I ♥ OxyClean + borax + Dreft = spankin’-white diapers!
“How Organized are Your Closets?”
by Nancy Wilson at femina.reformedblogs.com
Where do we get this notion that being organized is next to godliness? I’m pretty sure we get it from magazines and ads in those magazines. And though they really may be great magazines full of super recipes and ideas that inspire us, they can also set us up to start laying guilt trips on ourselves. Something like this: “If I was really together, my closets would look like those featured in Martha’s Living, where stacks of sheets are tied with color-coded ribbons.” Just a little reminder here: Martha has fleets of housekeepers who wash and iron those sheets and keep them tied up with ribbons. You, on the other hand, do not.
Now I do not begrudge her. My hat’s off to her for all she has done to restore the honor due to the fine arts of domesticity. She obviously has a gift of organization, I really appreciate her creativity, and I read her magazine. But I’m just saying that my closets are not photogenic, and I don’t think I need to feel too crummy about it. Do you? Now, I do regularly try to rearrange them and tidy them up by making a run to Goodwill. But I feel pretty fantastic if all the sheets are washed and back on the beds. Ribbons? Hardly.
Christian women tend to be pretty hard on themselves in these areas of organization. I sometimes slip back into thinking that if only I could be more organized, then I would truly be holy (or rather, I would feel pretty holy). I remember telling my husband something like this years ago, and he replied with profundity: “What makes you think I would want to be married to you if you were more organized?” Now this made me think.
Typically, those women with an over-zealous organizational streak can make life pretty miserable for everyone else. Maybe that is what he was hinting at. Either way, it did make me feel a little more comfortable with my “disorganization.” And I don’t want to be a fusser. A fusser is always fussing around about stuff and fussing at everyone else about the stuff. Nipping at their heels. (Lewis somewhere mentions the woman who lives for others, and you can tell who they are by that hunted expression.) So if we can be organized and not be fussers, then that is good. But if by being organized we become tyrannical, then it would be better to send all our tidy little bins to the bad place.
Now I am not advocating bedlam in our homes. Certainly not. But I think we tend to be either too easy on ourselves or too hard on ourselves. The women with closets that won’t shut unless they run at them with their shoulder down are probably too easy on themselves. But maybe not. It depends on what else they are doing. The women who have things pretty well together, but not perfectly together, are probably too hard on themselves. We all know over-achievers who make the rest of us look like slouches. Well that’s okay. Let them! It is their gift. Some women are better homemakers than others. Some are way ahead on the learning scale; some are playing catchup. But the goal is never perfection (remember the ribbons). The goal is joy overflowing, even into our closets and out our drawers and cupboards.
So the item of first importance is doing the duties God has given us with a cheerful, hardworking spirit that does not look sideways and feel disheartened, is neither lazy nor driven, but strikes a joyful balance.
When the kids were little, I baked bread weekly and loved every minute of it. When I began teaching part-time, the bread baking fell behind. If you are a homeschooling mom, you can’t do everything. If you are a non-homeschooling mom, you can’t do everything. If you are not a mom, you can’t do everything. Important announcement: You are not omnipotent. Rejoice in that!
So, we do what is set before us cheerfully unto the Lord. That pleases Him. And if the closets get discombobulated from time to time, so much the better for our souls. We don’t want to become fussers. If the snapshots are not yet organized into albums, don’t beat yourself up about it. There may come a day (probably a rainy one) when you delight in organizing them all, and then you won’t be the proud owner of guilt-motivated scrapbooks.
A house that has every cubby organized and every square inch gleaming probably has no one living in it. “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean; but much increase is by the strength of the ox” (Prov. 14:4). I think God prefers a happy, productive untidiness to a joyless organization. Though I love getting my house cleaned up, that is no great achievement. When I really attain to godliness, I will take joy in seeing it get messed up. When I get there, I will be sure to whoop loudly!
Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss, here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worthy of all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ’s name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me.
Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, Welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her most tender cares, to her lifelong prayers!
Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!
