Saturday, 28 January 2012

Serving Him Joyfully

Oh my goodness! There are poor sick people all around me today! Poor Little Bear is sick with a cold and fever, Papa Bear is still recovering from his cold and bad asthma, and now my own poor mams, Grandmama Bear, is sick too with gastroenteritis. Well, as soon as I had made sure that the bears at home were comfortable and had everything they needed, I rushed off to the supermarket to fetch supplies of Lucozade, yogurt, rehydration sachets and Loperamide, to take to Grandmama Bear and make her feel a bit better. Oh and a copy of her favourite newspaper! That did make her smile! I stayed with her for quite a while, changed all her bedding, fed her garden birds, kept watch whilse she had a bath and freshened up, and helped her catch up with a few things. She was so grateful to me! But I would have done all those things anyways, even if she had not been grateful. She is my mam!

It is easy sometimes to forget, in focussing on my own immediate family, that I am also a daughter, as well as a wife and mother. And I have a role, as a grown up daughter, in serving my mother (especially now that she is a widow) and taking care of her, as well as in ministering to Papa Bear and the cubs. No nursing homes or hospital beds for Grandmama Bear! She likes to live independently, but whenever she needs help she knows she can call on me. I love taking care of the people who need me! Grandmama Bear calls me her "wee Florence Nightingale"! I am so grateful that Papa Bear supports me in this, and encourages me to take care of my mams, just as I do him. I thanked God as I walked to my mam's house, for Papa Bear and his support, and for many other things besides! For the lovely crisp sunshiney frosty days we have had just recently that made my journey so pleasant. For the beautiful birdsong that I could hear all around, that we don't get to enjoy so much at home, living high up in an apartment block. That I myself am in good health just now, and able therefore to take care of all my family and their needs. And that I have enough money in my purse to do so! Oh and now I think of it, God, thank you for the car too! Because it does so often go wrong and just presently it is running like clockwork, and got me safely to the supermarket and back twice in 2 days! Thank you dear Father God for so many blessings.

As joyful wife to my wonderful precious Papa Bear, I know I have a great many things to praise God for. I know He sent me to Papa Bear for a special reason, because He knew that I alone would be the perfect wife for him. Papa Bear needed a wife who could be his very own "Florence Nightingale" in so many ways, and I dearly hope that he has found her in me. I thank God daily for sending me into the arms of my wonderful husband, so that I can serve him joyfully and make his life as good as it possibly can be. When we married, I was proud to vow that I would "love, cherish and obey " him "all the days of my life". That little word, "obey", is not popular in marriage services today. Many couples choose to omit it, or prefer to use alternative vows altogether, that make no distinction between the vows that the groom and bride take. The subject of obedience - of submission - is a contentious one, and many people dislike the implications that it seems to have, of an unbalanced partnership, where the wife must submit unquestioningly to her husband, regardless of his demands. But is that really what it means?

Papa Bear and I are lucky. We were raised in a culture where the roles of men and women are very traditional, and it has been easy for us to embrace this in our marriage. As in Bible times, in our culture a wife is still considered to be the property of her husband. Now I know that this may raise a few eyebrows. But consider what it actually means. Think of a man who has always wanted to own a beautiful sports car. He has dreamed of it, studied it, yearned for it, for many years, all the time, working and saving hard to be able to purchase it and achieve his heartfelt goal of owning it. And when that wonderful day comes, when the car is finally actually his - yes, really his - imagine his joy. Imagine his pride, and his enthusiasm, his careful cherishing of this treasured and coveted possession. He spends all his spare time maintaining it, keeping it in beautiful condition, enjoying it, tending to it so that it will last him a lifetime. After all, it has cost him all his savings. And he wanted it for a very long time! He is so overjoyed and proud to be the owner of such a desirable possession.
So it was, when Papa Bear married me!

