Voices

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Voices

We are surrounded with voices that tell us what we should do.  There’s the radio, the TV, the newspaper, our friends and family.  The list is endless.  Sometimes it makes it extremely difficult to determine which voice is the correct one.  Even in church, we can be bombarded by the voices of people who feel the need to give us their opinions on issues when we didn’t even ask for their advice.

Many times, I think we have the assumption that the older ladies in the church have much wisdom to share.  While they should have much wisdom to share, there are times when that just isn’t true.  I have seen a few cases where an older woman is nothing more than a busybody, feeling the need to voice her opinion on every issue.

I remember a time when a couple in our church was celebrating over fifty-five years of marriage.  My husband asked the lady later what the secret was to the longevity of their marriage.  She told him that men feel the need to be right about everything, and a smart woman will just be quiet and let him think that way.  I wish I could say that I was shocked by her response, but I wasn’t.  You see, I have seen this older lady in action for years.  Her comment made her husband look really bad.  It was a ‘man-bashing’ comment.  Quite honestly, the need to be right is not just a ‘man thing.’  We all struggle with that issue.  This woman obviously had no idea of what being a help meet was.

A friend of mine shared a time when she and her husband felt that they should get their children involved in an activity that would take up two evenings a week.  Because of taking on this new commitment, she felt the need to step away from a Bible study that was taking place at their church.  (Keep in mind that her family was still going to be attending Sundays and Wednesdays.)  She had several ladies pressuring her to be at this Bible study.  They continued to pressure her even after she expressed that she and her husband felt that this activity was not for them at this time.  She got no affirmation from anybody in the church that she was making the right choice.

When you face times like these, remember that even Jesus said and did things that people didn’t understand.  They were quite vocal in voicing their opinions too!  Some of them were so angry with Him that they decided to throw Jesus off of a cliff.  I love what Jesus did in this situation!  He simply walked right through the crowd and went on His way.  (Luke 4:30)  He didn’t seek their approval.  His approval came from God.  It’s the same for us.  When we know deep in our heart that we are doing the correct thing, we need to remember that it is God’s approval we are seeking, and not the approval of men.  Keeping this in mind makes it easier for us to avoid listening to the wrong voices.

For those who may be married to an unbelieving husband, please don’t let what others think of you take precedence over what your husband thinks of you.  Many times, after a wife gets saved, she quickly wants to get involved in her local church.  While there’s nothing wrong with this, if you see that your husband is quite upset over it, it might be best for you to stay home with him.  You could still get the sermon on tape, watch preaching on TV when your husband isn’t around, and invite some Christian ladies over for some fellowship when he isn’t home.  You may even find a women’s Bible study that meets during the hours when your husband is working.  In this way, you will still be fulfilling the admonition of Hebrews 10:25 that urges us not to give up meeting together with fellow Christians.

There will likely be some well-intentioned ladies may try to sway you to be there for every single service, but these ladies probably haven’t had to live with an unsaved husband who resents these new affections in his wife’s heart.  After all, she’s has a new lover – Jesus, the lover of her soul.  Don’t be swayed by their voices.  By continuing to attend church services when your husband is adamantly opposed to it, you may turn his heart from ever desiring to follow the Lord.  Yet, if you follow the biblical mandate to have the unfading beauty of a spirit that is quiet and gentle, you are going to have your husband wondering just what has taken hold of you!  (I Peter 3:4)

What voices are you hearing?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

 

 

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Motherhood – A Labor of Love

Motherhood – A Labor of Love

I have always been fascinated with pregnant women, so when I became pregnant myself, I was even more fascinated.  I loved being pregnant, and was constantly looking in the mirror at my growing belly!  How awesome that God chose women to have the blessing of carrying a child.  Even so, when it came time to deliver, well that is another story!  Those labor pains were no fun at all.  Thankfully, I only had hard labor about 30- 40 minutes before they rushed me down for an emergency c-section.  I have heard many stories of women who were in labor for over 30 hours.  I’m sure that some of you have your own stories about labor!

While I was pregnant, I kept having an intense burden to pray for Dennis Rodman (a former NBA star).  It became a joke that my “focal point” during labor would be a picture of Dennis Rodman.  Believe me, when those hard labor pains hit, looking at a picture of him was the last thing on my mind!  I so clearly remember that while in the middle of a big contraction, I heard the words “the baby is breech, we have to get her to surgery right away.”  My immediate thoughts were “Thank you Jesus!  I’m not going to feel pain much longer!”

I looked up the word “labor” in the dictionary and it said, “physical or mental exertion; work, to work hard, to move slowly and with difficulty, to suffer, to be in childbirth.”  It is obvious here that when the labor pains stop, the real labor is only beginning.  It is very hard to adjust to getting up several times every night to feed a new baby.  It’s a lot of work, just trying to get out the door with an infant.  There is always so much that needs to go with you besides just the baby!  Then there is all of that extra laundry that a wee one can cause!

