Category Archives: Proverbs 31

Talk About a Proverbs 31 Woman!

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”  Proverbs 31:26

by: Jennifer Mullen

Yesterday at our MOPS meeting, we were blessed to hear from a true Proverbs 31 Woman, Michelle Duggar.  It was an encouraging and challenging message.  Gretchen said that she was inspired by some of the points Mrs. Duggar made to write a future post.  Four of the Mosaic of Moms writers were at this meeting.

I encourage you to check out the Duggar Family website.  It has so many great resources for Christian families.

Left to Right: Melissa Pope, Michelle Duggar, Jennifer Mullen, Sarah Smith, and Gretchen Speer

 

Proverbs 31 Woman with a Martha Mentality

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

By: Jennifer Mullen

I have felt so torn lately.  So many plates to spin.  I have various areas of ministry I am involved in along with responsibility of being a homemaker, daughter, mother, and wife.  I see other women who accomplish so much and think, “When do they have time to surf Pinterest too?”  Anytime I stop focusing on one aspect, another falls apart; hence the pile of clothes in the laundry room.  Sometimes I get caught up in trying to be a Proverbs 31 Woman with a Martha Mentality. 

When reading the Proverbs 31 Woman’s to-do-list, I feel exhausted, but by some supernatural power she is able to accomplish it!  Then when I read the story of Mary and Martha I honestly feel for Martha. No matter how hard she tries, she feels that her work is never going to be done.  What’s more, it seems to me that Mary gets off easy and the other two women are doing all the work!

Haven’t you felt that way before?   You clean your one room and move to the next, then you turn around to see that the first room is destroyed? When this happens to me, it’s like a scene from a horror film.  I am shocked that everything has been destroyed in the blink of an eye.

So what is the difference between Martha and the Proverbs 31 Woman?  Here are some of my observations:

1) Martha had her eyes on everyone else.  You will NEVER have peace when you are worried about what others think. Martha started comparing herself to Mary.  She saw that Mary was just sitting around doing “nothing”.  When reading Proverbs 31, I see a woman who knows the task at hand and makes a plan.  She doesn’t have time to focus on others and seems so confident in herself that she doesn’t have the need to.  The only time she is compared to other women is when her husband and children praise her saying, “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” (Proverbs 31:29 MSG)  Isn’t that what matters?… Not what you think about yourself compared to other women, but what your family thinks about you. 

2) Martha’s focus was on duty instead of devotion:  When reading Martha’s demand, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”(Luke 10:40) I see that Martha’s motives may not have been for the glory of the her Master, but for the sake of duty.  When I read Proverbs 31, it comes across to me as if the Woman had been given a task and she had joyfully accepted it.  You can tell that she took pride in her life’s work and did not begrudge it.  Her sense of hospitality is a stark contrast to Martha’s.  Instead of getting flustered when people show up at her door, “she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:20)  (I have so much to learn!)

3)  Martha’s goal was affirmation: We all like to be affirmed.  Don’t you wish that someone would give you applause after changing each diaper or emptying the dishwasher?  The truth is, the daily grind of being a housewife is, for the most part, a thankless job.  That is what Martha struggled with, and I don’t blame her!    In contrast, after a lifetime of not seeking affirmation, the Proverbs 31 Woman receives it, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Proverbs 31: 30-31)

The key in both stories is that the “woman who fears the LORD will be praised”.  Both the Proverbs 31 Woman and Mary were praised!  It is not about all the work that you do for your family or for a ministry,  it is about your heart.  If your heart is not right, you quit being the Proverbs 31 Woman and become Martha! Do not be so busy that you forget to be still! 

  • When you have your eyes on everyone else…seek the LORD to confirm your task and give you strength. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3
  • When you begin to focus on duty instead of devotion…seek the LORD and recommit the works of your hands to Him. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”Colosians 3:23
  • When you seek affirmation from others…seek the favor of the LORD. “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3: 3-4

When you seek the LORD, you will be like the Proverbs 31 Woman and have the supernatural power able to accomplish your to-do-list!  Or you may be called to be Mary, and let some things go because as the Jesus said, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”  It is in these quiet times that we can decipher between the two.

