Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chapter 10 ~ An Eager Attitude ~ Her Work

Proverbs 31:17 "She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms."

Mrs. George begins this chapter with a question she asked a group of 100 ladies ~ "What keeps you from getting your housework done?" Their answers?
1. Poor use of time
2. Lack of motivation
3. Failure to plan
4. Procrastination

Well, sisters, I definitely can relate! Even though I'm blessed to stay at home, I must admit that I don't always use my time wisely. At times, I allow the father of lies to whisper discouragement and discontentment into my soul. I think, "I NEVER get a break! Even if I were to wash all the clothes, put the dishes away, and clean the house top to bottom, by that evening, there will be enough clothes for another load of laundry, another stack of dirty dishes, toys scattered, crumbs and paw prints on my freshly scrubbed floor and something all over the newly vacuumed carpet!" I mutter, "Why do I even bother?" as I put off cleaning the mold from the shower for yet another day. I feel frustrated when I realize that I didn't pull the meat out of the freezer in time to fix dinner for my family. Can anyone else empathize?

What does the Proverbs 31 woman do? I'm sure she must have had the same thoughts that I do, but she didn't reflect upon them. She understood that "she's on assignment from God to build a home and is therefore highly motivated." Remember her two sides, mentally tough (power of mind) and physically strong (power of body)? Without that mental strength ~ her attitude ~ she'd never get around to do the physical work!

Preparation for Work:
How does she get her work done? She girds herself. Back in ancient times, both men and women wore long, flowing tunics with a sash-like belt (girdle). When they had to "get to work" they stooped down, took the garment from the hem in the back, brought it between their knees, and tucked it in front, securing it in the girdle. (I picture it looking like MC Hammer's pants from the '80's! :) This action also was a "psychological trigger for her attitude... the action of gathering one's dress was key to preparing to act."
"She girds herself with strength". She has an unwavering commitment to work, and chooses (there's that word again!) to work hard! She is motivated and prepared.
"She strengthens her arms". Unlike the women of today, her arms weren't toned just to look good in a sleeveless shirt! This lioness of a lady is physically strong ~ capable and tireless!

Mrs. George paraphrases verse 17 as "When it comes to work, this woman who is beautiful in God's eyes is ready, willing, and able!" Her mental attitude is the key, and "that attitude reveals the following four qualities of the heart."
1. Commitment ~ Make a commitment to always be doing something ~ don't be sedentary. Proverbs 14:23 says, "In all labor there is profit"!
2. Willingness ~ "We may be able to commit to build our homes, serve our families and carry out God's plans, but we must also be willing to actually do it!"
3. Motivation ~ Remind yourself "Why am I doing this? What do I want for my life, my marriage, my family and my home?"
4. Discipline ~ Like the old saying goes, "Talk is cheap!" Proverbs 14:23b states, "Idle chatter leads only to poverty"! If I truly want to be like God's beautiful woman, I must discipline myself to do the tasks necessary to build my home. I need to get up and turn off the alarm, not hit snooze for another 15 minutes. I need to pull out the vacuum, not a book.

The How-To's of Beauty:
1. Embrace God's will for your life. This passage is God's perfect will for every woman! Yes, it's daunting and intimidating. Yes, it seems nearly impossible! But claim Matthew 19:26 ~ "With God, all things are possible" and Philippians 4:13 ~ "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
2. Stay in God's Word. "Allow the Spirit of God to energize your heart, mind ~ and strength ~ through the power of God's Word."
3. Develop a vision. "Think for a moment about how your daily environment is a direct result of your vision for your home and family...."
4. Pray for an eager attitude. Psalm 118:24 states, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Just think, sisters, we get another day to serve the Lord by serving and loving our family!
5. Create a schedule. Plan your work to work you plan. Remember that old adage ~ "Wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, bake on Wednesday, brew on Thursday, churn on Friday, mend on Saturday, go to meeting on Sunday"? Well, we may not need to brew or churn, but our forerunners knew exactly what needed to be done and had a plan!
6. Develop a routine. If you have a routine, then you can go from one task to another effortlessly.
7. Read books on time management. Study organizational systems and make them work for you. Mrs. George writes, "Reading about time management will stimulate you r eager attitude and offer tips on improving your skills so that you, too, can excel in your work!"
8. Tackle the worst first. Don't dread it ~ just do it! With the tough stuff behind you, the more pleasant work's ahead.
9. Play music. I love putting on a praise & worship CD/DVD when I clean! The music helps get me moving, and the message of the songs remind me Who I'm working for!
10. Play "beat the clock". Try to better your time on completing certain tasks. If it normally takes you 30 minutes to mop your kitchen floor, try to do it in 25 minutes. That gives you 5 extra minutes to do something you enjoy!

Again, this post challenges me to put aside mySELF and put on the things of Christ.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chapter 9 ~ A Field of Dreams ~ Her Vision

Proverbs 31:16 "She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands (her profit) she planteth a vineyard."

This Proverbs lady is some incredible woman! So far, we've been able to catch a glimpse of her character. She chooses to be joyful doing the everyday tasks of her homemaking ~ she is loyal to her husband ~ she contributes to her household by working hard to give them the very best ~ she plans and organizes each day ~ and she makes a great effort to lavish her home with touches of beauty to minister to her family. This chapter is about her vision and her business savvy.

Step #1: Consideration
Mrs. George writes a scenario where this woman hears about an opportunity to buy a field. This would increase her husband's wealth, status and improve her family's situation. Even though her immediate response may be to buy it, she "considers" it by asking herself ~
~ Would it be a wise investment? (She examines the land personally)
~ Can we afford it? (Since she's a wise manager, she knows exactly how much is in the "checkbook" and wisely figures in any additional costs to buy/improve the field)
~ Do I have the time to care for it?
~ Will this new endeavor take precedence over my responsibilities at home?
It is logical that this loyal wife shares her idea with her husband. She "wouldn't act independently... impulsively... (or) without advice...."

