Shawna Atteberry

Writer, Editor, Researcher

Why I'm not having children

I’ve debated whether or not to write this post for the last couple of years. I’ve hesitated to write this post because Kelli Goff is right: The most controversial thing for a woman (especially a married woman) to say is “I don’t want to have children.”

For some reason the idea that not all people, including plenty of women, have the desire to become parents, and more specifically, the idea that not all people who can have children, should, remain two of the most taboo things any person, particularly any woman, can say out loud. While endless media coverage has been devoted to the so-called “mommy wars” between working moms and stay at home moms and those who are pro-choice and those who are not, the real gulf, is one so controversial that the media hardly covers it at all: the gulf between those who do not wish to become parents and everyone else who thinks that by shear of virtue of being on this planet and not being a serial killer, you should.

I grew up in a secular world that assumed I would have kids because I’m a woman, and I grew up in a sacred world that assumed the same. In fact, the Evangelical/Fundamental tradition I grew up in told me my highest calling in life was to be a wife and mother. By my early 30s I wasn’t sure I wanted to be married or have children. I had spent a year in Barcelona in 1997, and I liked the freedom of being single. I loved the idea that I could pick up and leave tomorrow if that’s what Godde wanted me to do. I loved my freedom. I was not sure marriage and children were worth what it would cost me. I changed my mind about marriage (I am happily married to my best friend), but I did not change my mind about having children. We are not having children, not because we can’t, but because we don’t want to. I’m ready to go off the birth control pill and decided it was time to just fix what I consider to be a problem: the possibility (however slight) that I might get pregnant. Tuesday I am going in for a tubal ligation. I am relieved. Not only will I get off the pill, there will be no more pregnancy fears. If I was still in my former tradition I probably wouldn’t say anything about the surgery. Or if I did, the automatic response would be: “Well you can always adopt.” Not having kids–choosing not to have kids–is not a conscious option in my former circles.

Now I go to church with two other married woman who made the decision not to have children (and there is another couple who don’t have children–I don’t know if they chose that or it just happened that way). Both of them are on the other side of 50 and have no regrets that they did not have children. The church I attend is fine with our decision not to have children. They don’t treat us like errant children who aren’t getting in line to go to recess. I no longer hear, “Oh you’ll change your mind” in that voice denoting someone patting your head because you’re the silliest, little kid they ever saw. I know how lucky I am. Even in the most progressive and liberal Protestant churches the assumption is, if you’re a woman, you’ll have children.

I was reminded when Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court how taboo it was for a woman not to choose to have children. As Keri Goff points out in her article:

Why has every major profile of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed the fact that they do not have children, as if it represents some boat they missed on the world tour known as life? Not to mention the veiled (and not so veiled) references about their sexuality that permeate cyberspace. As though no children = gay by default.

Could a political couple, who chose not to have children, even get elected in our country with its obsession over “family values” (whatever that is; hard to tell with all the family-values politicians committing adultery or some kind of fraud)? So with trepidation I confess that I do not want to have children, and that I am taking steps to make sure there are no future surprises. I know it’s the right thing for me and my family, and yes, my husband and I do make a family, children or no children. I grew tired of narrow definitions of family a decade ago when no one in society or church would recognize that I was part of a family, even if I wasn’t married. It didn’t seem to matter that I was a daughter, sister, aunt, and niece. What I wasn’t was all that mattered: I wasn’t a wife or mother. I still find this to be true now that I’m married. My husband and I aren’t a “real family” because we don’t want children. It’s not enough that we’re husband and wife.

I know there are those who will think I am selfish for not having children, and you’re right. I am selfish. I know how much time and energy it takes to raise kids. I know how large of an investment it is, and there is no return policy. I do not want to spend my time and energy raising kids. I want to spend my time and energy writing books. I am going to give birth and create new life: I’m just going to stick to giving birth in a metaphorical and spiritual sense.

