Monday, July 17, 2017

When Things Don't Go As Planned


Can you believe it has been since the end of April since I have sat down to write anything here!?! I have both enjoyed the break and missed putting words out of my head and into some type of cohesive format.

However, I am attempting to get back into the swing of things so here we go.

It's the middle of July and we are just a few short weeks away from welcoming our newest addition to the family. I saw on the weather report today we are in for a heck of a heat wave this week so this terminally pregnant mommy will be spending as much time in doors as she possibly can. And that is absolutely OK because we kicked off our 2017-2018 home-school program year here at Mars Hall Legacy Academy. 

I made the decision at the end of our home-school year in May that we would start our school now and get some of the learning under our belts then take more time off once the baby is born. That way we might still manage to get in some type of a summer break next year with the off chance we can take a trip to see grandparents or aunts and uncles.

I ordered our curriculum and received a ton more for free early on so that I had plenty of time to plan and prepare. We have hit all the great school supply sales early so we have fresh new crayons, markers, and paints. Notebooks are stalked up and my lesson planner book is filled in and ready to go.

Last night, before I went to bed I even mapped out a loose schedule for us in my mind so that we were able to incorporate chores, play time (inside and out), quiet time, and lesson time. I had it all ready to go so that we would have all our structured learning time done by 3:15 at the very latest.

Then we slept in about an hour later than I had planned. Yep, I was starting off the "First Day of School" behind already. But it was ok. I knew with a few minor adjustments we would still be able to meet my timeline and all would be right with the world.

Needless to say....thing's just didn't really work out that way. Here we are, at 4:!5 in the afternoon as I am writing this and we still have one subject left to get through. Only about half the chores I had hoped to get done were accomplished. And I really should be getting dinner going in the oven.

But, instead the kids are playing with friends outside and I am here taking a much needed break to remind myself that even on the best of days things rarely go as planned. And that is OK.

There are countless stories from the beginning of time all the way to my less than stellar planning today of how things just didn't quite go as planned. However, once a step back is taken it is clear to see how God had His hand in everything and was truly orchestrating things within His plan. It's not that things "didn't really go as planned" but rather "things didn't go as I (we the human race) had planned"

Collin's 1st day of 2nd Grade
Today may not have worked out the way I had envisioned it to but as I have sat here and thought about it, I got some extra rest that I clearly needed being 36 weeks pregnant. Dusty had an opportunity to get the day started with us through our morning Bible lesson and prayer time. And I got the opportunity to have some good conversations with my kids as we entered into our new journey of 2nd grade and kindergarten. Today, though not "planned" has been just what it needed to be, and if I can manage to keep even half of that perspective throughout this journey we are going to have a great home-school year!

RaeLynn's 1st day of Kindergarten

How do you handle things when they don't seem to go as planned? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Principle of Being Rewarded

Everyone likes to be rewarded now and then. A pat on the back for a job well done, receiving a prize at the end of a long competition, or taking that extra day off because you just know you earned it through all the extra hours you put into a major project.

There are several people I know who enjoy running. They have participated in 5 K runs, 10 K runs, and even full on marathons. One of the things they look forward to is receiving that medal at the end of the race that says "Hey! You did it!"

It's true that being rewarded with a tangible, physical item is something to look forward to, but what about in the race of life?

Proverbs 31:31 says:
Give her the reward of her labor and let her works praise her at the city gates.
The woman of Proverbs 31 was receiving her reward day in and day out as she faithfully served her God and her family through her tireless efforts. But what exactly did that reward look like?

Defining Rewarded 

The basic definition "Rewarded" is compensation or something given for good works, service, or merit. The woman in this passage was compensated through her reputation at the 'city gates'

In short, when her husband went to work, everyone knew who he was married to and the quality of work that she provided for the community. He was affirming her to the people in the community who were of high importance.

The question here is this: Who are the people closest to you and what are they saying about you in the public?

What are some of the ways that living out the principles found in the Proverbs 31 passage can bring rewards? Lets take a look.

The Rewards

The woman described in Proverbs 31 was rewarded by integrating each of these principles into her live.