Step # 2: Acquisition
She purchases the land ~ her "field of dreams". Mrs. George writes that an actual "field" in the Holy Land is basically a plot of land measuring about 50 feet by 80 feet. The owner "first cleared the area of its many large rocks and used them to build a stacked-stone wall around the lot. Then the owner tilled and planted the land."
But where does she get the money? It has to be from her wise management! All her efforts to run an efficient home literally paid off!

Step #3: Renovation
With her profit, "She planteth a vineyard". Mrs. George explains that this wise woman bought 2 "distinctly different kinds of property." (Field and vineyard are different words ~ she didn't buy the field and plant the vineyard in that space. She purchased both.) A vineyard was a wise investment because water was scarce in the arid region she lived in. The vineyard would supply her family with plenty of wine, and she could sell what was left to earn even more money for her precious family.

The How-To's of Beauty:
1. Desire God's beauty ~
a. Patience: Wait before you act.
b. Prudence: Think things through.
c. Prayerful: Seek the Lord's wisdom.
d. Petition: Consult your husband.
e. Purpose: To know God's guidance for the right direction.
f. Perseverance: Do what it takes to make the dream a reality.
2. Devote yourself to God's goals ~
a. Building your home
b. Building an honorable name for your family
c. Building up the next generation
3. Your husband is paramount ~
a. Be willing to submit to his authority
b. Consult him on everyday issues
4. Creativity abounds ~ When we set aside self to serve others, God can give us opportunities to creatively show our love.
5. Dare to dream ~ If you could improve your family's financial status, what would you love to do?
6. Do the work ~ Mrs. George writes:
"Her virtue (vs. 10) led to
her willing heart (vs. 13) which led to
her industry (vs. 13) which led to her savings (vs. 11) which led to
her investments (vs. 16) which led to
her prosperity (vs. 25)".
I enjoyed this chapter so much! I like how this family-loving woman is always thinking of ways to improve/lavish her home to make it a place where souls are refreshed and revived!
It never ceases to amaze me that she's always putting her family's needs above everything else! You know, today's society would relegate this amazing woman to a nondescript doormat! How completely untrue!
I've been guilty of feeling sorry for myself and snapping at my family ~ "I'm not your servant!" But I should be willing to be. After all, when I'm serving my family, I'm ultimately serving Christ ~ Who "took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2: 7)
This study is so much more than "How to be a Proverbs 31 Woman in 31 Days"! It takes willingness to admit my weaknessess, confess my selfishness, change my attitude, and cultivate a true desire to become the servant my Savior wants me to be.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chapter 8 ~ A Pattern for the Household ~ Her Discipline

Proverbs 31:15 "She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens."

Mrs. George begins this chapter with a glimpse into a modern-day Jewish woman's daily routine. When the Georges arrived in Israel, they were jet-lagged and waiting for morning to arrive. When the sun had risen just enough to go to the roof of their hotel, they saw a woman working on her rooftop. The laundry was already hung on a clothesline, the door was open to allow the morning air to cool the stone house, and the porch was clean and swept. This Proverbs 31 woman then cut some flowers growing in pots to beautify her home, and plucked a few lemons off her citrus tree before she disappeared into the house. What discipline she has!

King Lemuel's mother knew the benefits a well-disciplines woman can bring to her household. Mrs. George gives us three.

Discipline # 1: An Early Start
The above verse tells us that the woman who blesses her home "rises also while it is yet night." Back when this was written, a woman got up early (and, may I add, often!) for a number of reasons.
a. Tending to the fire at home: She had to tend the lamp several times during the night. This lamp was little more than a saucer filled with oil and a wick made of flax floating in it. It had to keep burning all night so its flame could be used to light the household fire the next morning. This homemaker got up several times to replenish the oil so the lamp wouldn't go out. (Proverbs 31:18) She could also do a little bit of prep work for the day as well.
b. Tending to the fire of her heart: She used the early morning hours to spend time with the Lord. It says in verse 30 of this chapter that she "feareth the Lord" so she knew the importance of the Law. (Deuteronomy 6:5).
c. Tending to the fires of their hearts: It had been said that you can't give away what you don't possess. This lady knew the importance of tending the fire of her heart first, so that she could tend the fires of her children's hearts. Deuteronomy 6:7 states that this busy mom was to instruct, teach and train her children in the knowledge of God and His laws.

Discipline #2: Food for the Family
The woman who blesses her home "giveth meat to her household". The most important staple of this family's home was bread. Even today, "three out of four people in the Middle East live entirely on bread.... Bread was ~ and is ~ truly the staff of life and a mainstay with every meal." This lady's first duty of the day was to grind the grain to make the bread. Then, she mixed the flour into dough and baked the pita-like bread on "hot rocks and ashes".
The Hebrew word for "meat" in this verse means "prey" and refers to the prey of a lion. Here, she is likened to a "lioness prowling at night to obtain food for her household." So far, this incredible woman has been a/an army, (vs.10) warrior, (vs. 10) worker, (vs. 13) ship, (vs. 14) and now a lioness! (vs. 15) This continues to point to her strength and courage as she provides for the needs of her household!
Who is fortunate enough to be in her household? The obvious, of course, is her husband and children. This list also includes any extended family, her servants, and her guests.

