Thoughts on NOT Being a Stay at Home Mom

The Christian culture is a bit bizarre, especially among women. I think we put all kinds of pressure on ourselves to be some kind of model Christian wife.

It used to be that women stayed home and looked after the house and the children while the husband went to work and provided. And if the wife did work, it was either as a teacher or a nurse. Because those are good career choices for christian women, that allowed you to be at home with your kids more.

I remember thinking in my 30s – I was raised in a Christian home, why didn’t my parents tell me I was supposed to be a teacher or a nurse? I felt like all the women in my circle of friends and the other moms at church were all stay at home moms and if they did work, they were either teachers or nurses.  Did my parents forget to teach us this? because they taught their three daughters that they could be anything they wanted to be? (I have a business/computer degree and my sister is a civil engineer).

But I always knew I could never be either a teacher or a nurse. I literally pass out at the sight or even thought of blood. And I certainly couldn’t be in a classroom with noisy children all day!!

But it seems the stakes have been raised in recent years, and the pressure is even higher. The trends of homeschooling,  having large families, adopting, fostering are all beautiful ideas – if this is what God has called and equipped you to do. We are called to look after the orphans in James. So the fact that adoption and fostering have become such a common thing in our churches is really beautiful.

And my daughters are currently addicted to watching ’19 Kids and Counting’.  And while I love the Duggars and all that they stand for, and the life style and values that they promote, I was starting to feel a bit weighed down by it all.

How come I only have 3 children? And why don’t we make our own laundry soap?  and did I ruin my children by abandoning them to go into the workplace? And how come every word that comes out of Michelle Duggar’s mouth is so darn kind and sweet!!

duggars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While there are many times in my life that I wished I could have been a stay at home mom, being a working mom meant that my husband and I both went out of our way to intentionally stay connected with our kids and to remain a very close family.  We both worked and we both wanted to spend time with our kids.  So guess what?  Our house was/is messy.  But now we BOTH have very strong attached relationships with each of our kids.

While the years when they were young seemed so hard and so exhausting, I see how they have turned out, and I feel so blessed and priviledged to be the parents of these three kids.

my 3 kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe they greatly benefited from having strong relationships with both their father and mother.  When we are all finally together at the dinner table, we enjoy each other’s company and can laugh and have fun together.

They’ve grown up with their father being there for them after school and cooking dinner (he leaves very early in the morning in order to be able to do this.)

My oldest daughter wants to go to school to be an optometrist.

And she wants to get married and have 7 children someday.

And possibly be a missionary.

and we say – great!  You CAN do all these things!  If this is what God is calling you to do – go for it!

But I am finally realizing that I can give myself a bit of grace.  There is no specific direction in the Bible that states that a women must not work outside the home.  In fact, the Proverbs 31 woman was pretty busy and profitable.  Rachel was a shepherdess, Lydia sold cloth etc.  There are lots of examples.

I am trying my best to live the life God called me to live. I am right where He wants me to be.  And if I can continue to ‘abide’ in Him, He will be able to use me for His kingdom, right where I am.

My encouragement for other mothers who for whatever reason work outside the home would be to keep intentionally doing things to strengthen your relationship with your children.  One of the good things about being a mom working outside the home, is that if both parents work outside the home, then both parents do the work at home – the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry is all shared.  But make your kids your priority.  While you may look back on the time when they are little and be proud you keep a clean house, you will never look back and regret the time spent being WITH your children!

 

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12 Tricks for Memorizing Scripture

Well, there is actually no one right way to memorize scripture.  Like in education, everyone learns differently.  Working with the Youth Bible Quizzing ministry for 6 years, I have seen so many different kinds of kids, with all the learning types and even several with learning disabilities.  ALL have successfully learned to memorize.  I truly believe that ANYONE can learn to memorize verses.

At a high level, learning styles include – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (actions/touch) and most people are probably a combination of them.  All these types can be incorporated into memorizing verses.

Here are some ways that I have seen kids learn their verses and tips picked up from current and former quizzers:

  • read over and say aloud, repeat, repeat,
  • memorize and then write them out

written out

  • record yourself reading the passages, and then listen on your iPod
  • listen to someone else recite their verses
  • memorize by the first letter of each word of the verse

 

12 Tricks to Help Memorize

 

  1. Memorize the verse reference – the number is a key or hook in your brain. For example, Romans 1:17 is the verse tht led Martin Luther to his belief in justification by faith. In my brain, this verse comes with a mental image of a picture I saw of Martin Luther.

            For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

  1. Find connections – connect the last word of one verse to the first word of the next verse by some association or find repetitive words or a rhythm in the phrasing: note the words tongue and fire repeated here as well as the mental picture created by James’ wording here (James 3:5-6):

             5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue       is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

  1. Clear your brain – after memorizing a verse or a passage, say your A, B, Cs or sing a song and then go back and say the verse again, similar to clearing your palatte for a tasting.