First of all she was rewarded through her pure life of virtue. Here is where her character is rooted completely. She draws close to the Lord and is given blessings from the Lord for it (Psalm 24:1-5) 

We, in the world today, have the opportunity to do the same thing. If we center ourselves on the Lord we will have the capabilities to understand spiritual truths in a way that many others can't. (Matthew 5:8)

We  see the rewards this woman had for being a trustworthy wife and mother through the reactions of her husband. His heart trusted in her completely. He was confident in the woman he had married and knew that she had his best interest.

This applies to us today even if we aren't married. This applies to the people who are closest to you. Can they trust you implicitly? Proverbs 31:25 reminds us that our actions are born out of our character. It is our job to walk in an upright manner so that we can be sure that God will provide his grace and thing things He deems are good. If I focus on the tasks I have been called to do and not worry about the things going on around me it is easy to life out this principle daily. (Psalm 84:11)

We learned when we talked about being energetic that this doesn't necessarily mean that we are a basket full of energy and excitement all this time. Here we see that being energetic simply means using the skills we excel at to benefit our homes and our families, (Proverbs 31:24)

The reward here can be great. If we are using the talents we have and coupling them with our spiritual gifts we have the opportunity to not only serve the family we are in charge of but we can also serve the Lord in wonderful ways. If we focus our energies into the areas that we excel in we can be sure to avoid eating the fruit of slothfulness (Proverbs 19:15)

Physically Fit
Being 'physically fit' is another area that is often misconstrued as being something that it's not. In this context, being physically fit is knowing your personal limitations and having the ability to work at your maximum potential. Of course, if you strive to keep you body as a holy dwelling place for the Lord, a clean vessel, the benefits will be far more than you can imagine. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

The rewards of this principle are that you are able to enjoy the tasks placed before you because you know how to get things accomplished. And you are able to avoid the judgement of God because thing things you are doing are holy and pleasing to the Lord. (Isaiah 3:16-26)

Here we are able to see true, tangible rewards. We we learn to live within our budget and we see the appropriate place and value of our money we can benefit from it working FOR us rather than it working AGAINST us.  When we are able to embrace a spiritual attitude toward our finances it is easy to know where to store up our treasures. (1 Timothy 6:6-8) When we have a strong foundation for our economical principle to be rooted in we are able to provide for our family the best quality products, at the best price, with no reason for guilt, doubt, or shame at the end of the day (Proverbs 31:18)

We all want to be known as unselfish, but what are the rewards to living such a lifestyle? For starters when we learn to be generous and unselfish we can know that we are not only serving our fellow man but we are ultimately lending to the Lord. (Proverbs 19:17) And while we may not see the rewards on this side of heaven, we can be like Dorcas, who was deeply loved and missed at the time of her passing because of the generous, unselfish heart and spirit that she possessed. She made it her mission to provide for those in the community and her loss was felt deeply. (Acts 9:36-41)

To be prepared means we are ready and excited for the tasks God has placed before us. (Jeremiah 17:7-8) We are not easily frustrated or filled with regret. (Matthew 25:21,23) And our reward is to be a role model and an example for those who are also striving to live a life of this magnitude, which means that we can be patient as we teach and train others to fulfill their service to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11;1)

When we choose to live an honorable life we can be confident that we are walking in a life of fulfillment. (2 Corinthians 9:6) While the world may be telling us we will be lacking we can know that it is through these honorable actions that we are going to be reaping the true rewards in the form of blessings from heaven. And as we interact with others we will see the observable changes in the lives of those we have had the privilege to affirm. (Psalm 119:11)

 How we communicate is often more important than what we are actually communicating. It is easy to say the right thing the wrong way, or the wrong thing and even worse way. However, when we learn to be prudent with our tongue one of the rewards is that people will confide in your. This principle ties directly into the principle of being trustworthy. (Proverbs 15:1-2) People will also seek out your advice and be thankful for that advice once they receive it.

Being lovable and being loved begins with a strong vibrant relationship with the Lord. The closer you draw to Him the stronger the lovable characteristics come to the forefront. In turn the people in your life will come to grow in their love and respect for you. This then leads you to be an open and valuable mentor and example to younger women in your life. (Titus 2:3-5)

Living out the principle of being 'God-fearing'  will provide you with a bright, vibrant life with the Lord. It opens up the doors and pathways for you to become a positive role model for others on their walk with God. The true reward will come once we get to heaven and we are counted as the good and the faithful servant of the Lord. (Matthew 25:21) And through our relationships we are able to learn and grow when we come into them with the right mindset and heart-attitude.

