What Does It Mean to Be Organized? I Say It Means Nothing

Organization.  Purging.  Margin.  White Space.  Time Management.  Minimalism.  Simplifying.  Downsizing.

Google any one of those words and thousands upon thousands of articles, blog links, advertisements pop up.  We live in a high tech, fast paced, immediate gratification world and yet it seems all are seeking a simpler life, or ways to better manage the craziness of their life.

As a young mom, I sought to learn everything I could about managing my home, managing my time.  Some came naturally to me.  I like order.  I don’t like a lot of stuff, so shopping and collecting are not big issues for me (well unless we are talking dishes or shoes).  I am also an introvert, so staying home in lieu of a jam packed schedule didn’t feel awkward.  I ran my house with my 6 month old twins like a well oiled machine and took great pride when asked ” How do you do it all?”  From the outside my life looked great.  It was a good life.  I had healthy baby girls, a beautiful home, a wonderful husband, circle of friends through my almost daily tennis and weekly church involvement…  The truth however was that I was burning the candle at both ends.  I was quick to snap at my girls, get frustrated when they didn’t sleep as the schedule dictated.  The smallest interruption always felt like a huge disruption.  I was hard on myself and hard on my husband.

One day as my frustration had mounted, frustration with myself, I was struck by the fact that I was spinning my wheels trying to be organized-be efficient.  I was juggling all the balls and squeezing it all in, but at what price.  Being efficient was not creating the life I longed for.  God took me back to Proverbs 31, that woman we love to hate and long to be like.  As I read the passages again, God invited me to really get to know the lady, to look beyond the scripture as a litany or to do list and look at the impact of one woman’s life.    In those moments my whole view of organization changed.  I no longer wanted to be the most efficient.  Efficiency was replaced with a desire to be effective.  I wanted to live an orderly life so God could use me to impact my girls, their friends, my friends, our neighbors.  I didn’t want to be known for what I could get done in a day, I wanted to be known for having time to invest in others.  I wanted to see interruptions as opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ.  I wanted our excess to bless others, whether it was purging to pass on, or shopping for others instead of ourselves.

Organization and efficiency are the world’s ways.  There is no such thing as being organized.  There is however a way to live a disciplined life that brings order and affords you the time and space in which to serve others.  Striving to be organized leads to fatigue and frustration.  Striving to be organized means being captive to our things, our schedules, our work.  That is not God’s design.  His design is that we live free, free to serve Him, free from the confines of stuff and schedules.

I still fall prey to the world’s call to be organized.  I even make a living helping others get their stuff organized.  However, I seek to approach every day asking myself if the purging, the sorting, the stacking, the time blocking is my attempt to control an unruly life, one I no longer really manage, or is it to afford me the opportunity to bless another person, invest in another person.  I am not interested in the pursuit of efficiency unless it helps me be effective.

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Embrace Yourself as the Proverbs 31 Woman

I had a little mini vacation this past week visiting family.  In those moments of down time I often find myself reading, reflecting on where I’m at, how I see myself etc…  Just before leaving two separate clients had commented to me about some organizing my business partner and I had done for them.  Their comments were reminders that I do indeed have talent, see things in ways others don’t and am good at what I do.  While I love getting those kind of comments, I am going to be honest and tell you it is very hard for me to accept those kind of compliments.  I rarely see myself as skilled or good at something.  I am most often my own worse enemy and critic.  What a shame.

If you have been following my blog you know I am revisiting the Proverbs 31 woman, as I do once each year.  In the process of revisiting those scriptures I always learn something new or am challenged in new areas.  This year, seeing myself for who I am, being the person God created me to be, has been the recurring theme and place of discontent and conviction.  This woman of God was strong, physically, mentally and spiritually.  She put much effort into her daily living, seeking to fulfill her purpose.  Who she was, was so much more important than what she did.  I am reminded she was confident.  Not in a haughty way, but in a wise way.  She feared the Lord and praised Him with her hands, her words, her actions, her concern for others.  She accepted who she was and set out to live for Him.  Her example reminds me I am to embrace the person I am, the way He created me to be.  It is sin not to.  To belittle who I am is wrong.  I am not to be haughty or confident in my own abilities, but I am to embrace the gifts and talents He has given me and set out to use them for His purposes and His glory.

