The Virtuous Woman

Yesterday was the Mom’s Minute Monthly gathering for June. If you weren’t able to join us, we studied some of the qualities and characteristics of the Virtuous Woman as described in Proverbs 31. After reading the verses, we discussed our thoughts and made application to our lives in today’s modern world compared to when the passage was originally penned. We then imagined what those qualities would “look” like and made a pictorial collage, cutting and gluing images from magazines and catalogs. The goal is for the collage to be a visual reminder of the characteristics displayed by the Virtuous Woman, and the challenge is to work on the areas where we fall short.

Some of what we discussed included the fact that in v.11, the word “trust” means to be confident in, to feel safe, to be careless. Our husbands should leave the home each day and not worry about what we are doing while he is away. Not just in terms of fidelity, but our conduct, finances, managing the house, child rearing, etc. As one mom shared, it means the freedom to “fight” without worrying about serious consequences; that both husband and wife know that both are committed to the long-term covenant of marriage and that even though they may disagree on something, one spouse isn’t going to walk out on the other.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing verse 12. One mom pointed out that doing good is an intentional thing; it doesn’t just happen. We talked about ways we can do “good” in our daily lives. Examples included doing things the way our husbands prefer over the way we usually do it. For instance, my husband doesn’t like his clothes to be put in the dryer. It takes a little bit more time and effort on my part to sort out his clothes from the washer as I’m putting the wet clothes into the dryer, but I do try my best to hang his clothes as he likes. We also discussed giving our spouses the benefit of the doubt, and another mom shared that we need to be willing to overlook the small stuff “in love.”

In v13 we discussed synonyms for “work”: make, produce, attend to, deal with, observe, acquire, etc and how that applies to almost all aspects of being a wife and mother. We make meals, we attend to children, we deal with arguments between siblings, we acquire food, clothing, and other items in order to meet the needs of our families.

Verse 15 was also discussed at length. The room seemed to be pretty even in the number of early risers versus night owls, but we all came to the agreement that it doesn’t matter which one you are. One is not superior to the other, and the point of the passage is simply that from the time the Virtuous Woman wakes to the time she goes to bed, she is productive in her day. She has excellent time-management skills and makes the most of her day. She accomplishes what needs to be done and doesn’t waste her time sleeping or being lazy.

We had to end at verse 15 so that we would have time to work on our collages, but I challenge you, read the passage (Proverbs 31:10-31) for yourself and make your own collage as a way to help you be a better wife and mother. Of course no one is perfect, and the passage is given as a model for women to know how to live. When we read about the Virtuous Wife, we should compare our own life to hers. When we find shortcomings (and we will), we need to ask God to help us make the necessary changes so that we can bring glory to Him. This type of study is a great way to spend some time in God’s word, getting to know and really understand what He desires for us as women, wives, and moms.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

~Proverbs 31:30

 

Lean Hard

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“Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know thy burden, child, I shaped it;
Poised it in My own hand, made no proportion in its weight to thine unaided strength;
For even as I laid it on, I said
I shall be near, and while he leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not his;
So shall I keep My child within the circling arms of My own love.
Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the government of worlds.
Yet closer come; thou art not near enough;
I would embrace thy care so I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I know it. Doubt not then;
But, loving Me, Lean Hard.”

~May Prentiss Smith

I have been battling my thoughts for a few weeks and this past Wednesday, I shared with a friend about this struggle. She encouraged me to take my burden to the Lord, to really draw close to Him. She referenced a poem someone had shared with her during a particularly trying time in her life, and yesterday she emailed it to me. I love it. I love it so much I just had to share it.

If you, like me, are struggling with something (thoughts, circumstances, or some other trial), I pray this will be an encouragement to you.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  ~Matthew 11:29

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. ~Psalm 55:22

Why Comparing Yourself to Another is So Dangerous

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman. I know who she is- the wondrous woman with all her feminine beauty, ability, and strength. She is able to do it all. And not only that, she does it all with relative ease, grace, and style. She may be fictitious, but Wonder Woman is bringing me down!

The constant comparison of ourselves as women—wives, moms, sisters, friends—is slowly breaking apart relationships and causing barriers to exist where none should. Rather than edifying one another and looking to each other for encouragement, we are cautiously bracing ourselves for the next encounter, the next gathering, where we are left feeling defeated and unqualified for our respective callings.

