Thursday, March 31, 2011

Proverbs 31 - An Example of Biblical Womanhood

*This was originally posted on our other blog Follow in His Steps, and I thought I would share it here as well . . . .

Proverbs 31 has always been an inspiring chapter to me, but sometimes it can be difficult to see how it relates to our lives today . . . how do the activities that she is doing apply to us? How is it applicable? When hearing the question posed recently by a young lady asking what Proverbs 31 would look like lived out in our lives today, it got me to thinking and then to eventually write out some thoughts regarding it.


One thing that has been a help to me in regards to seeing the application to my own life, is to not look specifically at what she is doing, but the principles behind what she does. Which I hope makes sense! :) In Proverbs 31, some of the things that stand out to me are her industriousness, her lack of idleness, her servant heart, her willingness to work, and her good care of her home and of her family. There is so very much in this chapter, and here are just a few brief thoughts verse by verse:

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” (vs. 10)

There will be more on this later. :)

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” (vs. 11)

She is trustworthy and loyal to her husband, and thus, he has full and complete confidence in her. She is a genuine helpmeet, and because of how she fulfills her role, her husband will have no lack of those things which are truly of value. A thought that comes to mind as far as actual physical lack, is that it would appear that she is frugal and a good manager of their finances and resources.

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (vs. 12)

While this can be considered specifically to be for married women, it is applicable to those of us who are unmarried as even now, by the character we are developing, the things we are learning, etc., we can be doing good to the husbands that the Lord may have for us in the future. This also implies a continual doing of good . . . as every single day of her life, she is doing him good.

She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.” (vs. 13)

This is one of my many favorite verses in Scripture, and simply for the last word in it: delight. How often that has come to mind as I am working on things around the house! (Scrubbing the bathtub/shower comes to mind . . . :) Here she is looking for labor to do, she is actively seeking, and the work of her hands is a delight to her. She delights in doing these labors as she possesses a servant heart, and she knows that she is fulfilling the role that God has given her as a wife and mother. This delight is defined as: eager willingness, great earnestness, cheerfully, and taking a high degree of pleasure in. As we go about our day to day household tasks whether it be doing the laundry or scrubbing the floors, may this be our heart as well!

She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.”(vs. 14)

She is resourceful and a planner . . . she is searching and looking for food. Perhaps this can be applicable to looking for ‘bargains’ in order to spend money wisely while providing food for her family.

She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” (vs. 15)

One could never accuse this woman of being lazy, could they?! :) She seems to be very industrious and is looking to others’ needs above her own. She sacrifices her own comfort to arise early to make sure that her family is well cared for and provided for.

She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard” (vs. 16)

From what is shared here, it appears that she is an entrepreneur given her purchase of land and then planting a vineyard. This also indicates long term goals and planning as a vineyard would take many years before it would begin to produce fruit. She also is a manager of finances. And she must manage well in order to have the money available to purchase the land.

She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” (vs. 17)

This verse seems to indicate that she cares well for her body both through exercise and through what she eats, and that she has the physical strength necessary to perform her daily labors . . . there is also a principle of spiritual strength as well.

She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night.” (vs. 18)

She rests in contentment knowing that her labor is producing fruit which is good. The last part, though, is still a bit of a puzzle to me . . . one idea that someone once shared with me is that often a candle was left burning in the window as a sign of welcome to a passerby who may be needing shelter. Or again, it could be an indicator of her industry.

She stretches out her hands to the distaff and her hands grasp the spindle.” (vs. 19)

Again, she is a woman of industry as she seeks to provide for the needs of her family through providing clothing and coverings for them.

She extends her hands to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.” (vs. 20)

Here the passage seems to take a shift as the focus moves from first, her husband, and then second, her family, to now thirdly, towards others outside of her family. She sees needs and seeks to meet those needs, she has a heart of service, love and of generosity towards those in need. And I would imagine that this would not only be physical needs, but spiritual as well. “Extending her hands” is also an indicator of a sign of welcoming, and in another sense, stretching out to give a gift.

