Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teaching and Learning to Obey

Good morning! A SAHM joy that I want to share today is...
I have more time to do things now than ever before. What?!? Stay with me for a minute. When I worked outside the home, with commute, I was gone upwards of 10 hours per day, sometimes more. Often times, I would bring work home, there were inevitable household duties to take care of, I wanted to spend time with my husband, there were always errands to run, and I enjoyed being out and about with friends. Now that the majority of my time is spent at home with my son, I have the flexibility to choose how we spend our days. Yes, he requires a ton of care, but kids are also mobile and time flexible! Nap times are a precious bit of the day where I can explore other things I'm interested in (like writing!) while balancing household chores. I leisurely am up doing my quiet time and spending time with the Lord before everyone else wakes...before kiddos, this time was devoted to getting ready for work. At night, instead of preparing for my work day, I can relax and calmly spend time with my husband after our son goes to bed. You see, the Lord knows that mommas need rest and rejuvenation when we stay at home with our children. He is faithful to give that to us. Not every day, but He does give just enough to strengthen and encourage us :-)

As I've been studying His Word and my devotionals lately, the word obey has come up time and time again. As a previous teacher, I was surprised that this word was not used in the school setting. I grew up with it in the home, I understood what it meant, and I thought it was commonly used among adults and kids. Google defines obey as 
  • to comply with the command, direction, or request of (a person or law)
  • to submit to the authority of
Many times you will hear parents say, "You need to listen," or "Please follow directions" or "Do as you're told to do." Personally, as a mommy, I think the phrase, "You will obey me," needs to make a comeback! It's short, simple, to-the-point, and an extremely powerful and spiritual way of parenting our sweet babies. The second definition of obey talks about submitting to authority. As parents, I strongly feel that the Lord wants us to instill a firm example of authority in our children's lives. Our pastor frequently says, "How will my children learn to listen to the Lord if I don't teach them how to listen to their mother and me?" It isn't just a suggestion, it's a responsibility.

My son is in an imitation stage right now. If I'm eating, he wants to eat. If I'm planting flowers, he wants to pull them out and put them somewhere else. If I'm singing or dancing, he does it back. While it is so precious, it also makes me keenly aware that he watches everything. I don't want to be a parent who talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. I want my son to learn from my example. I will make mistakes and have to ask for his forgiveness while re-directing him, but I can make a prayerful effort towards showing Godly behaviors that I desire for him to repeat. He needs to grow up seeing his father and I obeying the Lord.

Two times in John 14, and in many other areas throughout the bible, Jesus talks about obeying.

"If you love me, you will obey what I command." John 14:15

"...If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching." John 14:23

We first must learn how to obey God, and then we can wholeheartedly teach our children to obey with a love for us. As parents, we desire for our children to love us and to obey us. The Father desires the same from each one of us. Ask the Lord to reveal where obedience may be lacking your life. For me, I often let anxiety and fear overshadow the peace that can only come from Him. If I were to consciously obey Him in this area, I could meditate daily on the verses,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." 
Psalm 55:22

Remember, all mommies are a work in progress. We will never be perfect, but we can ask God for guidance in how to obey Him and in how to teach our children to obey us, and ultimately to obey Him. I encourage each of you to pray and ask God what area in your life needs stronger obedience from you. Is he asking you to stop your career and to stay home with your children? Is he asking you to do a better job in showing submission to your husband as the leader of the household, just as you are asked to submit to the Father? Is He asking you to turn to His Word to look for answers on a particular challenge you are dealing with in your parenting? He is here to help us every minute of every day. Just as I listed verses about anxiety and fear, do a simple search in Google (love modern-day technology!) for scripture on _________. You decide with the Lord what it is you need to work on. He is faithful.  

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6

Because God is so good and loves us so much, He gives a promise for obedience to Him. John 14:27 says...

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Amen to that! Be blessed, mommies :-)

Today's couponing entry will be entered during nap time this afternoon. Be sure to check back!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

His Temple and Starbucks

Today's SAHM joy is something I thought of yesterday while playing with my son...
I choose when, how, and to what extent he is disciplined! My son has started testing his boundaries in a big way (already at 10 months old???), and I have had to start saying "no" and re-directing behavior. If he was in a child care setting or with a family member for the majority of the day, ultimately it is their decision as to when, how, and to what extent he is disciplined. I will make mistakes, I will have to re-vamp my tactics, but at least I am present with him and able to try out what I think is best in raising him to respect others. 
I'm grateful for that :-)

Speaking of naughty behavior, the other day while grocery-shopping, I excitedly purchased an ice cold dark-chocolate mocha with tons of whipped cream and tons of calories. I don't usually do this, and instead my Starbucks drink-of-choice is a regular coffee with room for cream (less than half the price of the mocha). I wanted to treat myself to something yummy as we had been having a hard week with my husband traveling, and I was PMSing :-) I had taken a few sips and stepped away from the cart to grab a new sippy cup for my little guy. My son started reaching for a toy on the shelf, the drink in the holder caught his eye, and he picked it up and threw it to the ground...followed by an "uh-oh"...seriously?!? I couldn't get there fast enough to save my sweet, innocent drink from splattering all over the cart, the shelves, and my pants.

After posting my calamity on Facebook thinking that it would give my friends and family a chuckle, one of my friends commented, "He's looking out for you mom." He was so right. Here I was attempting to enjoy 330 empty calories just to try and make myself feel better. It has no nutritional value or worth to my well-being, yet I was like a little school girl jumping up and down when I ordered it.

Though his only intention was to make something crash on the floor, my sweet boy taught his momma a lesson that day. It really got me thinking. As Christ-followers we are told that our bodies are His temple, and we should treat them as such. I don't believe the Lord deems all Starbucks drinks as evil, but when it comes to consciously deciding to put something harmful, or at the very least non-nutritional, in your body time after time after time, that behavior shows a lack of respect for His temple which is our body.

"Do you now know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

That's pretty clear! As moms, we have the privileged opportunity to be a fit and healthy example for our children and to show them how to take care of the one body each of us are given. To be very candid, I have personally struggled with food choices, self-control, and my weight since childhood. Pregnancy only made it worse! Ultimately, though, it's my decision. I feel that our children should and do give us a new motivation for healthy living.

