Why Home Is So Important.

whyhomeissoimportant

I am the product of a broken family.

In a society that doesn’t take much issue with separation and divorce, from a personal view, there is nothing more damaging, more lasting and more painful to a child/teenager than when Mummy and Daddy don’t love each other any more. After twenty-one years of marriage, it was a shock, but at the same time, not much of a surprise.

It’s not just the separation or the bitter gossip or the lies or the feeling of being stuck in-between that breaks a child’s heart, it is the upheaval of being homeless. Sure, you may live in the same house, or, you may have a dwelling place to live in – – –

…but that place that was always home?

That place that was safe, stable, comforting and ‘us’? When a family breaks up, so does the home. That anchor that ties a child’s heart to security is cut away, leaving them readily available for being “tossed about” in this world {Eph. 4:14}.

When my parents separated on Christmas Day when I was fifteen-years-old, it began six years of turmoil, deep pain, lost in the later teen years that are so vital for a young woman. My parents lived over an hour out of the city on opposite sides while my life was in the city, so I spent most of those six years in between houses, trying to deal with my own pain whilst copping the pain of one parent and the depression and struggles of another.

A few months after my parents separated, when I wasn’t seeing my father, a boy came into my life and – though it seemed perfect at the time – it was disasterous for a young girl seeking affirmation from a male figure. Having no stable home to call my own and, when in the house of one of my parents only wanting to be somewhere else, I was able to allow my brokenness and rebellion take over and consume my wounded heart. Those years were really, really hard and have had a great affect on me.

One of the greatest things that God has used to redeem those years in my life is to show me this simple, but profoundly fundamental, truth: Children need home. They need a home where, even though Mummy and Daddy aren’t perfect, they love each other, fight to make their marriage work, seek to create a place that will always be a safe place for their children.

“Husband-wife love, wife-husband love, and parent-child love — in times of weakness and failure, when forgiveness must be asked for and given, in times when suspicions have been right — love goes on. A child needs to grow up knowing that love never faileth, that not only will Dad and Mom stay together in spite of their weaknesses as well as strengths, but that the door will always be open, the ‘candle in the window’ will never go out…

Love never faileth. Love keeps the door open, the light waiting, and dinner in the oven — for years. This is the love a family demonstrates in its formation center.” ~ Edith Schaffer, What is a Family?

And what is that formation centre? Home. The bliss and deep delight of a loving home.

It’s not a perfect home because the people who live in it are imperfect. But it is a place where there is acceptance, grace, the gospel, life, laughter, tears, openness in failure, forgiveness given freely, weaknesses worked on, joy, delight and a place that is purely “my family”.

One of the greatest compliments I have been given is that our house feels “homely”. I have worked hard, not just to make our place warm and comforting, but open, with a feeling that you are welcome here, that you can rest and be sheltered from the outside world here. Is our home like the Jones’? Nope. It’s humble, simple and does the trick.

I can promise you, dear mother, that if you want to give your children one thing in this life that will kickstart them into having a great life, it is this: Make them a home. Don’t worry about academics, activities, shuttling them from this place to that – – – give them the rest, stability and the anchor they need. They have the rest of their lives to be out there in the world, busy and “being lights to the world” but there are so few years to have here, in your home. Give it to them because, speaking from experience, it can change the direction of their lives.

lovewaiting

My Brief Look Into Head Coverings.

Ah, this could be a toughie. But hang in there with me :).

If you are like me, you don’t wear head coverings – either at church or at home. In fact, no-one wears head coverings at your church, or any other church that you know of. There are a few smaller churches that do, and occasionally you come across a woman who is wearing one, as well as a long skirt, and you generally know the denomination she probably goes to.

You’d love to talk to her, get to know her, ask her questions about her choices and beliefs, because – as a Christian yourself – you want to know. You know the verses she is living by, you’ve read them many times over, and you’ve tried and tried to understand them… But you are not a single bit closer to comprehending their meaning in today’s cultural context.

This nags at you. You love God’s word and you try, with your fallible strength, to obey his desires. You search his Scriptures, you look into original Greek and Hebrew, into reading the whole Bible as one big picture of Jesus. In terms of relationships, you believe in order and the beautiful image of gender equality and distinction. You believe in the term ‘biblical womanhood’. And yet…

You don’t cover your head. Yes, you’ve tried some on and tried to figure them out with how you look in the mirror. But actually believing and committing to wearing them because of a deep conviction that these verses God’s will for you, today?

lookintoheadcoverings

Friends, it’s been on my heart recently to really look into this passage. I am passionate about being all the God has called me to as a woman, I want to be his woman, and as complicated as these verses are, I have wanted to come to grips with them as best as I can. I am not perfect and I am not saying that I have “arrived” with a full and complete answer. My heart is genuine and if God leads me to different thoughts in the future, I am ready to receive them.