 

  1. SLEEP – get LOTS of sleep – sleep is related to storing the things you learned that day into your permanent memory

 

  1. Draw – draw a picture of the verse (works for the gospels more so than the letters).

 

  1. DRAMA – recite the verses in a dramatic way, either as if you are the writer (ie. Paul or Jesus) saying the words, or as a preacher or with a British accent or something to help lock it into your brain

 

  1. SING – sing the verse to a tune that you know

 

  1. Acronyms – make acronyms when the verse contains a list – GAP helped me remember this verse (Romans 12:2) – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is Good and Acceptable and Perfect

 

  1. Visual – many kids say that they know what the words look like on the page, and where the verse is on the page, where the paragraph breaks are etc. So keep using the same printed text. Use coloured highlighters to identify people, places or things.

 

     10. GUM – chew a particular flavour of gum when you are memorizing and then chew that same flavour of gum when you need to recite the verses.

 

     11. Stuck in my head – let the words roll over in your head the way that song lyrics do throughout your day.

 

     12. Write them on the walls or mirrors at your home – this is from when we were memorizing Romans chapter 8 earlier in the year. It’s dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror.

written on the walls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try different things to see what works best for you.  I always tell people that memorizing is like training a muscle, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I would love to hear other memorizing tips – please share and let me know what works for you!

 

Gail

 

Hands

Came across this passage The Quiet Life at The Life Project last week and I just love these verses.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

Our hands are a symbol of our work. They represent what we’ve done and accomplished in our life.

Whatever your hand finds to do – do it with all your might.

When God spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden after they had done what He had asked them not to, His curse on Adam was that he would have to work the land with his hands in order to eat and live.

But as usual with our loving God, it comes with a blessing. Our hard work does not go un-rewarded. It brings forth good fruit.

We were created to do the work of the kingdom of God. And when we are obedient, He can use us to produce more fruit.

Quick Help for when Rumination Strikes

Overall, I believe that gratitude and thankfulness are huge parts of staying mentally healthy.  All the verses I come across clearly say that we are to be giving thanks to God FIRST before anything else in our days and in our lives.

So when I am down, I do a quick – name 3 things I am grateful right now, GO!  I have even said this to my kids on occasion when they are down.

Sometimes, however, I get in a mental rut.  My brain gets stuck.  It’s ruminating and it needs a way out.  The tires are spinning in the mud and can’t get any traction.

But here is what I have found to grab that needed traction….

a passage that I have memorized! 

I memorized Romans chapter 8 this year.  All 38 verses and I knew them fluently, including all the references.  So when my brain is in a rut, I start reciting.

written out

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

What? no condemnation? no guilt? NOPE.

For the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 

I am free?  YEP!  I have a spirit of life!

and so on..

For God has done what the law, weakend by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin, in the flesh.

and on I go, and if I forget something, I need to look it up.

 

 

 

And suddenly I have stopped rumination in its tracks and lifted my mind out of the miry clay.

 

Psalm 40:2-3

2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

 

And I am grateful.

 

hope in the Lord

 

Thoughts on Overthinking, Rumination, Stewing and generally thinking too much!

thinkingIntelligent people think.

Intelligent and creative people think further and deeper.  They think of things in multiple ways and this helps solve problems.

However, it can be hazardous to our mental health.

I learned a new word this week – Rumination

To Ruminate – to think carefully and deeply about something (Mirriam Webster)

it sounds like to ruminate is a good thing.

BUT it turns out that Rumination is a predictor for mental health disorders – from BBC: Rumination – The Danger of Dwelling – The UK’s biggest ever online test into stress, undertaken by the BBC’s Lab UK and the University of Liverpool, has revealed that rumination is the biggest predictor of the most common mental health problems in the country.

Persistently dwelling on distressing situations from the recent or distant past (called rumination, as in that thing a cow does when it constantly rechews food) can be one of the most destructive mental habits. It’s closely linked to depression, and it can sap our confidence, our ability to solve problems, and our sense of control over our lives. from Real Simple

and interestingly, more common for women – Women were also more likely to accept undue responsibility for others’ well-being—a personality trait called unmitigated communion, often a common characteristic of ruminators.  from Real Simple

Rumination is similar to worry except that… from wikipedia Rumination (psychology)

Worry – is concerned about potential bad things happening in the future.

Rumination – focuses on bad feelings from the past.

 

Rumination is basically over thinking.

Over thinking causes the human mind to create negative scenarios and or replay painful memories

Over-thinking can increase anxiety and cause insomnia.

I love this quote (and I can’t remember where I heard it now) – the only thing that makes it a thing is that you keep thinking about it

“The older you get, the more you understand how your conscience works. The biggest and only critic lives in your perception of people’s perception of you rather than people’s perception of you.” -Criss Jami

How Do you Stop the Overthinking?

Want to avoid over-thinking – focus on what to do next instead of worrying about what went wrong.

9 Ways to Stop Over Thinking

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain – an excerpt by Sharon Begley

“Thoughts are not facts” 

“I can watch this thought come and go without having to respond to it.”

Thoughts do not reflect reality

 

as a christian, we have the knowledge of God to help defeat faulty thoughts and we can:

Take Every Thought Captive

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

take every thought captive

What does Abide even mean?

