“I can’t believe that he actually thought a baby would use 1 nappy a day!”
“Why am I the only one in this house that seems to do any cleaning around here?”
“My life is horrible, everyone is out to get me! I’ll never have a happy Christmas!”
Would you like some cheese with that wine? In all seriousness though, we all have our bad days where nothing seems to be going right. It is okay to let it out every once in a while too. But what you need to remember is that nobody enjoys being around a person who is negative all the time.
We all know that one person whose life seems to be one tragedy after another. Maybe their life is genuinely traumatic. They may have ill health, be in an unloving marriage or without work for over a year, but if you look carefully you will notice that there are actually two very different types of people in this world. There are those who play the victim all their lives and their are those who say “Yes, it sucks, but I won’t let it get me down.” My question is, which one are you?
I heard a story of twin brothers. Their mother died when they were young and soon after that their father turned to alcohol. These brothers were left to raise themselves.
The one made a choice to get involved in sports and won a scholarship to a prestigious college. He graduated with a business degree and started his own business from scratch, with no bank funding whatsoever. He actually worked two jobs, one at a corporate firm and the other running his own business for a couple of years. This man went on to have a successful family life and got reasonably wealthy.
The other twin was failing at school and eventually dropped out. His father’s drunkenness seemed to hit him much harder. He had a string of low-level jobs, and eventually turned to theft and alcohol himself.
When these twins were interviewed they were asked the same questions “How did you get to where you are today?” both of them gave the credit to their father!
The first said “I didn’t want to end up like my dad. I saw that the only way out was to get a sports scholarship, so I started sports.”
The second said “I saw what my dad had become, and I couldn’t handle it. I had to get away so the first chance I got I left school and went out on my own.”
These boys grew up in the same environment with the same father and they had both seen what their dad had become. The difference between them was that the first took stock of all his options and wisely chose the option that would take him furthest in life in the long term. The second, took stock of all his options and chose the one that would benefit him in the moment.
The key is that both of these men gave their father the credit for the situation they were in today.
So often we say, “I wouldn’t be like this if… ” or “If only I had … then … wouldn’t have happened.” We start throwing a pity party instead of looking for a way to get out of the situation.
You need to quit making excuses and shifting the blame. Be like the first twin and create a plan to change the situation you are in. You might not get it right the first time, but keep trying anyway.
I have also felt trapped in circumstances, like there was no way out. I had bills to pay and had to work outside the home to pay them. Eventually, after a long talk with Mark, we reviewed all our finances and one thing was clear… if we did without certain things, and were very careful with our money, we could live off a single income. In a worst of the worst scenario we could move in with his parents and rent out our home. Thankfully we haven’t needed to do that, God has provided. We found a way out of our circumstances.
How often have you heard the saying “You cannot change a man”? The same is true with anybody. Nobody is able to force another human being to change. That is the joy of free will.
If you cannot change another person, then how can you expect anybody or anything to change you except yourself? Yes, you can ask other people or God to help you change, but you have to be willing to change first. If you are unwilling, then it cannot happen.
Once you have made the decision to change, then it takes support, perseverance and being willing to get back up again and try something else when you fail.
In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains the circle of influence. In a nutshell, there are 3 areas:
The Circle of Influence are the things that you can do something about. Included in this is how you can influence yourself to change. The more you work within your Circle of Influence, the larger it will get and you may find that when people notice the change within you, then they will start to change themselves too! Live by example, your way of life is the best witness you can give.
Firstly, there is the word proactive. That is what you use to describe people who “take the bull by the horns” or “make a plan and get stuff done”.
We all have different starting points, it all depends on where you are in your life journey as to where you will need to start the change.
The first thing we all need to do is to listen to the voices in our head. What do you tell yourself on a regular basis? Be aware of what you are thinking. Look at it carefully, listen to it.
I noticed that my voice always said “I don’t feel like … ” or “I really don’t want to …” or “I am nervous about …” For example, if I look at a messy kitchen sink the voice says “Ah, I really don’t feel like cleaning all this up right now.” or “This will take forever.” My problem is motivating myself to actually do the stuff on my checklists.
