Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for May, 2012

Church is Like A DoJang

Growing up we moved around a lot and I went to a lot of different places to study the martial arts. Some were ‘just fine,’ average. They taught their style and that was it. Once in the dojang you were unaware that any other style of martial arts existed.
A few dojangs were exceptional. They interacted with other martial artists. We went to tournaments, demonstrations and seminars that were given by a wide variety of different martial arts styles. When we returned to our dojang we examined what we had learned. Some techniques were deemed ‘good’ and were added to our list of self-defense teachings. Other techniques were discarded. Some, when more thoroughly examined were found to have flaws in them that showed they only worked when your partner went along with it. Still others were ‘okay’ but did not fit in well with how we did things. We learned much in these schools.
Another group of dojangs not only isolated themselves, but felt the need to put down all of the other martial arts schools in the vicinity. In almost every class we heard why our school was better and why the teaching at the other schools stunk. How our instructor knew this, since we never interacted with the other schools, was beyond me, but most people bought it, felt proud, and repeated it to others.
Churches are like this too. Some churches keep to themselves. They are nice places to go, and everyone behaves pleasantly, but there is little interaction with the greater body of Christ.
Some churches however do more than keep to themselves. They put down the other churches. Sermons frequently mention some other church, or people group, with the intention of putting them down. The church, or people group has done nothing ‘new’ to deserve comment, and typically no one in the congregation was even tempted to join that group in doing whatever they are currently ‘bad’ for doing. For this reason the preacher gets a lot of ‘amens’ because no one is questioning anything he is saying. He is speaking on a topic no one in his congregation is confused about or needs clarification on. They already know how the church feels on this subject and agree. This is not Christ-like. This is puffing yourself up for no other reason than to make yourself feel good that you are not like them, the sinners.
Other churches do not mind interaction. They will encourage their members to go to concerts, seminars or other events in other churches because they are a good opportunity to learn, or worship. But, like the Bereans, they will also be open to honest discussions. Some are theological, but others are more mundane, like ‘Do you think we should have a coffee bar?’ Either way the church grows and functions more like the church that was described in the New Testament, giving hospitality to people who traveled far to share what they have learned and to learn from their church as well. It is this type of church that we should strive to be.

Things We Did Wrong, And How We Could Have Done Better

Now, before I get started the things we did wrong also made us stronger and brought us closer together. While we could have avoided some of the tough times, it was working through the tough times that brought us close.

1. We did not set good boundaries with our extended family. When family came over our attitude was to live and let live. Everyone got the idea that they had a say in our lives. We became a punching bag (or it at least felt that way due to all of the helpful criticism) and when we tried to put a stop to it people were offended. A new marriage is a new thing. The Bible says that a man is to leave his mother and father and become one with his bride for a reason. Make sure that other people, even parents, aren’t allowed to have authority (or think they have authority) over your house. It is a tough transition to make, but politely telling your parents ‘thanks, but (insert spouse’s name) and I have decided to do it this way’ is a good thing to do.

2. We made a few unilateral decisions that would have been better made together. It is not that we would have necessarily decided to do anything differently in the end, but when the decision affects both people, it is easier to jump on board when you have been a part of the discussion rather than when you are feeling blind-sided by it.

3. We stayed in a church that was unhealthy for us a little too long. When your children are grown you have the energy to help a church through the rough times. When church problems directly affect you, and your children are young, your children need your energy more than the church does. Since church problems have a way of consuming our lives it is best to try, but know that if the problem is more than a bump in the road, it is not the right time of life for you to be tackling the issue. Because you have little extra time in your life, you will get cranky and blow things out of proportion and just make everything worse. There are times to step back and let others take the lead.

4. We got goats. Goats seemed like a good thing, but were actually a handful. Be wary when people are giving you things for free. Pets can be great, but make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. This goes for buying big toys like boats, RVs, pools, hot tubs and starting other hobbies. Some things require more work than you wanted to do for the amount of enjoyment you will get from them. Ask people who have been there, done that for advice.

