Why Being A HelpMeet Is Not Beneath Me {Or You}.

The voices that speak to the troubled heart of a woman today are many, subtle and just soul-destroying. And the Greatest Liar of them all? His delight is purely in the downfall of all that was beautifully made in the beginning. He is thrilled and has made fools of us all. Wherever the pendulum swings – male abuse of being a head to the emasculating domination of a she-male – he is behind it all.
The Bible is the only place we can find the hope, the solace, the nourishment, the endorsement, the understanding, the answers, the freedom and the beauty all women today crave. Today, I want to point our struggling hearts to the theology of women being helpmeets. I pray God just sets you free from any lies and snares and doubts about this incredibly holy calling.
“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make a helper fit for him.'” Genesis 2:18



First, woman was needed.
 
It is easy to gloss over the fact that God said that “it is not good”. We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? My heart can become dull to the fact that nothing in creation had been “not good” until Adam needed a companion. But did you know that the original Hebrew sheds a little more light to the heart of God as He made beautiful Eve?
The Hebrew used for “not good” here means positively bad. And I don’t mean the positively bad that we’ve run out of chocolate in the house! No, when God saw Adam hanging out with his animals, He saw that without companionship, life would have no goodness.
Woman, you are good. You are needed and are just plain lovely and good.
Note too, that it didn’t take God by surprise that Adam was lonely. God didn’t make everything without Eve in mind; rather, he waited until Adam realised himself that he was alone. Adam discerned that he needed someone {Genesis 2:20}.
Second, woman was a helper-partner.

Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book Helper By Design: God’s Perfect Plan For Women in Marriage fleshes out this verse {and surrounding verses} to show that God gave Adam six tasks to do in the Garden: Rule. Relate. Reproduce. Reflect. Rejoice. Rest. She says,

“Adam and Eve were unique in the creation, and although he was made from from the dust of the earth {and Eve wasn’t}, she complemented and corresponded to him. Eve wasn’t some other sort of creature; she wasn’t beneath Adam, nor was she superior to him; but rather she was created as his partner, equally in God’s image and called to glorify Him. pg.35
“Fundamentally, a wife can take steps toward helping her husband by seeking to understand the specific ways in which God has called him to rule, relate, reproduce, reflect, rejoice, and rest.”pg.37
God’s original plan for human kind hasn’t changed. In our spheres of home, work, and other influence, we are called to glorify God and enjoy Him forever by ruling and subduing His creation. Specifically in marriage, a wife’s role is to come alongside her husband and care for him, nurture him, strengthen him, encourage him, rebuke him {when necessary}, love him, and seek to learn him as a person and God’s calling for him.
A wife may have her own form of paid employment. She may be a mother. She will have other pursuits and interests outside the home and that are uniquely her own. That is very needed and God will use her mightily as she submits those things to Him. But, her primary calling if she is married, is to be her husband’s helper.
 
 
Third, woman was called to be like her Father.
When God created woman to be a helper, he wasn’t making a role or calling that was new. God made man and woman in His image and imparted to them characteristics and responsibilities that were part of His nature. {The fact that they are man and woman and need one another differently reflects the very nature of the Trinity.} In fact, God’s call on woman to be a helper was asking her to be like Him.
The very word “helper” in Hebrew is only used twice in the Old Testament. The first is when God created woman, and the rest is in reference to God and His great care of His people, Israel. Mary Kassian in her book Women, Creation and the Fall writes,
“In the creation of female, we see that a doormat or servant-slave was certainly not what God had in mind. God intended to make a counterpart for the man, a vital helper for him, perhaps in much the same sense as God is a helper. pg.17
Do you see that? When God made us to be helpmeets, He gave us a role that He fulfills to His people. This is such an important reason why the argument that women are inferior just does not stand and why our fear of being helpmeets is so sin-laden and culturally influenced. God made us to be helpers like He is. If it is “good enough” for God, why wouldn’t it be for us?
 
“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Psalm 54:4
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” Psalm 28:7
I understand the fear in the hearts of women when they start looking into God’s calling for them. So much of history is blackened by the abuse of men over their women. Yet, so much of history is also littered with women abusing their power of womanhood over men for their own purposes. We mustn’t ever forget that women are sinners and have equally distorted God’s design. 
 