When I realized that this was my problem, then I started looking for ways to overcome that problem. There is the timer method: Set a timer for 15 minutes and just get stuck in and do it, when the timer goes off then stop. That one works well, but only when I am accountable to somebody or else I fall off the band wagon again. I needed a person, or a group of people that I could talk to and brag to about what I had accomplished in a day. That is when I joined the Homemakers Encouragement group on Facebook. We play a game where we see how many things we can accomplish on a combined “Done List” in a day. At the time of writing this, our record has been 156 items crossed off between a group of us! Even though we are working in separate homes and countries, we are working together towards a common goal – beating our “high score!”
You need to ask yourself “What does my negative Nancy say to me?” and then you need to think of a way to either change it, or overcome it.
I still hear the voice in my head, but I have learned to overcome it (most of the time).
So, in conclusion, I think you should consider giving yourself and your family the gift of change this year. Start noticing the problems within yourself instead of focusing on the problems in other people. Then find a way to change or better yourself. It may be a long term strategy, but you will notice that once you better yourself then more and more things will fall into place for you.
I hereby declare 2014 as my year of prayer and faith. Why? Well, there have been a lot of changes this past year. If we take the year in review:
Mark and I were married for 1 year on the 9th of March 2014. I couldn’t be happier! God truly blessed me with a wonderful man, he is the perfect match for me, and I for him. To see all our wedding photographs, click here.
Katie is a new wife and has felt God leading her to become a homemaker (full-time), the problem is that she is a very intelligent woman who has finished law school. She grew up in a family that encouraged all their children to become professionals. Her brother is an engineer, and her younger sister is studying medicine. Katie cannot explain it, but she has always just wanted to be a mom and housewife, although she feels ashamed of wanting it. Her mother has always preached the benefits of having a job outside the home and encouraged her to be independent. The aptitude test she did at 18 told her that she had all the skills for a law career, so that is what she studied. She was an excellent student, acing all her subjects and passing with flying colors. Teachers, friends and all those around her have told her how talented she is and what a wonderful lawyer she will be. Starting her career in a law firm was a thrilling moment for her, but as the first year passed, she realized that the demands of a law career would never allow her to be the wife and mother that she dreamed of becoming.
Life got worse after she married her husband, Keith. He was a very understanding young man, only 2 years older than her. He loved God and his family above all else, but most of all, he supported her and saw how unhappy she was in the law career. You know something is wrong when your wife cries every Sunday night.
Katie would cry because every Sunday night she realized that she would have another day where she would get home so exhausted she wouldn’t have the energy to cook supper, do the laundry or anything else that was so important to her.
She thought she could be a wonder woman who had it all, a beautiful home, a successful career and a happy family, but she had been trying to achieve this goal for almost 2 years, and she didn’t feel a step closer to it. She felt as though she was a failure.
Eventually, Katie makes the decision to leave her successful law career and study something else that is not as time-consuming, something that will allow her to spend more time with her family. Katie enrolls to become an elementary school teacher. She is studying, improving her skills, and is now happy.
Disclaimer: Katie is a fictional character, although her story was inspired by my own.
One of the biggest challenges that I faced on my journey was creating a personal mission statement to keep myself motivated on the “bad days”. Many books and online articles preach the benefits of creating a personal mission statement, but most of the examples and exercises that I have found online have been directed at people who are in work-outside-the-home careers, or at people who are self-employed business owners.
After reading multiple articles and doing many exercises, I formed my own mission statement which can be found on my Mission Statement page. This mission statement is vastly different from others that I have found online in examples, but it is Authentically Ash and that is what matters.
Below you can learn what a personal mission statement is, why it is a good idea to have one, some important guidelines for creating a mission statement, some exercises to help create a personal mission statement and how to maintain your mission statement.
I have taken care to create this in such a way that it is applicable to homemakers, but with some editing you can use these tips in any career choice. Continue reading “How to create a personal mission statement”
As promised last week, I will share my study of Titus 2:3-5.