My hope is to share my journey to encourage and also, hopefully, to encourage women who do cover that I am humbled by you, and that, through this look into these verses, I have come to understand your heart more than I ever have before. I hope you will comment below.

NB. Most of my research has been done through personal conversations with my husband {my head} and my father-in-law {an evangelical minister of twenty-five years}, and through the book by Claire Smith God’s Good Design:What The Bible Really Says About Men and Women {endorsed by the likes of: DA Carson, Peter Jensen, Kathleen B Nielson, and Jonathan Fletcher}.

“4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.”

The biggest argument that I have heard about not wearing head coverings today is that Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians were purely cultural. Men were covering their heads and women were uncovering their heads in church services, and in that cultural context, those actions were rebellious and arrogant. However, men today wear baseball caps and women have short hair and wear jeans but with dedicated hearts to the Lord, unlike those who were going against the “traditions” that Paul had taught them and which were practiced in other churches {vs.2}.

So yes, in some ways these verses are cultural. But it would be arrogant of us to just leave it at that. If we choose not to cover our heads, there must be a deeper theological reason to it. And we mustn’t come to Scripture with the slant of not obeying something simply because it was cultural. All Scripture is for us {1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21} and so we have a responsibility to take all Scripture, whether we understand it or not, seriously.

So what are the nitty gritty details for us to understand?

  • In the context of the chapters leading up to this one, Paul has been looking at matters of sex, marriage, food being given to idols and church behaviour. So, as Claire Smith says, “The potential for what we have been given in Christ – freedom, gifts etc – to be used to the detriment of another person. [And] how the differences we find in the Christian community affect the unity of Christ’s body, for good and for ill” {pg.58}.
  • In verses 5-13, when using the Greek word gune, it is a wife that is referred to. Thus, if we are to relate this to us today, it is wives Paul is speaking to. Infact, a woman wearing a veil was a sign in the first-century of being married.
  • Paul bases his commands on this cultural tradition as well as on the order of creation – that God made man, that out of man and for man, he made woman. He clearly makes the point that a husband and wife are dependent on one another and that one is not more important than the other, rather, this is just the way things are.
  • Because this is the way things are, a man looking like a man {head uncovered, hair shaven} and a woman looking like a woman {head covered, long hair} brings glory to God and is rightful behaviour in the church context.

So, we know that wives, in first-century Corinth, wore veils to:

  1. show that they were married, and;

  2. show their acceptance of their place in the order of creation.

Understanding these two points have clarified my confusion on these verses. Paul is tackling the tendency for people to go too far with their freedoms in Christ to the point where they are not glorifying God and hurting other fellow believers.

person-915717_1920

So, the question begs, does this directly apply to us today?

Simply, yes and no. But in more depth?

If you read these verses and, as a wife, you feel led, compelled and convicted to wear head coverings and, after discussion with your husband, you both decide it is appropriate then, I believe, obey God. As Claire Smith says,

“…If your understanding of 1 Corinthians 11 and your conscience lead you to that conclusion, then you should cover your head. You are certainly not disobeying the word of God if you do, and you will not be sinning against your conscience just for the sake of fitting in (which you may be doing if you don’t cover your head).” pg.77

But, if on the other hand, your husband desires you not to, then don’t cover your head. The whole point of this passage is Paul promoting the roles in marriage and, if you disobeyed your husband’s desires because of your own conviction, then you are doing what the women who were uncovering their heads in the services – that is, flouting the symbol of your role in marriage. If your belief to cover is strong, then pray and trust God. He can change your husband’s heart and, if he doesn’t, it is more pleasing to him that you respect your husband. {I have talked more about headship and submission in this post.}

What if this passage does not create a conviction to cover? Are we disobeying a direct command from God?

It is my current opinion that, if we don’t cover our heads, we are not disobeying God. I have come to this thought mostly due to the fact that veils, unlike in the first-century, are not symbols of a married woman anymore. Our culture is both eclectic and casual and, due to feminism, has removed many images of submission and marriage.

However, there are two other ways we have today that do show that women are married and that, whether they realise it or not, symbolise some form of the order of creation. They are:

  1. the wedding ring

  2. removing the maiden name and taking the husband’s name

Because of the state of our culture, I believe that it is the latter that really shows the heart of what Paul is encouraging the Corinthian women to do and which directly applies to us. When a woman takes her husband’s name, it shows to everyone that she is leaving her family, becoming one with him, and creating a family with him. It also shows, to me, that she accepts coming under his protection and authority. So when a woman doesn’t take her husband’s name it can mean {though not always}

“…there is a tacit rejection of at least some aspects of a husband’s leadership…Certainly, those feminists who refuse to take their husband’s name show that this is exactly what it means.” pg.78-79

Though taking her husband’s last name is not a visual representation of what Paul is commanding, it is a legitimate way of culturally showing that we believe in what God teaches us in the Bible about the husband and wife relationship. 

