In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 4)

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Well, its been an interesting weekend with out internet refusing to work properly, so its a miracle really that this is written at all!!  But welcome to week 4 of our Esther series.  We are now a quarter of our way through the story, and I think we’ve learnt a lot about Esther already.  This is a young women who hasn’t had an easy start to life – she’s lost her parents, been adopted, forced to keep a rather large secret and live in a harem with 400 other women.  But despite all of these challenges, she seems to be able to keep making a good impression and make friends where it counts.

This week we were meditating on the following verse:

“When the turn came from Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the King, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested.  And Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her.”  Esther 2:15

There are four things that I want to highlight that have come through in our discussions and in my own meditations on this verse:

Anticipation

Lets take a moment to think about the magnitude of this moment for Esther.  As a young girl in this culture, getting married would have been a big landmark in her life, signifying her separation from her old family and joining to start a new one.  Throw into the mix that this is with the King of the country she was currently living with, that she was in competition with 400 of the most beautiful women around, and that if she got it wrong she would be tossed aside like nothing, and you’ve got yourself a high stakes situation.  Nervous, anticipation, fear, stress?  Those would be the things that I would be feeling in that situation.  My own wedding night was stressful enough, and I was with someone I loved, trusted and knew! So I can’t even begin to imagine how this would have felt for Esther.  As she walked down that corridor towards the King I am sure there were butterflies in her tummy, but perhaps there was also a air of certainty or confidence, as we know that she had taken Hegai’s advice……

Advice

Esther wasn’t unprepared.  In contrast to the other women who were trying to think up all the amazing things they could take with them to woo the King, Esther took a different approach.  Instead, she befriended Hegai, the eunuch, and asked for his advice.  Esther recognised that she was young, naïve and didn’t know the King at all, and so went to someone who could help.  Hegai was older, wiser, knew more about the King than she did, but we also think he may have been of Jewish heritage, so possibly shared the same values as her.  He had the inside knowledge, and was able to wisely recommend to Esther how to proceed.  This must have been a great comfort to her, and Esther was wise enough to listen to someone greater than her.

Acceptance

She hasn’t even reached the King’s chamber yet (that happens next week!) but it mentions again that she is winning favour with everyone she meets.  I can’t help but see the hand of God in this, as she walks around the palace and has a different demeanour and attitude to the other women because of her relationship with God.  Perhaps she wasn’t trying so hard to catch attention or be flirtatious.  Perhaps she was more confident in herself as women.  We don’t know, but we know that she was making all the right steps.

answers

I don’t know about you, but for me this passage threw up way more questions to me than it answered.  I long to know what Esther took in with her, what the others took in, how were they being prepared in the harem?  So many things unanswered.  What questions do you have from this week?

application

The application that has been jumping out at me all week from this verse is this: WHO AM I TAKING ADVICE FROM????

Is it from the internet, is it from a person who hasn’t earnt that position in my life, is it from someone less wise than me?  Check who it is that you are listening to and taking advice from and follow Esther’s example – someone wiser/more experienced in that area, someone who has inside knowledge, someone who shares the same values as you.  If you are taking advice from someone who doesn’t tick these boxes, then that advice is useless.  There are so many pressures and stresses in this world that we need to make sure we are getting help from the right places.

next week

It’s a landmark week for Esther next week as we move on to looking at this verse together:

Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:17

There is a new FREE PHONE LOCK SCREEN design coming out to you all on Monday over in the Facebook community, along with the opportunity to join me at 8pm tomorrow night to kick off the week’s discussions and thoughts.  Do join me there and share your comments on this weeks verse below or in the Facebook group.

 

 

 

 

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 3)

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Welcome to week 3 of our Esther series, and its fair to say its been a bit of a controversial week this week!!  I love when a topic sparks discussion, so lets jump straight into the verse in question:

“Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.”  Esther 2:10

to lie or not to lie

White lie or lie of omission, the first thing that jumped out to me in this verse is that Esther is hiding something intentionally from others.  So whether she had to tell a lie and say she was Persian, or whether she just didn’t mention it and let people assume what they wanted, she was trying not to let on that she was of Jewish descent.  This started us straight into a discussion of whether it was ever ok to lie, and what God’s heart on that is.  Ranging from the black and white view that it is always wrong to lie, to the more grey areas of moral values and whilst truth is high on that list, stopping potential evil is even higher, we had lots of different opinions and thoughts.

I’m not going to share my own opinions on this – there are plenty of articles and other sources shared in our Mummy Meditations Community – but I am going to draw one observation.  Clearly we all see truthfulness as a desirable quality, something that is characteristic of God and hence something we should strive for.  And so it must take the thought or prospect of something pretty horrendous to make Mordecai forbid Esther from being truthful.  Something unimaginable, that he wants to save his precious adopted daughter from.  Or perhaps even just the fear of the unknown.

