Monday, September 8, 2008

Creative Counterpart - The Beautiful Blueprint


Welcome to our first look at Linda Dillow's wonderful book, Creative Counterpart. It is a book which has had a profound impact on me - not only as a wife to my husband, but as a mother to my kids and as a woman in general. Since I first read it and began applying it's principles, I've become more organized, have learned to set (and keep!) my priorities and I've become a better wife to my husband.

My hope is that by working through this book together, we can encourage each other, as well as learn from each other. The women of the blogosphere are an amazing group, you know! I've learned so much from so many. I look forward to this being a very interactive study with lots of healthy discussion.

Chapter one of the book, "The Honeymoon Disaster," deals with the truth that many of us go into marriage with rose-colored glasses. We don't really know what to expect, but having grown up on a diet of fairy tales, soap operas, and romance novels, we have a vague impression of what "romance" is: passion, drama, flowers and champagne. We are usually prepared for real life - bills, dishes and diapers. (Isn't it funny how you never see anyone in a soap opera doing anything related to managing a home??)

When things don't live up to the standard we are expecting, we begin to doubt our relationship and even blame ourselves. After all, if we were beautiful enough, exciting enough, clever enough, then surely our husbands would constantly be making grand gestures for us - fighting dragons, sending huge bouquets of flowers, writing poetry and singing us love songs. Right?

If you are dissatisfied with your marriage, my prayer is that this book will help you learn to accept real life - with all the wonder and promise that it holds! We will talk about relating to our husbands in new ways. We will look at ways to make our lives full of purpose and meaning. But first, let's look at what God says a woman's life should look like.


God lays it all out for us in the 31st chapter of the book of Proverbs. It's the "beautiful blueprint" referred to in the chapter title. Now, don't be discouraged because you don't live up to all that the
Proverbs 31 woman is. Sometimes, we get intimidated by the audacity of a goal and choose, foolishly, to not to even attempt it. This reasoning is driven by fear. God has gifted each one of us with ALL that we need to be godly women, wives and mothers. Let's move forward with a spirit of boldness and not one of fear. You can be the woman God wants you to be!

I pray that you are not trapped by the light that today's world often presents homemakers in. Too often, the word housewife or homemaker is associated with the word drudgery. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't get all giddy when my showers are sparkling. Nor do I spend time discussing with my best friend the merits of the new laundry detergent I tried. There's way more to my life than cleaning! But the media seems to think that we have nothing else to get excited about. Wrong!!

We are blessed to given an opportunity to have our own personal mission field, right inside our own home. We don't need to go to the ghetto or to Africa to have a powerful impact on someone's life. While those are both great ideas and, if you believe God is leading you to do it that's wonderful, don't be fooled into thinking that you don't have anything constructive to offer. The raising of godly children can have a powerful impact on this world.

Sure there are frustrated housewives. Just as their are frustrated engineers (I'm married to one!), frustrated athletes, frustrated data processors. "But the frustration does not stem from the nature of the work; rather it comes from the boredom inevitable in any job done poorly or unimaginatively." (Creative Counterpart, page 5)

When we recognize that being a creative counterpart is a calling, a vocation, we understand that we are making a decision to embrace that for all it's worth. We should work and learn and grow just as hard as if we were in the corporate world and aiming for the president's office. This premise is what lead me to write my post on
being a professional homemaker.

But let's step back and look at the Proverbs 31 woman again. Notice that there is no description of who she is or what she looks like. God focuses on her inner qualities. Most of them can be boiled down to just a few words.


Trustworthy


Can your husband trust you? I don't just mean with regards to being faithful or telling the truth What I mean is can he be confident in the knowledge that you will "do him good and not evil all the days of her life?"

Does he know that when he leaves for work in the morning, if you've chosen to be a stay at home mom, that when he returns he will find order and peace in the home and amongst the family? Or does he return to chaos? Does he have confidence in your ability to manage your household affairs.

Does he know that you will live within the budget you have set together, or does he have to worry that you are spending money foolishly, without concern for your goals as a couple?

Perhaps most importantly, does he know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will never bring dishonor to his name? Have you made a decision in your heart not to use him as the butt of jokes? Not to confide in a best friend about all his faults?

Have you determined in your heart that you will do everything for his benefit? Consider every word and action and thing about what will build him up and help him. Phillipians 2:4 tells us,

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."


Industrious

Are you willing to work hard, or do you look for excuses to avoid unpleasant tasks? Our Scripture tells us that the Proverbs 31 woman, "works willingly with her hands." Willingly. I know that this is somethign I struggle mightily with. I don't wake up every morning with loads of energy, just dying to tackle my household chores. But we see here that our attitude matters.

1 Peter 4: 10-11 is clear - whatever we do, we are to do it to the glory of God.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

If we work joyfully for the Lord, knowing that we are doing His will, we serve by His strength. This lets us know that our work is not just mindless, repetitive drudgery. Yes, the dishes will need to be done again tomorrow. Yes, the baby will need to be changed in a couple of hours. Yes, the laundry never stops piling up. But still we are doing this in His power and for His glory.