Please don’t think that I have never struggled with this. Please don’t think that there aren’t feminist feelings floating around in my mind. There are and I do struggle. In fact, this has been on my mind recently, my soul has been wrestling with what I believe the Bible teaches to what I hear the world teaching. I am truly flawed. But, I don’t want what the world offers. Look how messed up this place is! I want God and His ways. I want what He has designed and which is lived out perfectly, beautifully and so sacrificially in the Trinity. 
Instead of fearing what isn’t truth, we must fear the Lord, just like Sarah did {1 Peter 3:6}. Not only must we fear Him {respect and honour Him}, we must trust in His ways. We must seek to pursue His very words to us and believe that the fears we hold, the lies we hear are not from Him.
He esteems women greatly because they are made to reflect Him!
He made us because we are wanted and needed!
He created us to nurture just as He nurtures!
He calls us to help as He helps!
No, being a helpmeet does not make us less. And no, being a helpmeet is certainly not beneath us. It is a calling that is godly and requires serious commitment and faithfulness. Being a helpmeet is a holy calling, one that is worked out in the heavens, and can be, by God’s grace, lived out in all Christian marriages.
 

Please share your comments below. I would love to chat about this all.

When Something Good Is Not The Best.

As Christian parents, Tim and I are continually having our minds graciously and lovingly renewed by God to His way of thinking. I’m not saying we have the number one, most biblical way of parenting thinking {insert *snort* here}…
 
…Rather, as we submit ourselves to our loving Father as our own children’s parents, we find Him offering new ways of thinking about our family, our children’s upbringing, and His way for us of “training our children in the way they should go” {Proverbs 22:6}.
The more we keep going on this parenting path, the more I know each family’s submission to God’s guidance will be different. And that is good! God loves variety! It is my responsibility to work in our family quietly, minding our own business and keeping our hearts from comparison.
“Jesus said, ‘If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.'” John 21:22 {emphasis my own}
With that preamble set, let me share with you a big decision we have made recently for our family which has been challenging; offering an opportunity to follow God’s direction in faith as it follows a different path that most families make in this day and age.
Last year, we enrolled Josiah into kindy. In NZ, kindergarten is a free-play environment that usually takes children from 3 until they go to school at 5 {though requirement of schooling age is 6}. The kindy we chose is truly amazing with incredibly supportive, skilled teachers and a wonderfully large outdoor area. This was a big for me as Josiah is an outdoor boy.

Aside from a few bumps, Josiah has thrived at kindy. He has grown out of his shell around people who aren’t his immediate family and he has learned to play alongside others really well. Yet, we noticed after the start of this year that, though he was doing really well while he was at kindy, that his behaviour at home had really changed.

We went through all the normal reasons that can cause struggling behaviour and felt that none of those really seemed to apply to him. We talked to his teachers and we talked to each other and we prayed a lot. Last week we decided that we were going to pull Josiah out of kindy.

It was such a hard decision and even now, with only a few lessons left for him, I still feel emotionally torn about it {though, when I calm my feelings and think deeply about the guidance we believe God has been giving us, my gut tells me it is the right choice}.

It’s been a lesson of learning that sometimes even really good things aren’t necessary the best things for us {at the time, in a season, or, forever}.

Kindy, in and of itself, is a great place for little children. It is nurturing, with smaller numbers and a million opportunities for growth and play, play, play. Playing is the key for a child learning is their philosophy {and I totally agree}. It has done Josiah a world of good. It has been good.

But, we have come to the conclusion that – right now – it is not the best for him. The best, that we can see, is for him to be with his family more. With times that he has had off of kindy this year {holidays etc.}, his behaviour/demeanour/attitude has been undeniably better, more stable and more loving. For some reason – and we really have no idea why – something that is good {kindy} just isn’t bringing out the best in him {at home}.

To some, this may be no big deal. But for us, home behaviour is everything. The saying that goes, “You really are who you are at home” is so deeply true. We can put on our “best” behaviour in public and then be just awful to those who love us most at home. Are we strict? Perhaps. We just believe that loving, disciplined yet authentic behaviour at home is the standard we are striving for.

There are seasons in life where, no matter the situation, we will have to make decisions based on how our priorities in life are lining up with where we are involved in. If our priorities align with our involvement in some commitment, church activity or other organisation, then that is really great. But if an involvement is causing issues that might allow us to compromise a priority or standard, some hard decisions may need to be made.

