Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sweet Memories told with Christmas Cards

I like to make my own photo cards for Christmas each year. There is something so much more personable about a Christmas card with a picture of you, your family or your children that you just can't get from a prepackaged card. This year I used Shutterfly and I chose this card, since it allowed me space on the front to put pictures of my three little blessings.
You can't tell from this picture, but you also get space inside to add more photos.

I love the variety they offer with their cards too. There are cards for everyone, there are fun ones like this:

If you want simple and elegant:

They even have cards for holidays other than Christmas:

I have order from Shutterfly several times over the past few years and never been disappointed in the quality of their products. We ordered our son's birth announcements from them and the quality is so good that I know some of our family members framed the card just like a photo. You can see the sample here.

For the past two years, we have used Shutterfly to create photo books of our family vacations. What great memories these will make once our children are grown and gone! And they make it so easy to do.

I could go on and on, but instead I recommend you pop on over to Shutterfly and see what you can make for yourself, or even as a Christmas gift for family or friends. Who knows what you may find there!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Blog-a-versary Giveaway

My mother-in-law is have a giveaway to celebrate her 3rd year of blogging on her site, Domestically Inclined. She always has something encouraging and uplifting to say to the homemaker. I encourage you to pop on over and enter the giveaway and while you are there, browse her articles from the last three years. I'm sure you will be encouraged!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Update: 12 New Things

So, since we are in month three of 12 months of new things, I thought I should update how I'm doing. In case you missed the orginial post, you can click here to read it.

August- I was supposed to make shoo fly pie...yeah, didn't happen. But I did get my oven cleaned for the first nearly two years. Ouch!

September-Keep my house up and running post baby. I think I did pretty well. We had meals to eat and clothes to wear. No one got hurt or suffered injury. I think that counts as a sucess. :D

October- It just started, I know, but I already have the material and I know what pattern I'm going to use. So now I just have to figure out what kind of accents I plan to use and get sewing. On the bright side, I only have two dresses to sew since my little man doesn't need one. On the no-so-bright side, that means I now have to add shopping for a dark green long sleeve polo shirt and khaki pants. Oh, boy! Any ideas???

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cute Clothes...for free!!!

Mrs. June Fuentes at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home is hosting a giveaway for some adorable skirts! Pop on over to her blog and read all about it here. This is the store I have been looking for for a long time!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Newest Addition

Our newest little blessing arrived August 29th. He weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz, 11 oz bigger than his nearest sister. :D We are both doing well and enjoying having our first boy in our home.

As for a name, I was thinking maybe I'll take suggestions...So far we have Baby Beloved and Wee Beloved. What do you think?

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, he is a great favorite with both of his big sisters. They can't get enough time holding him and kissing him! :D

Monday, August 23, 2010

Simply Vintagegirl Giveaway!

This is for all of you who have little girls at home who love being little girls! Emily Rose over at Simply Vintagegirl Blog is giving away set of "Daughters of His Story Paper Dolls: Bundle One (3 Collections)" and a copy of their upcoming project. If you would like to see the Paper Dolls collection, you can do so here.

So pop on over and enter to win today! :D

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

12 New Things

Sarah Mae over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee is hosting a learning project where you learn one new thing each month or 12 in a year! How could I resist joining in? So here's my list, subject to revision. I'll try to keep you all updated on my progress. And if you'd like to join in, make sure to link up your post of Sarah's blog so others can rejoice with you!

August~ learn to make shoo fly pie (I first tried in when I was in PA for a friend's wedding in 2001, I just hope I can find a good recipe for it!)

September~ Keep my house up and running once our new little blessing arrives (I didn't do so well with this the last time around. :D)

October~ Start Christmas dresses for my girls...before December!

November~ Make something homemade for all the ladies and girls in my family (that's my mother, mother-in-law, 2 sisters, my sister-in-law and 2 nieces...)

December~ Get my Christmas cards out early, as in before Christmas

I'm still working on the rest of the list, but I'll post more as I get the ideas. :D








Monday, August 16, 2010

Love Their Children

"to love their children"

If you stop and think about it, you wouldn't imagine that you would have to teach a young mother to love her children. Don't we all know the expression, "mother's love"? Don't mothers automatically love their children? Doesn't it come as part of the "motherhood package"? The short answer is no. Most feel drawn to their children when they are born. Babies are so helpless; most of us understand the need to protect them from the world and anyone or anything that would try to hurt them. And most probably continue to show that kind of love through the early years but as our children grow, and start to think on their own, we lose that protective love and suddenly we don't know if we even like our children anymore, must less love them.

This is why mother's need to be taught to love their children. Loving our children is more than just a mushy, "oh, he or she is so cute and cuddly" feeling, although that is a part of the love we are talking about. But more importantly, we need to learn to love them, in what I would call, a constructive way. You have to know how to look beyond what seems good when you are exhausted and just want quiet. You have to be committed one hundred percent to what God would have you to do with your children, before you have them because once the come, boy is it easy to compromise and bend those rules and change them on a whim until the next thing you know, you have no rules or worse yet the children don't know what they are because they have changed so many times. Then you find yourself wanting to be away from your children as much as possible, searching for excuses not to spend time with them. No longer do you love them and want to do what is best for them, you just want them to leave you alone.

We should love to be with our children; they should be a joy for us to spend time with. We should be able to see them as people, who if given the choice, we would befriend just to have their company. If we do not seek to have our children with us, because we do not take pleasure in their company, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We mold the character of our children, whether by determination or by default. We either make them what we want them to become or we simply allow them to be influenced by who ever will take the time to do so for us.

I pray that we will take the time to train our children, as the Bible tells us to, so we would desire their presence and their companionship all their lives. I hope that we will learn to love our children more and more each day!

To read the previous post in the series to love their husbands, you can click on the link here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our view of Children

There is a quote, the context of which I haven't been able to establish, but that I think sums up nicely how the world and even some in the church view abortion. It is from Frederica Mathewes-Green and says, "No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg." Children are a trap and women who want to have abortions are just trying to free themselves from it.

God says in Psalm 127, "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."

Should we argue with the One who made us all? Aborted and not aborted alike?

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Giveaway for All Expecting Mothers

I love reading Mrs. T's blog, Domestic Felicity. She is so encouraging and sweet and I was thrilled to read that she is hosting a giveaway for a beautiful maternity dress. You can find the link to see the dress and sign up for the giveaway here!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Just a bit of silliness really

Okay so this isn't the kind of post I usually write, but this was too funny not to share. It took us a minute to see what they were doing but we spend a good 15 minutes laughing at the crazy pictures and captions. I don't think I have laughed that hard in years! So if you need to laugh, check out this website, it's quite a riot! (There are several pages of them so you'll have to keep going to see them all. Oh, and thanks to Generation Cedar for passing this along!)

Catalog Living

Friday, July 23, 2010

Words of Inspiration

As I mentioned before, I am reading through The Shaping of the Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot and today I came across this inspiring quote we go about our work, which can seem so worthless sometimes;

"In this little time does it matter,
As we work, and we watch, and we wait,
If we're filling the place He assigns us,
Be it labor small or great?"

After searching for it online, I found the text of the rest of the hymn. You can read it in full here.

Blessings to you all!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Limitations of Womanhood

Today I have been reading Feminine by Design by Scott Brown. He breaks down Biblical femininity into 12 pillars. Pillar #6 is being a helpmeet. He makes the comment that being a woman has limitations. There are things as a Godly woman that we can't do, if we are committed to following God's ways. He also mentions that "by limiting the scope of [our] work, [we] are freed up to have a powerful focus." (pg. 46)

As I pondered this, I think it is true in two ways.First we are able, by narrowing our realm of operation, to really focus on the things we should be doing as women; meaning that we can take the time to become "experts" on specific areas within our homes that we are not able to do if we make our focus too broad. If we are spending our time trying to "have it all" we cannot take the time to become proficient in the areas of our homes where we need to be excelling. We can fudge it so that things keep running but we will never achieve the level of success that God has planned for us. And we will be greatly frustrated by our lack of proficiency.

