The “Proverbial’ Woman…

“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls” (Prov 31:10).  This passage struck me anew the other day.  Even though Proverbs 31:10-31 is titled “The Ideal Wife” the woman described in the passage has qualities that we can all seek to emulate – married or not.  For truly, to paraphrase the beginning sentence, “When one finds a worthy, virtuous woman, her value is far beyond pearls.” 

When I was single and in college and working I often read this passage and tried to figure out how I too could be “ideal.”  In those days I settled on a few key phrases,  like “She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the days to come” (31:25), and ” Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (31:30).  I latched onto those confident that “I could handle that.”  I can laugh at the future, and God and I were on good terms, so I figured that I had that “fearing the Lord” thing down already.  So I continued on with life, confident that I could be “ideal” based upon these two verses that I liked while conveniently forgetting the rest of the passage.

Then this year happened.  I am now married with four children and a husband who is going to school full-time using the GI Bill, because he was layed off.  Finances got REALLY tight and I just recently took over handling all our money and bills.  This was not something I really wanted to do, but it was what would help my husband with the stresses of classes and his crazy schedule, plus, I seem to have a knack for being a tightwad.  Still, I was not thrilled with this new development, and not overly confident with my financial prowess.

I complained to myself, “I have children to homeschool, a house to clean, meals to cook, chores to do, and now I have to handle our budget, our bills, and all our purchases?!  That’s too much!  No woman should have to do all this!  Then I remembered my ‘woman.’  The Ideal.  Ah-ha!  I thought to myself, I bet good ol’ Proverbs 31 Woman doesn’t have to do ALL THAT – so neither should I!

So then I grabbed my Bible and re-read Proverbs 31 – ALL of it – not just my favorite, easy verses.  What I discovered embarrassed and dismayed me!

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls…” OK, great, I am valuable and precious…hmm, I think I deserve flowers….

“Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.  She brings him good, not evil, all the days of her life….” Unfailing prize, huh?  I like the sound of that…

“She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands…” OOh shopping!

“Like merchant ships she secures her provisions from afar…” Uh-Oh, sounds like she might be in charge of purchasing too….

“She rises while it’s still night and distributes food to her household…”  Oh great, there goes my sleep…and it sounds like she is pretty up on what she has in the house for breakfast…do I have cereal in my pantry??

“She picks out a field to purchase and out of her earnings plants a vineyard.  She is girt about with strength and sturdy are her arms.  She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed…” Oh great.  She really does do the family finances….and my arms need some work, where are my hand weights…enjoys her success huh?  I wish I could enjoy some success…but I need sleep!  When does this woman sleep? 

“She puts her hand to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle…” Ah, so she does the chores too!

  “She reaches out her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy…”  OK, well I can do that, I enjoy donating money…except I am pretty sure that by all standards of income I would be considered poor myself!

  “She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed…”  Ooh snow days!  Yep, I have snowsuits for everyone!

  “She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing…”  Well, I like green…think thats OK?

  “Her husband is prominent at the city Gates as he sits with the elders of the land…”  Well, no kidding – he has a super-woman for a wife!

  “She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts…”  Oh my goodness, she has a job too!    

 “She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the days to come…”  Oh favorite verse, you have taken on a new meaning…

  “She opens her mouth in wisdom and on her tongue is kind counsel…”  Oh, well, that sounds nice…I wonder if my blog counts…? 

“She watches the conduct of her household and eats not her food in idleness…” Well no kidding!  She has way too much else to do! 

“Her children rise up to praise her; her husband too extols her: “Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all…’ ”  My children throw tantrums at me..does that count?

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised…”  Yeah, I know all about that beauty thing….and I am sensing that ‘fearing the Lord” is a little deeper than I thought… 

“Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city Gates…”  rewards are nice….if I ever make it this far!

After reading the passage in light of my new life circumstances, I realized that I had little to complain about, and a lot to catch up on!  It also made me realize that as women, we sometimes forget that while the men in our lives have important responsibilities, so do we. 

It’s easy to start thinking of what we do as mundane and unimportant. Whether you go to an office every day, or stay home with the kids, whether you are married or single, entering religious life, or getting engaged, every day life can seem dull, repetitive, and routine.  Its way too easy (as my recent experience has taught me) to feel resentful of new responsibilities and new circumstances.  I wish I had instead welcomed my new situation as another way to strive for holiness – to “fear the Lord.”  When it comes down to it, isn’t that what Proverbs 31 is about?

