Think On These Things ~ Colossians 3: 1-17

 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Think On These Things

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,

and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

The wise of heart is called discerning,

and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,

but the instruction of fools is folly.

The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious

and adds persuasiveness to his lips.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,

sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Proverbs 16: 20-24

The Fruit of My Hands

One of the most amazing gifts we have in the Scriptures is its timelessness and never ending unfolding of truth. Passages that I may have read a bazillion times can suddenly come alive, be a balm, shed light, convict, and nourish in completely fresh ways.

It’s why we can read it again and again and again and again and still be shaped and formed by it. We’re told in Hebrews that the Word is alive and active. We’re constantly changed by it as our understanding is deepened and matured.

An amazing gift right?

I think if you spend anytime in Christian circles you are at least somewhat familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman even if it is to just note that you fall somewhere between her and Madea. Or maybe your only acknowledgment is a nod to what you can never hope to attain or what is an old fashioned reminiscing not really applicable for today’s modern woman. In my own particular reformed circles it is a passage that most of us have a great familiarity with but over the last several months I have been bumping it around and seeing and learning new things about it. New to me because you might very well read this and think, “What? You didn’t realize that?” so, yes, new thoughts for me. And even if they aren’t new to you I hope you will be encouraged to dig into it a little deeper and see what nuggets you can mine…because they’re there for you as well.

Before I get into that though I want to bring up an old truth from this passage that shines just as bright and beautiful in my eyes as it always has. The passage, a childhood lesson from mother to son, being recounted begins with, “A virtuous woman who can find?” Sometimes the word excellent is translated virtuous but what I really love about the word is that it is used in other places in Scripture in relation to a soldier prepared and ready for battle, men of valor. In essence from the very beginning the picture is being given not of some fair damsel who is everything that is chaste and softly feminine in a Thomas Kinkade~esque manner but rather a woman who is a kind of domestic warrior. I love how Peter Leithart speaks of verse 25 painting a picture of the laughter being that of a victorious warrior. When you read the passage with that in mind it strips the ho-hummness just doing my chores mentality away, doesn’t it?

Okay, on to the first and rather obvious point I should have really recognized a lot sooner. To be fair though I knew it in thought but recently the ramifications of understanding this point and how it affects my understanding just clicked into a more clear focus. In case that doesn’t really make any sense keep reading. Hopefully it will.

So I knew the passage was a mother’s instruction as for what kind of wife her son should be looking for. But a few months back I really honed in on what that meant. That industrious victorious heroine is to already be in existence for him to seek out. Meaning, and this is the obvious part, we don’t magically become the Proverbs 31 woman after we marry. Nor are we to only strive to be her after the wedding band is on our finger because frankly, waiting until that moment creates a rather steep learning curve! We are to be exhibiting that character, those qualities, beforehand so that as a godly young man looks for a wife he will indeed find the woman whose worth is above rubies. I don’t know why that has struck me so sharply lately but it does. Maybe it’s because the vast majority of time that the passage is referenced it is directed at those of us who are already wives and mothers. Or maybe it’s because my two oldest daughters have entered into the phase of life where life where as single women they are exhibiting this kind of fruit. This passage is as much directed to single women as it is to married ones and it can be helpful to consider that, not just for our own daughters in our households, but also within our church communities.

The most recent way this passage has worked on me is found right at the very end.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

I’m a visual person and I have long held an image in my head that I want to take of my children. They are the real and lasting work of my hands, the fruit that I tend and cultivate daily and I want to take a portrait of them in front of a gate as a reminder to me that my work in them and on their behalf is a public reflection of my faithfulness to being the kind of domestic warrior we are called to be. The idea is humbling to me because I know where I have fallen short and failed but God is still gracious and faithful to take the work of my hands and bless it in the lives of my children and to see that induces a wealth of gratitude.

But recently I have come to realize that while seeing my children as the fruit of my hands is well and good, I also need a more present understanding and realization of that verse.

Last week Rob had Abby and Claire in Texas at a summer camp which meant that my normal daily time constraints were lifted because, you know, he wasn’t going to be coming home at 5:30 in the afternoon which meant I could be a little more relaxed in getting things done and by when. The change of pace was nice and one of the few side benefits to him not being home. (Maybe the only benefit.)

In a facebook group that I belong to several women shared posts that started with the phrase, “The fruit of my hands today…” and then either a picture or a description of what work they had accomplished in that day.

And I loved it. Instead of just marking things off my to do list I started looking at the result of the work I had put my hand to and it fanned the flame a bit in tending my home. To be honest, I love being home. I love being able to be home and do all the stuff that the feminist society says is demeaning and prevents me from reaching my full potential.