Yes, the Jewish people were accepted and allowed to live in the Persian Empire, but that doesn’t meant that they would have been treated the same once inside the palace.  One mum also mentioned that perhaps as an orphan and adoptee that she might have been considered lower ranking too.  Maybe this would have lowered her chances of seeing the king and pushed her back in the queue (when she had been fast-tracked last week by Hegai) or perhaps it could even have resulted in physical abuse or death.  We really don’t know, but we know that Mordecai acted out of love to protect Esther, even if that was by telling her to lie.

forced to lie

As I stepped into Esther’s shoes, I tried to remember a time when a situation had come up where I had been forced to lie or protect some piece of information and how it made me feel.  Examples flooded into my mind, such as safeguarding issues at church where you may need to only share information with certain people on the team, or when a friend had confided in me.  Work examples of news such as concert line-ups which are embargoed until a certain date and time.  All these examples have made me feel very uncomfortable, almost anxious, with having to keep information to myself.  I have felt threatened and accused when people asked me innocent questions around them.  Esther might have felt similar, as if every question, comment or action of those inside the harem was designed to catch her out or make her reveal her true identity.  It is not a nice place to be in by choice, and even worse when someone forces you to be there.

When it is someone else who requests you lie, then you feel like you are going to let them down if you slip up, there is added pressure and responsibility on your shoulders.  Esther must have been so aware of everything she was doing, trying to hide her prayers, trying to forget about special days and not seem bothered, trying to hide her accent, way of dress or distinguishing features that would mark her out as different.   How tiring that must have been.  Despite being surrounded by 400 woman and her own set of servants, I am sure she would have felt isolated and alone in that place.

what can we learn from Esther?

Well, we don’t know an awful lot more about how she dealt with this situation, because as we already noted – the book is written from a male perspective, and so they can only report the facts that they knew.  On her own in that harem, who knows the struggle that Esther went through inside, whether she turned to God in that dilemma and found comfort in him, or whether she just isolated herself and avoided everyone so that no questions were asked.  However, as we know from last week, she found favour with people inside, so I doubt highly that she did that by hiding away.  The only thing we do know is that Esther succeeded in keeping her nationality a secret until later in the story.

Esther was obedient to her adoptive Father, even when she didn’t know why is was necessary, even when it would have been hard for her to do so, and even when it battled with her inner conscience that wanted to be truthful.  In this messed up and sinful world, sometimes we have to be obedient to those wiser than us and to God, in ways that we just don’t understand.  Obedience is certainly a characteristic that Esther displays here, and perhaps one that we need to practice more.

Next week

I’d love for you to join our Mummy Meditations Community over on Facebook to discuss our next verse over the week:

“When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her.” Esther 2:15

Please do share your own comments and thoughts below or over on Facebook.

 

Esther week 2 verse

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 2)

 

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Welcome to week two of our Esther series (I already feel like we’ve been looking at Esther forever!) and we move into the start of the story this week now that we’ve met the main character!

“She pleased him and won his favour. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.” Esther 2:9

who did Esther please?

Now, a bit of a blunder on my part, but for the first half of the week I had assumed that the “he” in question was the king.  But I was really jumping ahead of myself, and it was only when I read this verse in the Message version that I realised it was Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the virgins, that was being talked about!!  Big well done to you if you didn’t make that mistake!!  Always good to learn to check the context and who is being spoken about.

So this verse is right at the start of Esther’s progress through the palace.  She has just arrived, along with hundreds of other candidates for the role of Queen.  When I researched I found that there could have been as many as 400 virgins assembled in this particular harem, making it a pretty busy place to be.  But even amongst that many other girls, Esther stands out.  She makes an impression.  The phrase used is “she pleased him”.  The Message translation puts it like this “Hegai liked Esther and took a special interest in her”.

Hegai was surrounded by beautiful women day in day out, and he wasn’t really able to or allowed to act on that beauty.  So there must have been something else that made Esther stand out from the crowd.  Some sources speculate that perhaps Hegai was of Jewish descent and that he recognised that in her.  In our Facebook Group discussions we erred towards this showing her true character, and being a contrast to the physical attractiveness mentioned last week.  I guess we’ll never know, but we can be inspired by Esther that it is not a bad thing to get on well in the place that we are at, even if we think it is an unfavourable place to be, as God can use us in those dark places.

Fast-tracked for a reason

Esther week 2 verseSo why was it so important that Esther was noticed by Hegai?  Because of the things that he then set it motion.  Esther had four huge blessings come out of this, but the biggest one (and probably most overlooked) is that she got to start her beauty treatments early.