Related Article: I am a Work in Progress

Beyond Coupon Clipping: 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Dollar

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Life on a Budget

“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard…. She sees that her trading is profitable…She makes linen garments and sells them.”  Proverbs 31: 16,18a,24a

By: Jennifer Mullen

There she is again.  That ever intimidating yet fascinating “Proverbs 31 Woman”.  She must have been busy purchasing land, planting fields and making garments on top of cooking, cleaning, parenting and being a wonderful wife.  If you look in the mirror you would see that you are a lot like her!  Aside from being a mom, wife, cook, maid, taxi driver, Sunday school teacher, etc, you are constantly looking for ways to bring in extra income into your home to pay bills or save up for something special.

There are many ways that my husband and I have had to be creative about bringing in income or cutting cost in order to make ends meet.  It can be kind of fun as long as you are focusing all the blessings that you have and not lamenting all the things that you don’t have.  When I told my husband that I was going to be writing on this subject, he said to be sure and emphasize that we are not giving financial advice.  We do not follow most conventional rules about finances, but we do trust in God to bless our efforts to be good stewards of what He has given us.   He also said that it is important, as with all things that deal with finances, that you have work as a team and be on the same page about what your family goals are financially.

So here is a list of things that my husband and I have done to be industrious like my mentor, the “Proverbs 31 Woman”.

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Dollar

1. Don’t buy it!  This is my husband’s rule.  Usually if it is a want, it really doesn’t improve our quality of life to buy it.  I am not always as strong as him though, so the rest of the tips are mine.

2. LivingSocial:  There are many variations of this site available such as: groupon, supersaver, and dealpiggy.  We have cut our eating out budget by waiting for specials from these various sites to come along.  Usually you pay half price for eating out.  For example, you pay $10 for a $20 voucher.  Since we have been dieting, we have cut our eating out budget even further by splitting meals.  Sites like these not only have deals for restaurants but also for local attractions, massages, speciality shoppes, kid’s classes such as dance, and vacations.  My husband and I purchased a three-day two-night weekend vacation off of LivingSocial that we have booked for our anniversary weekend.  We have been waiting almost a year for this trip since we purchased the deal, and we have been saving up extra money to use while on the trip (see #3).  The key is to only buy the vouchers for products and services that you would buy anyway and wait until an appropriate occasion to redeem it.  It’s not saving money otherwise.

3. Put Your Degree/Skill Set to Work: I am a certified teacher so I am able to tutor a few hours a week at a rate of $25 to $30 an hour.  My husband comes home from work to watch the kids, and I run to the next neighborhood to work with my student.  Doing this, I currently make $240 a month by working two hours a week.  My husband is a computer guy so he fixes computers and builds websites to bring in extra income on top of his full-time job.  It is a blessing to have marketable skills.  Sometimes I take a side job that I don’t particularly enjoy to save up for a special item or trip. Right now I work two mornings a month in our MOPS nursery to help fund the LivingSocial vacation my husband and I are going on that was mentioned in tip number two.   Changing diapers is definitely in my skill set, but not always the funnest.

4. Barter Services:  My husband has done computer work for free babysitting, free products, and free electrician help.  When we were buying our car, he was even able to negotiate a better interest rate by adjusting something on the local dealership’s network that made life easier for our salesman.  He loved us after that and went out of his way to help us. Just because money doesn’t change hands, doesn’t mean that you haven’t saved/made money.

5. Network with Friends: If we have friends that own local businesses, we buy from them.  We have gotten really good deals from our friends, and in turn they have gotten really good word of mouth advertising!

6. Make Money By Doing What You Love:   In tip number three,  I talked about using my skill set of changing diapers to make a little extra money, but I don’t LOVE it.  I have been inspired by my friends who have turned their hobbies into a money-making venture.  Melissa loves to scrapbook so she became a Creative Memories Consultant.   Gretchen is about to participate in her first craft fair.  I have a friend who made her love of photography into a very successful business called Sweet Portrayal.  Another one of my friends turned her hobby of knitting into a super cute business called sweetPea Shoppe .  Being creative can pay if you are smart about it!

7. Medical Bills: Just because you get confirmation that insurance has been filed and you get a bill doesn’t mean that you are done.  NEVER pay your medical bills until you KNOW that the insurance has paid what they are supposed to.  I have caught mistakes many times.  Sometimes if the insurance doesn’t pay what I think they should, I can get the doctor’s office to re-submit it under a different code and they will pay more.  Also, if you have a large medical bill, you can sometimes negotiate a deal to decrease the amount of your payment if you can pay a lump sum in cash instead of making small payments over the course of a year or two.

