Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Women's Ministries

Do I have to be a “Stay-at-Home Mom” to be a Homemaker…

When I was a young girl, all I wanted to do was get married and have a house filled with children. That desire did not really dissipates the older I got. I went to college and earned my degree in Psychology; it wasn’t until partway through my senior year did anyone ever make me feel like I was wasting my time because I wanted to be a wife and a mom.
Upon return to campus after the Christmas holidays, glory be to the Lord, I did get engaged to the love of my life!  Let the wedding plans begin!!  During Spring Break that year, I was going to spend it planning the rest of our wedding that was happening in July. In one of my psychology classes, the professor was having everyone in the class share what they were going to be doing during spring break.
Wait for it….that was code for, “Have you bought your interview outfits and where are you applying for an internship.”  Also, he was wanting everyone to share how they were doing on their applications and what schools they were applying to in their pursuit of obtaining their masters degree. After about the first dozen people shared, it finally was my turn to share. I suppose naively, and thinking the professor would be happy for me, I gladly shared that I was going to plan the rest of my wedding that was coming up {and I was so excited to see my fiancé that I hadn’t seen for three months!!!}  I was so excited to finish up the last details for our wedding…why wouldn’t everyone be happy for me!
At that point, seeing the scowl come across his face, I realized I had gravely disappointed in him. He looked at me and said, “Good one, René.  That’s a pretty funny joke. Now why don’t you tell us what you’re really doing during spring break and where you were applying for your internship and grad school.”   And let me just interject here real quick….I went to a private CHRISTIAN college!!!
In that one moment I realized that in the modern age of 1990, a young woman was looked down upon if her goal, dream, and desire was to be an educated woman, who wanted to be a wife and mother.  A woman who wanted to have children and stay home with them. None of my friends in the psychology department at that time were engaged or anywhere near getting married. So unfortunately I really did not get any support from my friends in the class. I felt like I had to defend my dream.
I remember calling my parents , And of course I was crying, asking them if they felt I had wasted their education money that they had spent on me, because I wasn’t going to grad school. I asked them if they thought I was a failure because I wanted to get married and not continue into the field of psychology, pursuing full-time work in that area. The Lord was gracious and I was very thankful that my parents did not feel that one cent had been wasted on my education. They loved my husband-to-be as one of their own and they were very excited about our future together. I suppose it helps that my mother was also 21 when she married my dad, just like I would be.
I realized after that day, and talking to a lot of my friends at school, most of them said that their parents had pretty much set the mandate, that after paying so much money for so long, they were requiring their child to get a job in the field that they had studied in and have that job for at least several years before even thinking about getting married or having children.  Why did we have to choose the value of a full time job over the value of motherhood?
It’s not that I didn’t want to get a job or that I thought I would never have a job; I just knew that I never wanted to have a full-time career after having children, whenever that day ended up happening. I had two different jobs after I got married and was thrilled to be able to contribute to our joint savings account in that effort. After all that was, and always had been, part of my dream ~ to have a home with my husband and fill it with children! I am thankful that I married a man who valued the contribution I was making as well as someone who appreciated and wanted the same future I did…which meant that I would stay at home with our children instead of going back to work. This was my personal dream and my husband and I shared that dream equally. We knew making that decision, especially living in California, it would bring about sacrifices only having one income. I cannot express adequately in the immense joy and honor I feel at having the privilege of staying at home all these years with our three daughters.
I am content with my choice.  Just as I know that there are many women out there who are content with their choice at going back to work after having children.  I would never want any woman to feel guilty for that decision.  There are a lot of circumstances that go into that decision.  As much as I would not want someone looking down on me for staying home, I would never look down on someone who has gone back into a job outside the home.
