It's nearly two weeks since my last post and it has been two weeks before that one, too. I have been kept busy doing all kinds of things. I didn't have much time to do what I love most: homemaking and writing.
The last four weeks have been filled with such busyness but this week's schedule topped them all. I haven't felt this exhausted in ages. Running from one appointment to the next, keeping myself occupied with giving a lending hand here and there, some things — and somebody — suffered. I have not only put aside writing my blogs, but I have also neglected looking after my husband's needs. My home hasn't been kept as well as I would have liked to.
I felt so badly out of place this week that I was very much looking forward to getting back on track again. I longed to slip back into the fulfilling role of being a wife and homemaker — and a writer, too.
Do you ever feel homesick at times? When working outside your dominion do you feel an urgency of being back home again?
I grew up in a more or less traditional Christian home. My parents had a business with my mom working close to full time hours. I've always admired her talent to keep her household running. She wasn't that great of a cook — we often ate take away food at home — but now and then she would bake delicious cakes and she always kept her house spotless. If you could have taken a look inside the chest of drawers, cupboards and wardrobes in our home, you surely would have been amazed at how clean and tidy they were. She did a good job being a part time homemaker. Sadly, most of her life her focus had been on worldly things, beauty, and wealth.
My aunt was a full time homemaker. Her house was not as spotless as ours but her pantry offered an abundance of homemade canned products from her garden like fruit, juices, and vegetables. She baked more breads and cakes than my mom. She sew beautiful dresses, shirts, and various other clothing. When I was growing up I thought that she really enjoying keeping her home. She penny-pinched and did not waste money on fancy things — neither for herself nor for her family.
They both got married when they were still very young. My mom had a full time job working outside her home. My aunt was a full time homemaker. I doubt that neither one nor the other found real joy in keeping the family home. Sadly, neither one nor the other has passed on her knowledge of homemaking to the next generation.
In a world in which our roles and identities are so badly distorted, very few of us can build our homes on a solid foundation. Not many women will get a good start into the life as a young homemaker. And who, if any, is teaching the young girls today — what it means to be a keeper at home?
It’s about time to go back into the garden and pull some weeds. My mom actually enjoyed pulling weeds. You could literally see the joy in her face after she had managed to get to the root of each weed. Something I did not inherit, I’m afraid.
However, it is a job we will have to do. As long as we are on this earth we have to continue weeding. No matter how much we will ignore the weeds in our gardens, they will not disappear by it. They will grow as quick as lightning. The longer we procrastinate pulling them out the more stubborn they become; until they are almost unmanageable to handle.
As it is with weeds, so it is with problems in our families. What will start out small, if left unnoticed, will grow bigger and bigger and turn into a real threat for us and our loved ones.
One way of keeping them under control is through prayer and praises to God. Now what could offer us a better pattern for prayer than the Psalms? They are inspired by the One who knows all about us and our problems. Many who have gone before us have used these very words to express their needs and their helplessness to God. They have used them to offer their heartfelt praises to the LORD.
Girl, pull the weeds early enough to avoid unnecessary hardships in your life. However, if the weeds have become so unbearable and unmanageable, don’t despair. Instead, take the Word of God and sit down in a quiet spot — perhaps right now — and read, meditate on, and pray the Psalms.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring:
The rain also covers it with pools.
(Psalm 84:5-6 NKJV)
The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
Are you still in control of your finances? If not, who is?
I'm grateful that we do not owe money. We don't have to pay off credit cards or loans each month. We are not in debt. That hasn't always been the case, though. By God's grace, we managed to get out of debt and so can you. In my post Debt I have mentioned that I will share more on how to tackle debt.
Meanwhile, I'm taking a course on Home Economics which includes a workbook called The ABCs of Money Management. One of the books recommended for reading is called Kingdom-Focused Finances for the Family. It reveals truths about the way we are using money that I have never thought of before. In chapter 6, What Is a Financial Statement, Gary Miller explains using a financial statement. In it he is giving an example of buying a sofa and then updating his statement. This has been a real eye-opener for me. He deducts the amount he has paid for his new sofa from his checking account. Then he gets into the value of the piece of furniture after he has taken it home. He points out that buying this sofa just dropped his net worth a couple of hundred dollars.
