Hard Work, Taking Thoughts Captive – Part 2

The tasks set before a Christian wife and mother are high callings from the Lord. While they can involve a great deal of hard work, we want to embrace our jobs with joy. In last month’s Mom’s Corner I discussed this part of the workload of being a mother. Now let’s look at some of the practical aspects. Are there ways to manage our workload and perhaps even lighten it?

I simply cannot speak highly enough of the benefits a schedule brings to a mom in her ability to keep up with life. I knew a daily schedule helped me immensely. However, since the publication of our book on scheduling (Managers of Their Homes), I have heard the same thing from many other moms who have begun to schedule their days.

While I am not going to try to recap all that is in Managers of Their Homes, let me share with you a few benefits a schedule has that apply to a mother’s workload. First, your schedule makes you more productive. You know what to do throughout each scheduled segment of the day, so you are not wasting time trying to decide what to do or simply doing nothing because it all looks too overwhelming.

You can schedule time to accomplish your work tasks, but you can also schedule in time for other priorities. This should most importantly include daily time with the Lord. Other scheduled personal-time activities might be exercising, crafting, reading, or napping. With a schedule making you more productive, you might discover you actually have time for projects you would like to accomplish. Plus, it is put into your schedule to assure it happens!

A schedule causes you to realistically evaluate what you can and can’t do. A mom who is away from home a great deal may have trouble keeping up. This could make her believe her workload is too great. If you are trying to do too much within the home, you will have the same struggle. Putting all you would like to accomplish on paper brings a level of realism that isn’t found any other way. If the planning stages of a schedule cause you to see that you have more to do than time to do it, taking the problem back to the Lord and to your husband may help you know what you can release.

It is imperative that a mom gets the amount of sleep she needs if she is to have any hope of keeping up with her work and having the right attitude toward it. It is tempting to continue working until way past a reasonable bedtime, night after night, in an effort to accomplish all we “think” needs to be done. On the other hand, we may find ourselves so exhausted we do nothing productive in the evening, but neither do we go to bed to get needed sleep. When we are tired, everything looks overwhelming!

We will do our families and ourselves much good if we take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). All the “I-have-to-do-this-before-I-can-stop” thoughts that cause us not to go to bed at night need to be taken captive to the truth that our sleep is more important. When we are well rested, no matter how much work we have to do or how busy we are, our spirits will deal with it in a much better manner than when we are tired.

Please, please schedule a nap each afternoon if you are not able to get the amount of sleep at night that you need. Perhaps you have a nursing baby with whom you are up one or more times in the night. Maybe you go to bed later than you would choose because that is your husband’s preference. Whatever the reason, if those nights are shorter than the sleep your body requires, have a nap scheduled for the afternoon.

Schedule exercise time into your day even if you don’t think you can afford the time. You will discover that the minutes spent exercising will multiply themselves many times over in your energy level. When you are feeling better, you will be able to accomplish more and keep up better with the work of being a wife and mother.

Sometimes I ask Steve for help. I am designed by God to be Steve’s helpmeet. There are times, though, when I simply request that Steve help bail me out of what have become overwhelming circumstances to me. This might mean that he says “no” to some tasks I have thought I could keep up with. It could be that he will physically pitch in and help make dinner or clean up. He could even send me to bed for some added sleep!

Be sure to train your children to help. You are not robbing your child of his childhood by doing this. You are preparing him for life. I hear over and over again of moms who say they were not taught as children how to care for household responsibilities. We also are very aware that many men do not know how to help their wives because household chores were never required of them as they were growing up. If you teach your children basic home duties, not only are they lightening your workload, they are also being prepared for life.

Stay home more! It is extremely hard to keep up at home if you are frequently away. Somehow, once we leave home for a meeting, Bible study, activity, trip to the store, or whatever it might be, we don’t have the same energy level and momentum for doing our home tasks as we have on the days we stay home. In addition, by being away from home we lose many, many hours that could have been used to accomplish our work. I cannot overstate the importance of limiting outside-the-home activities if one is struggling with a negative attitude toward a day that goes nonstop. If you do choose to be gone from home frequently, then you must accept the trade-off of being extremely busy when you are at home. Your outside-the-home activities are your discretionary time that could be used for rest and relaxing if you were home rather than away.

Finally, look at your schedule and tasks to accomplish and evaluate what you could do less frequently. Are there jobs you currently do every day that could be done every other day or once a week? Take vacuuming, for example. If you vacuum every day, limit yourself to doing it every other day for a month. See if you and your family can live with that level of carpet cleanliness so that you can invest the time elsewhere. What about tasks that you are doing three times a week that you could cut back to once a week? Vacuuming the carpet every day may cause a mom time pressure that leads her to be frazzled. Perhaps it would be better not to vacuum so frequently, choosing instead to put up with a less than ideally clean carpet!

