Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Before Divorce

I've come across a tremendous little booklet entitled, Divorce: Before You Say "I Don't" by Lou Priolo. Lou Priolo is director of the Center for Biblical Counseling at Eastwood Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He's a fellow of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselor's (NANC). He's written several other good books that I'd recommend, but if you are on the verge of divorce, or know someone who is, please consider this little booklet before decisions are made.

In this 32-page booklet, Priolo gives some consequences of divorce that many don't consider before they go to the lawyers. He raises an interesting point from the words of Jesus to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:8 "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." So often, spouses feel justified in dissolving a lifelong covenant over the smallest offenses (or even large ones). But Jesus is clear - divorce is the result of a hard heart.

After giving several consequences, Priolo moves on to answering some of the more common reasons given for divorce, such as: "Even though I know the divorce is wrong, God will forgive me," or "I've fallen out of love with him," or "I have a peace about it," or "I could never trust him again." He answers these reasons, and others, with a biblical response rather than the faulty human reasoning one sometimes gets when contemplating divorce.

The booklet ends with counsel on how to give up an adulterous affair. There are many times when a spouse wants a divorce because he or she already has another person in waiting. Either there has been an expressed interest, or there's been an actual sinful relationship. Priolo explains how to overcome a complicated issue like this. I think this section is the best part of the booklet. Lou Priolo says a lot in a short amount of space in this excellent resource for counselors or those plotting to end their marriage. I highly recommend you get this book.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Can Christ Save Marriages?

One of the Google searches that directed a reader to this blog was: "Can Christ Save Marriages?" I think this question is one worth asking and answering, especially in our day of flimsy, unstable marriages. I think the best way to answer this question is to break it down by words. So here goes.

CAN Christ save marriages?

Yes, Christ can save marriages, but that doesn't always mean he will. Can speaks of ability. Christ has the ability to save a person's marriage. But Christ doesn't always immediately do what he is able to do. He always does what fits into his ultimate purposes for creation. For example, Christ can immediately send the world to a fiery hell. He has the authority and capacity to do this. But it would contradict his plans for the future of creation. So his purposes confine his ability. So if someone wonders whether Christ can be called upon to save a chaotic marriage on the brink of divorce, yes he can be called upon. However he cannot be constrained like a genie in a bottle. There's no guarantee that a husband or wife can turn to Christ for the salvation of his or her marriage, and things automatically, miraculously improve.

Can CHRIST save marriages?

Let's consider who it is we're asking to save our marriages. We're asking Jesus Christ, Son of God, Kings of kings, Lord of lords, Light of the world, the Word and Wisdom of God. When someone asks Christ to save his marriage, he has to understand something first. A person's marriage is not Christ's number one priority. Christ's number one priority is ensuring God gets the maximum amount of glory due his name. I've spoken with folks who "have tried Jesus back when Sally Jane was leaving me, and he didn't do anything for me." One of the blessed truths of Scripture is that Christ does good to his people. He is able to do this because at a point two thousand years ago, he took off his royal robes, put on swaddling clothes, then a crown of thorns, and humiliated himself on the cross for the sake of his subjects. But he is not on the cross anymore. He is back on his throne, building his Kingdom in the hearts of mankind, until he brings this age to an end. He does good to his subjects on his terms and in the manner that he sees fit. So, it is crucial when asking if Christ can save marriage to remember just who is being asked. If one has lived his life without faith in Christ, hasn't turned to him for forgiveness for his sins, and humbly submitted himself to Christ as Lord of his life, then he needn't be concerned about his rocky marriage. He needs to be concerned that his Creator has a score to settle with him unless he throws himself on the mercy of the court.

Can Christ SAVE marriages?

This is an important word to ponder. What does one mean by the word save? If by save, one means deliver from an unhappy state, or recover from the brink of divorce, and then leave well enough alone, then one might be disappointed at the answer. And what do married people need saved from? The heaping stack of bills? The screaming kids? Two divergent agendas? Irreconcilable differences? Incessant arguing? All those things are symptoms of the real disease affecting marriage - sin. And Christ saves sinners through the Gospel, not self-help. Is it probable that Gospel-centered Christians will have happier, more durable marriages than others? Yes. But Gospel-centered people don't start with a question about the condition of their marriage. They begin with a question about the glory of God and the state of their soul.

