My Amazing Husband & His Boys

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Snapped this photo when we went downtown to see my husband working our annual city party called, “FIESTA!!”

My husband is an incredible hero.

It’s not just because he wears the badge, although the courage and bravery there are not to be discounted.

It’s his strength, heart, and mind that make him go above and beyond in teaching our sons how to actually be men.

Real men.

The kind that fight for goodness and against evil in our society.

The kind that are God’s warriors and ministers – both at the same exact time.

Words can hardly even describe the intensity with which I love this man so much.

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Last Trimester – It’s Almost Over!!!

The Fit You

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I’m not naturally a thin or “fit” woman.  That may come as a shock when seeing how I am in *this* particular picture, but pretty much all my life I’ve struggled with being able to gain weight extremely easily.  The benefit of that has been finding multiple ways to make it easier to maintain a good shape and keep healthy though!  According to my sweet 1/2 Polish, 1/2 Irish grandmother, for the women in our family, it was normal to gain weight with pregnancy, and then just never manage to get control over it after that.  Being very overweight after having kids was just accepted for them… but not really.  It wasn’t accepted emotionally… and definitely not with any kind of happiness.  In a major way, it’s like living defeated.

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My mom was so good about letting me know how hard it was to live with excess fat on your…

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Why Do Women Have Instinctual Strategies for Marriage?

This man is a red pill genius.  We love listening to Stefan’s videos because they’re not only entertaining and hilarious, they are so on point – especially regarding the sexual market place.

This video answers some basic questions of

Why would a woman in her late 20’s suddenly be interested in settling down or stopping her sexual promiscuity to land a ‘stable’ guy?”

“Why would this be a BAD DEAL for that poor guy who ends up marrying this woman who wasted her 20’s in promiscuity?”

Watch the video to find out ❤

Spring

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We’ve been enjoying this beautiful weather for a couple of months now since our “Spring” starts so early.  Each year it mesmerizes me with how beautiful Texas is in the Spring.  There’s something about the sunlight hitting the newly green grass or leaves and delicate flowers with a backdrop of the most gorgeous blue sky you can imagine that is just too much!

It’s like the weather itself radiates happiness and joy ❤

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Our oldest found a rock with circles cut out like eyes from a skull LOL!!  Our boys could seriously be comedians… 😀

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St. Patrick’s Day craft making green peeps into little Irish men.  It was so fun!

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Our green Riverwalk dyed for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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We let our oldest start taking care of some strawberry plants, it’s been fun watching them grow and produce fruit.  Just need to figure out some netting to keep the birds and squirrels away lol!  We recently found one with a bite taken out of it!

 

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This was the first strawberry it produced!  Our son ate it and although he “hated” strawberries before (yet still wanted the plants?? lol) he’s now decided he LOVES them!  (Sneaky parenting 101)

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Sometimes our oldest reads bedtime stories to his little brother.  These are honestly the moments that you live for as a parent.  Just. So. Sweet.  ❤ ❤ ❤

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New kitten adventures.

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HAPPY SPRING!!!

Updates!

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I’ve been really neglecting this blog, but writing the Proverbs 31 study hasn’t stopped for me (even though it’s stopped online), it’s just taking a different avenue than I expected as there’s been a request to tailor it to police wives specifically.  So I’m writing (offline) two different books essentially, one that will hopefully be in our family for however long the children and grandchildren value it, and another that may go on to be for police wives all over the country.

So you’ll start to see the posts in this series being removed and no longer available online here.  They’ve been up for months and months so hopefully anyone who was interested has gotten something out of them, and if someone wants the ending posts, just comment or send an email to let me know.

I haven’t officially posted about this here yet, but all of our “real life” friends and family are already aware – I’m 6 months pregnant with our 3rd baby, and IT’S A GIRL!!!!

With that in mind, the Proverbs 31 series, which was written primarily for our own family and future little ones (children and grandchildren hopefully), we are OVER THE MOON to have this opportunity to raise a girl.  Raising boys into strong, godly and fierce men is extremely important, and I’d say raising girls into virtuous women that fiercely hold onto their beliefs in this culture is equally as important, and it’s great that this study/book for our family will have a feminine reader when she’s ready!

I had kind of thought honestly that I’d have to wait until we had grandchildren to get a girl in our family, so this was unexpected, a little scary, but VERY much welcomed!

So after the posts disappear, I’ll probably get back to writing here on various topics concerning anti-feminism, etc.  My husband’s expressed interested in writing more as well, which is so exciting for me personally – he has the greatest ideas and I love that he’ll be expressing them here.  It will be a place where his thoughts on these times we’re in will be recorded so that our sons (and daughter and maybe our grandchildren) will be able to read and understand how he reacted to things during this strange time in America.  I’m planning on printing all his posts and keeping them in a binder (or just having them professionally bound later on when they’re “completed”).  I think it’s great to have them here, too, because anyone else that is interested (not part of our family obviously), will have access to them.

It will be like history for our family in a way, to be able to read and know intimately what our Patriarch thought!  Just so awesome!

 

And random news:  I’ve started a new blog a few months ago about fitness, and especially focused on fitness for women who want to stay in the best shape possible even after having multiple children.  Disclaimer: It shows a lot of women in bikinis :/ it’s just the best way to look at body percentage fat, etc. and is a woman’s blog intentionally.  So if lots of skin bothers you, it’d be better for you to avoid it altogether.  That blog is especially important to me in regards to our coming daughter – her perspective on fitness, the perils of being overweight, and how our culture is becoming more and more insane in almost every dimension (but especially in regards to unhealthy choices), are all extremely important issues to us.  We want her to understand the lies behind “body-shaming,” and “fat acceptance,” and come into adulthood with a healthy and godly mindset that acknowledges what true fitness really is and looks like for women.

I want her to understand how hard it is to keep fit over the course of her lifetime, but also how rewarding it is for her to do so!  I want her to be compassionate toward others who are failing in this area of their lives, but also strong in her beliefs that being overweight is not “good” or “ok” for people, or even God’s best for them.

So every post there, is written in mind for her to read it in the future.

Read if you dare 😉

THE FIT YOU

Our Winter Wonderland Experience!

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Taking a break from writing the Proverbs 31 series, I wanted to take some time to finally upload our pics from our mini “Winter Vacation” a couple of weeks ago.  San Antonio never gets real snow.  Well, one time back in 1985, but even that was called a “100-year snow,” for us.  Soooooo  we decided that since we missed going to the beach/island this Summer due to so many car issues, that we’d instead drive up to the mountains in New Mexico for a little less than a week to see if we could catch some snow for the boys to see!

It was the best decision ever to do this – our oldest had so much fun!  I’ve never even seen snow like we saw on the last 2 days there (we planned it somehow just right)!  It was so exciting (and FREEZING COLD)!  It made me SO GRATEFUL that we live in South Texas.  I love the heat… yes, even the really extreme heat we get in the Summer.  We live very close to a great waterpark and have access to swimming all day if we want.  It’s bliss ❤  🙂

But as for New Mexico’s mountain chill – wow!  We had all the correct clothing and even snow boots for everyone, but mentally, I was so not prepared for that level of cold!

We stayed a little cozy cabin in the area of a ski resort (that wasn’t open for a few more days – we got the best price because of this, and yet we still got to see their ski slopes with “created” snow).

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This day wasn’t actually that cold, hence the hoodies (they had layers of clothes underneath though!).  These were some photos of the bottom of the slopes at the ski resort.  We weren’t sure we’d be able to play around there so I didn’t wear my snow boots, the boys did though.

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New Mexico with it’s deserts and mesas and mountains was incredibly beautiful!  I’m not posting a lot of our pics of exploring the town and the mountains because I tend to take too many anyway, but I wanted to show the most exciting parts for us: the snow!