Is it a sacrifice to say no to the delicious things this world has to offer and to work towards the goal of a healthy temple? Of course! But, we are called to sacrifice just as Jesus sacrificed His life for us. If you believe in Jesus, the Son of God, then your sins are forgiven, but in living a life for the Lord, you should desire to live in a pleasing way to Him. Hebrews 10:16 says...

"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."

Like me, food may have become something that we have put above our desire for closeness with our Lord, just as I posted about the other day. It doesn't always have to be money or material items. There are many options for idols on this planet. We should desire to live in a healthy way or not to buy certain things not to gain favor with Him, He already loves us more than we can ever imagine. We should desire to live in this way so that we may show our gratefulness to Him for all He has given us. He also blesses our efforts, remember that! Hebrews 10:35-36 says...

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."

If you are living in a way that is not edifying His temple, decide today that you will make a change, for God, for your husband, for your children, and for yourself. Many of my entries are based on things the Lord is working on with me. Remember that we are all a project...

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14

This verse doesn't say that we are already at the finished line. Be blessed today, and watch it on those Starbucks drinks :-)

Today's couponing entry will be posted during nap time this afternoon. Be sure to check back!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Today, I'd like to share a prayer written by Reinhold Nieburh. I'm sure many of you have heard the first part of this prayer throughout your lives, but I read the rest of it for the first time today.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.

I feel like the Lord laid this on my heart to share with women who are either struggling to conceive a child or who are desperately wanting to stay home with their children, but the door has not yet opened. Psalm 118:24 says,

"This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

Many of us have lived through days where the last thing on our mind was rejoicing. But His Word doesn't suggest that we rejoice, it commands that we rejoice. I've found that during my hardest times, if I turn to the Lord and praise Him, spend time with Him in prayer, serve a friend in someway, or simply focus on making my son's life blissfully fun that day, my sadness seems to fade. Does it disappear? Not always. But, focusing on Him allows the focus to be removed from whatever is troubling you that day.

No matter what your day might hold, think about the sixth line in the prayer...accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. God does not make mistakes.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him..." Romans 8:28

When challenges arise in life, and they will, remember that nothing is greater than our God. He can make everything go to His glory...a miscarried child, an absent father, a broken home. Remember, my family history of a broken home greatly attributed to the beginning of this blog. He, as the prayer says, can make your hardships the pathway to your peace, to your serenity. Let him work, and ask Him for the strength to carry you through the trial.

On a much lighter note, it's coupon week! If you're interested in the wonderful world of couponing, head on over to the Couponing tab at the top of the home page.

Be blessed :-)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Encouraging Songs for the Weekend

"If You want Me to" by Ginny Owens

"Light up the Sky" by The Afters

"Hosanna in the Highest" by Hillsong


What are your thoughts on the new look? I'm very new to all of this, so all constructive criticism and suggestions are welcome. Thank you :-)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Finances - Focus on Him (not pretty things)

Good afternoon, ladies! Today's SAHM joy comes from me :-)
I love that am able to uniquely understand my son and simply, observe him. Each day, I get to observe his mannerisms, his preferences, his multiple cries, his food likes and dislikes, his attitude when he hasn't napped enough, the wheels turning in his head while he's problem-solving, and most importantly, I get to watch him unfold as a little person. Then the next day, I get to see it all again, constantly comparing to what he did the day before. I have the privilege of seeing him explore new challenges and tasks. 
So very cool.

As we bring this week to a close, I want to thank you for journeying with me through the topic of finances. There will be future posts on financial freedom in the home, and I will continue to post daily MMSM entries! Finances, as we all know, can be tricky, time-consuming, frustrating, fight-starting, and a huge pain in the bottom. But remember, they don't have to be! I am grateful to say the Lord has brought my husband and I to a place financially where these words apply less and less as we move forward with our life together. I pray the same can happen for you. If you have more specific questions about our methods of figuring out the finances with one income, please feel free to email me. I would love to speak one-on-one with any reader, and I promise that we have nothing to hide. I am willing to discuss anything! Mostly, I pray that you have been blessed from the words I have been led to write and more importantly, by the scriptures given from our heavenly Father. When all else fails, go to His Word. He never fails!

Before I venture into our final topic, do be sure and check back next week for an all new section of Staying at Home and Making it Work. One of my money-saving passions is (drum roll, please...) couponing! I love it. It doesn't have to take forty hours a week. It turns grocery-shopping into a game. And, it saves a LOT of money. I will do five separate entries under the "coupon" tab next week. Be sure to check out:
  • where to get coupons
  • how to organize coupons (with pictures!)
  • grocery store shopping plan with coupons
  • how to clean out/update in a timely manner AND clearance shopping
  • other tips and tricks about this magical bits of paper
As you can tell, this is one of my favorite things :-) Hopefully, it can become one of yours. If this turns into a hobby for you, be prepared to get a big ol' kiss from your hubby after he sees the checking account balance!

Now, much of the entries on finances have been quite heavy to take. You may feel bummed out and like you won't be able to do anything fun with money the rest of your life, if you decide to be a stay at home mommy. Or, you may feel like being a good financial steward for the Lord means that all extra money should only go to extremely important things. Maybe you even feel guilty for buying things that are unnecessary, but that you simply want. My opinion? Once you are organized, once you and your husband can calmly discuss and plan financial decisions, once you are committed to tithing and giving, and once you have asked the Lord to completely direct your path when it comes to the money He has entrusted to you, a freedom takes over that allows you to use the knowledge He has given you to make wise choices. Check out this verse!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17
Did God send down this beautiful tea kettle from heaven? Hmm...that I don't know. What I do know is that I've had my eye on this for over a year, my husband and I agreed to a certain amount of "fun" money that each of us would get this summer, and I happily, without guilt, and under the full knowledge of my husband purchased this yesterday. It makes my heart dance. I don't feel like I did anything sneaky, skipped a utility bill to pay for it, or that it was a mistake. You see, God created us. He knows we like pretty things...especially us girls! What we must be careful of is to not get obsessed with pretty things, or live to gain more of them, or turn our focus away from Him onto the material items. There isn't anything wrong with the becomes wrong when we idolize things instead of our Lord.

