Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Be back soon...

I've not been feeling well. I'll be back posting away when I can sit for a while without the room spinning and turning colors.

Monday, September 24, 2007

To Be Content

"Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

11 "O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will build you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with sapphires.

12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.

13 All your sons will be taught by the LORD,
and great will be your children's peace.

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
and this is their vindication from me,"
declares the LORD." Isaiah 54:10-13,17

"I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:10-12

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." 1 Timothy 6:6-8

The world we live in today teaches us to not be content. Everyday we are told about the next great thing that we need to have, or we see that the neighbors have the latest and greatest and we should have that too. We are taught that everything is about money and wanting more of it so that we can have more stuff. We are told that it's okay to work ourselves to death in pursuit of money, because that money is going to buy us the happiness we want. It's a vicious cycle. Because even if we get to the dollar figure we have in mind, we find we want even more and by the world's standards, we'll never truly be happy until we have it all.

Being content is something that truly needs to be learned. I'll admit to going in spurts where I feel content, but then those thoughts will start creeping in and I'll want more again. It's a back and forth battle for me, but I am learning. I certainly do desire to be content with what we have and where we are. In fact, right now Andy is very actively pursuing a job that is going to be a significant pay cut from the one he has. But he'll be happier there. He'll be able to work less grueling hours, and he'll have time in the evenings to take care of business at church- something he hasn't been able to do. It's not a for sure job yet, but we both really feel that God has steered him in that direction for a reason.

To be content. It sounds like such a simple and basic thing to reach for. Yet it isn't, it's something that is actually difficult to obtain. This past weekend we took the kids to a nearby park to play. The kids were thrilled. They spent hours exploring the woods and trees and playing on the play equipment. We went on nature hikes and rolled down hills. It was a blast. We needed nothing to spend the afternoon at the park. It didn't take money or the latest and greatest in stereo equipment. It truly was a perfect day, and we were content. It's a day to hold onto, to remind us what is important now, and that is family and God. There is nothing more important.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Without Faith...

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

This just hit me as a "verse of interest" today. Lets start with the second part. Anyone who comes to him must believe he exists. That's kind of the first step, isn't it. Anyone who's decided to give their heart to God first has to wrestle with his existence. Do they believe he exists? That he created everything and gave us the choice to follow him of our own free will. Ultimately, as a person makes the decision to give their heart to God, they have made that choice. They have decided that yes, God does exist, and I believe in him and his son Jesus.

And then usually after that initial meeting our desires grow more intense. We want to know more, we want to spend more time with God, so we earnestly seek Him in His Word, and in prayer, and in fellowship with others. Because we are earnestly seeking more time with God we are rewarded with more. We get that time we so crave and so desire.

Then we get back to the beginning of this verse. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Because we've come to know God and have relished the time in his presence, we do have a desire to please God, to do everything we can to help share his love with others. But then a crisis will take place. Something that makes us question our faith, or we find ourselves in a place where we are completely reliant on God to take care of us, and doubt begins to creep in. Will God really provide what I need? Questions and doubt come to the surface, and we're no longer pleasing God because our faith has faltered. Hebrews clearly states that without faith, pleasing God is not possible. So what are we to do in those times?

Well, we are to pray. Wholeheartedly, asking for help restoring our faith. And we turn to God's Word to help remind us of his faithfulness to us.

" Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

"My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;" Psalm 121:2-3

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Rains

"Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before." Joel 3:23

This verse gave me a chuckle today. We spent so much of summer with dryness...with dead brown grass and plants, and the other day I was pushing Zander on the swing and thinking how wonderful the green grass was. How lovely that God granted us a little more time with the green stuff before fall started rolling in. And while the trees and bushes and plants are all starting to get that coppery tinge to them, I love the green grass while we have it.

He sends abundant showers in autumn and spring- and isn't that the truth. We get all the rain in the spring to help set seeds and encourage the plants to grow. Then we get all the rain in the fall to give nutrients back to the ground after a long growing season, and to prepare the ground for next spring. The miracle of life is certainly not wasted on me. Even though I know the science behind it, it still fascinated me that God created such an ecosystem. Every part of it is intricate and works together, from the weather to the insects. It takes an amazing God to design the endless variety of plants, and the endless variety of plants for every climate!