I loved seeing all the thousands of fir trees, and we were lucky to get to see it before and then after the first snowfall of the season.  I thought it’s scenery was equally as beautiful – it was that stunning.

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Our big window in the cabin the morning after the big snowfall.

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Our patio showing just about how many inches we got overnight in the mountains!  Wow!!!

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Our adorable little cabin!  It was a great stay and experience we’ll never forget.

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So. Beautiful.

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Thanks for reading 😉

The Proverbs 31 Woman’s Stewardship of Her Talents

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.”

Proverbs 31:24

Welcome back if you’re still following this series of posts about the Proverbs 31 woman!  It’s been a lonnng time since the last post, but it’s been good for me to take a break in order to fully process all the things happening regarding the police and violence against them in our country.  I could write many posts just about all the emotions I went through during this time, but I may save that for another lesson series in the future.  For a few more weeks, this blog has the purpose of focusing on what God sees as beautiful, feminine character.  We’re still zeroing-in on the virtues and powerful example of the woman talked about in Proverbs 31.  For all the things that have happened during the course of writing this little series, it has still continued to prevail and change lives.  I’ve had the wonderful experience of getting to hear how God’s used these posts to help open up women’s minds to new ways of looking at what truly matters, and it is so humbling to know that God is using these posts for His purpose in blessing others.

When I was researching for these verses, the image illustrated in my imagination was that of her going about their society, taking her merchandise to the ports in order to sell them to the merchants, walking through the markets buying the food she selectively picks out from them as we saw in verse 14.  She moves through their city, going about doing good for her family, dressed in fine linens and yes, this strange and seemingly worldly choice of extravagant purple.  She is a walking advertisement for the beauty that her hands create!

Let’s dive in fully to the meanings behind this verse.

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She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants –

Another look into our virtuous woman’s talented mind for business!  The word, “merchants,” used here, is literally “Cananites,” and it is talking about the Phoenician merchants.

“She delivered these goods to the merchants or traders.  These were Phoenician traders, according to the meaning of the Hebrew word.  Phoenicians were known for their trade and commerce and their skill as a seafaring people. Phoenicia’s two major ports were Tyre and Sidon.

The virtuous woman provided a source of income for her family through her business. “When other women impoverish their husbands by buying, she enriches her husband by selling those valuable commodities for which there is a constant demand” (George Lawson, Commentary on Proverbs, page 567).

“It is only modern pride and laziness which has introduced the idea that it is inconsistent with the dignity of a fine lady to make profit of her own manufactures.  This virtuous woman, although her husband sits among the elders, does not think it a discredit, but an honor to herself, to make fine linen and girdles for sale; and the wise will praise her on account of it” (George Lawson, p. 576).” (2)

These were the same merchants she more than likely bought the purple cloth or garments, or the dye itself, from.  She would take what she was able to afford, and increase it to bless others from the work of her hands!

She used her God-given talents to financially bless her family –

The woman in Proverbs 31 is much like Tabitha in that she makes clothing and looks after the poor and needy as we’ll see in verse 20; however, unlike what we know of Tabitha, she also uses her talents to gain a financial blessing in return.  Let’s look in depth at what it means to use our gifts that God has given us in Matthew 25:14-30.

The Parable of the Talents the Master gives his servants:

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property.

15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.

17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.

18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’

21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’

23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.

28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.

But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

What an incredible parable!  And how convicting is it that we should be taking our callings, our gifts – our purpose so seriously.  Historically, a “talent” was actually a large sum of money, however since Jesus loved to teach using parables, this was never really about the money!  Still the comparison is important to understand because of how it relates to us and our relationship with God.

Here is some history regarding the setting of His story:

The outward framework of the parable lies in the Eastern way of dealing with property in the absence of the owner. Two courses were open as an approximation to what we call investment. The more primitive and patriarchal way was for the absentee to make his slaves his agents. They were to till his land and sell the produce, or to use the money which he left with them as capital in trading. In such cases there was, of course, often an understanding that they should receive part of the profits, but being their master’s slaves, there was no formal contract.

The other course was to take advantage of the banking, money-changing, money-lending system, of which the Phoenicians were the inventors, and which at the time was in full operation throughout the Roman empire. The bankers received money on deposit and paid interest on it, and then lent it at a higher percentage, or employed it in trade, or (as did the publicani at Rome) in farming the revenues of a province. This was therefore the natural resource, as investment in stocks or companies is with us, for those who had not energy to engage in business.” (11)

The “talents” represent the gifts God’s given each of us –   

“By the talents here we are to understand gifts or endowments conferred for a spiritual end, powers of body and mind, abilities natural and acquired, health, strength, long life, understanding, judgment, memory, learning, knowledge, eloquence, influence, and authority over others, wealth, privileges, or offices, civil or religious, and indeed every power and advantage of which a good or bad use may be made.” (12)

Jesus’ particular comparison of our gifts with large lump sums of money given to us, spoke to me deeply as I’ve been researching and studying for this post.  It’s as if He wants us to look at what He’s already given us – our specific gifts, artistic abilities, talents, etc. as we would a hundred thousand dollars in the bank.  We often feel so ill-quipped for the task, so wrongly chosen!  But we forget that it’s Him who has already equipped us – if we were able to do it all on our own ability, how would He receive the glory?  Throughout the ages, God has made it His signature move to call people who never thought they’d be the right one for the job.  The surprise of having God call you to do something that you’ve never expected yourself to do is bewildering and even terrifying.  Yet He expects us to use our gifts, skills, abilities, talents, hobbies, passions, and even connections to invest them in different avenues so that we can multiply our return on those investments for His sake!  Everything we do is ultimately done for the glory of God, and can be used to further His Kingdom.  Whatever impact we have in our sphere of influence, He wants us to use it to glorify Him.  Whether it’s teaching children, teaching Bible studies, cooking, drawing, sewing clothes, taking care of little children, taking care of our own families, or painting, God has a unique plan for the gifts He’s given us.

In plain speak, this parable is calling us to take seriously the work we do to further His Kingdom.

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Whatever we do, we must do it well, and to the best of our ability because God is our Master.  It’s not acceptable to hide our talents, to squander the gifts He’s given us.  We will all be called to account at the end of our lives like the servants were, when we’ll have to answer to God for what we chose to do as stewards over our lives.  It’s incredible to think about the fact that we’ve all been given a specific blessing!  No matter who you are, no matter if you’ve realized it or not; God has a specific and glorious work for you to do for His Kingdom!

A warning against comparison –

This doesn’t mean that all our ministries will look the same, we are different parts of the Body of Christ, fitted to do drastically different works and functions.  Whatever your specific work is, be assured that it is precious and valuable in God’s sight.  The servants in the parable were given different amounts of talents, each according to their ability.  This is huge and so important to comprehend!  Some were given more gifts than others, and some less so.  One might be tempted to say that this means God isn’t fair or just – otherwise He would give everyone the same amount to work from.  In my opinion, this parable actually proves how just God is: that He only expects from us what He knows we have the ability to produce!  His fairness comes into play in that He never expected the servant with the one talent to be able to produce 10 like the first did.  He takes into account our weaknesses and humanity.  He takes into account our discipline and proven record of stewardship.  If we’re faithful over a little, He promises to give us more to be responsible for.  This is why we’re not supposed to look at another woman and compare ourselves with what she’s able to accomplish (more or less) than what we’re accomplishing in our lives.  Our focus should be on our own spiritual development and industry of our talents.

