Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #4 - Trustworthy

"The heart of her husband does safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil." - Proverbs 31:11

Webster's Dictionary - Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

Strong's Concordance - Trust: to trust, have confidence, be bold, be secure

The husband of a godly woman has confidence and security in the character, abilities, and truth of his wife, and knowing that he can trust her gives him boldness. 

1. Proverbs 11:13 - is discreet in what information is given out
2. Proverbs 13:17 - brings healing
3. Proverbs 14:5 - does not lie
4. Proverbs 20:6 - a truly trusty person is hard to find
5. Proverbs 25:13 - is refreshing to those who trust in you
6. Proverbs 25:19 - unfaithfulness will be like a broken foot to those who trust in you
7. Psalm 31:23 - the Lord preserves the faithful
8. Luke 6:10 - is faithful in matters for big and small
9. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 - we are required to be faithful stewards of God
10. 1 Timothy 3:11 - deacon's wives ought to be faithful in all things
11. James 5:12 - be true to your word

It is hard to find a truly trustworthy person; but, we are stewards of all God has given us and as such we are required to be faithful with it. 

A trustworthy person is faithful in all matters, both great and small, no matter who is watching or what rewards will come. They never lie, but are also discreet about what information they share - they are not a gossip. 

Unfaithfulness will be like a broken foot to those who trust in you, hindering them from their own work and causing pain. But, true faithfulness will be refreshing to those who trust in you and will bring healing. 

A deacon's wife specifically ought to be faithful in all things but truly any man would be desirous of a trustworthy wife, because her reliability will be of great benefit to them both. God also will preserve those who are trustworthy and faithful to Him.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #3 - Virtuous

A godly woman is virtuous.

 "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." - Proverbs 31:10

Strong's Concordance: Virtuous - an army, a force; strength, valor, ability. 

Webster's Dictionary: having virtue; morally excellent; chaste. 

To be virtuous is to have moral excellence, and to be a force of strength, valor, and ability. 

1. 2 Samuel 22:33 - God is our strength
2. Psalm 18:39 - God gives us the strength to battle
3. Psalm 33:16-17, 49:6 - We are not saved by our own virtue and strength
4. Psalm 60:12, 108:13 - God enables us to be virtuous because he defeats our enemies
5. Proverbs 12:4 - A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband
6. Proverbs 31:3 - Don't waste your virtue on things that destroy you and take you away from God
7. Habbakuk 3:19 - God is our strength and will help us to be virtuous
8. Philippians 4:8 - Think about virtuous things
9. 2 Peter 1:3 - We are called to be virtuous, and through the knowledge of Him we have the power to do so
10. 2 Peter 1:5 - Add virtue to your faith

I was surprised by the meaning of "virtuous" in Proverbs 31:10. I expected it to mean "moral excellence" but only three times is that definition used (Phil 4:8, 2Pet 1:3, 2Pet 1:5). All the other references to "virtue" or "virtuous" are this "army, force, strength" that is talked about in Proverbs.

At the beginning of Proverbs 31, Solomon is warned not to throw away his strength and virtue on an adulterous woman, by implication anything that will destroy you and distance you from God. Instead, he is told to find a wife who also has strength, valor, and moral excellence. 

We are to add moral excellence to our faith, and meditate on excellent things. If we are virtuous, we will be a crown to our husbands, and to God.

However, it is not by our own strength and virtue that we are saved. God has called us to virtue, and it is through the knowledge of Him that we have the power to do so. He defeats our enemies, gives us strength, and lifts us up to virtue. 

Virtue is the summation of all the rest of the characteristics displayed by a Godly woman.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #2 - Fears the Lord

A godly woman fears the Lord. All other good attributes flow out of this.

Strong's Concordance - Fear: fearing, morally reverent
Webster's Dictionary - Fear: to have reverential awe of
Webster's Dictionary - Revere: to show devoted deferential honor to; to regard as worthy of great honor.

To fear the Lord is to be so in awe of him that you show him the great honor, devotion, and respect that He is worthy of.

How do we fear Him, what does it mean?

