balance

God Knew: Learning From the Ultimate Balance Sustainer

Kristi and I have been friends since our youth group days in New Jersey. When my family moved to Florida soon after I (Suzette) graduated college, we lost touch with each other. After my mother passed away, Kristi and I reconnected and found that over the course of ten years we had lived somewhat identical lives, which caused us to begin referring to each other as “twin” or “my twin.”

Kristi is now a full-time working mom (principal of a private, Christian elementary school) while juggling a beautiful marriage and four gorgeous children. I am so excited to share this post with you as she shares what God has had to teach this very Type-A mom about trust and balance.

God has taught me some important things this past year.

First, He is always in control.  There have been many days in the past four months where I felt completely overwhelmed or at my wits end with four kids and a brand new job and all the same duties at home. God taught me that His peace is not the “calm after the storm, it’s the steadfastness during it.”

Second, He always has a plan.  My favorite part about the past year is that I have been able to look back and see exactly how God made all the puzzle pieces fit together and make sense.  He worked things out that I had wondered about for a long time. Questions like: Why did I even get my Masters Degree if I was just going to keep having babies?  Will I have a chance to pursue my dreams?  After 9 years as a stay at home mom I was starting to feel a little lost and ready for a change.  However, God is always working, and I have learned that I can fully rest in Him knowing that He is in complete control and He will guide my steps.

Labor Day was pretty exciting for us.  We were about to spend a leisurely day in Peddler’s Village, PA eating ice cream, shopping the small mom and pop shops, and spending some much need family time together before our homeschool year began.

God had other plans.

Twenty minutes into our car ride I got a call from Dr. Hartzler that drastically changed our lives…for the good!  My husband is a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley in NYC. He and I are the type of couple that constantly have a 5 year plan…we pray, we prepare, and we plan.  I was going to homeschool one more year and then start applying to Christian private schools to teach again.  Little did I know that God was working out all the details for me to end up back at Timothy Christian School where I had taught before I became a mom… and as Principal!

 

balanceI am extremely thankful for that call on Labor Day even though at the time I was thinking: I haven’t had any time to plan for this! How will this work out? How will I prep dinner? How will we get four kids and ourselves ready and out the door by 6:20 am? In fact, we had invested time and money into homeschool co-ops and classes for the kids well in advance. Now that time and money would be wasted. Could God in fact work out all those details?

He did and He will.

God knew that what we needed most was a summer filled with fond memories and quality family time. It was filled with me giving every waking moment to my family…we went on weekly trips to the beach, Liberty Science Center, Turtle Back Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, the park, and endless back yard fun days with the pool and slip and slide.

Looking back, if I had known about my new job to come, I never would have spent so much time at the beach or doing fun day trips. I wouldn’t have read as many books to my kids. I wouldn’t have gone to the library. We wouldn’t have spent time with our friends. I would’ve planned and prepped for the school year ahead, and I would have missed out on playing with my kids.

God knew that once I had this role I would have to learn how to balance mom-life and work-life. I am thankful that God continues to show all of us just what we need to learn at exactly the right moment. Whether it’s learning to be patient with our children, learning to be a better listener, learning to lean in at work and striving for excellence, enjoying the blessings of a snow day, hosting a holiday event He has given us, or keeping short accounts and just being broken over our sin to Him, God is in control. He will guide our steps.

And He always has a plan.

This past year I have had to let some things go. I have had to say no to things that I love like MOPS, teaching Sunday School, and gourmet dinners. I have had to be ok with messy hair in the morning, cranky kids waking up super early, eating breakfast on the go, and getting home later than normal and ordering a pizza. God has taught me to trust Him, ask for help, and rely on my team mate and amazing husband John, who has turned into a rock star for me each morning.

balanceWe work together. We divide and conquer. We take turns taking showers and each dressing 2 kids (I get to be in charge of the girls who are VERY cooperative…and he takes care of Mark and Micah who are rather slow and sleepy). We have come up with our own system, and we make it work. It took me four months to finally feel settled and confident at work. And I am proud of that. I am proud of my team, my family, and so thankful for the Lord’s hand in my life. I never would have imagined going back to work after 9 1/2 years at home as a stay at home mom, but I am loving it.

