The Proverbs 31 Woman

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.

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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.


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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.

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She puts her hand 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 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.

Teach Them To Hate

Sometimes it is a sweet reminder…a quiet encouragement to be kind and to love each other as I am walking out the door.

Other times it is a desperate plea for them to stop fussing and needling each other and just for the love of all that is holy and little green apples just love each other and get along!

As Christians we talk about love a lot, as well we should, considering He is a God of love. Indeed He is love, and if we are His people we are to be characterized by His character.  He shows us and tells us how that love should look – patient, kind, not boastful or arrogant and rude, not seeking it’s own or irritable or resentful, it doesn’t take pleasure in wrong doing and finds joy in truth, bearing, hoping, believing. That is love.

After all, isn’t love the greatest command given to us? They asked Him and He answered what they had already learned, what they already knew.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. Oh, and the second command is like the first one: love your neighbor as yourself.

So we toil and strive and work to love Him and each other because this kind of love doesn’t come natural to us.

And neither does hate.

Oh, we can hate well enough, that comes pretty natural to us, don’t you think? But just as He gives us a right way to love He gives us a right way to hate.

We are just as called to hate rightly as we are to love rightly.

Oh, you who love the Lord, hate evil!

Hate the sin and love the sinner we’re told. And that sounds great and all, but it really says nothing because we don’t know how to hate what He hates and we don’t know how to teach our children to hate what He hates. But He even tells us what He hates.

“…haughty eyes…a lying tongue…hands that shed innocent blood…hearts that devise wicked plans…feet that make haste to run to evil…a false witness that breathes out lies…and one who sows discontent among brothers.”

You hate all evil doers…

We shuffle our children off to a special service geared just for them. One that they can “understand” and yet somehow we’re raising up a generation that is always learning but unable to know truth. A generation that not only doesn’t know what they are supposed to hate but they can’t really grasp why they need to hate. We’ve let a salad bar teach them about lying, coveting, and adultery and all manner of sin and in the process, or lack thereof, we’ve not shown them how hideous, how black, and evil sin is. A caricature of sin has produced a caricature of consequence that has produced a caricature of God.

We’re trying to show them how grand and big and bright and perfect His love is for us, for our world but we’re trying to do it divorced from just how ugly and fallen that world is. We’ve G rated sin and actually ended up dimming the light because we forget that light shines brightest when it is shone against real darkness.

I’m not saying that we need to be gratuitous in teaching our children about sin. We don’t have to use graphic or explicit language but I think we do need to remember that if we want them to see how big God really is, how huge Jesus’ victory really was we must also teach them the truth about sin and just how big the battle was and is. Because if we don’t balance big grace against a big need for grace then we are teaching our children that God is, as N.D. Wilson puts it, the great big over reactor in the sky. The sin we want them to recognize and run from as dangerous has to look dangerous…it must be in proportion to the grace we are pointing them too.

So we must teach them to love and love rightly. But we cannot forget that we must also teach them
to hate rightly as well.

In Every Thing Give Thanks

A recent study found that when completely healthy people discussed pain the part of the brain that copes with pain became very active. The conclusion that scientists came to is that talking about your pain can actually make things worse.

On Wednesday evenings Rob is teaching through the book of James and his homily this past week dealt with trials and suffering that we face and how we should deal with them.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”

It got me to thinking that I really don’t have much suffering going on in my life. My life is good…pleasant. I have a comfortable home, my basic needs are met and I get the occasional night of Chinese take out and a Lindt candy bar to enjoy. I’m in love with my husband and he with me, we have five great kids and a wonderful church family. We have a fantastic school that our children attend so we’re part of a great community there. We’ve got good friends and good health. Life really is sweet.

But because I’m human and we all live in a fallen world I do face trials of various kinds. Some are hard, others harder, and some only exist inside my imagination. Some of my trials are worse than what some others face and some of mine don’t even begin to compare to the genuine suffering that some people endure on a daily basis.

So what does it look like to suffer well? To, as James goes on to say, remain steadfast under trial? The more I have pondered the more I have come to see what it does not look like.

I have a sweet young friend with three children under the age of three. Her husband works from early morning until early evening and yet you never hear her complain. Now it would be utterly ridiculous to assume that because she doesn’t complain must mean that she has no struggles and her life is like some kind of Disney movie where she only communicates with her children via song and birds help fold her laundry.