8: Consignment/Garage Sale/ Resale/Thrift Stores: I have a circuit of stores I visit periodically.  Sometimes I find things.  Sometimes I don’t.  When I do, I am happy I made the effort.  Recently, I pieced together my son’s Easter outfit between three stores in one day.  I found some tweed pants and a button-down shirt each originally from The Children’s Place, a sweater vest, and brown leather shoes.  The whole outfit cost $12.00!  Sure beats the prices I have seen on the racks this Spring in the retail stores!  On Gretchen’s personal blog, she has a neat post about shopping at Goodwill.  I would have never known that she got her clothes from there.  She is always super fashionable!

9: Cash Back on Credit Cards:  This is a Dave Ramsey NO-NO, and I do not recommend it if you have problems with overspending on credit cards.  My husband and I have been doing this for about five years and found it to be very beneficial.  We put EVERYTHING on our credit card and pay it off each month.  If we can’t afford it (if we don’t have the cash in our bank account) we don’t buy it.  We treat every purchase as if it is coming out of or bank account.  The 1.5% interest that we make with our cash back rewards becomes our Christmas budget.  We do not budget any money all year for Christmas.  Whatever we get in cash back is it.

10. Enjoy the Free Stuff: Entertainment can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. We have fun in everything we do!  A few weeks ago while we were out on a Saturday morning running errands, we decided to stop at the local historical museum.  We spent a few hours touring the museum and walking around downtown while completing a scavenger hunt provided by the museum.  Our kids loved it!  Last week I had to go to the City Hall to buy a permit to have a garage sale.  Because we live in a rural area, the City Hall, Animal Shelter, Police Station, and Fire Station are all in the same complex.  We decided to take an impromptu field trip to tour each.  My kids got to pet the puppies at the animal shelter and got to climb all inside a fire truck.  Real firemen gave my kids fire hats.  You would have thought that they were at Disneyland!!!  Set the bar low.  If they get to the point that they expect extravagant activities, you will constantly be trying to top each one.  Remember, when they are young everything is a new experience.  It doesn’t have to be grand and novel to you to be grand and novel to them.  Have fun seeing the world through their eyes!

There are many more tips that I could share, but I want to hear from you.  I am sure that you have some great ideas that I haven’t thought.  If so, please share!!!

Related article: The Cost of Staying at Home

Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See!

“ ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” Hebrews 12:5b-7

by: Jennifer Mullen

For almost a year now the Holy Spirit has been “talking” to me about the shows that I watch on TV.  I have to admit that I love drama…specifically reality drama!  The Real Housewives have been my guilty pleasure for quite some time now.  I can’t seem to get enough of the Giudice vs Gorga Feud!  The Holy Spirit had been trying to convict me about the values that are promoted on the various shows I watch and about how unlike the Proverbs 31 woman I enjoy eating “the bread of idleness”.  The problem was like a child I didn’t want to hear what He has telling me.

Two weeks ago everything came to a head…

In this season of my life, I have the privilege to meet with about a dozen women from our church every Thursday morning for a weekly Bible study.  Our group historically has
used Beth Moore’s amazing materials to dive deep into the LORD’s Word. We are currently working through her study  David: Seeking a Heart Like His.  I have learned that there is NO WAY you can peer that deeply into the scriptures and not be changed.  Each study has taught me many life lessons that rocked my world.  This study has been no exception.

We got to the point in David’s life where he committed his BIG SIN…his affair with Bathsheba.  (By the way…talk about drama!  Who needs Reality TV when you have the Old Testament!)  As I went through that week of homework, the Holy Spirit made His move.  He continually brought to mind the issue of TV. Beth made a point that “David’s actions caused the nations to lose their respect for God.”  My thoughts turned to my kids.  Would they lose respect for God later when they see the type of shows I chose?  And then the kicker.  Beth said that there was a consequence for every sin.  I thought to myself in that moment, “What’s He gonna do? Pluck my eye out?”  The very next day I GOT SHINGLES ON MY EYE!  I am not joking!!!  For three or four days I struggled to open my eye.  It had SWOLLEN SHUT!

