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.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Practical Tips on Raising Godly Sons

Today is a first for my blog. We are having our first guest post. It was writen by my mother-in-law over at Domestically Inclined. Since she has raised two boys, and I have none, I thought I would ask her to share some of what she has learned about raising boys to be godly men. You can click here to read the entire post Practical Tips on Raising Godly Sons, but I will give you a little teaser to get you going.

"The Helpmeet and how to find her:

If your son has been listening to God’s heart and your advice on waiting for God to bring him a godly young lady, this can be a most lovely time. A good measure of a future husband is how the young man treats his mother at this point, for he will be treating his future wife the very same way soon. A Gentleman knows that gallantry is not dead. He opens the door, he stands when a young lady enters the room and he offers his seat up for her. He, like Jesus, loves her as his precious Bride.

Know the kind of woman God calls worth more than rubies, a virtuous woman who loves
God with all her heart, and will love and serve her Lord and husband and family all the days of her life. God gives young men a picture of this woman in Proverbs 31.

One good reason to marry is to serve the Lord better together as one, than separately. While your son is serving the Lord it is a good time to be watching and praying for the one! Of course Mom and Dad are on still on their knees praying for the same thing! He could be working so hard at this point that he may not even notice the godly young lady right under his nose! Not to worry, God is in control!"

Now head out and read the rest of the post and start training those young men...we're going to need some in about 20 years! :D

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beauty is Vain

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”

Favor here is gracefulness or grace of manner and it is a lie (fraud is another way of translating it). You may be graceful but it is an outward appearance and cannot show your true character in any way. Beauty is something pleasing to the eyes, something satisfying to look at. And yet it is transitory, temporary, a breath literally; nothing but a puff of air. We spent so much time making ourselves look good externally; doing our hair, putting on make-up, choosing the right outfit, so when others see us we will be pleasing to look at. The problem with that is the only person we need to be attractive to is our own husbands. I know of so many mothers who as soon as their daughters start asking for make-up, they take them to have their colors done and they think they are doing them such a great service by making sure they know how to apply make-up right, so they will “look their best”. Or they teach them how to find the right clothing for their figure. Or they show them what hair styles will flatter their face shape. And why? Whether they admit it or not, it usually has something to do with how the world will perceive you and most importantly, of course, catching that perfect man. But how perfect is he for our daughters if he can be won by mere outward painting and coverings? Is that really the kind of shallow person you want to lead your daughter's future and family? Or the kind we want to lead our families? And if you can “catch” him with your outward appearance, what will keep the next pretty girl from doing the same?

We must strive to teach our children to place their trust in a God who will last, to live in such a way that their lives will have precious jewels to show for them, instead of things that will be consumed in the end, like wood, hay and stubble. (1 Cor. 3:10-15) If we put our focus on things that can be destroyed, defaced and marred, things that are fleeting, then we are not giving them the training they need, to know how to please the Lord. God doesn't love us because we are pretty. We are not out to please our friends, our church, our family, we are here to please the Lord.

We need to teach our sons to seek a woman whose beauty is in her heart; one with a meek and quiet spirit, one who fears the Lord, and one who is willing to serve Him and her husband all the days of her life. Now I recognize that men are attracted to women by sight; they like pretty things. That is part of how God made them. But there is a difference between admiring something pretty and making all your choices based on that alone. As an example, my husband thinks I’m beautiful, but he will tell you that is not why he married me, if you have seen me, you know that is true. I am short, fat and I’m going grey before I'm 30. I have wrinkles on my face and I have been pregnant for almost all of our nearly 3 years of marriage. With two children 2 and under, sometimes I don’t look my best when he comes in the door. And yet he still comes home every night. It is because, and I say this because he says it, I have a heart that is committed to doing the Lord's will. I want to live to bless God and my husband. I want to serve them both with all my heart. As my physical appearance continues to fade, hopefully, my heart will grow closer to the Lord and because of that, I will be more and more beautiful in his sight with each passing day.

Now a godly husband will appreciate that you try to look your best for him. And you should. But if he is living the word, what will matter more is that you are looking your best on the inside, that you are a woman of virtue and strength of character. If your husband does not appreciate the godly woman you are trying to be on the inside, don’t nag, simply pray that God will change his heart and help him to see you as God does. Just don’t use that as a license to be a slob in the meantime!

