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diligence

2 Jan

I’m back today talking about the next two verses in my study on Proverbs 31.  I didn’t mean to skip last week but it happened because of two little words: THE HOLIDAYS.

Need I say more?

My thoughts on the next two verses are pretty short and sweet. In comparison to my other posts in this series. The next two verses are:

“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” Proverbs 31:18-19

I’ve really taken this past week to think on, pray over and really meditate on these two verses. And what I think it comes down to is DILIGENCE.  She is diligent.

The first part of the verse says that she sees that her trading is profitable.  I personally think that this means that she really sees that ALL she does is profitable. And profitable according to the dictionary means: beneficial or useful. So it doesn’t JUST mean financially profitable. She makes sure that all she does is beneficial. Beneficial to her husband, her family, her friends, her work, her ministry. ALL she does is beneficial and with a purpose.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She COMPLETES what she’s started. And she does it well. She chooses to do the things that are only of benefit. She is not a ‘yes’ woman. She knows her limit and how full to fill her plate. And of those things that she fills her life with, she completes the tasks at hand. She is literally up late working. And being diligent with what she’s committed to.

In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

Not only do I think that she was DEFINITELY up late sewing her kiddos clothes from the previous days play, but I also think this verse goes hand in hand with what I just talked about.

DILIGENCE.

She is diligent in the details, holding the distaff and grasping the spindle. Diligence means constant and earnest effort to accomplish what was undertaken. To be diligent in your work, your life, your family requires constant effort. But to truly have the freedom to be diligent in your life, it means we have to chose what we do WISELY. We can’t do or accomplish it all. We need to make sure that what we are setting out to do will truly be beneficial to our families and our lives. And then work at those things with commitment and diligence. Starting what we can accomplish and then accomplishing what we start.

There’s not one thing about this Proverbs 31 woman that doesn’t amaze me. And still in today’s time, we can learn so much from her and God’s design for us as women.

Be encouraged today. Start this new year out not by taking on too many things that you can’t complete them all. But by deciding what is beneficial and working at those things with commitment and DILIGENCE.

Easier said than done, but so worth it.

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vineyards

19 Dec

This is a long one, but worth it I think. If you’re needing some encouragement, please read on!

I took a tiny break from my study in Proverbs 31 and not on purpose at all. I seriously got caught up on my work and realized that I hadn’t blogged in days. Totally not like me. I heart blogging and hate when theres gaps of time when I can’t get to it. But sometimes, you have to just let go of the things that you can’t get to. There were certain days that I literally couldn’t do one more thing. Even blogging. So I took a breath and just let it go. But now I’m starting to feel caught back up and I’m diving in again.

Oddly enough, this weeks verses that I’m studying are about WORK. They are:

‘She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.’ Proverbs 31:16-17

This woman WORKS. And she works HARD. I mean, aren’t you kind of tired FOR her already? I think it’s interesting that these two verses are in here. And it makes me wonder what we can take away from it and how we can apply it to our own lives and families.

First, she considers a field and buys it. Whether this woman is wanting to buy a field to plant a garden to help feed her family or to actually plant a vineyard to profit from it FOR her family, the keys here that jump off the page at me are that she considers it. And she buys it.

DUH Jess. The Bible clearly says that.

Well, I think it’s important and not something that we should just breeze past. And because I actually have A LOT to say on these two verses, I’ll cut to the chase on this first half. She’s considering the field BEFORE she buys it because that’s what’s wise to do. She’s probably praying about it, thinking about it, and getting counsel on it. CONSIDERING it. Weighing all the options. She’s not just jumping in head first without knowing what she’s getting into. She’s considering ALL of the options and what these decisions will mean for her family, seeing as that this is most likely some sort of business opportunity for her. It’s so important to wait on things and on decisions. And to honestly pray about them. And not just go on a feeling we have inside ourselves. CONSIDER it. All of it.