Can Christ save MARRIAGES?

Perhaps a better question to ask than 'Can Christ save marriages?' might be 'Does marriage need saved?' I would answer 'No, marriage doesn't need saved.' Married people need saved. Christ came to save sinners, not marriage. So if one is struggling through a rough marriage, or teetering on the edge of divorce, and will try anything, even Christ, to grant the kind of marriage he's been dreaming of, then he should be ready for a letdown. Christ cannot be used as a means to an end. He is the end. Christ doesn't exist to serve marriages. Marriage exists to serve Christ. So the most important question to ask before asking Christ to save one's marriage is to ask Christ to save one's soul. Then he will be in a better position to understand Christ's agenda on earth, and not sound like a thankless, spoiled brat trying to use God like some dime-store trinket.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How Many Moons Orbit the Planet California?

Albert Mohler has written a great article (as though he could write something other) on the California supreme court's absurd ruling concerning marriage. The ruling calls marriage a "fundamental right" but obviously leaves the definition of marriage open. What if we left other social conventions up to private definition? Who says what the word "consenting" means when it comes to sexuality? Who gets to decide the definition of impoverished when it comes to filing for welfare benefits? Who gets to decide what children are? (Oh, I forgot, the mother gets to decide whether she's carrying a "baby" or some bit of nondescript tissue). Isn't it fascinating that only in the areas of abortion and marriage are we so peculiar in playing word games. Murder is murder in every state. So is theft. But some laws are just not closed to interpretation. Oh well, enough rambling. I just have one final question. How many moons orbit the planet California?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

167,700,542 Points of Compatibility

Is compatibility that important? Is the high divorce rate in our society really due to the fact that certain people just aren't meant for each other? I ask this as one who admits to having a "match made in Heaven."

Amanda and I have never in over eleven years argued about the toothpaste tube. I am not a roller. I am a do whatever it takes to get some on your brush and throw the messy-nozzled, capless tube back in the cabinet to coat the shelf in green goo. I can't imagine having nothing better to do than maintain a well-ordered toothpaste tube. And fortunately for me, neither can Amanda. She doesn't seem to care much either. I gather this by the fact I never open the cabinet to find a neatly rolled tube with a clean nozzle and a cap. So I assume she sees toothpaste the same way I do. But we didn't discuss this before we got married. And we've never discussed it after all these years.

Amanda and I have never had a discussion about the toilet seat. I know of couples who've had knock-down drag-out fights over a little piece of round plastic or wood. We have this kind of understanding that whatever one needs to do to get the toilet ready for use, then do it. It doesn't really matter what condition one finds the seat in. I assume Amanda feels the same way because in over eleven years, we've never had one discussion on how to properly leave the toilet seat after use. We never discussed this before we were married. Perhaps we are just magically compatible. But we never took a test to figure it out. We never really tried to determine if we were, probably because we never really thought it was important.

In my Bible study this week, I found someone incredibly compatible with his wife. And I wasn't really impressed. In fact, this man wasn't just compatible with his one wife, he was compatible with all 700 of his wives and his 300 concubines. His name was Solomon, and he was king of Israel, son of David.

"Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, 'You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.' Solomon clung to these in love" (1 Kings 11:1-2).

Solomon was compatible with his wives. And it wasn't a virtue. What is far more important than compatibility with a wife is compatibility with God. Solomon lived his life for his own pleasure and comfort, and what did it bring him? Headaches. Fortunately, God is so very, very gracious. But the things that happened to the nation of Israel are for our instruction today, so that we won't worship idols as they did. Is your desire for that connectedness, that intimacy that you long for with your spouse, that craving to feel like the world was made for just the two of you really a God-centered, Gospel-driven desire? Or could it be a desire for a "soul-mate" that subtly replaces the only soul-mate God intended - Jesus Christ?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Deafening Silence

We live in a therapeutic society. We tend to measure the value of things by the personal advancement we will receive. For instance, by around eighteen years old, men and women begin the quest to find a career that will bring fulfillment and meaning to their lives. If they choose wrongly, and don't feel fulfilled by their career, they change course in the middle of their lives to another career. I've even heard a story where a mother with young children went to work so that her unfulfilled husband could go back to college and start fresh in a new career after thirty. I'm not condemning their decision. But I do think it's an indicator of our selfishness. This man had a decent job, was providing well for his family, but just decided he didn't find his job fulfilling.

