Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Finding Balance

Laundry, dishes, meals, playgroups, date nights and time with family and do we maintain the balance? Who in scripture can we look to for direction and instruction?

Like many Christian women, I grew up in the church and grew up hearing about the great Proverbs 31 woman (Proverbs 31:10-31). This seeming perfect woman has been drilled into my head. . I grew up going to Sunday School, choir, GA’s, Wednesday night supers and youth retreats. I was saved at the age of eight but I have been a Baptist since birth. Every year on Mother’s Day I heard messages on “her”. Every youth trip and college retreat I ever attended would have a “girls only” session, and we were given instruction on how to become the Proverbs 31 women. During my single days in my twenties I read every book that Lifeway or the Family Christian Bookstore carried on becoming the Proverbs 31 women. Then in 2006 I became a wife and in 2008 I became a mother. Then all my knowledge I had and all the plans I had made about being the perfect woman went out the window!

Before I had my daughter I always said that when I become a mother, my house will stay spotless, my child will follow every word of Babywise and I will NEVER leave the house without looking like I just walked out of an Ann Taylor catalogue. I was never going to be one of those “frumpy, stay at home moms”. Then I actually had a baby, who was premature, on a three hour feeding schedule, and who had gas, constipation and reflux! One afternoon I realized we were out of diapers and formula and I needed to run up to the local grocery store. I got dressed, got my daughter ready, and headed to Kroger! I took my time in the store, bought the formula and diapers, and went back out to my car. As I was about to pull out of the parking space, I looked in my review mirror. That is when I notice the dried sweet potato in my eye brow! So much for being the perfect, Proverbs 31 woman who has her life balanced and figured out!

After that embarrassing but funny incident at the local Kroger, I thought to myself, “It’s time to regroup”. How can I can I complete everything on my “to do list”, spend time with my friends, family, husband and child, and maintain a dynamic walk with the Lord. As I thought about and prayed about my “regroup”, three “P’s” came to my mind. Even though it has been eight years since I finished seminary I have a hard time giving an explanation without using three points (or four points in this case) and alliteration!

1. Plan: Plan meals, plan your grocery list, plan your days, plan when you will do housework, put plans on your calendar and plan ahead for all things unexpected. By making plans you can take the seemingly endless to do list that we all have in our lives, and break it down into smaller chunks of times, so we do not get overwhelmed. Like my mother always told me, “Plan your work and work your plan”!

2. People: It is so very important to maintain the relationships with those special people in your life. They are your family, friends, husband and children. Make time in your daily, weekly and monthly life in order to grow, nurture and invest in to these relationships. This can be a playgroup with friends, date night with your husband, or celebrating special occasions with family members.

3. Perspective: At the end of the day, have the right perspective. When your child is eighteen, graduates from high school and moves from under your roof, what will they remember? Will they remember your house being spotless, eating organic, homemade food for every meal, and their clothes always being perfectly pressed or will they remember that you loved them unconditionally and invested in their lives?

4. Pray: Above all, cover your family, friends, household, spouse, children, with prayer. God has commanded us to pray without ceasing. You can pray at each red light, over your children while they sleep, at mealtime with your family, and all throughout the day. By seeking God and His will first, everything else in your life will fall into place.

So while you and I continue to try and strive to become a well balance woman, like the the Proverbs 31 women, we need to give ourselves a break. It is okay to stop and have a cup of coffee and read a book during naptime instead of making, cleaning or picking up something. It is okay after a difficult day, to run by Little Caesars and pick up at $5 pizza. You and I need to remember that God’s grace is sufficient and we need to give ourselves some, each and every day!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Prayers for my child

Psalm 34:4
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled

Deuteronomy 6:13
Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.

Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 97:10
Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked

Psalm 119:71
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

Daniel 6:3
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Proverbs 1:10
My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

1st Corinthians 6:18-20
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

2nd Corinthians 6:14
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Hosea 2:6
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.