A Final Thought

The Proverbs 31 Woman is not a laundry list of things that we as women are called to check off and if we don't ever get there we are failing at life. The truth of the matter is that, if you were to sit down and take an account of your daily life, many of these principles are already being lived out. The question that comes to mind then is, if you are already living out many of these principles, what is the heart and motive behind the actions. The ultimate reward will come when we reach heaven and stand before God and we can with confidence know that the Lord is proud to have us as His children.

How would you respond if God called you to accountability today? What would you say in your defense?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Principle of Being God-Fearing

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10
The book of Proverbs is 31 chapters of insightful words that the Christian man or woman can (and should) use as a guide post for daily living. Often times when we thing about having a 'fear' or something we have images of people running for the hills screaming at the thought of something. But when we are talking about having a 'Fear of the Lord' that isn't what we are meaning at all.

Defining God-Fearing

To have a healthy fear of the Lord in reality means to have a reverential trust in God. This means that you not only trust Him with your entire being but that you also seek and strive to to assimilate all your values and standards to those of the Lord. This comes with a realization that the standards of the world will constantly change and we will never be able to keep up. However, the standards of the Lord never change. They are a constant that we can strive to meet each and every day. Having a 'fear of the Lord' also means that we are true to the relationship that we have with God. This means we make a conscious decision to not live in a 'its better to ask forgiveness' frame of mine. We can't take advantage of the relationship or abuse it. 

Far to often I have come across people who live under the principle that because they have accepted the free gift of salvation from Christ they are now living with free reign to do anything and everything they would like to do with no regard for the consequences. This is the exact opposite of living a life by the principle of being God-Fearing.

Attributes of a God-Fearing Lifestyle

If living a life of doing whatever you would like to do without regard for the consequences is the opposite of God-fearing, then what characterized this type of life?

First of all you need to have a hunger and a thirst for the Lord. Think of it this way: Has there ever been a time in your life when you were so hungry or thirsty you were just sure you would not be able to carry on? That is the type of desire we should have for our relationship with the Lord. The craving to know God so much that we are sure if we don't have the opportunity to commune with God we will not be able to accomplish anything else the rest of our day.

The next thing that is necessary for living a God fearing life is to with an attitude of submission to the will of God. This type of submission moves far beyond the simple compliance and placing ourselves joyfully under the control of our Heavenly Father. This means that we submit ourselves to the authority of God even when things aren't going in a direction that we might think they shouldn't be going in. 

Another attribute of living a "God-Fearing" lifestyle is making all of the spiritual principles real in our lives each day. This also means that we have to work to put into practice the things that we are learning through out time in the Word each day. To make sure we are remaining in the Word each day we need to ensure that we don't find ourselves in a slump or a 'boring' routine when it comes to our daily quiet time. Through the action of mixing up the different methods and modes of studying the word of God then we can remain active and interested in our daily growth in the Lord. 

A Final Thought

There are so many other attributes that describe the principle of being 'God-Fearing' but ultimately it all boils down to ensuring that you are striving to maintain a strong, flourishing, and healthy relationship with the Lord on a daily basis. Proverbs 31:30 says,
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
This woman, whom we have been studying for the past several weeks, took the principles, commands, and desires of the Lord and she applied them to her life. Not only did she benefit from the actions but her husband, children, and the community did as well. This woman, though she was busy, was not distracted from the important things, ultimately her relationship with the Lord.

How do you ensure you maintain a vibrant relationship with the Lord? Do you keep your daily quiet time fresh and exciting? Are you willing to admit that you might need a kick-start to revitalizing your daily walk? If so, how will you get back to where you need to be. Join me next time when we wrap up this series with the principle of being rewarded.


Friday, April 7, 2017

The Principle of Being Loveable

"If you wish to be loved, be lovable"

What an interesting concept. But what does that really mean? So often we live our lives thinking that we all just deserve to be loved no matter what our actions might say. As a parent, I know that I do and will always love my children, however, there are times when their actions and attitudes make it seem challenging to do so.
The question then is, how do I go about 'being lovable' on a day to day basis? The woman in Proverbs 31 had it figured out!