We have an amazing and great God who can do anything! Anything! Whether that be creating a new species of plant, or providing a new job- he can do it, and today I will be clinging to that, and the idea that he will do so, because we've asked him so heartily for it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Love This Verse

"Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

It doesn't say if you can believe, most things are possible, or some things are possible. It says all things. ALL. It's like those if/then statements that you learn in grade school, cause and effect. If this happens, then this will be the result.

So the first step is to believe. That can be the hardest part for many people. First they have to believe that something can happen. I know for me that can be a bit of a stretch sometime. Like right now, actually. Andy's job is kind of on the line right now. He doesn't even know if he'll have work next week. He has an option or two on the horizon, but he is so confident that soon he'll have the answers he needs and will be set with a job for the future. That's so hard for me to believe! We've spent forever being uncertain about his jobs and his future, that just like that he will be certain is a tough one for me. Yet this verse says it is possible.

This is a struggle for me, and I've been praying a lot on it, but still, there is part of me who wonders if we're not done struggling yet. If we still have lessons to learn about faith and God's provision, and if to learn those lessons we have harder times to get through. I need to take this verse and hold it close to my heart to remind me. All I need to do is believe and it can happen. I need to believe that God does provide for us and that it's time for him to provide the job that Andy so desires. *sigh* Sometimes life lessons are truly difficult.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Listening to the Holy Spirit

You know... that tug, that prompting, that voice in your head that says "don't.." or perhaps it's the voice that says "yes, do that with all your heart." Or "See that? So and so needs it. Buy it for them." Sometimes that voice isn't rational, or doesn't make sense, but it is important to listen to it. I hear that voice most often when I'm thinking about shopping. I've come to trust that voice and listen to it. When I'm thinking that I need something, and I should go buy it, I'll hear a voice that clearly says no, stay home today. And I will. That voice has helped me many a time stay away from temptation. That's the Holy Spirit talking to me. Once upon a time I asked God to help me stop my crazy shopping habits, and he's helping me through the Holy Spirit.

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." 1 Corinthians 2:11-13

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26

"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." Jude 1:20-21

I've learned to be open to what the Holy Spirit suggests. Someone will come to mind and I will feel a need to pray for them. Most times, I never find out if that prayer was needed or if that person was going through something. Yet it's still a learning process. At church right now we are learning to be generous... I think we also need to be generous with our prayers and our heart. It takes mere seconds to lift up a heartfelt prayer to God, and that's what he wants from us. He wants us to pray for others and pray for those in need. Yes, he wants us to help them as well, I'm certain about that. And by learning to listen to the Holy Spirit, perhaps we can better hone in on what someone truly needs. Maybe they just need an ear to listen to them- so we need to be generous with our time sometimes too.

The Holy Spirit is our guide. Our helper. When in doubt, we can ask the Holy Spirit for help. "Holy Spirit, help me make this decision, should I or shouldn't I..." It's wonderful to me that God gave us this Holy Spirit to help us in times of decision making.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:26,27

Monday, September 17, 2007

Proverbs 31:31

"Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate" Proverbs 31:31

Well, after the previous 20 verses that we've explored, I should say that this woman deserves every drop of praise. Something to keep in mind as we finish this up is that this woman did not become the way she is overnight. It's not as if she left her parents and immediately was perfect in everything- constantly busy and working to honor her husband and family. In fact, this woman developed over time, and no doubt, learned from many, many mistakes. We know she is renowned for her provision of food and clothing. But how many disasters do you think she went through? How many garments were not fit to be worn before she got the hang of it. Or how many pots of stew did she have to toss before finding the one that her family liked.

One of the things I've enjoyed so much about studying these verses is that it shows the potential. It shows that with hard work, perseverance, and a firm foundation that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to. With the character traits of this woman in my mind I can do my best to apply them to my everyday life. That certainly doesn't mean an overnight transformation. Tomorrow I am not going to wake a new woman with endless energy and abilities that I didn't have today. Every day is still going to be a challenge to get myself motivated to get up from this computer chair or put down that book and do something productive.

It seems that for me, the study of this chapter in the Bible could not have timed out better. Our small group is just beginning a study on Time Management, which truly goes hand in hand with this wonderful woman. Our church is also doing a study on finances and opening up oneself to giving to God more. This woman embraced those in need- and I imagine that included her place of worship. I think by lumping all of this together, I'm going to be getting quite the education. But at the forefront of my mind as I study time and money management is going to be this wife of Noble character. How can I apply the lessons of time management to what this woman wants to teach me.