She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.” (vs. 21-22)

Again, those of her household are well provided for through her foresight and labor of love as she worked to provide for their needs; and she was prepared in advance. Her clothing being made of fine linen and purple suggests not just a ho-hum effort and sloppy work, but care and beauty in what she makes. One thing that also stood out to me in this is that first her household is clothed, and then she provides for herself. The unselfish, giving heart of this woman again shines through.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.” (vs. 23-34)

She has a home business through which she sells the work of her hands . . . and it comes after her family and household have been well cared for and provided for. She uses her skills and talents to help earn an income and be a helper to her husband.

The passage continues with pointing out her trust and joy in looking to the future and her lack of fear and worry for she trusts in the Lord and knows that she has provided as well as she can for the needs of her family (vs. 25.) She is also clothed with dignity and strength, and it is shared that the words that flow from her mouth are words of wisdom and the teaching of kindness (vs. 26.) She is one who “looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (vs. 27.) Idle is in part to be slothful, avoiding work, not doing the tasks that you need to be doing, and being lazy. Instead of being idle, though, she willingly and joyfully serves her family and cares well for her household . . . in providing food, providing clothing, and I would imagine, caring for the cleaning, laundry, and other household tasks . . . and she does these tasks well.

Perhaps what stands out to me the most, though, about this chapter in Proverbs is found in verse 10 where it mentions her “excellence” or her being “virtuous.” Virtuous is something that is internal through which her actions, words, behavior, etc. flow from. It is having the virtues of God in her life . . . she is living and exemplifying the character that God has called her as a woman to have. When I think about that, the things that come to mind are the instruction given elsewhere in Scripture which speak of the character of a godly woman . . .

~A gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4)
~Sober/Dignified (1 Timothy 3:11)
~Sensible (Titus 2:5)
~Pure (Titus 2:5)
~Submissive (1 Peter 3:1-6; Titus 2:5, etc.)
~Kind (Titus 2:5)
~Reverent in behavior (Titus 2:3)
~Respectful (1 Peter 3:2)
~Gracious (Proverbs 11:16)
~Loving of husband and children (Titus 2:4)
~Modest (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
~Teaching what is good (Titus 2:3)
~Faithful in all things (1 Timothy 3:11)
~Not contentious (Proverbs 25:24, 21:19; etc.)
~Not a gossip (Titus 2:3; 1 Timothy 3:11)
~Temperate (1 Timothy 3:11)
~Having discretion (Proverbs 11:22)

Just reading through this list convicts my heart!

And one more to add to that list, and what is the summation of Proverbs 31, is being a woman who fears the Lord (vs 31) . . .

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30.)

This is the part that convicts me the very most as it is foundational to all of the other things mentioned in this chapter . . . and all of the other instruction given by God in His Word to women . . . it is the very heart of the matter and that is our personal relationship with our God and Father. This fear of the Lord is a deep reverence and awe for the almighty and holy God, our Savior and Redeemer. And how very important it is for us to cultivate our relationship with Him! To humble ourselves before Him and honor Him as God. To earnestly seek to love Him and serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And then to cultivate and strive after all of the many attributes that He desires us to have in our lives . . . including this beautiful chapter of Proverbs 31.

The Lumberjack


These photos were taken about three weeks ago now and were the precursor to the log pile photo in the last post. Daddy has gotten so much chain-sawed so far! There is still quite a bit left to do, but we've made a lot of progress . . . and it looks like we may even reach our goal of having it all finished before everything is all green again! (And overgrown. :)

Logs waiting to be hauled away and stacked

Today it is forecasted to warm up into the 50's so I think we'll be outdoors for at least part of the day working on projects such as this . . . already our spring has been quite productive, and it will be exciting to see what all will be able to be accomplished over the next weeks!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Where Art Thou Spring?

After a stretch of days in the 70's and one even in the 80's, this is what it looked like outdoors this past weekend . . .


