Sunday, November 9, 2014

Like the Merchant Ships

The dehumidifier, washing machine, and dishwasher are all humming along in unison as I pass David in the dining room. He's been spending all of his non-school/studying/working waking hours working on papers/presentations for as many days as I can remember. The house is a somewhat organized disaster. Boxes are everywhere. Things that we need but don't want to be put into boxes yet are sprawled across the counter tops. The contents of our pantry have been emptied and sit around the stove top. Closets are half empty and the office (sigh) looks like a three year old just played in it. 

I've had my moments during this last week when I just didn't know what to do next. Between my  important day job with Dave Sr. and my MK business and calling the numbers on our "moving checklist" that were all wrong and having to track down the right ones to packing the house and figuring out how to get the take and bake poppyseed chicken out of the oven and then out of it's container without oven mitts or anything other than plastic silverware... Between all of this, I've had my moments that placed me on the edge of the deep canyon of overwhelmingness.

David and I did our walk through of our new residence on Friday. I had the worst headache EVER, and the realtor was almost an hour late which did not make for a good combination. By the time we were done and made it through the line at Moe's to eat lunch before getting back to work/school, all I could do was sit there and profess out loud, "At least we have somewhere to live." 

I couldn't even think about how I'm going to get the strange garage-laundry room situation to work or where we'll put Sperry's crate or when I'll find the time to get a shower curtain rod. David graciously suggested I hire someone to clean the new place before we move in, but my head hurt too badly to thank him as gratefully as I should have. Plus, I didn't want to think about finding someone to hire because that meant I had another thing to add to the to-do list. And then I felt terrible for not being as grateful as I should have that my sweet husband wanted me to hire someone else to clean so I wouldn't have to.

So there I stood (figuratively) / sat (physically) in this moment that placed me further over the edge of the deep canyon of overwhelmingness about to topple over.

Just then, our gracious Maker reminded me of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Which is ironic.

Usually, when I read King Lemuel's mother's account of "The Virtuous Wife," the flesh part of me just wants to throw my hands up and say, "Impossible! There's no way you can be this kind of woman today without help from some serious pharmaceuticals."

A cursory reading describes the Proverbs 31 woman as only slightly less than superwoman because she cannot fly.

And she is exactly the kind of woman I want to be.

In times past, I've read Proverbs 31:10-31 and afterwards beat myself up.

You are nothing like her! You should be taking your vitamins every day, exercising, respecting your husband better than you do. And for goodness' sake, girl, you need to start waking up earlier! 

But, that is the enemy's voice. He wants for me to miss the power statement at the end of this passage.

"A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." (Prov. 31:30b)

It doesn't say that she's praised because of all of the things she accomplishes in Proverbs 31:10-27. It says she's praised because she fears the Lord.

Whether or not I desire the praise or merely to be the kind of woman who accomplishes as much as she does, becoming her starts with fearing the Lord.

I also have to embrace that I can't become like her by my own efforts. However, I already started to become more like her when I first began to fear the Lord - when I began to respect Him, His ways, and His authority.

My parents knew that not all young girls grow into the Proverbs 31 women. That's why they raised me and Katie to have the kind of relationship with our Maker where we did respect Him, His ways, and His authority.

And then they modeled for us what it looks like to help the poor, manage a home, how to make wise business decisions, and put food on the table.

My mom would often pick up new, exotic foods from the grocery store and bring them home for us to either try alone or she'd incorporate it into one of our meals. She'd always exclaim to me and my sister, "We're being Proverbs 31 women!" 

These small moments made the idea of becoming the Proverbs 31 woman realistic. "Bring[ing] food from afar" (Prov. 31:14b) in our day could mean choosing good quality food items from our local grocery store's produce section or international aisle. 

While Katie and I have tried our hand at sewing, the skill didn't exactly stick. So, unlike the Proverbs 31 woman, I don't see us making tapestries (Prov. 31:22) or linen garments for sale (Prov. 31:24). But, Katie excels in painting and crafting beautiful home decor pieces by willingly working with her hands (Prov. 31:13b). I have perceived Mary Kay products to be very good (Prov. 31:18) and just celebrated my first year as a small business owner. It's not that we are to become her word for word - but by the character traits that she possesses and by the blessing she is to her family. 

I look around the house now and instead of just seeing all that is left to do, before we move and after we move, I see God using this opportunity to remind me that I am not nor am I expected to be superwoman. Instead, my heart's desire should be that God would mold me into a woman like the Proverbs 31 woman. Knowing that with God's grace it is possible for me to become more and more like her each day, moves me several steps away from the edge of the canyon of overwhelmingness and into the arms of Jehovah jireh. 

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies. 
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night. 
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:10-31