Saturday, November 22, 2014

Raised in a Filthy Home to Becoming a Neat Freak

I {the joy filled wife} am a self-professed clean freak. To say that I’m a bit obsessive compulsive and perfectionistic when it comes to the condition of my house would be an understatement and a half! Contrary to how most people are who fit into that category, I do not think that being so overly rigid about the condition of my home is a healthy way to live. I think that cleanliness and tidiness are extremely important, but, just like anything else in life, we can turn it into an idol if we are not careful to keep it in proper perspective. My husband has helped me relax a little bit and to get to a place where I can see a crumb on the counter without feeling stressed.

My “neat freak-ness” is much less about what my guests will think and much more about how my home makes my husband and me feel. My husband grew up in a very tidy household and his family had a housekeeper who cleaned weekly for almost his entire life. I, on the other hand, grew up in the opposite type of home. My mother absolutely hated just about every aspect of her domestic responsibilities, from cooking, to cleaning, to organizing, and so on. She was actually a pretty good cook, but she constantly verbalized her displeasure of cooking meals and I am 100% certain that her displeasure in cooking influenced my displeasure in cooking. When it comes to a tidy household, however, that is something I intentionally became proficient at as I grew up because of how unhealthy and chaotic the conditions I grew up in were. To give you an illustration of how bad things truly were, I will set up the scene for you ~

On any given morning, I would wake up to clothes, toys, papers, household items, food, beverages, and remnants of unidentifiable items completely covering the floor. Many nights, I would have nightmares about a killer breaking in to get my family and the floors and rooms being so covered with junk that I couldn’t reach them in time to save them. Most mornings, I would just lay in bed, completely overwhelmed and anxious at the thought of even getting up. When your entire home is filled up with junk, sometimes piled as high as mid-wall, it is very difficult to feel very motivated to do much of anything.

Three incidences come to mind when I think about how disgusting the conditions were in my home growing up. The first one was walking on top of various clothes and items on the floor to get to the other side of the living room and feeling something crunch under my feet. Horrified yet curious, I removed the items underfoot and found what I had stepped on: an extremely stale piece of dried buttered toast that had been abandoned by its owner. I shook my head in disbelief, wondering how long that piece of toast must have been sitting under those clothes and who would have left the remnants of their breakfast on the living room carpet without giving any thought to what would become of it.

My second memory was of a time when my mother had asked me to move a lamp from one of the bedrooms to another. As I opened the door to my sibling’s room, I smelled a horrible sour odor wafting through the air. With junk covering every inch of the floor, beds, dressers, and so on, I didn’t bother trying to figure out where it was coming from. As I reached toward the outlet to unplug the lamp, however, I noticed the smell getting stronger and more putrid. I looked around the surrounding area and gasped in disgust as I located the source of the stench. It was a half-consumed glass of moldy orange juice. The mold had been growing for so long that it looked like an island floating in the middle of the ocean with fuzzy green and gray mountain ranges. All I can remember wanting to do was to get as far away from it as possible and pretend it never happened.

My third memory -- one that I want to apologize in advance for grossing anyone out about -- is, by far, one of the discoveries that created the biggest desire in me to change. It was the time of year around our house where siblings were switching bedrooms to give a new set of siblings the chance to rotate sleeping in the most desirable bedroom. We were moving around beds, junk, dressers, lamps, bookshelves, and everything that had accumulated in each bedroom. As you can imagine, with as much junk as was stored in each room, this was sometimes a week-long process. Well, one day, as I was moving one of my sibling’s bookshelves over to make room for mine, I stopped dead in my tracks. Piled up on the side of the bookshelf {where I had just placed my hands} and smeared all over the surrounding wall, was piles and piles of dried mucus that my sibling had wiped on those surfaces instead of using a tissue. I was so horrified, I ran to my mom, at a loss of what to do. She shook her head and laughed, then went back to what she was doing. I asked her how I was supposed to move into a room with something so disgusting smeared all over the wall. She told me just to ignore it.

