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!

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

proverbs 31:21-22

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!!)