What is your fruit?

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“She considers a field and buys it;

With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”

Proverbs 31:16

I am a farmer at heart.  My Grandpa owned a farm and planted crops and raised cattle.  While growing up, we had a large garden that we cultivated every year and ate delicious produce from in the summer and the excess Mom would freeze and we would eat it throughout the winter.  I did not appreciate the wonderfulness of this as a child, but I certainly miss that garden now as an adult.  Since we live in the city on a shady lot, I frequent the local farmer’s market to buy my produce and then freeze or can some of the produce so we can then enjoy it throughout the year.

As we look at the literal meaning of this verse, this lady takes time to look and plan which field she will buy.  She makes sure that it will suit her intended purposes.  Since we are told the intention of the field is to plant a vineyard, she uses her knowledge to ensure the field will produce quality grapes.  In order to produce quality grapes, the vineyard had to be planted on a hill facing south.  This causes the roots of the vineyard to search for water and minerals which adds to the complexity and flavor of the grape.  She knew what she was looking for and did not settle or spend her money on something that would not produce the product and profit that she was planning.

“With the fruit of her hand she plants a vineyard.”  The word fruit in this verse fascinates me.  Fruit is produced only when the tree or vine is healthy.  The fruit is a byproduct of a healthy tree.  The healthier the tree the more fruit that is produced.  Not only is there money to buy the vineyard, but there is also money to plant the vineyard.  Since she has planned and prepared so well, there is enough money to purchase what is needed to plant the vineyard.

As women and wives, the better we plan the more fruit we will have for emergencies, extra needs, future plans, or distribution to the poor and needy.  The fruit of this lady was used to invest in a vineyard.  We are not told what she did with the profit from her grapes, but as we look ahead in the chapter we can glean a few thoughts from the following verses.  She helped the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:20).  Her household was clothed in “scarlet.” (Proverbs 31:21).  Her clothing was made from “fine linen and purple” (Proverbs 31:23).

The beauty of this verse is the various qualities we see that we can add to the list of traits our Proverbs 31 woman has.  Though some of us may not have an opportunity to buy a field, we do have opportunity to put the qualities mentioned here into practice.  This special lady devotes her time and attention to planning how she will allocate her money.  She does not go on binge spending sprees nor does she spend her money on things that are temporary.  She takes time to plan how to wisely budget and use her money for household expenses.  As she plans, she is also careful to use the excess money for other needs the family may have or unexpected expenses that seem to always come up.  In other words, the more she is able to save on routine every day necessities, the more money she will have to invest in other needs the family may have.  “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9).

Questions:

  1. I have always wanted to have a cottage industry or my own small business. These ideas have changed over the years.  Once I wanted to own a Christian bookstore, then it was a bakery.  Do you have a small cottage industry?  Do you ever dream of having one?  If so, what is your industry or what is dream?
  1. How can you implement the steps this wise lady had into establishing or helping grow your cottage industry?
  1. Maybe a cottage industry has never been your dream, but helping with the family finances is something you would like to do. What principles can you see in Proverbs 31:16 that would help to make your home finances more efficient?
  1. Read Proverbs 22:29. How would this verse apply to our verse in Proverbs 31:16?
  1. Maybe you do not want to plant a vineyard like our wise lady, nor do you want to own a small business. How does the “fruit of her hands” apply to you?  Fruit is what comes as a byproduct of a healthy tree.  What do you have that you can reinvest into something or someone else?
  1. What happens to fruit that is left on the tree? It rots.  What would happen to what God gives you if you do not reinvest it?  See Matthew 25:14-30 and relate this parable to not reinvesting the fruit of our hands.

It’s time to get up!

St. Maarten 005 (4)

“She rises while it is yet night

and provides food for her household

and portions for her maidens.”

Proverbs 31:15

What do we do to begin our day?  Some women get up and exercise, start a load of laundry, spend time reading and studying the Bible, pack lunches, or stumble to the coffee pot hoping to wake up.  Every women has a routine that they have either established or have fallen into.  Have we ever thought and considered how our routine affects our families?  Have we considered that what we do may set up our children and our husbands for success or failure in their day?

I love words.  I love understanding the meaning and nuances of words.  In this verse, Proverbs 31:15, the word rises also means to “establish, rear up, or set up.”  As women, when we get out of bed in the morning we must have the thought that our routine will establish the course of our families’ day.  I feel blessed with such responsibility.  What I do will affect the lives of four people who in turn will affect many more people.

Two of our daughters are figure skaters.  They rise four mornings a week and go to the rink and skate.  They would not be able to perform well if I sent them out the door without a nutritious breakfast.  They always have a protein, some starch (usually gluten free homemade muffins), and some fruit.  If they left the house with a granola bar or a bowl of cereal in their stomachs their practice time would not be as profitable.  The woman in this Proverb rises early and makes sure her family has a well-balanced breakfast to start their day off right.  It is not a difficult thing given we have microwaves, refrigerators, and freezers.  I make up a package of sausage and each morning they can reheat the leftovers.  I make a batch of muffins and put them in the freezer.  In the morning before they get up I pull out of the freezer what I need so they can thaw.  If we plan ahead a good breakfast is not that difficult.