Disclaimer: Please note that I have never attended a Bible College, or done any theology courses. This blog post is an organized version of the notes I made while researching Titus 2:3-5, specifically the part that the NIV Bible translates as “to be busy at home”.
My attention was brought to Titus 2:3-5 through a few blog posts* I read regarding Godly Womanhood. I had heard this verse before, and I had done a brief study on it, but I had never felt God leading me to it like He did while doing the Funeral Visualization Exercise.
I mostly use the NIV Bible, so this is how I first read it:
Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
“3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
I went back and read the whole of Titus 1 and 2 so I could get the verses in context. The book of Titus is actually a letter that Paul wrote to Titus, giving him instructions.
For some reason, that I cannot explain, I pulled out all the different translations of Bibles I had in my home. What I found was that each of the versions I own translated the phrase “to be busy at home” in Titus 2:5 differently.
Revised Standard Version (1952): “to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited.”
New Living Translation: “to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”
God’s Word: “to use good judgement and to be moraly pure. Also, tell them to teach young women to be homemakers, to be kind, and to place themselves under their husband’s authority. Then no one can speak evil of God’s word.”
While I noticed that all 4 of these versions translated the phrase differently, another part was very similar in all versions and caught my attention… women were to be taught these things so that nobody could malign / bring shame on / discredit / speak evil of the word of God. To me, this indicated that it wasn’t simply instruction for the times, but rather instruction for all time.
I couldn’t get over how each version was translating “to be busy at home” differently. So I went online to search for more translations of the passage and see what they say… (Comparison of Various Bible Translations)
I found that more translations used the phrase “keepers at home” or “workers at home” than any other phrase. So I decided to go deeper and I looked up the original greek word and its meaning.
οἰκουργούς is the greek word that I found to mean “keepers at home” or “workers at home” (Reference)
What I realized was that regardless of how a person interprets the phrase, the one part is clear: it is a woman’s responsibility to care for their homes.
The extreme of this viewpoint is to say that a woman must not work outside the home because her duty is within the home. Some people may feel that God has led them to this conclusion. After much prayer and careful consideration, I did not arrive at the same conclusion.
But, I feel that this verse does indicate that a woman should be the primary carer for her home. If she is capable of caring for her home and holding a job outside the home there is nothing stopping her from doing so.
Perhaps God has led you to a different conclusion. Your perspective may be different from mine, and that is OK… it would be an awfully boring planet if everybody thought the same. I would love to hear your perspective in a comment below.
* I really wish I still had the links to some of the articles and blog posts that started me on this study. I like hearing other people’s opinions, from all angles. Unfortunately I used my mobile phone for browsing, and it seems like my history was cleared sometime in the past month. So I won’t be quoting or referencing the blog posts and articles that led me down this path.
My previous 2 posts where a buildup to this one. For those who haven’t read them, I am working through “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. The first few chapters lead me to think about Character Traits and My Purpose in Life.
My purpose in life, as I discovered, is to be a Housewife and Homemaker. The strange part is this is something I have always known, but I didn’t want to acknowledge. Housewife and Homemaker isn’t exactly the career your guidance counselor wants you to strive towards in High School.
The arguments against it bombard a young mind from all angles. Some of the ones I have heard are:
The first two I will acknowledge are valid points. It is a wise decision for a woman to find something that she is good at and enjoys doing in addition to being a housewife/homemaker. That way she has a backup plan in case she stays single or is forced into being the breadwinner.
Somebody I know mentioned that she feels that the ideal backup career for a woman is an K-12 school teacher (pick the age group you love the most). She explained how Schools normally don’t hold it against you if you have left the workforce to raise children, unlike other career options. She also mentioned how if you are trained with the younger children, you can start a daycare from the comfort of your own home if your children are still young.
When it comes to the third point, about the economy, I see that this one is only valid if your spouse is on minimum wage (or close to minimum wage). But living off a single, average income, is doable. It just means that you can’t be materialistic. Accept that you will be living with less, your children won’t be going to private schools (you may decide to homeschool them if the public schools in your area are a problem), and that you will have to make do with second-hand whenever possible.
