Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thirty-One Thursdays - Go On... Taste It!

New to Thirty One Thursdays?  Start by reading the Intro Week and The Value of Virtue.

Proverbs 31:18 (Part One)
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Verse 18 is represented by the Hebrew letter Tet.

First she bought.  Then she planted.  In strength she worked.  And now she benefits.
Verses 16 and 17 tell us of a woman who does some serious mental and physical work.  Now in verse 18 we get to read about her reward.  The fruit of her labors has been profitable... and she knows it.

The Hebrew word translated here as "perceives" is ta'am, and it literally means "to taste."  I don't know about you, but I LOVE food.  No, I mean like, Lucy and Ethel working the factory chocolate line LOVE food.  My husband likes to tell the story of the time he was trying to flirt with me in the kitchen when, after receiving little response, he turned around and realized I was distracted by the mouth-watering turkey sandwich piled high on the table.  He had no chance.  I LOVE food.  So for me, ta'am is a great word! 

Imagine collapsing into your favorite chair at the end of a hard day and setting a plate of creamy chocolate cheesecake (or chocolate-dipped strawberries, or hot caramel apple pie, or giant chocolate fudge brownies, or perfectly caramelized creme brulee, or... have I gone too far?  No?  Or Thin Mint cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream, or Blackberry Creme de Pot, or... well now I've gone and forgotten my point) on your table-top of a belly (wait, you might not have one of those right now).  You stare longingly at the untouched dessert, and with an exhale that releases all the tension of the day and cries "Finally the work is finished!" you sink your fork slowly into the sweet mound of goodness in front of you.  The fork, slathered in that first wonderful bite, creeps slowly toward your mouth, making sweet love to your taste buds before it even touches your lips.  And then, the magic happens.  Anticipation meets gratification and you are, at once, satisfied.  Yes, I am still talking about food.  Have I mentioned yet how much I LOVE food?

This is the experience of the Virtuous Woman in relationship to her labor.  She tastes the reward of it.  She devours it.  She relishes in it.  She is ever-satisfied in knowing that she has done well for her family with her resources.  She swallows it down and it nourishes her soul.  Like chocolate cheesecake on the back of the tongue.

I love what George Lawson's commentary says:
"...for when the lazy are perpetually uneasy by their reflections on their own conduct, the consciousness of having done her duty, and the prospect of the advantages arising from it, are a constant source of satisfaction and cheerfulness to the virtuous woman."
I have been in that place of perpetual unrest, knowing that I wasn't doing as God would have me do in my home life.  In the past I've felt like, "I know I'm not doing a good job here, and I am stuck.  I don't know how to lift myself out of this hole of procrastination, disorganization and lack of motivation."  It is not a fun place to live.  It's like eating beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then being served a big 'ol pile of beans for dessert.  That is not the life that God wants to give us as wives and mothers.  He wants to give us cheesecake.  Chocolate cheesecake.  He wants us to know the full, rich, warm, gooey,  melty reward of living and working within His Will.

It is ok to be proud of the work that we do, as long as we are remembering that it is God who enables us to do it.  He is the one who conforms us to His Will and transforms us into women who are capable of managing such responsibility.  And to feel good about that, to breathe a sigh of "thank you God for turning me into this woman," is more than ok.  It is to taste deeply of the Lord's goodness and kindness toward us.  It is to recognize that His ways are so far above ours, and so much better than ours, and He allows us to experience them anyways.  It is to partake of the reward offered to us when we align ourselves under His authority.  And it is so, so good.

Make dessert.  Make a special dessert.  An elaborate, fancy, delectable dessert.  Your favorite dessert.  Or a new dessert.  Grandma's tradition.  Or a Google recipe. 
But make it from scratch.  No boxes allowed.  Only real butter, real sugar, real flour, real labor.
Then enjoy it.  One slow bite at a time, after the kids are in bed, at the end of a particularly trying day.  Dig in.
And be reminded that God's rewards are good.