Discipline # 3: A Plan for the Day
"She giveth... a portion to her maidens". I misunderstood this passage until I studied it further. Although I assumed the "portion" was food, it also means "work", or an assignment. Not only did she make sure her servants were fed properly, but she also had things planned for them to do during the course of the day. How organized she must have to be to plan out the days' work for herself, her family, and her servants! No wonder she has to rise early!

This beautiful woman lived out a pattern for success that we can emulate today. She had:
1. Time alone. Ever crave some peace and quiet? Try rising 30 minutes earlier than the kids.
2. Time with God. Why not use this time to commune with the Father and ask Him to bless your day?
3. Time to plan. "A few quiet minutes alone before the rush of the day begins means time for the planning that is essential for a well-ordered home."
4. Time to get the jump on the day. You can "redeem time" by starting early. This time can be used to set an orderly tone and pattern for your household.

The How-To's of Beauty:
1. Determine a time. Figure out how much time you need to complete your routine. Then, work backwards from your original wake-up time and set that alarm!
2. Get to bed. Try moving your bedtime up at least a half hour.
3. Say a prayer. After lights out, center your focus on the Lord and what you desire to accomplish for Him the next day. This transfers the physical (getting up earlier) into the spiritual realm.
4. Get up!

This post is SO convicting to me, sisters. My attitude of "just a few minutes more" is a selfish one. As a homemaker, I am the key to a well-run, efficient household. Since I set the pattern for the home, I must discipline myself to rise early ~ to pray and plan ~ making my home the haven I so desire for my family.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chapter 7 ~ An Enterprising Spirit ~ Her Provision

Proverbs 31:14 "She is like the merchant's ship; she bringeth her food from afar."

Upon first glance, I didn't like to be compared to a merchant's ship, but once I read Mrs. George's explanation, it was more ~ palatable, I'd say. I'll explain the imagery later.

A Spirit of Adventure
This woman "scours the marketplace for goods that will enhance the quality of life under her roof." She isn't concerned with the effort it takes. She joyfully (there's that word again!) spends her time to gather special goods from around the world to bring both beauty and joy to her household.

The ships:
A merchant ship stopped in every port throughout the Mediterranean Sea, trading its cargo for other goods. It is even mentioned in II Chronicles 9:21 ~ "For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks."

The supplies:
Three years is a long time to wait, but when those ships arrived, I'm sure that people were waiting anxiously in line to gaze upon such treasure. Like Chronicles mentions, Tarshish (modern-day Spain) exported gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks. Lebanon exported cedar. Dye came from Tyre. Spices, nuts, balm and grain came from Egypt. Greece delivered oil, wine, honey and pottery. Also included were jewels, woolen goods, and artwork.

The superhighways:
Israel is at the center of every major trade route in the Middle East. Two key routes were (and are still today) the King's Highway and Great Trunk Road. I can just imagine camel caravans bringing back such items to the ancient, inland cities!

The shops:
I think of a farmer's marketplace whenever I read about these shops. They were opened onto a square in a centralized location. When those caravans came into town, I'm sure the people were already in line! Mrs. George writes, "Wherever the camels knelt, a market appeared." Can you imagine the excitement as people flocked to the marketplace?

A Spirit of Mission
Now, this lady is like a merchant ship because she is on a mission to bring her food (or merchandise) from afar. Her motivation is her love for her family. She searches far and wide to bring just the right items back to her home. She believes her loved ones deserve nothing but the best, so she takes time out of her busy schedule and goes the extra mile to provide the best she can to lavish her family with these treasures.
She is also motivated by her creativity. As this artistic lady views each stall, it "...stimulates creativity in her recipes and meals, her weaving and homemaking. Mundane, routine, daily provision became a creative adventure for her!"

I love it that we're talking about SHOPPING! I guess I can use this Scripture to prove to the hubs that God WANTS me to shop! However, this woman is set apart from the rest. She "sets sail and glides on and on... searching... looking for... seeking out... and obtaining what she wants to provide for her family." She must have a sense of satisfaction as she provides:
Healthy, nutritious food for her family.
Savings ~ She knows how to search for bargains.
Culture ~ Not just the exotic goods, but tales she heard and information gathered.
Quality goods ~ She has a keen eye and high standards!
Beauty ~ She understands the importance beauty has for the home. It satisfies, invigorates and ministers to those who live there.

Yes, but how can I nurture an enterprising spirit? Consider Mrs. George's "How-To's of Beauty":
1. Desire a heart of love.
a. Ask God to reveal and heal any area in your heart that keeps you from loving your role as a wife, mother and home manager.
b. Make home your first priority ~ cherish it!
c. Choose to spend time with women who speak with heartfelt love about their husband, children and home. (Titus 2:3-5)
2. Offer your family your personal expression of beauty.
a. Surround yourself with beauty. Flowers, plants, artwork, etcetera.
b. Make your vision of loveliness a reality. Magazines, gift shops, and home shows can give us great ideas on ways to beautify our homes.
3. Show your family love, even in the practicalities of daily life.
a. Begin with the basics ~ food, clothing, and shelter. "Are you too tired to cook meals and keep the house in order? Or are you energetically providing the basics your family needs?"
Okay, OUCH, my toes!
b. Become a wise shopper ~ focus on saving money. Carefully consider every purchase. (Proverbs 31:16) Learn to differentiate between necessities and wants. Become an expert on purchasing high-quality items.
c. Search for the unusual ~ something that may be what you need, but fun and funky at the same time.
d. Consider bartering ~ Figure out what you need and what you can give in exchange for it. I gave piano lessons to my Pastor's daughter. Her mom is a beautician, so we talked about exchanging haircuts for piano lessons. They would get a free lesson ~ 2 of my family members could receive free haircuts and I'd get a much-needed eyebrow wax!
e. Become the resident artist ~ Consider yourself on assignment to bring beauty into your home. Ask yourself, "What area of creativity could I work on improving and developing?"

