Set the Tone

For several years there was a vibrant women’s ministry in my home town. Women of the Word (WOW) began in the heart of Gena Norris. Gena had many roles, but she was a passionate teacher by nature. Instructing younger women came as easily as breathing, or maybe she just made it look easy as truly gifted people tend to do. Gena’s WOW ministry quickly grew beyond the group of church ladies she served as the pastor’s wife. WOW spread to include other churches, other denominations, and even to many “unchurched” women in our area.

I had the privilege of attending several of those meetings, and they were refreshing times filled with praise, worship, food, and ALWAYS the word of God. Mostly, it was local women who shared the word through a testimony, devotion, or lesson, but on occasion there were speakers with far-reaching ministries, some of whom have gone on to writing books and Bible studies and have now shared the gospel on national platforms. It was always Gena though at the helm, leading with wit and wisdom and a solid, Biblical foundation. Of all the things I enjoyed and shared about those meetings, the one thing that impacted my life the most was a simple statement Gena, herself made: Ladies, you are responsible for setting the tone in your homes.

Interestingly, ancient Jewish tradition mirrors Gena’s statement in a beautiful, expressive way. Although Jewish culture was established as a patriarchal system, the tone for the most sacred day of the week was actually set by the woman of the house. The Shabbat, or Sabbath, traditionally begins eighteen minutes before sundown on Friday and extends to sundown on Saturday. To mark the beginnings of this sacred and cautiously observed day, it is “the obligation of the adult woman of the home to light Shabbat candles” ( Thus, the tone is set and Sabbath begins.

What tone is in our homes dear reader? Is home a safe place? Is home a peaceful place? Is it a place of rest and restoration? Are both tears and laughter accepted at their appropriate times? Is it a place where character is developed and Jesus is present, or is it a place of mostly chaos and confusion?

Chaos happens. That bumper-sticker sized truth fits every household at least occasionally. Someone lets the dog out when the gate is open. Someone else didn’t remember to let the dog out. Someone else is out of hairspray, can’t find a sock, lost the computer charger. Alarm clocks are ignored, important documents get lost, appointments are missed-let’s face it-some days chaos is inevitable. Constant chaos, however, should not be an on-going part of our lives, and the great news is-it doesn’t have to be.

The creation account in Genesis actually began in chaos. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1). Formless, empty, darkness, desolation, undistinguishable, inky blackness-whatever wording your Bible translation uses, it sounds like a chaotic mess to me! Yet, in all of this we see God’s ability and might to create something good and productive, and we see the quiet hovering of the Holy Spirit.

I am of the opinion that the Holy Spirit still hovers over chaos waiting to be asked to step in and help. After all, Helper is one of the names Jesus used to describe the Spirit’s role. It is part of his ministry available to us on earth today. We can cut through some chaos and confusion in our homes by evaluating where we need His help.

When illness or depression cause our homes to look like a zoo filled with monkeys on Mountain Dew have taken up permanent residence, ask Him for help. He might give you strength to organize and clean the entire home in one day, or He might help you get started one dresser drawer at a time. He might inspire your family to help, or he might send a friend to lend a hand.

When there is a situation in our homes, our work, or our churches where chaos is a result too many opinions and too little structure, the Holy Spirit helps us know how to both pray for and follow correct Biblical authority.

When our emotions are chaotic, the Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Truth. Sometimes I have tried to carry burdens around the way I do plastic grocery sacks after a monthly stock-up shopping trip. When the baggage of regret, anger, fear, or grief becomes too much to carry emotionally, we have to ask the Holy Spirit to show us new perspective. The more baggage we try to carry , the less likely we are to “turn our eyes upon Jesus” and the more likely we are to find ourselves “wearied and troubled” stumbling about in chaotic darkness.

We can set the tone for our homes, ladies. Whether the chaos is physical, spiritual, relational, or emotional, there is a solution. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. However He chooses to work, accept His help, enjoy His company in the process, and be thankful for His ever-present hovering.

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