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?
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.
So, I enjoy shopping to a certain extent but I am not one of those store or brand specific fangirls always gushing about the latest thing at Target or TJ Maxx or wherever. However, this week I came across a few things spending time with one of my girls and browsing at Target (one of her favorite stores) and decided I would share them here.
This first thing is the only one I actually bought. The others are just wouldn’t-that-be-nice-to-have kinds of things.
I am always looking for good kitchen towels. I use them a lot plus I am a very tactile person so a good kitchen towel is, well good. I was pretty sure these had a good feel to them and seemed like they would be absorbent but I have learned my lesson in the past so I only bought one to try it out. Loved it enough that I went back the next day for another one.
First, they’re huge which my soul doth love. So does my son. He actually commented on it when he was drying dishes after dinner. Second, they have some nice color accents but no obnoxious pattern. And third, they dry things wonderfully. In a nutshell, I give you the perfect kitchen towel.
Like I said, I don’t go much for specific brands. Mostly because I want to like something based on the merit of the thing itself and not just the name attached to it. However, there is a reason that Target partnered with Chip and Joanna Gaines. The stuff is really really lovely. Whether I get anything else from them it is just a delight to browse their collection and see what they are doing.
Something else of the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia I enjoyed were some of their candles. I love the look and most of the smells were marvelous. What I didn’t love? The price tag. As pretty as they are at $15 a pop I probably won’t buy them. (I do realize they are less expensive than gold standard Yankee Candles but I don’t buy those either.And these smell way better than the Yankee in my opinion.) If I was going to spend that kind of money on something that I will literally burn up it would be these though, for sure.
When I finally stopped handling the towels and sniffing the candles and moved into the general kitchen section I found a couple of other things I liked. I was actually looking for a table runner but the one I liked was a little more than I was willing to spend on an impulse buy.
(Side note: my husband loves my shopping habits. I will go in and wander and look and pick up and set down without buying much, if anything at all. I have a friend who calls me an unshopper. I guess I just have to be in the right mood to actually spend money unless I really need it or want it.)
I like pineapples though and how cute are these salt and pepper shakers?
I hesitate to use the word “collect” because then somehow I will end up with 457 pineapples but I do have a few pineapple things already. A couple of white ceramic ones in my kitchen and a key chain. And t-shirt. Okay, I borrow my daughter’s pineapple earrings occasionally too. Oh, goodness I also have a cute tunic dress with a pineapple pattern on it. Maybe I have a problem already and just didn’t realize it.
So as not to go overboard with pineapple stuff (more than I apparently have already) I also found a line of glass and wood kitchen items that I really liked. How fun is this pitcher? Perfect for orange juice or the lemoncello vodka collins I shared last week on She Feeds Her Family.
What I haven’t found? Napkins. Cloth napkins to be specific. I mean I can find them but not the right texture. And by right texture I mean ones that my love will like.
I guess I will just have to keep wandering and browsing and unshopping until I do find some 🙂
The New Testament is filled with admonitions to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens. Indeed, we’re told that first loving Christ and then our neighbor as our self fulfills the whole law.
One of the things I wrote in the ‘about me’ section when I started this blog was about the desire I had to live a life that is fully in line in word and deed with all I said I believed about God…who He is and what He requires of His children.
I’ve become more and more convinced that what we say about forgiveness, about joining in another’s suffering, about life and death and resurrection must be lived out day-to-day in our relationships.
In May Rob and I will celebrate nineteen years of marriage. There is no doubt in my mind that I have been formed and fashioned by God to be his wife. I was made to love him.
I have been, and am being, fashioned to suit him in his sin. Not to share in it with him but to bear with him through it. To suffer the pain of it. But that also means I have been, and am being, fashioned and shaped to share in his repentance and restoration. Just as he is being fashioned and formed to share in my sin, my suffering, repentance, and restoration.
As a parent we experience the same thing with our children. Have you ever not felt the sorrow or pain that comes as a result of sin being brought to light when correcting your child? Proverbs tells us much happiness or much sorrow is bound up in our children and how they walk through life.
We’re also told in Proverbs 17 that a friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. We are made to walk the hard roads with each other.
We are called to the same fashioning and shaping to one another in every relationship we have to varying degrees of intimacy.