We must teach our children to strive for things that will last. A woman that fears the Lord is someone who shows due reverence for Him, respect for His commands and a willing to do as commanded. This is the woman who is both worthy of praise and the one who will be celebrated for her virtue. This is what we should want for our daughters to become, what we want to hear said of them. This is what we should want our sons to seek out in a wife. And this is what we need to be focused on making a reality in our own lives. And that is a beautiful thing!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

She Speaks with Wisdom

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."

She speaks with kindness to her children, her husband, her servants. She does not speak idle words or words that will hurt someone for their thoughtlessness. When she speaks, it is not based on her emotions at the moment; she is careful with her words because she knows that words carry weigh and cannot be taken lightly. She considers her words and speaks with wisdom.

It is important as mothers to choose our words wisely. Our children will follow our lead and do as they see us doing. If we are short with our children, they will be short with each other. If we are bossy instead of speaking kindly and firmly, then they will be bossy too. If we yell or shout, they will yell and shout too. This is not to say that we don’t need to have authority over our children and there some differences in what we can and should say and what they as children are allowed to say. I am talking here about our attitudes as we speak.

As I was reading and preparing for this devotional, the Lord lead me to Psalm 145:8 which says; “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” I did word searches and found that to be gracious means to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior. In our homes, our children are under our authority, inferior in position to us. We need to be willing to bend with kindness towards them. Not to suspend discipline if and when it is needed, but if they want to talk to us or have need that we can meet, we need to take the time to do that. We get busy with chores or talking on the phone or working on the computer and we get frustrated when we get interrupted by our children, then they act up and we discipline them for being naughty. If we would have taken the time to listen to them, we could have answered them, either yes or no, and could have avoided making them frustrated too. It will take a little extra discipline on our parts, but if that is what we are trying to teach our children, shouldn’t we be exhibiting it ourselves? A note of clarification, there will be times when the children have to wait for mommy’s attention. And that is more training you will have to do. But you need to be careful not to use this as an excuse to keep doing what you want to do.

It is also worth noting that the word used for great there in Ps. 145, refers to being older or wiser. We are the ones who have the experience which we can draw on. They do not. They are counting on us to do what is right so they can learn from our wisdom. Let’s take the time to pass that wisdom on. Our children learn from us how to deal with tough situations, and if all we show them is anger or yelling or sarcasm, we are not training them properly. They can do all that on their own. We are born angry and selfish; we have to train that out of them.

So how are we to do this? The answer is we need to evaluate what things make us angry. Do we get most angry when we are on the phone? On the computer? In the grocery store? Once you know when you are most likely to get frustrated with your children, then you can develop a way to deal with it. For some, just knowing that that will make them angry is enough. They will be on their guard for what could set them off. For some, it will be to memorize a scripture that speaks about speaking kindly, like Proverbs 31:26 or Psalm 145:8. For some, it means taking a moment to stop yourself and just wait to respond. The key is to find a way that you can control your reactions before your emotions get the better of you.

Most importantly of all, be in prayer. God will help you do what He has asked you to. And He will show you the way too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clothed in Scarlet

“She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.”

As we were talking about yesterday, you can’t underestimate the importance of organization in the home. In this verse we see the Proverbs 31 woman is not worried about what her family will wear because she has planned ahead for their clothing needs. To give you an example of what this may look like practically; at the end of a season, say winter, my mom looks at what she has set aside for each of her children for the next winter or the next size up and decides what she will need to buy for them to make it through the following winter. Then since it is the end of the season and there are clearance sales everywhere, she picks up the items she knows they will need to be well-clothed at clearance prices. You can do this by shopping at thrift stores, or sewing their clothes yourself as well. Whatever method you chose, it is always good to be prepared.

As you begin to do these things, involve your children, especially your daughters. When they are young, they may only be able to help with counting how many socks are in a stack or telling you what colors of items you have set aside, but as they get older, involve them in the planning stages. Have them help you plan their wardrobes for the next year. Have them help you make a list or have them make a list of their own and review it with them, making suggestions about how they can improve their plan. Then take them shopping or shop online and let them pick out those new clothes. Make sure to give them guidelines to use as they choose. Give them examples of acceptable styles and let them chose the colors they like. At first you may have to guide them to matching items or styles but as they get older, they will develop a sense of color coordination and style all their own. These are just some suggestions of how to get them involved; the goal is to train our children, especially our daughters how to do the things that they will need to do for their own families someday. Be creative! Find a way that works for you and your family and have fun with it!

