Less Is More.

LessIsMore081914I’ve had a garden every summer for the past thirty-five years. It’s generous to call some years’ efforts a garden. Different years meant different babies newly arrived or still in the works during garden seasons. Babies were born in April, May, June, August, September, October (of different years, obviously :-) ). Those years were a bit more challenging. I called the gardens of those years my treasure hunt gardens. Go out and see what you can find in the weeds.

In thirty-five years, I’ve managed to learn a few things  – what we will eat and what we never get around to using (kohlrabi is amusing to look at but not very exciting to eat), how much lettuce to plant at one time so a whole row doesn’t go to seed all at once, which seeds never seem to germinate for me (no parsnips for us this year :-( ), which seeds I should plant thickly in order to get enough to sprout.

But one thing I’ve never seemed to learn is how to thin seedlings without feeling bad.

Actually, I have learned that it’s important to thin seedlings. I usually just can’t bring myself to kill all those hopeful little baby plants! Right now I have lettuce that I need to go out and thin. I always tell myself that I’ll wait until the plants have grown some, and then we can use the thinnings in a salad. It’s a nice theory, but I don’t always get around to it.

And so I end up with lots of small, crowded lettuce plants in the same space that seven or eight heads of lettuce would thrive in if they had enough space. The same thing happens with the beets — lots of small ones instead a fewer big ones. Swiss chard and carrots often suffer the same neglect.

Sometimes less actually means more. Less plants in the ground often means more actual food to eat. If fifty lettuce plants aren’t all fighting for the same 10 feet feet of soil, we actually get seven or eight nice big heads of healthy lettuce.

Sometimes less means more when it comes to raising our kids, too. It’s so hard to say “no” to so many good activities, but how many things can we actually cram into a 24-hour period and do them all well? How many lessons, how many sports activities, how many church commitments, how many social gatherings?

If we try to squeeze too much into our lives (and into the lives of our children), none of our busy-ness ends up bearing much fruit. We end up with a lot of activity, but not much deep learning or real joy in what we’re doing.

When we’re too busy, the best things often get crowded out, like the Yugoslavian Red lettuce I really like that is getting crowded out by the overpopulation of ho-hum green lettuce. It needs space to grow. I need to give it that space.

When our lives get too full, we often sacrifice the best parts of life and the parts God holds us most responsible for — things like relaxed, un-pressured time spent with our children and with our spouse, time learning together from God’s Word, time thinking and imagining and planning, time building relationships, time when Mama isn’t cranky and stressed as she tries to keep up with everyone’s overbooked schedules. (I can remember some too-busy seasons of our family life when I’m sure I was not very fun to live with.)

We’re supposed to teach our children God’s law when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. That means we need to spend time with them — time when we can really give them our undivided attention.

As we are about to launch into a new school year, stop and reevaluate. Do you need to do some “thinning”? Should you reconsider how many extra classes and activities you want to encourage your children to participate in? Pray about this. What does God want you and your family to do? What is really going to matter twenty or thirty years from now — or more importantly — in eternity? Are you making those things a priority?

Discuss this with your husband, pray together, fortify yourselves, and start plucking out the good things that are going to keep you from doing the best things and doing them well.

I’m heading out now to face that row of lettuce. :-)

 

 

 

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A Giveaway Winner!

Prov31GiveawayWinner

Thank you all for your responses to our giveaway! It is so encouraging to hear what God has been teaching you through His Word. And thank you for all your words of thanks and encouragement. I count it a privilege to have studied together with you all!

My prayer is that the lessons we learned in our study will stay with us and change the way we view and live our lives. Our lives are all about God — who He is, what He has done, and what He will continue to do in our lives and in the lives of those around us as we love and obey Him. Stay in the Word! :-)

Comment #73 by Trish was randomly drawn as the winner of our $50 gift certificate! Congratulations, Trish! We’ll be emailing you soon!

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Feeling Stuck

Frustrated childI hear a child’s frustrated crying in the kitchen. I go to investigate, and I find my 2-year-old son pushing with all his might against a chair, angry that it’s not moving.