5. We spent a lot of money on music lessons for children with no musical talents or interest. I love playing my saxophone, but my children don’t. It does not take long to see whether, or not, your child has a gift in this area. Don’t waste their time pursuing something they will never use as an adult. This goes for sports as well. It is okay to be fit and have fun, but competitive leagues are for those who enjoy it. Get to know your child and give them training in the areas God actually made them for.

6. Tim did all of the computer stuff for me. After we were at seven children (which happened quickly since we adopted a family group of older children when ours were pre-kindergarten) Tim took over the electronics. This left me frustrated, and feeling stupid when he was not home. This did not make for the best homecoming for the man who needed to fix this now. The electronic age is here and moms need to deal with it too. Everything that comes into the home must be learned by all adults present, especially if children will become upset when they have been promised something and the thing does not work…

I’m sure there is much, much more… but you get the idea.

So, How Did We Get to 40 Happily

  1. We worked hard. We worked in our jobs so that the pay became more than enough to live on. We worked on our marriage so that we understood each other well and we worked with our children so they behaved, because poorly behaved people are not enjoyable.
  2. We lived through things together. We did not split up the tasks into his and hers. Almost every decision was made after talking, and talking and talking. We are now a team, and can step into each other’s shoes when needed. If one of us goes somewhere, the other is not lost.
  3. We trained the kids to be adults. Adults need to know how to clean, cook and take care of their every need, so as soon as the children could, they were learning to do. The boy’s roof collapsed a few weeks ago thanks to high winds and heavy rain. I did nothing. Tim was at work, but my teen-aged boys took care of everything, and their sisters helped. Why? Because they saw a need and took care of it instinctively.
  4. We helped others in front of our children, and with our children whenever possible. They now help us, and others, because that is what they saw growing up. This isn’t volunteering at the food pantry. (Though there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not personal.) This is seeing a neighbor with a need and taking care of it. It’s not hard. Last week our neighbor was hit by a drunk driver so we lent her our car. Simple.
  5. We did what was right, even when people did not like it. We did not appease people and act like doormats. When we did give in to pressure, we explained why this was not a battle that needed to be fought at the moment. The children learned that love was not getting your own way, and that sometimes ‘no’ was reasonable. They also learned that people that cannot be told ‘no’ without getting upset are immature. This was easy to teach because they saw the fits people threw when they did not get their way. The people made themselves look bad, and my children learned that they did not want to be that way. If you never say ‘no’ you never have this experience and your children will not see what unreasonable people look like when they throw an adult-sized tantrum.This behavior also kept us from being constantly under the unreasonable expectations of the ‘adult-children’ in this world who like having everything their way.
  6. We had long night-time devotions. Our family talked, and talked. While the devotions began with scripture, they often veered off course, onto real life. This is okay. Since we home schooled, family talks that lasted past midnight were not a problem. We did not merely lecture, we all talked.
  7. I allowed my husband to be a part of the household. The house is messy and comfortable because that is the way he likes it. He may also do projects in the living room (even ones where saw dust abounds) because it is his home too. Of course he cleans up his own messes. If I were left in charge, the house would be spotless. Not because I like it that way, but because it would have gotten the cattier women off my back! He has kept me from the insanity of pleasing that group of people.
  8. My husband is an adult. He does not come home and do things that I would yell at the children for, like leave his socks on the floor, or ignore the messes he made. He respects me and my time by not contributing to the messes and then leaving the home.
  9. Both my husband and I speak highly of each other. Spouse bashing, especially husband bashing is a social norm. I am not sure people even notice they do it anymore. I did not realize how little we participate in this until my teen aged son experience his first ‘let’s put the men down’ session. He started defending himself and became a bit upset. Most guys are used to it, but should they be?
  10. We are not passive-aggressive. We confront things and talk boldly when needed. This takes a lot of trust. That is the beauty of being married for more than a year or two. But it comes from years of fighting well. If you fight well (fairly, not trying to ‘win,’ but actually trying to explain and understand) then you will grow. Unfair techniques like changing the past, making lists of every sin the person has ever committed, name calling and saying things you don’t mean only get you off topic and prolong the fight. Further they keep you from trusting each other. No one wants to feel like anything they do can be twisted and used against them whenever the other person gets a little cranky. Fight fair. You can show that you are upset, if you are, but talk only about the things that actually upset you, and be honest about it. No lying to make the other one feel better, or worse, and absolutely no silent treatment. That solves nothing. And listen. Actually try to understand what your spouse is saying. Even though you are the one upset, it is not all about you. The two of you are in this together. Listen to his side. It may help you realize that it was not what you thought it was, and now that he knows it upsets you he will never do it again. Many arguments last past the point of the guy saying this because guys don’t tend to elaborate under stress and the girl is not listening.
  11. We lived within our means (mostly). Many relationships are stressed because there are always financial pressures. Even with the best planning financial pressures come, but there are things you can do to make sure they do not come frequently. (Check out Dave Ramsey for excellent advice on this subject.) For us it once meant living in a mobile home park while Tim was a young doctor until we could afford the house we wanted. (Our neighbors loved talking about the ‘doctor’ who lived next door and watching people look totally confused.)

