the noble journey

A journey to become the wife of noble character…

Okay, so now what do I do? June 20, 2012

Filed under: Journey Musings — thenoblewife @ 3:37 pm

They say that getting started is the hardest part…and I agree.

I feel overwhelmed at times, wondering how do I even go about making positive change in my life when I see so much that needs improvement? How do you prioritize, how do you know which area to tackle first?

Well, for me, I’m starting with cooking.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to cook. But if you ask my family, particularly over the last few years, they will tell you that I don’t cook very often at home. Announce a potluck at church and I’ll fry chicken for hours, or let me be the one to whip up a meal for our Friday night Bible study group. I’ll volunteer in a heartbeat.

But put me in my own kitchen, with my own family, and I lose the desire. I’m too tired. I want to go out to eat. I don’t know what to cook. I run to the grocery store for ingredients for a new recipe, forgetting that my freezer is already stocked full of perfectly good food waiting to be cooked.

I’m disorganized and without motivation when it comes to cooking for my own family, day in and day out. So that is one of the first things I have been trying to address on this noble journey.

So, what does scripture say about this?

“She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar; She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” Proverbs 31:14-15

Okay, well, some of that just does not apply to me. Thankfully, a few things have changed since the time of King Lemuel. I don’t have to traipse the docks looking for the best produce each day as it comes off the merchant ships. There is a huge HEB about 12 minutes from my house, and it usually has everything I need, and a little bit more.

It is also not necessary for me to get up at the wee hours of the morning. My husband leaves for work at 4:30 each morning and does not eat breakfast, and since it is summer, the teenagers tend to sleep in a bit late. If I were to get up at the crack of dawn, I would be cooking only for myself. So, in an effort to best conserve my time and energy, I will let that one pass.

Servant girls? Yeah, right.

It is the simplest  part of this verse that applies to me: she provides food for her family.

I am expected, quite simply, to make sure that everyone in my household has something to eat. I don’t have to cook multi-course meals every day. But I do need to oversee the fridge and pantry and make sure that in those times when I will not prepare a big meal, there is something healthy to grab and go.

One of the strategies that I am experimenting with right now is preparing meals ahead of time and stocking my freezer with things that are easy to throw in the crock pot. About two weeks ago I made a massive batch of homemade pasta sauce and froze about 8 quarts of sauce in Ziplocs.

My sauce recipe is so, so easy, it’s almost a shame to call it homemade. But it does incorporate fresh herbs and vegetables, so that should qualify, yes?

Thought so.

Anyway, I’ve already put the family on notice that since I will not be working this year, the meals are not always going to be fancy. I figure we will have pasta once a week, so freezing it in mass quantities is a no-brainer.

I’ve also frozen some pre-seasoned meats that are ready to be thawed overnight and dropped in the crock pot with veggies, and I’ve done some individual servings of Weight Watchers healthy recipes.

It has actually inspired me to do some food preparation for friends, who often complain that they don’t have time to plan healthy meals. (Look for a link to my food business, The Picky Palate, within the next few weeks…)

Yesterday, I made about 12 batches of homemade salsa with fresh tomatoes from my garden, and from the gardens of two friends who have tomatoes coming out of their ears. Using my handy-dandy Pampered Chef chopper, I was able to whip out that salsa in no time at all.

I decided not to put in jars this year because if it sits around in jars in the fridge, then I will be tempted to keep chips in the house all the time, which negates the health value of the salsa. By freezing it, I can use the salsa as bases for soups and bean dishes, and add to pasta sauce and crock pot meals whenever I need it.

I have found many great recipes on Pinterest, which I will start providing links to as soon as I figure out how to do that. I’ll upload a few pictures, too, so you can see what the food looks like in real life, from my own crock pot.

I find myself motivated to put meals together at the last minute, now, instead of just sitting around waiting for everyone to wail with hunger pains. And that motivation allows me to be creative with new meal ideas. Let me share one with you real quick:

Two nights ago, I purchased fresh chicken breast in bulk, as well as onions, jalapeno, and cilantro for the salsa. I had not actually decided what to do with the chicken, other than to freeze some in individual bags for later use. When dinner time came around, I had about a cup of salsa in a bowl that would not fit in the bags I was freezing.

I threw the leftover salsa in with some brown rice, 1 cup rice to 2 cups of water, and cooked it in the microwave for about 20 minutes in my stone crockware. I added about a teaspoon of cumin and a dash of salt, also.