Here is a woman whose day – to – day responsibilities are outlined.  She apparently does her best to accomplish what she must.  It is for this that she is praised.  What hope that gives us!  This woman did nothing more that we know about, except carry out her tasks, fulfill her obligations, and maintain a cheerful, virtuous countenance as she did so.  What is also noteworthy is that all her responsibilities involve taking care of others.  None of this is about her, per-say.  She gives to the poor, she clothes her family, provides for their nourishment, acquires that which they need, and she even finds time to ‘give kindly counsel’ to those who may need it.  But isn’t that part of being a woman?  God has afterall entrusted humanity to the woman in a unique and special way (see Anti-Woman Healthcare – HR 3962)  So why wouldn’t part of our responsibilities as women be caring after others?

My point is this, whether or not you have children or a husband to “extol you,” your day-to-day, humdrum responsibilities are exactly what can make you “ideal.”  They are a path to Holiness and Happiness – I mean, how many of us actually “Laugh at the days to come?”  The only way we can do that is through a great Faith and Trust in our Father.  Afterall, when we have done all we can do, God does and will provide for us and take care of us. 

Maybe thats the Woman of Prov 31’s secret.  She does what she has to, does what she can, and then relies on God, knowing He will do the rest.  This is why she can laugh at the Days to come.  She knows that ultimately her Trust is in Him, and He never fails.

Again, I say, What hope this gives us!

I mean, most of us will never purchase a field and plant a vineyard.  Purchase wine, yes, I’m all about that, and consider myself quite the amateur connoisseur (OK, well not really, but it sounded nice…really I just like a nice a glass at the end of the day).  So, no, we aren’t about to all open up vineyards and start making belts.  We are however going to get up for work tomorrow, or wake up with (or before) the children and begin another day.  Another ordinary day, accomplishing the same ordinary things.  And it is THIS that can make us Ideal! 

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En Garde!

Christmas is in the air, and that means that it’s also on our TVs.   Just the other day I was going to sit and watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with my kids (you know the one with songs by Burl Ives that aired in 1964?)  Well ‘St. Nicholas’ bought this DVD for my kids, and I was really excited to watch it with them.  I have happy memories of my grandparents TV room, a slice of pizza and Burl Ives’ voice singing as Rudolph’s nose glows, and I was looking forward to introducing my kiddos to this Christmastime staple.  Imagine my surprise when a bunch of previews splashed one after another across the screen.  One in particular really made me mad.  It was for a movie called Gotta Catch Santa Claus.  This particular movie was animated with that new-fangled-veggie-tales-gone-bad-computerized-clay look that seems to be so popular in kids’ shows.  It starred the voice talent of William Shatner as Santa.  Now, I have nothing against William Shatner per-say.  I have very fond memories of sitting on my daddy’s knees watching “Captain Kirk” save the day.  I DO have something against a movie that takes Santa and turns him into a crass, doddering, idiot.  “Why?”  you ask, do I take Santa so serioulsy?  Well, because he represents much more than a bunch of gifts under the tree.  If you ask my kids, Santa is St. Nicholas.  The Bishop God allowed to turn into Santa Claus.  He is lovable, jolly, and generous.  He wants children to love Jesus, and be kind to others.  My children trust him implicitly and see Santa as a selfless man.  A true Christian.  Many of us held similar beliefs when we were children (and heck, I STILL believe in Santa Claus!).  A movie that seemed to remove those qualities from Santa, and replace them with anti-qualities such as stupidity, impatience, rudeness, crudeness, selfishness, and pride was insulting to me as a mother and to me as someone who loves Christmas!  (needless to say I now skip all the previews on that DVD and had to explain to my kids that the “Catching Santa” show seemed very “fresh” – the word we use for inappropriate or rude – and that it’s very sad that people made a show about Santa like that.  God Bless my daughter, for her reply was, “those silly people, they are confused!  We should tell them!”)

So why am I bothering to blog about my angst with this movie that I will never watch?  Because it reminded me that we must never let down our guard.  As women, whether we are married, single, a mommy, sister, daughter, friend, or co-worker.  Our guard must be up, and our hope in the Truth that comes from our Father in Heaven. 

