Characteristics of the Wise as Found in Proverbs

Originally this post was supposed to be about the characteristics the book of Proverbs says we should look for in our friends. However, upon further review, I realized that we’re someone’s friend, and we shouldn’t expect something of others that we aren’t willing to aspire to ourselves. So, instead we’re going to take a look at the characteristics God desires to see in us–and our friends.

Based on the book of Proverbs, not only does God desire that we hold Him in highest esteem and reverence, He also God desires that we be…

  • Kind & merciful
    • A righteous man has kind regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10, AMP)
    • He who oppresses the poor taunts and insults his Maker, but he who is kind and merciful and gracious to the needy honors Him.” (Proverbs 14:31, AMP)
  • Ever-learning, or seekers of knowledge
    • “A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none [for his ears are closed to wisdom], but knowledge is easy for one who understands [because he is willing to learn].” (Proverbs 14:6, AMP)
    • The mind of the prudent [always] acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise [always] seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15, AMP)
  • Seekers of wisdom & wise counsel
    • Happy [blessed, considered fortunate, to be admired] is the man who finds [skillful and godly] wisdom, and the man who gains understanding and insight [learning from God’s word and life’s experiences], for wisdom’s profit is better than the profit of silver, and her gain is better than fine gold.” (Proverbs 3:13-14, AMP)
    • The wise will inherit honor and glory, but dishonor and shame is conferred on fools.” (Proverbs 3:35, AMP)
  • Forgiving
    • “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.” (Proverbs 17:9, AMP)
  • Humble
    • Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners, yet He gives His grace [His undeserved favor] to the humble [those who give up self-importance].” (Proverbs 3:34, AMP)
    • The reward of humility [that is, having a realistic view of one’s importance] and the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord is riches, honor, and life.” (Proverbs 22:4, AMP)
    • A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23, AMP)
  • Disciplined & obedient
    • Take hold of instruction; [actively seek it, grip it firmly and] do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. (Proverbs 4:13, AMP)
    • Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected]
      is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble].” (Proverbs 25:28, AMP)
    • “He who keeps the law [of God and man] is a wise and discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father [and himself].” Proverbs 28:7, AMP)
  • Righteous
    • “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just and righteous.” (Proverbs 3:33, AMP)
    • “The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs—how blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow].” (Proverbs 20:7, AMP)
    • He who earnestly seeks righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21, AMP)
  • Just
    • The violence of the wicked will drag them away, because they refuse to do justice.” (Proverbs 21:7, AMP)
    • “These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judgment is not good.” (Proverbs 24:23, AMP)
    • Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are unfortunate and defenseless; open your mouth, judge righteously, and administer justice for the afflicted and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9, AMP)
  • People of integrity
    • “He stores away sound wisdom for the righteous [those who are in right standing with Him]; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity [those of honorable character and moral courage].” (Proverbs 2:7, AMP)
    • For the upright [those who are in right standing with God] will live in the land and those [of integrity] who are blameless [in God’s sight] will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous shall be [forcibly] uprooted and removed from it.” (Proverbs 2:21-22, AMP)
    • Like a muddied fountain and a polluted spring is a righteous man who yields and compromises his integrity before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26, AMP)
  • Discerning
    • “Hear, O children, the instruction of a father, and pay attention [and be willing to learn] so that you may gain understanding and intelligent discernment.
      For I give you good doctrine; do not turn away from my instruction.” (Proverbs 4:1-2, AMP)
    • “The naive or inexperienced person [is easily misled and] believes every word he hears, but the prudent man [is discreet and astute and] considers well where he is going. A wise man suspects danger and cautiously avoids evil, but the fool is arrogant and careless.” (Proverbs 14:15-16, AMP)
  • Diligent
    • “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the negligent and lazy will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24, AMP)
    • The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, but everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5, AMP)
  • Slow to anger
    • “The [arrogant] fool’s anger is quickly known [because he lacks self-control and common sense], but a prudent man ignores an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16, AMP)
    • “Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger, and it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment].” (Proverbs 19:11, AMP)
    • Do not even associate with a man given to angry outbursts; or go [along] with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his [undisciplined] ways and get yourself trapped [in a situation from which it is hard to escape].” (Proverbs 22:24-25, AMP)
  • Speakers of truth, honest & reliable
    • The thoughts and purposes of the [consistently] righteous are just (honest, reliable), but the counsels and schemes of the wicked are deceitful.” (Proverbs 12:5, AMP)
    • Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is [credited] only for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19, AMP)
    • A false witness will perish, but a man who listens to the truth will speak forever and go unchallenged.” (Proverbs 21:28, AMP)
  • Slow to speak, or we think before speaking
    • A shrewd man is reluctant to display his knowledge [until the proper time], but the heart of [over-confident] fools proclaims foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23, AMP)
    • He who has knowledge restrains and is careful with his words, and a man of understanding and wisdom has a cool spirit (self-control, an even temper).” (Proverbs 17:27, AMP)
    • He who answers before he hears [the facts]—it is folly and shame to him.” (Proverbs 18:13, AMP)
  • Accepting of correction
    • The ear that listens to and learns from the life-giving rebuke (reprimand, censure) will remain among the wise.” (Proverbs 15:31, AMP)
    • Listen to counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.” (Proverbs 19:20, AMP)
    • When the scoffer is punished, the naive [observes the lesson and] becomes wise; but when the wise and teachable person is instructed, he receives knowledge.” (Proverbs 21:11, AMP)
  • Peaceable, or having a soft-spoken and gentle spirit
    • There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18, AMP)
    • “A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath, but harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1, AMP)
    • “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife and keep aloof from it, but every fool will quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3, AMP)

