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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Joy

Joy

As busy wives and mothers, we tend to neglect taking care of ourselves.  We get so caught up in the needs of our family and the myriad of things to do each day that we literally get lost in the shuffle.  You’ve probably even had the famous acrostic running through your head,  “JOY stands for Jesus, others, and yourself.”  Keeping yourself at the end of the list, you may wonder, “When do I get to do something for me?”

The Son of God had to take time for Himself.  He’d go off to a mountain to pray.  Sometimes you would find Him at Mary and Martha’s house, enjoying food and fellowship.  He even had times when He simply hung out with the guys.  Once He was so tired that He took a nap on a boat during a terrible storm.

Jesus knew there were times when He needed to refresh His spirit, His soul, and His body.  If the Son of God needed to do these things, why would we be any different?  We must take care of our spirit and nourish it with God’s Word.  We need to nourish our souls, which could come from reading a book or getting together with a good friend.  We also need to take time to nourish our bodies through things like a refreshing soak in the tub or even a midday nap.


When I was growing up, I had a friend who used the word “you’uns.”  She would often say, “What are you’uns doing this weekend?”  I decided that her word would work great as an acrostic.  I think “JOY” should be
Jesus,
Ourselves, and
You’uns.

Sisters, it’s time we take some time for ourselves and experience some of God’s joy for us!

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Intimidated by the Virtuous Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intimidated by the Virtuous Woman

Do you ever feel intimidated by the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31?  I sure have!  She was the model of perfection.

I remember going through a time when I couldn’t seem to do anything right.  I went to cut off a pair of Rachel’s pants to make Capri’s out of them.  I cut the same leg twice!

Another time I got really energetic and was trying to do some in-depth cleaning.  In my haste to get as much accomplished before my energy level dropped, I used the wrong cleaner on a door and ruined the finish.  Shortly thereafter, I ruined our evening meal.

Everything within me was screaming, “YOU ARE A FAILURE!”  I had to stop and tell myself the truth.  While Rachel was not going to have Capri’s from that one pair of pants, she was able to have a pair of shorts.

So maybe the finish on the door was ruined, but that is something which can easily be corrected.  Plus, I looked at all of the other things I accomplished that day.  I wasn’t a failure!  Actually, I was quite productive!

I ruined one meal out of how many?  In other words, that meal was a failure, not me.

Now back to that virtuous woman….She may appear to be the model of perfection.  In reality, she had mastered being perfect as our Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) In this verse, “perfect” means mature.  The virtuous woman learned not to let mistakes master her.  She learned what she could from them, and that is what made her perfect.

Instead of being intimidated by her example, we need to follow her example.
© 2008, Stacy R. Miller

How Do I Look?

How do I Look?

Have you ever gotten dressed for a special occasion, then asked your husband,  “How do I look?”  We like to be assured that we look nice.

In I Peter 3:4, it mentions a meek and quiet spirit.  Meekness is often looked upon by the world as being weakness.  How wrong they are!  Jesus was certainly meek, but He was definitely not weak!  Meekness means that we aren’t easily irritated or provoked.  (I know, some of you are wanting to stop reading right now, aren’t you?  Believe me, I’m speaking this to myself, even as I sit here typing it.)  Quiet refers to being peaceful, at rest, not troubled.

When someone offends you, or does something which really irritates you, do you keep your mouth shut?  Even if you manage to keep your mouth shut, are you inwardly fuming?  Were your thoughts less than holy?  If so, while it ‘appears’ that you are being meek, reality tells a different story.  It says that you are just a very good actress.  In other words, you are really good at ‘faking it.’

So, how is your appearance?  Do you appear before others as one who is meek?  How do you appear before the Lord?  Remember, He sees what our inward thoughts and attitudes are, even when others can’t.