Way back in the Garden of Eden (yep, we are back in the Garden, ladies – we should get frequent flier miles for all the trips we take back there!)  Eve was first duped by Satan.  She let her guard down and fell for the first deception in history.  And Adam?  Well, he wasn’t there to keep Eve from being duped.  Fast forward to the present and the same situation repeats itself in all sorts of ways.  It seems that as women we are especially targeted for deception.  Satan has got too many men all wrapped up in themselves – through video games, pornography, TV, computers, sports, work, or womanizing, so that the women are left out there all alone to fend for themselves.  Some do.  Many do not, and instead fall for one lie or another, one deception or another.  Hurting themselves and sometimes others as a result. 

Now I know this sounds kind of grim compared to some of the other blogs I have written.  I do not mean to lump ALL men in the categories mentioned above, and yes, men do need their “cave time.”  Thats not what I am talking about. I am talking about how Satan’s attack on man is to take him out of the picture, so he can then get to woman.  One of the easiest ways for the devil to do this is to simply distract the men.  I wish Genesis gave us a peek at what Adam was doing when the snake was talking to Eve! 

Why does Satan seem to really have it in for women?  Well, because Salvation would come to the world born of a Woman.  Because God placed “enmity between you [Satan] and the Woman” (Gen 3:15)  Because “Humanity is, in a special way, entrusted to women” (Mulieris Dignitatem – see Anti-Woman Healthcare – HR 3962

Satan hates women.  He wants to dupe us.  So we must not let our guard down.

Recently I came across something that just made my stomach churn.  Apparently there is a skin care line of cosmetics that uses skin cells from an aborted baby in its products:

How twisted is that?!  As women, we want to be beautiful, to reclaim that which was lost in Eden (see Does Make-up “make up” for the Fall?)

  We can’t even let our guard down while buying beauty products, lest we purchase something made from the body of baby killed in his mother’s womb. (Yes, the cosmetic company even said it was a ‘male fetus’ who was used for their products).  I can’t begin to tell you how disgusted I was at this.  It’s insulting to us, as women, that this product be marketed to us as the breakthrough in anti-aging technology!  We, who were created to sustain and nurture life, we, who have had humanity itself entrusted to us! To be told that this brand of make-up will enhance our lives and make us more beautiful, all the while it is the pinnacle of the Culture of Death exploiting the murder of the most innocent and vulnerable – the very lives that we as women are created to nurture, sustain, and protect.

We must not let our guard down!

Think of the poor, desperate woman, made to feel that abortion is her only alternative.  Think of the teenaged girl who is taught that birth control is her only “option” and that abstinence is for losers.  Think of the scores of women who have come to believe that the only way for them to feel loved is by sleeping with every man who comes along. 

If we are not careful we may fall for these lies and deceptions.  We cannot let our guard down.

Yet, keeping your guard up all the time is tiresome.  We weary of the constant battle for ourselves and our dignity.  What then are we to do?  Especially if we do not have a strong and Godly man in our lives to help us fend off the daily barrage of deceit.

We rest.

Huh?  I thought you said we can’t let our guard down?!  Now I’m really confused!

We rest.  In the Lord.  We rest in our Heavenly Father’s loving arms.  He will never fail us.  Just as he redeemed us by sending us Christ to make up for Adam’s Fall, He shall, if we let Him, continue to send His Truth into our lives.

With God as our Father, and we as His Daughters, we will not fall for the lies and deceptions of this world.  Yes, we must remain vigilant, but as we do so as we rest in the Love of our Father.

God does not want us to fall prey to the wiles of Satan and a world that too often succumbs to the darkness of materialism, pride, and death.  He wants to reveal to us His Truth.  It is this Truth that is our Hope.  For armed with the Truth, we cannot be deceived.

Our guard remains up, as we allow our Father to Love us.

Let Him Romance you, let Him love you, and the deceptions of this world will not prevail.  (A Knight in Shining….blue jeans? )

Wow, all this from a lousy kid’s Christmas movie?  🙂

May God continue to Bless you as you prepare for the Advent of His Coming this Christmas. 

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My sincere apologies for the apparent neglect I have been exhibiting here!  Truth be told, I have been preparing to travel to MA to give a talk and have not had the time to blog!  (Gasp!  Horrors!)  The Talk is titled “Hope and Truth: Exposing Abortion as a Symbol and Symptom.” 

Do not despair, however!  I shall return and next week WILL have for you a long overdue post to read! 

Please keep me in your prayers as I travel and please pray that I may touch the hearts of those who hear me speak. 

I ask that God Bless you this Advent Season and that you may truly prepare your beautiful feminine hearts for the Birth of His Son. 

~Laura Ricketts