If I could pass on any advice or encouragement to anyone out there struggling to find a good balance between work and family, this is what has kept me sane these past few months.

First of all, I had to remind myself and my kids that Mommy is not a superhero. Mommy is a person, and it is okay for me to slow down and take a breather. Kids really do think we are magical creatures that can do it all, even after a full day of waking up at 5 am, working all day and coming home to cook, clean, and be a taxi driver.

I had to stop, have a family meeting with my kids, tell them how hard all of this was for me, and ask for their help and understanding. I had to get my team working together as a unit and set healthy boundaries about how we use our family time.

Secondly, we had to let some good things go. Not forever but for a season. I used to host friends and family all the time for every occasion and holiday. But this past Thanksgiving we told everyone we were taking a much needed break and just using those few days to get away with our family, reconnect and recharge, and not host.

Surprisingly, the world did not fall apart.

What did happen was that we created some awesome family memories. I had to realize that when a huge change like this comes our way we all have to make sacrifices, and we might have to let things go that we love doing just for a while until life gets a bit easier and we can start adding things back in.

balanceThrough it all I have learned that my physical health is not worth sacrificing to “do it all”. In October/November I developed a horrible eye twitch. It was actually kind of funny. I was getting so worried about it. My whole eye would shake and tremor and people could actually see it happening. When I finally asked a family doctor about it he said, “Kristi it is because of three things- 1. Stress 2. Lack of Sleep 3. Extra caffeine.” He was right about all three of those things. After getting some much needed sleep the twitch went away.

On the last Tuesday of winter break, I took the kids to Liberty Science Center, our absolute favorite family place. After going on each of the four floors of science fun, we ate lunch and saw a 3D movie about Hurricanes. I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason, and as we watched this 20 minute movie, I started to hear exactly what God wanted me to hear. Even though hurricanes are absolutely devastating and fierce, after the storm passes it actually allows new life to burst through. In the ocean new coral starts to grow adding food for the fish. In the rain forests new seedlings are able to sprout through and get the sunlight they need. What seems like an actual nightmare during the process, with the winds, rains, and devastation, new life bursts through. I felt like God was talking right to me. He was assuring me that, yes, the past few months were difficult and challenging, but it was all part of the process of growth for me and for us as a family.

God makes all things new. He is constantly shaking up our world and our lives to push us forward, grow us, and change us. While it is happening, sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes it feels impossible. But with God all things are possible, and God is the ultimate balance Sustainer.

You can read more about Kristi and her beautiful family at her blog Keeping Up With Kristi.

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investing

Two Simple Steps for Investing

“She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16

As women, we are always thinking of how we can grow the money we have. Whether we are looking to coupon to use less than we have at our disposal or putting what we haven’t used into our savings account, we women are resourceful at taking what we have and doing our best to grow it.

Someone else who was good at investing what she had was the woman in Proverbs 31. I couldn’t help but notice the two steps she took in making her money grow. (Note: I am not a professional investor. These are just two observations I have made from reading this passage. Any financial actions taken by the reader are done at their own risk.)

  1. Think through an investment before purchasing
  2. Take the earnings and invest them

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Think through an investment before purchasing

Before her purchase, she considers it well. Her decision is not made on impulse. It isn’t done because of a knee-jerk reaction. Her decision has been thought through with reason and logic. She considers all aspects of the purchase.

What is the cost?
Is the return worth the investment?
How much effort on her end will need to be put into this investment?
Does she have the time to put into this investment?
Does she have the know how to enter into this investment?
In addition to the know how, does she have the ability?

take the earnings and invest them

She doesn’t take her initial profit to spend it on a night on the town or a new wardrobe, instead she looks for ways to use her profit to put it back into her investment. She looks for ways to put her profit where it can increase over time. Notice, she plants a vineyard. It will take time to grow the grape vines, for the fruit to ripen, pick the fruit, and either sell them or turn them into another substance for sale.

