ahhh...june cleaver, the stereotypical vision of the perfect homemaker, wife, and mother. always there with the delicious, healthy, home-cooked meal, made from scratch and ready precisely on time...and always with a smile on her face, not a stain on her apron, and not a pearl out of place.
well, friend...i've got a smile. but, i've got no pearls. and i've got no lace apron.
but, man, oh man...we have swung SO far in the other direction nowadays haven't we?
well, i can honestly say that for the last year, i often haven't even felt like i've lived in my own home. i mean, ryan and i love, and i do mean LOVE where we live. but, it hasn't felt like mine in soooo long. let me try to explain.....
i have required soooo much help for soooo many things over this last year of medical drama. and don't get me wrong, we are SO beyond thankful for the help. truly. i am not sure what we would do without the amazing support of our family and friends. from cleaning our house, to doing our grocery shopping, to folding our laundry, to cooking our meals for us, to chauffeuring my kids and anywhere we have to go...we have been humbly served in the most amazing way. it has been quite a blessing. something that we can't ever be grateful enough for, and something that we very much look forward to passing along to others.
but, that's just it...all of this stuff around my house that has been done for me and not by me, has, in some ways, made my house feel less like mine and more like a home i am just visiting. i can't quite find some things that i would normally put in a certain place. my pantry isn't arranged like i am used to. there are meals i haven't been able to fix, that i miss. (ok, maybe two meals, who are we kidding, i'm not much of a cook...but, hey, i miss those two!:) even the type of cleaning supplies that we have is different. is this the absolute silliest thing you have ever heard?? i honestly do not mean to sound ungrateful, because i truly am. but, well, i am just sharing how i feel here.
i don't know about you, but i have found that when i lose something i have, especially something i take for granted...once it's gone, i miss it so much more. is this true for you too? let's just say, for instance, that you are an active, athletic type person, and you, oh, i don't know...sprain your ankle severely. (those who've known me forever are laughing because they know i've only done that like 324 times!) and all of a sudden, you desperately miss being able to run around the soccer field, jog on the treadmill, go to a step class at the gym....shoot, just being able to walk to the mailbox would be nice! but you can't. everything is different. and none of it seems good at the time. it makes you miss your mobility sooo much more than you ever appreciated it when you had it.
well, that is me right now... for the last year i haven't been able to be the homemaker...the wife...the mom...that i want so badly to be. in fact, in so many more ways that i can fully express, i haven't really felt like "me" in sooo long. it is amazing what we miss when it is gone. at this point, friend, i would LOVE to be able to to do some laundry...clean up the dishes after a meal that i made for my own family...run all those errands i'm always hearing people complain about...even clean my bathrooms for goodness sake...all of those things i would have complained about before. maybe even some of the things you complain about now. trust me, i know, i get it. i've been there.
and let me tell you, just for the record, this is SO far from my nature, it....isn't....even...funny! to give you a bit of perspective, i will share a story, one of my husband, ryan's, favorite stories to tell, about my "infamous" laundry basket. ya see....i have never, ever.... ever been a very clean or organized person. by the way, right now, all of my past roommates, my parents, along with my super tidy and organized hubby and big brother are ALL laughing out loud and saying, "ya, you, not very clean or organized, that is the understatement of the century!" so...here i was in college, finally out from under all of the "awful" :) weekly chores of my parent's house, and let's just say that i "let a few things go", shall we? :) i will spare you the actual details of the cleanliness of my bathroom, or really, the lack thereof, because i don't want you to lose all respect for me, but mainly because i don't want you to lose your lunch. :) but, back to my infamous laundry basket....ya see, i had the tendency to just pile....and pile...and pile dirty clothes up...and up...and up. i would literally stack them up as tall as i am, and then, when i absolutely couldn't take it anymore (which was, on average, about three weeks longer than the average 19 year old male) and i absolutely had to do laundry, i would just scoop off the top layer or so of clothes and do one load...maybe two. maybe. so...if you do this long enough, eventually, the seasons change and you don't actually need the clothes near the bottom of the pile. in fact, funny thing...you don't even miss them. :) and then, by some miraculous or maybe divine intervention (enter sarcastic, ha.) i, at the wise and completely responsible age of 20 (enter huge sarcastic ha.) received in the mail a credit card. and, get this, i didn't even have to pay it off in full every month - wow, how cool is that!? those fools, i only have to pay them $30 a month. score! uuugggh. needless to say, when the seasons would change back again and i had "nothing to wear", visa made it easier on me. darn you, visa.