Now remember, this is a list of what we did right. Maybe next week I will compose a list of what we did wrong, and would have done better if we had realized this sooner… ‘Hope this helps!

Why I Like Being Over 40

I came into our small group and sighed, ‘I am so glad I am over 40 right now.’ A male friend smiled and said, ‘You know I was just thinking the same thing today.’

So what makes ‘over 40’ so good? No toddlers, no relationship dramas, great sex and you’ve already seen so much bull that you can spot most of it a mile away. Your children are old enough to help, and hold an intelligent conversation. Your home routine (or lack thereof) is fairly well established, and no one expects you to be super-mom anymore. In fact, if you do sit on the ground with the kids people are asking if you need any help getting up! (Not that I do need the help, but its nice to know that if I don’t feel like getting back to my feet there’s assistance without judgment.)

And that’s the best part. I don’t know if it’s because most of us grew up, or because I just no longer bother wasting my time on these things, but there are a lot less people judging me. The women who are good at hair, make-up, decorating a home etc now offer to help rather than criticize. (And one day I may take them up on their offer… It’s not that I don’t decorate, but hippy/ dorm room is as far as I got in life.) Believe it or not one of my new best friends sells Mary Kay! (Now I know my twitter pic is of the one day I actually did dress up with my daughters, but if you knew me you would know this friend is my antithesis based on this fact alone.) And she doesn’t care that my idea of getting ready in the morning is hopping out of the shower and throwing some hopefully appropriate clothes on.

Now back to the sex. (You thought I just threw that in there and forgot?) Being married for years upon years means you know each other well, that you are comfortable with each other and now that the children are no longer waking you up every night you actually have energy. In fact some nights bedtime comes and you’re not all that tired yet! (Imagine that young moms…) It’s not just the sex though. It’s the absence of fights that are really all about each person not understanding what the other is saying. It’s about being able to say anything you want without the other person taking it the wrong way because they know you and trust that you love them, and always will. It’s comfortable, and comfortable is good. Really good.

Why Do Good Workers Leave?

I was recently talking with a few friends and the topic of volunteering came up. Now these friends are great people, successful in their jobs, and all of them would drop anything in a minute to help anyone if needed. But there are people and places they will not help anymore. Here were some of the reasons given.

1. The place was disorganized. They did not mind helping, but many times they showed up and had to stand around waiting for someone to make a decision. The people in charge did not respect their volunteer’s time. They would have stayed and helped for hours, if needed, but they did not like having their time wasted when they have other important things they could be doing.

2. They felt like there was a bait-and-switch. They volunteered for one thing and then were roped into doing something totally different. Again, they may have volunteered to do whatever they were roped into, but they did not like being ‘tricked’ and were left feeling that the organization was not ‘upright.’

3. Once you volunteered you were ‘on the list,’ which meant you were going to be called for everything. They felt taken advantage of because they had helped before. The frequent comment was, ‘I am not the only person who attends this church, whose kids go to this school etc., so why am I the only one who seems to get called?’ Many organizations burn out their best volunteers because they ask too much of them. Whenever there is a need, they know who to call, and then they can’t figure out why that person either won’t help anymore, or the family leaves.