She has three children under the age of three. Of course she has various trials and sufferings! How could she not? She’s a sinner, her husband is a sinner, and so are her sweet beautiful children. But her struggle is not lessened by complaining. Her burden is not made any lighter because she makes sure everyone knows that the struggle is real, y’all. This is, I think, the gentle and quiet spirit that God deems beautiful.

Another friend has four children of her own, yet without hesitation she took on the child care of a friend’s little one when it became an urgent need. It’s not surprising to see her with another friend’s three littles when a day shift has been scheduled either. She has a gift for helping others in this way no matter the extra work it may create for her and she uses it to serve others. 

Still another friend has suffered more than a few tragic miscarriages but I didn’t even know this for a long time. She doesn’t live in the pangs of the past constantly bringing up the horrible things she has gone through. But she does quietly use those hard and difficult experiences to minister to others when the time is right. This is how we comfort those with the comfort we ourselves have been given.

What I am getting at is that suffering well doesn’t look like complaining. If your circumstances are genuinely difficult you won’t need to constantly remind people…they’ll know. Suffering well doesn’t look like cutting yourself off from the outside world. It doesn’t shrink your world to what happens within the walls of your own home. Remaining steadfast under a trial means that you don’t hold onto and nurture the pain of the circumstances. And part of that is not constantly trying to prove that your suffering is worse than what someone else goes through. You know you’re not in some kind of competition and you can allow others to have their struggle without it invalidating yours or feeling the need to bring up your own hardships.

In Philippians we are told that suffering is a gift. And I think suffering well means that you accept the gift graciously seeking to glorify God through it. But that can be so hard to do! I know this. But God has told us how to do it.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.  ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks. A grateful heart, one thankful even for the really hard stuff, the trials and the suffering is the key. Knowing that each and every moment we live is the will of God…how comforting and precious the thought!

Throughout Scripture the words thanksgiving and sacrifice can be found together. God doesn’t tell us that it will be easy but He does say,

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” ~ Psalm 50:23

My prayer is that God will use these simple words of mine to encourage you as you walk through your various trials and sufferings. May you bear your burdens well and in a manner that is worthy of the calling He has given you.

This blog post on Thanksgiving is part of a blog circle I participate in each month. As my fellow blogging friends add their links I will share them here so you can enjoy the goodness.

Julie    Connie

So Fast

Can you believe this lovely child wears a ladies size nine and a half sneaker? I couldn’t either except that we just bought new school shoes and sure enough that’s the size we had to buy.
It happens at the end of every summer. Even though I am with them day in and day out, watching them and feeding them, I am still surprised by how much they’ve grown in these barefootin’, sunscreening, beach going, pool swimming summer days. It catches me off guard every single time.
And it reminds me that I only have them for a little while. That the goal and purpose is to raise strong and steady warriors, arrows that we launch into the world to go further and do more damage to the enemy in the name of Christ than we have.
Sometimes the responsibility feels too heavy. But I’ve learned to accept that weight…it’s good. It reminds me that I cannot do this apart from His grace. And in His graciousness He lets Claire announces that we’re out of toilet powder (Comet cleanser) when she’s cleaning the bathroom or Abby gives me that sweet precious smile and both of those things make the weight somehow a little easier to bear…a little lighter.
He is indeed gracious and kind and considers our frame.

Room For Forgiveness

Last year one of our children made a serious breach of one of our family rules. For most people the rule would seem ridiculous anyway and not realistic, but in our house it had always been thus and it wasn’t new or unconnected to our family way. We don’t have a ton of rules but the ones we do have are in place for very specific and thought out reasons.

It was a very big deal and the seriousness of the situation was not lost upon the child. To use my beloved’s phrase, there was a lot of “emotional intensity” that day and it was clear that trust had been broken and would have to be earned back.

But you know what I remember my husband doing next? He set aside his anger and the hurt that every parent feels when their child has grievously sinned, and he looked at our offspring and reassured them that they were loved and that while they had done wrong they had not committed the unpardonable sin. He made it clear that while our fellowship was broken because of their sin complete restoration was possible.

Basically he prepared the soil for their repentance to take root and bloom.

A few weeks ago I shared a post about how important it is that we do not forget the personhood of the one being corrected. It can be easy to so focus on wanting to eliminate the sin that we forget the sinner.