All the virgins had to go through them (and some people suggest it might be because they had fungal diseases and other things that they wanted to make sure the king didn’t catch) and they last about a year.  Esther, being resident in Susa where the palace was, was probably one of the first virgins to arrive in the harem as part of this search.  The search went across the whole Persian Empire, and would have taken months if not years to collect together all 400 possibilities for the King.  Being within the first batch arriving and then also being one of the first to start her beauty treatments meant that Esther would be one of the first few women to have her night with the King.

Esther was fast-tracked, and this increased her odds of getting to see the King in the first place, because if he saw someone before her that he quite liked, then that was game over and they would become queen.  God needed Esther to be seen early so that the King would fall in love with her.  Time as of the essence and so Esther wasn’t just fast tracked to make her life easier, but because God needed her there.

in her shoes in the Harem

Its amazing to see God working in this verse to make sure that Esther was in the right place at the right time (“for such a time as this”!).  But this week I also tried really hard to step into Esther’s shoes and understand how she might be feeling about all this.  My first step was to consider what actually was a harem.  The first thoughts that jump into my head are of prostitutes, concubines and basically a whole load of women just sitting around waiting to be called on to have sex with the king at his whim.   It doesn’t sound like a nice place to me, and I’ve always viewed it negatively.

I thought Esther would have hated being taken from her family home with her adoptive father and put into the harem, but then I read more about them.  A harem was actually supposed to be a place of protection and safety for these women.  The king was taking them away from the prying eyes and attention from other men that they may have had outside the harem.  They would have had security as they would have been fed and looked after, possibly even educated within the harem.  Contrast this with outside, where Esther probably would have had to work and risk herself in a mans world, where she was a virgin and very desirable.  Maybe Esther actually felt relief to be inside the harem.  Yes it did mean that she was being lined up to basically be raped by the king so he could choose his favourite virgin, but in this situation that might have been a better prospect than what lie outside the palace walls.

How might Esther have felt to be given preferential treatment?  I wonder if she had any backlash from the others in the harem because of this?  There are so many questions I have when I step into Esther’s shoes that I don’t know where to start!

Next week

Join us over in the Mummy Meditations Community as we discuss the following verse this week:

“Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so”  Esther 2:10

I would love for you all to join me at 8pm on Monday night for a Facebook Live discussion to kick off the weeks thoughts!  So do head over to the Facebook Group for more information.

 

 

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In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 1)

esther launch graphic

Welcome Mummy Meditators to the first summary post of our new Esther series!  I am very excited to kick off this series with you all, and who knows where God is going to take us over the next 16 weeks.  We all probably know the Esther story reasonably well, it’s a Sunday School classic and a women’s ministry favourite too.  But that is not why I have chosen it as our next series.  I want us to step right into Esther’s shoes, to experience this story like we never have before, and to truly grasp to magnitude of the task set before her.

We started off with meditating on this verse this week:

“Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.” Esther 2:7

What’s the situation?

We jump straight into being introduced to Esther, but its really helpful to know the cultural situation of the time.  The Jewish people documented in the story are not in the promised land, they are resident in Persia despite being given the freedom to return to Jerusalem.  After being taken into exile years before by the Assyrians and dispersed amongst various towns and cities, the lives of the Jewish people were now entwinned with those of the places they had moved to.   They have lives, friends and family there, and the thought of going back to rebuild the temple and repopulate the promised land wasn’t that appealing.  So they are not slaves, they are widely dispersed across the area, and they are mixed in with the other nations around them.

In my head before studying this I thought the Jews were still in exile, badly treated and forced to live in a foreign land, and that was why Esther didn’t want them to know her nationality.  But clearly I was wrong!  The king of the Persian Empire actually quite like the Jewish people and gave them freedom to worship as they pleased.   Even if that was under his rule.  So that begs the question….

why two names?

esther bible verseOne of the things that lots of you Mummy Meditators picked up on straight away and wanted to look into was why did Esther have two names?  You quickly found out that Hadassah was her Hebrew name and Esther  her gentile name.  Taking a deeper look, it seems that this was common practice, but it is not known if her name was changed when she married the king or before that.  I guess it might have been a bit like when Chinese students come over here to study and adopt an English name that is a bit easier to pronounce for us who suck at Chinese!  Either way, it allowed Esther to fit seamlessly into the Kings courts and not stick out as different.

Adopted, not orphaned

As mothers we were all drawn to the part of this verse where it says that her mother and father had died.  When we step into Esther’s shoes we can feel this sadness, this loss of her parents, even though we are not told how old she was when they died, if they died at the same time or different times, and the circumstances surrounding that.  We can perhaps assume that she was quite young when it happened, as no brothers and sisters are mentioned.  This is not a sweet innocent girl who has had a sheltered life, this is a young woman who has been through some emotional times and had to find a way to deal with that.  She would have questions, doubts and fears surrounding her.

