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. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Principle of Being Unselfish.

It's not hard to notice that we live in a very me-centric society. All you have to do is turn on the TV, log on to any social media site, or stand in line at the grocery store to be bombarded with advertisements, pictures, and products that are designed to help people look out for "# 1"

"Looking out for #1" That is a phrase I have heard often in my life from various people. They say Dthings like, "I gotta do whats best for me. I am always looking out for # 1" They say this as if they are truly the most important person to ever walk the face of planet Earth.

While I will admit we do need to look out for our best interests and do the things that will keep us healthy, safe, and cared for, the woman we have been discussion for the past several posts shows us that if we are really going to be "looking out for # 1" we have to learn to put others first.

Defining Unselfish

The Proverbs 31 would probably never be found on a list of people who would be classified as "selfish" In fact, most, in today's society, would say that she was just too giving and didn't take any 'me' time for herself. And that might be true. But what does the term Unselfish even really mean?

To define unselfish first we have to establish what fits into the mold of being "selfish" 

Selfish can be defined as someone who is so wrapped up in their own welfare and interests that the welfare and circumstances of the people around them simply don't matter. 

It would stand to reason, then, that the quality of being unselfish would be the opposite of selfish. A person who is unselfish could be considered a person who makes the choice to put the welfare, happiness, and needs of others before their own.

The Unselfish Proverbs 31 Woman

Proverbs 31:20 says,
She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
We have already seen as we have looked as several of the other verses in this 21 verse passage that the welfare and needs of this woman's family~those persons who live in her home~as well as the individuals who are employed in her home are cared for. Their welfare and interests are made a priority. But what we see here is that this woman is not so consumed by her own plans, projects, and affairs that she doesn't have time to help out others who cross her path.

In the post on being Economical we saw that her lamp never goes out at night. This wasn't because she was hard at work at all hours of the day and night. It was because she, along with her husband, wanted others in their neighborhood to know they were available. They had resources to share and they were ready and willing to be of service where ever they would have been needed. She also wasn't afraid to offer her help when she saw a need.

How to be Unselfish in our 'me-centric' society

How many times has a post on social media, or a prayer request in the church bulletin, or a random comment from a friend come across your path and you thought to yourself: "Hey, I could probably help with that." But then you keep scrolling, toss the bulletin in the trash, or change the subject in the conversation because really, if you thought hard about it, you didn't really want to get involved anyway? I know for me, that has happened more than I like to admit. But what makes us respond in that manner rather than taking a page out of the Proverbs 31 woman's book and extending our hand to the needy?

Pride, that's what makes us respond this way.

Proverbs 16: 18 reminds us that
Pride goes before destruction and an haugty spirit before a fall.
Our pride gets in the way and we think "I don't have time for that." or "If they really needed help they would come ask directly instead of posting this on social media just looking for sympathy."

So how do we get past that and learn to extend our hand?

  • First of all we can learn to be active participants in other's lives. This means being willing to step up immediately when someone asks for help. Instead of looking around the room hoping someone else will raise their hand, being the first person to say, "YES I can help with that need.
  • Secondly, learning how to take a more passive role. This means being acutely aware of what is going on in the lives of those around us and being willing to step in and offer help before someone has to ask for it. 
  • Thirdly, we have to be willing and able to follow though on the help that is asked for or offered freely. If you see that some is need of a meal but you really don't have time to cook something extra don't flake out at the last minute. Take some time and order that family a pizza or some other form of delivery food. If you were asked to babysit for a mom who needs to be at important meeting don't make the decision the day of that you just don't want to deal with another child. Be willing to follow through or don't offer/accept the responsibility!

A Final Thought

Scripture is full of examples of unselfish individuals as well as those who fall on the other side of the coin. If we turn again to Proverbs we see in chapter 16 verse 17 that Who ever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. You see, if we are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus then we have to learn to put the "me" away and start focusing on the people that God has placed in our path. Jesus, the ultimate example of unselfishness, said in Matthew 25:40 that "whatever you do to the least of these, you also do to me."  The best way to begin to transition from a life of  'selfishness' to a life of 'unselfishness' is to filter our decisions through this prayer:


Where do you fall on the "selfish" scale? Do you have an attitude of open handedness or do you keep your hands closed tight? How can you work to become less selfish? Join me next time when we learn about the principle of being prepared.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Principle of Being Economical


I'll be honest, that is a word that I have never really been a HUGE fan of. Sure I went through the process of learning what a budget is and how to use one in high school (well, I actually learned about it in middle school but that was more of a happy accident due to extra curricular activities rather than a class for credit). I also knew that once I was out on my own in college or when I got married I would need to put into practice the use of a budget so that things that needed to get done got done.