 

tree

I am working on memorizing John 15 with Hide His Word group.

This week, I am working on this,

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

The word abide appears 10 times!!  So Jesus is definitely trying to make a point here.

The word abide comes from the greek word Meno (see Bible Study Tools)

 Meno Definition

  1. to remain, abide
  2. in reference to place
    1. to sojourn, tarry
    2. not to depart 1a
  3. to continue to be present 1a
  4. to be held, kept, continually
  5. in reference to time
    1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
  6. of persons, to survive, live
  7. in reference to state or condition
    1. to remain as one, not to become another or different
  8. to wait for, await one

Notice the definition references a place, a time, persons, a state or condition and actions.

But I especially like – to be held, kept, continually.

He is instructing us

  • not to depart
  • to continue
  • to remain as one with Him
  • and to wait for Him

and in return

  • we will be continually kept and held, nourished, loved.
  • we will bear much fruit
  • and whatever we ask will be done

more trees

Friday Favourites

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Mom’s Night Out
Ok so I saw Mom’s Night Out for a 2nd time this week. And I cried and sobbed even MORE than the first time i saw this movie!! I loved this movie and apparently it touched me in a very tender spot! I’m not even normally a crier. And both times I was the only one in my group of friends bawling.

Is there anyone else out there that just wept during this movie??!!  I even wept during this scene:

moms-night-out-movie-wallpaper-22

 

Crowder and Gaither??!!
Found this gem on Google Play (now available in Canada!)
And it gave me goosebumps!! My childhood and present in one awesome song!!

 

My Compassion student sent me one of my favourite verses!!

 

Something to smile about in Moncton – it’s been a long, difficult week for Canadians, and seeing the sea of red made us proud and this made us smile a little bit.

 

and finally, this from Ann Voskamp – You will carry me safe to shore

How do we make the best use of our time?

read the bible runner my desk quizbook on desk

Ephesians 5:15-21 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Youngs Literal Translation says – See, then, how exactly ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil

New Living Translation says – Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

The Message says – Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness….Make the most of every chance you get.

The Amplified Bible says –  Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), 16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.

  • making the best use of time
  • redeeming the time
  • make the most of every opportunity
  • make the most of every chance you get
  • making the very most of the time – buying up each opportunity

Our God is NOT constrained by time.  But he has placed in a world that IS constrained by time.  Our time is limited.  God has work to accomplish through us, and our opportunity to complete His work is limited by time.

clock2

HOW do we make the best use of time?

DO

  • understand what the will of the Lord is (then we aren’t wasting our time on things outside of His will)
  • be filled with the Spirit (v9 says for the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth,)
  • address one another in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs – (see real life should be a musical – ha ha!)
  • sing and make a melody to the Lord with your heart – more singing and praising and worshiping
  • give thanks ALWAYS and for EVERYTHING to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – and always – be thankful
  • Submit to one another out of reference for Christ – no matter or age or stage in the journey, we all have people we need to submit to.

DO NOT

  • be foolish
  • get drunk with wine – for that is debauchery

Am I walking in the Spirit today?  Am I taking the opportunity to act as part of God’s plan today?  Am I thankful and praising and worshiping and speaking in psalms?

#preachingtomyself

Be Still

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,over the man who carries out evil devices!

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Be still before the Lord

Wait patiently for Him

Don’t worry about someone else who is getting ahead.

Be still

Psalm 37:9 … but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

Pruning Even the Fruitful Branches

I am memorizing John 15 with Hiding His Word.  The timing works out good, because our quizzing season for Romans and James is done.

The verses for this week are:

John 15 English Standard Version (ESV)

I Am the True Vine

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

This verse came to mind last weekend while my youngest daughter and I were pruning the trees in our backyard.  I was teaching her how to cut off the dead branches, and how to prune the back some of the other branches to help the tree go taller. I quoted this verse to her, as it was one of my favourites from when the quizzers did it 3 years ago.

But even though I already knew the verse well, something new struck me as I was working over the words this week.

every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Even the branches that ARE bearing fruit, he prunes.  He wants us to be able to bear MORE fruit.

In the context of things we get involved in, and the various ministries we work in and the volunteer work we do, although they might be good things, could they be pruned?

If there is a project, or volunteer work, or ministry that you are involved in, and it’s not necessarily the thing you are most passionate about, should you cut it off?  or at least prune back, or reduce the time spent on it? Maybe God has another person in mind, whose strengths and giftings are perfect for this role and you are in the way?

If we view things in the perspective of God’s kingdom, as opposed to our own little world, where should we be and what should we be focusing on?

I am not suggesting that every time you volunteer or help out that you question if this is where God wants you to be and if it is your calling in life.  But sometimes we need to look at our busy schedules and do some pruning!

Letting go of things that are good can be hard, but we need to allow God to be able to work in us so that we can bear even more fruit and sometimes that means stepping back or even stepping out.

Summer is a good season to reflect and pray on areas of your life that could use some pruning, so that in the fall, when many programs and ministries start up, you can fully and passionately give and allow God to bear fruit.

If we do this, Verse 11 gives us a promise:

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

How amazing is that?

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