Although our hearts break for Esther to hear that she lost her parents (and doesn’t seem to have any brothers or sisters to share the burden with), we are told the joyful news that she was not an orphan, she was not left to fend for herself or fall on the mercy of others, she was adopted!  The way this phrase is written “that he took her as his own daughter” reveals a tenderness, a fondness and love between Esther and her cousin Mordecai who became her guardian.  This may have been an adoption of necessity (if he was the next closest family member then it would have been his duty to take care of her in the circumstances) but she is now considered his daughter, a fully fledged member of his family.

It doesn’t mention a wife for Mordecai or any other children that he has, and so it seems like a really close set up between the two of them.  Despite the awful events that have happened, Esther is loved and cared for by him and has a place of safety and security.

Beautiful for a reason

As we were chatting through this verse in the Facebook live I mentioned that it would likely have been written by a man, from a male perspective, and that was probably why it was mentioned that she was beautiful (men notice these things you know!).  But looking deeper into it this week, actually we saw the necessity of this aspect of Esther for the story to succeed.  If Esther was not beautiful and physically attractive in the eyes of men, she would not have been invited into the courts of the king.  So this is not a throw away comment or slightly interesting character note, but a key piece of information for later on.  Esther was beautiful for a reason, and it is amazing to see that God can use the things of this world to bring glory to himself.

Novella, not fact

One final thing to mention as we move on in our study of Esther, so that most people seem to think that the book of Esther is written as a historic novella and not a pure historical document.  This means that not every detail in it is strictly historically accurate, but it is a historical story fleshed out so that we can understand better what happened at that time.  It was written to explain to the Jewish nation about the origin of the Jewish Holiday of Purim, and why it should be celebrated.  Amazingly, Purim is celebrated on the 20th March, which will be within this series, so hopefully we can celebrate this together in some way (suggestions welcome!).

next week

Well what a way to start off the series!  There is so much to take in, and this is just the introduction of the main character.  Next week we will move on to meditating on this verse:

“She pleased him and won his favour. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.” Esther 2:9

Do join me at 8pm on Monday night for a quick Facebook live discussion to start off the week over in the Mummy Meditations Facebook Group, and don’t forget there is still time to download a workbook or grab other resources in the shop.

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 16)

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Well we’ve arrived – its the last week of the series, and oh my what a series!!! Who would have know the amazing blessings, encouragements and inspiration we would have got from these 16 weeks when we started?  We all started off feeling a bit condemned by this “perfect woman”, but over the weeks we have come to see the heart behind why this passage was written – as advice from a mother to a son – and that it was never meant to be interpreted by us in that way.

None of us are future Queen’s, and so many of the characteristics described are not transferable.  And yet God, in his awesome wonder, can use these words to equip us in our roles as chosen wives and mothers.  When I look back I see many more ways in which I can be a great wife, and see the many ways that I am already fulfilling this role for my husband.  But I also see ways in which I can spur my husband on, delegate more and not interfere, and focus more on my family’s spiritual health as well as just physical needs.

This week was no different, and with our final week we meditated on this verse:

“Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate”  Proverbs 31:31

At The City gate

This was the first phrase that jumped out to me, as once again it is one that has been used in the passage before (in verse 23 where her husband is “respected at the city gate”).  The city gate was an important part of the city, where things entered and left but also where men gathered, big decisions were made, news was shared and criminals punished.  As I read more about the city gate, a lot of negative things came out – punishment, noise, control, taxation, intimidation.  How odd I find it that here the topic that is to be shouted out at the city gate is one of honour and praise!  It is positive!  This serves as another reminder that our God is back to front, upside down and out of this world.  Bathsheba wanted her son to be more like God, to be counter-cultural and instead of using the city gate for his dirty work, she wanted him to use is for good.  And who else would be better to influence culture than the future king?

what is our city gate?

So how can we be counter-cultural in our worlds?  What is our “City Gate” (as we obviously don’t have a physical gate in most of our communities where men gather!)?  One of the amazing mums in our Facebook Community mentioned that the school gate is quite similar – a gathering of people, all the noise and chaos, mums and dads chatting about the news and issues of the day, possibly gossiping about things or moaning about their kids.  How can we be different in this situation?  Or maybe the break room at work is your city gate, or the toddler group.  Lets praise and honour those in our lives and be a positive influence in these places rather than joining in with the negative.

what are you being praised for?

