“The BEST Homemaking Advice”

A few weeks ago, in mid January, I wrote a post titled “Just do the next thing,” and imparted some basic wisdom I’ve gleaned from one of our main Bible study leader women. It was nothing too profound, but sometimes I’m not so sure that what I write is always “right,” and it’s great to have confirmation that someone else thinks the same way.

I’m SO excited to bring you readers another post of the same advice that was just written this morning by an extremely popular blog Keeper of the Home, headed and run by mommy of 6 children, devoted farmer’s wife, Ann Timm.  After I read it this morning, I jumped up and ran to my husband and showed him that it was the exact same advice I gave lol!  Yay for being on track.  I know it’s silly, but I still wonder quite often why anyone reads what I write and if I should actually be writing anything at all.  🙂

Here is their post, and I know it could go without saying, but I completely agree 😉

The BEST Homemaking Advice

The-BEST-Homemaking-Advice-at-Keeper-of-the-Home-fb

By Elsie Callender, Contributing Writer

One of the best pieces of homemaking advice I’ve ever encountered was written in calligraphy and framed above our kitchen doorway. I read it every day of my life from the time I could read until it was packed away before our move to Costa Rica when I was a teenager. The words were simply this: “Doe the next thing.”

And they didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

“Doe?” A deer? A female deer?

“Do,” my mom explained. “Do the next thing. It’s an old spelling.”

Do the next thing. Well, that still didn’t make much sense to me! Don’t we always do the next thing? What else would we do besides the next thing?

Now that I’m all grown up, I get it.

We don’t always do the next thing, even when it’s staring us in the face.

Sometimes we don’t do anything at all.

Sometimes grown-up homemakers like me get so overwhelmed that we over-complicate everything and end up feeling like the only thing we can do next is cry.

There are days when dirty dishes are toppling off my limited counter space, when Little Dude has half a dozen immediate needs, when the dark side of adulthood (i.e. bills and taxes) makes me want to bury my head in a book and only come out for my birthday.

Those are the “this is harder than it should be” days; the days when homemaking gets complicated and I need a simple response.

Do the next thing.

Remembering that little quote can make all the difference between feeling overwhelmed verses feeling purposeful.

It reminds me to keep on keeping on, to be a woman of action, faithfully doing what needs to be done, even if it’s a mundane task I don’t particularly relish.

Clean dishes

Image from pixabay.com

Want to try it? Here’s how you can apply this mantra in your homemaking:

1. Identify what needs to be done

Whether you’re mapping out the week ahead or just trying to get through the next hour of a rough morning, take stock of what needs to happen. This might include housecleaning, meal prep, children’s activities, work deadlines, anything. If you’re one of those list-lovers, like I am, you can write out your to-dos!

2. Prioritize

This is where I (and I suspect many other women) get sidetracked. I can have 10 million “to dos” whirling in my head at once, and all of the options make me dizzy. It’s vital to assess what the nextthing is. It’s not always the easiest thing or the most pleasant thing that needs to be done next. Here are some ways I’ve learned to prioritize in my homemaking, even when I’m in a busy season.

3. Take action

Time to “do!” You’ve accepted the fact that you need to pay that phone bill today, so sit down at your computer and do it. Or you know the house won’t clean itself and company is imminent. Raidyour cleaning arsenal and get busy!

Cleaning the floor

Image from pixabay.com

4. Follow through

Sometimes I don’t finish what I start, even if I began with the best intentions. Don’t trail off on what needs to be done around your home. You’ll waste time and have to summon your motivation all over again.

I have no idea where that original framed quote has gotten to, but I know it’s in my mind for good. When a little disaster strikes, I call it to mind. When I’m feeling depressed and my responsibilities are weighing heavy, I repeat it in my head.

And at the end of another day? I revel when the “next thing” is to snuggle into the couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Sometimes the best advice seems almost too simple, right? Here's some of the best – but simple – advice for homemaking! Being a keeper of the home isn't easy, but this advice will get you through the hard times to the good times.

What is the best homemaking advice you’ve received?

