A Prayer for the Twenty-first Century Proverbs 31 Woman

Heavenly Father, I thank you for preserving me as a virtuous woman for my husband.  I ask that your hand would be with me today, helping me to live virtuously and honorably before you.  I thank you for the trust and respect my husband has in me.  May I honor and bless him through my words and actions each day.

As I go through my day, help me to do good to my husband.  Bring to my mind each day ways to lighten his load and make our home a true haven of rest for him.   Help me to remember the small “touches” that let him feel cherished and appreciated.

Please be with me as I work to make my home more comfortable.   Give me creative and economical ideas and help me to incorporate these ideas into my home.  Help me to stretch our financial resources to meet the needs of my family; let me not bring stress to my family by living beyond our means.

I ask for guidance as I plan meals and shop for food for my family.  Let me make meals that are nutritious, economical, and delicious.  Help me to view cooking as a creative challenge and a way to show love to my family, and not as one of many mundane chores.  This also applies to laundry, dishes, and house cleaning—let me view them not as labor, but as labors of love.

Father, help me to rise early and spend some time with you and my husband before we start our busy days.  Please help me to rest well each night and get up feeling refreshed so that I can be a pleasant companion in the morning.  It is important for my husband and I to share some time and eat breakfast together before we leave the refuge of our home for our work places.

As I work, inside or outside of my home, help me to work enthusiastically and energetically.  My family and my boss deserve my best each day.  Help me to make wise decisions that will benefit my employer at work and my family at home.

I know, Father, that I need to take care of myself each day—making time for daily devotions, exercise, and a little pampering—so that I may be strengthened and renewed to care for my family.  Help me to make these activities priorities and to incorporate them into my daily schedule.

Help me, Lord, to be aware of the needs of each member of my family and to work to meet those needs—whether it is a need of new clothing, help with school work, individual attention from Mom, or discipline and instruction.

Help me to use my time wisely each day, while still allowing time for fun.  Help me to limit time spent in activities that are not productive or that bring no real pleasure, such as watching television shows I’m not really interested in or playing computer games.   Help me to redeem this time to talk, read, or play games with my family. 

Father, your Word tells us that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but good deeds done in your name will last through eternity.  Let me be particularly in tune to your voice encouraging me to write a letter, make a phone call, or say a kind word.  Help me to be generous to the poor and needy, to those who are lonely and need a friend, to a stranger who needs a smile and a kind word, and to friends who need encouragement. 

May I look to you each day, Lord, for wisdom to guide me through the day, and for the strength to be the woman you want me to be, so that my husband and children will feel loved and blessed.  Thank you, Father.

Valentine’s Day Reflection on Meeting the Love of My Life

Celebrating our 25th anniversary with a Caribbean cruise

I had lunch after church yesterday with the love of my life.  As I sat across from my husband in the booth at one of our favorite restaurants, it occurred to me that we had been coming to this restaurant for 33 years.  The memories of eating fish, fries, coleslaw, and hush puppies here together go all the way back to our freshman year of college.  They’ve remodeled the restaurant a time or two and tweaked the menu, but it’s in the same spot and I’m still coming with the same guy.

I vividly remember the first time I met Steve.  It was early October 1975, our junior year of high school. I was the vice-president of the French club and in that capacity I had to help select the cast for the annual French club play.  The French teacher, Madame Dameron, had chosen a musical—The Pale Pink Dragon.  I remember that some of the characters were turned into bears by a dragon. I was assigned to be in charge of costumes and spent many hours dyeing thermal underwear brown, making papier-mâché bear heads, and creating a dragon costume.

On the first day of tryouts, a large number of students showed up.  Most of the would-be actors read a scene from the script and sang briefly a cappella.  Some were quite good and others were, well let’s just say, not so good. Near the end of the first day, it was Steve’s turn to audition.  He was new in school, and I had never seen him before.

Steve’s was kind of cute, but he was not, at first glance, my type. He looked like a hippie with long straight hair that fell below his shoulders.  He wore blue jeans with holes in the both knees, a white Mickey Mouse teeshirt, and a plaid longsleeve flannel shirt. I wasn’t really interested until he picked up his guitar. He had my full attention as he strummed the guitar and sang.  He was, of course, cast in the play.  I remember giving him a pattern and material and telling him to have his mother sew his costume, a long hooded robe.  He said she couldn’t as she didn’t have a sewing machine.  I made his costume myself.

The remainder of the year, Steve and I had little interaction.  Senior year, however, we were seated beside each other in physics class.  We got to know each other better as we flirted on a field trip to D.C. and helped each other with physics homework.  Steve was shy and the year was almost over before he got up the nerve to ask me out. Once he did, I knew he was that special person God had for me. 

When people ask us how long we’ve been “together” Steve always says it’s been since the French club play while I count from our first date in April 1977.  Either way, we are well into our fourth decade as a couple.  In a few months we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. 