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Our investment doesn’t have to be a field. There are so many ways to invest the resources God has given to us. Think of what you have at your disposal. How can you take that and invest it?

One young mom I know, who I’ve mentioned before, has taken her ability to sew and uses that ability to provide a supplementary income allowing her to stay home with her little girl.

One of my favorite women to follow on Facebook is Rachel Cruz. She is a woman who not only teaches other how to get out of debt, but how to wisely invest their resources. She has several books which will help you learn to consider your purchases and how to use your money well. I will be sharing more about these books in my upcoming 2018 Book List post.

This week, memorize Proverbs 31:16 and may it guide you as you plan your budget for the new year.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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Countdown to Christmas

Affiliate links may be used in this post. You can view our full disclosure here.

This week, an adorable little monkey began creating quite a stir in the Ladouceur residence!

Who is this little Monkey?

His real name is Melchior Noel Yule, but he prefers being called Melk the Christmas Monkey. Melk’s mission in life is to tell children all about God and His great love for us.

Melk is nocturnal, so he is awake while your children sleep. When they wake up, your little ones will find out what Melk has been up to! He is never mischievous, but he is always involved in some kind of activity that your children can join in when they find him.

From making paper chains and gingerbread houses to taking family photos and making tree toppers, Melk engages your children in activities which ultimately teach them about the character of God.

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Some reasons I prefer Melk as a daily Christmas visitor

I love Christmas, but sometimes, the act of preparing so many different activities can become overwhelming. Melk is our only daily activity for Christmastime. Katie Hornor (the author of Putting on the Spirit devotional and the new book In Spite of Myself) has already done all of the planning. All I have to do is follow her directions. She has given a list of what is needed, links to the downloads of the crafts suggested, and what activity Melk should be working on when the children find him in the morning.

I appreciate that Melk is never found getting into mischief. He is always doing something sweet, fun, productive, or enjoying Christmas with the innocent wonder of a child (like the morning my children find him sleeping under the tree).

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Rather than being someone who reports back to Santa about how the children are behaving, Melk points children to God and explains Biblical truths in easy to understand ways.

Melk, the Christmas Monkey: Teaching God’s Character through Bible Lessons and Activities the Entire Family Can Enjoy is available through Amazon as a paper back book or Kindle edition. (Note: The actual monkey is not part of your purchase. The monkey I purchased several years ago is no longer available, but you can find a similar monkey here.)

You can follow our family’s Melk adventure on Instagram.

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Rise and Shine!

“She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” Proverbs 31:15

Do you ever wish you had a bit of a head start to your day?

There have been mornings when I have woken up and opened my eyes to a little person standing at eye level to me with a huge smile on his face. And when his mouth starts to move, the words that come out are not, “I love you,” as one would hope, but instead the words are, “What’s for breakfast?”

It’s moments like that which make me wish I had woken up early.

For the woman of the home, whether you are a single, wife, or mom, it’s important to wake up with plenty of time to give you a margin of breathing room before it’s “go time” or to get the basics done before the rest of the house starts moving.

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When does your home start stirring?

Figuring out when your family begins to stir will give you an indication of when you need to wake up to give yourself a head start. For example, my son is the earliest riser in our home, so I take his wake up time and wake up an hour before he does to give me the time I need in the mornings.

If you don’t have kids, base your wake time on how long it takes you do everything in the mornings that you have to get done: exercise, pack lunch, maybe clean one room so you don’t have to when you get home from work, dress, and do your hair.

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What can you get done in the morning?

I love how Proverbs 31:15 says “and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidens.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have “help” if the form of a maid or outside help that comes in to relieve me of any of my duties, and you probably don’t either.  We do, however, have other “maids.”