Father, help me not to be easily provoked, whether outwardly or internally.  Help me to respond, rather than react.  Help me to give a calm response in those situations which try my patience.  Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Homeland Security

Homeland Security

In pondering on terrorist attacks, I realized that not only do terrorist attacks come into our home, but we are capable of launching them ourselves.  Just as our own country now has a department called ‘Homeland Security,’ we also need to devise a spiritual ‘Homeland Security’ plan.

Many of us are entering that stage of life where we may see our husband go through a mid-life crisis.  As men reach the stage of life where the hair begins to thin and the waist begins to thicken, they may suddenly realize that as they go walking down the street, they no longer draw the attention of women.  Ladies who may likely do a double-take when they see a good-looking man, don’t even acknowledge that he exists.  They may get that sudden panic-stricken feeling of realizing that their youth is quickly fading before their eyes.  To top it off, they come home, only to hear the following kinds of comments:
‘Dad, can I have an increase on my allowance?’
‘The washer quit working today, and the car is acting up.’
‘Did you remember to stop by the store and pick up some milk?’
‘Dad, did you write out the check for church camp registration?’
‘I need money so that I can pay the bills.’
‘Junior got put in detention for the second time this week.’
‘Janie got a D on her report card.’

Suddenly, not only does he feel old and fat, but he feels very unappreciated and unloved.  Part of devising a homeland security plan is to be very strategic about the timing of these kinds of issues.  We also need to teach our children to be mindful of how and when they approach their father with these kinds of requests.

Ladies, if we aren’t careful, we can launch a terrorist attack of infidelity.  You see, we are told in Eph. 5:33 that we are to respect our husband, to notice him, prefer him, praise him, compliment him, and admire him exceedingly. (Amp.) When we fail to do this, it can further launch him toward the temptation of an affair.  The other woman never brings him problems (like a broken washer, car repairs, etc.), but she plays up to his ego.  She compliments him, admires him, praises him, notices him, and she even takes the time to listen to him.  She does what we may have failed to do.  When we take the time to give our husband what I call ‘positive strokes,’ we launch a homeland security plan that keeps him coming home to us, rather than looking to another woman.

Continuing on the subject of homeland security, keep in mind that when your husband has been out working all day, he likely sees dog-eat-dog competition, and hears negative talk, criticism, and backbiting, not to mention a lot of ungodly talk in the form of dirty jokes and foul language.  A perfect solution for this would be to give him some time to read the Word when he first gets home.  However, I have heard from many women that their husband won’t take the time to read the Word.  The blood of Jesus cleanses us from our own sin, and the Word cleanses us from the dirty things to which we are exposed on a daily basis.  So if our husband isn’t taking time to read the Word, letting it cleanse him from the filth that he’s dealt with all day long, how can we launch a homeland security plan to help him?  We need to counter all of that negative ‘stuff’ when he comes home.  If he isn’t in the habit of reading the Word, we can try to offer a pleasant, wholesome atmosphere in our home.  We can be diligent about reading the Word ourselves, and then sharing in conversation with him the things we are learning, or even letting him know how we are being challenged in our own walk.

Many times in our marriage, our spouse may say something that angers us.  If we don’t quickly crucify our flesh, we will launch an ungodly terrorist attack by lashing out in our anger and bringing up past issues and past hurts.  That kind of attack may cause damage to our marriage that is similar to the Twin Towers when they came crashing down. The very foundation was destroyed.  Rather than destroying the foundation of our marriage in the heat of an argument, let’s determine to have a homeland security plan that shows us to be peacemakers, showing ourselves to be true daughters of God. (Mt. 5:9) We are to make every effort to live in peace with ALL men, including our husband. (Heb. 12:14)

