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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.

Starting from scratch – mission in a new place

So, the eagle eyed among you will know that recently we moved house.  It was a really exciting move, away from a stressful situation, and into a new and exciting place.  But with the arrival of a new school term, with my son starting in a brand new school, I was suddenly struck with how we are starting from scratch.

Starting from scratch with the neighbours.

Starting from scratch with the mums at the school gate.

Starting from scratch with different school routines.

Starting from scratch with our local places – library, post office, swimming pool.

Everything is brand new, and that means having to start all my relationships from scratch.  And when I looked at having to get to know teachers, kids, parents, office staff at my sons new school this week it was all looking a bit daunting.  I thought about the mums from the old school, the chatter on the school yard and the friendly welcoming faces that would have been there and I felt sad.  I thought about all the teachers who I had gotten to know at the small school of 140 pupils and my heart-wrenched. I had lost my whole network.

But then today in our parents lifegroup, another mum reminded me of something.  That those former relationships didn’t start up over night.  Not at all.  It took 4 years to get to know my neighbours like I did.  It took a whole year for me to get to know the mums and teachers at the school.  I cannot expect to jump back in to a place of intimacy within this new setting.  Instead I should just see where things go.  Let things start organically rather than forcing things to be like they were.

So I will start off with chatting to the neighbours I see out on the street.  I will start off with trying to smile at some of the parents in the yard.  I will seek out new opportunities to get to know people – such as joining the library and going along to the school church for its coffee morning for new parents on the first day of school (what a great idea!).  I don’t need to be super confident or even to look at ways to “do mission” here yet.  I just need to get to know people.  In my own time and my way.  That is a very relieving and releasing thing to realise.

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.

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Mum on a Mission Reviews Goodies from 10ofthose.com

10ofthose review

I was so over the moon when 10ofthose.com got in touch with me to ask if you would like to review some of their products! I love that their heart is to get resources out to as many people as they can and as affordably as they can, and there are often some great bargains to be found on their website.  Today I am reviewing three products, so check out what I think below:

Raising Kids in a screen-Saturated world

raising kids bookThis is one of the books that 10ofthose.com have published in a series called “raising kids”.  They aim to be quick and easy to read, whilst equipping us as parents to deal with some pretty big topics in the parenting world right now.  I was able to read this book in a few days of snatched 10 minutes.  The chapters are really short so you can read it in chunks, so if you read it cover to cover it would probably only take half an hour or so.  The aim of the book is not to tell you exactly what you should do in regards to the issue, but to discuss it within a biblical context, get you thinking about it and provide you with a few tips and principles on how to deal with it.  I love that it hasn’t gone for the “ALL TECHNOLOGY IS EVIL” approach, but has accepted we are in a changing world, where we are parenting kids who are digital natives.

Definitely worth a read, and at only £2.99 (with heavy discounts if you order more for your mum friends at church!) it won’t cost you much either (buy it online here).  For those of you with babies or toddler, read it and prepare yourself for the future.  For those of you with older children or teenagers who feel like they are already failing in this arena, then read it as it will help you figure out a plan to get back in charge.  Other books in the series include Raising Kids in the way of grace, in a you can do it world, and in a hyper-sexualised world.  

Devotional Dippers

devotional dippersLots of you mums got REALLY excited out there when I showed you the Devotional Dippers!  This little tube brings lots of fun and will help to initiate bible related discussions with your kids.  There are little cardboard sticks inside it with a big idea, a bible verse to read, a question to think about and something to pray about too.  They are idea for younger kids who want to explore things but don’t have a great attention span!  Also great for family discussions, and for those with kids who have just got their first “proper” bible to help them start looking up passages and verses in them.

There are three different packs – Prayer, God and Key Bible Words.  They are £5.99 each or £12.00 for all three packs (buy them here).  Each contain 40 sticks, so if you did a weekly family devotional it would last you almost a whole year!!

I recorded a video review of this product too, so if you want to see the it up close then do watch that here.

ESV Scripture Journals

love joy peace journalsMy final lovely product to review was less parenting based, and more bible journaling themed.  This set of three scripture journals are really lovely.  They have a bible verse at the top of each page on the theme – either love, joy or peace.  The pages are a lovely thickness and cream coloured with lines in them for writing.  I actually sent one of these as a present to a friend and she loved it.  If you want somewhere to use as a prayer diary, to explore these three themes, or just to start doing some bible journaling before getting yourself a proper journaling bible then these are perfect.

The RRP is £14.97 for the pack of three, but you can get them all for just a fiver over at 10ofthose.com!!!  What a bargain!! Why not buy a pack and give a couple away to friends who might like them?

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!

