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. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 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. (Titus 2:3-5, NIV)
We had a unique "Mug and Muffin" presentation for the women on Saturday. I think it was the most significant one I have attended. There was a panel of four Godly women who answered some questions about their experiences and what they have learned in their roles as women, wives and mothers. One was a widowed nurse who is a mother of twins and a grandmother of twins, one was a woman who came to know Jesus as an adult and whose husband did not join her in faith until later years, one is a pastor's wife and the fourth a wife, mother and missionary to China for 50 years! I'll do my best to sum up their wisdom for you:
1. What would you do differently?
In spiritual life, one wished she had been more thankful and in her family life she wished she had been less serious and more fun, allowing herself to enjoy family time more. Another wished she had continued prayer and devotions with her children all through school, not just when they were little children. A third felt that it was important to have more deep discussions with your children and to know them and their signals for when they need to talk. Her children had different ways to talk...one could talk only in private and the other only in a public place, like windowshipping. She reminded us too that our grandchildren are a mission field too and that our responsibility does not stop when our children leave the nest. They are a fertile mission field...pray for them, be available, listen and pray with them. The fourth encouraged us to share Jesus with our children from a small age. Don't wait until we think they are old enough to understand!
2.What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Not surprisingly, one of the widows shared about how important it is to cherish every day you have with your spouse and kids. When she shared this, I cried, because I do understand what it is like to have your life shattered in a split second. Noone plans to lose their family. Cherish every moment and make sure to tell them that you love them. Another that really struck home with me, is that love is more important than law. Law is important and has its place and we cannot over look sin, but don't forget to love and to love the sinner. Obey God's law of love. The woman who had come to know the Lord later in life wished that she had known earlier, not only to know about Him but to have a personal relationship with as her friend and Creator. Another lady shared from the floor how important it is for young Moms to remember to use gentle answers and not just yelling. She wished she had known that when her children were little. OUCH! That one struck home! :o)
3. Is there anything you'd do different in your marriage?
The consensus was COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE! The missionary advised that we talk to our husbands when little things bother us and not to let them go. Otherwise we find ourselves years down the road with so many layers of hurt that many people cannot get through them. If you have a husband who will not talk, seek counseling...even if you have to go on your own. Don't lord it over him, and most imortantly, when he won't talk, remember to go to the Lord! Another sage piece of advice was to carve out even little pieces of time to spend with your spouse alone, even if it is just a quick walk in the neighborhood or a cup of coffee together. Do this as frequently as you can!
This spurred some conversation on communication and family time in general. It was recommended that it is highly important to spend time with each of your children as individuals, not only as a group. All of the women stressed the importance of family dinner time. Ask your children questions that cannot be answered by "fine", "nothing" and "I don't know"! Instead say "Share two things that happened to you today." or "What funny thing happened to you today?" All of the ladies also stressed the importance of family vacations so that you could spend time all together. Most of them were restricted financially and took their children camping or other inexpensive adventures like that. And finally make sure that your children know that they are loved by Jesus, feel that they are loved enough and know that they are loved unconditionally!
4. What personal decision are you most proud of?
There was a consensus among the women that they did not like the wording of the question... How can you be proud of what God calls us all to do, obedience to Him? The most important decisions in our lives are not always ones that have anything to do with personal pride but do have the greatest impact. They answered in that vein.
The missionary felt that following God's Call and seeking His will was the most important thing she had done personally. The pastor's wife felt that giving her whole life over to God, to do what He wanted, not just what she wanted, was the most significant decision she had made. The woman who came to know God later in life felt that choosing Him was the most important because her example brought her children and eventually her husband to Jesus and personal relationships with Him. And the other widow lady talked about how she had wanted to be a missionary nurse but God drew her to marriage and her dream which she felt had been given by Him, seemed to be lost. But, He is faith and she reminded us that good things come in His timing. Later in life she was able to go on short term missions to Africa with her husband and more recently to the middle east with a team from our church. What she learned was that even if your timeline is delayed, WAIT! You can trust Him.
I learned so much from these ladies. Some things I had heard before, but it is so different to hear it from ladies you see and know, rather than reading it in books or hearing it in the media. There is a reason that God gave a charge to older women to teach the younger...it's because in the midst of everything He SEES our needs and He gives us strength, instruction, love and care. The quote on our note taking paper was "Mentoring is getting the wisdom without the pain." I hope we do something like this again some time. It was really meaningful to me.
And now for the rest of the post title. I am so thankful for the husband God gave me. Yes, God gave me my husband and I have no doubt about it! The last week I have been in a lot of pain with nausea I haven't known since pregnancy (it's not!), some vertigo and tinnitus. My spinal migraines have been acting up. I may have been fighting a virus too. On top of his week at work, my husband did all the laundry, took care of the kids as soon as he got home, got the kids out of the house for stretches of time Saturday and Sunday so I could have silence and never once complained about not having a meal (or having to go out to get one for us on Saturday) and he prayed for me more than once for healing. He more often than not has to give more than "50%" because of my chronic pain. Most men would not. I'm gradually getting better. "Better" being a relative term! LOL I'm so thankful that God gave me you and that you love me unconditionally! The things I heard and learned on Saturday made me want to love you better and more! I love you Hon!