Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: The Servant-Leader Mom

Scripture meditation/Memorization :"...sent to strengthen [my husband and children], to encourage [them] in [their] faith, and to keep [them] from being shaken by the troubles [they] will go through. ~ 1 Thes 3:2&3 (personalized)

Near the end of 2010, I was doing a study on the Thessalonians and I came across the above verse in which Paul had sent Timothy to this group of people for the purpose of strengthening and encouraging them:
And we sent Timothy, our brother and God's co-worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith, so that no one will be shaken by these persecutions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. (HSCB)

I felt the Spirit of God state to me "this is what I want from you towards your family in this new year". If there is any thing I have failed the most in, I fear it is this-being a good mother according to scripture. I know we all have felt this doubt the Proverbs 31 Woman felt that way on her bad days...she was human after all.

I have never had the privilege of being a stay at home mom. My children grew up in home day cares while I grew a career out of financial necessity. So much of my childrens time was lost to "others". I regret that I wasn't stronger spiritually for my girls as a working mom. I only pray they have caught enough glimpses of Christ in my life to be drawn to it personally. Daily I pray that God will capture their hearts and change mine to be a stronger spiritual leader for them. So I personalized this verse above for that purpose and hence began my deeper look into being the Proverbs 31 Woman. Does this scripture not describe the role of a mother-someone who strengthens...encourages...protects...nurtures and facilitates a life of faith in God?

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Prov 22:6

Donna Otto in a chapter "The Art of Motherhood" from Youniquely Women; Becoming Who God Designed You To Be references motherhood as the art of being a servant...a servant leader: "Children are a gift from God, and raising them is an act of service to Him. He's given you the authority-indeed, the responsibility-to teach and train them. You hold two positions: parent-in-charge and servant-leader".

She goes on to describe a servant-leader mother is not one that acts as a slave to her children but a mother who is in charge. I interpreted this mother to be one who demonstrates her relationship with her God to the extent it becomes their relationship with their God also. A servant leader grows and builds a childs God-given strengths. She helps them to excel at the talents and abilities God created in them. She prepares them for the good in life and for the hardships they may endure. Just like our verse up above...

King Lemuel's description of his mother in Proverbs 31 is fitting for the servant-leader mom. Taking from the Message version he describes her as:
She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.

She is diligent=intentional. She speaks=strengthens. She is kind=encourages. She is watchful=nurturer. She is directive=facilitator.

We may have failed miserably at times as a mother but just like in our personal walk with God and our failures to Him, we can seek forgiveness and strive to be more intentional in this journey. I don't imagine that the Proverbs 31 Woman allowed her bad times, her bad days, her bad attitudes or reactions to her family to rule cause her to give-up in her role as a mother. You know she had to know and understand well the wise words of Proverbs 6:23
For sound advice is a beacon,
good teaching is a light,
moral discipline is a life path.

This month, lets start living more intentional as a mother. Seek daily to strengthen, encourage, and nurture our children towards the eternal. Find ways to grow their faith in God. Here are a few things that come to my mind...
  • Lay a 3X5 card on their pillow or place it in their lunch sack with a special piece of scripture they can carry with them for that day or that week.
  • Pray intentionally for them and let them know what you are praying for them.
  • Let them see you in God's Word.
  • React spiritually when they disappoint you. Too often we scream or cut down their action when we could instead talk it through by drawing out God's input in it. There are cleaver ways in doing this and with practice you can become very skillful in this with the rebellious child.
  • Spend time with them individually and listen...just listen.
  • Give out extra hugs and kisses this month....and don't let it stop with this month
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." ~ Deut. 6:6-10 (NKJV)

A servant-leader mom...intentionally modeling her relationship to God...growing her childrens faith. Here are some scripture to mediate on related to this topic:

Ps. 34:8; 127:3; 139:13-14, 16;
Prov 19:20; 23:7
Phil 2:15-16
1 Thess. 2:7, 11-12
1 Tim. 1:5
2Tim. 3:15

As Beth Moore wrote in her study Jesus The One and Only, the ultimate legacy we can leave is that "She was just about God"...May we live lives that would cause others to be surprised to find us any other place than to "be found in Him" (Phil 3:9)

Let your life as a mother radiate what happens when God has control of your heart and mind. Demonstrate an unwavering faith with a rugged and radical obedience to God. Let God's story be told through you as you seek to serve Him as a mother.