"Her lamp does not go out at night."
Proverbs 31:18 (Part Two)

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for ta`am (Strong's 2938)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 24 Feb 2011. < http://

Strongs=H2938&t=KJV >

George Lawson, Commentary On Proverbs, pg 564

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Establishing Expectations for Your Family Culture

I believe you can have exactly the kind of family that you imagine.

I believe you will have exactly the kind of family that you expect.

In readying ourselves for baby number two, I have talked with so many people who have warned me about inevitable sibling rivalry.  It always goes something like:  "Yeah just be ready for those two to get into it.  That's just how it is with kids."

But is that just how it is?  Or is it how it is because those are the expectations of our children that we hold as parents?

I firmly believe the latter.  If I expect that sibling rivalry will be a normal part of the culture of my family, then it will be.  I expect that it is normal, so I will allow it in my home.  But what if my expectation is different?  What if I expect a culture of kindness and respect among my sons and daughters, and what if I expect my marriage to be a model of that for my children?  My actions, decisions and directives will all stem from what I expect my family to be about.  If I expect no sibling rivalry, then I will work hard to keep those attitudes out of my home.

What about the "terrible twos?"  If I expect the terrible twos to flood my home because "it's just a phase," then they will.  But if I expect my children to learn how to manage their frustrations, then I will become a focused guide for them in that education, and they will learn, even at such a young age, that a bad attitude is not a part of our family culture.

What about obedience?  If I expect my children to obey after I count to three, then they will.  And I will constantly be counting to three because they will learn that that's their cue to obey... and no sooner will they do it.  But if I expect my children to obey the first time, every time, then they will, because I will take actions in my home to turn those expectations into realities.

The culture of your family can be whatever you want it to be.  And you are creating that culture within every expectation you have of the way things are "supposed to be" in your family.  You, the parent, have the God-given authority in your home to create an atmosphere of love, kindness, servitude, gratitude, patience, respect, and anything else you desire... if you expect that as the norm.

The kids do not determine the culture of the family.  You do.  And whatever the culture of your family is, it is what you have made it, knowingly or not.  And whatever the culture of your family will be in the future, it is what you will make it, knowingly or not.  Let us be conscious of the expected norms we set up in our homes.

I want to encourage and challenge you tonight to dream up a beautiful family for yourself.
Now expect that as a reality for the family you are culturing.
And take action to bring those expectations to fruition.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thirty One Thursdays - Acting in Readiness, Growing In Strength

New to Thirty One Thursdays?  Start by reading the Intro Week and The Value of Virtue.

Proverbs 31:17
She dresses herself with strength and
makes her arms strong.

Verse 17 is represented by the Hebrew letter Chet.

One day, not so long ago, when my son was just a wee little babe, I was carrying him in the infant car seat up the walk of long, shallow steps to my front door.  I must have been a little extra sluggish that day, because around step four I didn't pick up my foot enough to make it onto the next step.  I tripped and dropped the car seat, sending my 3-month-old, still strapped in, into a roll-over accident down our front lawn.  I think it was much more traumatic for me than it was for him.  Nevertheless, I still think about "the incident" every time I walk up my front steps, now two years later.

Have you ever tripped over yourself out in public?  Or maybe slipped down a stair or two with newborn in tote?  Or been the cheerleader on the top of the pyramid to fall flat on your back in front of the entire high school at the homecoming pep assembly? (This happened to a friend of mine, not me... thankfully.)  Falling is not fun.  In the moment you realize you're going down, everything turns to slow motion and you feel your stomach hurdle upwards into your throat and you think, "Oh poo... this is not how I planned it."

The literal translation of our verse this week is, "She girds her loins with strength..." 
"To gird" simply means to bind up with a belt.  In Bible times, everybody ran around in tunics. The tunic, if left ungirded, would inhibit agility and freedom of movement.  So it was important that the wearer bound that tunic up into his or her belt in order to accomplish the tasks of the day.