A Wise Woman Builds Her House says this: "A woman who truly loves the home will love it, decorate it, clean it and make it a special place for her loved ones. A woman who loves the home will guard her time and continually strive to make it a haven and a place of peace and refuge for her family."

I don't know about you, but this post makes me want to evaluate my home and how it affects my family. I'm motivated to be a wise, creative vessel (I like that word better than ship!) that searches far and near to bring beauty to my home. Pier 1 Imports, here I come! :)

The Home She Made

This post was taken from "A Wise Woman Builds Her Home"

[W]hat a traditional woman did that made her home
warm and alive was not dusting and laundry.
Someone can be hired to do those things
(to some extent, anyway).
Her real secret was
that she identified herself with her home.
Of course, this did not always turn out well.

A controlling woman might make her home suffocating.
A perfectionist’s home might be chilly and forbidding.
But it is more illuminating to think about what happened
when things went right.

Then her affection was in the soft sofa cushions, clean linens, and good meals;
her memory in well-stocked storeroom cabinets and the pantry;
her intelligence in the order and healthfulness of her home;
her good humor in its light and air.

She lived her life not only through her own body
but through the house as an extension of her body;
part of her relation to those she loved
was embodied in the physical medium of the home she made.

~ Cheryl Mendelson ~
~ Home Comforts ~
{an encyclopedic A-Z resource on homemaking how-to’s}

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chapter 6 ~ A Fountain of Joy ~ Her Heart

Proverbs 31:13 "She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands."

Mrs. George begins this chapter sharing her about one of her experiences while visiting the Holy Land. She goes into great detail as she explains the sights, sounds, smells and temperature as she and her husband, Jim, take a walk through the streets of Old Jerusalem. From the harried crowds, the sound of the constant construction going on, the smells of raw meat hanging in the heat of the day combined with diesel fumes, they were ready for a change of scenery!
Then, behind a closed door along the street, their tour guide led them to a walled courtyard garden. The sudden silence offered instant tranquillity. In that unlikely place ~ flowers, lush green grass, and the shade of several olive trees offered refreshment. However, the thing that delighted them the most was the fountain situated in the middle of the courtyard.
Everything ~ the house, veranda, garden and walkways was built around that fountain!

We are to be like that fountain for our homes ~ the center of all that happens there, bubbling with joy ~ "of life, of love, of nourishment ~ for others.... a joyous heart at the center of our home, a faithful and diligent worker who willingly, enthusiastically, and continually makes home happen."

God's ideal woman has a willing heart attitude. She tackles her work not only diligently, but cheerfully. She "literally puts her hands joyfully to work and makes her hands active after the pleasure of her heart." This really got me thinking, because in my mind, "cheerfulness" and scrubbing toilets don't go hand in hand. I don't exactly whistle a merry little tune as I fold laundry for the umpteenth time or load the dishwasher. It's never occurred to attack these mundane things with ~ joy?

According to this Scripture, this amazing woman had to weave thread to make her family's clothes. She alone was responsible to provide every article of clothing ~ not just the cloaks, but the tunics, inner garments, and sleepwear! (No quick trip to Wal~Mart here, sisters!)

Wool and flax were the 2 elements needed for weaving. This industrious woman gathered these elements in their raw, unrefined state and manufactured them herself. With joy and great care, she chose, bought, processed, dyed, spun and wove the materials to make the cloth. Then she created patterns to make the clothes.

The large outer garment was made of wool. This lady didn't just make the cloak and be done with it. She took the extra step to clothe her family as sumptuously as she could. The threads she spun became "brilliant crimson" (vs. 21) "canary yellow and Phoenician purple". (vs. 22)

Everything else was made of flax. Flax is an herb that has to be gathered, separated, twisted and bleached BEFORE it can be woven into fine linen. To process flax, one must dry it, then peel, beat, (the more it was beaten, the more it glistened) and comb it before they finally spin it!

Boy, that makes what I do around my home seem paltry! If this woman can do all of that, INCLUDING the typical cooking and cleaning with a JOYFUL heart, how much more should I? Mrs. George writes, "Like that fountain in the center of the garden, at the heart of its home, God's beautiful woman joyfully sings, hums, and whistles as she works, delighting in her work. She lives out God's exhortation, 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might' (Ecclesiastes 9:10). With zeal, enthusiasm, and gusto, she puts her heart into her work. She goes all out. She doesn't merely do her work; she does it willingly and joyfully!"

Others have translated verse 13 to read that the Proverbs 31 woman works with the pleasure of her hands, with willing hands, with merry hands, with inspired hands!

The How-To's of Beauty:
1. Pray daily. Only the Lord can change your heart attitude. Only "prayer can give you the God-given perspective that lifts your duties in the home out of the physical realm and transports them to the spiritual realm."
2. Recite Scripture. Psalm 118:24 is a great one, "This is the day which the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it."
3. Do your work as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men."
4. Make the choice (there's that word again!) to tackle each daily task energetically, creatively, and joyfully.
5. Look for the benefits. It's a way to serve the Lord ~ it's helping my family, etcetera.
6. Pause and rest. A much-needed break will help us stay energized.
7. Watch what you eat. This is convicting for me, a Dr. Pepper addict. I know that if I load up on caffeine and sugar, I'll eventually crash. I can get irritable and snippy with my family. I need to choose to eat more healthily so I can be more even-keeled and stay energetic.
8. Value each day. Remember, "How we live each day is our one step at a time toward our excellence and the kind of praise we'll receive."

