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Letters to the Editor #8 (Homemaking, Reading, Humility)

Letters to the Editor Collection cover image

Blogs were never meant to be one-way communication. Because of the increasing difficulty in maintaining a helpful commenting section, I have recently added a Letters to the Editor feature. Today I share some recent letters to the editor. This week’s Letters to the Editors were almost entirely focused on three articles.

Comments on Homemaking In Light of Eternity

My wife is a capable and ambitious woman who does not particularly enjoy being a homemaker. She left a career in Human Resources Benefits Management when we had our first child and she planned to return when he entered school. God had other plans – our child was born with severe disabilities. He requires a talented, full-time caregiver and advocate with experience in medical service management. What a blessing she is and uniquely gifted by God for unexpected career. Our son is a lot of work and I’m amazed at my wife’s selfless love for him, giving up the prospect of easier and more prestigious work for the foreseeable future.

PS: Reading your blog is my Sunday ritual, undertaken from Korea this week due business travel. Thanks for your ministry.

—Matt N, Grand Rapids, MI

Hi Tim, being a career homemaker/ homeschooler/ wife and mom of five eternal souls (and now a grandmother to four going on five), I was delighted with your initial article applauding your wife for choosing this vocation rather than frittering away her life finding significance by the world’s definition. Well, you didn’t exactly put it that way but…

In your second post on homemaking in light of the gospel, I was heartened by the reminder that this life is not all there is. True enough. But I do wonder if the angle of the article is still weighted toward valuing what the world values–following our passions, fulfilling our dreams, pursuing a path of significance as it seems right to us…Only, you say we just need to put these off for a little while, not DIE to them, and embrace this sacrificial calling for as few years as we can get away with…. I say, if they are God-given desires then invest them in your mothering, teaching, training process. Don’t just squirrel them away for eternity! I could get on a little soapbox here, but I believe as Christians we have been too quick to abnegate the instruction of our young to institutions and have neglected to pass on our own unique passions and vision (and in so doing to find great fulfillment in our callings!)…. What if we were to see our passions as God-given for investing into our own family and the lives of those we touch in the process of rearing them?! (rather than as trading cards for making money and finding significance in the world’s eyes!)

It seems to me that the vocation of mothering/ nurturing/ investing our lives and dreams and passions in our progeny is a Creation ordinance, predating the coming of the Gospel. It is not something we ‘choose’ and then nobly ‘bear’ as our ‘sacrifice’. It is God’s masterful and ineffable design for mothers, to save us from ourselves if you will. Mothering with all we are and have is not just ‘sacrifice’. It is privilege, high calling, perfect, HOLY. When we act as though we have laid down 30 or 40 years of our lives (Hey, don’t stop there; there’s grandparenting!!) for something great but still hold onto the belief that we have missed out on something that might have been more significant…we insult our Creator. To fulfill God’s calling without regret and without a martyr complex–with Joy–this is the role and high privilege of motherhood. What other career even begins to compare to its dividends? Being loved and known as a faithful godly “Mom”, is that not making an impact?!

The gospel transforms homemaking because… it calls us to die to ourselves and live for God’s kingdom and in so doing we find life in the here and now while our own paltry ideas of ‘success’ and ‘significance’ fade along with all the other ways the world has sought to conform us to its mold. We are freed to really live without regret and without chomping at the bit to have this lifetime over with so we can get on with our real passions!

[For the record, I am a trained linguist who once commenced to do Bible Translation, but was channelled into motherhood while in the process and didn’t get to fulfill that ‘dream’, so I DO understand that there are other career options out there, valid and valiant ones. The question is, what is God’s calling for my lifetime. He is in the process of sanctifying me through that calling. Incidentally, the translation we set out to do did get done without our needing to be the ones to get the glory…]

Thanks for your good thinking, Tim, that so often stirs my own in good ways.
—Linda S, Nelson, BC

Tim: I think this a helpful corrective. I generally try to make one point per article so this may have been a bit outside of what I meant to communicate. But I quite agree with much of what you say. Perhaps, though, I don’t see that what you and I are saying are mutually exclusive as much as complementary.

The gospel does indeed transform homemaking, or it might be better to say, it transforms our perspective on homemaking. It has always been a high calling of the Lord.

However, your article unintentionally validates the impression that many women who have chosen a life of homemaking and child-rearing have put aside “better” options and sacrificially settled for second best. Using the terms in the article “gave up”, “forfeit”, “putting on hold”, “letting go of dreams and desires” in regards to women who chose family over career all support this notion.