Biblically, the loins are representative of the seat of strength and procreation.  (See Job 40:16, Genesis 35:11, 2 Samuel 20:8, and Ephesians 6:14 for a few examples.)  And girded loins were a sign of readiness.  Exodus 12:11, describing how the Israelites were to eat the Passover, says, "And thus shall ye eat it; [with] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it [is] the LORD'S passover."

So when we read that our Virtuous woman dresses herself with strength, we are reading about a woman who makes herself ready, In God's strength, to accomplish the task that He has given her.  And she does it without tripping up the front steps sending the baby rolling down the lawn!  She takes care to remove the things from in front of her that might weaken her. 

We have to remember that there are going to be days (or weeks or months) when, as mothers, we feel weak.  We feel like we can't pull it together to do what we need to do for our families.  This is normal.  No, I think you should read that again...


We are not ever-strong.  We are not super heroes.  We are not God Almighty.  I think it's important to accept this about ourselves.  Because when we see how weak we really are, we can begin really turning to God for His strength, which He offers to us.  And as the second part of verse 17 goes on to teach us, as we continue to ready ourselves in strength (by God's strength), we will grow stronger and stronger.  We are only enabled to "make ourselves strong" when we first make ourselves ready, clearing out weaknesses and stumbling blocks, in the places where strength is meant to be carried.  We have to take small steps to make ourselves ready, and then we will become strong.

So this week, let's hike up those tunics!  Let's clear out some things in our lives that are holding us back from freedom and strength.  Let's take one small step toward making ourselves strong, and let the cyclical work of growing in strength begin!

Read Colossians 3:1-10 at least once every day.
Consider how "setting your heart" and "setting your mind" on the things of God can help prepare you to better face those moments of weakness that the day will inevitably bring. 
Then take off one "practice" of the old self.  Bind it up, out of the way.  Get one thing out from in front of you that you know is holding you back.  And enjoy the new freedom that this brings!

"She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night."
Proverbs 31:18

Blue Letter Bible. "The Proverbs of Solomon 31 - (KJV - King James Version)." Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 17 Feb 2011. < >

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WINNER of Fool Moon Rising Giveaway!

And the big winner of the first ever Life On Purpose giveaway, receiving an autographed copy of the book Fool Moon Rising, by Kristi and T. Lively Fluharty, is...

"The Shwizzys"!!

Congratulations and thanks to all for entering!  I'm looking forward to offering many more giveaways in the future because they are just too darn fun!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Drool Worthy

I just wanted to give you something to focus on tonight... in case you needed a chocolate fix.

This is what went in my homemade ice cream last night.  Have I convinced you to buy an ice cream maker yet??  Oh my yum.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

GIVEAWAY!Fool Moon Rising

I LOVE giveaways!  So you can imagine how excited I am to be offering my very first GIVEAWAY here at Life On Purpose!  That's right... free stuff from me to you!  Woo!

A while back I wrote a  Toddler Book Review of Fool Moon Rising, by Kristi and T. Lively Fluharty.  Well, T. himself (Thomas) found the review, got in touch and generously sent me an autographed copy of the book to give away to a reader!  That means YOU!

I can't say enough about how much I adore this book!  The story focuses on the themes of pride and honesty, teaching our little guys and gals how to be humble in light of who God is.  It is an imaginative metaphor that toddlers and young children are sure to fall in love with... my son sure has!  I am so excited to be able to offer a copy to a reader, thanks to the authors!  Read on for how to enter this lovely little giveaway...

The Nitty Gritty:
-To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post sharing your favorite book for little ones, or tell us who you'll give the book to if you don't have little ones.  That's it!  Easy peasy!
-Entries will be accepted until noon on Wednesday (mountain time).
-Winner will be selected at random and announced Wednesday evening.
-If you're the winner, I'll mail ya the free autographed copy of Fool Moon Rising!

