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.

 

 

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Woman (Week 15)

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Welcome to the penultimate summary post of the series!!!  I hope all your Christmas preparations are going well and that you are ready for a well earned rest over Christmas (although when do us mums truly get a proper rest??!).  Just to lighten your load (and my own) we will be taking a two week break over the Christmas period from Mummy Meditations.  This will give you a chance to focus on your kids and your own time with God, reflecting on the past year and looking forward in your own personal way. 

DON’T WORRY THOUGH – I’ll be back to start a new and exciting series on the 6th January which I hope you will all join me in as a New Year’s Habit! There will be new resources, hopefully a new website, and much more! So watch this space….

In the meantime, lets take a look at this week’s verse:

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

Proverbs 31:30

Who is this verse for?

The biggest thing I wanted to remember whilst meditating on this verse was that it was never written for us.  It was written by Bathsheba as advice to her son Solomon.  And so when we take this heart and say “well I can’t be nice and charming to others, and I can’t try to be beautiful” we are taking this verse out of context.  

Men are, have been and will always be attracted to beauty and the way women look.  Its just the way that they were made.  We saw this in previous women that we looked at, such as Rachel and Leah who were sisters, but Rachel was the more attractive one and that is why Jacob fell in love with her.  .  But just because this is the natural way that things happen doesn’t mean that it is the way it should be.  We all sin, but that is not the way that God wants it to be.   Bathsheba is trying to get her son to break the mold and see past the physical.  As a king this would have been very important, as there would have been lots of pretty ladies, each with their own agenda, trying to woo him and become queen.  Bathsheba is trying to protect her son from future pain that choosing a wife just based on looks could have.  

What kind of wife is best then?

So Bathsheba isn’t saying that beauty and charm are bad, just that they can be misused.  So what kind of wife does she suggest is better than that?  One who shares the same CORE VALUES as him, one who FEARS THE LORD.  Yes, Bathsheba knows that the most important thing for the future king of Israel is that they will stay close to God, as she has seen first hand the harm that can happen when they stray.  The easiest way for him to do that is to have a wife by his side who is also following the God of Israel, as she will support him, pray for him, bring him back to God when he wanders and help him make good decisions for the nation.  Those of you parenting on your own or with a non-Christian husband – how hard is it to make those tough decision without support or with conflicting beliefs influencing you both.  Wouldn’t you love for it to be easier and simpler or to just have someone there to bounce ideas off?  That is what Bathsheba wants for her son.

How does this apply to me then?

So all of this has really been directed at Solomon.  How can we, as modern day women, apply the lessons from this verse to our own lives?  I think the obvious application would be to not put as much value on our appearance and outward attractiveness, but to concentrate on our relationship with God instead.  Yes there is some truth in that – we should always prioritise getting to know God over other worldly things.  But I think the heart of this verse is about being a great partner to our husbands, as that is what Bathsheba wanted for her son.  How can we, as the wives that have been chosen, spur our husbands on to do great things in their work, family and other aspects of their lives.  How can we keep them close to God, or bring them closer if they don’t know Him yet?  That is the thing that is worthy of praise, that is the mark of an amazing wife. 

Next week

I would love to hear your thoughts on this verse, so don’t forget to share them over in the Facebook Group. Next week we move on to the final verse in Proverbs 31:


Honour her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:31

I hope you will join me as we meditate on this verse together.

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:

60p downloadable bookmarks

raising kids in the way of grace

Book Review – Raising Kids in the Way of Grace

raising kids in the way of graceOk, so I’ll be honest here.  I didn’t get this book to start off with.  It took me a while to understand the authors way of writing, and although it says you can read it in one sitting, I was struggling just to get through a page before I was confused or distracted.

But I persevered.  I knew that this was a book that I wanted to dig deeper into, and so I managed to find a few half an hour slots where I could read a bit more, and soon the nuggets of pure gold started coming out.