These are not all inclusive, and many of these have multiple Scripture to back them up, but for sake of time I maxed them out at 3 verses. Lastly, again, I encourage you to read the book of Proverbs on your own. See what other characteristics of the wise leap out at you, and share with us in the comments below!

Take care. May God bless you. And be sure to come back in the upcoming weeks for more on the book of Proverbs.

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Family Meal Planning on a Budget

Beside the cost of housing, food, literally, eats up one of the largest percentages of the average family budget. If we’re not careful, we could easily end up spending way more than we can afford on dining out and groceries. Our family rarely eats out, although, we do budget a small sum each month “just in case” we need to eat on the go. Instead, we try to plan and shop smart, for meals at home.

I haven’t done a budget grocery post since 2015’s Pantry Staples on a Frugal Budget, when I was unmarried, and without a child; and I thought now would be a good time to do so. Back then, I wasn’t cooking or eating (as a nursing mom) nearly as much as now, and cooking for 1 is much different than cooking for 2 adults and a choosy toddler. Furthermore, since I’m a stay-at-home momma (SAHM), I’m making food and snacks for myself and Cookie Girl throughout the day. So, my $30 a week budget from 3 years ago, definitely wouldn’t fly today. Now, we have about a $100 weekly budget. Some weeks we spend a little more and others a little less, but since we create a monthly budget (using the Every Dollar app), as long as we stay within what we’ve budgeted for groceries for the month, we’re good to go.

I’m gonna be honest, I struggled with meal prep and budgeting, for a while after baby was born. The hubbs did a lot of the cooking and grocery shopping, and while he’s a great cook (thank you, Lord), he doesn’t care much for sticking to a budget. When I did begin cooking again, it was a challenge because our family needs had changed. When we both worked outside the home, I would batch cook on the weekends so we’d have frozen/leftover meals for lunch and make simple stuff for dinner during the week. However, I’m no longer working outside the home, and we now live 30 minutes away from town; so we need meals that require little time for preparation, or we’ll end up eating fast food. Now that I’m a home during the day (for the most part), I have a little more freedom to make a variety of delicious, but simple home-cooked meals.