Another way to get your children involved is to have them help with the sewing. When they are younger, you may teach them how to sew on buttons. I remember being about 6 or 7 and she would hand me my dad’s work shirts so I could sew buttons back on them. I was so proud of being able to help my dad and once I sewed those buttons on, they never came off again! I made sure of it. The point is let them help where they can. As they get older, teach them how to use a sewing machine and let them make their own clothes or clothes for their little siblings if they want to. Sons should learn this too. Basic sewing will be a much appreciated skill if they are ever living on their own and need repairs done to their clothing. And it will save them money.

Before we stop for today, I want to share one interesting note on the text, for those who wondered like I did. I was always confused as to why being clothed in scarlet was so important in the winter. It means literally, double or to be doubly dressed. In other words it’s talking about layering. Her family has enough clothing that they can layer their clothes and stay warm in the cold weather.

May God bless you all as you strive to better care for your families and as you continue to build homes that will honor the Lord.

"Every wise woman buildeth (lit.establish or cause to continue) her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1

Monday, March 8, 2010

She Rises While it is Yet Night

Just a note before we begin. Last night as I was reading through our chapter again, God lead me to this verse for today’s devotional. So far I have been able to write in the mornings before the girls wake up. Today was different. They were up early and I couldn’t bear to sit and write about what a good wife, mother and homemaker looks like while my little ones needed my attention. So I apologize for the lateness of this blog, but I figured if I am going to practice what I have been learning, I’d better care for my family first.

“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.”

To me, there are two lessons that stood out in this passage. The first one is that she is willing to do what it takes to care for her family. She’s not afraid of getting up early serve them. Sometimes the only time we have to get things done is when the children are in bed. For our family, the time after the children go to bed at night, is time for my husband and I. So that leaves mornings before they are up or during naptime to get extra things done. Sometimes this is time for cleaning, sometimes for sewing and sometimes for reading. The point is that as mothers, we have to take what time we have, to do all the things on our to-do-list. We need to be willing to take the time when we have it, without taking it away from our family time.

The second lesson is that we can’t underestimate the importance of, is organization in the home. While I understand that some of us are naturally gifted with organizational skills, most of us have to work at being organized. I grew up in a very organized home. I am not organized and as you can imagine, I was sure that when I got married, we were not going to have schedules in my home! Now that I have two little ones and a third one on the way, I can honestly say, much to my mother’s delight, that there is no way I could make it through a day without a schedule of some kind. Now, to be scheduled does not mean that you have to wake up at 6, have breakfast at 8, clean at 9, etc…every day exactly the same. Some may find that kind of schedule possible but I don’t. I get frustrated when my schedule gets messed up and with babies, there is no way I will be able to follow that kind of a schedule all the time. So if you are like me, your schedule may look something like this: wake up, shower, start laundry for the day, feed the baby, change and dress both girls, make breakfast, etc… You will notice that there are no times listed on my daily schedule. That is because sometimes the girls wake up earlier and sometimes they don’t. I follow an order of events instead of timing myself. That way I know what I need to do for the day but I’m not stressed out if we are getting up at 9 and eating breakfast at 11. Find the method that works for you and your family and do your best to stick to it. You will be surprise at just how much help being organized brings to your day.

Another important thing to spend the time planning for are meals. This will help in so many ways; you will save money when grocery shopping if you know what you are making for the week or month and only buy what you need and you won’t have to stand in front of the fridge right before dinner, trying to figure out what you are going make because you have list of meals ready to chose from. I have tried both ways and I have found the great benefits to planning ahead. Now I’m working on planning ahead for breakfasts and lunches too but it is a process for me. So I’m taking it one step at a time. Do what you can with what you have and your abilities.

We will talk more about planning ahead tomorrow, when we cover verse 21, but for now, ask the Lord to help you find where your weak areas are and start working on a plan to bring more organization to your home. The goals in being organized are bring a calm and peace to your home and freeing you to better serve your family and others. Children especially need the assurance that they know what to expect in their days and not just when they are babies. If they know what to expect and what is expected from them, they will be much more calm and helpful without having to try to motivate them all day long. They will know when to expect meals, when school starts each day, when they are to take a nap. So with a little planning on our part, we can bless our children with a sense of security and stability in their lives.


Friday, March 5, 2010

She Looks Well to the Ways of Her Household

"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."

