Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #4

A Handmaiden of the Lord is...

... industrious

I've been sewing for almost two days straight.


On Tuesday morning, I was at my machine by 7:30. After a little while, I took a 30 minute break for breakfast, and was back at my machine again as soon as I was done. Several hours later, I took a 30 minute break for lunch, and then was back to my machine.

An hour or two before supper time, I finished all the machine work on my project, and was ready to start on the extensive handwork that needed to be done before the project was finished.

I was tired of being indoors on a beautiful fall day. The sky was clear blue, and the leaves were like glowing gems littering the ground. I took about an hour to go outside and trim a hedge that has needed to be cut for several weeks. It felt so good to finally get that job done. Even nicer was the break from being indoors.

Right after that, Mom and I had to run out on a brief errand. We got back right before supper.

After supper, I was able to sew for an hour or two on my bed before turning in.

Wednesday morning. I slept late, because of the time I had gone to sleep, but right after breakfast I sat on my bed and sewed. My hope chest, which sits right beside my bed, quickly became covered with loose threads, a pincushion, ribbon, pattern pieces, elastic, scissors, spools of thread, and everything else that goes along with a sewing project.

Except for a lunch break, I sewed straight through the day. Oh how cramped my legs became! I only stopped in time to eat supper at 5:30. Right after supper, we went to prayer meeting at our church. When we got home, around 9:30, I picked up my sewing again.

I finished the project before I fell asleep last night.

Now...why have a told y'all this story?

Well, for several reasons. First, to explain why I haven't posted on here since Monday. Second, I thought the example went well with the next topic in our "Handmaiden of the Lord" series.

Not because I was industrious. Actually, although I've known I had a deadline for this project for almost a month, I waited to get really serious about sewing it until the middle of the week before last. The pressure of the past two days was entirely my fault. I didn't plan ahead enough to know how long the project would take me.

I suppose I just wanted y'all to know why the topic of sewing is in the forepart of my mind. Now, to the topic of industry.

When I speak of industry in the context of being a handmaiden of the Lord, I am thinking about the way a woman furthers the productivity of her home. I am thinking about being entrepreneurial. That is really my topic today. Industriousness is just the character quality that can cause a woman to be entrepreneurial.

You can all guess what verses I found to go along with this post: Proverbs 31.

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

These verses (pardon the awkward layout) just overflow with the spirit of industry. This woman is busy, busy, busy. She uses what she has to create more of what she needs. She does so many different things! And she's so generous with what she earns!

A woman should not be a drain on the household. That is a phrase that is my head quite often. Because I am a stay-at-home daughter, I have to deal with folks who think I am being a drain on my home. Thankfully, many people we know are very understanding, but there are also those who...well, I guess they think a girl must be at college or working in an office (or library or fast food place, or store) to truly be grown up or profitable. I think they honestly can't imagine what I find to do all day at home, now that I'm not in school.

Well, first things first; I'm not at home all day every day. In fact, I'm out quite a bit, I think. But that's beside the point. I could live 40 miles from the nearest city and still have a worthwhile life, because there IS a lot for me to do at home.

Let's forget about the basic upkeep of a home; cooking, cleaning, laundry, childcare, etc. I can't handle two big topics at once. They point today is about being entrepreneurial. The woman in Proverbs 31 was contributing to her home in a very real way.

First, though, what is the point in being entrepreneurial? Is is to prepare us to be breadwinners? Hardly. I am not learning business skills so that I can provide for myself in case I never marry. I am learning business skills because I want to help my future husband in whatever calling he has, and because I want to help my father right now. My entrepreneurial efforts are quite profitable now, in the present. They are not a forlorn effort to prepare for the dreaded possibility of being left alone in the world.

This is a very important point. My work should be a sort of background work, branching off the desires of the head of the household. The talents and skills God has given me are to be used, and used creatively.

Secondly, being entrepreneurial is basically "having a home business," but I don't believe every woman needs to have one of those to qualify as a good woman of God. That's why I listed "industrious" as the topic of this post, not "entrepreneurial." A woman can contribute to her home in a variety of ways.