Some of Gabriel’s favorite activities are being worn on Mommy (like in this pic: going on a walk, wrapped in our new Ellaroo wrap), & also lying in the kitchen(I roll the bassinet in there: see pic) staring at the fluorescent lights. 🙂 He also looooved his bath yesterday when Grandmama came over… but y’all can just trust me for that one. 🙂
by Toby Sumpter
One of the ways that we love one another is through manners. Etiquette, someone has said, is just love in the little things. Everyone has laundry to do, but it’s common courtesy to do it before or after the dinner guests arrive. Now in every marriage there are discussions to be had; husbands and wives need to have open, honest conversations and sometimes issues need to be worked through before there is agreement or consensus. That in itself is not a problem so long as it is taking place in a Christian manner. But it is simply bad manners to allow those discussions and conversations to be broadcast to friends and other family members. Everyone knows that Mr. Smith has underwear, but Mrs. Smith ought not leave them lying around the living room for the dinner guests to wade through. This is all to say that wives and husbands need to guard their conversations with others such that their words do not bring out their dirty laundry for the world to see. And we need to guard this because James says that the tongue is fire that is able to set the whole body ablaze. Paul says that a wife is the glory of her husband, and it is the husband’s calling to give glory to her. And this is why Paul says that a man who loves his wife actually loves himself. To be glory and to bestow glory is to make the other look good. If you are the glory of your husband then your words ought to make him look good, your words ought to make him sound like the faithful husband that he is. If your wife is your glory, then your words ought to bestow glory upon her, by praising her (to her face and to others) and by making her look good. That’s what glory does. These are little things, but they are like the rudder that is able to turn a ship in completely different directions. Of course there is a time when husbands and wives can and should seek help and advice from appropriate friends and elders, but even this must be done in a spirit of love and respect. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself; this means that you ought to speak about your closest neighbor (your spouse) in the way that you would want to be spoken about. You are your spouse’s glory; therefore let your words reflect this.
by Toby Sumpter
In nearly every letter of the New Testament, the apostles insist that Christians must live out the gospel in their families. As we seek to build this church, this must be one of the central results of our gathering here. Husbands who worship here must be characterized by loving their wives, cherishing their wives, and teaching and leading their wives just as Christ loves, cherishes, teaches, and leads us. Wives who worship here must be characterized by love and submission to their husbands, rejoicing in their callings just as we submit ourselves as the Church to the leading and teaching of our head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, children who worship here (whether they are three or eighteen) must be characterized by love and obedience to their parents just as we love and obey the Word of God declared here. If we are not being characterized by these things, we are not getting it. If our families are not living out this gospel then our worship here is useless at best and at worst a high handed blasphemy against God. When the families of Israel were characterized by harsh words, injustice, disunity, and disobedience, God said to them through the prophet Isaiah: get your Call to Worship out of here. Who has required this Confession of Sin? I have had enough of your readings of Scripture. Why do you come here and trample my courts? Stop your empty Passing of the Peace. I cannot stand your celebrating the Lord’s Day. I do not delight in your Lord’s Supper. I have had enough of your Psalm Singing and all the rest of your other liturgical clap trap. When you lift up your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear you. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean. Put away the evil from your doings: Husbands love your wives, wives submit yourselves to your husbands in joy, children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Toby is a pastor that interned at our small country church a few years ago: our families have been friends ever since, & his writings & exhortations frequently challenge and bless me.
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.
A Psalm of David.
O LORD, who shall sojourn in Your tent?
Who shall dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
by Nancy Wilson, courtesy of Femina.reformedblogs.com
In Psalm 15:1-3 we see who is going to live in God’s house and who is not.
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in they holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.”
We’ve got parallel lists of behavior here. The wise walks, works, and speaks, and these actions are characterized by uprightness, righteousness, and truth. What he is not doing is important here as well. He is speaking the truth in his heart, not backbiting; he is working out righteousness, not doing evil; and he is walking uprightly, not taking up a reproach or grievance against his neighbor. This is the kind of company God keeps. If we want to dwell in His holy hill, we have to see and keep these do’s and don’ts, particularly as it relates to our tongues.
What is it to backbite? It is to spread slander; to be a tattler and a busybody, spinning the story to make someone look worse, attributing motives. This kind of thing always begins in the heart before it works its way out the mouth. From there it picks up and carries a grievance, and then, if not stopped, it begins crusading, gathering others to carry the grievance as well. It does evil to its neighbor. But it doesn’t just affect the neighbor who is being wronged; it infects and destroys those with the grievance, hurting them far worse than the neighbor they sought to destroy. God hates this stuff.