Sometimes the offense will seem too great. The hurt too deep. But God doesn’t have a sliding scale that He allows us to weigh and measure out the sins of others. The good news is that there isn’t one to weigh and measure out your sin either. Because while some sins seem to be bigger and worse than others the truth is that all sin seeks to destroy and all of our sins are an offense before the Righteous One.
Recently, I was present at the birth of my friend’s daughter. Her labor had been moving along when the midwife checked her and said it was time to start pushing. For a moment my friend panicked and said she couldn’t remember what she needed to do, how to push.
All I could do was remind her that she had been made for this. God had formed and fashioned her body to bear this child into the world. Feeling her weakest she was actually at her strongest leaning into the pain and oh, the sweet sweet joy when baby Ruby arrived.
Forgive, even when it hurts beyond more than you think you can bear. Take up the suffering of your spouse, your child, your friend. Help carry their burden. Weep with the ones who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice.
Your soul was made for such.
Sharing this at Candidly Christian.
I am so ready for cooler weather!
For about a week it seemed that we were headed in the right direction but then this past week has just been icky and warm.
I hear that this weekend is supposed to bring lower temps though and I am so excited about it!
Normally I am all about the colors of autumn. The rich hues and deep tones are just beautiful to me.
But a few weeks ago my friend and styling wizard, Jessica, asked me to come over and do a photo shoot of her beautiful fall home decor for her blog and her neutral color palette was just so gorgeous!
You can check out her post here but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite photos and things she did to welcome the season into her home.
Little side note…I am a sucker for HGTV and Claire was home sick this week and for the first time I watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper. What a neat show although some people’s budgets are eyebrow raising! (I am also a sucker for baking shows. Even, if not more so, the kids baking shows. We watched some kids bake off show that is hosted by Valerie Bertinelli and I have made pie crust from scratch, homemade bread, and an onion tart.)
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Like most of us Jessica and her family live in a nice neighborhood in a track home. Meaning the houses all look very similar. When she had me come over one of the things I noticed right away was a change they had made to a wall in their dining nook area. The simple shiplap board added so much texture and character to that space! This is how she has it normally decorated.
For autumn she added just a few touches that add a little zing without being too much.
She also kept it simple when it came to her table settings but I love the elegant look she created.
The whole thing came together in a picture perfect fashion that thrilled me and my camera. I mean, seriously. Look at this.
The thing that I really loved about Jess’s style was how she incorporated little touches throughout the open floor plan of her house. On one side of the living room she has the piano she painted and graced with some lovely fall tidbits and on the other side of the room on her fire place she added a smattering of autumnal fun.
In her formal dining room she kind of upped the classy with her beverage cart. A mix of textures and sparkle add just the right amount of pop.
My favorite (just slightly beating out that wonderful glittery pumpkin on the bottom) is the white pumpkin with white hydrangeas. The little bit of green from the leaves and that fabulous wooden pedestal bowl just pair so well together!
The really great thing about all of Jessica’s fall decorating is that she remembered that she has two little boys and made a special place for them.
This little tepee creates the funniest spot for the boys to play and read.
She also added a cute little colorful thankful banner for their space too.
All in all the house is welcoming and full of beautiful little touches of autumn. I can’t wait to see what she does for Christmas!
I understand for most people that living without a microwave seems utterly barbaric but we’ve managed it for five years without much trouble. Although I think it has caused a little hiccup here and there when family and friends have come over for some gathering or other and they couldn’t just warm something up.
We also did fine for several months when the dishwasher died. I found washing dishes to be quite therapeutic but I also found that I must be a better parent than I thought and I haven’t messed my kids up to the point that they need therapy. At least they don’t think they need dish washing therapy.
I kept a pretty stiff upper lip when the oven died figuring I could make the grill and stove top work if I needed to. But thankfully Rob found a really great deal on a set of appliances and some friends had an extra stove that we could use until our new stuff arrived.
Much to the joy of our offspring the deal Rob found included a microwave that could be installed above the stove. Losing counter space was my main reason for not having one. Rob still isn’t sure that they don’t give off gama rays that can cause bodily mutations but sense just about everyone we know seems to have one with no lingering ill affects he got it.
The kids have microwaved everything they can. Even hot dogs. I’ve never seen them move so fast to get lunch. Really, boiling a little water for a hot dog takes too long? Can you see my eyes rolling?
Popcorn? They are blowing through the bags like they’ve been endlessly deprived of nourishment.
