“Home is the true wife’s kingdom. There, first of all places, she must be strong and beautiful. She may touch life outside in many ways, if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. These are hers, and no other one’s.”
- JR. Miller
This week I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying about hospitality. About opening our home to others. As most of us do, we have a “Martha Stewart” pie-in-the-sky ideal of what that should look like. The invitation goes out. We have time to plan and prepare for the one(s) we have invited. Or, we have a group that comes each week and we serve and show our hospitality at that time. Reality then sets in and life happens, the invitation never gets sent in spite of all good intentions. The small group we wanted to invite over once a week never happens. It all falls through and our ideal is never realized.
So many times when I read about opening up my home to others, I cringe. Not because I don’t want to, but because I have three little men who like to stir things up all the time. I clean everything up, organize all the toys while they’re asleep, and they just mess them and the whole house up again the next day. We try to contain it in a couple of rooms, but as they get older, they want to be where we are, not confined to one or two room alone. Or I’ve washed the kitchen floor this morning, and by the time I get home at 5pm, it’s dirty again…how does that happen. How do I get ALL the clothes washed, folded and put away, and come home to a mountain of clothes again? And don’t get me started on the dirty dishes.
So my cringing inside is more about the state of my house, than the state of my heart. AND, I have come to realize that people are always in our house. From the babysitter who comes straight from class to go straight back to class…I have a hot meal on the table waiting for her when she arrives…to my husband’s computer business customers who come to get their computers fixed, but end up staying a couple hours confessing and talking with my husband…asking his advice, drinking a water or a coke (or even some dessert my son and I have made). My husband and I joke later about these customers, that they think he’s a priest and they’re going to confession…or that my husband is their best friend. But truly, they needed somewhere to go, someone to talk to, and my home and my husband were a safe haven for the moment.
I have even started to employ my oldest son who is five to take people their drinks or the plate of food I have prepared for them. He looks at me funny each time, but he does it. My asking him was not a conscious thought to “teach him hospitality”. I just wanted him to serve our guests; when I now sit down to think about it, subconsciously, I wanted to teach him a servant’s heart…show him what it means and how it feels to serve others.
So, in reality, what I thought I was not doing well, turns out to be my own overly-critical state of my mind. The hospitality we are showing is not the planned invite to dinner once a week, or the planned weekly meeting in my house. Ours is more spontaneous, but fits our family and our home.
“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” ~Proverbs 31:27
This verse is exactly where I am right now. About a year and a half ago (or a little more than that), I was convicted of my idleness at home. It wasn’t that I was not doing anything – I was overwhelmed by the fact that my family grew from three to five overnight. I was overwhelmed by going back to work after only 8 weeks home with my twins – jumping right back into the ring…starting to travel immediately. It was heartbreaking. I was overwhelmed by the fact that financially, I could not stay home with my boys.
I’m still overwhelmed at times, but now, I know God is with me. At the time, for about a year and a half after the twins were born, I wasn’t taking care of my home well, I wasn’t cooking well, I was only able to go to work and take care of the boys. Now, I’m learning to balance and juggle. Sometimes I have better days than others, but at least my house looks like I care about it again, and I’m trying to get everything done. I remember, during this time, reading Proverbs and realizing that my taking care of my home, my serving my family, was serving God. I changed my perspective from the earthly one…that I’m not doing this for my family, but for God. The job of a mom and a wife can be a thankless job at times. We are constantly serving others, even to our own detriment at times. We eat last, sleep last. Even, everyone else gets their doctor/dentist appointments, but we forget about ours. I recently went a year and a half without rescheduling a dentist appointment that I had to cancel. That’s the life of a mom who is working with God to manage her household.
It’s really hard not to worry right now. There are times I wake up and can’t go back to sleep at 3am because I’m worried we overdrew our account and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m worried about the payment to such and such bill that I can’t pay because we don’t get paid for another 10 days, which puts me behind in another bill.
This is a tough time right now not to worry. I’m waiting to hear if my oldest is accepted to the public magnet school for next year…and if he’s not, what’s plan B? I’m worried my husband won’t get any classes to teach this summer, and we’ll have another three months with no paycheck from his side, putting us further and further behind.
But, I don’t want to be that person who worries all the time. I am a control freak, but right now, this is really out of my control. I can only trust God to provide, and let it go, but I can’t. Praying about it helps, but then it happens again.
