Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Principle of Being Virtuous

Last week I started sharing about my new perspective on the Proverbs 31 woman passage. It is so easy to just see this beautiful poem as nothing more than a laundry list of tasks that I will never be able to live up to. However, the more I am able to dig in and study the more I realize that is just not the case.

Today we are going to dive into the first of the twelve principles that are found weaved into the verses and lines of these 21 verses.

The first of the principles is VIRTUOUS,  and it's focus verse is Proverbs 31:10

To begin looking at the principle of virtuous first we have to know what the word means. The Miriam-Webster website defines virtuous as:
Morally Excellent

I really like that, but it's still a bit broad. To me, being virtuous means:

A character trait of value found in individuals that displays an attitude of moral excellence as well as right thinking and action on a consistent basis.

Being a virtuous woman is a standard of living. Really, it's a lifestyle choice. Not an action that we decide one moment to possess and the next moment forget all about. This type of living lends itself to  a growing respect from those you come into contact with. It goes deeper than just being liked. To live off the hope of being liked by all it is too easy for beliefs and standards to waver. What may seem like a bad idea will be over-looked or sacrificed on the alter of 'being liked'. However, living a life of virtue means you will stand on your convictions, firmly rooted in the word of God, and won't waver. While it may mean at times you are not liked, and perhaps even despised, others will be watching and they will find a respect for you. Ultimately, being respected is worth far more than being liked in the long run.

An Example of a Virtuous Woman in the Bible

When I think of a woman who holds the characteristics of a virtuous woman in the pages of Scripture, the first woman that comes to my mind is Ruth. Ruth's story is one of the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family as well as God's providence in the face of tragedy. Ruth found herself as a widow as a young woman. With no children to her name and only her sister-in-law and mother-in-law left to call family she had any number of options for how to live out the rest of her days. However, instead of thinking of herself and the tragic state she was in, it was her mother-in-law that she was concerned about. 

This woman, Naomi, the mother of Ruth's late husband, was not from the land where they were living and it only made sense once her husband and son's had died for her to make the long journey back to her home land. The logical thing for Ruth to do would have been to return to her father's house and seek a new marriage. Surly, her father would have been able to find a suitable man for her to marry and finally have the family she couldn't get before. But that was not in Ruth's desire. Instead, she remained faithful to Naomi and to the ways of her husband's family.

Ruth's love and devotion for her mother-in-law is a picture of respect that everyone can learn from. You see, no matter what you are doing, someone is always watching. This was true even for Ruth. Before Boaz, the man she would eventually marry, even spoke one word to her he was watching her from afar, learning her character and knowing who she really is. 

Questions to Ask Ourselves

Is living out the principle of being virtuous something that can be achieved in today's world? Some would say no, but I believe that with some guidance from the Holy Spirit and some intentional decision making living a life as a virtuous woman can easily be accomplished. Here are a few questions to ask yourself on your journey of becoming a virtuous woman:

1) What is my behavior when no one is watching? 
2)   What is my moral constitution? What biblical standards do I embrace that constitute my moral constitution?
3)  What self-discipline do I have?
4)   How can I move my reputation into my character?

Proverbs 12:4 says that capable wife is a crown on her husband's head. This should be the desire and goal for every woman who strives to live a life as a virtuous woman. Proverbs 31:10 asks who can find a capable wife. The answer should come easy when people look in on your life. 

Are you living out the principle of being virtuous? Does someone who falls into that category come to mind pretty quickly? Let me know what you think in the comments, and join me next time to learn about the principle of being TRUSTWORTHY

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Virtuous Woman

More times than I can count I have sat in a church pew on Mother's Day as I watched woman after woman shrink down in their seats a little farther with every passing minute. The good-hearted pastor happily preaching a sermon with the intent to encourage mothers in their roles only to actually be grinding those guilty feelings in just a little bit further.

As each verse of Proverbs 31:10-31 are highlighted, rather than feeling empowered, it feels more like a longs list of items that women everywhere are failing at. There is just no real way to meet all those standards. It's unrealistic and impossible.