so, now....enter ryan. a type-A personality, true methodical to the core, only child...who (no lie!) has underneath his bathroom cabinets organized with labeled plastic totes....first aid, travel accessories, razors, etc.....c'mon people...labels? seriously? labeled totes under the sink, gimme a break here. anyway...but he had...for some reason fallen in love with me. i swear people, i didn't drug the boy or anything, he actually picked me, and yes, even after seeing my bathroom! this is living proof that love really is blind. literally. so, before we got married, ryan kicked me out of my apartment and spent the day...yes, the day...and cleaned my half of the place, so that we...about to be wed...could get my share of the deposit back. and people, this was not a large apartment at all. and then, he braved the closet. he went in, (i was kinda scared he wouldn't come out!) and took huge black garbage bags and bagged up all my dirty clothes and we spent the day....yes, the day...at the laundromat together. we took up 12 washers and 12 dryers. that's right, friend...twelve. i wouldn't make that up if i could. and besides...why would i? oh..and while i'm confessing...i might as well tell you that on our wedding day, i had a whopping $74 in my checking account and i owed that darn visa about $1,300 for all of my super wonderful choices. ugh. i promise, people, he picked me. and i am soooo glad he did. and i really think he still is, too, by the way. i think. :)
i tell you all of this now, only to let you know, in a small way (trust me, i could tell you story after story, unfortunately) that it is not in my "nature" to desire the things that i have now missed so greatly. i was a major tom-boy growing up. athletic, independent, outgoing, stubborn...never lady-like or girly. i didn't "play house" really. i was the baby of the family and was kinda used to entertaining people, and, well, pretty much used to getting my way. whew. all this makes you want to run right out and buy me a BFF necklace doesn't it?? ugh.
anyway....here is my point, friend. with all my f.o.b. time lately (see other posts for reference) i have had the blessing and opportunity to listen to some amazing teachings on cds from Christown ministries. most of their focus is based on the following Scriptures from the book of titus that i had honestly never read, ever. but as soon as i did, and heard these cds, i felt such joy because it is something that God has put on my heart in such a HUGE way, especially over this last year as i have so desperately missed being the homemaker...wife....and mom i want to be...
titus 2:4-5 "that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [to be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed."
have you ever read these verses in the second chapter of titus? verse three is really great too! it talks about how older women should be teaching younger women these things. has an older woman taught you these things? i can say that i have had older women try to teach me some of this, but i wasn't as receptive as i could have been. i am much more receptive now, let me tell you! and although i don't necessarily consider myself "older" :) - i do want to share my heart about a few things....
there is waaaay too much great stuff in these two verses for just one blog, but i do want to hit the highlights that God has been working on in my heart so strongly lately. unfortunately, if i am being truly transparent here, which i really try to be...when you read my blog, you get the good, the bad, and the ugly...i would say that if someone were to sit and describe me, i'm not sure they would say, "oooh, yes, she is lovely, she's discreet, chaste, and obedient to her husband". partly because people don't really talk like that anymore. but mainly because it is all to often not true. and as far as people using outdated language, that is just a lame excuse. i looked up some synonyms and i haven't had anyone describe me saying "she is of a sound mind, self-controlled, and curbs her own desires and impulses" either. i will honestly say that i am generally not the first to curb my own anything. in fact, i often think my ideas are good ones, they deserve to be heard, and generally, i am right. (she said, ever-so-humbly. ugh) over the years, i have become, thanks to God's help, much more self-controlled and less impulsive than i was, but i am surely still a huge work in progress. in the first years of our marriage, though, i was great at the quick-witted and harsh-hitting comebacks to ryan. if he hurt me, it hurt me deep, because i love the man so much. so, if my pain was deep, i naturally (sinfully) wanted his to be deeper. i always felt bad after wards, but that's the thing...when you are quick tempered and impulsive, there is no time for that before. but, it wasn't until i truly asked God to help me with this that i saw any real improvement in my actual behavior....and more importantly, in my heart behind it. yes, it still rears its ugly head sometimes, of course, but thankfully, it is less often.
