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!

(Don’t forget to hop over to etsy and check out our shop – why not buy a gift for a friend this Christmas?)

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 8)

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Well it’s a sad week this week in the Mummy Meditations Community as we said farewell to the lovely Naomi from The Organised Life Project.  Naomi has been writing summary posts, prompting discussions and walking alongside me in this for the last two years, and was a light in my time of darkness.  I will certainly feel lost without her for a little while, so bear with me!  I pray amazing blessings over Naomi as she pursues new things in her life, and I know she will still be meditating alongside us all with our weekly verses!

This week we have been pondering on this verse:

“When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.” Proverbs 31:21-22

Be Prepared

Was anyone else in the Girl Guides when they were younger?  I was a rainbow, brownie, guide and then eventually became a leader too, before giving it up when I had my kids.  The motto of the Girl Guides is “Be Prepared”, and this week that phrase has kept coming back to me in regards to this verse.  At work I also get told that if you “fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”, and so we still live in a society where preparation is key to success and survival.

With this recent cold snap (who actually had snow this week!  God must have known we were studying this verse and sent it to make us smile!) I am aware of how unprepared I actually am for winter.  We just moved into a new house and we haven’t sorted the heating or unpacked the woolly hats.  It has not been a fun (or warm) few days and we are suffering because of it.

fully prepared

proverbs 31:21-22As I thought about this quality of being prepared, lots of you told me how you prepare for your families – from buying clothes in the next size up, to taking extra snack with you everywhere, meal planning and having alone time to prepare mentally and spiritually.  This got me to thinking how can I make sure I am FULLY prepared in every way:

Physically – I am thinking of all the things that my family will need today/tomorrow, in the next week/month, next year or season?  How can I change the way I do something so that it feels organised and prepared rather than a rush and a stress?  The Proverbs 31 wife had her bed coverings ready before the snow came, so lets try to be ready before things hit.

Mentally – Do I spend time going through my diary/calendar and mentally preparing for what lies ahead so I know what to expect?  Do I get rest when I need it so that I am not stressed out when things come up?

Spiritually – Do I pray over each day/week/season, spend time with God and prepare myself spiritually for the battles that each one will bring?  Am I reading up on godly ways to approach situations before they arise so I know how to deal with the biblically (e.g. reading up on teenage years before they come, or Halloween before it arrives)?

no fear

The words “no fear” also stood out to me this week.  The result of all that preparation, physically, mentally and spiritually, is that we can face any situation knowing that it is in the bag, it is handled, it is sorted.  We don’t need to be afraid of what will come anymore.  And in a world of stress and busyness and a million things to do, isn’t that a great feeling to have?!  Don’t you feel on top of the world when you walk back into the house after a successful school run where everyone had the uniform laid out, lunches prepared, backpacks ready, consent slips pre-signed and ready to hand in?  Doesn’t it feel amazing when you know all the Christmas presents are bought and wrapped well in advance?  Doesn’t it feel the best when your kid asks you a question about something and you can answer it really well because you’ve already read up around it?

Our God is a God of love, not fear, and so he wants us to live in that place where we are walking with him, fully prepared for what comes ahead and trusting in God that he can deal with anything else that comes our way.

dressed to impress

Now, whilst this week God has been impressing on me how important it is to prepare, I know that this verse also talks about what we wear.  This woman dresses herself and her family well (if this is Bathsheba talking to Solomon then that would be expected of a Queen!), she dresses for the job that she has been given.  Sometimes we forget that how we dress affects how we feel and how we are perceived by others – Bathsheba is highlighting that others will make judgements about Solomon’s future wife based on her dress and so he needs to choose a woman who can dress appropriately.

I don’t know what jobs or positions you hold, but perhaps this week is a week to contemplate how what we wear impacts us – our mood, how others perceive us, our role in the family.  I would love to know if God has revealed something more on this part of the verse to you!

Next week

Over the coming week we will be studying and meditating on the following verse:

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

I do hope you’ll join me and our amazing community of mums over on Facebook to discuss this more during the week!

You can also download the next set of printable bookmarks over in our etsy shop, where you’ll also find lots more resources for keeping our verse of the week central in your life!