What a way to minister to my family! I can "refresh and revive" my family, just like that fountain. Again, I set the tone for my household. I will choose joy! Woo hoo! I'm ready to go fold clothes ~ joyfully!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simply Spaghetti


1/2 medium onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T melted butter
1 lb. lean hamburger
1 pkg. "Thick~n~Zesty" spaghetti mix
1 T sugar
1 small can no-salt tomato sauce
1 small can no-salt tomato paste
1 small can mushroom slices, drained
1 c. water
1 lb. package spaghetti
8 oz. package grated Parmesan cheese


Saute onion and garlic in melted butter. Cook about 2 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add hamburger and cook until browned. Drain excess fat. Add tomato sauce, paste, mushrooms, water, mix and sugar. Heat thouroghly.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well. Place pasta in large bowl and pour sauce over the top. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. I usually serve this with salad and garlic bread.

Chapter 5 ~ A Spring of Goodness ~ Her Mission

Proverbs 31:12 "She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."

Mrs. George writes that the woman of excellence has a heart of goodness, or selflessness. How is her heart demonstrated?

1. The presence of good ~ "God's beautiful wife is intent on lavishing every possible good upon her husband. She's always thinking of ways to please him and ease his life without any thought of praise or recognition." If I may transparent with you, my first thought was "Bravo for her! Easier said than done!" But then I read Mrs. George's gentle reminder. "We are on assignment from God to help, respect, follow, and love our husbands." (Genesis 2:18, Ephesians 5:22, and Titus 2:4) Well, I certainly can't refute Scripture now, can I? I have to admit, I sometimes feel sorry for myself, thinking that my husband takes me for granted. How does he think stuff gets done around here, anyway? I'm no Mary Poppins who can snap her fingers and the beds make themselves! I finally realized that I have to take the focus off of myself and my feelings! I need to remember that the Lord sees what I'm doing and is pleased with me ~ as long as my heart is right. After all, it's the Lord I'm ultimately serving. We are to do things "heartily, as unto the Lord and not unto man." (Colossians 3:23)

2. The absence of evil ~ Although we are tempted to give into selfishness, resentment, anger or disagreement, by God's grace we can choose to follow after His plan to do our husbands good ~ not evil. As I re-read this passage, the word "choose" stood out. I was immediately convicted. Let me explain why. I have a friend who once told me that love is a choice, not a feeling. That bit of wisdom got me through some lonely times in my 20's. I began to understand that great chemistry wasn't enough for a successful relationship ~ I had to choose to love the right person! I knew I needed a man who was spiritually mature, steady, reliable and committed to please God. Then it hit me ~ that just wasn't for dating. It's just as important now, maybe even more so. If I truly love my husband, then I can choose to please him without letting how I feel influence my God-ordained assignment.

3. The influence of a lifetime ~ God's time frame for our mission is to "overflow with goodness all the days of her life"! That means our assignment is for life! We are to be a constant, positive influence to our husband until death separates us. What an undertaking!

How-To's of Beauty:
1. Beware of the enemies of goodness! What can cause problems in our marriage?
a. A tendency to compare ourselves with other people ~ Remember that God has a personal plan for each of OUR lives with OUR husbands.
b. Allowing bitterness to take root ~ It defiles those closest to us, especially our husbands and children. (Hebrews 12:15)
c. A sagging spiritual condition ~ Stay close to the Lord by reading His Word, by praying and walking in His grace.

2. Follow God's plan to do good ~ (Proverbs 14:22b states that "...mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.") Let's make it our goal to set a course of doing good all day, every day!
a. Contribute spiritually.
b. Bless your husband's name to others.
c. Be sensitive to your family budget/finances.
d. Train and teach your children.
e. Encourage his aspirations.
f. Follow his leadership.
g. Have a happy home.
h. Exhibit a steady, even-keeled nature.
i. Praise him.
j. Rejoice your husband's heart by "satisfying him at all times". (Proverbs 5:18-19)
k. Be content and delighted with your husband's provision.
l. Pray for him.

I'd like to close this post with the words to a popular wedding song, "Cherish the Treasure" by Steve Green.

"I cherish the treasure, the treasure of you.
Lifelong companion, I give myself to you.
God has enabled me to walk with you faithfully,
and cherish the treasure, the treasure of you.

As I obey the Spirit's voice and seek to do His will,
I then can see the wisdom of His plan.
For as He works His will in me,
I then can love you selflessly,
and by His grace, can pledge my love to you.

This sacred vow I make to you does not contain an "if",
though I'm aware that trials lie ahead.
I will love you and pray with you,
and through it all, I will stay with you.
Our home will be a refuge of unconditional love.

I cherish the treasure, the treasure of you.
Lifelong companion, I give myself to you.
God has enabled me to walk with you faithfully,
and cherish the treasure, the treasure of you."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chapter 4 ~ An Unfailing Prize ~ Her Contribution

Proverbs 31:11b "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her; so that he shall have no need of spoil."

As God's beautiful woman, we are to contribute financially to our household. This makes us invaluable to our husband and our family. Then will be an unfailing prize to our husband, and he will "have no need of spoil."

In ancient times, they ways to attain wealth were:

A Military Prize ~ The Hebrew word "gain" was a military prize, also known as the spoils of war. Obviously, during the ancient times, there weren't financial institutions to distribute money as we know today. Most wealth comprised of things~ jewelry, items of gold and ivory, etcetera. When a city was overthrown, the victors would take everything of value.

A Peaceful Prize ~ War wasn't the only way to gain wealth. Many used unrighteous methods such as stealing or cheating. Like today, many borrowed it. Some even became an indentured servant ~ one who hires himself out for long periods of time ~ to earn money or to pay off a debt.