The decision to have children is sometimes made along similar lines. We decide whether or not to have children based on our feelings at the time. If we want to raise our children correctly, we realize how much of a "burden" it will be on our lifestyle. If we feel like life is providing all the meaning and fulfillment we are looking for without children, we fear that having children may endanger our fulfillment. On the other hand, if our life feels meaningless without children, we may decide to have children out of a search for meaning.

Our culture approaches marriage in the same way. We choose to marry, or remain unmarried, or live together outside of marriage, or pursue relationships with those of the same gender out of a desire for our own fulfillment, or what we think will advance us to the most self-actualized state we can attain. When we don't feel like our marriage is giving us that meaning or fulfillment, we figure maybe our spouse might not be the "one" after all. So we set out to find the "one" that we've missed so far. Forget the vows. Forget the kids. Forget God. Forget everything we've built with our spouse over years of investment. Divorce. Start over in the quest for self-fulfillment.

Christians have bought into this destructive lifestyle as much as anyone. But we must stop. Our lifestyle choices must flow from a Bible-saturated, God-glorifying conscience, not the latest episode of Oprah or the View. Marriage is all about serving God, not finding meaning. Apart from God, and a magnetic attraction toward Heaven, everything in this life, including marriage, is inherently meaningless because it's all under a curse. God has punished man by denying fulfillment in vocation, children, marriage, leisure and any other category of life. And so the quest for fulfillment is a quest in futility.

As we examine the subject of marriage in the Bible, we are confronted with a deafening silence concerning self-fulfillment. That's just not one of God's front burner issues. When we see marriage in the Bible, we learn very little about the couples' personal lives - how they felt about their relationships. Could the lack of revelation concerning personal marital satisfaction be a clue to where it stands in God's list of priorities? Could a couple's love for God and their neighbors be more important to God than how well they relate to one another? Could marriage be designed more for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ than the advancement of self-fulfillment? Hmmm.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The First Great and Primary Business

What is the most important thing you have to do today? Do you have a list of things you simply must get accomplished? Many people keep "to do" lists to organize and prioritize their days. I wonder how many lists would begin the way 19th century English minister and orphan champion George Muller's began. "The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished."

The first great and primary business of every day is to be happy in God. I think this is true in terms of priority and chronology. In other words, when we first wake up, the first thing that should awaken in us is a happiness in God that sees us through the mundane and spontaneous events of the day. If we begin each day by not beginning until we're happy in God, the trials of the day won't seem as crushing, the temptations won't seem so appealing, and the triumphs won't seem so satisfying. The great dangers we must face every day are not all negative. It's not just the bad things that steal our hearts from God. The good things also keep us enthralled in an earthly mindset. So happiness in God is crucial to stabilize and focus our affections on heavenly things.

How do we get our minds as happy in God as we possibly can? One thing is for certain, we can't just expect to wake up happy in God. It's unlikely to naturally happen. Happiness in God must me nurtured, not just expected. And since we're pretty lazy and easily satisfied by nature, we may not take the necessary steps to attain such happiness. But we'll be much better off if we do. Muller stumbled on a way to get happy in God. "Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord."

There was a time when Muller did what many Christians do, say their morning prayers. But he realized how ineffectual his prayers could be when his mind wasn't right. So he began reading and meditating on the Bible before all else, in order to bring himself into "experimental communion with the Lord." In other words, he would nurture a God-awareness in his heart that he could feel or sense. And the way he did this was through meditation on the Bible. And as he studied the Bible, something amazing happened to him. "The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord's blessing upon his precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation."

So as Muller read the Bible, he had one goal in mind. He was like Jacob wrestling with God. Muller wouldn't let go of the Bible until he got a blessing from it. He didn't just gaze over the text. He dug into it, demanding it open up to him and revive him. What was the result? The Word of God led him into prayer. Before long, he was intermingling his reading and his praying in a blessed union that resulted in "experimental communion with the Lord."

Is this kind of heavenly-minded meditation at the top of our "to do" list? Do we start our day in exercise? Not physical but spiritual? If we don't, we shouldn't be surprised when we find the day difficult to deal with. We shouldn't be shocked when our struggle to get through the here and now isn't met with comfort from on high. Communion with God is not for the lazy or half-hearted. God has promised we will find him when we seek him with our whole heart. That is what I see George Muller did. And God rewarded him with a happiness that transcended his circumstances and fueled a faith that still amazes people almost two hundred years later. He accomplished great things for the orphans of England with supernatural provision. The same promise is available to us if we come to God expecting the same blessings.