I love looking at my washing machine, dish washer, and coffee maker as my “maids” and putting them to work. Change your view of what “help” looks like in our modern world and find ways to put them to work during the early morning hours.

Mornings are a great time for:

  • Devotions
  • Putting the coffee on
  • Getting a load of laundry started
  • Folding a load of laundry
  • Cleaning one room in the house
  • Preparing dinner (taking food out of the freezer to thaw or put it together for quick preparation later in the day)
  • Getting in a cup of coffee with some early morning reading
  • Completing your morning routine without interruption

By getting some time alone in the quiet of the morning, we are able to get in some much needed alone time which will help us mentally prepare for the day ahead and possibly help us get some of our responsibilities out of the way.

Memorize Proverbs 31:15

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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Work with Willing Hands | Proverbs 31 Series

“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:13

Sometimes, it is so easy for us to get hung up on the words and miss out on the spirit of a verse. This is one of those verses for me. I used to look at this verse in such a literal sense. But when I began looking at the overall meaning of this passage, it opened up a whole new world for me.

If we think back to the time period this verse was written in, we would see a society based in shepherding and farming. Wool, which was produced by the sheep being raised, and flax, which was a byproduct of the plants being grown and could be turned into linen, were materials easily available to women. They could seek out these materials and turn them into usable goods to benefit their families.

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We may not have access to the same raw materials these woman had access to, but we have access to so much more.

We have computers that give us access to so many online jobs and outlets for us to use the talents God has given us.

Some of us have a musical instrument and the training in order to be able to teach that instrument from home, allowing us the ability to earn some extra money or providing a livable  income for ourselves.

Some women have an amazing talent to use their hands to create beautiful yet functional items based on a need they themselves have experienced.

As I began preparing this post, one young woman came to mind immediately.

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Her name is Stephanie and she owns the Easy shop Emmy and I Designs. As a former teacher with a knack for sewing, she began preparing for baby by making beautiful clutches to be used in diaper bags or on their own, depending on her need for them. She also designed and created beautiful bibs, burp cloths, and simple dresses for her soon to come little girl. As she told me, her shop has been an unexpected blessing and has allowed her to stay home with her beautiful girl. Stephanie is a great example  of someone who has taken raw materials, worked with willing hands, and turned a hobby into a blessing for her family.

We live in an amazing day and age. As women, there are so many ways to use our talents and abilities, not only as a financial blessing to our family, but simply to bless them.

I remember the Christmas when I was seven, my mother made me a life-sized doll and sewed a dress for me to match my doll’s dress. It was one of the best, most remembered presents I ever received from my mother.

Is there something that you are able to do with your hands that can bless your family. Do you have a hobby that you absolutely love and enjoy? Is there a way for you to take that talent and turn it into a blessing for yourself and your family? This week as we memorize Proverbs 31:13, ask God to show you how you can take your hobby and turn it into a way to bless your family.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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Till Death Do Us Part | Proverbs 31 Series

“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12

You’ve heard them, or you’ve said them yourself…

“I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.”

When we say them, we truly mean each and every word, and we secretly pledge together to show the world that our love will withstand the tests of time, money, and life in general.

And then life hits.

Real life hits.

Bills come due. That part of his personality you originally fell in love with and thought was charming now irks you to no end. One of you becomes ill- physically or in another manner. You miss your freedom. Children join your family and, because of the natural order of things, add to your stress financially, physically, and emotionally. (This list does not include infidelity, which would necessitate the use of a good, professional biblical counselor and the advice of a well loved and trusted pastor. Please don’t try to tackle this issue on your own.) 

We are faced with two choices: continue to love and cherish and honor the man God has given you, or don’t.

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Bring him good

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:22     Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

Our Creator so wisely added into Ephesians the best way for women and men to demonstrate love and respect to each other, so we could better serve each other. As women we tend to equate love with what our men are willing to do for us- that date night he went out of his way to plan, bringing home your favorite flavored coffee creamer (or that might just be me!), or sending flowers to our place of work. Men see love differently. They view love as being respected.