So, how are we doing it? Well, we’re still following those simple tips from that 2015 post, but we’re also incorporating the following…

  1. Monday morning I plan my week. That way I know what’s happening during the week.20180910_120555.jpg
  2. Then I plan my meals around what we’ll be doing during the week. We usually have leftovers on the days I won’t have time to cook, use the slow cooker, or pull out a freezer meal. (We’ve been testing recipes from the “Seriously Good Freezer Meals” cookbook; so far, I love it.)
  3. I plan 4 meals for the next week, so I can go grocery shopping the week before. That means, I have all the groceries I need this week, because I picked them up last week.
  4. I do most of our shopping at Aldi. We buy practically everything at Aldi because you just can’t beat their prices. Yes, it’s further away for me–we have a grocery store much closer to home–but the prices are nowhere near the prices we can get at Aldi. If there’s something I can’t find there, then I’ll go to another grocery store. (Note: Target is not a grocery store! Grocery prices tend to be much higher there.)
  5. We only go to Costco twice a month. I’ve found that if I made weekly trips to Costco I would over-spend every time and always end up busting our budget. When I do go, we only pick up pantry items, or items we can freeze, like meat, fish, chicken nuggets, peanut butter, bread, or rice; items that won’t spoil before we can eat it all and that will last us for a long time. There’s no point in purchasing groceries at a good price only to have them spoil. Additionally, Costco’s prices aren’t always the best deals you can find; I hardly ever buy fresh produce there, because the prices are too high. Always compare the cost per unit/lb/oz before purchasing.

As you can see, that takes care of dinner. As far as breakfast and lunch go, there are always items we keep on hand.

  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Milk (Almond milk in our house)
  • Rice
  • Lunch meat & sliced cheese
  • Peanut butter & jelly (The hubby’s go-to are PB & J sandwiches.)
  • Kodiak cakes (pancake mix)
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar/Stevia
  • Pasta
  • Cheese (blocks)
  • Frozen fruit & vegetables
  • Cheerios
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Tomato Sauce & paste
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Canned beans
  • Coffee & creamer
  • Fruit & veggie pouches
  • Fresh fruit
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Garlic (fresh or minced)
  • Vegetable/olive oil
  • Butter
  • Chicken/Beef Bouillon, powder, or stock
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, chili powder, oregano, etc. (we have a pretty big collection)

Some of these we only keep on hand because we have a 13-month-old in the house, the fruit & veggie pouches, and Cheerios, for instance.

But these are pretty much staple items that we try to always keep on hand in our house. From here, we can fill in the gaps for specific recipes we put on the menu. Usually, that would include meat or fish, fresh herbs or veggies, or milk or heavy cream. Planning our weekly meals, grocery shopping with a written list, and on a full stomach are just some of the things that we do to prevent us from overspending on our groceries each month (which is very easy to do). What are some of the ways you save on groceries?

The Wisdom of Proverbs

Wisdom is something I find myself praying for quite often, if not, every day. Wisdom as a wife, as a mother, as a believer. However, God has already given us His Word, and the book of Proverbs is chock full of wisdom! In fact, Proverbs 1:1-6 says that the book was written so that people might know skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction and discernment; and the discipline of wise thoughtfulness, righteousness, justice, and integrity.

Why?

Why should we desire godly Wisdom? Because Wisdom comes from God, was with God before time began, and it’s priceless (Proverbs 3:19-22, 8:22-31)! Proverbs 3:14-15 says that the gaining of it is better than gaining silver, the profit better than gold; it’s more precious than rubies; and nothing can be compared to it. Also, those who love wisdom will inherit true riches (Proverbs 8:20-21); and Wisdom brings life, honor, glory, and blessings (Proverbs 3:14-18, 4:8, 13:14, 15:31, 19:23). Who wouldn’t want godly Wisdom?!

How?

So, what is the first step to gaining such wisdom? Fear the Lord, says Proverbs 1:7. “But how does that help me learn wisdom?” you may ask. Well, reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord means that we have utmost respect for Him, above all else. It means that we walk in obedience, we honor and worship Him, we are attentive to and accept His words, we seek understanding, and treasure His Word. Basically, it’s wise to fear the Lord; that’s why it’s the first step!

