Wisdom for Wives

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

All Dressed Up for the New Year!

Team Singapore fireworks display from Singapore Fireworks Festival 2006

Singapore Fireworks Festival, image credit: Ngoh Seh Suan (Creative Commons)

Happy 2016!  I hope you enjoyed your celebrations of our Savior’s birth.  I myself did have a merry Christmas.  However, even though it’s only the second day of the new year, our decorations are already down. I’m pretty sure this is a record for me. I took them down this morning, quite happily. With each string of lights unwound, and every ornament returned to storage, I was putting 2015 behind me.

It’s not that 2015 was a bad year, really. Sure, there were challenges, but the year also brought many, many blessings. Still, I found myself struggling with sadness throughout the year. Come December, I had little appetite for decking the halls. I have to confess that my kids had to drag me into the Christmas season. (I thank God for them!!) Pretty much the only reason the Christmas tree made it up is because they started begging to decorate as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was over. So, the first weekend in December, I relented and brought in the decorations from the garage. I left the kids in charge, but I have to say, once they got started, I did start to feel more festive. I pulled up last year’s Christmas playlist and danced around the living room while my elves adorned the tree.

But not every night leading up to Christmas was so jolly. To be honest, celebrating Advent was a struggle. One night when my daughter came looking for me, I tried to negotiate:  if we could skip Advent that night, I would make it up to them with jumbo deluxe activities the next night. Well, she wasn’t having it.  😀  But I’m glad she did not take no for an answer. (And I’m extremely glad for the list of Advent activities that I so cheerfully posted back in 2014; also somewhat incredulous that I had the energy to cut and paste 25 little red and green envelopes.  Fortunately, some activities require little to no planning, which came in handy on the nights where I had the least energy. I also gave myself a break and did one hands-on/food activity per night, instead of two).

Anyway, I’m so thankful that we took the time to read the Scriptures about the birth of Jesus, even when I did not feel like it. It did me well to sing, “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night,” when my preference was to stay in bed.

Things started to turn around a few days before Christmas. I was alone in the car, listening to a news program on the radio, and a song that played briefly during a transition caught my attention. I intended to check the station’s website to find out the name of the song. It was a melancholy tune, and I realized that the reason I wanted to download it is because it would make great wallowing music. I could picture myself listening to it loop over and over again. And it seemed to me like I was making a plan, a conscious effort, to reject joy. I was choosing despair. It’s not merely that I was overly focused on my problems (though I probably was). Or that I needed to focus more on my numerous blessings (though it probably would have helped). The joy of the Lord is independent of my problems and my blessings, and I was paying no mind (literally) to joy.  Joy depends only on Him.  Along with love, peace, gentleness, and more, the fruit of His Spirit—that lives within me—is joy. And here I was selecting a playlist for an anti-joy party.

But God has my clothes picked out for a much better party:

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10

This is not to say that I merely flipped a switch that afternoon, and I expect to be sadness free forevermore. Or that every day of 2016 I will feel as hopeful as I feel today. I know that some days, I will have to make a conscious effort to choose joy. But I don’t ever have to find joy, conjure up joy, or create it.  It is always available to me because He is in me.  And He will never, ever, ever forsake me.

Thank you for stopping by,

Susan

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Hide-the-Word Wednesday: Make a Joyful Noise!

Today I’m on the seventh day of Money Saving Mom’s 14-day Make Over Your Mornings course. I feel like she’s talking to me when she asks, “Do you often wake up feeling behind—before you even get out of bed?” Then I spend the rest of the day trying to catch up. But even though I’m only a week in to the program, the small changes I’ve made have already had a huge impact!

The change that’s been the most fun comes from Day 4: Yes, You Need an Incentive. That day’s assignment includes thinking of a fun reward or motivation to make you excited about getting out of bed. I think she suggests coffee (which, for me, is less of of an incentive than an assumption), or a yummy treat (I would prefer something that doesn’t involve calories or dishes). I didn’t think of one right away.

A couple of mornings later, the song Order My Steps in Your Word came to mind, so I looked for it online. I found this GORGEOUS performance and watched it over and over again. It became the theme song for the day! That night I decided that Victory by Yolanda Adams would be the theme song for Tuesday, and I started the day listening to it in the shower. Later the kids were dancing to it. I had the pleasure of blasting today’s song, Great I Am in my car while I ran errands. The kids asked me to play the “crazy song” (’cause crazy is how we got with it) at dinner.

So my fun (and calorie-free) incentive is starting the day with a loud, jumping, and energetic praise song. (Fortunately I live with very sound sleepers :). ) It’s all up from there!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Psalm 98:4

image credit: happy children in Danchira Village, Ghana, Ian Muttoo


Is there a better way to spend the day than praising the Lord? What should I wake up to tomorrow?

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Overcoming the Tyranny of ‘To-Do’

Mom's to-do list

image credit: microsoft.com

We are about a month into our summer vacation, and I think I’m enjoying the break from homeschooling as much as my students are. Not that I’m exactly on a break. Most summer days, the clock seems to fill up and pass by as quickly as it did during the school year.  If it’s not school, it’s housework (and long overdue de-cluttering).  When I devote more time to work, the house falls apart. And if I’m working on the blog, forget it! Nothing else is happening. 😀

I’m certainly not complaining about my responsibilities–they come with great blessings. I’m grateful to have a family and home to care for, for the privilege of homeschooling, and for my job that allows me to contribute to my family’s support.  But some days I wish had been more productive, and long for enough energy to accomplish just one more task before crashing into bed.  How can I complete everything I need (and want) to do in 24 hours, when some of those hours have to be spent sleeping (and, I kinda like it too)?

Get organized. Ask for help. Delegate. Spend less time on Facebook and HGTV? I’m pretty sure all of those things would help.  “Do less,” is another obvious solution, but much more easily said than done.
~~I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)~~
Now, I have to caution the checklist-checker in me that bearing “much fruit” might not be a reference to my to-do list. Does God care how I manage my time? Does it matter whether my sink is (often) overflowing with dirty dishes? I believe it actually does matter.  But I’m sure that the fruit borne of abiding in Jesus—starting my day in prayer, keeping His word in my heart, seeking and listening to Him until I go to bed at night—is much more significant and eternal than the items written on my schedule.  Could the fruit be:

Patience to speak to my children with tenderness, even when they aren’t piling into the car as quickly as I’d like them to.

Peace that comes from knowing that I am responsible only for my actions and attitude, while my sovereign and loving God is responsible for outcomes.

Wisdom in determining what I will, and will not, devote my time to.

Plain ole Joy, for crying out loud!  It’s true that my sink is full of dirty dishes AS I TYPE THIS, but as a child of God I have a long list of reasons to rejoice.  Longer than any to-do list.

Thank you for stopping by,
Susan
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