I got my copy of Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd early in the week, but had no time to star reading it. During the week I wondered:
1. Does Aimee struggle with clutter and cleaning as I have?
2. Does she struggle with submitting to her husband? My husband has mixed dementia and does Aimee have insight for me on that issue?
3. How does she have time to be both a theologian and a housewife? I certainly do not have much time.
4. Is her life ordinary? What are examples of the gospel invading her ordinary?
5. Does she have theological insight for my caregiving journey?
I have been thrilled to read half of Aimee Byrd's book, Housewife Theologian, in the past three days. In reading half of this excellent book I saw how she listens to podcasts as I do. She likes Charles Spurgeon also! I have some of Spurgeon's podcasts where others have recorded his sermons. Those podcasts help us both multi-task.
Each chapter has reflective questions you can use in a study with other women of various ages. I do not have the luxury of doing that, so I will blog about this book in a series as I did a book last fall--one reflective chapter at a time. Aimee encourages you to go through her book with a group of women discussing the excellent questions at the end of each chapter. Join me and comment.
In the introduction Aimee writes:
Christians are not called to be representative of the secular culture; we are called to glorify our Creator and Redeemer and to enjoy him forever. . . As pilgrims waiting for the age to come, are we just filling time, or is there some eternal value to our jobs and relationships in this temporary life? (p. 14, 16)In the rest of the book she answers this question.
The first chapter, "I Am Woman" and the fourth chapter, "Hear Me Roar" come from that popular song about feminism. Since I don't have the opportunity to do this with other women, I am going over the Journaling Questions from the first chapter (in red) "I Am Woman" and using some of her insights from the chapter. If you can join me in the discussion, that would be great, but I do hope you buy that book. I will answer only some of the journaling questions from pages 34-35 with this first post in this series and, as I noted in the above page about this blog, I am a caregiver now for my husband who has mixed dementia.
- Would you be embarrassed to be called a housewife? Explain.
- Have you ever thought about the importance of theology before? How did Eve's theology affect her conversation with the serpent? Can you think of a similar experience of your own?
- What does it mean to honor your husband's vocation? If you are married, what would this look like in your home?
- How does your vocation as a housewife fall under the Cultural Mandate? How do any other jobs you may have outside the home fall under this Mandate, and your vocation as a housewife?
- Do you have a hard time with biblical submission to your husband? Do you think that you may have or have had wrong presuppositions about what this means? At this time I am looking out for the best interest of my care receiver husband trying to keep him out of a nursing home because that is his desire. I am submitting to his desire to enjoy our home and getting the tools, medicine and using outside help graciously offered to us.
- How often do you rely on your own righteousness for your spiritual growth? Well that doesn't work as I wrote about my my spiritual memoir, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill.
- Are you a good helper? How well do you represent your husband (and God) when he's not around? Are you forthcoming with him about your decision making, or do you have the better left unsaid mentality? Are you keeping secrets? Aimee, I try to be the best caregiver I can be. I love your term you got from John Piper--respectful disposition (p. 31) rather than the term "submission". My husband and I talk about his memory issues and he knows that monthly I go to an Alzheimer's Association Support Group. I wish that group was a Bible study or a study on this book. However, yes, I do have secrets. He does not know that I blog elsewhere about his dementia (see plantcityladyandfriends.blogspot.com) because it is his desire to feel normal. Like you, Aimee, writing helps me. I honor hubby's desires to be "retired" and to feel normal. He does not want to feel something is wrong with him and he is such a great conversationalist with others. I want to encourage others to chat with him because this helps him feel connected even if he doesn't remember the exact nature of the conversation.
- What are some effects from blurring the gender roles God has given us in creation? What is the value of being created male and female? I thought I could do it all, but I can't. Doing everything including the large yard we have and taking care of household maintenance is too much for me. At the right time this past six months men have come alongside of us to help with the yard, maintenance and even caregiving for my husband. We have a Christian volunteer caregiver for my husband, neighbor Kenny, who has providentially helped me decide when to call the ambulance and when the roof just has to be repaired. I have just stood around overwhelmed and then in the LORD's grace He has provided help from men for our journey .
- What do you appreciate about men, particularly the man in your life? What do you admire about some of the other men in your life, such as your father, brother, pastor, son? My husband is so loving to me and we continually say we love each other. He wants to accompany me everywhere for my safety. He had to turn finances and driving over to me, but encourages me to be diligent with those tasks. He has a fabulous sense of humor and brings much joy to our marriage, despite the Alzheimer's and now his limited ability to walk. I love the LORD in him. I take his example in being joyful and we remind each other that this life is not all as we await heaven and the new earth. Other men I have discovered are very willing to step in and advise and help. My pastor has been wonderful with some of the delicate issues I have faced.
- Why is it important to understand our roles as linked to creation, not with the common misconception of linking them to the fall? Oh no, Aimee! You expect me to think theologically and I am not quite there yet. I thought I was done with theology with this blog because of all the arguing that often men do about theology and that I have seen here and on other blogs.
- Write an "I Am Woman" poem. Think of both your strengths and weakness, challengers and rewards.
LORD, you created me to be a "caregiver theologian"
I do not know how to do this
And I miss the spiritual leading of my husband
Often he asks me to pray
Because he forgets what to say
YOU are my husband
YOU are my God
Help me to be the best helpmate to my husband
In these senior dementia-plagued years
I need YOUR strength for the journey
Thanks for the help you provide.