I realize that, at this point, you’re probably wishing you hadn’t read this post. I feel your pain, trust me. But what I hope to help you see is that, even though I was not a naturally clean or tidy child growing up, my circumstances motivated me to change in a big way as I got older and realized that I didn’t want my future children to grow up in the type of oppressive living conditions that I did. There was no appreciation shown, care given, or thought put into the atmosphere of the household. Our family was constantly late because it would take us hours to find what we were looking for, we wore stinky clothes over and over because all of the clean clothes were mixed in with the dirty ones, and we all lived in a state of mental anxiety and panic because the world we lived in was disorganized, lazy, and chaotic. God is the God of order. He does not desire that we run our households carelessly or lazily. 

I heard my father communicate his displeasure to my mom several times over the years regarding the condition of the home when he came home from work, but nothing ever changed. One day, when I was about 13, I overheard my dad talking to my mom privately about the issue one last time and something inside of me snapped. Disappointed that my mother never cared enough to submit to my father on this issue, and upset at the way none of my siblings were required to follow-through with assigned chores, I vowed in my heart to show honor to my father by granting his wishes for a clean and tidy home, even if I had to give up all of my activities, events, and free time to do it.

From the time I was 13 until the time I moved out as an adult, I single-handedly cleaned and maintained our home each and every day. My siblings were not required to follow-through on any of their assigned chores, so I did every household chore myself so that my father would have a smile on his face and feel relaxed when he came home from working his 6am-7pm job, 7 days a week, so my mom could stay home with us. My siblings and friends often referred to me as “Cinderella” because I would refuse to leave the house and do anything fun until it was was in the condition I wanted my father to come home to. I skipped many events over the years, including birthday parties and my prom, because my siblings had left the home a complete disaster before they left the house. If I let the house remain as-is and went off to the event with them, my father would come home to a house in complete disarray and felt disrespected and unappreciated. I couldn’t bear the thought of that, so I did what I believed was the right thing to do. From the day my father found out that all the hard work around the house was done by me alone, I don’t think a single day went by without my father thanking me, telling me what a blessing I was, how proud I made him, and what a good wife he thought I would make one day. I thrived on seeing the smile on my father’s face each day, knowing that he could see that at least one person recognized all of his hard work and sacrifice and wanted to show appreciation to him for it.

To wrap up this post, I want to say that I don’t think I am better than everyone else because of how I maintain my home. I don’t think that the cleanliness, organization, or condition of our home determines our value in God’s eyes. I merely believe that, as wives, we have been entrusted with maintaining the affairs of our household and how we respond to that responsibility speaks loud and clear to our children, our husband, and others who may be looking up to us as Christian wives. During my teenage years when I missed so many things in my own life to bless my father, there were a handful of times when I felt frustrated and resentful toward my mother and siblings for their utter disrespect for my father. Although many people pointed out that the arrangement didn’t seem fair to me {and at times I agreed}, I look back on those years with gratefulness. Although the situation wasn’t ideal, it taught me how to sacrifice my own desires in order to bless others. The Lord used that situation to teach me how to work really hard and to pay attention to the tiny details that make a big difference over time. Most of all, though, it taught me how important it is for my children to see me serving my husband and blessing him each day, even if it means that I have to give up some of my own pleasures in the process. When we choose to lay our lives at the feet of the cross and exchange it for God’s perfect plan for us -- sacrifices and all --  we will impact the lives of those around us in a bigger way than we could ever have imagined.

For though I am free from all, 
I have made myself a servant to all, 
that I might win more of them.
I Corinthians 9:19

Friday, November 21, 2014

Huge Firestorm Over Barbie's New Book

A mother bought her two small daughters a book called Barbie: A Computer Engineer. Barbie begins having trouble with her laptop because a virus collapsed it. Two of her male friends come over. "It will go faster if Brian and I help," offers Steven. "Great!" says Barbie. The boys fix the computer for her. Nice story, right? Wrong!

A woman wrote a blog in response to the book and it that went viral. {I won't link to it since it uses foul language.} This blog called this book "insulting" and "dangerous for young minds." Online people completely agreed and one woman wrote, "Thank you, Barbie...for showing me that it's A-OK for women to sit back and let men take care of everything." Another editor of something replied, "We want our young girls to feel they're capable for anything and everything without question."