As a parent, I often struggle with this internal battle of loving my kids but them being so annoying and rude and naughty that I just don’t know what to do with them!!  I look to the bible and I see verses about how a child should not be “disobedient or wild” and that you “shouldn’t spare the rod”, but also that the gospel is one of second chances, and I just can’t weigh up the right thing to do.  This book has really helped to clarify that.  It has helped to clarify my role as a parent, as mouth-piece of God in their lives, a role model and it has reminded me that parenting is a spiritual battle I need to prepare for.

There is lots of wisdom and advice in this book that I haven’t even begun to digest yet.  On the back cover it says “Short enough to read in one sitting but packed with biblical wisdom, you’ll want to keep this little book handy to dip into for advice, encouragement and support on your parenting journey”.  I agree that this is a book I will be coming back to again and again until I fully grasp how to parent with grace.

This book isn’t quite as easy a read as “Parenting Kids in a Screen-Saturated World” which I absolutely loved.  But I guess its not as simple or easily applicable as that.  You have to mull over the things taught in this book and really get to grips with the biblical principles behind it.  So despite not being a fan to start off with, I am falling in love with this.  So far my favourite line is this:

“Parents are God’s moral ambassadors.  Our role is to fill the time delay between human disobedience and diving consequences.  In parental discipline, we’re making the long term consequences of God’s spiritual rule more immediately felt.”  

Available at the bargain price of £2.99 over on the 10ofthose.com website, there really is no cheaper way to invest in your parenting.  What is there to lose?!   Like me, you might just find a really valuable resource for the rest of your parenting years.

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.

advent 2018

ADVENT – How are you doing it this year?

advent 2018

Before we even get to the big questions of Christmas (how do we explain santa to our kids, what  evangelistic events can we put on for our neighbours, who is going to get socks as a gift this year?!), we come to the question of advent.

Have you even thought about it?

Or is it one of those things that just happens – it suddenly becomes the 1st of December so you rush down to B and M bargains and buy a cheap chocolate calendar and let the kids have two chocolates tomorrow!  This year more than ever before there are so many secular advent calendar choices – lego, sweets, beer, and even this one:

tool kit advent calendar

I want to challenge you (with just over 3 weeks to go) to think outside the box for advent this year, and really use it as a chance to deepen your own and your kids relationship with God.  Below are some great ideas for advent, please pick and mix to suit your family (and share this post with others too!!).

Jesse Tree

jesse treeUntil recently I’d not heard of Jesse Trees, but this year I myself have bought a set of these lovely ornaments from Gospel Centred Parenting ready for advent.  The idea is that each ornament has a bible verse accompanying it, telling the story of the bible from creation to the birth of Jesus.  It is a celebration of Jesus’ ancestors and everything leading up to him coming.  I am excited to explore this with my boys this year, as in the last few years we have just explored the Christmas story in isolation.

My plan is to do this in the evening as part of their quiet time, so that we can get the next decoration, add it to the tree, read the bible verse and discuss it and pray about it as a family.  If you would like your own set, then head over to Gospel Centred Parenting where you can get the full set for £35.

GOdventure sticker advent calendars

sticker advent calendarLast year we used a fabulous sticker advent calendar from Godventure to track through the Christmas story each day in advent.  If your kids are sticker addicts then they will love this!  I had to give up my desire for the stickers to be completely straight, but it was lovely to see the picture fill up with stickers over the 24 days.

You can get a giant A1 sized poster for £15, or if your budget is a bit smaller then the A4 sized one is only £5.

reverse advent calendar

You may have seen this one on Facebook a lot last year – the concept is that instead of getting something each day in advent, you give something away.  For most people this was items of food which would be donated to a food bank at the end of advent.  What a fantastic way to teach your kids about generosity and to have a tangible impact on their local community.  It would be great to take them each day to the shop (on the way home from school maybe) to choose something to go in the box for that day.

bible society Advent Challenge

advent challengeIf you are looking for a way to cultivate generosity even more, then perhaps take a look at the Bible Society’s Advent Challenge.  There is a task of kindness for each day in advent, and last year it included things like “say three kind things today” and “let someone out before you when driving”.

shepherd on the search

shepherd on the searchIf you have ever been tempted to join in the “elf on the shelf” crave then this one is for you!  All you need is a cuddly shepherd toy to hide around the house each day (you can buy the specific branded one or just use the shepherd from your existing nativity set).  Then on the website there are downloadable cards with activities and thoughts for each day throughout advent.

