Finding an Excellent Wife

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

In other translations we read, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” “A worthy woman, who can find?” Still others refer to “excellent woman,” or a “capable woman”.

In recent decades we have seen a trend toward delaying marriage until past the age of thirty. I watched a reality show in which women were buying a house for the first time. A number of them were around the thirty age mark and wanted to “establish” themselves in preparation for marriage and a family. What struck me was their awareness of the need to leave the “party life” behind them for something more serious and enduring.

I am all for having fun and enjoying life. I think most people would agree with me, however, that two things come to mind when we think of fun, particularly in the context of being single: alcohol and sex.

I’ve literally heard people say that if you don’t drink, you’re not any fun. Drinking lowers inhibitions. For a lot of people it loosens them up so that they can have “fun.” This fun is also a slow killer.

In today’s North American and European culture it is considered “progressive” to be sexually active. I’m reminded of the scene in Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy is being encouraged to dance, as dancing is such a significant aspect of a civilized society and his response is, “And every uncivilized society. Every savage can dance.”

It is sexual liberty really progress?

Today it is considered unrealistic to expect to come to marriage without having any sexual experience. In fact, there is a feeling that it is indeed necessary to “check out” the wares ahead of time to see if you are compatible.

The sexual revolution I have witnessed over the past decades has left me asking questions. Are we really better off as a society as a result of throwing off inhibitions? Has this sexual “freedom” really freed us?

It’s perhaps a relief for many to no longer be “judged” and to have their lifestyle be considered as the norm. After all, judgment did make people very uncomfortable. Those who judged were considered to be pious and prudish and by no means perfect themselves.

So, where is this “virtuous woman” to be found, today? What defines her as “noble”? And the real question is, can she have had multiple sexual partners and still be “virtuous”?

Let’s admit the contradiction in the thinking of men who want to marry a virgin and still maintain the personal liberty to have sex with whomever they please. Statistically, how does that work? I’m going to be a bit crass here, but essentially it separates women into two groups, used and unused, and men can’t wait to try the new thing and turn it into “used.”

Feminism was probably born out of thoughts along this line, although feminists, just as confusingly, want free, irresponsible sex every bit as much as men.

I am not of the opinion that there are two classes of women–the ones who satisfy men sexually and the ones they marry. However, there are these “willing” women around and reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible we discover they have been around for a long time. Proverbs, incidentally, juxtaposes the “adulteress” against the woman of virtue.

So where can we find a virtuous woman whose price is above that of rubies?

If women are waiting to get married until they are past their prime, then understandably men are waiting too. And if they have to wait to have sex until they are in their thirties, that’s putting a bit of a burden on them. Well, that’s unrealistic, let’s face it.

You might argue that adultery is something different from fornication, and that is true. But not so very different. It’s surprising how pre-marital sex can find its way into marriage and create a problem, not so unlike that of adultery.

Feminists tend to devalue the Bible, claiming it was set in a patriarchal society. Their ideal of equality does not appear to be reflected in the Bible. In my extensive study of the Bible I have found a great deal to support the inherent equality of the sexes. And, yes, there are some clear examples of women not being given value in the way our society dictates. The Bible, after all, is a reflection of real life.

The Bible’s dictates concerning morality are, admittedly, primarily from a man’s perspective and to men. As women, though, we can consider it to contain a set of standards designed to protect us by setting limits on men.

I see that in the pursuit of sexual liberty, there is a very serious factor which has been side-lined as a virtual non-issue. It is the right of the children. Those swept up in the sexual revolution are giving very little thought to how their actions will affect the welfare of the next generation.

As an adult, I felt deeply betrayed when I learned that my father had been habitually unfaithful to my mom. My mother protected the children from this knowledge for as long as possible. Members of the community knew long before we did.

I felt as though a knife had been thrust into my chest and I wept bitterly at the news. At the time I was a young wife, expecting my first child.

Was I just socially conditioned to think it was wrong of my father to carry on this lifestyle? I don’t think so. I think we are born with a sense of justice.

