Monday, November 19, 2012

Proverbs 31 -- a journey....

 So, I'm fully aware, I'm a slacker. I'm in mid-story about our "journey"....but feel led to share (document) these words as they are where I am right now.  I just wrapped up, with some dear friends, a Bible Study on the Proverbs 31 Woman. This was created by some beautiful sisters in Christ, who have such a heart for God and encourage some of us daily in His word!  If you are interested, here is the intro blog post that will give you all the info. 

I have been so convicted through this study of my abilities vs. actions. I have read Proverbs 31 too many times to count, yet never really stepped up and studied it, or at least not quite as deep as this. I have had my toes stepped on, especially in areas where I knew thought I was "good." I have recognized that I am an organized homemaker procrastinator. My heart is definitely in it, but my organization skills, weren't being used as they should be. I had to step back, evaluate, and prioritize. I had to get on my knees a few great many times and beg God to help me. I had completely lost my JOY in my homemaking, but worse, in being a wife and mother. In essence, I realized, I had lost a LOT of ME!

I am now on a journey to find me. Seeking Him first, and in doing so, in obedience to Him, being the best me (which includes, wife, mommy, homemaker, teacher, servant and friend -- and more) I can be...all to bring Him glory! I want to have a heart for Him and it to be evident in ALL that I do.  I love, and I do mean LOVE, The Message translation of Proverbs 31:10-31. I am sharing it below, along with some notes of mine in blue following certain section. They are true reflections of my heart as I journeyed along the path of discovering the true Proverbs 31 Woman. 

A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,

    and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
    all her life long.

*This woman's value is immeasurable. She holds (but doesn't choose to use) the ability to drain her husband, she chooses, however, to build him up. He can fully trust her in ALL areas of their lives. I always considered this to mean faithfulness, and while it does, it also includes areas of money, training the children, running the home, how she speaks of him (even to her dearest of friends), controlled emotions under pressure, and her choices as tough circumstances arise. WOW! This caught me way off guard to consider all those areas. And how can she do these things? Well, of course, not alone...she must look to the Father for instruction and guidance and not cease (or become complacent, as I had) in doing so. 

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
    reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

*She is BUSY! She is STRONG - in all areas, physical, mental, spriritual, emotional! She is cheerful in her work, always serving others. She works for the Lord, ultimately, and so she gives her all, daily. Her household duties aren't meaningless or silly to her, she doesn't complain about repeating the same tasks day in and day out. She knows what needs to be done and sets about it, knowing Who she is serving. She's training up the next generation of husbands and wives, men and women of God...therefore, she trains them alongside her. She is wise with their money, she is profitable in her trading. I have always been confused (personally), as to how this applied to me, a stay at home mom. After MUCH prayer and meditation, through this study, I've realized, I am in a season where working, or creating something to bring in money isn't possible. However, I CAN be smart and frugal with what we have, thus, contributing to our savings. She doesn't stop at her family, she serves others, as well. She has planned ahead SO well, that cooking a meal for a sick friend, or helping someone in a pinch, isn't an issue. She can rest, knowing her family is cared for and because of her generous heart/spirit, her children learn and gain a servant's heart as well. 

Her husband is greatly respected
    when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
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.

*Her husband is a man who is WELL respected. I gather, though scripture doesn't say, he is so respected because of the way he raises his family and conducts himself. His wife isn't a gossip, she, instead uses her words wisely and they are life-giving to those she speaks to, including, but not limited to, her husband and children. Who they see her as, in private, is who she is in public as well. She is well-dressed, but not vain. Her beauty comes from her love, inner-spirit, and all from her fear of God. She KNOWS where her children are, who they are with, and what they're involved in. She makes herself present and approachable, open to her family (and others), available to listen. She trains her children and makes sure they don't become lazy, yet knows how to maintain and create balance between work and play. 

Her children respect and bless her;
    her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
    but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!

    Festoon her life with praises! -- Proverbs 31:10-31 -- The Message

*And finally - she is PRAISED for her goodness. She didn't seek it. She didn't work for it. But, she receives it because she did ALL that she did for His glory, she gave Him credit, not herself. Her pure heart and hospitality, her training of her children, her love and adoration for her husband, and her serving others...all this behind her obedience to Christ, places her in a place where she is admired and praised. 