*Note from Ann: I can so relate! What a great quote to carry with you through life. It reminds me of something my mother used to say, “If you pick it up, don’t put it down until you put it where it goes”!! How many times do I handle the same item over and over in a single day? And I’m totally guilty of not finishing what I’ve started and wasting precious time. There is a reason I’m one of this list-lovers:) Thank you Elsie for remembering and sharing the wisdom that your mom shared with you as a child. 

Advertisements

Watching Plants Grow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like in my spiritual life, I’m just watching plants grow.  I want so badly to do the right thing, to be what God wants me to be, but it amazes me how far off I feel I constantly wander off.

The exciting thing about a new year is all the possibilities to implement any new changes that need to be made.  Looking back on my failures and mishaps in 2015, a year I thought would be a relatively peaceful, quiet year, I’m so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, but also sad that it took me so long to learn them.

I’ve been reading several books and learning and growing so much!  It’s incredible to be so convicted, work to make changes, but then to feel constantly like one cannot attain that perfection of spirit.  Just as I think I’m making great progress, I find myself sliding back down again and acting in pride or getting irritated by things that are trivial and don’t matter!  It’d be comical if it wasn’t so annoying and sad.

I’m learning that I can’t do this on my own – it’s God who works in us, and in His own time, and that the more I submit myself to His will, the more He works in my spirit to make me into the creature He wants me to be.  In contrast, the more I spin my wheels trying to perfect my own spirit, the more frustrated I’ll grow and discouraged.

So I’ll stop watching plants grow, and trust that He’s doing His work and finishing what He’s started in me nearly 25 years ago.

Just Do the Next Thing

housework

Something our main Bible study leader has repeatedly told us, and that originally came from the teachings of Elisabeth Elliot, is that no matter what happens, just do the next thing.

It’s such a beautiful lesson really.  It’s so easy to get distracted with worry over how we’ll get all our tasks done in the day, or what needs to happen this week, or caught up in feeling overwhelmed when our families are going through a particularly busy time.

I’ve even heard this advice applied to when we’re caught up in our own or our family’s crisis, when we wonder how we’re going to survive this heartache and feel as though we can’t go on.

Just do the next thing.

Don’t let yourself give in to worry, it doesn’t help anyway.

Just do the next thing.

When you’re exhausted and there’s still so much to do, and you feel like giving up because it seems impossible that you could manage to get everything done,

Just do the next thing.

Don’t worry about all the things you’ll have to do after you finish one task, just focus on the one thing you’ve decided is next and get it done.

If you’re overwhelmed with housework because you’ve had a busy couple of days, running errands that needed your attention, taking your children to their extra-curricular activities, and you step in your house and suddenly see the tornado-like disaster, stay calm and,

Just do the next thing.

It’s true that a lot of housework can just be managed by being proactive, but there are also times when we’ve just been busy.  Don’t be overly critical on yourself, if you need a quick nap to feel recharged for the day, by golly take a nap!  I have a scheduled nap time for our household everyday that is a wonderful time for me to either catch up reading online or curl up and nap along with the baby.  Our older son doesn’t usually like to nap anymore, but we still make him have this quiet time so that he can relax and learn how to have time to himself to re-charge.

It’s normal for wives and mothers to feel overwhelmed with all the things that depend on them to get accomplished, but the wise woman chooses not to stress out, and instead she will just do the next thing.

 

A great blog post from Lisa at Club31women.com that goes with this topic is 5 Steps to Follow When You’re Overwhelmed with Housework !

Featured on The Peaceful Wife!

About a week or so ago, I left a comment on friend April Cassidy’s blog The Peaceful Wife, about how I learned to communicate with vulnerability and directness to ask for what I needed from my husband.  She thought it would be a great post all on it’s own about how important it is to NOT nag our husbands 🙂

Here is the post she featured, click here for original:

A guest post from a sister in Christ, Stephanie. I’m so thankful we can share our stories as we learn together on this road:

We got married in 2007, and we were so young (I was 20 about to turn 21, he was only 23), and still in school. I was lucky that in our first year, I had a job at a Christian bookstore, so I had endless access to great marriage books that I read when the shop was super slow or on my breaks. I ended up buying a lot of the books, and they are still in our library now, although some I’ve given away to other women I was encouraging in their marriages. But it was mostly from these books and some books I brought from home when I moved out that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my communication style.