Another thing that I keep bumping into during this study is debt. We need to stay in control of our finances even when we are borrowing money. There are times when we will have to get into debt, e.g. by getting a loan, but we will have to carefully discern our motive behind it. Do we need a new car or would a used one do as well? Did we borrow because we need a mortgage to buy a home? Or, are we in debt because we have made a couple of unwise decisions? Perhaps we kept spending money, charging our credit card/s again and again, on things we couldn't afford to pay cash for? Have we ignored that fact and bought them no matter what the consequences?
So, how do we tackle debt?
Be in control of your finances. Don't waste money. Don't spend it on paying high interest rates and making payments over a long period of time. Be content. Don't give in to every wish you might have, especially whenever that wish will cost a large sum of money. Instead, plan ahead: Set aside money each month, saving up for the day of purchase.
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
We need to hear the Word of the LORD, what He tells us to do in Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
According to verse 7,
Your husband and you decided to start family worship at home but you are unsure of how to do it? Don't worry. There is help out there to get you started.
Joel Beeke, writes in the second chapter of his booklet Family Worship* about Joshua 24. Later on he refers to Deuteronomy 11:18-19 which is a review of Deuteronomy 6:6-7. (Ever heard a preacher tell you that if it is repeated it is very important and that we need to pay special attention to the words?) Later on, in the same chapter, he tells us a little more about the how-to of family worship: Instruction in the Word of God, Prayer, and singing praise to God. He continues to give more practical tips on time and place of worship.
If you are not yet in the habit of doing family worship at home, I urge you to take the opportunity to download this 35-page booklet which will give you a great insight into the importance and will give you a good start of how to do it. At the end of the booklet he will get into Objections Against Family Worship and Motivations for Family Worship.
*Family Worship, by Joel Beeke: You can find, read and download it at NTS Library
The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible: This Study Bible contains the complete KJV text, notes/comments on verses, and at the end of each chapter you will find Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship which digs deeper into the chapter and how it relates to other parts of the Bible and offers some questions/thoughts for (Bible study/family/worship) discussion. You can find the eBook there: The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible - EBOOK where you can also take a look at a samples that contains 64 pages.
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
Some of us had been raised in Christian homes, while others had not been. Some of us had been brought up in the training and admonition of the Lord, others had not been. No matter what, after we are born again, we need to be very careful not to fall into the same trap that some of our fathers did.
In Judges we are told over and again how Israel turned away from the LORD. After a while they were in deep trouble. So, in their despair, they cried out to the LORD. He saved them. Then, for a period of time, they served the LORD. But later on, again, they turned from the LORD.
I regret just how often and how easily I have given into peer pressure in my 20s. And then I often wondered how different my life could have been, had I been growing up in a Christian home.
George Grant, author of In the Shadow of Plenty says that the bad influence the pagan nations had on Israel after they have come out of Egypt was not the problem. No, it was that the people of Israel did not want to rely on God alone. They made alliances with others, they did not what God had told them to do, they did not let go of things that God had warned them about. They did not trust that God would supply all their needs and that He would be their King.
I would say that my grandma was definitely a Christian. She read her Bible every morning, and she prayed with us children. She reminded my mom to keep on praying with us and to make sure we would learn the things of God. Well, my parents prayed with us until we were about ten years of age and they sent us to Sunday School and they made sure we had confirmation in the Lutheran Church. But that was about it. I often thought: What happened from one generation to the next? Have you ever asked this question? Maybe you have come to the same conclusion than I did: The next generation was rebellious and did not listen to their parents. So they went astray.
Well, that could have been one of the reasons but perhaps not the reason.
Listen to what Judges 2:10 says:
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
They did not know the LORD? They did not know the work which He had done for Israel? Why not? Surely not (only) because they did not want to listen later on in life. Surely also because their parents had not taught them. Their family might have told them bits and pieces but wanted to leave the decision (of whether to be a Christian or not) to their children. Or, their parents have left it to the Sunday School teacher to tell them about God. Yes, of course, a Christian home does not make you a true Christian. God tells us that we must be born again in order to enter the Kingdom. However, God has given these children to us so we will teach them His ways.
More coming up on Monday: Family Worship Time - Part Two, which will include some practical tips and a booklet suggestion.
Emotional or spiritual turmoil fragments a marriage.
Both, men and women, long to have peace in their marriage. So why, at certain times and in certain cases, doesn't it work? Are there any "tricks" to make a marriage work?