The problem is all these things were just head knowledge but I never actually put them into practice. I would roll my eyes and mutter under my breath about how I had everything under control every time someone in my circle made a comment about setting a budget and getting on a good path. The truth was I didn't have everything under control and my husband and I were in a downward spiral of debt and we had a baby on the way. We were as far from "Economical" as we could get.

Defining Economical

The idea of being 'economical' is the concept of not being wasteful. This includes time, money, fuel, or any other resource. So if being economical focuses on not being wasteful then what is the best way to go about that?

We make a plan of how we will use our resources. And really, isn't that all that a budget really is? Making a plan of how, when, and where to use the resources that God has provided to each and every one of us. Not only do we make the plan of how we are going to use our resources, but we have to actually use that plan. We have to put it into action using that plan to guide and direct each of our daily decisions as we navigate through life. 

The Economical Woman

Now that we know what economical is, how do we see that being put into action in the Proverbs 31 woman? Proverbs 31:18 says,
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
First of all we see that she takes time to consider the product she is putting out into the world. She knows what good quality looks like. She has taken the time to learn the requirements of those who pay top dollar for things in her world and she does not put out anything less. She also does not accept anything less into her home.

You may be thinking that you don't have any 'merchandise' out in the world so how on earth does that apply to me? Well, to that I say, of course you do! You have talents and abilities that God has given you and you can and should learn how to use those to benefit your home and your family. You can learn what good quality is, you can learn how to look for a bargain, and you can become a good researcher. Learning to be a master researcher and practicing comparison shopping prior to making purchases can help you put that budget plan that has been created into action. And the better you get at it the more you can come along side someone and help them learn how to put those same tools into their tool belt.

The second thing we see is that 'her lamp does not go out at night.' Let me start by saying that this DOES NOT mean that she never goes to sleep. She does not stay up working for her family 24 hours a day. What this means is that she has budgeted her resources so well that she always had plenty to share. The light always being on meant that she was available to help those in need at any hours. It also meant that she managed her resources so well she had the oil that was necessary to keep a lamp running for that length of time. Being economical also means you project availability for those around you.

Becoming Economical

The first step to developing this principle of being economical is to start with checking your attitude toward money and your material possessions. Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds the reader that it is God who gives us the power to gain wealth. And in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 we are told to not set our hopes in the uncertainty of riches. Rather we are to place our hopes in God who provides us with everything that we get to enjoy each day. If we have that perspective on our money and the material possessions we have then we can remember that nothing truly belongs to us, but in fact, belongs to God and is just on loan to us to use for the purpose of building His kingdom. 

The second thing once we have our attitude in the right place it to remember that we are called to give God the first fruits of our labor. We must be in the habit and practice of giving our tithe on a consistent basis. God requires we give him our best and one of the ways we do that is through our tithe. This is the FIRST 10%  (at a minimum) of our income but we can also remember that we can, and should be giving God our first fruits of our talents and abilities that God has gifted us with. God tells us in Malachi 3:10 that if we will bring our tithe into the store house he will throw open the floodgates and pour out his blessings. I have not ever met a person that has said they wished the wouldn't have given their tithe because the just didn't see the benefits. If anything, I have heard story after story of God doing just what he promised in Malachi. Being economical means being responsible with the gifts God has given and giving credit where credit is due.

A Final Thought

Scripture is full of wealthy individuals who learned how to use their wealth for the glory of God's kingdom. Ultimately, they came to God with the right heart and the right desire to do good things with the resources God had given them. They lived with an attitude of contentment no matter what their material circumstances were and God blessed them for it. The Proverbs 31 woman did not see her possessions and her material things as the means for her security, instead she had a gracious humble spirit that allowed her to give to others generously and willingly. The principle of being economical is more than just knowing how to find a bargain and working within a budget. In truth, the principle of being economical is all about the attitude in which you choose to view wealth and material possessions.

What is your attitude toward money and material things? Do you look to the things you have for your security or do you find your security in the Lord? How can you start today to focus more on the Lord and less on the physical things that will pass away? Join me next time when we jump into the principle of being unselfish.


Friday, March 3, 2017

The Principle of Being Physically Fit

Physically Fit.