1. Deuteronomy 6:1-2 - to keep His law
2. Deuteronomy 6:24 - His commandments are for our own good
3. Deuteronomy 10:12-13 - to love, serve, and obey Him
4. Deuteronomy 14: 22-23 - to tithe, in order to learn to fear God
5. Deuteronomy 17:18-19 - to read the law, in order to learn to fear God
6. Joshua 4:23-24 - to know He is mighty
7. Joshua 24:14 - to serve Him
8. 1 Samuel 12:14 - to serve and obey, and He will bless
9. 1 Samuel 12:24 - to serve Him, because of the great things He has done
10. Job 28:28 - to fear Him is wise
11. Psalm 19:9 - to fear Him is pure, and will endure forever
12. Psalm 22:23-24 - to praise and glorify Him, because He heard our cry
13. Psalm 25:14 - will receive council, friendship, and intimacy with Him
14. Psalm 38:8-9 - to stand in awe of Him, because of what He has done
15. Psalm 34:8-10 - those who fear will be blessed, will not want for any good thing
16. Psalm 111:10 - is the beginning of wisdom
17. Psalm 112:1 - to delight in His commands
18. Psalm 115:11-13 - to trust Him
19. Psalm 118:4 - will experience His mercy
20. Psalm 128:1 - to walk in His ways
21. Proverbs 1:7 - is the beginning of knowledge
22. Proverbs 3:7 - to not think ourselves wise, to depart from evil
23. Proverbs 8:13 - is to hate evil
24. Proverbs 9:10 - is the beginning of wisdom
25. Proverbs 10:27 - will prolong your days
26. Proverbs 14:2 - to walk in uprightness
27. Proverbs 14:26 - has strong confidence, is a place of refuge
28. Proverbs 14:27 - is the fountain of life
29. Proverbs 15:16 - is better than treasure
30. Proverbs 15:33 - is the instruction of wisdom
31. Proverbs 16:6 - to depart from evil
32. Proverbs 19:23 - tends to life, is satisfying
33. Proverbs 22:4 - gives riches, honor, and life
34. Proverbs 23:17 - does not envy sinners
35. Isaiah 33:6 - is our treasure
36. Isaiah 50:10 - to obey His voice, to trust Him in the darkness
37. Jeremiah 5:23-24 - to fear Him, because He provides our needs

To fear God is wise, pure, enduring forever, the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, a place of refuge, the fountain of life, better than treasure, and satisfying.

To fear God means that we love, serve, and obey Him; we know that He is mighty, praise, glorify, stand in awe of, and trust Him; we humble ourselves before Him, depart from evil, delight in His commands, walk in His ways, walk in uprightness, hate evil, and do not envy sinners.

We can learn to fear God by reading His law, and tithing.

We fear God because He has done great thing for us, He hears our cry, He is in command of the entire universe, He provides our needs, and it is for our own good.

If we fear God, we will receive His blessing, mercy, council, friendship, and intimacy; every good thing we need, long life, riches, and honor.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Study of Proverbs 31

Tuesday mornings are a lovely time in our home. Stephen gets up early (hello, 6am) and heads off to a men's Bible study with his dad, and I sit down with a quiet breakfast and a hot cup of coffee, and do some studying on my own. When he gets home, we compare notes and discuss thoughts from our own separate studies.

I decided that the first thing I would study was the classic women's chapter of Proverbs 31. While this chapter is almost cliche and so heavily quoted, I feel like it is often glossed over or not read very intently. I decided that I wanted to deeply study and truly know what it means to be a Godly women, according to this chapter.

I felt God leading me to share my studies, so that is what I'll be doing here. I started by reading each verse carefully and listing what attributes a Godly woman has. Then, each week, I focus on one attribute, defining it and finding verses that relate to it. I hope that this is as educational, encouraging, and challenging to you as it has been for me!

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #1 - The Attributes of a Godly Woman

v.10 - virtuous
v.11 - trustworthy, especially with resources
v.12 - committed to doing him good - not selfish
v.13 - willingly works
v.14 - traveling, seeking to fill her families needs
v.15 - is not lazy, cares for her family and servants first, prepares them for success
v.16 - makes wise decisions, understands her husbands business needs, participates in his business
v.17 - cares for herself so that she is strong
v.18 - knows the value of her work, is industrious
v.20 - is generous to and helps those in need
v.21 - is prepared for the future
v.22 - makes even the basic necessities for her house, clothes herself as would befit a nobleman's wife
v.24 - makes good product, works hard to sell it
v.25 - strong and honorable, rejoices in the future instead of worrying about it
v.26 - speaks wisdom and kindess
v.27 - is a good manager of her household, is not idle
v.28 - fears the Lord - this is most important; all else stems out of this

The result of her virtue?

v.10 - is very valuable
v.23 - her husband has a good reputation
v.28 - children call her blessed, husband praises her
v.31 - enjoys the fruit of her labor, has a good reputation