Snow!! Yes indeed, the snow began falling heavily on Saturday and little by little the green grass was covered, and it looked like wintertime all over again. And the poor little daffodils looked pretty sorry underneath their load of snow . . .




Though, it was fun to photograph them. :) As well as our growing log pile . . .


This pile is just one of the 'fruits of our hands' lately! The never ending (or so it seems :) tree clearing continues, and the pile keeps growing larger and larger . . . as do all of the brush piles. But with the cold weather, it was back to doing more indoor things such as working on sewing. Warmer days are coming, though, and we're all very much looking forward to them and to getting back to working on outdoor projects again!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

The American White Pelican

This time of year is fantastic for birding as so many waterfowl and other bird species are moving north. Our family has been able to take a number of enjoyable birding outings together the past month, and on a recent outing to a local conservation area, we were treated to an amazing display of American White Pelicans. Hundreds of pelicans were in the conservation area . . . often sitting in large groups, sometimes taking off and flying in long 'trains' in their characteristic, undulating flight pattern, and sometimes only a small flock would fly over in a v-formation. It was an incredible experience!


My camera was very busy during our time there (and with capturing more than just pelicans :), and many a time, Daddy quickly pulled to a stop so I could open the door, stand on the door frame and photograph away as flock after flock of pelicans flew right over top of us. What an experience it was! There was another photographer out there as well with a huge lens, and I can only imagine what amazing photos he might have captured of these fascinating and beautiful birds. I hope you enjoy some of the ones that I was so happy to be able to end up with . . .



The American White Pelican
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos


Weight: 16.4 lbs.


Measures:
62" in length with a 108" wing span . . . that is five feet long, and 9 feet from tip to tip of the wings!


The flat, rounded plate on the bill is seen in breeding season only.


The pelican winters along the southern coasts of the United States and along the coast of Mexico and then migrates north to live for the summer months. They are locally common in breeding colonies of several hundred pairs on the West Coast and also on lakes.


The American White Pelican feeds on fish, and fishes by wading or swimming in shallow water, often in flocks, scooping up the fish with its large orange bill.


These huge, beautiful birds have a characteristic 'roller coaster' flight . . . all flying in a long line with each bird dipping and rising at the same point, alternating flapping and gliding which lends itself to this unique flight pattern.



When migrating, they fly in a v-formation and often soar at great heights.


These birds are fascinating, majestic creatures, and their design and uniqueness points to the Creator who fashioned this beautiful bird which we were able to see and enjoy in such large numbers!

"Then God said, 'Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let the birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.' God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:20-21

Thank you!

Thank you all so very much for all of the loving, encouraging, and supportive e-mails that were sent in response to my previous post! Tears often came to my eyes as I read what you all shared . . . how my heart was ministered to through you. And how humbling and comforting to be covered in prayer by so many sisters in the Lord whom I have never even met in person. God has been so good to bless me with 'knowing' all of you dear ladies through blogging, and how blessed I am to be able to count you as friends! Thank you again so very much!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To My Blog Readers

Thank you all so much for your prayers . . . I cannot tell you how much they have meant to me! As well as all of the caring comments and e-mails that were left and sent. Thank you so much!

The past several weeks/months my family and I have been dealing with a serious situation (especially the past three weeks), and I cannot go into great detail here . . . though, I will share that it has to do with what can come from being on the internet and from individuals of questionable character finding a blog and beginning threatening behavior towards the writer of that blog. Which is the situation I had found myself in . . . and why I had needed to 'disappear' from the blogging world for a time.


Through these very difficult past few weeks, our prayer was, and continues to be, not only for the safety of myself and my family, but also that God would be our strength and peace, which He has been in so many ways. And then our prayer was also that truth and justice would prevail . . . and we knew that if they did not prevail here on this earth, we know that in the end, the righteous Judge and God of truth will triumph over evil and falsehood. Psalm 37 has been an especial comfort and assurance to us during this time . . . and there is such peace in knowing that we have the Lord as our protector and our provider, and no matter what happens, we can rest and trust fully in Him. 
As a part of all of this, it was also found that this individual has been commenting anonymously on some of my friends' blogs, often with very 'religious' comments, in an effort to try to 'communicate with me' through them, and to, in some cases, possibly try to damage my friendship with some of you as well. So if you have received unusual, strange, and/or disturbing anonymous comments from someone over the past several months, it may have been this person . . . and I am so sorry for that.