In the culture that Papa Bear and I belong to, nowadays when a husband-to-be is courting his wife-to-be, he does not offer her family money, as would have happened in the past, as the "bride price" for their daughter. Instead there may be the offer of accommodation, or partnership in a business, or practical help from the husband-to-be's family members, when children start to arrive, or other help is needed such as in times of illness. There may be help in establishing the home with furnishings or with a plot of land. Whatever it is, the intention is the same. It is the husband-to-be's way of demonstrating to his betrothed's family, how much he values her and intends to cherish her and treat her as his most treasured possession. For ever.

I am SO happy to be Papa Bear's most prized belonging! I love that he takes so much pride in me. I love that he has so much interest in me. I love that he considers my needs, before his own. Most of all, I love that he TELLS me how much he loves, me, every single day, and shows me, in so many different ways. Every day holds romantic moments for us. And we are not newlyweds!

Of course, being Papa Bear's precious wife, means that I must fulfill my part of the bargain too! And that means taking seriously to heart, every word of God's command to me ...

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands IN EVERY THING." (Ephesians, 5, 22 - 24).
Papa Bear cherishes me, and I submit to him. In every thing.

You don't need to look too far into your Bible, to find out God's plan for men and women. Just about 2 chapters into Genesis, in fact. Verse 18 - "And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him".

I am so happy to be Papa Bear's help meet! Happy enough, that I want to spend a lot of time pondering this aspect of our marriage, and try to grow, both as a wife, and as a Christian, so that I can be assured that I am serving him and our Father God, to the best of my ability.

There are many books available on the subject, and I can personally recommend the following ...
Created To Be His Help Meet - by Debi Pearl.
The Power Of A Praying Wife - by Stormie Omartian.
A Wife After God's Own Heart - by Elizabeth George.
What Makes A Man Feel Loved - by Robert Barnes.
The Way Home - by Mary Pride.
The Gentle Ways Of The Beautiful Woman - by Anne Ortlund.
And of course, probably the most famous of all, Fascinating Womanhood - by Helen Andelin.

Believe it or not, I read ALL of these, in the last year! You may purchase all of them, new or secondhand, from Amazon (both dot com, and dot co dot uk).
All of these books examine the role of a Godly wife from a slightly different viewpoint, but they are all scripture based, and well researched. I have read and enjoyed all of them, and am currently reading another book by Elizabeth George which draws from her other books, called "A Woman's High Calling". I have a great many of her books! But there is yet one more book on this very important subject, that I want to draw everyone's attention to, and that is by Martha Pearce, and is entitled "The Excellent Wife".

I really want to delve into this book, and focus particularly on her chapters on Biblical Submission, in which she examines what she has identified as five "Biblical Principles Concerning The Wife's Submission". I will list these for you ...

1. A wife is to be submissive to her husband IN ALL THINGS unless her husband asks her to sin.
2. A submissive wife is not afraid to do "the right thing".
3. A wife is to be submissive even if her husband is not a Christian.
4. A submissive wife does not dishonour the word of God.
5. A wise wife will seek training and counsel on submission from a Godly older woman.

What food for thought! The book is written with a slightly more academic slant than I am use to, so it will take a great deal of studying, but I know that this will be a treasury of wisdom! I am hoping to start reading it at the end of the week.
Would you care to join me, as I study this carefully written analysis of the role of a Godly wife? I will be writing regular posts on what I have learned, and hope that in sharing what I have come to understand, maybe, just maybe, it will be of use to other wives too! It can be very isolating, particularly if you are the only Christian woman in a community of non-Christians, or of women who do not share your values, to have to strive to fulfill what you know is your God given duty, when you have no way of sharing your journey with anyone else. That is why blogging is so tempting, and why I intend to use my blog, to share my own studies and experiences, that they may bless others like me.

Talking of blogging, I really must bid everyone farewell now ... the beans on my stove that I am cooking for our tortilla bake are nearly done, and Papa Bear must have an early tea tonight so that he can eat it whilse he watches his football team on TV! Now that's another post topic for me to think about ...
Love, Mama Bear xxxx