Psalm 51:1-3
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Ephesians 6:1
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Isaiah 54:13
All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace.

Proverbs 13:1
A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

From the Inside Out

This song is the cry of my heart for myself and also for my daughter. As a life long people pleaser, I have so many times lived my faith and love for God from the outside/in instead of inside/out. I have found myself doing alot of Christian things and activities to show my love for Christ, but my heart and my motives were impure. My prayer daily is that my faith will be genuine! I also pray that my precious daughter will not "pick up" my bad habit of people pleasing, but will live a life completely in love with Jesus Christ!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Proverbs 31 Woman- #6

So you are thinking…I am worn out after looking at all the characteristics of this noble wife and mother…this Proverbs 31 woman. So what is MY REWARD? Verses 27-29 and verse 31 shows us what we receive. Our children will rise up and call us blessed and our husbands will praise us. This comes in the little things of a daughter running and squealing when you pick her up from Mom’s Day Out. A son who tells you, “you’re the coolest, mom”. A husband that is proud to have you on his arm and show you off to his friends and work collegues. The days in a mother’s life are hard and can sometime seem very tireing and tedious. But in the end it will all be worth it. Third John 1:4 states, “I have no greater joy than my children are walking in the truth.”

Even though you may know that you will receive your reward one day for being “mother of the year”, there are still days when you are exhausted, worn out, with sweet potato on your eyebrow. When I have those days I look at verse 30 of Proverbs 31. It states, “ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. When you have gone down the list of the characteristics and requirements of being the PERFECT woman and you feel overwhelmed, remember this one truth. The most important concept of being a woman of God, is to be IN LOVE with Jesus Christ. By first being in love with Jesus with all your mind, strength, and all your heart, you can then accomplish ANYTHING through Him.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Proverbs 31 Woman: # 5

In verses 21-25 we see the Proverbs 31 woman is ALWAYS PREPARED. She does not fear if bad weather or something unexpected comes her way. Her children as well as herself are clothed and warm. What are some practical things that you can do in order to be prepared for what may come in the future? One thing that helps me is to calendar events. Now, I am very low tech, so I use a large kitchen calendar that I hang on my refridgerator, it helps me keep organized. But, in this age of Blackberries, iphones and Ipads…there are many ways and gadgets that you can use to keep up with events.

How to calendar
1. At the beginning of each year I get my old calendar out and compare it to my new calendar
2. Write down birthdays and anniversaries
3. Get the school calendar and mark off holidays and breaks
4. In order to be ready for the Christmas Holidays, I write at the beginning of November to start preparing or purchasing a family Christmas card. That way I am not caught off guard in December
5. At the beginning of each month I give myself a reminder of what birthday or anniversary cards or presents I need to purchase.

Just a little hint that you can use right now…one additional note that I have added to my calendar this year, is at the end of October. My daughter has just gotten into dress up, and I have made myself a note to purchase some Halloween costumes for her to use as dress up. I will do this a few days after Halloween this year when all the costumes go on sale at Wal-Mart and Target

In verse 26 we see the Proverbs 31 woman, SPEAKING WISDOM AND INSTRUCTION into the lives of those around her. This should encourage all of us to be pouring into another’s life. In Titus ( 2:3-5 ) we are given directions to invest in the lives of younger women.
Titus 2:3-5 (New International Version)
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
In this passage we see how the older women should act. In turn these wiser women are able to guide the younger women in the way they should act towards their husbands, home, children and those around them.
We all have younger woman in our lives. It may be your daughter, some high school youth girls or a new mom that has just moved into your neighborhood. You can invest in this person’s life, by simply having a cup a coffee with them or being there for them when they may have a life question.