We have to go back to our reason for correction. We don’t want obedience simply for the sake of obedience. In Hebrews 12:11 we’re told that the reason for discipline is so that it will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

How we respond to the one seeking repentance is pretty important. If our child’s desire for forgiveness had fallen onto the stony ground of, “Yeah, well you really buggered this up didn’t you?” the odds are that seeds of pride would have been sown instead of the blossom of forgiveness and restoration.

Are there consequences for sins? Yes. But the consequence is not a harsh pseudo forgiveness that comes with the crushing weight of judgment.

When true forgiveness is given there is a liberation. The imaginary of Hebrews 12:11 is the image of resurrection…life being born out of death. Sin is death and repentance is life.

Let us make sure that we cultivate a community that has fertile soil for the seeds of discipline to take root so that righteousness may grow. Let’s prepare the ground in such a way that it’s easy for our children or spouses or friends to seek forgiveness. There are no hoops for them to jump through and we don’t withhold restoration because it is within our power to do so, dangling it just out of their reach.

Christ doesn’t. In I John 1:9 we’re told that He is faithful to forgive us…may we be faithful to forgive each other.

Sometimes

Parenting is hard and sometimes it can be really hard.

You have to make difficult decisions and then follow through with them. And sometimes you can explain the reasons behind your decision and then sometimes you can’t.

Everything we do should be done for the benefit of our children…for their good. Even when they don’t think it is.

Our goal with every decision, with every act and moment of discipline is to strengthen our children in their faith, in righteousness and obedience.

And sometimes we screw it up.

Sometimes you realize that all the correction hasn’t been a lifting up but rather putting down; oppressive instead of liberating.

Those are interesting words aren’t they? In relation to sin and correcting I mean. I haven’t thought about it that way, not really. But Scripture is full of the imagery of God lifting His people up, of raising them up out of the pit.

Our correcting, not just as parents but as brothers and sisters in Christ, should be done with that same idea in mind. We correct, not so that we can defeat the sin in our children’s hearts, but so that we can lift them up out of the pit of their sinfulness.

It is a battle to be sure and sin is the enemy and we do want to defeat it. But if we are so intent on defeating the foe, on waging war against the sin itself, it is quite easy to forget the personhood of the one that we seek to liberate.

I’m not saying that we should not correct ~ far from it actually. But our correcting needs to be focused on the redemptive work in the mind and soul and heart of our child and not just the big black ugly sin.

Why? Because we want to shape and form a heart that not only hears correction but loves it. Because sometimes we want obedience in little things because there will come a day when He will want obedience in big things.

Titus2Tuesday

The Beginning Again

They will be all over facebook. All over the blogs. They’ll sprinkle conversations.

For the next couple of days all you will read and hear about is the new year’s resolutions. I’m going to eat better and exercise more. I’ll be kinder. I’ll be more frugal. I’m going to stay in touch with this person or that. I’ll read my Bible more. Pray more. The list can be endless…even if we’re just adding that we resolve to resolve nothing.

I tend to fall into that last category. Only out of cynical self reproach though. I have a tendency to get caught up in the glorious planning and fall woefully short in the follow through department either because my imagination is greater than my will, I’m actually lazier than I admit to, or because I just don’t think through it enough and actually resolve things that need resolving in my life. Like the times that I’ve resolved to eat better, exercise more, and loose twenty pounds when really what I needed to resolve is self discipline is sorely lacking in my life and that should change. And the honest painful truth of the matter is that if it’s missing in one area of my life it is probably missing in all areas of my life even if in varying degrees.

Or I say I want to pray more but I don’t really want to. I don’t want to understand prayer. I don’t want to pursue a prayerful life because that would mean studying His word more; knowing and praying His thoughts more and what if they don’t match up with mine? I just want God to hear me.

Really I’m not anti resolutions. The end of one thing and the beginning of another is a good time to contemplate where you’ve been, who’ve you been, where you want to go and who you want to be. I think, however, as CS Lewis says, we’re content with too little. We resolve too little. We’re only willing to die a little to find a little life.

I started 2013 contemplating time and this is what I learned. We live the life we create. We reap what we sow. We live the life we have cultivated and nurtured, weeds and all. Look around you. Look at your life. What are you frustrated over? What pains you? What thorn pricks your side? Now look past that. Dig down and follow the stem down into the dirt and look for the root. For me at least, that usually reveals something I did or didn’t do. Some sin or behavior that I didn’t till up, either in my own life or the life of those around me.