I’m curious to know what was really going on in the last servant’s mind.  Was he focusing on how he’d only been given one talent compared to the others? Did he feel disadvantaged?  Ill-equipped?  He said he was afraid of the Master judging him if he didn’t at least preserve what he’d been given stewardship over.  Isn’t that a bit like us when we say to ourselves that we don’t want that extra responsibility?  That extra liability?  When we lack faith in what God’s done for and in us?  That if we dare to step out in faith and teach that class, write that book, start a small business, invite those neighbors over, help when we can meet a need, make that first move toward whatever ministry we’re called into, we don’t even try because we may be judged a failure for it?  That was the main excuse of the last servant, but he paid dearly for it in the end!

Comparison binds us and can prevent us from fulfilling the will of God for our life.  Satan would love for us to compare ourselves to what others are given or able to do, and come up short, discouraged, and ultimately, defeated.  He wants us to have a fear of failure so that we’re never brave enough to even start!  He wants us to be the opposite of what God has planned out for our lives: Unfruitful, unproductive, not letting our lights shine, miserable, and taking longer, more painful routes than needed on our journey.

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The devastation of a missed blessing –

Now that we’ve looked at the possibilities of why the last servant chose to bury his talent rather than use it to produce more for God, let’s focus in on the end goal of why this lesson is important.  When we refuse to act on what we know God’s called us to do, when we run away from His purpose for our life, rather than embrace it whole-heartedly, when we are too insecure that God could or would ever use us, or afraid that He’ll judge us harshly if we fail along the way… we are setting ourselves up for the devastation of a missed blessing!  When we use our gifts to bless our families or the people whom God puts in our path, we are actually receiving a blessing ourselves.

It’s in the giving!

‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  

You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.

Enter into the joy of your master.

Receiving those words at the end of our life when we’ve completed this marathon race with perseverance, having not given up or given way to fear, are what we’re hoping for.  Setting our eyes on the “prize,” as Paul refers to it, helps us keep our focus and purpose clear, rejecting the weights that would pull us down, make us slower, and distract us from the path of righteousness.

 

The Proverbs 31 woman’s main ministry –

Let’s not forget what we learned about at the beginning of this series:

“Her main ministry is to do her husband good and not evil, if she succeeds at anything else, and yet fails in this area of serving her husband, she has lost everything because she’s failed to maintain the most important relationship on earth that God has given her.”

This again is so beautifully displayed within the Parable of the Talents.  Not everyone will be able to handle extra ministries around their church on top of having toddlers.  Not everyone will be able to manage a full-time business that brings in money to bless her family, and also have babies.  There are some women can do those things and do them well, but it’s my opinion they’ve been blessed with a “talent” that is rather rare, and God knew they would be a good steward over this added responsibility because of their personality type or discipline.  The more normal example to see is productiveness based on the different seasons of life, however we have to keep in mind that our main ministry is to do our husbands good (look back over that chapter if you want to refresh your memory, “good” encompasses a whole lot!).  Simply just managing to be the best wife and mother to your children may be all that you are able to handle at this time, and that is totally ok!  You’re working for God’s approval, not for another woman’s opinion on your life.  If we’re tempted to compare ourselves with someone else able to do more, we have to keep in mind the season of life we’re in, and our own particular strengths and weaknesses.  God doesn’t want to burden us down with expectations that we can’t meet, and He knows what we can and cannot do.  If He had expected the servant with the one talent to produce as much as the servant given 5 talents, our God would be a harsh and cruel Master.  But that’s not how the story goes, He is compassionate and takes into account our natural abilities and gifts when He judges how much we’re able to produce for Him.  A woman with young children may not be able to spend her time volunteering or making substantial money, but she may have just enough time to deeply study God’s word and prepare lessons to teach it to her children.  A woman in the middle of growing her family may not be able to write books and teach a woman’s Bible study, but she may be able to give to those in need when the opportunities come up, or carefully plan out how to bring extra meals when a woman in their church needs assistance.  We all need different amounts of rest and sleep, just like we all have different amounts of discipline and energy.  The most important thing is that we’re working on and cultivating the blessings and gifts God has already given to us, and doing our best to serve Him with them.

Lydia a woman faithful over her talents – 

Let’s look again to another woman from the New Testament, a rather obscure woman like Tabitha, who was yet again, another example of a real life Proverbs 31 woman.  When we looked at Tabitha, we saw a loving, kind woman who spent her time giving herself fully to mission work, and making clothing for the persecuted Christians in need and widows of Joppa.  Lydia at first glance, is so entirely opposite of Tabitha it’s striking.  This is a great example of how becoming a Proverbs 31 woman will look different for each of us, according to the plans God has for us.  It’s not known whether Tabitha was rich or poor, and some scholars have debated either way, however, Lydia, we know, was a very wealthy woman.

According to Acts 16, Lydia was a seller of that same strange, brilliant color we learned about before; the same color that the Proverbs 31 woman dressed herself in: purple.  Placed in the right region at the right time, Lydia was a resident of Thyatira, an ancient Greek city in what we now know of as modern day Turkey.  Thyatira was known for it’s many “guilds,” which were medieval associations of skilled artisans or merchants, and that often had considerable power (13).  Lydia more than likely belonged to one of Thyatira’s most powerful and influential guild, the Dyers Guild.  Because Thyatira’s waters were so perfect for dyeing, the city produced indigo, scarlet, and purple dyes, with the latter making the city famous among the region.

Again we are faced with the strange element of where the spiritual meets the secular world.  The examples of this in the Bible are always important because they teach us how to be in the world, but not of the world.  Having now studied deeply in the last chapter, the sheer status symbol of this color purple, of the wealth and secular usage behind it’s being purchased, sold, or worn, it again reminds us of what truly matters to God.  Lydia was immersed in the secular world of fashion, outward appearance, the arts, brilliant and costly dyes, and great wealth obtained from selling purple.  And yet we’re told that this woman loved God and was capable of opening her heart to him!  Let’s look at the passages to learn more about this woman:

Acts 16:12-15 (NLT)

12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God.

As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests.

“If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

The impression Lydia made on the missionaries was so welcoming that they actually returned to her house to receive rest after their imprisonment in Philippi for preaching the gospel.  Her gift of hospitality to God’s messengers was greatly needed and appreciated!

Acts 16:40 (NLT)

40 “When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.”

Paul also writes to the believers of Philippi (Lydia being one of the prominent women of the church), in his letter written from a jail cell, at the end of his life to the Phillippians.  If you read closely, you can almost hear the affection in his words for the believers:

Philippians 1:3-10

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Lydia’s occupation as a seller of purple might have been a “questionable” calling to the Pharisees, but we can’t deny that her simple yet powerful example has been put in the Bible for our betterment.  Blogger Heather Whidden has a unique perspective on this “unlikely meeting,”

“Consider for a moment how unlikely it is that this meeting even took place to begin with. Lydia, a seller and producer of the much-coveted color purple that can only be afforded by the wealthiest, the Roman elite, crosses paths with Paul, the most influential apostle of Christianity at a river. That’s about as likely as Billy Graham meeting Vera Wang at the local bus station. And yet, this is where God chose to open the door for the gospel to be taken to the hearts of the Roman world and beyond; in the heart of a woman who sold purple.” (14, Emphasis mine)

Because of Lydia’s unique position in society, having influence and access to multiple sellers of the dyes and clothing, as well as her belonging to the Dyer’s Guild, she would be in the perfect place to bring the gospel to people who could spread it even further through their trade.  When the Lord opened her heart after hearing Paul speak at the river, we see that she grew an immediate desire to give the gift of hospitality to the missionaries.