(Remember, my purpose here is to encourage women. Dennis Rainey at Family Life has a wonderful article titled 30 Ways to Love Your Wife.)

Respect

Another phrase we hear repeatedly is, “Respect in not given, it’s earned.”

Yet, God has a different approach to that phrase. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

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God tells husbands to love their wives the way they love and care for themselves, and He tells wives to respect their husbands. 

What does that look like in practical terms? This is my short list.

  • Thank him for working to support your family.
  • Teach your children to appreciate him for all that he does for your family.
  • Thank him for taking you out to eat.
  • If you are both full-time workers, thank him for being on your team and for sharing the responsibilities in your home.
  • Don’t ridicule or make fun of him… especially in public.
  • Subtly praise him before others for being the best husband for you.
  • Don’t put down his hobbies or interests.
  • Don’t share his faults for laughs with others.
  • Don’t shame him on social media.

Please remember, in the case of needing professional help, you must be able to share your struggles for council sake. It is not being disrespectful in this instance.

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All the days of her life

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed,” Psalm 37:3.

Each day, a choice is required of us. Will we do good to the man God has blessed us with, or will we do what will make us feel better temporarily?

Will we get up and decide to be good to him today, or will we let our emotions (or that time of the month) determine our responses to him?

Will we think of ways to give him respect, or will we remember his infractions from yesterday and serve him with attitude today?

Giving our husbands respect, doing good to him, and doing this for the rest of our lives is a promise we made on our wedding day but must be lived out daily. Some days are easier than others, but I’m sure we can agree that living with us is not always easy on them either.

This week, as we memorize Proverbs 31:12, pull out your wedding video or album, relive the moment you made your vows, and determine to be good to him today when he gets home from work. You may be surprised at how quickly the love is returned in your direction.

You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.

 

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lessons-hurricane-irma

Five Lessons I Learned From Hurricane Irma

Last month Hurricane Irma came through Florida and temporarily disrupted our lives (sadly, many are still recovering from Irma and now, those in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands, from Maria).

Although, Irma is now a distant memory for our family, she taught me a few valuable lessons.  Lessons I will never forget.

Always Be Prepared (MAtthew 25:1-13)

In our Life Group (some churches call it a Sunday school class), our leader had recently given us a scenario which required a “What would you do in this situation?” answer. After sitting through the lesson and joining in the banter and debate, I went home and thought about our home and the provisions I have in case a situation like what was mentioned came up. I realized I would not be prepared.

I immediately began adding items to my regular shopping list that would keep us prepared for any type of disaster. One case of water bottles, a bag of rice, and two cans of beans became a weekly purchase for me. When we heard that Irma was heading in our direction and everyone began rushing the stores for water, I didn’t have to panic. I had several cases of water already purchased, along with plenty of non perishable foods. Instead, I made a bee line to the bottled coffee in case the power went out keeping me from making coffee with my coffee pot… because priorities… really.

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Be Willing to Share What You Have (1 Timothy 6:18)

As soon as Irma became a threat to our area, we immediately called family members who could possibly be in danger and opened our home to them. The beauty of it was that they brought over a generator and precooked foods along with other non perishables and more practical items such as buckets of water for use in the bathrooms (our water comes from a well which needs electricity to run… no electricity means no water in the bathroom), extension cords, and a radio.

By being willing to share what we had to offer, we gained so much more. We now have a memory with family members that we didn’t have before. The long evening talks around the dining room table will forever be a part of my heart. The breakfasts of donuts and Puerto Rican bread with butter will be remembered by my children and talked about for a long time.

Jesus Changes Your Perspective (Matthew 8:27)

A few hours before the eye wall hit us, I sat on the floor of my bedroom with the shades pulled up slightly and stared in awe at the trees blowing in the wind. Because we were on the west side of the eye, we were in a much safer position than those who found themselves on the eastern side of it. Although the threat of a tree falling was still a reality (one which did happen), I was okay for the time being.

