CHAPTER Five:

Prayers & Financial Gain

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.
 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.

Proverbs 31: 16-18

Prayer. What woman doesn’t need it? Especially when considering something. It’s true that at times our hearts can guide us and at other times, they can trick us.  And when we are in a situation where we are trying to make a decision, it’s always best to go back to our default.  And that is knees to the floor and hands in the air. 

I have bought by impulse, and it wasn’t always bad.  I would say I have a strong intuition, and so it usually doesn’t take me a long time to decide on a purchase.  Unless it’s a complicated one.  And if that’s the case then I can talk your ear off about it for days, practically driving you crazy, and then barely landing the plane.

It’s what women do.

We process.  We go over the pros and the cons, the things that won’t work and the things that could. We balance the imaginary budget, we dream about the outcome, we celebrate and then we worry.  And hopefully, in the middle of all of that, we pray.  And we give it over to God.  And we let His heart melt our control and our fear and our doubts.

And then we obey with faith.

And what is done in faith and by the hand of God never comes back void even if it looks like it might at times.  Isn’t that miraculous about Him? He is always our provision, and He is always what we are looking for.  So even as we steward this space of consideration, we can relax. 

R-E-L-A-X. 

#relax

Now maybe that’s easier for you if you’re not a recovering perfectionist. I thought relaxing in God’s grace was really hard at first.  I’ve gone through a lot more pruning since then, and so it doesn’t often feel like the white knuckle death grip that it once did on that first airplane trip. With no seat belt.  And a broken parachute.

I’m just kidding! But really, as we learn to trust His process and His timing, our considerations get more clear as well as more faith-filled. And that’s exactly the process our woman friend goes through in the verses above.

She considers her field, and then she buys it.  And it’s after this season of prayer and praise and healing doubts that God renews her faith for the future, provides her with the rest she needs to accomplish the assignment, and then sends her out to the field for more work.

And once she’s there, she is ready.  She is steady for the battle because she knows who has her back. He does.

I once was considering buying a “field” except it was really more like planning to have a baby.  In the winter of 2010, we miscarried at almost seven weeks gestation.  It was a surprise pregnancy, and it was then a shocking end.  We only had two weeks of celebrating (and also biting our nails) as we currently had our oldest with us at just under a year old.  It was a whirlwind and traumatic, and it was just one of those things you can’t fully grasp while it’s happening because it happened so absolutely fast, and it all came out of seemingly nowhere.  We weren’t trying to get pregnant.  It just became the reality, and as soon as it became the reality, so did the curtain call.

It wasn’t until about 9 months of passing through that season of grief that we took an intentional step toward restoration with a new pregnancy. We were considering “buying a new field” if you will. I knew I needed at least the full gestation of my unborn baby’s life to settle my emotions, to release my anger, and to heal.  But in the midst of it, my husband kept asking me if we were ready to try again, not to fill the gap but to continue embracing life instead of staying in a state of perpetual grieving limbo.  Around that 9 month mark, after praying about where my heart was, I had decided it was well enough to be open to the possibility of life again.  And within just a few weeks, the decision was made by Heaven.  We were pregnant.

Little did I know it at the time, but that new baby would turn out to be the piece of my heart that merged all the other pieces together.  Yes, she was our rainbow baby.  But she was also our Sweet Lucy, the name of my favorite red wine.  She became the communion piece to our lives, the grace of Christ’s blood in our midst. After such loss and confusion and even guilt (because no matter how hard you try to not think it’s your fault, it’s still a struggle) with the death of one child then came the birth of another. And there’s something about going through the Valley of Death that makes the intoxicating grace of connection again seem a lot more ripened.  When something has been taken, we appreciate what’s in front of us with new vigor.

And so when this Proverbs 31 woman considers her field, buys it, and then plants her vineyard, it most definitely reminds us of our Lucy. Because of course, when you add another child, it’s a whole new level of connection for your family unit, but it’s also a whole new level of hard work.  There are even fewer breaks for mom, and dad now also has full time duty because there is always a child in which to tend. It’s really acquiring a whole new skillset and strategy.

But that’s when I started to learn this value of profit on a whole new level.  This was about shutting down the borders because the activity, or play date, or trip across town may not be helpful.  And if it wasn’t going to contribute to the peace, then I wasn’t going to do it.  Conserving energy at all costs was the name of the game now.  I didn’t want my light to go out at night; so I needed more of these boundaries and borders, and I also needed more life-giving opportunities for fresh breath, so that I could continue to expand my hand and hard work without hitting burn out.

And it just so happened that it was God’s grace to me in this season that this Lucy of ours was a cuddler.  Oh my, does the girl like snuggling.  It’s as if when she was put on this Earth, God asked her what she would like her unique purpose to be, and she said: “I want to be comfort. I want to be love. I want to be play.”