Studies have proven that infants have a sense of injustice even before they can speak After being exposed to specific scenes, they will react with expressions of pain and disapproval when they see someone injure or treat another person in an unjust way.

As a three year old I was conscious of my dad having an affair with the babysitter who stayed at our house while my mom was in the hospital giving birth. I had buried the memory.  I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, but I knew it wasn’t right. I remember a vague feeling of sadness.

Could my mother not just have imagined she had an “open” marriage and been fine with it? Ask yourself how many movies you have watched where one partner in a relationship is “fine” with discovering the other is having sex with someone else. That’s why it’s called “cheating.” Think Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

Will a virtuous woman have sex before marriage? I am not the virtue police. But I do have my Bible which has proved to be a pretty good guide for life and it discourages sex outside of marriage. Rather than imposing a standard on me, I see it as affirming what I have seen as healthy for relationships.

I mentioned sex and alcohol earlier, as the two pleasures associated with the youthful party experience. Consider that by the time a woman reaches thirty she will probably have had fifteen years of alcohol and sex.

Like alcohol, sexual arousal lowers inhibitions. A young girl may be loathe to undress before a man, but throw in sexual attraction, along with alcohol, and the scenario changes rapidly. Her innate desire to protect her vulnerability, however, doesn’t go away. This is why she wants only one partner.

A series of sexual experiences can change a woman. But it is not the norm to want multiple partners. Ask any woman whether she would not prefer one faithful, loving man and you will find out it is true. The few exceptions can likely be traced to early abuse or abandonment or a possible narcissistic personality disorder.

Sex, in this generation, has been relegated to a recreational experience. Not only that, it has been demeaned and debased.

Sex is probably the most powerful force known to humans. It can be the most pleasurable and exquisite experience two people will ever have together. And for this reason, I believe it deserves a special place.

The appetite for sex, when it is not controlled, devours indiscriminately. We can see this in our society as the doors are being flung open in an effort to normalize every kind of sexual behavior and endorse what would not have been considered acceptable even a few years ago. Fill in the blanks yourself.

Control of our sexual impulses is a gift we need to give to the next generation. It is how we can prevent deep feelings of pain and betrayal. It is what we need to do in order to instill trust. And trust is the bedrock of a strong society.

Once you say this, you will find that there is a strong resistance to any form of discipline or self-regulation where sex is concerned. People want to avoid the discomfort of self-denial. They don’t want anyone telling them what to do.

Self-denial is a price our society seems mostly unwilling to pay. So we consume more drugs, more alcohol, more food, and have more sex. The result is that we become emotionally fragile. We no longer know when, or even how, to exercise our muscles of control. We cannot stand for what is right. Worse, we have been led to believe that there is no right. Everyone creates their own truth.

But what we don’t see is that the removal of all boundaries is actually a calculated manipulation tactic designed to weaken our society. There is an end in mind. It is to destroy the next generation. It is to destroy faith, hope, love and trust.

The writer of the book of Proverbs knew about this path to destruction. He knew how men could be weakened. And he knew that the antidote was a virtuous woman.

Read Proverbs 5 below (NIV).

1My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
    turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
    and your lips may preserve knowledge.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
    and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
    sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
    her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
    her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

 

Now then, my sons, listen to me;
    do not turn aside from what I say.
Keep to a path far from her,
    do not go near the door of her house,
lest you lose your honor to others
    and your dignity[a] to one who is cruel,
10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
    and your toil enrich the house of another.
11 At the end of your life you will groan,
    when your flesh and body are spent.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
    or turn my ear to my instructors.
14 And I was soon in serious trouble
    in the assembly of God’s people.”

 

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
    running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
    your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
    never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
    and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
    may her breasts satisfy you always,
    may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
    Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?

 

21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord,
    and he examines all your paths.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
    the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
    led astray by their own great folly.

 

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Re-Purposing this Blog

It has been a few years since I last wrote a post for this blog. I see that I only have ten posts.