Another homeland security plan that I have enforced is by teaching my daughter that we are to be different — aliens and strangers on this earth. (Heb. 11:13) We don’t dress in hip huggers or low-cut, tight-fitting shirts because as Christian ladies, we are to be self-controlled and chaste in our actions, deeds, and our manner of dress so that God’s Word won’t be blasphemed or exposed to reproach.  (Tit. 2:5) We are to control our bodies in purity, not dressing like the ungodly who purposely dress with the intent to get men to lust for them.  For when we dress and behave immodestly, we defraud young men by getting them to think that we can provide satisfaction for them, and it’s GOD who should bring ultimate satisfaction to them.  God doesn’t take this matter lightly either — rather, He will punish all (wo)men for such sins. (I Th. 4:4-6) By starting the teaching on modesty and proper behavior at a young age, we have engaged a homeland security plan that may help to keep our daughters pure in body, mind, and spirit.  It can help to destroy the terrorist attacks that are so prevalent in the lives of many young ladies in this day and age.

Many times when our hormones are all out of kilter, our tongues can unleash a vicious terrorist attack.  One plan to keep the homeland safe during these times is to meditate on Phil. 4:8.  If we find that our thoughts aren’t true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, or praise worthy, we can go to war and take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. (II Cor. 10:5) There is nothing wrong with taking some medication to help us during those time of crabbiness.  I’ve taken herbal medicines, as well as a generic premenstrual medication to help soothe my raging hormones.  I also go on the offensive and warn my family that my hormones are acting crazy.  I ask them to please try to bear with me.  I let them know that if I’m short-tempered and cranky with them, it’s not their fault.  They are much more likely to grant me grace in those times if I simply forewarn them.

In this final lesson on homeland security, we will be discussing how to launch a plan to teach our children faithfully about the Lord.  We will also deal with the overwhelming issue of suffering through depression, even when you have been faithful to read the Word of God.

Another very pro-active homeland security plan is to be faithful to teach our children about God, and how God wants us to live.  So many times, parents leave the spiritual training to the church and the workers at the church.  Having worked in children’s church for quite some time, I can assure you that a lot of time is wasted during children’s church because of the rowdy children.  I know that many times the workers wonder if any of their message came across because of the myriad of distractions they face every week.  I know that we are all tired at the end of the day, and we just want to send the kids off to bed so that we can have some peace, but that is a prime time to talk with the children.  They are very open in those moments.  Don’t let a satanic terrorist steal those moments from you, never to be recaptured.  If you make this a habit, in only a matter of about thirty days, it will become an automatic habit and a good one!  You will never regret taking that time to talk with your children.  Sometimes the subject will get off target, but that’s all right.  Let them talk, and be sure to really listen to them.  If you don’t take time to listen and talk with them about the unimportant issues, they won’t talk to you later about the really important issues.

Too many people are quick to condemn those who suffer with depression.  They leave you with the impression that if you read the Word, it will take care of any depression.  While that is true in many case, it isn’t true in all cases.  Sometimes there are physical things wrong that need to be corrected through medication.  To those of you who may be on medicine for depression, I want to say, ‘Bless you for getting help!’ You may be facing guilt and condemnation from the enemy.  In fact, some of that guilt and condemnation may even be coming from your own church family.  I applaud you for realizing that you needed some help from a doctor.  Because of your wisdom in seeing this need, you may never realize what kinds of terrorist attacks you may have stopped just by simply taking medication to help your body function the way God made it to function.  You have launched an effective security plan for yourself, and for your family.  Don’t feel guilty about being on the medication.  After all, God is the one who gave doctors the wisdom to help you!

Sisters, do you need to start up some homeland security in your home?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Home Court Advantage

Home Court Advantage

I enjoy watching the Pacers play.  It’s always more fun to watch when they have the home court advantage because you get to sense the excitement of the crowd.  Most teams will do better on their home court because they know it well and are comfortable there.

Many of us have forgotten about home court advantage because we are too busy running the children off to ballet classes, gymnastics lessons, piano lessons, soccer practice, basketball or football practice, Bible clubs, Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts, or many other activities that are available to kids these days.  We also have the adult activities that we participate in, so when added together, it leaves very little time to have the home court advantage.  We are so seldom there that we never quite get used to ‘playing the game of life’ together, nor do we have time for ‘practice’ or ‘team meetings.’