Next it says she BUYS it. It doesn’t say she borrows the money to buy it. She doesn’t finance it from the bank. She doesn’t ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’. She just buys it. It means she’s saved up enough money for it and she pays for it in cash. Now, I’m not passing any judgement on anyone who might be in a world of debt. Or using credit cards. Or borrowing money to make ends meet. We have quite a bit of debt ourselves that we are STILL trying to get rid of. I SO get it. We’ve made some really crappy mistakes financially in the past. But Jason and I together have clearly learned the lesson. We’ve learned what the Bible says about debt and about borrowing money. And it’s something we’re working hard to put behind us. And the good news is that we’re getting there. And it’s because of verses like this one, which don’t tiptoe around the issue of debt. She BUYS it. It’s hers, completely paid in full. Zero debt. No financial burden of debt. It’s pretty clear, if you ask me.

It THEN says ‘out of her EARNINGS she plants a vineyard’. Again, she’s not borrowing money. She’s working hard and earning it to be able to afford to do something she’s always wanted or loved or maybe NEEDS to do. Regardless of what she’s trying to do with her money, she’s EARNING it. She’s saving her pennies, being a good steward with what she’s being given, praying and considering her options and then spending her money wisely.

Then she plants a vineyard.

This might seem like a really insignificant detail. But I TOTALLY disagree. Have you ever planted a vineyard? Or known anyone who’s planted a vineyard? ME NEITHER. So I don’t know a lot about vineyard planting and about growing grapes and about turning it into wine. I’m not even going to pretend that I do. BUT, what I DO know is that planting and caring for a vineyard is a LOT of work. Or what I can imagine to be a lot of work. A lot of laboring work that’s exhausting, time consuming and not rewarding in the beginning at all. It takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a lot of WORK.

Don’t you just want to hug this woman?

There’s seriously something to be learned here. She is a super hard worker. She’s not looking for the ‘get rich quick’ gimmicks. She’s not frustrated that the fruit of her labor isn’t exploding immediately. She is being faithful with where she’s at right now, diving into her work every day with very little reward. I DO know that growing a vineyard can take YEARS. Years of waiting and working and being faithful before you see any fruit of your labor. And I’m amazed at this woman even more. She is faithful in her work, every single day. It’s not always easy. It’s not hardly rewarding. But she KNOWS that that’s not what this life is about. And she works hard anyways doing what she’s called to do. Faithful that her work will pay off and that God will bless her greatly.

Next it says that she sets about her work vigorously and that her arms are strong for her tasks. I looked up the word vigorously in the dictionary and it means strong, active, forceful and even robust. This woman is not lazy by any stretch of the imagination. She is energetic in her tasks. Can you honestly say that YOU are working energetically in the work YOU’VE been called to do right now? Or are you doing just enough to skate by because frankly, you’re exhausted? I know that it’s hard. Trust me. There are plenty of days that I just want to lie down, have a good cry and not face half of the things I need to do that day. And I honestly love my work! I KNOW how overwhelming it is to be a mom and to consider all that you’re doing as your WORK. It’s a huge load to bear. And we’re all doing it every day!

But what if we changed our mindset just a smidge? What if we looked at our WORK as our vineyards. Something that needs to be slowly nurtured and cared for EVERY day. Something that needs a lot of time put into it and that doesn’t come with a basket full of rewards right away. We should be working faithfully every day, regardless the reward or lack thereof. I know even in the area of motherhood, the rewards are far and few between. But shouldn’t I be treating THAT alone as a vineyard?? Carefully and intentionally and FAITHFULLY pouring my time and energy into them is definitely something that won’t be abounding in rewards right away. But what you sow you will reap. And the rewards in the area of mothering will come, if not for a long time. When the days are long and hard, I’m going to start thinking about my work as my vineyard.

The end of the passage says that her arms are strong for her tasks. And they are strong because she works hard. She physically works all day long, and she has for years. Her body CAN withstand all that the day holds. It doesn’t say she’s weary. Her arms are ready to pick up children all day long. They are ready to lug groceries into the house from the car. And to carry loads and loads and loads of laundry upstairs. She’s strong. And ready to take on the day. And prepared to handle whatever might be thrown at her. Whatever her tasks may be. And they all look different for all of us. That’s the beauty of it.