Uniquely His~Pamela

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: Honor and Blessings

Scripture meditation/memory verses for this week: "Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land...Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her" ~ Prov. 31: 23 & 28 (NIV)

Welcome to our eighth week of looking at the Proverbs 31 Womans journey in her marriage. Today, I want to explore what is means to be "blessed".

Recently when snowed in, I took a marriage book off my shelf and flipped through it. It was a book I had studied when my first marriage was failing. I read through my comments in the exercise portion and there was a repeated theme in my responses. At that time I was constantly writing about being appreciated as a wife and mother and the need I had for someone, especially my husband at the time, to tell me I was doing a good job or to praise me for the effort I was making as a woman who had to work out side the home. It was one of the elements the grew to be destructive in our marriage and played a factor in its failure.

Have you been there? It's a painful time to remember but a reality for many young wives and mothers who are not feeling appreciated or acknowledged in their efforts to be a blessing. In those circumstances, we are far from be "blessed" in their sight, so what are we doing wrong? If we are to bless them enough to be called "blessed" what has to change?

I have also been on the other end when my current husband has referenced me as his godly wife to another person or another lady commented on how godly she perceived me to be when internally I knew I was failing. but those comments felt like an incredible hug that just wouldn't end. Have you been hugged that way? It's not a selfish thought...this blessed women is what we are to strive to be!

So what does it take to be called "blessed"? How do we live to bless our husband, our marriage, and out God? As I was thinking about these possible characteristics, my mind went to the Matthew 5: 3-10 (HCSB) and the beatitudes:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
because the kingdom of heaven
is theirs.
Blessed are those who mourn,

because they will be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle,

because they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness,

because they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
because they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
because they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
because they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness,
because the kingdom of heaven
is theirs.

So lets make this fit into marriage...

The blessed woman is a godly woman that does not live for herself but she lives for others first. She has learned that being broken is a spiritual gift. There is less of her and more of God. Being poor in spirit is not about being depressed and being timid, it is about being a women who is secure in her God and because of this, her husband finds strength from her.

The blessed woman has not doubt experienced grief and loss but she has learned from Jesus example. She is able to communicate her care, her concerns, her tears to God and to her husband. She can accepts the loss or pain and is able to grow from it and love stronger. She is able to minister to others with a heart that is caring. Her husband is able to come to her and he knows he will be loved and supported. She is also able to allow her husband to embrace her when she is most weak and to rest in his strength, as she also does with her heavenly Father.

A blessed women lives her life humbly. She is content with what her God and her husband has provided for her. She is a woman of meekness and this characteristic is treasured by her God and her husband.

A blessed woman craves God and remains in Him. She feeds His truths to her husband, to her family, and to others. Her life causes other to crave God. She compliments her husband spiritually. They are able to walk together in their faith and grow in.

A blessed woman is overflowing with the mercy she herself has received from God. She extends this mercy to her husband, her family, and others. She is kind and compassionate. She does not allow the pain others may bring on her to bring her down or to make her react unkindly. Her husband cherishes this about her.

A blessed woman has a pure heart and pure motive. She prays before she speaks or acts. She considers the affect before she takes actions. She is sold out for God in body, mind, and spirit. She is about pleasing God and pleasing her man. And in return, they are pleased with her. She is a woman who says "yes" to God...a Jesus girl.

A blessed woman seeks to create peace in any environment she is in. Her home is a haven of peace and comfort and her husband (and others) feel welcomed in it.

The blessed woman does not bow down to worldly pressures. She is not about "keeping up with the Jones". She is about being the woman of God that He intended her to be. And when adversity and persecution strikes, it only pushes her closer and more dependent on her God. She trust and confidently walks with God. This makes her husband secure in her.