In that first year, I was taken aback by how my husband would wait to do chores, and wouldn’t do them when I thought they needed to get done (which was as soon as I wanted them done – no matter what else he was working on or focusing on). So instead of trusting him to get them done on his own time, I nagged him, and when nagging didn’t work, I’d get angry and start a fight. I’d nag more and tell him that he wasn’t helping me out and then I’d jump to the conclusion that he just “didn’t care about me!”

LOL it was a funny cycle that just repeated itself whenever I got fed up with not getting things done my way. Thankfully, since I was working at the Christian bookstore, I was already reading marriage books trying to learn about how to have a good marriage, and almost all marriage books cover a section about nagging, and explain why it doesn’t work.

  • Once I understood from reading a book about how to understand men, meet their needs, and communicate effectively with them – I started to simply just ask him to do something that needed to be done, and ask him in a respectful, kind way, and then give him the time and chance to do it.

If he procrastinated, he would realize it on his own a couple of days later, and then apologize to me and do it. He apologized and did it right away (faster than when I nagged) because he actually felt bad about not doing it when I had asked in such a sweet, kind, respectful way. My not nagging him (which was disrespectful) made him want to do things right when they needed to get done.

Now when I really need his help (which is a lot more often with two boys), he is so faithful and helps me so well and much more quickly than that first year when I’d nag and nag. The nagging created such a hostile, awful environment that I think it made him just drag his feet doing anything that I wanted to get done. But now he helps me immediately because I treat him with respect.

I realized that nagging him was actually dishonoring him, giving him the message that I didn’t feel like he was responsible enough to do and get things done on his own, without me standing over him. I didn’t believe he would be responsible enough to do things on his own. Nagging him was me treating him almost like a child, like an incapable man – that message was SO disrespectful!

There were also times when I’d just expect him to help me with something I needed to get done, or I’d be girly and feminine, and **hint** that I expected him to get something done by some vague time frame, and then I would get angry and even resentful when he didn’t do it. The marriage books I read in that first year also covered this topic of being direct with men, even though that felt masculine to me, and not like how women communicate with each other, it was actually what was needed for better communication in our marriage.

Being direct really is a more masculine style of communicating, so even though it feels awkward and unnatural for most women, it’s helpful to teach engaged couples or young wives that this is what their husbands will need from them. It’s not wrong, it’s not being demanding if you say it in a nice, respectful, gentle way.

Expecting our husbands to act more like a woman, to read our minds and understand our feminine hints concerning what we want, and then getting angry at them for not knowing, isn’t helping to create a healthy relationship within a marriage.

After we got those things figured out, we’ve still had tricky situations where I didn’t know how to breech a subject without sounding disrespectful, but now it’s MUCH easier to understand what each other needs or is thinking because we’ve learned how to communicate openly and honestly. It’s been a beautiful journey and I’m so grateful we’ve learned so much.

Staying Focus: Video Lesson

Back in the beginning of October, I wrote a post about what God had been convicting me of in August and September of this year.  I was encouraged to try to do a video series about what God’s been teaching me, there is something great about getting to hear tone of voice and see a person’s disposition that I believe was missing from my writing.  Writing and words can seem so harsh, and that’s not what I desire to convey here – a harsh message of truth without the love and encouragement of Christ.

 

Bible verses mentioned in video:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable andworthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely andbrings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thinkcontinually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure[stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man)produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

Single Women: Don’t Do Messy-Girl Style!

bregieheinen polished

Single women… men notice your counter tops!

Not those counter tops – not even your kitchen counter tops, although those matter, too.  I’m talking about your counter space in your restroom, and the storage of your feminine beauty items.  A woman’s restroom and how clean she keeps it is actually more important than you think.