I keep thinking that, of all places this should be OK is within the church. After all, Jesus redefined “family” in his teachings. For him family was not your biological kin but those who obeyed Godde: “But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother'” (Matthew 12:48-50). It should be fine for a Christian woman not have to have kids to fully follow the calling Jesus placed on her life, but it isn’t. It’s assumed that all other callings will be subsumed under The Call to Motherhood. My only response is no. My highest calling is not to be a mother. My highest calling is to be a writer. I can’t even say that my calling to be a wife beats out my call to write. I’ve been a writer ever since I could write (a good 34 or 35 years now), and I was making up stores before I could write them down. I’ve only been a wife for four years. This idea that I should suppress who I really am–a writer–to be something I am not and have no desire to be–a mother–is just un-Christlike considering what Jesus thought of biological families and how he treated women, especially single women.

I am glad that I found a church that does not believe every woman’s highest calling is to be a mother. I’m glad I’m in a place that recognizes my gifts and talents and encourages me to use them to build Godde’s kingdom in our world. Because there are plenty of Godde’s children that need our love and care who are not part of any other family. I’m hoping that my writing reaches a few of these people and draws them closer to Godde.

Does It Really Mean "Helpmate"?

I had just started working on my thesis in seminary. Tired of being asked if I was going to seminary to be a pastor’s wife, I decided to write a biblical theology of single women in ministry, showing that Godde’s calling for a woman was not dependent on her marital state. My thesis advisor, Dr. Joseph Coleson (professor of Old Testament Studies at Nazarene Theological Seminary), looked at my outline and thesis proposal and told me that I needed to add a chapter addressing the Creation Story in Genesis 1:1–2:25. He thought that I needed to deal with the second creation account found in Gen. 2:5-25, where woman is created to be an ezer cenegdo to the man. If the Hebrew phrase simply meant, “helper” then could a woman hold a leadership position in the church, let alone a single woman? But if that isn’t what ezer cenegdo meant, then that would open up the vistas I needed to write and successfully defend my thesis. Defend, not in front of the professors at seminary, but to defend against those who say woman was created to be a wife and mother, and only a helpmate for her husband. Dr. Coleson said the translators who translated our Bibles into English know that “helpmate” is a gross mistranslation of the Hebrew phrase, and he did not see how they could look themselves in the mirror day-to-day keeping that misintepretation in the Bible. It is the only time I saw him angry. So what does this little Hebrew phrase mean?

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Company Girl Coffee: Twas the Week Before Christmas

Company Girl logoHappy Friday Company Girls! The coffee is on and hot!

Dreaming in the New Year

If it wasn’t for Home Sanctuary I don’t know how neglected this poor little blog would be. But the reason I haven’t written much is that I’m thinking and dreaming and planning for the upcoming year. I’m dreaming what I want my business to become and who My Right People are and how much I want to help the people who come to me. So in the busyness of the week of getting to head out to see my family in Oklahoma, I’ve been dreaming and planning and spinning possible futures in the back of my head. What are Right People? It’s a concept Havi at The Fluent Self (shes @havi on Twitter) came up with (and I will let her explain):

Thought 2: Your stuff doesn’t have to be helpful for everyone.

It doesn’t.

It just needs to be helpful for the people who need it in that form in that moment.

Those are your Right People. The ones who need your voice.

Anyone who doesn’t find it helpful? Probably not one of your Right People. Or not ready yet.

That person can go. Be there for the ones who do need what you have to say.

That’s what I really want to focus in on this year: My Right People instead of throwing stuff all over the wall and seeing what sticks. I want to envision My Right People and help them and make this a safe place for them. So that’s whay I’ve been doing business wise. You can find out more about Right people here and here.

We Loved Our Presents!

Let me preface this section by saying that The Hubby and I always travel at Christmas to see family. This year we’re heading to Oklahoma to see mine. Before we go we have our own Christmas and open our presents. So we always open our presents from each other early. They all came in this week and were wrapped, so we opened them Wednesday. Actually the really, really cool present I got My Hubby came in that day, and I couldn’t wait to see what he thought of it! I bought him this beautiful singing bowl from Fabeku Fatunmise at Sankofa Song whom I met on Twitter (he’s @fabeku). The Hubby loved it! And the bowl sings so beautifully! Tracy really got the hang of it last night and all of these gorgeous tones were washing over me. So glad I met Fabeku and learned about his sound healing ministry! He also included his CD, which I am going to have to wrestle out of The Hubby’s hands so I can listen it. He also loved his other gifts: Buckley Balls from Think Geek, and a space-age pen that writes underwater and in zero gravity. This pen has been going up with the astronauts since 1965. I love My Geek.