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 7)

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I have loved this week – this verse kind of feels like it fits me, and more than any of the others, than it is describing part of my character.  I haven’t had that tugging feeling of condemnation that I have felt when I initially read some of the other verses about this amazing fictitious wife!  So what was this weeks verse:

“In her hands she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.  She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” Proverbs 31:19-20

What on earth is a distaff?!

So my first reaction this week was that I didn’t have a clue about the items it was discussing in the first part of the verse.  I knew I would have to do a bit of research to figure out what they were and why they were significant.  Apparently a distaff was used in the spinning process to keep the unspun fibres together and untangled, hence making the process much easier.

I like that this woman is organised, she has the right tools for the job and does it efficiently.  Earlier in the passage we read about how she selected the flax, and here she is spinning that flax to make thread that she can use.  She is productive and doing the jobs that are needed to keep her family clothed and warm.

In the message version it uses the phrase “She is skilled in the crafts of the home and hearth, diligent in homemaking”.  I think this puts it more in a way we understand now – she is homemaking.  This woman that Bathsheba is recommending Solomon looks for is a homemaker.  Someone who will make sure that the home is ready whilst the husband was working, plying their trade or out fighting for their nation.

proverbs 31How can I be a homemaker today?

Nowadays we don’t have to spin our own thread, we don’t have to sew our own clothes or curtains or bedspreads, we don’t have to make our own bread or many of these traditional crafts, but when this was written they were the things that made the home comfortable, liveable and enjoyable.  Some of them even meant protection and survival, as without a warm blanket the family wouldn’t survive a cold winter.

Now we are still homemakers, in that we seek out the products we need to make our homes warm, comfortable and enjoyable too.  We might not sew them ourselves, but we still provide them and make sure our families have them.  Perhaps we could spend some more time doing these things the traditional way too, as one Facebook Group Member mentioned “the mental wellbeing side of taking time to create something beautiful and/or useful is seen as worthwhile”.

Charitable as well

The second part of this verse is all about this woman’s heart to help others.  After asking the Mummy Meditations Community what charitable things they got up to, I am pretty sure most of us share this heart already!  But I just wanted to highlight two things that God revealed to me about this:

  1. She is reactive in her help.  The first way it describes her charitable nature is that she is “quick to assist anyone in need”.  This is a reactive help – she sees someone without something and she steps in to help.  We should be like this too, looking out for opportunities to help and being quick to react.  In practice this might mean that we are willing to share a spare room when needed, give a donation to a disaster that has just happened, or keep aside a kitty to buy things for those who are struggling.
  2. She plans to help.  As well as reacting and helping when things come up, this woman also plans in how she can help and “reaches out to help the poor”.  This means that she recognises there will always be those who are poor, and so she is actively planning to help them.  This is a long term, planned approach, and means that she can provide support to a particular group and make a difference.  In practice for us this means that we could plan monthly donations to charities that help the poor (perhaps sponsor a child, donate food items to a food bank regularly or donate to a charity like Christians Against Poverty).  This isn’t reactive, but saying that we will stand with the poor whoever they might be.

I love that it is important to Bathsheba that she advise her son to look for a woman with a caring heart, not one who is just power crazy and wants to be a queen, but a woman who will use that role wisely and to look after others, both actively and reactively as needed.  We may not all be queens, but we have all been given time, money and other resources with which we can care and look after others with.  Lets be woman that actively and reactively care for those in need.

next week

We are almost half way (can you believe it!) through the Proverbs 31 series and I hope you are all enjoying it.  Next week we will be meditating on this verse:

“When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.  She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.”  Proverbs 31:21-22

Naomi will be leading the discussion over on our Facebook Group so please do join in the conversation!  The new bookmarks for weeks 9-12 will be out soon to download in the etsy shop soon too, so keep your eyes peeled for those!

 

 

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 5)

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Here is my confession: I started this week not really wanting to study this verse.  After an amazing week looking at a verse that spoke right into my heart as a mother and wife (check out Naomi’s summary post from last week) I wasn’t very inspired by our next verse.  I seemed pretty straight forward.  She buys a field.  She plant a vineyard.  BORING!!!  Not much to learn here.  But I knew that God has called me to lead to discussion on this, to inspire and encourage you mums to dig deeper into each verse, and so thats what I needed to do.  I hope you are challenged by what God revealed to me this week about his verse:

“She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16

Five characteristics to aspire to

After finally sitting down to think over the verse, I realised that it shows us five things that an amazing wife will bring to the party that will enhance the lives of her husband and family.  She:

  1. Considers
  2. Saves
  3. Invests
  4. Plans ahead
  5. Thinks of the whole picture

I’ll quickly go through all of those and hopefully link in some of the great thoughts from our Mummy Meditations Community too!