4. They did not feel appreciated. When they volunteered they were treated poorly. There was a list of rules that seemed to assume they were either mean, lazy or immature. Or the leaders yelled at their volunteers frequently. Even if they were not the ones being reprimanded, the environment was oppressive.

5. The things the organization did to appreciate their volunteers were weird and not enjoyable. Know your audience. There are people who never want to be up on stage, so don’t make them. Others do not see being invited to watch an hour-long teaching tape you thought was ‘edifiying’ as fun. Still others do not want to be involved in ‘group participation’ games. If you are going to thank people, try to make sure it is in a way that they will appreciate. If not they may be thinking, ‘I would love to help but if I do I am going to have to live through that again.’

6. They were made to feel bad when they said ‘no.’ They did not feel that they had the freedom to say ‘no’ without people becoming upset. They did not want to break a relationship over this, but they also had very real reasons for not being able to do things at the moment.

7. They were pressured to do things that were unreasonable, even after they explained why. Many people have professional skills, and do not mind sharing, but at times what is being asked cannot be done for a variety of reasons. It could be that their insurance only covers them on the job, and you are asking them to put themselves at a steep financial risk. It could also be that they need equipment that it not available to them at home, or that what you are asking is not in their area of expertise. (ex. My husband is an ER doctor, most dermatology concerns require a dermatologist. I have heard lawyers, accountants, electricians, plumbers etc have the same problems.)

8. They have to put up with jerks. While this does not sound charitable, it is Biblical to deal with problem people. Unfortunately many organizations do not and people get tired of being mistreated, even if it is by other volunteers. Since they are not getting paid, the volunteers eventually stop putting themselves through the misery. (When they are getting paid, this is a reason they look for another job…)

9. It looked like there was enough help already. Busy people don’t mind volunteering- if they are actually needed. Having a bunch of people standing around doing nothing makes it look like there are already more workers than you need. If the reality is that there are a bunch of people who show up and then do nothing, you may need to motivate the people who are standing around before others get the wrong impression. One place we do not volunteer at for this reason had us stop working after 2 hours even though the job was not done so that they could get the next group started. We assumed that they had more volunteers than they knew what to do with, so we did not feel the need to volunteer there again. This may not have been the case, and may have just been poor planning on their part…

Remember, professional people who have skills you might want to use are used to being treated well and not having their time wasted. They do not have all day to stand around waiting for you, they do have other things they could be doing and they are used to being paid well for their time (and usually thanked as well) so they will expect a thank-you when they are done. (Not that this is why they do things, but it is proper behavior to thank someone who has helped you and they know it.) If you want to keep these people involved, you need to keep these things in mind.

If you think of anything else, please feel free to share.

Lines Guys Use to Get A Girl to Sleep With Them

My friends and I were talking and decided someone needed to do a public service announcement to let naïve girls know he is lying to you to get you into bed! So here it goes.

1. You know I’m going to marry you. Yeah, well where’s the ring? When there is a ring on my finger then I’ll believe you. The gold one, not the diamond. Engagements fall through, so I am waiting to be certain I can count on you.

2. I love you. Really girls? I know sometimes this is all that it takes, but you must admit you are going to sound pretty silly as an unwed pregnant mother when you say, ‘But he said he loved me…’

3. You are so hot I just couldn’t help myself. Really? So this means that when your older and they hire a really hot secretary to work with you I can expect you to sleep with her too?

4. I thought you wanted it too. This is emotional blackmail and a bit of date rape rolled into one. The guy is blaming you for ‘tricking’ him into sex by sending the wrong signals. He knew what ‘no’ meant, trust me. He also knows that you will let him if he pushes because you love him. (And in your mind love means never saying ‘no’ or anything else that might upset a person. Don’t be this girl. She is easily taken advantage of and suffers because of it. And bad boys can spot you a mile away.)

The list is short and I am sure there are many, many more lines out there. Feel free to help me out by sharing any you can think of!

Things Marriage Books Don’t Tell You About Real Marriages…

It is early morning. Your husband has left for work and the children are miraculously sleeping in. You roll over, lifting the covers to snuggle more deeply into the comfy goodness and… What is that smell! It seems that your wonderful husband has left you an early morning surprise. A smell, previously trapped by the covers, that wakes you with a jolt and ruins whatever thoughts of getting back to sleep you would have…

Or, you wake up. You are all cuddled up with the one you love when he says, ‘Oh, by the way, I drooled all over the back of your head last night.’ So romantic.