I have another verse here to keep in mind as I apply the lessons I've learned here.

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
someone else, and not your own lips." Proverbs 27:2

I think this is important, because it's also a reminder to be humble. To not glorify the good things and the hard work I do, but to let my work speak for itself. Pride is not a character trait we found in this woman, and as I perhaps reach the point of attainment of one of the characters, it is important to remember where that came from. That is was God who blessed me with that ability, and not myself. May I keep the lessons of this Godly woman at the forefront of my mind and use it to help apply other important lessons to my life. May I become the woman that God wants me to be, and the woman that my husband and children need me to be.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

When I think about my college days...boy charm sure is deceptive. A simple way to think of charm could be, at times, similar to flirting. Saying just the right things in just the right way with just the right look on your face to get exactly what you want. Although I should also admit that sometimes charm is used for good and not evil- in the case of reassuring someone maybe, as long as it's not false reassuring.

And outward beauty...certainly can be fleeting. I don't think I need to explain that much. But according to 1 Peter 3:3-4, beauty can come come from within.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

I know we've all seen elderly women who are simply radiant. Their skin may be wrinkly and sagging, and their bodies slow and stooped over, but they have a beauty that comes from within- perhaps their eyes have a gleam and a sparkle. That's the beauty that comes from a lifetime of loving God. And from being a woman who fears God- as seen in the second part of this verse today. I want to share some other Proverbs that talk about the fear of the Lord.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1:7

"To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech." Proverbs 8:13

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10

"Humility and the fear of the LORD
bring wealth and honor and life." Proverbs 22:4

The fear of The Lord. That's a mighty thing to discuss, and I don't know that I have the words to try and do it justice. But Our God is a great and mighty God, and he is worthy to be praised- and feared. Think about it. He decided he didn't like the earth as it was, so he flooded it. Just cause he felt like it. Angering God is a very bad choice, I have to say, just look at Sodom and Gomorrah. In a blink of an eye he wiped out every scrap of city because they chose to live against his wishes. Fearing the Lord is a great thing. It's an important thing. It causes reverence. When I think of reverence, once again I think of stories I've read set in different times and eras, and I think of a woman who keeps her eyes downcast, who is humble and honors her husband by keeping her eyes from wandering.

Do I fear God? I certainly fear life without him. I would say I have fear- a healthy fear. And I do worry sometimes, after I've made a bad decision if I'm going to be punished somehow. But it always comes back to know that I know that He loves me. Just as a child fears their parents and retribution for bad behavior. A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. I don't know that I'd go that far- I certainly don't desire praise, not do I think I deserve it, but to fear the Lord that much...that is something worth striving for.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Character Counts.

"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all." Proverbs 31:29

This verse is a follow-up to yesterday's verse. These are the actual words the husband says about his wife. This is the praise that he bestows upon her. Essentially he is saying that many women do their tasks and do them well, but because of her character, this woman is the best. His wife is above all the other women because her character makes it that way.

Let's look at many of the character traits we've discovered throughout these verses.

A Godly Woman is:

She brings her husband honor
Hard Working
She has dignity
She is not idle

And tomorrow we learn how she fears God. Wow. What a list! This essentially is a portrait of an amazing woman. When I look over this list first of all I am amazed that all this is contained in Proverbs 31. Secondly, I see many areas to work on. I suppose that's a good thing and one of the many reasons to study the Bible. To me, the ones that I most need to work on are not being idle, being industrious, and tied for third would be strong and eager. It's interesting to me that all the ones that I need to work on tie in with being busy- keeping myself busy and not lazy. And while it's good to point out what I need to work on, it's also good to point out those which I think I excel in. And those would be resourceful, creative, and generous. I hope that with hard work, perseverance, and some assistance from above, that one day I can excel in all of these. And most importantly, that even if I don't excel, that I keep at it, that I am persistent and keep trying to reach the ultimate goal of being a wife of noble character.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blessings and Praise

"Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:" Proverbs 31:28

There is nothing more rewarding to me than a hug from my children. Nothing. I love how when they accomplish something they look to me to show off their accomplishment, and always a hug. The first thing my children do in the morning when they wake is give Mom and Dad a hug, and it's the last thing at the end of the day. It always breaks my heart when I have to be firm with Abigail and I know she isn't happy with me. It's hard, but necessary, yet it doesn't take long for her heart to soften and she's cuddling up to me again. My children are such treasures to me- yet this verse strikes a chord. I do my best to be a good mom to them, but the idea of them calling me blessed is humbling to me. Very humbling. Because to me it isn't just that I am a good mom, it's that I'm doing a good job at raising them in God's Word- that I'm showing them everyday that Jesus loves them.

