Wifery 101

38187377205_8368f89bbb_oNext weekend Rob will be speaking at a sister church on marriage, raising covenant children, and teenagers. I told him on that last one that he better not lie to those people and he should be sure to tell them it is h.a.r.d. But that is a post for a different day. Today’s post is on wifing though, and in no particular order here are some general thoughts and things I have gleaned over the years.

Being hospitable. You may be scratching your head over this one because it is not often that we hear this word applied to husbands and wives. However, I think we should not only use it but also cultivate it within our marriage relationship. The word hospitable means “promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome; offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.” Would your husband say that he finds a generous welcome in you? Not just in a physical way, we’ll talk about that in a minute. But would he say that he finds in you a pleasant and sustaining environment for his thoughts, ideas, and dreams? Or do you play devil’s advocate or try to be practical? Are you critical to his suggestions and plans? Does he see pleasure on your face when you’ve been apart? Years and years ago I remember being out running errands and passing Rob and one of his workers on the road. This is back when he was a paint contractor and working long days. It was such a joyful and unexpected treat to see him even if we were just literally passing each other on the road. Later that night he hugged me and said I just looked so happy to see him. It meant something to him for me to respond that way. Look for ways to be hospitable toward your husband.

Do things that you expect to go unnoticed. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Recently I shared about how, instead of waiting to iron a shirt when he needed it, I had started just having Rob’s shirts ironed  and ready. He noticed that right away and was just so darn grateful and pleased by that simple act. These days that has become the norm and he doesn’t really comment on it. And that is a fabulous thing to me. Look at it this way…early in our marriage I would get so upset if he didn’t notice or comment when I had really cleaned or tidied something up. But then I realized I was expecting him to pat me on the head and give me an “Atta, girl” for just doing what I should have been doing. He shouldn’t have noticed because it was the way it ought to be. Obviously, it is easy to feel like the things we do in our homes are taken for granted and it is nice to have the work we put into something recognized, especially when we have done a little extra or gone above and beyond in some way. However, I think we would do well to learn to be content with doing what we do and letting it go unnoticed simply because we want our husbands and our children to find it commonplace to be loved and cared for by us. If we’re doing it in sporadic spurts and bursts to the point that it stands out and ought to be commented on then I say we’re perhaps neglecting things a bit. Let your delight be in having the work of a family to love and tend and not whether it (you) gets praised all the time.

Be playful. Seriously, have fun with your spouse. We used to have a little rubber frog from some game the kids had when they were little that we would hide in each other’s stuff. We took much delight in seeing who could come up with the best hiding spots. I won when I opened up a box of his soap, hid the frog inside and then glued it shut again. These days we look for ways to make the other one laugh. We text word puns or funny memes to each other. It is so easy to loose the spontaneity of playfulness in the everyday busy but try to make it a habit. Laughter is a wonderful mortar between the bricks of intimacy so challenge him to a thumb wrestling match. Play rock, paper, scissors. Text him a knock knock joke. Whatever you know will cause him to laugh. And being willing to respond to his playfulness is another way of practicing hospitality with your spouse.

Do little things that get noticed. Yes, I know I just did a whole paragraph on being content to do things that go unnoticed. But this is something altogether different. I’m talking about the sweet little things you can do that will remind him that you love him. Recently some friends introduced us to this snack stuff called Pub Mix and we really like it. Except for the pretzels. So one day I bought a container of it and went home and took out all of the pretzels without saying anything to Rob. He was so cute when he realized what I had done. Now, I have some friends who told me that I’m buying the wrong snack and gave me a list of the different parts of the snack that I could buy but where is the fun in that I ask you? I also pick off the green peppers from his frozen pizza too because I know he doesn’t like them.  Sometimes I will slip into his office at church, flip to an unused page in one of his note pads and leave a little love note for him to find one day. Find little meaningful ways to remind your love that he is indeed your love.

Sex. Honestly, I almost didn’t include this because it is a subject that can come with so much baggage but it is an area you do not want to neglect. The devil likes to make this area his playground and why would he not? The mystery of two becoming one in every way is the picture Scripture uses to describe Christ and His Bride so of course the enemy would seek to destroy and distort it’s earthly representation. But a blog post really isn’t the appropriate venue for a proper discussion on the subject. Not one of much real depth anyway. What I will say is that I believe that the marriage bed of a believing couple should be full of joy and delight. After all, who better to enjoy the gift of physical intimacy than those who serve and honor the giver of such a gift? There are lots of ways this gift can get off track though and in my experience the key to resolving issues is sometimes uncomfortable but direct conversations. The biggest piece of encouragement I have is not to assume anything. Sexual intimacy is not a one size fits all so magazines articles, blog posts, etc. aren’t necessarily helpful. Seeking godly counsel can be helpful when needed but treat the subject with discretion. It is a highly volatile area that can cause much harm but also has the power to bind a couple together in a strong and lasting way.

Marriage is as beautiful and complex as anything ever created. May we each desire to share in the goodness of God’s glory reflected in our love for our husbands.