To visually show Paul’s commands today in our culture, I believe, is up to the individual couple. Both husband and wife are to be in agreement and, if not, both are to be in prayer to wisdom and guidance. And I think it is important to uphold Paul’s desire that men and women look like men and women. This was a central principle to his command. What is masculine and what is feminine is different today than Paul’s day, but it is easy to do so. Again, this is up to the individual couple.

Finally, I will finish with another quote from Claire Smith who, I believe, summarises her chapter on this passage rightly:

“Paul’s solution is not to remove all distinctions between men and women but to reiterate those God-given distinctions that are to continue within the body of Christ. These distinctions are good. In this case, the distinction concerns the authority and equality that shape Christian marriage and are to be expressed when we meet together as God’s family. This order has its origin in God’s design for human relationships, and reflects the equal yet asymmetrical relations in the Godhead.” pg.80

This is a big topic and I’ve tried hard to explain where I believe the Lord has led Tim and I on this subject.

Have you studied this passage? Did you come to similar conclusions or different? Do you cover? Do you promote your God-given femininity within your marriage differently? Please share kindly below.

What It Really Means To Our Husbands When We Manage Our Homes.

When I accepted the task of homemaking, I knew it meant serving my family. Because one of my flaws is laziness, I knew that if I kept house for just me…well, my standard for cleanliness wouldn’t be very high. Messiness, not a problem. I don’t like messy. But that’s easy to clean up – just tidy. Yet, the hard, elbow-grease, well-oiled-machine organisation? Not my thing, in the natural sense.

 

Having been married for almost eight years {oh, how time flies…}, I have come a long way in my homemaking skills. And I mean, a long way. Now I actually clean the bathroom once a week {instead of once every month}, and mop the floor at least twice {instead of every six months}. I make the beds daily, dust regularly and make sure counters are de-cluttered. This is such a far cry from my beginner years, and becoming a mother has really been the making of me in many ways.

 

Of course, I am far from perfect. In fact, about two weeks ago, I cleaned all the outside windows for the first time in over a year and – oh my! – we can actually see outside. After gazing upon my awesome, sparkly windows for a little, I remembered all the times we have had company over in the last year and how every single person must have seen how horribly dirty our windows were. *Cringe*

 

So, even though I have come a long way, every now and then I make a sudden spurt of progress. Whether that is a new discipline, a new habit, or a new way of doing things, my skill and talent for this homemaking thing takes on a new dimension. And sometimes, very occasionally, I have a heart-change in my homemaking as well. It’s one of those enlightening, “ah-ha!” moments that turns the tide of my thoughts, actions and heart-attitude towards a more peaceful, Christ-centred way of serving.

 

Just recently, it dawned on me – and I can’t remember how or why – that homemaking isn’t just about serving my family so we are fed, cleaned and clothed. That, of course, is the fundamental reason, so that our family life doesn’t fall a part. But another reason that dawned on me was this:

 

It matters to my husband.

 

You see, some husbands don’t care too much about how the house is run. But mine does. He’s not a frenetic, OCD type – he just likes having a tidy, ordered, smooth-running household. It gives him peace. It gives him a space where the busyness, the chaos, and sometimes pain of his work-world is gone. This is his place as much as mine or the kids’; it’s his space to be him.

 

Not only that, I’ve been convicted of the truth that when I make the effort to keep the house in a way that brings out the best in him, it honours him. When I clean, take care of our things, get cars fixed, make sure gardens are weeded, that the electronics are protected by flailing toddler arms and legs, it says to him,

 

“I honour you. I honour your hard work, your sacrifice, your daily hard slog in life to provide us a home and the things in it that create joy in our family life.”

 

In times past, when laziness has ruled my work, I let things get run down, dirty and broken. As a homemaker, I only thought about me and my feelings towards these things and their relation to me: that they were just things, and we can buy new ones. In facing the truth in myself, I realised that I took our home and the things in it for granted. Because I didn’t go out and work for the money that paid for our home, there was less of an emotional connection with how these things were cared for.

 

But that’s not how my husband saw it.