This is marriage. Oh there are good parts too, but there are the raw, real realities of two people, who are not perfect in every way sharing a life together. (I would add the female counterpart to these stories but they are really gross, much worse than this- trust me. And all the married guys said, ‘Yep.’)

The Problem With ‘Raca’ (Mt. 5:22)

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (NIV)”

The problem with ‘raca,’ or at least our debate about it is that people are not reading enough good Jewish literature. The Bible is a Jewish text, and must be read as such. Jewish literature does two things. First, it uses the word ‘raca’ in many of its stories so that you get a sense of what this word means outside of scripture to an average Jewish person. Second, Jewish literature gives you a sense of how Jews say things. Today, when we make two points consecutively we are often telling you what something is not. For example, I may tell you that my car is grey, and then say ‘a dark grey-almost black.’ This is not how Jewish people talked. Jewish people often said the positive, then said exactly the same thing in a negative way. So what we will see are statements that say if you are good you do this, if you are bad you do that. These statements mean exactly the same thing, they are just said differently so that all may understand. (Read through Proverbs for the best examples of this.)

When we look at the verse on ‘raca’ though, we are trying to figure out what the difference is between calling someone ‘raca’ and calling someone a fool. The point is, there is not one. Fool is a more general term, and can be used Biblically, but here it is calling someone ‘worthless,’ unable to learn and not worthy of our time or attention. Scripture is telling us that we are not to do this. Everyone has worth. This is supported in the teachings that tell us that every person has been made in the image of God and should be treated accordingly. What is being pointed out here is that even the Pharisees (who Jesus frequently disagrees with) realize that it is wrong to treat a person this way, when we know from scripture that they do treat people this way, so how much worse is it when you, who call yourself a follower of Jesus, treat people this way (even a little bit)?

This is an important point. We are not to consider anyone to be ‘worthless.’ So what does this mean? This means that we are not to look down on people or exclude them because we think they are somehow ‘less’ than us. This is hard to do. In many churches people are afraid that the problems children of new believers come in with will affect their children. Worse, some of our more immature members point to the fact that the new people’s behavior (ie. mere presence) interferes with their worship. Because of their fears they tend to subtly shun anyone who is not already ‘up to speed’ on how to behave. This is wrong. While we do need to protect our children, we also need to disciple new people. (People who have been in the church all of their lives should not need discipling; they should be teachers by now!)

Many churches today have overcome these issues and are growing. Unfortunately, instead of figuring out how they are doing this and joining them many smaller churches are condemning the larger ones for ‘watering down the gospel’ as evidence by all of the people who know very little about God in their church (ie new believers) and their need to preach simply (since there are many new believers). But isn’t a whole bunch of new believers exactly what we are told a good church should have? And if you are mature, shouldn’t you be looking for a whole bunch of people to share your wisdom with, rather than keeping it to yourself, and your group who has already read through their Bible a bazillion times? Just saying…

Don’t Be Naive When Raising Children

In raising children who were adopted when they were older I learned a few things that you may find helpful, so I figured I’d pass them on…

1. If your child’s grades improve dramatically, without a known reason (no incentive, or tutoring) praise, but keep your eyes open for cheating.
Real life story: In third grade our son had a parent/ teacher conference. His grades were amazing. We talked to the teacher, and told her that he rarely brought work home. She moved his seat and his grades plummeted…

2. If your child begins to ‘help’ around the house in ways they have never done before, they are probably hiding something they hope you will never find out they are doing.

3. When confronting your child do not begin with a lecture. Ask them a question then listen. When there is silence, don’t be tempted to fill in it yourself. People hate silence. Your waiting tempts them to say more and you will get more of the information you need, such as why they did it, and how much they have done. Then you can talk all you want.

4. If you think they are doing something set them up and watch. If they are not tempted, nothing else will happen.
Real life: We had our pastor over and went to show him our computer monitoring system. Our son, knowing what the pastor might see, suddenly needed to talk with us. (But not before the pastor saw that the system actually works… We did warn him.)