obedient to my husband?? hmmm...also not something i ever felt much like being. i was raised in a home with a lot of rules and regulations. and whether my perception was reality or not, at that time, i didn't feel like i had much of a voice. so...as a newlywed and in my very early twenties, i felt like i had "served my time" being told what to do and how to do it. that was over. i was a real grown up now and wouldn't be bossed around anymore. and ryan, being on his own now for years and years was somewhat set in his ways. and remember, by nature, a much more methodical and organized person. so, even his suggestions as to how things could be done around our house, i took as threatening. and boy was i quick to buck the system. again, my heart was SO not in the right place. i still struggle with this in one way or another. i take so personally when things aren't "up to par" in our home, because i feel it is a poor reflection on me not only as a homemaker, but also as a person. all of these are paths of destruction that the enemy would love for me to stay on for a loooong time. but God wants me to be on His path...to seek Him...act like Him...serve like Him...have a heart like Him....which makes most of this resolve itself, friend. is it hard work? absolutely!! but, it is so worth it! in our society today, submission might as well be a four-letter word. (it isn't, by the way, it has 10 letters, i counted :) women are too entitled and independent to "have" to be that way. our personalities are too strong and our brains are too smart. i do not think AT ALL that God wants us to be doormats. in fact, i know He doesn't. but, girls, we are supposed to allow our husbands to lead us. i've heard it said that a home with two heads is a monster...an ugly, two-"headed" monster. scary, huh? and not at all God's design. (eph. 5:23) but, i know i need to remember, and i want you to keep in mind too before you get your panties too much in tangle, that our husbands are called to love us like Christ loved the church and be willing to lay down their lives for us. (eph. 5) so, i do think we get the better end of the deal...not that we should be comparing roles, of course. more on this great subject on a different blog....
because, really, the main point that God has been talking to me about in these verses is about being the "keeper at home". i have learned a lot about this lately and have such a huge heart to get to feel like this again in my own home. the keeper at home in titus 2 watches over her home, oversees it, cares for it, protects the heart of it, and ladies, as you know...this entails soooo many little and big details. but, oh, what a privilege we have to be able to set the atmosphere of our home....to provide a loving place that our husbands want to hurry home from work to...that our kids want to hang out in, and for their friends to want to hang out it, too! ryan and i have always said that we want to be the house that all the kids want to hang out at. we hope to provide that. i think so many people miss the mark and think that means you just have to have the nicest "stuff". that isn't it. i believe so much of that begins with the mom and how she keeps her home. whether she works outside the home or not...is it clean? not immaculate, friend, that isn't what i mean. i think that is virtually impossible, especially if you have children under the age of six...and definitely if you ever serve rice for dinner...ugh, can i get an amen!?. :) is there food in the pantry? is mom in a good mood? is she happy about her role in the home? or is she upset all the time? bitter about not getting to have all the "nice things" and being "stuck" with the kids all day? or is she overworked and stressed because she feels she "has to" work outside the home and she feels she can't "do it all"? some women really can handle ALL that it takes to lovingly care for her husband, and her children, and her home unto the Lord and still work outside the home....and with the right heart. i cannot. and i know that is not what God wants for me and my family.
i want to confess to you that i have, in the past, had a judgmental heart about this subject. let me explain the best i can. six years ago, ryan and i were blessed with our first child, jacob. what a joy! for us, it wasn't even an option...i was going to quit my job and be a stay at home mom. but, just so you know, i loved my job! i taught middle school math and coached as well. i felt called to do it, i felt i was gifted at it, and plus, i just enjoyed it! but now, we had this sweet baby and raising him was our priority. was this decision tough? no, making this decision wasn't tough. for us, it wasn't. there was no way we were going to put our baby in day care. and honestly, at that time i couldn't even fathom how anyone could. hence, my judgmental heart about it. God and i have talked a lot about it since then. trust me, a lot! :) and i still stand by what i've always said...if possible, i do think it is best if a mom can stay home and be with her kids as much as she can. obviously, everyone's circumstances are different and i do not ever want to hurt anyone by saying that. really, i don't. (i mean almost to a fault, because i am a pleaser. ugh.) but honestly, friend, somewhere along the line, in our society, there has become this "working mom vs. stay at home mom" battle...and wowsers, it ain't a pretty one! i am not wanting to fuel that battle, trust me. but, our enemy sure wants to, be assured of that! i heard a great phrase recently that said "you can't mandate what God's Word doesn't dictate." so true!! this just means that because it never actually says in God's Word that "the wife shalst not worketh", it is not my place to make that a rule. if i do, i am no better than the pharisees who made up their own laws for people to follow and added them onto the Bible. trust me, i do NOT want to go there, friend! it is not un-Biblical for a mom to work outside the home. just like it is not un-Biblical for your kids to date at 15 or go to public school. these are decisions for you and your spouse to make for your family. but, friend, the Bible does talk about our special role in the home and our heart about it.