And now we come to a verse that I have been convicted to memorize:

"She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

This is a challenge for me because, as I've said before, I'm a lazy, self-indulgent person. I struggle with discipline in every area of my life. But this verse challenges me and serves as a constant reminder of the watchfulness that I need to exhibit in my home.

Organized

I used to tell myself that I just wasn't an organized person. And, to an extent, that's true. Maybe some people are born with that organizing gene. I clearly was not.

But I have learned over the years that being organized is really a decision of my will. It's taking that extra time to prepare for the unplanned for. It's being willing to work a little harder now to reap the benefits of that work tomorrow.

For instance, menu planning and scheduling household chores took me some time to develop. Quite a bit of time. But laying out those plans and then implementing them, have given my home an orderly routine. Instead of coming home to chaos and no dinner, Hubby now (usually!) comes home to a neat home and a hot dinner waiting.

Assigning a place for everything also helps greatly, as does decluttering as much as possible. When we just stuff things wherever is convenient for the moment, not only do we make a mess for ourselves to clean up later, but we won't be able to find it when we need it!

Being organized often frees up more time and allows us to see our schedules more clearly. Be sure to take note of the Proverbs 31 woman, who "considered" whether or not to buy that field. Before you take on any new endeavors, seriously take the time to think about whether or not you have the time and resources it will require. Don't feel pressured to say yes - the best answer is, "Let me pray about it and talk to my husband." No one can argue with that!

Loving

Finally, the Proverbs 31 woman was loving. When she spoke, it was with love and wisdom. How often is our speech kind, loving and wise? How often is what we say influenced by our emotions and blurted out in anger or fear?

Before we speak or act, we must learn to discipline ourselves to think about things. Even hard things can be said with love and kindness. Many a child, and husband, has been driven away by a mother's harsh words and actions. Determine to be a loving influence in your home.

I've heard that the mother is the "thermostat" of a home. She sets the tone, deciding if it will be a warm and loving home or a cold and distant one. Make the right choice.

As I said before, we have been given our families as a gift. They are our mission field. No one else is responsible for them - for their care, for training them, for discipling them. Only we as the wife and mother of a family, have the God-given joy of ministering to them on a daily, life-long basis.

* * * * * * *
The key to all of this, to the Proverbs 31 woman's success, is that she feared the Lord. When we are in right relationship with Him, everything else will fall into place if we allow it. We will make the choice to honor Him above all else. If we miss this, we miss the whole point.

For our homework, we were to read through Proverbs 31 numerous times, each time looking for different aspects of a woman's life - as a wife, a mother, a homemaker, etc. I'll leave that to you to do on your own. But the second part of the homework was to write a personal goal for each of the priorities in your life for this year. Try to make them action-oriented and specific.

God
- My committment is to get to the point where I am having quiet time more often than not. To this end, I'm taking a Bible study course in this beginning this week.

Husband
- Present a cheerful attitude and willing spirit when he asks me to do something for him, rather than grumbling and complaining.

Children
- Meet with each child weekly for individual Bible studies.

Homemaking Abilities
- Conquer laziness by not turning on tv or computer until my work is finished.

Yourself
- Break my late night eating habit by not eating anything after 7:30 p.m.

Outreach to Others
- Continue to minister to women through my blog (smile - I hope!) and investigate ways to help the immigrant laborers here in Doha.

* * * * * * * *

Whew!! That was pretty long, wasn't it? If you are still here, thank you! I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to comment. If you are joining in on the study, please post a link to your own post below in Mr. Linky. I look forward to reading your take!!



6 comments:

stacey said...

I won't be able to read the book right now, but I will follow along diligently to each of your posts on this study.

I look forward to what God has to say through you!

Karen said...

Well, I posted my link on mr. linky. I'm not sure he likes me though.

Anonymous said...

This was a great post, Lori. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. And Amen, sister! I love the Proverbs 31 woman. I look to her as a mentor on paper. :) Lynn

stacey said...

tagged you today and tomorrow! hint: clean your sink tonight!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lori, I have just returned to Amman last week. How was your visit? Saudi a very difficult place to live in. We have no access to the internet where we are, so I've been using my Jordan account by dialing up and just checking my mail and stuff. We just got the phone bill, and my husband was very understanding.

Hope you had a great summer, we certainly have suffered from heat and a totally closed up country. I was reading your posts about Qatar during Ramada, Saudi is like that all year round :(

Take care, Jen

Lori - The Simple Life at Home said...

Jen,

I don't have any way to contact you, so I'm hoping you check back here. You've been on my mind and in my heart. I pray that you will be able to make a new life there. Actually, right after your move I met a couple that had lived in Saudi for 8 years and loved it. They said they would go back in a heartbeat. I hope that things work out for you. Please email me and give me an address so I can keep in touch. Is your current lack of internet access going to be a permanent thing? Ugh! I'd hate that! Keep in touch.

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