The Barbie book's author was shocked at the reaction. She made Barbie's friends males "since computer technology is a male dominated no way trying to degrade women by doing that." Mattel, the publishers responded, "The book was published in 2010. Since that time we have reworked our Barbie books. The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn't reflect what Barbie stands for..." Mattel has said that the book has been discontinued. {source}

Therefore, a blog post went viral because it portrayed Barbie as the helpless victim who needed boys "gasp" to come to her rescue. THIS used to be the story line for many romantic books and movies in the past. Men would ride in on their horses and rescue damsels in distress. Oh no! Not for today's liberated women. We need to be able to fix everything and do everything by ourselves because, "We are women. Hear us roar!"

You can't even find this book on Amazon anymore last I looked because this will just destroy young girls and cause them to think that men can help them or maybe even rescue them. We have SO emasculated men and their roles as protectors and providers that it is downright UGLY and we wonder why men no longer want to open doors or treat us with respect!

I LOVE that Ken can fix the computer when it breaks. He fixes many things for me and I appreciate it so much. I like having a man around to help in time of need. I can't lift heavy things so I ask the men in my life to help. They'll put up my Christmas tree for me next week. They change my heavy water filters for me when they need changing. My boys use to change the oil in our cars. They even open jars for me! Men are the ones who build homes, buildings, jets, highways, etc. They are the mechanics, electricians, and plumbers. I have NEVER minded calling a man to fix any of these things. Have you?

I'm sorry but this has gone too far. Everyone gets offended over anything and everything. Gays want the Duggars off of television because they believe in traditional marriage the way God intended it to be. Little girl books get pulled off of shelves because boys come and help Barbie. Am I going crazy or is this sheer stupidity???

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; 
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
 that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Does Having Too Many Children Steal Your Life?

For some reason, today's "enlightened" woman feels like she can only handle a few children. They are expensive, time consuming, and exhausting. She desperately "wants" a life and too many children would steal that life she craves.

I have watched the Duggars with 19 children, the Bates with 19 children, and another family in Colorado with many children who live in a large trailer type home. I have read about the journals of a mother in Illinois who lives in a trailer on a homestead with an amazing marriage and all nine of her children are growing up walking with Jesus. When Alyssa was with Ballet Magnificat in Mississippi, she would bump into many homeschooling families with many children and tell me they were the most well-behaved children. One of her ballet friends who came from a very large family was the most generous, kind person she had ever met.

Erin from Keeper Of The Homestead has five children, keeps a very clean home, home schools her children, runs a homestead and a successful blog, and helps others in need yet lives in daily physical pain. Also, at the young age of 32, she found out she could no longer have any more children and she grieved. She knew it was a privilege to have children and raise them for the Lord.

The majority of these families do not have a lot of family around to support them. What I have noticed about them, however, is that the Lord always provides for them. They are well-nourished, body and soul. The husbands and wives work hard and raise children that are not afraid to work.

We think that if we don't do it our way {have only a few children in our timing}, we won't be happy {have lots of free time to do as we please}. We forget our purpose in life is to be living sacrifices and live lives that bring glory to the Lord. Having children and raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is glorifying to Him.

Kelly Crawford is a mother of ten children. She has a blog which is one of my very favorite blogs. She doesn't write often but when she does, they are very good. She recently wrote about the misconceptions that other people have about mothers who have many children. One of the main misconceptions I hear is that they must be "superwoman" and have an abundance of energy. Her answer ~

Not at all. None of those things. From my vantage point, I’d say one reason the Lord has given me 10 children is because I need such a constant lesson in patience. We haven’t been given anything extraordinary that helps us cope with a passel of children. We just rely on fall desperately upon God’s grace and take one day at a time. And like any other circumstance, we do the next thing, figuring out what works as we go.

God speaks about a man that has many children this way ~

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
 Psalm 127:5

God thinks having many children is a good thing, a very good thing. If He views this as something good, we should also and depend upon His strength and His provision to be able to love and care for these little eternal beings that He blesses us with.