The second way this is true is that we are not supposed to be "expert" in ALL areas of the home. Our giftings are given by God to complete our own husbands. And as different as we as women are, so are the men God has made us to serve. God knows the man He has created you to complete and He has uniquely gifted you to be strong where your husband will need it most. For example, in my home, my husband is very gifted with handling money and I am not. There we are a perfect match. But I can serve him within that realm by taking our food budget and making the most of it, something that he has no idea how to do. So the training that my budget-minded mom gave me was a blessing to my husband from the Lord. God knew that he wouldn't not do well planning meals or grocery shopping without my help. Some husbands may do fine here but that is my point. Each husband has areas where he is weaker and needs his wife's help to accomplish the family goals. That is why God creates each woman with one man in mind. He knows the weaknesses of each and makes them to complement each other. No man can do it all alone. Adam was not good all by himself and that is why God gave him Eve. My husband was not complete all by himself and that's why God gave him me. I would not complete another man. I complement and complete my husband.

Now, there may be areas where your husband is incomplete and you feel insufficient to complete him. This could be an area where God is looking to grow your husband, where He can mold him into the man He wants him to be. For example, we know from scripture that the man is to be the leader of his home, so if he is struggling with leading, you can know that that is an area where God is growing him. But there are areas where we need to do the growing ourselves. If you are unsure about what area you are facing, ask Him to show you. Read His word. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5

Let us strive to complete the husbands that God has given us and bless not just them, but the body of Christ and the world as well. Let us be those cities on a hill that God wants us to be!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another Giveaway!

I have been on a mission to get my grocery budget under control while not sacrificing the quality of the food we eat. I want to eat and feed my family the healthiest food we can buy without breaking the bank. That's why I was so excited to read about the giveaway going on at Natural on a Budget. Lorrie is taking entries to win a copy of Stephanie at Keeper of the Home's new ebook, Real Food On a Real Budget How to Eat Healthy For Less. Pop on over to Lorrie's blog and enter for a chance to win the book yourself! :D

Friday, July 2, 2010

Contentment for the Homemaker

I had something of a personal victory this week. I finally finished reading Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. I bought the book not long after my husband and I got married, and while it is not a hard book to read, I just haven't been able to get through it. Tonight I finally finished and I wanted to share a quote that I found in it along with some thoughts.

The quote is from a letter written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Susan B. Anthony regarding her feelings about her life as a housewife.

"I pace up and down these two chambers of mine like a caged lion, longing to bring to a close childrearing and housekeeping cares. I have other work at hand...Oh how I long for a few hours of leisure each day. How rebellious it makes me feel when I see Henry going about where and how he pleases. He can walk at will through the whole wide world or shut himself up alone, if he pleases, within four walls. As I contrast his freedom with my bondage, and feel that because of the false position of women I have been compelled to hold all my noblest aspirations in abeyance in order to be a wife, a mother, a nurse, a cook, a household drudge, I am fired anew and long to pour fourth from my own experience the whole long story of women's wrongs." (Passionate Housewives, pg. 132)

I was thinking just how often we as women look at what our husbands do when they come home from work and we begin to envy them their "freedom". It is easy to think that because our work is of such a nature where we do burst of work through out the day, going from task to task usually with a few moments here and there to stop and read or to catch up on Facebook or email, that our husband should have to follow the same kind of schedule. But while our work may take longer, on an hourly account basis, theirs is the more intensive, packed into a small time sort of work. They do not, for the most part get to take little breaks during the day and certainly they do not get to enjoy the peace of being at home, so they need that time at the end of the day to rest. What we don't see when we are comparing our work to theirs, which is something so detrimental to our contentment at home, is the stress of being in a foreign environment for hours at a time; often berated and belittle for all kinds of things, no comforting hugs or kind words to cheer their day, no sweet moments between children to encourage them to keep going. We have so many things to keep us going emotionally, and while men may not need the same kind of emotional encouragement we do, we need to realize that we may not need the same kind of mental rest that they do. It is a scary thing to begin to compare our roles and situations with others who have very different callings to fulfill. God has given us all a job to do and we should be focusing on the task given to us and learn to do it with a cheer spirit and joyful heart, instead of becoming discouraged and disillusioned with the task God appointed for us.

Resist the very human urge to compare your work with others and focus on serving where ever God has placed you. You will be blessed to find yourself relieved of the stress of wanting what is not yours.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Love their Own Husbands

"to love their husbands"

While English uses 4 words here, the Greek uses just one, "philandros". It's roots are the words, philos,meaning a friend, a companion, someone who wishes one well, or loving as a friend, and aner, meaning a husband. So literally Paul is saying that we need to be a friend or a well-wisher to our husbands. At first glance, it seems silly to have to tell a wife that she should be a friend and well-wisher to her own husband. After all, if our futures are dependent on each other, who wouldn't wish their spouse well? But if you look at all the troubles present in today's marriages and the vast amount of "me" time we are encouraged to engage in, do we really take the time to wish our husbands well? To be his companion and friend? Do we look for ways to encourage them or support them as we would a friend? Think of some of the things you would do for your best friend: call them just to say hi? Send them a note of encouragement? Make them a special meal when they are feeling down? Take them out for coffee just because? Would we and more importantly, do we do the same for our husbands?

I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. Since my husband and I have been married (over 3 years now), we have had children for all but 9 months of that. Dinners have almost always been spent with babies or toddlers or both and there is rarely (read: never) time for us to just enjoy eating together without near constant interruptions in our own home. One evening about a month ago, my husband came home to one of his favorite meals and both the girls were asleep. So I quickly set the table for two, complete with a candle and we sat down to a quiet, uninterrupted meal, just the two of us. I didn't plan it that way; it probably wouldn't have worked if I had tried but we enjoyed it none the less. It was a chance for me to enjoy the companionship of my husband.

My point in telling you this is simply that we need to look for ways to care for our husbands as we would a very dear friend. You don't stay best friends with someone by making a pact and then not talking for years. You have to communicate, show interest and excitement about spending time with that person. You have to long for those times you get to spend with them and you have to make the time to spend with them. Friendships don't just happen. They may start unexpectedly but if they are to continue, it takes work and a will to keep it going. If we are willing to do this for just a friend, how much more should be take the time to make it work in our marriages?

Serve and love him as you would the Lord himself. Treat him as you would want to be treated. Ask the Lord to show you how to be his biggest cheerleader and well-wisher. And see what a blessing it is to love him as Titus 2 says.

The previous post in the series:

Thoughts on Motherhood

I have been reading through The Shaping of the Christian Family for the last few weeks, and I came across this quote, which I thought was worth sharing.

"There is no nobler career than that of motherhood at its best. There are no possibilities greater, and in no other sphere does failure bring more serious penalties. With what diligence then should she prepare herself for such a task. If the mechanic who is to work with 'things' must study at technical school, if the doctor into whose skilled hands will be entrusted human lives, mu through medical much more should the mother who is fashioning the souls of the men and women of tomorrow, learn at the highest of all schools and from the Master-Sculptor Himself, God. To attempt this task, unprepared and untrained is tragic, and its results affect generations to come. On the other hand there is not higher height to which humanity can attain than that occupied by a converted, heaven-inspired, praying mother."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Martin Luther on Marriage

Our family attended the wedding today of a girl I first met when she was 9 years old. I thought in honor of her and her new husband, this quote was very timely.

"Our natural reason looks at marriage and turns up its nose and says, 'Alas! Must I rock the baby? wash its diapers? make its bed? smell its stench? stay at nights with it? take care of it when it cries? heal its rashes and sores? and on top of that care for my spouse, provide labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that? do this and do that? and endure this and endure that? Why should I make such a prisoner of myself?'

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful and despised duties in the spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, 'O God, I confess I am not worthy to rock that little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of a child and its mother. How is it that I without any merit have come to this thy most precious will? Oh, how gladly will I do so. though the duty should be even more insignificant and despised, neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor will distress me for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.'"

(The Shaping of a Christian Family, pg. 87)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Sweet Story

Reformation in Childbearing from NCFIC on Vimeo.

I found this video on the NCFIC (National Center for Family-Integrated Churches) website. I hope it encourages you as it has encouraged me for the last 13 years. You see the man being interviewed is my dad and I am blessed to be the older sister to the 5 young blessings who he mentions in the clip. What an amazing story of how great a blessing children are! Enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Helpful Hints for Mothers with Young Daughters

I have been praying that God would help me to raise my daughters to be the kind of women who would be a blessing to my future son-in-laws and grandchildren. I found these articles on the newly launched Raising Homemakers site. I hope you will find them encouraging too!