I’ve decided to re-purpose this blog. Moving forward I will not be using the same format…short posts with scriptures and prayers. Posts will be more journal style, not necessarily neat and tidy.

I see so many people struggling with meaning and purpose. So many battling depression and anxiety. A lot of confusion about what to believe and a kind of desperate grasping at fragments of truth.

I began this blog motivated by the verse “Who can find a woman of honor? Her worth exceeds that of precious gems.”

My Christian faith informs much of my life. But I must qualify this by saying that what I believe continues to be tested. Life is a laboratory of sorts where my beliefs are tested for voracity.

This week a friend of mine passed away following an illness from which I also suffer. The disease and the meds I take have affected my quality of life, limiting my commitments.

When we grieve a loss, or have health issues, or face financial or relational setbacks such as a business failure or a divorce, we ask the difficult questions. What is important in life? Do I have a purpose? What is that purpose? Am I making the best choices?

I would like to use this blog to share some of my thought processes and how I deal with difficult times.

After spending some time reflecting on women who have helped me through difficult terrain–those whom I consider as women of honor, I have taken a closer look and asked a few questions.

What distinguishes a woman of honor? Why would someone want to be a woman of honor? Who is a woman of honor?

I recognize women of honor around me as some of the greatest influencers in this world and I believe the subject is worthy of our attention.

Not too long ago a friend of mine with whom I had lost contact committed suicide. The thought of what drove her to such a place of desperation is deeply troubling to me. I think, with sadness, that perhaps if we had kept in touch, she might still be here.

I feel indebted to men and women who have influenced the course of my life at various stages. Without them, I too might have despaired. I want to show my gratitude by continuing their legacy and being open and willing to share my journey.

For now I only have a vague idea of where this will lead. I realize that in this age of feminism the reference to a woman of honor has the potential to invite controversy. Still, I do believe there is a need to reflect on what is precious. My desire is to help others face the future with greater peace, hope and love.

Our Reward

Genesis 15:1

After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (KJV)

Abram had returned from a great victory and rescued his brother Lot from captivity. God was with him and made him successful in battle. Following this event God speaks to him in a vision saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

Uppermost in Abram’s mind was the thought that he didn’t have an heir. One day he would die and he had no son to whom he could pass on his inheritance.

God saw his plight and promised him an heir. He promised to make Abraham the father of many nations and to give his descendants their own land as an inheritance.

Photo Courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

God is concerned about our concerns. He is interested in our future. He desires to be our God. He wants us to be his people, for He is our “exceeding great reward.”

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Prayer – Father in Heaven, you are our reward. All good gifts come from you. Abraham believed you and it was counted to him as righteousness. May we do the same. Amen.

 

Photo Courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (NIV)

We seem to have grasped what it is to mourn with those who mourn. Our hearts are touched by tragedy and we respond by comforting people, praying for them, and sometimes by giving and meeting needs.

This is not specifically a Christian response. People of all backgrounds are moved to compassion by tragic events. We think of recent outpourings of generosity in response to catastrophic natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes. When people’s lives are shattered by tragic accidents, violence, disease or death we want to reach out and help.

ID-10094660But do we rejoice with those who rejoice? Can we share in another person’s elation when they succeed, when it goes well with them? Can we be genuinely happy for them or does their success stir up feelings of envy or even resentment?

True generosity rejoices with those who rejoice and can say with sincerity, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 1 John 3:2 (NKJV)

Prayer–Father in Heaven, give us a genuine heart of love that can rejoice with those who rejoice. Amen.

Train Up a Child

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV)

As women we have the primary responsibility to care for and train our children. We want to train our children in the way of respect and obedience. We train our children, firstly, by setting a godly example. For instance, we can model respect by being respectful towards our husbands.

As our children grow they learn that certain behaviors are acceptable while others are not. Parents design consequences that will encourage the desired behavior. The key to parenting success is understanding and anticipating your child’s behavior.