That makes buying a field easy when you have a baby like this, a new sister like this, and a restoration like this.  Because when it comes to being profitable, you are.  Not just in the practical things like skill, finances, and work but also in the deeper things like identity, grace, and healing. It’s as if she knew the secret to making real money.  And that secret was love.  The secret was also obedience because healthy boundaries and honor precede love.  And that’s what this next Humphrey meant to us.

It’s truly what she taught us from the get-go.  Where is our agreement with God’s will, in prayer, and in work? Where is our agreement with God’s hand for us? How do we pray effectively to match our will to His when moving forward with life?  Where did we need to close our borders, redefine our schedules, and make room for rest in order to trade our energy properly? These are all the practical steps this wife of noble character worked through.

And so it was with me.  I started letting go of opportunities and relationships that no longer gave me fresh breath.  It wasn’t out of hate but really out of love.  It gave all of the involved parties the freedom to move on into more identity and productivity.  I also started to work hard in the sphere of influence and favor that God had given to me, which at the time was writing and creative movement.  I started to exercise more, publish more, and snuggle more. Because these were my saving graces for the day, and this was also where my energy became profitable.  It not only gave me income, it also strengthened my body and mind, and it caused me to have the resilience for a long-term, beautiful, healthy, and promising future.  This Proverbs 31 woman was sensitive to the Holy Spirit, smart, a diligent worker, and a creative light. She used wisdom to guide her and her skills to provide.  She considered a field and bought it which included working hard and managing her energy. And this is where I found myself with this rainbow baby of ours, learning the ebb and flow of work load, boundaries, and productivity.  It’s different for everyone perhaps, but the wisdom behind it is still universal. Prayer changes things.  Prayer gives us energy and focus and helps us care for ourselves.  Prayer is the glue that combines all the other elements of life together.  Being in communion with God is what fuels us for movement in God.  

It’s what binds my heart together, keeps me present and also motivates me to keep going forward.  Without talking to God, I don’t intentionally hear God as well.  Without praying, it’s easier to listen to other voices instead of the one inside my heart.

When I was able to make space for myself to be quieted in prayer, it’s then that I was given the strategy for growing.  It made all the other pieces come together instead of making all the other pieces come chaotically apart.

What is that for you in this season?  Where can you set your heart to pray? Is there something specific in your life that you are considering? A new job or staying home? A new house or fixing up the current one? Where are you in that process? You might have a scenario that pops out at you right away, or you may have to look a bit deeper and ask God for insight.

Where can you put your skills to work in a way that is invigorating and fruitful?  How can you manage your time and your energy so that you feel fulfilled in both the work and the rest? What kind of environment can you create in order to give you a longstanding freedom for the future?

What I knew at the time and still know currently in my every day is that I needed five daily ways to pursue this life of holistic prayer in me.  I needed to first pray with gratitude and thank God for the blessings in my life instead of looking at the deficits.  I then needed to boost my immune system with healthy foods, supplements, and exercise.  I needed to ask for God’s strength and discipline to be present with my current life instead of easily turning to outside activities, media, or even friendships to fill me up.  And at the same time, I needed a few healthy friends who would care for my heart and challenge me. I also needed to be in fresh air as much as possible, breathing in His nature to fuel my heart and mind.  And from there, I need to ebb and flow in movement, hard work, and rest in order to meet the next level of life.  Because that’s what prayer does; it takes us from glory to glory, one level of promotion to the next.  He is always for us and always wants us to win, but it’s a lot easier to partner with Him when we intentionally set aside the time to just be with Him.  This is where we can develop and grow.  Because as we develop and grow these, we succeed. And if we keep hitting roadblocks, perhaps it’s not so much that we are going the wrong direction as it is that we just need to slow down a bit to enjoy His guidance and His presence along the way.

Sometimes womanhood and motherhood can feel like hustling.  And I’m not against quick movement.  I actually really enjoy it. But when you run before you’re fully ready, what happens? You can fall down, or you can burn out.  Your light can start to disappear so that we only see a small flicker of who you were truly meant to be.  Let your light shine brightly for the world to see, and let it be filled and sustained by the beauty of being with Him in prayer.

Think on these things.  Pray about these things. These are the tools this wife has laid out for us.  She is measuring the work of her hands against the fruit of her labor, asking to be guided and pruned while being made fit to see her labor be of good use, not only for herself but also for her husband and family, whether she has one already or not! It all counts.

Let’s go deeper here in our own lives and spend time asking God for His wisdom and for His strength so that we might be like this woman who was prayerful, smart, productive, and energized.

Twirling Tips for Chapter 5:

How often do you sit down to simply pray with God?

Do you need more space to be able to pray with Him?

How can you give yourself an extra 20 minutes a day to intentionally listen to His voice and respond in your heart?

A Prayer:

God, help me to make time for just you.  Would you open the timeline in my day to be able to have space just to meet with you? Help me to listen for your Voice throughout the day,  and please give me the grace to respond to You in a way that allows my life to shine the way you’ve intended. Amen.

Copyright Sarah Elizabeth Humphrey 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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