Sunday, May 10, 2009

Top Ten Ways to be Productive at Home!

I ran across a new blog that Carmon writes, and saw this great post there, found it was great for Mother's Day!

I haven’t posted a Top Ten list in ages, so here are ten ways a keeper at home can make her home a rich and productive place of godly service. I’m sure you all could think of even more:
Top Ten Ways to Be Productive at Home

1. Education: Dr. Allan Carlson has chronicled the decline in the family, and he notes the change from home-centered activities and work due to first fathers and then mothers leaving the home and turning the teaching of their children over to “experts,” to the detriment of relationships in the home and the ultimate demise of cultural values. He sees homeschooling as a positive return to a family economy of sorts, reclaiming the important functions of household cohesion through working in this primary function of learning together, rather than outsourcing huge amounts of time to social engineers. Many homeschool mothers have also discovered that their own educations are greatly enhanced (a well-known benefit to those who teach others) as they learn along with their children. They also have more time to read good books.

2. Financial rewards: The accepted wisdom is that it takes two incomes to keep a household running. While the tax burden in our statist society does make it difficult to make ends meet, the cost for a woman to work outside the home is often higher than the income she might bring in. For any family, there are many economic contributions a homekeeper can make to help her husband, who is called to be the primary breadwinner for the home. Some have home businesses or help in a family business. Others become frugal shoppers, from groceries and clothing to insurance and real estate. Women can use their time to make their husband’s salary often stretch much further than the amount of money they might bring in from a job which takes so much time and energy they end up having to spend more on convenience food, eating out, gasoline and car upkeep, wardrobe, and other incidental expenses which come from working outside the home.

3. Hospitality: The ministry of hospitality is not optional in the Bible. We are to share freely what we have with others in order to bring glory to God, especially other believers. It can also be a tremendous opportunity for evangelism. Many Christians do not even know their neighbors. Our homes can be resources of service, but someone needs to be home to make it happen. One of the qualifications for eldership is showing hospitality, as is a qualification to be a widow worthy of support.

4. Creativity: The world seems to be getting the idea that one’s home can be an artistic canvas. A plethora of home decorating and cooking magazine and books are available with ideas for domestic bliss, ranging from the simple country style to elegant and ornate. While much of this advice is overdone and materialistic, there is a gold nugget of truth in the notion that we ought to create beauty within our homes. The purpose is not to present an untouchable showpiece to evince envy in others, but we imitate God’s creativity when bring beauty to our homes and we minister comfort (strength) to others—our family and friends and neighbors—when we bring order out of chaos in our sphere of influence, as we invite them to partake of the beauty we offer. In addition, the homekeeper has more time to add special touches to meals, to learn and practice skills which are forgotten in the busyness of modern life, such as sewing, knitting, quilting, and gardening. Music can be another means of beautifying our homes, whether it’s on a CD or even better, produced within our own family.

5. Spiritual pursuits: While she may not have a glamorous “ministry” in a foreign land, the keeper at home is nevertheless busy in important ministry work. First, she is intimately involved in the spiritual training of her children, modeling as well as teaching them the Gospel and obedience to God in every area of life. She also has the important job of praying for her family, praying fervently each day for their spiritual well-being and other requests regarding their daily lives. She also has a love for her local church and finds opportunities to serve there depending on her season of life, but always building loving relationships within the body of Christ, teaching the younger women and learning from the older women. She is especially aware of the blessed opportunities for humbling which come from the daily interactions at home, and she learns to be content in the place God has given her.

6. Romance: There is this silly idea that it is much more glamorous to be in a career, particularly one which involves travel and power lunches. Those poor shoulder-padded, besuited women don’t know what they are missing. It is much better to be besotted with your own husband, spending time and energy on pleasing him, rather than worrying about making finicky clients happy in endless meetings and never-ending projects. Make a project out of loving your husband, remembering the special romance you enjoyed when you first loved one another, and renewing that love in a deeper way by showing him how important he still is to you. Learn again what he likes to talk about, what food he prefers, how he wants to spend the evening with you. When you expend that effort to let him know how special he is to you, you may find that your husband is much more romantic than you believed he could be after all those years of marriage.

7. Health care: This is controversial, and I am not saying that you need to avoid doctors and hospitals, but you can avoid them more often if you gain some basic skills and practice some common sense about taking care of your family’s health. Some find that home is a fine place to have a baby, and it can be very exciting to have a home birth, and very challenging learning about and living through the details of childbirth, whether at home or in the hospital. Every family has to endure illness, and a wise mother learns how to discern whether a doctor is needed or whether she can deal with the sickness at home. Though there were many superstitious old wives’ tales regarding how to treat certain illnesses, there also was once much more practical knowledge about how to deal with common fevers, scrapes, sprains, aches, and other health problems. There is much to learn in this area that doesn’t take a nursing or medical degree.

8. Gardening and animal husbandry: It doesn’t take a lot of land to grow some vegetables or even to raise some animals. Not everyone feels called to the agrarian life, but once upon a time it was unusual for homes even in neighborhoods to not produce some of their own food. We live in a time now when we can run to the store in a few minutes and buy almost any kind of treat that our heart desires, and taking care of a garden seems like a “fruitless” and unnecessary pursuit. But, as the Paul Overstreet song says, it can be a way of “Sowin’ Love” for your family, teaching your children many lessons about patience, hard work, and responsibility. Home-grown food can sometimes be much more flavorful and a reminder of the richness of God’s blessings as you watch the entire process, from seed to harvest, unfold. Caring for animals (and this can include pets) is a reminder, too, of compassion for beasts, nurturing creatures who depend on us totally. The tenderness many children feel for their animals is worth cultivating, and sometimes the death of those animals, whether to provide food for the family, or the loss of a beloved pet, is also a vivid reminder of the consequences of sin and the hope we have in God because of the immortal souls He has given us and our salvation through Christ.

9. Organization: This is not the most popular aspect of keeping a home for many women, but it is an important and necessary aspect of it. One of the consequences of the sin of our first parents, we well know, is that there are now a lot of weeds to pull as we do our work. Within our homes these weeds manifest themselves as dirty laundry, piles of papers, toys littering the floor, dirty dishes, and even squabbles among our children. We never lack for something to straighten up or straighten out. But just as our husbands need to find contentment in their calling and not complain about the trials that accompany it, so we ought to roll up our sleeves and determine to tackle those things that always need our attention. There is great satisfaction in a job well-done, and though some of those jobs never seem to end, we can take proper pride in bringing order out of chaos, keeping our homes running smoothly and not allowing life in our dominion to spiral out of control. If we don’t do it, then who will? We must not denigrate the crucial task of directing and organizing our homes.

10. Counselor: Dr. Laura is a household name, for dispensing advice and helping those who seem unable (or unwilling) to help themselves. She seems to rely on a lot of good old-fashioned common sense, mixed with a bit of exasperation for those who foolishly insist on violating her brand of morality. Well, you don’t need to have a title in front of your name or millions of listeners in order to be a good counselor. The only title you need is “Mom,” and your listeners may only be counted on both hands (you might need some toes if you are really influential, or so blessed). As a Christian, you are in a far stronger position than Dr. Laura to give good advice, even if you haven’t heard of Piaget or Pavlov. The important thing is that the law of kindness be on your tongue, and your advice works best if you practice selflessness as much as possible, something in which you probably have received much practice already if you have a few children. Unfortunately, it is a skill which cannot be mastered, and sometimes you need to use some of the counseling skills you have learned on yourself. If that’s the case, you might want to forego Dr. Laura and try this much more practical advice from psychologist Bob Newhart: “Just stop it!”

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