She Considers

The word “considers” stood out to a lot of us as we first started to meditate on this verse.  The importance of taking time over decisions, carefully planning and analysing instead of just jumping in and doing the first thing that comes to our heads.  I think we all know that if we want great things to happen in the future we have to actually consider them and decide on a how to do them before they can become a reality.  Only if we take time to look will we find the best.

How often do you sit down to consider your family’s future?  How often do you consider different ways to overcome your problems?  How often do you look at all the different options before making a decision?

proverbs 31she saves

This woman understands that in order to get something of value in the future there is a sacrifice to make in the present.  In this metaphor she is saving her earnings to be able to take on this vineyard venture.  But it might not be that for you.  Perhaps you are sacrificing being at work to stay at home with the kids – a lot of us identified that this is a way of saving and putting something into our families. With saving money you know that you can’t buy anything with it for a long time, that for a while you will have nothing to show for that sacrifice.  Perhaps we need to give ourselves that grace in parenting too – as we save and sacrifice to input into our children, there may a long time before that ever pays off or shows something.  But it is being kept safe for the future.

Think about what you are sacrificing right now for the future.  Make a note and remember that it is being kept safe for another time even when it feels tough now.  How often do you consider what you are financially saving for the future?  Maybe now is a good time to actually consider your financial situation and make sure you are doing that.

She Invests

So considering and saving are all quite passive and worthless if you don’t then do this next bit – she invests!  She doesn’t just sit on her nice pot of savings (how nice is it when you look in the bank account and there is a pot of money there for a rainy day?!).  She does something with it.  When the time is right she spends it.  Not just on sweets and presents and shiny things, but on an investment that will pay off in the future.  I think about the many times that I fritter time, money, energy and more on things that have no meaning in the future – what a waste!  Here this woman is spending her savings on something that will pay off.  Again we saw a really big link between this characteristic and our roles as mothers.  We are literally investing all of our hearts, time and energy into these little people, and boy will that pay off in the future!!!

What can you invest in now that will pay off in the future?  What things do you have at your disposal to invest – is it time, money, energy, material things?  Are there some new projects or ideas you need to step out in to and rather than just considering and talking about them, actually INVEST in them?

She plans ahead

Similar to considering, this woman makes sure that she is future-proofing ( a great word that we use in my job as a fundraiser!) her family.  When she invests it is not a short-term thing.  Perhaps she would get a quicker return if she planted corn in her field – she could harvest it the next year and get more money.  But that is not what she is after here.  She already has money, she already has enough for her family to get by day by day.  Here she is looking long into the future.  Vineyards would have taken years to become established enough to provide a good harvest of grapes.  And they aren’t really the kind of crop you grow just so you can have a delicious snack or a nice drink in the evening with your husband.  No, this a crop you grow to sell and trade and give your family more in the future.

In what ways are we looking past our immediate needs for food, water and shelter, and looking at what our family might need 10, 20, 30 years down the line?  How can we plan and provide for that?  What might our family’s physical, spiritual and mental needs be that far in the future?

she thinks of the whole picture

As I’ve been writing this, it has been so easy to think of the financial and physical things that me and my family might need in the future.  Perhaps a car for the boys to learn to drive in, university tuition fees, school trip money.  All of things are good to plan for, but if we truly want to be like the Proverbs 31 woman then we need to look at the whole picture.  As with all of this passage, this verse is poetic and uses a very clever metaphor.  One about a vineyard.  When we dug deeper into this, we saw that vineyards are used in many places throughout the bible, including Isaiah 5, John 15:5 and many of Jesus’ parables.

“I am the vine; you are the branches” John 15:5

A vineyard is not just a vineyard.  It represents two main things in the bible – the nation of Israel and spiritual health.  And really these two things are linked!  So by saying she is planting a vineyard, the writer is saying that she is prioritising keeping the nation of Israel going and looking after the spiritual health of her family for the future.

