Girlfriends in God - Apr. 29, 2009

April 29, 2009 
How to Enjoy Your Family, Part 2
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth 
Proverbs 31:13; 15; 20 (NIV) “She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.  She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

Friend To Friend 
Family is important to God. He created it before He created the church and, as with each of His creations, He made a plan for it to succeed.  At the heart of that plan is love.  To be part of a family is to be loved. Yesterday, we saw that the first step to loving our family is to build trust.  The second step is to serve our family with joy.  We are told by many to serve ourselves not others.  The Proverbs 31 woman had every opportunity to live a life of leisure.

·         She has a prominent husband.

·         She had a lot of influence.

·         She was visible and active in community.

·         She was in charge of charity events.

But she got up while it was still dark to make breakfast for her family and for those who served her.  Verse 13 tells us she worked with “eager” hands.  The literal meaning of “eager” is “in delight or in chosen joy.”  In other words, she chose to serve with joy, which means we can choose to serve our family with joy as well.  Jesus teaches the truth that service is a natural result of love.

Galatians 5:13 (LB) “For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other.”

Yet, many of us find it easier to serve everyone in love except our family.  When my husband, Dan, was a youth pastor, we saw a variety of family dynamics.  At one church, a young man came to us in tears.  I will never forget his words, “My parents are getting a divorce because mom has time for everyone in the world except my dad and me!”  Service to those we love and call family should not be a burden.  In fact, an attitude of service is contagious!  The best way to teach your family to serve is to serve them.

From childhood, making the bed was one of my kid’s daily chores but I told them that one day a week, I would make their bed for them.  It could be on a day when they were running late for school, when they were too tired or didn’t feel well. Whatever the reason, I would serve them by making their bed one day a week. One morning, I was running behind.  My husband was recovering from an emergency appendectomy and I had been at the hospital day and night and was exhausted.  I got up very early, took one look at my bed and decided I just didn’t want to make it.  I went to take a shower, hoping it would wake me up.  When I came out, Danna, our eleven-year-old daughter had made my bed.  To love our family, we must serve with joy.

Plan well.

Proverbs 31:15b, 21, 27 (LB) “She plans the day's work. She has no fear of winter for her household, for she has made warm clothes for all of them.  She watches carefully all that goes on throughout her household.”

Planning prevents chaos.  This woman is in control of her home and her life.  The control came from good planning.  She mastered the skill of homemaking before she ever set foot in the workplace.  She set her priorities; then arranged her life around them. She didn’t allow others to set priorities for her but chose to focus on what was important, not just urgent.  Have you noticed that the urgent things in life barge in demanding attention while the important things wait to be chosen?  We can spend a lifetime on the urgent and miss the important. We must set family priorities because if we don’t, the world will.

The Proverbs 31 woman knew what needed to be done and made sure that it was done first and in the right way.  She didn’t fear winter or the hard times because she was prepared.  Family should provide the most satisfying earthly relationships. If it doesn’t, the problem may be with our planning.  Here are some simple tips for planning:

1.  Budget your time. 

2.  Choose one day a week to plan the entire week.

3.  Eliminate.  Have an “elimination” meeting once a month with your family.  Eliminate the things that are hurting your family.

4.  Learn to leave the “lesser” things undone.

5.  Delegate. Include everyone in the family in the work as well as the playing.

6.  Simplify.  Give up on perfection. It’s for heaven ... not earth!

Plan well!  It demonstrates your love for your family!

Work hard.

Proverbs 31:16-18 (LB) “She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her own hands she plants a vineyard.

She is a hard worker. She works far into the night.”

There is nothing lazy about this woman and laziness should not be part of our character as women of God.  This is a busy woman, but not too busy and not busy doing the wrong things.  Busyness does not always equal productivity.  I believe a woman can have it all - a career, a family.  I’m just not sure she can have it all at the same time. 

The Proverbs 31 woman has a strong sense of who she is and what God created her to be.  She has a clear plan for life and notice she doesn’t do all of the work herself.  (By the way, this is your scriptural justification for a maid or as I tell my children, why do you think God made kids?)  Working together builds a sense of family.  In a nationwide survey, thousands of school children were asked, “What makes a happy family?”  The most-mentioned key to happiness was “doing things together.”  Plan “family projects” and family work days.  At the end of day, order a pizza and rent a movie as reward.  You can build some of your greatest family traditions and memories around work.  Every Thanksgiving week-end, we buy a Christmas tree and put up Christmas lights.  While it is a lot of work, it is also a family tradition.  I never have to ask the kids to help.  They are eager to join in.  A woman who loves her family is willing to work hard for them and with them, planning well and building trust.

Let’s Pray 
Father, family is so important to me.  Thank You for the family You have given me.  I love each one of them.  Help me to show them that love in ways they can understand.  I pray that our family will be filled with trust and become a haven for each person.  Be glorified in our home and in our family. 

In Jesus’ name,  

Now It’s Your Turn 

  • Identify areas of family life that need to be more structured.  
  • Establish a weekly family meeting to plan, to keep up and, in short, connect as a family.   
  • Use the principles in step three to become a better planner.  
  • Establish a new family tradition that requires the work of every family member.

More From The Girlfriends 
I once heard the statement, “Home is the place you go where they have to take you in.”  I love that!  And it really is true.  Tomorrow, we conclude this study on how to enjoy your family.  I pray that it is making a difference in your life and in your family.  Remember, your home and family is the best place for God to show up and show off.

Are you looking for resources that will help you grow in Christ and build the kind of home that pleases and delights Him?  Check out Mary’s online bible study, Light for the Journey, for a practical tool that will help you develop the habit of daily prayer and bible study.  Visit Mary’s online store for a wide assortment of books, CDs, MP3 downloads and E-Book Bible Studies … as well as unique gifts for that someone special in your life.

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Originally published Wednesday, 29 April 2009.