My journey is not complete. And it won't be. Not this side of Heaven, anyhow. I do, however, have a new attitude, a focus that I pray I maintain. I have made a goal to revisit this study annually to gauge my growth, and set new goals. For now, I'm working on my attitudes with my husband and children, household, routines, and most importantly, my daily walk with the Father. My ultimate prayer is a heart like David, a heart after God; and to stay focused, feet firmly planted (yet not so firm, I can't move forward), and continued growth, as I have recognized so much that I thought I knew. Ultimately, my focus must remain, on Jesus, it is through Him, I will find the JOY I seek, the LOVE I know, and the LIFE I desire. Enough said.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Losses....or Prayers Answered?

One should NEVER and again, I say, NEVER, underestimate the power of prayer! I have had the book, Power of a Praying wife, by Stormie OMartian for years. I've read through it, prayed all chapters, and at times, some chapters that were applicable to that time period, but honestly, I think I've memorized some of that book, and the accompanying verses over the past 6-8 months. It was during his first week at his new job, that I realized, even though at the time, it was hard to see.....I prayed him through this storm! And, God was faithful ALL along!

So I'm sitting beside him on the couch, reading through my journal (it bears saying that reading both of our journals became prophetic at some points....) and it was as if God spoke to me right then and there. He said, "Dee, my child, can't you see? I've been there. Answered ALL of these prayers. My timing is not yours, My ways, not yours, but I am faithful and just and loving. Take a look and see that I am good."

So, I begin to flip through, my journal and my Power of a Praying Wife book. Sure enough, it was all there in black and white (and my doodles of blue, highlighted with pink, orange, and yellow). My favorite line is written in my journal, highlighted and underlined in my book, and starred in my book. It is: "If the work he is doing ins not in line with Your perfect will for his life, reveal it to him. Show him what he should do differently and guide him down the right path." I have written in my journal with that, "Lord show him what You would have him do, and where You are leading, reveal the door of good for him and open this door of opportunity which no man can shut. Lead him to the right people (and my favorite line) and remove from his path (or he from theirs) those who WOULD BE TROUBLE."

Now, I am not saying his ex-boss is a bad man, I don't know him. I only know that he was NOT the boss for my husband or any number of other people he's trampled on. Of course, in my mind, the above mentioned prayers, meant that we would find a new job, give a 2 weeks notice, and start a new journey. But God reminded me of another area I'd prayed and gently led me to another section of my book and my journal.

Again, in black and white (and my additions of color), it was clear again. He answered my prayers. I had begin praying for his health especially back in June when our Dr. forced my husband into a 4 week FMLA leave of absence due to stress. The Dr.'s specific instructions during this 4 weeks, was to find another job and get the heck out of that place. So, we kicked up our search big time. But, that was not the timing. He went back to work in July, and where he was rested from his 4 weeks of normal stress, within a week, he was already back in a not so great place.

So, back to my journal ---- I look and see that I've highlighted: "Even though we pray and have faith, the outcome and timing are God's decision. He says there is a "time to heal" (Ecclesiastes 3:3)." Further on, I have written out and highlighted from the book: "Wherever there is anything out of balance, set it into perfect working order. Heal him of any illness, injury or weakness. Strengthen his body to successfully endure his workload and when he rests, may he wake completely rested, rejuvenated, and refreshed. Fill him with your joy to give him strength."  Then I have written out Psalm 107:1--20 - "They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction."

In my mind, I was praying for healing within his current place of work. My thought was, God hasn't answered our prayers and so maybe our answer is to stay put and trust in Him. This angered me, because I was watching my husband suffer, and lose confidence in what he's spent his life loving and learning.  But, who am I? God knows best, right?

He reminded me on the couch that night, "I do know best. I answered your prayers. I heard your words, I rescued him, gave him rest, and have a new and beautiful path for him. Be patient my child." Well, I'm sure by now, God is FULLY aware, patience isn't my strongest virtue. I can see now, looking back, he took what was out of balance, and fixed it...I thought I was praying for health, but God sees a man as a whole being, perfectly created by His own hands. And so His idea of fixing things and mine, were so different.

He removed from his path all dangers....He showed him which path was not his, because we clearly couldn't see.....He gave him a time to heal (5 weeks to be exact).....and rescued us from our distress. Shawn went to his new job with a confidence I hadn't seen in years (that's a part of the story, I will share later)...and refreshed!