I'll be honest, even before I became a wife and a mother I went into life thinking that the one main area that the Bible held unrealistic expectations was in the are of marriage and motherhood. I had resolved myself to always being second rate no matter how hard I tried because that women described in the pages of Scripture just did not exist.

And I entered into my Seminary career with the same mentality. Each semester I had to sit through a class where there would be discussion on the Proverbs 31 passage I would consider being sick or having an appointment so I didn't have to sit through that class. But then, slowly, I have come to learn more of what that passage is really trying to say.

This semester I am taking a class titled "Fundamentals of Biblical Womanhood". Each session so far has taken the what of living life a a "biblical woman" and provided the how to go with it. And so far we have been walking through a new to me interpretation of the Proverbs 31 woman.

The Virtuous Woman: Is She Relevant for Today?

The first question that often comes up is how the description found in the pages of the Bible can really be relevant to the culture we live in today? I mean, no one makes their own clothes anymore (at least not often), I don't know anyone who has servants to look after, and there is no way that I am going to get up early and stay up late just cleaning and looking after my house. 

To answer that question we have to first remember that the description for this particular woman comes from deep within the pages of Scripture. And those words, penned so very many years ago, were inspired by God. The God who is immutable. He is never changing and that means that his word is never changing. So no matter if it is 2000 years in the past or 2000 years in the future, the words found in these pages will always and forever be relevant.

A Literary Photograph of the Ideal Woman

So what is the message behind these 21 verses found at the very end of a book of the Bible chalk full of words of wisdom and instruction? To begin with this is a composite picture of the virtues that are to be found in a woman who carries the banner of Jesus Christ. Within this passage we see her inter-personal relationships, how she responds to her husband, the wide view of her life both within and outside of her home, and a close up picture of her mentality toward her life. Ultimately, what we find in this passage is a list of principles to live by, based upon the specific abilities, heritage, and talents God has bestowed upon each and everyone of us.

12 Principles found in the Proverbs 31 passage.

Alright, so if this passage isn't a laundry list of tasks I need to be completing each and every day, then what is it? What are these 12 principles that are found within this pretty poem? 

The 12 principles are: Virtuous, Trustworthy, Energetic, Economical, Unselfish, Prepared, Honorable, Prudent, Lovable, God-fearing, and Rewarded. Over time, I hope to take the time to share what each one of these 12 areas means and how they can be applied to our daily lives, within the culture we currently live in.

However, before we can begin to break that down there are a few questions we need to ask ourselves; They are

o   What are my specific abilities? What can I do?
o   What is my heritage?
o   What are my talents?
o   What makes me unique?
o   What is a population of people that I can reach that others can’t reach?
o   What are my motivating forces? What motivates me to action?

One we begin to break down all those areas we can begin to see how each of these 12 principles will fit into our daily lives

Becoming a Wise Woman In Progress

As we continue our in depth look at this Proverbs 31 passage a one key thing to remember is:

We need to possess an open heart to learn from the experiences of others, even when those others are far beyond our reach (1 Corinthians 10:6; Titus 2:4-5)

What is your perception of the Proverbs 31 passage? Have you found yourself 'turned off' or 'overwhelmed' when looking at the list of her accomplishments? Stay tuned to see how we break down these 12 principles!

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017: The Year of Simple


Can you believe it has been almost 2 full months since I have sat down to write an update here on the blog?

With the wrapping up of the fall semester and me coming off of researching, studying, and writing my almost 55 page Research project for my Master's degree I just made the decision that I was out of words. I had used up all my words for 2016 and I just couldn't really write anymore.

So I made the decision to give myself a break and just relax and enjoy the holiday season. I took time to really interact with my kids and reconnect with my husband. And for a while I even stayed away from most social media with the intent on really making true connections with people and not just a screen.

It was during this time that I started to really think about what I wanted my "word of the year" to be for 2017. 2016 was my year of consistent. I focused on being consistent with my homemaking skills, my personal care, and my parenting. For the most part I did pretty good I think. Of course there were some areas that I fell a little short but life is a journey of learning and growth. I am taking what I learned from 2016 and my strive to become more consistent and I will continue to apply it to my daily life.