Her children arise and call her blessed;her husband also, and he praises her
~Proverbs 31: 28

Our husband need us to be these things so he can be what God intended him to be. A lot of qualifications to consider in being able to be called "blessed" be seen as one who blesses her husband and her God. I don't know about you but this is what my husband deserves.

Read this passage of scripture in the Message version for more insight....

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

I want to be a wife that is a blessing to my husband. I want to also be a blessing to my God. I know you do too. This week, I encourage you to ponder on the "Beatitudes of Marriage" I found by an unknown author below. Look at applying this into your days and be BLESSED! Search for supporting scripture that gives each of these statements biblical truth!

Blessed are the husband and wife who continue to be affectionate, considerate, and loving after the wedding bells have ceased ringing.
Blessed are the husband and wife who are as polite and courteous to one another as they are to their friends.
Blessed are they who love their mates more than any other person in the world, and who joyfully fulfill their marriage vow of a lifetime of fidelity and mutual helpfulness to one another.
Blessed are they who attain parenthood, for children are a heritage of the Lord.
Blessed are they who remember to thank God for their food before they partake of it, and who set apart some time each day for the reading of the Bible and for prayer.
Blessed are those mates who never speak loudly to one another, and who make their home a place “where seldom is heard a discouraging word.”
Blessed are the husband and wife who faithfully attend the worship service of the church, and who work together in the church for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.
Blessed are the husband and wife who can work out the problems of adjustment without interference from relatives.
Blessed is the couple which has complete understanding about financial matters, and have worked out a perfect partnership, with all money under the control of both.
Blessed are the husband and wife who humbly dedicate their lives and their homes to Christ, and who practice the teachings of Christ in the home by being unselfish, loyal and loving.
-- Author
Believing Him~Pamela

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: Trust and Marriage

Scripture meditation/memory verses for this weeks: The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. She rewards him with good, not evil, all the days of her life. ~ Prov. 31:11-12

Welcome to week seven in our Proverbs 31 Journey as we continue to explore marriage and the Proverbs 31 woman. We have looked at the Proverb 31 woman's role in being noble, or virtuous, and we have looked at being a submissive women and giving your man the gift of leading. This week we are looking at the affects of trust in a marriage.

Is trust assumed or is it earned? Does it come naturally when one falls in love or is it something that must be worked at? What are key components behind trust in a marriage?

Trust is foundational in holding a marriage together. We learn at an early age that we can trust someone because they do what they say they are going to do and/or because they say what they mean and mean what they say. We fall in love and we learn or assume trust in the same manner. As you walk into your marriage, your mate is trustworthy and so are you.

When you look up on the internet or pull books off the shelf on this subject of trust in a marriage, every thing tends to be about what destroys trust. We know that don't we? Some of us have lived that through a lie, a deception, in unfaithfulness, though dishonesty, or from an inconsiderate word or action. We are well familiar with what tears down trust. So lets take a different approach and look at what influences trust. Here are a few things God laid on my heart as I write this.

You have heard it said that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right? Its true but what if I was to quote
Becky Freeman and say "a way to a mans heart is through your ears" ? She wrote a chapter with this title in her book "Chocolate Chili Pepper Love: Stories that prove opposites attract"....yes, it is a Christian book! It is a fun read and I find this concept-that a way to a mans heart is through your ears-is a vital component to building your mans trust.

Becky referenced an evening where she was alone with her husband and she gifted him with listening. She describes her husband as a reserved man and that evening she gave him room to express his thoughts and dreams. She gave him her attention. She writes:
"..I didn't interrupt or interject my own thoughts, as is so often my habit. Oh, occasionally I threw in a piggyback question or encouraging comment, but mostly I gently batted the conversation ball back into his court. Amazing. Like a bud opening to flower, I sat in that cozy atmosphere and observed my husband come to life...I realized how happy he seemed at the moment, how starved he'd probably been for the listening ear of a wife who, of late, had been far too preoccupied with herself. I also realized another truth: Men don't stop talking because the aren't talkers by nature. They stop talking because we stop really listening. "
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. ~ James 1:19

Can we give our man the gift of listening? I believe this to be a Proverb 31 woman's strength in building trust in her marriage or her relationship with her God.