How are you as a mother and a wife looking at the whole picture?  How are you planning for your kids spiritual health and security as they grow up as well as their financial and physical health? 

Next steps forward

As I mention every time that I write on Proverbs 31- this is not a to-do list, but an amazing role model to aspire to.  I have put in italics some questions for us to consider this week to put this verse into practice (and I am actually amazed that there is so much to consider out of one tiny verse!!!).  Maybe sit down and write what you would like for your family in 5, 10, 20, 30 years times, and then you can work from there and start planning on how to achieve that.  Make sure you consider financial, physical, mental and spiritual goals and ideals and pray for wisdom whilst doing this.  I would love to hear how this goes and if God reveals anything new to you through this.

next week

Now it is the turn of the night owls to gloat as we look at this verse!

“She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:17-18

Naomi will be leading the discussion over in our Facebook Community and we would love for you to join in the conversation and share what God is revealing to you!  If you need any help getting started or some great products to aid your weekly meditations then hop over to our etsy shop here.

 

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 3)

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It has been another great week over in our Facebook Community, as we have discussed all the different parts of this weeks verse.  Don’t forget to read Naomi’s summary post from last week to catch up if you need to!

“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.” Proverbs 31:13-14

I am going to try to summarise all the great things that God has been revealing to us all, as well as tying in some of the research that I have done over the week.  If you have taken anything else from this verse then please do share either in the comments here or back in our Facebook Community!  We must remember that this is NOT a to-do list, designed to make us feel like we are failing, but guidance and advice from a mother to her son and a blessing to speak over ourselves as women.  It is something to aspire to and to take inspiration from, but never to make ourselves guilty over.

a working wife

It is strange reading this whole verse – I find certain phrases from society echoing in my head “Men are the hunter-gatherers”, “Men are the head of the household”.  Yet here, the mother is giving her son advice to find a wife who will pull her weight, who will take part in all the household decisions and actively work and make decisions.  This idea that we have been fed of a “domestic goddess” is far from the reality here, and we have to accept that the working mum is not a new invention!!  Whether that means we are working away from the home, in the home or a bit of both, as women we have a vital role to play in our families and that is to be valued.

Wool and Flax

In our community, we discussed how she “selected” the wool and flax, she didn’t just go and get some, but she took time over the decision and made sure she cproverbs 31hose the best of what was available.  There is purpose in the word “select”.  Why did she do this?  Because her family is her utmost priority, and she wants the best for them.  This is a woman who cares and who loves and who looks after.  Lets be women like this!  But not just in choosing clothes or food, but for our family’s spiritual life as well.  Lets select the best resources, save the best of our time for pursuing spiritual health, and put it as a high priority.

Interestingly she selects two different types of fibre – both wool and flax.  From research, flax is the plant fibre that makes linen, a fabric that is perfect in the summer, but not warm enough for winter.  Whereas wool is perfect for the winter time but would be too hot for summer.  So by choosing both, this woman is preparing her family for all eventualities.  We can do that too, by preparing for both spiritually good times and bad, and giving our families the tools they need to deal with both.

Linen is very significant throughout the bible, so her choosing this would have been significant to Solomon as he hears this advice from his mum.  Linen is used for the ephod that the priests wear to go into the temple and approach God.  It was also used to wrap Jesus’ body after he was crucified.  Linen symbolises righteousness and personal holiness, so this woman is selecting clothes for her family that will help their spiritual health as well as protect their health in all seasons of the year.

Eager Hands

I love the way that this woman is described to have “eager hands”.  Eager can also be translated as willing, impatient, keen, zealous, passionate, wholehearted.  All of which describe an enthusiastic or impatient desire to do something.  What a characteristic to have about her family and the spiritual life – to be so eager to do those things and provide and protect!  We mentioned that sometimes life gets the better of us as mums, and we aren’t quite so “eager” to do the jobs that need to be done to look after our own families.  Perhaps we can aspire to having more eager hands in the future!!

