Sweeping Those Cheerios, Again!

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Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.

Today is snowday number 4 in a row for me. My kids have been home much more than usual, and I am left wondering if my life is meaningful enough.

I am a teacher! I teach math, reading, writing, manners, respect, time management,  and responsibility.  When teaching is taken away from me, I am stuck wondering if I am completing the work I am called to complete while here on earth.

Cleaning, laundry, washing dishes, and wiping sticky finger prints off windows does not feel like God’s work. However, I was reminded this week that many women are called to do God’s work inside their home. Some of us are called to do God’s work inside and outside our homes.

Steven Curtis Chapman has a song that compares sweeping up cheerios to mission work. He makes it clear that it doesn’t matter what our daily tasks are. We still do them to honor and glorify God.

My job for this weekend will be caring for my kids and cleaning house. Both of these fulfill the Proverbs 31 way of life.

Proverbs 31:27-28
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Creating a home where my family is warm, loved, safe, and joyful is as great of a job as any issued by God. It is challenging, rewarding, and honors Him. As I enter our weekend, my focus will remain on doing my best for our family. There will be plenty of time Monday to focus on my students.

Blessings!

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Staying the Course and Keeping Our Faith

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“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 30:31

I like to compare running to my life as a Christian. Paul’s comparison in 2 Timothy is probably one of my favorite analogies in the Bible. We learn from Paul that trying to follow a path approved by God and trail blazed by Christ is hard. He doesn’t sugar coat the narrow road. He tells you up front that Christian Living doesn’t mean easy living.

I have running goals. One is to increase my speed to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes. Another is to train for and run a 10K in the spring. I also want to run more on the hills during a race, instead of giving in to my burning legs and walking.

My goals are modest compared to other runners, but not easy. To achieve these goals I will need hard training, focus on the goals, stamina, and faith that I can do it.

God has goals for each of us. Like running, our goals require discipline, training, focus, and faith. Our goals are not all the same. They will be difficult. Sometimes we will feel like God is making us run uphill. We will meet adversity. Others will criticize our actions and us personally.

The hard work will pay off. We can run our race successfully when we, like our woman in Proverbs 31, fear God above all else in our lives. When we keep our focus on Him, He leads us through the course. Don’t be discouraged by others who stand like obstacles on your route. Keep running.

Blessings!

Selfishness

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James 3:16-17
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Wow! This verse has been hammering around in my mind for a couple of weeks. I , like many of you, enjoy getting attention and recognition for my good deeds. I want others to notice my hard work. I want to get credit for my actions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really match what we learn in James.

After not writing about the Proverbs 31 woman for a while, I started thinking about her in context of this verse. Did she give up her selfish ambitions? Was she able to set aside her envy of others?

I wonder if her wisdom was Heaven sent and approved. If so, it was pure, not tainted by her own hopes for personal gain. She could make decisions based on the greater good instead of her own wishes.

Her wisdom would have been peace-loving. She would not try to stir up trouble. She would confront others quietly, not cause disruption or dissention. I don’t think this means shying away from confrontation; it just means trying to be peaceful about it.

Considerate of others, submissive, impartial, full of mercy and kindness…

This sounds like a list of qualities I want my friends and husband to have! In order for me to live my life full of these, I have some work to do. How about you?

Blessings!

I Can’t Be Like Christ

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One of the most popular sayings of the past twenty years is “What would Jesus Do?”  Over and over in our Christian lives we are told to make choices based upon what Jesus would decide if he were in our shoes. Hmmmm…. what seems wrong with this?

He can’t walk in my shoes. I can’t walk in his. We have one huge difference that separates us. He was perfect. I am not!

He actively walked through His life on earth while knowing what was next. We stumble around. He never questioned His path. We constantly search for ours.

I make mistakes. Some are small, like wrong turns or burning the dinner rolls. Sometimes my mistakes are big and hurtful to others.

I can’t be like Christ because my sin and mistakes separate me from Him.

Instead of trying to emulate His perfection, I have to embrace my imperfection. I know God will find ways to use my mistakes for His greater good.  I also know that because of Jesus’s perfect sacrifice, I can be forgiven.

I can’t be Jesus, but I can be a servant of God. I can accept the love of Jesus. I understand that Jesus was the one and only perfect servant of God.

I haven’t written much lately about the Proverbs 31 woman. However, I think she fits in the same category. She wasn’t perfect either, but she served and served well.

Blessings!

Faith of Abraham

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11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

I bet the woman from Proverbs 31 had great faith.  It probably gave her the confidence she needed to be the strong, God-fearing woman described to us.

I am in the middle of teaching the stories of Abraham to my middle schoolers.  For the most part, they know who Abraham was.  They can recount some of the more famous stories.  They know all about the test from God in which Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac.  They know all about his wife, Sarah, who did not believe she could have children.