I’m pretty sure Emily has pinned a gazillion cake in a mug recipes and it won’t be long before that gets tested. Hmm, maybe a pinterest test kitchen blog post on the best ones?
I did enjoy being able to heat up Rob’s dinner the other night when he was out late with a board meeting.
And reheating that cup of tea I forgot about has been pretty nice as well.
It’s kind of nice joining the microwave club. But it’s not nearly as fun as seeing the looks on people’s faces whenever I told them we didn’t have one.
(The dishwasher works fantastic, by the way. Unfortunately, the oven had a huge dent in the top at
delivery so we declined it. A new one should be delivered in a couple of weeks.)
Any tips and tricks for keeping stainless steel appliances clean and shiny is appreciated!
I’ve been on pinterest for several years now. I have accumulated over seven thousand pins and made over one hundred boards. Obviously I haven’t cooked every recipe or done every diy project that I’ve saved but I enjoy having it all organized and in one place. And sometimes I do cook a recipe or try a project and when it’s a success I do a little happy dance.
May it be this one.
Maybe you have kids and this will be the one blog post of mine that you want them to read too.
Or maybe it’s the one blog post that you read.
Maybe it’s the one that will encourage you to keep reminding them…keep after them to pick up behind themselves.
Or maybe you’re the one that needs reminding to pick up. There are days when I know I need that reminder.
Whatever the reason you may or may not read this post here is where my head is at and what I want my kids to understand about why I am constantly after them to keep their room clean and help out around the house. (And just for clarification I am talking about neat-and-tidy-won’t-be-embarrassed-if-friends-drop-in clean. Not pinterest-picture-perfect-looks-like-no-one-actually-lives-here clean. There’s a difference.)
Your father and I have always wanted home to be a safe happy place for you kiddos. A place that you wanted to be and a place that you wanted to eagerly return to when you’ve been away. We’ve also wanted it to be a place where you felt comfortable inviting your friends over to hang out.
Over the years we’ve guarded your time fiercely making sure that you never came to view our home as a hotel that you came to for showers, sleep, and the occasional meal before jetting off to the next event on the schedule. And let me tell you with five of y’all that has been no easy feat! At times it has meant disappointing you by not allowing you to participate in some things but we are thankful that you’ve trusted us and accepted our decisions. Home is about much more than the drop in place to regroup before heading out the door again.
But there is much more to loving home than just enjoying being here…feeling safe here…and inviting your friends over. What happens in our home and how we tend it and take care of it says much about who we are as a people and what we believe about stuff and life and God.
I know you probably get tired of hearing me remind you to clean your bathroom. Lord knows I get tired of reminding you only to still find rocks soaking in a sink full of water, or forty two towels hanging from the hook on the back of the door, nineteen empty bottles of shampoo and body soap in the shower beside six sopping rags on the floor of the tub. And just when I want to scream with frustration and lament that I am constantly reminding you over and over again to do the same things all the time He reminds me that the book of Proverbs is full of the gentle repetition of His commands. And how many times are we told in the New Testament to love one another? But sometimes that is hard because it means we pick up someone else’s dirty undies from the floor.
And what we really want is to do as little as possible. Or maybe just take care of our own mess. That makes sense right? And it only seems fair. But here’s the dealio. It really doesn’t matter who you think should be responsible for what. We live in a house, in a family and that means we all take care of each others stuff. It’s what gives you the right later on as grown ups to be in each others business…to help one another…to encourage one another in doing good. We don’t live alone! Not now and not twenty years down the road so we pick up some body’s dirty dishes and take care of them because they are overwhelmed by homework. And we maybe drain the sink and put the rocks on a towel to dry while we go remind the one who got distracted to come finish up their task.
I know life even at your ages gets busy. Your father and I are thrilled to see you working so diligently on your homework. Volleyball and soccer games are lots of fun (and we really are happy to let you go cheer on the teams!) and we’re delighted that you want to go to Bible study and small groups and involve yourselves in those kinds of activities. We’re so proud when you really push yourself at the piano and practice really hard to learn a new piece. And guys, y’all have some seriously great friends and we are so thankful for the people you get to spend time with and doing things. But if there is time for all of those things then there is time to keep your room tidy.
I am resigned to the fact that as yet at this stage in your life you do not appreciate the calmness that results from a fully made bed. It’s okay, really. I didn’t either when I was your age and I am guessing that at some point in your life you will. But right now, the way you take care of your things makes some pretty bold statements about what you really think about what you have. While we cannot read your mind to know for sure what you may really think your actions shout a pretty clear message.