Thanks for joining in the first ever Life On Purpose GIVEAWAY!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thirty One Thursdays - A Wife and Mother's Financial Responsibility

New to Thirty One Thursdays?  Start by reading the Intro Week and The Value of Virtue.

Proverbs 31:16
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

Verse 16 is represented by the Hebrew letter Zayin.

I am a financial dummy.  Seriously.  I have to ask the bank teller to slow down her explanation of opening a savings account because I just don't get it.  Go ahead and laugh, it's ok.  I've accepted it.  My husband, on the other hand, is a financial genius.  In another life (one where he was married to someone who supported a 65 hour work week) he should have been a financial advisor.  Ya know, the guy you go sit down with because you have no idea what a 401K or 502C or avujAEGGN4583 is.  And then he explains it to you, and you nod your head and say, "oooh, it all makes sense now!" but you leave the office feeling like you just came out of a higher math class and the only thing you remember is the first two decimal places of pi (and you only remember that because you were thinking about pie the whole time).

A lot of women, though, experience the exact opposite in their marriages.  Maybe this is you.  Maybe you just "get" the finance stuff... or have been forced to figure it out because hubby doesn't want to.  If this is you, I applaud you!  You are quite literally my hero.  And maybe this little diddy isn't for you today.  But we'll see...

Financial issues are discussed more than any other topic in the description of the Virtuous Woman.

Verse 16 is one of seven from our poem that discuss buying, selling, trading, or profit (verses 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 24, 31).  This is not including verses that merely allude to the necessity of the woman's financial involvement or understanding (verses 19, 20, 21, 22, 27).

Surprised?  I am!  So many times, especially in conservative Christian circles, we are confronted with the idea that women do not have a place in the financial business of the home, and the "career woman" is the only image we get of a woman exercising financial authority.  The man should be responsible for "providing for his family" in the way of money in (paycheck!) and money out (check's in the mail!), and the woman should be responsible for "issues of the home."  In my marriage I have never really minded accepting this "norm" because I am so bad with all that money stuff, and frankly never had to be responsible for it while growing up.  I have been content to let my husband be the financial guru because he loves it so much and is just so darn good at it!  But I can't ignore the fact that our Virtuous Woman seems to be heavily involved in family financial business.

I am currently reading A Woman's Place, a challenging book about women in house churches in the first century.  The authors discuss several ideas about the role that Hebrew and Greek women played in their own homes at that time, often drawing from earlier evidences like Proverbs 31.  One idea brought to the table is that a woman was the chief manager of the home.  The man was not, as we so quickly assume, considered the "head of the household."  The woman was.  The home was the woman's domain, and she was responsible for managing everything that went on in that capacity - including any and all financial decisions that affected the family or home.

It seems sometimes that the "Christian" ideas we have about men and women's financial roles in the home stem more from 1950's television than they do from the Bible.  The Virtuous Woman was not only capable of managing money, but responsible for doing so.  She considered the best ways to spend money for the family and she worked hard to make sure her trading and purchasing was ultimately profitable for the family.  As much as I can gather, the situation wasn't one of "his and hers," with the Virtuous Woman making financial decisions divided from her husband, but instead the husband could trust his wife to make such decisions on behalf of their family, and they had a mutual understanding about what part of the finances fell within her domain.

We might read this verse about the Virtuous Woman buying land and planting a vineyard and think about what an enormous responsibility that was!  And it might seem foreign, especially for us married gals, that she would just go out and do it on her own.  But I think our poem is simply describing a normal category of household management for a well-off woman of that time.  Maybe your husband trusts you to do the laundry on Mondays, as that is just part of household management.  Well, perhaps the Virtuous Woman's husband trusted her to make profitable purchases for the family.  It was just part of the expected role.