Meanwhile, I heated up a can of cream of chicken soup, using 3/4 milk and 1/4 water. I cut two of the breasts into several pieces, then pounded the pieces out with my meat tenderizer. While the meat was sauteeing in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, I added a handful of choppped cilantro and 4 or 5 sliced jalapenos, in long strips, to the simmering soup.

After the chicken was grilled, I added the soup to the skillet, along with several ears of sweet corn from my garden. I put the lid on, turned the concoction to low, and prayed for the best.

It was a total experiment, but based on flavors that I know the family likes. And I must say, it was a complete success.

Now, some of you may be saying that you have 1,001 recipes using cream of chicken soup. Yes, so do I. And I’m aware that it’s not the healthiest thing in the world to serve your family. But I think that when used as a base for flavor, it’s okay. We drizzled a little on the chicken and rice, but the majority of the soup was leftover. In fact, I’m going to freeze the rest of it today for future use.

Smart, huh?

It feels good to have a hot meal for the family every night, even if it is something simple. And it feels like I am making progress in my journey.



And the battle begins… June 19, 2012

Filed under: Journey Musings — thenoblewife @ 3:55 pm

When my daughter attended 1st grade, the first scripture passage she memorized dealt with putting on the full armor of God.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Eph. 6:12-13

 Sometimes, I think we see our battles coming. Like the soldier who sees the smoke from the enemy’s camp in the horizon before him, we often know we are in the midst of a battle.

But sometimes, even in the midst of a battle, we find ourselves weary. Seeking rest, we close our spiritual eyes and allow the enemy to sneak up on us, even when we should know better.

This week, I feel like that has happened in my marriage.

Here I am, trying to take this noble journey, trusting God to lead my family in the direction we need to be led, but I am forgetting to put on my spiritual armor. And as a result, the enemy has found a chink in my protection.

This week, thenoblehubby and I have been on a roller coaster ride of elation, frustration, and exasperation. We have gone from complete confidence in our step of faith to complete despair and lack of faith.

 Now, we have not actually said that we have lost faith. Of course not. If someone were to ask, I would say, “Yes, we have complete faith that God is going to do this…”

But our actions recently do not reflect that confidence. We have a spirit of fear about our finances. And that spirit of fear is causing us to attack each other in this battle. A lack of communication led to a misunderstanding about how much money was in one of our savings accounts, and to my husband and I battling each other instead of battling our true enemy.

So while he spent several hours rolling coins I sat on the couch watching Monster in Laws. Where should I have been? Gee, that’s easy…sitting with my husband on the bed, sorting and rolling coins. But I could not bring myself there because of my anger. Later, the words between us escalated and I found myself wondering why in the world God would give us the vision of ministry that He has given us when we can’t even stand to be in the same room at times. How can I think of unity in faith when I want to pinch his little head off?

Let me be very clear here…I love my husband with complete loyalty and fierce passion…but sometimes the passion turns ugly. I can despise as equally as I can love. Am I alone in this? I don’t think so. I bet there are times when you, too, look at the man you are married to and wonder, “Uh, what?”

Thankfully, the Lord restores things to their rightful place, and He gives me the sustenance to hold tight during those times when I become controlled by anger and not by Spirit. He reminds me that He will be glorified when I give those weaknesses over to Him.

So this morning, I reminded thenoblehubby via text that I could have taken that job…perhaps we made a mistake in not doing so. Because if I had taken the job, we would not be arguing about money.

Even as I typed the words, however, I knew it wasn’t true. I did not believe in my spirit that we had made a mistake, but I was wondering if he did.

His answer came quickly:

My fault…no more fighting about money…we will be ok

I confess, I still don’t see how it will happen. I look at the dollar signs going out and I know the ones coming in, and I don’t know how it’s going to happen. But knowing that my husband and I are both still standing firm, after we have done everything God told us to do…that gives me confidence and peace. I just needed to hear from him that yes, even when it gets tough, even when we fight, even when it looks impossible to the world, he knows we did the right thing.

A good friend told me last week that when you step out in faith and trust God with your finances, you will start finding money under rocks. I’m doing a lot of rock kicking this week. But I also need to do a lot more praying.

He has given us the armor for the battle, but it does us no good to praise Him for the victory but refuse to take up our weapons for the fight.

“…Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one…” Eph. 6:16



The Wife of Noble Character… June 6, 2012

Filed under: Journey Musings — thenoblewife @ 6:53 am

“Who can find a noble wife? She is worth far more than rubies…”  

Proverbs 31:10

If you are a Christian woman, you know exactly what the noble wife is. She is the scriptural example of a woman after God’s own heart.