Then there's the second part- her husband praises her. You know, this sometimes seems strange to me. I can't decide sometimes if I like it when my husband praises me. He'll compliment me every once in a while on what appears to him like a busy day, and while I appreciate it, I also consider it my job to take care of these things for him, so that he doesn't have to when he gets home from work. It's truly humbling sometimes- especially when I hear that he's been going on about something I've done or said to other people. I know he appreciates my abilities in the kitchen...but the idea of this woman's husband praising her, that's a mighty thought, that's for certain.

I guess that a part of this verse that isn't here, but goes hand in hand with it is the idea of grace. The grace of accepting praise and blessings, the grace to accept a compliment with a thank you. That is something I have learned over time. When people compliment something I've done I used to just shrug it off, but I have taught myself to accept their compliments with grace and say thank you. I think that for me that was a lesson in humility. Being able to accept a compliment is an important part of being a Godly woman, I think, and fits right in here with this verse.

There's just three verses left in Proverbs 31, I pray that as I finish the chapter out that everything I have learned so far will stay at the forefront of my mind and that I will be able to apply what I need to apply to my life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Officer On Duty

"She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

In this verse we see our woman fully entrenched in the task of household management. We've seen bits and pieces of it up to now, but now we see the whole picture. She manages every aspect of her household- it has been entrusted to her and like an officer on duty she never rests and takes her duties seriously. She is watchful at every moment, always keeping herself busy with the tasks she has before her- staying away from idleness and laziness.

Another way to put the home management of this woman is prudent. She is shrewd in her management of practical affairs and she also has the ability to govern and discipline herself. Discipline herself! We've seen in many verses prior that she does not waste time, but she also doesn't waste resources that she could use elsewhere in her household. Food doesn't go to waste, clothing doesn't go to waste, and no able bodied person goes to waste either.

I think this verse is indicative of something that most women need to work on. Somehow we have the idea that the best life is one of idleness- of sitting around eating bon-bons and watching soap operas. We think that a decadent day is one of lazing around by the pool doing nothing. I know I get into that mind frame sometimes. I'll decide to spend a day involved in a book, and while I enjoy reading the book almost every single time, at the end of the day, I haven't really accomplished much. Maybe instead of devoting a full day to something like that, I should spend more time concentrating on the tasks ahead of me, and then reward myself for a job well done with a hard-earned bit of book time. Idleness is definitely one of my areas to work on. I'll get busy on the computer and before I know it a whole morning will have gone by and I'll have accomplished nothing. I definitely need to work on that, and this verse will be one to remind me almost daily that I need to keep the momentum going. Here are some verses that show the results of not governing one's laziness.

"How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-

11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man. " Proverbs 6:9-11

"Lazy hands make a man poor,
but diligent hands bring wealth.

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son." Proverbs 10:4-5

" Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless man goes hungry." Proverbs 19:15

I don't want to be lazy or idle. The whole of Proverbs 31 gives so many ideas as to what I can do with my time. What I need to do is focus on what God wants me to do and go for it. I pray that he will show me how to gather the energy needed to keep myself busy every single day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Watch Your Words

"She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue" Proverbs 31:26

Wow. This is a verse that has had me leaping all over my Bible today. There are so many verses that speak about the subject of the mouth. A Godly woman opens her mouth and wisdom comes out. It doesn't say wisdom mixed in with slander or gossip or lies. Just wisdom. How often do we speak before thought? This is where I get into trouble in conversations with people. I like to think before I speak. Yet, it's impolite to not participate in a conversation, so when I'm caught up in conversation, sometimes I will speak before thinking. And then afterwards I'll not agree with what I had said, and it's too late to change what I said.

Jesus addressed this very issue in Luke 6:45

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

Obviously my heart still needs some work if I regret things I say. If my heart is full of love and peace and joy and God's understanding, then what comes out in those random conversations will not cause me trouble. Solomon says in Proverbs 4:23, " Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life." That is so very true. And we see today that the wife of noble character has guarded her heart well, for it is full of wisdom.