2016 was a fairly crazy year. Hubby spent the first half of the year working in the political year that had him living out of motels all throughout the metroplex 6 days a week. The kids and I would do our best to spend weekends with him if it were possible but there were times that we didn't really see or talk to him for a few weeks at a time. He would come home on Sunday mornings in time to be at church, spend the day with us at church and afternoon activities. Then we would come home and he would take time to study. Monday mornings would consist of a quick hug and hi as he rushed off to class. Once he was done with his daily classes he would then come home, grab his freshly cleaned laundry, and head back to whatever motel he would be living out of for the week. And that was that.

Hubby hard at work (yes this is his job now....well....sorta)
Quickly we began to realize that job was not the best for our family so by the end of May he had quit and was out of work again. Luckily, another friend managed to connect him with a great job in one of his areas of passion and he has been thriving in this new position ever since.

The kids have continued to excel in gymnastics and are loving the time the get each week. We managed to get through kindergarten and have now moved on to 1st grade. In the process we made the decision to switch curriculum. This process was a bit of a challenge because the program I decided to use is entirely online. However, as I began looking through I began hearing all kinds of voices in my head telling me I would be a horrible parent to allow my child to be staring at a screen to be "learning" the whole time. So I began using the lesson plans as more of a guideline and worked myself to death to find lessons and activities that were "offline' Finally, I broke and I realized that it just wasn't working.  After a conversation with a few people I realized that allowing my son to be on the computer with me next to him supervising for about an hour and a half a day is not going to ruin him or break him. So now school is moving along smoothly and we are really enjoying the learning we are doing.

As for me, like I stated above, I spent the year researching, studying, and digging into a topic that I found really interesting. I then surveyed, analysed and compared data on the research that I gathered. Finally, I wrote it all out into a 5 chapter research paper and spent an hour presenting it to a room full of friends, family, and other fellow students. Along with that, I completed other classes working toward my finished degree. I also took on more responsibility within my church and started doing some work from home for a friend to bring in a bit of extra income.

Early in December we also found out that we are expecting baby #3 in early August. So that means I
have been battling exhaustion, morning (more like midday) sickness, and all the fun things that come with the early stages of pregnancy. The kids are excited to have a baby in the house soon and talk about it non-stop. And we are in the pre-planning stages of how we will manage for us both to finish school with a new baby in the mix.

Over all, 2016 was a fun and eventful year. However, with my year of trying to become more consistent with the things I do in my life I feel like I managed to make things a bit more complicated. So that is why I made the choice that for 2017 my word or focus for the year is going to be simple. I want to simplify things more. I want to work toward getting the things that I don't need/use in my home out, the routines and schedules that don't really work adjusted to become more manageable, and the activities that don't bring me or my family joy or happiness off our plate so that we can really begin to enjoy our days together.

I hope to begin to share how I am transitioning things into a more simple way of living. I don't intend on letting much go, but more along the lines of streamlining how I already do various things within my home and daily life.

Do you have a word for the year? If so, what did you choose?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Recapturing My Daily Routines

It is Monday again.

And the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Which means that I don't have school for the next 10 days (I only have classes on Wednesdays so I have a few extra days of 'break') With these days that aren't filled up with the hustle and bustle of getting to and from classes and no assignments due this week I am taking this opportunity to take back my daily routines.

I am a routine person. I am a planner and tend to live my by schedule and my calendar. However, being knee deep in homework assignments, presentations, lectures, and reading topped off with meal planning and prepping, laundry, daily cleaning, and homeschooling children my routines have gotten a bit off track.

But this week I am determined to get things back running smoothly as I push through the last few weeks of the semester.

So what does a weekly routine look like here?

I have read several blogs lately about really crafting a weekly routine and sticking to it to make it work for your family. Most of them have specific days designated to errands, cleaning, meal prepping, and various aspects of their lives. I have a similar situation but it varies just a bit.

Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning is something that, in reality, happens every day. But DEEP cleaning is something I have found really needs to be broken down. I know there are some out there that have one day a week that is set aside just for deep cleaning but I burn out too quickly for that to work. So here is how I have broken down my cleaning schedule:

Monday~Kitchen Day
The kitchen is my happy place. I love being in the kitchen. I love cooking, baking, and creating in the kitchen all the time. I truly feel like the kitchen is the heartbeat of the home. So I like to start my week out in my favorite room.