I did the maths regarding this when Mark and I were looking at me leaving my job and working with him in his business. Due to the savings on fuel and food/snacks for lunch, and add into that how I am home to better plan our meals, and do our budgeting/bookkeeping properly each month, we have successfully moved from a double income to a single income and are currently still making a “profit” each month. I should also mention that the salary we gave up was the greater of the two salaries.
To me, this is scratching the bottom of the barrel. It is only a problem if you are trying to force other women to make the same choice that you made. In my mind, I feel that women should have a choice either way. It should be equally acceptable for a woman to have a career outside their home, or a career inside their home. I know women who would go absolutely crazy if they had to stay at home all day, I also know women who are on the edge of going crazy because they have to leave their homes each day to go to work. It goes both ways, therefore both options should be acceptable.
This is just plain nonsense. Who are you to judge what God has lead the woman to do with the skills he has given her? The skills you see each day might only be the ones that are relevant to her career, or what she studied. How would you know if she was a superb mother, a frugal homemaker or a wonderful hostess and cook if you only see her in her job as a secretary or scientist? For all we know, God might have put it on this intelligent woman’s heart to be a housewife/homemaker/stay-at-home-mother, because only a woman of her intelligence would be able to teach the child he had planned for her and raise him/her to be the person who will change the world in some way or another.
Ultimately, I am saying that a woman can use her talents by supporting her family emotionally and furthering the kingdom of God by starting in her own home.
This is an extract from my diary. I wrote it without the intention of ever publishing it, but I feel that it is necessary to give my reader a full view of what was going through my mind and heart while struggling with the work part of the funeral visualization from my previous blog post.
I got stuck with the funeral visualization yesterday and haven’t completed it yet. The next one I was meant to visualize was Work. I am struggling with that one. I have never been able to visualize myself in a career. Each one that I think of I get the feeling of “that would be nice, but there is no excitement there.”
The only place that I really love being is at home. Internally I am struggling between wanting to say “My home and family are my work” and something else that says “That isn’t a real career.”
After this I spent some time looking up blogs and opinion articles online. I had heard of Titus 2:3-5 before, but I really did an in depth study of it this time. More of this in next week’s post. The end result was that I realized that God was leading me down this path.
Another extract from my diary (after all my research):
My heart is struggling. Something in me wants to say that women were designed to be homemakers and this is God’s plan for me. Something else is saying that it isn’t applicable to the modern culture, that I am looking for something to justify wanting to stay at home and be a housewife.
I spent more time thinking about this, and the conflicting emotions. My main thought is “Why has it become so unacceptable to be a wife, mother and homemaker when just 60-70 years before it was perfectly acceptable?”
I haven’t found the conclusion to this question yet, and I think that this will involve a lot more research in the coming months. It has definitely become a topic of interest to me.
If you have any thoughts, books, articles or blogs I can read on this topic , I would greatly appreciate a comment with the details.
I am still working through “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. The next part of the book that stood out for me was the part where he asks the reader to visualize going to a funeral of a loved one 3 years from now. He guides you through visualizing it in detail, and eventually you discover that it is your furneral that you are visualizing.
Stephen asks you to imagine that 4 people are going to speak at the funeral. The first is a family member, who is going to speak about your family life. The second is a friend who is going to speak about how they saw you as a friend. The third is somebody that will speak about your work ethic, and the fourth is somebody who will speak about your community or church involvement.
At this time he asks you to think about what you would want each person to say about your character, contributions and achievements. Remember, this isn’t for you to think about what they WILL say about you as you are now (although that is also an important exercise that will help you figure out how what you are now is different to how you want to be). This is to dream about the way you want to be remembered, and in so doing, figure out what you value most in life and what your goals in life are.
This was a very important exercise for me, and it was the main topic of my thoughts for almost a week. Knowing what I wanted to be said about me with regards to family, friends and community was easy, and it only took me an hour or so to really flesh out the details.
When it came to what I want people to say about me regarding work, it was difficult. I knew that there were two characteristics that I wanted people to say. I wanted to be known as honest and trustworthy. The contributions and achievements I had an issue with.
