She’s a Spy!

She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
~Proverbs 31:27

Before becoming a full-time homemaker, I taught middle school for six years. We moved twice during that time, so my experience comes from three different school districts in two states, and I served students from many different backgrounds (including religious, racial, socioeconomic, national, etc.). A sadly common thread:

So many parents have no idea who their children really are, what their children really believe and value, how their children spend the majority of their time, or with whom they’re spending it. (Or they’re in denial.)

We could go down a road here talking about why that is, but that would be a never-ending road. There are so many factors, including the child’s own will and the enemy’s active work in his life. Not all of these children had lazy or careless or absent parents.

This is scary to me. It’s scary to look at my charming 18-month-old son and realize that I cannot ultimately control his choices or ultimately ensure his joy. Does that mean I’m powerless?

No!  

It means I have a lot of work to do! The verse above says that I am to look well to (look out or about, spy, keep watch, observe) the ways (goings and doings) of my household.

We’ve got to be spies, y’all! And what’s the first rule of being a spy? Well, I don’t know because I’m not one, but I’m going to say that it is this:

You must not accept what is merely apparent as being the full picture. (She looks well to the ways of her household.)

Accepting things at face-value makes for a terrible spy. “Well Mr. President, I personally met all the people on this list you gave me. They are all really charming, hospitable people. Some even bought my dinner and chatted with me about the merits of our country. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.” Someone’s going to end up dead if that spy is trusted! I submit to you that we need to take our roles as mommy spies just as seriously, because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

We’ve all heard of those families that seemed to “have it all,” or that were “so happy,” or that were “Christian,” but that ultimately fell apart. Or the children strayed and never embraced the values and beliefs of their parents, bringing them much grief and heartache. Well, what’s merely apparent is not really ever the full picture. We must have our eyes and ears open; we must be alert. This doesn’t mean we need to be creepy stalkers and control freaks. It simply means that we should be active students of our husbands and of our children, so that we know when something is amiss. We may not know exactly what is wrong, but we should be perceptive enough to pick up on the fact that something is.

This brings me to the second rule of being a spy:

You must pray your knees off. (She does not eat the bread of idleness.)

(This would be rule number one, except that it’s easy to have your head in the sand, taking things at face value and praying shallow or misguided prayers. How often do we pray idle prayers just out of habit? You need to have some understanding of what’s going on around you — as well as the gravity of what’s going on — before you can pray anything useful about it.)

The Power of a Praying Parent   -     By: Stormie Omartian

I have been reading and praying through The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian for a few months now. Every day during nap time, I pray through one chapter for my son. In this book, the author mentions a few times how she prayed regularly that God would reveal to her anything about her children that she needed to know in order to be a good mother to them. She has several stories where those prayers were answered, and areas of sin or struggle were revealed to her in unexpected ways. She was then able to pray more specifically and also to take specific actions when necessary. I very strongly recommend this book to parents of children of all ages; it’s never too early or too late to start praying specifically for them!

Christian ladies, we have the God of heaven and earth in our hearts. There is amazing power in that! He is the source of all wisdom and all truth, and our prayers through His Spirit are mighty! We must not be lazy or idle with our time, for “laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).

So many people are asleep spiritually. They are blinded to what’s happening in their hearts and in their homes; they’re oblivious to the active work of the enemy, who prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy. The idle man suffers hunger, and hunger can and does lead to death. Let us then be diligent, watchful spies!

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, I’m watching you! 

My Love, I’m watching you, too!

My God, thank You for watching over all of us. Make me an excellent wife and a wise mother, who watches not to be in control, but to be effective. Help me to love my men well and to see when something needs special attention. I know this is an immense responsibility — this wife-ing and mothering — but I also know that never once have I ever walked alone.

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)
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Letting Pride Be Your Guide

(Nahum 3)

I truly fear for my nation. Surely God’s mercy has a limit. Ask Sodom, Gomorrah, Nineveh. Ask Israel and Judah. Yesterday on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, one of the performances was by a group blatantly encouraging sexual perversion. Some of the men performing were cross-dressers, while the others were dressed in tiny shorts and thigh-high red leather spike-heeled boots. They addressed the audience: “Ladies and gentlemen, and those who have yet to make up their minds.” (Which I find confusing; isn’t the argument that this isn’t a choice? That people are “born this way”?) The song this group sang was all about accepting yourself — whomever you’d like to be, because “it’s beautiful” — so that you can accept others. “Let pride be your guide” seemed to be a climactic moment of the lyrical performance, while “celebrate you to elevate you” was a refrain.