Make your own pocket advent calendar

If you have a pocket style advent calendar (or fancy a bit of pre-Christmas sewing!) then why not include some bible verses in it this year.  Godventure has free downloadable cards you can add which work really well, and you add a bit to the story each day.  The sky is the limit when it comes to other creative things you could add to the pockets.

The real advent calendar

real advent calendarIf your kids would still be disappointed not to have a chocolate advent calendar, then the real advent calendar is a great choice.  It comes with a nativity story book and the chocolates are nativity shaped too.  Some of the big super markets do stock these now, but you can also order online from eden.co.uk.

Our boys have been given these for the last few years and love them – my eldest who is five was able to do the puzzles inside the little booklet last year which made him really happy!

 

Thanks for checking out this post, and I hope and pray you have found an idea to inspire you for advent this year.  Please do let me know if you choose one of the options and how it goes!

proverbs 31

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 9)

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Welcome to another week of Proverbs! We are now over half way through this series (can’t quite believe that!) and I know I have been learning so much.  This week our attention has turned to the husband of this relationship as we pondered over 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

ARE YOU WORTH IT?

We have had eight weeks telling us all about what amazing qualities Solomon’s future wife should have to be the best aide to him as king, and now Bathsheba turns to him.  He is the fictitious husband in this passage and I love the way that Bathsheba is saying to him – make sure you are the husband that matches this wife.  Make sure you are the man who is worthy of this by being respected in your community.  After the mistakes that David made which undermined his role as king (having affairs etc!), Bathsheba is keen that Solomon safeguards his place.  I can imagine the sniggers of other men at the city gate when David would walk by – they knew exactly what he had been up to whilst they were out fighting his battles.  He would have lost their respect despite still holding the position as king.  Bathsheba was probably subject to this sneers and comments about her husband even whilst living inside the palace, so she doesn’t want that for her future daughter in law and son.  She knows the pain that it causes and the shame that it brings upon well-respected people.

pushing each other on

proverbs 31Some lovely ladies in the Facebook Community were researching the significance of the city gate, and all the places mentioned in this verse (do hop over and check out what they found!).  But my mind was drawn to the question – what does this mean for us?  As women who are to be motivated and inspired by this passage in Proverbs, what does this verse about the husband mean for us?  Surely it is just for the man?

But I think it means that we should always be championing, pushing forward and spurring each other on to be the best we can be.  If I want to be an amazing wife then I need an amazing husband by my side, and vice versa.  Have you ever noticed that when one person stops bothering about something, the other one quickly does too?  For us it exercise and eating well.  Once one of us starts snacking and missing exercise classes, then the other is quickly dragged down into that.  Its the same with the effort it takes to be a respectable member of the community.  So if we want a husband who WANTS to be respected at the city gate (whatever that means for us now!) and WANTS to be amongst the elders (perhaps in church or in their business lives) then we need to be modelling that in our lives too.  We need to be respected amongst the other mums at the school gate, we need to be respected as a volunteer and helper at church or as the best in our work places.  When you are both pushing forward and striving for excellence it is sooooo much easier.

but I’m on my own

I know for some of you amazing mums, circumstances mean that you are now parenting solo without a man by your side.  I just want to say this – don’t let this verse discourage you.  Just because you don’t have that husband with you now doesn’t mean you won’t in the future.  Prepare yourself to be the kind of person that will spur him on and will champion him.  Better still, remember that God is there to fill that gap for you, and he definitely is the perfect husband who is respected, so use that as motivation to rise to that level and strive forward in life.

next week

We move on to meditating on the following verse:

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

We would love for you to join in the discussion during the week over in our Mummy Meditations Facebook Community, where you will also be able to get free phone lock screens of all the verses we are studying!

 

 

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!