in fact, i was talking recently about all of this with a sweet friend of mine who is contemplating whether she is going to stay at home with her new baby or not. i was reminiscing about how hard it was for us. now, remember, i told you that making the decision wasn't tough for us. but, i will be honest, actually living out the decision was hard for us. for some families, the husband makes bunches of money and so even if the wife stays home, they still have lotsa cashola. not for team holzberger. for us, it was a sacrifice. truly, it was. in fact, it still is! :) when we had jacob, and i quit my job, we cut our family's income by more than half. and for the record, the "half" we were left with, was ryan's teaching salary, so we weren't exactly loaded here, people. :) i was remembering and telling my friend how we never, and i mean never got to eat out (no, not even taco bell)...or buy new clothes...or go on fancy vacations....or on any vacations really....or drive nicer cars...or even drive our old cars around much because back then gas was crazy expensive...or decorate and update our house like i wished we could...like our friends could. sometimes, i missed my job. i missed the affirmation i got there, the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment, being around the people and students i loved (this was hard for a true social like me!) but, then it hit me one day as i was attending my very own pity party (i was attending it alone, by the way...funny how no one ever joins me at those parties...hmmm, go figure.)...all of that...and i mean all of it...was...all...about...me. ouch. me, me, me. i was beyond blessed that God had given us this precious baby now and the very second that little guy took his first breath on this side of heaven, my calling was different. and clearly, my priorities and my heart needed to be different too. i was so very thankful for this baby and for this conviction to where my heart was wrong. but that was for me. i was being selfish about it all. i was more concerned with the "things" i felt was missing out on, instead of the many things God had given us through the blessing of staying home with our son. ouch. that hurt.
trust me, i still have my moments. when i go to other people's fancier houses or see their cars that are less than a decade old, i may have a flash of desire that my husband made more money, too. but then i remember how incredibly blessed i am to be married to a man that handles our money so very, very wisely (dave ramsey's book - "total money makeover" - go buy it!) and that we have three healthy, amazing kiddos! and besides, i always say that i've asked God not to give us one more dime that my character can handle. and friend, He has been more than faithful. :)
but, really....in our society nowadays, i feel too many moms get trapped in the feeling that they "have" to work. like there is no possible way they could make it work without two incomes. it is almost like the concept is foreign to people now. trust me, friend. it ain't easy. we have to say no a whole lot. a whooole lot. but really, we lack for nothing that we need. and we have done it on one teacher's salary. so, it is possible. we are proof. i hope that encourages you. because our budget didn't make much sense on paper, but we chose to do without a lot. we knew what God wanted us to do and we stepped out in faith...and, friend, God has been more than faithful to us. so much more. so, if He has placed something like this on your heart, too, i encourage you to talk to your spouse about it. pray about it a lot. get others to pray with you. this is a big deal. this is the future generation you are raising here. and boy does the time fly. that sweet baby boy i quit my awesome teaching job to stay home with... he is now missing three front teeth and is away from me for seven hours a day at kindergarten. i promise i was just rocking him to sleep yesterday. it...was...just...yesterday. and i so treasure every single day i stayed home with him. i can't think of one "thing" i don't have now that i would trade for that. not. one. thing.
friend, i also feel like our society doesn't place much honor on women who choose joyfully to be homemakers or on their families that are willing to sacrifice the custom hand-scraped floors or the media room so that their children are home with mom. and like i said before, maybe it isn't as much of a sacrifice for you. maybe you can do both, stay home and have the fun extra things. if so, rock on! for the record, i love hand scraped floors and media rooms and would totally have them if we could afford it. i am not anti-hand scraped floors or media rooms, people. i'm a fan. i've probably complimented yours! :) but, again, it's just not something in the team holzberger budget right now. or anytime soon. and i am cool with that. (at least, most of the time! :) money and having "things" is not the problem, friend. it is the love of money and "things" that God has a problem with. it is putting the desire to have that stuff above what God has called you to do that is not ok. in fact, 1 timothy 6:10 says pretty clearly that it is the root of all kinds of evil. ouch. and unfortunately, in the time we live in, it is an easy trap to get caught in.