I will preface my gifts with I LOVE TO COOK. When you’re a person who LOVES TO COOK, pots and pans that are on their last leg and about to give up the ghost are very depressing. So I’d dropped a hint or two about new pots and pans. You should see them Company Girls. They are beautiful: triply, with one of the triplies being stainless steel. The triply insures they heat evenly and hold the heat. They are bright and shiny; they are begging to be cooked in. I finally have a 5 quart Dutch Oven! (My previous set claimed a Dutch Oven but….um…..no.)  Squeee! I am so in love. I also adore my other gift. After we first married, Tracy would leave little red bows hidden all over the place for me to find. Mainly around coffee stuff so he knew I would find it. 🙂 But then the red bows start collecting up and you don’t know what to do with them. My Honey came up with a solution; my second gift: The Red Bow Tree. It’s a beauitful fall resin tree with a little snow on the branches. So now when red bows start appearing in expected and unexpected places I have a place to put them. I always thought I never had a sappy romantic bone in my body, then My Hubby came along. Aah, the sap that man has turned me into. But it’s okay because he buys me kitchen stuff. 🙂

Getting ready to leave

I’ve ran errands most of the week to get ready to leave: bank, Target, The UPS Store, library, etc. I need to go to the grocery store today to pick up a couple of items we’ll need over the weekend and clean house. I don’t want the cat sitter to be walking into a mess. We take off to OK next week, and I won’t have internet connection, but that’s okay because I will have a boatload of holiday baking to do. My Mom doesn’t like to bake that much, but I love to, and since we’re coming in early, I am going to do all the Christmas baking! Whoo-hoo! Then there’s all the eating, opening presents, eating, catching up with everybody, eating: you know how it goes.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The So-called "Biblical" Marry a Strong-ER Christian Man Myth

I regularly do searches on Twitter to see what people are talking about within the world of Christiandom, especially when it comes to women. Some form of this tweet pops up on a regular basis:

If u r a strong Christian woman, marry a strong-ER Christian man or you’ll be frustrated. (I take no responsibility for the horrible grammar.)

I have a confession to make:

Hello, my name is Shawna (Everyone: Hello Shawna!) I am a strong  Christian woman who did NOT marry a strong-ER Christian man. I married the man that I am a power equal to.

Everyone: Huh?

I married the man that I am a power equal to, which happens to be the literal translation of the phrase in Genesis 2 that is normally mistranslated as “helpmate.” In Genesis 2:18 Godde says, “I will make him an help meet for him.” And yes readers that is the good ole King James Version because the KJV is the only translation to translate ezer cenegdo correctly. Notice it does not say helpmate. It says help meet. In Old English meet means equal. Godde will make the human a help equal to him. Woman was created to be an equal. Normally when ezer (help) is used it refers to Godde. Someone or the entire nation of Israel is calling on God to come and help them. Help is not a term of subordination, not if the same word is used to describe Godde. Ezer has another meaning: power. Both help and power come from the same root in Hebrew. So ezer can be translated as either help or power: the reason you can help someone is because you have to power to do so. The second  part of the phrase, cenegdo means to stand face-to-face, or stand as equals. The literal translation of ezer cenegdo is a help/power equal to. Woman was created to be a help/power equal to man.

This totally changed my view of what I was looking for in a husband. Actually it didn’t change it. I just hadn’t had the words to describe what I wanted before. I always planned on marrying an equal; an equal who respected me and wholly supported me in what Godde called me to do. Now I knew who I was looking for: I was looking for the man that I was a power equal to. And I knew he’d be quite a man. I’m one heck of a force of nature to be reckoned with. It turns out the power I am equal to was right under my nose: one of my best friends. After eight years of being friends, we married, and he is the power that I am equal to. I am very happy that I did not marry someone stronger than me spiritually. I married someone who was equal with me spiritually. As far as I’m concerned that’s the only way to go.