This closes the door to the possibility that for many this simply was the first and best choice, not that we simply fell into it because we had no education, job or anything else to do. So often homemaking is pitted against the development of talents and vocational interests as you have leaned toward doing in this article. They are not mutually exclusive. Yes, priorities will be adjusted according to the family situation, but children benefit greatly from the example of a mother who continues to develop her mind and talents.

—Sandy P, Brantford, ON

Tim, thank you for this article, which I can see (from Facebook) is a great encouragement to many women. I myself am humbled and astounded by God’s grace and favor that he plucked me from a consuming career and put me in Bible College. Now, as a Christian for any length of time, you will know as well as I do the struggles many women face with singlehood. Now that I am in a tightly-knit Christian circle, I am privy to how painful this topic is to many – only because the ‘Christian’ culture here idealizes women who get married and have kids in their early 20s. I am afraid articles like yours inadvertently encourages a middle-class Christianity – where women tie their identities to husbands and children instead of God. At its worst it discourages women from utilizing their God-given gifts for God’s Kingdom – and this may involve living out their skills and passions on this side of the grave. Biblically, I fail to see how being a wife and mother is superior to being a single person living purposefully for God. I understand this is not what you are saying, but such a conclusion may be derived from your article. Perpetua and Felicity would not be impressed. Perhaps instead of saying ‘Ladies, last chance to be a wife and a mom!’ it would be more edifying to say that God is fulfilling his purposes for you – in this lifetime (Ps 57:2).

—Sharm D, Melbourne, Australia

Thank you for writing these thought provoking & encouraging articles. As one who has also chosen this path, I don’t get a lot of recognition or kudos. I am the age where many of my peers are peaking at their careers. I look back & sometimes wonder what do I have to show for my years of homemaking. There are unfulfilled dreams due to my “career” choice. Thank you for the reminder that this is important & heaven is waiting .

—Phillis W, Loogootee, IN

Hi, thanks for your homemaking articles. It’s encouraging to hear of other women living to serve as laid out in scripture. I am a young lady deeply desirous of doing the same but I wonder if you can get some of these ladies to speak on the process involved please. In my case I have obligations to work once I complete my degree and a student loan to be paid starting some months post graduation. Would be great to hear from these women if they’re willing to share with other women or even if you can direct me to anyone who may be willing to share and guide me in this process. Again, thank you for the articles and all you offer freely. God Bless & Keep you and your family.
—Amanda S, Trinidad & Tobago

Tim: If you keep an eye on the daily A La Carte postings I do, you will encounter quite a lot of excellent blogs written by and for women, many of whom are homemakers.

Comments on The 2016 Reading Challenge

That’s an excellent initiative. I appreciate much this initiative to encourage book-reading habit. It will also help if you can suggest titles of good books in those 104 categories.Thank you.

—Alexis A, Bangalore, India

I am from South Africa and need some input regarding choices of books in the various categories mentioned in your 2016 reading challenge. Christian books are relatively easier as I normally base my choices on the authors I know in additon to the authors these authors recommend. However, when it comes to books about current issues, classical novels etc. I am ignorant as to what type and authors will actually be beneficial to me. Is there any possible way you can assist me in selecting titles for these categories.

—Sergio W, Capetown, South Africa

Have you already selected books for this challenge for yourself? Also, have people sent in their lists. If so, would you mind sharing some of the choices in an upcoming blog post? Thanks!
—Steven M, Louisville, KY

Tim: Many of the comments I received about the Reading Challenge were calls for resources. (And, as you can see here, they came from around the world.) I intend to recommend resources throughout the year.

Comments on The Humble Celebrity

I thought you would appreciate another story highlighting the humility of Francis Schaeffer. My father-in-law (Pop) has led a bible study in his home for over four decades. Pop has had all kinds of Christians who happened to be famous, from athletes to theologians, take part in his bible study. Back in the 70’s Francis Schaeffer spoke for a week in his church, so he was invited to lead the study one evening. There was a man in the study who was a new believer and was passionate about studying the beliefs of cults. He had put together a huge chart made of several pieces of poster board, comparing the beliefs of various cults and Christianity. He was so excited about sharing it with the group. As he explained his chart, he laid it out on the floor and started rearranging the furniture, explaining to the group that they could see it better from up above. Pop started to cringe. But Schaeffer, gladly and without hesitation, stood on his chair and followed everyone around the circle, walking on the furniture, as the excited young man explained his chart. You can imagine this brilliant man, known the world over, wearing his knickers and walking on the furniture! Pop has never forgotten Scheffer’s example of humble encouragement.
—Dean W, Spring, TX

Tim: Thanks for sharing this sweet little anecdote, Dean.

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