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I sat in awe of the power of God. The storm had reached a Category 5 and had hit places like St. Maarten and Barbuda with such force that many people lost their homes and few even their lives. Yet, when I saw the power the storm had hit with, it reminded me that God is even more powerful than the storm. For me, the hurricane was a brief reminder of the power of God.

This is how I approached the hurricane with my children. We saw the destruction and devastation the hurricane left in its wake by way of the news, but we were reminded that the same God who caused a world wide flood during the time of Noah was also the same God who calmed the storm and told the wind and the waves to stop. This storm was powerful, but only shadowed a portion of the power held by the Almighty God.

God truly does have a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11)

On the night Irma hit, we lost power, yet I can see God’s hand directly involved in every aspect of our lives over the next few days.

Because of the generator, we didn’t hear the wind howling above us, and everyone slept through the most intense part of the storm.

The tree in our backyard that I had been worried about (and never even wanted in the first place) fell into the still unfinished part of our yard and did not affect our home, well, or our neighbor’s property.

Although we lost power, many of our family members did not. My sister, Purposeful Mom Faye, didn’t lose power. With a 3 year old who wouldn’t fully understand why the power was gone, it was a blessing that she never lost power. Our father didn’t lose his electricity, but, because he had evacuated, his home was available for us to take showers and even to stay in overnight if we chose to.

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I gained a deeper appreciation for all first responders (Romans 13:4a)

I have always loved, appreciated, and supported our military, police officers, firemen, and EMT workers and have taught my children to do the same, but one of our other first responders during the hurricane was the linemen. Although the first group keeps us safe on a daily basis, the linemen spent hours trying to restore power to the many sections of the power grid for days on end. These men worked 12 hour shifts 24 hours a day until power was restored to our county and  state, in order to restore us back to the level of comfort we have grown accustomed to. Many times, after working a long shift restoring power to our community, these men and women went home for the evening to a home that had no electricity.

One evening as we were driving to my dad’s home to shower and freshen up, we saw a group of linemen at the end of the main road we live off of. We lowered our windows, slowed our vehicle, and all began cheering for them and yelling “thank you” out the window. These men looked exhausted, barely smiled, but one forced his hand up to wave back in response.

Hurricane Irma was one of those storms that blows into your life, disrupts it for a little while, and then goes away leaving us with the aftermath to clean up and work through- like so many other storms that come into our lives.

These principles can even apply to those storms as well.

When you live your life knowing that God has a purpose in your storm, and you allow Jesus to change your perspective, you will learn valuable lessons, which can only be learned through a storm.

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confidence-value

Confidence and Value | Proverbs 31 Series

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:11(NIV)

Confidence and value. Those are words that we teach our girls from the time they are born. We encourage them to live with confidence, walk with their heads held high, and if they make a mistake, they are to do it confidently so everyone around them will think they meant to do it.

We walk behind our girls with an imaginary megaphone, cheering for them and remind them that they have value. We boost their spirits by constantly stressing that they deserve nothing less than the best because they are worth it.

Those are both important lessons for us and our daughters to hear and remember. Yet, those qualities also need to describe how others feel about us and our girls.

One of the Dictionary.com definitions of confidence is full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.

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Total and complete trust

No matter which box you check off under “marital status,” this applies to you.

If you check any category of single, how do others perceive you? If you are married and/or have children, then find out how your husband and children view you. Regardless of where you fall, having the confidence of others is a quality we should all be striving for.

Here are some questions to help you determine your trustworthiness.

Are you a woman others can count on?

Do your friends know if they shared something with you, it will stay with you?

Does your boss know you will complete your tasks in a timely manner and to the best of your ability?

Do people who depend on you for volunteer positions know you will show up and serve when you are scheduled to?

For married women in general, can your husband trust you to be faithful to him?

Can he trust that you will complete your designated responsibilities?

For stay-at-home-moms, does your husband have total and complete trust in you while he is out at work all day?

