This may be the longest post yet because I have so much to add about my own struggles and convictions. This is such a wonderfully challenging series for me personally and God is really using it to bring me to a higher place. I fail daily- miserably- at the high calling of motherhood He has placed on my life. Some days I struggle just to believe that He can make me a lovely, joyful, life-giving mother- but He can! I'm convinced it all works together as part of the sanctification process. As I am daily dying to self, daily learning that I can't do anything in my own strength, daily realizing my need for heart change, He so graciously and lovingly changes me for the good. Thank You God!
Nancy starts part three by going back to the anointing of mothers as LIFE-GIVERS. We are far more than physical life-givers. We are to be life-givers with our WORDS. The Bible teaches that our tongues hold the power of life and death! Blessings or curses! Every word we speak to our husbands and children, either ministers life or death unto them. We can build our homes our destroy them with our words. "The mouth of the righteous is a well of LIFE." -Proverbs 10:11; "The tongue of the righteous is choice silver." -Proverbs 10:20; The Living Bible says in Proverbs 12:25, "A word of encouragement does wonders!" James talks about the mighty power of the tongue. In Song of Solomon, where God is the groom and we are His Bride, He says of us, "Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb; Honey and milk are under your tongue." Honey is SWEET! God wants our lips to speak SWEETLY to our families! Hebrews 3:13 says, "Encourage one another daily, while it is still called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." He wants us to encourage each other every single day! Nancy suggested getting a notebook where you can keep a checklist for each day of the week in one column, each family member and/or other friend you want to encourage, and look at it before bed each night to see who you can check off that you verbally encouraged. If you make it your aim to encourage each family member daily, you will do it. If you just shoot for once in awhile, it will seldom happen because we get so busy with other things. And at the end of the day, if there was someone on your list you didn't encourage, ask the Holy Spirit to show you specific ways you can lift them up the next day and DO IT.
*Side note- this is not from The Lovely Home but I wanted you to know about a great book my mother gave me that helps show specific ways you be an encourager to your family. It's The Power of the Positive Mom by Karol Ladd. Get it today. :) *
Find the unique, specific, God-given gifts of your children and help them to pursue those gifts. Encourage and uplift them toward their bents. In Nancy's words, "Homeschooling mothers, all children do not have to learn the same things at the same time! How boring! How status quo! We are raising unique creations of God with very specific callings on their lives! Look for what inspires your child and let him or her become a genius at it! You are raising geniuses, not mediocre little copies of the world!" :)
She told of a man she knew who became interested in 1965 Chevys when he was a little boy. His parents helped him to pursue it, and he became the area expert at Chevrolets. Grown men came to him for help with their cars! As he got older and well-meaning people asked when he was going to do something "real" like engineering or medicine or law, he just shrugged it off and kept pursuing his dream. Now he is a very successful entrepreneur with a Chevy repair shop who LOVES his job! How many people do you know who never pursued their passions, never reached for the stars, and are now working boring jobs that they hate?! Let's not do that to our children. Let's encourage them to go for the gold. "Eye has not seen, nor ear has heard, nor have entered into the hearts of man, the things which the Lord has prepared for those who love Him." -1 Corinthians 2:10
Nancy asked how we usually start our days when our children. Do we say an unenthusiastic, "Here's your breakfast" or do we say, "Good morning children!! This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! I can't wait to see what wonderful things God will show us today, can you?" :) One way we can make sure we get a start on this in the mornings is as we are getting up, say to ourselves, "I am a life-giver!! I am speaking LIFE into my home today!" And SMILE whether we feel like it or not. Our children will reflect what they see in us. Want happy children? Be a happy momma.
Another way we can be LIFE-GIVERS in our homes is by feeding our families life-giving foods. God gives us new babies who have life-giving cells (enzymes) inside them. We are to be constantly replenishing those stores of enzymes, which by the way are constantly being depleted, so that our children can THRIVE. Nancy suggested when making a grocery list that you put at the top, as a reminder, "I am a life-giver!" and maybe you will buy life-giving foods. :) Of course, I heard this today right after feeding my children a lunch of PBJs and Goldfish crackers. We have a lot of work to do. :) One way I am hoping to implement this "life-giving food" is by placing fresh cut-up raw veggies in a tray in the middle of our table for the kids to graze on throughout the day. Yes, we may have to have some ranch dressing in the middle to make it appetizing, but a tray of raw veggies is way more life-giving than Goldfish, I guarantee. :) We are buying whole wheat and whole grains and trying to do the hormone-free meat thing. Baby steps. My goal is for my children to enjoy a healthy, wholesome diet that will be life and health to their bones.
Finally, Nancy got to the third image God gives us of the lovely home in Numbers 24. Lovely homes are like "aloes planted by the Lord." Aloes are associated with FRAGRANCE. God wants us to have fragrant homes. Not exactly literally, although that is nice too :), but the fragrance is really the atmosphere of the home. Again in Nancy's words, "Homeschooling mothers, mere information is not education! The atmosphere you create in your home will be far more important than any teaching of facts and figures that you will ever do!" As it said "aloes planted by the Lord", when we are walking with the Lord and in the Spirit we will give off lovely fragrances of joy and love and kindness. But when we are planted in the flesh and walking in the flesh, we will give off the horrible fragrances of self-pity, negativity, bitterness, and anger. In the Old Testament, the priests went into the tabernacle every morning and lit the incense which gave off a nice aroma throughout the day. But they had to light it again by evening because it was burning away. In the same way, mothers have to "light their incense" (spend time with God) in the morning and again by afternoon to stay fresh and aromatic.
These things aren't easy. I admit to you that almost daily I get impatient with the children. Penelope is constantly into something she shouldn't be and Maggie is always wanting to be read to or played with and Rosemary constantly needs a clean diaper or makes a mess or puts something in her mouth that she could choke on and then Allie still hasn't finished her math or needs help right now with this or that. Some days I indulge in self-pity and other days I just gripe at them all. These are not pretty days. These challenges from God's Word have raised the bar for me and brought me to a higher realization of my need for daily infusion of God's Holy Spirit. I need Him every hour.
*A few verses from 2 Corinthians that have spoken LIFE to me as I strive to create a lovely atmosphere in our home:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."(4:7)- Praise God, the power is in HIM, and not in me! I couldn't do it on my own!
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." (9:8)- Grace. Oh, sweet grace of God, I love you. Thank you. Always having all sufficiency, and abundance for every good work sound like pretty precious promises as well. Oh thank You Lord!
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:58)- Huah! We can do it!! . . . "Or do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." (1 Cor. 9:24)
By God's grace, I can create a lovely home. So can you, Mother. So can you!
Stay tuned for Part 4. . .