~Queen in a Home of Her Own

~Queen in a Home of Her Own~Continued

Edited to note: You can now find their button on the side bar of my blog! Feel free to click on it to pop on over and see what is new there!

Learning to Love God's Role for Women

I found this collection of video clips encouraging. It features the women of the Brown Family speaking on God's Role for women and embracing it. I hope you will be blessed by it too!

Ladies Tea in Chicago from NCFIC on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Wonderful Giveaway!!!

Warehouse Fabrics Inc. is giving away a $50 shopping spree to one blessed lady out there! The entry deadline is today at Midnight, so head on over there and get yourself entered!!!!

Isn't these fabrics just too cute!!!

Which ones would you choose?

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Saturday of Bargains

This weekend my husband and I took our girls and spent a little time shopping for some deals. We started with book shopping and I found a hardback copy of Elisabeth Elliot's The Shaping of the Christian Family for $8. I had a copy once upon a time but it is no longer with me so I was thinking I would pick it up. Then I opened it up and found that it was a signed copy! That sealed the day for me!

Then we have been talking about getting a second computer so we could write together but were not willing to spend a ton of money on a new computer. So we took a tip from the Duggar family and went looking for a hard drive at the thrift store. And what a blessing, we found one that works great for only $20! It's amazing what gets passed off as junk sometimes! So now we are able to sit side by side and write! Praise God for that!

How did God bless your weekend?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teach the Young Woman to be Sober

In case you missed one of the previous posts or if you would just like a review since it's has been a while, here are the links to the first four posts on Titus 2.

~Titus 2 Introduction

~The Aged Women Likewise

~As Becomes Holiness

~Teachers of Good Things

Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

“That they may teach the young women to be sober”

The good things that are listed in verses 4 and 5 are what the older women are supposed to teach the younger. These are things that honor Christ, that show a good witness and that set us apart as something out of the ordinary.

The word “teach” here is full of meaning. Literally to translate it fully, it means, “to discipline, to train to think and act soberly, discreetly, and in moderation, to correct to cause to be of sound mind, to recall to one’s senses.” First of all, before we tackle all that there is to learn from just this one word, I’d like to point out two things. First, that these are things that you can’t just tell someone and not be living yourself. In order to teach someone to be disciplined, you have to have discipline in your own life. It has to be something that you do day in and day out or you will not have to tools necessary to teach it. You can’t teach what you do not know yourself. As any mother can tell you, you can’t teach your children if you don’t know what it is you are supposed to be teaching. Now you may still be learning some aspects of it or you may be only one or two steps ahead but you have to have learned something before you can teach anything. Second, this is not the kind of list that can be taught in a day or a week or even a year. This is a process that continues on over the course of many years. This is not an evening class or semester class kind of learning. This is discipleship. It takes commitment to this young lady or ladies that you are teaching. It is not something that you flippantly throw out there once in a while and you’ve done your duty. This is real work. It takes time and it takes a lot of it. Now the best way to teach this is to your daughters as they are growing up. Our children are with us all day every day (assuming you do not send them out to be educated by someone else). This is the kind of learning we are talking about here. The nitty gritty stuff, good days and bad days and everything in between. This is discipleship, not just tidbits of wisdom passed on occasionally.

As young women, we need to working towards thinking and acting soberly, discreetly and in moderation. How many of us struggle with anger towards our husbands and children daily? How many of us call our friends to complain about what we’ve had to deal with just today? I’m not talking about calling a wise older woman to ask for advice on how to deal with your children’s latest personality addition, I’m talking about nothing short of gossip, things that don’t need to be shared and yet we share them anyway, because it makes us feel better, especially when our friend tells us that they are dealing with the same thing. “Ah, I am not alone!” My dear readers, this is not thinking and acting discreetly! By all means, ask for advice, seek Godly wisdom but avoid telling things about your husband and your children just to get sympathy or even a hug. If you need comfort, just say, “It’s been a tough day, would you pray that God will give me patience?” There is no need to give details. A true friend will pray for you without all the juicy tidbits.

Also as young women, we need to be open to correction. No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong. But all of us need it from time to time. God is gracious to us and gives us elders to point out areas where we need a little refining. Now, a word of caution. There are plenty of people out there who are not correcting you because you are doing something outside of scripture. Some don’t like your methods (which may or may not need to change), and some don’t like your convictions (which may or may not be based on scripture). If an older woman approaches you and disagrees with something you are doing, be polite. They may be dead wrong but you owe them respect as an older woman. Remember that the bottom line of what you do in your family is between you, your husband and God. If you are following scripture and your husband’s wishes, kindly disregard all comments and suggestions to the contrary. But make sure you are listening to the Lord and your husband. Be very sure that what you are doing is right before you walk away from what an older woman is telling you. If you are in doubt, talk to your husband and seek his wisdom. Many times older women see things from a perspective that you can’t, having been there and done that. And while as first you may not like what they are telling you, if you will take the time to reflect on what they are trying to tell you, you will see that there is wisdom in that. And if your first reaction is not one of immediate dismissal, you won’t have to eat crow later. :D

So as we go out into our day, let us remember that we must strive to be disciplined in our thoughts and actions, to think soberly and to be of a sound mind. May God give us the grace to do so and the wisdom to see the areas where we need to change.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's Vacation Time for the Beloved's

I am taking a two weeks off to spend vacation time with my family. I hope you all have a wonderful two weeks and I can't wait to talk to you all again soon!

God bless!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Teachers of Good Things

“not given to much wine, teachers of good things;”

There are so many forms of addictions today that sometimes I think we are immune to what it really means to be an addict. The word translated here as ‘given’ means to place yourself in bondage to something or to be dependent on something, which is what an addict is; a slave to their addiction. In Matthew, Jesus says that no man can serve two masters, one he will love, the other he will hate. (Matthew 6:24) We cannot be serving the Lord and something else, anything else. The verse says wine but think for a moment of all the things that we put ourselves in bondage too. Anything that we are dependent on, outside of God, is bondage. Now, am I saying that by staying at home and letting your husband provide for you, that you are in bondage? Ask yourself this question; why do I stay home and serve my husband? Is it because you are lazy and this is an easy way to get what you want? If so, then maybe you are serving something other than God. But if you are staying home because God’s plan for women is to care for our husbands and children, and that by doing those things, we are acting out our service to God so that it is not lip service but practical service, then we are not in bondage to any but Christ. The root word that ‘given’ comes from is the same word that Paul used to describe himself as he relates to Christ. (ex. Titus 1:1) We are servants of Christ; let us not be named as a servant of anyone or anything else.

The word for ‘teacher of good things’ is a composite of two words, one meaning good things and the other meaning teacher, I know, I know, seems so easy. To be a teacher of good things means teaching the things of the Lord. Not worldly-wise things or whatever fad is hip today, but the time-honored and tested wisdom from God’s word. Here is short list of what good things look like; “good, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore well adapted to its ends, genuine, approved, precious, competent, able, such as one ought to be, praiseworthy, noble, beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life, and hence praiseworthy, morally good, noble, honorable, conferring honor, affecting the mind agreeably, comforting and confirming.” This is quite a list of what good things one can teach. And this is teaching is not just by words. These are things that we must show by our actions daily. Most of the times that the word teacher used here appears, it is referring to Jesus. Jesus did not say one thing and live something else. For three years, He daily practiced what He was preaching so we could see just what it looked like practically. And just as He is our example of all things good, so we need to strive to exemplify His goodness to others. We cannot teach goodness and live anything else.

So as you head out today, wherever you go, teach, in word and in deed, what is good and keep yourself from needless bondage. We are set free to serve the Lord and His yoke is easy and His burden light. Because He has freed us, we can now deny ourselves and pick up our crosses daily and follow Him wholeheartedly! Amen!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

As Becomes Holiness

“that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers,”

Most of us know Titus 2 as the chapter where women are told what they should be as wives and mothers. But all of this starts with a hierarchy of sorts. First we are told what an aged woman (literally, an old woman) should look like and then that it is the older women’s responsibility to teach the younger how to become that older woman someday. Today we will start to take a closer look at what an aged woman of God should look like.