The list could go on, but you get the idea. We want to be women that others have confidence in.

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“…and lacks nothing of value.”

Value comes in many forms, but we’re only going to touch on two- money and time.

So many times we equate value with monetary issues. It’s easy to. We see how much value something has by checking the price tag. And you’ve heard the phrase, “time is money.” It’s one of the catch phrases of the business world. But how does this apply to us in the here and now?

Money

Do we use our financial resources wisely?

Do we budget our expenses so we are not left wondering where our money has flown off to?

For stay-at-home-moms, do we appreciate not only the paycheck, but the man who earns and brings it home?

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Time

We have each been allotted 24 hours per day. That equates to 1,440 minutes per day, or 86,400 seconds. In one year, that equals 525,600 minutes! But how we spend our time will determine the true value of our time.

Do we spend enough time with those we love?

Do we really give them our attention and focus when we are with them?

Do we allow ourselves to get distracted by the urgent and waste time that could have been spent on the important?

This week, as we memorize Proverbs 31:11, ask God to show you the areas you can improve your trustworthiness and the value you place on time and money.

You can find other posts in this series here.

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Worth More than Rubies | Proverbs 31 Series

My mother’s favorite passage of scripture when it came to teaching my sister and me about being women of God was Proverbs 31:10-31.  I am always amazed at how we can read the same passages of scripture in different seasons throughout our lives and have it speak to us in various ways as we pass from one stage to another.

At one time in our lives, these verses were just preparation verses for the kind of women and wives we were to be. We were able to put some of the verses into practice that dealt with our character and relationships with society in general, but the verses that dealt with husbands and children needed to be waited on until God brought us into that time.

The verse I have been reflecting on for the last week has been Proverbs 31:10, “An excellent wife who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” (NIV) I love the King James Version of this verse, “Who can find a virtuous woman? because her worth is far above rubies.” Rubies are a beautiful, rare gem, making them extremely valuable.

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How can we as women be rubies?

My Mom used to say, “You can walk outside and find rocks and pebbles anywhere, but you can’t just walk outside and find a ruby.” A ruby must be searched for and does not come cheaply.

For unmarried women, this speaks to character. Are you the kind of woman that is a carbon copy of the others around you, or are you someone that sees yourself as being valuable to God and therefore to others as well? Do you conduct yourself with dignity and modesty? In other words, are you living in a way that will not leave you with regret tomorrow or even later in life?

For married women, the question becomes, how can I be an excellent wife? What changes do I need to make to achieve excellence? I am forever working on the last two questions.

If we are ever to grow spiritually, or just in general, we need to constantly ask ourselves those questions. If we don’t, we will stay in a state of status quo and become stagnant as a woman or wife. If we ever believe that we have achieved excellence, we will come across as being prideful and arrogant.

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I know I will never achieve perfection, but I can strive for excellence in everything I do:

  • laundry… and it keeps coming.
  • housekeeping… do you ever feel like you are putting beads on a string without a knot on the end?
  • childrearing… so rewarding, but so demanding if you are choosing to be a proactive parent.
  • cooking… no burned meals.
  • gardening… sigh… that’s just not my thing, but I can keep the Lantana cut back and the bushes looking neat and in order.
  • grocery shopping… keep those coupons coming!

How will you strive for excellence in the place God has put you for now?

Years ago, I heard a lesson which discussed how everything we do can be an act of worship to God. The teacher brought up all of the mundane, everyday chores and responsibilities we as adults, spouses, and/or parents have- mowing the lawn, cooking dinner, washing the laundry, going to work- and how our view of them needs to change.

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We need to see these everyday tasks as an act of reverent worship to God. 

When we look at our homes and the things we do for the people inside them as an act of worship to the Lord, our attitude and outlook changes. We are no longer doing these things because we have to. We begin doing them as a way to honor the Lord.

When we change the focus of Who we are working for, it will automatically change our attitudes towards our homes, husbands, and children to one of worship and excellence.