Let’s look at a few things in common between Lydia and our Proverbs 31 woman:

  • They both show the gift of hospitality
  • They are both godly women with whom God is pleased
  • They both are humble and pure in spirit
  • They are both dealers or sellers of the expensive purple cloth
  • They may both be women who wore this purple color in their clothing choices
  • They both use their talents to obtain wealth that they use in turn to bless others
  • They are both good stewards over their talents and skills, being mindful to use them to further God’s Kingdom

Lydia’s work brought in blessings which in turn, blessed the believers of the new church!  God used the rather secular work of one woman, who was being faithful over the stewardship He had given her, to reach many others throughout the region!  Let’s never discount the affect we can have when we choose to be productive servants, and use our gifts and talents for God’s glory to encourage others and bring them closer to His will for them!

Next we’ll be looking at how the Proverbs 31 woman’s proceeds are used to bless not only her family, but also paved the way for her to reach out to the poor (verse 20), and the needy.

 

Interesting/cited Articles –

  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. The Middletown Bible Church
  3. Matthew Poole’s Commentary
  4. Tabitha: A woman who lived for Jesus
  5. Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George
  6. Natural History by (Henry) Pliny the Elder
  7. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
  8. Greek Lexicon
  9. The History of Purple Cloth & Fabrics
  10. Hebrew Lexicon
  11. Elicott’s Commentary for English Readers
  12. Benson Commentary
  13. Lydia Bible Gateway
  14. The Power of Purple

Applications will be written into the individual posts during the next few weeks

I’ve Been too Heartbroken for Words

There’s another side to police life. There’s a part you don’t see in the media. There’s something they don’t tell you when they hand your loved one the uniform to wear, and the gun to carry. They tell you it will be a difficult life, that there will be challenges, stress, and sometimes horror. You […]

via Not Just A Job — This House Is Our Home

The Virtuous Woman’s Blessings of Her Hands to Others

 phoenician purple

She makes for herself, coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple (vs. 22)-

Moving on to the next verse revealing what the Proverbs 31 woman does with her hands, we find that after blessing others, after looking after her household and servants, she makes something for herself.  This is notable because it is the only time in the entire passage about her life that we see her ever doing something for herself.  When reading this verse, I wondered what all it implied?  What are coverings of tapestry?

From Matthew Poole’s Commentary,

Coverings of tapestry, for the furniture of her house.

Silk and purple, which was very agreeable to her high quality, though it doth not justify that luxury in attire which is now usual among persons of far lower ranks, both for wealth and dignity. (3)

Other translations say “bed coverings,” and it more than likely was both that she made.  Rugs, wall tapestries, coverings for her furniture, as well as coverings for their beds.  This verse confronts a topic many Christians feel a little uncomfortable in talking about: the value of outward appearances and beauty.

What is the importance, if any, in our virtuous woman beautifying her house?  There must be some hidden virtue here, for it wouldn’t be mentioned in the Bible otherwise.  The secret?  Beauty shows us an element of the divine artistic Creator, Himself.  Yes it can be misapplied or become an idol, but the artistic skill of creating beauty, seeking to make one’s home a beautiful place, is another essential character trait of our virtuous woman that reveals the character of God!

Of course we know that the Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t go into debt in order to buy merchandise to furnish their home, she makes it herself, for herself!  We know she would never harm her husband buy spending more than they have in order to achieve a beautiful home, and this can be applied even to wives with little extra spending money in their budgets!  For several years, I was able to beautify our home with choice pieces I’d find from thrift stores, things my Grandma or mother didn’t use anymore and wanted to give away, and I was amazed to find how easy it was to create a look of elegance without hardly spending anything at all!  It was too easy, and you can do it, too!  Creating a beautiful place for your husband and children to retreat to, is an extremely valuable character trait as a wife.

Elizabeth George has a perfect quote on this subject,

“Wherever home is for you, it’s an expression of youyour virtues, your abilities, your love.  You may not be able to determine the kind of home you have, but you can determine its beauty.  You control whether it’s clean, organized, and orderly.  You also choose your favorite colors, styles, and moods.” (5)

Our homes are a kind of blank slate of the kind of culture we want to present to our children.  Do we want them to be familiar with a culture of order and beauty, or of constant mess and clutter?  Consider the kind of music we play in our homes that serves to create the atmosphere which will give our children culture.  It’s been a goal of mine that our sons grow up hearing and being familiar with music that transcends our time with it’s beauty.  They listen to many different genres such as classical, jazz, European styles, French music, Brazilian music, Spanish music, Mexican music, as well as kid music that they dance around to.  Whatever music we have on at the time, it permeates through the house and has the power to completely transform a mood with it’s particular beauty.  The visual beauty is no less important, so let’s think about how we’ve spending time on the appearances of our homes.

You may think this all sounds just a little too Martha Stewart for you, and in a way I agree.  The Proverbs 31 woman is a little like Martha Stewart on steriods!  There’s a reason Martha Stewart has become so popular, as well as so hated, for the success and beauty she’s created for years.  Women who desire to beautify their homes and become proactive in learning to create and develop their own particular home beauty, love her.  Women who feel like they don’t have the time or energy, or who just don’t want to feel like beauty of their home matters, feel ashamed when they see what she’s done.  It is the same reactions we see in how women choose to respond to the Proverbs 31 woman: they either use it as something to model their life after, to challenge themselves to be better, or they discount her virtues and claim it’s not possible, that she never existed, or choose to ignore the passage in the Bible.  

You can choose to ignore verse 22 on the Proverbs 31 woman, but you ignore it at a peril of misunderstanding God’s heart.  He Himself is the Master Creator and Appreciator of beauty.  When we engage in activities that beautify our homes, we’re employing a gift God displays Himself, in everything He has created.  Let’s not diminish how important outward appearances really are in this case.  If they’re that important to God, that He spent time creating such beautiful things – sunrises, sunsets, the ocean, lush and beautiful gardens of plants, rivers and streams, mountains, the clouds, fields of flowers, birds, fish, and animals and humans – everything so detailed and perfectly done.

If all this beauty is so important to God, may it also be just as important to us.

***

Her clothing is silk and purple –

The “silk” mentioned in this verse is not silk as we know it – but Egyptian byssup, which was a beautiful, white (as close to white as they could obtain then), linen.  It was light and airy, perfectly tailored to wear in their arid environment for their comfort.

This purple mentioned here is extremely significant both historically and biblically.  It was a color achieved from only one source available for creating the vibrant and beautiful hue in that age.  Tyrian Purple, or sometimes called, Phoenician Purple, it was a mysterious purple-red color that actually deepened and shown more radiantly when aged or exposed to the sun, rather than fade like most dyes still are known to do.

philosophicallydeep1

“The purple was manufactured by the Phoenicians from a marine mollusk (shellfish). The shell was broken in order to give access to a small gland which was removed and crushed. The crushed gland gives a milky fluid that becomes red or purple on exposure to the air. Piles of these broken shells still remain on the coast at Sidon and Tyre” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. IV, p. 2509).

Purple was prized by the ancients and exported far and wide. “Great labor was required to extract the purple dye, and thus only royalty and the wealthy could afford the resulting richly colored garments” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 904).