The majority of families do not have meal time together in the evening.  If we are there, often the TV is allowed to fill that space, keeping us from talking and connecting as a family.  We are to be our children’s cheerleaders, but when we fail to take time to converse with each other, learning of the struggles or the victories, it’s hard to cheer for each other.

We saw early in the 2004-2005 NBA season what can happen when we are taken away from our home court advantage with the infamous ‘basket-brawl’ in Detroit.  Some of the players, and at least one of the coaches actually feared for their lives.  When we spend too much time away from the home court, our loved ones may wind up in a spiritual ‘basket-brawl.’  The enemy may be devouring them, but we are too busy with our activities to even take notice.  Just as there was a lot of trash and alcohol thrown at the Pacers when they were leaving the court, there are many people out there who would love the opportunity to pollute your child’s mind with trash and alcohol.

There are many advantages of being in our own home court:
1.    Close relationships will build between the parents and the children.
2.    Our lives will be much more relaxed because we won’t be on the run constantly.
3.    There is time for fun devotionals times that teach spiritual principles that will stick with the children.
4.    When we take lots of time to listen to our children, when they face things like sex, drugs, and alcohol, they will be more receptive to listen to us because we have invested hours in that relationship already.
5.    You may find that your children actually WANT to be with you!  Instead of seeing their parents griping about running late, needing to hurry off to the next activity, they can see that Mom and Dad actually know how to play games, joke around, and just have a good time.
6.    You may also find that you will have much less conflict during those turbulent teen years because you have shown your children that they are important, valued, and deeply loved.

How’s your home court advantage?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Guarded Boundaries

Guarded Boundaries

 

Do you ever feel pressured to do things that we know are not God’s best for you? It seems that we are constantly facing people who are trying to get us involved in activities or commitments that we just don’t feel good about, yet we have a hard time saying ‘no’ to them.

 

We must be careful to guard our hearts, not allowing them to be swayed emotionally, taking us across a boundary line that God has put into place in our lives. We need to guard our boundaries!

 

Even Jesus felt the need to guard His boundaries. In Matthew 13:36, we see that Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. Notice that the crowd didn’t leave, but Jesus did. There were times that He knew He needed to pull away.

 

In Matthew 14:22, Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, then He dismisses the crowd so He could pray. It had been a mentally exhausting day because his cousin had just been beheaded. Jesus knew that He needed to come apart or He would end up ‘coming apart.’ He needed to find that place of solitude to pray through His grief over the vicious death of His beloved cousin. He needed God to refill Him with some fresh oil so that He would have something to offer those who sought Him. Sometimes we need to dismiss the crowds in our own life. We need to send the children to their room, turn off the phone, turn off the TV, the computer, and get alone with God.

 

In Luke 4:42-44, Jesus is praying and the crowds come after Him once again. They were pressuring Him to stay there with them. Jesus had His priorities in order, and He knew that if He stayed there, He would be crossing a boundary line. He told the people that He was to be preaching the good news to other towns. He wasn’t persuaded to stay, no matter how much they pressured Him to do so.

 

It’s the same with us – we will be pressured to sign our children up for activities because ‘everybody else is doing it.’ We will be pressured to get involved in more church activities than what is feasible for us. Keep in mind that when you overstep the boundaries and get involved in too many activities or you take on too many charity cases, you may end up not being able to do a good job of taking care of your husband and your children. And guess what? If YOU don’t do it, no one else will! Why? Because God has called YOU to do it!

 

Even commercials bombard us, pressuring us to spend more money. If we don’t have the money, it’s no problem, just call the 800 number for a quick and easy loan! We must guard our boundaries! One of the best ways we can guard those boundaries is by simply guarding our hearts for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23) If we don’t guard our hearts, that wellspring of life will run dry very quickly. We will have crossed a boundary line that leads us to a very dry and parched land.

 

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

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