I have great respect for all of the teachers who have helped to educate my three daughters.  My girls have had exceptional teachers who have made lasting impact on their life; and they continue year after year, to be a immense blessing to every student that walks through their doors.  I am thankful for my mother-in-law who worked incredibly hard as a single mom; to make sure that her children were taken care of.  I am thankful for my mom who, for the most part, was able to stay at home with my siblings and I.
But here’s where I want us to stop and really think about how we Mom’s treat each other.  Whether you work outside the home or not, we ALL have the toughest job around ~ motherhood!  Yes, I’m able to do fun things during the day like meeting friends for lunch or go sit by myself in a coffee shop and read a book for hours.  I am able to volunteer at my kids’ schools (yeppers…proud parent volunteer since September 1998 to the present) in a variety of ways.  And I appreciate my life everyday!  For my friends who either want to go back to work, or find themselves having to go back to work to make ends meet, I know many of them would much rather be at home bringing cupcakes to the end of the year picnic.  And many of them feel they are better moms because they have that creative outlet going to work.  Whichever end of the spectrum we find ourselves on, I believe we are all making the best choice for our personal family.  My story doesn’t have to look like yours, or vice-versa, in order for it to be complete and whole.
Ladies, let’s stop this crazy comparison deal!  If you work at home or you work outside the home (or a little of both!), we have the BEST thing in common ~
WE ARE MOTHERS!!!
The world does their best in throwing insults at us, as women, that we don’t need to bother throwing them at each other.  For heaven’s sake, just because your house doesn’t look like something out of Home & Garden magazine; or your kids birthday party doesn’t look “pinterest” worthy ~ do you know what is important to your children…YOU!
YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO YOUR CHILDREN!!
If you don’t believe me, sit down with your precious babes and ask them what matters most to them.  Depending on their age of course will determine their answers, and I think the younger they are, the more entertaining those answers might be.
My daughters are 22, 20, and 16 ~ when I’m fussing about something not being perfect or “as good as….”, they remind me all the time how the most important thing to them is that I’m their mom and they love me no matter what.  They would rather me laugh when their birthday cake gets stepped on, then freak out at the person who did the stepping.
{Yes…this actually happened!  I still don’t know exactly how a cake got stepped on when it was up on the counter.  I had to make a choice…freak out or figure it out.  I just cut a bit more off and made it into the first initial of the birthday girl…she thought it was more cool that way afterall.}
If you are a wife…
You are a Homemaker!!
If you are a mother…
You are a Homemaker!!
If you are a single mom…
You are a Homemaker!!
If you are an empty nester…
You are a Homemaker!!
The term “homemaker” came into verbiage somewhere between 1885-1890; the two words ‘home’ and ‘maker’ were put together.  To be considered a homemaker, the dictionary says, “a person who manages the household of his or her own family, especially as a principal occupation.”  However, it doesn’t disclude anyone from being considered a homemaker if it is not their principal occupation.
Consider these definitions:
* Home ~ a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household; the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered; any place of residence or refuge”
* Maker ~ to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about; to cause to be or become; to put in the proper condition or state, as for use;fix; prepare.”
Go ahead and re-read those definitions above and take it all in.  Can you see the freedom in looking at the word “homemaker” now?  There is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about to call yourself a homemaker.  As mom’s, we all work 24/7 at our job…yeah, I said it…motherhood is a job!  It’s hard work!  We have to mentally prepare ourselves for whatever emotional trail we find ourselves on each day…and every day is totally different!  We rearrange our schedules multiple times a day in order to get everything done and get everyone where they need to be.  But…take joy in each of those days!!  Even the ones where you are cleaning up poopy diapers and spit up ~ they will stop as your kids grow, but truly treasure each day!