Defining Lovable

Before we can talk about the HOW of being lovable we first have to understand what 'lovable' really is. Miriam-Webster defines 'lovable' as
Inspiring or deserving of love or affection
 That definition fits the bill pretty well but I would probably add in:
A benevolent (well meaning or kind) feeling of brotherly affection toward one another. 
The action of 'being lovable' goes deeper than those fluttery "butterfly" feelings that we get when we first begin to love another person, no matter what the context. When we first come to find that we have a true deep love for a friend or another individual in our lives we begin to realize those 'fluttery feelings' have gone away and now there is a deeper connection that is still there even when we find ourselves disagreeing with one another.

Where Does Being Lovable Begin

 How do we know where to begin if we want to cultivate a 'lovable' life? The first place to start is with our Heavenly Father. We read in 1 John 4:16 that
God is love, whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
In order to begin to know how to love and be loved we first have to know what love is. And the only true way to know what love is, is to cultivate a strong relationship with the Lord. God is love. God is also lovable. And He is loving. He is the total package. It is only through the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father that we can learn the action that is LOVE.

Once we have that foundation in place, and we continue to abide and grow in our love with the Lord we can then put our new found ability to love and be loved into practice with those in our immediate circles. The more we exercise a new muscle the stronger it will get. The same is with our attitude toward how we love those around us.

12 years ago I left my home and embarked on a new journey that was college. I moved to a new town, with new people, and was placed in a dorm room with an individual I had never met. (Fairly typical college experience). I had to make a decision to learn to love the person that I would be living with for several months or I could make the decision to not regard her at all. If I had chosen the latter decision I would not have spent time cultivating my heart for love and I would have really struggled when new people entered my living situation. Roommates came and went but I was always able to love those who were part of my immediate circle because I was deeply rooted in how to love through God.

Taking Love to the Next Level

As I was cultivating my heart to love those who were placed in my path I was given the blessing of meeting the man who would become my husband. As I put into practice my desire to love all those who God had directed me toward I was able to develop a deeper, more intimate type of love with this man. Now, almost 9 years later, I have the ability to cultivate a passionate, deep love for him that goes beyond that of what I would extend to my friends and my neighbors. This is a love and a passion that is beautiful due to it's confines and restrictions within the marriage relationship. And this is a love and a relationship that is unlike any other out there so there is no need to wonder or compare my passionate, intimate relationship that those of other people around me. 

Cultivating a life with my husband that is worthy of being lovable also comes with some action on my part to learn to work creatively within the leadership of my husband. In Genesis we learn that God created Adam a helper to work along side him tending and cultivating the garden. The woman was designed to be his helper and not his adversary. It is my job to be the helper that I was designed to be and not a detriment or a distraction. I can know my husband as I honor, respect, and help him just as I am told to do in 1 Peter 3:1-6. 

An Example for a Younger Generation

Train up a child in the way he should go;   even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6
Often times, in today's culture and society, the idea of discipline and corrections of children is frowned upon. Parents are releasing the duties of training and teaching their children over to schools, day care programs, and even church leaders. However, as a mother, if I am going to seek to cultivate a lovable life both for myself and for my children it is my job so train them in the proper manner. First and foremost I must ensure that my training is directly from the Scriptures. While it is my husband's responsibility to be the leader of the formal training of our children, it is my job to be in the trenches with them daily. I am to be the example. My actions should say to them:
Follow me as I follow Christ
This is not a responsibility to take lightly either. At some point, I will be accountable for the training of the young lives that God has entrusted into my care. The goal is to be able to stand tall in front of the Lord and be proud of the job that I did in the lives of my children.

A Final Thought

Family life comes in four stages:
  • The inception/beginning of a family
  • The expansion of a family
  • The child rearing years
  • The twilight/senior years.
As a parent the first half of our life is an investment and we reap the benefits of that investment in the
second half of our life. How we treat that investment will determine what harvest is reaped. The woman in Proverbs 31:28-29 took her role as a wife and a mother so seriously that the harvest she reaped was one for praise and encouragement. The woman in this passage was honored by her children and adored by her husband. She taught and trained her children with loving care and she brought good to her husband as we have already discussed in several other principles. This is the goal. To have our children rise up and call us blessed and to have our husbands shout that of all the wonderful women in the world we surpass them all.