The Attributes

1. Fears the Lord - v.30
2. Virtuous - v.10
3. Trustworthy - v.11
4. Committed - v.12
5. Self-sacrificing - v.12, 15, 20
6. Willing to work - v.13
7. Economical, thrifty - v.14
8. Industrious - v.15, 16, 18, 22, 24, 27
9. Supportive - v.15, 16, 23
10. Wise - v.16, 26
11. Good decision maker - v.16
12. Strong and healthy - v.17
13. Entrepreneurial - v.16, 18, 24
14. Generous - v.20
15. Compassionate - v.20
16. Prepared - v.21
17. Humble - v.22
18. Dignified - v.22
19. Has Integrity - v.24
20. Honorable - v. 25
21. Joyful - v.25
22. Not worried - v.25
23. Kind - v.26
24. Diligent - v. 27                                       
25. Valuable - v.10
26. Praised, blessed, loved - v.28
27. Enjoys the fruit of her labor - v. 31
28. Gives husband good reputation and has good reputation of her own - v.23, 31

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Life Savers

I'm going to be honest here: sometimes, I hate food, I'm tired of cooking, I'm bored of the flavors I'm tasting, and making my weekly menu is like pulling teeth. I've been stuck in that kind of a rut for the last few weeks, but thankfully I found a few recipes that have started to rekindle my love-affair with food.

First of all, can I just say that Julia Childs deserves a medal? One thing she's famous for is her love of butter, and oh man have I learned just how right she was! I was feeling really discouraged about my food, especially my mashed potatoes. They just weren't ever as satisfying as they used to be, without the dairy added in. I realized it was truthfully the butter that I was missing, so I broke down and reluctantly bought the $7 8oz. jar of ghee. Seriously, this nondescript jar of yellow stuff is a game-changer.

For those who don't know, ghee is clarified butter. All the fat, none of the dairy. I had tried making this on my own, but had never managed to get all the dairy out so it still caused my stomach irritation. The store-bought ghee hasn't caused me any issues so far, and has really improved the overall taste and texture of my cooking. So, yes, it's a little pricey; but if you use it moderately it should last a month or two. And, $7 per month for satisfying, rich, creamy food is worth it in my book.

Anyways, on to the recipes. Both of these are definitely dishes that I would serve at the Average [Paleo] American. This first one was shared by @dollyswholelife on the Whole30 Recipe FB page. These meatballs in marinara sauce over mashed potatoes are so easy to make and amazingly delicious! It was really nice to be able to use a jar of pre-made marinara instead of having to do everything from scratch, and finding a sauce with compliant ingredients wasn't too difficult. The mixture of pork, beef, and spices made the meatballs so flavorful, and the garlic mashed potatoes (with ghee!) were the perfect, creamy base.

My next dish, chicken piccata, has been a long-time favorite of mine. I was skeptical about trying a paleo version, because many times they just don't live up to the buttery, gluteny versions you're expecting. But, when in a food rut, I always try to go for an old favorite, and this did not disappoint! I didn't use the nutritional yeast, and I used half ghee, half olive oil to fry the chicken in. The almond flour breading still got a nice crisp, the sauce was still rich and creamy, and the capers added the classic piccata kick. I served this over cauliflower rice, which soaked up the flavor of the sauce, and lent the lovely texture that I used to get by serving this with couscous.

Over all, having a few comforting, satisfying dishes last week really helped to start climbing out of my I-hate-food pit. In fact, I'm off to try cooking another new recipe right now!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Snippets of Life

Tonight, I'm really not feeling the whole "work on my to-do list" thing. Sometimes I push through that to get it done anyway, but tonight I've decided to let myself do the things that I want to do. They're all fun things that I've been thinking about for a while (like this blog post) or that will need to be done at some point anyways (like wedding brainstorming). So, it's not a totally unproductive night. 

Speaking of wedding planning, as a friend of mine says with great excitement, "Can we just talk about this for a minute?" Holy cow. I still can't always believe it's really happening. I've definitely run the gamut of emotions in this last month and half, from blissful exuberance to fear of the change, from overwhelmed with decisions to inexpressibly joyful over dreams coming true. I'm not sure it's the "always-kittens-and-rainbows" picture that society paints of brides-to-be, but it's honest. And, it's amazing. 

And speaking of trying to be productive, this is what a sleepy Saturday afternoon looks like when I need to get sewing done, but would rather be cuddling with my guy. Sometimes, you just need a second cup of coffee and six hours of Pride and Prejudice to pull you through!

For a while now I've been staring at the mending pile. Why is mending always the hardest to do? Even though it'll take all of five minutes, I have the worst time working up the motivation to finish it. There seems to be a spiritual lesson there; I'm ready and willing to take care of the "big" issues in my life, but how eager am I to take care of those "little" issues, like frustration over small things, or selfishness in my time, or thinking poorly of those I don't get a long with?