Tina Friesen Photography

Tina Friesen Photography

A child will learn self-control and kindness when a parent is consistently considerate and thoughtful. Children should never hear derogatory words directed at them by their parents. A child can be told that their behavior is unacceptable, but labelling children as lazy or stupid or calling a child a brat, or worse, is injurious to the child’s self-concept. Words like this can linger in the child’s mind for years to come. It s better to highlight the child’s capabilities and draw attention to the good.

As parents we cannot expect to be perfect, but we can apologize to our children if we are in the wrong. It encourages them to see that we too are learning how to be respectful and obedient.

“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Proverbs 29:17 (NIV)

Prayer–Heavenly Father, help us to be loving and patient with our children, and to train them humbly and consistently in the way the way of respect and obedience as you direct us. Amen.

“Angela is With Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13,14

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” (NRSV)

DSC00631This week a very dear young wife and mother of two young children, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Many prayed for her healing. We all wanted her to watch her children grow up. We wanted the children to have their mother with them. But this is not how it turned out.

In times of tragedy we cannot always make sense out of life. The answers to the questions we ask do not seem apparent this side of heaven, and we grieve deeply.

Even Jesus wept as he stood by the tomb of Lazarus, a friend who had died. We read that Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Here we find the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Jesus knew that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he wept anyway. He identified with the sorrow of humanity. He may have been thinking of how many times this scene of grief would be repeated, times when he would not be there to bring the dead back to life.

Christians have the hope of eternal life with Christ and this helps to lessen the pain. Shared sorrow brings comfort too. Those who have experienced similar loss are the best comforters. Our own sorrow teaches us how to share in the sorrow of others.

DSC00633“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3 NIV

Prayer–Heavenly Father, although we do not understand why people have to suffer or lose loved ones, we thank you that we have an eternal hope and that you promise to comfort us. Bring comfort today to those who are grieving. Amen.

Extravagant Giving

Matthew 25:40

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (KJV)

Artist unknown

Artist unknown

There is a woman in the Bible who did a very unusual thing. She poured perfume on the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.

The people in the room were indignant, insisting the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus responded, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” He was moved by her loving gesture.

Today we can give to the poor and Jesus will accept it as an offering to him. When we give to others, lovingly, generously, whole-heartedly and without expecting anything in return, we are doing what this woman did. She, figuratively, poured out her love for Christ.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Col 3:22,23 (NKJV)

Prayer–Jesus, we want to love you with total abandon. Help us to see how we can show the world our love for you. Amen.

Thy Will Be Done

Matthew 6:9-10

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”

This is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It is only the first part, but the rest is explanation–asking for provision, for forgiveness, for deliverance from evil and temptation.

Tina Friesen Pholtography

Tina Friesen Pholtography

For me this prayer simplifies what the Christian life is all about – God’s will being done on earth.

In creation God spoke his word and his will was done. The earth was formed.

People strayed from God’s will and God sent Jesus Christ to bring us back into alignment with his will.

God’s will for us is that we have our daily needs met. It is also that we forgive one another, and live in harmony, and steer clear of evil and temptation. These are the basics teachings of Christianity.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Prayer–Heavenly Father, we desire your will to be done on earth as you planned it in heaven. Help us to trust you, to love one another, and to forgive quickly. Deliver us from the evil and the temptations that would hinder us. Amen.

They Surround Us

Tina Friesen PhotographyHebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Women of honor surround us. I am sure you can think of a few you have met, maybe a school teacher, or a friend, or someone in your family.

Every woman desires and is deserving of honor. A woman can bring dishonor on herself and end up misunderstood and rejected. She may have a past of abuse or betrayal but in the sight of God she never loses her worth.

When I took this photograph I was going through a difficult time. Looking up at the clouds I felt the reassurance of God’s presence in my life. I felt his love overflow me and a renewed sense of purpose fill me, although my circumstances had not changed. This is what God does for us. We are surrounded by his love. We are also surrounded by those who have witnessed his faithfulness in centuries gone by.

“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God” John 16:28.

Prayer–Heavenly Father, thank you for the honor you bestow on us in calling us your children. Help us to bring honor to your name in all that we do. Amen