I know this post has been kind of long. But I hope it’s encouraged you. Your life today might seem tough. It might seem like you’re working SO HARD and there’s no end in sight. Or like you’re not getting anywhere and there’s nothing great about what you’re doing. And I would strongly disagree. I encourage you to view your tasks and your work as your vineyard. Work that will NOT go in vain and that will one day we blooming with rewards that have been cultivated by YOU for a long time. The fruits of your labor will not go unnoticed by our God who’s entrusted you with so much. Whether that be with your children or your day job or both. He sees us in the trenches every single day. Stay faithful to what he’s given you. Press on and know that someday all the work you’re doing now will be SO worth it. You ARE strong. You ARE capable. And you can do this. I know you feel tired and weary because I feel it too. All the time. But refocusing your mind on what your work really means in the kingdom of God will make all the difference in your life.

Think of all of it as your vineyards. And vineyards certainly don’t appear overnight. But rather, they take years of faithful, vigorous, work. But it’s SO worth it in the end.

a plan

1 Dec

There is a lot to learn from the next verse in my study through Proverbs 31. And NO, I’m not going to convince you that you should sleep less and get up when it’s dark.

Ok I am a little bit. HA.

I’m a huge believer in what this next verse is telling us. And while I KNOW there are MANY of us who CANNOT GET OUT OF BED before the sun comes up, I do think there is still a lot to learn from this verse. And I think there is more than one way to make it applicable for your home and your routine. I do, however, on most days take this verse quite literally. Except I don’t have servant girls or maidens. That would be weird.

Ok WOW. The next verse I’m studying is:

‘She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.’ Proverbs 31:15

The very first part of this verse is super hard for most of us. It’s SUPER hard for me. But I can honestly tell you that I do it and it helps me TREMENDOUSLY. This woman that Proverbs 31 is talking about gets up when it’s still dark outside. She’s waking up before everyone in her home. And why? To work. To start her day preparing for her family, getting food cooked and ready. And making plans for her servant girls for the day that hasn’t officially started yet.

The bottom line? This woman has a PLAN.

I think this verse is specifically for the mammas out there. Can you apply it to your life if you aren’t married or if you don’t have children yet? Of course you can. No one is exempt here. But I think as a mom this verse is so vital to the functioning of our families.

I can actually tell you that I do this. After only three short years of owning my own business AND being a mom all at the same time, I can tell you that this has revolutionized the way my home is run. IF I can manage to do it. It’s not perfect because I like my sleep the same as the rest of us. But if I can manage to get a head start on the day before anyone else is up, the tone of my entire day is completely different.

If I’m rolling out of bed with my kids, I’m likely stumbling into the kitchen in DESPERATE need of some coffee. My kids are probably already screaming that they want milk and that they’re hungry. They need diapers changed and to go potty and hands washed and they can’t find their socks and he’s looking at me weird mommy!! I mean, there’s one THOUSAND different scenarios that could take place on any given morning! Am I right?? It’s pure insanity. The mornings can be chaos. If I wake up WITH the boys, getting a cup of coffee happens at pure luck. Let alone an entire PLAN FOR THE DAY? Forget it.

I’m a huge believer that we as wives are the thermostat of our homes. We set the ‘temperature’ within our home, so to speak. And keeping things cool, calm and collected is absolutely vital to every home I think. I know that if I wake up with the boys, I’m groggy, cranky and now stressed out because it’s all coming at me too fast. And I wasn’t ready for the little ones to be climbing on my legs AS MY TOES HIT THE FLOOR.

So I sacrifice on sleep a little bit. I try to get up before everyone so I can get a jump on the day. So I can get breakfast assembled in some fashion. And so I can have a cup of coffee to collect my thoughts about what needs to get done for the day. And I started doing that because of this verse. And it has totally changed my mornings and my approach to each day.

I’m not saying that you need to get up at 5:00 am with me every single morning. Each of us needs to do what works for your family. But I think even fifteen minutes before your kids get up will work too! What’s important to me about this verse, is that this woman knew exactly what HER family needed to make it harmonious. And for it to be an even keeled thermostat in her home. She would wake up before them however early or late that may have been, and she prepared breakfast and made a plan for the day. Her kids and husband wouldn’t wake up to find a woman who was a total basket case because her coffee hasn’t brewed fast enough. But a woman who has already had a cup (or TWO) of coffee, and getting ready for the day. Ready for THEM. And she has a plan.