He has plans, but something has gone wrong. Soon I realize why he’s upset.

The back of the chair has run into an open cupboard door and stopped his movement. But his head is down, his brow is furrowed, and he’s still crying and vigorously pushing the chair with both hands. This focused little guy hasn’t noticed what’s happening, and he’s getting more frustrated by the minute.

I step in to help, moving the chair, closing the cupboard, and letting the relieved little fellow resume scooting his chair across the floor.

It makes me chuckle to myself. How silly of him.

But then I realize that I do the same thing sometimes as a parent. I get angry at problems instead of looking for a way to fix them:

  • I get frustrated when we’re late to church AGAIN.
  • I get angry at the child who tests my limits instead of obeying me.
  • I’m resentful that I missed my Bible reading time because I was up with children during the night or too early in the morning.

Although it’s easy to feel like the victim in situations like these, I’m actually the one responsible to do something about the problem. For example:

  • Make a plan for Sunday morning that includes preparing ahead and allowing time for the inevitable lost shoe and other emergencies.
  • Be more consistent in expecting obedience, so the child won’t need to test me every time.
  • Make back-up plans for Bible study at other times during the day, because mornings are just not predictable in this season of life.

Proverbs 14:15 says “the prudent gives thought to his steps.” When challenges or frustrations arise, sometimes we need to step back and take a better look at what we’re doing. We need to take responsibility, consider the situation, and look around us for a solution.

Here are some steps that may help:

  • Pray for God’s wisdom and help
  • Talk with your spouse and look for a solution together as a team.
  • Get advice from older, wiser parents you respect
  • Ask yourself questions like “What does God’s Word say about this problem?” “What can we do to prevent this problem?” and “How does God want us to deal with this problem?”
  • Make a change to your own behavior, priorities, routines, expectations, etc.

Parenting is a demanding job. One of the ways we can avoid burning out is to be prudent about how we respond to problems and frustrations. God sees it all, and He is ready and willing to help us!

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Prayer Makes Things Happen

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16, NASB).

PrayAugust72014Do I really believe this verse? If I do, why don’t I pray more?

Our sermon on Sunday was on prayer. I came away challenged to make prayer the first thing I do:

- When I get up in the morning

- When I’m tempted to say things I shouldn’t

- When I don’t know what I should do about something

- When misunderstandings occurs

- When I’m too tired to keep going.

I want prayer to be my first response, as I acknowledge my utter dependence on Him. He’s the one who changes things. He’s the one who gives wisdom. He’s the one who has promised to listen.

——————–

Just to let you know, for the next month or two, we are going to be posting here just once a week. We’re cutting back for two reasons:

I’m in the middle of working on a chart and book set based on 1 Corinthians 13, and I haven’t been making much progress while traveling to conferences and writing Bible studies! We would like to get this project finished up and available this fall, and fall is coming fast!

I would also like the extra time so that I can respond to many of you ladies who asked questions, left comments, or expressed needs as we studied Proverbs 31 together. I just couldn’t keep up with that while I was writing the Bible study lessons.

So we’ll be posting on Tuesdays only for now. I would appreciate your prayers as I try to finish up the 1 Corinthians 13 chart. Pray that this can be a tool that will help parents teach their children about godly love, and pray for clear thinking, fewer-than-normal distractions, and some sleep! :-) And I’ll pray for you, that God will give you grace and strength as you live each day with its challenges and blessings!

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Time for a Giveaway!

fear-of-the-lord-tree

I’m already looking forward to our next study in November! I’m praying for all you ladies who are still working your  way through Proverbs31. I’m so glad you’re not quitting just because we’re not posting any new lessons. If you get done, and you haven’t done some of our earlier studies, check the archives. There are five other studies just waiting to be done! :-)

I’m also continuing to pray for all of you who have finished the study. I’m praying that you will stay in the Word, studying it, praying over it, living it, obeying it — because that’s what fearing the Lord is all about. Please keep posting on the Busy Mamas Facebook group. Tell us how we can pray for you. Tell us what you’ve been learning. Let’s encourage each other as we fight our battles for King Jesus.