This verse probably should have been included with yesterday’s devotional, but it was pretty long already so I split it up into to two parts. Remember we were talking about the Proverbs 31 woman taking care of her home so her husband is free to do something other than worry about what she is up to. Today we get to see a bit of the how she does this.

I love the practical. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you. It’s nice to hear all the great ideas and glowing dreams but if you are not taught how to apply it or if there isn’t a practical application, then it does no good and when you are looking for ways to grow closer to God truly, all the esoteric spouting in the world isn’t going to help you. It may sound pretty but then the sound fades and all you have is a faint impression you just missed something beautiful.

When we read that “she looks well” it means she’s paying attention very carefully to those around her. One way you could translate that phrase is “she observes accurately”. This is something that can’t happen when we are distracted by our own pursuits, by our own ambition, and it cannot happen in our own strength. Now, how accurately can we observe our homes if we are never in them? If we spend all our time out, whether that is out shopping, visiting, working, playing, whatever the case maybe, if we are not at home, we can’t see what is really going on. This is especially true with our children. If we only see our children for an hour or two a day and during that time we are in front of the TV or computer or they are working on homework, how much of what they are thinking, feeling or doing are you really able to see? I love how the verse doesn’t say anything about she talks to her children. Not that this is not important, but there is no way you will know what is really going on in your children’s lives if you don’t watch them. Kids lie, kids don’t know how to tell you what they are thinking sometimes. So if you can’t watch them to pick up on these things for yourself, you will be missing out on a huge part of parenting.

This watching goes for your husband too, in a different way. If you are again always busy outside your home with some form of activity, most likely you will be too tired yourself to observe your husband. I don’t think this will come as a shock to anyone but sometimes husbands have hard time communicating with us. So as wives we sometimes feel like we are left guessing what they are thinking. But I think if take the time to learn more about how our husbands think and feel through watching and sometimes asking a few questions, we will be able to anticipate what their needs are and how best to meet them. I’m sure most husbands come home tired from work, whether that is a mental or physical tiredness depends on their job, but they are tired and the last thing they want is more strain at home. I am not saying that husbands and wives don’t need to talk things over and verbally communicate. I am not suggesting that observation is a replacement for talking about the issues you are facing as a family or as a couple. What I am suggesting is, learning to tune in to when your husband needs a moment of silence to think or when he just wants you chose the curtain color because he doesn’t have an opinion about what color would look best with the walls and furniture. Try to involve him as much as he wants to be, but don’t add more stress to him by asking for more than that. Do what you can to make his home a place of refuge where he knows he will be listened to and cared for all the time. And where he doesn’t have to chose between soft gold and linen curtains.

The last part of the verse is just as important. First of all if you are consuming laziness (which is what eating the bread of idleness means), you aren’t paying attention to your home, plain and simple. There is a stereotype that all stay at home wives are bon-bon eating couch potatoes who watch soap operas and talk shows all day, or women whose life’s goal is to stick their nose into everyone else’s business. This is exactly the opposite of what we are learning here from the Proverbs 31 woman. She fills her day with work of all kinds and there is no time in her day for pettiness or waste. She is redeeming every moment.

What your days should be filled with depends on your individual family situation. But one of our biggest chores as women is maintaining a neat and clean home. Every husband has an idea of what they want their home to look like and it is our responsibility to try our best to keep it that way. Some like it spotless and some don’t care if there are three days’ worth of dirty dishes on the counter as long as dinner is on the table at 5. Now there are concerns about basic cleanliness which we are not here to discuss today but all that aside, you need to know what is most important for your family and make sure you do that faithfully every day. Where a lot of us get lost, is we do what we have to and then we head off for a play date or we go call a friend and sit around the rest of the day, or we find some way to spend our time having fun when really there are plenty of things we could be doing to better our homes and our family’s comfort. I know there are women out there who spend too much time on their homes and they need to relax some, but if we are being honest, most of us don’t fit into that category. For most of us, we want to do that we have to and then like we did when we were children, we want our play time. But what is our motivation for that? Do we really need a break? Or are we just being lazy and wanting to get out of more work?

I would encourage you to take sometime this weekend to read over again what we have talked about and as you pray about what God would have you change in your life, I hope that you take a moment to evaluate how you spend your time. Is there something more you can be doing to serve your husband or your family? Maybe for some that means giving up something that you have done for years. Maybe it’s just as simple as watching what is going on around you in your home. Whatever God shows you, apply it. Make it a practical part of your life. It will be a blessing you and your family and most of all, it will be a blessing to our Lord.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Her Husband is Known in the Gates

"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land."

