the list

Since March is the month this year when Clay works incredibly long hours, I am getting into my spring cleaning project mode a little earlier than usual. I want to totally reorganize my kitchen, hoping to leave almost all the counter surface space free for working. I have been trying to introduce many more fresh foods into our diet, which calls for lots more preparation space. So I have a list of things I hope to accomplish, based on my goals for the use of my kitchen.

I also want the room to be aesthetically pleasing to me so I am putting my jars of whole grains out where I can enjoy looking at them. I am sewing new curtains for the pantry shelves and windows. I am adding fresh, bright color and replacing cookbooks with vintage enamelware and Fiesta tea cups. It makes me smile to think of it.

Yes, I have a list and intend to check off every item on it during the next few weeks.

And it is my list for my own kitchen.

I had been working through my project list yesterday, when I came across articles online that made me think about those who make “biblical” lists for others (not to mention JD’s comments on this blog about manliness). One of them involved whether or not women ought to wear skirts or pants, a discussion I am tired of, frankly; the arguments are so foolish. Full disclosure time: when I was homeschooling little ones and was always needing a Kleenex, marker, rubber band, glue stick, nail file, diaper pin, eraser, twist tie, and who knows what else, I took Mary Pride’s advice and wore bib overalls. The pockets were great for keeping track of these things, they could be worn several days in a row before washing, and any milk leakage while nursing was hidden away. I did put on a bit of make-up and wear cute shirts under them. But I digress.

The second article I read was about girls having “come hither” looks, which, of course was pretty subjective. The amusing part of that discussion was that the homeschooling mom who was so concerned was challenged by a commenter who accused her of having her own “come hither” look on her blog photo. Of course, the discussion then involved the subjective nature of the whole thing in the first place, though obviously both women thought their own interpretations of the “come hither” look was the right one and that they were each being objective. Which, of course, will always be the result when a man’s (or woman’s) agenda is elevated to the place of Scripture.

And then the last thing I read involved Michelle Duggar’s handout for women entitled “Seven Basic Needs of a Husband” which was shown on a recent episode of her television show. Having marinated in the Bill Gothard materials for a number of years, I immediately recognized the telltale IBLP font and the magic number 7 for outlining Gothard’s principles. While the assumption is that these apply to all men, they don’t. On this list are preferences and their applications, things that might apply to some husbands but not necessarily to all husbands.

It was like JD’s assertion that manliness requires hunting and fishing and skinning rabbits, lest a boy grow up and watch porn. Maybe for some men and boys, that could be a purposed formula. {{{{{shrug}}}}} But it certainly does not apply to all men and, of course, is nowhere to be found in Scripture so it is certainly not a command.

In fact, Scripture does tell us how we are lead into sinful sexual behavior, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14) and it gives us commands for dealing with lust: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30) In other words, we are to take serious steps to avoid those things which cause us to succumb to things that are a temptation.

Which brings me to the list.

I think we as homeschooling moms can be so easily tempted into sin, to the the very real lusts of the flesh, by the lists of others; we are, in many ways, far more peer dependent than our children. As if being a mom isn’t guilt-inducing enough, because we are the educators of our kids, too, we desperately want to do it right on a number of levels. And because we are Christians, our greatest desire is to raise children who love the Lord and who live godly lives. So how easy it is for us to want to jump on the list bandwagon and embrace the path someone lays out for us. If they label it “biblical,” we are all the more susceptible! So how do we avoid this? Well, here is my list that helps me avoid lists.

1. I imagine I am looking at someone else’s grocery list, things that are helpful to the person who made the list but not necessarily things I will buy for me or my family. Like shopping for food, the principle is what matters…my family has to eat. But the specific items on the list are pretty subjective: some people want black olives, some want green. There are 2% milk drinkers, there are skim milk drinkers, there are whole milk drinkers, there are raw milk drinkers. Which of these things belong on my list for my family? Both kinds of olives and 2% milk!