"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10

Loving money and loving material things, more than Him, is what God abhors. Money itself isn't evil, but your love for it before your love before God, is.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Matthew 6:24

God is our master, not money (or pretty things)! There will always be pretty things. There will always be items that catch our eye as we are walking through the mall, but when our heart is right with the Lord, when we are one with our husband on finances, and when you and God are confidant that He is your master, enjoy a good and perfect gift (or a way to buy that gift!), sent from Him. Even if it comes in the shape of a tea kettle. Be blessed!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Baby Bottoms

Welcome back! While I had planned to continue my thoughts on making financial changes to support the lifestyle of staying at home with your children, a bad case of diaper rash and a new tooth made for a tiring and miserable evening for my son (can I get an "amen" for baby Tylenol!). Bless his heart! I honestly don't think I could be a baby again. It's hard work! Anyway, I did not have the chance to prayerfully prepare, as I like to do, but as I was doing my devotional this evening, two verses jumped out at me that I wanted to share with each mommy reading this post.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12

It's funny how the Lord works, but I believe each of those words may be applied to aiding in the healing of a tiny baby bottom feeling the effects of way too much fruit (lesson learned by this momma!). In all seriousness, we could, and should, apply these character traits to ourselves daily as we care for our sweet babies whom He chose to give us. Remember, he chose you to be the mother to your children. Just as you dearly love them, He dearly loves you (and them!).

Secondly, take a look at Colossians 3:23-24...

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (emphasis added)

In everything, whether you are thanked profusely and showered with affirmation, or not, view each task as though you are doing it for Him...even if it means tending to a tiny behind. Just as He loves us, we are called to love Him. He created us. He gave us the capacity and desire to accept love and to show love. A challenge for all of us...focus your eyes on the One who gave you the opportunity to be a mother and see if your love for your husband and children strengthens. Love Him. Serve Him. Work for Him. As He says, there is a great reward waiting for you. He doesn't see anything you do for Him as meaningless.

Just a note...I will be adding a tab to my home page called "Organizational Tricks." I will be posting tips and tricks that I have learned, and I will post as I continue to learn, on how to run a household more efficiently. Enjoy reading and sharing!

Finally, if you would like to receive an email each time I post a new entry, please enter your email address on the left column of the home page. You won't get spam, I promise :-) As always, thanks for reading. Your interest is a daily encouragement to me. Be blessed, fellow mommies!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finances - Time to Talk about Trying

Welcome back to finance week! Today's SAHM joy comes from April. April shares...
I get to instill my values into my children hourly! Until school, I am the primary influence.
So true! What an opportunity we have been given to decide exclusively what our children will watch on TV, listen to on the radio, what toys they get to play with, where they go for daily outings, how they are spoken to, disciplined, praised, listened to, and most importantly, how and to what extent they are spiritually encouraged. If you ever feel like working in the home could not amount to the difference you would be making on a daily basis in the career world, just remember that you are shaping a little life for eternity. That, my sweet friends, is an honor unlike any other.

Please be sure to click on "Poll #1" in the right side column and write about your favorite part of staying at home and making it work. I can't wait to read (and share!) your comments.

Regardless of whether or not you stay at home with your children, it is a respected fact that mothers try to do their best with their children each day. We succeed mightily on some days, and on others, we just pray that our children fall asleep early and graciously let us make a fresh start with them in the morning. The mere fact that you are reading posts on mom blogs shows that you are trying to find different ways to better your life and the lives of your children. By learning new things, it shows that you are making an effort to research this mysterious career of mommy-hood. Let's discuss the word "try." defines "try" as
  • to make an effort to do or accomplish something; to attempt
  • to taste, sample, or otherwise test in order to determine strength, effect, worth, or desirability
While it is no shock that we do both of these things with our children on an hourly basis, our finances may be another story. Though my husband and I are working towards a comfortable place financially, there was a time (a long time) that I didn't even want to try. My money was a mess. I had multiple credit cards that I used frequently, I would spend money on going out with friends rather than adding to the zero balance in my savings account, and as long as I could pay the bills, I honestly didn't want to think about it. The problem was simply so exhaustive and overwhelming to me, it was easier not to try.

But, living in denial is no way to fix your finances. If you are desperately desiring to stay at home with your children, not only to you need to talk to your husband and agree to tithe together, but you must commit to trying. Of the two definitions written above, I believe that they define two steps in correcting your finances. First, you must be willing to make the effort. I somewhat chose that I would make an effort, and I was somewhat forced into it by my financially Godly husband. Maybe your husband isn't on board with trying right now, but if you are, then you are 50% there!

Trying isn't just a good principle to live by; it is also a command from our Lord. 2 Timothy 2:15 says,

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a work(woman) who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (emphasis and "woman" added)

What does He want? He wants our best! That includes our finances. By acknowledging that our money is lent to us from Him to handle with Godly stewardship, that automatically makes us workmen (and women). Some of you may feel ashamed in how you and your spouse have handled money, but that can stop today! Decide to make a change today. Ask for his forgiveness in the places where you have not lived out His principles, and commit to turning in the other direction. God revels in pride for you when He sees you are attempting to live according to His Word. His scripture is full of instructions on the handling of money, but you can't do what you don't know. We must make the effort to understand His will for the way we handle money, and we must ask Him for guidance on how to do it on a daily basis.

I love the second definition of "try." Once we've made the commitment to make an effort with our finances, the work doesn't stop there. It begins. Testing different methods, ideas, budgeting formulas, or plans of action mean an ongoing process of (as the definition says) determining strength, effect, worth, and desirability of whatever we're trying to accomplish. One for sure thing about money is that the situation can change at a moment's notice. You could get pregnant again with a sovereign surprise :-) Your husband could lose his job. You could receive a large inheritance. Someone could be diagnosed with a serious illness. You stumble upon an amazingly great deal of something you didn't budget for at the beginning of the month. These or many, many other variables will occur in your financial world, at some point. How will you and your husband handle them? You just have to be willing to try. Don't give up. Pray against the feelings of overwhelming financial exhaustion (and they will come), and trust that He knows that is best for you. It is tempting to bury our heads in the sand. Remember, I did it for a long time. But, don't give into temptation. Especially, when it comes to your finances.

"The temptations in your life are no different than what others experience. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure." 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

God will always show you a way out. It may not be a way that you like, but He is faithful to provide a way to financial freedom. Be willing to take that first step of commitment to showing effort for problem solving. Always be open and communicate respectfully with your husband about the money that God has given you to manage. Finally, be obedient to the Lord in tithing to your place of worship and giving to those in need. Remember Proverbs 31:20..."She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy."