Back in the time this chapter is talking about, the city gate was the place to conduct business and the place where trials were held and judgment was handed out. When it says that her husband sat with the elders, it doesn’t just mean that he sat there all day with a group of bored old men who were just trying to pass the time. These were the men who administered justice and her husband was one of them. From this we can learn that this was a man who had his house in order. Men in those days who were in positions of authority, had to have a reputation of keeping their own affairs under control. You didn’t see men in leadership whose wife or children were ill spoken of. His reputation was based on the conduct of his family as well as his own. His position of authority is at least partially dependant on his wife caring for his home. Because she keeps his house in order and manages it well, he is free to focus on judging the land and sitting with the elders, without fear of what is going on at home. He can trust her not to do things that would call either his or her integrity into question. This is another way his heart safely trusts her.

One last thing I want to note on this point. When we are talking about her husband sitting in the gates, no mention is made of her renown or that she was sitting next to him the whole time. The scripture does not say she is known in the gates. She doesn’t have a ministry of her own; she’s not a co-pastor or anything like that. It is her husband who is known. Her position is one of support, behind the scenes. She doesn’t need to be in front of the crowd to have her worth recognized and appreciated.

Besides, his children being well spoken of, there are more ways that the world can see just how well we take care of our husbands. When your husband left the house today, was he well dressed for his job? Did he have the clothing he needed clean and folded neatly? As women, we spend plenty of time thinking about what we are wearing and how to make our outfits neat and attractive. But how much time do we spend making sure our husbands shirts are ironed properly, are dry-cleaned when needed, or that his buttons are sewed on and his shoes are clean and polished? Our husbands are our public face in a way. It should be important to us how they look. I’m not suggesting that we all be vain about our husbands’ appearance and try to find ways to make him look like some kind of male model. I’m talking about making them presentable. Now I realize that some of you ladies have husbands who work in construction, or auto mechanics, or a delivery job, and they don’t have to meet the same dress standards as someone who works in a law office or a bank, but we can all make an effort to help our husbands be neatly dressed and look well-cared for.

Another way to help your husband look and be his best for his work day would be sending him off with a good breakfast. Now, again, I know there are some of you whose husbands work night shift, or graveyards, or that after being up all night with your newborn, you just don’t have the energy to make a big breakfast. As the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. If your husband works night shift, make sure he has a nice dinner that he can take with him or heat up at home before he goes to work. If you have a new baby, or sick children, make him extra of what you make the children for breakfast and set it aside for him to warm up the next morning. Find a way that works for you and your husband. If you don’t know what he would like, ask him for some suggestions. One of my husband’s favorite breakfasts is a peanut butter sandwich. I just make it up the night before and leave it on the stairs for him to grab on his way out the door. It doesn’t have to anything fancy. Just a little something to help him on his way. And as we all know, there is nothing that puts a smile on a man’s face quicker than a full stomach!

Prov. 12:4, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness to his bones.” May we be a crown to our husbands each and every day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

She Will Do Him Good

“She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."

Verse 12 continues by showing us how she continually seeks to find ways to benefit him and his vision, not just when it suits her or when it coincides with what she wants. This is not the kind of woman who spends all her time at the mall, or watching talk shows, or the kind who is constantly looking for “Me Time”. In fact, I challenge you to read the chapter and see just how many times we see her doing anything for herself. We see her serving her husband, her children, her household staff, her community. What we don’t see is her heading off to get a manicure or seeing a movie with her friends, or taking classes, or going to the gym, or any of the other things our culture tells us we need to be a good mom. Now before you start sending me emails about how you are free to do those things, etc… Let me say this. None of these things are a sin. What is a sin is when you let activities like these get in the way of your mission which is serving and caring for your family. Any activity can be a sin if you let it step between you and your calling; sewing, crocheting, reading, the list goes on and on. I just picked a few of my favorite things. Just because it is domestic, doesn’t mean you can do it whenever you feel like it. If I am crocheting when I should be making dinner for my family, it is sin. I am setting something up in a place of importance that should be taking a lower place at that moment. I am making a substitution of what can be a good thing for what is the best thing. The point is we all need to make sure we have our focus on God’s plan and God’s way of doing things. And we also need to remember that we are here to help and compliment our husbands in their life’s work. We can’t do that to the best of our ability if we are seeking our own goals, pleasure or comfort in what we do.

