Monday, September 10, 2018

Can a Family Thrive When the Woman Works?

In my line of work, conversation is a big part of my every day routine.  A client sits in my chair to get her hair styled and we talk for 30 minutes up to several hours.  Some clients don’t like to share anything personal and would rather just sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.  Other clients pour out their entire life story every time they come in and I feel like I know them better than their doctor does.  Most clients, however, fall into a very natural give and take conversation as we make connections that help us get to know one another.  She shares what’s going on in her life, I share what’s going on in mine and we have a wonderful time of fellowship while I’m working on her hair.  I love this part of my job!

Every so often, someone will say something during our conversation that will have me deep in thought for weeks.  One such conversation happened a little over a month ago.  We were just chatting like normal about our lives and what we’ve been up to.  She doesn’t come in very often so we had a lot to catch up on.  She wanted to know how the business was going since my most recent move, how the church was going, how my family was…. all the normal things my clients who know me ask when they come in.  I started sharing with her some of the things I’d been working on for my business as well as some of the goals I have in regards to my ministry and calling.  

Her next question to me just will not leave my brain.  She seemed very impressed by my dreams and ambition.  Then she asked me “how does your husband handle you being so driven?  Is he supportive of you??”  I won’t share every detail of the conversation that followed, but the idea that a Christian woman is not allowed to have her own calling, dreams, or ambitions apart from pouring solely into her husband’s makes me so very sad. 

Ironically, one of the things that has been on my heart to start working on is a series of blog posts for the Christian working woman.  There are thousands of blogs, social media posts, articles, and support sites for the christian wife and mom.  I think they are awesome, but never felt qualified to add too much to the discussion because in reality, deep down, I felt inferior as a wife and mom next to these perfect “biblical” women I was measuring myself up against.  These women who were writing and teaching about biblical womanhood were stay at home moms.  They had perfect recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, even creative snacks.  They have card systems specially designed to make sure that every nook and cranny of your housework is done on a very consistent schedule.  Crafts for kids of all ages, activities to do with your family, how to get the best deals on groceries….the list is endless!  I, on the other hand, am lucky if I have the time and energy to eat, let alone put together creative snacks that will entertain my family.  

Here’s the reality of my life:

1. I don’t cook anymore.  When I did cook it was anything that could be taken out of a box and tossed in the oven for 30 minutes or eaten cold.  Occasionally, I can pull out a nice 3-course meal with dessert.
2. I don’t do the daily cleaning.  My husband and I taught our kids to clean and they are responsible for the “normal” daily chores plus whatever extra cleaning we ask them to do.  I do deep cleaning as I’m able… not that often.
3. If my kids don’t tell me about an activity (or more likely the school doesn’t announce something) and I already have appointments booked, there’s a good chance I won’t be making that activity.
4. My kids weren’t involved in every sport and activity they wanted to do. (They weren’t involved in everything I wanted either)  Most activities outside of school would require Sunday involvement and that is a non-negotiable in our home.
5. My husband and I are madly in love with each other.  He supports everything I have ever set out to do, and I support him just as much.  We are a team.  He loves me deeply, I respect him immensely and submit to his leadership in our home.  Our marriage is strong and healthy.  We have weathered many, many….many storms together and are stronger for it.
6. My kids are absolutely amazing!  We get complimented ALL THE TIME about how awesome, respectful, mature, well-rounded, and amazing they are.  I am not a perfect parent, but I know that they are loved by a perfect God and I pray consistently for my children and have since before they were even born.
7. I still feel insecure, inadequate, and inferior.  I second guess myself all the time largely due to the “comparison game” that God is still teaching me to quit playing.

Here’s what I want to convey in this series of blog posts to the Christian wife or mom who is driven by her career/ministry:

1. The Bible does not say anywhere that women can’t work or can’t be called to ministry.  In fact, there is much support to the contrary.  We’re going to look at these passages together and measure our foundation based on biblical truth.
2. You are not inferior.  Staying home with your kids, homeschooling, having your hair and makeup done every day, cooking and cleaning all day every day, keeping the laundry done, creating crafts, having play dates, putting your kids in every fun activity they want to do….. None of these things will make you a better mom.
3. Ignoring a call to a career or ministry is disobedient.  We must follow the Lord’s leading in our life and teach our children to do the same.
4. You can follow your calling without sacrificing your ultimate calling as wife and mother.
5. There is a right way and a wrong way to follow your call. 
Beware of the traps the enemy will set up for you.
6. I want to share practical tips to keep a healthy marriage and family as you pursue whatever it is God is calling you to do.