The first thing we are told is that they should “be in behavior as becomes holiness”. What that means is, they should have a position that suits sacred things or conduct themselves with reverent attitude. How many older women do you know who spend their time trying to be young or cool or hip in the eyes of the world? They spend time removing wrinkles and grey hair hoping for that person in the grocery store or at church to be shocked that they look so young. No one likes looking older; at least once you are past about 25. But it is a hundred times worse that no one wants to act their age. It just isn’t cool anymore to talk about the things of God. People are shocked by stories of yesteryear where families were not allowed to read anything but the Bible on Sundays and they were supposed to think about sacred things only. Now we go to church and as soon as the service is finished, we find any number of topics to discuss, 99% of them having nothing to do with sacred things. We think we have done our duty because we sat and listened to the pastor talk for 45 minutes. We do not believe in a lifestyle of Godly living. No longer do we read the Bible and pray together as families. No longer do we dwell on sacred things, on Sunday or any other day. Now, here is what I am not saying. It is not a sin to wear make-up or to dye your hair, or to talk about sports on Sunday. But why are we doing those things? Is it because we have done our duty and now we can have fun? Is it because we just can’t think of anything more to say about the Lord? We must evaluate our hearts and see just what is there. We should be more concerned with things that last, with things that are eternal, than the petty things we waste our time on.

The big question is what is so wrong in our minds about looking or behaving in a manner befitting our age and position. There should be a distinction in both manner and appearance of someone who is 50 and someone who is 20. Just as it is against nature for an older woman to look 30, so it is also unseemly for them to behave like 30. That is no excuse for a young woman to be silly or frivolous. But we do learn by example and there should be someone we can look to, to show us what a Godly woman looks and behaves like.

The next thing we see is that an older woman should not be a false accuser. There are two points that stood out to me here. One is something we all know. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. And he does a fine job without our help. As women of God, we should have no part in that. The definition of false accuser in the Word Study dictionary says, “One who falsely accuses and divides people without any reason.” We must be so very careful not to divide the body. Anything that causes a division of the true body of Christ is not the action of a true believer. This, however, brings me to my second point. If there is a problem, we supposed to deal with it. If there is a sin besetting us or someone else, we as believers are supposed to be divided from sin. Part of teaching is correction. You can’t be a good teacher if you don’t correct your student’s mistakes. But there is a proper way to do that. It must be done in kindness, in love, using the word to show where the error is. And most importantly it must be done in private, meaning that it is not done through gossip or backbiting. One of the other aspects of teaching is that there must be trust between the teacher and the student. Where there is gossip being spread by a teacher, there can be no trust. We must guard our words so carefully to keep from betraying each other.

So I would ask you, dear ladies, where are our hearts? Are there areas where we are not exhibiting what becomes holiness? Are there times we are falsely accusing others? These are things that shouldn’t be named as characteristics of a Godly woman, of any age. Why do we do the things we do? Should we be doing them? Or is there a way we could be redeeming our time to better serve the Lord, our families and the body of Christ? May God show us how we can better serve Him and may we see it blessing those around us by spurring them on to holiness.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Titus 2 Devotional Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow we will begin our devotional on Titus 2 again and I pray this time, we will be able to finish it!

Before we start for the second time, I thought I should give you all a day to remind us of what we have read already. So if you want to read the first post, you can click on the link below. See you tomorrow!

~The Aged Women Likewise...~

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Update

Praise the Lord we finally have our computer back! I have decided to take this week to accomplish all those projects that just can't wait and I hope to be back blogging next week. I can't wait!

God bless you all as you continue to seek Him and His will!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Unexpected Break

Shortly after posting the last blog, our family computer decided to succumb to a volley of viruses. So until we have it back, I will have to postpone our devotional on Titus 2. I'm not sure if this is the Lord telling me I need to wait or our enemy trying to keep me from talking, but I will take the time I have to search that out and I hope to be back with you all very soon!

In the meantime, God's blessings on you all and keep reading His word and seeking to apply all that He will teach you!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Cleaning Has Sprung!

In addition to caring for my two little girls, being pregnant with the third child and my husband being busy with tax season, it is spring cleaning time here.

In a way, I am very excited, since this is my first year of spring cleaning. This is the first time we have not moved more than once in the previous year, thereby cleaning and weeding through junk more than once. But I must admit that spring cleaning can be daunting. So, even though it is recommended that you commit the few days in a row to getting it all done at once, I find it impossible to do that with where I am in life. But after two weeks of working at it bit by bit, here's is what I have done:

~Mopped the kitchen and dining room floor by hand
~Clean all the fronts and bottoms of the kitchen cabinets
~Wiped down the stove, including underneath the burners and stove top. I still have to clean the oven...which in my opinion is the worst spring cleaning chore.
~Cleaned out the coat closet and the linen closet
~Wiped down the washer and dryer to clean up all the lint and spills that happen when washing laundry in a hurry!
~Cleaned our my 2 year old's drawers and replaced the size 3's with size 4's. Hopefully she will slow down soon so we can make it through a season with just one size!

And currently I am working my way through our boxes of books, weeding out books I didn't like, haven't read and probably won't read, or books that we have more than one copy of. And of course the inevitable stash of old college textbooks you keep thinking that you may need again if they weren't already obsolete before you graduated!

My most dreaded chore, besides the aforementioned oven cleaning, is washing the outside windows, which I will be tackling just as soon as we have a nice day... on a weekend... where my husband is home to help watch the little ones. No, I'm not stalling! :D

I had planned to post pictures of my adventures but I forgot to take the before pictures so you can't see what great progress I've made. Bummer... Oh, well. I have plenty of chores left to photograph!

The aged women likewise...

“The aged women likewise…”

I thought I would be good to give us a running start on our study by talking about what the likewise means.

Likewise simply means in the same way or the same manner, so just as the old men were charged with being sober (to stay away from wine or at least the excessive use of it), grave (honorable or venerated for character), temperate (curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate), sound in faith (solid in their belief in the Word), in charity (God’s love), in patience (a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings), so the women are to be likewise, or in the same manner.

As we read that list and think of just what it means to be all those things, it’s a long and daunting one, for sure. But I am also sure that is why God makes it clear that these things are expected of the old men and women. These are the ones who have had a lifetime to learn self-control and patience and are now charged with showing us how it’s done. We will see that that does not get us young women off the hook, but it does put a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the older women.

The hard part in the times in which we live, is that there are very few older women we can turn to. Some of us grew up with Godly mothers who modeled this for us, most did not. And for those of us who did, most of our mothers did not have Godly mothers. So we are in a sense all still learning. That doesn’t erase their responsibility; it just makes it more important for each of them to make the time needed to teach and to train us younger women to follow in God's footsteps.

This is the very reason I find it so sad that so many older women go to work once they have raised their own children. They often feel like they have served their purpose in their homes and since their children no long need them, they should start being "productive". How horribly wrong we are! Yes, their children may be fine, though I would argue that even those of us who grow up with Godly mothers still need their encouragement and wisdom at least on occasion. But what about the other young wives and mothers in the church who didn’t have Godly mothers or grandmothers to turn to growing up? Now they are caring for their own homes and children without any “motherly” guidance. This is a vital and necessary area of service that only an older woman can do with the wisdom and grace needed to help these young ones succeed as homemakers. I can give advice from my very limited experience but I can’t give the kind of lifetime scope that my mom or mother-in-law can. I can guide the young unmarried girls in pursuing a Godly use of their time, talents and energy, because I have lived those lessons, sometimes the hard way. Since I have been a wife and mother for such a little time, I can only tell other mothers what I have learned and commiserate with them, I can't train them with what I have lived. As an older woman, there is a store of knowledge that comes from experience which someone with my limited experience can’t draw from.

So I would encourage those of you who are “old women”; don’t look for ways to be young again or for worldly "productivity". Find ways to help us benefit from your experience and knowledge of the word in a practical way. We don’t need more women in the workforce, fighting for our rights and higher wages; we need you in the trenches with us, helping us to raise our sons to be strong and courageous warriors and daughters to be loving and patient mothers for the next generation. I urge you to find young wives and mothers who want Godly encouragement and mentor and disciple them in the word. And on their behalf, thank you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Titus 2: Day 1

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:3-5

Starting today, we are going to be working our way through Titus 2:3-5. My plan as it stands now is to post Monday, Wednesday and Friday. How long it takes us to get through the devotions depends on how much God gives me to say!