I Peter 4:7-11 is a wonderful example of how God intends for us to conduct ourselves, inside and outside the home ~ “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 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.”

These familiar verses in Titus 2:1-5 (Amplified version), I hope can be of great encouragement to you as well,But as for you, teach the things which are in agreement with sound doctrine [which produces men and women of good character whose lifestyle identifies them as true Christians]. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in steadfastness [Christlike in character]. Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children, to be sensible, pure, makers of a home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

After reading this definition and these verses, I don’t see anything in here about a woman not being able to be a homemaker if she only stays at home with her children and does not have a job outside the home. Whether you work at an office outside of your home, at an office inside your house, or you do not have a job outside the home…You are still a homemaker!  You have still been given the blessing and privilege of creating an environment that can be a healthy, happy, safe place for your family to retreat to.
We have a unique position as women to adjust the attitude and temperament of every person in our household. I’m sure we have all heard the phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,!”  It holds more truth than we realize sometimes! Thank you for reading this blog today, I hope that it has blessed you.  I’m excited for you to start fresh today, no matter your circumstances, to breathe new life into your home.  YOU are the homemaker that God chose for your husband and for your children.  You have a special calling on your life as a homemaker ~ so enjoy it!!
Blessings,
René

I Peter 4 verse 10

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

More than a hot cup of coffee

Sitting in a coffee shop, about to refill my cup for the second time (which I shouldn’t because that’ll make three cups today!) and I’m still wracking my brain for today’s blog.  I have my little “idea page” on my notes app, and the one that kept drawing me in was one I titled, “Hospitality is more than a hot cup of coffee.”  So, here we go!

What is true hospitality?  The dictionary definition states: “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers; the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.”

I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you, but how many times do we miss the “strangers” part.  I will admit that an older woman was sitting in a booth across from me for quite some time.  Just sitting and staring at me.  It was really freaking me out.  She was talking to herself and then I realized she was trying to get my attention.  I finally turned and she asked me to buy her some food.  I told her I didn’t have any cash, so she boldly said, “Well, then you can just use your credit card.”  I’ll be honest, that irritated me.  I don’t like to admit that I have a hard time figuring out how to handle situations like this. I don’t like to admit either that I found it bothersome to me that I was being questioned for food inside a restaurant than I would have been had she been outside the restaurant.  I’m sure that for many of you, it wouldn’t have bothered you at all and you may have gotten up and ordered a meal for her.  As I was sitting here and thinking about all of this, I watched as she exited the booth and went up to a cashier and asked for a certain manager.  Turns out that she comes in almost everyday and asks for food.  But she only gets it if this particular manager is working.  Just now, I see that she is being served a fresh meal and hot cup of coffee. {I had decided on the title before this whole interaction began.}

She was gifted “more than a hot cup of coffee.”

Was it better coming from the restaurant; or would it have been better had it come from me?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that she is enjoying her meal tonight…appreciative I’m sure that her manager-friend is working tonight.

This is somewhat of an extreme case that we don’t encounter every day.  What about the person at our child’s school that is somewhat of a stranger, but not totally since we see them in car line just about everyday.  So when we see that mom or dad at the Parent Association meeting, or at Back to School night, or a sports event, how do we interact?  Do we walk boldly toward them and welcome them to the event, or do we skirt around the area where they are standing so we can escape what we only can assume will be awkward conversational small talk?

Or how about the new person at church? At our workplace? In our neighborhood?  Bottom line is that everyone wants to be seen and noticed.  There is a part of our heart that blooms with joy when we make eye contact with someone across the room, as they wave us over to where they are standing and invite us into conversation…into connection…into community.

I can’t remember where I heard this, but there was a statement made by someone who’d just come from a pastor’s conference.  They couldn’t believe that every single pastor’s wife said that their spiritual gift was hospitality.  They were actually irritated by it.  Really?  Do you want to have a pastor’s wife who doesn’t have the gift of hospitality?  Who doesn’t care about the congregation or what is going on?  Who doesn’t have a heart of service?  I bet not!