A total of 250,000 mollusks was required to make one ounce of the dye, which helps us to understand how valuable this dye was (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 288). (2)

Henry Pliny, or Pliny the Elder, described the production of Tyrian purple in his Natural History, which although an incredible insight into the process, was not considered to be a “complete recipe,” of sorts:

The most favourable season for taking these [shellfish] is after the rising of the Dog-star, or else before spring; for when they have once discharged their waxy secretion, their juices have no consistency: this, however, is a fact unknown in the dyers’ workshops, although it is a point of primary importance. After it is taken, the vein [i.e. hypobranchial gland] is extracted, which we have previously spoken of, to which it is requisite to add salt, a sextarius [about 20 fl. oz.] about to every hundred pounds of juice. It is sufficient to leave them to steep for a period of three days, and no more, for the fresher they are, the greater virtue there is in the liquor. It is then set to boil in vessels of tin [or lead], and every hundred amphoræ ought to be boiled down to five hundred pounds of dye, by the application of a moderate heat; for which purpose the vessel is placed at the end of a long funnel, which communicates with the furnace; while thus boiling, the liquor is skimmed from time to time, and with it the flesh, which necessarily adheres to the veins. About the tenth day, generally, the whole contents of the cauldron are in a liquefied state, upon which a fleece, from which the grease has been cleansed, is plunged into it by way of making trial; but until such time as the colour is found to satisfy the wishes of those preparing it, the liquor is still kept on the boil. The tint that inclines to red is looked upon as inferior to that which is of a blackish hue. The wool is left to lie in soak for five hours, and then, after carding it, it is thrown in again, until it has fully imbibed the colour.” (5)

The process was difficult and daunting, and the length of approximately two weeks alone shows the devotion the Phoenicians had to making this lucrative dye!  It was famous for centuries, and mentioned throughout the entire Bible.

We could completely disregard the literal sense of fine linen and purple cloth in this verse, and instead take it for spiritual symbolism.  The problem with that, however, is they are used throughout the Bible as both literal pieces of clothing and garments, as well as symbolic.  The fine linen was spun by the “wise-hearted women” who were moved to create the fabric of the Tabernacle we read about in Exodus.  Fine linen is also presented to the woman who represents Israel (and us) in Ezekiel 16:3-14, before she turned away from God:

“You are to say: This is what the Lord God says to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites.  Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.  As for your birth, your umbilical cord wasn’t cut on the day you were born, and you weren’t washed clean with water.  You were not rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.  No one cared enough about you to do even one of these things out of compassion for you.  But you were thrown out into the open field because you were despised on the day you were born.

I passed by you and saw you lying in your blood, and I said to you as you lay in your blood: Live!  Yes, I said to you as you lay in your blood: Live!  I made you thrive like plants of the field.  You grew up and matured and became very beautiful.  Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, but you were stark naked.

Then I passed by you and saw you and you were indeed at the age for love.  So I spread the edge of My garment over you (redeeming her) and covered your nakedness.  I pledged Myself to you, entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.

“I washed you with water, rinsed off your blood, and anointed you with oil.  I clothed you in embroidered cloth and provided you with leather sandals.  I also wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk.  I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your wrists and a chain around your neck.  I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful tiara on your head.  So you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was made of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth.  You ate fine flour, honey, and oil.  You became extremely beautiful and attained royalty.  Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor, which I had bestowed on you.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.”

The fine linen here is meant to be both literal in the story, and also symbolic in Him making her clean, purified, and glorious because she is His.  Biblically, we also see the specific purple color mentioned in verse 22, all through the Old and New Testament, giving us a biblical understanding of the uses and symbolic glory this color means.

“Purple cloth was used in the furnishings of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:4), in Solomon’s temple (2 Chron. 2:14; 3:14) and in the high priest’s dress (Exodus 25:4; 26:21).  It was a royal garment worn by kings (Judges 8:26).  It was a symbol of luxury and wealth, worn by the rich man of Luke 16:19 and by the luxurious harlot woman of Revelation 18:16.  In Mark 15:17,20 our Saviour was mockingly dressed in purple when a kingly robe was put around Him.  Lydia was a seller of purple (Acts 16:14).” (2)

Let’s look at when this specific purple is mentioned throughout the Bible again:

  • Purple cloth furnished the Tabernacle
  • Purple cloth furnished Solomon’s temple (workers who were from Tyre were brought in who specifically knew how to work with purple threads and fine linen)
  • Purple cloth was part of the high priest’s dress
  • Purple clothing was a royal garment worn by kings
  • Purple fabric (and also fine linen) was present at the king’s banquet in Esther 1:6
  • Purple robes of fine linen covered Mordecai when he left the king’s presence in victory in Esther 8:15
  • Purple was made into clothing and worn by the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31
  • Purple and fine linen from Egypt covered the ship from Tyre written about in Ezekiel 27
  • Purple and fine linen was worn by the rich man in Luke 16:19 who didn’t want to give up his possessions
  • Jesus was mockingly given a purple robe when crucified – to mock His being “king” of the Jews
  • Lydia was a seller of purple – of the cloth or dye, and more than likely both, (but not mentioned as worn by her) in the New Testament
  • Purple was worn by the luxurious harlot in Revelation 18:16

We also know from history that in Rome, it was restricted by law, who could wear this color.  Only the Emperor was allowed to don this much coveted, vibrant and extravagant hue in their society.  This history surrounding the use of Phoenician purple is so rich, it threw me even more in trying to understand why it is mentioned here as being something our Proverbs 31 woman dressed herself in.

This purple dye was so incredibly expensive, and such a status symbol when worn, that different societies put restrictions around who was even able to buy or wear it!

Women were supposed to dress in an unassuming way, not bringing attention to themselves – why does the Proverbs 31 woman dress in clothing that resembles what royalty would wear?  Why would she dress in something that was such a status symbol and so extremely expensive?

In contemplating the virtuous woman’s wearing of this purple, 1 Peter 3:3-4 came to mind,

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”

At a cursory glance, one could read this passage and interpret it to mean that we aren’t to be “concerned” about our outward beauty at all, or wear expensive jewelry (some women are convicted that they shouldn’t wear their wedding rings), or braid our hair – as some translations say “braided hair.”  It’s important to always go back to the Greek wording for understanding and also to consider the context through the use of a good concordance of where the words are used elsewhere in the Bible.  The word here for “beautiful,” in this version, is actually kosmos in Greek.  It is where we get our words for cosmopolitan (a person who has lived in and knows about many different parts of the world), or cosmetic (of, relating to, or making for beauty especially of the complexion, done or made for the sake of the appearance), and cosmetology (the job or skill of giving beauty treatments to women by washing and cutting hair, applying makeup, etc.).  The Greek meaning itself translates to “worldly” or “of the world,” but in the case of this particular verse, most biblical scholars agree it is translated as “adornments,” or “adorning,” (6).

It’s easy to take this passage too far and announce that a woman should never adorn herself with worldly beauty, but that is not the main point of the passage itself.  The main point is that her beauty should come from within, the beauty of a peaceful and quiet spirit that is so hard to obtain for most women.  If we only adorn ourselves with outer beauty, we may look wonderful, but our spirits (where are true beauty should be residing) may be as repelling as if we had dressed ourselves in trash!  I’ve always believed that inner beauty is capable of giving a woman radiance, and this radiance itself affects the outside, making her beautiful and captivating the more she reveals it.  It still bothered me, though, to wonder at such expensive apparel adorning our virtuous woman.  It didn’t bode well to know that a “luxurious harlot,” in Revelation, or the young rich man in Luke 16:19 also wore these same garments.  Weren’t his fine linen and purple an outward symbol of his love of material things, the main reason he could not become a true follower of Christ?

As I was asking myself these questions, talking it over with my husband and friends, I had to concede that maybe I have a somewhat puritanical view of worldly things that doesn’t completely line up with a holistic biblical view.  My own views are not much different from the woman who decides her wedding ring should not be worn, just of a different flavor.  We all come to God’s Word with different experiences, see through different lenses, and bring our own colored perspective – but in searching for truth and wisdom, we have to be able to be able to pray and ask questions around issues that look controversial.

Here are some questions I thought were valid in searching out why this was mentioned in the Bible, maybe you have some these, too.

Was it a pride issue?