As we ate our lunch, I thought about how special it is to have met the love of my life when we were only 17.  We share a lifetime of memories from high school graduation through college and graduate school to starting a family.  Our three sons were raised in a stable home with parents who loved them and each other unconditionally. Last summer we had the wonderful experience of becoming grandparents.  We look forward to making new memories with our precious grandson.

We don’t know what future God has in store for us.  We do know that God will be with us each step of the way and that we will be here for each other “for as long as we both shall live.”  Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart.  I love you with all my heart.

Praying God’s Word For My Family

When I was a young wife and mother, an older woman in my church shared that she prayed God’s Word over her family regularly. Soon God began opening my eyes to scriptures I should pray over my family.  I routinely did that for years, but lately I have gotten out of the habit.  God brought this to mind this morning as I read one of those prayers during my devotions.

In writing to the Colossians, Paul tells them that he prays for them continually, asking God to fill them with knowledge and wisdom so that they can live a life that honors God and bears much fruit (Col. 1: 9- 12).  I prayed Paul’s words daily for my husband during a period of great stress at work.  Over time I personalized it, asking God to let Steve be a light in his workplace and to give him wisdom to find solutions to the problems he was asked to solve. I believe that God does want us to be successful at work and that He is pleased when we ask Him to help in that regard. 

When my sons went off to college, I asked God to give them knowledge to do well in the classroom and wisdom to not get caught up in the many temptations of college campus life.  And when my sons married, I shared the prayer with their wives.  I hope their wives pray this prayer over my sons and my sons pray it for their wives, also. 

I’m recommitting myself to praying this prayer for my family and even myself.  I want to have God’s presence with me throughout my day.  You might consider asking a loved one to pray a personalized version of this prayer over you each morning? Wouldn’t it be uplifting to leave your home each day knowing that someone was asking God to be with you each moment, filling you with His wisdom and helping you to live a life that pleases Him?

  A Prayer for My Husband—Colossians 1: 9 – 12

 Dear Heavenly Father—

I pray for my husband today.

I ask that you would fill him with the knowledge of your will and that you would give him spiritual wisdom and understanding.

I ask this so that he might live a life worthy of you, Lord, and that he might please you in every way.

 I pray that he would bear fruit in every good work, that he would grow in the knowledge of you, that he would be strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that he might have great endurance and patience,

And that he would joyfully give thanks to you, Father.

Amen

Delight–Revisited

I read a blog yesterday in which the author discussed his One Word choices for the past three years and how he chose his One Word for this year.  While he remembered clearly his Words for 2008 and 2009, he was unable to recall his One Word for 2010 and had to look it up.  Interestingly, the word he forgot was Enjoy.  Enjoy seems like a pretty easy word to focus on for a year, and I was first amused that he had forgotten it.    Clearly, he was not successful in Enjoying life fully last year.

I was less amused as I read his explanation that he failed to live up to his word because he is more of a Martha than a Mary.  That observation hit close to home.  I am definitely more of a Martha.  For those of you who don’t understand the reference, this Martha was a friend of Jesus and sister to Lazarus and Mary.  When Jesus came to visit, Martha rushed around cooking and serving while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet feasting on his words.  When Martha complained to Jesus that her sister wasn’t helping her, he replied that, “Mary has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10:42)

For those of us who are doers, sitting at the feet of Jesus does not come naturally.  It is easier for us to volunteer to teach Sunday school or spend a day helping with an event than it is to spend an hour in quiet reflection in God’s Word.  We get so busy doing that, like the author of yesterday’s One Word blog, we forget to enjoy our time with God.  We may also have a hard time fully enjoying our families, our friends, our hobbies, and our work.

The dictionary defines Enjoy as “to take pleasure in; to find or experience pleasure.”  Delight is Enjoy compounded:  “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; to give great pleasure; to take great pleasure in.”

When I chose Delight as my One Word for the year, I was focused on Delighting in God and recognizing that He Delights in me.  I will now add another focus—remembering to take Delight in my everyday life.  I will try this year to Delight in time spent in God’s word, to Delight in time spent with my family and friends, and to Delight in those I minister to or who minister to me.  I will try to relax more and be fully present in each moment.  I will try to avoid thinking about everything on my to-do list and what I could be accomplishing when I should be focused on those I am spending time with.

Several years ago I read Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.  This insightful book speaks about having a balance between doing goods works and spending time communing with God.  Both are important if I am going to be the woman God has designed me to be.  Every couple of year I reread Having a Mary Heart to help me keep my focus.  It may be time to read it again.

Have you chosen One Word to focus on in 2011?  How is your One Word helping you to achieve personal growth?

Delight

Monday morning on the way to work I heard the radio DJs discussing the concept of “un-resolutions.”  They explained that a pastor had come up with idea that instead of making a list of resolutions, people should choose a word that represented what they want to work on during the year.  He calls his idea “My One Word, and says the “process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.”

The concept made a lot of sense, and I decided to join in.   The three DJs shared that they had chosen   Balance, Patience, and Discipline as their words.   Listeners called in to share their words.   All of the words were great and any of them could certainly have applied to my life. 