This is the time I really scrub my counters, wipe down all surfaces, clean out the fridge and prepare myself for the rest of the week. I also use this day and time to wipe down the walls, doors, and mop the floor.

The second day of the week is devoted to cleaning the second most used room in the house. There was a time when we were having our weekly Bible study on Monday so Mon and Tues were switched but now that we have moved our study to another day of the week I have readjusted. On Tuesdays I dust the surfaces, clean off the bookshelves that have gathered various toys and things that don't belong. I straighten the DVD shelf and move the recliners to clean and vacuum underneath them (except my vacuum just died so now I just sweep the carpet. )

The kids tend to like this day because they get to spend more time outside so I can get that room really clean.  Because we spend a lot of time in there it gets straightened up most days so deep cleaning that room doesn't really take long.

I am usually pretty busy on Wednesdays with classes all morning and one short class in the afternoon. So I tend to focus on cleaning the bathrooms that day since they are small and don't take a lot of time. Trash goes out, toilet, sink, and tub (in the upstairs) gets scrubbed and the mats on the floor get either washed or shaken out. I also sweep, and get any clothes that have piled up in there put in the right places.

Thursday~Kids Bedroom
The kids room takes SO VERY LONG most weeks. This is usually because I try to take the time to sort through their clothes and toys to get rid of anything that doesn't fit anymore or is broken. Then everything has to get put back where it goes. Add to it that they are usually helping me out with the process it takes some time. It's for this reason that have to tackle this feat on the one day I don't have to leave my house. So Thursday it is.

Friday~Master Bedroom
Friday is usually reserved for cleaning up the Master Bedroom. I left this room for last because, honestly, it is the least used room in the house so it takes a bit longer for it to get messed up. We mostly just sleep and change clothes in there. And with our hectic schedules there is very little sleep that actually takes place. I spend time in there straightening up the desk and book shelves, organizing the closet and drawers, and gathering up any trash. Friday tends to be my errand day since I have to go out of the house for gymnastics 2 different times. I tend to use this day as grocery day as well.

Saturday and Sunday
These two days are so jam packed that little gets handled in the home. When we do have a Saturday at home I try to make sure the cars get cleaned out, but that is a very rare occasion. Spending time out doing things with the family or taking care of the responsibilities at the church happen on the weekends . If I can make it work I also like to use Saturday as meal prep day and get everything set for the coming week.

Daily Activities
Laundry and general straightening are tasks that take place everyday. I am still working on getting caught up on the mountain of laundry that managed to pile up however once I get things handled this is the schedule that I plan to follow:
Monday: Dusty clothes
Tuesday: Collin clothes
Wednesday: RaeLynn Clothes
Thursday: My clothes
Friday: Towels
Saturday: Bed Sheets
Sunday: Laundry rest day.

The routines aren't perfect and I know that as my semesters ebb and flow I will have to adjust things and make changes but I know that as long as I can get a basic routine down again changing up the days of which room gets the most attention will be a fairly simple task.  I also think that by getting this routine in order it will make things easy for getting the kids involved, taking the work load off of myself somewhat.

I have also JUST started listening to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on Audible and it is already changing the way I am thinking about how I view my 'things'.  For a while now I have been just feeling smothered by all the material things we have in our house. From clothes to books to toys and any number of other things I have just felt like we have too much but I haven't really known how to go about really getting rid of or letting go of things. I really feel like this book with all the practical information I am already finding in it is going to really help me to laser focus in on what I need to do to find peace and joy in my home. I am truly looking forward to the long break between the semesters so that I can get on to the business of KonMari within my home!

How do you get things done? Do you have a regular routine?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

She Did What She Could Part 1

The last weekend of October I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Art of Homemaking Conference hosted by the Women's program here at the Seminary.

This is an event that I have looked forward to for a while. Each time I have the opportunity to attend I learn and grow so much in just a few short days.