So, for now, I must stop....the kiddos are waking, but stay tuned....this story isn't done.  :)

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Losses....on the Journey...

 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. - Psalm 119:105

Ultimately, there comes a time in our lives when nothing is clear. Uncertainty looms, and we don't know what to do, what to say, where to go, or what will come next. I've been there. Quite recently, as a matter of fact, and it was (is) a journey I don't regret. 

My husband lost his job. To be quite honest, I was terrified. He is the only income for our family, we are a homeschooling family and I have been a stay at home mom since November 1999. We had NEVER in our 18 years of marriage been on a journey like this. He's always had a stable, dependable job, even throughout the tough economy, even though, he worked in the automotive sector. We've been blessed, I guess, as I know of many who've been down this path several times. 

What made this so huge, to me at least, was the fact that this didn't happen once. It happened twice, and in less than 2 years. The first time, we had stepped out in faith, believing God was leading us back to our East TN roots, which we still don't doubt. We were prayerfully, after 14 years away, coming home. He worked for 29 days at this awesome company, doing this awesome job he was so excited about. Then the bottom fell out, they hit financial difficulties and we were a casualty of that. That journey, while God provided for us, isn't one I'm proud of. Our faith was weak, we tried to do it alone, I spoke the words, but honestly, my faith was quite wishy-washy during that time. After 6 months of searching, and almost giving up and returning to NC (though I'm not sure what that would have accomplished), he found a job. One he was so excited about. One that seemed perfect. 

So ... on to the journey. After about 90 days, his job lost it's "perfect." His boss became demeaning, mean, dishonest and did/said unimaginable things. For the first time, in his career, he was truly in a hostile work environment, and it was HELL. All the time, he'd heard from others that this would happen. I even encouraged him not to listen to the naysayers. He'd heard about the 4 looming lawsuits against the company and his boss, and still, believed he'd be "the" employee that made it past the 9 month mark (to this point, no one in his position had done so) and could prove them wrong. Well, he did, sort of. He'd covered his butt, watched every step, crossed every "t" and dotted every "i"....fought many false write-ups (which he had NEVER received until this job) and proved them false. He missed one "t" or "i".....not really sure which. He was 11 days shy of making it 18 months. And then it ended. JUST LIKE THAT. 

What made this journey different? Our faith. In this 18 months, my own prayers for my hubby to be our leader, to become my godly husband (mind you, he wasn't a bad man, he just didn't spiritually lead us, commit to time with God daily, he was a believer, but definitely, like many of us get at times, spiritually lazy), and a change happened in February 2011. One that changed our life least to this point.....

He came home on August 31st, 2012, with the news that once again, he was unemployed. I was terrified and angry, yet relieved he'd never be under that mans control again. I was shocked, yet not surprised. Something in my spirit had warned me of the point that the morning of the 31st, I'd called a friend to pray with me. 

We had been job searching since January, thinking we'd find a way out of this horrible, hostile environment, that had sucked the very life, joy, and spirit out of my husband. I had desperately prayed, as I will share....for him to be rescued from this place. And God did indeed, answer my prayers. Many will argue, I suppose, that it wasn't God, but I have looked back at my prayer journal (and his) enough to know, it was indeed. And standing on the other side, I've no doubts. 

(I will continue this story.....but for now, this mama is a teacher too, and must go teach children. Stay tuned for the next chapter.)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A New Song...

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him." - Psalm 40:3

A New Song? Yes, indeed. He put a new song in my mouth....We have been on a journey, one that has taken many twists and turns, but one, that ultimately has His handwriting all over and throughout it. Our move home to TN, has been full of ups and downs, and it's only been two years. What I know is, I praise Him. We have lost 2 jobs, a dog, begin homeschooling, sold 3 cars, bought 3 cars, made major financial decisions, been terrified and in ALL of it, watched Him show up in huge ways. We've found an amazing church with sound teaching, learned what it means to be living for Him, and while we aren't perfect, we are striving daily to learn and teach our children about His faithfulness and goodness. My husband is now leading our home, I am the heart, and while neither of us has perfected (nor do we expect to) our roles, it sure is easier this way, than the million other ways we've tried it. We've surrendered it ALL to Him. Our children, our home, our money, our lives....and are trusting. We are currently waiting....what's next? I don't know. But He does, and I believe He knows what's best. I am excited to share our journey. Hope you'll follow along.  :)