I have three things to address before we go back to our regular Tuesday/Thursday post schedule here on the blog — a giveaway, a survey, and a freebie.

  • We traditionally end our Busy Mamas studies with a giveaway! This time we’re giving away a $50 gift certificate for anything your heart desires from Doorposts!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment sharing with us something you learned (even if you haven’t finished yet) in the Proverbs 31 study, or something you are learning from your own study of the Bible if you didn’t take part in the Proverbs 31 study. You can leave more than one comment, and even if you didn’t study Proverbs 31 with us, you are welcome to enter the giveaway! We will randomly select one winner from all the comments on Monday, August 11, so be sure to leave your comment before midnight, August 10.

  • Also, if you have been doing the study, taking a couple minutes to answer eight quick questions would be a tremendous help to me as I work at making these studies as useful and user-friendly as possible. I know your time is precious. Thanks, if you can help me out by completing our short survey! :-)
  • And last-but-not-least, if you would like a copy of the picture at the top of this post, click this link and it’s all yours! Maybe you could put it inside a kitchen or bathroom cupboard door or on the fridge where you’ll see it and remember that the fear of the Lord is where valiant womanhood starts. (Thanks, Ellen S., for the suggestion! :-) )

Ah yes! One more thing! If you own Plants Grown Up or Polished Cornerstones or are thinking about using them with your children, I want to let you know that we have just started up a new Facebook group for those of you who would like to share ideas, ask questions, and interact with other like-minded families who are using those two books. Please join us if you would like the encouragement!

See y’all on Thursday!

 

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Thirty (Three) Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 33: What Next?

30DaysProverbsDay33WhatNext

There is so much more we could study related to Proverbs 31! It’s hard to bring this study to a end! But I’m sure we’ve all got plenty to keep us busy applying from this past month’s study time together. :-)

For those of you who would like ideas for continued study, or who would like to keep working with your newly-learned skills on Blueletterbible, I have a list of additional study suggestions you might want to try out.

Don’t miss our end-of-the-study giveaway! We’ll be posting it on Tuesday, so stay tuned! :-) If you have time to complete a survey that we will post on that same day, I would sure appreciate your help! I want to make these studies as useful and user-friendly as possible, so we are getting the most we can from our study time. Your input will help me do a better job of that!

Also, if you stay signed up for our blog posts or for the “Busy Mamas” Facebook group, you’ll be the first to hear when we start gearing up for our next study in November. In the meantime, we’ll go back to our regular Tuesday and Thursday posts designed to encourage all you busy wives and mothers (and single ladies) and equip you with tools for using the Bible as you live with other fallen sinners every day.

Additional Bible study suggestions:

  • Use Blueletterbible to read Matthew Henry’s commentary on Proverbs 31. (Search on Proverbs 31, click on “Commentaries” in the “Tools” menu for any verse, and open Matthew Henry on Proverbs 31. Read and take notes.
  • Use Blueletterbible to study more about fearing the Lord. Search on fear Lord to find all the verses that contain those words. Study the verses. Study the lives of those the Bible identifies as fearing the Lord. Make a list of all the ways our fear of the Lord is manifested.
  • Study the word wisdom. Search on wisdom on Blueletterbible. Then click the checkbox for Strong’s above the verse texts. This will reveal the Strong’s number for all the main words in each verse. Read each verse, noting the Strong’s number for wisdom and taking notes. Try to keep separate pages of notes for each Strong’s number. When you have finished reading and taking notes on the verses, look at each word’s usage by typing the Strong’s number into the search box and then using the Interlinear tool to see its lexicon entry.
  • Compare wisdom and the Proverbs 31 Woman. What do they have in common?
  • Read the book of Proverbs and note every mention of women and what is said about them. Organize what you find and compare those notes with what you have learned about the Proverbs 31 Woman.
  • Read the book of Proverbs and note every mention of diligence and slothfulness. Summarize what you find. How does this relate to the valiant woman of Proverbs 31?
  • Study the mighty men of valor in the Old Testament, by searching on men of valour. List their acccomplishments and any other observations you make. What can you learn as a woman-of-valor-in-the-works from these mighty men of valor?
  • Study women of the Bible who did their husbands good and women who did their husbands evil. Click the word Study in the upper menu bar of Blueletterbible. Then, under Bible Reference, click Encyclopedias / Dictionaries. Click “W” (for women) in the gray alphabet box, and scroll down to click Wo-. Scroll down to click Women, and then scroll way down to Women: Good: Instances of. If you continue to scroll down, you will also find the heading Women: Wicked: Instances of. Read the passages listed for each of the individual women, taking notes, and then organizing what you find. What can you learn from these good and bad examples?
  • Search on the word strength in Blueletterbible and read the verses listed. Click on the Strong’s box above the verses to reveal the Strong’s numbers for the main words in each verse. Take notes, separating them according to the Strong’s number assigned in each verse. Compare what you find. Are there different kinds of strength? Different sources of strength? How does this relate to your study of Proverbs 31? You can repeat the same process, searching this time on the word strong.
  • Use a topical Bible to study different topics related to Proverbs 31 — fear, worry, reaching out to the needy, godly beauty, the tongue, sloth and diligence, etc. Add relevant notes in the margin of your Bible for Proverbs 31.
  • Study the book of Ruth, using some of the methods we used in studying Proverbs 31. Look for repeated words, mark in a specific way each mention of the main characters, pay attention to words like butthereforebecause and for. Notice what each character says in the account. Do you learn more about valiant womanhood as you slow down to study the book more? What do you learn about redeemers?
  • Read A Woman’s Wisdom, by Lydia Brownback, for other insights on Proverbs 31.
  • Read this free version of  An Excellent Woman, by Anne Pratt for additional insights on Proverbs 31.
  • Study the book of Proverbs, taking time to look up words, categorize verses according to subject, read commentaries on puzzling verses, etc. This is one great way to grow in wisdom!
  • For inspiration in homemaking with creativity and delight, read The Hidden Art of Homemaking, by Edith Schaeffer. This book transformed my view of homemaking many years ago.
  • Complete the studies in Beauty in the Heartby me. :-) These could be done along with daughters 10 or so and older, and address issues of godly beauty as described in Scripture. You will also learn other Bible study methods, step-by-step, as you study.

(If you have sons 10 or older, get them going on Because You Are Strong, a collection of step-by-step studies on godly strength, written by our son and manager of Doorposts. They teach Bible study methods as you go, too.) 

  • Complete one of our previous Busy Mamas Bible Studies, using the same methods we have used in our study of Proverbs 31:

Thirty Days in Colossians 3

Thirty Days in Psalm 37

Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13

The three studies listed above are also available free in the archives of Doorposts of Your Housein addition to Thirty Days in Philippians 2 and Thirty Days in 1 John 3.

  • Get a group of ladies together and go through one of the Busy Mamas Bible studies. Have ladies take turns leading each meeting, if you don’t want full responsibility for leading.

See you Tuesday! :-)

 

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Thirty (Two) Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 32: Doing What We’ve Learned

30DaysProverbsDay32Apply

Today is our last study day in Proverbs 31. :-( I have enjoyed studying with you all so much! I’m looking forward to seeing lots more action on the Facebook group page for weeks to come as many of you finish up. Share what you’re learning, how it’s going as you apply what you’ve learned, what new challenges you’re facing. And please . . . post your finished acrostics! We’d all love to see them, I’m sure!

Today (and for all the rest of our lives, I hope :-) ) we’re going to focus on applying what we’ve learned. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” We don’t want to deceive ourselves by thinking it’s enough to just hear or study God’s Word. Now that we’ve studied and learned from Proverbs 31, we are responsible to live it. That’s what our last lesson is about. Tomorrow I’ll give you some ideas for ways to extend your study of Proverbs 31 on your own.

Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit’s firm but loving work in your heart as you pray and write your way through this precious piece of Scripture today. He has been teaching us, convicting us, leading us as we’ve studied this passage together. Today we’re going to start prayerfully meditating on what God wants us to do with what we’ve learned.