1 One evening per week to work on problems.
Meet for a few hours, once a week, to discuss differences in your marriage and to workout solutions. This is absolutely not the time to criticize your man. Pray before and/or at the start of each meeting. Be patient. Remember problems that have a deeper root may take a good amount of time to get solved. Peace might not be restored all at once.
Beware that if problems are not dealt with they might turn into bitterness and pride. Don't let this happen.
Talking about working on problems, we have to watch our words. We know that. But we often forget to check on our thought-life. We need to do that not just once a week but daily. Readjust as necessary. Read and remember Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
2 One date per week, or at least one in every two weeks.
This is an extra special time you spend alone with your husband. Remember the days when you have just started dating? Oh the hours you could talk to each other about so many things. Drive to a nice cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee together. Sit across from each other. Talk, looking at each other, holding each other's hands. Be close. Plan a special meal together, take a long walk, or go on a day-trip. Be together to enjoy each other's company.
Yes, of course, it could also be a time of having breakfast in bed or a planned ahead time to be intimate. You don't always have to feel like it. Surprise him now and then! Put your man first and go the extra mile for him! Imagine him bending over backwards to create an amazing romantic time with you. (Think: candles, dinner, fragrance in the bedroom) How would you feel? Would you be convinced? Your man might not care for all of this but he will go the extra mile to show you his love. Treat him. "Think man"... let him know you are about to hop into the shower, just for him. Tell him that you are ready to meet him. Give him the assurance that he is your man, "the" man for you.
"We have small children," you say. Then take them to their grandparents for a few hours or half a day every other week or so, or hire a babysitter. Or bring your children to your close friends to stay overnight. And at another time you can pay them back by taking their children into your home. How about that?
3 Go For Success! Let him know...
In German we have a saying: "Liebe geht durch den Magen." In English: The way through a man's heart is through his stomach. That may or may not be true. But it isn't the only way to reach out to your husband. Men like to be praised. Don't focus on what he can't do or what he isn't. Instead, capitalize his strengths. Focus on what he is good at. Let him know his unique qualities that you so love. Let him know that you appreciate them, that they are precious and that you find them wonderful.
"He doesn't have any," you say. Really? What about the things you so loved when you first started dating? That's a long time ago... That doesn't matter. Surely you can recall one or the other quality. Go from there. Even if it is just one small thing you can praise him for. Tell him! Show him that he is your man. He will appreciate it when you are proud of him. Give it a try. You will see your marriage improve and your man grow.
The following is a repost of "The Homemaker's Kitchen" which I had posted on my former blog back in December 2018. It talks about my struggle of not liking my kitchen anymore and how I have solved this problem. I hope you will enjoy reading this post and perhaps gaining some useful tips out of it.
A homemaker will spend many hours of her day in the kitchen. What a joy for her if she loves to spend time in it. It’s the place where she stores her food supplies and where she bakes and cooks her family’s favorite meals.
Imagine for a minute, how much more is going on in this part of her home. Look at her kitchen table where she can do her arts and crafts and sewing projects, or where her children sit down to do their assignments. It’s there that the family gathers for daily worship, to play board games, or to host their guests.
What do you think of your kitchen? Do you like it? Or do you find it would need more cupboards? Perhaps its front doesn’t have such a lovely color as you might wish and/or the countertop reveals its age by now? Say, would you like to spend more time in it again and transform it into a cozy, clean and pleasant place for your family and guests?
“You don’t understand. We don’t have the money to buy a new kitchen,” some of you might say.
Theodore Roosevelt once said: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." This is exactly what I’ve reminded myself of when I struggled very much with my own kitchen (we are renting the house we are living in).
You see, shortly before Christmas time I had just received the workbooks of my new home economic course and began working my way through a section called Efficient Kitchen Organization. The more I read, however, the more I frustrated I became. Why couldn’t I have a different, a better kitchen? One that works? I longed for a bigger and nicer one with new appliances; one that would have more than one hanging cupboard; one that would have a sink with two basins. It was no fun baking and cooking in this place. Oh my goodness! After taking a break and slowly reading through the same section again, I rolled up my sleeves and began to work with what I have and where I was at. By the end of the day the job was done and I was quite pleased with the outcome.
Yes, I did struggle and, to be honest, it wasn’t easy at all to rearrange everything and reorganize my working space according to what the workbook said, especially since my space is quite limited. But, I did it. Now it makes such a huge difference and working in it is so much fun again.