My husband and I strive to live by these financial principles in our home. I pray that these financial posts may be a blessing to you and your household. I pray financial peace over each woman reading this blog, so that you may return to the home, that your home may function more efficiently, or so you will be prepared when the time comes to raise your children.

Don't forget to visit the MMSM tab on the home page for today's tip. Be blessed :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Finances - Time to Talk about Talking

Today's SAHM joy comes from Lisa. She says...
I worked outside the home for the first two years of my son's life. I only spent about an hour a workday of quality time with my son. I knew that he was being taken care of during the day at daycare, but I felt extremely resentful of my job. I spent my days taking care of other people's kids, but felt like I barely knew my own. The best part of staying home is really knowing my child and watching him learn, grow, and become the person he is going to be.
Amen to that! Thanks so much for your honesty in that post. While I have stayed at home with my son from the beginning, there was a long decision-making process that my husband and I ventured through together. Would our family be better off financially if I continued working? Would there be less pressure on my husband if I was financially contributing to the household? Could we find an affordable daycare that would actually justify my relatively small teaching salary? These were all excellent questions being asked in both of our heads, but the focus of the today's posting will, hopefully, encourage you to get these (and other) questions out of your heads and on to the table.

There is no way around it. If you are married, you must talk to your husband about money, and frequently. In my last posting about finances, I mentioned that I would be discussing tithing, talking, and trying...three practices that we have committed to doing in our home. Are we perfect at all three? Far from it! But, the longer you get accustomed to doing something, it usually becomes easier to do. Financial discussions are typically hot-button issues that come with a lot of emotional baggage. If you look back a few days at my post titled "Money Matters", you'll see that my husband and I had very different financial upbringings. Mix those two together, and you could have a world war on any given day in any given money conversation. Here's the thing that we have is worth more to us to get something figured out than it is to fight about it. Over time, the Lord has gently and graciously pulled our financial personalities closer together on the money continuum. You and your husband may be polar opposites. Does that mean you will stay there forever? Not if you bring the topic into your prayer life and ask God for patience with one another. Psalm 103:8 says,

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love."

We are called to aspire to the behaviors and characteristics of the Lord our God. If He is compassionate and gracious, then we should try to be also...even when it comes to talking about money. If you invite Him into this aspect of your relationships, He is faithful to show compassion and love a midst His teaching and re-direction on your financial course.

Dave Ramsey, our favorite Christian financial guru, talks about taking emotion out of financial conversations. We are called to be stewards of the money that God has given to each of us. If you think of it as someone else's money (which it's all God's), then it should be easier to talk about it rationally, logically, and productively with your spouse. Maybe you set aside a time each week to take 15 min. and run through the budget. Monday-night money-talks, for example. Part of talking openly is giving each other the respect of true honesty. You should never hide money from your husband, be misleading about where money might be going, or straight out lie about financial matters. Along those same lines, your husband should give you the same respect. 

If you find that you are in one of the situations mentioned or your finances have become totally haywire, consider bringing a trusted adviser into the conversation. Open communication did not always mean one-on-one talks in our household. Sometimes it is extremely helpful and calming to get someone else's opinion. We have done it on several occasions. Many churches offer free financial counseling. Seek out information at your local church, or contact a larger church in your area. Sometimes, larger churches have the resources to offer these services. My best piece of advice for encouraging open communication on money, especially if you're having trouble getting there on your own, is to take Dave Ramsey's FPU classes. Click on the "Dave Ramsey Website" link on the right side of my home page. His thirteen-week class will give you solid biblical financial principles that will, if followed, change your life.

Remember that with finances or any other subject, God desires us to live in peace...especially with our husband! Ask the Lord to speak to you through this final verse for today, in relation to your finances. 2 Corinthians 13:11 says,

"...Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Open communication with our spouse over money will be on ongoing learning process. If you are desiring to stay at home, or it just feels harder than it should be, why not try opening up an honest conversation. You need to know your husband's financial thoughts and feelings, and he needs to know yours. You pledged before God to love this man forever...let's get the finances figured out once and for all. 

Don't forget to check the MMSM tab for today's money-saving tip! Be blessed!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Be Blessed!

Good morning! I am traveling with my family this weekend, so I have not had a chance to continue our discussion on financial organization. Please bear with me and visit the site again on Tuesday, May 22, when I will resume posting! For today, pray on the following verse however it may apply to you!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me." John 14:1

Be blessed!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finances - Time to Talk about Tithing

Today, I'm going to continue speaking on the financial aspects that have brought us into the possibility of this lifestyle, but first, I want to start something new! No matter what the topic of the day might be, I think it is so important to remember to celebrate the joys of stay-at-home mommyhood (SAHM...are you getting that I love acronyms?!). My plan is to share my own loves of staying at home, as well as to share comments left by readers of the blog. Today's SAHM joy comes from Melissa. She delights in the fact that:
We can actually sleep in and nap together, whenever. 
I don't have to leave my LO at daycare.
I got to be the recipient of her first eye contact smile!
Always remember that no matter how hard the day might be, the little joys are enough to get us through it! Be sure to leave your favorite thing about staying at home on the Poll #1 posting.

The three T's (tithing, talking, and trying) are essential for a healthy financial family. Over the next few days, I will talk about each one. In our (my husband and myself) opinion, they are all equal, they are all necessary, and they are all scripture-based. If your family is struggling financially, and let's face it, many of us are right now, then I hope you will consider talking and praying with your husband on the scriptures I will post for this week. They are powerful. They are life-changing. And, they may just be the ticket you need to staying at home and making it work for your family.

When we were engaged, my husband and I did not agree on tithing. Being a money hoarder (my loving term for my obsessively saving husband), he felt like saving the money or paying off debt was of better use than putting it in the offering box. I felt morally and spiritually convicted that tithing was a command from the Lord, and I couldn't fathom not doing it once we married. I've heard many well-meaning Christians state that tithing is an Old Testament idea. True that it is discussed often in the Old Testament, but giving is discussed abundantly in the New Testament; that is, the lessons taught by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and His many disciples who followed after His death on the cross and His resurrection.