5. Check to see that your children are where they say they are. Many, many kids say they are sleeping over a friend’s house and go elsewhere, usually with the friend they say they are spending the night with. Always check with the other child’s parents.

6. Explain to your child that the punishment is always worse if they lie. There should be some benefit to telling the truth and coming clean.

7. If your child is suddenly rebellious, blows up easily or won’t talk to you when they normally would there is something wrong. Take them someplace for a long period of time, a shopping trip, fishing, hiking etc. anywhere with no distractions where you can talk. Eventually they will. You may need a weekend for some problems… One of my children talked best at the pet store.

8. Talk to your child when there is nothing wrong on a regular basis (a lot). They need to have practice talking to you. This will make difficult conversations easier. The regular conversations will also make it harder for them not to tell you things since they know they are expected to talk, and whatever is bothering them is probably on their mind. If they normally talk, and are suddenly silent, there is probably something wrong. Don’t stop the talk until you find out what it is.

9. Even ‘good’ kids mess up. The difference between raising a child well, and doing it poorly is what you do when they do mess up. Do not think that your child would never do something wrong. If you do nothing, your child will learn that they can get away with things if they keep up appearances. Adults may make mistakes, but they rarely lie about a child. No one likes calling the parent. Take bad reports from other adults seriously. Thinking that your child can do no wrong reinforces phony and sneaky behavior.

10. Watch TV shows or movies that deal appropriately with the issues your child might be facing. It teaches in a way you may not be able to and opens the door for discussions. You can discuss the issue using the characters as examples so that it does not feel so personal or confrontational.

11. Touch is important. If you have gotten to a place where hugs and other forms of parental affection are not welcomed try a physical sport as a family such as the martial arts. Headlocks are ‘touching’ without the ‘ew Mom’ factor. (One of my boys was 10 when we adopted him. Not a ‘hug your new mother’ age.)

12. If your child begins to get the mail for you for no known reason. (My children reminded me of this one, so I had to add it!) Chance are your child is trying to intercept something they know is coming in the mail that they do not want you to see. Speeding tickets, warnings about grades etc fall into this category. Real life: I once heard a story about a mom, who in the middle of a special ‘day date’ with her daughter at home was surprised by the police at her door. Since whatever her daughter did with the car, then intercepted the mailed warnings and ignored was in the mother’s name, they were coming to take the mom to jail. Wonderful.

I hope this helps. It may not; every family is different. Remember that whenever you read advice and use common sense. There is no-one-size-fits-all solution for any ‘human’ problem. God created us all unique, which complicates things… have fun.

You Can Be a Proverbs 31 Woman- and Probably Are (Unless You Are a Guy…)