Excellence in caring for the homes that God has provided for us.

Excellence in caring for the husband He has blessed us with.

Excellence in raising and caring for the children He has entrusted to us.

Dear woman, as you think about this verse today and throughout the week, I would encourage you to think of yourself as a ruby, a treasure, a woman of great value and allow that to be reflected in everything you put your hands to do.

During this series, I am going to challenge you to memorize the entire section of Proverbs 31:10-31. We will only memorize one verse per week, making this challenge doable for us. It will also give us something to meditate on as we ask God to refocus our hearts to become the woman He wants us to be.

This week, memorize Proverbs 31:10.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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hurricane-irma

Catching Up After the Emotional Stress of an Event

On September 10, 2017, the state of Florida waited in varying degrees of time as Hurricane Irma made a slow but powerful approach to our coast. She had already spent the previous week moving her way towards us while devastating some of the islands in the Caribbean. Knowing she was approaching gave us about a week to prepare… and worry. No one knew what would actually happen when she hit, but the general consensus was that we wanted her to stay off the east coast of Florida and eventually dissipate in the open waters of the Atlantic.

On the Tuesday before Irma hit, I took my kids to Sam’s Club for a few extra supplies in case the storm actually came in our direction. I decided to join the twenty or so cars waiting in line to top off their tanks with gas and prayed there would still be some when I pulled up. For me, that Tuesday was the day the emotional stress began building.

Over the next few days, Irma changed course several times. We could see the effects of the prayers from many in the state as she decreased in strength by the time she arrived in our neck of the woods. When she finally hit us at 2:00 a.m. Monday morning, God had miraculously changed her course multiple times so that our family only experienced a Category 1 hurricane, sustained no damage of property, and stayed safe during the entire ordeal. We lost a tree in the backyard, but it was one I didn’t want anyway, so even that worked to our advantage.

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While some are having to recover from Irma in a very drastic way- rebuilding their homes, picking up the pieces, receiving government assistance for lost food due to the extended loss of electricity- some of us are having to catch up and recover in other ways.

At our Classical Conversations co-op last week, a mom and I were discussing how hard it had been to get back into the school rhythm we had been in before the storm.

School schedules were thrown off as many kids in the state had school canceled for more than a  week.

Home schedules were tossed out as husbands had to stay home from work due to county wide curfews to keep drivers off the roads in order clear them.

Housework was pushed to the side as our normal changed for a few days.

A hurricane is not the only thing that can turn a home and schedule upside down. Loss of a loved one, a move, a new baby, or a major life event are all life jarring events that can throw a monkey wrench into a schedule for a temporary period in time. How do we get past these moments and come back to our normal?

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Housekeeping

Usually when it is time to get back to our “normal,” things have gotten out of hand- it’s just the nature of a major event to disrupt most areas of life. Don’t let housekeeping overwhelm you. Yes, we want our homes to be clean and back to a sense of normalcy, but after a major event, allow yourself to take it slow. Get back on track by making your home livable again, one room at a time, because life isn’t going to stop or slow down while you clean your house.

Purge

Sometimes, a major event is a perfect time to do a total home purge. I thought I had a pretty simple home until it was time to move things in from outside and move things around inside the house. It was eye opening how much excess I didn’t realize had crept in.

Slow down

The emotional toll taken by a major event is even more taxing than we give it credit for. For weeks after Irma, I found myself exhausted and wanting to sleep but not understanding why. After talking to other women, I found that I wasn’t alone. The emotional toll of a week of preparation, watching to see where the storm would hit, battening down the hatches, long term planning for a projected disaster, and then having to move on was more emotionally tiring than I expected. Take the time to stay home and rest. Don’t feel obligated to pack your schedule and live as you did before your event. Take your time in getting back to where you were. You may even find that you enjoy the rest and peace more than the busy.

Life events will happen. How we choose to catch up after them will determine how quickly and well we are able to resume our new normal. Remember to move at your own pace and speed. It’s not a race. It’s life.

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