Additionally, Proverbs says, “the wise in heart will accept and obey commandments” (10:8, AMP); and “the mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge, and the ear of the wise is ever seeking knowledge” (18:15, AMP). Like David said, the law of the Lord is perfect and sweet to those who love Him (Psalm 19:7-11). Therefore, because we love and respect Him we study His Word!

Spending time in the Word of God is how we’re going to learn more about the character of God and, in turn, the Wisdom of God. We can’t expect to gain the Wisdom of God, if we refuse to open up the Bible and examine it closely (for ourselves). It won’t just “come” to us, and we won’t find it in the world. Proverbs says “every word of God is tried and purified” (30:5, AMP); and that there’s no human wisdom or understanding that can prevail against the Lord (21:30, AMP). Therefore, every word contained within the Bible is useful to us; but only if we act on it.

“But I don’t understand the Bible,” you might be thinking. The thing is, the more we study and obey His Word, the clearer it actually becomes to us. Proverbs says, “if you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you” (1:23, AMP); and if we ask for understanding and insight, He will give it to us (2:1-12). But the Word also states, “the [reverent] fear and woshipful awe of the Lord includes the hatred of evil, pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverted mouth” (Proverbs 8:13, AMP). To repeat, we must apply the Word to our lives and have a teachable spirit.

In the book of Proverbs, Wisdom is given human characteristics so that we can better understand it. It says that we should treat Wisdom like a sister or close friend (Proverbs 7:4) and goes on to describe Wisdom as a woman crying out in the streets saying, “all the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing contrary to truth or crooked in them. They are all plain to him who understands [and opens his heart], and right to those who find knowledge and live by it” (Proverbs 8:8-9, AMP).

Conversely, the Word also describes foolishness/ignorance/thoughtlessness–the opposite of Wisdom–as the loose woman. The loose woman–or harlot–is tempting, pleasing to the eye, sly, cunning, turbulent, willful, and deceptive (Proverbs 5:3-11, 7:4-12), just like sin. We are to stay far away from her.FontCandy (10)

The Wisdom found in Proverbs covers practically everything, from marriage, to parenting, finances, friendships, and our spiritual relationship with God. As Proverbs states, “give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wise; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning. The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding” (9:9-10, AMP). If we desire Wisdom, we must first fear the Lord, then by the power of His Holy Spirit we will obey the Lord, and continue learning and changing, from the inside out. As we learn and change, we draw closer to the Lord and get to know Him better, and we learn and change even further; this is called the process of sanctification. And now we’ve come full circle!

Lastly, godly Wisdom isn’t something we’ll ever fully attain. There will never be a time on this earth that we’ll know all or understand all, but that shouldn’t prevent us from seeking out Wisdom, discernment, or understanding. Especially, because godly Wisdom isn’t just for us to hoard, but it’s for us to share with our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors, that we might draw men to Christ through our words and actions.

Be sure to come back next week as we continue our series on the book of Proverbs. I love y’all and God bless!

Floods, Faith and Finances: A look at Proverbs

I’ve been following Dave Ramsey for a few years now and when my husband and I got married we were both committed to living a debt-free lifestyle. We were both working outside the home then, so each month we budgeted our income, and were able to very quickly pay off his vehicle, and then began to do the same with my student loan. Then, just 6 months into our marriage we found ourselves expecting, so we pushed pause on our debt-snowball (as Dave calls it, and as he recommends) and just started saving as much as we could, while still making the minimum payments on the loan. Once Cookie girl and I came home safe and sound, and the hospital bills were paid, the rest of money that we’d saved went to paying off the student loan. And then I was free to leave my job and stay home with the baby. I was nervous and excited about leaving my job to be a stay-at-home-mom.

After a few months we decided we were ready to purchase a home. Now, Dave Ramsey recommends that you save up a 3-6 month emergency fund and your 20% down payment before purchasing. Let’s just say, we were impatient, lol. We saved a couple thousand and were ready to move. We did not follow Dave’s recommendation, but we still tried to be wise in our financial decisions. We always kept a small emergency fund, refused to use credit (except the mortgage, obviously), and made sure our monthly mortgage payment wouldn’t exceed 35% of our take-home pay.