Growing up my mother always tried to instill in me to keep my bathroom area – mainly the counter top space – clean and organized, free of clutter, but it always seemed like a chore and slightly unnecessary.  Especially when one is single – who sees your counter top in your bathroom?  It began to make more sense in college when I would see my friend’s dorm rooms and see guys using their restroom.  If it was dirty or unclean, the guys would mentally make note of it, sometimes even say something about it.

fall2015 255

A few years ago, I read an article over at Into The Gloss, the chicest resource for what the models and celebrities secretly wear and do for their beauty regimen, a brief instruction to all the female readers to not be a “messy girl” and that one of the greatest sins of chic they could commit was to have a messy bathroom, especially a cluttered up counter top.

fall2015 256

It’s true.  Since then I’ve read many comments from men, talking about how much they wish women were aware of what they accidentally show them when they enter their apartment. Or (gasp!!) use their girlfriend’s bathroom.  Men love to have the idea of a woman being polished, together. Seeing you outside of your home, looking beautiful and polished, only to find out that your inner world is a mess is disappointment to them.  Most men are completely and utterly turned off by the messy girl life style.  It demonstrates low value, that the girl doesn’t care about her possessions, that she isn’t responsible enough to take care of where she lives, and that she doesn’t have the integrity to be disciplined and clean behind closed doors.  When reading Into the Gloss, where it showed pictures daily of the Top Shelfs (bathroom storage) of the beauty supplies, perfumes, candles, etc. the models and designers, producers, and leading women in the beauty industry – all women of high value – each and every top shelf was organized and clean.

fall2015 262

I don’t want it sound like this is the most important thing in attracting men, because obviously it isn’t!  The models and designers that have their bathrooms go on photo-shoots probably clean like never before!  But it’s still something beautiful and good to aspire to.  It’s unreasonable to expect 24/7 organization, but the key here is to learn how to make it easier, more manageable, and give you that boost of enjoying a clean, organized bathroom space.

Even Elisabeth Elliot had something to say on the beauty of cleanliness in a woman,

“The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on, all speak loudly about what you believe. The beauty of thy peace shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.”

***

fall2015 260

Tips to keep your bathroom looking like a Top Shelf:

  • Keep your vanity counter clean by wiping it down every night after you use it, this helps dust and debris from building up over time.  My dad taught me this and continued to do it himself for years.
  • Only keep a few key feminine or favorite pieces on your counter top to avoid clutter.  Clutter just looks horribly messy, believe me I wish it didn’t!  So just stick to a couple of key pieces that are beautiful, even better if they can provide dual functions like a toothbrush holder. I have a couple of elegant pieces right now, 2 that serve as dual functions.  My Grandma’s antique angel jewelry holder is the stand for my contact case, a beautiful tiny vase holds my favorite nail polishes and glasses, along with little things like bobby pins at times.  And an antique, glass perfume bottle I found at a thrift store for $1, just to add a more feminine touch.
  • Store your bulky beauty items that you rarely use either under the cupboard in trays, bags or boxes to keep out of the way and yet still organized and easy to find when you need them.
  • Store your more regularly used beauty products on a shelf – a Top Shelf is great for this.  It’s out of theway, and easy to reach, and it forces you to only keep so much at a time – making you periodically have to go through your items to put away things you don’t use anymore, or throw away old bottles.
  • The hardest thing for me to keep on top of is dust getting on the things that are on the counter top itself, even the flowers.  Either weekly or monthly, depending on how much dust you collect in your house, try to just dust off the key pieces.  It’s hard for me to notice when it’s building up, so having a somewhat steady time when I dust there is better overall.
  • USE WINDEX!  In this age of the Selfie, how many girls and young women do you see posting up selfies with dirty mirrors?  Men actually make fun of this phenomenon, that the girl is so narcissistic that she’s focusing so much on herself, that she can’t see that the mirror itself is dirty, giving the photo a horrible overall look.  Use Windex once a week when doing your regular bathroom cleaning duties, it makes it so much more beautiful to have clean mirrors rather than dingy ones.

fall2015 259

We all try to look our best when out in public.  Single women especially, try to look polished.  But a truly polished young woman will care about the little details of her home, and work to keep even her counter tops clean and organized.

It all basically comes down to being clean and organized.

Men appreciate this, much more than society tells us.  So enjoy the beauty and peace of a clean, elegant space!