There is absolutely no doubt about it; being a wife and mother means plenty of hard work, but it pays wonderful, eternal dividends. May I encourage you to consider the use of a daily schedule to help you manage your time, including both work and rest. Teach your children how to work and also be willing to ask your husband for help when needed. Remember the importance of staying home and adequate sleep in keeping up with the work of a wife and mother. May we be committed to serving the Lord Jesus by serving our families, even if the cost is hard work!

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 1

For months Sarah had been looking forward to visiting very special friends in New York State. Then, with the heartbreaking events of September 11th on the East Coast, Sarah’s air travel became an item in serious question. I needed to decide whether she should go or not.

Recently, we had three windows replaced. Unfortunately, the windows all had a manufacturing defect that was discovered after they had been fully installed. The windows worked, but they were very noisy when they were raised or lowered. I really struggled with whether to accept them “as is” or call to see if they could be fixed.

We received an e-mail from a mom who was very unhappy that her post on one of our message boards was not approved. She had promoted something that was unacceptable according to the board’s guidelines, and therefore, her post was not approved. She questioned us by saying it is a free country and why couldn’t she, as a Christian, voice her opinion and spark a good, “healthy” discussion? She had “loaded both barrels” and aimed them at us. What should my response be?

I don’t know about you, but I would rather not have to make difficult decisions or face confrontation! I want for people (especially my family members) to like me and for all my decisions to be good ones. Yes, my family is supposed to follow me even when I make stupid decisions, but it is much easier for them to trust in my leadership if I am making wise choices.

Answers to the above issues I faced would have come far easier had my father taught me how to make a godly decision. I suspect there are a few of you dads whose fathers did teach such things, but I don’t believe too many have had that blessing. Just think if husbands had training in decision-making, how much better we would be prepared to lead our families.

At some point in a career, most of us have probably had a boss who struggled with making wise decisions, and as a result, the department/company suffered. If we will reflect back for a moment on how it felt to be under the authority of someone like that, it should help us understand how the quality of our decisions make our wives and children feel. When we make good (godly) decisions, our families will rejoice (although not always at the very moment), and when we make bad ones, they will be tempted to complain and criticize.

Making wise decisions is an important part of being a good leader. So how can we learn to make wise decisions and, in turn, teach our children how to do so? I can only share what I observe in Scripture and what God has taught me through failures.

First, everything must have a beginning, a point of reference, a foundation. What is yours? Is your beginning at the foot of the cross?

Those who are saved can look to their Lord for direction with confidence that He will direct their paths. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalms 32:8). “For this God is our God forever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Psalms 48:14). “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalms 73:24). Look at what confidence a believer can have when needing to make a decision.

Imagine being able to ask the God of creation, Who knows the beginning from the end, how you should make a decision. That is so amazing; all believers have the same opportunity. All have been granted access to the King to lay their petitions at His feet. Brothers, what good news that is for our families!

Imagine for a moment what navigation was like immediately following the invention of airplanes. A pilot was on his own when he was flying. There were no radar installations, no radio navigation aids such as instrument landing systems or Vortac transmitters. A pilot could not even radio someone for directions. If he wasn’t good at following roads, then his passenger was in trouble.

Now think of the assistance that a pilot has today. Most have on-board radar, radio navigation, flight tracking computers, radar on the ground, radio communications with flight controllers, and probably even global positioning system equipment that pinpoints their position. Never has it been easier for a pilot to decide his flight path and what the conditions will be like en route.

The assistance a pilot has from technology and air traffic controllers is similar to what we have available from the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. When a pilot takes off toward a certain destination, he does not worry about how he is going to get there. He has a flight plan, and he is counting on certain externals to help him make the trip. That is the way it is for Christians. We have a destination plotted out for us, but there are storms and unforeseen challenges that tend to blow us off course, appearing to threaten progress. We must rely on the One Who is sovereign to direct us according to His will and good pleasure. Men, there is such peace in that for us and those who are “traveling with us.”

A while ago we had a difficult decision to make. I had brought it before my Lord on a daily basis and felt I understood the direction He would have us go. I remember telling Teri about it, knowing she might have some concern about the ramifications. She looked at me and said, “I have seen you seek the Lord and how the Lord has directed you previously. He has never steered us wrong, and I want you to know that I’m trusting you.” I can’t tell you how that made me feel. I think of that fairly often, and even now it is such a blessing to me.

The problems we face are wonderful tools in the hands of our Lord that He uses to draw us closer to Him. They also are great training opportunities for us to use with our children as they see us encounter difficulties and then observe how we respond to them. The three problems I mentioned at the beginning were excellent vehicles to draw me closer to Christ as I sought His will. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Jesus is wisdom personified. May we embrace Him Who is able to give us the direction we need to lead our families.