But those who speak the truth in their hearts are not interested in slandering, running down, grumbling and complaining about their neighbors. They recognize this stuff for what it is and agree with God about it. They want no part of it any more than they would want to expose themselves to an infectious disease. It is rot.
But what is this Truth and how do we speak it in our hearts?
Here’s a fly-by summary of just a few things the Bible says about Truth: God is the God of Truth, His word is Truth, His law is Truth, Jesus said He is the Truth, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth; we are to gird our waists with the Truth, love the Truth, speak the Truth, and be of the Truth, for the Truth is in us.
We are to be speakers of the Truth and this Truth is in our hearts. God is the very essence of all Truth. And the Bible tells us that Satan is the father of all lies. If we listen to lies, if we allow them to take up residence in our hearts, then we will begin speaking them aloud as well. If we listen to the Truth, we will speak the Truth in our hearts. And it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. So, if we are complaining and backbiting in our hearts, it will be just a few moments before we are speaking such things with our lips. From there we take up evil actions.
So here is a suggestion. Pay attention to what is going on in your heart. What kind of conversation are you listening to? Is it the Truth? Are you listening and believing lies? Or are you speaking the Truth in your heart?
So let’s apply this. If you wake up in the morning and start speaking to yourself about how no one appreciates you, how you have such a hard life, how the weather is bad, and how sad you feel, how your friends have wronged you (you get the idea), you are not speaking the Truth. You are being set up! But if you dismiss those thoughts and replace them with words about God’s goodness and graciousness, words of gratitude for His preservation and kindness toward you, you are speaking the Truth.
We often don’t realize how much bad dope we are listening to in our hearts. And this steady stream of stuff has an impact, leading us to take up a reproach against a neighbor, and that neighbor could be our husband, our parents, our children. We must reject such foul heart-talk, and replace it, speaking the Truth day-in and day-out. This is obviously directly connected to walking uprightly and working righteousness. It all begins in the heart and works its way out. So if you’ve been wondering why you’ve been having trouble staying on the righteous path, do a heart and mouth check first.
Gloria in excelsis deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram patris miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus.
Tu solus Dominus.
Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.
Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you.
We bless you.
We adore you.
We glorify you.
We give thanks to you for your great glory.
Lord God, Heavenly King, God Almighty Father.
Lord Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
You who take away the sins of the world have mercy on us.
You who take away the sins of the world hear our prayer.
You who sit at the Father’s right hand, have mercy on us.
For you alone are holy.
You alone, Lord.
You alone the Most High, Jesus Christ.
With the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Through Every Age
by Isaac Watts
Through every age, eternal God,
Thou art our rest, our safe abode;
High was thy throne ere heav’n was made,
Or earth thy humble footstool laid.
Long hadst thou reigned ere time began,
Or dust was fashioned to a man;
And long thy kingdom shall endure
When earth and time shall be no more.
But man, weak man, is born to die,
Made up of guilt and vanity;
Thy dreadful sentence, Lord, was just,
Return, ye sinners, to your dust.
A thousand of our years amount
Scarce to a day in thine account;
Like yesterday’s departed light,
Or the last watch of ending night.
Death, like an overflowing stream,
Sweeps us away; our life’s a dream,
An empty tale, a morning flower,
Cut down and withered in an hour.
Our age to seventy years is set;
How short the time! how frail the state!
And if to eighty we arrive,
We rather sigh and groan than live.
But O how oft thy wrath appears,
And cuts off our expected years!
Thy wrath awakes our humble dread;
We fear the power that strikes us dead.
Teach us, O Lord, how frail is man;
And kindly lengthen out our span,
Till a wise care of piety
Fit us to die, and dwell with thee.
(Song of Simeon)
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
You know you’ve been staring at your newborn practically nonstop when you pick up your banana for lunch, and before you peel it, you look at the top stem and think, “gosh, this kind of looks like my baby’s belly button when the cord stump was about to fall off.”
…with his doting Uncle Colin
…in one of his handy-dandy cloth diapers
…with Mommy, right after his first bath
…already learning to suck his thumb
…in our backyard, in one of Mommy’s Moby wraps — she has two so far and is hoping to order a third!
…a close-up, since everyone asks to see his red hair — it’s his daddy’s shade!