It doesn’t mean that they are Betty Crocker in the kitchen, walking around with an apron on, passing out fresh chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.  And it doesn’t mean that it’s the only spiritual gifting that they have.  You can have more than one you know!  I have a few good friends who are wives of pastors, and they still have their own identity.  Yes, their husband chose to follow a calling to become a pastor; the wife didn’t necessarily choose the calling to be a “pastor’s wife.” However, knowing how God works, the Lord knew who those men would be choosing as their wife, and He made sure that that woman would have the companionable gifts to serve alongside her husband in their vocation.

To varying degrees, I would venture to say that most of us have the gift of hospitality.  Some can design a home, or at least a meal, that is worthy of “Martha Stewart” or “pinterest” (can I just say…..super glad that pinterest wasn’t around when my kids were little…..seriously….that website can bring on a lot of stress!) but if you can’t ~ so what!  And come on….Miss Martha pays a staff to help her out…give yourself some grace here!

Your words and your attitude DO speak louder than the actions themselves.  I’ve made plenty of meals, squished more people into our house than could fit, hosted birthday parties and holiday’s, written thank you cards, and decorated countless birthday cakes for my daughter’s ~ and although appreciated, what is remembered is how I made all of those people feel.  How did my home environment make them feel?  Did they feel rushed or hurried or like they were a burden?  Or did they feel comfortable and content?

One thing I’ve learned in my almost 26 years of marriage, my idea of hospitality looks a little different than my darling husband’s idea. That’s not a bad thing because I’m sure he’s more toned down approach has saved us a lot of money over the years!  But at the same time, he’s come to see the value in having a couple of small vases of flowers scattered around the house, the candles lit everywhere (and yes…even the bathroom!), the sink nice and sparkly clean, and all the rugs in the house freshly vacuumed.  It’s not that those things would truly make a HUGE difference to the guests we have in our home, but he knows it makes a HUGE difference to me in how I feel as the hostess.  I do not take for granted when someone thanks me for an evening “very much enjoyed.”  Hospitality isn’t about me providing a great evening ~ it’s about making our guests feel cherished, seen,and loved.

I also don’t take for granted the fact that our daughter’s love to have their friends over to our home.  That is a big “mom-compliment” let me tell you!  When one of said daughter’s asks us to house the mother of one of her current mentors to stay in our home, then I know that I’ve done something right!  And even with fresh flowers and candles lit, I will honestly say, that the pleasure truly was all mine.  This woman is an amazing woman who spoke such beautiful truth into my life, simply by sharing some of her life stories with me.  She’s lived a lot longer as a “mother to a missionary” than I have, and I cherished her words of wisdom and prayers for our family.  Missionary Mom…well, that’s a story for another time!

Let me encourage with the following passages I found on hospitality in the Bible:

Romans 12:12-14, Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

I Timothy 5:9-10, No widow should be placed on the official support list unless she is at least 60 years old, has been the wife of one husband, and is well known for good works—that is, if she has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work.”

Hebrews 13:1-2, Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.”

I Peter 4:7-11, Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”

These are just a few verses that actually use a version of the word “hospitality” but there are so many scriptures that we can read about where the Lord directs us to have grace, kindness, perseverance, and joy in all that we do.  Whether it is in our workplace, in our home, volunteering in various environments, and yes….even driving down the freeway in Southern California ~ we are called be Christ-like in all that we do.  Romans 12 is so encouraging to me because we are “to pursue hospitality” ~ we don’t have to arrive and get it all perfect.  It is something to work toward, in all areas of our life. However, especially in the verses in I Peter above, our strength to serve with gracious humbleness does not come from our own self…it comes from the Lord as He provides it.  So that God is glorified in all we do.

Christ didn’t expect His disciples to serve Him while He sat ordering everyone around.  He was a servant of servants!  He cooked fish on an open fire on the beach for them!  He turned water into wine at a wedding and He fed the 5000! Talk about the gift of hospitality!

And if coffee had been “a thing” back in the early days of Jerusalem when Jesus walked the earth, I have no doubt that He would have invited people in, for MORE than a hot cup coffee!

Blessings,

Rene’

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