To help her husband build personal wealth, God's beautiful woman is:

A Personal Prize ~ The Proverbs woman doesn't want her husband to lack anything, but she doesn't want him to use unrighteous means to attain wealth. She doesn't want him to have to leave his family to become a slave to pay off debt ~ or to go to war where he could possibly loose his life. This amazing woman gives of herself ~ her mind, strength and talents ~ to do what she can to contribute to the household. (We'll study this in depth later on.) In the meantime, here is some food for thought from Mrs. George.

"The Beauty of God's Financial Plan"
1. God is honored ~ This speaks for itself.
2. Your husband is blessed ~ If we manage our money carefully, we give him peace of mind.
3. Your children benefit ~ Our children will imitate what we do. This is part of our responsibility to train them to become good stewards with the wealth God gives them.
4. Your home is built ~ Proverbs teaches that "every wise woman builds her house" and "through wisdom a house is built". The house that wisdom builds has "rooms that are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." Let's develop a dedicated overseeing of our finances!
5. Your character grows ~ When we use self-control in money management, we will receive the reward of lower expenses and a higher savings account.

You don't have to have an outside job to contribute financially to your household. By simply paying bills on time, you save on finance charges and late fees. Don't make the minimum payment on credit cards. Even $5-$10 more will save on the interest! With Internet banking, it's so easy to keep track of the checkbook. You can keep it balanced and always know exactly how much you have in your account, which will save on overdraft charges and check fees.

The "How-To's of Beauty":
1. Own the assignment. Understand financial matters, know how to handle them and make your contributions.
2. Become an expert at money management. There are many Christian money management classes available. For example, many churches offer classes with "Financial Peace University"by Dave Ramsey. If you want to study on your own, Larry Burkette also has books available that help in this area.
3. Talk it over with your husband. God placed our husband as the head of the home, and we have the responsibility to manage it wisely.

Let's strive to become the unfailing prize to our husbands by giving him peace about how we help manage the finances. This will not only be a tribute to him, but to our Lord.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chapter 3 ~ A Solid Rock ~ Her Loyalty

Proverbs 31:11a "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her."

The first paragraph in this chapter filled me with such conviction, I could hardly stand it! Hope you're ready, 'cause here goes! "When a man marries a woman who is mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually strong, he can confidently build his life, his work, and his home, trusting in her rock-solid character to be a cornerstone for his efforts."

As you know, the cornerstone of a building is essential! It's the foundation! When we're living as God's beautiful woman, our husband can confidently go about his daily tasks, knowing that everything ~ his home, children and finances ~ is secure, upheld by his capable wife. In Psalm 144:12b, David wrote this about the nation who chose to follow after the Lord "...that our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace." (KJV) The NIV states "...our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace." The commentary I studied stated that "the daughters are the sculptured angles, and ornament, of a palace." Strength and beauty ~ the heart of the Proverbs 31 Woman!

Mrs. George said that as she studied verse 11, three things surprised her about the statement, "the heart of her husband safely trusts in her."

1. Rest ~ The Hebrew word used for "heart" in this verse actually refers to the mind where doubt, anxiety, and restlessness fester. If a husband can trust his loyal wife, then his heart is at rest. Let's want to live in such a way that our husbands will "never have to worry or wonder about our character, our management of the home, our finances, or our time!"
2. Encouragement ~ "Trust" translates "to be of good courage, to take heart and to feel confidence." So, to paraphrase, we are an encouragement to our husbands if he can trust us.
3. Trust in God ~ Although we know that we're not to trust in people for spiritual fulfillment, God makes one exception: "A man's profit (a heart at rest, encouragement and confidence) is a result of his value of his wife! Our husbands trust us the same way they trust God!" One translation states, "The heart of her husband has faith in her." What a ministry we have!

So how can we become the woman our husband can find encouragement and confidence in? Here's Mrs. George's "Checklist of Loyalty":
a. Money ~ Can he depend on me to be diligent in helping to manage our finances?
b. Children ~ Am I a devoted mother, dedicated to train up obedient children who love the Lord, their father, and bring honor to His/his name?
c. Home ~ Do I make an effort to run an orderly home?
d. Reputation ~ Do I ever cause anyone to question his character?
e. Fidelity ~ Am I faithful to my wedding vows?
f. Emotions ~ Can he depend on me to be emotionally stable, avoiding blow-ups?
g. Happiness ~ Do I have joy like a fountain? Do I delight myself in the Lord?
h. Wisdom ~ Can he trust me to handle challenges that arise with godly wisdom?
i. Conduct ~ Do I conduct myself graciously, discreetly, virtuously and with dignity?
j. Love ~ Love is action. Actively caring for the details of our men's lives makes our love evident to them.

The How-To's of Beauty:
1. Take trust seriously.
2. Keep our word.
3. Follow through with his instructions ~ don't try to second-guess him.
4. When in doubt, check it out! Consult your husband about things, even if they seem trivial. I have a friend that saw a great sale on roasts. She wanted to buy a couple, even though roast wasn't on her grocery list. So, she called her husband and asked if he minded that she pick them up. It made him feel good that she wanted/cared about his opinion. That seemingly trivial thing added to the strength of their relationship because it showed him she valued his input.
5. Be accountable. Let your man know where you're going to be at all times. Not only will it nurture his trust in you, but also in your relationship. Just for thought: Have you ever wondered where Adam was when the serpent beguiled Eve?