Psalm139.14

If you have been struggling with doubt or have a tendency to be your own worse critic, look back at the Proverbs 31 scripture and ponder over Psalm 139:14.  You are unique.  There is but one you and your purpose, your talents and gifts do not match anyone else’s.  You have purpose.  Be glad.  Rejoice in who you are.  Embrace all that He has given you and commit to use it for His glory.

BECOMING-Not Finished (another look at the Proverbs 31 woman)

2014-09-26 12.58.40IMG_3928

Industrious, thrifty, organized, virtuous, confident, modest, kind, merciful, creative, resourceful, loved, blessed.  Do you ever wish you were all those things?  Does reading that list of attributes exhaust you or deflate you?  I have said it in weeks past, and will say it again.  The Proverbs 31 woman as described in those passages, was not a perfect woman, nor are the passages a description of her in one moment in time.  The passages describe the entirety of her life-who she became.

We are becoming.  So often we want a list and we want to check it off-maybe even twice.  We want to be finished.  In reality though, were we to find ourselves finished, life would be over.  Scripture reminds us we are becoming.  We are ever running after the goal, seeking to be strengthened as we approach the finish line.

becoming:  
Adjective:  1.  that suits or gives a pleasing effect or attractive appearance, as to person or thing:

a becoming dress; a becoming hairdo.  2.  suitable; appropriate; proper:  a becoming sentiment.
Noun:  3.  any process of change.  4.  Aristotelianism. any change involving realization of potentialities, as movement from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality. (Dictionary.com)
I love the definition of becoming.  I want the adjective to describe me and I want the noun to be taking place.  What makes me be pleasing , suitable?  The change taking place in me.  Becoming more like the one who created me.
The Proverbs 31 woman became who she was after years of becoming.  She sought wisdom, she sought to grow, she sought help.  As she grew, as she became, she did.  All along the way though, she had to make decisions.  She wasn’t becoming just because she lived.  She was becoming because she decided she wanted to.  She set before her priorities. She made a decision every day to guard those priorities, to work towards becoming the woman she felt God calling her to be.  
We too must decide.  Being organized, thrifty, caring, industrious, strong all require action on our part.  It doesn’t happen because we are by nature any of those things.  They each require some action, something we have to decide to do.  And, in order to take any action, we must set aside time to be engaged in those things we know will help us become the woman we want to be.  I can’t be thrifty if I am daily making runs to the grocery store picking up dinner items.  I can’t be caring if I constantly forget friends’ birthdays, fail to block off time to serve others, run late.  I will not be physically strong and able to work/serve if I am not exercising and eating correctly.  Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t just happen.  It requires choice, daily choice, daily sacrifice, daily obedience.
I challenge you, and myself, let’s not be finished.  Don’t give up.  Don’t allow fear or frustration to keep you from decisions. Don’t get overwhelmed.  Let’s continue becoming.  I want to be that attractive, effective woman.  I want to continue growing and changing so that when my time on earth is done and I attain my reward it will be said of me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Think about your priorities.  Block off time this next week to focus on doing something-even just one thing-to become in that area.  My weakness-exercise.  I’m blocking off time 4 days next week to exercise for at least 30 minutes.  We can become. 

Having a Housekeeper-It’s Biblical!

“…and portions for her servant girls.” Proverbs 31: 15.

So often we study the Proverbs 31 woman and then sit in awe or defeat.  We compare ourselves to her, a lifetime of achievements and qualities captured in 21 short verses.  We lose perspective.

This woman of God lived a life well lived.  She was blessed, praised and honored.  She did much.  She ran multiple businesses, she managed family finances, she took care of herself physically and emotionally.  She provided for her family. Her days started early and ended late.  But more than what she did, which is where we often focus, we need to consider who she was.  We should study to learn about her qualities, not her achievements.

We have already discussed that she was pure, trustworthy, loyal, industrious, and thrifty.  Most of all we know she feared the Lord and sought His guidance daily, hourly.  It is in the seeking to know who she was that we will find the lessons He has for us.

I have often joked about verse 15.  Before children, when I was working 60+ hours a week, volunteering in my community and with our youth group at church, I had a housekeeper.  In fact we had her for 16 years.  She became our friend, an extension of our family.  Her daughter grew up in front of us.  We shared laughs, tears, trials and joys.  I was blessed to have her help, her friendship.  On occasion, my husband would question our need for her.  (You see I am one of those people that would clean up to get ready for the housekeeper.  I know.  That’s a whole other discussion.)  On more than one occasion I would whip out Proverbs 31:15 to justify my decision.  I mean after all if this revered woman in scripture clearly had maidservants, then I should most certainly follow suit.  So there you have it ladies.  Having a housekeeper is indeed biblical!