  • Print out this chart for today’s assignment. In the left-hand column you will find all the text of Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV). The right-hand column is blank.
  • Find a quiet place where you can pray for God’s guidance as you reflect on what He has been teaching you from this passage. Have your notebook handy for review.
  • Read verse 10 in the left-hand column. Then read through your notes for this verse. Use the links for verse 10 below to review the lesson that addressed that verse. (Several verses will have more than one link, because we looked at them in more than one lesson. A plus-sign between two links will alert you to those lessons. Other lessons that did not address one specific verse are also listed for your review below the verse links.)
  • After you have reviewed the lesson, note in the right-hand column any ways in which you feel God is calling you to change related to that verse.

We want to remember as we do this, that we are not making a long list of goals that we are going to accomplish in our own strength. We can’t do any of this on our own. Instead, let’s focus on fearing the Lord. He deserves (and commands) our obedience. If we truly fear Him, we will want to obey Him and apply His wisdom to all that we do.

  • Write down specific issues that come to mind, even specific names and situations that relate to each verse. Record everything you think of. Some verses may stand out to you more than others. Some you may not write about at all.

Take your time. You will need more than one study time to complete this. If your time is short, you might want to review one verse and reflect on it all day, jotting down ideas as they come to you.

  • When you have finished this exercise, choose one thing to start purposefully applying during your day and on into the week ahead. Don’t look at this page of verses and ideas and try to do them all at once. You’ll be overwhelmed and tempted to quit. Start with one thing. Pray for God’s grace, gird on His strength, and step out onto your battlefield, knowing that God is faithful. He wants to make you a woman of valor.

 

Links:

Verse 10  +  Verse 10        Verse 11   +  Verse 11        Verse 12        Verse 13        Verse 14

Verse 15       Verse 16        Verse 17        Verse 18        Verse 19        Verse 20       Verse 21

Verse 22      Verse 23        Verse 24       Verse 25        Verse 26   +  Verse 26       Verse 27

Verse 28      Verse 29        Verse 30  +  Verse 30       Verse 31

Acrostic       Drawings       Parallelism       Categorizing      Hers         Ruth     +    Ruth

For your children:

  • Print out 2 copies of Proverbs 31, preferably in large print, with each verse listed separately.
  • Divide your children into two teams (or just do this together as a group without teams). Give each group a copy of Proverbs 31.
  • Instruct them to find one object that relates to each verse in this poem about the Valiant Woman. What can they find that relates to making her arms strong, perceiving that her merchandise is good, etc.? They should collect items for all the verses and then report back to you. Make it a race, if you want to throw in some competition.
  • When both teams have finished, sit down and talk about what they have gathered. Let them explain why they chose each item. This will be a good review of the chapter.

Also, if you haven’t already taken advantage of the free Proverbs 31 coloring book at Doorposts, make sure you download your copy before the sale ends on Sunday! It will be great followup on our study!

 

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Thirty (One) Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 31: A Mighty Woman of Valor

30DaysProverbsDay31HeroHymn

Remember that list of military images we’ve been keeping as we’ve studied the verses of Proverbs 31? Today we are going to look at that list one more time, while we consider the closing verse of the chapter.

Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit’s gracious work in your heart as we draw our study of this chapter to a close. Pray that knowledge will become wisdom, and that what you have learned will change how you think about your role as a woman, and that your renewed thinking will in turn change the way you live. 

Then turn back in your notes to the page labeled “Military Images”. What have you recorded on this page as you’ve studied? Let’s compare notes.  (Take a minute, too, to record these military references in the margin of your Bible for future reference.)

