No Decrease in Increase

June 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm (Godly Living, Marriage, Meditations on Proverbs 31) (, , , , , , , )

virtue is valuable

Proverbs 31:11 “The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain.”

The heart (inner man/mind/will) of her husband (lord) trusts (has confidence) in her.

This is a secure trust because she is reliable and he knows it. He can entrust the management of his home and money and children to her because he is confident in her ability to care for these things and see that in each area there is an increase. She not only maintains their home and possessions, she beautifies them, improves upon them. She not only refrains from spending money carelessly, she makes a good return on it by using it wisely and even investing it so that it increases. She not only cares for the basic needs of her children, but she trains them to be a blessing to their father. This woman is not a minimalist when it comes to her responsibilities. She is what we might call an over-achiever. What her husband entrusts to her she will not only be careful to preserve, but will also improve upon it!

This concept is expressed again in the second half of this verse: “And he will have no lack of gain.”

The Hebrew word for gain here refers to spoil, goods taken in victory. Basically, she makes him successful. He has no decrease in increase. Because of her careful management, he is not limited in growth potential, but is actually set free to succeed beyond his current sphere. He may have limitations on his time because of the work that he does, but his wife makes sure that she has no part in slowing him down. He is able to dedicate more time to God’s word because she has taken care of the physical, practical needs of their home. He has more time to invest in his children because he does not have to baby-sit his wife. He has more opportunities to serve and to lead because he can safely trust that his wife has taken care of what he has entrusted to her. He should even have more time and motivation to dote on his wife, deepening their relationship, because she is such a blessing to him. And more than just sparing him time and energy, this godly woman allows her husband to move forward in confidence because he is not at all worried about things at home—she creates a worry-free environment for him by managing her responsibilities well. He may have to deal with undependable people all day at work, but when he comes home he is at ease because of the faithful, fruitful labor of his wife. Being in her presence is a great comfort to him.

I think that this verse pretty well sums up the rest of the passage (aside from the statement at the end that she “fears the LORD”). We see the virtuous woman’s character and hard work and over-arching goal presented in this verse in very general terms. As we move on from here, we will see how this specifically works itself out in her day-to-day living.

It’s hard for me to let this sink in. This kind of idealism isn’t popular today—we don’t like to think about such a woman because her example reveals that we need to change! And what an example this woman is for us—what an example she is for me! May God prune me, taking away my selfishness so that I can serve and thrive like this godly woman. I must seek to be all that God has called me to be so that I can prop my husband up and help him to be all that God has called him to be! Oh, do I ever need help with this! May God grant us grace that we all would grow in our service to Him—from the inside out.

laurens-sig1

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One Man Against a Lion

June 21, 2009 at 7:20 am (Poetry, Submission) (, , , , , , , , )

man-against-a-lion

Between the spheres of heaven and hell,
Each man must climb the staircase.
And if he has a family
He must guide them in the right.
Prowling in the streets of time,
Seeking wand’ring little ones
There slinks the stealthy lion
Who’d devour in the night.

A wall between that fiend and they
The husband and the father stands
For his treasured family
He must wage a war and win.
And for the souls of every one
That’s given in his care
He’ll render an account to God
If they be lost to sin.

Ah, what a task for any man
To stand between a beast and prey
But if his precious family
Resists, what crushing blow
Might overthrow the very heart
That sought to keep them safe
And tried to teach their tender minds
The way which they should go.

Wives and children, let us gather
Round behind the man we love
As a faithful family
Submitting to his care.
That, when the raging beast attacks
And seeks to drive our guardian back
He’ll find we press him
Forward on the stair.

Copyright 2006 by Abigail

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Happy Birthday to Us!

June 16, 2009 at 6:19 am (Announcements) (, , , , , )

A year ago today we published our opening post–The Birth of Blog–and launched the Pearls and Diamonds site. Since that time we’ve bounced up and down on our ability to get posts up, but we’ve always been blessed by the feedback and by the outlet for thinking and learning. 🙂

In honor of the event, we’re giving away a handcrafted Pearls and Diamonds bookmark–featuring a crown decorated with pearls and diamonds (as per our goal of being jewels in the crown of the King of Kings). Enter by leaving a comment and letting us know what your favorite article/post  has been. For an extra entry, announce the giveaway on your blog or social networking site and let us know. We’ll bring the giveaway to a close July 1st and pick a random winner.

random 256

It’s cuter than it looks in the picture. (Thanks to Josiah, Abigail’s brother, for making it!)

Blessings,

lauren-and-abigail-sig1

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When God’s Will meets Woman’s Emotions

June 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm (Attitudes, God's Will, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ladies, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything of substance. Actually, I’ve been working on a two-part article about emotions and controlling them and a series on the will of God. And then something happened today which brought the two into head-on collision and gave me a huge reminder of just how silly I am. I’d like to share my story, so that when I get my articles written and posted you’ll know that truly I am writing reminders to myself–like the sticky notes I leave on my desk.