Letters of Thanks

Back in October 2013, I decided to start a small blog to post ideas, thoughts, and advice on beauty, health, fitness, dating, cooking, fashion, marriage, sex, and parenting.  It was a supposed to be a very tiny venture, meant for mostly myself, to have one place where all my thoughts were collected.  And now has become a blog that has over 100,000 views since I started 2 years ago this month.  I don’t know what’s in store for it, I don’t think it will ever become super popular thankfully, but it’s been fun to write out my thoughts and ideas.  I’ve often felt like I’ve learned more from some of my commentators, and so I thank you readers who have spent the time to either comment or email me your thoughts or your own advice on topics or post ideas.

For a long time, I hesitated to add “Spiritual Growth” to my blog because I felt like I still had so much growth to do in that department, and didn’t want to come across as knowing much about it.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe one can know a lot about something like theology or religion, but that doesn’t mean they have a good grasp of how to apply it in their daily lives.  So anything I say on spiritual growth has usually come from after a long time (even a year or more) of thinking on it, trying to figure out the pieces and how they fall together, and so, I usually don’t write about the things I experience immediately, but occasionally do if I feel there is a good lesson there.

But over these two years, I’ve received quite a few comments thanking me for the posts or the blog in general… these things really humble me, that anyone reads my blog at all, when I just started it as something very modest and only for myself, blows my mind.  But thank you to my readers who take the time to leave comments or emails – they really are encouraging.  ❤

One of my favorite emails, from a police officer in Virginia:

“Hi there,

Thank you for writing encouraging things about your family.  I found your blog from a link on the advrider.com forums (it’s a motorcycle touring website) in an off-topic (for the forum) discussion about Red Pill Theory of male/female relationships.  They were complimentary of you.

I’m not quite sure what draws me to discussions about males and females, but I read about it a lot.  The evidence would show that it touches a nerve in me somewhere. I’m not a victim of bad relationships, my parents are still married, my wife’s parents are still married, and my wife and I are mostly traditional.  She’s glad I’m a man and I’m glad she’s a woman.  We’re certainly behind the curve on being trendy or progressive, and we’re not complaining.  We’ve been married over 17 years.  Still, I feel like somewhere deep in my mind is a narrative that “manly” is a synonym for “dumb, of little use,  irrelevant” or even “threatening, harmful”.  I perceive, rightly or wrongly, that the importance of men is diminished and derided.

I’ve worked as a police officer for over 16 years, and I end up getting snapshots of many bad relationships.  Though no professional has ever made it official, I believe staring at depravity and realizing that I have no authority to do anything about relational patterns that take decades to do their damage has led to struggling with depression at times, yet feeling no energy to get out of what I do for a living.  Faith has helped on that front, but I still get distracted while someone’s complaining to me about their ex-(fill in the blank) when I notice the blank-faced looking 5 year old 10 feet behind the complainer and can’t help thinking “This is burning into that little brain.  I wish I could explain that this is not an aspirational way of life, that needing the police to intervene in your personal relationships is a symptom of a bigger problem.”

So, when I read things such as you write, I’m relieved.  Not only do you appreciate men and women for being men and women, you love them, too.  I am impatient for Jesus to come back and fix everything that’s wrong, and staring at all of the problems causes me grief.  So, when I read your take and see your appreciation for your husband and kids, I feel great relief that somewhere out there is a family that loves each other.  By writing you this note, I hope to encourage you to know that you are helping people you don’t even know (who doesn’t love feedback?).  Thanks so much for your thoughts, and, truly, best wishes to you and your family.

Jim in Virginia

And more from Jim in another email,

“Yes, my favorite aspect of your thoughts is your “tone”.  So much of the discussion about gender seems generated out of anger or hurt towards the opposite gender.  So much of the learning stems from painful experiences and retaliatory strikes at the offenders.  It doesn’t even seem popular these days to say that you like being married; it seems much more prevalent to list the annoying things (complain) about your spouse. Therefore, it’s remarkable (noteworthy?) when there are voices who appreciate the strengths of both and who seek to edify both of them.  It’s unusual (wow, it shouldn’t be) and, bummer, you may not qualify for a Reality TV show because harmony doesn’t sell commercials or newspapers.  There is no profit in everyone getting along.

Yet,  the foundation you two are giving your kids, the “safety” of your relationship and their home… as they grow older, you will be amazed at the problems they DON’T have just because you two love each other well.  I believe it’s a big part of doing the Lord’s work. My opinion is that we don’t even realize how important, significant,and eternal it really is.  It’s really a great thing.  Thanks for being salt and light.