 

prayer experiment notebook

Mum on a Mission Reviews “The Prayer Experiment Notebook”


prayer experiment notebook

I won a copy of “The Prayer Experiment Notebook”, and after asking my followers if they would like a review of it, the overwhelming answer was YES!!!  So here is my honest opinion as to what the book is like.

first impressions

prayer experiment notebookMy first impression of the book from the cover was that it looked fun and engaging for kids.  Even the title is quite engaging, with the idea that prayer can be experimental.  The designers have done a great job on this and it certainly made me want to read more.

Who’s It by then?

Inside the front cover is a section that probably only parents will read – the “about the authors” section!  But I wanted to read it to see what experience and background the authors were coming from as they wrote this book.  It was fascinating to read part of the story of it coming together, and the co-authors have a wealth of knowledge that they have put together, both in their full time jobs and in their blogging and writing. All in all, I felt in very safe hands reading the rest of the book and knew it would come from a great place of wanting to help children connect with God more.

what’s good about it?

After the “about the author” section there is also a little section explaining how the book works.  Following on from that are 14 prayer experiments to try out, as well a 6 group prayer experiments.  What’s good about it is:

  • the variety of prayer experiments that are included.  There are some that will appeal to boys, girls, different types of learners and different age groups too.  With such a variety you are sure to find something that your child will connect with that you can carry forward into their normal devotional time.
  • the book provides space for your kids to make their own notes about that experiment.inside the book  I really like the way that this book lets the kids take ownership of their own relationship with God.  Far too often we as parents buy resources and we use them, but never let the kids touch them or be involved in the planning.  This has the kids involved from the beginning, and lets them decide how to do it and have space to write about how it went.
  • children have been used in the creation of it. At the end of every prayer experiment are some reviews from other kids who have tried it out.  I think this is really great, as it shows the authors have really done their research, and the reviews are all very mixed, which gives your own kids permission to love or hate different experiments.
what’s not so good

As a mother of a five year old and a two year old, my children aren’t quite at the age where they can own their relationship with God completely.  This book is ideally aimed at 8-11 year olds, those who can write independently and want a bit more freedom to do their own thing.  I will definitely be stashing this away for when mine are a bit bigger.

inside the bookI honestly can’t think of anything else bad to say about this book!  The design of the pages inside is engaging and interesting.  There are drawing and pictures of how to do the experiments so they are easy to follow.  Everything about it is brilliant!

You can buy the book here.

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!

summer holiday ideas

20 Ideas to Grow Your Child’s Faith During the Summer Holidays

summer holiday ideas

As the school year comes to a close today, many of us are now thinking about the vast expanse of the six weeks summer holidays.  If you are a geeky organised mum like me, then you might have put together a list of trip and activities you want to do with your kids, or maybe even a calendar planning out your every move!!  Or maybe you’re the opposite and like to just go with the flow.  Whatever your style ,why not try to use this summer holidays to be intentional with your children and grow their faith.  I’m not talking about family church services every morning, but there are lots of fun ways in which we can act out our faith and teach our kids a bit more during this period of extra time with them.

So here are just a few ideas that you might want to try:

  1. Order a Treasure Box to try out and explore a new bible story
  2. Buy a Godventure Sticker Book and work through it together
  3. Learn a new worship song each week and have a praise/dance party in your lounge
  4. Try out “chat and catch” from the Parenting for Faith Course
  5. Visit a Cathedral or Minister and chat about the different areas in it and what they are used for
  6. Find a Messy Church or Holiday Club that your kids can go along to (even if its not run by your normal church)
  7. Buy Bake Through The Bible and explore the bible through food
  8. Spend a day making or baking gifts for your neighbours and go and pass them out door to door.
  9. Have an open garden afternoon and invite children from your street
  10. Pick a charity and fundraise for them over the summer, seeing how much you can raise in total (perhaps pick out 3 or 4 mission related charities for your kids to choose from)
  11. Set up a new child sponsorship account with Compassion and write a letter to them
  12. Visit activities in your local community and make new friends (try your library, children’s centre and local parks for what is already going on and support them)
  13. Recreate your favourite bible story through dress up/puppets/lego/playdough
  14. Make your own flags to wave during worship at church
  15. Make a bible themed assault course in the garden – go through “the den of lions”, across the sea of Galilee, roll the rock away from the Jesus’ tomb, etc!
  16. Commit to pray for their new class teacher and class mates over the summer and make a “we’ve been praying for you” gift to give to the teacher on the first day back
  17. Make parent survival kits for the new reception class parents to hand out in September or welcome to school gifts for the new pupils themselves
  18. Offer to have their friends over for the afternoon to give another mum a break
  19. Make bible bunting and add a triangle everyday with a picture of a bible story you have read
  20. Try out the new Devotional Dippers from 10ofthose.com

Happy Summer Holidays!! 

P.S.  Do share how it goes, and if you have any more ideas on how to grow your child’s faith during the summer holidays then post them in the comments below…