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 😉

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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.

*

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.

*

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

Not Just a Job — This House Is Our Home

Interrupting the Proverbs 31 Woman series because this post was just too awesome!  Post #8 should come out Wednesday this week, thank you for reading! ❤ 

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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

How Can We Know That We’ve Truly Consecrated Ourselves to Him?

In January, I embarked on a journey to read a few enlightening books on past Christians’ spiritual thoughts and books on spiritual journeys.  One such book was Stepping Heavenward, by Mrs. E. Prentiss, a book that is written in a journal style following a 16 year old girl’s spiritual journey into womanhood, and finally, old age.  It was such a fascinating little book, with a multitude of great timeless lessons to learn regarding faith, marriage, and the role of a wife and mother.

It was like a breath of fresh air to dive into this timeless wisdom written in the 1800’s.

I bought this little book at the promptings of Mrs. Sharon White, author of the Legacy of Home blog, grandmother, and daughter of a revival preacher.  She has on her site a complimentary study guide to go with this book, written by herself!  I encourage every young woman to read this book if they are wondering about the role of a wife or mother, or wondering about the impact faith can have on their life.  

I am saving it to present to the next girl in our family,

be that a daughter or grand-daughter, this is one of those rare books that will be passed down in

our family legacy.

Here is just one excerpt where the minister is writing to the young girl about her progression in faith that I found quite wonderful:

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“Now He never leaves His work incomplete, and He will gradually lead you into clear and open vision if you will allow Him to do it.  I say gradually, because I believe this to be His usual method, while I do not deny that there are cases where light suddenly bursts in like a flood.  To return to the blind man.  When Jesus found that his cure was not complete, He put His hands again upon his eyes and made him look up; and he was restored and saw every man clearly.  Now this must be done for you; and in order to have it done, you must go to Christ Himself, not to one of His servants.

Make your complaint, tell Him how obscure everything still looks to you, and beg Him to complete your cure.  He may see fit to try your faith and patience by delaying this completion; but meanwhile you are safe in His presence, and while led by His hand, He will excuse the mistake you make and pity your falls.  But you will imagine that it is best that He should at once enable you to see clearly.  If it is, you may be sure He will do it.  He never makes mistakes.  But He often deals far differently with His disciples.  He lets them grope their way in the dark until they fully learn how blind they are, how helpless, how absolutely in need of Him.

What His methods will be with you I cannot foretell.   But you may be sure that He never works in an arbitrary way.  He has a reason for everything He does.  You may not understand why He leads you now in this way and now in that, but you may, nay, you must believe that perfection is stamped on His every act.  …

Many persons never get beyond this point (of making their whole business to study their own case to see whether they are really in a state of grace).  They spend their whole time in asking the question:

Do I love the Lord or no?  Am I His or am I not?

I beg you, my dear child, if you are doing this aimless, useless work, to stop short at once.  Life is too precious to spend in a treadmill.  Having been pardoned by your God and Savior, the next thing you have to do is to show your gratitude for this infinite favor by consecrating your self entirely to Him, body, soul, and spirit.  …

And now if you ask how you may know that you have truly consecrated yourself to Him, I reply, observe every indication of His will concerning you, no matter how trivial, and see whether you at once close in with that will.  Lay down this principle as a law – God does nothing arbitrary.  If He takes away your health, for instance, it is because He has some reason for doing so; and this is true of everything you value; and if you have real faith in Him, you will not insist on knowing the reason.  If you find in the course of daily events, that your self-consecration was not perfect – that is, that your will revolts at His will – do not be discouraged, but fly to your Savior and stay in His presence till you obtain the spirit in which He cried in His hour of anguish, “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  Every time you do this it will be easier to do it; every such consent to suffer will bring you nearer and nearer to Him; and in this nearness to Him you will find such peace such blessed, sweet peace as will make your life infinitely happy, no matter what may be its mere outside conditions.  

Just think, my dear Katy, of the honor and the joy of having your will one with the Divine will and so becoming changed into Christ’s image from glory to glory!  …

You can will to choose for your associates those who are most devout and holy.