I worked my way through the lesson about Efficient Kitchen Organization which suggests to divide the kitchen into several areas. Here is what I have come up with:
The storage area for dry food and the refridgerator are to the left. In this area I keep everything I need to prepare bread, cakes and meals: measuring tools, mixer and its attachments, bowls, wooden spoons, baking pans, cupcake liners, dry ingredients like flour, sugar, seeds, recipes and cookbooks.
The workbook of the home economic course says to use a round tray for storing spices. However, I’m using a small box for salt, pepper, herbs, etc. (see on the countertop) and a small tin box that contains baking powder, soda, cinnamon, vanilla and so on (see right-hand side of top shelf inside the cupboard).
Here is where I store the frying pans and cooking utensils (hanging on hooks to the right), pots and colander and slow cookers (in the cupboard below), and where I’m baking and cooking (see the double oven with built in stove to the left).
Washing Up Area
There is a dishwasher on the right-hand side but I’m actually washing my dishes by hand. I find this more efficient and hygienic.
Dishes and Cutlery Area
I keep coffee, tea, bread and oats in the cupboard above and the coffeemaker, foodslicer, etc. on the countertop so I’m also calling this the Breakfast area.
I stack the plates that I use daily in the front and the others in the back. Cutlery, towels, cling film, aluminum foil and bags are found in the drawers.
I’m very happy that I was able to arrange all of the areas right next to each other and that I can continually work my way from left to right. You might doubt at first that dividing your kitchen into these specific areas will change anything. I did, too. I can tell you now, though, that this does make such a big difference. Give it a try and you will see!
If you were to write down the three top priorities in your life, who or what would come first? God? Your daily devotions? Time spent with and for your husband? Being together with your children? Your work? Your home? Your friends? Your ministry?
If you were told that you were only to live another 6-12 months, would you change anything? Why? Why not?
Honestly? I struggle now and then, setting my priorities right. I believe that the following is the perfect order:
2 Husband and Home
The problems start, of course, if God doesn't come first in our lives, but also whenever the ministry takes a higher place than our husband and our family. I'm guilty of having given my ministry too much attention while neglecting my marriage.
1 Putting God first. I'm not talking about plain Bible reading. I want to know more about God's Word, of course, but spending time with my LORD is so much more than that. It's about talking, praying to Him, listening to Him (e.g. verses He brings to my mind or points me to while reading His words) and praising Him through prayer and songs. The quantity of time doesn't matter as much as the quality of it. That changes everything!
2 Putting my husband second. He needs to be only second after God. I remind myself that he has a very special place in my life - even before my child/ren and, yes, before my ministry which goes beyond my home. I include many things I can and should do for him: keeping our home running and in order, guarding his time (after working hours end), supporting him in his work and encouraging him, minding our child/ren while he is working, acknowledging him as the head of our home, telling him how proud I'm of him.
3 Putting the ministry in third place. I find this so important. We are tempted to put the ministry before our husband. But we need to remember that woman was made for man (1 Corinthians 11:9), that we should be keepers of the home (Titus 2:5), and that we need to teach our children diligently (Deuteronomy 6:7). So, for a good amount of years, our ministry lies in meeting our husband's and family's needs and keeping our home.
My post Finances - Introduction is a short overview what it means to live according to our available finances. Today I want to talk a little about debt in general.
Honestly? We have never experienced a great debt, beside the mortgage for our apartment. Yes, we did buy a few things on credit, mainly tempted by the 0% interest deals back then. We also had a credit card which we had used in some cases of emergency and to pay what we had ordered from stores outside of Europe. True, debt has not given us sleepless nights all too often. On the other side, we did have quite a few days in our lives when money was short and we were struggling to pay off what we have owed.
Of course, it's always best to avoid the burden of more or less big loans altogether. But how? We will need to learn to be content with less and/or what we have. How much house (clothing, food, etc.) do we really need? Before buying, and especially before applying for a credit, we should always ask ourselves if it is luxury we are craving for, and, how much of our freedom we are willing to give up for it.
God's Word says: The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverb 22:7)
There is something about living debt-free, when we are no longer slaves to our creditors. No matter how small or large the amount of debt is, it's important to tackle it, to break free from it. Regardless of the reasons for our debts, we should give our best to get rid of them as quickly as possible, even after getting ourselves into debt due to unfortunate circumstances. There is something special about having more than enough so we can share and help the ones who are in need (Eph. 4:28).
How do we tackle debt? Stay tuned, I will write more on that in a future post.