The word "tithe" actually means to give 1/10 of your income. In many cases in the Bible, that means someone would have given 1/10 of their livestock or grains to support the priests and eventually, the church. Unless you are a farmer, and your church appreciates animals and baskets of wheat walking through the door on Sunday morning, you and your family are probably looking at giving a portion of your income to the church. Honestly, people can get very legalistic about tithing. God is a god of love. Jesus Christ, God's Son, came to this earth to teach others how to love. To give is to love. Deuteronomy 16:17 says,

"Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that He has given you."

After much talking and praying together and separately, my husband and I agreed that we would tithe together. This didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen without arguments (which I do not recommend), but the point is, it did happen. We now happily give to the church and to other charities that we feel strongly about. Please hear this, ladies. You cannot make your husband give. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, 

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (emphasis added)

If you force your husband to tithe, you will deal with resentment, anger, and frustration over money. Instead, pray for the Lord to change your husband's heart. In the mean time, I recommend giving a portion of your "fun money" that each of you gets to spend each month without having to consult with one another.

How much you tithe is a private matter between you and God. The concept of tithing, however, shouldn't be so taboo. It is commanded in His Word, we should all encourage each other to give generously, as each one is able, and to top it all off, God promises wonderful blessings when He sees you sacrificially choosing to give abundantly. Malachi 3:10 beautifully says,

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (emphasis added)

That doesn't sound like such a bad thing! Test the Lord your God in this. Even if you are struggling financially, choose (with your husband) to give just a little, cheerfully, and see if He doesn't provide what you need. I say this standing only on the Word of God. This is not a promise from me to you, but it is a promise from Him in His Word. Also, remember that he knows the hearts of every man and woman. Make sure your heart is right, ask Him to provide what you need (not that Coach purse you want...), and trust that your Provider will come through on all of His promises.

To wrap up, I chose to devote an entire post to the one aspect of tithing since it is such a cornerstone in our family. Remember that each family has their own personal financial situation, but God asks all of us to give, and to give generously. Your family should do what your family can do, trusting in the Lord to meet your needs and to bless you in the ways that He sees fit. He is such a loving God, and He wants desperately to bless all of us in our finances. We have to be willing to meet him half way. Join me tomorrow as I discuss good financial communication, and what the Lord has taught (and is continuing to teach ) us in this area. Be blessed today!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Finances - Let's be Willing

As I began gathering my thoughts for what to discuss this week, I felt like the Lord is leading me to focus on finances. Not the most fun thing to talk about (in my opinion...but, my husband feels differently!), but downright necessary when it comes to making the move to staying at home or keeping your head above water if you're already at home. As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband came into this marriage with strong financial stewardship skills. He was, and continues to be, a complete blessing to me in this area, and the way God has proven Himself faithful to us in this subject is absolutely worth sharing with all of you. I hope you will be able to take tidbits of advice as we delve into the finance abyss this week and apply them to your personal situation. If convoluted money-matters are the only thing holding you back from staying home full-time with your babies, imagine the doors that may open if true focus and deliberate discipline were applied to this area. As I was doing my quiet time this morning, this verse jumped out at me...

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:12 (NIV)

God desires us to live in complete joy all of the time. If you aren't a believer, or if you are new to the Christian lifestyle, this may come as a shock to you. How do we live in joy throughout the most difficult times of the human life? Sickness, poverty, broken relationships, broken dreams, financial disaster, even death of loved ones? James 1:2-4 reads,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

If you and your husband have struggled financially, do not be discouraged. Look at that situation as preparing you for what is ahead. Let it help to mold you into a financial steward who is determined to live in a way that is financially pleasing to the Lord. Or, at the very least, let it make you yearn for joy that is difficult for you to find in your current situation.

The bottom line for the multitude of verses found about finances is that He wants us to be willing. Willing to go without the things the world says we must have, willing to put extra "fun money" towards debt instead of a great new outfit, willing to respect your husband if he disagrees with current spending patterns, and most of all, willing to study His Word for the clear principles about financial stewardship. Maybe you aren't willing. Maybe it is easier to stay in a world where there is more month left than money, where credit cards are the norm, where the love of material possessions outweighs the love for financial freedom. But, God is in the business of changing hearts! I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 51:12 from above. Read it again and again. God delights in us when we ask for things from His Word which He desires us to possess. Ask Him for a willing spirit. Ask him for a strong spirit to sustain you. In looking at that verse from another angle, ask Him to strengthen your willing spirit so that you may have the finances to sustain you. Being willing to make the change is the very first step.

I want to close today with a definition of a biblical principle. This phrase is thrown around so much today in common Christian cultures, that I suppose many of us are confused about its meaning--financial stewardship. Ultimately, this is how God desires for us to view money. has a clear and concise definition of stewardship. The website defines it as:

-the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care

Fascinating! So, what the many verses on stewardship are saying is that the money isn't even ours. It is His. He has entrusted a certain amount to each one of us. It is our job to take care of His money. That's putting it in a different context! Join me on this journey as we learn how to do this on a daily basis for our children, our husbands, and ultimately, for the Lord. Be blessed!

By the way, be sure to click on the tab "McNamee's Money-Saving Methods" at the top of the Home page. This will show the daily MMSM!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

A short note of encouragement, today, as we are off to church this morning. I woke up to a sweet gift and card from my son and husband. The verse on the front of the card meant the world to me, and I hope it can bring you a smile as you take one day to revel in the fact that God made you a mother. Luke 1:28 says,

The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Remember that today and everyday, you are highly favored in His eyes. Be blessed today as you spend time with your children.

There will not be a MMSM today.  I personally think mommies should be spoiled on this day :-)

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Less than Our Best

Sometimes, we are just tired. Working outside the home, working in the home, sick children, non-napping children, traveling husbands, dirty houses, sick moms (wait...are we allowed to get sick???), to name a few. There are days when you may feel as though you aren't being a great mom. We have all had those days. We all dread those days. We wonder if we taught our child a thing, if we set more bad examples than good, and we wring our hands at night worrying about the eternal damage we have caused our dear, sweet child that day. Take comfort in this fantastic verse that a sweet friend posted on her Facebook wall. Isaiah 54:13 reads,

"All your sons (children) will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace."

Thank you, Jesus, for that verse! As we approach Mother's Day, remember that we will not and cannot do it all every day. God knows that we try our best, but that we are human and very often fall short of our amazing calling in motherhood. A midst all of our motherly duties, it is the Lord who truly raises our children. Isn't that a refreshing thought?! Some days more than others...especially those tired ones.