No, really.  I’m asking if the Proverbs 31 woman had an issue with pride.  Bear with me here.  Aside from 1 Peter 3 warning against expensive clothing, isn’t it just a tad bit prideful or wrong to wear something so expensive, so out of reach for the common woman?  I grew up in a little town that often seemed completely absorbed and enraptured with status symbols, owning multiple expensive cars, wealth, and accumulation of material things.  In one area close to where I lived, the people who owned the mansions there, were so in debt that they had the highest suicide rate in the surrounding area for a time.  Pride and the desire to be seen with such signs of material “wealth,” were what drove this town’s people to failed relationships and destruction.  My parents raised my brother and I knowing these things, being aware of the perils of spending more than you could afford, and lived with a more “millionaire next-door,” mentality.  My parents taught me to never buy clothes unless they were on sale.  It was almost like a sin to me to pay full price for anything.  Sometimes this meant only buying jeans at the one time a year they were offered at a price of $10 (these were high dollar jeans, too!).  My parents were extremely unassuming, overly modest in dress and appearance, at one time, my dad was even mistaken for a homeless man!  This was something I adored about them, but not everyone understood or felt the same way.

So admittedly, I’m coming to this verse with a very peculiar background of constantly being taught that to spend large amounts of money, no matter your position in society or wealth, was wrong and a display of a lack of wisdom.  In our house, being frugal in all things was equated with wisdom.  It was a mindset passed down from my paternal Grandfather who had weathered the Great Depression successfully, and eventually accrued great wealth.

It’s very likely that the Proverbs 31 woman was wealthy.  We saw before, when looking in depth at all it took to plant and run a vineyard, that only the wealthy could manage something like that.  The Bible frequently makes it clear that it is not wrong to have wealth, in fact, in Post 8 we saw that “wealth is the crown of the wise.”  It’s a wise woman that is able to provide her husband “gain,” which meant material possessions equivalent to the spoils of having gone to war in verse 11, and great investments like planting a vineyard.  It’s also not wrong to be known among others as someone who is wealthy – Job was a wealthy and blessed man, and so was Abraham; Boaz was known as the wealthiest man in Bethlehem at his time.  I imagine Ruth dressed in beautiful, fine linen after they became married, because she reflected her husband and her respect for him.  She was called a “virtuous woman,” and her strength and virtue came from within.  Joseph became wealthy and prominent in Egypt; Queen Esther quickly became the wealthiest woman among several provinces, and dressed in clothing probably much like what verse 22 is describing of our Proverbs 31 woman.  King Xerxes himself owned robes of this famous purple color, it makes sense that he would desire his wife Esther, to be dressed in the same way.

Did she have a modesty problem?  

Our virtuous woman wears colors that are bright and signify what the rich, wealthy, or even royal of that time wore – was this just her way of saying “Look at Mee!”?  Was she too confident in her work, that we see her confidence over-displayed through her choice of such a bold, symbolic color in the clothing she made for herself?  Was she trying to get attention from others as being the best dressed, having the most expensive clothing money could buy, or to be most beautiful woman in their area?

Is it wrong for us to wear clothing that is nice and of high quality and with rich, vibrant colors?  If our outfits are drawing attention to us, or causing people to compliment how we look, should we feel bad or try to dress a little more shabby?  The obvious answer is no.

Modesty is a heart issue.  We know she was humble and pure in her attitude and heart, sacrificially putting her husband and children first, caring so much about the poor and needy, and employing a continual ministry of hospitality.  She had the inner beauty that 1 Peter 3:3-4 talks about, her adornment didn’t truly come from her clothing, but from the qualities of gentleness and peace in her spirit.

When researching on this topic of the balance of wearing such an expensive and famous purple dye, with having an inward spirit of beauty and godliness, I stumbled upon Ezekiel 27:7.  Ironically describing a ship from Tyre, covered in it’s famous purple hues and fine linen.  Matthew Henry’s Commentary confronts the questions I was asking concerning the worldly trade and possession of this dye:

“Those who live at ease are to be lamented, if they are not prepared for trouble. Let none reckon themselves beautified, any further than they are sanctified. The account of the trade of Tyre intimates, that God’s eye is upon men when employed in worldly business. Not only when at church, praying and hearing, but when in markets and fairs, buying and selling. In all our dealings we should keep a conscience void of offence.

God, as the common Father of mankind, makes one country abound in one commodity, and another in another, serviceable to the necessity or to the comfort and ornament of human life.

See what a blessing trade and merchandise are to mankind, when followed in the fear of God. Besides necessaries, an abundance of things are made valuable only by customyet God allows us to use them.  But when riches increase, men are apt to set their hearts upon them, and forget the Lord, who gives power to get wealth.” (7)

So it is God who blesses us with the ability to harvest such things as the radiant purple dye for “comfort and ornament of human life!”  And it is God who allows us to use them.  He keeps His eye upon us as we have to live in the world, but His eye isn’t so much on our outward appearance, but rather on the inside of our hearts, and our consciences.  It is clear the Proverbs 31 woman, although she dressed in fine linen and purple, did not set her heart upon her adornments, and didn’t forget God who gave her and her husband power to gain wealth.

Is she an “envy inciter?”   

Wearing this specific Phoenician, brilliant purple was considered extravagant, in fact, purple color in general was not available to the masses or commonly worn by people of lesser ranks until less than 200 years ago.

“You have probably heard the term “mauve” in decorating and design before; this is short for “Mauveine, which was first synthesized in 1856 by William Henry Perkin.

The creation of this dye was done on accident when its inventor was trying to synthesize quinine. Noticing the gorgeous purple color that the black tar he created left as a stain, he realized that it was the perfect agent for a synthetic purple dye. This invention made owning purple dyed fabrics and cloths affordable for almost everyone in the world. Mauve enjoyed a glorious era after it was released, with much of Europe clamoring to be seen in purple clothes, and have purple cloths adorning their homes.” (9)

So she was wearing a color that hardly anyone had access to, and one that particularly symbolized wealth and status, much like that of a Rolls Royce.  Was she making the other women in the neighborhood feel bad about their own clothes on purpose, or even by accident?  Was she a temptation that men had to warn their own wives about because somehow our virtuous woman’s clothing may cause other women to compare or feel discontented?  If her desire really was to cause others to envy, then it is coming from an unhealthy motivation.

But this being a biblical example of all that is virtuous and pure, the model of what God sees as beautiful, her heart’s desire was not to cause others to envy, and she was not responsible when someone else allowed their heart to envy, or to feel discontented in their own clothing.

Envy is a sin of a person’s own heart that eventually can lead to cynicism and bitterness; it is capable of completely destroying a woman’s faith.  It is only to be curbed by understand Paul’s “secret” of contentment that with whatever gifts or lack of gifts, positive or negative circumstances, blessings or trials that God has given us.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:12-13

Like we saw when we looked at in Post 6, it is our own responsibility for our spiritual growth – this means taking responsibility for the subtle pangs of envy or discontent when we feel them, not shifting blame to other people.  This means we “take every thought captive,” when it comes up and we feel those feelings of sinful emotions.  Envy is simply not a sin we can blame others for, if there is a woman trying to “incite envy,” she bears the weight of her own sins.  We are, however, wholly responsible for how we react to other people or temptations around us.  Any person who accuses her of being an envy inciter is allowing themselves to shift the blame of their own sin, and refusing to do the work required to become content in the circumstances God’s given them.

Overall, I think these are questions that highly mischaracterize and misunderstand the beauty of the heart behind the Proverbs 31 woman, but they are ways that Christianity has been jerked around throughout the ages.  The short answer to all these at once?  No.  God Himself clothed His bride in fine linen and royal garments in Ezekiel 16.  God’s example of what He clearly condones and views as beautiful femininity is not her displaying pride, being immodest in her character, or trying to incite others to envy.  That doesn’t mean that other people won’t see these things from the outside and judge her character based on their own feelings, or sin nature, however.