i feel there is no greater career path a mom can take than that of actually being at home and a mom to her kids. don't feel like you have to say "oh, i'm just a housewife"...sweet friend, be proud. it is a noble career. in fact, my dear sweet friend who let me borrow these cds also told me about an awesome book titled "professionalizing motherhood" by jill savage...can't wait to get it! now, of course...there are plenty of stay at home moms whose hearts need to be checked as well. mine included. are your motives right? are you truly desiring to spend quality time with your kids? or do you run all over town with your own agenda and just drag them along with you? do you really spend about as much time actually playing with your kids as you would if they were in preschool or daycare all day? do you like to just say you're a stay at home mom because you think it makes you look good? you think to yourself "yep, i'm really a great person, soooo willing to sacrifice for my family. go me!" careful, friend. careful. (just speaking from my own convicted heart here, people! been there - thought that - have the spit-up stained t-shirt) i also encourage you to do your best not to be the martyr either. don't have the "i gotta take one for the team" mentality. "oh, woe is me having to spend all day with these blasted kids every day!" guard your mind from thinking toward your spouse "oh ya, but at least you get to escape to the magical place called "grown-up-land" every day where you get to have full conversations with other grown ups, you don't have to feed anyone but yourself and you never, ever have to wipe anyone else's hiney but your own!!" again, friend..i have no idea where i've gotten all these examples of awful thoughts here. (insert sarcasm) trust me, i don't need to survey stay at home moms for this stuff. i got it covered.
sweet friend, what a JOY and a blessing to get to care for and set the heart of your home. i know it is hard and even draining sometimes...ok, most of the stinkin' time. and if you still have kids in diapers, it does literally stink most of the time. :) but, take it from someone who hasn't....gotten....to...do...it...in...a....year - - it is a blessing. and God has designed each of us girls to do just that.
you may think, "God did not design me for that, trust me!" well, i can relate to that feeling, trust me! i do not resemble anything that comes even remotely close to a distant third cousin of june cleaver. lest we forget the 12 washers and dryers, people. but i do have a heart to please God and to be the woman He describes us all to be in titus 2. and if you look at the end of this verse, the entire point of all of this is "that the Word of God be not blasphemed". friend, we, as Christians should stand out. our homes should stand out. our marriages should stand out. the way we raise our children should stand out. people should look at us and see a difference. hopefully, a huge difference! no matter whether you get your paycheck in cash and stock options, or in cheerios and finger paintings, this is how we can honor God....by living as He calls us each to live, by acting as He calls us to, by serving as He calls us to. and for some of us, myself included, it may be a tougher road. i don't think i am "built" as well to be a super great homemaker. but, i think it would be waaaay too easy to hide behind the "i'm just not built that way" excuse. i think that, because i've done that. i encourage you not to do the same. we have no idea what we can or can't do until we try. and besides if He's called you to do it, you need to do it. end of story. He will work out the details. i love what my friend's pastor said, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called!' amen! phillipians 4:13 tells us that we can do anything with the strength God gives us in Jesus! anything. and in a world that pressures us to look a certain way, own a certain size and style of home, drive a certain well-equipped van, wear a certain style of clothes...yet isn't concerned AT ALL with the motives of our hearts...can i encourage you instead to look inside....at your heart? matthew 23:26 tells us "blind pharisee! first clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean". you and i have the potential to be beautiful inside, where it actually counts. we may not be right now, though. fair warning...when i truly looked inside at my heart, what i found there wasn't pretty. but, man have i been blessed by the cleaning up God has been doing. but, friend, trust me when i say He has waaay more cleaning ahead of Him than a simple 12 loads of dirty, piled up laundry. thankfully, God, like my sweet ryan, actually picked me too! and He picked you! (1 peter 2:9) my heart and your heart is really what matters. and whether you have kids or not...whether you are married or not....if you are a woman, these verses in titus 2 describe YOU! He is just working now on where He wants you to be. maybe He is working on your heart for when you will be married someday. maybe He is working on your heart for when you will someday have children...or even grandchildren. maybe you feel you didn't "do it right" the first time around with your own kids. don't worry, friend. there is nothing that our great God can't redeem. nothing. or maybe you are divorced or single and living alone in an apartment right now...you can still be a lovely example of a Godly keeper at home. it is all about your heart. and His heart. one in the same.
so, friend...please keep me accountable. if, in a couple months, when i am all healed up and my life is a bit more back to "normal" (which i am believing, in faith, that it will be! amen!)...if i am complaining about cleaning my bathrooms or folding the piles and piles of my kid's laundry (God's sense of humor as payback for my infamous college laundry basket:)...remind me of this blog (in love, of course :) although, after sooooo much time away from being able to feel like a keeper at home...after sooo long of this void in my heart...i would like to think i would not so easily forget. in fact, i hope that i never forget the sheer emptiness i feel from not being able to be the homemaker, the wife, and the mom i want so desperately to be. oh, how i miss it, friend. what a blessing! what a noble calling!
thank you God for making our role so special! thank you for choosing us to serve in this precious way! may we wear your Name well. may we be emptied of the selfishness, love of money, envy, and pride of this world. instead, may we be filled with Your joy, peace, thankfulness, love and utter selflessness.
and may we do it all with no pearls and no lace apron needed! :)