Merchant Ships

This was the metaphor that I was most looking forward to digging deeper into because it completely baffled me to start off with!  I asked the question to you all about it, and these were some of your comments:

“It makes me think of going wherever it takes to find what’s needed. Sometimes we can just say ‘We don’t have that here.’ and settle for what we can find in our immediate surroundings, often making do with what’s left. But the purpose of these ships was to go and find where the produce was most prevalent, the quality was the highest, and bring it back.”

“The image of a merchant ship carries a weight of purpose – they’re not messing about or enjoying a cruise. They’re working to provide  – all the time. But they’re solid and trustworthy vessels that can hold a lot.”

“I think merchant ships are essential for an economy. There’s a risk with a merchant ship (risk of shipwreck etc) but they also carry amazing goods (spices, cloth etc) which make that risk worthwhile. So it gives a real value to the work of bringing the family’s food to the table.

“I’m a merchant ship, that’s exactly what I am! And it’s lovely to belong to a whole fleet of merchant ships that search out for the best of everything, materials and spiritually to serve our families !”

Taking risks, going to get the best, trading and being resourceful, all for to serve her family.  What a woman.  I don’t know about you, but I am feeling inspired to become an even better woman who provides the best she can for her family, especially when it comes to our spiritual health and wellbeing.

Next week

Well what a week, and I for one am so thankful for the comments and encouragement from everyone taking part.  Bring on next week when we continue our studies in Proverbs 31 with this verse:

“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.” Proverbs 31:15

The lovely Naomi will be leading the discussion this week, and to celebrate us reaching 500 members in the Facebook Community there will also be a giveaway going on!  Watch this space….

(Sunday 23rd is the last day to use the “LAUNCH20” discount code in our etsy shop so go grab a bargain before its too late!!)

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 1)


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Welcome!

I know we have lots of new people joining us for this series looking at the Proverbs 31 Wife, so I wanted to start off by welcoming you.  If you come from a place where you have struggled to read your bible – welcome.  If you come from a place where you haven’t had a “devotional time” for what seems like forever – welcome.  If you come from a place where you are close to God and want to dig even deeper into the bible with others – welcome.  This is a safe place for us to discuss this small section of the bible each week, and it has been so fantastic and encouraging to me to see that happening over in our Facebook Community.  Please do keep sharing, commenting and discussing our weekly verse – you are spurring me on and no doubt spurring others on too.  We are all in this together!!

Week One – Where to start?!

proverb 31:10Well this week is our intro week really into the Proverbs 31 wife.  And what a week its been.  We have launched into such a fantastic verse that is iconic really of the Proverbs 31 wife.  Perhaps you’ve heard it quoted at weddings or on anniversary cards, but this week we have dug deeper than the superficial statement that it seems to make about how great it is to find a good wife.

First off I wanted to understand more about who was writing this and what it’s original intention was.  You see, often we as women read this whole passage and make it a kind of “to-do list”, and way to make ourselves feel inferior as we aren’t as good as this “wife of noble character”.  By the end of verse 10, we have already discounted ourselves as being worth more than rubies – that must be someone else surely!

But after a bit of research (none of which was conclusive) it seems most likely that this passage was written by Bathsheba, the mum of King Solomon (the passage before this was written to King Lemuel and many scholar seems to think that may have been a pet name for Solomon that his mum called him).  So this is written by a woman.  You may be mistaken for getting angry with Bathsheba for setting the standards so high and making it difficult for women, but then I looked at who its original intended audience was.  It was for Solomon.  Perhaps also for other men around that time, but it was never intended to be read by us when it was written.  This is a poetic piece of writing (it is actually an acrostic in its original Hebrew – how cool is that!) with the intention of teaching her son how to look for a good wife.

It is well known that David (Solomon’s dad) wasn’t the greatest at choosing wives.  He took other people’s wives and was easily swayed by beauty.  Bathsheba knew only too well how badly that could go!  And so in a desperate mothers attempt to impart wisdom to her son, she wanted to teach him how to find a good wife.  I also thought back to some of the characters in the Old Testament and what it says about their wives – Abraham’s wife Sarah was very beautiful that he had to pretend she was his sister, Jacob wanted Rachel as his wife because she was the most beautiful of the two sisters, the first thing we know about Isaac’s wife Rebekah is that she is beautiful.  There is definitely a recurring theme that men seem more bothered about how their wives look than anything else, and that doesn’t always work out well.  Bathsheba wants to address this and help her son to break the cycle.

what does it mean to have “Noble Character”?