The second part of this verse is about instruction, sharing what she knows. She doesn't keep her secrets to success to herself- she shares it willingly. I imagine a new mother coming up to her and asking all sorts of questions, and instead of saying "you'll have to figure it out for yourself" she is kind and teaches everything she knows. And always with her instruction is the love of Jesus behind it. She is faithful with her instruction, which means that if she will share what she knows until she's shared every bit of it, and along with the practical lessons, she teaches lessons of faith. Her instruction is all-encompassing. I see a woman teaching another woman to make jam or preserves and while they are going through the process, referring to scripture verses that talk about preparing ahead, or about how God has blessed her with the ability to do this or that.

I want to be this woman. This woman is insanely busy- we've already seen that. In one day she probably interacts with dozens of people- her husband, her family, her servants, the poor and needy she helps, her elders, the merchants she shops at, the people who purchase her good, and on and on. Yet with every single person she speaks with, her aim is wisdom- not polite how are you chit-chat, but true wisdom and words of understanding. That is a goal worth pursuing- don't you think?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Smiling At The Future

"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25

A quick one today, as I am slightly under the weather and lack much ability to concentrate. The first thing that comes to mind when I read this verse is the fact that character traits are regarded as clothing. Strength and Dignity. Strength is defined as "the state of being strong- the power to resist force." We've seen in many of the verses before the various areas of this woman's strength. She is financially strong, domestically strong, physically strong, spiritually strong and mentally strong. Wow- that is indeed a strong woman! Dignity is defined as "the state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed." When I think of a woman with dignity, I think of a woman who carries herself well and who has earned the respect of others. So the beginning of this verse-being clothed with strength and dignity- gives me a very visual image of a woman of stature.

Then we get to the second part of the verse, and it just makes me smile. "She can laugh at the days to come." As she thinks about the days ahead of her, weeks, years, etc, she laughs and she smiles and she says that she's ready for it. For God has blessed her with the fortitude to withstand anything, and because she is strong she is prepared for any eventuality. So she laughs away the worries of the future and lives for today- she doesn't worry about the future at all. She focuses her strength and energy on completing today's tasks so that tomorrow she can tackle tomorrow's challenges. What a wonderful example of not worrying about the future. To think about the days ahead and laugh instead of worry would be a true gift indeed. I think it's our human nature to worry- but it's the grace of God and the peace of the Holy Spirit that calms those worries and helps us to laugh at tomorrow.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Creativity Abounds

"She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes." Proverbs 31:24

In other verses I've read leading up to this, we see that this woman works with thread and fabric. She starts from scratch. She makes the threads first. Then she weaves some threads into fabric, and some threads she leaves as thread for sewing. She makes warm clothing for her family, and she also makes warm bedding for them as well. She makes clothing to sell to others, and it's not just any kind of clothing. She makes linen- one of the finest fabrics, and turns linen into fine clothing to sell. Not just anyone can work with linen- it takes skill and practice and careful fingers to turn linen into beautiful garments and belts.

By using her creativity this woman is showing one of God's characters. He when she creates, she is actually saying that she is creating because God created, and because he's blessed her with the ability to be creative. And by really digging into this verse, we also see that once again, she is resourceful of her time. And something to note, is that with time, activities and busy things become easier. I think to my days costuming the high school musical. For one show I needed to make twelve poodle skirts. Having never made one before, I was careful with the first one. I took my time and learned how to do it. One skirt probably took me four hours to do and attempt to do it properly. But by the time I got to the last skirt of the twelve, I was zipping through them. I was able to make a very nice skirt in just a short amount of time- maybe 45 minutes or so to completion. So while this woman did take the time to learn in the first place, over time her creativity becomes like a second nature to her, and she is able to use her time even more. Maybe instead of making one elegant sash she is able to put together five of them. Or maybe she is able to use her time for other uses.

One of the things that this verse tells me is that we can be wise with the choices we make every day. And it does come down to our choices.