After a few months of being in our new home we’re finally back on track as far as budgeting and savings go. We’ve been putting a percentage of each paycheck in our emergency fund to build it up, and allocating money for our tithe, mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc. This means we’ve been taking some time to get our home in order, since we’re purchasing everything with cash, little by little.

The Flood…Well, a few weeks ago I called a plumber about a leak we noticed in our 2nd bathroom; the drywall was stained from moisture. He told us that it looked like the caulking needed to be repaired on the bathtub and the water was pooling in that spot. So, Saturday my husband and I went to the hardware store for items to make the repair. As he began tearing away old drywall, he noticed it was very wet. We decided we would call another plumber for a second opinion, but wanted to spray the area with a little mold and mildew remover since the area was now open. Suddenly, he heard a drip and then a pipe started spraying water everywhere! He raced downstairs to turn off the water and we called our insurance and the plumber.

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The culprit behind the leak, turned sprayer.

By Sunday afternoon, the pipe was repaired, the flooring and drywall removed, and dehumidifiers were in place. But Sunday morning, as I headed to church I was thanking God. For one, W was originally supposed leave on a work trip this weekend, and if that pipe had decided to spray when it was just me at home I wouldn’t have known how to shut the water off, or who to call for help. Second, we were home when it happened and were able to shut the water off before too much damage occurred. And third, we were able to pay for the repair using money set aside for our emergency fund.

Every day I pray over our home, that God protect it, and us; and that God give us wisdom over our household, marriage, child(ren), ministries, and finances; and I thank Him for His many blessings. Interestingly enough, I was thanking God for being our provider and helping us build our emergency fund, just a few days ago, and I noted that our emergency fund is not where we place our faith. Our faith is in God and His provision, because He gives us everything we need. And it’s our responsibility to be a good steward of these things. To plan and manage our finances according to biblical principles is to walk in obedience.

But what does that look like? The book of Proverbs is a great place to start. I want to share more on this book in the future, but here are a few financial principles you can find straight from the Word of God.

Tithe.

Proverbs 3:9 (AMP) says to “honor the Lord with your capital and sufficiency and with the first fruits of all your income.”

God doesn’t need our money, it belongs to Him from the get-go. The Word says the earth is the Lord’s and everything within it (Psalm 24:1)! To give Him the first fruits is to show that we recognize that it’s God who provides, that we are thankful for His provision, and that we honor and respect Him. At least a tenth of our income should be given to establish His kingdom and do His work.

Know the value of money.

Like I stated previously, money shouldn’t be where we place our faith. It can’t save us from the grave, and it certainly can’t save our souls; it’s simply something we use. Proverbs 3:13-16 states that godly Wisdom is much more valuable than riches, and it should be what we strive for more than anything else.

While there’s nothing wrong with wealth, in itself, putting it above God is wrong. Proverbs also states that “wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (11:4, NIV); “those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (11:28, NIV); and the rich man is deluded if he believes his wealth will protect him (18:11, my paraphrase based on the AMP, lol).

Work diligently.

While money and/or wealth should never supersede our obedience or love for Christ, we do need an income to provide for ourselves, our family, and in order to give. That’s why Proverbs has so much to say on this point:

  • Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth (10:4, NIV).
  • Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense (12:11, NIV).
  • Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor (12:24, NIV).
  • The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt (12:27, NIV).
  • All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (14:23, NIV).
  • Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank (22:29, NIV).
  • Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house (24:27).

The list goes on! Proverbs 6:6-11,16:26, 19:15, 21:25, 27:23-27, and 28:19 all mention work, and/or laziness, as well.

Don’t be in haste to make a quick buck.

Building wealth, an emergency or retirement fund, or paying off your home doesn’t normally happen overnight. But if it did/does, God has something to say about that, too. Proverbs states that “dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (13:11, NIV); “an inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end” (20:21, NIV); and “a faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished (28:20, NIV).

