quickly removed that obstacle from my course.

I have had individuals in my life who were like leeches – always sucking the life out of me.  I removed them from the obstacle course, replacing them with friends who are like iron sharpening iron. (Proverbs 27:17)

Early in my Christian walk, I was deeply convicted to remove soap operas from my course.  They certainly failed to line up with the excellent, virtuous, and praiseworthy things that I was to think upon. (Philippians 4:8)

One of the biggest obstacles in my Christian walk has been my thoughts.  I constantly have to change course, making the choice to renew my mind, rather than focusing on ungodly and unhealthy things. (Romans 12:2)

You can probably think of some obstacles on your own course that need to be removed.  Some of the obstacles may even be good things, but by removing them, it will allow you to have a more excellent course.

What obstacles can you remove today?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Multi-Tasking

Multi-Tasking

Early one morning, as I sat down at the computer, the spyware scan started to run its weekly check.  It reminded me that I needed to run the weekly virus scan.  Once I got that up and running, the computer notified me that there were some updates that also needed to be installed, so I started running those as well.

In the midst of multi-tasking on the computer, a weird thing began to happen.  As new emails would appear, I could see an envelope, alerting me to a new piece of mail, but there was a blank space in the spot where it should show ‘sender’ and ‘subject.’  After I finished my multi-tasking, I had to shut down the computer, then restart it so the ‘updates’ would take.

Multi-tasking seems to be the new buzz word for the myriad of activities which keep us busy.  It seems that everywhere you go, you see people who are multi-tasking.  How many times do you see people with a cell phone glued to their ear?  Whether it’s in the car, a restaurant, Walmart, or even the doctor’s office, seeing someone on a cell phone is a common occurrence.  The cycle seems to never end.  We may stop multi-tasking in one area, and immediately start it in another area without giving it a second thought.  It’s so automatic that we don’t ever realize we are doing it.

I believe that we switch to ‘auto-pilot’ so quickly in our multi-tasking that it causes us to end up missing out on a lot of what God may want from us.  Just as I had blank spots showing up in the ‘sender’ and ‘subject’ information in my emails, I do believe that we are allowing a lot of ‘blank spaces’ in our lives, due simply to our aggressive multi-tasking.  Do we have a blank in the spot called prayer?  What about in the space for daily devotions?  Is that spot also empty?  What about following the Holy Spirit’s prompting?  Would it be blank for the last several weeks because we’ve been so consumed with our own agenda that we failed to listen to His calling?

What about the space for showing mercy or giving encouragement to someone who really needs it?  Would we have a blank space there?  Could it be that when we talked to our friend that we were so ‘surface’ in our conversation due to our own heavy schedule that we didn’t even notice the pain in her voice?  What about the place for praying for one another?  Are we so focused on getting home from church and fixing dinner or getting the children to bed, that we neglect to notice the lady who is at her wit’s end and could really benefit from someone who would take three or four minutes to pray with her?

Just as I had to ‘power down’ the computer to get it up and running properly, we all need to take time in our busy lives to ‘power down.’  Turn off the cell phone, turn the ringer down on the home phone, and turn off the answering machine, the computer, and the television.  Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your front door, and even your bedroom door, if that’s what it takes, but ‘power down’ so that God can minister to you, adding ‘updates’ to you, so that you can function the way HE intended for you to function.
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Loveless

Loveless

“But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.”
II Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

I thought it was interesting to note that in the Greek, “without love” actually means to be without family love.  We have sure seen an increase in this over the last few years.  I remember the horror of hearing how Susan Smith had killed her two young sons by leaving them in the car, then letting the car roll into the water.  Yet, there have been countless other stories in recent years of other parents killing their own children.

There was also the highly profiled story of the Menendez brothers killing their parents.  Yet, they weren’t the only ones who have done such an atrocious act.  There have been countless others over the last few years.  Doesn’t it sound like these families are “without family love”?

How does this scripture apply to the lives of Christian families?  Half of all marriages end in divorce, even in the church.  I know of a personal example of a ‘Christian’ man who decided to leave his wife and children so that he could live with his same-sex partner.  I know personal examples of ‘Christian’ men who beat their wives.  These are hard-core cases of families who are “without family love.”

I have a friend who used to work in a battered women’s shelter.  She told me that the top three abusers are policemen, military men, and pastors.  I have heard so many stories of youth pastors sexually abusing teenaged girls.  That brings such pain, not to mention shame, to their families when it is exposed.  It also causes a lifetime of pain for the young ladies who have been violated by a man whom they should have been able to trust.

What about families who are too busy in outside activities to ever sit down to a meal together?  What happened to family nights, where families would play games and enjoy each others company?  Could it be that we have traded family love for outside activities?

There are many families who leave the spiritual training of the children to a Sunday school teacher.  That is contrary to scripture.  Deuteronomy 6 makes it very clear that spiritual training is the job of the parents.  In Proverbs, there are many verses that mention listening to your father and not forsaking the teaching of your mother.  Again, it is clear that spiritual training is up to us, as parents, and not someone else.  When we fail to be diligent to train our children in biblical principles, doesn’t that also show a lack of family love?

We are all very busy, but we must constantly guard against becoming so inundated with activities that we fail to properly teach and train our children.  We must be militant in keeping the family love alive, in both our marriages and in our parenting.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Homework

Homework

Some of you may ask why I bring up this subject when school is out for summer break.  I’m not referring to school work, but to our work in the home.  Titus 2:4-5 gives us an assignment for our home work.  It says that we are to love our husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, also to be busy at home, kind, and subject to our husbands so that the no one will malign the Word of God.