Even when, in many ways, you don’t want to make that decision. Or that, sometimes, there may be no clear right or wrong. Sometimes all you can do is pray, seek God’s guidance, analyse all the information you have before you, and make a choice. And then, step out in faith.

A child not going to some form of preschool or kindergarten is rare these days. We, again, are going to look different. {Sigh. Really, God? Again?} But we have to obey.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
 
Trust and obey, for there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
And it’s not just us, as parents, who want to be happy in Jesus. We want our children to have the ultimate joy of knowing and being happy in Jesus. And, because they are in our care, we have to trust and obey God, even when it bucks against the norm and requires hard, emotional choices for what is best, even if the second choice is still good.
 

In the comments: Have you ever made a decision that was hard because you had the choice of good and best?

Callings and Self-Doubt: Choosing Faith that You Are on the Right Path.

We all struggle with comparing ourselves to others {remember?}. And, as I am growing to see in myself, we all struggle with doubting ourselves next to others. Self-doubt is a massive continuing blip in the radar of my Christian growth.
Before we had children, I wasn’t like any of the wives I knew. I didn’t have a full-time job. I wasn’t helping us save money for when children came. There was great logic in those choices, but they weren’t our choice. I worked part-time {generally ten hours a week} and, for the most part, I considered being a homemaker {ie. Tim’s wife} my full-time job.
Oh, it was such a different path to take. Granted, I never, ever got negative comments or remarks – but I did get lots of people questioning me.
 
Why don’t you work more?
Don’t you want more money?
What does Tim think?
Aren’t you bored?
What do you do all day?
The questions always got me. I knew, deep down that this was God’s calling on my life, and I knew people would disagree with me. But all the questions – and often what the questions didn’t say but silently did – were like little arrows of doubt. In those times, I really did have two people on my shoulder; one speaking positively to my calling, the other asking more and more questions, leading to deepening doubt. Even though I knew my own story and Tim’s, even though I knew why dedicating my life to my family was my dream job, I still doubted. I doubted simply because I feared man.
 
Each day we have a million battles we face. We battle the choice to have faith or reject the Gospel. We battle to believe the truth of God’s Word {and not listen to the hissing whisper, “Did God really say…?”}. We battle to choose obedience to God and not sin. We battle our culture. And sometimes, sadly, we battle our own family, friends and church.
Living a life of faith and conviction is ridiculously hard. Mere questions can be the marsh mellows of it all! Ridicule, persecution, misunderstanding, judgement and rejection are almost expected. And I am not just talking about God’s moral laws here {as opposed to the world’s standards}: I am talking about an individual’s call, their choice of occupation, a family’s way of life, their vision for the upbringing of their children…
 
I am talking about the personal, quiet, submissive belief one has before God that this way – this choice, this path, this conviction – is uniquely given by the Lord, to them, for their life. Everyone has callings that submit under the law of the Gospel.
We have authors, painters, teachers, leaders, servers, mothers, fathers, missionaries, single individuals, bridge builders, carpenters, evangelists, singers, bloggers. Under the grace of the Gospel, we have individual callings. And they will be different. You, and I, will be different. And amongst the many battles that we face each day will be the battle to believe, to hold on to, to grasp the hem of God that this calling is ours. No matter what questions are asked. No matter who asks those questions.
Self-doubt is one of the ways in which the enemy gets God’s people off track. Indulging, believing and participating in self-doubt causes us to be like the person James speaks of, the one who, when asking for wisdom,

 

“must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” {1:6}
When we are being tossed about in the waves of self-doubt {which is not faith}, we are ineffective disciples of Christ. We are crippled by our own selves and will not thrive in the calling God has given us.
Paul, throughout the Epistles, repeatedly began his letters stating his calling, or appointment to service {1 Timothy 1:12}, or apostle by command {1 Timothy 1:1}. He claimed his calling and, despite believing he was the worst of sinners {vs.15}, he knew his calling to be true and that it was a mercy of Christ.
Though we are not Paul, we too are disciples of Christ and have our own callings. I am called to be a wife, mother, homemaker and church member. I have talent-callings I must use for God’s service. And, as a married couple and as parents, Tim and I have decisions we must make in regards to the atmosphere of our family, the upbringing of our children and the way in which we use the blessings God has given us. We will look different. But being different to others doesn’t mean being wrong.
So, dear friends, choose to have faith in your calling. You will be different, but don’t let questions cause you doubt. Hold fast to your appointment, use questions to show God’s mercy in your own life, and be thankful for God’s unique care and concern over the way your life is lived, in practice and purpose. 