Be a person of integrity.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but being a person of integrity will go a long way in every area of life, including your finances. Proverbs has much to say regarding this as well:

  • The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him (11:1, NIV).
  • A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward (11:18, NIV).
  • Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil (15:16, NIV).
  • Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice (16:8, NIV).
  • The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice (17:23, NIV).
  • Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a [rich] man who is twisted in his speech and is a [shortsighted] fool (19:1, AMP).

Again, the list continues with Proverbs 3:33, 16:20, 20:10, 20:23, 21:6, 22:1, 22:22, 28:6, 28:8, and 29:24.

Be content with what God provides.

Being content with what God provides doesn’t mean you can’t work harder to bring in more income, what it does mean, is that we don’t covet the things others have, or live in longing, and let our want consume us. Proverbs states that “the wicked desire the plunder of evil men, but the root of the righteous yields richer fruit” (12:12, AMP); “the craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing” (21:25-26, NIV); “he who has an evil and envious eye hurries to be rich and does not know that poverty will come upon him” (28:22, AMP); and “the greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper” (28:5, NIV).

Be generous.

As Proverbs 21:26 states, “the righteous give without sparing.” The Word says that when we give it will be returned unto us (Luke 6:38). However, this isn’t to say that when we give of our finances, we’ll receive more money in return; but a few things I’ve learned about giving are: 1) We honor God in our finances (and lives) when we give, 2) When we give, the remainder of our income is always enough to meet our needs, and 3) Our hearts are changed, and we become less concerned with our needs, than the needs of others. Proverbs says that “one person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty” (11:24, NIV); “whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (14:31, NIV); “whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (19:17, NIV); and “whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered” (21:13, NIV). Other verses concerning this, are Proverbs 22:9, 22:16, 22:22, and 28:27.

Don’t co-sign on someone else’s debt.

Now, being generous does not mean that we loan out money, or co-sign on another’s loan. Being generous means we simply give, no strings attached, and no expectations of being repaid. Proverbs states, more than once, that we should not co-sign on another’s loan. I love how the amplified Bible puts it:

My son, if you have become surety (guaranteed a debt or obligation) for your neighbor, If you have given your pledge for [the debt of] a stranger or another [outside your family], If you have been snared with the words of your lips, If you have been trapped by the speech of your mouth, Do this now, my son, and release yourself [from the obligation]; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor [to pay his debt and release you]. Give no [unnecessary] sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids; Tear yourself away like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.~ Proverbs 6:1-5

The author writes like it’s a life or death situation!

Proverbs also states that whoever co-signs a loan will suffer (11:15), that only a fool (or one who lacks sense) co-signs for another (17:18), and that the creditor will be quick to take the belongings of the co-signer when the primary cannot repay the debt (20:16, 22:26-27, 27:13).

Don’t be a borrower.

There’s a saying I once heard: “Neither a lender or borrower be.” I can’t remember where I heard it exactly, but it came to mind while I was writing my notes for this post. Proverbs 22:7 (NIV) states that “the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” A slave…

Being in debt, whether to a bank, credit card company, friend or family member, etc. is like being enslaved. It’s not something we think about in that manner, very often, is it? But every month we must pay someone else our hard-earned money (plus interest!), or risk repossession, foreclosure, calls from debt collectors, being sued, or liens on your bank accounts or estate (after your passing). Without that debt hanging over your head, your income would be yours to do with as you please (or as God deems fit).

Spend wisely.

Lastly, spend wisely. Proverbs says “the plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (21:5, NIV); “whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich” (21:17, NIV); “there is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future], But a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it” (21:20, AMP); and “do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (23:20-21, NIV).

If we waste all our money on things we don’t need, or that deliver temporary satisfaction, we won’t be able to take care of our every day needs. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun, it just means that we have to set limits and budget. In the last chapter of Proverbs we read about the virtuous woman (often described as the Proverbs 31 woman); in verse 16 we read about how she considers buying a field–she thinks about it before doing so–and in verse 25 we read that she’s unafraid of the future because she and her family are ready. Are you ready?

