Sunday, 10 June 2012


Just came across this great group: Mikeschair:

through Lisa's blog.
It fitted in really nicely with the Good Morning Girls Proverbs 31 study this week - the theme was 'plan' and 'do'. Getting up early, not procrastinating, thinking ahead...  Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 
I liked Lisa's lead in:

Who is it for?

Why do you . . .
  • Do laundry?
  • Buy the wedding gift?
  • Drive across town for lunch?
  • Respond to the text?
  • Water the plants?
  • Get to work on time?
  • Pray with your kids?
  • Bite your tongue?
  • Check your email?
  • Put down your book?
  • Pick up your book?
  • Take a shower?
  • Kiss your husband?
  • Write a blog post?
All for Him?
Um, not all. Not yet.
But it’s the goal...

She had another interesting post about hobbies ministry here, too.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Why I cried.

Sorry, whoever might read this, if you're expecting some earth-shattering disaster or even a long account of 'the straw that broke the camel's back'.
Yes, I might cry - occasionally - for such events. It's not, however, my default mechanism to cry.
Yet this morning, as I flicked through emails, I stopped to read this blog post from Renee Ronika Klug.
She's American. Living in America.
I'm British. Living in a tiny Crown Dependency which isn't even part of the UK. I suspect that the distance to her grocery store is possibly greater than the whole length of this island.
Different worlds.
Incredibly similar experiences.
As I read her longings to pursue God and connect in authentic community with other women, I recognised deep longings inside myself. 
Her words echoed so powerfully that...I cried. I wept, laughing, in delighted recognition.
As, over the years, I have sought God, longed for and experienced the Holy Spirit and yearned for true community, I knew that I had been to places - not here, not in America, but life places - where Renee also journeyed.
She offers hope and encouragement for people like me. Hope that yes,  it IS possible "to interact with God and other women like in the Bible—with intimate encounters that uncover our weaknesses and then clothe us with the strength of the Holy Spirit."
My prayer is that, like her, "my community of women will not be marked by the commonplace. Our lives will radiate from the brilliance of having risen above our circumstances, to reach out and rescue other women from their hiding places."
And yes, if any of my dear friends are reading this, I have already experienced this with you.
I'm just greedy for more. More kingdom living with like-minded women.
So I cried.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Monday, 4 June 2012

Proverbs 31:7 - 14...weeks 2 and 3

Some highlights. It's hard to believe we've spent two weeks studying so few verses, but I'm always amazed at how truth sinks in as we study so slowly.
At the end of Week 1 we were challenged to set goals: this article by Charity Silvers in GMG Leadership is really helpful:

Thoughts on Goals
As we get ready to set our goals for this summer’s study in Proverbs 31, I wanted to share a few thoughts with all of you. As women we tend to have grand desires for our lives, which include that bad word “expectations” that we have for the behavior of our husbands and our children. As I was reading Linda Dillow’s book, What’s It Like to be Married to Me?, I got a better understanding of the difference between desires and goals. On page 32 she wrote that a desire is “something wanted that cannot be obtained without the cooperation of another person. It is an objective for which a person can assume no responsibility because it is beyond her control.” She further wrote that a goal is “a purpose to which a woman is unalterably committed. She assumes unconditional responsibility for a goal and it can be achieved if she is willing to work at it.” Simply put, desires cannot be controlled solely by the woman whereas goals can be.

David wrote in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (NASB) From this verse we can realize that it is not wrong to have desires - desires for a husband who is the spiritual leader of the home; desires for children who love the Lord and follow after Him with all their heart; desires for a warm and loving atmosphere in the home; and so on. But as you can readily see now, if those desires are to be met, they depend on the willing cooperation of the other people involved! And as wives and mothers, you know it doesn’t happen all the time. The key to our desires is to delight ourselves in the Lord. And it appears that you have taken a first step in that direction with your commitment to this summer study in Proverbs 31.

Goals, on the other hand, are something that YOU on your own can work toward. In a brief study I did on the word “goal” I came across I Timothy 1:5 – “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (NASB) The Greek word there for goal can be defined as “the end to which all things relate.” In essence, we set a goal and then everything we do relates to meeting that goal. Philippians 3:14 also talks about a goal – “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) The word there is a different Greek word with the definition of “a distant mark looked at.” In the context of this verse it is a distant mark, so we see that we can have short-term goals and long-term goals but either way, we keep looking at the goal and working toward it.