My goal this week is to really drive home the point that God kept all of his promises to Abraham.  We admire Abraham’s faith in God, but God gave him every reason to trust.  God never let Abraham down.  Unfortunately, many of those promises took years and years to be fulfilled.  

Faith in God, the kind of faith Abraham had, is the understanding that God will uphold all of his promises to us.  He will carry us through the valleys, show us mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  We have to have Abraham’s faith and his patience.

Are you living life with the faith of Abraham?

Blessings!

 

A Woman of Strength

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17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks. (Proverbs 17:31)

Last night I couldn’t open a jar of jelly.  I was trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son, but the jar lid wouldn’t budge.  I had a few options, but the easiest was the hand the jar to my husband.  He laughed.  He loves knowing that he is stronger than I am.  It gives him this boost of feeling needed.

I manage our family without my husband about 90% of the time.  We only see him after church on most Sundays.  He works the last Sunday of each month.  And we see him on Tuesdays, his day off.  Usually he works until 8pm and arrives home around 9pm.  By 9pm, the kids are in bed, and I am not far from it.  (I get up at 5am when I am working. I go to bed early!)

Most of the time I cannot rely upon his strength to help our family with our daily issues.  I learned long ago that I had to be strong enough to guide our family when he isn’t around.  I can’t!  I am not equipped with strength enough to run our family, work full time, raise our kids, cook, clean, shop, plan meals, prepare our kids for school, and keep up with bills.  There aren’t enough hours in the day or enough energy in my body.

The Proverbs 31 woman had a secret.  She had help from God.  That is the only way any woman can have enough strength to complete her tasks!  And we all know how many tasks are required of us each day! We need God to help us!

I pray daily that I will have all the resources, including strength, I need to complete my tasks for the day. Lucky for us, God wants to see us succeed in raising our families and guiding our homes.  He will pull through for us if we trust Him.

This morning, at 5am, I set about my work vigorously.  Today is the first day back to work for me after the summer off.  I will sit in meetings most of the day, but I will be back to work nonetheless.  The maddening dinner rush awaits me when I pick up the kids and return home this evening.  Will I have the strength needed? NOPE!  But I can count on God to pull me through!

Blessings!

When Looks Really Do Matter

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Beauty is only skin deep.

Pretty is as pretty does.

True beauty lies on the inside.

We have heard all of the sayings.  We try to convince ourselves that our looks are good enough for God, good enough for the world, and good enough for ourselves.  However, do our looks really matter?  Did they matter to the Proverbs 31 woman?

Looks probably mattered quite a bit to her, but maybe not the way our society promotes beauty.  She would never grace the cover of a magazine in a bikini or revealing dress.  Modesty would have been a huge priority.  However, we know that she worked hard to prepare clothing for her family.  She tried her best to make them all look good.  She wanted to present her family to the world as a well clothed group.

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes. (Proverbs 31:13, 22-24)

The chapter goes on to say in verse 30 that “beauty is fleeting.”  So should we value beauty or not??

Here is my opinion.  As always, my opinion evolves as I age and grow.  At this point in my life, my goal is to make sure my family dresses well.  I want everyone to have clothing that is clean, fits well, looks attractive, and is modest in nature.  My husband and I must look professional for our careers, so we pay attention to our closets.  We don’t spend a lot of money on clothing, but stores like TJ Maxx and Target keep us clothed.

We all know that when we see people whose clothing doesn’t fit, who appear dirty, and those who look disheveled, we form an opinion about them.  The Proverbs 31 woman tried to promote her husband’s social status by ensuring that her family was clothed well.  To me, that doesn’t mean expensive, designer clothing, but it does mean clean and neat.

What about the hair, make-up, nails, and jewelry?  As with anything else, an obsession with it would detract from our relationship with God.  We cannot spend our lives worrying about looking perfect.  It won’t happen.  We are created to look different, individualized.  We should embrace our differences and our features.

Having said that, there are times when I go to the expense of nice jewelry, professional hair coloring (shh…) and cut, and get my nails done.  My husband works in a world where looks do matter to many of his clients.  To some of his clients, appearances show a social status.  In order to make my husband look good, I need to look good. ( I know, rough life when my husband is forced to pay for a manicure for me!)

I remember hearing stories as a child of churches who wouldn’t allow women to wear jewelry.  I know there are sects of Christians who still believe and practice this.  They do not allow make-up or professional hair and nail services.  I disagree with them.  I do not believe that God considers valuing the way we look as a sin.  Only when we put beauty ahead of Him or treat others poorly based upon their appearances will God become angry with us.

I know this is a touchy subject.  I could go on to discuss weight and our family’s journey to fitness, but I will save that for another post!

Blessings!