I promise you that this doesn’t mean it has to look like it’s set in the 1950’s with bacon and eggs on the table at exactly 8:00 am. Trust me. Washing my hair is still a luxury and I am ALWAYS the last one dressed before we leave. It doesn’t always look pretty or perfect. BUT, on the days that I do get up before my family, my attitude DOES look different. Even if my hair isn’t washed and if yesterdays mascara is dripping down my face. By the time that Cruz and Rider get up, I am ready for them. I’m relaxed and even tempered. I’m awake, which is a plus. And I’ve likely read my Bible too. There’s no BETTER way to start my day than that.

It’s not always perfect. I’m really, really, really tired. I get it. But it’s totally worth it to me to be a little tired but to have a little quiet time in the morning to brace myself for the craziness that’s about to happen.

I admire this Proverbs 31 woman so much. I love that this verse isn’t talking about what all her friends do to make it work in their homes. It talks about HER getting up and doing what worked for HER family. I don’t think you need to get up super early to go milk the cows if that’s not what works for your family. But I do think it’s wise to figure out a way to have a plan of attack, so to speak. And whatever that may look like for your family, I think having some sort of a daily plan and putting it into action is what’s important here. Having a plan in your home each day means YOU are in control of the home. It’s not controlling you.

You are the thermostat of your home. It’s our jobs to make sure that everything stays balanced and stress-free. How can it be that if YOU aren’t balanced and stress-free?

Get up. Face the day. Have a plan. All of your hard work in your home WILL be blessed. I’m confident of that.

eager

14 Nov

I’m continuing in my Proverbs 31 series today. It’s been a long day, to be honest. Fitting for these next couple of verses, I think.

I have been a frazzled mess today. A scattered, stressed out, on the border of a panic attack mess today. And the truth is two things. I am too busy. And I haven’t been keeping my priorities straight. Probably because I’ve been too busy. So if you were in my home today, you would see a girl that does NOT reflect these verses AT ALL. I’m ashamed to say it. You would have seen me crying, on the verge of a panic attack last night, and stressed to the max.

I’ve struggled in the past big time with panic attacks and anxiety. Something that hasn’t come back to haunt me much until yesterday and today. And I’m REALLY good at putting on a good front that all is well (to the gals that I had lunch with today who had no idea!).

SO. Taking a few minutes to write this post and to just BREATHE for a few minutes is actually going to do me some good.

The next couple of verses that I’m going to chat about today are:

‘She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.’ Proverbs 31:13-14

I’m sure I could really pick apart this verse to some extent and talk about what wool and flax meant in that time and day. But in light of what I’m going through today, I want to hone in on one small part of this verse.

She works with eager hands. Eager is an interesting word to me. I always thought that it DID mean impatient, sort of. I thought it meant excited and that you CAN’T WAIT to do whatever it is that you’re doing. I mean, right?

Somehow, although I do honestly LOVE my job, I wouldn’t necessarily use eager to describe ANY kind of work. Who really wants to work? I mean, am I crazy in this? I just want to LAY DOWN. Especially today.

Today, one little synonym stood out to me when I went to look up the definition of the word EAGER. It was ENTHUSIASTIC. She works with enthusiasm. A zealousness for her work and for where God’s placed her in her life. There’s no discontent. There’s not wishing for different things in her life. Although, I can imagine that she likely had her moments- especially on the toughest days. She just works with enthusiasm. She is like a merchant ship, bringing her food from afar. She works hard, long hours. And she does it with enthusiasm.

And I’m sure she is exhausted.

There’s no panick attacks. There’s no frazzled, stressed out mess. There’s no crying or sobbing or discontent. There is no anger at her circumstances.

There IS enthusiasm. And eagerness for her work. To help take care of her family in THIS life in THIS set of circumstances that God has placed her in. She isn’t questioning it. She is working hard and making the best of it. Every day. And she is enthusiastic about it.