You can will to read books that will stimulate your in your Christian life rather than those that merely amuse.

You can will to use every means of grace appointed by God.

You can will to spend much time in prayer without regard to your frame at the moment.

You can will to prefer a religion of principle to one of mere feeling; in other words, to obey the will of God when no comfortable glow of emotion accompanies your obedience.

You cannot will to possess the spirit of Christ; that must come as His gift; but you can choose to study His life and to imitate it.  This will infallibly lead to such self-denying work as visiting the poor, nursing the sick, giving of your time and money to the needy and the like.”

Why Is Shaming Men OK, but Shaming Women isn’t?

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I’m not sure when men decided that 30 was the new 15. When men thought it was better to remain independent than making a commitment to another. When men we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid to be fathers. I’m not sure when video games and “guy night” became more important than tee-ball and date night. When 4 year relationships weren’t long enough for a proposal. When staying out became cooler than showing up. I’m not sure when men became boys.

Our culture has a boy problem. In Italy, they call it Peter Pan Syndrome. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Men so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires they find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more boys. We need men who will grow up, know up, and show up. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well. To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more men.

We need more men of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love women, treat them as they would their own daughters and lead them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would lead. We need more men.

Today, I turn 31. I’m a man. And I’m proud of that. Please share as a birthday gift smile emoticon#EveryPostALesson #DaleyWisdom

So I saw this on my facebook a day or two ago, and saw some female friends reposting in agreement.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting marriage and family, most women want this (including myself, obviously), but it’s interesting that we don’t see how ugly this is in light of the legal ramifications for men who do actually want marriage.

It also is ugly in the way this man is writing it to other men attempting to shame them.  He is “the only man in the room.”  He feels like he’s better than these other “boys” because he’s taken the risk of marriage.  It’s just kind of ugly, honestly, and I doubt it’s well-received by most men in the generation Y age-range he’s trying to shame.

 

So… I took the liberty of rewriting it and posting it on my facebook to try to show how it looks when it’s written with the same tone and same self-righteous, but towards women.  It looks pretty bad.  It’s ugly.

So if it’s ugly and yucky for women to read… what makes us think that it’s ok and that we should praise this guy for doing the same thing to men?

Rewritten for women:

“I’m not sure when women decided that 30 was the new 15. When women thought it was better to remain independent and strong than making a commitment to another. When women we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid or ashamed to be mothers (and aborting their unwanted children).

I’m not sure when shopping and “girls night out” for moms became more important than getting married and raising healthy families. When putting off stable relationships till they were done with the bad boys and wanted to get married at 29 became acceptable. When staying out and getting drunk and sleeping with random men all throughout their college “careers” became cooler than raising a family. I’m not sure when women became irresponsible girls.

Our culture has a selfish girl problem. In history, they called it a recipe for society disaster. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Women so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires that they are starting to find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more irresponsible and selfish girls. We need women who will grow up, know up, and show up and support a functioning society with morals and values. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well (seriously). To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more women.

We need more women of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love their husbands, treat them as they would their own sons and follow them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would follow. We need more real women.”

Gardening: Just a Little Bit Goes a Long Way

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Our garden has been flourishing since we’ve started again!  It’s reminded me of so many passages in Scripture that talk about God and gardens, His pruning us and tending to us.  Everyday it is such a joy to go out and tend it.  Even just looking out our window to see it, along with the butterflies and moths that flit around in it, brings me so much joy each day.

My husband bought me a dragonfly light that changes beautiful colors at night to light the garden.  So we’ve nicknamed it Dragonfly Garden ❤  It is so sweet.

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I’ve seen a ladybug on our giant spinach leaves every time I’ve gone out this week, eating away the pests that would harm the plants.  And to my surprise, I saw a blue dragonfly on one of jalapeno plant leaves!!  It sat there for awhile and let me look at it 😀  It was so awesome and gave new meaning to our naming it Dragonfly Garden.