I’m not the only one to think so. Priscialla and Aquila thought that too. Priscilla and Aquila are always mentioned together, and most of the time Priscilla’s name comes first in Acts and in Paul’s letters. This was unheard of that time. Wives’ names NEVER came before their husbands’ names at that time, in that culture. As far as Priscilla and Aquila, Paul, and Luke were concerned, Priscilla was not the property of Aquila, she was his ezer cenegdo, his equal. Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos together, they made tents together, and they pastored home churches together. Priscilla was the power equal to Aquila. Considering they planted churches in at least 3 cities across the Roman Empire (including Rome), I’d say that being equals worked out pretty well for them.

In other words, you as a Christian woman, will not be frustrated if you do not marry a man who is spiritually stronger than you. That’s not who you are suppossed to marry. You’re supposed to marry the man that you are a power equal to. Or anyway that’s what Genesis says and that’s what Priscilla and Aquila lived out. I’m pretty happy with the arrangement myself.

Related Posts:

Does It Really Mean “Helpmate”?
Career Women of the Bible: Teachers, Elders and Co-workers

(On Twitter I’m @shawnaatteberry.)

Catherine Clark Kroeger: Thou Shalt Not Tempt the Lord Thy God

This week’s article in Christians for Biblical Equality’s newsletter, Arise! is written by Catherine Clark Kroger. Catherine has worked for years to bring attention to domestic violence in the church and worked at educating churches and pastors about domestic violence and how to help both the victims and abusers.

“Thou Shalt Not Tempt the Lord Thy God”

“I am overcome with joy because of your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to my enemy but have set me in a safe place” (Psalm 31:7-8, NLT).

When I answered the telephone, I found myself listening to a weeping woman. Between sobs she explained that every three weeks or so her abusive husband strangles her into unconsciousness. Though a professing Christian, he suffocates her with pillows, locks her in closets, and leaves her in terror for her life. She has turned for help to several pastors who call the couple into their office for joint counseling. I explained that couples’ counseling is inadvisable in situations of abuse, and she acknowledged that things were always worse at home after a counseling session.

She has come to realize the danger of her situation and was prepared to leave until a Christian friend told her that she must not break the covenant that she made at the marriage altar and must believe that God would work a miracle of transformation in her husband. I pointed out that her husband was the one who had broken the covenant promise to love and cherish her. A covenant is a solemn agreement between two parties, both of whom must abide by their promises. If one party refuses to honor the agreement, the covenant becomes null and void.

But this victim, who desired above all things to do God’s will, had been told that she must give the Lord enough time to change her abuser, even if that meant remaining in a life-threatening situation. I asked if she remembered the temptation of Jesus when Satan took him to the top of the pinnacle in the temple. Cleverly selecting a Bible verse, the devil urged Christ to throw himself down so that angels would bear him up and keep him from danger. But Jesus staunchly refused to risk his life in the expectation that God would perform a supernatural act. He responded “It is written ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God’.” It was not a question of who could quote the best Bible verse but who could honor God and respect the laws of the natural universe.

Jesus refused to defy the force of gravity and put God on the spot for a dramatic intervention. We should not expect God to provide protection when we have taken unreasonable risks that could have been avoided. Certainly the advice provided by well-meaning Christians did not consider this victim’s safety a paramount issue. More than that, it did not consider the welfare of the abusive husband. His dangerous conduct may well have been intended to intimidate his spouse rather than to cause her actual harm, but how very easily his conduct might have escalated one step further into a terrible crime! The conduct is already very wicked and totally inconsistent with God’s purposes for a Christian family.