I know this was a long post, but the book of Proverbs just has so much to say about our finances and I didn’t want to leave anything out. As I’ve mentioned before, there will be more posts on Proverbs in the future. I’ve been reading it over and over again for the last few weeks, and have been jotting down notes regarding different areas of our lives that it pertains to. I’d recommend reading it if you haven’t already, or re-reading it if you have, and check back with me in the upcoming weeks. Take care and God bless!

Motherhood: The First Season

Recently, I remarked to my hubby that I’m in a place where I truly appreciate everything my mother did for us, as children. She was a military spouse, whose husband went away for months–and once, a whole year–at a time, which meant she was at home with me and my younger sisters, without any help (or family nearby) for extended periods of time. And it’s not that I didn’t love my mother or appreciate her before, but now that I’m a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), whose husband sometimes goes away for weeks at a time, I truly understand what this entails and appreciate the sacrifices she made.

Honestly, when I was younger, being a SAHM didn’t appeal to me, because I thought I’d be bored (HAHAHA). I didn’t realize the amount of work involved in being with your child. All. The. Time. It’s a never-ending routine of changing, nursing, feeding, bathing, reading, and so forth…and that’s not including all the household chores, grocery trips, or meal-making. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; I love having the financial freedom to be at home with my Cookie Girl. It’s extremely rewarding, but can also be lonely and exhausting.

A week or so ago, our church organized an outreach in our neighborhood. I tried to sit through an informational meeting, beforehand, with a squirming toddler, and failed miserably. I ended up leaving early, frustrated. God and I had a good talk on my drive home, though; and I’ve come to the realization that things will not be the same as they were before we had children, at least not for a very long time. My place, for now, is with my child(ren) and sometimes I will have to stay back, or behind the scenes, in order to be of any service. At first, I was upset about it. It didn’t seem fair that I wouldn’t get to participate in things the way I used to (or how I want to). However, I’ve accepted that for now, W and I have to play tag until baby girl gets a little older; it’s just the season of life that we’re in.

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As I’ve written before, this season will not last forever, nor does it mean that I’ve completely given up on my own dreams or visions. As a matter of fact, God placed something big on my heart, after a visit to Philadelphia, with the passing of my grandfather. But I’m recognizing the need to be patient and wait for the Lord’s timing. The things He’s planted in me will come to pass, even if not right away. I just have to let Him continue to prepare me for these things. Interestingly enough, I heard confirmation of this during Sunday’s sermon: that we’re never too old to walk out the calling God has placed on our lives and that we must stay on the anvil of God and allow Him to shape and mold us.

Therefore, whatever God’s promised you, whatever He’s planted in your heart to complete, sometimes we just have to be patient. We have to continue to seek His face and His will for our lives, and allow Him to mold and shape us through the power of His Holy Spirit. There are tons of biblical examples of men and women of God who probably wanted to give up on their dreams as they ran away from their enemies (Moses, David, Elijah), wandered through the wilderness (Moses, Joshua, Caleb), or as year after year passed, without child(ren) (Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah, Hannah, Zechariah & Elizabeth). As I’ve been studying Genesis–through Jen Wilkin’s God of Creation study–I realized that Noah was 500 years old before he had his sons, and 600 years old when he boarded the ark (Genesis 5:32, 7:6). It could very well have taken 100 years to build an ark for a flood that God promised a century before (we don’t know the details!). A hundred years…

David was just a teen when he was anointed as Israel’s next king by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1-13), but it would be many years before he actually sat on the throne, at age 30 (2 Samuel 5:1-5). The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before Joshua or Caleb got to enter the promised land (Numbers 14; Joshua 1). And Abraham & Sarah (Genesis 17-18), and Zechariah & Elizabeth (Luke 1:1-24) were just two couples way beyond their child-bearing years, who gave birth to influential men of God! Jesus, Himself, didn’t begin His ministry until He was 30 (Luke 3:23).