Reposted from Abigail’s personal blog.

See, it’s like this: it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, beware. Today I was riding an emotional rollercoaster–and it looked like a suburban. It’s been building up for a couple of weeks. No, actually, it’s been building up for a year. A year’s worth of build-up can be pretty nasty. And to top it off, several things this weekend resulted in a complete drop-out in the careful nest of my emotions–mostly due to relief, partly due to confusion and a lot of bewilderment. Why did I have to go through all that misery, confusion and pain, trying desperately to do the right thing–and there’s no point to it?

Then along comes the reminder that I still haven’t sold the suburban. That suburban that I’ve had for a year to sell. That one goes like this: Papa gave me the suburban (sort of) to sell with a caveat. See, the money I get from the suburban is supposed to pay for my wedding. Whenever. That’s the missing link for all those people who keep pestering me to find out when I’m going to get married. I can’t until I sell this suburban. (That’s a joke…I think.) The problem is that I never wanted the suburban. In fact, it was kind of embarrassing, so I never explained to anyone why my parents gave me a suburban. In olden days girls had countries or lands or cows for dowries. I have a suburban. It’s not very useful to drive in the meanwhile and if I never sell it, it’s not exactly the kind of vehicle I care to start out with. In fact, on the surface it feels like the kind of gift where the giver says, “You know, I’ve got this thing I don’t want anymore. And someday soon, I’m going to have to pay for her wedding. So, why don’t I just give her this thing I don’t want anyway and tell her to sell it and pay for her own wedding.” And I feel just that valuable. Which isn’t very.

Is that the truth? Tell me, dear Searcher of Hearts, since when were emotions dependent on reason or truth? My wish-wash emotions aren’t terribly interested in the truth. So this gift I have has been weighing on my will, mind and emotions for a year now. And I’ve tried everything that doesn’t cost money out of my pocket in order to sell it. Oh people are interested until it comes down to a price and then they aren’t. At least not in a reasonable price. Or they’re super interested, but wait? You live in D-town? That’s too far to drive. Nevermind. More trouble than it’s worth.

And today Papa expressed his frustration that we still have a suburban. You must understand, this suburban and I are both still at home for one simple reason: the right person just hasn’t come along yet. The right person who needs just this special vehicle (which is really not so much special as not in demand) and is willing to pay the price. Yet here we are, still paying tags and taxes, trying to keep clean and spiffy and advertised something that no one wants. And here I am, trying to sell a suburban to pay for a wedding when no one even wants to marry me.

How pointless is all of that?

I fought tears and crashing emotions all the way to work where I dropped Papa off and wished him a good day and noticed that the gas was on empty. I hadn’t even been the last person to drive it, but I would get to fill it up–and I was already late for Choices. I drove away feeling frustrated, lost and unloved.

Remember, emotions are not always reasonable. Or based on truth.

Trying to talk truth into my weeping soul, I began reminding myself, “Nobody promises results, Abigail. You’re just supposed to do your best and seek to do what’s right anyway.”

“Yeah,” I argued with myself, “But that’s just not fair. I’ve tried so hard! I’ve been honest and forthright! I’ve researched, I’ve posted ads, I’ve tried to please my parents. I don’t get why hard things always happen to me. Why I’m always frustrated and hurt and confused. What am I doing wrong?”

That was a rhetorical question, you know. When I ask, “What am I doing wrong?” I don’t expect an answer, or I expect to hear “nothing.” Because, clearly, no fault lies with me.

Instead a verse in Philippians drifted over the current of my complaints. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. This is God’s will for you.”

Great. The good ol’ rejoice always passage. Smiling is God’s will for me.

But the truth began to sink in deeper than my level of self-pity. In everything give thanks…in all honesty, I had always resented that suburban. I had viewed it as a burden, something I hadn’t asked for, which would be sold to pay for a designated purpose I never sought. Gee thanks. Some gift. In all my recalling, I could never recall being thankful for that suburban. In all my recalling, I could recall being irritated about trying to park it, or having to park it at the library for advertising and walking to Choices, or having to wash and vacuum it or having to get gas. I certainly was not grateful for that gift. A generous gift from my loving parents.

Then began the sermon. I’m very eloquent when I preach at myself. “Abigail, be grateful! You be grateful! Be grateful!” I signaled and shifted into the turn lane on Main street. “You be grateful for this suburban!”

And the suburban died. Right there in the middle of the busiest intersection in town at two o’clock in the afternoon, this suburban that I was going to be grateful for died. And it wouldn’t restart.