Oh, that will give us pause won’t it? The sin of someone else’s life? I’m supposed to dig around in their dirt? If we’re truly living in community than the answer is yes. A true friend is an enemy to your sin, a true friend is an enemy to my sin. But we don’t want to go into the garden of our friend’s heart anymore than we want to go into our own and do weed pulling. Because that is an open invitation for them to enter our garden. To take a hoe and turn up the soil of our own sin that we’ve neatly patted down and planted a few short rooted flowers over so our lives look all manicured and well tended.

I’m ending the year meditating on wisdom. I want to study wisdom, and what the Bible says about it, in the coming year. But I don’t just want to know about wisdom. I want to pursue her. I want to answer her call. I want to have her as my sister and find in her a treasure greater than gold or silver or pearls.

So what is my resolution? What do I want from this shiny new beginning that starts on January 1st?  I want Lady Wisdom to grasp my hand and introduce me to insight and understanding. I want to move out of the shallows of my own wisdom and understanding and go deeper, to something beyond myself. To Someone who says that death, all the way living death, brings more Life than I can possibly imagine.

Titus 2 Tuesday

How Wisdom Decorates a Home

He tells us that a wise woman builds her home while a foolish one tears it down. And we smile and nod as we sweep our front porch and think of the ones we’ve known who have been folly’s handmaid. We glance around at our tidy yards and manicured bushes and maybe pluck a weed or two  thinking that this shows our humble piety and willingness to admit our own sin.

Only we’re not standing on our front porches being neighborly, we’re actually guarding the door hoping no one will want to come in any further. And if they do darken our doorway we have our fancy parlor with plastic furniture covers all pristine and ready for guests.

We don’t want to walk them down the hall past the snapshots of every hurt and injustice framed by bitterness that we’ve hung. And if they do make it to the living room they are sure to notice the major incident that defines who we are and everything we do hanging in it’s place of honor above the fireplace. On the mantle sits the vase of dried up day dreams sitting in the stagnant and murky waters of “I wishes” and “if onlys”.

Other vases full of our expectations for everyone, even God, teeter on the edge of window sills, just waiting to be knocked to the ground and shattered.

Tiny bumps of our family’s rebellion mar the smooth surface of the area rug they’ve been swept under, causing us to continue to stumble.

Sarcasm dents the walls leading into the kitchen.

Our dishes are chipped and cracked with discontentment as we pile them up in the sink barely scrapped clean. Crumbs of presumption scatter across the counter.

Through the crack of the laundry room door we see the piles of neglect as we ignore our duties and responsibilities. The utility closet bulges and is barely able to remain shut against the unforgiveness and disappointments that we’ve tucked inside.

There are many ways a foolish woman can tear her house down without it looking like she is.

But when Lady Wisdom is bid come inside, to clean and refresh, she throws open wide the windows of our hearts and minds bringing with her the Spirit of Truth that dispels the dark shadows of every corner.  We can take down the mementos of the past that shade the present and toss them into the fireplace along with the “I wishes” and “if onlys”.

We can heed her direction and empty those other vases of our expectations for the people in our lives, and more importantly the ones we have for God, and push them  to a place of security and fill them with the beautiful bouquet of His good and perfect will watered by His sufficiency.

We can stop hiding our sin and take the area rug away and wax and polish a deep shine into the hardwood flooring of obedience. The sarcasm of our speech can be sanded smooth and the vivid shade of a word fitly spoken can color our walls.

Learning the art of contentment despite our situation and circumstances makes for unmarred serving ware. Gratitude can dispose of  the taken for granted crumbs.

We can learn to be keepers of our homes, and joyful ones at that, when we see the provision God has graciously bestowed upon us. We can let go and get rid of all the junk we’ve been carrying around from house to house and relationship to relationship.

The truth is our physical homes can sometimes hide the turmoil and chaos of our souls. Other times it can be an accurate reflection of that chaos and turmoil. But in either case we have to remember that we, since we are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Peter says, are living stones being fashioned into a spiritual house.

May we be as diligent and willing to  clean our minds and hearts as we are to declutter and put to rights our physical dwellings.