If you are a working woman who feels like you’re not good enough, I hope that you will join me in this journey.  I hope that you find the encouragement and support that you desperately need.  I plan to write a new post every Monday, so make sure you sign up for email notifications to receive new posts as they are uploaded!  Just click the "follow" button at the top of the right sidebar.

Please share with me as you read my blog!  I love conversation and I want to hear from you.  What are your struggles?  What are your dreams?  What are your fears?  How are you pursuing God’s call in your life and how are you safeguarding your family?  Let’s chat!  Post your comment below.

Monday, August 20, 2018

3 Baby Steps to Get Back in Shape

Trying to work out when you have an auto-immune disease that primarily attacks your nerves and muscles can be nearly impossible.  If I don't work out, the scale keeps climbing and the extra weight amplifies the symptoms of the disease building a vicious cycle of trying to stay as healthy as I can.  I started up again a few months ago and could barely make it through 3 minutes on the Elliptical and IF my muscles were up to it I could lift between 25-30 pounds on any given weight machine.  Gradually, I was able to increase those numbers to 10 minutes on the Elliptical and 80 pounds on most machines!  I was so proud of myself to see growth!  Then, we went to New York City for a week.  Didn't work out while I was gone other than a few squats a day to make myself feel like I was doing something.  Then, we had to replace our washer and dryer and decided to paint the laundry room when we returned.  Didn't work out that week either.  Then, I went with my husband to a weekend martial arts camp he was leading.  Didn't work out again.  When I finally got settled into my normal routine, I went back to the gym and was so discouraged that I had declined in what I was able to accomplish!  Thankfully, this break in workout was fairly short and it didn't take me very long to get back to where I was before.  Today's workout was back to 10 minutes and 80 pounds!

As I was reflecting while I was pushing myself this morning, I was reminded that this is exactly how our spiritual walk goes.  When you accept Christ as your personal savior and become a Christian, you begin a spiritual journey called sanctification.  As you learn and grow in your walk with Christ, your spiritual muscles are being trained and getting stronger.  Just like my auto-immune disease though, your sin can fight against your growth if you allow it to.  Unlike my auto-immune disease, there is a cure for sin and as a Christian you can have complete healing and victory over your sin!  If for some reason you do stop learning and growing, your spiritual muscles get cold and weaker so you have to kick start them again.  Just as in physical exercise it's necessary to stay faithful and consistent in your spiritual growth.

If your spiritual muscles are weak and cold, here are a few baby steps to get you going again in your spiritual strength training!

1.  Make a commitment now to attend a church that preaches the whole truth of the Word of God, not "feel good" preaching.  Then, go to church no matter the excuse.

2.  Find a reading plan and schedule 15 minutes a day to read your Bible and jot down notes of any thoughts or questions that come up.  (I like to pick a book of the Bible, read it, make notes in it, mark it off in my table of contents and then pick another book.  When all the books are checked off, I get a new Bible and start again!)

3.  Grab a $1 tablet from the store and schedule 15 minutes a day to write out your prayers to God.

If you do these 3 things, faithfully, you will QUICKLY see yourself growing by leaps and bounds and your spiritual muscles getting stronger and stronger.  That 15 minutes will quickly turn into an hour before you know it.  As you grow, push yourself more and more by doing deeper Bible Studies, listen to sermons online, listen to christian music, join a life group, serve in your church.... whatever your next step is, take it. 

If you fall away for a time, get back to it as quickly as you can.  The longer you wait, the colder those muscles get and the harder it will be to get going again. 

YOU CAN DO THIS!  If I can do 10 minutes on the elliptical with massive, incurable muscle pain, you can read your Bible for 15 minutes a day.  Join me in the journey of spiritual exercise, won't you?!

P.S.  I was doing 30 minutes on the treadmill but I get a much better workout doing 10 on the elliptical.  Quality and consistency is a much more important than quantity.