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7b

Let’s examine what the virtuous woman is really doing here: she makes all the family clothing and furnishings for their house herself, nothing wrong with that, although one could argue that it could have “shamed” the women back in her time that were too busy or didn’t care enough to do this.  Like we saw before, this is the same argument women use against people like Martha Stewart.  But our virtuous woman does not live her life by fearing the opinions of other men and women.  We know that “fear of man is a snare” (Proverbs 29:25), and so she is not concerned if others project onto her their displeasure at her fine linens and purple clothing.

She seeks after good quality raw materials, and uses her profits to purchase things that will bless her family.  She works and creates as though she is working for God.  When she purchases the purple dye that is so expensive, we have to see this in light of the entire passage – she is not spending more than they can afford, she is not doing something her husband wouldn’t be ok with her doing.  She is not doing something that would bring him (and his finances) harm.  When she wears the beautiful fine linen, and shows off the dazzling and precious purple clothing she makes for herself with her hands, she is a walking advertisement for her home business and gifted talents.  The bottom line is: Our virtuous woman was so caught up in her duties, in the work of the Lord, in blessing her family through the work of her hands, that her outer dress and beauty was not the focus of her life.

Her focus was on being the best wife to her husband she could be.  Her focus was on raising up her children in the Lord.  She was busy reaching out to the poor and doing good works.  She didn’t give in to idleness as a habit – she’d learned to not eat the bread of idleness and learned to use all her time wisely.  She was others-focused, not self-absorbed.

Given all these things, it’s clear that her intentions were pure.  Wearing such expensive and elusive clothing wasn’t due to some flaw in her character, it was simply coming from a part of who she was.  Her adornments and beautiful clothing was a byproduct, even a symbol, of the blessings coming from the work of her hands!

Applications coming out with the third portion of this post

 

 

The Virtuous Woman’s Blessings of Her Hands to Others

purplecloth

“She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.”

“She makes herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.”

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.”

Proverbs 31:19, 22, 24

I’m going to do something a little different with this next post.  Instead of continuing on going verse by verse, there are two instances in this series when it’s appropriate to lump a few together.  This post (and the next one after that, since it has been broken in two) is covering verses 19, 22, and 24.  All these verses have to do with describing what she is doing with her hands.  Her hands are beautiful.  She uses them to be productive and busy, and doing things for the benefit first for her family, others, and then herself.  Writing this series has been mind-blowing for me, and these next posts are no different!  May they bless you as well as you read along and study more deeply about the mysterious and amazing Proverbs 31 woman.

In case you’ve missed some of the posts in this series:

  1. The Best Gift You Can Give to Your Husband
  2. The Power & Difficulty of Becoming a Woman of Virtue
  3. Her Husband Can Safely Trust in Her
  4. His Wife is Over-flowing with Goodness
  5. His Wife Desires to do Good Work
  6. She is Like the Merchant Ships
  7. His Wife is a Beautiful Early Riser
  8. Her Beautiful Dreams Bless their Family
  9. The Virtuous Wife is Full of Strength & Power
  10. The Proverbs 31 Woman Has Confidence in Her Work & Ministry

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“She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.”

The beautiful image of this verse seems to pick right up from where we left off at verse 13, her seeking out wool and flax, and working with willing hands.  We know from the ancient tools mentioned here in verse 19, the “spindle,” and the “distaff,” that much of her free time was more than likely spent being a woman who made clothing.

From Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

“She layeth her hands to the spindle –

10. She gives an example of skill and industry to her household. She takes the distaff, that on which the wool or flax was rolled; and the spindle, that by twisting of which she twisted the thread with the right hand, while she held the distaff in the guard of the left arm, and drew down the thread with the fingers of the left hand.

Allowing that spindle and distaff are proper translations of כישור kishor, and פלך pelech, this was their use, and the way in which they were used. The spindle and distaff are the most ancient of all the instruments used for spinning, or making thread. The spinning-wheel superseded them in these countries; but still they were in considerable use till spinning machinery superseded both them and the spinning-wheels in general.”

distaff_psf

She worked with her maidens by example; in verse 15 we saw that she gave portions to her maid servants, where the word “portions” could be interpreted as meat or work, and more than likely meant both.

“One might think that this virtuous woman could command her female servants and tell them to rise up early and prepare the breakfast meal and have it ready for her entire family.  But we are told that she gives a portion of food to her maidens.

Not only does this speak of her kindness to those working under her, but it also indicates that she demanded of others only what she herself was willing to do.

Workers and servants will greatly respect a superior who is willing to “get his hands dirty” and do some of the very tasks which he might require of them.” (2)

This verse in particular, shows us an aspect of her character that no task was too small or beneath her.  She was a woman with a husband who had influence in their city, as we’ll see in the coming weeks.  She had enough means to keep servants, plant and manage a vineyard – something we saw only the wealthy were able to do, and yet the monotonous task of spinning her own thread was not something she delegated out as degrading to her position.

There have been many commentaries that remarked upon the fact that in past ages, even queens were often found spinning with their maid servants.  This is such a far cry from the modern perception of wives of wealthy or powerful men today!  Wealthy women often hire out people to do all their basic chores and house cleaning, anything that could be described as tedious or drudgery for them.  It’s difficult to imagine the modern wealthy woman hiring a maid, and then helping them clean her house.  Or hiring a personal chef, and then cooking alongside them.  These women often don’t even do their own laundry, but we can be assured from this sweet verse that the Proverbs 31 woman was especially down to earth and relatable to us in this area!

We looked at her attitude back in verse 13 (Post 5), and found that our virtuous model of godly femininity did not do her chores and humble tasks with a resentful spirit.

A willing worker is a delight to everyone who has to work or deal with them.  Possibly one of the most frustrating things is to be around, work with, or have to deal with as a consumer, is an unwilling worker.  A willing worker will seek after what needs to be done next, whereas an unwilling worker will look for ways to procrastinate or get out of their responsibilities.  A willing worker gets more done than expected, and often in less time, whereas an unwilling worker will waste an employer’s time.  A willing worker is a go-getter and takes pride in doing their work well, whereas an unwilling worker often has a bad attitude toward work, and doesn’t care about the quality of what they produce or contribute.  A willing worker has a good attitude toward accomplishing what they need to get done, however an unwilling worker often complains or has a negative attitude.  So we can clearly see, a willing worker is valuable to everyone who comes into contact with them, and their attitude toward work inspires others, because it reveals an important character trait of God.

God cares about how we as women approach our work.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24

He cares about our attitude,

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you to both will and to act for His good purpose.  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.  Hold firmly to the message of life.”

Philippians 13-16a

Whether in desirable circumstances or even under persecution, He expects us to continue on in our work, even showing goodness, patience and humility with those who abuse or slander us, which is most likely to happen if we are involved in any kind of ministry.”

We talked about how our virtuous woman’s mindset toward work can be wonderfully applied to the menial household tasks we often take care of as mothers back when discussing verse 13.  What she is doing in verse 19, the simple, yet time-consuming task of spinning thread, was probably mostly done at her moments of leisure, possibly in the afternoon while little ones were napping, possibly after a busy day when she sat in the dark, her candle burning late into the night.  It is the kind of work that is repetitive and relaxing; work that needs to be done, but can be done at a leisurely pace.

One of my favorite things to do involving our modern technology, is to use the time spent doing chores with my hands, as an opportunity to work on my spiritual growth and maturity.  It’s a blessing to be able to fold laundry or put away dishes, cook, or clean the house while simultaneously getting to listen to, and be challenged by a great sermon online!