Our husbands carry a heavy load of responsibility. Our men need a solid rock to rest their souls upon, and we can be that rock for them! We have a lifetime to allow God to transform us into that treasured cornerstone mentioned in Psalms!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chapter 2 ~ A Sparkling Jewel ~ Her Value

Proverbs 31:10b ~ "Her price is far above rubies."

I love these translations Mrs. George uses:

The Bible in Basic English: "Her price is much higher than jewels."
The American Standard Version: "Her worth is far above rubies."
New American Standard Bible: "Her value is far beyond pearls."
Old Testament Book of Poetry: "Far beyond corals is her worth."

Rubies: Did you know that the rich red ruby is a unique gem? In fact, large rubies are rare and surpass diamonds of equal weight in value!
Pearls: Pearl harvesters have to go through 35,000 pearl oysters to find 20 pearls. Only 3 of these pearls are of gem quality!
Coral: These delicate "flower animals" are widely protected (Great Barrier Reef) and only a few are quality enough to be polished and regarded as precious stones.

Do you notice a pattern here? Each jewel is rare AND valuable. They are difficult to come by and only a few are found. This mother's use of imagery must have made her son realize how extraordinary this woman of God would be! If he found her, she would be of "inestimable value"!

I don't know about you, but every once in a while, I go to a jewelry store and dream. My birthstone is a ruby, so I usually find that display case first! I love how the light captures the facets of the stone and makes the gold glimmer! Well, " God's beautiful woman, we are to be that sparkling jewel in our husband's life!"

One of the sweetest compliments the hubs ever gave to me was shortly after we got engaged. (We married later in life ~ I was 29 ~ he was 31.) We were sitting in my small apartment living room talking when I noticed that he kept looking around at the walls and stuff. When I questioned him about it, he said, "Shelly, I've lived alone for almost 13 years. The places I've lived have always had bare walls and were pretty sparse. When I look around and see the pretty pictures on the walls, smell the scent of the candles you've lit and hear the quiet music playing, I really feel like I'm at home. You've brought color and music into my life." The hubs usually isn't one to use flowery sentiment, but when he does, hoo, boy! How I love that man!

Mrs. George writes, "I am to supply beauty in the lives of my husband and children as we struggle through life together. I am to light up the home with sparkle no matter how hard times are." Hmm ~ that's one to file into the memory banks, isn't it?

So how do we do it? Here is the list of Mrs. George's "How-To's" of Beauty:

1. Grow in practical skills, such as:

a. Homemaking ~ I have several homemaking blogs I follow ~ the list is in my sidebar. I absolutely adore The Pioneer Woman! She always has the most incredible, yummiest-looking recipes on her site! She also has a homeschooling section that has suggestions and advice. I like Heritage Schoolhouse for her homeschooling tips and recipes. The Nesting Place and The Inspired Room are wonderful sites that give awesome decorating ideas.
b. Money management ~ We need to have a working knowledge of personal finances.
c. Time management ~ "Time is the most precious commodity God gives us, and He expects it to be redeemed ~ Colossians 4:5 ~ and used for his purposes. ~ Ephesians 2:10".

2. Grow in emotional stability. In her book, A Woman After God's Own Heart, Mrs. George wrote how the homemaker is the one who determines the general emotional atmosphere under her roof. In other words, we set the tone of our home! Right now, I'm asking myself ~ "Is my home restful? Fun? Loving?" Wow, what a responsibility we have! I now understand how that phrase "If Momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!" isn't just a joke, but a reality! Proverbs also sheds light on the woman who takes this kind of attitude. (Proverbs 12:4, 21:9 and 19, 25:24)

a. Master your tolerance, or endurance. Difficult circumstances and painful times are a part of all our lives. I love that old saying ~ "The grace of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." Philippians 4:13 is one of the scriptures I claim when things seem insurmountable ~ "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"!
b. Master your temper ~ or the "heat of mind" and passion. Okay, ouch again! This one is my biggest struggles and has been for most of my life. I think the root of it (other than just my plain old sinful nature) is helplessness and inadequacy, but I'm not sure. That's a purty big can of worms to open! (Proverbs verses: 14:30, 19:2, 19:11 and 25:28)
c. Master your tongue. Can I just tell you that my toes are bleeding now? I think this is THE biggest struggle for all of us, and the root of this deadly sin is pride. It's the sin God hates most, according to Proverbs 6:16. (More Proverbs verses: 10:19, 15:28, 16:21 and 24, 31:26).

I'll close this post with a quote from Mrs. George. "Oh, dear one, God, our Master Craftsman, is holding your heart (and mine) in His hands. Will you look into His eyes, see His love for you, and choose to let Him do His purifying work? Will you yield to Him the flaws in your life that inhibit your "fire," your sparkle? Will you ask Him to help you not to succumb to any harmful emotions? And will you do your part to grow in emotional stability and polish your skills? These two traits ~ your character and the skills that reflect that character ~ are so desirable to Him and so valuable to others. Let God work His beauty process in you!"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chapter 1 ~ Conclusion

Obviously, God's view of beauty is completely different than the world's idealized glamour girl! I can't help but remember in Scripture where God reminds Samuel that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. One can be outward perfection, yet bear the ugliest of inner turmoils and scars!

So, what is virtuous, anyway? Mrs. George describes this Hebrew word as being likened to the 2 sides of a coin. One side is power of mind ~ such as moral principles and attitudes, while the flip side is power of body ~ potency and effectiveness. Not exactly the world's vision of beauty, is it?

This amazing woman's attitude and moral principles keep her from giving up, giving in, dropping out, or quitting short of her goal to please God. So, what are these attributes, exactly?