"Be still, and know that I am God". ~ Psalm 46:10

Another key component to building your mans trust lies in your they build your husband up or do they tear him down? Do your words praise and adore him? Do they support him and give him strength, especially when he is feeling weak? Remember our memory verse...
She rewards him with good and not evil all the days of her life....

We will not be perfect every day. Our hormones may prevail against our better judgment and throw out some words we may later regret. I know there have been times when my husband needed my words of affirmation and in my anger or frustration selfishly I have not given them. Our man will not be perfect and we need to have the mercy and grace to accept that as God does with us. Sometimes forgiveness and letting go of a touchy matter of the heart is the best thing we can do for our matter who is "right" in that situation.

If satan is throwing negative remarks about your man to your head and to your heart such as "he doesn't appreciate me like he should" or "he didn't even care about my thoughts on this one", we can we counteract that with positive thoughts such as "he works so hard to support us"..."he has such a strong heart for the things of God". Positive can always trump the negative!

A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof. ~ Proverbs 19:13

I have found the most valuable thing I can do when I am not "feeling the love" towards my man in a difficult situation is to pray "Lord, change my heart and my mind to match yours with this situation". Sometime I have to pray this over and over but the affect is the same...God responds...He changes me. His peace covers me every time and that affects my husband (and me) in a very good way.

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. ~ Proverbs 21:19
Another key component to trust is action. Does your body language support what you are saying? When you tell him you love him are you buried into something else and brush away his attempts at a kiss? do you acknowledge his heart for God but are quick to correct him on a spiritual matter? Maybe those extra pounds or the long hours with those busy kids prevent you from sharing yourself to him?

Do your actions speak love? When we talk about components of trust in a marriage, above all else...there is the need for love. Look back at your wedding pictures. Where was your heart, your mind, your soul when you looked into his eyes then? Scripture so eloquently list the characteristic of love from 1 Cor 13...
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails.

Does your husband trust you with everything...finances...secrets...weaknesses...
your love...your spirituality?
Be trustworthy.

"A kindhearted woman gains honor..."~Proverbs 11:16

As we approach Valentines day and think about what we can gift our husband with. I encourage you take a verse a day from the 1 Cor 13 passage above and pray it for your man, for your marriage, and for yourself (I have listed an example below). Meditate on each of the verses for that day and watch in amazement at what God will do!!

Monday: pray for your love to be long suffering and kind-to be bountiful in mercy and grace towards your husband. Pray that God will protect you both form envy and that your words and action will be void of any pride.

Tuesday: pray that your words and actions and the words and actions of your husband does not behave rudely, is void of any selfishness, and that God will cover you and rule this day, preventing you or your husband from satan and his attacks. Pray for all evil to be blocked by God before it reaches your home, or the eyes and heart of your husband or yourself.

Wednesday: pray that you both are full of compassion for each other and others around you and that you both can live this day rejoicing in God's truth. Ask God to show Himself and His truths . Ask God for a rebirth of your love and passion for each other.

Thursday: ask God to help you bears all things, believe in all things from Him, hope all things, endure through all things. Lay out your concerns of your heart related to your man, your marriage and your role with both. Ask God to help you love your man as he loves your man.

Friday: Ask God to give you both ears to listen, words to affirm, actions that speak love, and a love that never fails. Paln a quiet event or time for pillow talk where you can practice listening to your man in a new and special way.

And don't forget to take a walk down memory lane this week and look at those wedding pictures and videos together.

See you next week when we look at what it means to be called "blessed".