***This article states that there are groups that want to get rid of the Duggar's show on television because they stand up for Truth. Please sign this petition to keep them on television and their right to stand for traditional marriage. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Superwoman Gives Way to Tiredness

One of the founders of the modern day Feminist Movement and I have found some common ground. Betty Friedan wrote in her last book, The Second Stage, “I sense the exhilaration of 'superwomen' giving way to a tiredness, a certain brittle disappointment, a disillusionment with 'assertiveness training' and the rewards of power. The equality we fought for isn't livable, isn't workable, isn't comfortable, in terms that structured our battle.”

No, Betty Friedan did not convert to Christianity or have an “ah ha” moment walking away from feminism. Instead, she saw a feminist movement that had gone too far in not simply trying to seek equality for women, but in trying to make women like men: "What price women's equality, its beneficiaries, are trying to beat men at their own old power games, and taking their strenuous climb onto and up the corporate ladder, falling into the traps men are beginning to escape, forgoing life's satisfactions basic for men and women, and shortening their own lives.”

To Friedan, the first stage of feminism had won. Great strides were made in women’s equality both socially and in the workplace. But now her call was to stem the excesses of the movement, based in large part from the many disillusioned women she was hearing from regularly. “I hear such sullenness from some younger women who are now living their person hood as women as if this somehow excludes all those emotions, capacities, needs that have to do with having babies, mothering children, making a home, loving and being loved, dependence and independence, softness and hardness, strength and weakness, in the family.”

 Friedan is making my case for a full and free choice for women to stay at home and enjoy the fruit of motherhood, without feeling like somehow they are missing out. When in reality all of the qualities of truly being feminine are found in those who accept as their primary role that of being wives and mothers to their family. For Friedan, “the movement to equality and the person of women isn’t finished until motherhood is a fully free choice.”  

Although Betty Friedan and I are not close to being on the same page, we can both agree that an equal respect for all persons is an appropriate ideal. Jesus and Paul were the original pioneers of giving dignity to women and the apostle Paul makes it  clear that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" {Galatians 3:27-28}. There should be equality of person hood for all people. But women are not men, and we carry about in our body and mind a structure that makes us ideal for nurturing a family, not putting in hours at work trying to climb the corporate ladder. Both nature and the Bible argue for having Christian women stay at home and raise the next generation of godly offspring.

What is really sad is the fact that most of today's Christian women haven't even opened their eyes to the destruction women leaving their homes has had on society. They are doing everything they can to get on the treadmill of a full-time career without taking into consideration becoming a wife and mother. Ask a little girl what she wants to do when she grows up and she will rarely say a wife and mother. When asking a homemaker what they do, they answer, "Oh, I am JUST a housewife" as if this job has no value compared to jobs in the workforce.

Okay, feminists and Christians, Friedan has proclaimed the first stage of the movement over, and now is the time to get back into balance. We must once again value what is of most eternal value which is family. Why are we, as believers, training up our daughter to have an education and career, but watering down the value in preparing to become a godly, submissive homemaker? We must think long and hard about this issue. How many people have you won to the Lord in the past ten years? Yet, God said the purpose of marriage is to produce godly offspring. Those children under your roof, they can be used mightily by the Lord. You have more power to affect this society and the Kingdom with those little people under your roof than you do any other way.

If a founder of the feminist movement can see the harm that has been wrought on women by the feminist movement, shouldn't we? Let’s acknowledge, like Friedan, that the first stage is over and the second stage needs thoughtful reflection so as not to end up once again disillusioned and thinking that “the grass is greener on the other side.”

Unfortunately, Betty Friedan’s voice of caution, concern and reason has all but been tossed aside with many preferring to only see her hardened battle words of The Feminine Mystique in her first book. Some in the movement echo her cries, but look for yourself and you will find her more experienced and enlightened words from her second book are almost hidden, or embarrassingly set aside by the movement she helped to found. Try to find one quote from The Second Stage on the Internet. They are few and far between. {It was difficult for us to even find a copy of the original book!} It is time for many to read the book and learn from the many personal stories she gives of those who could not find fulfillment just because they chased a very bad dream.   

Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
 for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:7