With all of this in mind, my dear friends, I encourage you to be careful with your blogging . . . in this day and age, we must be ever watchful as, while there are many good, honorable and godly men out there who may visit our blogs, there are also a few that are deceivers and are wicked/evil
, as well as those who are delusional in their thinking. Because of this, be careful what information you share publicly, and be guarded with those whom you do not know well who are commenting on your blog or who may contact you. Be very open with your parents (or with your husband if you are married) regarding who is commenting and who you may be corresponding with. And please, please be cautious and guarded. Even with all of these safeguards in place, bad situations can still arise (such as in my case), but how much more unlikely for them to take place if we have our guard continually up.

Now with all of that said :), please do not forget all of the very many blessings that come from blogging! Blogging has so many wonderful blessings . . . encouraging one another in the Lord, connecting believers in Christ that live all over the country and world, learning from one another, growing together, building up one another, listening to one another, inspiring one another, and so much more. My brother, Ryan, and his wife, Ashley, even met one another all due to blogging! :) So God can use blogging for so many wonderful things and also for His purpose and glory.

And for myself, I am so thankful for each one of you ladies who comment on my blog and whose blogs I visit . . . you all have been and are such a blessing to me! And I have really missed that interaction with you all over these past three weeks.

As I thought about blogging and how to proceed from here, I came very close to privatizing my blog as I do not want this individual to be reading and viewing what I post. But as my family and I thought, prayed and discussed together, I realized that I cannot let the sin that is in this world cause me to 'hide my candle under a basket,' nor do I want all of what has transpired these past weeks and months to prevent me from being able to fellowship with and be encouraged by you all, and also from reaching out to others . . . being a small bit of light in the darkness as much as I am able "in the strength that God supplies."

So at least for now, this blog will be continuing . . . albeit a bit differently. At this point, I
plan to not be posting as many personal photos of my family and I, and to also not be posting any more photos of our little friends that could identify them (I have also needed to go back and remove most of those photos and/or posts from my blog.)

I am very sorry to have to share all of this with you . . . in fact, it is very hard for me to even write all of this, but my hope is that it will somehow be able to help prevent something like this from ever happening to any of you. And now with all of this shared, I hope and pray that it will be a closed chapter. Blogging here will continue and commenting on your all's blogs will continue . . . which I am very much looking forward to catching up on! :) And once again, thank you so much for all of your support and prayers!


*Because of the nature of this post, I felt it best to disable the comments for it. However, if you would like, you are welcome to contact me through the 'contact me' link at the top of this page. Please know, though, that it might take me a bit to get back to you! :)

**When considering everything, we believed it best to privatize our girl's group blog, so if you would like to be able to visit there, please just let me know (through the 'contact me' link at the top of this page) and also let me know who you are. :) Thank you!

Friday, March 18, 2011

An FYI

As you all have probably noticed already :), I have been absent from the blogging world for a couple of weeks and will need to be absent for awhile longer. Please be praying for my family and I over the next week! Thank you!




Saturday, March 5, 2011

Springtime Surprise


Our first flowers of the year are blooming! What a delight it was to discover these tiny irises . . . I always eagerly watch for them, but wasn't expecting them this soon!


"O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all . . ." Psalm 104:24a

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tiny Seeds

It is that time of year again to pull out the seed trays and begin starting seeds indoors. Which makes it feel like spring is just one step closer! This year, we're only starting tomatoes (lots of them :) and peppers and are trying some lettuce and spinach as well in hopes of getting an earlier crop of those. In preparation for the planting, I washed up all of the trays and seed cells, and then began!