Separation would provide an environment that would be safer for both victim and perpetrator. A time apart would enable each partner to address some of the other issues that must be faced. The Bible tells us to flee temptation rather than continuing to dwell where we are most likely to fall into sin. We pray “deliver us from evil” but we also need to remove ourselves from situations or circumstances that can lead us into grievous sin and harm.

Indeed, David praised God for having restrained him from acting on his murderous intentions (1 Sam. 25:26, 32-34, 39) and prayed “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins” (Ps. 19:13; see also 51; 119:29; 120:2; 139:12-14; 141:3-4). Four times the Lord exhorted his followers to pray that they would not fall into temptation, (Matt. 2:41; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:40, 46), and he himself prayed that his own would be kept from evil (John 17:15).

God is able to keep us from falling (2 Thess. 3:3; Jude 24), but let us not tempt the Lord our God, nor place others where temptation may assail them. Rather let us look for his place of safety and peace.

Catherine Kroeger

Catherine Clark Kroeger (Ph.D., University of Minnesota)  is an adjunct associate professor of classical and ministry studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is an author, president emerita of Christians for Biblical Equality, and president of Peace and Safety in the Christian Home (PASCH).

Company Girl Coffee 9/18/09

Company Girl logo

This week I realized how important and vital self-care is. So Important! I did not realize this until Wednesday. After last month’s bout of depression, My Fantabulous Hubby decided I needed some pampering. So he bought me a spa day. Oh. My Goodness. I have never felt so relaxed or in body ever. And I feel so much better even two days later. I’m still relaxed and at peace. My mind is not racing like it normally does. I really have to prioritize taking care of myself. It makes such a huge difference.

My major epiphany is that I HAVE to take care better care of myself. Self-care has to be a priority, a top priority, and not something I do if I have time. Major, major revelations on how badly I treat my body, and that has to change.

I love how my friend Hiro put this on another friend, Havi’s, blog:

When the care and cultivation of your life is your first priority, your kingdom flourishes, far from the clash and clamor of marching bands, armies or shoes hurled in any direction. Flourishing kingdoms nourish the world around them, the way a river nourishes the land through which it flows–and are nourished by it in turn.

(If you’re wondering “Sovereignty? What the heck is she talking about?” Havi had two marvelous posts up on handling people who throw shoes at us, Destuckifying When the Shoes Are Flying and Sovereignty Casserole. And More About Shoes. If you’re not following both of these wonderful women, you really should be.

I’m preaching Sunday, and the sermon is going well. I’ve really enjoyed researching the Proverbs 31 Woman, and now I need to make some decisions and write the sermon. I’m not totally freaking out, which is the normal Friday procedure. So that’s good. Some of my musings on the Proverbs 31 Woman can be find here and here. After coffee hour Sunday, two psychologists in our church are going to be talking about spirituality and mental health (this is Mental Health Awareness month). I’m really looking forward to it.

I also said no to something I could have went to tomorrow, and I wanted to go to, but it was just going to crunch things up too much. So I said no, so I wouldn’t be freaking out about the sermon and how much I’m behind. Very glad I did that.

I started Charles de Lint’s new book last night, The Mystery of Grace. Charles is one of my favorite writers, and I am so happy for a new book. The man can weave worlds and characters like no one else.

I had a really good week, and I am thankful for it. How was your week?

(There are no affliate links in this post.)

Proverbs 31: A "Capable" Wife, Huh?

Yesterday in Sermon Meanderings: The Proverbs 31 Woman, I told you that I discovered something about this woman earlier this week, I had never known. While doing research for my sermon this Sunday, I was looking at The New Interpreter’s Bible, and I discovered that there is a ton of military imagery in the poem! I’m not talking about a reference or two here. I mean there is military imagery used throughout this poem to describe this woman. I grew up hearing that this woman was two things: obedient and submissive (two traits that are not even in these verses). But all of the military images through this passage shows that she was a strong and decisive woman.

The first military image is the the first word used to describe her, “capable”: “A capable wife, who can find?” The Hebrew word, hayil, is used to describe men as “strong,” “mighty,” and “with competence and vigor,” especially in warfare. At it’s very root it means power; a power that is able to acquire strength through gaining money and/or raising an army. Right off the bat, we are told this is a strong woman who knows how to get things done.