Two possibilities–absolutely no gas, not even fumes. Or the battery, which we’d just replaced and had worked on, since the battery light was on. Becky called to tell me there was no power at the clinic and we were closed and I sniffled into the phone as I explained where I was anyway. Kindly she offered whatever help she could. Then I called Mom to see if Josiah could tell me anything about what my next course of action should be. I didn’t relish braving oncoming traffic while checking on the battery if I just needed more gas. I tried starting it again. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even on empty, surely I could have made it that last block to the gas station.

Then I heard sirens and saw the flashing blue lights. By now I had tears streaming down my face. So much for being grateful, I was ready to call a wrecker and have this stupid car towed. And plan a fifty dollar wedding. Fifty years from now. I feel terribly sorry for the police man who approached my door. He probably has enough to do dealing with one emotional woman at home. When I opened my door I was both laughing and crying. And I know I must have looked like a tiny teen who didn’t know squat about cars. He quickly noted the for sale signs and asked, “Are you just test-driving?” Ludicrous. I don’t WANT this car. Can’t you tell that just from looking? (I’m sure my parents never guessed. I still need to be sure I’ve thanked them.) I tried to explain my situation as best I could and he nodded in sympathy. “Can you start it for me?” Which I did and nothing happened. Then he said, “Do you have it in park?” Well, no. I’d been driving when it died. And I was already emotionally nuts by then. Of course I didn’t think to put it in park. I shifted into park and turned the key. And it started. “I feel stupid,” I said and laughed and snorted and choked on tears. “You’re okay,” he smiled. “See if you can make it to 2nd and Arkansas and I’ll follow you.”

I made it. And filled up. And went home. And washed the suburban. Vacuumed it. And sprayed that silly foam on the tires to make them shiny. Because everyone is looking for a car with shiny tires, you know. Then I posted up some new ads. And I whispered, “Thank you for this suburban. I don’t understand. I don’t get it. It doesn’t seem fair. It hurts. It’s annoying. I don’t see the point. But thank you.”

Because I don’t have to understand. Things don’t have to go right. Things don’t have to make sense or have a point. But I have to be thankful. That’s God’s will.

Now, the temptation is to say, “Look, Abigail! You learned your lesson! You’re thankful now! God can bless you now!”

But the Lord is not a genii in a bottle. Rubbing Him right doesn’t earn me three wishes. Doing the right thing doesn’t equal getting what I want. I assure you, I want to sell this suburban. Trust means doing the right thing and believing that He sees it, is pleased and will reward it–sometime. Someway. His way. I can’t make anyone buy that suburban. I can’t make things happen by believing–that’s humanism, paganism–not Christianity. But by believing, sometimes I can see things that are happening in a new light–I can believe God’s promises that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly, that He works all things for the good of those who love Him, that trials produce proven character and that His will for me is my sanctification–that I would be made holy like Him. With those promises in mind, I can look squarely at anything thrown my way and say “Okay. Thanks.”

Thank you, Lord, for an excellent reminder.  Please make me holy.

And…when You get around to it…please sell my suburban.

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Pear Bundt Cake

June 11, 2009 at 7:21 pm (Counter Culture) (, , , , , , )

counter-culture

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups oil

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups cut up pears


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9×13 or bundt pan (or muffin tins). Beat together sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Add salt, soda and cinnamon to the flour. Mix flour with sugar mixture. Add pears. Pour into pan and back 45-60 minutes. (More like 20-25 for muffins.)


Enjoy!

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El Gozo de la Veinte y Dos

June 5, 2009 at 4:50 am (Announcements) (, , )

Twenty-two years ago, something happened!

Guess who was born at five o’clock in the morning!

A pretty good picture

It was the first time Abigail ever cried.

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Love is a verb

June 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm (Flowers of Thought, Love) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

flowers-of-thought-2

The following entry in one of my old journals–nearly five years old–turned out to be a convicting reminder of the simple practices of love.  In five years, I fear I have not greatly improved in this area at all.  Yet, God is faithful to remind me–even through the medium of my own pen.  –Abigail Joy

I need to exert more effort in loving by:

*Not talking about myself

Esp. accomplishments, things I think I did well, funny things I did or said, speech contests, things I have written, things I have made, things I want to do.  Instead I will ask questions about others.

(This will allow others to have the glory instead of trying to gain it for myself)

*Taking time to think positively

Instead of allowing myself to dwell on negative circumstances, or other’s negative traits, I need to intentionally look for the potential good and for good qualities

(This will raise my estimation of others, make treating them with respect easier and lower my own self-righteousness)

*Taking time to serve

Esp. small unnoticed things for which I won’t be thanked and tasks that I dislike.

(This will turn my mind from my own agenda and make me less resentful when asked to go out of my way for someone else)

These three simple things should help make me more loving by fostering patience, kindness, humility, gentleness, service and endurance and should help eliminate angry outbursts, grumbling, sudden selfishness, taking offenses, rudeness, impatience and envy.

Love is a verb.

I must take action!


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