We ordered from three different seed companies this year and from Baker Creek for the first time . . . we are excited to see how their seeds do! If they do well, they'll likely end up being our primary seed source. So far, I love their company!

~ Moistening the potting mix ~

~ Lettuce seeds ready and waiting to be planted ~
(though most are going to be saved to be direct seeded outdoors.)

~ Filling the cells with moistened potting mix ~

~ And now the seeds are planted and the transformation process of seed to plant begins! :) ~

Seeds are amazing little things. As I was planting the tomatoes, I marveled at how something so tiny could produce such a large plant and so much large, beautiful fruit. It really is amazing when you think of it! And each seed is different and has the potential to become just one type of plant . . . a Bonny Best Tomato seed becomes a Bonny Best Tomato plant, just as a Red Romaine Lettuce seed becomes a Red Romaine Lettuce plant. And it is the same with us with the seeds we plant in our and others' lives . . . will we sow seeds of discord? or of peace? Seeds of strife? or harmony? Seeds of discontentment? or seeds of contentment? Seeds of joy? Or seeds of sorrow or pain? The seeds that we choose to sow will then either bear fruit in "keeping with repentance" and with righteousness . . . or they will bear fruit of the flesh and sin.

This is sobering to think about! As we are sowing seeds all around us every moment of every day . . . whether for good or bad. May we earnestly be seeking to sow the seeds that will bring an abundant harvest of good fruit all to the glory of the Lord! And prior to this bearing of fruit comes the preparation . . . just as these vegetable seeds need to be properly planted, nurtured and cared for, so do we need to cultivate the seeds and fruit of righteousness in our own lives. Through study and application of His Word, through practice, through prayer, through perseverance. And in the end, just as with these vegetable seeds, the harvest will be well worth the effort!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Coming Soon . . .

Springtime flowers!

Our daffodils are coming up now! And as we have them planted in many locations, we'll have cheerful flowers scattered all around before long. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A World of White

The morning after my birthday, we awoke to an outdoors completely coated in snow. It had been a very wet snow (and sometimes was mixed with rain and sleet) so it stuck to everything! Even the fruit tree cages and fence posts were completely coated on one or more sides with a thick layer of snow . . . and while this country girl is ready for spring and not more winter weather, I did enjoy going out and photographing as it was so beautiful out! And I also enjoyed using my new macro lens set that my parents had given me for my birthday . . .



The last three close-up photos
of the snow in the below set were with some of these lenses, and they were so fun to use! And I can just imagine how much I am going to enjoy using them come springtime with all of the flowers and insects. :) But in the meantime, they captured some snow photos . . . hope you enjoy!





And now for the close-ups . . .

Lilac Buds

Pine needles

A Pine cone

Thankfully the roads were clear on Friday so Ryan and Ashley could come over for the evening! We had such a wonderful time together . . . enjoyable conversations, laughter, smiles, and the simple pleasure of being in one another's company. But I completely forgot to take any photos until the very end of our time together, and I was only able to snap a few then and only one turned out. But it was of two lovely people so it could hardly be anything but :) . . .

Mama and Ashley

During our time together we also enjoyed a special meal, had ice cream, and I opened the gift from Ryan and Ashley . . . and do they ever know me well! . . .


I have checked this book out from the library numerous times, but 'lamented' the fact that I couldn't make full use of it as I couldn't mark for future reference the things that I would like to use or implement. Well, Ryan and Ashley remembered that, and now I have a copy of my own to highlight in and mark up to my heart's content! :) Thank you both!

After a few days of the cold and snow, it has warmed up again, and we have been working so much outdoors in the beautiful weather. Tree clearing has been at the forefront right now and today, Leah and I spent most of the day outside working on this project in the beautiful, sunshiny, 50 degree weather. It was so enjoyable! Not only getting a lot accomplished, but also listening to the wind in the trees, watching a Red-Tailed Hawk and a Vulture soar overhead, listening to the birds calling . . . happy sigh. :) Just a taste of what is coming . . . spring!!