As we look towards the end of the chapter at verse 27, we see that a Proverbs 31 woman is always ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING in her world. She looks after all the ins and outs of her household. You keep the house clean, play dress up, do playdough, fingerpaint, prepare dinner and still look hot for your husband! Like my Me-Me says…A man works from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done!! Because she is always doing something for her family or for someone else she doesn’t, “eat the bread of idleness” as the verse states. But remember…it is okay to sit down and watch Oprah with a cup of coffee during nap time!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Proverbs 31 woman: Post #4

So far we have seen that the Proverbs 31 woman gives validation to her husband and also provides for her family. Now let’s look at verses 17-19. In these verses we see that this amazing woman has DETERMINATON IN HER WORK. In all she does she does it to the best of her ability. Remember the scripture, “Do all things to the Glory of God… In everything you do in your house whether it is a changing a diaper, cleaning the kitchen for the 100th time or folding laundry, do each job as if you are doing it for the Lord. This verse helps me when I start getting frustrated with doing with the same daily tasks over and over again and feeling like the daily chores are never going to be accomplish. One thing that has helped me is to do one or two jobs each day, instead of doing every job on one day, I spread the load out. I pick one or two jobs to do on a certain day each week

Monday: Laundry, Make Grocery List, Clean Kitchen
Tuesday: Dust and Vacuum House, Go grocery shopping, because my daughter is in MMO and it is easier to go grocery shopping w/o my little helper!
Wednesday: Clean Bathrooms
Thursday: Vacuum and Mop house, Laundry day again
Friday: Dust blinds, baseboards and chairrailing

A resource that has helped me is a book, “More Hours In My Day” by Emilie Barnes. It has been a great book to help me get my life organized and not be overwhelmed with trying to keep a clean house….especially with a 21 month old running around! In the book it gives a plan to keep up with weekly chores, monthly chores and yearly chores. That way you don’t get five years down the road and think…when was the last time I cleaned the windows, or cleaned out that closet.

Finally what I do daily to make sure I do not get overwhelmed with the clutter and chaos of a household is that I TAKE 15. What does that mean?? At the end of each day I take 15 minutes after my daughter has gone to bed, to pick up the house and get things ready for the next morning. I make my list for the next day, make my daughters lunch-if it is an MMO day, lay out my clothes, pull out meat for dinner the next day, and most importantly, get the coffee pot set! That way when I wake up in the morning I feel like I am a little ahead of the game…at least for a little bit!

As we look on in the passage we look at verse 20 and see that the Proverbs 31 woman HAS COMPASSION ON THOSE IN NEED.
Verse 20 states that she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. The New testament even talks about it in (Luke 12:48 , From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.) With all that this woman has to do in her life, she still takes time to help the needy. This can be done by taking can goods to the local food bank, donating baby clothes to a crisis pregnancy center or even just taking a meal to a sick friend. It is important to teach our children how to be generous because children do not know how to share…it is something that has to be taught. I can testify to that as the mother of an almost two year old, whose new favorite word is MINE!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Proverbs 31 Woman- Post #3

As we look at verses 10-12, (read passage) we see how the Proverbs 31 woman GIVES VALIDATION to her husband. Just like we as women need to feel love and accepted, men on the other hand thrive on respect. If we look at one of the most famously quoted scripture on the relationship between a husband and a wife, Ephesians 5: 22-28; We see a list of how each partner should conduct themselves in the marriage. But look closely. Lets read this passage of scripture together.

Ephesians 5:22-28
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

In this passage we see that we are called to submit/respect our husband, but first our husbands are to love us and be willing to die for us…just like Christ gave His life for us. Makes submitting a little bit easier doesn’t it?

Now let’s take a look at verses 13-16 (read passage), we see in this passage of scripture that a Proverbs 31 woman MAKES PROVISIONS for her family. She provides food and adds to the finances of the family. We all have a skill whether you can sew cute clothes, pant portraits, do someone taxes or tutor a friend’s child. Even a stay at home moms, you and I can do a small job that can bring in finances into your family. But what if you feel overwhelmed with the day to day (like me), of keeping the house together and the kids at their places, you can add to your household finances, by being a budgeter and a couponer.
One thing that I do to both help with the finances and provide food for my family, is I do meal planning. I do know people that are better than me at this and can plan meals for a month, but it works better for me to stick to doing a week or two weeks at a time.