Believing Him~Pamela

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: Submission

Scripture meditation/memory verse: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. " ~ Eph 4:2

There is a chapter in the book "Seven Principles for Every Woman" co-authored by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa Terkuerst (2001). One chapter, Chapter 8 to be specific, written by Sharon James should be a must read for all brides. The title of this chapter is "Leader: The Gift Only a Wife Can Give"(everything in pink in this entry is quoted from within this chapter). What a great topic as the Valentine holiday approaches!! Think about that title...think about that gift.

Most woman in the world avoid or shun that word submission. It can carry so many negative inclinations when God really meant for it to be a beautiful gift. So we will look at it from that perspective...a beautiful gift. I like to think that a submissive wife result in a wife that compliments her husband and isn't that what we were created for?

Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him. ~ Genesis 2:18 (Amplified)

Think about the role of a helper, of someone who compliments is a position of honor. There are some great examples of this in scripture. David called on God to be his helper on many occasions:
"LORD, listen and be gracious to me; LORD, be my helper." ~ Ps 30:10 (HCSB)

A helper was reference by Christ to the Holy Spirit:
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—" ~ John 14:16 (NKJV)

These are big shoes to follow but since we are made in his image, He has equipped us with the ability to be a helpmate...a compliment.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ~ Genesis 1:27

So borrowing from Sharon's chapter, lets focusing on Ephesians 5:33 in the Amplified version and see how we can be the helper and compliment He has created us to be for our man (and if you are single then it would be for your God!):
However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].

Sharon writes for us to "look at the directives in this verse and their opposites to see how we stack up". Are you ready for the challenge?

Do we respect or do we show contempt?
Do we reverence or do we dishonor?
Do we notice or do we ignore?
Do we regard or do we disregard?
Do we honor or do we humiliate?
Do we prefer or do we exclude?
Do we venerate or do we belittle?
Do we esteem or do we mock?
Do we defer or do we usurp?
Do we praise or do we criticize?
Do we love or do we hate?
Do we admire or do we ridicule?

Here's another question...does submission mean a woman who compliments her man cannot offer advise or wise counsel? The opposite is true according to our memory verse above. I have cherished the times my husband has sought my opinion and thoughts.

In this chapter Sharon also points out that we have three choices when it comes to submission...we can
  1. Lovenly submit to our husbands and support them in their leadership.
  2. Begrudgingly submit to our husbands, complete with pouting, sulking, cold shoulders, nonverbal hostility, and a bounty of "I told you so's" if their decisions turn out unfavorably.
  3. Refuse to submit, thereby winning the battle but chipping away at the foundation of the marriage.

Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the [Christian] message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live." ~ 1 Peter 3:1

Every marriage is different and every man is created differently but the rules apply to all. There are some homes where the man does not take the initiative to be the leader in their home. Then what? I believe the verse above states strongly that if a woman is willing to be submissive, to compliment her husband and follow God's direction, that in time her submission will draw him into that leadership. There are women who have lived this out to reality!!

Allowing your husband to be the leader is truly a gift from you. Compliment him ladies. It takes work but in the end, your rewards will be so much greater-a happier marriage, a more secure home, and contentment! And lets not forget that you will develop a closer relationship with God. Dare I say that if you compliment your husband you also compliment God?!?!?

Here are some more scripture for you to meditate on this week:

Song of Songs 2:16

John 14:15-16

1 Cor. 11:13

Col. 3:18

Eph. 5:22

1 Tim 2:11

Several years ago my husband and I went away on our anniversary to our favorite cabin in the woods. We took with us two little book written Lysa Terkeurst: "Capture His Heart" and "Capture Her Heart". My husband read and made comments on the book "Capture His Heart", and I did the same for "Capture Her Heart". Then we gave the appropriate book to each other. Just today I was flipping through the pages reading my mans remarks to what he found to be so true to his life from those written words. I encourage you to do this this with your does not matter how long you have been married or how good your marriage is. These books have become a "manual" to our mates need and hearts desires.

This week, make an effort to compliment your man and your God!! Next week we tread on in this journey of looking at our marriages exploring that trust factor...see you then!

Believing Him~Pamela