 

Please share your calling and any struggles you have had of self-doubt in it.

Thinking About Homeschooling? Books to Inspire.

Over the last two years, I have read about home education in any form I could find it. Blogs, articles, research papers {yes, even some of a PHD thesis} – anything. Once God lays something on my heart, all I want to do is learn and grow and read as much as I can get my hands on. Because of our awesome libraries in my town {over fifteen of them!}, I have been able to read quite a number of homeschooling books. This has been so helpful and inspiring. From reasons to experiences to philosophies, my passion for educating children at home has just grown.
I’m part way through another book at the moment and, as I have been reading it, I thought: I need to share all the amazing books I have been reading. I am sure there are some mother’s out there who, like me, want to learn but don’t know where to start. This list {though not comprehensive} is for you.

 

 This post contains affiliate links.

 

Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson
This was the first book on homeschooling I read and it definitely opened my eyes to a whole new world. The Clarkson’s are quite famous for homeschooling and have their own ministry. All their children are older now and successful in their own right. But that isn’t what homeschooling is about for the Clarkson’s – it’s about creating a home that brings life and learning naturally, part of the whole child, and not just their minds. It is a Christian-based book and really encouraging {and weighty}.

 

What is a Family? by Edith Schaffer
I have written about this book so many times because, just, oh. I love it. It isn’t a book on homeschooling specifically, but Edith’s whole message about the importance of family and home and relationships deepened my growing conviction that God really cares about families, how much He wants mother’s to invest in their family’s lives, how much a home atmosphere affects a child’s life. My desire to homeschool deepened after reading this book because my passion for the kind of life I wanted for my children doubled.

The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
Again, this isn’t a homeschooling book per se, but Sally’s message is clear: children need mother’s and it is vitally important that mother’s invest their all into their children for the season of life when they are directly under our influence and in our homes. Conviction, inspiration, encouragement, soul-warming – this book is for all Christian mothers, even if homeschooling isn’t on your radar. But if it is, this book will inspire you with a new vision for how you want to teach your children {educationally, spiritually, relationally etc}.

 

This book. It was hilarious and I loved it. It isn’t Christian at all, but that was really nice for a change. There are so many resources out there from a Christian perspective that it was a breath of fresh air to see why a non-Christian would homeschool. It was a one-year experiment for Quinn and her daughter, and each chapter follows Quinn as she researches, meets other homeschoolers, figures out what works for her daughter, goes to a conference. Her sense of humour made me giggle and I just really enjoyed following her along this journey.

The Well-Adjusted Child by Rachel Gathercole
I am currently re-reading this book and am enjoying it. It approaches that question all homeschoolers are asked, “What about socialisation?” This was a question for me at the start {because of my own naievity}, but I don’t have any qualms about it anymore. The question is no longer “Are homeschoolers socialised?” but rather, “What actually is socialisation?” The answer is not simple as people assume. A great book.

I was excited to read this book on many levels and I am surprised by my response to it. Being a Sproul, I knew it would be biblically-based and it is – but I wasn’t actually convinced by his arguments that homeschooling is a biblical mandate. I still love this book, but not for the reasons I think he intended. It made some great points, like, why are we surprised when our children turn out like Romans when we sent them to Caesar? This is a top recommendation from me, but with the sidenote that I don’t fully agree with it theologically.

 

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

My father is a Professor in Children’s Literature, so by nurture, I am a reader. He gave me this book since he knows I am looking into homeschooling and, though it isn’t about homeschooling, I think it ought to be a vital resource for all parents – especially homeschoolers. Reading is so, so, so important for a child’s learning and for their well-being. Reading today in schools isn’t reading – it’s about quizes and comprehension. We need to go back to the belief that reading creates a love of learning, for life. One of my favourite schooling memories is when, at ten, our teacher read us aloud Watership Down. 