How does your husband speak of you to those in the world? Does he sing your praises or does he wish that you could do more? What about your children? Are they thankful to have you as a mom or do they wish you had a little more love and care about your training? Join me next time as I talk about the principle of being God-Fearing. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Principle of Being Prudent

"If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all"

"Hey! You should watch your mouth!"

How may times as a child were you told that? How many times as a parent have I said that?

One of my jobs as a parent it to teach my children how to become effective communicators. And it is my responsibility to train them in how to do so with grace, dignity, and a loving spirit.

The best way that I can teach my children these skills is to model it on a consistent basis.

The woman found in Proverbs 31 shows us how this is accomplished through the ability to use a prudent tongue.

Defining Prudent

Being 'prudent' can fall in any number of categories, however, for the purpose of our study on this remarkable woman we are going to focus on the area of having a prudent tongue. 

To paint a word picture of a prudent person we see someone who is practically wise. They are aware of the potential consequence and makes action decisions based around that. 

Proverbs 31:26 says:
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue
 Here we see that she thinks before she speaks and she uses words to project kindness to others around her. James 3:5 reminds us that our tongue is such a small part of the human body and yet it has the capabilities to lift up or destroy so much. Backing up to James 3:2 we learn that if a person has control of their tongue the are able to be in control of their whole body.

This woman, our picture of the ideal, is capable of having that type of control.

Examples of a Prudent (and Not So Prudent) Tongues in Scripture

The Bible is full of places that direct us in how we are to use our tongue. We have examples of how to speak and how not to speak.

In Exodus we find that  Miriam, a woman who longed to follow God whole-heartedly, allowed her tongue to get the better of her. Her sharp, complaining tongue got her into a heap of trouble and she found she had to reap the consequences in the form of a physical malady.

We see that Isaiah had his tongue cleansed first by God before anything else, a reminder that we too need to have our tongues cleansed from. 

Think Before You Speak

Colossians 4:6 says 
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer another person.
We are called to use our words wisely. Colossians reminds us we need to stop and think before we open our mouths and speak. However, before we really begin to get control of our mouths and the words that we say we have to stop and take the time to evaluate what is in our heart.

Luke 6:45 states that what is in our heart will come out of our mouths. If we want to be sure that we are allowing up-lifting, edifying, gracious things to be what comes out of our mouths we have to first start with what we are allowing into our hearts.

The best way to ensure the things that are going in are the things we want coming out is to daily make Psalm 19:14 be our earnest prayer.

Once that prayer has become a part of daily life, the next step to take is to filter everything you intend to say through the following list of criteria:

  • Is it kind?
  • Is it necessary
  • Is it true?
  • Is it gossip?
  • Am I defending my own opinion rather than engaging in active listening?
By filtering our words through these 5 questions we might just be surprised at how little we will have to say to begin with. Once we start to really hone in and focus on using our words for edifying and uplifting, we begin to really see just how little of that has actually been done in the past. 

Becoming An Encourager Rather Than a Discourager

The Proverbs 31 woman made encouragement a part of her daily life. She used her words for imparting wisdom and kindness, seeking to lift others up rather than tear them down. We can follow her example by becoming women who encourage by inspiring others with a renewed courage, spirit, or hope. We can use our words to affirm other's character while directing them to more beneficial actions. Through prayer, coming along side those who are in physical need, and learning to display gratefulness we can train ourselves to search for the positive character qualities in those around us. 

A Final Thought

Early on in the semester we were encouraged to try out a little experiment. It goes a little like this:
  1. Determine your height in inches
  2. Stick out your tongue and measure the length when out as far as you can get it
  3. Determine the size of your tongue compared to your height in inches
I did this little experiment and I came to find that I am roughly 65 inches tall. When sticking my tongue out as far as I could get it, it measured at just shy of 2.5 inches long. That is a BIG difference between my height and the length of my tongue. However, that little 2.5 inches is often far more powerful than any of the rest of my 65 inches could ever be. We see throughout Scripture that if we do not learn to control the smallest of body parts we will be overtaken. It is truly amazing how something so relatively small can either build up in a great fashion or tear down in utter devastation. The question that we have to answer is how are we going to use our tongues?