The same is true for personal lifestyle lists. There will be a principle: seek to delight and bless your own children and your own husband, for example. But how I plan to do that will look personal to my own family. If I were to follow Michelle Duggar’s advice and attempt to teach my husband the nuances of women’s hairstyles, it would be absurd. In fact, learning about women’s hair is near if not at the bottom of his personal delight list!

2.Before I make any changes, ie, add items to my list, I take a long look at the person who owns the list. In the grocery store, I would be inclined to ignore any nutrition advice from an enormous man with a cart full of Marshmallow Creme wouldn’t I? I have the same response to someone who offers me a recipe for legalistic man made fluff rather than spiritual nourishment, a stone rather than the Bread of Life, bitter drink rather than the Spring of Living Water. If someone’s list leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I recognize it for what it is and toss it out.

3.The only lists I will fully embrace are ones that are commands (or warnings) from the Word of God. I purpose to practice the list of one anothers. I will understand and avoid the desires of the flesh and embrace the fruits of the spirit in my own life. (Galatians 5:16-25.) These are the lists I will keep.

4.I will keep away from professional list makers. 1 John 2:16 warns us: “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked about “cheap grace,” grace that is sold like “cheap Jack’s wares.” The grace of God offered to us is anything but cheap. It was paid for by Jesus on the cross. Cheap man made lists have the tendency to make you think that if you do the things on the list, you have really accomplished something, especially if the word “biblical” is attached. The truth is that we cannot do anything apart from the grace of God.

Especially keep a list!

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Comments

  1. Michelle says

    Karen,
    I can comment a little more clear-headedly 😉 than I could this morning with little ones tugging at me and calling me back to what needed tending 🙂

    But, this thoughtful post is needed. God led me to your blog a year ago…when I found myself in the middle of list-makers thinking, “what is going on here?” and not understanding why I felt so trapped and confused in my Christian-Homeschooling community. I knew the teachings I was hearing were a little “off” but everything was always wrapped in the word “biblical” and the teachings had the appearance of holiness…so, why was I so turned off?

    Lists…rules…
    wear your hair long and with waves (like I said earlier today…my husband likes it on the short side and he prefers it STRAIGHT!).
    strive for the perfect weight… (my husband married me when I was chubby. I’m not overweight anymore…and while he appreciates my health…our relationship with each other hasn’t changed!!)
    men should like certain activities…and so should women (I run a business out of my home, my husband is a teacher who likes to bake bread and hangs out with our children constantly, he doesn’t watch football/I like it, he is better at cleaning—He doesn’t know who Han Solo is/I get into Star Wars with our boys, etc….and we are perfectly content with who we are and how our home is run…until someone comes by and be-littles us)
    daughters should stay at home until they are married
    we should shelter our kids from the neighbor kids
    we should schedule our days by half hour increments
    we should put our babies on schedules…they should sleep through the night at 8 weeks
    we should be ready to work in the church nursery after 3 months
    women should not be “night owls” that is selfish
    women should ALWAYS say “yes” to their husbands desires…
    …I could go on & on…you get the picture.
    I love what you said about looking at someone’s grocery list. Marriage and parenting is intensely personal as we are RELATING with INDIVIDUALS that God has uniquely created! I keep encouraging the women in my life…RELATE to your children. They are people….not robots to fit into a gender role. Relate to your husband. If he is doesn’t like to hunt and fix cars and is better at cooking and enjoys it….LET HIM DO IT!!! Be yourselves and enjoy each other!!!
    Lord…please free your people! Help us to escape bondage and place ourselves under the final work that was done by your Son on the cross!!!

  2. Homeoccupied says

    Oh Karen, what a refreshing douse of cool water! How many times have I felt trapped by someone else’s lifestyle list, and gone crazy trying to force it on our family? How reassuring that we all may have different lists. Praise God for His infinite creativity! And thank you for your tips on how to avoid the pressure.

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