Sunday, August 20, 2006

Help Meet? Meat? Sounds like strange Barbecue to me......

activplanttroy 008

Let's face it. Help meet is a weird word. I didn't make it up;) But, I did look it up!

Genesis 2:18
"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."

A girls gotta wonder....,,... how can I HELP my husband? What? Am I supposed to do his job for him, too? I don't think so.

It seems to me- that couples are often going in two different directions. He does his job, she does hers. We often live two separate lives. This happens in traditional SAHM situations just as often as it does in dual income families. Yet, the bible is pretty clear that we were designed to help each other.

Sometimes, I wonder if moving from an agricultural society to a more industrial one, we've made our roles as husband and wife so much more difficult to fulfill. On a farm, or in a "shop" it is easy to see couple working together toward a common goal. How can that be accomplished now? We work at separate jobs in different cities! (FYI- my VAST knowledge of the agricultural society is from my childhood spent watching "Little House on the Prairie")

God's word hasn't changed, but our cultural context has. Even within the current culture, there are so many variables.

Variables like:

  • The necessity for 2 incomes for so many families.
  • The change of proximity to our jobs (most commute, Pa's work is no longer within walking distance like in "Little House on the Prairie ;)
  • Time home together is often times minimal.
  • Tag team marital situations, where one spouse arrives home from work, close to the time the other is leaving FOR work. Sometimes this is because of work schedules, and sometimes it's to minimize the need for outside childcare.

As families work hard to manage the difficult task of balancing financial , childrens' and couple's needs, we must be more and more creative in maintaining connection with each other. It will take creativity to find ways to be a "help meet."

Knowing I am designed to be a help-meet, raises lots of questions.... What does that look like?

Should I cut the grass?
Take out the trash?
Should I iron his clothes? (trust me- My husband is better of doing his own ironing, I'm AWFUL!)
Should I balance his Budget spreadsheet, or be his office manager?
Should I make an appointment with his boss to straighten out a few things???? No. Period.

There is a line between helping and being bossy, trust me, I've crossed it. But, the lines can be hard to find. "Help-meet" doesn't mean spousal micro-manager. It doesn't mean you become his mother, either. He has or had one and may still be suffering the consequences... (kidding.. kidding... mostly;)

Help meet is pretty self explanatory, you meet with help, where you can.

Each of us, has to answer this question for our families. It won't look the same. Some, may find that they can best help their husband by working; whether part time, full time or from home. Others, may take care of everything at home so DH doesn't have to worry about it, and can focus on his work....

For me, I stay home, in a traditional SAHM role. Yet, there is more to being a help meet, than laundry and restaurant services. My DH's work is important to him (and to our family) So, I work hard to find ways to be a help-meet with his work.

It's not easy. It requires effort. My primary ministry is to the people in my Home. First- to my Husband, (He'll be here after the kids are gone..;) Then to my kids. One of the ways I can minister my husband, is by helping him. Here are a few ideas that work for us:

Missional Wife's top Ten ways to be a Help-Meet:

  • 1) Google alerts for industry or company information... and/or customers or clients. (This is about learning about his job, your method of information gathering may be different... but give it a shot, show interest in what interests him... his job)
  • 2) Listen and remember: about co-workers, projects, etc. (offer to buy gifts for so-workers new babies, homes etc....)
  • 3) Ask if you can help with anything in a crunch time...... Office need to be extra nice? For a meeting? Offer to clean it. Husband putting in extra hours at the shop because their cutting back crew to save money? Offer to bring him a homecooked meal on-site. If you're kids are old enough, encourage them to cut the grass, then tell Dad they did it so Saturday can be a fun family day, instead of a work at home day.
  • 4) Be creative. Is there something you can do, that ocassionally could help him more directly with his work? proof the office for a special customer meeting, cooking treats for special ocassions. Picking up gifts for co-workers weddings and babies...(catering an event to cut costs for the company.. Etc.)
  • 5) Learn about his job/industry. Learning from your spouse is a powerful gift.
  • 6) Pray for and WITH him, about his work. (We've been known to take a ride out to Daddys work to pray for a specific meeting or issue.
  • 7) Work hard, to help without grousing. (for me, grousing is usually a pretty good indicator that my needs may not be being met see item: 10.)
  • 8) Look for ways to involve children in helping. (families that learn to support each other- stay together)
  • 9) Hold each other accountable. Life is NOT all about work. Sometimes a girls gotta lovingly remind her man of that;) Sometimes she needs to be reminded of the same, by her man.
  • 10) We can't be "help meets" when we're empty..... Make sure your needs are clearly defined and met as well.... on an airplane, you are encouraged to first put oxygen on yourself, then you are able to help someone else. Passed out exhausted, burnt out wives are not help-meets. They can't be. You can't give what you don't have. Spend time with God, the ultimate need meeter, and in rest, hobbies etc, whatever it is that takes care of yourself.