This year they did not provide a "theme" for the conference but God managed to sew a common thread throughout the message of all the main speakers. That common thread, at least to me, was "Be where God has you in the moment"

There were 5 main session speakers all presenting messages on different topics. The first session was presented by Lorna Reeves, editor of Tea Time Magazine, session two was presented by Dr. Rhonda Kelly, First Lady of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the third session was given by Dr. Candi Finch, a professor here at Southwestern, during the fourth session we heard from Monica Patrick who is the wife of a professor here at the Seminary with an wonderful story to tell, and the conference closed up with a message from Southwestern's very own First Lady, Mrs. Dorothy Kelly Patterson.

Each Session brought with it a key ingredient I felt lead to the over arching theme I shared above. It felt as if each ingredient was required for the whole puzzle to finally be completed.

Legacy~Lorna Reeves

Lorna opened the plenary sessions with a discussion on legacy. She began by talking about 'traditions'; those elements of a culture passed down form one generation to another. These traditions are, as the definition states 'elements of a culture.' They are shaped and formed by circumstances. For example, in an area where there is a lot of snow at Christmas a 'tradition' might be sledding on Christmas morning where as an area where there is no snow would not share in that tradition. The same day is being recognized but how it is done changes. What we deem as 'traditions' often times have little baring on what is found in scripture. Culture has shaped our lives.

On the other hand, legacy, something also handed down from the past, from ancestors and predecessors, carries so much more. A legacy is what peoples reputations and perceptions are built upon. Families have worked hard to build up their legacies, and unlike traditions, can not easily be changed.

Lorna challenged us to question what type of legacy we are leaving. She encouraged us to strive to leave a legacy of faith.  There are 2 definitions that pop up when you search for the term "faith." The first is "complete trust or confidence in someone or something" and the second is "strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof." The first definition feeds the second. A strong belief in God, a complete trust or confidence.

2 Peter 1:5-7 says:
. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 
Peter gives us everything we need to build that strong legacy of faith. Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love all build upon each other over time. All are character qualities passed on from one generation to another with a strong and deciding faith at the foundation.

How to Build a Legacy of Faith

One of the absolute best ways to begin building this Legacy of Faith is through Family Meal Times. Families have lost the connection that eating at least 2 meals together at the table used to bring. Busy schedules and over worked parents have lead to breakfasts being eaten as children rush to the bus or out the door to schools and day cares. And dinners have been reduced to the same rushed manner. Children are been shuffled from one after school activity to the next with little time to consume a fast food meal in the backseat. And if that is not the case then meals are being eaten in front of the television set with little to no conversation taking place. 

If families will take the time to slow down and reconnect with genuine conversation the building blocks described in 2 Peter 1:5-7 can be laid. Faith can be seen by children as parents talk with them about daily issues. Knowledge can be shared as parents seek to give their children the counsel they need. and over time self-control, love and affection are learned and passed on. Tradition can then be shaped into true legacy.

Another way that this Legacy of Faith can be built is through making worship a priority. When children see their parents making worship such as reading of the Bible daily, prayer-both personal and together with the family, and attendance of church consistently they begin to make the connection of the importance of worship to the foundation of faith. 

Traditions can be good to pass on. They remind us of where we came from and bring back happy and joyful memories of times past. It is what those traditions that are built upon that develops the Legacy of Faith

How do you build a Legacy of Faith in your family?

Friday, November 4, 2016

What's Rockin' My Socks Off: Gratitude Garland

Happy Friday!!!

It is that time again to talk about what is rockin my socks off. (I know I missed a few weeks! I have been super busy with a lot of things going on here at the Seminary. I look forward to sharing more about that VERY soon!) 

So a few years ago right after we moved here I decided that if I was going to do this whole homemaking thing I was going to really do it up (I still has that June Cleaver/Martha Stewart mindset of homemaking so I was trying to fit into a mold that I didn't belong in).  I had decided that I needed to be one of those people who decorated for every holiday and every season (read that as holiday and seasonal decor should explode all over my home).

The problem with this is that we were (and still are) living on a VERY TIGHT BUDGET. That meant that I didn't have the finances to go buy all the materials to make all the wonderful DIY projects I kept seeing on Facebook and Pinterest. 

