Yesterday was one of those days that just never ended. Have you ever had one of those? I finally got to bed about 10:30 after cleaning up the house, sweeping, mopping, doing a work out, showering and folding 2 loads of laundry (that was all after all 4 pikininis were in bed). Whew! But you know what? I felt so FULFILLED doing it - knowing I was doing the RIGHT thing.
It makes me think of Proberbs 31 - the "Perfect Wife" chapter that is so often referred to. This has been a chapter I've spent a lot of time on.
Even when I was growing up, I used to love listening to the DC talk song "That Kinda Girl."
I had it on a tape I would listen to on the boom box over and over in Yemli village (the picture above is in that house, although in the picture I'm reading a comic book to my wase or namesake - the girl named after me.)
You can watch the song here. The lyrics of one verse go:
"Well I'm looking for a girl who's virtuous
'Cause God laid it on my heart to search for this
So I open up the Word to the book of Proverbs
The 31st chapter tells me all about her
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain
A woman who fears the Lord, she ain't playin'
Hear what I'm saying 'cause I'm saying it clearly
She's the kinda girl I gots to have near me."
It has always been my prayer to be "that kinda girl." When I got married, I wanted to be "that kinda" wife. I spent a lot of time reading different books about being a suitable wife/helpmeet/encourager etc. I'm 7 years into being a wife, and 29 years into being a female. Am I any closer to being "that kina girl" and "that kinda" wife I always aspired to be?
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."
I think a lot of these are questions Mr. Barefoot would need to answer. Am I a wife of noble character? Am I worth more than rubies to him? Does he have full confidence in me? Do I bring him good, never harm, every single day I take a breath?
I can easily and sadly answer that last question without his input - no I definately don't bring him good and never harm every single day I take a breath. There's been times I've purposefully said something or chosen not to do something because I wanted to hurt him. Little things - like not offering a real smile from the heart when he gets home. Or specifically avoiding eye contact at dinner because I knew he would notice and start to inwardly panic about why I was upset at him. That's not fair to him.
Mr. Barefoot played me a song the other night that I think of with the word "rubies." It's by Dustin Kensrue. You can listen to it here. The lyrics go:
"Cause Ruby, you're all that I want,
My heart and my treasure.
Ruby, you're all that I need,
For now and forever."
How amazing to be called a Treasure, a Ruby, by your husband. I was listening to his commentary on the song and he said that regardless of all the "stupid things" he's done, how do you let the one you cherish and love know that it's not a reflection of his love of her? This really hit home to me - if I'm doing my job correctly, being a suitable helpmeet and Proberbs 31 wife, then my husband will be drawn to me and call me his Treasure even when he has "messed up."
That makes me think of 1 Peter 3.
"Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."
Yesterday a dear older Titus 2 woman in my life said she had always assumed this section of Scripture was for women in "unequally yolked" marriages - aka a woman married to an unbelieving husband. But - how could that be since it has then linked Abraham in the Old Testament who was clearly a God follower. The only logical assumption then is that this instruction is for wives in any marriage relationship with a husband who is sinning. And guess what - that's every single wife in the entire world. We are supposed to "win" our husbands over by our "silent behaviour" and the "purity and reverence" in our lives. Wow. Let that sink in.
I looked up "purity" in my Children's Dictionary. It says:
1.freedom from dirt or impurities
2. freedom from sin or guilt
Clearly - I am not free from sin or impurities on a spiritual level (nor on a physical level - hellooooo 4 kids five and under!), and yet my being faithful, following the Lord, will apparently "win over" my BELIEVING stumbling husband. That is pretty mind blowing. Granted, I don't even know many times when my husband is stumbling or sinning - it's betwen him and the Lord, unless he tells me. But how many times has my silent, pure and reverent actions "won him over?" How many times have my loud, nagging, impure and irrerevent actions pushed him away? That's a much more sobering question and one I need to pray and seek the Lord for forgiveness on, as well as my husband's.
My first sentence above of course begs the question - what's a Titus 2 woman? I'm glad you asked :)
Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
In these verses I'm told to love my husband, be self controlled (in my anger, in my eating, in my training up of the children), to be pure (there's that word again!) to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to Mr. Barefoot... why? So that no one will malign the Word of God.
I looked up malign:
"To say evil things about; slander"
So when I'm not being the wife, mother and woman the Lord wants me to be, I could be causing others to say evil things about the Word of God, pushing them AWAY from Him. My highest calling is to bring people CLOSER to the Lord (that includes my children), to make disciples of Him. By me NOT being a Biblical wife, mother and woman, I'm doing the EXACT opposite of the Great Commission. I don't know about you, but that's really sobering.