Initially I was very confused as to why her works would be the thing praised at the city gate and not her character.   But then the Mummy Meditations Community came forward with some great thoughts – that our actions are the outpouring of our character, and so good works are the result of that noble character.  Also, that perhaps this was counter-cultural too, that women wouldn’t normally be praised for what they’d done, just kind of expected to get on with it, so this would be really odd.  Finally, it was suggested that “works of her hands” might refer to her sons whom she had raised, and that they would grow up to be upright men who have a seat at the city gate too.

So, food for thought on our final summary post of the year!

  1. Do your works reflect your character?  If not, what needs to change?
  2. How can we be counter-cultural and praise others when they would normally be mocked?  Maybe this is our kids (its quite normal to moan about them in our culture and how hard parenting is) or our husbands.
  3. How can we ensure that our kids, “the works of our hands” grow up to be great members of their community in the future?
Next Year (and two actions for you to do!)

As this is the last post of the year, and the next series doesn’t start until 6th January, I don’t have a next verse to share with you all.  What I would love for you all to do is have an amazing two weeks of rest with your families, read whatever you want in the bible, and if you stuck for ideas then check out my “10 things to do in the Christmas Break” post.  I do have two small actions for you to do right now (pretty please!):

  1. To make sure you get the announcement for the next series then do join the Mummy Meditations Facebook Group and sign up to the e-newsletter via this link.  The new verse will be announced on the 6th January, but there will be new resources in the shop, testimonies from some of our amazing members and much more before it starts!  Why not invite a friend to join us?
  2. I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on Mummy Meditations, what difference it has made to you and how I can make it even better.  So please fill in this quick survey and share your thoughts.

 

 

arise and call her blessed

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (week 14)

Welcome to another week of Mummy Meditations!

I hope you have been encouraged by the comments and thoughts shared in the Facebook Group. This week we have been meditating on the following verse:

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all””

Proverbs 31:28-29
DISCLAIMER:

This verse was written about a fictional Queen who would be a match for King Solomon.  I’m pretty sure none of us are queen’s in here, so this verse is not about pressure to “surpass” all other women, but to figure out how we can be the best for our own children and our own husband in whatever situations we find ourselves in.

Setting the scene each morning 

So this summary post might be a bit different to others.  Mainly because the word ARISE has been the one standing out to me this week. I mentioned it in the middle of the week in our Facebook Community, but today is a prime example of how our mornings can affect the rest of the day.  With one little negative comment, I put my husband in a bad mood when he got out of bed.  He went into the boys in a bad mood, and hence they messed around and got punished.  This put them in a bad mood, and the sequence continues.  Does this sound familiar to you?  Do you ever wakeup and dread what the day is going to hold, so you are already in a foul mood when it comes to getting the kids dressed and out the house for school?

arise and call her blessed

Those first few moments in a morning set the tone of the day.  Yes, other things can happen and things can change, but the first few moments are very powerful.  That’s why so many people advocate for getting up early to spend time with God. But if we can’t do that, then this verse has been challenging me on how I speak about those around me first thing.

The kids and husband in this verse get up and immediately call their mum/wife blessed and praise her.  Wow, what that must feel like!!  To have the first words said to you be ones of love, and adoration, rather than “IS IT BREAKFAST TIME!!!”.  But you know what –if that is what we want, then we have to start that.  We have to wake up every day and bless our kids and our husband and speak out praise over them.  We can set the culture in our home and we can set the mood of the day, so lets make it one of praise and love.  If we start doing that, then quickly it will filter into everything else.

So what are the first words out of your mouth on a morning?  Is it “I love you” to your husband?  Is it “hello handsome!” to your boys or “hello beautiful!” to your girls?  The morning holds such promise for the day ahead so lets use it for build up our family, rather than spending it screaming at each other. 

Next Week

Don’t forget to share what God has revealed to you through this verse, as it may be something completely different!  Next week is our penultimate week in this series, so do join me and hundreds of other mummy meditators in pondering on this verse: 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 wife (Week 13)

 

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Happy Sunday Evening everyone.  I thought that I would put this post up slightly later, as I am sure you are all busy decorating your houses for Christmas!  What a joyous time of the year it is, and yet what a stressful time too.  This weeks verse has come perfectly timed, as I think it speaks some really useful messages as we enter December.  It is:

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

watching over

The big thing that has been niggling at me this week is this concept of “watching over”.  We had some great definitions and examples of what this might mean shared on the Facebook Community.  These included:

  • To protect someone and make certain that that person is safe:
  • Making sure everything is sorted for our families so that we don’t have to worry about things
  • Nurses on the night shift watch over their patients – they don’t touch or examine them but they watch and check to make sure everything is ok.
  • Making sure things don’t go badly, so giving attention but not interference