Times are tough all around, whether it’s finances, health, job, relationships….everyone’s got something on their plate that is out of their control. What we choose to do with the feelings it creates in us is what these verses are all about. We can worry about these things till we haven’t slept for days, so much that it makes us sick to our stomachs and put our heads in the ground because we can’t find a solution…but God asks us to dwell on Him…dwell on what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely and what is admirable…he will take care of the rest.
Recently, I’ve started praying with my oldest son about our finances. He sees a new toy that he’d like to have, but really, we just can’t right now. He has an understanding of something being too expensive…more so that not having any money. So, we are praying to God…not for the new toy, but that He would provide us with the money we need at the right times, and if that includes a new toy, so be it, but we are praying for God’s provision. Now, he doesn’t ask me for the new toy continually, he asks me if God gave us the money we need yet. I’m not sure in his just-turned-five mind what that means, but it reminds me that God is in control of this. He sees our need. He sees that we may not even have $2 to our name until Friday and that we have no meat in the house. He sees my struggle to pay bills and be a good steward now, in spite of mistakes we made in the past that got us into this situation in the first place.
Two nights ago I felt like Jesus feeding the 5000 (in a small way). I pulled the last of the meat out of the freezer and thought we only had two pieces, so I told my mother-in-law that I’d just eat rice and beans and let my husband and father-in-law have the meat. Not really a big deal to me. When I was separating the meat, there were actually four pieces and enough for all. I gave the glory to God that He saw our need and provided. It’s in the little things. It was only one meal, and left us “meat-less” after that, but it was one meal. He tells us not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough of its own. I need to focus on the NOW. I need to focus on the good things and leave the difficult and seemingly impossible up to God. That doesn’t mean I won’t do my share, that I won’t go to work or call the bill companies to work it out, but I will leave the huge insurmountable details up to God.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” ~Philippians 4:8
All of the boys started preschool yesterday. All three only go two days a week, but it’s a good start.
Alexander was the “big boy on campus” yesterday – one of the older ones in his class (going to Kindergarten in 1 year). Since yesterday, he won’t stop talking. He’s wired and excited and I’m so happy!
The twins enjoyed their first day. Mommy was more nervous than they were….but they wore themselves out big time. We showed up to pick them up at 12:30, after lunch. They were playing and the doors were locked at the top (I thought – most likely for my boys who always try to escape to freedom). We were welcomed by their teacher, and stood talking with her for several minutes, observing our boys…our babies…who sure didn’t look like babies anymore. Where did the time go.
Their teacher proceeded to tell us that today was a day of learning for all. Different from the day before (when the twins didn’t go), they kept the doors locked all day at the top, and constantly reminded the boys where to be. When the class went outside to play, they double-locked the gate so that the kids (Maximus) would not try to get out. I only nodded and smiled. She told me that they worked today to reinforce to Maximus that he could not climb on the tables, that he could not eat 9 grape halves at the same time. I only nodded and smiled. I commented, “The story of our life.”
Later that day, I was thinking about the teacher’s comments, feeling a little bad and sorry for their “behavior”. But in all actuality, they are NOT bad boys, it’s not a discipline problem. They are happy boys, with a lot of energy, excited about life. They observe life from the thick of things. They like to get their hands and bodies involved in their observations. They aren’t ones to stand on the side and just observe….they want to participate….they want to experience all there is about life. You can see that in the way they eat, in the way they play, in the way they smile, in the way they hug, even in the way they sleep.
So…this mama will not apologize for her good, happy, energetic boys. She will nod and smile, drop them off two mornings a week praying for their teachers’ sanity and for her boys’ safety. She will revel in the fact that they love life, and will never regret that they were fully involved in all that they did.
And I can see them one day, strong men, who persevere to the end with all they do. Maximus, so focused on getting something done and doing it right, but experimenting with other options all along the way. Marcus going into every situation with a smile, striving to do it right the first time, but having fun in the process.
You’re my best friend.
You’re STILL my best friend.
Forever and the earth.”
~Alexander, age 4 1/2, August 10, 2013
Sunday morning, Alexander woke up in our bed and said:
“While I was sleeping, I was on the playground at school
And eagles came
And we had balloons on our head
And we fly”
He said this all with a smile – what a nice dream.