Noble: showing fine personal qualities.  Righteous, virtuous, good, worthy.  Lots of you jumped straight to finding the original Hebrew word, chayil, which means strong, able, warrior-like, efficient.  So many great attributes are encompassed in this word “noble” that it is easy to feel lost and discouraged reading it.  How on earth are we supposed to measure up to that?

I always remember being told before I got married that instead of moaning that I haven’t found the perfect man, I should focus on trying to make myself the perfect woman.  I think this is the heart of this verse – that this is something to strive for, yes, but not to worry about if we haven’t yet achieved it.  The whole first sentence is a question “who can find?” which tells me that actually women like this are very rare.  We all have our faults and failings, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to become more and more noble in the way that we act and do things.  I know I want to be the best wife and the best woman I can be so that others will see me as a precious jewel.

why is she more precious than rubies???

Ok, so there are a few different translations of this part of the verse.  Some say jewels, some say rubies, and the more modern translations have even dared to change it to diamonds (check out the message translation)!  It got me thinking as to why most said rubies.  Rubies at the time that this was written were more valuable and more rare than diamonds.  In fact, diamonds were actually too hard that they were viewed as negative – being like a diamond was linked to hardness of heart and being set in your ways, not something that God valued.  Rubies instead were rare and precious with many different colours and shades inside.  There were important to God, as they are listed as being on the priest’s ephod and as one of the 12 foundation stones for the New Jerusalem in Revelation.  Metaphorically they are important to God.  And as something important to God, it brings the context that having a good character as a woman and wife is something we should strive for, and that men who worship God should look for.

On a side note – I think that the Message Version changes rubies to diamonds because of the way we view these stones now.  Diamonds, due to heavy advertising and market control, are now the most valuable and rare of precious stones.  So to make this passage understandable to us now, diamonds are the most comparable thing.  We no longer see diamonds as negative as we have harnessed their hardness for uses in cutting tools and other instruments, something that was not achieved back in Old Testament times.

 so what now?

Well, that was a mouthful of a summary post!!  You might be left thinking, what now?  After meditating on this verse all week, I have come to the conclusion that nobility is something to strive for as a woman.  It is important to God.  But that we shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves to become that or feel like a failure for not being the most noble of women.  This verse was never written to women or for our era, so take comfort from that.  Instead, lets use this verse as a blessing, praying it over our women friends and encouraging each other to focus more on our character than our outward appearance.

Next week

I hope you will all be joining in again next week as we meditate on and study the next two verses of Proverbs 31:

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12

Naomi will be helping to lead the discussion over in the Facebook Community this week, but please do keep posting your thoughts, questions and ideas on the verse throughout the week.

If you need any further resources to help you, do pop over to the new etsy shop for printable bookmarks, coasters, notebooks and much much more.

In HER Shoes – Rachel and Leah (Week 9)

in her shoes

Good Evening Mummy Meditators!!  We are on the home straight with this crazy story about two sisters.  I hope you have enjoyed discovering more about them over the last few weeks.  Don’t forget to catch up on Naomi’s summary post from last week if you missed it.  Our meditation verse from this week was:

“He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear.” Genesis 33:2

What’s going on here then?

Just for a quick bit of context, in this verse the whole family are moving back to where Jacob came from originally after having lived a long time with Laban, Rachel and Leah’s Father.  This is no ordinary house move, and the mix of emotions flying around would have been very intense.  Mainly because when Jacob left, it was under a cloud.  His brother Esau wanted to murder him for tricking him out of his father’s blessing.  So for Jacob, he probably didn’t really want to go back and was expecting there to be hostility on his arrival, not a warm family welcome.

Knowing that, Jacob orders his family as they approach arriving.  Given that he thinks there will be hostility (and whoever is at the front will bear the brunt of that!), the order he puts the women and their children in here is quite telling about where his affections still lie!

In Rachel’s Shoes

I am sure Rachel would be jumping for joy that she was in the safety at the back of the line.  There was no chance she would get hurt if Esau and his family were in an angry mood.  Even with the difficulty in conceiving and not trusting God fully, Rachel receives love, care and protection.  I am sure she would be extra happy too that her only child, Joseph, would be safe as well.