Its this tension between caring for, looking after, making sure things are safe but also not interfering or taking over.   Its the mum “watching over” as her kids learn to cook and cut things with sharp knives.  She is there to make sure the environment is safe, the kids are prepper and taught before being let lose and to watch for signs that things might go wrong.  But she is allowing the child to step out and learn a new skill and do it themselves.  This is a beautiful thing, and yet so difficult.  b

I think there is something huge for us to learn from this as mums, and that is that we have to stop interfering!!!  We have to let our household take care of itself once in a while, and watch what happens.  We as mums are getting more and more stressed, trying to control everything and sort everything, when that is NOT what we are supposed to do!!  We are supposed to delegate, we are supposed to train and teach others to take some of the load.  Yes, we are there to make sure nothing goes wrong, but we are not hand holding all the time.  That is what we should aspire to, and I want to challenge you today to take stock of how you treat your kids and your husband.  Are you interfering all the time and taking over, or are you watching over and allowing them to fly?

Bread of idleness

Its funny really that this over controlling is then immediately contrasted with not being idle.  As mums, this is a really tricky balance to strike, and I think that the passage is saying we have to get that balance right.  Yes, we shouldn’t do everything for everyone and not let anyone else get a look in, but we also shouldn’t sit back with our feet up as everyone else in our household takes the strain.  How often do you try to do everything, as let you kids just enjoy themselves, to then burn out and end up slumped on the sofa unable to do anything?  I mean, I love a good slump on the sofa, resting and recovering, but there is a difference between resting and being idle.

  • REST – cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength
  • IDLE – (of a person) avoiding work; lazy.

This is the big difference – rest is for those who HAVE worked, idleness is avoiding doing any work in the first place.  If you have been running around after the kids all day and you are exhausted, then it is absolutely fine to have a sit on the sofa, checking your social media with a nice cuppa in hand.  That is the rest that you need to face the rest of the day.  BUT if you haven’t done a thing, and just can’t be bothered to do the jobs that need to be done in the house so are sitting on the sofa avoiding those jobs, well that is being idle.

So rather that demonising sitting on sofa, watching TV and checking our phones, lets take the time to examine why we are doing that instead.

putting this into practice in the lead up to Christmas

As I said at the beginning, this verse has come for me at an very opportune time.  Christmas, especially for those of us with kids in school, can be ridiculously busy.  We can feel exhausted and over worked, stressed and not joyful.  But this verse says stop trying to do it all!  Delegate and let others do some of the Christmas chores – the kids can decorate the tree, the hubby can go to the Carol concert, the grandparents can take them to see Santa.  YOU don’t have to do it all.   Lets be there to watch over all the festivities, but not feel like we have to do everything.

Also, lets remember to rest.  Find times of peace, to meditate on our verses or ponder the Christmas story, or to just scroll through Facebook!  But don’t become idle avoid doing the jobs that need doing – they’ll only pile up for the week before Christmas and make you more stressed!!

So channel that Proverbs 31 woman this week and enjoy the start of the festivities!!!

Next Week

We move on to the following verse to meditate on over the coming week:

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all”” Proverbs 31:28-29

I do hope you will join me and the other members of our Facebook Community in discussing this verse throughout the week.  The free phone lock screen will be available tomorrow, but in the meantime check out the 99p sale over in the shop:

 

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 12)

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Happy Sunday Mummy Meditators!  Thanks for coming over to read my summary post on this weeks verse.  Have you felt challenged to change the way you speak this week?  I certainly have, and I want to share why and how with you below.  This was the verse we were looking at:

“She speaks with wisdom; and faithful instruction is on her tongue” Proverbs 31:26

following on from last week

Last week we spoke about how the Proverbs 31 woman needed to be clothed by God in the things that she was lacking and would need for the tasks ahead of her (you can read the summary post here).  This week, we see that after being equipped in this way, she is able to speak with wisdom.  I don’t think its a coincidence that this verse follows on – in order to be able to speak with wisdom we need God’s help!  We are not wise on our own (something that Solomon would find out when he asked God for wisdom) and so we need to remember that this is something that God can “clothe” us in too.

speaking when needed

One thing that God really challenged me on this week whilst meditating on this verse was that speaking with wisdom also means knowing when to speak and when not to.  She doesn’t just speak all the time and have a mixture of wise and unwise words, she only speaks with wisdom.  That to me means that I need to cut some of the crap.  I need to think over whether I am saying something wise, or just talking for the sake of it.  I need to choose my words, especially when it comes to my children, to make sure I don’t regret any of them.