When you leave your stuff strewn about your room you are saying that it has very little value and that you don’t really appreciate what you have, be it provided for you or because you were blessed with the means to buy something for yourself. There is a certain amount of contempt being declared when things are just shoved to the floor and piled up. It’s a declaration that what you have isn’t good enough or worth your care. As you discipline yourself to take a few minutes each day to put things in their place you will also be cultivating a heart that is thankful for what it has been given.
Whether it is a result of being ungrateful or a lack of tending your room results in a lack of gratitude I’m not sure. But it does bring me to the next thing. What happens behind closed doors doesn’t stay behind closed doors. This is why it matters that you can step over the pair of shoes literally on the floor of the door way or walk past the hair ties and bobby pins laying on the mantle, the computer desk and the counter tops of every room in the house. You should not be able to overlook these things as if they aren’t there but rather see them as an opportunity to imitate the Gospel in our home by putting things to rights and restoring order. Walk into a room and look around. Is there anything you can do that will leave it better than you found it?
In our home you are safe, loved, provided for, and part of a family; something larger than yourself. But there are responsibilities that come with that birthright and they should be accepted gladly. It’s ok not to notice every little thing but when someone else notices and asks for your help in taking care of something do it with a good attitude. Be helpful but not begrudgingly so. Don’t hesitate when asked to do something so that everyone knows you had other plans but you are willing to be imposed upon to do something else. Never allow your attitude to be one that conveys your disdain to be inconvenienced by the needs of others. Your need before God is an undeniable fact and should cause you to have a humble and willing heart since even the very breath you draw must come from Him.
The truth, my sweet children, is that your well being is connected to the well being of those you are in community with right now…with us, with each other, with your friends and church family that He has given you in all of our shortcomings, utter failures, and outright sins. Like the exiled children of Israel you are called to work for the good of the city, the community where you live, because that is where your well being will be found. Happiness, the right kind, comes from delighting in the gifts that He has given you right here right now. Don’t despise those gifts by not tending them and caring for them as you ought.
And remember, that just as your well being is connected to ours, ours is connected to yours. We want you to live well and prosper in all that you put your hand to. Don’t tire of being faithful in the mundane tasks because that is where you learn to truly rejoice no matter your circumstances.
Sharing over at Titus 2 Tuesday
No, I haven’t moved or anything but since the kids have been home all summer and since the dishwasher decided to only wash half my dishes I am spending a ton of time in the kitchen.
There are dishes to be washed just about all the time.
Don’t worry, I am not keeping the kids from helping but I handle most of it during the day and then they take care of dinner clean up. A fine arrangement as far as I am concerned!
I also have them help with the drying and putting away some times. It puts a quick end to the “I’m bored” comments in no time 🙂
The biggest issue is actually the stuff that somehow accumulates all over the counter tops. In the midst of the busy activities it’s easy to forget to deal with things as they happen and before you know it the mess is messier than it needs to be.
I don’t know about anyone else but there are also a hundred different interruptions as well. Some legit but some created by my own lack of attentiveness.
Then of course there is the healthy eating boot camp Rob and I have been in all summer, too. Healthy food, I am learning, takes thought and time. And trying to teach these new habits to the kids is…well, a challenge to say the least. But with the help of pinterest I am able to get them interested in trying new recipes.
Hence I really do feel like I am living in my kitchen these days. But honestly I don’t really mind. Because God shows His grace in a thousand little ways in the kitchen.
As the last dish is dried and put away I reflect and ponder on His goodness.
Dirty dishes are a sign of God’s provision of food and sustenance. And not just tasteless fuel for our body but things that delight the pallet. Things that are just simply to enjoy and reveal His lavish delight in offering good things to His children.
As counter tops are cleaned and things put to rights I am reminded that He invites me to be part of His redemptive work…that the washing and drying and returning a sense of order are all acts that mimic and reflect the Gospel work of His son who came to restore and return order to our world.
It also produces a place where further work can be done. The next meal or treat can be prepared and the table sits ready and waiting to receive the bounty.
All of which reminds me that heaven is not some far off place out yonder. That now, even now, we live with the reality of heaven ever present in this world because the King is an ever present presence.
Join me in visiting some other blogging friends who are sharing where they live. You will be refreshed and blessed both by the beauty of the camera skills and the gracious and God honoring words.