I was leaning toward Balance, with a goal of balancing different aspects of my life:  prayer and worship, work and family time, and Bible study and service, leisure and writing, etc.  I recently re-read Joanna Weaver’s book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.  Joanna wrote about the need to balance sitting at the feet of Jesus with time spent in the kitchen (or serving).  Balance seemed to be the word God was speaking to me.

During my Tuesday morning devotion, I was reading from the Prayer of Jabez devotional.  It focused on Psalm 18:19, “He rescued me because he delighted in me.”  I’m not sure that I ever consciously recognized that God delights in me before I read that.  At noon, I read a blog in which the writer committed to memorize two scriptures each month.  She is starting the year with Psalm 37:3, 4.  And there in verse 4 was that word Delight again. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  I guess God wanted to make sure He got my attention, because Psalm 37:4 appeared in an email devotion I read before going to bed Tuesday night.

After encountering  Delight three times in one day, there was no doubt in my mind about what word to choose. Delight is going to be my One Word for 2011.  I will strive to delight in God and to remember that He delights in me.  Delighting in God will cause me to keep my eyes focused steadfastly on God and off myself.  Reminding myself that God delights in me will encourage me that God always has my best interest at heart and will keep me from getting discouraged when things are going the way I think they should.

What One Word will you focus on in 2011?

Hopes for the New Year and Blessings of the Old One

Last night I watched on television the New Year’s celebration in Times Square.  It struck me as odd that we get so excited about what is essentially just another day.  When you think about it, it’s a bit crazy for grownups to gather in the streets on a cold winter’s night to watch a ball drop.  Of course, for many people, it’s simply an excuse to party.  For others of us, the New Year signals a new start.  It is fresh and unblemished; we are filled with hope that the coming year will be better than the one just ended. 

 In 2011, I hope and pray that the economy improves significantly, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end, our troops come home and are reunited with their families, and the President and new Congress work together to find answers to the problems facing our nation. On a more personal note, I pray that my husband will find a job, preferably one that matches his skills and in which he finds fulfillment.

2010 was a rough year for our family as my husband’s period of joblessness extended to two years and his unemployment benefits were exhausted.  Despite those challenges, we were blessed in many ways.  I think it’s appropriate to begin the New Year by acknowledging some of the ways God blessed our family during the past year.

Our top ten blessings of 2010:  

  1. The birth of our grandson Daniel was the highlight of our year.  He is a delight and brings joy to our life.
  2. My first novel, Restorations, was finally published in October, three years after I finished it.  It took me 8 months to find a publisher, followed by 28 months of waiting for the book to be published.
  3. Our oldest child completed a Master’s Degree program in History at Villanova University. 
  4. In June, my husband and I took a Caribbean cruise.  The cruise was wonderfully relaxing. 
  5. A new, lasting friendship was formed on the cruise. A woman seated with us at dinner turned out to be the sister of one of our high school classmates.  We spent much of the week with her husband and her and found that we shared not only a common hometown but also a common faith. 
  6. I completed my second novel, Reconciliations, and started the third novel in my Restored Hearts series.
  7. All three of our sons are employed in jobs they enjoy.
  8. A new administrative assistant was hired for my office.  We had been without one for nearly two years due to a hiring freeze.  Our new co-worker has been a wonderful addition to the staff.
  9. Although there were no raises for state employees for the third year in a row, we did receive small Christmas bonuses. Mine went to pay for a root canal and crown.  I’m thankful God provided the money to pay for the necessary dental procedures.
  10. Despite my husband being unemployed, we ended the year with more savings and less debt than we started it with. 

We are truly thankful for the blessings God bestowed on our family in 2010. We look forward expectantly to 2011 knowing that God has great things planned for our family.

As you will look back on 2010, how has God blessed your family?

Acknowledging God’s Blessings

“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you, Lord, just the same for the food we’re about to eat. Amen.”

 The sentiments of Charlie Anderson, played by Jimmy Stewart, in the movie Shenandoah probably ring true with many people.  If I grew my food or worked to earn money to buy it, and I cooked the meal, why I am thanking God for it?

 For me the answer is found in the words of Moses to the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”  Deuteronomy 8:17, 18

 Charlie Anderson is a proud man.  He thinks he can support and care for his family without depending on God’s help.  At the end of the movie, we see a much humbler man.  He has not been able to protect his family from the devastation of the Civil War. Several family members have been killed and his youngest son is missing.  For the first time in many years, Charlie goes to church and asks for God’s help.  When he does, his son returns.

We all need God’s help in our lives every day.  God supplies each of us with talents and abilities that allow us to be productive.  In taking time to thank God for our food and to ask Him to bless our meal, we are acknowledging that God is the source of our strength, and it is God who gives us the ability to provide for our families.  It is my desire to never take God’s gifts for granted.  If you aren’t in the habit of thanking God for the blessings He bestows on you each day, it’s never too late to start.   Please consider making this a new habit in the coming new year.