As you can no doubt see from my previous blog posts where I worked through the “48 Days to the Work you love” book. I have been bothered by what work to do for some time. The truth is, that my heart has always known what it wanted to do, but what I wanted to do is no longer socially acceptable. Or at least it feels as though it is no longer socially acceptable. The option on my heart, definitely wasn’t an option in the “48 Days to the Work you love” book, as in that book the author looks for ways to make money out of the skills you have, whereas the work that is on my heart doesn’t have a monetary reward.
For the first time in my life I had to be honest with myself. I thought “Do I want to be remembered for making that awesome computer game?” The answer was no. “Do I want to be remembered for writing that best selling novel?” Again no. “Do I want to be remembered for influencing the lives of hundreds of children through teaching?” This one was closer, but once again I wasn’t passionate about it.
So the question that came to my mind is what do I really want to be remembered for? What am I passionate about? Where am I when I am the happiest? The strange answer, and this I have known for a long time, is that I am happiest when I am at home and when I am talking to women who are also happiest in their homes. I am happiest when I am encouraging other homemakers, sharing ideas with them and when I am working in my own home.
Could it be that I was made to be a housewife? This was a startling realization for me, but the moment I admitted it to myself, it made complete sense.
I researched quotes about homemaking, I read other people’s opinion blogs on the topic. I even looked up Bible verses about womanhood.
All my findings will be best left as a blog post for next week. For now I am going to stick to the funeral visualization and my answers. Please remember this isn’t how I am right now, but rather what I am wanting to aspire to be.
Ashleigh was a loving wife and mother who valued her family’s well-being and happiness second only to her faith and relationship with God. She strived to model the character traits she valued most, and encouraged her children to develop them, following her example.
Her home was always open and welcoming to family, friends and strangers. A person couldn’t visit without feeling as though they had found a second home in her house. She was the glue that held the family and friends together, making them feel as though they were one.
She was a talented cook, and a perfect homemaker. She was filled with wisdom and managed her home finances devotedly. Her family never lacked any need.
Ashleigh was an honest and trustworthy friend. She was always there to help and support those who needed her to. She was filled with knowledge & wisdom, and she was always reading to expand her knowledge.
She was reliable and would always come through for others. Whether it was icing cupcakes or babysitting her friends children so they could have a quiet evening at home. She was always there for her friends.
Her home may not have been the picture of beauty shown in magazines, but it was humbly welcoming and an easy-going household.
Ashleigh had outstanding wisom and her faith in God and his provision was unequalled. She put God first in her life and went to Him & His word for guidance first.
She was always present at any occassion in her church community and never failed to help where she could.
Even though Ashleigh never organized any functions herself, she supported other people’s endeavours whole-heartidly.
This was the difficult one that I wrote a few days later. I had spent a long time thinking about this one and working through a few things, which will be described in detail during my next blog post.
Ashleigh was a diligent worker. She was always willing to serve others. She was trustworthy and honest.
As her husbands helpmeet in his work, no-one could have been better. When she wasn’t helping Mark, she was working in her home, raising and teaching her children with special care.
Her home was always clean and well organized. She was proactive and never failed to put first things first. She did any task set before her efficiently and effectively.
This is all I have for this week. I strongly encourage you to try this exercise, especially if you have that empty hole inside of you that you just can’t seem to find something to fill it with.
That was my problem, I had Jesus in my life, but I still felt like I was constantly searching for meaning. I’ve noticed that the hole inside happens whenever you have an unfulfilled purpose, that you are not acknowledging to yourself or openly. I’m not sure if the meaning has finally been found, but that hole inside is definitely smaller.
Also remember, that your visualization can have results that are greatly different to mine. Everybody has been created unique. This is about YOU, not impressing others. I constantly had to fight the thought of what is the right answer, the socially acceptable answer, and remind myself that the right answer for society is not necessarily the right answer for me. Always ask yourself, “Is this what I want? Or is this what I feel is the right thing to want?”
It started while I was reading the book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I am not finished with the book yet, as I am only on the 3rd Habit.