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We have such an abundance of cabbages, Swiss chard, and spinach it is finally helping our grocery bill since we no longer have to buy our salad greens (something we bought weekly) for our sandwiches and salads.  It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to go out to this garden that I and my son have planted together, and pick food for our table and know that it’s bringing in an abundance of nourishing vitamins and minerals to our family!

I always wanted to be a woman who had a sustainable garden – a woman who genuinely loved and enjoyed gardening.

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It’s kind of strange to see that I’ve achieved this goal now.  Last year our tomato plants did so amazing we had a production each week to eat off of, so hopefully we can get back up to that again… but I’m particularly happy about our spinach leaves 😀  they cost a lot at our grocery store, and it’s just so fulfilling to be growing an abundance of them right in our backyard!

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For the Lord will comfort Zion [in her captivity];

He will comfort all her ruins.

And He will make her wilderness like Eden (the most beautiful garden),

And her desert like the garden of the Lord;

Joy and gladness will be found in her,

Thanksgiving and the voice of a melody.

Isaiah 51:3

 

And the Lord will continually guide you,

And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,

And give strength to your bones;

And you will be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 58:11

 

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God is the Gardener…

For we are  God’s fellow workers [His servants working together];

you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:9

What Men Find Irresistible by Laura Doyle

I recently came across an awesome women’s blog on relationships and marriage, and found a post I thought was what all single women (and married women 😉 ) should know first about men.  I love it when I find another woman with a mission to help women understand men better, and Laura Doyle’s blog is fantastic.  Check it out!

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What Men Find Irresistible

11 Hacks that Make Men Go Gaga with Passion and Desire

If you’ve ever spent an evening with your man or a date and ended up being his life coach, you already know that doesn’t make you irresistible.

Quite the opposite, actually.

All that good advice you gave him did not lead to more dates, or make him pull you in with both arms and shower you with kisses, or look deep into your eyes and say that he loved you more than anyone has ever loved anyone.

But there are 11 simple behaviors that men find irresistible in women, and not one of them has to do with hair, makeup or how you dress.

None of them are manipulations. They won’t make you seem desperate. You won’t have to dumb down.

In fact, they’ll help you be your best self—your real self.

1. Be Vulnerable

A study at The University of Toronto found that women are more emotional than men.

There’s research money well-spent, right?

But it’s true that we women have emotional brilliance that men find wondrous and alluring. In particular, our vulnerability draws them in like lions to gazelles.

Being vulnerable means revealing the less-than-perfect parts of you. The shy part. The tender part. The part that’s afraid of spiders.

Trying to impress him with how independent you are will never attract him in the way that admitting you’re feeling over your head in your new job, or that you felt embarrassed at the parent teacher conference would, for example.

You don’t have to have it all together to be irresistible. He’s looking to be able to make a contribution to your life, and seeing your vulnerability inspires him to believe that he could.

 

2. Listen

The best conversationalists are good listeners.

Letting a man talk without interrupting, correcting him or trying to teach him something will make you a tall, cool glass of water in the desert.

He’ll tell you everything on his mind if you create the emotional safety of leaving lots of space for him to talk and say only, “Uh-huh,” or, “I hear you.”

You don’t have to agree or disagree. Just listen. Try it for an hour tonight with your guy, or on your next date.

He won’t be able to get enough of you.

3. Be Receptive

Receptivity is the essence of femininity, and that’s what men are fundamentally attracted to.

Being open and receptive—to his compliments, his help, his gifts—is to be feminine.

Therefore, to be incredibly attractive, be receptive.

Instead of giving to him or doing things for him, let him give and do for you—even if it makes you feel uncomfortable and squishy inside.

He’ll be 10 times more in love with you on the day he’s knocked himself out to build you a deck, set up your new computer or helped you move than he would if you didn’t trouble him.

If you let him admire you, praise you, lift things for you and solve some of your problems he’ll say, “I don’t know what it is, but I just want to make you happy.”

4. Be Pleasable

If you’re unhappy no matter what he does, you’re going to be resistible. Really resistible––like avoidable.

If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it and he’ll see an opportunity to pile on by bringing you your favorite ice cream, a bracelet or a designer sweater.

Why? Because making you happy makes him feel good and you are irresistible when you make him feel that way.

