Wisdom for Wives

"Be diligent to know the state of your flocks …"

Envelope Advent Calendar

Two years ago, I was inspired by another mom at our homeschool co-op to plan some activities for the nights leading up to Christmas. It has turned out to be a wonderful way to focus on the true source of our Christmas joy: Jesus. And it makes my Mommy heart glad that the kids enjoy it so much. My younger daughter, especially, asks throughout the day what we are doing for Advent that night. Here’s what we do:

  • Read an Old Testament prophecy about Jesus, a New Testament passage about His birth, or other Scripture about Jesus
  • Sing a Christmas carol, or contemporary song like “Mary Did You Know?”
  • Make a craft (e.g., paper angels) and/or have a treat like warm cider

The first year we celebrated Advent, I wrote the activities on slips of paper and the kids took turns pulling the slips out of a calendar I had made out of cardboard and wrapping paper. Last year, I cut up file folders to make the activity slips, as well as little pockets to hold them.

Box of Advent activities

Advent activities

As I said, the kids enjoy Advent and I’m pretty sure that they don’t care what the calendar itself looks like. But this year I wanted something a little cuter :). So this week (after Advent had already started), I spent an inordinate amount of time cutting, folding, and taping red and green cardstock into tiny envelopes for another new calendar.
Envelope Advent calendar

I wrote the activities on 2.5 x 3.5″ pieces of white cardstock.

Advent activity cards and envelope

The way I’ve justified the time spent is by telling myself that we will use this one for at least another year. I can just make new cards as we outgrow activities and think of new ones. I hope that my kids will enjoy this time together for years to come.

Thanks for stopping by,
Susan

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Hide-the-Word Wednesday: The Look of Peace

I have been wondering lately what peace looks like. What is the appearance of a person who is not afraid, in spite of difficult circumstances?  I guess it could look like lack of concern to someone who doesn’t know better. The disciples wondered whether Jesus was concerned about their fate as He slept one evening on their wave-rocked boat.  “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” they asked, probably incredulously.

Jesus seemed incredulous Himself.  “Do you still have no faith?” He asked them back, but not before telling the wind and the sea to quit all that racket.

Then the disciples were really afraid.  (I can imagine how they must have looked at each other!)

I wonder if I would have been asleep on that boat. I have proclaimed many times that I have the gift of sleep. I am usually asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow, and can fall asleep just about anywhere (including while standing on a noisy Metrobus). No cup of coffee, no matter how late in the day, can stop me. Pretty much the only time I can’t sleep is when I’m scared.

May His Word be in my heart on the next “scary” night, so I remember that the wind-rebuking storm-calming Lord of the universe is right there on the boat with me.

You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:7-8

image credit: wikipedia.org

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Hide-the-Word Wednesday: His Ways, Our Ways

There’s so much about Christianity that doesn’t “make sense,” at least not to my human mind. Giving is better than getting. If someone insults you, bless him! The last shall be first. To live, you must die–daily.
For the sake of a King, who became a servant.
A sinless Savior who suffered a criminal’s death, on behalf of people who hated (hate) Him.
Would you do that?

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Via Dolorosa – Holy Sepulchre, Creative Commons by kudumomo

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t make “human sense?” I know I am.

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5 Reasons to Get Involved in Your Finances

5 Reasons to Get Involved in Your Finances

In the first installment of the 5-5-5 of Finances Series, I talked about reasons why some wives may avoid learning the details of their financial situations. You may have more of your own. But there are at least five reasons why it is worthwhile to “learn the state of your flocks.”

Your Husband
~~The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:11-12)~~
Relationship dynamics and division of labor are different for every married couple. But whether you both bring in an income, or one of you does all of the earning, you are partners in life. Even if your husband writes all of the checks, managing the family’s finances doesn’t have to be a burden that he bears entirely alone. He may not even view this task as a burden, but there may be many ways that your talents and abilities could bless your husband in this area. If you have a careful eye for detail, you can catch erroneous charges on your bank statement. If you are an organizing maven, you could put those powers to use on the stack of bills (but maybe don’t “surprise” your husband with a brand new filing system without discussing it). Or you might have great ideas for saving money, bringing some in, or getting out of debt.

There may not be a need for you to do anything differently.  After all, there only has to be one bookkeeper.  But simply understanding the details your financial situation could help you gain your husband’s perspective on things. Now, it’s true that you two could look at the same set of numbers and draw different conclusions (as is sometimes the case in my house). But such knowledge may help you better appreciate your husband’s efforts to care for the family. In other words, knowing the financial score may help you to be a better cheerleader.