The second military image is found in verse 11: “[her husband] will lack no gain.” The literal meaning of gain is spoils from war or booty. In the NIB, Raymond C. Van Leeuwen notes that using this word in this passage is strange: it “suggests the woman is like a warrior bringing home booty from her victories.” She goes out and fights for what her family needs. She makes sure her family has everything they need to survive.

The next martial image is in verse 16: “She considers a field and buys it.” The word “buy” may not be such a good translation of the Hebrew word. Literally, she “takes” the field, and this word is normally used of an army taking a city or a region. The verb means to conquer and subdue a territory. This verse shows the woman looking at a wild field and figuring out how to tame it and subdue it into a vineyard. In the Judean highlands turning a plot of land into a vineyard took a massive amount of work. The soil is rocky, and all of the rocks have to be removed, then the land terraced, and the rocks built into a wall, so that the vineyard doesn’t wash down the hillside at the first good rain. It also had to be terraced to make sure that enough water stayed on the land so the vines could grow. Like a general she surveys her battlefield and plans her attack. Anyone who has ever gardened knows this is not an over-exaggeration.

In the very next verse our Valiant Woman “girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong” or in the good old King James Version, she “girded up her loins” (one of my all time favorite KJVisms). Men normally gird up their loins in the Bible for a heroic deed, normally a deed that involves fighting. Having a strong arm is another Biblical metaphor for being battle ready. Van Leeuwen has this to say: “‘She puts her hands to’ is an idiom that has military connotations of mastery, thus reinforcing the heroic character of the woman’s activities.”

The end of the poem comes back to where we began with the word hayil. Here it describes the woman’s actions when her husband compares her to other women: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Here hayil is translated as “done excellently.” The Valiant Woman has done deeds of strength and power that again refer to warfare and gaining wealth. “Surpass them all” is another “idiom that often refers to military activity.”

Van Leeuwen concludes that this a heroic hymn that cast this woman in her daily life as a warrior who fights and brings the best to her family. He wraps up the Reflections part of this passage with this observation:

The use of masculine images in praise of a woman (vv. 17, 25) must be considered in the light of the poem’s masculine audience. If ancient Israel admired the man of war (even Yahweh in Exodus 15:1-3) who defended God’s people from their enemies, and if Israelite males, like men throughout history, were sinfully prone to demean women as the “the weaker sex,” the praise of woman here is designed to alter errant male perceptions of women. The heroic terms of strength usually applied to men are here given to a woman so her splendor and wisdom may be seen by all.

Again we see in looking at the women of the Bible that gender roles just were not that set in stone as some people want them to be. Very masculine imagery is used to describe the woman’s life as a wife and a mother. And being a wife and mother is not contained to the home. The woman goes out and gets a plot of land in shape to plant a vineyard. She plants the vineyard with “the fruit of her own hand,” her own money. She also goes out and sells what she and her serving girls make to the local merchants, bringing in income for the family. She is a wife, mother, entrepeneur and business woman. And all of these roles are described with masculine and military imagery. I guess it just goes to show what I’ve been saying for the last few years: feminine and masculine gender roles are just not set in stone for all time in the Bible. We cannot go back to “biblical” manhood and womanhood because there is no such thing.

Related Post
Sermon Meanderings: The Proverbs 31 Woman

Sermon: Dame Wisdom in Action
Poem: In the Beginning Was

This post is based on “Proverbs” by Raymond C. Leeuwen in The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 5, pp. 260-4.

There are no affliate links in this post.

Sermon Meanderings: The Proverbs 31 Woman

I’m preaching this Sunday at church. I specifically asked my pastor if I could preach because of the text from The Hebrew Scriptures: Proverbs 31:10-31. I used to hate this woman. If you come from a conservative or fundamentalist Christian background, you know what I’m talking about. Every single, freaking Mother’s Day the (male) pastor brushes off this passage and preaches how a good Christian woman ought to act. She’s the best wife, mother, and homekeeper of them all. She eschews the public sector and takes care of her home and family. She keeps her house clean, obeys her husband and submits to him, is a wonderful mother, and gets the meals on the table on time. She’s SuperWifeMom.