How do you use your tongue to encourage others? Would you consider yourself "prudent" when considering your speech? How can you more more in that direction today? Join us next time as we discuss the principle of being lovable.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Principle of Being Honorable

"That was an honorable thing to do"

Have you ever heard those words? Or maybe even said them?

I can remember a time when I witnessed a young boy, about 5 years old, find a dollar on the ground in his Sunday School classroom. One of the other teachers in the room told him it was his lucky day because he just made a whole dollar. However, he made the decision to bring the dollar bill to me because he knew it wasn't his so he knew he shouldn't keep it. It didn't matter that he was the only child left in the class and the other teacher and I were on our way out as soon as he was collected by his parents. He knew that dollar wasn't his to keep. I told him, as I took the dollar, that he was doing a very honorable thing.

What made that young man, in that moment, worthy to be called "honorable"? What about his decision in that moment stood out? And how does that apply to our lives as women striving to live out the principles found in Proverbs 31? Let's dive in and see.

Defining Honorable

"Honorable" can be described as the quality of displaying a high regard or giving of great respect. The idea of integrity comes to mind when I think about this definition. Acting from what is within the heart rather than what is on the surface is what determines our level of integrity.  This means that when acting from what is within your heart your true motivations are shown. To be an honorable woman our motivation needs to come from the Lord and not from whatever perceived glory we may receive. 

Being Honorable in our Appearance

Proverbs 31:25 says:
Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come.

I have often heard that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Generally, that first impression is made without ever having a single word spoken. People make a snap decision about a person the minute their eyes meet the visual picture that is presented. The style of dress and the way a person carries themselves is usually the first impression that is made.

So what is it that motivates our clothing choices. If you talk to any person who is worth their salt in the fashion world you will learn that clothing is designed to draw the eye to various places. Prints, patterns, lines, and shapes are all used to draw the attention to any number of body parts. I remember a time when I was watching a popular television show and one of the main characters was being criticized for his over the top belt buckles. He (the main character) insisted that he wore them because they made him happy. The person criticizing countered that it made him happy because it caused individuals (especially women) to look in a region of his body that was less than appropriate.

I watched that scene in that show probably close to 10 years ago and it still stands out to me today. Why? Because it reminds me that the clothing I choose to wear matters. If I make a choice to wear a t-shirt that is a bit to low cut I am all but inviting men to stare at an area of my body that should only be reserved for my husband's view. I am also communicating that all I have to offer the world is my physical appearance. Psalm 119:105 reminds us that we are to allow God's words and principles to light our path. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 calls us to abstain from all appearances of evil. By passing our dressing decisions, the world's first
impression of us, through the filter of Scripture we are able to put not only our best foot forward each day but also that of the one we are called to represent.
physical appearance.

Reflecting Honor for Our Husband's Sake

The woman in Proverbs 31 not only acts in a way that brings her personal honor but we see that she is also able to bring honor to her husband. In the principle of trustworthy we talked about how this woman's husband's trust in her was so complete it was a reflex reaction. She worked hard to not put his name in the dirt. She used her influence in the community to bring him good as we will see when we get further on in our study. She embraced the principles found in Genesis 2:18. Here we see that God has a design and an intended purpose for the man and the woman. This particular woman, our example, embraced her role as a helpmeet coming along side him excitedly to work with him and not as a competitor against him. She was his partner in all things.

Excellence as a Craftswoman

God created us to be creative. We all have gifts to share and use with the world. Often times we (and by 'we' I really mean I) have bought into the idea that if I am going to produce something it has to be perfect. In our world of Pinterest and Instagram it seems that if we can't produce perfection then we can't contribute to the world. The truth of the matter is, that's just not true. See, what God wants is excellence, not perfection.