I remember the first Sunday of September 2011 when we dedicated our son to God. It was a beautiful and emotional time where my husband and I professed out loud that our sweet boy doesn't actually belong to us. He belongs to God. The Bible teaches that all children are a gift from Him, the Giver of everything that is good. We thanked the Lord for entrusting our son to us for as long as He sees fit. We promised to raise him in the promises and commands of the Word of God, and the church prayed guidance and wisdom over each set of parents dedicating their babies on that day. If you have never had the chance to publicly dedicate your children to our Savior, I encourage you to seek out an opportunity to do so. The peace that comes along with making that kind of commitment to the Lord is undeniable.

When you have an opportunity, read 1 Samuel 1 in its entirety. A beautiful excerpt speaking of trusting God to raise a child is from verses 26-28. It reads, "...As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord..."

Breathe a sigh of relief that if we trust in Jesus, our Savior and in God, the creator of the Universe, we can be sure that He is constantly watching over our children, even when we feel less than our best. Be blessed and rested today :-)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Empowering the Stay-at-Home Mom

As I was prayerfully considering what to write this morning, a verse jumped out at me that I want to share with each woman reading this blog.  Philippians 1:9-10 reads, 

"And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ..."  

Discerning what is best is a gift given to us by the Lord.  He chose to give us free will.  He could have designed all creatures in the universe to be completely controlled by Him every waking minute.  But, he didn't!  We get to make choices in our lives every year, every day, every hour, every second.  If we consult with the Lord and we receive confirmation that we are acting in His will for our life and the lives of our family members, then He assures blessings will be given in return.  If we choose to make decisions flippantly without ever thinking to ask Him for guidance, you can be assured that a tremendous lack of blessings will ensue.  Love the Lord, love learning about Him, learn His principles to live by and requests of us as long as we reside on this earth, and then learn how to make wise decisions using the knowledge He faithfully gives through His Word, fellowship with other believers, and life experiences.

If you are currently a stay-at-home mom that came into this profession by choice, then you (and your husband, hopefully) made a choice.  Perhaps you were like me and after studying the Word, spending time in prayer, and waiting for Him to give undeniable guidance and confirmation, you knew that you should work in the home as a wife and mother.  Perhaps, like me, you then experienced negative reactions from friends and family.  Things like, "Really, you're giving up your career to stay at home?" or "What will you do with all of your extra time?" or "Why did you get your degree only to quit five years later?"  Maybe the comments weren't that direct.  Maybe you heard, "Well, that's good for you, but I'm choosing to focus on my career."  Or, possibly you felt a little embarrassed sharing your "good news."  I remember several people whom I dreaded telling about my new plans.  Here is the bottom line.  Why are some women embarrassed or ashamed about this profession that WE choose???

We have explored all of Proverbs 31 and many other scriptures encouraging a mother to stay at home and raise her children while they are young.  If you are a believer and are peacefully satisfied while working in the home, then YOU are operating in God's will for your life!  That's something to celebrate!  That is not something to sheepishly share with powerful career women who cross your path.  You are also a powerful career woman.  You are in the career of full-time child-rearing.  To be very honest, and I do hope some of you share this feeling, I feel more alive and on the right path of my life now then I ever did as a teacher.  Does that mean that I was wrong to earn my degree and teach elementary music for five years?  Not at all.  But, do I consider it part of my preparation for working in the home?  Absolutely.

Though I was a well-trained and invested music teacher, the truth is that there are many well-trained and invested music teachers in the world.  It doesn't negate my particular placement with those particular children for that time of my life, but it does prove a point that I was replaceable.  The students are still learning, music programs are being produced, and I guarantee singing is still happening on a daily basis.  Here's the point I feel led to share I replaceable with my son whom God chose specifically to give to me?  Are you replaceable as the mother for your individually unique child/children?  Luke 12:7 reads, 

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  

If he knows the number of hairs on every single person's head, then he surely fit the unique child with the perfect set of parents.  To me, that is incredible!

Celebrate this profession.  Revel in the opportunity to spend the majority of time raising your children.  Speak it proudly to others when they ask what you do.  And finally, spend time with the Lord and His Word learning how to defend this God-given calling.  I will close with Philippians 2:4 today.  

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."  

Is there any other way to describe what we do all day long?  Praise God for the chance to live out one of the greatest jobs on this planet.  He chose you to choose this job by sending your sweet child/children down from heaven.  Be blessed :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Poll #1

Ladies, I would like to compile a detailed list of the many benefits to working in the home rather than working outside of the home.  Please respond to this post and list a few of your favorite things about staying at home and making it work.  I look forward to reading your responses!

Proverbs 31, part 2

As I begin this post this morning, I want to share with you a simple, yet wonderful way of achieving true, Godly peace.  From the book 365 Days a Year by Inspired Faith publishing, the author shares that personal peace may be achieved by the following five daily practices:

  • Accept His will
  • Believe in His love for you
  • Believe in His plan for you
  • Forgive and receive forgiveness
  • Look forward to the future
That really spoke to me this morning, and I hope it can be an encouragement to you in your marriage, with your children, and throughout your life.

Today, I want to examine verses 23 through 31 in Proverbs 31.  By no means is this the only area of the Bible that discusses the attributes of a Godly wife and mother, but it is a concentrated section that gives a lot of inspiration with only a few words!  I love verse 23.  It reads, "Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land."  Is this verse saying that all Godly husbands are elders of the church or strong leaders in the city?  Simply, no.  I think this verse is an encouragement to wives that we should always be mindful of building our husbands up with prayer, sharing scripture, and our daily attitude towards him.  Sometimes, and in many cases, a husband's spiritual walk will grow stronger because of the example that his wife sets for him.  It doesn't always start with the man.  You see, our husbands live in this fallen world, too.  The times where we feel like we can't get anything right, everyone is upset with us, and we are flailing to keep our head above water can consume us.  Remember, your husband feels it too.  Start a deliberate practice of encouraging and building up your husband.  It will be beautiful for both of you!  A fantastic book/study discussing the way in which our Lord desires for our marriages to work is called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  Look it is amazing!

Verse 24 is another verse discussing generating revenue.  The Lord esteems this practice by wives and mothers.  I'm going to do another post on part-time jobs at a later time, but for now, I feel like the priority of working as a stay-at-home wife and mother is celebrated, yet exploring other avenues for money-making, hobbies, and "you time" is encouraged as well.  I call each woman to meditate on these scriptures and my interpretations, and decide in your heart, with the Lord, if you agree or not.