So a Titus 2 woman is an older woman the Lord has placed in my life to show me these truths. :) I'm so very thankful for these women in my life.
Ok - moving back to Proverbs. I'll just touch on a few verses from Proverbs 31. I'm not a teacher or Bible scholar by any means - these are just my thoughts on a topic I've been thinking about for YEARS and recently have been focusing on more.
"She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar."
So I do have flax that I select with eager hands to put in smoothies and I used to make a bread with flax... ;) I also made a sensory box with milled flax seeds and my children definately have eager hands when playing with it... does that count?
I haven't gotten into wool yet - but if we ever get to move to a hobby farm of sorts and have sheep, I'd love to get into wool! I actually do have a couple wool diapers but I'm not sure I'd say I use them with "eager hands." I much prefer staight up cloth diapers...
And... I am like a merchant ship bringing my food from afar.
Hey - sometimes driving to our discount store with 4 kids, getting all of them in the car, then out, then across the parking lot into the store to do our grocery shopping and then back out again and home feels like getting our food from afar. Very afar. And a treacherous journey. Anyone hear me?
"She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls."
I can't say I get up while it's still dark in the summer, but I do in the winter! But not because I'm getting up any earlier. I've tried getting up earlier to do my Bible reading and even get meals ready for the day and I'm just too exhausted. I do better staying up later to get those things prepped for the next day - like I did last night. I've always been a morning person and the idea of waking up early sounds refreshing - but right now, practically it just doesn't work. Maybe when my kids are a bit older?
Just look at that little face. <3 That was Twinkles a few years ago - when I was just a few months pregnant with Orangutan - and we were making Christmas cookies together.
Sorry - back to the now ;)
As far as providing food for my family - yes! I think that's one of my strengths... ;) Although Mr. Barefoot is the one who tends the garden and goes to work so really all credit goes to him. I just get to play. <3
I don't have any servant girls - unless you consider my kids servants... ha. I do make them do chores and such but no servant girls for me! Growing up we had a haus meri which literally translates to "house woman" and she was probably the equivilent to a servant girl.
But - when post office people stop by with our mail or other "public servants" stop by, I try to offer water or snacks when I remember. It's been harder with the house we have now - our mailbox is at the end of a long driveway so he doesn't come up to our house for interaction unless there's a package. I'll have to think about more ways I can have portions of food for my "servant girls."
I'm going to skip ahead to a verse I love at the end, but read all the middle stuff. There's so many great verses in there and wonderful applications. Maybe another day I'll tackle some other verses.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
This verse was in that DC Talk song I mentioned earlier. Charm is deceptive. I looked up charm in my dictionary again:
1.to affect or influence by or as if by a magic spell.
I don't want to be CONTROLLING my husband or those around me and therefore they somehow are enchanted and drawn to me. I want them to be drawn to me because I'm open, transparent, Godly, loving, caring....
Beauty is fleeting. Oh yeah. I look back at pictures of me on our wedding day, or when we were dating and that woman was beautiful. I wish I thought so at the time and believed my to be Mr. Barefoot when he told me. I'm still that same woman - but my body isn't the same.
Four kids grown in my body, delivered and breastfed - all in under 5 years does a number on your body. My body is not the same it was 9 years ago, and it never will be. Even now as I've been working on toning everything up, losing those last 15 or so stubborn pounds - it's HARD! I could buy into all the promises from TV and internet commericials - buy this pill and look 15 years younger...buy this cream and loose the stretch marks... drink this shake and you'll magically lose those stubborn 15 pounds......
"Beauty is fleeting." It says in Proverbs 5:18 to "enjoy the wife of your youth." I'm still the wife of Mr.Barefoot's youth - I'm not saying I'm old. But I'm not as youthful as I was 7 years ago when we said "I do." And that's ok.
Beauty is fleeting.
Whats the most important? Fearing the Lord. Being faithful. Loving HIM with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Loving my neighbor as myself (that includes my husband, my children, and the strangers at the grocery store, the elderly couple in the nursing home, the man down the street with THE VIRUS, the immigrant next door who's scared they won't ever get to see their family again...)
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself."
When I live that out practically every day, I'll be well on my way to the Proverbs 31 woman, the Titus 2 woman, and ultimately, the woman, mother and wife the Lord has called me to.