Ok. Let me be the first to say that when we got ready to study this principle I wanted to find an excuse to not be in class. I would not be the person that would fall into any real category of being "physically fit" and I haven't been since I was about 16 years old. Life circumstances, college, and 2 (almost 3) children have aided in my lack of what some would call "physical fitness."

However, I was pleasantly surprised (as I have been through each one of these lessons) that my clothing size doesn't really have much to do with how physically fit I am for the job that God has called me to do.

Defining Physically Fit

The best way to think about the concept of physically fit when we are putting it in the context of the Proverbs 31 woman is that she is in good physical conditions. This has 3 criteria that goes with it:

  1. She is suitable. She has assessed the job requirements and determined where she needs to adjust and adapt to get the job done.
  2. She is proper. She has taken her suitability and combined it with good judgement.
  3. She is fit. She has learned to work within the requirements of the job and made adjustment when needed.

An Attitude Adjustment

Proverbs 31:17 says:
She dresses herself with strength and makers her arms strong.
Here we see this woman has a realistic attitude about the condition of her body. She takes the time to evaluate the things she can do and she doesn't dwell on the things she can't. She realized, like we have discussed in previous principles, that she has limitation and she has abilities. She has learned to work within those parameters.

Often times we think that we have to go to the gym and have a lot of intentional focused "work out" time if we are going to get any type of exercise done in our day. However, if we were to take the time to sit and really think about the things we do to manage our homes each day we would realize that the activities that take place in our home are the same that take place in the gym. You rush up and down hallways and stairs (if you have them), you bend over and pick things up several times a day. You squat to kiss a boo boo, clean up a mess, or communicate with a child. If you are like me and can't reach the top shelf well, you climb, stair step, or jump to reach things high above you. Exercise can, and does, happen anywhere if you think of things in the right manner.

An important area that we as women who are striving to become "physically fit" is to learn to read our own bodies. Each one of us has a cycle that ebbs and flows. We will have good days where we are sure we could take on anything and we will have bad days that leave us wanting to do little more than climb into bed, hide under the blankets, and wait out the return of Jesus. How we respond to each of those peaks and valleys as well as whatever happens in between will also determine how well we are 'fit' for the job we have been given to do. When we take the time to really know our body we can learn to plan for various occasions and set our schedules (to the best of our ability) around the good days and the bad.

A Living Sacrifice

In Romans 12:1 Paul reminds us that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord. Our bodies are to be holy and pleasing to the Lord. When the Israelite people brought their sacrifices to the Lord in the Old Testament the were called to bring God the very best. He wanted the first and the best each time they presented a sacrifice. This is no different for us today. God wants us to give Him the very best of ourselves. We can only do this if we take the necessary measures to care for our body. 

Eating the right foods, moving in some manner each day (as a busy wife/mother/homemaker this should be an easy aspect), and getting enough rest are all important areas that must be maintained to be a presentable sacrifice to the Lord. This means we need to learn and understand the importance of recreation. Having fun and taking some down time is ok. It is a good thing to do. We all need time to rest and recharge so that we can function at the best of our ability. 

We also have to learn to be managers of our time and not become a frazzled, stressed out version of ourselves. Through managing our time, planning out our days, weeks, and months we can in essence "gird our loins". We can be prepared for what might come by knowing what will come. If we know our schedule and have a basic routine down it is so much easier to adjust to the sudden onset of illness, emergency circumstances, and days just not going quite right. When we take the time to present our best to God, preparing for anything that might come along, living in the realm of being physically fit for the task God has assigned to us we are able to create a welcoming environment that provides rest and refuge for those in our care and those who cross our paths. 

A Final Thought

The idea of being "physically fit" has been so distorted by the world's view of what a 'fit' person looks like. Any time I hear the term being 'physically fit' I automatically begin to shrink back hoping that no one notices me standing in the crowd. But God has a different perception. Should we take care of our bodies? Absolutely! But are we required to be a size 2 in order to say we have done that? Not at all. At the end of the day, what we are required to do is have the capabilities to complete the task that God has given us. We need to be able to effectively manage our homes, be present and active in the lives of our family and those around us, and give the absolute best to God as we present ourselves as a living sacrifice each and every day we are granted time here on earth.

Are you giving God your 'first fruits'? Is the living sacrifice you are presenting to the Lord each day your best and brightest? If not, what can you do to ensure you are caring for your body so that you might be 'physically fit' enough to give God the best you have to give? Join me next time when I talk about the principle of being economical.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Principle of Being Energetic


Usually, when I think of this word I think of my 4 and 6 year old children. I often think that if I could just bottle up even a fraction of the energy they possess in their small bodies I could make a fortune selling it to mom's all over the world. But it seems this woman found at the end of the book of Proverbs has found a way to tap into that energy and use it to it's fullest potential.