Verse 25 is a celebration of this woman, if I have ever heard one!  "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." (emphasis added)  What a powerful attribute of this Godly woman!  Again, two words that I would not mind owning!  She laughs at the days to come because she has hope, trust, and faith that the Lord knows what is right for her and her family.  Next, she speaks wisdom and gives faithful instruction...two qualities that are essential in motherhood.  Verse 27 relates back to "house managing."  Idleness (or laziness) is not in this woman's vocabulary!  Verse 28 is then a beautiful picture of how she is perceived by her children and her husband..."Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her."  How glorious would life be if this were the case every day!  Alas, it isn't in my house, but we can take comfort in the fact that the Lord affirms us day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.  My son was up five times last night.  Did he say "thank you" every time I went in to comfort him?  Not so much :-)  But, I can take solace in the fact that the opportunity for my husband and I to raise him in Christ will hopefully instill affirming behaviors that he can one day show to those people whom he loves.  What a job!  And on those days where your husband praises you immediately upon waking, enjoy them and thank God for them!

I'm going to come back to verse 29 at the end of this post, but remember that the woman who focuses on the Lord is to be praised (paraphrase of verse 30).  The Lord desires that we take care of our bodies and make ourselves to be presentable among each other and for our husbands, but His true desire is for our hearts.  He desperately wants our love and our focus.  I discussed yesterday about focusing on the Lord when it comes to learning your true desires.  This morning, I read a verse in Isaiah.  It reads, "...Your name and renown are the desires of our heart." (Isaiah 26:8)  That is where He wants our focus.  His Word clearly states over and over that if our heart is turned towards him, all else will fall into place according to His will.  He wants to praise you, He wants to affirm your hard work that you do on a daily basis.  So, make it a point to spend time with him, and let Him to do that.  He loves you so much and is so proud of the choice you have made to follow the calling of being a wife and a mother, staying at home or not.  Let me end with this scripture for the day.  Verse 29 says,

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."

Thank you for reading, ladies.  Be blessed today!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Word of Encouragement...

I want to sweetly encourage each and every woman who is reading this blog to remember that these writings are not passing any judgement.  I had planned to continue dissecting Proverbs 31 this morning, but I feel that the Lord wants me to say this today.  He calls each of us, men and women alike, to fulfill His Will for us uniquely distinct from each other's.  I believe that, when lived out, our callings work together for His good, but none of us have the exact same calling on our lives, in the exact same timing, with the exact same people.  How amazing is that design that He has created!  If you are a mother of young children working outside the home, and you and your husband have a peace that this is where God has called you to be during this particular season of life, then I truly commend you for following His direction!  If, however, you are working outside the home and you have deep, heart-wrenching desires to stay at home or just a very small feeling that something "isn't quite right," I encourage you to prayerfully take your feelings to the Lord.  The Spirit-led postings about financial organization, along with preparing your heart and your priorities, may prove to set you on your Godly calling of being a homemaker.

I don't know what God has called you particularly to do.  I know what He has called me to encourage women to take a first, second, or even third look at this profession of homemaking.  Has he called every mother to do this?  I honestly don't know.  God cannot be confined, He cannot be put into a box, and many of His ways are a mystery to us while we are on this Earth.  I love all women who make all types of choices.  I learn from each and every one of them.  Some of my best friends are mothers who work outside of the home.  They are beautiful, loving, devoted wives and mothers who have made a choice to something different than what my husband and I have decided to do.  But, I have also seen the incredible blessings, benefits, and opportunities that have come from this profession.  My honest goal is to motivate women to look at all of their options.  Maybe you desire to stay home, but the season isn't right.  I desired to start a family long before my husband shared that desire with me.  Though I was frustrated, I learned patience, preparation, and respect for my husband during that season.  Now, we are able to enjoy this time of our lives because we allowed the Lord to patiently prepare our hearts, our attitudes, and our finances to make this time possible.

There usually isn't a "quick fix" for preparing your lives to embark on a major change, but it's the culmination of small changes that bring about amazing finishes.  A favorite scripture of mine shares a fascinating truth for each of us.  While sometimes it feels that we are taking a laundry list of wants to the Lord in our time of prayer with Him, meanwhile expecting all of our wants and dreams to magically manifest, God has another way of granting those things that we so desperately want.  Psalm 37:4 (NIV) says, 

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  

What is this scripture saying?  We first must focus our attention on Him, the Giver of all good things.  In doing so, over time, His desires become our desires.  What He wants for us in our lives sweetly unfold into what we want for our lives.  If it is His desire for you to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, then honestly focusing your heart, mind, and spirit on Him will faithfully bring about the necessary steps to make that dream a reality.  Again, does that mean it is for every mother?  I don't know.  But, how can anything but good come out of time solely devoted to the One who created us.

I encourage each one of you to make time daily for quiet moments with him, even if it's just five minutes!  If you are unfamiliar with the Christian lifestyle of walking daily with the Lord, I invite you to contact me at the bottom of this blog.  I would happy to share the steps with you in developing a relationship with the Lord of the universe, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Money Matters

Today, I want to take a break from Proverbs and focus, instead, on the financial preparation that is often necessary before embarking upon the stay-at-home mom adventure.  While I truly believe that God honors the wholehearted desire of the woman who wants to stay home, and the woman who's heart has been prayerfully changed and encouraged to stay home, rarely are all of the necessary resources and provisions handed to us on a silver platter.  Is this beyond God's capabilities?  Absolutely not.  But, I've found that God enjoys coming with us on our spiritual quest for knowledge and discipline, especially when it comes to finances.

Briefly, our story is as follows:  I was raised in a financially typical American middle-class home.  As many gifts and talents that my parents did possess, financial stewardship was just something that they could not see eye-to-eye on.  Credit cards were acceptable, and used often, debt was normal, money problems were hugely instrumental in the divorce, and student loans were just part of the paperwork as the college years began.  While these things are not ideal stewardship principles, two things that I did learn from my parents were how to work and how to give.  More on this later...