I thought I would start our devotions by asking all of you to read the verses we will be covering and see what God will show you. I know He has plenty of things to show each of us just with a simple reading.

So enjoy and see you back here on Wednesday!

Monday, April 5, 2010

More Details

I had planned to start a devotion taking us through Titus 2 this week but due to a death in the family, I will be postponing it until next week. Sorry to all, but I'm sure you will understand.

If you think of our family this week, we would appreciate your prayers.

God bless you all!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Just Details

Yesterday we finished Proverbs 31 here. If any one wants or needs to catch up on old posts, they are linked on the side bar. Thanks to all of you who blessed me with their comments and encouragment and to all who read the devotions. I was truly blessed by the study and I even made some new friends in the process.

I have a few fun posts planned for the rest of this week. I finally finished my first granny square blanket so I will be posting pictures of that. And I made birthday dresses for both my girls that I want to share pictures of those too. Then next week, according to my plans, I'd like to start a weekly devotion on Titus 2:3-5. The format will be a bit different, there probably won't a devotion every day but we can talk more about that later.

So, in preparation for that, I'll leave you with Titus 2:3-5.

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

God bless you all!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Final Thoughts On Proverbs 31

I woke up this morning sad that our time of studying Proverbs 31 together is over. In writing out these devotions every day, I have learned many things, some of them completely unexpected, that I haven’t really shared, mostly because I hadn’t digested them yet. I thought I would take this last day and tell you about some of them.

As I think I have mentioned before, I’ve been getting up early so I can write before my girls wake up. I had developed a bad habit of sleeping in since my oldest daughter often does not wake up until 8 or 9 am. But in the last month, I have realized that I don’t really miss my extra few hours of sleep most days, and I have enjoyed the peace and quiet of the morning hours before the hustle and bustle of the day. Having just a little bit of quiet in the morning has helped me to be more patient the rest of my day. I find that I have fewer times where I am frustrated or angry. All because I’m getting less sleep every day. Honestly, it has more to do with the fact that I am spending more time in the word, not just reading it but studying it. There is a depth to my devotion time that I was missing and it has allowed God to show me more of what I need to be focused on and what I need to work on in my life. I don’t expect that this time will last, especially since I am expecting again, but I will gladly take this season and use it to learn all I can.

I have also learned that it is really hard to write about something that I wasn’t doing myself. There were days when I was talking to the Lord saying, I can’t write that! I’m horrible at organization! (Just ask my mom or my college roommate, they can tell you just how unorganized I can be.) And yet that is what God gave me to write for the day. So then I was convicted by my own writing and forced to face my own failings. When I write it, it sounds like such a bad thing. But it has been one of the biggest blessings to me in this whole process. My life is much more in order than it ever has been before and more than that, I am enjoying being organized! I feel like by being faithful to write what God gave me to write each day, He is blessing me with the ability to do something that has always been so hard for me. It’s nothing short of a miracle that my laundry is getting wash, folded and put away every week. I have never been good at keeping up with it. And I’m sure it is a blessing to my husband, who doesn’t have to go basket diving to find socks and shirts each morning! :D

And I have had to learn again that my best laid plans are not always God’s plans. I have had plenty of times in my life where I thought I knew where I was going and when God finally got through to me, His path was a different direction than mine. There were many days where I would start to write and end up in a totally different place than where I was planning on going for the day. I ended up where God had wanted me all the time. And it left me so thankful that God is able to guide me where He wants me to go, even though I had determined different path for myself.

So I want to encourage each of you who have read these devotions, to share something that God has taught you this month. It doesn’t have to be a long, wordy piece, just a quick note about the lesson or lessons that God has used Proverbs 31 to teach you. I know most of you probably don’t have a lot of time to write volumes, although I’m sure some could, but in sharing stories of what God has done in our lives, we are able to remind each other of His wondrous works. And that is something we should celebrate together. Let us praise Him for all He has done and live our lives to give Him the glory and honor due His name!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Apology

Some days just don't go the way you have planned. Today was one of those days for me. But, although I didn't get a blog written or published for you, I did take care of my family, which is as we all know, job #1. I'm sorry to have missed a day with all of you but I trust that He blessed your day anyway. :D

I had plans of what I was going to write this last week, but it seems that God's plans were different and I am resting in the fact that His will is perfect and there is a great reason for Him changing my plans.

Don't forget to join us tomorrow for our last day with the Proverbs 31 woman.

Until then, God bless you all!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Working Woman

As it often happens in my life, I was planning on writing today about "Christian" literature’s view of the Proverbs 31 woman, but as I prayed this weekend, I felt God laying on my heart that I needed to address a related issue today. This one is also a misinterpretation of what Proverbs 31 teaches us about Godly womanhood but it seems to come more from misunderstandings by the church in general rather than just a few books on the shelves. I'm sure all of you have heard it at one time or another; "Well, the Proverbs 31 woman was a working woman!" Or "She bought and sold things, that means she worked outside her home too!" The problem with most of these arguments is that they are more concerned about finding ways to justify one's own actions rather than they are about taking what the scriptures say and adapting our lives to fit what God says we should be doing.

Now before you all start writing emails telling me how your situation is different, why I’m wrong, etc…hear me out. If at the end you still want to write me, I’d be glad to talk to you.

There can be no denying that the Proverbs 31 woman is a working woman. Almost all women work in one way or another. Our problem is that we don’t feel like we are working unless we leave our homes, drive to an office or some other building outside our own 4 walls, work an 8 or 12 hours shift and get that paycheck at the end of the week. If you are a wife, you have a job! If you are a mother, you have a job! If you are both a wife and a mother, wow, do you have a job! Taking care of people is work, whether it is your children or someone else’s. I always chuckle inwardly when moms start daycares in their homes and then they feel like they are finally working. To them, it is only work if the children belong to someone else. Or they work as a secretary, taking phone calls and messages for their boss, picking up his dry cleaning or managing his schedule and they call that work. But if they are at home doing those same things, only this time it is for their husband, suddenly it’s not work anymore. A lot of us think that it can’t be work unless you get paid. But you are getting paid. Every tear you dry, every load of laundry you wash, every errand you run, God will be paying you for. Whether it is here on earth or once you get to heaven, you will be paid for all the work you do for God and for your family. And if you think somehow that is not enough incentive to do the work of a home alone, read Matthew 6:19-21. We are working for heavenly wages and you can’t put an earthly price on that.

The work that the Proverbs 31 woman does is in addition to her care for her husband and her children, not instead of it. Her husband would not have been allowed to sit in the gates if she was not caring for her home properly. Any man who could not lead his own home, had no place ruling and judging others and still doesn’t. (1 Tim. 3:5) It is also not her ambition for prestige or power that makes her work; it is to bless her family. It is not because she needs the money, at least part of which she uses it to care for the poor. I do realize that some have husbands who can’t work because of illness or disability. But we have to ask ourselves, where is the church? Those who are sick need to be cared for by their brothers and sisters until they get well. If there is a disability that will not allow certain work, then those issues should be addressed by the body. Our work as wives and mothers is a calling. It is what we as women are called to do. If one part of the body is not able to fulfill its calling, in our case, caring for a home as well as training and caring for the children, then the whole body suffers. If there is no work to be found for a husband, retraining might be necessary but there is nowhere in the scripture that excuses a man from work because he can’t find it in his field. There is always work to be done. I remember my dad losing his job when I was younger and he took on a paper route and any odd jobs he could find, all the while spending up to 10 hours a day looking for work. There is never an excuse for not taking care of your family, man or woman. God gave you a job to do and it must be done by you.

I hope that this will help clear up any discrepancies of thought between God’s word and what you have been taught. It is a rather simple process of God setting up the rules and all of us living by them. What a blessing that we are free to serve Him by serving our families! What a privilege that we are free from sin and bondage to self and the ways of the world. But we must remember regardless of how little we may like it, we are not free to set our own rules. He is God and He is in charge.