As the baby gets older, there is the teething stage, then the separation anxiety stage, and then the potty training stage, and the list goes on and on.  I remember how every Sunday I would literally have to peel Rachel off of me to leave her in her class.  It was such a battle that by the time I got to my class, I no longer felt like being there.

When we were potty training, my mom commented that Rachel was the only child she ever saw who was literally potty trained away from home.  For some reason, she was very fascinated with public restrooms.  (I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t understand it!)  Of course, we never had her little seat with us that would attach to the toilet, so when I sat her down, I would take my hands and hold onto her legs so that if she would start to fall, I could grab her very quickly.  Then, if I needed to use the bathroom, she just had to mimic me, and put her little hands on my legs so that mommy wouldn’t fall into the potty!

As mothers, we are truly life-givers.  Not just by giving birth, but it is something that we do every day.  We do it with our words, through keeping a warm, inviting home, by being tender and loving in our actions, by imparting wisdom and instruction, to the food on the table.

Sometimes the growing which our children do can cause us more “labor pains.”  Like when given their first haircut, and suddenly the baby is no longer a baby, but a little boy or girl.

Later, there is the time that they want to leave the yard and go play with the other kids in the neighborhood.  Suddenly, I’m not the one she wants to be with all the time.  It was bittersweet.  I finally had a little more time to do other things, but I wasn’t so sure that I was ready for her to be out and about with the other kids in the neighborhood.  That meant that she was growing up!  What happened to my little baby?  She was just here a few days ago, and now, well, she’s growing up.  The pain of labor hits again.

Although I homeschool, I have heard the stories from other mothers about sending their child off to school for the first day.  There’s the labor pain again.  Later, we will probably all experience that labor pain of watching our child go off to college.  Does this labor ever stop?  NO!  As long as we are mothers, we are going to have some labor pains.

All mothers, at one time or another, are going to go through some suffering.  Romans 5 in the Message Bible tells us that we continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary, we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives! — God will use motherhood as a real pruning time for us.  I have grown more in my walk with the Lord since I became a mother.  It is the thing in my life that has caused the most sacrifice from me, but it has been worth EVERY bit of the sacrifice.

I remember hearing a lady on the radio talking about all the things which mothers do.  She used a term that I just loved!  She said that our title should be “domestic goddess.”  Don’t you just LOVE it!?  Shortly after hearing that term, I got a paper to fill out for jury duty.  What do you think I wrote down in the job title section?  You guessed it!  DOMESTIC GODDESS!  When I got called for jury duty, both attorneys commented on my response.  They both thought it was really funny.  — A quick side note here.  With everything going on at the time that I got called for jury duty, it would have been easy to question the Lord in why He was allowing me to go through that experience.  He knew good and well what He was doing.  It was a civil case that lasted three days.  It was very interesting to observe, not to mention that within a month of having done my civic duty, I was attacked by a pit bull.  You don’t find too many attorneys in church, but because God allowed me to serve on that jury and observe these attorneys, there was no question about who I was going to call to represent me.

Let’s look at some of the examples for ways in which we mothers labor.  Our job titles could be:  meal planner, chef, pharmacist, nurse, laundry attendant, chauffeur, teacher, personal care attendant (giving baths, etc.), bathroom attendant (wiping bottoms), maid, butler, bargain hunter, hazardous waste removal specialist (taking out the trash), germbuster (disinfecting the house after illness has been present), cheerleader (encourager), motivational speaker, accounts payable manager, scheduler, secretary, organizer, seamstress, inventory manager (writing grocery lists), snow removal person, lawn care attendant, arbitrator (settling arguments between the children),  principal (disciplining the children), life skills instructor, language interpreter (figuring out why the baby is crying), and finally, one which is critical for us to be:  the prayer warrior.  (I am sure that I left out many more job titles.)

Do you see it?  YOU ARE AWESOME!  Look at all of the things which God has entrusted us to do for our children!  He sees us as very capable or He wouldn’t have entrusted us with it.  Phil. 4 says that I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me.  THROUGH HIM WE ARE ABLE TO DO ABSOLUTELY AWESOME THINGS!

Lord, I know how overwhelming life can be at times, even though I only have one child.  Many of my sisters have more children than I do, so I know that they get weary and overwhelmed at times.  Help them to remember that it is only through You that we can accomplish Your purposes in our homes.  Help them to get their focus on You each and every day, and to be faithful in not only asking for Your help, but in looking to see how it is that You are helping them.  Help them to see You right there with them each and every day.  Help them to see Your tender mercies, which are new every morning.  Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Lady In Waiting

Lady in Waiting

We spend much of our time waiting.  We wait in line at the grocery store, we wait on traffic jams or trains, and we can be forced to wait when a receptionist puts us on hold.  Sometimes we find ourselves waiting on test results from the doctor.  Sometimes our waiting can be as simple as waiting on our modem to connect us to the Internet.  I don’t know too many people who enjoy the waiting process.