Frankly, this is not about acceptance. It’s not. Many people participating and watching and celebrating this “progressive” performance may think it was, likening it to overcoming racism, but this is not the same thing. This is The Enemy at work. This is The Enemy targeting our children. What a happy topic to discuss with your child over turkey and dressing! “Mom, why is that man wearing red boots?” “Dad, is that a man or a woman?” Essentially, many families were undoubtedly forced to have age-inappropriate discussions that perhaps developed into arguments among the adults in front of the children. I’m thankful that my child wasn’t watching and was much too young to have any idea what he would have seen even if he had been. Who would have thought that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would do this, and that NBC would air it into our homes in the morning while all the children are home from school and waiting for Mom to finish cooking?

This is what America has become and is becoming. Later yesterday afternoon, my husband and I went to the Cowboys game because he got some free tickets at work. Susan G. Komen ads were all over the place. This organization is publicly known for its support of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the country! So by paying for a Cowboys ticket, (which we didn’t, but we did reap the benefits of someone else paying), you are contributing to the death of millions of babies. How quaint.

We are a country with an astronomical divorce rate, with millions struggling with addictions that destroy not only their hosts, but also the families affected. We are a country that disdains children as an inconvenience, tends to kill those that slip through to implantation, and then neglects, abandons, abuses, and intentionally perverts those who actually survive their mothers’ wombs. Even those children born into families determined to follow God and His intolerant ways are sucker-punched by NBC and Macy’s on Thanksgiving morning. How can God possibly stay His hand any longer?

Never mind the idolatry, greed, corruption, and exploitation that’s rampant in the government, in business, in sports and entertainment — our culture is so disgusting, yet we’re continually barraged with patriotic propaganda like unto the message from the cast of “Kinky Boots” yesterday morning: “Let pride be your guide.” (Whatever happened to letting your conscience be your guide? That was bad enough advice on its own, but it at least had a hint of morality to it.)

Pride. America. Old Glory. We should bleed nationalistic pride, right?! We are the land of the free and the home of the brave! More like the land of the licentious and the home of the shameless, like a prostitute spreading her legs under every green tree. Oh America, remember that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Remember that God is opposed to the proud.

Where will we be, America, if God is opposed to us?

Just ask Nineveh. Sodom, Gomorrah. Think we’re God’s people? Chosen? A Christian nation? God’s country? Then ask Israel and Judah what it was like when God’s mercy ran out. Repent!

Christ-followers: Let us be on our knees every day for our country, and let us be willing to obey Him with humble boldness. My brother recently exhorted me to learn obedience now, while the obeying is easy. What is the cost now? Very little. The time will come — perhaps sooner than we expect — when the price of obeying God is devastatingly high. If we can’t obey now, how will we obey then?

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

~Jesus, quoted in Matthew 10:24-39, emphases mine

Author’s note: 
I know that this post is polarizing and can set many against me, calling me an intolerant bigot. This was not intended to be a blog post, but rather originated as a journal entry very early this morning after I spent time meditating on Nahum 3. I finished the entry with the word, “Repent!” and then closed my journal to pray. Immediately, my spirit became unsettled, and I sensed God telling me to share what I wrote. Literally, what God whispered to me in the darkness, He asked me to proclaim in the light. I am not surprised if this invites hatred, though in my flesh I really hope it won’t. In my flesh, I hope no one notices this post. In the Spirit, though, I know God wanted me to write it because He will use it. Maybe for one, maybe for many, maybe simply as another example of the truth being told and ignored. I don’t know. I do know that I’m obeying what I felt God prodding me to do. May my words encourage you to search your hearts and see if you are in the faith, and to turn to Him.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5

Girded Loins and Strengthened Arms

She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
~Proverbs 31:17

Oh man. Here’s the verse I was dreading — the exercising one. Bah. Let me see if I can make it NOT about exercising… 😉

(Just kidding.)

(Kind of.)

“Gird” is a weird word that we don’t use often. In fact, I’ve mostly only heard it in reference to girding one’s loins in preparation for battle. In ancient times, men would pull up their robes and tuck them into their belts to allow more freedom of movement in battle. (I mean, imagine wearing a maxi dress in a sword fight. You’d hike up your dress, too!) So “to gird” means to surround with a belt, or to fasten with a belt; eventually, however, both the verb and the entire phrase just came to mean preparing for action or for a difficult task. And here in the Proverbs 31:17, the more literal translation is also “She girds her loins with strength.”

This whole idea creates a weird image in my mind. I begin to picture her literally tying up her dress for battle like the warriors, but then I get stuck on the word “strength.” How do you surround your loins with a belt of strength? It started as a literal image in my mind, but then I wonder if it’s more figurative. I cannot wrap strength around my waist.

(Unless I exercise.)