As for me…this first season of parenthood is a tough one, requiring self-sacrifice, patience, trust, and complete dependence on God to get through each day; in fact, I am in no way the same person I was before our little Cookie came on the scene. But I know each season will be different, and each will teach me something new about myself, like what I can and cannot handle on my own, about the importance of flexibility, how to better manage my time, and how to show grace in different situations. And each season will change me for the better, and shape me more into the woman that God desires me to be, for which, I’m incredibly grateful.

Only for a Season

These past few months have been a whirlwind of activity. We began searching for our first home in February, and after a couple weeks, we found one we could see ourselves growing into. Fast forward to April, and we’re unpacking boxes, cleaning, organizing, and moving furniture around the new house. The hubbs ( W ) has been putting up shelving in our pantry, and making sure the rest of the closet shelving is sturdy, since we noticed a lot of missing screws. He also spent an evening cleaning the carpets, because, although they are new, they got a lot of foot traffic when the previous owner had people paint, put down flooring, etc., and were very dusty.

W was finally able to take his belongings out of his storage unit and we’ll soon be using his king sized bed, as opposed to my queen sized (as soon as the bed pieces lost in a move, arrive in the mail). I can’t wait, because our baby girl has taken a liking to our bed, and it seems to be getting smaller and smaller, as she gets bigger and bigger.

Cookie girl just turned 9 months, and this move has been a little disruptive to her schedule. It took her about a week to get back to napping in her crib, in the new house. Which has been challenging for me, since it’s difficult to unpack boxes and clean, with her crawling around and getting into everything.

Moving without family around to help is very difficult, because you’re forced to ask friends–who have their own families and responsibilities–for help; but you don’t want to beg people, either. However, we’re extremely thankful to the few people who have been consistent blessings to our lives during big life events and transitions. Thus far, they have helped decorate and clean up before and after our wedding, and later, our baby shower; helped us move, twice; and even let us borrow a vehicle for a month or two, while we saved up to purchase one with cash. These aren’t just friends, they have shown themselves to be family.

Now, we’ve entered May and W is traveling for work, the house still isn’t anywhere near put-together, and I don’t think baby girl is feeling very well today. I’ve been feeling pretty isolated these last few weeks, and am in desperate need of a new routine to help me get the house together, get baby girl sleeping in her crib, and to simply get us out of the house (because we’ve been cooped up too long!).

Sometimes, life is tough, but God is so good. He’s blessed us with so much, and I know that it’s days (or weeks) like today that I have to focus on His goodness, rather than my feelings of isolation, loneliness, unproductiveness, or unfruitfulness. This season of life will pass. We will, eventually, get the house in order. Cookie girl will, eventually, sleep in her crib. We will get our routine back and have weekly library trips, grocery days, and outings. I will make time to write and share more often with my readers.

For now, I must remember that this is only a season of life, and things will change. What season of life are you currently living? And how are you handling it? Personally, I think I should be praying a little more…but, couldn’t we all?

Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. ~ Philippians 4:6-7, AMP

New Wineskins

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” ~ Matthew 9:17

God is the father of creation. While His character will never change–for the Word says He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever–He’s continually doing new things in and through our lives (Hebrews 13:8). God doesn’t fit inside the box we try to contain Him in, nor does He do things the same way over and over again. Regardless of the routines or rituals we’ve set up in our lives, God is God, and He does what He wants, when and how He wants.

The verse above came to mind during prayer a few weeks ago, followed by Ezekiel 36:26-27.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. ~ Ezekiel 36:26-27

These two verses caused me to think about how, often, the longer we walk with Christ, we tend to forget the graciousness and loving-kindness of God. We hear and read of His sacrifice for our sins so often, that sadly, we sometimes become callous to its meaning. We no longer recall the love, thanksgiving, and joy that filled us at salvation; we’ve forgotten our first love (Revelation 2:4-5)!

However, God wants to do a new thing! And in order to do so, we need to have a heart of soft, tender flesh, and we need to be flexible, new wineskins! We must let go of “how things have always been done” and our fear of the uncomfortable, and allow God to break our hearts for what breaks His.