In Leah’s Shoes

This was a bit more a risky place to be in the line.  If you were Leah, it would probably serve as another punch in the gut that you aren’t as loved as Rachel.  You are more dispensable if things go wrong, although some comfort may have been had that she was further up in the line than the servants.  I can’t help but feel sorry for Leah, that this life that her Father deceived Jacob to get has been awful for her.  The what if’s start to creep in.  What if Rachel had been Jacob’s first wife – maybe Leah would have been married off to someone who actually loved her and she would have thrived.  Their sisterly relationship would have been one of support (or maybe they wouldn’t have lived close enough to each other) rather than constantly trying to undermine each other.   To me its all a bit sad that it turned out this way, but I know that despite some awful decisions made by people in this story that God uses it to bring 12 amazing boys (and at least one amazing girl!) into this world who He has an important job for.

what now?

I love that despite the reason that Jacob ordered his family (to protect the ones he card most about in case of attack), the welcome he received from Esau was one of warmth and love.  When Jacob goes to introduce his family, it is in that order that they get to meet Esau.  The servants who were mixed up in all this were exalted as they got to meet Esau and be introduced first, whilst the two sisters were last (V6-7).  Isn’t this always the way with God?  Those who exalt themselves and look for gain, will be humbled, and those who humble themselves and serve will be exalted.  It was certainly the way with His own son, Jesus.

Next week

In our final week with Rachel and Leah (before we start our new exciting series!!!), we will be meditating on this verse:

Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” Genesis 35:16-17

Naomi will be leading the discussion in our Facebook Community, so please do join in the conversation!  Why not invite another mum friend to join us ready for the new series next week, and don’t forget to check out the NEW MUMMY MEDITATIONS SHOP and stock up on some resources to help you get deeper into the bible with us.

In HER Shoes – Rachel and Leah (Week 7)

in her shoes

Welcome back to another week delving into the story of Rachel and Leah (you can catch up last week’s summary post here).  We’ve been following the whole crazy, mixed up situation these two women find themselves in, and this week things start to get desperate (for both of them).  We spent the week meditating on this verse:

“But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” Genesis 30:15

what on earth is going on here?!

Ok, so I have to admit that my first thought was “What on earth?!!”.  This seems such an odd story, that I knew there must be more to it than just a very strange bartering exchange for a night of sex.  We see this scene where Reuben, one of Leah’s sons, comes home one day having found some mandrakes.

Firstly, it is possible that Reuben is only 4 or 5 years old at this time and might have no clue what these plants are .  Maybe he just thought they were pretty and brought them home to bless his mother (my five year old often presents me with a bouquet of daisies!), or perhaps his mum had been telling him to look out for them.  Whatever the case, Reuben brings them home and it starts up another spat between the two women.

At this point in the story, both women aren’t conceiving.  Now what makes this more interesting is what mandrakes were known for in the middle east at that time.  Mandrake plants, although very pretty, had a carrot style root that contains certain chemicals.  At the time they were linked to fertility (although there were also lots of witchcraft and other uses for them as well).  So as soon as both women saw this plant they obviously wanted them to help with their fertility and win that war of who was the best wife.

Rachel’s shoes

When you step into Rachel’s shoes you can totally understand her desire to have these plants.  When you have been childless for a long time, you start grasping at straws, anything at all, that might help you conceive and have the child you so desperately want.  But once again, we see her turning to something powerless and superstitious rather than relying on God to help her.  Rachel is willing to trade her husband for them (which is obviously complicated given that he is also Leah’s husband), showing just how desperate she is.  She is willing to temporarily lay down her place as the favoured wife to win this war.  I feel so sad for Rachel that she feels she has no other options, whilst also shouting at her to turn to God!!!  But then, how many times do we try to solve our own problems in the worlds ways, trying every possible option before we FINALLY turn to prayer??