By the time I hit my teens I was groaning and tuning the pastor out. By the time I hit my early 30s, still single, not sure I wanted to get married, and was pretty sure I didn’t want the whole kids thing, I stopped going to church on Mother’s Day. If there was one Saturday to conveniently forget to set my alarm clock and not make it to church on Sunday, without feeling guilty about it, it was Mother’s Day. If there is one thing I love about liturgical churches that follow the lectionary, it is this: I do not have to put up with Mother’s Day motherdolotry every single year.

Unfortunately for the conservative evangelical background I grew up with, it was beat into my head that every good Christian reads the Bible for herself. She sees what is there, so she won’t fall into error. This really backfired where I am concerned. I did read my Bible. I wanted to know what it said, and how I should act. And I noticed something. I noticed that what I heard all those years about the Proverbs 31 was not all of the story. That this woman was not restricted to her home and family. I got to know an entirely different woman when I read her story for myself and saw what was there and what wasn’t there (a lot of time what isn’t there is more important than what is. It takes a lot of reading and questioning to peel away all the traditions and interpretations we grew up with, regardless of our tradition.)

Now It’s Your Turn

I am going to post Proverbs 31:10-31, and I want you to answer these questions:

  • What does the passage say?
  • What doesn’t the passage say?
  • Does what is there match up with what I’ve heard about this woman?

I want to know what you discover and find, so please leave a comment because you will see things I don’t see. All of us will see something different, and all of our views will develop a more complete picture of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Proverbs 31:10-31

10A capable wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

11The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

12She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

13She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

14She is like the ships of the merchant,

she brings her food from far away.

15She rises while it is still night

and provides food for her household

and tasks for her servant-girls.

16She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17She girds herself with strength,

and makes her arms strong.

18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

19She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

20She opens her hand to the poor,

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid for her household when it snows,

for all her household are clothed in crimson.

22She makes herself coverings;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23Her husband is known in the city gates,

taking his seat among the elders of the land.

24She makes linen garments and sells them;

she supplies the merchant with sashes.

25Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

26She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27She looks well to the ways of her household,

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28Her children rise up and call her happy;

her husband too, and he praises her:

29“Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

30Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the city gates.

Monday I found out something about the Proverbs 31 woman I never knew before. I’ll share it tomorrow. But first I want to know: What do you see? Who is this woman? What are the misinterpretations you’ve heard about her? What do her actions say about her? How does her story help you live your own story?

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An I'm Doing Really Good Update

Hey everyone! I wanted to let all of you know that I am doing much, much better. The change in my anti-depressant seems to be just what I needed, and I have perked up considerably. Thank you so much for all of your prayers, comments, and emails. I really appreciate it.

The Whose Church Is It Anyway? conference went very well. I had a great time and met a lot of wonderful people, including another former Nazarene! My workshop went fine, and I had a great group of patient people. Which is a good thing. I find out on my first workshop that leading a workshop is considerably different than teaching a class, preaching a sermon, or leading a discussion. I am going to need a lot more practice. But my group of people were great in letting me think and change course when we needed to, and they were a chatty bunch. Now I will be more prepared for the next time out and I know that I need to practice, practice, practice.

All of you know the saying “Behind every great (or successful) man is a good woman.” I beginning to think that the opposite is true as well. Not that I’m great or successful, but if I ever to make it to great or successful (whatever that is), it will be because of my wonderful husband, Tracy. While I’ve been striking out on my own in writing, and now speaking, he has been and is my biggest fan. He believes in me when I don’t (which is often), and keeps cheering  me on to do what I want to do and believes that I can do it.

Julia Child said in My Life in France that without Paul Child there would be no Julia Child. That will be true for me as well. If I succeed at doing what I want to do: publish books and travel around speaking, it will because of my husband. Without Tracy Atteberry, there will be no Shawna R. B. Atteberry.