  • Vs. 10.  The virtuous wife is a woman of valorThe same Hebrew word is used for brave, mighty warriors. It speaks of force and armies.
  • Vs. 11. Husband will have no need of spoil or plunder, like that taken after a military conquest.
  • Vs. 15. The Hebrew word for riseth up is used for rising up to fight an enemy.
  • Vs. 15. The word for food is also translated as prey, and can refer to the victims of war.
  • Vs. 16. She considers a field. She strategizes.
  • Vs. 16. The valiant woman buys a field. The Hebrew word also means to seize or capture.
  • Vs. 17. The valiant woman girds herself with strength. Soldiers gird up their loins for action. They gird on their swords as they prepare for battle.
  • Vs. 17. She girds herself with strength, the same word that is used for being strong and courageous going into battle.
  • Vs. 25. She laughs at the future, like a conqueror mocking or deriding his defeated enemies.
  • Vs. 27. She looks well to the ways of her household. The term speaks of a watchman or spying.
  • Vs. 29. Her husband speaks of many daughters doing valiantly. This term is used of victorious heroes of war.
  • Vs. 29. Her husband says she surpasses or ascends above them all, a term used for going out to battle.
  • Vs. 31. Her works praise her in the gates. The gates were a place where a king would often review the troops as they went out to war.

Look at all the imagery of warfare in this typical Mother’s Day sermon text! Valiant womanhood isn’t for wimps!

Bruce Waltke, in his commentary on Proverbs, cites Al Wolters’ assertion that Proverbs 31 belongs to “Israel’s heroic poetry, characterized by recounting the hero’s mighty deeds, usually his military exploits”. He notes similarities between Deborah’s Song in Judges 5, the women’s songs for Saul and David in 1 Samuel 18 and 21, and David’s tribute to Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1.

We’ve been studying (and hopefully memorizing) a heroic hymn for the mighty woman of valor who, like Scripture’s mighty men of valor, has displayed courage and confidence in God in the face of challenges and enemies! She has been a true champion for all those around her with her wisdom and eager, tireless work.

  • Open Blueletterbible and let’s do our last word study in Proverbs 31 together.
  • Search on Proverbs 31:31. This verse opens with a call to give the valiant woman the fruit of her hands. Bestow on her the fruit, the produce, of her hands — those strong, willing, working, giving hands. (There is so much more we could study about those hands!) 
  • Use the “Interlinear” tool to look at the phrase and let her own works. Skim the definitions and English translations, but let’s focus on seeing how the word works is used in Scripture.
  • Skim the verses under “Concordance Results Using KJV”.  The word speaks of occupations, artistry for the tabernacle and temple, idols, God’s works, man’s daily labor. This is the work we are commanded to refrain from on the Sabbath, and the work we are to commit to the Lord so our thoughts will be established (Proverbs 16:3).
  • Summarize any new  insights you gain by looking over these verses.

These are the kind of works that will praise the valiant woman in the gates – everyday labor, creative work that reflects God’s creativity, work that glorifies God, work that has been committed to Him.

Let’s put aside our temptation to view the chapter as a checklist to ambitiously accomplish, thus proving our worth. And let’s also set aside the view of this beautiful chapter as a burdensome duty to wave off as impossible-to-accomplish-so-why-even-try.

Instead, let’s look at Proverbs 31 as the call to rise up and follow our victorious King into battle, seizing the mission He assigns us, armed with His strength, empowered by His might, trained by His loving hand, and rejoicing over our already-conquered enemies!

Read Proverbs 31 one more time, viewing it as a heroic hymn that pays tribute to the valiant woman who fears God – the woman who, as a result of that fear, serves Him and all those around her with wisdom, courage, and a deep trust in His faithfulness. This is a woman who will someday stand before her God and hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” 

“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

This is a woman we can all become, by God’s grace.

 

For your children:

Review what you have learned together about the mighty woman of valor that is described and honored in this chapter of Proverbs. She is strong and courageous, and she trusts God. She loves Him and delights in pleasing and serving Him. She is wise.

Then read (or recite) the passage together, stopping to talk about the evidences of her strength, courage, and faith. How is she like the mighty men of valor who fought victoriously on the battlefield?

Help your daughters understand that they will spend their entire lives learning God’s wisdom. They will not be “finished” women of valor when they leave your home, when they marry, or when they bear children. They can start now in their commitment to a lifetime of learning and growing in wisdom and valor.

Help your sons understand that they will not find a “finished” woman of valor when they look for a wife. God will use them, along with many other people and circumstances, to help their wives grow in wisdom and valor. They need to be teachable and humble and growing in wisdom now and all through their lifetimes so that they are ready to fight their own battles in God’s strength, and prepared to lead their families in humble, courageous obedience to God.