This verse is cool, albeit convicting. It seems to apply to any kind of strength, including physical, mental, and spiritual. The physical is obvious: keeping house and raising children requires physical exertion. She girds up (prepares) herself for hard work every day, and her body is strengthened. You can apply this also to intentional exercise, and I think you should. Being a homemaker in modern, Western society does not typically require the kind of physical labor that Jewel was accustomed to. Frankly, being a homemaker today can easily lead to flabby thighs and bat wings, no matter how busy you are with being domestic. I see it happening to me, and I’m still trying to work out a way to incorporate exercise into my routine with a busy baby underfoot! So yeah, this verse is about exercising. (Bah.)

But it’s also not. Jewel is daily going into battle against her selfish flesh, against the schemes of the enemy, against the culture; essentially she’s waging war against the spiritual darkness that is relentlessly trying to invade and conquer the little and big hearts living in her home.  So she must figuratively gird up her loins, or, as Peter instructs:

Therefore, prepare [literally: gird up] your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13

The task before us is great. We must be ready; we must intentionally seek to strengthen ourselves against the enemy. How? Well, we can’t do it ourselves:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

The very best and most important thing you can do for your family — and really for everyone you come in contact with — is to stay grounded in Him. Gird your loins and make your arms strong, for we go into battle every day.

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, is she a strong woman? I don’t mean the kind of strength that the world recognizes…the sarcastic and pushy kind. I mean the kind of woman with inner strength and fortitude, regardless of her circumstances. The kind of woman who is not shattered when her world shatters, but who looks up with bleary, blurred eyes and says to God, “I trust You and I praise You. Tell me what You would have me do, and I will do it.” Now that is a woman.

My Love, as per usual, I wish I were the woman I am recommending to our little guy! However, I take confidence in the working of the Holy Spirit as He refines me, and I am thankful for the wonderful example of strength and fortitude you are to me every day. I love you.

My Lord, You are the Source of all wisdom and strength, and only You know what each day holds for me. I ask for Your guidance as I face the enemy each day, and I pray that You fill me with Your supernatural strength to withstand his attacks and to guard my home.

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

Intentional Praise

I’ve been planning to write a post about my praise jar for about a week, but I just haven’t. I’ve been super-overwhelmed with a lot of things, (mostly Bennett and his notsleeping), and so I’ve put it off. Today, however, is so full of praises that I figured it was the very best day to write this post!

My neighbor, Rebecca, posted a very Pinterest-y idea the other day on Facebook:

I thought it was brilliant! I decided to make my own, with the specific intention of its being for praises. So here’s mine:

100_2374

No, I don’t dot my “i”s. In print. I do dot them in cursive. And yes, my jar is small. That’s what I had on hand. I’m hoping to upgrade when it gets full! Anyway, I wanted to make sure that my jar was prominently displayed in order to remind me of it, and I wanted to make sure that it was clear that this is all about making note of everyday praises. At the end of the year, I can look back and praise God very specifically for all the ways He blessed me during 2013! Awesome! I’m so excited, and I’m extra excited today, which is why I’m posting this particular post at this particular time.

I put several praise post-its in my jar today.

  1. I am exactly at my pre-pregnancy weight! Five months and three days after having my stomach sliced open and being handed a baby, and then curiously still being left with a giant belly and lots of pounds to lose! This is a great day. I celebrated by eating, and I’m going to celebrate again tonight by eating. 🙂
  2. Bennett’s notsleeping, as mentioned above, has been a huge issue. Huge. I’ve done everything I felt like I could do based on his age and my related discomfort with cry-it-out sleep training at his age. Anyway, my friend Alison gave me the courage to try something that she told me to wait until bedtime to try, so that I’d have my husband for reinforcement, but I tried it anyway at both naps today. BENNETT HAS TAKEN TWO NAPS TODAY WITH MINIMAL PROTEST! AND HE’S BEEN ASLEEP FOR AN UNINTERRUPTED ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES ON THIS SECOND NAP, AS I TYPE VERY EXCITEDLY IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS MUCH TO YOUR ANNOYANCE!
  3. I have an amazing husband who is a great encouragement and help to me every day.
  4. I have an amazing friend, Andrea. (I have lots of other amazing people in my life, too, but she was most recently amazing.)
  5. I have an amazing God, who has been preparing me extremely specifically through Scripture (the book of Titus) for a spiritual battle. He is sustaining me, comforting me, and encouraging me spiritually as this is happening during a season of both physical and emotional exhaustion (see #2 above).

Amen, and amen.

(You should make a praise jar, too. It’s too easy to forget or ignore the good things when there’s so much crumminess around that’s too easy to dwell upon.)