If you need a little jump start in your efforts to meditate on the Bible, maybe you could start with a great devotional on the book of Colossians called The Hope of Glory by Sam Storms. You can order it by clicking the link under recommended reading. He breaks down each verse into little bite-size pieces. Perhaps you could let Dr. Storms help you establish a new habit that will reward you with eternal benefits.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What Benefit is Loving a Spouse?

"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:32-36).

In the above verses, Jesus introduces a staggering ethic. Many husbands would congratulate themselves on how perfectly and deeply they love their wives. Many wives would feel good about the way they love their husbands and children. We might feel like we're being good Christians because we make so much of our family. Our bills are paid on time, we keep up a polite and respectful attitude in a finely structured household, our children have clean clothes and clean noses, the grass is cut and the garage is tidy, we eat our meals together around a table (unlike the busy heathen), we have family devotions, we go on date nights with our spouse to keep the romance alive, we obey the laws of the land, and we mind our own business. God must be pretty impressed with our stability. Or maybe not so much.

Could it be that what passes as respectable, responsible Christianity in our minds and across our culture is just plain old-fashioned love for ourselves? Jesus questions the benefit of loving those who love us back. We know there is a benefit from the one loving us back - a temporary one. But Jesus is asking ultimate questions here. What heavenly benefit is there for loving someone who loves us back? If even sinners who deny God and scorn the Gospel can muster up the capacity to love those who love them back, and be good to those who are good to them, and can loan to someone expecting to be paid back, then surely a Christian, with God's love flowing through them, can do better than that. And if they can't, they shouldn't expect a great reward to be awaiting them in Heaven.

I wrote The Pursuit of Pleasure in the Pleasure of Another because texts like these show how idolatrous our comfortable little marriages can be. We who think our marriage is heaven on earth because we don't fight like other couples, and don't make messes like other couples, may be deluding ourselves. As Christians, our goal is not to make much of our spouse. Our goal is to join forces with our spouse as one flesh to make much of God by looking beyond each other to a lost and dying world all around us. Don't settle for the benefit of reciprocal affection - you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours - but rather, rise above such sinful, cowardly love to Christian love. Christian love flows to enemies, those not like us, that we don't want to associate with. Christian love does good to those who can't do good back. Christian love gives to those who can't repay.

Christian love comes from Christ. Those who know their Bible may think of Jesus' words in John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends." In this verse, it seems that Jesus thinks loving friends is virtuous. Is Jesus contradicting himself? Not if we consider that Jesus had no friends until he died for them. Everyone is born at enmity with God, not one loves him and seeks him. So Jesus practiced what he preached. He loved those who hated him, did good to those who cursed him, gave to those who took from him, and was merciful to those who did evil. That kind of love is so far beyond the love the world has for its own, that it is impossible to perform without the saving and sanctifying aid of the Holy Spirit. So I encourage all of us to examine our lives. What benefit are we getting from loving our spouse and our children? Naturally, we shouldn't stop doing it. But we should be looking beyond it, to those whom we consider unlovely and unlovable. Then we can expect a heavenly reward in addition to the old "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." I don't know about you, but I want more than a massaged back. I want fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore at the right hand of God.

Friday, May 9, 2008

How Deep is Your Love?

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

How does love cover a multitude of sins? Let's look at some examples of common sins in marriage, and how love covers them. We probably sin against our spouse more with our words than any other way. Consider Jack and Jill. Jack went up the hill to fetch a pale of water. He fell down and brought Jill with him. At the bottom of the hill, Jill shouts, "You're such an oaf, Jack. You can't do anything right." Naturally Jack responds, "You tripped me. You're always in my way." At this point, the verbal damage has been done. Neither can take back what was said, even though both may want to. So how do they get beyond this joy-killing exchange? If they love each other, it's easy. Love covers the hateful words.