It is not just making sure there is a nutritious breakfast for our families to eat, it is also the mood or tone we set for the day.  As a Mom if we are still in bed when the kids need to go off to school or skate, we are not actively being involved in the start of their day.  Many mornings, we also begin our day with Scripture reading.  This helps each of my girls to hear a word from Scripture that we can discuss or they can ponder throughout their day.  What a better way to start our day, rather than watching the latest talk show or cartoon.

In order for our morning to be smooth, we must prepare the night before for a good morning.  Maybe the dishwasher can be loaded and run while we are sleeping.  A load of clothes can get started in the washer, or we can spend a few minutes picking up the house and getting what we need ready for the next day.  This will decrease our level of stress when we need to get out the door.

The last part of the verse says “and portions for her maidens.”  I do not have any servants that help with my daily chores so I do not need make sure they have breakfast each day.  The word portions also means she prepared a list of chores that she needed her maids to accomplish over the course of the day.  Again, this reflects on the planning and preparing for our day.  It is easy to write out a list of what needs to get done.  This ensures us something is not forgotten or we do not amble unproductively through the day, only to realize we did not accomplish all that needed to be done.

This verse boils down to planning and preparation.  The more we do the better our day will go and the better day our families will have.  We have such a responsibility to “establish or set up” our families day, and in doing this we can change the course of their day and even their lives.  Will you get up for the challenge?

Questions:

  1. What is your morning routine? Is it what you want it to be?
  1. Read Proverbs 22:6. How do the things we discussed today relate to “training our children?”
  1. Read Proverbs 14:1 and compare with Proverbs 31:15. How does the directive in Proverbs 31:15 aid in building a wise woman’s house?
  1. Who sets the tone for your house? Is it a good tone?
  1. Read Mark 1:35. What did Jesus do?  Is this recorded to encourage us to start our day off with the Lord?  Is there a difference in your day if you start with a focus on God rather than coffee/tea or chores?

A Merchant Ship

Wahsington DC

“She is like the merchant ships;

she brings her food from afar.”

(Proverbs 31:14)

A few years ago we went to Washington DC.  We had a fantastic time and were able to see many sights and enjoy our nation’s history on a relatively limited budget.  In order to cut costs and watch our pennies, we planned everything.  It helped that the museums we visited were free.  Maybe not free since our tax dollars help to keep the museums open, but we did not have to pay at the door to get into any museums.  We had saved up our hotel points so we could stay for free, and our hotel provided breakfast.  Our room had a refrigerator, so we could keep food cold.  For lunch every day, I would pack a back pack with the food we would need for the day including snacks and each of the girls had to carry a small back pack with their water and anything else they might need.  It was actually quite enjoyable to be able to stop when we were hungry, and eat our lunch rather than have to search for somewhere to eat.  When we were done with our day, we would find somewhere for dinner and have a hot meal.  We would not have been able to do take this trip if we had not planned in advance.

“She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.” (Proverbs 31:14).  This verse is referring to our planning as women.  In order to provide food of high quality for our families, we must plan.  Being like the merchant ships this lady would travel around and trade what she had for what she needed.  She did not settle for what was convenient, but rather she searched for what would be the most beneficial for her family.

Characteristics of a merchant ship:

  1. Captain/Pilot – each ship would have a captain/pilot. As a Mom, our Captain who guides us should be God.
  2. Rudder – each ship has a rudder that is controlled by the pilot, and is used to turn the direction of the ship. As Moms it is extremely important to spend time in God’s Word, our rudder, each day to receive guidance and direction from our Pilot.
  3. Wind/Storms – these will come into our lives and the lives of our families. As Moms we must protect our children or help our children through these storms.  We are the protectors of our precious little ones.  We should never be the ones that actually cause the storms in the lives of our families.
  4. Head into harbor to unload their cargo – moms and other women should be seeking to bring others to the safety and security of Christ so these individuals/children will be prepared for the seas of life.
  5. Cargo – the ship goes to the different ports and gets the cargo, and returns to its harbor and all the cargo is unloaded. The ship keeps nothing for itself.  I tell my daughters when they are involved in something, i.e. a soccer game or a skating competition or anything they set their mind to do, “Leave it all on the field.”  In other words, give 100%.  As Moms we should be willing to give 100%.  If we are spending time with our Pilot every day and reading the Bible, we should be refreshed and rejuvenated each day to give 100%.

(Adapted from Dr. Fred Joh Meldau in a “Mother’s Day Article” from Christian Victory magazine.)

None of these things could happen without planning.  If a ship set out with no purpose, no plan, and simply let the wind propel it, the ship would end up going in circles.  As Moms and women we must live our lives with a purpose.  Will we be like the merchant ships who are looking to our Creator for direction, are actively planning throughout the day, and are willing to give what is needed so our children can handle the rough seas of life?  Maybe we would rather be compared to a rose or a lily, but God chose a merchant ship, so let’s go be a ship today and make our Pilot proud.

Questions:

  1. Read Proverbs 16:9 and evaluate how this verse fits with our verse today (Proverbs 31:14)?
  1. Is your time with God a priority every day?
  1. When you spend time with God every day in His Word, are you doing it to check the box?
  1. When you spend time with God every day, are you looking for a verse to meditate on and put into practice throughout the day?
  1. What can you do today to better plan for the everyday tasks of the day?