5. Expect the Best

One woman was walking with a date when he announced he was taking her to a particular restaurant. She knew that it was on the next block over and they were going away from it.

But she decided to trust him to find his way there, which they eventually did, but not before they’d run into some street entertainers who made the night magical, which she would have missed if she’d said, “You’re going the wrong way!”

Expecting the best from her date let her be open to unexpected fun and had him inexplicably fascinated with the woman who trusted and expected the best from him.

6. Be the Goddess of Fun and Light

The more you focus on having fun, the hotter you become. You’ll never be more magnetizing then when you’re doing your happy dance and laughing and smiling.

Look for ways to delight yourself no matter where you are and what the circumstances. Commit time and energy to having fun every day, and your man will seek you out to spend ever more time with you.

If you haven’t made yourself happy, you’re not going to be irresistible. But the more you’re filled up with joy, the more you’ll notice him finding reasons to be where you are.

7. Be a Seductress

As a wife, you may be tempted to be the aggressor when it comes to physical intimacy, but consider how much more attractive you’ll be to him if instead you seduce him with your body, your scent and your voice.

I’m not saying don’t initiate—I’m just saying when you do, take the irresistible approach of inviting him to make the first move by letting him know you’d be willing.

That way you get to feel the thrill of knowing he can’t keep his hands off of you.

Nothing is sexier to him—or more gratifying for you.

8. Focus on his Strength

If your man is ailing, or needs a new resume or his laundry done, you might be tempted to take care of him—kinda like his mom would. But men don’t find their moms irresistible.

Consider mirroring the strength you see in him instead of the weakness.

Of course you empathize that he’s sick, but rather than babying him, you could affirm him for being such a strong man.

Show that you trust he’ll do a good job on his resume or the laundry.

There’s nothing more appealing than a woman who reflects the strength and capability she sees in her man.

9. Express Gratitude

The more you appreciate what your man does for you, the more he’ll knock himself out looking for more ways to gain your appreciation.

He’ll love knowing that he pleased you in small ways so much, he’ll look for more and bigger ways.

Hearing your thanks and delight is music to his ears and will make you seem like the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

10. Sometimes, Say Nothing

I’m don’t recommend dumbing down. You know what you know, and you can use that to your advantage at any time.

But sometimes it’s advantageous to say nothing, even if you think you know the answer to all his problems.

The Goddess of Wikipedia who knows everything? She’s resistible.

The more you focus on being the expert on your own life—and trust that he’s the expert on his life—the more he’ll go to any length to get next to you.

There’s an expression that it’s better to have some of the questions than all of the answers. That’s certainly true when it comes to being irresistible to a man.

11. Remember Who You Are

I promised that none of what makes you irresistible is hair, makeup or what you wear, and that’s true.

Irresistibility comes from inside.

But what makes you attractive to him is that you have the mind, spirit and body of a woman. The more you dial that up, the more attractive you’ll be.

So one way to be physically irresistible is to celebrate that female form—whether it’s by noticing the swing of your hips when you walk, or the feel of a skirt around your legs or even his hand on the small of your back.

Whatever your shape or size, you were born with the goods that make you a magnet to your man.

There’s every reason to rejoice about your feminine form since it’s part of what makes him rejoice about you.

 

(Republished with Consent from Author)

Undaunted Radiance!

Paul says this is the reason we are more than conquerers in all these things, super-victors, with a joy we would not have, but for the very thing which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.

The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it.  Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things – tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight.

We are more than conquerors through Him in all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them.  The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it – “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation,” says Paul.

Undaunted radiance is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can alter.

Oswald Chambers

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When we go through periods of testing of our faith or character, the trials that can feel so crushing to our spirits, how is it that we can become “more than conquerors” in the midst of them?

The only answer I’ve found, especially recently in my own personal life, is in clinging to God, and abiding in Him daily.  

What about when we bring these things on ourselves?  How does one get over the guilt, the shame of dishonoring Christ’s reputation?

First off, even though the righteous may fall 7 times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes (Proverbs 24:26).