Well, remember that thing called perspective?  In deed the Proverbs 31 had maidservants.  She lived in a day and time that financially, politically was one of the darkest and most difficult times in Israel.  Families often found themselves unable to provide for their children, thus abandoning them or selling them.  Recurring battles and plunder left many children orphaned.  Living in a trade community there we enslaved girls brought in and sold or traded, some even abandoned after the merchants were finished with them.  Yes, human trafficking existed even then.  As such, families who were able, families who felt compelled to help, would take young boys and girls in as bond servants, offering them safety, shelter and provisions.

The Proverbs 31 woman also had need for help.  Again, due to the times, life was difficult.  Much was required if one was to have food and provisions.  It required sacrifice, planning, diligent labor, ingenuity and physical strength.  It would have been virtually impossible to do it alone.

courtesy Town & Country
courtesy Town & Country

While I’d like to stick with the whole “having a housekeeper is biblical” thing, the real lesson is so much more.  It’s not about the housekeeper/the maidservant.  Again, it is about who the Proverbs 31 woman was.  She was wise.  She spent time considering all that she had and needed.  She sought God’s counsel as she attempted to plan for the future.  She was confident enough to know she could not do it all, she could not be all.  She knew what and when she needed to delegate. She saw her plenty and knew she was called to serve, to rescue, to help.  She provided for her maidservants as she did her family.

This woman did not live in abundance.  She had plenty.  But even the plenty she was willing to share, with her maidservants (vs 15) and with the poor and needy (vs 20).  It wasn’t about having more for the sake of having more.  It was about having plenty/enough and being willing to stretch that to help meet the needs of others.

This woman did not work from a place of pride.  She was humble.  She sought to work hard, give her best, yet she knew and accepted what she could not do.  A part of her resourcefulness was knowing what to delegate and to whom.  Once she chose to delegate, she then taught/trained those whom she sought help from.  Her ways were gentle.  She worked alongside them.  She cared for them.

So many lessons for us.  When I seek help am I doing it to stretch my plenty or to obtain abundance?  When I seek help do I humbly come alongside that person teaching/training and working alongside?  Do I use the extra time afforded me by having help to do something worthwhile?  Do I look for the needy and offer them help?

I don’t have a housekeeper any more.  Some days I miss her terribly.  But finances changed, my work load lightened, my daughters grew and the wiser choice was to take our plenty and use it wisely.  I now delegate to my daughters, working alongside them to train them and teach them how to care for a home, provide for a family and serve others.  We open our home to serve others.  We look for opportunities to help meet needs in our family, church and community.

We all live in different circumstances.  Our plenty is different for each of us.  And some of us our blessed with abundance. Remember, to that one, much is expected.  Having help is important.  Knowing what and when to delegate is critical.  Let’s remember those lessons from the Proverbs 31 woman.  Let’s dig deep and look at who she was, not just at what she had or did.  In the end it is all about stewardship.  Stewardship of our time, our resources and our plenty.

Getting Up While It is Dark-The Most Important Spiritual Discipline

I am by nature an early morning person.  It comes naturally.  I am thankful for that.  Whether or not it comes naturally, I do believe getting up early to meet with God in quiet is a biblical principle we should desire to practice.

Proverbs 31:15  says, “She gets up while it is still dark;…”  On many levels this is just a practical habit to develop.  Getting up early offers us quiet, uninterrupted time to plan our day, prepare meals, set out reminders, etc…  It’s a jump start if you wish. We see evidence of this in the description of the Proverbs 31 woman’s life.  Verses 16-18 describe some of the tasks she sets out to handle during this early morning time.  However, I think the principle goes deeper than this.  Throughout scripture God gives us examples of His people seeking Him early in the morning.  His Son, Jesus Christ, frequently stole away in the early morning hours to pray.  I am convinced getting up earlier than others in our home to spend time with God is a spiritual discipline that can transform our lives.

Each new day brings with it a fresh slate.  Repented sins of yesterday have been cast away.  Each new day brings new graces, now opportunities.  When we arise early in the morning to meet God before we open the calendar, begin our interactions, we meet Him unblemished.  We meet Him in the best possible condition we can be in.  Cleansed by His grace, refreshed, renewed, revived.  We meet Him with clear minds, before the busyness of life sets in.  It is in those moments I am most open to hearing Him, to understanding His word, to seeing the priorities He has set before me.  In those early morning moments, it is truly just me and Him.  New day.  Fresh words.  Blank journal page.