Defining Energetic

Here we are again turning to our trusty friends Miriam-Webster to see what they have to say about energetic. They define energetic as "operating or being marked by vigor or effect" I think that can go a bit further by adding in "strength or power efficiently exerted."

There is an important word in that second definition. "Efficient" can be defined as 'production without waste."

I think that fits the woman we are talking about in Proverbs 31. We see, peppered all throughout these 21 verses, examples of this woman's efficient nature. 

Proverbs 31:13-16, 19

She selects wool and flax and works with willing hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from far away. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her female servants. She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings..... She extends her hands to the spinning staff, and her hands hold the spindle.
This woman knows her talents and knows her limitations. She knows what she can physically accomplish and she is willing to do the hard work. However, she is also aware that she can not do it all, all the time. This means she has to delegate tasks.

In our culture today we like to look at this particular passage and think to ourselves that we don't have female servants so there is no way we could do all she does. While it is true that we don't all have actual people in our home doing daily tasks, what we do have are appliances that have taken the place of the need for those extra hands. We have things like washing machines, dryers, electric or gas stoves, and dishwashers. All of these take the place of a person that at one point would be found completing the designated task. Rather than having to hand wash each piece of clothing we can delegate the task to our washing machine and trust that it will get the job done.

Proverbs 31:24

She makes and sells linen garments; she delivers belts to the merchants.
Here we see her using her energies to provide income for her family. She is out in the community providing a service. She knows that she can put her energy toward activities outside of the home as well as doing what she needs to do for her family. She uses the materials that she constructed in the passage earlier to create a product for not only those under her roof but also for those within the community. This is an area that she is skilled in so she ensures to place her energy toward the activity.

We can do the same things. If we are skilled in an area we can use it to better our family. This may not mean being out there in the marketplace bringing in income, but that might just be what you can do. If you bake, provide a service for parties and get-togethers. If you sew, offer to hem pants and skirts, repair damaged clothing, or make alterations. If you are drawn to children, open your home to a family that needs childcare. We can use our talents if we know where to focus our energy.

Proverbs 31:27

She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.
 She watches over her household. This points back to her delegations. She doesn't try to do it all but she is an overseer. She is alert to the things going on around her. If she is needed she is available. She knows what is being accomplished and what still needs to be done. She jumps in and helps with tasks. She is a worker, not a shirker. She is willing to teach and train and allow some to make mistakes to learn from them.

Do you oversee the activities of your home or are you too busy doing all the things in your home? I know I am often guilty of this. I have 2 children, with one on the way. My 2 are absolutely old enough to be getting in there and helping out with the daily tasks of the home. Chores can be done by all in the home allowing me to focus my energy to the areas I need to be focusing them in and not stretching myself too thin. It is my responsibility to teach and train, just as this woman did. And even though it may appear (and often times is) easier to just do it myself to make sure it is done right, I have to be willing to step back and allow things to not be done perfectly in order for learning to take place.

Final Thoughts

Being energetic is more than just mainlining a bunch of caffeine each morning and running around getting things done as quickly as possible.  The principle of being energetic is about knowing your talents and your limitations then using those to direct your day. By taking time to accept the areas where you are limited and seek assistance in those areas you are more able to maximize the areas you are talented in. We are not designed to accomplish everything, everyday all on our own. We are community people and we need each other to make sure tasks are accomplished and things get done. If we focus on efficiently exerting our power and our strength we are able to be productive without waste each and every day.

How can you exert your power and strength efficiently each day? What are your talents? What are your limitations? Join me next time when we talk about the principle of being physically fit.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Principle of Being Trustworthy

Turn on the Television and you will see show after show all about couples seeing the need to hire individuals to follow and take notes on their spouse's daily activities. There are hidden cameras placed through out homes and offices, secret apps installed on technological devices to gain access to social media accounts and communication records, and a constant lingering question of whether or not a husband can trust his wife or if a wife can trust her husband.

And sadly, in most of those television show scenarios we find that there was just cause for the tracking down of a spouse. Trust is lost and often times the relationship is ended in an ugly and bitter manner.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Today's passage, Proverbs 31:11-12 tell us that a marriage can and should be the exact opposite.

Proverbs 31:11-12 says,
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. She will reward him with good, not evil all the days of her life.