Okay, getting rambly here.  Go love the world by loving your husband and kids.  I pray you receive much joy in your work!

Jim

Encourage Your Man in Hard Times

Over the weekend, I was asked to write about encouraging your man when he’s going through a particularly difficult time, from a younger friend I truly admire and love.  She is hands down, just ridiculously amazing!  Her faith, her sweet optimism, her pure, beautiful spirit has always inspired me and encouraged me to be better myself.  I have no doubt that she has touched the lives of many people with her optimism and encouraging spirit.  Even when I used to work with her, I noticed that she had this power to make even the most grouchiest of people’s faces light up when she encountered them.  She is gifted with such a beautiful spirit.

She’s been going through a series of trials recently, extremely painful trials and, ironically, some of the same ones I went through years ago.  Because she remembered what I’d been through, I’ve been able to use my experiences for good in helping her overcome some of the extreme challenges she’s facing and has faced in her life as of yet.  Unfortunately, her fiance has been going through his own trials as well as helping share the burden of hers, and so she asked if I could write a post on this topic of what (if anything) she can do for him?

Trials… everyone has them

First off, everyone goes through hard times at some point.  It is during these times that our faith is really tested, it’s during these times that God finds out what’s really in us, and if we obey when the going gets tough.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the analogy that when you’re squeezed or under severe pressure, the world finds out what was really inside you all along because it comes out.  Trials are opportunities to grow stronger in our faith, to grow more mature as we deal with emotions we’ve never had to deal with before, but not everyone makes it through trials to become better people.  In fact, many people break under the pressure, choose to hold a grudge against others or God Himself, or choose the path of sin and become bitter and resentful due to their trials.

How can we as women help our men when they are going through a trial, or when we are in a trial together with them?

The main thing?

Encouragement.

Men will almost never complain about their circumstances or their need to feel encouragement when going through a trial, but they absolutely love for their wife or girlfriend to encourage them, and it is probably one of the highest priorities in a relationship.  When it’s lacking, men suffer or feel deprived of a basic need, even though they will usually not say anything about it.  When we encourage our men, we inspire them to achieve things they may have never even tried.  Because we believe in them, they find their strength and motivation… it’s a miraculous thing that our beautiful femininity, when used right, can arouse a man’s powerful masculinity.

Men always need this encouragement from their wife, but especially in hard or difficult times.  It can be tricky though to know what to actually do.  And to be sure, there are certain things men usually don’t want us to do when they are feeling especially low.

Men are not creatures who talk endlessly about the problems they are facing, so when your man brings something up, it means it’s probably weighing especially heavy on his shoulders, and he is in desperate need of relief.  Showing him compassion and tenderness when he does show signs of stress are healing to his soul.  It’s not even necessary to try to get him to talk about his feelings, just being with him, showing him physical affection, is comforting enough to be a real encouragement to a man.

When pressures build up from everything in their life – their job, their expectations of themselves, their burden of supporting the family (or the knowledge that they will be expected to in the future), all can become extremely overwhelming to them.  The wise woman will build up her husband – and you do this through regularly letting him know how much you appreciate him, admire his abilities, and praise him in the day-to-day life together.

Something to avoid when trying to give your man encouragement is that men usually don’t want us to try to fix things for them, or to come up with a solution unless they’re actually asking us for one… those are ways other men tend to encourage each other, in fact.  If a man’s wife takes on that role of telling him what should be done, acting like a male adviser, it can actually make him shut down or feel even more depressed with the situation.

He wants to have the solution, and when he doesn’t, he feels like a failure.  It is the wife’s job to encourage him by letting him know that she believes he will be able to find the solution.  That she knows without a doubt, that he is capable.

Many men grew up with fathers (and mothers) who didn’t give them proper encouragement.  Many men have wounds from their past that make them constantly feel as though they just aren’t enough, or may never be.  It’s our job as women to take these past wounds into account, and allow God to use our love and encouragement like a salve on a wound to assist healing in those places.  Only God can heal, but He often uses wives and husbands to achieve the healing process.