Our assignment for Friday of our first week in the GMG study this summer is to set goals for ourselves. So as you do, ponder the above and set something that you can obtain with your own effort. It might be good to set a short-term goal that you can reach this summer so you can be encouraged when you reach that goal at the end of our 14 weeks. It can be in your own spiritual life or it could be in how you interact with your family members or what you do in your own home to become a living example of the Proverbs 31 woman. Whatever it is, keep looking toward that goal and ask yourself on a day by day, moment by moment basis, “Is what I’m doing right now related to reaching the goal I have?” If you can answer positively, then you know you’re on the right track. If however, your answer is negative, consider that as a much-needed warning to refocus and change direction. May all that we do glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now thinking about the verses we've been looking at:
vv 7 - 9  Wine and beer is not for the rich to get drunk on, but a medicine to help the suffering...echoes of Jesus on the cross. yet it is also for celebration.
Is it easier to speak out for justice for people who are remote from us? Eg supporting Amnesty International, or Tearfund? Is it hard to speak up for the underdog at work? The person who gets blamed for everything? Someone who is relatively powerless to defend themselves?

v10 This woman is PRECIOUS and adds VALUE. If she is a wife, she adds value to her husband but if she is not SHE STILL ADDS VALUE TO THOSE WITH WHOM SHE IS IN RELATIONSHIP.

Pr.18:22 "He who finds a wife finds a good thing"... interesting that this comes halfway through the book. The Message: Find a good spouse, you find a good life— and even more: the favor of God! I really felt this when I married Richard, that in marrying him I was moving nearer God.
House and land are handed down from parents, but a congenial spouse comes straight from God.
Doesn't this say again how valuable women are? When my mother would relate how she met my father, he would always say "I know a good thing when I see it". And not only are women good things, but I man who recognises this gets God's blessing.

We can pray for our sons to find their wives; we can pray that men recognise the value of women.

Pr.31:11 - 12 The husband can trust his wife - for his own benefit! But to do that just for selfish gain is no use.
We can't trust in riches - only in God. And so whoever trusts his own wisdom is silly
The Message says: Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously
Interesting to read how Solomon's downfall was his wives, who did not encourage his devotion to God but took him away from God. Whether married or not, surely we want to be women who do good not harm; women who can be trusted: at home and at work, whether in relationship with those close to us, or those who are acquaintances

I'm conscious that these verses seem to be all about the wife bringing good to her husband...but what about those without husbands? Remembering the context, in those times a woman would have been married unless she had been widowed - the single life was not an option! So then all women would have at some time been married.

In our modern context, these verses must also be about being devoted to those one has charge for: might be children for the lone parent, elderly parents, friends in need, neighbours...

Proverbs 16:20: It pays to take life seriously; things work out when you trust in God. (The Message)
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that (The Message)
NIV Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
...we are to trust in God, not look to others for affirmation, advice, wisdom, opinions...

Proverbs 31:13 She works with eager hands - eager to do whatever is needed to bring her family what they need - clothes, food. I've always been disturbingly satisfied with a big shop and full store cupboards - glad to know I'm doing what is needed! I like Colossians 3:23 which takes the  verse in Proverbs wider:  "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..."

A quick paraphrase of  verses 11 - 13:
"The husband can trust his wife - for his own benefit!
But to do that just for selfish gain is no use.
We can't trust in riches - only in God.
And so whoever trusts his own wisdom is silly..."

Proverbs 31:14 She does everything needed to keep the household going. Willing to 'go the distance' - like a merchant ship travelling far!! Read this for more encouragement to keep on doing menial tasks cheerfully...

The next verse was Genesis 24:15-20, about the choosing of Rebekah as a wife for Isaac, when she gave water to the servant sent to find a wife and then watered his camels as well - a lot of work! Rebekah was kind, generous, hard-working, open, welcoming to strangers, respectful...I don't tend to think of her very often, but what a role model, especially in the context of this study...

Studying Proverbs 31 with Good Morning Girls is more of a challenge than I thought it would be.  OK, the woman is all too perfect - so for a long time I have secretly thought that this chapter didn't REALLY apply to me. Because I am not. perfect. Very far from it. And her ideals seemed impossible.
Yet, as I study, I realise that she is a composite, and that I can aspire to little bits of her at different times in my life.
No, the challenge is from those I study with online. The girls I study with here in real life don't challenge me in the same way. Because most of them are at a similar life stage, so we understand each other. My challenge is in the memories.
Because MANY of the women who post on facebook about their studies are young mothers, struggling with all the demands on their time and energy that a young family - or even not so young but still living at home family - pose. The Proverbs 31 woman has a lot of good advice to offer, and it's lovely to see how people respond and grow.
My challenge is in my memories.
Every time I read yet another story of a little victory of time-juggling, chore-balancing, demand-meeting...memories tug. A little voice says: "Bet you wish you'd known THAT tip before. You were a lousy mother."
I look back on my years of mothering - children now grown and left - and wonder how they survived me. SO far short of perfection.
My challenge is to maintain my balance. To lovingly accept truth and my imperfection. To recognise lies which attempt to destroy me. To keep focused on what God is teaching me and wants from me NOW.