"How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-

11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man. " Proverbs 6:9-11

"He who works his land will have abundant food,
but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty." Proverbs 28:19

So will I choose to use my time wisely. Will I choose to put my creative juices to work to better myself, my family and those around me? It comes down to a blatant choice. I have to choose to get up in the morning. This week I did just that, and I tell you the truth, my day went much smoother when I was up earlier getting things ready before the kids were even awake. But to choose that every day is going to take some work and some diligence, and yes it is incredibly tempting to hit the alarm and re-set it for later in the day. Very tempting. It will take work and determination on my part, but with the wife of noble character to inspire and guide me, perhaps I can manage.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Godly Woman is Helpful

"Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land." Proverbs 31:23

Behind every great man is a great woman. The city gate is where business transactions were frequently conducted, as well as many manners of judgment. This man is able to see to business and whatever needs his assistance in the community because he know his household is in good hands. I imagine it would be awfully difficult for a man to get much work done outside the home if he had to constantly worry about what went on at his home. So in this way, a Godly woman is helpful. She helps her husband be the best he can be by relieving him of the burden of household affairs.

This woman also helps her husband by being encouraging. She encourages him to be involved in their community, to sit as an elder and help in matters of judgment. Perhaps from time to time the wife can offer tidbits of wisdom or guidance when a particularly trying matter comes to light. No doubt, she also prays for her husband daily.

Aiy. I suppose this is something to work on. One wouldn't think so, but when I think about the guts of this verse, I do need to work on it. I am often hesitant when Andy says that he is going to do this or that after work, or participate in something church related that takes him away from home too often. I like him at home when he's not working, and the kids need time with their Daddy. However, there can be a balance, and I would do well to remember that. I do consider myself to be supportive for the most part, but I am always hesitant when something new comes up. This verse is a good reminder for me that sometimes God may be speaking to my husband to do something, and I need to trust my husbands judgment and support him in his choices.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Lesson In Elegance

"She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple." Proverbs 31:22

I like this verse. It gives me a picture of this Godly Woman. Even though it is written well before the time, I just envision a woman from England. A woman of status, because those women carried themselves well at all times. They would never been seen outside the home in a state of disheveled-ness. We see here that this woman not only takes care of her home and her family, but she also gives some attention to herself. This is important! Not so much the idea of dressing up and looking proper when out of the home, but more the idea that she takes the time to give herself some care. I remember growing up, my Mom would never leave the house without her make-up. Even a quick dash to the grocery store meant that she needed her make-up. She needed to look presentable when she left the home.

Last year by the end of the school year I was running Abigail to school in my jammies because I just didn't care enough to get up early enough to ready myself. And I see right here, plain as day that I should take that five minutes and give myself some attention. I should make sure my hair is brushed at the very least before exiting my home.

There is also a note here in this verse about my home. She makes coverings for her bed. This tells me that her home itself is presentable to guests. It's homey and hospitable. Back in the day, homes frequently had a parlor- a sitting and receiving room that was always kept in tip-top shape so that guests would always have a comfortable and neat room to welcome them into someone's home. Sadly, we've gotten away from that. Personally, I would love to have a parlor. A room that has been made especially cozy so that guests in our home always feel welcome. While I can't add on to my home and put in a parlor, I can try harder to keep my living space neat and orderly. Is my furniture comfortable for our guests? It could certainly be better, but I do think that when people come to our home they are comfortable.

Something else to keep in mind here is that a woman who presents herself as beautiful will be seen as beautiful.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" 1 Peter 3:3-4

When this woman leaves her home, she wants others to see her and know that she is the wife of her husband. That she can make him proud . Just think about this woman strolling through town with a song in her heart. Her face will reflect the beauty that is within, and that combined with her choice in elegant, but not ostentatious clothing reveals quite the woman. Even if I can manage just a little bit, I would love to pursue excellence in God's eyes by paying closer attention to my home and how I dress.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Farsighted Woman

"When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.' Proverbs 31:21

Ooh, this verse fills me with fire this morning! Really. It totally makes me want to jump up out of this seat and do everything I can to prepare ahead of time. It makes me think about the pantry and larder that I've been slowly trying to build up , and I realize that we are not prepared for an emergency. That's what this verse is about. This woman has no fears or worries for her family when snow falls, because she thought ahead and saw to lay in provisions- both food and clothing to care for her family until the snow melts. To some people this may not seem important, but it sure does to me. Did you know that the new federal guidelines suggest that all Americans have three months worth of food on hand? Three months! That's a lot. After Hurricane Katrina, it's easy to see where the need for that type of provision comes from. We are nowhere close to having three months worth of provisions on hand, but I can tell you that I have been aware of that and been praying about it. I've been praying heartily for the ability to lay in what we need for times of need.