 

Women may not get this naturally, but when we do, we can see that this makes sense: our homes are symbols of our husband’s work. Just like each day with children can blur into another and we feel like we having nothing to show for all our hard work, so too, can our husband’s jobs, to them, seem like an endless amount of thankless hours that provides for a home and things that aren’t given much thought too.

 

But when a wife, and her children if she teaches them, set great store of caring for, cleaning, managing, maintaining, and creating a home for her husband, what joy does this give her special man. How respected, how appreciated, how grateful will that husband feel from the actions of her work that she does for all that he has done.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, the home isn’t all about the husband and I am not saying that the husband doesn’t do anything around the house to look after the things he has bought with his own money.
What I am saying is this:

 

Let us show our love for our husbands and give them the honour and respect of caring for the home they have paid for by their hours of work. There isn’t anything sexist in that {don’t we teach our children to take care of the things that they have been given?}. It is simple love and appreciation.

What about you? Has this ever occurred to you? Have you ever talked about this with your husband?

When Choosing to Parent From the Bible Makes Things Awkward.

 

Following Christ in this world is not easy. We will find things challenging, painful and lonely. And, as I am beginning to see, raising children as Christian parents is not exempt area of our lives.

I’ve had some painful experiences recently that have just left me feeling hurt, isolated and clinging to my husband as my true best friend {the best kind of result, don’t you say?}. These experiences were not malicious nor were the words said intentionally hurtful. But they have left me disappointed, saddened with the lack of confidence {and lack of knowledge} in the Bible as the authority on parenting, and frankly, like we are some weird set of parents.

My chest has been feeling heavy and I’ve been seeking God, asking him why I feel just so darned alone. Even among Christians, I can feel different. Why is this? I ask Tim. We all love God, so shouldn’t we be of the same heart, of the same mind? Shouldn’t all Christian parenting look similar? Why is it, even in the Church, that the world’s changing philosophies are more obviously used than principles from the Bible?

A verse came up in my wondering this week and it was sobering:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” ~Matthew 7:13-14

whenchoosing

Friends, if our hearts are in Christ, if he is who we are pursuing above all else, we are just going to have to accept that we are going to be different. In everything. Even, if not most starkly, in parenting.

I am not saying that we know the most perfect, godliest way of parenting. We seriously don’t. Even if we did, we couldn’t implement it, we are too broken with pride, impatience, anger, distraction etc. If any of us were perfect parents, we wouldn’t need Christ. And if you’ve been a parent more than one minute, you know how much you need him to help with this big, big job.

However, I do believe that, just like in all areas of life where Christ takes over as King, parenting in a biblical way won’t be normal. It will be different. It will be counter-cultural, harder, more self-refining, more rewarding and more God-glorifying. Biblical parenting doesn’t come in the latest book on the Top 20 shelf at your local book store. It’s as old as Moses, whom God used to show us all so clearly how hard it is to measure up. {NB. I’ve just finished reading Leviticus and just started Numbers. God is a holy God, people. I forget so easily how abhorrent my sin is. How easy it is to be complacent and think, Christ makes me holy so I don’t need to try very hard.}

“Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” ~ Philippians 2:2

Biblical parenting can incorporate a broad spectrum of practicalities. Some parents will have firm discipline, some will lean towards more attachment parenting; some will sleep train, others will co-sleep; some will have less concern over different school curricula, others will keep their children home from certain activities and groups. In many ways, these sort of aspects shouldn’t matter between families, and we should make our family the matter of our own attention and judgement rather than another. What should matter, as Christian parents, is that we have the same mind and same purpose as each other: that we can acknowledge in ourselves and to each other that God and his word are at the focus of our parenting. 

  • Are we keeping aware of the sin that lurks in our children’s hearts?
  • In our disciplining, are we seeking to make our children aware of why they are doing what they are doing?
  • Are we being too soft?
  • Are we being too harsh?
  • Are we keeping the Cross in our minds as we guide our children away from lawlessness?
  • Are we intentionally being careful of what philosophies we listen to?
  • Are practical parenting books we read in line with what the Bible teaches about our world, our fallen state, our need for redemption, our hope for the life to come?
  • Are our choices influenced by our peers, our society, our own need for approval?

Friends, the answers to these questions are not always easy to face. They can show where we have been going wrong – not just in how we parent, but how we are behaving ourselves. Though it may not seem like it, God is being merciful when he shows us the idols we have created in our hearts and minds.

When we face the truth, we can see that the way is narrow. The way to true parenting is a harder, more socially awkward path. There will be times where we fit in with the crowd fairly comfortingly. But many other times, we will stick out like a sore thumb. We will feel alone, weird and awkward. Yet, we know, that this narrow path promises us a real, authentic, incredible life. And we know we are not alone.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” ~ Romans 8:31