May God bless you all as you serve Him each and everyday!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Her Children Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her…
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

With today’s devotional, we finally see the result, the benefit to all our hard work, provided we are willing to do the work we have talked about. This is the result we can expect from our children and our husbands for a job well done. What mother after years of hard work and sleepless nights wouldn’t want her children to rise up and call her blessed?

Just a note here but the age of the children is not given, in the verse or in the context. There is no reason why our children should not be taught to show respect and appreciation even when they are young. Part of this will happen naturally if your husband models respect for you at home. Sons especially need to see their fathers showing due respect to their wives, not only so they will repeat that with their mothers but also so they will see how to treat their wives in the future. But as a wife, you must do the same for your husband. If you do not model respect for your husband, your children will find it hard to do the same. I can’t express to you what a huge impact your attitude about your husband and his authority has on your children. If you despise him in anyway, your children will almost always do the same. They will pick up any negative attitudes, opinions, thoughts or actions faster than you can correct them. If you want children that are ready and willing to be respectful and showing honor for authority, you have to show them by your example just what that looks like. And the sooner you start the better for all of you.

What a blessing to have the fruit of our hands; a tangible way to show what we have been working so hard for! One meaning of the word fruit in the Bible is children. We want the reward of raising Godly children who are truly a gift for work diligently performed. We should be building a collection of good works, not so they can save us, but so that we will have something of worth to show for our time here on the earth. Each of the things we have been talking about for the last few weeks have been ways to work well and have something good to show for our efforts. We want our own works to speak for themselves. And we want that speech to be praise, not condemnation for time wasted.

Let us strive to raise our children in such a way that we will be blessed to be their mothers. Let us work daily to serve our husbands so they will be able honestly to praise us in the gates. And let us never forget that no matter what happens here, regardless of our failings, the Lord sees what we do and will reward our heart of service if we are faithful to Him and His word.

A note about next week...We will be talking during our last week together about what the Proverbs 31 woman is not. There are many misinterpretations of her character in modern "Christian" literature and we will talk about the ideas presented in those books then. See you Monday!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Many Daughters Have Done Virtuously

“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.”

There are some who believe that the Proverb 31 woman is unrealistic; that there is no way to be that woman and we should stop beating ourselves up for not meeting her standard. If that were true, why would God put this in His word? What purpose would it serve if not to spur us on to good works? Maybe we will never spin or weave, but we can still make clothing for our families. Maybe we will never make girdles to sell, but we can sell what we do make. The point is not to copy every action listed in this chapter, the point is to copy her attitude; I will do what it takes to serve and bless my family, no matter what. That is why Proverbs 31 is in the Bible. We need a standard to live up to. We have to have a road map, a guide to lead us where we need to go, because without it, we will fail (Proverbs 29:18).

This chapter gives us a vision of what Godly womanhood looks like. Is it exhaustive? No, there are things we should be doing too that are not mentioned here but they are in the rest of the Bible. Titus 2 is another great place to find what a Godly woman should be doing with her day and after this study, that will our next project, Lord willing.

But back to our verse for today: it says many daughters have worked well and efficiently but this woman has increased or overcome. She goes beyond the status quo. And it is not that she is the only one trying. Many women have done well, but she is over and above them. The idea here is not that she looked around and took one step beyond the rest. Christians today are too often pleased with themselves for being just one step better than the world. The attitude of this verse is that she is way above them, that there is no comparison. She is superior and without a rival. That is how we should be living our Christian life; so there is no comparison with the world. We are not just one step ahead so that when we have a misstep, they are right where we are, but that we should be so far ahead, there is no catching up. We do not this so we can say we are better anyone. We must do all things in humility and submission to the Lord, so we can follow His will and His wishes at all times. But we must do it. We need to step up and live virtuously so as to overcome them also we can bless our families, our churches and glorify the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

She Strengthens Her Arms

“She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.”

In nearly epidemic proportions, Americans head to the gym to perfect their bodies. And after reading this verse, one might be tempted to think that she would have made a great American. But we already know from reading verse 30 that we do not need to pursue physical beauty, so there must be more in this verse than meets the eye (no pun intended).

We also know from our study, that this is a woman who has a lot on her plate. I’m not sure where she would find time to go to the gym or even exercise at home. But maybe we are thinking of it as a separate piece when really we have already seen the answer. We assume that because she’s getting stronger, she much be lifting weights or doing push-ups. But the answer is much simpler. I’ll give you an example; if any of you have ever grown a garden, you know that to make those plants grow and produce fruit, you have to do more than just plant and water. There are always weeds to dig out so that the plants have room to grow. And even before you can plant, you must till the ground and prepare it to receive the plants. This takes lots and lots of physical labor. Your arms get stronger and so does your back (which incidentally is what the word “loins” is referring to; your lower back). She also spins (not the kind that involves a bike) and weaves, which require your arms to be strong and flexible. In fact, as you read through the verses again, you’ll find many times where she is “exercising” in everyday life.

Now in our modern world, where we don’t have a lot of those things to do anymore, you are probably like me and wondering just how to find the time to strengthen our backs and arms. And it is important to find the time to be healthy. Taking a walk with your kids is a great way to build muscle and strengthen your body. Just think of pushing all that weight for a mile or so a few times a week! And we get the added benefit of spending our exercise time with our children, training them in healthy activity, instead of shuffling them off so we can work out. Make them a part of it. Just picking them up can be a work out in and of itself!

As we are learning, what we should be doing as Godly women has much more to do with why we are doing something than it does with what we are doing. So I will ask this question, why do we exercise? If we are no longer motivated by our appearance, what will drive us to want to exercise? Well, first of all if we are healthy, we can take better care of our families. Ask any mother who is sick or overweight like me and they can tell you that even 10 extra pounds can make it harder to pick up your children or play with them. So being active is important in being there to care for your family. The second reason I see is related; if you are not healthy, you will not have the energy, strength or will to do any of the work that God has called you to do. It is about health, not image. It is a very practical reason to try our best to stay strong and healthy. Of course, you cannot be completely healthy without a good diet, so if you want to be truly strong, you will have to make careful choices about the foods you will eat and also feed to your family.

The last reason to work on your strength is something I mentioned before; our children will do what they see us doing. If we want our children to be healthy, i.e., eating healthy foods and getting the exercise they need to be healthy, then we must set the example. Let them see you walking or working in your backyard. Better yet, if they are old enough, hand them a small shovel or rake and get them involved. Work alongside your children in the same way you play with them. Teaching your children to work and thereby being healthy, is of a much greater importance to them in the long run than teaching them to play. Just think of how much time you as an adult spend playing during the day. Is it really going to serve your children well to be taught how to do something well that in later years they will spend very little time doing? That is not say that play time is not important, but it should be play that will not just serve a fun purpose but also a practical one. Playing dolls can teach your daughters about being a good mommy. Playing video games just teaches them to sit and mechanically repeat motions.

I would challenge each of you to evaluate what you do regarding activity both as a mom and as a family; is there something you can do that would be productive for you and your children that would also serve as exercise time? Are there playtime activities that your children can also be learning from? The goal is to be active instead of passive. Pray and ask God to show you just what you can do to be more active in your lives and see what a great, big world He opens up to you!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Strength and Honor are Her Clothing

“She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple…Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.”

The word used here for clothing is the same Hebrew word both times, so I thought it fitting that we talk about both kinds of clothing that we wear. The first kind is in verse 22, “her clothing is silk and purple.” The silk there is the word "byssus" and since I had no idea what that was, I borrowed the definition from Wikipedia; “An exceedingly fine and valuable textile fibre and fabric known to the ancients; apparently the word was used, or misused, of various substances, linen, cotton, and silk, but it denoted properly (as shown by recent microscopic examination of mummy-cloths, which according to Herodotus were made of βύσσος) a kind of flax, and hence is appropriately translated in the English Bible 'fine linen'.” In other words, it is fine white flax from Egypt. The purple is not a type of fabric but rather a very colorfast dye in a reddish purple shade. So basically she is dressed in quality garments and yet very simple. Linen is not your fanciest fabric, it is quite simple actually. But her clothing is well made from good materials. We don’t see any ornamentation mentioned. No gold or silver fabrics. Just what is feminine and pleasing.