Instruction is the overflow

What is on the tip of your tongue?  What comes out of your mouth when you’re not even thinking?  Its the overflow of your heart, what you are truly thinking and feeling.  Maybe its the snide comment that you say whilst half thinking that reveals how you truly feel about someone.  Maybe its words of love and care.  If our hearts desire is to instruct and care for others, then that will be on the tip of our tongue everytime we open our mouths.  But if negative thoughts and hate are in our heart then that is what will spill out.  So maybe this week, rather than trying to figure out how to control our words, we need to examine our hearts and see what is overflowing out of them.

faithful or kind?

I asked our Mummy Meditations Community to look at some different translations of this verse, and it brought up something quite interesting this week.   Some of the translations used the words “faithful instruction” but others had a very different slant.  In the Passion Translation it says “loving instructions”, The Message uses “she always says it kindly” and ESV “the teaching of kindness is on her tongue”.   There seems to be a tension between faithful and kind when it comes to the translation of this word, and the original Hebrew word (hesed) is such that it can’t be directly translated into our language.  The word represents loving kindness and being faithful to promises ,and so that is why it is translated as either faithful or kind.  So really, we can take both those words to heart when we think about our instruction (something that is at the forefront of what we do everyday with our children).  Lets try to make sure it is both faithful (that we keep our promises and are loyal to what we believe) AND kind (done in a gentle and loving way).

Next Week

We are now into the last month of our Proverbs 31 wife series, and we head into some really interesting verses to finish off this poetic passage.  Next week we will be meditating on this verse, I hope you’ll join me in the Facebook group to discuss it more:

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

Don’t forget to download and print your bookmarks ready for the next four weeks here:

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (week 11)

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Welcome to week 11, and an absolutely fantastic week here at Mummy Meditations.  Discussion has been flowing over in the Facebook Group and so many great thoughts and insights given on this verse.  I guess it is one of the more well known verses in the whole chapter and I’m really looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Clothing yourself or being clothed

The first part of this verse says “She is clothed”, and its quite easy to skip over this phrase and move on to what she is clothed in.  But this phrase is important, and a mummy meditator in the Facebook Group pointed it out.  It doesn’t say that she “clothed herself”, but that she “is clothed”.  This is an action of someone else putting the clothes on her.  Like you would clothe your children, this is an external action to her.   When we clothe our children, we do so because they are not able to do it themselves.  It is a skill they are yet to learn so we do it for them.  This is such a significant point to remember – this woman isn’t able to give herself the strength and dignity that she needs to be a great wife, she NEEDS someone else to give it to her.

Don’t be discouraged if you feel that you are lacking things as a wife or a mother (and definitely don’t be discouraged by the Proverbs 31 fictious wife!), as we are all lacking things.  It is important that we know to turn to the one who can clothes us in what we are lacking it – turn to God as ask him to clothe you today in what you need for the week to come.

Clothed with what you need

Now we have established that it is God who is clothing her in what she needs, we can now look at what it is she is being clothed in.  I love this image of strength being place on her and dignity too.  It’s a beautiful image of how we be stronger than we ever thought possible.  But it is important to remember who this woman was going to be – the wife of King Solomon.  This wife described was going to be a Queen, and that comes with its own challenges.  She would definitely need to be strong to take the weight of royal service (how amazing is our own Queen in how she has tirelessly served our country for so many years). But she also needed to be dignified.

I wanted to look at the word dignity, as the way it is used today is more surround death than anything else (when you google dignity the first results are funeral directors!!).  There were two definitions of this word that stood out to me:

  • The state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect” – this ties in nicely with the first verse of this passage – a wife of noble character.
  • A composed or serous manner or style – majesty, regalness, grandeur” – this has a real link to royalty – that you have to be able to act in a certain way and fill that role as Queen

When we put it in this perspective, then we realise that these two qualities that she was being clothed in were the things SHE NEEDED for that specific role.  Maybe they aren’t transferable to us here and now.  Maybe when we quote this verse to each, as nice as it is, its not actually what the passage was trying to say.  Maybe we need to be praying over each other that God would clothe us in what WE NEED for our specific roles.  Maybe that is strength, gosh as mums we definitely need strength some days!!  But maybe we need clothing in patience or generosity or cheerfulness.  Whatever we are lacking in, we have a God that can clothe us and fill that gap.  How amazing!!

Because you are clothed

The final part of this verse presented a real challenge to us mums.  It suggests that this woman has nothing to worry about and laughs at the future with no cares in the world.  We shared in the Facebook Group about some of our worries, and how a lot of them centre around our children.  We couldn’t really imagine not worrying about things really and being anything like this woman in the verse seemed unrealistic.  But I want to say that this care-free, laughter inducing state is not unreachable.  This queen, this wife, this woman, surely had many many things that she could worry about, and yet BECAUSE she is clothed by God in what she needs, she doesn’t NEED to worry about them.  It’s not that those things don’t exist, but that she knows God is equipping her to deal with them.  If we are well equipped to deal with things then we don’t need to worry about it, as we know it is all in hand.