 

In my growing knowledge of how children learn, self-directed {or delight-directed} learning has really interested me. Allowing children to direct their learning by parents following their lead and providing outlines and lessons that fit into the child’s interests of the moment. Some call this unschooling, but I feel there is more parental guidance needed. This book studied the lives of famous homeschoolers and how they were educated impacted their pursuit of excellence {like Einstein, Teddy Roosevelt etc.}. Really interesting.

 

So there you have it. Have you read any of these? Would love your own recommendations!

The Foundation Years: Letting My Kids Just Be.

I wrote awhile back how we are considering homeschooling our two children. This is still very much on the cards, and my husband is about 70% convinced it’s a good schooling option {compared to the 5% when I first brought it up!}.
Just with every major life decision, I have spent much time in reading and praying over the reasons/positives/negatives about it all. And I can honestly say that, as I have done so, the Lord has really surprised me. 
My original reason why I wanted to educate our children at home {ie. there are no good schools in our area and I think God might want us to} is now a periphery reason. Even my conviction that it provides a really solid education is not where God has surprised me. My happy surprise has been this:
Home is where my children should be for as long as possible.
In all my reading, the conclusion I have come to is this: research shows that the influence of parents and family during a child’s foundational years is fundamental to their health and well-being. Not only that, but, educationally, children learn best when they can take their time and grow/learn at their own pace. Self-directed and guided learning in childhood sparks a life long joy and delight in learning.
I have never been a person who takes the status quo without thinking it through. That has always made me a bit different. My parents taught me from an early age to try and see past the surface to the why’s and how’s of situations and ideologies. My history degree taught me an array of new ideas and concepts, but most enduringly, the simple fact that our culture today is the odd one out.

And it frustrates me when others do not see this. They take the status quo and accept that either,

  • this is the way it has always been, or,
  • our society is more advanced now so this way must be better/more evolved/more fulfilling {and so it goes}.

Sometimes I feel my insides spiking a fever of “Use your brains! Think outside of now! The way things are doesn’t mean it’s better!”

And for Christians who, genuinely without realising I believe, I want to say,
“Just because our culture sends kids off to school at five-years-old doesn’t mean that it is right.”
 
Chocolate.
 
Childhood in western society today is a pendulum of experiences unlike any other in the past. They have health, they have freedom from work/pain/suffering/fear, they have education, they have gadgets, they have individuality. Children today have gained so much and yet, have lost so much as well. And the most significant loss I believe they suffer through is the loss of their family as the primary source of worth, friendship, learning and wisdom.
Time goes so quickly. My son is just over three – wasn’t he born not long ago? And my daughter, she is two in July. We no longer have babies in the house – but I have only been a mother three years. Time is just sucked up into the vacuum of fading memories. In less time that he has been alive, according to the status quo, I ought to be sending him to a place where he spends the majority of his days for the next thirteen years. 
Five years. That is all I’m “supposed” to get.
Historically, educationally, relationally, theologically that just doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t.
Now, I’m not ganging up on school. I wasn’t homeschooled – I’ve been to big schools, country schools, public schools and christian schools. I see great benefit in being in such an environment. But, I firmly believe now, only when children are ready
Schools in my area of New Zealand are changing dramatically. Modern Learning Environments are the new “thing” for education {even though they tried it in the sixties and it didn’t work, but hey, we have technology now and we are more advanced so that time/failure doesn’t count} and at the school my children are zoned for, they would be new entrants in a single building {with no walls} holding three hundred children. Three hundred. At five years old.
Why that makes sense when research {over and over again} shows children learn better the smaller the class room. Who knows what politicians are thinking?
Sensory bin.
Anyway, that is just not an option. And not just because it’s nuts. Primarily that is not an option because our children are our children. Our community and society can have them one day, but not yet. They are just not ready. They need time to mature, know their place in the world, grow in beliefs that are rejected in most institutions.
So until they areready {ten? eleven?}, I’m letting them be with us. Yes, we’ll do “proper” learning, but even then, it will look different. We’re going to read ridiculous amounts of books. We’re going on lots of walks. We’re going to kill lots of dragons with homemade bow and arrows. We’re going to listen to a lot of Batman by Danny Elfman {at least three times a day, currently}.
These foundation years, we never get them back. So I am grabbing hold of them and living them to the fullest. Childhood that is family {and not schooling and peers and fads} is back in. There is no status quo around here.