Furthermore, your husband might find comfort in knowing that if he were unable to manage the finances, either temporarily (due to illness or military deployment, for example) or permanently (may you both have long healthy lives!), you would know what to do.

Getting involved is not about whether you trust your husband’s ability or integrity; may they be above reproach. But don’t discount your own ability to provide moral support, practical support, or both.

Your Children
~~Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).~~
Having more money doesn’t make you a better parent, but your children would be the beneficiaries if your involvement improved your financial situation. And they would benefit from your ability to handle the bills if you ever had to do that alone.  You also have an opportunity to model good stewardship for your sons and your daughters. As they watch you, they can learn precious lessons about careful saving, thoughtful spending, generous giving, living on a budget, and being content—lessons for a lifetime. And if your children are anything like mine, they will turn right around and start teaching you! It happened in our family when we became more conscious of our food spending. The kids went from wanting a treat every time we got in the car, to reminding the parents about the budget when we wanted to order pizza. The nerve!  (Don’t worry, they still ask for treats 🙂 ).

To me, the most vital lesson my children are learning is that it’s never too late to change. We ought to continue learning and growing no matter how old we get.

Your Neighbor
~~John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry” (John 3:11).~~
Do you wish your family were able to give more to your local church? Are there missionaries or causes that you’d like to support more generously? Do you have big dreams for serving, but don’t think your family can afford them?

Maybe you can afford them. Perhaps, with some adjustments to the food budget, you could set aside some of your weekly groceries for a local food pantry. Maybe you can be the one to find some extra money each month to sponsor a child in need.  And every dollar that no longer goes to repaying debt is a dollar that can potentially bless someone else.  Is it possible that through your prayers, changes that you could initiate and encourage, your family could give more generously?

Yourself
~~Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds (Proverbs 27:23).~~
You are a great reason to take an interest in the family finances. After all, it’s your money, too! Regardless of who earns it. And it’s not selfish to take care of your stuff and plan for the future. Actually, it’s God’s stuff, entrusted to us for faithful stewardship, which includes knowing what’s going on with it. And, the commandments for stewardship apply to the single and married, male and female. Besides, anything with your name on it—tax returns, mortgage, lines of credit, etc.—is yours as far as the creditors are concerned. They do not care how little you know, only how much you owe.

And believe it or not, setting a budget can be liberating in a way. Once you have agreed on how much to spend on particular categories (granted, that is the hard part), you don’t have to wonder whether you’re spending too much on clothes for the kids, or whether you can afford to splurge on groceries this week. If it’s in the budget (and the Lord isn’t telling you otherwise), then you can!

Jesus
~~So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (1 Corinthians 15:58).~~
Becoming more aware of your financial situation might improve communication and promote understanding in your marriage. It could lead to more generous giving, or setting aside more for retirement, or your kids’ education.

Or not.

None of those things are guaranteed.

But where we do have assurance, is that if we seek wisdom in faith, the Lord will supply it generously (James 1:5). If we trust Him, He will direct us (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we seek first His righteousness—in all areas—He will take care of the rest (Matthew 6:33). And if our motivation in managing our money is to serve our families, bless our neighbors, and faithfully steward His blessings, our efforts will not be wasted.

Stewardship may not look the same for every wife, but if we ask the Lord how to do it, He will show us. And I will have a few suggestions next week, in the final installment of the 5-5-5 series.

Thank you for stopping by,
Susan

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Hide-the-Word Wednesday: Who Needs Grace?

Several years ago, I suffered from excruciating sinus headaches. The feeling, as I described it then, was like a screwdriver drilling into my ear canals. During one bout of headaches, I remembered that there is a passage in the Bible about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” I searched for the passage to find out how the situation was resolved.

~~Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:8-9a)~~

To be honest, I was disappointed by this “resolution.” I didn’t want grace! I wanted the headaches to go away!!  What I didn’t really understand at the time, but am learning more and more, is that God’s purposes in our suffering (in Paul’s case, to keep him from exalting himself) are often different from ours (usually, for the suffering to end). Not that we shouldn’t pray for that (Jesus did on the night before His crucifixion) or confront someone who has hurt us (see Matthew 18:15). If it’s a financial trial, it doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t do anything to improve our situation.  It’s just that God’s blessings are even richer than healed headaches and fixed finances. So rich, that it’s possible to have joy while we hope or wait for those things.

 

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10 (NASB)

image credit: wikipedia.org

Has the Bible ever taught you something you didn’t want to know? 🙂

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