I believe the Proverbs 31 woman was just like me and you.  She had a full to do list.  She had a large family.  In order to be her best, she chose the discipline of getting up while it was still dark.  That one act gave her the wisdom to determine her priorities for the day.  It gave her the emotional strength to serve in gladness.  She was able to move into her day with a willing heart to work.

I know it is not easy.  And for some of you it may seem impossible.  You prefer the dark hours of the night when the family has fallen asleep.  Here’s the thing-at the end of the day, even when those seem like your best hours, you are spent.  You have the sins of the day weighing on your shoulders.  Regret has had time to set in.  Those minutes/hours may be great moments to study, repent, ponder.  But they are not the morning.  There is something absolutely amazing about meeting God in the early morning hours.  There is something beautiful about watching the day literally unfold as the sun rises. There is something invigorating abut knowing I am sitting before the throne cleansed, giving Him my very best, my first fruits.  It is a wonderful act of worship to lay myself before Him as an offering early in the morning, to meet with Him anticipating a new day.

Early-Morning-Prayer

I challenge you to practice His presence in the morning.  You may not have to get up while it is still dark.  Just get up 15 minutes before everyone else.  Just get up 15 minutes earlier and commit to use that time to sit in His presence.  He will give you the strength to do it.  He will call you to Him.  You’ll begin to look forward to those moments.

Proverbs 31: An End to the Stay At Home Mom vs The Career Mom

I so often wonder why women hurt each other so very much.  I have experienced it at the hands of so called friends, I have inflicted it upon so called friends, I have watched my daughters stung by words and exclusion of so called friends, I witness it in the church and I don’t know a woman in the workforce who wouldn’t attest to the fact that women are hard to work for. Women, we are fierce and yet weak and insecure.  We compensate by building walls or building up our own self-esteem at the expense of another’s.

Last week I attended a women’s networking group for women in business.  The topic?  Negotiating.  Great speaker.  In fact she was a woman who had been through a deep spiritual experience as she sought to become the woman she wanted to be instead of the woman she was “posing” as.  Where did the presentation go?  Where it sadly goes so often-the harshness of women, our insecurity, our overcompensating.  It was refreshing though to be in a room of women I didn’t know, all there for “business” purposes, but all seeking wisdom on how to do life better, be better.

Wool&Flax

Proverbs 31:13-14 informs us of the woman’s work.  She worked with wool and flax making clothing, blankets.  She is compared to merchant ships bringing her food from afar, trading at the marina.  Clearly she worked, and worked hard. Does it matter if she worked for someone else, worked in a storefront or worked from home?  I have never understood the debate we create – especially at church.  Where and how we work is not a reflection of our spirituality.  Who we are at work or at home or at church is a reflection of our spirituality.  Whether or not we engage in the debate, judging other women for their choices, their efforts, their calling is a reflection of our spirituality.  Taking a side, defending our choice, by judging others is a reflection of our spirituality.

The Proverbs 31 woman lived in a very dark time for Israel.  Life was hard, resources were few and theft/plundering was common.  This woman of faith didn’t spend her time contemplating which “camp” of women she wanted to align herself with.  This woman of faith kept her eye on her priorities.  She knew she must bring good to her husband and family (vs 11-12).  She went to work.  She was industrious.  Somehow I don’t think this woman afforded herself much time for idle talk, games of Bunko, supper clubs or mani/pedis.  She was too busy seeing the needs in front of her, working to meet those needs and keeping her focus on God for sustenance, strength, and hope.  She struggled little with insecurity, not because she was proud, but because she kept her focus on God, His precepts.  She spent little time comparing and instead focused on serving any and all she could influence.  She focused on having excellent character, wisdom, skills and compassion.

These verses, more than any others in this passage, convict me.  I so often fall prey to looking around, comparing my life to others, allowing the comparison game to drain me.  Fatigue sets in and my industriousness wanes.  In the end I hurt myself, my family and sometimes those around me.  My words become harsh.  Discontent can drive unnecessary spending.  My priorities shift and I become more important than He.