In verse 25, we see what her “inner clothing” looks like. She is clothed with strength, meaning might or power and honor. (The same word translated honor here is translated as majesty in Ps. 104:1, “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.”) She is clothed with prized virtues. No one can deny her worth.

I found it very interesting what is translated, “and she shall rejoice”, literally means to laugh at in contempt. In our day and age, we are ridiculed constantly for wanting to be keepers at home; wives and mothers who are willing to serve others instead of seeking our own way. We are told that that is not enough, that we should be doing something that will really contribute to the family instead of selfishly and faithfully, I might add, fulfilling our mission at home. But here we are told that the Proverbs 31 woman is able to sit back in times to come and see the folly in the ways of the world. She can laugh at those boasters who have laughed at her for all the times she “sacrificed” to stay at home and care for her family. She will be the one laughing in the end. This is not to say that our goal in life is to walk around telling others who mock “I told you so!” We are told to be humble. But you can rest assured that those who are willing to do things according to God’s plan and God’s will will be the ones who can “rejoice” when all is said and done.

May we all be content with simple outer garments and inner clothing that will shine in times to come!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Importance of Homemakers

This guest post which was written by my mom, does not follow our usually format for these devotionals, but I thought it was a fitting end to our discussion of the Proverbs 31 woman and homemaking. I hope you will be encouraged and inspired.

"So much depends upon the homemakers. I sometimes wonder if they are so busy now with other things that they are forgetting the importance of this special work…Because of its importance, we must not neglect our homes in the rapid changes of the present day. For when tests of character come in later years, strength to the good will not come from the modern improvements or amusements few may have enjoyed but from the quiet moments and the “still small voices” of the home. Nothing can ever take the place of this early home influence and as it does not depend upon externals, it may be the possession of the poor as well as of the rich, an heritage from all fathers and mothers to their children." Laura Ingalls Wilder

I read this quote while reading a book about Laura and it rings so very true. How many times do we busy ourselves with the unimportant to the neglect of our home, children & husbands? As you are reading through Proverbs 31, you’ll notice her every activity is focused on her family, what is best for them. She isn’t neglecting herself, but that certainly is not her focus. Ladies, it isn’t all about us.

Just what is so special about being a homemaker? If we are performing our roles according to God’s word, there is no job that has more value to a woman. First in order of importance is that we are being obedient to God. 1 Samuel 15:22-23 “…to obey is better than sacrifice…For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry”. God’s word tells us one of the roles of a woman is to …” be a keeper at home”, (Titus 2:4), literally, a guard or stayer at home. You can’t be a keeper at home if you are not there. Next, is the fact women are the only ones who can give birth to new life. What a privilege we have been given! God chose us specifically for that role from the beginning, to give birth to and raise godly seed. (Malachi 2:15) Again, we can’t raise godly seed if the children are not under our tutelage. As Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house and when thou walkest by the way, and then thou liest down, and when thou risest up”. This scripture gives the connotation that they must first be with us and second it is going on continually, in everything we do. If we are not home and/or they are not home, this scripture cannot be obeyed. We are the vehicle God has chosen to pass along his spiritual heritage. He has given the responsibility for raising godly seed to the parents. Nowhere in scripture do we find any other indication. Those who do not heed this, do so to their children’s demise. And finally, why limit yourself to one out-of-the-home occupation, when you can have many. There is no other job in the world you can do so many different things and be completely creative at it. I can’t begin to list all of the “occupations” I’ve had as a wife/mother/woman over the years. There are definitely some I am fonder of than others, but what a privilege to have the freedom to try them all. Each day is different and I have the freedom to make the day a blessing. One of my favorite roles is teacher. I have home schooled for 29 years, and watched as God has enhanced many a lesson by bringing elements in that I hadn’t even considered. Through all my planning, He is still in control. Praise be to God!!!

No, the importance of a homemaker cannot be emphasized enough. What better place to utilize the gifts God has given you to the fullest extent. And what better way to pass them on, blessing future generations and leaving a godly heritage for others to follow. Do not allow the world’s philosophy to taint or sour you on what God says about being a homemaker.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman?

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

As I was reading through Proverbs 31 today, it hit me that we have not talked about the value of the kind of woman we are training our daughters to be and our sons to look for. We have talked a lot about what she looks like day in and day out and how to become like her. So today we will be talking about what this kind of woman looks like both from her description here and from a great example we have in the Bible.

First we have to understand what the Bible means by virtuous. Its synonyms are uprightness, integrity and strength. A woman who has these things is one that you can’t put a value on. She is priceless. She has the integrity to keep her character intact, to keep her husband from being concerned about what she is doing when he is not there, and to be trusted with the training of their children. This is why her husband can safely trust her. She is a woman of worth. As Proverbs 12:4 says, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband”.

We can see this kind of woman in action not just here in Proverbs 31 but also in the book of Ruth. Ruth makes promises to her mother-in-law and keeps them, regardless of how much work and hardship that means for her; she is a woman that can be trusted. She works hard and without complaint; she is a woman of industry. She makes a good impression on a worthy man and willingly follows her mother-in-law’s instructions regarding her interactions with him; she is a woman of virtue. And she waits for him to accomplish his plan for winning her for himself without interjecting her own ideas; she is a woman of patience and faith. I would encourage you to read through the book of Ruth this weekend. It is short but compare what we have been learning about what a truly Godly woman looks like from Proverbs 31, with Ruth’s example of a real life woman of God. I think you will find that they are very much the same.

One last thought on the worth of a Proverbs 31 woman; we are willing to spend all kinds of money to buy expensive jewelry, cars, houses and many other things that won’t last, but are we willing to spend the time and money that it takes to train our daughters to be women of integrity and virtue and our sons to seek out a woman who is worth more than her “face” value? When we read that this woman’s price is far above rubies, it doesn’t mean that your son will have to pay lots of money to keep her in the latest styles. Nor should we teach our daughters to expect a man who will make a certain amount of money or live a certain kind of house. All that she needs is a man who will do what it takes to care for his family, which is an attitude of the heart not a number with a certain amount of zeros after it. And when we are telling our sons what to look for in a wife, we need to show them how to identify a woman of strength, virtue and integrity who will be willing to do what it takes to support her husband. These are the things that make a woman, a worthy wife and mother.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

She Stretches Out Her Hand to the Poor

“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.”

Now we come to the part that everyone has been waiting for, finally the Proverbs 31 woman is walking out her front doors and entering the “real world”. She’s finally showing us Christian service and giving us something we can do for God. She will now begin true service and enter the ranks of the blessed Christians throughout history who have given all to serve God whole-heartedly! But before we start out on this grand adventure, a question; does the verse say she leaves home to care for the poor? Doesn't the old saying say, "Charity begins at home"?

Now you may think I’m just trying to be funny, but if you have heard anyone talk about the Proverbs 31 woman lately, it probably sounded something like that. You see, the enemy has deceived us into thinking that we have to go somewhere to be serving God. Staying at home couldn’t possibly be serving like a missionary serves or like a pastor or someone who works outside the home and can share with co-workers. Or can they? Some of us in the church are taught from a young age that motherhood was somehow a job of lesser importance. When I was a kid in Sunday School, many years ago, our teacher asked us one day what we wanted to be when we grew up. There was of course the usual policeman, fireman kind of answers, which were all given a standard, “that’s nice” reply. Then one girl said she wanted to be a mom. The teacher got very quiet and asked her if was something else she wanted to be too, as if motherhood was not enough. I don’t remember the girl's reply but I remember thinking smugly to myself that I wanted more than just being a mom. When my turn came, I proudly announced I wanted to be a missionary. That got high praise from our teacher.

I think some of us as moms feel that way even now. We think that because our service happens in our own four walls that it is somehow inferior to what happens in the “real world”. What I didn’t know at 8 was that God would use me as a missionary. But I wouldn’t be traveling to faraway lands and speaking foreign languages to do it, I would be teaching the Bible to children, who are eager to learn and training them to love and serve God will all their hearts so that when they grow up they will be strong and firm in the Word and willing to stand up for Jesus wherever they are. My mission field is much smaller than I had dreamed, but it is just as sweet to see a little child begin lisping out a prayer as it is to see anyone come to the Lord on foreign soil, especially if that child is your own.

Now, to return to our devotion for the day!