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What To Do With Rocks

When my second daughter was about a year old she picked up a dirty little rock and gave it to her grandmother. Now my sweet mother-in-law is crafty and quite sentimental about her grandchildren so she bought a little frame, cut a piece of pretty paper for a background, added a bow and glued the rock in place and as far as I know she still has that little memento on a shelf or end table somewhere.

Our youngest daughter has also had a fascination with rocks for as long as I can remember. Big ones, small ones, clean ones, dirty ones…she completely lacks discrimination as to which ones are pretty or ugly. She used to bring these little treasures to me until I had a box full and over flowing. She’d find them in the yard, the neighbors yard, sidewalks and parking lots. If there was the tiniest of stones loose and able to be picked up she was going to be reaching for it.

I came across that box of rocks recently and it got me to thinking. Life is full of rocks. The Dragon lobbed a hefty stone at Eve and she promptly tossed it to Adam who tried to return the volley when confronted by God for walking around with it. Not long after that Adam’s son picked up a rock and used it to smash in his brother’s head and then dropped the blood covered stone aside with a nonchalant, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

And you and I? We stumble over rocks with words like fear, unforgiveness, selfishness, and bitterness carved into them. Sometimes we pick them up and carry them around, their weight a strange security that we take solace in because it’s a familiar anchor that requires little from us. We use them to build walls to hide behind that allow us to stay in our mediocre comfort zone. It becomes our burdensome excuse that gives us a free pass to not move from the shadows into light that is a little too bright sometimes.

Because if we set those rocks down and move into the Light then the Light is going to show the other rocks in our lives.

You know the ones I’m talking about. It’s the boulders fired off at us by a deliberately hurtful husband or thrown with unerring accuracy by a bitter angry wife. The smaller rocks that come from a thoughtless friend or coworker and the pebbles from complete strangers that cut us off in traffic or clearly have way more than 20 items in the speedy checkout line. These are the ones that we swiftly pick up and use as our own weapons. Their smooth bulk a justification for the war we’re fighting, for the temper tantrum we’re having.

Life is full of rocks and whether or not we pick them up or have them thrown at us there is something we’re supposed to do with them. We stack them. We take the missile fired off by the husband or wife and we put it on the pile. And we resist the urge to toss the ones back that came from the friend or neighbor and we add it to the pile. We empty the load of rocks we’ve been carrying around for years covered in the buzzwords that we’re told should be important to us like low self esteem, me time, fulfillment, and learn to love yourself and we dump them on the pile.

And then we climb on top of the pile. And we die there because underneath all our petty stones is the stone that was rejected, that became our Cornerstone. That pile is where death can lead to life and bondage falls away.

That pile of stones becomes the alter where we boldly proclaim that the hand of the Lord is mighty.

That He can overcome anything and everything. It’s where marriages are healed and relationships are restored. There, on that alter, we learn that we need to love our self less and Christ more.  It’s where God triumphs over our past foolishness and dark hurts.

It’s where we learn that we ~ us, me and you ~ are the true stones; the living stones being formed and fashioned into a spiritual house for His name.

The Hospitable Wife

Over the weekend I had a conversation with some friends about doing things that please our husbands. I specifically mentioned keeping my hair long because I know Rob likes it that way and other preferences he has about how I dress.

For some women the idea of dressing a particular way to  make a man happy is abhorrent and dated. It seems terribly antiquated at best and rather chauvinistic at worst.
But I like dressing in a manner that I know attracts my husband to me. Why wouldn’t I? It’s a simple thing to please him…choosing styles and colors that I know he likes on me. He likes skirts for instance, so I don’t mind wearing them often. At the moment I happen to be in a pair of shorts though. He doesn’t mind nor does he expect me to wear only what he wants me to. Because he knows that I am receptive to his likes and dislikes and that information helps govern my choices. 
A few weeks ago I blogged about our husbands needing hospitable grace from us. I’ve been thinking about it since then and I really think we need to take that idea a step further. Our husbands need hospitable wives. And I don’t mean they need to know they can bring company home or invite people over for dinner whenever they’d like.
I mean we should be hospitable to him
What does that even mean? I’m glad you asked because like I said, I’ve been thinking about it.
The word hospitable means “promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome; offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.” 
Obviously there are ways that we  can be welcoming and hospitable in how we govern our homes but I’m talking about something more than that…something a little deeper and more personal than that.
Would your husband describe you as welcoming? Does your interaction with your husband promise or suggest that you are receptive to him? I realize that this type of language can be interpreted to only apply to the physical intimacy between a husband and wife but I think if we cultivate an attitude of being hospitable to our husbands in other areas a level of emotional intimacy will grow.
Does he find you to be generous and welcoming to him in general? Or does he ever feel like he’s just another plate of food for you to prepare or load of laundry to wash? While I think that being hospitable is more than how we greet them at the end of the day you should ask yourself how do you react when you see him after a separation of any length? Do you allow your eyes to light up? Do you smile and turn toward him?  If he arrives somewhere after you do you move to be by his side?
Does he find you to be a pleasant environment for his thoughts? Can he share what he is thinking and dreaming about and find you to be a place where those things are free to grow wild without criticism? Sometimes in our desire to be a helpmeet I wonder if we are too critical or practical; maybe feeling like we should play devil’s advocate on a regular basis to help him work through various issues.
Does your husband find you to be a hospitable playmate? Seriously, when is the last time you played with him? I’m talking flat out being silly doing something ridiculous? Provoke a pillow fight…ambush him with a nerf gun, whatever. Just something that makes you laugh with each other. Have you ever heard of a game called Flipping Frogs? Our son got it one year for Christmas. It didn’t take long before the frogs were being left all over the house and somehow it became a thing between Rob and me to hide the frogs for each other to find. We did this literally for years…we even hid them in suitcases when one of us was going on a trip. I won the game by actually opening a bar of soap, shoving the frog into the box and gluing it shut again so that he would find it the next time we needed a new bar of soap.
Slip a note into his briefcase or a book he’s reading. Buy a snack or candy bar that you know he enjoys and put under his pillow. Send him a text telling him that you’re making his favorite meal for dinner. Wear an outfit you know he likes. These are just ideas…any and none of which may sound like something your husband would enjoy. Come up with your own ways to be hospitable to him. Maybe what you’ll find out is that he doesn’t need you to do anything but needs you to be hospitable…welcome his opinion and thoughts. Don’t underestimate the power of touch and body language. You might be surprised at how those physical and tangible ways you can be welcoming will strengthen your relationship with him. 
Are you familiar with this quote by Martin Luther?
There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.
I think that is a hospitable marriage.  It’s the kind of marriage that produces the fruit of what he speaks of here:
Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