As women of faith can we see past a list of “to do” items in Proverbs 31 and really see the passage for what it is?  It is a description of a woman who found her worth in God.  It is a description of a woman who focused on her God, her family and her community – in that order.  It is the description of a spiritually, physically and mentally healthy woman.  Let’s put down our judgement.  Let’s pull away from the debates.  In fact, let’s agree there is no debate.  We work.  We seek to be industrious, trustworthy and compassionate.  We keep our eyes on God, we see needs around us and we work.

Proverbs 31-Her Husband has Confidence

Friday came and went and clearly I did not blog.  We had a full weekend around our home.  On Friday, thanks to homeschooling, my daughter and I joined Tacos4Life (read about them here: e5dEbDf1) packing Manna packages to feed the hungry.  We went with two other moms and had an absolute blast.  And yes, of course lunch was at Tacos4Life.  It’s just too good to pass up if you are ever in the Conway, Arkansas area.  (AND they are opening one in Fayeteville area soon!)  That evening was dinner and movie with my girls and their friend, followed by wedding shower for a former babysitter and then a board meeting on Saturday.  Yep, we were busy.  But good busy.

I’m not gonna lie.  I felt some tinges of guilt all throughout the weekend, knowing that just as I was beginning this Proverbs 31 series, I had already failed to post on a Friday.  The old me, the former self, would have piled guilt upon guilt and called it quits, deeming myself a complete failure and incapable of blogging.  But the new me, the recovering perfectionist laid the guilt aside and enjoyed all that was this weekend, knowing I could catch up on my blog at a later date.  As I pondered on the scripture for this blog and considered the Proverbs 31 woman, I had to laugh, just a little.  I couldn’t blog, didn’t blog on Friday because I was in the midst of being a Proverbs 31 woman.  And that, is what it’s all about.  I can plan.  I can strive to accomplish.  I can seek perfection.  But in the end, who I am is what matters, and each and every step of obedience, and each and every relationship brings me one step closer to being who He wants me to be.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”  Prov. 31: 11 NIV

The Proverbs 31 woman attended to her house, her family and especially to her husband.  He knew when he left for work in the morning she too would be attending to her work, the home, the family.  He knew she would be working alongside the maidservants caring for all they had, being good stewards of the material possessions, creating a safe haven and place of rest for the family.  Nothing in this scripture means they were rich.  Nothing in this scripture means she was some sort of genius handling all the family affairs.  This scripture simply means this wife was trustworthy, dependable.  She was a woman of her word, especially in regards to her family.  It also means she kept her priorities.  Her husband didn’t have to worry about coming home to chaos, hungry children, and an absent wife.  He knew, as sure as he knew there was air to breathe, his wife was putting their family above play, friendships and even ministry.  Yes, even ministry.  No matter who we are, no matter what we do, nothing changes the priorities as ordained by God.  He is first, our family second then our work and ministry.  The Proverbs 31 woman kept her priorities and as a result her husband had confidence in her.  As a result their home life, their family relationships and their marriage had value.

More often than ought this scripture convicts me and tugs at my heart.  I can’t help but think of the times my husband has come home to dirty dishes, no meal planned, upset kids and a less than pleasant wife.  I can’t help but think of the trinkets I have squandered money on believing they would somehow make me feel better, have a sense of confidence or impress my neighbor.  But there have been good moments too.  Sixty dollar savings as a result of coupon clipping.  Five nights o meals at home as a result of planning and advance shopping.  Furniture and household items still looking new and standing the test of a family of four due to cleaning and maintenance.  I want my husband to trust me.  I want my husband to know he can believe my words.  I want my husband to know I value him, our family and our home above friendships, work and ministry.  I want my husband to know I trust him, I honor and respect him.  These scripture remind me.  These scripture point me to the path worth taking.

Does your husband have confidence in you?  If not, is there something you can do to change that?  Some of you reading may be in a dark place, a lonely marriage and possibly even a harmful marriage.  Please know that God can redeem.  If you need to seek shelter and safety do so.  God will honor that. He can meet your needs.  You can place your confidence in Him.  If you are struggling in your marriage and long for more, begin with you.  Take one step to do one small thing showing your husband he is priority.  It may be as simple as picking up quickly before dinner or seeing that there is a pitcher of his favorite sweet tea.

The journey continues.  Remember it’s not a sprint.  This Proverbs 31 woman was always growing, always learning and always adjusting with the seasons of life.  Her love of God and her commitment to her priorities never wavered.  Let’s encourage one another to continue, to keep on, to pursue the heart of God as Proverbs 31 women.