Here’s what I mean: when I compare myself to another, I am always going to feel inadequate and incompetent. There are always going to be people in my life who are better at things than I am. I am not terribly creative. I am not into exercising. I don’t keep a spotless house. I don’t play with my kids as much as I should. I’m uptight. The list continues…

Thankfully, most people I know are not like me. That is not a bad thing (that’s a very good thing!). What is bad is when I compare myself to my friend (or neighbor or whomever) and try to emulate her life. It’s just not gonna work. I have 7 kids. There is no way I could ever find time to complete Pinterest projects, play with my kids, exercise, and keep up with the house all on a regular basis! And that’s okay. Or, at least it is from now on because I am done trying to be like Wonder Woman, trying to do it all.

Moms, who are you comparing yourself to? Who is it in your life that you secretly wish you could be more like? Stop wishing and focusing your energy on that person, and instead focus your time, talents, and attention doing more to be like Jesus. He is the One we are to emulate.

Christ beckons,

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

The word “rest” used above means to recover, to collect strength. Jesus wants us to come to Him to seek refuge during the hard moments in our day.

Jesus also warns,

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. ~ Colossians 3:23-24

So we have no reason to compare ourselves to anyone other than Jesus. The Lord is who will judge our actions and attitudes, motives, thoughts, and desires. If we are working so hard at trying to keep up with those around us, to be someone we’re not, we lose sight of our purpose and calling.

And that’s what happened to me, and that’s why comparing ourselves to another is so dangerous.

Grow!

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
~Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

This has always been one of my favorite verses in the Old Testament. I love the picture that comes to my mind when I read these words. I can just see a huge Oak tree, sitting on solid ground with a river running next to it. Its leaves are full and lush in spite of the intense heat from the rays of the summer sun. In the distance are fields of tall grasses, the tops parched from lack of rain. The tree is not simply surviving, it is growing. And it isn’t just growing, but it is producing acorns (fruit).

Isn’t this a beautiful picture of the Christian life? We should be so firmly rooted in God’s Word that when the hard times come (extreme heat and drought), we not only survive the difficulty, but grow through it!

I am a realist so I know that this seems easier said than done. I get that. However, this is what God desires for our lives. Moms, think about it- when our kids get hurt or run into trouble, don’t we desire that they come to us? Not just for comfort, but so that we can talk through the situation and help them to learn from their mistake? It is beneficial to them to elicit our help and support. In the process, our mother-child bond is strengthened and the child learns to better trust us, that we have his/her best interest at heart.

And so it is with our Heavenly Father. We are foolish to reject His comfort, wisdom, and most importantly, love. I challenge you today- what steps can you take so that you are like this Oak tree?

God desires that we GROW!

Like Your Children, Don’t Just Love Them

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“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” ~Matt. 18:10

I recently had the privilege of attending my first homeschool conference. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured I would hear about the “latest and greatest” curriculum, and of course listen to others share ideas for improving our homeschool for next year. And while I did get those things, I also received encouragement. Encouragement I was desperately needing.

I homeschool not because I am against public school (I have a degree in both elementary and special education, and I have one child who does attend public school), but because God has called me to raise my children for His honor and glory (2 Peter 1:3).  Now, I didn’t start homeschooling for that reason, but the more time I spend with my children, the more I fully understand my role as their mother and truthfully, the more I learn about my God.

If you know me well, I mean really well, then you know that I never planned to have a large family. When my husband and I began to talk “marriage” while dating, family size of course came into the discussion. He is from a family of five and I am from a family of three.  He wanted a big family, but I was happy with 3 or 4 children.  After the birth of my fourth child, I was content with our life. We had two boys and two girls and lived in a medium-sized house that fit our needs perfectly. Our mini-van was great in that we could all fit inside with extra seating space, and life was genuinely good. Until I found out I was pregnant when my youngest was 7 months old!

We now have a total of seven children, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that daily life was sometimes challenging. There is a 10-year span between my oldest and youngest. Sometimes, most times, I view my children as a nuisance rather than as the blessing God says they are (Psalm 127:3-5).  I was convinced that my children woke up each day with one goal in mind: annoy me until I caved to the pressure!  Occasionally they did this individually, but typically they plotted together (there is unity in teamwork!).  Because I viewed them in the wrong way, I didn’t like them. Imagine being pecked to death by little ducks. That explains how I was feeling.

But my viewpoint was wrong!  And not just wrong, it was sinful!  Jesus holds a high view of children, mine included!  In the above verse, it clearly states that they have angels who watch over and care for them.  And not only that, those angels report to God the Father Himself- talk about convicting!!

I left that homeschool conference not just better able to teach my children at home, but to better mother them.  Have I perfected gentleness, patience, kindness, and the other fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-24?  No, of course not!  But, I am working on it, and I am liking my children in the process.