Remind yourself that you are not a “finished” woman of valor either. God will continue to test you, teach you, change you, and mature you as you fear and obey Him. :-)

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 30: Wisdom

30DaysProverbsDay30WisdomWell . . . we have three more days in our “30-day” study of Proverbs 31. :-) Hope you don’t mind! We’ll finish up our actual study on Friday as we spend some time reflecting on how to apply what we’ve learned, and then Saturday’s post will be a list of ideas for further study related to Proverbs 31 and to the study method we’ve been using.

Today let’s look back at the beginning of the book of Proverbs. On day 21, we talked about the chiastic structure of the virtuous woman poem in Proverbs 31. We saw a series of ideas presented in the first half of the poem, which pointed in to the verse about the valiant wife’s husband being known in the gates, and then those same basic ideas were repeated again, but in reverse order, creating a mirror effect in the text.

A similar structure exists within the book of Proverbs as a whole. We won’t take time to consider this in detail, but we should at least look at the “bookends” of the book of Proverbs. A similar theme opens and closes the book.

Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit to do His illuminating, convicting, sanctifying work in your heart as you study today. Then open Blueletterbible. (Isn’t this a great site? I’m so thankful to the dear lady who introduced me to it in our first Busy Mamas study on Colossians 3.)

  • Search on Proverbs 1 in Blueletterbible, and read verses 1-7.
  • Then read Proverbs 31:27-31.

Do you see any common theme in these two passages?

  • Now search on wisdom fear the Lord. Record each verse reference and take notes on what you find. What is the relationship between wisdom and fearing the Lord?

We looked briefly at wisdom in Proverbs 31:26 as it relates to the valiant woman opening her mouth with wisdom. Let’s look at that verse again.

  • Search on Proverbs 31:26, and use the “Interlinear” tool to look at the Hebrew word for wisdom one more time. Review its meaning. Read the entry from Gesenius’ Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon. Wisdom speaks of skill, administrative abilityprudencepiety towards God, and good leadership.
  • Now scroll down to the “Concordance Results Using KJV”. We focused earlier on related verses from Proverbs. Let’s look at these verses about wisdom more carefully this time.
    • How is the word used in Exodus when the tabernacle was being made? Does this remind you of the virtuous woman?
    • How is it used in reference to Joshua in Deuteronomy 34? How might this relate to Proverbs 31?
    • What about Solomon in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles?
    • Stop and read the entire passage from Job 28. Click on the reference for the first verse listed – Job 28:12 — and that will open the text for the entire chapter. What does Job say about wisdom? Do these words sound familiar? How does he summarize wisdom? What is it?
    • Continue skimming these verses about wisdom (still in “Concordance Results”), slowing down to savor the verses from the Psalms. You’re taking notes, right? :-)
    • Of course, because the point of  Proverbs is to know wisdom, a lot of proverbs speak of wisdom. Read what you can, especially looking for verses that relate to our Proverbs 31 Woman — her value, her speech, her household, her fear of God.
    • Look at one last verse, if you don’t have time to skim them all. Read Ecclesiastes 7:19. This certainly brings to mind the mighty woman of valor in Proverbs 31. Her wisdom gives her strength and might.
  • Review the notes you have taken. Write a summary paragraph about the connection between (1) the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31, (2) the fear of the Lord, and (3) wisdom. How do these three relate?

Proverbs opens with several chapters about wisdom, and about Lady Wisdom beckoning from beside the gates of the town, calling the simple to come and learn prudence and knowledge and discretion. The book of Proverbs ends at the gates again, this time with a valiant woman.

Her fear of the Lord, firmly planted in her heart, has resulted in wisdom — skill, understanding, prudence, piety, and an ability to manage her household well. That wisdom has gone on to bear rich and abundant fruit — works that praise her in the gates.

Becoming a mighty woman of valor isn’t a matter of checking off a few boxes in a Proverbs 31 checklist. It’s a matter of fearing God. Her works, as Charles Bridges states in his commentary on Proverbs, “are the good fruit, that ‘prove the tree to be good’.”