There is something truly beautiful about freshly pressed, snowy white linens. Can I just surround my life in linen?

I'm really thankful for the flexibility that owning my own business allows. Not just that I can take a day off when I want to, but that on the days when I am working, I can work around my energy levels. I always hit an afternoon slump, and I am grateful to be able to take a nice long coffee break, knowing that I'll work well into the evening when energy returns. 

Even though we all strive to be happy and smiling all the time, we'd be lying if we said we don't have days when the gray winter sky gets us down and we really just want to crawl back into bed. So, sometimes I just need to wear a shirt with colorful cartoon animals all over it, and put on lipstick even though the only place I'm going is the laundromat. Little things can really help to improve my mood. 

Sometimes, the busyness of summer is beyond overwhelming, but I always start feeling cooped-up pretty quickly in the quieter days of January. Decent weather calls for a walk on my favorite "I'm-going-stir-crazy" trail. Not much to look at in the dead of winter, but peaceful and full of fresh air. 

So, what does your January look like?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Average [Paleo] American

Several weeks ago, I was struck with an idea, that if I were ever to open a restaurant, and I would want it to be a paleo-friendly menu that catered to the tastes of an average American. What I mean is, most paleo-friendly restaurants have very Mediterranean or African or other ethnic cuisine. True, those cultures have really found some great ways to make delicious meals out of a few simple, nutritious ingredients; but, sometimes this American girl just wants to feel normal, as if she didn't have crazy diet restrictions, and to be able to pronounce everything she's eating - simple words like pizza, barbecue, and chocolate. I'd want it to be a place where even picky and non-paleo eaters could find a multitude of yummy meals. True, many things just can't be replicated without using non-paleo ingredients, but I think it'd be an interesting challenge.

Though this idea will likely never come to pass, I still like to gauge my recipe testing by whether I would serve it in my imaginary restaurant or not. The food that inspired this idea was one of my favorite breakfasts - roasted green beans with almond pesto and fried eggs. I never used to love green beans, but I think it's because I only had them steamed. I've yet to find a vegetable that roasting doesn't make ten times more delicious, and green beans are no exception. Top that with the flavorful, crunchy, creamy almond pesto and you have a serious winner. One morning, I added some leftover shredded brisket to the mix, and BAM! Inspiration struck! It tasted so "normal" and "unhealthy", in the best sense, while all the ingredients were still very nutritious and paleo-approved. Either way, brisket added or not, I definitely recommend giving this recipe a try!

My next menu item would be this little wonder that I invented this week. I had some bacon to use up, and was craving pizza, so I decided to mix the two into a BLT pizza. I used the coconut flour breadstick recipe that I posted about a few weeks ago as the base. I baked it until it was just barely finished, then spread olive oil on top and sprinkled it with Italian seasoning. I used watered-down tomato paste as my sauce, but I'm sure pizza sauce would be equally as good, if not better. Next, I put a layer of tomato slices, and crumbled cooked bacon on top. After baking it just a little longer to heat the tomatos and sauce, I finished the pizza by topping it with shredded lettuce and homemade mayonnaise. True, this isn't pizza, and it's not a BLT sandwich, but I think it takes some of the best parts of each and combines them into one tasty, paleo treat. The "breadsticks" made a perfect, flatbread-like crust, and gave you the simply joyful feeling of picking up a slice of hot "pizza". Yes, the experience of eating is just as important as the taste!

My last meal - pomegranate cinnamon chia seed pudding - is honestly a bit of a stretch for my Average [Paleo] American menu. I don't think chia seeds are something that you'll see in many American households, and I'd say that most of my friends and family members would be a little weirded out if I served it to them. However, it is SO delicious, and I think could win a lot of people over. Chia seed puddings are so versatile - they're just a base of milk and chia seeds, and the flavor can be changed very easily by whatever else you add. This pomegranate cinnamon variety has a warm, fruity flavor. I did make two changes to the original recipe; first, I added 8 tbls of seeds instead of 6 tbls, because I like my pudding to be good and thick. Second, I cut the cinnamon in half, because 1 tsp ending up making it way too spicy and overwhelmed the vanilla. Something else which none of the chia pudding recipes seem to mention is that you'll need to whisk the pudding before serving, because all the seeds fall to the bottom of the milk as it is chilling, and you'll get a clump of gooey seeds with milk on top if you don't stir. I've found that letting it chill in a wide dish so that the pudding is shallow helps the seeds to soak up the milk more evenly. So, if you want something a little unusual but still very comfort-food-like, give this pudding a try!