So perhaps we need to change our prayers and our focus sometimes.  Yes it is great to pray for future issues and challenges, that God will change them or work through them.  But lets also pray that God clothes us in what we need for those seasons and challenges so that we can forget about them, knowing we have got it.  We can “laugh at the days to come” because we don’t need to think or worry about them at all.

Next week

We will be meditating on the following verse next week and discussing it over in the Facebook Group, so please do join us:

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

You can also find lots of great resources over in the Mummy Meditations Shop, as well as some great Christmas gift ideas and printable bookmarks of all the verses we are studying in this series.

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (week 10)

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Happy Sunday everyone!  And welcome to this week’s summary post.  Ok – hands up who read this week’s verse and thought “BOOORRING”?  Well that was me on Monday.  I didn’t think there was much to learn from this simple verse, but boy was I wrong.  I hope you’ll read on to find out more about this verse in Proverbs:

“She makes linen garments and sell them; and supplies the merchants with sashes”  Proverbs 31:24

what’s with all the linen???!

Being ten weeks in, immediately I noticed that it wasn’t a coincidence to see the word “linen” again.  We saw it pop up in verse 13 where she chooses the flax (the plant that linen comes from) and also in verse 22.  In verse 19 when she is spinning thread, that could also be linen that she is spinning.  So we get it – the linen is important!  But why?  Well here are a few things I found out about linen and why it is important that that is what she is making her garments out of:

  • Linen is very laborious to make.  The thread used to make it does not have elastic properties and so the fibres often broke.  This woman is not taking the easy way out, making a quick buck.  She is working hard to make something difficult.
  • Linen is strong and highly valuable.  There were many great properties about linen, including its strength as a fabric and how absorbent it was.  It also dried faster than cotton, making it cool and fresh in humid weather.  This meant that is was very valuable and used by the wealthier class of society.  This woman is not making a sub-par item, but it working to make the best quality garments she can, even if it is hard work.
  • Linen represent purity.  Its no coincidence that linen is mentioned here in relation to a noble woman and good character – linen cloth was used to represent purity and righteousness.  It was what most of the priestly garments were made out of, and there is even a passage in Revelation (15:6) where angels are wearing it!  Apparently Egyptian mummies were wrapped in it as a symbol of light and purity too.   This woman is concerned with purity too and making something righteous.

So lots of great things to learn about why this woman chooses linen to make garments of to sell on.  I guess perhaps we can apply this by asking ourselves “Am I just taking the easy way out and avoiding hard work even if it would be worth it?  Am I creating some valuable with my time?  Am I creating some righteous and of eternal value with my time?”.  What you are creating may differ greatly (most of us don’t make clothes anymore) but think about this in regards to your own life.

The right order

We come to this verse after reading that the proverbs 31 wife has already:

  1. Looked after her family.  She has provided clothes for her husband and children and food for them too.  She has a blood responsibility to them and they come first.
  2. Looked after her servants.  She has made sure they are well fed and clothed as well.  Those she has a legal/employer responsibility towards she has made sure to look after next.
  3. Looked after the poor and needy.  She has opened her arms to those who can’t look after themselves and made sure they have what they need.  They are the next most important to her.

Only after she has done these three things does she look externally to how she can make items for others who aren’t poor and needy and who can afford to pay for them.  I think there is a great lesson in this as to where we put our limited resources and energy – make sure you cover your responsibilities first (both blood and employer) and then look at what you can do next.  It is great to sell things, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of those who truly need you to look after them.

What about those sashes?

The final thing that jumped out at me was the word “sashes”.  Now, when I think of a sash this is what springs to mind:

beauty queen sash

So this verse seemed a bit excessive and pointless – why did the merchants need pretty sashes?!!  But sashes in those times were much more practical.  In fact they were much more like a belt that went around their tunics.  They would have be woven around the body several times.  Priests used them decoratively, but they were also used by the military to suspend their dagger/sword in it and some also used it as a pocket to store purses inside when folded correctly.  This was a much more useful item of clothing!   So this woman is providing the merchants with something that would have been very helpful for them, stopping their tunics getting in the way of their work and possibly even more.  She is thoughtful and caring towards others.

next week

We move on to one of the more famous verses in this passage, so it will be really interesting to see what we already know about this one:

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

I do hope that you’ll join in the discussion around this verse over in our Facebook Community, where there will also be free phone lock screens for your to download and discussion questions to help prompt your meditations!

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