By Debbie Carollo
What does it mean to model joy in our homes? Come on, Mom, admit it. There are days you don’t feel that joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart. Whether it is a looming bill, mounds of laundry, that annoying person in the checkout line, a sick kiddo, or a cranky husband, life sometimes has a way of leaving us deflated; not bubbling over with joy. Do we realize this is often contagious?
I have noticed something over my twenty-seven years of marriage and homemaking: I set the mood of the household. Now, this might not be true in your own life, but I think for the most part, ladies, we carry an awful lot of power in our tongues, in our demeanor, and in our hearts. When I lose hope and falter, or when I become angry with my better half or with our children, it is transferred throughout the entire family. There is a palpable change in the climate of our home. Until I lose my funk, or forgive and extend grace, our home is subdued and a cloud hangs low. Why is this?
We need only look to Proverbs 31 for our “job description.”
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life … Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land … Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:10-12, 23, 25-31).
What does the Bible tell us about this “virtuous woman”?
1.) She is trustworthy and will do no purposeful harm to her husband.
2.) She builds up her husband and helps him to be better at his job, and to be a better man.
3.) She is strong and honorable, and she rejoices.
4.) Her words are wise and kind.
5.) She works hard (and smart!) and is not lazy.
6.) Her children and her husband praise and respect her.
7.) She strives to excel; to do her best.
8.) She cares more about her heart than her outward appearance.
9.) The fruits produced in her life are noticeable and good.
Okay, none of us are perfect. And unless we daily throw ourselves on God’s mercies, which are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), and rely upon the strength of the Holy Spirit, we will fall short of being a “Proverbs 31 woman.” Sometimes life is just too hard. But when we look to God, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26)!
So how do we work toward this goal? And how do we set a better tone in our homes?
First of all, study God’s word! We need to have our noses in the Bible, every day. This time spent reading and studying feeds our souls and gives us the spiritual strength and understanding to face whatever may come our way each day.
Next, pray! “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We must pray for our husbands, for our children, for our own selves, and for others around us. I often fall short (my own fault!) of having a structured and focused prayer time. However, throughout each day I am in touch with my Heavenly Father, pleading on behalf of others as well as myself, recognizing how mighty and awesome He is and how sinful and human I am; praising, crying, grumbling (yep), surrendering. Nothing formal. Often it is just in a whispered moment, or perhaps while in the car alone—a rare moment for so many of us! Yes, I am that woman, the one who seems to be talking to herself at the stoplight. Occasionally I really am talking to myself, or (confession) to the “crazy driver” in front of me, but often I am having a conversation with God.
Don’t forget we need to pray with our husbands. This has made such a difference in our marriage! Between both of us committing to a daily time of individually studying the Bible, and our prayer time together, our marriage has grown, becoming stronger and more beautiful than ever before.
And finally, give grace. To our husbands and children. To that frustrating person in line at the grocery store or passing us on the freeway. And to ourselves. We will mess up. We all do. There are just bad days, bad times, bad seasons. But hang on to Jesus. He will give us the strength to get through it and to choose joy.
“‘Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full’” (John 16:24).
Jesus gives us joy. And when we have His joy, it bubbles out of us and into our homes. And that joy is contagious! Joy unspeakable!
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Our attitudes, and our actions and reactions are our own choice. No matter what life may throw at us, let’s choose joy today!
Debbie savors life with her hubby and youngest daughter on their transplanted-to-the-suburbs Sonflower Ranch. Writing, gardening, quilting, petting cats, and partaking in “kitchen therapy” are her favorite to-do’s, but spending time with family trumps them all. For more ranch life antics, visit her personal blog at sonflowerranch.wordpress.com.