Another very important point is that she seeks his good not just when they are married but all the days of her life. And as our pastor loves to say, in Hebrew, all means all. That means before they are married, she is already seeking ways to bless him. Maybe this is just as simple as studying how to run a home, or how to train children in a Godly way. It may be learning to serve your father, and what better practice is there for your future! This is a very important part of training our daughters. They need to know how much value God places on faithfulness, not just in marriage but all our live and in all aspects. We must teach them to do what is right at all times, even when single. I personally spent quite a few years single. And even in all that time, I still find things that I wish I would have taken the time to learn. I wish I would have learned to quilt and knit and read up on how to train my children better. Teach your daughters to bless and serve their husbands now. It doesn’t get any easier as they get older. Show them by example what it looks like to be a faithful wife, whose husband safely trusts her and who seeks to do him good all her life.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Her Husband Safely Trusts Her

By way of clarification, I will be taking a topical approach for our study. It seems to make more sense so that we aren't covering the same things more than once. That is another reason that I am encouraging all of you to read the chapter for yourselves. That way you have an idea of the flow of the chapter, since we are changing the order a bit. This first week, we will be talking about how the Proverbs 31 serves her husband.

"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil."

In verse 11, we read that her husband can trust her and has no need for any other to fill his heart or home. The word "spoil" literally means prey or plunder. He doesn't need to go find wealth somewhere else, he knows his wife is frugal and will live within the income he provides. This is something we all need to strive to achieve. I'm not talking about being miserly or hoarding things; we will discuss generosity and caring for the poor later, but we are talking about using what you have wisely and not looking for more or nagging your husband because you don't have enough for what you want or think you need. Simply put, it is contentment. Your husband will not find you a refuge from the cares of his world if all he hears from you are complaints about how he doesn't make a good enough wage or what things your friend/sister/mother/etc... have that you don't. One suggestion is that instead of calling on him to solve some household concerns, we could try by economy to save the necessary funds to take care of the need without asking our husbands for more money.

It is important to note that the word for trust used in verse 11 means to hasten, or to speed to for refuge, to be confident or sure. Similarly, safely means a place of refuge. So we see that she is meant to be a place of security and refuge for him. After a day of being bombarded by work and the world, every man needs somewhere he can go where he knows he will be able to rest and relax.

So in conclusion, let us support our husbands by being the place they can come home to, where they can find a sympathetic ear and a warm heart. Someone they can trust, without reservation and without fear.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Welcome to Our Month with the Proverbs 31 Woman!

So today is the day! It's finally March and time to dig into the Word and learn what God has to say about being a Godly woman. I thought it might help to give you a basic schedule of what I plan to do, Lord willing!

I will post a devotional each day of the week, some longer, some shorter. Then on the weekends, when there won't be a new devotional, feel free to read the chapter again for yourself or take the time maybe you didn't have during the week, to catch up on what you may have missed. As wives and mothers, there are days when we don't have time to read more than one verse and meditate on that. Do what you can. There is no requirement in scripture to read a book a day, or even a chapter a day. If you can do those things, do it. If all you truly have time for is a verse, be faithful to read and study that verse. I'm not here to pressure anyone to take time away from their families. If you have time when the little ones are asleep or while your husband is at work, please come and read and be encouraged. If you can't, don't feel burdened or guilty; just do what God gives you for that day.

To start things off, I want to encourage you all to read Proverbs 31:10-31 for yourselves. See what God will show you just from reading it. Write down questions you have and pray for the answers as you go about your chores. If there is one verse that sticks out to you, commit it to memory, so you can dwell on it all day. Sing it to your children, share with your daughters what you are learning so they can become Godly women themselves and teach it to your sons so they will know what they are looking for in a future wife. Think of ways to apply what you have learned from those few verses in practical ways. The Bible is meant to be our textbook for life, and its advice is always practical. We should use it practically. If you have any questions as we are studying together, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at: I will do my best to answer promptly.

As part of this month of learning what it means to be a woman of God and a woman of the home, I'd like to recommend a book that I have found to encourage Godly womanhood in our daughters. It's out of print but you can find it on Amazon, When I'm a Mommy. It's a paraphrase of Proverbs 31 for little girls. My mom bought it for me when I was very young and now I read it to my daughters. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to let me know about those too!

God bless you all as we begin this journey. May He reveal Himself to us all each and everyday and may we begin to live what we learn!


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