This means a few things for us in our marriages today.  If you are the woman who manages your family finances, take heart in knowing that this was one of the Virtuous Woman's central responsibilities.  Often times, a woman can grow resentful in managing finances because she feels it should be hubby's job.  But in all reality, finances affect the family more than most things, and the family is clearly the Virtuous Woman's primary concern.  Be encouraged this week that you are doing an excellent thing for your family when you fill this role!  If you are the woman, like myself, who has been somewhat removed from your family finances, I want to challenge you (as I challenge myself) to take up a more active role in this area.  In our family's budget, for example, we have a category called "gas/food/allowance."  It is really the only unfixed portion of our budget every month, and it seems to be all over the board from month to month.  What if it were solely my responsibility to ensure we stayed on track in this area of our budget?  Would my day to day spending look different?  Could my husband be under less stress over our budget, knowing that I was doing my part in managing an appropriate portion of it?

Finance management is not something for us wives to shy away from or resent in our marriages.  It is something to embrace, following the example of the Virtuous Woman, because money is a great steering wheel for the culture, focus and success of our families.  So... go buy a field!!
(please don't actually go buy a field this week... I'm just trying to be encouraging.)

THIS WEEK'S ACTION STEP:  Sit down with your husband and talk through your family's budget.  (This might be a normal exercise for you in your marriage already, so no extra work there.)  Evaluate together if there needs to be a shifting of responsibilities anywhere.  Maybe you should take more responsibility for miscellaneous spending and he should take more responsibility for investing in college funds.  Whatever you figure out, make sure it's an arrangement that involves both you and your spouse appropriately, according to your strengths.  If you, as wife, have remained uninvolved in finances, it's time to make a change!  No beginning is too small, even if it's just learning the password for your online banking.  Discuss with your husband an area that you are interested in piloting, and take one step toward making it happen.

"She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong."
Proverbs 31:17

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Computer Is Mean

Oh computers. 

I haven't been able to post today's Thirty One Thursday (or anything else in the last few days) because Blogger isn't letting me upload any pictures and is being finicky with links.  I will have it up as soon as I can get this nasty little scenario worked out.

Thank you for reading! And I hope your day is filled with the benefits of technology... not the crud!

<><  Tasha

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thirty One Thursdays - I HATE the morning... is that ok?

New to Thirty One Thursdays?  Start by reading the Intro Week and The Value of Virtue.

Proverbs 31:15
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.

Verse 15 is represented by the Hebrew letter Vav.

I have been dreading this week's study.

In fact, I don't even want to write this post.

Why?  Because I am NOT... I repeat, NOT a morning person.

This is how I feel in the mornings:

And I live with this man, we'll call him "the husband", who feels like this in the mornings:

Which makes me feel even worse... like this:

Yep... that is an ACTUAL picture of me at 6:00 a.m.**

But the Virtuous Woman... she is a morning person.  Bummer.  Or at least that's what we assume.
When I imagine the Virtuous Woman in the morning, I picture something like this:

Beautiful and serene after a refreshing night's rest.  She happily rolls off her satin pillow to joyfully greet the sunrise streaming in through the streak-free window.

But then again, maybe she's not like that at all.
Maybe she's something more like this:

The verse doesn't give any indication that she likes getting up in the morning... just that she does it.  And this realization is both incredibly encouraging (because maybe I'm not alone here) and monumentally discouraging (because now I have no excuse) all at once.

Whether or not I'm a "morning person" has nothing to do with making the decision to get up early.  For me, in order to make that decision, I need to know that it's worth it.  I need to know why I'm doing it.  I need to know that there will be some great benefit, and not just that I'm getting up early for early's sake.  Because I think that's stupid.

"She rises" comes from the Hebrew word quwm (pronounced koom).  I am so struck by the meaning of this word.  Sometimes it can mean simply a general rising, but more often than not it is used to describe a rising up that is connected with a purpose; often God's purpose.  It can mean:
-to become powerful
-to arrive on the scene
-to be established or confirmed
-to stand, endure
-to be valid
-to be proven
-to be fulfilled
-to persist
-to be set or be fixed

The word is used in many other passages in Scripture, including:
Psalm 40:2 - "He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure."
Genesis 13:17 - "Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you."
Esther 8:4 - "Then the king held out the golden scepter to Esther.  So Esther arose, and stood before the king..."
Proverbs 15:22 - "Without counsel purposes are disappointed:  But in the multitude of counsellors they are established."