I have been everything BUT enthusiastic today. I have been kind of a nightmare, I’ll be honest. It’s been a pretty rough day. And although I’m sure I could have gained a lot more knowledge and insight from this verse, this is where I’m at. I’m being gently reminded to be eager and enthusiastic today in my work. And by ‘WORK’ I don’t just mean in my photography. I also mean- actually, I MOSTLY mean, in my home. Where is my enthusiasm and zealousness in my home? When there’s too much to do and I feel the panic rising, I need to remember to stop and to think about this woman. One who chooses joy every day and is delighted to be working hard and long for her husband and family. With whatever line of work God has given her in this lifetime.

Please be encouraged today. You are not alone if you’re feeling frazzled and stressed out. If you feel exhausted and tired in balancing it all. If you’re kids aren’t behaving the way you’d like. Or if your inbox is overflowing and your to-do list is miles and miles long.

I understand. That has been my day.

But be encouraged and remember this woman. A woman who lived a LONG time ago and who didn’t have very much. A woman who didn’t have running water, electricity, cars and cell phones. A woman who had to actually go FETCH her food. From AFAR. And she was STILL enthusiastic in her work. She STILL chose joy.

I think that God will constantly remind me to choose joy in my life. Even though I have SO much to be joyful over. It’s so easy for me to get bogged down and stressed out. But I want to work with eager hands. And an enthusiastic heart. And a joyful spirit.

It’s hard to do. But exactly what I needed reminding of today.

*Yes, this picture is me as a baby. In case you needed to laugh today! 🙂

full confidence

7 Nov

I started a new series that I’ll be aiming to post on Mondays until it’s completed. I’m pretty excited about it and hope you’ll be just as encouraged in it as I am!  I’ve really been trying to focus on Proverbs 31 about The Wife of Noble Character. Each week I’m trying to take a verse or two from it and dissect it and just really think on what is being said through it. I really want to lean into the wisdom that is inside these verses. There is so much- SO MUCH for me/us to learn from this woman. And there’s so much I neglect, but that I aspire to be when I read these verses. It’s inspiring, convicting and encouraging all at once.

I hope that this series encourages you too.

Last week, I only talked about verse 10 and what a wife of noble character means and is. Well, I scratched the surface of it, really, as I’m sure we could have enormous discussions on what it means to be a wife of noble character. If you’d like to read that post, you can check it out HERE. I’ve thought a lot about that this week, and it really has encouraged me. I’ve thought a lot about my character this week and what I do AND don’t like about it. And what I need to work on. It’s sort of humbling to think about your character, isn’t it? When I thought about whether or not my character was NOBLE or not, I was definitely convicted. But I was also encouraged because it showed me so much of what I desire to be.

This week I’m going to talk about verse eleven and twelve. They go hand in hand, I think. AND it’s really interesting that these verses follow a verse that talks about a woman/wife’s character. The verses are:

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12

I think these two verses go hand in hand here. As a wife of noble character, her husband can do nothing BUT have full confidence in her. Her character is excellent, exalted, magnificent. Wouldn’t YOU have full confidence in someone like that? Of course you would! Someone who has such excellent character can be nothing but trusted. Of course her husband has full confidence in her. Her character is incredible. It’s NOBLE. It then goes on to say that he isn’t missing anything that is of value when it comes to her. He fully trusts her. Although I know what the word ‘confidence’ means, I still wanted to check out its’ full definition, and this is the very first definition there is:

– full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing. Having every confidence in their ability to succeed.

This woman’s husband TRUSTS her. He BELIEVES in her. And he knows with full confidence that she will be successful at whatever it is that she does.

I think that the next verse, verse twelve, speaks to her very character right off the bat. It says that she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. Breaking this verse down, first I see that she BRINGS him good. It doesn’t say that she waits until he deserves it, presents it whenever she feels like it, or that she only gives it to him sometimes. It says she brings him GOOD not harm, ALL the days of her life. No exceptions. I think it’s so easy to forget this as wives. Isn’t it? It’s always really easy to think about what our husbands aren’t doing and to bring a critical spirit. It’s easier to focus on the negative, and to see the things that don’t get done.

I’m guilty of this sometimes.