My chores are transformed into chances to obtain great wisdom from other’s teachings, or to sing and offer praise to God with worship music.  As you can imagine, this dramatically improves my attitude during the day, and helps me ponder greater things while getting the minor tasks done that need doing.  Whatever I’m dealing with at the moment, I can listen to a godly sermon to give me wisdom and guidance as to how to handle it.  Often times God’s double-edged sword (His Word) convicts my spirit and it’s a chance to repent.

I wouldn’t have this immense blessing in my life if I didn’t use the time I have to do my housework as a dual process of working on my spiritual growth as well.

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When I was looking up the words women usually use to describe their household chores, I came across adjectives that brought an insight into how we so typically shoot ourselves in the foot before we even begin.  Boring, uninspiring, tedious, humble, lowly, unskilled, monotonous, mind-numbing, dreary, degrading, even “soul-destroying” were among the words I found!  If this is how we view our housework and chores, the majority of how a stay at home mother or even working woman spends a large portion of her time doing, we are setting ourselves up for burnout and failure.

I can understand though, I’ve certainly felt all those things, you could even add “overwhelmed,” to my personal list.  With my husband’s work schedule calling for him to be gone the majority of our afternoons and evenings – a time when the chores and tasks that need to get done pile up fast, keeping a good attitude about them has, at times, been a struggle.  I’m not only responsible for cooking, getting our children to eat enough food (which often involves a power struggle of the wills), I also am alone in handling their bath and bedtime routines, story time, tucking them in, and after all that is done, I still have to clean up the kitchen and take care of the dirty dinner dishes used.  When my older son was in school this past year, he would often cry at night for his dad, which made the entire ordeal even harder.  Doing it alone most nights of the week can be discouraging and exhausting, but it’s also a beautiful opportunity to be doing these little things with excellence and for God!

In talking to women I admire who are older and have some of these things figured out, the sympathy is there, but they constantly adhere themselves and their emotions or frustration to a higher wisdom that pushes them to have a bigger perspective.

When we have a broader perspective on our struggles, on dealing with the many little things that can add up to frustrate or even anger us, we can see that doing these tasks, doing them with peace, and as an offering of love to our children and husband, is laying down a pattern for a wise life.

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The Wise-Hearted Women were moved to spin –

Another interesting resource I found when researching for this post, draws us to look into the Old Testament, in Exodus, to see that the women who “were wise-hearted,” were moved to do this humble task of spinning beautiful thread and colors, even “fine linen,” like we’ll see in verse 22, our virtuous woman also makes.

An example of hand spinning is found in the ancient book of Exodus:

And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair” (Exodus 35:25-26).

If a woman’s hands are idle and if she is not engaged in worthwhile, constructive pursuits, then watch out!  “Idle hands are the devil’s tools” and “If the devil can catch a man (or woman) idle, he’ll set him (or her) to work.” (2)

The Hebrew word here for “wise hearted,” is chakam, and simply means “intelligent, skillful, or artful.”  It is used many times in the Old Testament to refer either to the artisans crafting the furnishings for the tabernacle, or men who had a special wisdom in overseeing administrative affairs like Joseph, King David, King Solomon, kings in general, the class of political advisers in Judah, and more broadly, is used to describe people who were prudent and wise in their understanding (5).  In this case in particular, the women who were not wealthy, who had no gold or jewels to bring to offer to the construction of the tabernacle, instead chose to use their God-given talents in creating the masterpieces of tapestries, rugs, table cloths, and curtains that would bring splendor and beauty to God’s Holy place.  Like our Proverbs 31 woman, who was also “wise hearted,” they used their artistic skills to bring forth special blessings from the work of their hands!

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

“Without a willing mind, costly offerings would be abhorred; with it, the smallest will be accepted. Our hearts are willing, when we cheerfully assist in promoting the cause of God. Those who are diligent and contented in employments considered mean, are as much accepted of God as those engaged in splendid services.

The women who spun the goats’ hair were wise-hearted, because they did it heartily to the Lord. Thus the labourer, mechanic, or servant who attends to his work in the faith and fear of God, may be as wise, for his place, as the most useful minister, and be equally accepted of the Lord.

Our wisdom and duty consist in giving God the glory and use of our talents, be they many or few.” (3)

Are there other women who were talented in making clothing in Scripture?

Yes!  When doing the research for this section of this series, I was so pleased to really delve deeply into the history and story behind a certain woman in the New Testament.  Her life, artistic skills, and love for doing good, beautifully and symbolically align with many characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman.  She was a living example of a Proverbs 31 woman in the time of the dawn of Christianity.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated as Dorcas),

who was always occupied with works of kindness and charity.”  Acts 9:36

Tabitha was her Hebrew name, and Dorcas was her Greek name, but both meant “antelope,” or “gazelle,” even “fawn.”  I love how this verse says she “was always occupied with works of kindness and charity.”  In another translation, it says she “was full of goodness.”  From our study on the Proverbs 31 woman back in Post 4, “His Wife is Overflowing with Goodness,” this being full of goodness requires a depth of spiritual maturity and wisdom.  Tabitha was always occupied with works of kindness and charity – what an inspiring role model for Christian women who longs to be virtuous to aspire to!

She was also like the women in the past we learned about in Exodus, who were “wise-hearted,” that spun goats hair into threads.  We’ll see in the following verses, that Tabitha used her skillful art of making clothing to bless the church and clothe the poor and widowed.  Being constantly concerned with these little acts of charity, particularly known for making others clothing, was her way of serving God!

She was extremely precious to the believers in the persecuted church, and yet she didn’t necessarily accomplish anything remarkable.  Serving in the background, always there when needed or called upon, but not in a role that would draw particular attention, she faithfully used her sewing as a gift – just as necessary as others who were gifted with teaching or prophecy.  This is important to us in order to understand the deeper meaning, she was the only woman who is called a disciple, yet there were other women who stayed around Jesus, even His own earthly mother sat at his feet and listened to His teachings.

According to Minister Stephen Sizer,

“This should teach us not to despise the gift of helps, or undervalue practical serving.  Tabitha was a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. She opened her heart to Jesus and that changed everything. The word ‘disciple’ means a learner, a follower, and that became her motivation in sewing clothes. It was out of gratitude for Jesus that she dedicated her one gift to Jesus. Can you do that? This is the reason I am sure Tabitha was “always doing good and helping the poor”. Because she was following the example of Jesus, following the prompting of Jesus, to do good and help those in need.

She could sew and so she sewed to the best of her ability. She was sewing for Jesus. Can you do that? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What energizes you?
What lights your fire? What are you passionate about? Are you channeling that gifting or passion for Jesus? What are you doing for Jesus? It can be as simple as sewing or baking, fixing or driving.

True faith expresses itself in deeds not words. The highest calling in Christian ministry is to care in practical ways for the most vulnerable in society, especially widows and orphans. In previous generations, ports like Joppa, would have had a high proportion of widows, more than other towns. During bad weather, fishermen, merchant and naval seaman were often shipwrecked and drowned. Their wives and children lost not only their husbands and fathers but also their income. That is why the Lord instructs his people:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James 1:27 (4)

Continuing on in Scripture, we see that her life full of good works had come to an end:

About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. “Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet.

Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.” (Acts 9:40-43)

There are only 7 people mentioned in the Bible as being raised from the dead, and Tabitha is the only adult woman.  Her faith and beauty of her life full of goodness to others led to lead many to Christ, but consider how much more her resurrection brought unbelievers to Him!

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Tabitha was yet another example of a virtuous woman like our ancient archetype!  She used the menial tasks of making garments like the wise-hearted women in Exodus, like the Proverbs 31 woman in verse 19, and offered up to others the blessings that came from the work of her hands!

The next 2 verses & applications for this section will come out published ASAP

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