My husband had a very different financial upbringing.  His parents believed in the power of savings.  Debt, other than a mortgage, was unacceptable, you purchased only what you could afford with cash/monies readily available, and because of their chosen lifestyle, they were able to bless many others financially (and still do).  My husband had little jobs as a child and honest, money-making jobs from the time he was 14.  He graduated from college completely debt-free with the Godly financial sense necessary to move forward as an adult.  One criticism?  I called him the Money Hoarder.

Fast-forward a few years and you have a blushing bride with $28,000 in student loans, a few thousand on several credit cards, and she really didn't seem to think that was a big deal.  Meanwhile, the groom is sweating bullets on how he is going to graciously receive his new wife and her less-than-stellar financial principles ingrained into her thick skull, while considering buying necessary groceries a painful procedure (that money could have gone to savings!).  Thankfully, God is merciful.  We needed each other.  I needed to be tightened way down, and Patrick needed to loosen up.  Was this an instant fix?  No.  Were there struggles along the way?  Yes.  Lesson learned?  In order for a marriage to reap the full benefits God has to offer, we both had to forego our unhealthy financial ways and focus on the one true way to financial peace, Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

The Bible is full of excellent, practical, and modern advice on finances.  I am not a financial counselor, so I can not offer advice on your specific situation, but I encourage you to start by looking up scripture on your own.  What does God say about finances?  How does he desire that we live with the resources He has entrusted to us?  It can be as easy as typing in "financial scriptures in the Bible" into Google.  As this blog continues, not only will I offer the practical MMSM tips, but I will also outline, in detail, the specific money principles that my family has chosen to adopt.  In the mean time, if you know you are not where you or God intends you to be financially, I offer to you the best resource we have found.  Visit Dave Ramsey's website.  Dave Ramsey is a Christian financial expert.  He offers a 13-week course titled Financial Peace University.  If you don't know where to start, start here!  This course (which, by the way, we completed twice!), was extremely instrumental in allowing us to fully live out our desired lifestyle of the man being the provider and the woman working in the home.

Once again, thank you for reading, and I pray financial peace over each and every one of you as you potentially move closer to the career of staying at home and making it work!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Proverbs 31, part 1

A common misconception about the modern stay-at-home wife and mom is that the description is an oxymoron.  It's not a modern thing.  The 1950's, aprons and high heels, three home-cooked meals per day, and a wife who "knows her place" immediately pops into the head of many men and women alike.  But, bear with me today as I prayerfully dissect the first half of Proverbs 31 and apply it to how many of us live in 2012.  

Verse 10 begins with describing this woman as having noble character.  Noble is defined as: of high moral or intellectual character; honorable; magnanimous.  Synonyms for noble are lofty, grand, gentle, stately, sublime, and high-minded.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind to be described in those terms!  It goes on to say, "she is worth far more than rubies."  Verse 11 immediately goes into how her husband views her, "He has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value."  The woman is described as adding positively to her husband's life.  He is a better man because of his wife.  Verse 12  goes on to say that, "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."  This concept goes back to a previous post where I mention the verse out of Matthew, encouraging us to lay down our wants and desires and to go after what God wants in each of us, a servant's heart.  In my experience, your husband feels the most respected and loved when you are serving him.  While we shouldn't do this to get something in return, God blesses a servant's heart.  If your husband feels highly respected, he is much more likely to show you the love you so desperately desire from him.  The Lord does not want us to see serving as a lowly position that is worth nothing.  When Jesus was on this earth, "...He came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."  (Matthew 20:28 NLT)  As Christians, we strive to live like Jesus.  The life of a woman who chooses to devote her full-time profession to her husband and children is an honor to the Lord.  Let's continue with the other ways in which this woman is described.  

Verse 13 describes her as working with "eager hands."  She is excited about her work, and looks forward in anticipation to what the day may hold.  Verses 14 and 15 describe her providing food for her family (oh, how I wish we all had daily helpers as it states in the last part of 15, but alas, many of us must make serious budget-cutting choices for this life to become a reality!).  I love verse 16.  The wife of noble character does not merely sit in the background while all decisions are made by her husband.  This verse describes her making monetary decisions for her family, and she then re-invests her earnings.  In our family, all major monetary decisions are made together, but your husband should be able to trust you to make money choices that will bring some benefit to the family.  Verse 17 describes a vigorously-working woman (similar to "eager" from verse 13).  Verse 18, again about money, mentions that her trading is profitable, and she keeps watch on the affairs of the household at all times.  We like to refer to me as the "house manager."  I love that title, and I feel like it gives me some flexibility to decide the way our house will work the most efficiently, things I can put in place to make life easier on all three of us, and it gives me the responsibility to make sure things get done.  A lofty calling indeed!  Verse 18 discusses sewing and mending in the home.  To be very honest, I have absolutely no interest (or talent) in sewing of any kind.  Does this negate my roll as the Godly stay-at-home wife and mother?  No!  God clearly speaks about giving each person unique gifts and talents.  Use those talents to bless your home and your family.  If you need to run to TJMaxx to get a new pair of jeans when the old ones rip, I imagine that the Lord is just fine with that :-)  

Verse 20 clearly defines this woman as helping the poor and the needy.  It is not a suggestion, it is not an idea of something to do if you have a few bucks left over, but it is a command.  Pray for ways and the resources to help those who are less fortunate than us.  It is one of the easiest ways to show God's love.  In verse 21, this woman has no fear that her family will suffer because she has prepared for all types of weather and circumstances.  Eager and vigorous work are very useful in storing up provisions so that you may rest easy, knowing your family will be cared for.  Finally, verse 22 reads, "She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple."  I want to briefly focus on the latter part of this verse.  Purple is considered to be a royal color.  Why would God say that this is the color that the wife of noble character wears?  Perhaps does he consider this profession to be royal?  Think on that, meditate on that, and pray about this section of scripture, specifically the very last sentence.  

While many professions are worthwhile, God-praising, and ministering to unbelievers in our world, the profession of staying at home with your children is one that is highly-esteemed by the Lord.  Perhaps, you could only afford to stay home until the children are in school.  Praise God for the opportunity.  Whatever you are able to do for His glory, make every effort to do it.  Tomorrow, I will be sharing the way that my husband and I prepared for me to stay at home.  Prepared, you say?  Didn't I just decide one day that this is how it would be?  The simple answer, no.  Any major life change takes prayerful preparation, open spousal communication, and usually, money problems handled.  I can't wait to share our story with you.  As always, thank you so much for reading along!