When I think about what it means to bring good, NOT harm to our husbands, I think this can mean many, many things. It can mean just bringing a joyful spirit to your home. It can mean lifting him up when you’re around your peers, instead of talking negatively about him in front of other people. It can mean being his biggest supporter, no matter what life may bring, until the day you die. It can mean just being content in your life. Or just proud of him for working so hard. Or just because he’s an amazing dad. It can mean bringing words of affirmation into your home and lifting him up, even when you don’t feel like it.

It’ll look a little different for all of us in our lives. But what I’m reading doesn’t say WHAT good we are supposed to bring. But we are just supposed to bring it.

And we are called not to harm him. It doesn’t say that you can bring him harm a little bit if he really deserves it, or that you can just bring him down verbally behind his back a little bit because he really made you mad. It says that  no harm should be brought to him. He is protected by his wife, in many ways, ALL the days of her life. ALL of them.

And I think he has full confidence in her because of this. He KNOWS she’s got his back, come what may in this life time. And she also flourishes because he trusts her so much. What a beautiful, beautiful verse. One I never really took the time to ponder. I think a wife like this really starts from within. It starts with your character. Excellent character that does nothing but bleed out joy, happiness, trust and goodness. A character that moves you to go out of your way to bring your husband good to his life, ALL the days of yours. One where harming him isn’t even an option. She trusts him too. And it’s a really amazing cycle that I see here in these two verses.

I love being a wife. I really do. But it’s so easy to go about all the to-dos of the day and to forget to view your relationship as a ministry. As a mission field. It’s easy to forget that we are called too, to serve our husbands and to bring good to their lives. To let is spring from the depths of your character so it is a true reflection of your heart. Even three verses in, I’m seeing how important our characters as women really is. How matters of the heart really do matter. For what your character really is, is what will flow out. And what flows out spills onto others.

Onto our husbands. And our children even.

Our character is a direct reflection of where our heart really is. Who we REALLY are. And how we treat people. Most importantly, our husbands.

Phew. It’s heavy stuff to my heart. But so, so good.

more than rubies

30 Oct

I’m doing a study of Proverbs 31 on my own. I feel like I always find myself coming back to this passage in my life. And I feel like there’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from REALLY understanding what the passage is actually saying. I find myself constantly having a deep desire to BE this woman. And I know that I have a long way to go before I AM actually her. I wish I could actually know what woman Proverbs 31 is referring to.

Don’t you wish you knew?

I really look up to her. Is that weird? I find myself really WANTING to be all of these things. But it is SO hard. So I decided to somewhat dissect each verse- maybe one or two at a time- from this passage. I’m going to write my thoughts and what I’m getting out of it. I’d love for you to follow along and to gain inspiration of your own from this woman. I feel like it’s so easy to lose sight of what ACTUALLY is important in life as a wife, mom, and woman. And when I feel that way I often turn back to these written words of wisdom to find my way. And it really helps me to put things into perspective. And it really helps me to get my thoughts, actions, and life back on track.

So here’s some short, quick thoughts on the very first verse about the wife of noble character. Whoa. It’s already heavy, right? HA.

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

NOBLE character? WHO can find? This passage is describing a RARE woman. A woman who is hard to come by. One who is unique and who is cherished FAR more than even rubies. In a lot of countries, rubies are VERY precious stones and highly esteemed. This verse says that she is worth far more than that.

When I looked up the word noble in the dictionary, these are some of the words and phrases I found:

– of an exalted moral or mental character or excellence

– very impressive or imposing in appearance; stately; magnificent

– of an admirably high quality; notably superior; excellent

– famous; illustrious; renowned

You could fill in the word noble with any of those synonyms. A wife of MAGNIFICENT character. A wife of EXCELLENT character. A wife of RENOWNED character. A wife of EXALTED character. A wife of IMPRESSIVE character.

Who can find her? Because to those that DO find her, she is worth FAR MORE than RUBIES.

I know this isn’t groundbreaking. I know that I’m not revealing any brand new information here. But I AM going to admit to you that when I look at this verse this way, I am totally taken aback. The whole part of this chapter starts off by asking a question. Asking who really can find a woman or wife like this? Because she is rare. And she is precious. And she is very hard to find.

I’m not sure how to become this woman, exactly. But I know I want to be her. Already, one verse in, I desire to be her.