Criticism Can Go Out With the Trash…

Because we understand a man’s need for respect and admiration, it’s not our job to come up with criticisms of ways he could be doing something better unless he actually asks for us to solve something that way.  As his wife, it’s our job to inspire him to have the courage to find it himself, so that he can regain his confidence in himself through achieving success.  He doesn’t go to us for criticism unless it’s specifically asked for constructive criticism; he goes to us for encouragement and inspiration.

We show him this encouragement when we remain confident in him and his ability.

*

My husband and I have been through many trials, some big some small, but through it all, I’ve been able to see God’s hand over everything – oftentimes, after the storm was over though.  In the course of a marriage, there will more than likely be many times when your husband will feel defeated or broken.  There were times when I couldn’t believe seeing how dark his emotions could go, and I had no idea of what to say or do.  It was in these times though, that just being there with him, affectionately showing him my love and support were enough.  My belief in him, the confidence that he was capable to get through whatever trial it happened to be, pulled him through emotionally.

You Create the Marriage You Eventually Have

It’s my belief that how a wife chooses to respond to things like hardships early on in their marriage, is critical to how the couple will fare later on.  If a wife chooses to criticize her husband, or try to pull him up by his bootstraps instead of gently supporting him with her femininity, the husband may respond with resentment or built up anger, and the marriage overall will suffer going on.  Relying on God’s strength when faced with trials, a wife can give her husband appreciation and value, gratitude and affection, even in the hard times.

Staying Focus: Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On You Because You Are Young

Most, if not all, of my spiritual growth posts are self-reflective (meaning for myself mostly to contemplate).  This is not one of those posts.  Although it fits right in line with what God’s been showing me lately as far as Staying Focus, I have no doubt that someone else out there needs to hear these words.

 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”  (NLT)

*

I recently was told last week by an older, female friend and mentor whom I’ve known for years now, that there’s something about me that can sometimes convict a person.  Something about me… the way I act, what I do or say (or write here on the blog), that sets them off, and they usually react badly to it because conviction hurts.  Seeing me (or having my life or actions displayed in front of them) hurts.  This older friend with much more life experience than me (in her 40’s) told me that there’s nothing I can do about this.  If I’m living an obviously good life, trying my best in everything because it gives me joy, being a great mom to my kids, treating my husband wonderful and enjoying an above average marriage with him for 8 years, losing the baby weight within 2 weeks because I exercise and take care of my body, and writing articles that are appreciated by many people online on how to be a good wife to your husband, then there’s nothing I can do to help the certain set of people who will look at these things in real life or online, and feel conviction that makes them uncomfortable or even upset in how they are choosing to live their own lives differently.  All these things are positive choices I make in my life everyday, but the unfortunate thing is that they can bring to light other people’s bad choices they are making, taking away their justification for those things and making them feel convicted.

To be bothered at all by any of this, is traveling down one of those roads that leads off of your purpose.  When you start to take that exit, going down that road, you’re taking your eyes off of what God wants you to stay focused on – His Will for your life, His purpose.

If you are young and reading this blog on marriage, spiritual growth, and anti-feminism, you are more than likely doing many things right in your life, and have been for quite some time, and yet you still may get looked down upon because you are young.

If you are a generation Y’er… I am 100% sure you understand what this feels like.  We are termed “The Generation Everyone Loves to Hate.”

It used to be very strange and even emotionally upsetting to me, to find that things I learned and implemented in my marriage at the age of 20, when we literally first got married, were things that people in their 40’s didn’t even understand.  The emotionally upsetting part was being looked down upon by those people who are older, and yet have problems in their marriage that we’ve never had because we were wiser and avoided those pitfalls.  To be at a further stage in maturity and marital growth than couples who had been married as long as we’d been alive, was disturbing and emotionally upsetting.  But to be looked down upon by those people, or discounted, was frustrating or even infuriating.

I once even had an older woman come right out and tell me that even though what I was saying was exactly correct advice for her marriage, that because she was offended at my ability to understand or know it, that she was rejecting it.  Someone that was my age (22) at the time, shouldn’t have been able to advise her correctly on her issues when she was in her 40’s, and when I did, it made her extremely angry.  And to think, she had actually come to me asking for my advice!