Proverbs 31 Woman: Wife of Noble Character

Unpacking the Proverbs 31 passage is truly a life changing for any woman who seeks to live life according to God’s design. The passage begins in verse 10.

”  A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.”  Prov 31:10 NIV.

In other translations noble is translated virtue or pure.  I believe this speaks to the state we should be in before marriage-a virgin, having saved ourselves for the one God has chosen.  I believe it speaks to the state we should remain in after marriage, the partner of one man, our husband.  Our character should reflect that of Christ.  This is not about perfection.  It is not about an image.  It is about heart.  We have to remember life flows from the heart.  As we seek to keep ourselves pure and noble we honor who God has created us to be, we honor God and we bring hope and beauty to our husband, our marriage, our family and our home.  Scripture says we are worth more than rubies.  Our value goes beyond what we do, what we bring to the marriage financially.  Our value goes beyond our skills.  Our real value is based upon our relationship with Christ, our security in Him, seeking to be fulfilled through our relationship with Christ, not the relationship with our husband.

proverbs31-woman_650

How can I maintain virtue/nobility/purity?  How can bring hope and beauty to my husband/family/home?

  1. I must guard my heart:  this means protecting it from unsightly/immoral books, songs, television, movies, gossip, relationships.
  2. I must fill my mind and heart with His word-the tool available to me to instruct, correct.
  3. I must spend time in prayer confessing and seeking God’s counsel and direction.
  4. I need to remain humble.
  5. I need to be mindful of my choices-this is such a big area.  So often we allow ourselves to become so busy we simply move through life, never giving any real thought to our actions, our choices, our speech, our friendships.  Life on auto pilot leads to moments of disappointment.  We can find ourselves in compromising situations not even knowing how we got there.  Mindfulness is a result of scripture study, prayer and focus.
  6. I need an inner circle of godly women who speak truth into my life, holding me accountable.
  7. I must seek to serve God first and my husband second, children third.

Over the course of the next few months I am going to spend Friday breaking down these scripture.  I’d love to hear from you.  How does this passage speak to your heart?

Further reading:

Elizabeth George:  A Woman After God’s Own Heart

Ann Ortlund:  The Gentle Ways of a Beautiful Woman

Gordon MacDonald:  Ordering Your Private World

Inspired-Back to Basics with the Proverbs 31 Woman

Any time I am asked to speak, God does a work in me.  This weekend, sharing about how to be effective women and not just efficient women, I was reminded how valuable these passages in Proverbs 31 are.  It saddens me when others say this Proverbs 31 woman is not relevant, that she is simply an ideal, and not one we can attain to.  I just beg to differ.  She is an ideal. The description of her however is the entirety of her life.  Yet, we see her included in scripture.  I believe she is the goal to be attained, much like Paul refers to.  She is the culmination of a race well run.  She is God’s design for woman and the description of her helps us in setting our priorities and making choices.

prov31I am reminded that in good season, God grants me the wisdom, the ability and the time to be and to do.  Keeping Him first and my family second, remain constant.  The opportunity to work, invest, minister, etc… come at different times.  So often in my humanness I struggle with the “in due season.”  I read Proverbs 31 and I want it all, all right now.  I strain and struggle. I become discouraged and before I know it, Satan convinces me I can’t do it.  He would be correct.  I can’t do it without Christ and I can’t do it all at once.  I have to remind myself that a “no” now does not mean “no” forever.  There are moments when God says “no, not right now”.  I have to remember that He will restore those jobs, ministries, relationships in due season.

I struggled with this when my girls were younger, spending way too much time trying to do too much, looking to the next season instead of embracing the season I was in.  I have fallen prey to that again.  I realized as I shared with others, God was convicting me.  I had let a seed of resentment set in regarding home schooling.  I was looking to ministry and jobs I wanted, but couldn’t make work in this season.  I need to embrace this moment.  What a gift.  I have the opportunity to be at home, to focus attention on both my girls in unique ways.  I get this extra time while home schooling.  I have to have faith, living in this season with strength and dignity, knowing He will open doors for ministry, expand my opportunities when this season is over.

As I refocused my attentions on this passage it was like revisiting an old friend.  Why had I lost touch?  Why I had I let my attention drift to other things?  This world needs more Proverbs 31 women.  I embrace setting her before me as an example, a goal.  I will not strive though.  Instead I will rest in Him, seeking His guidance and wisdom as I seek to love Him, serve my husband and my daughters.  I will embrace His precepts and follow His word.  I will raise girls to do the same.