So maybe this means a little more than just going from laying to standing, even though at 6:00 a.m. that's usually all I can manage.  I love the idea of being established first thing in the morning.  Being set up for success right away.  Receiving power for my day and arriving in my home.  When I think back on the times that I have been successful in getting up before Maddox, this is exactly how I've felt.  Those mornings are so unique.  It's like discovering a treasure that pays my way through the rest of the day.  The Psalmist writes so sincerely about the mornings:
"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
Psalm 5:3
He goes to God first thing in the morning, and God hears him.  Would we be different in how we greet our children when they wake up if we are first greeted by the Lord God when we wake up?  Maybe this would cause a totally different chain of events between us and our children throughout the day.  We could be prepared to meet them with peace, patience and kindness, instead of resentment for waking us up.  We could be prepared to lead them in the ways of the Lord, instead of being annoyed by their sin and stubbornness.

Funny enough, quwm is also the word used at the end of our poem, in verse 28, to describe the children and husband of the Virtuous Woman rising up to bless her. 

Waking up early in the morning, before my children, allows me an opportunity to be established in the Lord for the sake of my children.  And not only does the Lord establish me, setting me on the path of my daily purpose, but I also receive the reward of my family's praise, which is possibly the greatest reward of the day for a woman who devotes her life to loving and serving her family.  If I rise up to bless my family, they will rise up to bless me.  And that is the amazingly great benefit.

THIS WEEK'S ACTION STEP: You guessed it... set your alarm.  Set your alarm to a time before your kids wake up.  Then don't press snooze.  That's right... get out of bed.  Then make the very first thing you do (after emptying your bladder) something, ANYTHING, that wakes you up to God.  Pray, read your Bible, sing a worship song.  I am not talking about an hour long intense Bible study here.  I am talking about a very small step, something you know you can manage.  It might be a two minute prayer while you're in the shower... and that is ok.  We have to start somewhere.  We just have to start.

If you want to go the extra mile this week, or if you've already got the habit of early rising down and want some more direction for your mornings, I really, really, no REALLY want to encourage you to check out the Maximize Your Mornings ebook, written by Kat over at Inspired to Action.  It is an excellent, FREE resource that I have used before and will likely revisit, helping women get up early and make the most of their mornings.

Here is a list of some more encouraging morning-time Psalms:
Psalm 30:5
Psalm 59:15
Psalm 65:8
Psalm 88:13
Psalm 90:14
Psalm 92:2
Psalm 101:8
Psalm 130:6
Psalm 143:8

"She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard."
Proverbs 31:16

**not an actual picture of Tasha at 6:00 a.m.  That's an old woman... come on now!

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for quwm (Strong's 6965)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 3 Feb 2011. < http://

Strongs=H6965&t=KJV >

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Reads

This is what our family is reading this month.  These are not recommendations, only what's on our menu.

For Me:
A Woman's Place: House Churches in Earliest Christianity, by Carolyn Osiek and Margaret Y. MacDonald

This ironically titled book is a graduate level read (courtesy of hubby) that I am getting through slooooooowly, but definitely liking so far.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin

This is the book that has been recommended to me more than any other read in preparing for natural childbirth... so I've got a hold on it at the library!

For Maddox:

Best First Book Ever!, by Richard Scarry

This book was a gift from some good friends who wanted to share a family fave with us.  It is hands down Maddox's favorite book right now!  The pages are FULL of things to look at and new words to learn.  It includes ABC's, numbers, shapes, sizes, verbs, months... and a lot more!   

What are you reading this month?  I would love to know!
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