This is my routine that I try to use.
1. I buy the Sunday Paper
2. I look at
3. Pull out coupons from the Sunday Paper
4. Get out my menu lists/recipe cards
5. Pick and choose recipes based on the specials at the store I like to shop…for me that is Kroger and look at the coupons
6. I plan my menus for dinners for that week or two weeks. I usually cook Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We have left overs on Wednesday and Friday. Saturday and Sunday are flexible. Sometimes I cook, sometimes we go out.
7. For breakfasts and lunches, I use the coupons and weekly specials, “red tag sales, etc in order to save the most money

Monday, October 4, 2010

Proverbs 31 woman- Post #2

As we begin to take a look at Proverbs 31, it is important to know the background of the passage. Who wrote it and why did they write it?

The beautiful poem describing the virtuous, ideal women is found in the last chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is written my one of the most famous kings of Isreal, King Solomon. Even though the book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, the poem describing the characteristics of a virtuous woman, was written by King Solomon’s mother. Now who was Solomon’s mother? Solomon’s mother was none other than one of the most scandalous women in the Bible, Bathsheba. Here is a little background information on Bathsheba. She was the second wife of King David. This is the same David that killed the giant Goliath with his slingshot, was best friends with Jonathan and soon took over the throne from Israel’s first king, Saul. David was a great king, called a man after God’s own heart, but he had a thing for the ladies! One evening David decided to take a walk on the roof of his castle. As he looked over all that he acquired, he looked down and saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. Being the king, he summoned the woman to come to his chambers that night…and back then you did not refuse the king. David did not care that this woman, Bathsheba was married, he wanted her. After he had his fun with her, he sent her out of his bed and back to her home. Long story short and you can read the story in its entirety in 2nd Samuel 11 and 12, Bathsheba becomes pregnant with a child, David has Bathsheba’s husband killed to conceal the affair, David marries Bathsheba, David is rebuked and disciplined by God, the baby of their union dies, they both grieve, Bathsheba become pregnant again and gives birth to Solomon. WHEW!

Solomon was one of the wisest and greatest kings of Israel. Yet, like his father before him, he also loved the ladies. As an adult he eventually had 400 wives and 800 concubines. Even though as an adult he made some poor choices it was not without instruction from his mother. Solomon’s mother, like any mother wanted better for her son then she had been given. She wanted to warn her son and give him a picture of the type of woman, she wanted for him. That is how Proverbs 31 came to be!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Proverbs 31 Woman-Post #1

For thousands of years, women in the church have looked to the Proverbs 31 woman as the ideal woman. Your mothers, grandmothers, your great grandmothers and so on and so where taught from an early age about the perfect woman, perfect wife perfect mother. What about today’s woman? What value can this ancient text be to the diverse, complex life-styles of women today? To the married, to the single to the young, to the old, to those working outside the home, and to the stay at home mom, it is more relevant then you may think!

As we begin to examine this seemingly perfect picture of womanhood, we do not find the stereotyped housewife occupied with dirty dishes and laundry, her daily life dictated by the demands of her husband and children. Nor do we see an overly ambitious, highly stressed, over hardened career woman who leaves her family to fend for themselves.
What we find instead is a dignified, strong, mult-talented, caring, amazing woman.

This woman has money to invest, servants to look after and real estate to manage. She is her husband’s partner, biggest cheerleader and helpmate. She has the business skills to buy and sell in the market place, but also has sensitively and compassion to care for and meet the needs of people who are less fortunate. She tackles every challenge that she may face with a cheerful and energetic attitude. Her family love and respect her for her kind, generous and caring nature.

But above all else she knows her value in Christ. She looks to Jesus Christ for all that she needs and wants. Proverbs 31 is written about a woman who is confident in SOMEONE other than herself. Here we find a woman who believes with all her heart that she is loved by a God who knows and cares for her. She depends on HIM and not on herself!