Pray. Ask God to help you learn from this portrait of godly, valiant womanhood. Ask Him to help you grow in your fear of Him.

For your children: Read Proverbs 31:30-31 together with your children. Can they recite it from memory yet? Can you? :-) Give it a try! Then see how well you can do reciting the entire passage together. Take turns on verses, and help each other out when someone can’t remember. Challenge everyone to have the whole poem memorized by the end of the week.

  • Then go for a walk, or if you don’t have any fruit trees or berry bushes nearby, go for a drive where you can find some, or go for a “walk” in Google images.
  • When you find a tree with fruit, stop to look at it.
  • Ask the children what kind of fruit they see. 30DaysProverbsDay30Wisdom2
  • Then add, “I wonder what kind of tree that is…”  See what their response is.
  • If you have other fruit trees (or pictures) available, do the same thing at the next tree. “What kind of fruit is that? What kind of tree is it growing on?”

It shouldn’t take too long to get your point across. Apples only grow on apple trees. Peaches only grow on peach trees.

In the same way, godly actions and attitudes — the fruit of the valiant woman’s hands — only grows from a godly heart that is deeply rooted in a loving fear of the Lord.

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Thirty Days in Proverbs 31 for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 29: Ruth, Part 2

30DaysProverbsDay29Ruth2AThe fact that Ruth is clearly identified as a woman of valor should give us hope. Ruth, at first glance, doesn’t seem to fit the Proverbs 31 Woman mold (just like us :-) ). She’s a foreigner, a widow, a poor woman gleaning in the fields. She seems more like the poor and needy that benefit from the Proverbs 31 Woman’s kindness.

But a closer study of the book of Ruth reveals that Ruth is indeed a mighty woman of valor (and by the time the story is finished, she is married to a mighty man of valor).

Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the real heart of being a woman of might and valor. Then read chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Ruth, continuing as you did yesterday, looking for parallels between Ruth’s story and the description of the valiant wife found in Proverbs 31.

When you have finished reading Ruth and taking your notes, review what you have noted. What is it that the Proverbs 31 Woman and Ruth share? What makes them both valiant women?

We should be encouraged by Ruth’s example. She was simply trusting God. She faced hardship. Her father-in-law had died, her brother-in-law had died, and her husband had died. Put yourself in her place. Most of us would have despaired in her circumstances.

Ruth and her mother-in-law were left without a protector. Ruth chose to leave her parents and her own country behind, in order to make Naomi’s god her god, and Naomi’s people her people. She was choosing to fear and obey God, because she trusted Him:

  • 30DaysProverbsDay29Ruth2BThey needed food; she went out to glean, and God led her to the field of Boaz.
  • The work was hard; she worked all day, and God provided above and beyond what they needed.
  • She was vulnerable as a single, foreign woman in the fields; God, through Boaz’s kindness, put a hedge around her.
  • She and Naomi needed a redeemer; she did exactly what Naomi told her to do, no matter how awkward it may have felt, and God gave her a redeemer and a husband.

God honored her humility and kindness. Not only did He give her a husband and a son, but He also made her — a Moabite woman — the great-grandmother of King David, and an ancestor in the line of Jesus.

Ruth faced hardship, but she persevered. She feared God and committed herself to His faithfulness. Her actions, her kindness, her perseverance are simply the natural outcome of fearing God. That’s what mighty women of valor do, no matter what their circumstances are.

We can all be women of valor. We can all gird ourselves with God’s strength and put our full confidence in His faithfulness. When we truly believe that He is faithful, that He will keep His promises, that He will work all things out for our good and His glory, we can step out in faith, right where we are — whether we’re facing permanent marker scribbles on the sofa or a husband dying of cancer — and conquer, just like the mighty men of valor believed God’s promises and fought the battles that God gave them.

Meditate on this truth today. How will it change the way you live?

For your children:

Pull out the costume box and let your children act out the story of Ruth. Talk about the many evidences of Ruth’s valor and deep faith in God. Video-record their performance so you can all watch it together afterwards (and so you can share it with us on the Facebook group page :-) ! ).

 

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