But sometimes I can get lost in the day to day mundane work and forget just how powerful and liberating my sphere is. I can forget to enjoy and savor the work itself.

So I have decided to challenge myself each day. To look back and see what fruit was produced. Sometimes I think it will be immediate and clear when things are neat and tidy or freshly organized. Other times I think it will be the visual of well prepared soil for a work being done in the lives of the people around me.

It will be the work of my hands and the work of my heart and mind.

And I want to value each task knowing that even as I tend the work I am given He is at work tending my soul, faithful to complete what He has begun.

What is the fruit of your hands this day?

Think On These Things

An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

She is like the ships of the merchant;

she brings her food from afar.

She rises while it is yet night

and provides food for her household

and portions for her maidens.

She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

She dresses herself with strength

and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

She opens her hand to the poor

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

She makes bed coverings for herself;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates

when he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them;

she delivers sashes to the merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

 “Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Hosta Randomness

Did you know that hosta plants actually flower?

I did not so I was super surprised, and more than a little happy, when the lone hosta plant I bought on impulse started showing signs of flowering a few weeks ago.

Over the last couple of years I have been enjoying some moderate success with my house plants (the ratio of the still alive to oops, I don’t know how I killed that is in my favor) and combined with the results of our flower and veggie beds this year and last have me feeling like a real gardener of sorts.

To be honest, I have no idea what I am doing and I am more than slightly convinced that there is some kind of magic at work with anything horticultural. Basically I am winging it and hoping for the best. And loving every minute of it.

All that to say, I had no idea I would get to enjoy such delicate and sweet smelling blossoms on my potted hosta so naturally I turned to the internets to help fill in my knowledge gap.

Turns out there are over 3000 varieties of hostas spread throughout about 45 different species of the plant.

They’re native to China, Japan, and Korea and came to the United States by way of Europe in the 1800s.

Something else that really surprised me is that they are edible and are actually grown as a vegetable in some Asian cultures. A quick pinterest search yielded some recipes that actually look like they could be tasty. I don’t think I will be in a hurry to add them to my menu anytime soon as I am still trying to make sure it stays in the still alive category but I am definitely interested in the idea of cooking with them. Would you try it?

Because I am me and it’s what I do, you know I had to spend some time taking pictures of the elegant flowers.

The blooms on my plant are a soft white with a hint of pink to them and they also have a pleasant and subtle fragrance.

All in all, they are quickly becoming one of my garden favorites this year.

You can go here to see a few more pictures I took of them that I am sharing on the photo blog. I was really pleased with the dreamy abstract ones I got using the reverse lens method.

Until next time, hosta la vista!

(See what I did there? Man, do I crack myself up!)

Still Taking Pictures

To say I am a wee bit behind in my 365 project is a major understatement.

Here’s the thing though, I decided a few years back to put my camera down and for two years I rarely picked it up. I had lost the joy of doing the thing that I loved and it had become a burden, something I had to work at. When I decided to get behind the camera again I did it with the full knowledge and acceptance that it was perfectly fine to set it down again. I wasn’t obligated to always be taking pictures.

The last several months have seen a lot of change come into my world, the last month even more. I had been enjoying the 365 project but it was getting harder to make it work without it becoming work. I decided to not let some self assigned task suck the enjoyment out of a creative outlet that was there for my pleasure, at times my refuge.

So, I quit the 365. I’m still taking pictures. Lots of them actually. But I have decided not to harass myself to get a shot every day.

Harass myself about eating healthier? You bet.

Staying consistent with the Bible Reading Challenge? Absolutely! (Same Page Summer 2021…you should join! Woman literally from all over the world reading the same passages everyday feasting on the Word. Now that is a task that I need to stick with.)

This is definitely a season of change in my life and honestly I don’t know what life will look three months from now. For one thing we are a homeschooling family again. And you know what? I am kind of excited about that. Claire is fourteen so obviously my experience homeschooling before when the kids were little is different from what it will be now but I think we are both looking forward to it.

For now, I am just going to slow down and see what God is doing and move accordingly in that direction. Still clicking that shutter and delighting in capturing pieces of life and God’s creation but also eager to see what new things are ahead.

And I am prayerfully considering what that means for this space, this place where I talk out loud and work my way through thoughts and ideas. I want to hone back in on the thought that was behind it in the beginning, the reason for creating a common place:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common–this is my symphony.~William Henry Channing

This is the life, hidden within being faithful to the One who calls us out, that I want to dwell in.

If bad company corrupts then good company can make us flourish and I welcome you to come along with me. Let’s seek the beauty of the common place in fellowship with one another.