Satan wants to see you depressed, hurting, confused, disenchanted with God and His power in your life.

When you fall, he wants to keep you down there.  His are the mockers who watch your life, and laugh when you stumble or have calamity fall on you.  They, like him, want nothing more than to see you stop, withdraw, and disappear.  “Die a quick death.”

We are all ministers in some way to those God has allowed us to reach, and one of the ways Satan will often attack those who are serious about ministering to others, is through trials.  His end goal is to render you ineffective; to shut you up.

The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves.

Your lives are a letter written in our hearts;

everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.

2 Corinthians 3:2

What’s in a Name? How Important are Your Children’s Names?

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We all have names that our parents gave us, and they all have different reasons for choosing that specific name.  Sometimes they love a specific meaning that comes from the name, other times it represents someone they loved or admired from the family, and sometimes on of our parents just thought it was pretty and sounded nice.

What is it about naming a child that is just so fascinating?  To me, I loved picking out the names for our children with my husband, because of the gift it was to give them a good name, with good meanings, and a hope for their future.  Being of Polish Jewish descent on my mother’s side, I specifically love the Hebrew approach of placing high value and importance on our children’s names, even if they think we’re silly for it. 🙂

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My parents took naming their children seriously also, and as a result, my full name means Crown of Grace.  Mostly my mother picked it, taking my first name from part of my father’s, and picking out “Ann” as the “Grace” part.  It is such a beautiful name, and I’m ever so grateful!  I was reminded of the meaning back in September when I encountered an interesting woman, who when she heard my first name, remarked to me, “Do you know that your name’s meaning is “Crown” or “Crowned?”  I told her yes, and that it gets worse, that my mother paired it with “Grace” for my middle name, so that in total it literally means “Crown of Grace.”  I told her that I always feel that I can never live up to this name, because although I want to, I often fail.  Who could live up to being a woman named “Crown of Grace?”  She laughed and pointed out that both have nothing to do with having to “live up” to them, or earning them, a crown you are given as royalty, you’re born into it.  And grace is also given and not earned.  She suggested I should just accept it and grow into becoming “Crowned with Grace.”

A verse that has always captured me about my name:

“She (Wisdom) will place a garland of grace on your head;

she will give you a crown of beauty.”

Proverbs 4:9

But what about for people who have strange meanings behind their names?  You may be reading this and thinking to yourself how much you don’t like the meaning of your name, or how you wish your parents had simply picked something else.  I knew a girl named a beautiful, Spanish name, but it’s meaning meant “Lame” – unable to walk.  One name that I always liked, when I looked up it’s meaning, I was surprised to find it meant, “Blind.”  Out of all the things one can name their children, speaking prophecies and blessings into their future, “lame,” or “blind,” are so sad.  It doesn’t seem fair at times – then again, life isn’t fair is it?

But God is a just God, and He “makes everything beautiful in it’s time.”  One of the most intriguing things to me about Christianity, is the history of God taking liberty of changing a person’s name, sometimes completely, and with it, often changing the entire meaning of it.  It’s very interesting to do a personal study on all the people in the Bible who when God encountered them, He gave them a New Name.

God’s ways are perfect, and He is the perfect Father.  Only He truly knows us and knows our hearts, perhaps that’s why He would see a person, and decide to give them a new name.

If you are interested in looking up your name’s meaning biblically, or looking for verses that have their meaning in it, I’ve found with my husband and our children, that we all have verses that can go with our names.  Having a verse that has your name’s meaning and promise in it can be so special, but it takes time and a good concordance to search through and find a verse that fits.  My husband has a verse in Isaiah that perfectly goes with his name, and even his life calling.  And our two sons’ names we purposely picked from verses that we’ll tell them when they’re older.  It’s edifying to find a verse that fits your name’s meaning.

If you don’t like the meaning of your name though, it may be more appropriate to search out a verse that has brought you through many of life’s trials and found special meaning to you personally.  This is called a “Life Verse.”

 

“A good name (reputation) is more desirable than great riches;

to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Proverbs 22:1

(Photo Credit: Rum&Lace Blog)