A penny saved is truly a penny earned. My mother doesn't have a home business, but she can make a grocery bill come out so low my mouth hits the floor by the checkout counter. If my father didn't have her frugal ways backing him up, he would probably have to be earning a third more money to be providing for his family. This is a skill I so want to inherit from my Mom!
Trading services for items, or visa-versa also keeps the household expenses down. Being careful not to waste does the same thing.

The whole point of keeping costs down, of course, is not to make our families rich. It's to make them more profitable. It's to make it possible for the head of the house to dream big, to give big, and obey big.

All that being said, however, the fact remains that the Proverbs 31 woman did have a home business of sorts, and it is evidently smiled upon.

So what can you do? I have just recently started sewing for a profit. I also teach sewing lessons. I used to tutor for a homeschooling mother. I occasionally do childcare.

The money I earn makes it possible for me to tithe and give, to purchase gifts for others, save money for the future, help missionaries, buy Bibles for other countries, and to buy most of my own clothing, shoes, hair stuff, etc. I'm not taking over Dad's job as provider, and I'm not trying to "strike out on my own." Dad knows that. I'm just trying to help the household, and further God's kingdom.

Money is a tool, and being able to earn it is wonderful, because of all that can be accomplished with it. I dream of the day I'll be able to give a LOT of money to mission work. That would make Dad and Mom so happy. It would make me so happy, because I love the One whose work I would be giving to.

In a practical sense, I'm not sure I could give much advice on earning money. You must earn from your angle, using your particular talents. You must make sure everything you are doing is right and biblical, and is being done with the right motive. You must retain the desire to be a woman, not a man. You must strive for excellence in what you do, so that the people you interact with will see that a Christian is honest and industrious.

You must go with the flow of your family. I love the fact that both of my parents were involved in the starting of my sewing business. Mom gave me the tools I needed to complete the setting up my sewing room, and kept encouraging me to start a business until I listened to her. Dad talks about me all over his workplace, and therefore got me my one of my first customers. He loves to "advertise" for one of his children. Knowing that he is proud of me, and is actively encouraging people to give me business give such solidity to me. I know that he approves of what I'm doing. I just couldn't run a business my parents disapproved of.

If any of my readers have more practical tips on the topic of earning money from home, I would sure love to hear them. Oh - I also would like to share this website, which sells business cards. Business cards are a valuable home-business tool, and this price is right!

(To read more "A Handmaiden of the Lord" posts, click here.)

Rules for Participation:

Each of you ladies - old and young - who read this blog have insight that you can contribute for the edification of the rest of us. Particularly those of you who are older in the faith...but even younger sisters can have words of wisdom. I would like to humbly request your active involvement in this series.

In the comment section of each post, I would like each of you to do one of two things;

~ 1: If you do not have a blog, please leave your thoughts directly in the comment section.

~ 2: If you have a blog, please go there and write a small post containing your thoughts on whatever quality is under discussion here. Make it Biblical; share verses the Lord has used in your heart. The world is full of opinions - we don't need more of that. We need more of the Lord.

Then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section. (To make it easier for us to find the right post, please link directly to the post, not your front page.) If you would like to, please direct your blog readers here so that they can find more discussion, from other readers.

This is only a small corner of Blog Land, and I know that I don't reach many ladies - at least not as many as I would like. But this topic - becoming a better Handmaiden of the Lord - is so important that I wish we could talk to thousands. If we start linking to one another, perhaps the word will get out, and we can reach more and more women who care about the Lord.


Anna :) said...

What a lovely post, Amber! I wish I had something "profound" to say...but I don't. :) I think this is a very important topic, though--being "industrious" while at HOME. You don't have to go work somewhere outside the home to do that. Recently, the Lord has opened up the door for me to teach piano lessons (which I LOVE doing :) ) and that has been a wonderful way for me to have a little extra "income".
Thanks for taking the time to post this and encourage the rest of us! :)


Alethea Jordan said...

Amber, I wrote a reply to this post on my blog if you'd like to look at it.