In this book Stephen Covey pointed out that he had made a remarkable discovery while doing research on “self-help” books of the past 200 years. Around the year 1950, there became a distinct change in the way the books were written.
Prior to 1950, the self-help books detailed that the way to success was to build your character traits and to encourage your children to build their character traits. After 1960, the self-help books did a turn and started encouraging people to build their Personality traits.
Dictionary.com defines Character as “
So we could say that Character is the way the person is, and personality is the way the person appears to be.
A few examples of Character Traits include:
* Definition from Google.com
Here are a few examples of Personality Traits that are encouraged during Personality Development:
* Definition from Google.com
Many people will argue that in this “modern” world we need our Personalities to succeed in life, that it isn’t our inward person that makes us move ahead, but rather our outward personality.
I argue that personality is only a short-term solution. Once people get to know you, really get to know you, it is your character that keeps you ahead.
How many times have two people got married or started living together and after a year or two they get divorced or break up? The excuse is usually “Person X wasn’t the person I thought he/she was.” Or “Living together in the same house made us realize how different we really are.” I will make the bold statement that these people fell in love with each others personalities, not with each other’s characters.
We could take it to business level too. You may employ somebody, or join a business that you were attracted to during the interview process. A few months later (sometimes even a few years later), they don’t seem to be the person you hired (or the business isn’t living up to their promises). Then there is that horrible “break-up”. Like in a marriage, you were attracted to the personality, not the character.
Character takes time to develop, and time to reveal itself, especially in a world that focuses so much on the personality. Developing YOUR character is beneficial though, because it is the backbone of personality.
If you develop the character trait of integrity, then your personality will always be a reflection of your true character. What people see in you is not the public image you have created, but a reflection of yourself. If you develop all the character traits mentioned in the example above, how can the person not like what they see (the personality)?
We all know that having people who like you for who you really are, is a huge boost to your own self-esteem. Having a high Self-Esteem in turn will encourage you to keep building the character traits, which in turn will reflect in your personality, thereby increasing your self-esteem even more.
Yes, this can be a problem. Most of the time the people who don’t like you are the ones who lack these character traits themselves. You may notice that the person who doesn’t like you manipulates other people and tells lies in order to get ahead in life. They are building personality traits instead of working on their Character traits.
As I mentioned before, personality development is a short term solution. We all remember that one girl from High School that would suck up to the teachers, tease the boys and spread nasty rumors. While she appears sweet and innocent to many of the people who first meet her, at the end of High School most people realize what her true character is like. Unless she changes during college or her adult life and starts developing her character, you will always find that she cannot stay long in any job or place without eventually showing her true self. You may find that she keeps people at a distance, never getting too close to anybody.
Developing your character traits, is a process of building a reputation that extends over your whole life. It may not be cool or popular in High School, and sometimes not even in college, but when you get to the age where you are looking for a job, getting married and having children, something switches in your brain and you realize that the Character Traits were the most important after all.
Last weekend, Mark and I announced that we are expecting a baby to join our family at the end of April 2015. You can see our baby announcement above.
Some of the most common questions that I have received since the announcement are:
In answer to these questions…
Some of the things that people have not asked, but Mark and I hold strong opinions about, is that if it is a girl we are decorating the room in red. If the baby is a boy, then we are decorating the room in green. I’ve never been fond of the “cotton candy” colors that dominate mainstream shops when it comes to the baby section.
The second thing is that as far as toys are concerned, our child is going to have lots of Duplo, Lego and books. Those are our toys of choice for the child (boy or girl) until the child’s personality becomes apparent and we can cater for their personal interests. We are definitely going to put value on fewer High Quality toys, over hundreds of “cheap” toys.
Lastly, assuming there are no complications, I am planning to have a natural birth. I am also planning on breastfeeding as much as possible in the first few months and we are going to only use disposable nappies if we are going “out” with our child. Around the house and at the grandparents house we are going to use toweling nappies.
More than this, I am speculating and thinking about the major decisions that will come along and weighing up the options, but I know that many of these decisions can only be made when the baby is here. My number 1 goal is to develop an understanding of the child’s personality and interests, then to encourage the child to become the best that he/she was made to be.