God wants us to give our all when using the gifts and talents he has given us. He wants us to excel but that doesn't mean that our products won't ever be without flaw. But what it does mean is that we present good quality. This doesn't have to be in the market place either. It can be in the things you make, do and prepare just in your home for your own family. In order to practice the principle of being honorable when referring to excelling as a craftswoman four characteristics are required: 
  • Humility: knowing we can't excell on our own but only through God's strentgh
  • Unselfishness: sharing what we have and can do with others.
  • Gentleness: teaching and training in a kind manner
  • Patience: bearing with others as they continue to learn and grow while you focus on teaching.
If these four characteristics are put into practice then becoming a woman of honor we can put our pride away and be able to develop relationships that will last long into the future.

A Final Thought

All of these thought can be boiled down to how we have control of our bodies. Our bodies, according to Romans 12:1-2, are to be presented as a living sacrifice to the Lord. This means that we are not to conform to the ways of the world and we are not to use our bodies as instrument of sin. When we make the decision to present ourselves as living sacrifices we are acknowledging that our bodies are the dwelling place of the Lord and that He has the control of what it is we are to be doing. When we filter our thought, actions, and motives through this context living a life of being honorable is within our reach each and every day. 

How do you filter your thoughts, decisions, and motivations each day? Do you live a life based on being a living sacrifice to the Lord? How can you make adjustments so that this becomes more of a practice? Join me next time when we talk about the Principle of Being Prudent.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Principle of Being Prepared

Benjamin Franklin once said "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

Each day presents any number of unique circumstances, events, and even challenges. How we prepare for the possibility of anything that could come up will determine how we respond when a new need arises.

I am a planner. I like to have a schedule. I like knowing what is going to happen next. I like being prepared.

And when we read in Proverbs 31: 21-22 and 27 we learn that the woman found in these verses also liked to be prepared.

Defining Prepared

The principle of being prepared, when we look at it from the context of the Proverbs 31 passage, can best be described as taking the time to cultivate a tender heart to be ready for any circumstance that may arise. The woman of Proverbs 31 has taken the time to be ready for any circumstance. She has the foresight to ensure that her family is well dressed no matter what the season. If it is cold and snowy their is no worry of getting trapped without a coat. If it is warm and sunny out, her family is prepared to stay cool and refreshed. This woman is ready for any occasion.

Living a Prepared Life

How do we, in our fast paced always on the go lifestyles, incorporate a life of being prepared? First of all, we have to learn to live in surplus so that we don't have to be constantly working in survival mode. There are areas of our life where we can get ahead of the game. We can work within our finances to have a cushion. If we take the time each month to evaluate our budget we can focus on saving money for emergencies and be properly prepared for what may come. When we stop and take time to plan out or day and our week we can know where we will have free time or "wiggle room" in our schedules for when a crisis may arise. 

Determining Appropriate Priorities

Staying ahead of tasks and finances and refraining from living a prepared life. In order to know what areas we  need to prepare in advance we need to determine and stick to our priorities. In our social media world, it is really easy to get caught up in the ins and outs of what others seem to be accomplishing. Living a life of preparedness reminds us that we will each have our own priorities, and while what our friends on Pinterest or Facebook seem to be accomplishing is wonderful, their priorities are not the same as ours. We can not spend our time comparing our priorities to those of others in our circle. Not even our best friends.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-13 serves as a guide for how we, as wise women in progress, can determine our priorities for our lives.  We learn in these 13 verses that our priorities should be filtered though four main filters as we determine what is important in our lives.  Paul tells us we are to be biblical with the scriptures saturating every aspect of our lives, we are to be authentic living a life that is genuine with no masks and games, we are to be gracious allowing the Holy Spirit to have control of our convictions being careful how we respond when it comes to confrontation, accepting people where they are rather than expecting more out of them, and we are to be relevant meeting people where they are at while ensuring our talk matched our walk.

Final Thoughts

Jeremiah 17:7-8 says:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
 The woman found in Proverbs 31: 21-22 and 27 has taken this verse to heart. Her trust is in the Lord and her roots are planted firmly near the banks of the living water that is the Lord. She is clearly not anxious about what is to come and she is able to bear fruit constantly.  While being prepared in terms of finances, material things, and even in daily plans are all things that we, as busy keepers of our homes, should be concerned about, the best way to ensure we are prepared for the things that are to come is to ensure we are firmly rooted in the Lord each and ever day.

How does your life measure up when filtered thorough Jeremiah 17:7-8? How can you ensure that you are more prepared in all things? Join me next time when I discuss the principle of being honorable.