Leah’s Shoes

Stepping into Leah’s shoes, you can feel her desperation too.  As she is the unloved and unfavoured wife, she probably doesn’t get much time with her husband.  And now that she has given him children, he probably feels he has done his duty to her so he can now enjoy the wife that he loves without needing to spend time with Leah.  She is probably ignored and left to deal with her kids on her own.  So when she sees a chance to get a night with him, she jumps at it!  Even at the expense of hurting her sons feelings (if I traded my son’s daisies for chocolate cake I’m pretty sure he would be mortified).  Leah is so fixated on still being on top in terms of kids that she is willing to trade her way there.  I feel sad for Leah too that she feels this is the way to get the best out of a life she didn’t really want and that her father’s deception led her into.

What’s the lesson here?

The lesson I am taking for this verse is to try to remember to turn to God in the first place.  The more we get wrapped up in doing things the worlds way, the bigger a mess we make, the more people get dragged into our mess and nothing really gets solved.  Instead of trying to win the war, lay your needs and desires down and see what outcome God wants instead.

next week

I am loving digging deeper into this story (even if some of the verses aren’t particularly quotable!!!) and the verse for next week is:

“Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.” Genesis 31:35

There is a whole story surrounding this verse, and the lovely Naomi will be leading us through it over in our Facebook Community – do join us!

 

In HER Shoes – Rachel and Leah (Week 5)

in her shoes

Welcome back to another week meditating on this unfolding story of two sisters – Rachel and Leah.  We have entered the childbearing part of this story, and Naomi kicked us off last week over on her blog.

Drama, drama, drama.  That is what comes to mind initially when pondering on this week’s verse.  People always say that women are great at emotional blackmail, and clearly Rachel is trying her luck with it her – join me as I ponder some more over this week’s verse:

“When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” ” Genesis 30:1

A sister on the edge

So the past few years have clearly been very stressful and odd for these sisters.  Falling in love, betrayal by family members, being newlywed, sibling rivalry kicking in.  I wonder how long after getting married and waiting to get pregnant that this verse happens?  It doesn’t really give us a time frame, but we know from last week that Leah has had children by now, and so the logical time for things to happen naturally (if they were going to) has passed.  Maybe you’ve been there or know friends who have.  The point when that question starts to form in your head – “what if there’s something wrong with me?  What if I can’t have kids?”.

It’s a heart breaking question for any woman desperate to conceive.  It’s something that others are scared to bring up and ask, or a really awkward question to be asked when you are the woman in question.  The impact of having this question going round in your head is huge, and must have affected Rachel’s mental health.  The fact that the verse says she is jealous means that she is dwelling on this.  As a woman, being childless would have been one of the biggest things that defined her, outweighing her status as “beautiful”.  Rachel would truly have been a sister on the edge.

how do we react when things don’t go our way?

Rachel has found herself in an awful situation.  One that I hope no-one does.  Unable to conceive and surrounded by her sister’s babies.  So I guess we can give her some allowances!! But the way that she reacts is nothing short of drama-queen in my opinion!  She marches up to her husband and basically DEMANDS children from him!!  I can picture this scene and the voice of her saying “or I’ll die!” is just so over the top.  Whether you see this as blackmail to try to get more time in bed with her husband and increase her chances, or as just down right over reaction, this is not the beautiful Rachel we were first told about.

Rachel may have been pretty on the outside, but under-pressure she is showing her true colours.  Nothing is prettier than a spirit that relies on God and finds peace in that, but Rachel here seems to have no grasp of that and have flipped the other way.  We can contrast her reaction to that of Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel.  Hannah experienced the same anguish, watching a rival produce children and being mocked for it.  But instead of this drama-queen attitude in which she expected it was her right to have children, she turned to the Lord and prayed (1 Samuel 1:10-11).

Life is tough.  Things don’t always go our way.  There are going to be times of disappointment and hardship.  But if we can learn but one  thing from Rachel this week it is that our reactions are vitally important to the way things turn out.  We can control our reaction and who we rely upon.  Rachel tried to rely upon her own persuasiveness and blackmail to get a child.  Hannah relied upon the Lord.   When things don’t go our way, let our first reaction be to pray and leave it with God, rather than to over-react and try to twist the situation for our own good.

next week

Join us next week as we start to see the consequences of Rachel’s decision to react this way and take things into her own hands.

” So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5and she became pregnant and bore him a son. Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.” Genesis 30:4-6

Naomi will be leading our discussion over on the Facebook Group so come and take part!