That was the worst pain, short of childbirth, that I have ever been in.  After visiting the first doctor, I went on about my daily business, but that night I laid in bed.  I was crying because the pain had increased to the level that we were considering a trip to the ER.  As I laid there in bed, the Holy Spirit reminded me of all of His promptings and of Deuteronomy 6:16 which says, “Do not test the LORD your God…”

On the way to the doctor the next morning, I confessed all of this to my husband.  He could not believe I was going to give up my Housewives.  They had been my companions for so long!  The doctor gave me pain meds and told me to rest.  As the doctor left the examination room he turned to me and said, “Oh, and one last thing.  Whatever you do.  DON’T watch TV.  The lights are harmful to your eyes as you are healing.”  My jaw dropped.  I got in the car and told my husband.  We both chuckled and he said, “That is your confirmation and your next Mosaic blog post!”

I found it interesting and very sobering in preparing for this post that the contextual reading of the “pluck your eye out” scripture in Mark 9, if you read just a few verses previous to it says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”  God forbid that I would cause my children to stumble for the sake of entertainment.  This was further confirmation of what I learned in bible study about the nations losing respect for God because of David’s sin.

Is the Holy Spirit convicting you about a sin?  Take it from me…DO NOT TEST THE LORD!   But even worse, do not shut Him out for so long that you can no longer hear him.  He shows you your sins out of His great love for you.  It’s called discipline.  That’s what a father should do.

***Disclaimer: I want to clarify that I am not saying all physical illness is directly related to sin. This is what happened to me and how God used it to teach me.

 

 

 

 

I am a Work in Progress

“A wife of noble character who can find?
 She is worth far more than rubies” Proverbs 31:10b

By: Jennifer Mullen

There is no woman who is more intimidating to me than the Proverbs 31 Woman. Every time I read over those 22 verses, I see where I am failing as a wife and a mother. She is nothing less than superwoman!

There are people who God has put into my life to give me glimpses of what this woman looks like in our modern-day. In the past I have fallen into the trap of making comparisons of them to myself, but the LORD has shifted my thinking. He has taught me to look at these women not as threats but as gifts.  Within the gift of relationship with them are opportunities to be mentored and to grow.

When I first met Gretchen, she was on the leadership committee at our local chapter of MOPS. She was the “Director of Hospitality”. I have a dirty little secret…hospitality is NOT my gift! The thought of hosting a party at my house causes me to break out in cold sweats. My cooking skills are more than wanting. So right off the bat, I felt inferior to her.

When I joined MOPS, I was so green as a homemaker. I had a 9 month old baby and had just quit my job to stay-at-home. I had no idea what that meant other than I didn’t have to be anywhere in the mornings. Our income was cut in half, and I was coming to the realization that eating out every night for dinner was no longer an option. Not only was this because of the financial aspect of it, but because I had a colicky baby which isn’t fun in a restaurant.

At one of our meetings, Gretchen spoke about meal planning. She came with spreadsheets, calendars, typed shopping list, and a list of meals that she was proficient at cooking broken down into categories. The other mothers were engaged and asking insightful questions. As I sat there listening, my chest began to tighten and tears welled up in my eyes. I was thinking, “Really?!?! This is my job now? This is what I am supposed to be doing? I can’t do this!”

Gretchen gave us a disclaimer that it is her nature to organize and that planning was modeled by both her mother and father. The importance of that disclaimer passed right over my head. It wasn’t until years later that I understood that this was her strength and God was using her to encourage not to discourage.

About 6 months ago, I finally gotten to a place where I felt confident of several of my recipes, and I was ready to take meal planning to the next level. I called Gretchen and humbly asked her to mentor me in this area. She agreed. As we sat in Starbucks, she met me where I was. Instead of telling me where I would end up, she told me where to take the next step. I am making progress week by week.

Last Thursday I woke up before the sun, so I decided to get a head start on my day. I was so proud of myself. By the time my family was up, I had a crock pot meal cooking, some chicken baked and shredded for later, my daughter’s lunch packed for pre-school and breakfast ready for my kids. In the quiet of the morning the LORD reminded me of Proverbs 31: 15, “She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family.”  In that moment, I felt that I had caught a glimpse of that superwoman within myself. The Father let me know that though I may not be perfect, but I am a work in progress! I am thankful that He has put people and tools in my life to help refine me. 

Look around yourself at the women in your life. Don’t be discouraged. Draw from each others’ strengths. Instead of jealously or self-defeating thoughts consider the fact that God places specific people in your life to sharpen and to equip you!