This woman is trustworthy. She is worthy of the trust that her husband has in her.

Defining Trustworthy

So what does being trustworthy mean?  Again we start by turning to Miriam-Webster to see what the basic definition of the word means. Miriam-Webster says that 'trustworthy' means 'worthy of confidence; dependable'

Not a bad way to describe this concept but I think that we can probably do a little bit better.  My professor, Dr. Pat Ennis, defined 'trustworthy' as
A firm belief or confidence in the honesty, integrity, reliability, and justice of an individual. 
Wow! There is so much packed into that little sentence. So let's break it down.

First of all lets look as "confidence." Confidence can be described as the quality or state of being certain. That is a great word picture. This means my husband can be 100% certain that he can trust me. Looking at the verse we see her husband's whole heart trusted in her. He was certain, completely.

The next word that needs to be unpacked is "integrity"  Integrity is best known as being complete, unimpaired, or perfect condition. It is also known as uprightness honesty, and sincerity. So again, looking back at our focus verse we see this woman's husband is 100% certain in his wife's unimpaired honesty and sincerity. He has no reason to question the things she says or the activities she participates in because she is walking in uprightness.

 The Character of a Trustworthy Woman

What does a trustworthy woman look like? 

First of all, her past dictates that her husband's trust in her is a reflex reaction. He doesn't even have to think or process through the trust he has in her. It just happens because there has never been any reason for him to not have his full faith in her. He has only ever received good things from her and the reputation that she carries in the community.

Secondly, because he has a reflex reaction to completely trust his wife there is no need to make provision for 'checking up' on her. He doesn't have to sneak around to see what she is doing, He doesn't feel the need to ask friends or others when out and about what they might have seen his wife up to. She knows that her actions have an effect on the character of her husband and children. If she is out roaming the town being untrustworthy she will be starving their character. On the other hand, if she is continually walking in uprightness she will feed their character and help to make them into the people God has intended them to be.

Developing a Trustworthy Lifestyle Within The Home

There are seven key areas that we can focus on to work toward cultivating a culture of trustworthiness within our homes. Those areas are security, service, encouragement and affirmation, nurturing a lifestyle of affirmation, nurturing a lifestyle of love, setting boundaries and limits, and nurturing a lifestyle of faith. Each one of these areas, when applied properly within the home, can instill a culture of trustworthiness for our husbands and families. When we provide security and put other's needs first our family knows we will always be there for them. When we nurture our culture of affirmation through encouragement and love our family is aware that we are their biggest cheerleader, knowing they can accomplish anything with God's strength. When we set boundaries we teach others that there are lines that can't be crossed. And lastly, when we nurture our lifestyle of faith others around us see that we can only accomplish any of these principles is through the faith we have in God.

Characteristics of Integrity

Integrity is a big key of this idea of being trustworthy so lets take a closer look at what the characteristics of integrity really are.

First of all, you have to have an attitude of excellence. You have to make it a priority to strive to have an attitude of excellence. When you are serving your family you have to remember that it is your ministry and we are to serve in our areas of ministry excellently.

Secondly, you are in a season of life. At some point that season will change, but no matter what we are to walk in diligence and faithfulness within that season. We need to be 100% present in the season not looking back longingly at what once was or looking ahead dreaming of what is to come. Planning for the future is fine, but not if it means that your entire focus will be drawn away from the present and the things that are happening now.

Third trait is is to make a choice for personal purity. And often times this requires finding a level of accountability. Having those people in your life that will hold you accountable helps to build and establish the trustworthiness that we are trying to cultivate.

Lastly, cultivating a consistent walk with the Lord. If your heart, mind, and lifestyle is tuned in and focused on the things the Lord has given you there will be no time, desire, or opportunity for the trust that has been built to be destroyed. When your walk with the Lord is strong and consistent it is easy to remain walking uprightly.

Final Thoughts

While this particular areas focuses a lot on the marriage relationship it is important to remember that you don't have to be married to develop a principle of trustworthiness. Bosses in the work place, individuals in leadership positions over you, and other types of relationship also need to have a level of trust in you. Your boss should know without a shadow of a doubt that you will perform your job duties to the best of your ability all the time. If you are under someone's leadership in church or other ministry organizations that person should know you are there to do what needs to be done. Trust is principle that is valuable no matter what your marital situation. 

Have you cultivated a lifestyle of trustworthiness in your life? Can those around you trust you completely? If not, how can you begin to develop that principle in your life today? Come back next time when we talk about the Principle of Being Energetic.

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