She is:
Pure ~ virtuous (vs. 10)
Honest ~ her husband trusts her (vs.11-12)
Industrious ~ she manages all the things she does (vs.13-19, 21-22, 24, 27, 31)
Thrifty ~ skillful with finances ~ okay, OUCH! (vs.14, 16)
Strong in character ~ courageous (vs.25, 29)
Kind ~ compassionate and sweet in speech (vs. 20, 26)
Wise ~ walks in wisdom (vs. 26)
Holy ~ wholeheartedly loves the Lord (vs. 30)

Her powerful body enables her to do all that God desires for her to do. Obviously, she needs energy to do all she does, so she must take good care of her health. (I'm guessing Dr. Pepper isn't in the plan!) So what exactly does she do?

1. Works willingly with her hands (vs. 13)
2. Plants a vineyard (vs. 16)
3. Operates a spindle and distaff (vs. 19) I absolutely have no clue what these are!
4. Works early in the morning (vs.15) until late at night (vs. 18)
5. Nurses the needy (vs. 20)
6. Weaves cloth to clothe her family, household, herself and to sell for her business (vs. 21-24)
7. Never idle ~ she is constantly watching and building her home (vs. 27)

I didn't realize that the Hebrew word for virtuous is also used to describe an army! It makes sense, though. The core of this woman is capability, strength, efficiency and worthiness! This Hebrew word also refers to a man of war, men of war, and men prepared for war. Mrs. George states, "Just as mental toughness and physical energy are the primary traits of an army, they also mark God's beautiful woman."

Finally, the How-to's:

1. Cultivate the desire ~ What will I want to have accomplished by the age of 80? (Ps. 90:10) Will those accomplishments have made a difference for eternity?
2. Give it time ~ "Nothing this grand happens overnight; nothing this grand just happens."
3. Read God's Word ~ It should be our highest priority.
4. Memorize God's Word ~ It's our Comfort, Conscience and Sword!
5. Time with other women ~ Surround yourself with those who will encourage you spiritually.
6. Read about other Godly women ~ Mrs. George suggests Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliot and Ruth Graham, to name a few.
7. Time today ~ Dedicate each day to live for God and do it His way.
8. Time over a lifetime. "You and I don't ever need to be discouraged or feel overwhelmed by God's standard of beauty because He gives us, day by day, a lifetime to reach it."

I don't know about you, but this task still seems SO insurmountable! However, I can take some comfort in knowing this woman isn't just some typical male chauvinist fantasy. She's God's portrait of beauty and excellence. Oh, how I want my Father's loving approval ~ His recognition of "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chapter 1 ~ A Rare Treasure ~ Her Character

Proverbs 31:10a "Who can find a virtuous woman?"

Well, I just read the first chapter, and all I can say is "Wow!" Mrs. George wisely uses the imagery of striving to become the Proverbs 31 woman as climbing a mountain! She herself admits "She's up there, so far away, so far removed, so beautiful, so superior, so impossible. Or so it seems...".

Mrs. George recalls how she climbed Herod the Great's natural fortress, Masada. She admits that she really didn't want to ~ how it was too challenging and how frustrating it was to see other people pass her by as she struggled. She said it took her tapping into the deepest resources of her mental and physical strength to take step after step, but she finally did it!

I know how I go back and forth wanting to try to become like this Superwoman of Proverbs. Sometimes I think, "Why do I even bother?" I see others who seem to be this woman so effortlessly ~ they get up at the crack of dawn for their quiet time ~ I just want 15 minutes more of sleep! Both they and their children are perfectly groomed at all times ~ I'm lucky if I get a shower in or remember to fix my hair ~ and makeup? If I put it on, my kids wonder where we're going! These women never need to repeat themselves or raise their voice, for their children obey promply ~ I won't even comment on that one!

Do any of you feel this way? If so, Mrs. George shares that during the course of this book, we're "...going to tap into the grace of God's power and Spirit-driven resolve to become all God wants us to be-- one step at a time...), verse by verse, mastering one virtue at a time.

Did you know that the Proverbs 31 woman's qualities are in order according to the Hebrew alphabet? Did you also know that these qualities were given to a son by his mother? I like how Mrs. George calls it "woman-to-woman instruction". It's not some lofty, male chauvinistic fantasy!

Even though the alphabet begins with a question ~ "Who can find a virtuous woman?" ~ she (King Lemuel's mother) "fully expects her son to find such a woman of character." Wow! That impossibly perfect woman is out there! We can actually be her ~ not just admire her! Mrs. George reminds us that God takes great care to show us this woman's character in other women of the Bible ~ Ruth (obviously!) and other unnamed women (Proverbs 12:4 ~ notice the word "is"? It's the present tense, ladies! We can attain it! And also 31:29 ~ "many" ~ not just one!)

Wow! This sure is a long post, but there's still so much to share ~ tomorrow. We'll find out how this amazing woman is God's picture of beauty, (Humm ~ I wonder how it will differ from the world's?) discover her virtues, and best of all ~ glean from Mrs. George's "how-to's of beauty". Hope to meet with you tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beautiful in God's Eyes

Hello. Today's my first-ever day of blogging! Beginning tomorrow, I'm going to be sharing my thoughts as I go through Elizabeth George's book, "Beautiful in God's Eyes". It's about the Proverbs 31 Woman. You know her ~ Mrs. Perfect. As much as I strive to be her, I can never measure up. She's not just Super-Woman ~ why, she's Super-Christian Woman!

Just a few of her many attributes ~ She gets up while it's night, although she stays up until the wee hours ~ never tires as she buys food from afar and plants her own vineyard. She sews, she takes care of her family, as well as the poor and needy. Her children crown her as Mother of the Year and her husband completely adores her!

Please join me on my journey as I take a closer look at this lady. She is, after all, an example that we all can learn from.