The first priority from this verse comes in preparing for my family. Having food, water, clothing, blankets, etc. enough for my family for a while. But I think there is more here. If we add in yesterday's verse, I should also have provisions that I can provide others with help as well. You have no idea how many times I've dreamed about opening up an assistance center at church for those in need. Something similar to a St. Vincent de Paul around here- a little store-like area where families who have nothing can come in and choose clothing for their family and take it for free. A place where a mother can come in and pick up two bags of quality groceries- as well as take a cooking lesson or two in how best to prepare those foods for her family. And I have no doubt that someday I will be able to do this. I know that God has placed that desire in my heart for a reason. In addition to the assistance center, I want to have a community garden where those who can't afford or don't have the ability can help plant garden vegetables, tend them, harvest them, and share them with others- as well as receive a lesson in how to prepare that produce.

One of the names of God is Jehovah Jireh, which means "God Will Provide." By being a farsighted woman and planning ahead and preparing, I am striving to be more like God. That is an amazing thought. By using what God has blessed me with in the ability to plan ahead I am also blessing those around me who benefit from that. That's a double blessing!

"Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!

7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,

8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest." Proverbs 6:6-8

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Kindness of a Godly Woman

"She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy" Proverbs 31:20

This verse speaks right to my heart. I am always trying to think of ways to help those in need. Always. I am constantly adding groceries to my cart to take to the local food pantry- I figure it's the least I could do. The hardest thing for me is during the lean times, when every penny counts I still want to do what I can to help others who need it. Recently the Lord has opened my eyes to a way I can still help despite meager resources, and I'm looking forward to putting it into practice. That will undoubtedly be the subject of future posts, so I won't spoil that now. But it's amazing how when you ask God to open your eyes to the need around you, it's suddenly visible.

This passage in the Bible has been on my mind a lot over the last week or so.

8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" 11 As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."

12 "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die."

13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.' "

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah." 1 Kings 17:8-16

This verse has been on my mind because once again, Andy is facing a very early seasonal lay-off at work. He's really struggling with what the answer is as far as work goes. And we're both struggling because it is on our hearts to just give and give, and if he's not working, there is nothing there to give. Yet according to this verse, there will always be something to give. What I love about this passage in 1 Kings is that it is a true miracle. It is a true example of what placing your faith in God can do. I have faith that God will continue to provide for our family- regardless what happens with Andy's work. I have complete faith that if the time came, my jar of oil would stay full and the bucket of flour would always have flour in it. What's important is to continue to give to those who need it- and to open our eyes to the many needs around us.

The Wife of Noble Character would add a little more water to the soup and welcome a stranger to dinner any day of the week. I remember my Mom doing that often growing up. She would have just enough for our family in the oven and invite someone to dinner who needed it. And then she would find the makings for strawberry shortcake in the freezer or a forgotten bunch of potatoes in the bin. And there was always plenty with leftovers for Dad's lunch the next day. True miracles can happen every day, but we need open hearts and minds to see them.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Persistance of a Godly Woman

"In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers." Proverbs 31:19

This is another verse in reference to the woman's work with thread and cloth. The distaff and the spindle are both items used in the production of thread and fabric. This verse is just further proof that the Godly woman does not waste her time- she uses it all, even the evening hours. And as a result she is able to take better care of her family. Because she works in the evening hours, she is able to clothe her family, cover her beds with blankets, and make clothing and other items to sell and bring money into the household.

Wow. This really makes me think about my evening hours. A normal day finds me eager to relax in the evening. The kids get tucked into bed, and then Andy and I sit down and chat, maybe watch a little something together, but we don't DO anything. Sometimes I will work on a menu plan during that time, or I'll cross stitch, or I'll read a book. It's generally my down time at the end of a busy day. And while I will agree that we often need time to relax and unwind, perhaps I can be more conscious of also being productive during that time. Maybe I could save my laundry folding for that time and fold the daily washing. Or I could use that time for something else. What, I don't know. I have always wanted to learn quilting, and that would be a good time of day to do that type of project. And quilting could benefit more than just me and my family- I could make quilts for other people or for missionaries or for those in need. Interesting to think about. I think that for now I can pray that I will be more mindful of my time. Be more open to doing more in the evening than just relaxing and vegging. I can also use that time to be productive.