I am going to be sharing a lot from my personal experience in trying to live out the above scripture.  It was not an easy transformation, and I still have struggles at times, but it is an assignment that I am willing to continue doing because I have seen the fruits of putting it into action.  I hope that some of you are able to learn from my mistakes.

1.   We are to be busy at home.  (Titus 2:5)  As a new mom, who was used to working full time, this was really hard for me.  I craved time with adults.  Often, if I wasn’t leaving to go visit a friend, I was at least spending a large amount of time on the phone talking to friends.  While it’s not bad to converse with friends, many times I found that the conversations were going in a direction that wasn’t good.  Yes, I admit it, we were gossiping.  (I really don’t like that word!)

I was feeling isolated, trying to stay at home.  Part of the reason I was isolated was because I was out of God’s will.  The Bible tells us that we are to be busy at home, not to be busybodies!  The isolation was because I wasn’t obeying what God said.  As I began to read Proverbs and several books about women’s issues, it was becoming so clear to me that I was out of God’s will in several areas.  To try and stay home more was going to take a lot of work!  I began to ask the Lord to help me learn to be content at home (in all circumstances).  Phil. 4:11

2.   We are to love our husbands and our children.  (Titus 2:4)  To do this, you can’t be running on empty all the time.  I found that I was leaving home to go shopping or going to garage sales on a frequent basis.  There’s nothing wrong with doing these things, but if they become our focus, we get ourselves into trouble.  I found that on the days when I did so much running around, Rachel and I were both cranky.  We were both tired and I was very stressed.  I have found that running errands or going shopping are big users of my energy!  When evening came, I didn’t feel motivated to fix a big meal, nor did I feel like being too kind to my husband.  I wanted him to come in and take care of Rachel so that I could have a break!  It sure wasn’t a good way to show love to him or Rachel.  I’m sure that it often left him feeling like he was being taken for granted.  As I continued to pray for God to help me learn to be content to stay at home, I quickly saw that on the days when we did stay home, the atmosphere was MUCH more peaceful for all of us.  My stress level greatly decreased.  It quickly became my heart’s desire to be home as much as I could.

3.   Be self-controlled.  (Titus 2:5)  If we aren’t self-controlled, then our home work is going to haphazard at best.  I saw in Prov. 1 that the Proverbs were written for attaining wisdom and discipline, for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right.  I want to focus on the word “prudent.”  It refers to one who is exercising sound judgment in practical matters, who is cautious in conduct, and manages carefully.

I had begun to spend more time at home, but was feeling no real sense of purpose, beyond changing diapers, being a built in milk factory, and personal laundry attendant.  As I pondered on the word “prudent,” I came up with the idea of checking out the prices at several grocery stores.  I found out that I had been shopping at the most expensive store in town.  To use “sound judgment in practical matters,” I began to revise how I did my grocery shopping.  I was very quickly able to save us at least $20 to $60 a week.  I found a real sense of purpose in what I was doing.  I saw that I was putting some principles from Prov. 31 into practice by doing my husband “good, and not harm.”  I saw that my “trading” was profitable because it was stretching the money which my husband was earning.  I had a new sense of purpose and a joy in my heart because I knew that I was starting to live out more of the principles found in the Word.

4.   We are to be kind and pure.  (Titus 2:5)  I found that part of putting this into practice was by being cautious in friendship.  (Prov. 12)  Going again to the word prudent, we are to be cautious in our conduct.  I knew some people who were constant gossips, one of whom was constantly talking about her husband in a bad way.  It wasn’t like she talked about him to get me to keep him in prayer, but she just felt the need to give him a tongue-lashing, even when he wasn’t present.  I was striving to be kind and pure in my walk with the Lord, so I quickly began to find different friends.  I didn’t need a “friendship” that was going to suck the spiritual life out of me in just a matter of minutes.

Another way of being cautious in friendship is just by being mindful of how much time you spend with your friends.  You don’t want to cause your friend problems in her own family by the amount of time which she is spending with you.  I still visit my friends, mainly because it gives my only child a chance to play with other children.    Even then, we don’t do it more than once every 7-10 days.  The Lord has helped me to achieve a good balance there.  I also picked friendships that were like “iron sharpening iron,” mentioned in Prov. 27:17

5.   We are to be subject to our husbands.  (Titus 2:5)  Part of being subject to our husbands is learning to do what pleases them.  I don’t know of any man who desires to come home to a house that is dirty or cluttered.  Going back to being prudent, one who manages her home carefully is going to be one who manages to stay home to see that the work gets done.  Every day there needs to be a time set aside for tidying up the house before our husbands get home.  We also need to be mindful of how hard they work to make an income.  That requires sacrifice on our part at times — like staying away from the malls.  They are often a deceptive tactic of the enemy to cause us to be filled with discontentment.

6.  We are to teach what is good.  (Titus 2:3)  We are to be diligently teaching and training our children.  We are to be instructing them in righteousness.  I found that as I learned to stay at home more, I had much more energy, not to mention more time, to teach Rachel about the Lord.  We still often talk about God while we are running errands, but we are also spending a lot more time reading devotions together.  At bedtime, we are getting into the habit of reading the Word before we go to sleep.

Proverbs 19:16 tells us that she who obeys instruction guards her life.  The instruction for me, as a stay at home wife and mother was becoming much clearer.  (Although I haven’t really even touched the surface of it in this message.)  As I began to put this into daily practice, I found a new joy and contentment in my heart.  Granted, we aren’t at home all the time, but our days of errand running are down to only one or two days a week now, instead of three to four days.  I have much more energy for the tasks that are before me.

Yes, ladies, we have much home work to do, and if we allow God to teach us how to do it His way, we will find that godliness with contentment is GREAT gain.  (I Tim. 6:6)  This kind of home work may not earn us a diploma, but it may earn us these words:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of the Lord.”
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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