The Proverbs 31 woman has been blown out of proportion. She is larger than life- but really she is not. First, we need a little perspective. This is advice given to a man, who is to be king, by his mother on picking a wife. It is not advice to a woman on what they should do, nor is it a daily check list of what should get done. This man is a king. These are the requirements for a woman who is to be queen. If you are not marrying someone who is destined to be in charge of a country, or are not going to be in charge of a country, then these requirements must be ‘tweeked’ to fit the type of life you will enjoy.
So, let’s look at Proverbs 31 with a new perspective…
-First requirement: She must be a wife of ‘good character.’ I think we can handle that, especially since Biblically any woman, or man, who repents and turns to God is treated as a full child of God. So even Rahab the prostitute now qualifies.
-Her husband has full confidence in her, meaning she is a capable woman who makes good decisions. Her husband does not worry about her doing something stupid when he is not there. This is good marriage advice. Too many boys are looking for a girl who needs to be ‘rescued’ and who makes them feel like a ‘man’ because she ‘needs’ him to solve her problems. This is not the woman scripture tells a man to look for.
-She brings him good and not harm. No matter how she ‘feels,’ she works for his best interests and does not do things that would undermine him. This means no passive-aggressive behavior!
-She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. This means that even though she is to be ‘rich’ (the wife of a king) she has basic skills, so even if her circumstances change and her family needs her to do whatever, she can, and will, gladly. Today this would mean that she would cook and clean, shop at a thrift store and cut coupons happily if need be.
-She shops for the best price and quality. Since people walked to shop, this means she does not just buy the first thing she sees, but is frugal and good with money, even though they have plenty at the moment.
-She gets up early and feeds the servants. She makes sure the people she is responsible for are well cared for. Today this would mean that the children will get breakfast and their lunches are made because she is the type of person who would wake up in time to get them off to school.
-Since she is going to be a wealthy woman she should already have money of her own and be able to use it wisely. She can therefore consider a property and manage the vineyard (business) she creates. This means that she is able to manage any projects she becomes involved with so that they do not add to her husband’s responsibilities. She is not a burden, but an asset, increasing the family’s wealth without increasing the stress on her husband. (By the way, men typically work in a vineyard and she is in charge. She has no problem handling things at work, and has the respect of her employees so this is not an issue.)
-She works vigorously and her arms are strong. She is not a wimp. She is in good physical health, and is able to work hard. Think of the women that God chose as wives in the Bible. Many of them were shepherdesses, able to lift heavy things and do much physical work.
-Her trading is profitable. The projects she gets into make money. What she does in her free time is not a drain on the family finances.
-Her lamp does not go out at night. In Biblical times wicks needed to be trimmed and the oil lamp needed to be filled before bed at night. This is a woman who makes sure that the little things get done. This woman makes sure the garbage is out on garbage day, the iron is off before she leaves the house etc. Her husband does not need to double-check on the little things she is responsible for.
-She holds the distaff and grasps the spindle in her hand. She knows how to sew. If needed, this wealthy woman could make clothes for her family. She has skills.
-She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She is giving, and is not afraid to mix with the less fortunate. She does not look down on them, and even though she is queenly, she notices people in need and helps.
-She does not fear the snow because her household is well clothed. She prepares ahead of time for things she knows are coming. This means that she is not running out to buy boots and coats on the first snow day because she did not plan ahead.
-She makes coverings for her bed, and is clothed in linen and purple. She knows how to decorate her house and dress as is fitting for her position in life. Her appearance is not going to embarrass her husband. When she needs to be elegant (as a queen often does) she can do so easily. For many of us, this is not necessary, and if we are trying to dress like a queen, when we need to be ‘functional’ because we are actually running after kids, then we are doing the opposite of what is necessary and are behaving contrary to this verse. This woman needs to look the part because her husband is king. If your husband is not a king, and your ‘society’ is blue jeans and flip-flops then you should dress and decorate your house in a way that will not embarrass your spouse.
-Her husband is respected. This implies that she does not embarrass him, and, because of what she does, people look more favorably on him.
-She makes things to sell. Even though she is rich, she does useful, profitable work in her spare time.
-She is strong and dignified. She is not full of anxiety and fear, but can laugh at the future because she is confident that she can handle whatever is to come.
-She is wise and is able to instruct others. She is not a ditzy airhead. She is smart, and paid attention in school.
-She manages her household well and is not lazy.
-Her children call her blessed and her husband praises her. This is a woman who has raised her children to respect her, and she is so capable her husband would feel awkward making derogatory jokes about her.
-She surpasses all other women. This is because she is the perfect wife for her husband. She fits him well. He can imagine no other woman being as good for him as she is.
-She fears God.
There is also a reminder that charm and beauty are fleeting. A man is not to pick a wife based on her ability to flatter him, or how ‘hot’ she is. These things will not last. Instead he is to pick a woman who has godly characteristics. She is also to receive the rewards her work deserves and is to be praised for what she does. This means that she may be pampered and complimented for doing all that she does.
When you look at the list what you will find is that there are many, many godly women out there, and husbands who are lucky to have them! Not married? This is the list to use. Men, don’t be tricked into marrying a woman who makes you ‘feel’ like a ‘man’ for superficial reasons. The point here is that you want a strong, capable woman, who enhances your life, not one who leans on you and cannot do anything on her own! And if tough times come, she is capable of managing in poverty without complaint as well. (Remember, kingdoms topple, and kings often find themselves in exile during this time in history… A good ‘queen’ needs to be prepared for this as well.)

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