Things like this used to bother me.  It hurt to have my wisdom or knowledge almost be “despised” because of my youth.  Like because I was so young, that my knowledge didn’t matter or even count for anything.

Why did it bother me so much back then?  Because I allowed it to.  The feelings of being discounted because of my youth, because we looked like babies (well, we still do…), got the best of me, and I strayed off course into a pity party of complaining to God about feeling so misjudged or misunderstood.

It’s not your job to make everyone understand or “get” you.

You may be young, but living life trying to do the best and right thing, and be ahead of many of your peers, but there will always be people who will try to define you, and completely get you wrong.

This was a lesson that took me a long time to learn.  Being someone who loved people, and wanted to have unity and peace, I constantly sought for understanding, even when someone was resistant to it like a duck is to water.  Sometimes, understanding or peace never came, only God can soften hearts that have been hardened.  The Bible talks about prophets shaking off the dust from their feet when they were rejected in certain towns.  Likewise, you must shake off the dust from your feet when you have tried to achieve understanding or unity with someone who is resistant to it.  The prophets were prescribed this practice of shaking off the dust from the place of rejection because it literally represented shaking off the emotional entanglements of that frustration so that they could then refocus on their next journey, their next town that God would send them to.

Shaking off the “dust” or frustration of being rejected or misunderstood is critical to being able to Stay Focus.

*

I don’t know why, but I’ve always had the desire in my heart to seek out wisdom.  When I was only a little girl, I would pray for God to give me wisdom, and by the time I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I was regularly the one my friends would come to for advice, especially on relationships.  God gave me a spirit that is teachable, a spirit that wants to learn.  It is also a tenderhearted spirit, that has often been too naive in trusting others or believing they have good intentions because they call themselves Christian.

Even though God’s blessed me in this area of my life, I have felt the sting of having been judged and looked down upon by people twice my age, who didn’t have as great a marriage as I have had, who, to be honest, didn’t even understand many things about marriage or healthy maturity that I actually understood at that time.  So when Paul wrote to Timothy, not to allow anyone to look down upon him just because he was young, I get it.  It’s part of Timothy’s journey to stay focus and not be distracted by the pain of being judged by ignorant, older Christians who want to define or limit Timothy, his ability, and his life.  There will always be people who will want to define you and your life, even though they will get it wrong.  Trying to explain yourself or explain the plans God has for you to people who are defining you wrong, is futile.  They should not be defining you, period.  God is the one who is marking out your path, He is the One who helps you stay on course.  Dialoging with people who want to define you wrongly, or put limits around what God is doing in your life or will do in the future, is straying off course, and is taking attention away from what you should be focusing on concerning your purpose.

Why did Paul feel he needed to write this passage to Timothy?

Because people who are older have a tendency to look down on people who are younger.  They want to feel as though they know or understand more, and if they see that a younger person knows or understands more than them, they may not have the humility to admit it.

It comes natural for the older Christians to prejudge the younger ones, to think they don’t know as much as they know about marriage or life.  To have misconceptions about them and their life experience.  To think that they can’t know or understand what they actually do know or understand.  It can be simple ignorance in not understanding (or even knowing) the young person they’re communicating with, or it can be a very nasty sin and situation of looking down on others in pride and ambition.  Whether it’s done out of ignorance or out of pride, it can be dangerous to the younger people as it usually hurts them to some degree.

They may feel like their opinion, even if it is wise, doesn’t matter.  Or that their own personal life experience, even though they have overcome great challenges and learned secrets of success in a variety of trials, is completely disregarded because of their age.

Let me tell you, young person who may be reading this:  Your opinion does matter.  Your experience matters.  Your wisdom that God has given you by grace, matters – it matters greatly!  You need to share it.  If He’s put these words in your heart and given you all this knowledge in your head… you have a responsibility to share it.

Because You Are Young, You Are God’s Weapon

God uses the simple and the young, to shame the complicated and old.  He uses what looks to be foolish, to shame what should be the wise.  You… are His chosen weapon.  You… in all your youth and lack of age or life experience, have the ability, the God-gifted ability, to shame someone twice your age with the beauty of the knowledge and wisdom that He has blessed you with.

Don’t hold it back.

Stay Focus.

And don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.