Without Shame

Four of our children attend a classical Christian school. Trinitas is an amazing community and we couldn’t be happier to have our girls there each day. A few weeks ago I spent two days at their school taking pictures and I loved seeing the classes work, the way the older students work with and care for the younger ones, and I even got to see the Egyptian Day celebration. It was fun.

But I realized something at the end of those two days. I am a card carrying, flag waving couldn’t be happier stay at home mom. A glorified cook/housekeeper. I enjoyed being at the school but I love my home. I love being home.

Have you ever seen some of the clever ways women have titled their job in the home?

Domestic engineer. Supervisor of Human Resources. Hissyfit Negotiator. Archaeologist Specializing in Closet and Under Bed Excavation. Playground Safety Commissioner. Research Specialist for the Advancement of Domestic Upkeep.

Let’s face it. Those tongue in cheek titles still sound way more glamorous than the simple phrase ‘house wife’. And, since we’re being honest, we’ve each probably stressed the all important I work at home. We don’t want anyone to misunderstand that even though we’re SAHM’s somehow that means we aren’t busy and doing important stuff.

You know. Like laundry and cooking and cleaning and stuff.

But here’s the thing. We’ve also probably all felt that what we do really isn’t that big of a deal. Or that it doesn’t make that big of a difference because everything I did today? I’m just going to have to get up and do all over again tomorrow. Or even worse, that anybody could step in a do what I do without missing a beat.

The truth of the matter is that no one could step in a do what I do for my family. Oh, sure somebody could get the laundry folded and scrub the floors (and boy wouldn’t that be nice!) But that person probably won’t know that my beloved likes his shirts folded just this way…or that this t-shirt is Sam’s favorite to sleep in and you have to go poking around to find it just to get it in the wash. Someone else could get the school uniforms ready each week but they won’t know that Claire likes the tan skort over the blue one and Sarah only wears a blue shirt at the beginning of the week. (I cannot explain that one at all…she just prefers that color.) Someone else could make lunches but they won’t know that Abby likes ranch dressing with her cucumbers but not her carrots. Someone else could make Emily’s cup of hot tea in the morning but they won’t know that she likes creamer in her earl gray but plain old milk and sugar in her vanilla chai.  Those are the things that I know. Knowing those things makes me good at my job so to speak.

But even that isn’t what gives worth to what I do as a housewife. The value is found not in the work itself but the One who gives me that work. Consider Ephesians 2:10 with me,

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

He has prepared good works for me to do. And what are those good works? Right now they are tending my home and family with a joyful heart. The work that we have been given to do in our homes has value because it is the work He has called us to. I don’t have to go looking somewhere else for good, i.e.valuable, work to do…He has created it already for me to do. The point of this is that you should value the work you do in your home because your Creator values that work.

So the next time you’re tempted to think that what you do isn’t important or that anyone can do it, don’t. Remind yourself that your husband isn’t sharing his secrets and thoughts and dreams with another woman~he shares them with you. Your children don’t go to just any woman who happens to be standing around when they want something, get hurt or feel sick~they want you.

Of course our homes aren’t the only place that we have good work to do. There are lots of ways and things to be done within the communities in which we live. But I think it’s important that as we go about our duties and as we are training up our daughters to love home that we recognize the value of being a housewife.

Although Queen of Domesticity does have a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Linking up with Heart & Home and Titus 2 Tuesday. Also joining the party at the Time Warp Wife