By Rachel Zwayne (original source here)
Rachel Zwayne was born and raised in New Zealand. At the age of 14, her father’s ministry (Ray Comfort/ Living Waters) relocated to southern California, where she eventually met her husband and became the mother of five children. Rachel has been homeschooling for the past 15 years and finds great delight in encouraging other women in their role as mothers, wives, and homeschoolers. She has done this in her capacity as a leader and teacher of multiple women’s groups. Rachel has been married to Emeal (“E.Z.”) for 21 years and they live in Riverside, California with their three daughters and two sons.
I have now graduated two of my five, wonderful, homeschool students, and with each year that passes, my heart is filled with more and more gratitude for the privilege of educating my children at home. But as every homeschool mother knows, amidst all of the joy and delight that we are blessed to experience, homeschooling has plenty of challenges along the way.
One of these challenges is making sure that your relationship with your husband gets more focus than all the other responsibilities that are constantly vying for your attention. John MacArthur reminds us that “Contrary to popular opinion, the most important characteristic of a godly mother is her relationship, not with her children, but with her husband. What you communicate to your children through your marital relationship will stay with them for the rest of their lives. By watching you and your husband, they are learning the most fundamental lessons of life-love, self-sacrifice, integrity, virtue, sin, sympathy, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. Whatever you teach them about those things, right or wrong, is planted deep within their hearts.” Your relationship with your husband must be a priority to you, even when life gets chaotic and overwhelming.
Proverbs 31 Woman?
When things are going smoothly—the baby is sleeping through the night, the older children are actually learning how to love each other, academics are a breeze, everyone is healthy, and finances look great, it’s definitely not a problem to love on and serve your husband. When he arrives home from work, he’s greeted with a tidy house, happy children, the laundry done, his requests taken care of, and a hot meal on the table. These are the seasons of life when we feel like we might actually be somewhat close to being a “Proverbs 31 woman.”
But then there are those days that are all too familiar to a homeschool wife: The baby screamed every time you put her down. Five different children had “math meltdowns.” Your toddler decided he’s not potty-trained anymore. The morning devotion on “loving one another” basically had about a 15-second impact on your bickering children. You forgot about dinner on the stove (because you got caught up trying to finally get that science experiment to actually work), and now the dog won’t even eat it. And you didn’t have a moment to brush your hair, let alone take a shower. By the time your husband walks through the door, you’re not sure if it is humanly possible for you to live until the kids’ bedtime.
One of “Those” Days
These types of challenging days are extremely frequent for homeschool mothers, so what’s a woman to do in regard to prioritizing her marriage in these times? When you encounter one of “those” days once again, and you feel that you don’t have an ounce of energy to give an ounce of ANYTHING to your husband, remember this encouraging truth: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Use your words to serve your husband! Your mouth is still in working order and you can use it to speak words of hope, encouragement, and joy.
When a husband has a wife who finds joy in her God, and words of hope and encouragement flow off her tongue, it brings great refreshment to his soul. Your life-giving words can and will put wind in your husband’s sails. Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” Encouraging words are truly a balm to the soul. Choose to glorify the Lord in this beautiful way in the life of your husband:
• Speak of the hope that you have in Christ even though your day was rough
• Talk of the hope that you have for your family and how the Lord is at work in all of you
• Express how blessed you are by your life regardless of the many challenges in your day
• Convey with optimism what the next day holds for you
• Even through tears, verbalize that you are trusting in God’s sovereignty in your trials
• Ask him how his day was and find out what he needs prayer for
• Encourage him with the things that you love about his character
• Tell him how much you admire him for how he provides for your family
• Remind him how handsome and strong he is
• Share Scripture and things you have been encouraged by in your time with the Lord
• Express delight at his arrival
• Share any events of the day that you can find humor in and laugh about together
• Verbalize a lightheartedness about life
• Communicate the things you are thankful for and what brings you joy
Easier Said Than Done
Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Well, that’s easier said than done.” And you’re right! Words of hope, encouragement, and joy are not natural to us when we are stretched to our limit physically and emotionally. Circumstances shake us up, bringing all the “dirt” to the surface. And that’s when the Lord can dispose of the “dirt” and refill us with His goodness. Having our mouths filled with encouraging words is not possible without being filled up by the Lord and finding our complete satisfaction in Him. After difficult and wearying days, only the Lord is able to give us the strength and grace that will cause these beautiful words to flow from our mouths. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
Bless With Words
Although there is no physical effort needed to bless your husband with “words,” there is spiritual effort needed. What’s wonderful about this, is that in the Lord we have all the wisdom and strength we need to communicate words of selfless love, respect, and admiration. “…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). So today, remember how much words can have a radical impact in your husband’s life, and watch what God will do in your marriage as you use your words to touch his life in beautiful ways, putting wind in his sails, and bringing glory to the Lord in the process.
J. R. Miller puts it so beautifully: “Her husband feels the mighty inspiration of her love in all his life. Toil is easier, burdens are lighter, battles are less fierce—because of the face that waits in the quiet of the home, because of the heart that beats in loving sympathy whatever the experience, because of the voice that speaks its words of cheer and encouragement when the day’s work is done. No wife knows how much she can do to make her husband honored among men, and his life a power and a success, by her loyal faithfulness, by the active inspiration of her own sweet life!”