How do we react when God doesn’t respond to our requests in a quick fashion?  Do we tend to want to “fix” the problem ourselves?  Do we jump in and intervene, thinking that He isn’t listening?  Do we try to “help” the answer come to pass?  Sarah did this.  By using the wisdom of this world, she just knew that God needed some help in giving Abraham an heir.  In “helping” God, she ended up getting a mistress who despised her.  Not only that, I believe that she had some marital trouble as well.  In Gen. 16:5, she told Abram that he was the one responsible for the current predicament.  While scripture doesn’t go into much detail on this conversation, beyond Abram telling Sarah to do with Hagar what she desired, I can’t picture Abram being totally gracious in receiving her harsh words.  Try to picture your husband if you spoke such harsh words to him!

Rebekah decided to help Jacob in stealing the blessing from Esau.  What a lady of integrity!  She was very deceptive and sneaky in her tactics.  This wasn’t some spur of the moment scheme.  She had it well planned out, all the way down to the nitty-gritty details of how to carry out her plan.  She relied on the wisdom of this world, rather than on God’s wisdom which gives knowledge and understanding.  (Prov. 2)  When Jacob stole the blessing, she might have been quite pleased with herself for about two minutes.  Then, reality set in.  She saw the intense rage and hatred that rose up within Esau.  Later, she heard of Esau’s plans to kill Jacob.  The son she longed to help was now a living as a fugitive on the run.  Rebekah not only had to deal with the guilt and condemnation of her conniving actions, but now she lost her dear son.  When Jacob was able to return over two decades later, Rebekah was dead.  I wonder what would have happened in this situation if she had only waited on the Lord, instead of trying to help…..

The next time you are faced with waiting on the Lord, remember these words from Ps. 27.  “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  (NIV)

© 2003, 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

Joyful Contentment

Joyful Contentment

How many times do we struggle with being content?   We are so bombarded by things of this world that we can easily be led down the  path of discontentment.  We are told that we need to color our hair a certain way so that we can feel young and vibrant.  We need to have fine clothing so we can feel pretty.  We need to join a weight loss group so that we can have the perfect figure, therefore making us voluptuous.  We need a certain car or we just aren’t living the good life.  The cycle never ends.  If we aren’t careful to guard our hearts, (Prov. 4:23) we will fall into the snare of believing these deceptive tactics of Hollywood.  If we fall prey to these beliefs, we will quickly be spending hard-earned money on things which don’t satisfy.

Come, you who are thirsty.  Come, you who have no money.  Buy food and drink without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread?  Why spend your labor on what doesn’t satisfy?  God says to listen to Him and eat what is good.  If we do, our soul will delight in the richest of fare.  If we take time to hear the Lord, our soul will live.  (Is. 55:1-3)

When we are faithful to come before God and listen to Him, we won’t be easily snared into believing the ads that we see everywhere.  Hollywood’s version of beauty, fulfillment, and happiness will hold no appeal for us because we have found what truly satisfies.  We will discover that the Lord causes us to go out with joy and to be led forth with peace.  (Is. 55:12)  Now that’s a frame of mind which no amount of money could ever buy!

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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

Job Training

Job Training

Years ago when I was hired by the phone company as a service representative, I went through the company’s intense nine week training program.  The course was so difficult that at least thirty percent of those who start it would never complete it.  If they had put me at a desk without proper training, I wouldn’t have known how to answer any of the questions asked of me.  I also wouldn’t have been able to assist those who wanted an extension on paying their bill, nor could I assist those who needed to set up new phone service or a transfer of service to a new residence.  Only as I was diligent to get that training deeply imbedded, was I able to assist and instruct my customers.

As Christians, we are supposed to let the Word have its home in our hearts and minds.  The Word of God is to dwell in us richly. Only as we get the Word deep inside us are we able to fulfill the commands to admonish, teach, train, and encourage on another. (I Thessalonians 5:11; Colossians 3:16)

On my job, I needed to be thoroughly equipped to handle the myriad of requests that customers had over the course of a day.  Every day finds us facing new challenges and new requests of people.  We need to be confident that we have taken the time for correct training so that we handle these situations correctly.  God’s Word is our training manual – useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that we are thoroughly equipped.

As wives, mothers, and Christian women, we are constantly being called on for help.  It may be in dealing with a discipline issue, or it might be in how to help a sister whose husband has been unfaithful.  It may be in how to help our husband during a stressful time at work.  We must daily set priorities for the things on our to-do list.  If we haven’t been getting proper ‘job training’ from the Word, we will easily be led astray by our emotions, rather than responding the way God desires.  Our priorities will be out of kilter, and our flesh will rule our day, rather than our spirit.

Do you need more job training?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

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