The wife of noble character honors her husband in all circumstances, raises children who proclaim her to be blessed, and creates nearly every material thing her family needs through the diligent work of her hands. She manages a household staff, gives to those in need, and seeks the Lord in all things. She is the first one awake each morning and the last to lay her weary head on a pillow at night. Her home is immaculate, and she always possesses a spirit of joy.

The passage of scripture stops short of calling her perfect, but alas, that is merely semantics. We all know what and who she is: a portrait of who we should be.

Unfortunately, when many of us think of the wife of noble character, the above image probably comes to mind. That woman lives in a time and place that is  no longer a reality. If my sights are set on becoming that woman, then I might as well desire to be Angelina Jolie…both are equally impossible.

The Proverbs 31 woman, however, is not meant to be an archaic, radically feminist guilt trip. I know a lot of fine Christian women, but none of them live lives that are anything like the wife of noble character. It’s not that they don’t live their lives in a Godly manner, but they don’t fit the wife of noble character’s mold. Some do not have children. Some work outside of the home, and some do not. Some attend college full-time while trying to do all of those things. Some are single, and some are divorced. And none have household staff!

I believe that the purpose of this scripture is not to corral us all into a cookie-cutter frame of thinking, but to remind us that  God has standards of excellence in everything. Our responsibilities and titles change in different seasons of our lives, but the call to excellence does not. Our focus, then, should be on striving for excellence in all aspects of our lives. And if we strive to become wives, mothers, and women who please the Lord and reflect Him in everything we do, the fruit of our efforts will be excellence.

I certainly fail many, many times when it comes to reflecting that level of excellence. When my husband stumbles in the dark of our bedroom at 4:30 am, mumbling under his breath about having to wear a dirty pair of pants to work because I have not done the laundry, I know that he, just like the Psalmist, also cries out “Who can find a noble wife?” Or when I lose my temper because the dog pees on the couch, and then I scream at the kids for not walking her, I know that they must be thinking, “Hmmm…yeah, I’ll rise up and call mom something…”

In my heart, I desire greatly to be the wife of noble character. But it has taken me a long time to get to the place where I have an understanding of what that means for my life, and what I need to do to get there. I have lost that focus as I’ve become busy, and now I want to change it.

My husband and I are on the cusp of being empty nesters as our two youngest children are in the last few years of high school. The Lord has impressed upon me that I have a very small window of time to be with my family under one roof, and that I need to focus on them for this season in my life. In order to be the mother they need and the wife my husband needs, I need to find a way to balance my priorities and strive for that excellence in everything I do.

It has also caused me to realize that what I have thought was an attempt at being that wife of noble character the last few years has been a mirage. While trying to work full-time, attend college full-time, and be a good wife and mother, I’ve ended up stretched so thin that I’ve been unable to  maintain a healthy balance in my life. I have fought depression and anxiety, I’ve developed unhealthy eating habits, and I’ve become so weary that there is nothing left to give to the Lord in our relationship. And that is not the life He wants me to lead.

About 4 months ago, the Lord began stirring in my spirit a sense of being unsettled. I was teaching at a Christian school, working on my master’s degree, and struggling to balance those commitments along with my home and family responsibilities. I thought that I was doing what He wanted me to do.

So when I heard Him tell me to separate myself from my job, I was confused. I loved my students as if they were my own children. My teenagers attended school where I worked, and it was the only school they had ever known. Why would God call them away from friends and teachers they loved, and me away from my ministry? I became confused and distressed, and I stopped sleeping.

At the same time, the Lord began stirring inside of me a passion to do other things, things He had told me years ago to put on a shelf unti the time that He asked me to take them up again. I was excited, but fearful. After several months of prayer and seeking pastoral counsel, and battling my flesh like no battle I have ever been in, my husband and I stepped out in faith. I turned down the offer of a job at my school and pulled my children out.

It’s not going to be easy making do without my paycheck, but I do believe that He has a plan to meet all of our needs during this time. I’m creating this blog to chronicle my journey…my noble journey…towards becoming the wife of noble character that I know He is calling me to be in this season of my life. Everything about my home, my marriage, and my career has come under the microscope of evaluation as my husband and I seek the direction that the Lord is pointing us in.

I invite you to share that journey with me and my family. At times, you may learn more about me than you care to know. But I desire your questions and comments and I need your encouragement.

Perhaps you are on your own noble journey…

If so, then what is God calling you to do at this season in your life? What changes is He asking you to make? What are your struggles, and what are your victories?

Are you reflecting that excellence that He desires?