For the past few weeks, I've been helping my husband with a major project. His company opened an office in our vicinity. As he is the executive presense in this office, he wanted the office to reflect preofessionalism and bear the "branding" of the company. I offered to help. (I know- decorating on someone elses budget- I was really suffering!;)

I was honored that he trusted my instincts, and asked me to take on this project. I custom framed marketing collateral, created a black and white collage of industry events, I consulted on a major item custom framing order. I choose accessories and prints that would create the atmosphere that he was looking for. I picked plants and a fountain. I bargain shopped. ;) I'm good at that. We pulled the whole project in within budget.

Finally, in preparation for a huge meeting. I cleaned the office. Vacuumed, scrubbed walls, cleaned every picture glass. We found bowls and mints that coordinate with the corporate colors. Everything was perfect. (if I do say so myself)

Late yesterday, when all was finished, I looked over at my husband and he was near tears. He loved it. I felt like crying too- because I knew, I had ministered to him. Missionally.

It was as if I had washed his feet with windex and a vacuum cleaner. (Kind of;) I really felt like I had been a help-meet.

What about you? Are you a help-meet to your spouse? Can you be creative in finding ways to help and support your spouse in their work endeavors? Or, are you feeling empty, like you have nothing left to give? pray along with me....

Dear Jesus, I anm called to love my Husband, I am called to be a help-meet, please God, help me find creative and appropriate ways to lovingly support him, please God meet my needs so that I can meet his, in your name- amen

I found this prayer quoted from Ruth Bell Graham... over at Shannons site, I'm agreeing with her prayer as well!

Dear Lord, Thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest, Lord, that I must have a few friends at the end.
Ruth Bell Graham

Yeah, Lord.... That's what I mean.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My neighbors are not terrorists.

I don't think they are. But then, there are neighbors in other states surprised to find out that theirs were.

I have been pretty strong in my opinion about racial profiling. I hate it. My guys feel differently about it. To me, it smacks of prejudice. I hate prejudice. Prejudice means to Pre-judge, based on a certain set of (usually external) facts. Such as ethnicity, skin color, etc. My guys see it as a necessary way to avoid further terror attacks, and save lives. A "necessary evil" according to my oldest. (My political boy) I usually fight them tooth and nail. This week? Not so much.

This week my DH had to fly to the other end of our country. Under a heightened terror alert. While fully trusting God- I also know that bad things happen. I don't like bad things. I prefer to avoid bad things, to be honest. This week, I thought, "Maybe this profiling thing isn't so bad". At least for this flight. The whole thought process, bothered me.

Maybe it isn't bad. Maybe it is very bad. Heart hardening bad.

This afternoon, when I pulled into my driveway, I saw my neighbor family out for a walk. They are Lebanese and yes, they are Muslim. My son's have had a few "issues" with some of their sons'. Our last name is "ethnic" Jewish, actually. My neighors, (at least their sons) don't like Jewish people. I guess that means they don't like us. I've had other people not like me before (given enough time, I can be pretty annoying) but I've never had anyone not like me because of my ethnicity. Honestly... when I saw them today, I thought, "They don't like Jews....or Christians.....What If?" What if they are terrorists? Me, the one who opposes racism of all sorts, looked at her neighbor, and mentally "profiled them." Just for a moment. It made me sick.

Conflicted. See I told you. Because...I also like my neighbors. I am intrigued by their culture. I chose a neighborhood that was purposefully multi-cultural. I want my kids to grow up around people of different nationalities. So that they can love people regardless of their skin color, or last name. I have Indian Neighbors, Hindi Neighbors, African American Neighbors, Irish Neighbors, Italian Neighbors, and cranky neighbors. I like it this way. ( I actually do try to be kind to the cranky ones...)

But, this week....... I actually wondered. What IF? What IF my neighbors are terrorists?

It wasn't the fear of terrorists that bothered me, but my response. My initial response was "What if? well...then yourself far from them and be safe, smile, make nice, but keep away" That scared me. "Keep away." These people need God, and I want to recoil? To me, that is worse than if they are terrorists. How can I be a Missional Mom... if I recoil from my mission field? How can I teach my kids to love, if I don't endeavor to love those who hate us?

Why? Because, I am called into this neighborhood for a purpose. To love the neighbors I have. Regardless. I can't let seeds of fear take root in my heart and change my attitude towards my neighbors. I have to guard against looking at them as potential enemies, instead of Creations of the Most High God, whom God wants to love, through me. Even if they don't like me.

Even if they are Muslim, even if they are terrorists. Either way- I will have to stand before Jesus someday, and answer for my attitude.... His question may sound something like this... "Did you love your neighbor?"

I want to be able to answer, "Yes Lord, they may not have loved me, but I loved them"

Dear Jesus, I pray for courage, wisdom and strength to love my neighbors, all of them. Especially my Muslim neighbors. Fill me with your love for them, God I ask that you'd use me to love them. Lord, I don't have answers to political problems, but I believe you ARE the answer to spiritual ones. I ask you to help me to love, " Even if." God I ask you to help me to reach out to my neighbors, my Hindi neighbors, my African American neighbors... my just plain vanilla neighbors, I love you Lord- and want to love others well, help my boys to see and learn from our example, following after you- in Jesus name- amen

In Matthew 5: 43-48 Jesus says it this way: I hear an "Even if" in here:

Love for Enemies

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.