The verse, when read literally, says, “She gives bountifully out her hand to those who don’t have much; she stretches out both of her hands to the afflicted poor.” In other words, she is always ready to give where there is a need, big or small.

All of us can find ways to give. The opportunities are all around us. Most of us think of money when we think of giving, but sometimes giving may mean a meal to a sick friend or yard work for someone who can’t do it for themselves or maybe it is gathering clothing and food for a displaced family. Some don’t have an abundance of money to give away, but we can all practice charity, which is what this verse is showing us. Whatever it is that God lays on your heart to do, do it and do it with a cheerful heart. (II Cor. 9:7)

Part of what we are called to do as believers is follow James 1:27 which says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” As a church body, we are to care for the fatherless and widows around us. This is another way to give bountifully.

The point is to do what you can. And let God bless you and those around you with what He has given to you to give away on His behalf. And what a blessing that is in and of itself.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

She Considers a Field

“She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.”

Here again we see the Proverbs 31 woman showing us her pattern of industry. She is searching constantly looking for ways to bring assistance to her husband by finding new methods of saving and earning money, all the while never leaving her home duties to do so. Her focus remains steady and unmovable and yet she does not stand still waiting for someone else to do her work for her.

To consider means to devise a plan; she doesn’t buy this land frivolously but very carefully works out how she will pay for it and what she plans to use it for. Her goal is to bless her husband and her family, not to burden them with debt. Furthermore, she pays for it with money she has earned by economy and using her time wisely. This is not the kind of woman who runs to her husband with every need, overburdening him with financial requests. She saves and uses that savings not for her own wants, but to contribute to the family’s needs and wants. Planting a vineyard helped provide her family with wine; to drink for enjoyment, for medicine and even for sacrifice to the Lord. To apply this to our own lives, we can look for ways to use our resources to contribute to the needs of our families. For example, if you have a house full of growing children and those children are eating you out of house and home, well what better way to help out than to plant a garden! And as part of that garden, plant a few herbs to help with sicknesses. Most likely you don’t have extra money lying around to buy a field, so use your backyard. Starting small is just fine as long as you start somewhere. And hopefully as your garden produces more and more, you will have extra to sell to neighbors or friends, so you can put away that extra to continue the cycle. Or you could barter with a friend who raises animals to get fresh meat or eggs or milk. In this way, you are not only saving the money you would spend on fruits and vegetables, but also on other food items.

The point is that we can all find ways to save a little here and there with careful planning. We have talked before about menu planning. Maybe for you, it will all start there. Careful planning of meals will help you save money and also help you feed your family healthier food. The key is in the planning. Consider what it is that is important to you and your family and find a way to make that happen. Pray that God will show you new ways to save and plan. And use what you are able to save for the benefit of your family. Won’t your husband be surprised and rise up to bless you!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

She Works Willingly with Her Hands

“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.”

Here we see the Proverbs 31 woman again working to provide for the needs of her family. While we are not told who she is weaving for, we have already seen how she toils for her family and I’m sure that if she had extra, she could always sell it or give it away to the poor. It was the custom of the day for even rich women to take up all kinds of occupations within the home to care for and support their families. The point is that her family comes first. She is not looking to sacrifice her family’s comfort and care to provide the needs of someone else’s family. Each wife and mother is first responsible for their own family. And if you have extra time or goods, then you can pass them on to someone who needs it. In other words, there is no reason to let your family go hungry or without clothing while you provide for someone else’s husband or children.

As I was looking up the words in the verse; there were two that struck me in particular. The first was seeks. It means to apply one’s self, to study or to practice. She doesn’t just look casually around and pick what items look good to her. She studies what is best, where to find it, and with practice, she learns how to save time and money too. And it is also worth noting that these are not finished products that the verse is talking about. These are raw materials that she will have to spin and weave herself to make things. So it may also be that she has to study how to grow and harvest these raw materials. And if she grows them herself, she will need to know what types of flax will grow best in her area, what kinds of sheep will produce the kind of wool she wants to use. All these things take time to learn. And there will be plenty of time for her to practice and hone her skills.

The second word that I found interesting was willingly; literally it means delight or pleasure. She takes delight or pleasure in working with her hands. It is not drudgery to her nor is it just another chore to be completed so she can do what she really wants to do. She takes pleasure in her work. We too should take pleasure in serving our families and in working with our hands. Granted most of us don’t spin or weave, but for most of us, we have other chores that we dislike. And I don’t expect that just by telling yourself you now take delight in washing dishes or laundry or changing another diaper that your attitude will change. It will take time and prayer to truly begin to take pleasure in these things. It always helps me to find something good about the chores I don’t like. For example, I’m not a fan of folding laundry. I would rather let it sit there and wear clothes out of the basket, rather than fold it. But I remind myself that I hate even more seeing all that laundry just sitting in my laundry room. Because of that, I am learning to take delight in folding, knowing that my home looks more neat and clean if I do.

So my challenge to you all for today is to find something that you need to start taking delight in doing for your family. Yours may be washing dishes, it maybe homeschooling, it may be ironing. Whatever the Lord lays on your heart, begin with that area. Start by praying that God will change your heart and then find things about that chore to be thankful for. Maybe you can memorize a scripture to remind you of why you are doing that chore. Find some way to help you remember why you are doing what you are doing and give the glory to the Lord while you work!

Monday, March 15, 2010

She Brings Her Food from Afar

Today we have our next guest blog. This one was written by my mom. She doesn't have a blog of her own, but feel free, if you have questions, to email me and I will pass them along. Since she doesn't have a blog, I thought I would give her just a bit of introduction. She and my dad have been married for 32 years. They have 7 children ages 29-4 and 6 grandchildren with one more on the way. She loves gardening, nutrition and raising her children. I hope you are blessed by this.

“She is like the merchants ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

The wife of this passage wants only the best food for her family and she is willing to get it from “afar”. I don’t believe this means extravagant food, for the translation is bread or grain, fruit, vegetables, meat. These are the basics of good nutrition. She wants good quality food that is going to keep her family healthy. How far we have fallen from good food in this nation, even though we have been blessed with an abundance of it. As we women have taken up roles God never intended we have, we have neglected the ones we were given, in this case, feeding our families properly. I encourage you to do a little research into the way our food is grown and what we have done to destroy the nutritional value of it. Most of the food on the grocery store shelves is so processed our bodies don’t even recognize it as food. And all the fake vitamins and minerals they try to add back in after they’ve destroyed the ones God put in to begin with, are being passed through with no benefit to us, and in some cases they are harmful. If we are concerned about keeping our families healthy, we need to buy quality food and sometimes that means bringing it from afar. Stick with the basics as close to the way God created them as possible. No GMOs, chemical fertilizers, or pesticides. Make your meals from scratch, use lots of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and meats without antibiotics. Make your desserts with honey, maple syrup or whole cane sugar (ground sugar cane). Bake your own cookies, cakes, etc…instead of buying them or making them from box.

For those who are feeling overwhelmed, start small. Choose one area at a time to work on. Maybe it will be making your own bread, desserts, or even just buying organic vegetables or fruits. But start somewhere. Every little bit will help. For others it may be the expense that is keeping you from changing. Find a good co-op or similar place to buy in bulk from. You will save money and be healthier in the long run. In actuality, if you are willing to be faithful in cutting out all the “bads” you will find it really isn’t more expensive. Those boxed cereals and bagged chips cost much more than their homemade alternatives. You might also try growing some of your own. You don’t need acreage. I heard of one family who turned under their front lawn and made a garden out of it. For those who do not have a yard, there are plenty of farmers markets popping up everywhere. Talk to the farmers and ask if they use chemicals, or GMO seeds. There are also u-pick farms. What a wonderful family outing! My children love to go to the u-pick farms and feel they are contributing to the family meals. They also love to help can, freeze, or dehydrate the bounty. Learn to buy in season and store away for out of season.

There are many ways to bring your food from afar. I encourage you to start today. This is an important role for women and area you can be completely creative. Just as our spirits need the wholesome food we find in God’s word to function properly, so do our physical bodies. When our bodies are feeble, weak or in pain, it is difficult, at best to focus on anything else. We are more vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks when we are weak, so keeping our bodies healthy and strong will enable us to accomplish what God has asked us to do.


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