But what I did have was 2 kiddos, some brown paper bags, LOTS of crayons, ribbon and scissors. 

And thus the 'Gratitude Garland' was born.

Now to be fair I didn't come up with the idea, it was one of those wonderful ides I found on Pinterest. I did however simplify it just a bit.

The last 2 years I have adapted and changed how we did our gratitude for the month of November but
we have always taken the time to really think about what we are thankful for and why we are thankful for those things as we prepare to go into the holiday season. One year I just stuck our leafs up on the door instead of creating the whole garland, and the next year we just wrote them down in a notebook during our lunch time talks. Last year, I didn't really do anything at all. I was just so busy with school that it never crossed my mind.

This year, however, I decided we needed to bring back the garland. We needed a strong visual reminder of what we are thankful for. My kiddos have a habit of finding one thing and parking on that thing. At night their most consistent prayer is:
"Dear God, Please help daddy have a good nights sleep and a great day tomorrow. Amen!"
They say the same thing, every night, as fast as they can get through it. No matter how hard I try they just don't want to let go of that prayer. And on the second day of November I realized they were falling into that same pattern.

SO I made the decision to recreate the "gratitude garland" so we can see what we are thankful for
each day and realize just how much we have in our lives.

Hearing my kiddos really stop and think about what they are grateful for and how they can incorporate thankfulness into their lives each day is such a blessing.

So that is what is rockin' my socks off for the start of November!

How do you incorporate gratitude in your family? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Heart in Hand Scripture Challenge

I can not believe that it is already November! How has this year gone by so very fast.

One of the areas that I have really tried to focus on being more consistent with (my word for 2016) is really digging in to Scripture. I love reading and studying the Bible but as I got further into my Seminary classes I found that I was spending time reading the Bible only to say I did my weekly reading requirements for my classes but I wasn't really learning or growing.

Over the summer months I got involved with the Good Morning Girls Bible Studies. I love they way they go through one book at a time, generally one chapter at a time. Each day (Monday through Friday) a new chapter is read, a Scripture is written out, Observations and Application are applied, and a Prayer to ask God to incorporate these thoughts into daily life is said. There is even a great color-coding highlighting system to help be able to see what is happening in each chapter at a quick glance.

This is a great way to really dive in and READ the Word. But I found that I was not really 'meditating' on what I had read throughout the day. Especially when the day's reading was focused on the inheritance of the tribes of Israel found in the book of Joshua. Again, I have just been going through the motions for the most part. Of course I am still learning and growing but there was little thinking on the Word once the kids wake up and I move on to the chaos of the day.

Recently I have started following several new blogs and podcasts. I even wrote about my new love of Periscope and the great people I have been following over there. One of the people I follow is MacKenzie Monroe at Bold Turquoise. She is the host of the Cultivating the Lovely Morning Show on Peirscope and the Cultivating the Lovely Podcast.

One of the things she has been know to do is a Bible study with the Periscope community. And a lot of followers had been letting her know they missed that. I was never fortunate enough to get in on that part of her show but I could tell it was something that really blessed the women involved.

That is why I was so excited when she announced that for this month, November, she would be hosting a Scripture writing challenge. Each day there is a new Scripture to think on throughout the day. The goal is to write out the Scripture passage each day to help solidify the passage in the our hearts and minds. The challenge started yesterday and will go throughout the entire month of December.

I was so excited to jump on board I even got my sister to join in with me. I made my own blank page notebook out of printer paper and a blank card, and I had my husband make me my very own Traveler's Notebook (a whole post on its own!) to hold it.

Yesterday's Scripture was Psalm 119:15 and today's passage is Psalm 19:14

I have also decided I want to start learning to be more creative with my writing and get some doodling/art going in my planner systems so I am adding those little touches to my daily Scripture.

You can find your own printable bookmark with the daily Scripture passages in the show notes for the Bold Turquoise Podcast.

You can also follow along with my daily posts on the Life of a Seminary Wife Instagram Page! I would love to have you follow along!

Have you done Scripture writing? Bible Journaling? Hand-lettering and doodling?