The link below is a document outlining what I believe to be the attributes of the Proverbs 31 Woman.  I would love for you to use these as motivation.  Please don’t look to them as a “to do” list.  Instead see them as a guide.  Remember it is not about what you do, so much as it is about who you are.  Yes, the Proverbs 31 Woman did a lot, but the passage focuses on who she was, how she did it.

Outline

Living the &

I think navigating life is a little harder for women than men.  I base this on conversations with friends and acquaintances, not scientific data.  Like me, most women I know feel a constant pull/tug of war. We long to help in providing for our families, and yet we have an innate desire to create-whether it be pro-create or create beauty in our homes, through meals, hobbies etc…  We are also drawn to relationships.  We long to have girlfriends with similar interests, struggles, family situations.  We are bombarded with mixed messages.  I have often told my husband if he could hear all the conversations going on in my mind he’d know why I’m so frustrated or hard on myself.  It’s the voices of dreams gone by, the task I didn’t complete, the blog post from the mom that cooks only organic meals, the weight loss report of the last friend to start Advocare or Plexus.  It’s the note from the school about the end of year activities.  It’s the last page of the last book I started (which may have been 6 months ago!). Everything that comes into my line of vision seems to take on a voice in my head.  Some days it immobilizes me.  Some days it spurs me on to accomplish great things.  Some days it drives me to my bed in a heap of hurt feelings and disappointments.  Some days it overwhelms me to the point loud, harsh words come out of my mouth aimed at those I love most.

So, what’s a girl (woman) to do?   I find I have to still my mind and delve back into God’s word, studying His prescription for Biblical Womanhood.  I fell in love with the Proverbs 31 woman towards the end of high school.  I have made it a point every year since, to read through those scriptures at least once per year and to read one biblically based book built around the Proverbs 31 scripture.  I have journals full of notes, insights and directives.  The reality is God gave us a blue print.  Like many things He calls us to, it is unattainable in our humanness.   It is perfection.  It is the bar by which we can assess ourselves.  It is the end mark to strive for.

In more recent years I have begun to study more in depth the women of scripture.  So often we glean the story for a main idea or truth and move on.  We know the story from first glance.  But, if we delve into each story, dig deep, we find that every woman in scripture is an example, a living out of the Proverbs 31 woman.  When we step back and let God unfold before our eyes the big picture, what I like to call His tapestry, we see that we are called to be the &.

Recently in scripture God used the stories (yes, there is more than one) of the beloved sisters, Mary & Martha, to teach me much about Biblical Womanhood and the &.  In the faith walk, I have found that little is about doing this or that.  Instead, I find He calls me to keep adding to.  Not adding to my schedule, but adding to my skills, my knowledge, my character, my faith.  He calls me to the &.  I am not to be more Mary, I am to be Mary & Martha.  He didn’t chastise Martha for her planning, preparations and provisions.  He chastised her for not knowing when to stop and enjoy the fellowship.

God used this story and others to show me my life story is about all the &.  All my experiences are a part of who I am.  Each one plays a role in my story, in who I am becoming, in my faith walk.  I so often want to move past the mistakes, the failures, the broken heart and think only on the good, share only the mountain top experiences.  When I do that I rob others of my testimony.  God’s handiwork is not evidenced.  I rob myself of the confidence and joy that comes from growing, making it through, moving forward.  I am the good & the bad.  I am the joyful moments & the heart wrenched moments.  I am the insecure wife & the wife growing in confidence.

Less than 30 days ago, after having a real aha moment regarding brokenness and pouring myself out in order to really be a testament, a business opportunity came across my path.  the company is called Mary & Martha.  As I read more about the opportunity I read where the & is key to the company’s philosophy and mission.  The company is a direct sales company selling home decor products with a faith message.  The purpose is to use the business to engage with women helping them learn to entertain (entertaining made simple) and use their homes to minister to others.  I LOVE it!  I love the message of the company more than I love the products, but let me tell you, the products are incredible.  They are above and beyond what one would think they would be.  They are quality.  They are built to last.

It’s been a journey the past few years.  One I wouldn’t trade.  I am learning to live the & and I am going to treasure it all.

 

If you are interested in Mary & Martha please go to my website:  www.mymaryandmartha.com/SHANA

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