Love covers hateful words first by forgiving them. When our spouse sins against us with words, we have to make the silent choice to forgive the offense. In forgiving the offense, we are agreeing to bear the cost of the wrong. In other words, rather than get the satisfaction of calling our spouse out, and demanding retribution, we quietly absorb the hurtful words on our own and deny ourselves the pleasure of vindication. When love covers a sin, it is really covered. It's not stored in a mental safe deposit box until it matures and is useful to us later. It is dismissed as not that big of deal, even if it felt like a huge deal.

Love covers hateful words by progressing beyond mere forgiveness to value. Love begins as an affection flowing from a sense of beauty or value. When we look at our spouse we see all the good things that prove how valuable they are. We line up the offense against the overall value of the person, and realize how small the sin is in comparison. You might be thinking that your spouse isn't valuable enough to offset the cost of his or her sins. That's what happens when people divorce. This kind of thinking says more about your capacity to love than your spouse's value. Perhaps your spouse isn't valuable enough to inspire your love. But Christ is, and it's Christ who is telling you to love.

All love toward our spouse must flow from our love for Christ. Love often breaks down in its ability to overlook offenses because our love isn't Christ-centered enough. We often expect our spouse to justify our love for them by their actions. When they sin against us, we assess a "weight" to the offense and stack it up against the "weight" of good things we've assessed. If the good outweighs the bad, we find it easier to overlook. If the bad outweighs the good, we go off on them. Such man-centered, works-oriented love is bound to fail. The proper way to overlook our spouse's offenses is by first soaking in, and meditating upon the love of Christ. Then when we are overwhelmed with the gracious love of Christ, we are in a state of mind to graciously love our spouse. So the bulk of deficiency in our ability to overlook sin is due to a lack of Christ-centeredness in our own hearts.

While I've given the example of words, because James tells us that if anyone can control his tongue, he is a perfect man (James 3:2), you can plug whatever sin you want into the above scenario and it fits. Rather than speaking hateful things, let's assume your spouse forgets your birthday. While some would argue the sinfulness of such a mistake, others would think it points to selfishness, and that's a sin. Either way, if we are Christ-centered, and our hope is in Christ more than in our spouse's ability to make much of us, then we can easily overlook their forgetfulness and not make a big deal out of it. I think it's likely that the deeper our love is, the greater our capacity to overlook our spouse's sins. So if we want smooth, happy marriages, we must take to heart Peter's counsel and overlook our spouse's sins. Or we can keep a record of wrongs, snap at every provocation, refuse to forgive, and live a life of mutual misery. How deep is your love?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

What are the odds that our spouse will never sin against us ever again? If the odds are pretty low, then we desperately need to memorize and meditate on Peter's counsel. What are the odds that we will take something our spouse does as a sin against us even when it might not be? If the odds are pretty high, then we also desperately need to memorize and meditate on Peter's counsel.

Peter gives a clear command in this verse - keep loving one another. The fact that Peter has to command such things shows that our love is in constant danger of waning. If we don't take constant steps to keep loving, we will stop loving. Think about a fire. Fires rarely increase in intensity over time. They tend to go out. In fact, without a continual supply of fuel, it's a guarantee the fire will go out. Our love is the same way. It rarely just intensifies on its own. It has to be fueled and stoked.

Peter expects our love to be a certain kind of love - earnest love. The fact that Peter has to use an adverb after his command to love shows us there are different intensities of love. If we have to be told to love earnestly, it must be possible to love non-earnestly. Earnest means serious, sincere or deep. So Peter wants us to take our responsibility to love seriously, not flippantly. He wants us to be sincere, not manipulative. And he wants our love to be deep and intense, not shallow and hollow.

How important is earnest love? So important that Peter says we should be loving one another earnestly - above all. More important than anything else in this world is our love for one another. Naturally we think of our obligation to love God as more important than our love for one another, and that's understandable. However, if we love God, we will love one another. They go hand in hand, because the Spirit that puts the love for God in our hearts also puts a love for one another in our hearts.

Peter wants us to love one another earnestly above all else because love covers a multitude of sins. Why is it so important for us to love our spouse earnestly? Because our spouse will sin against us. And even when our spouse doesn't sin against us, our own sinfulness will seek to accentuate the worst in our spouse anyway. Sin kills marital happiness. Love covers that sin so that marital happiness can be protected or restored. Tomorrow I'll look at specific, practical ways that love covers sin.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Pleasure of Praising Amanda

My wife is away at our church's annual women's retreat. Though it's just two days, it seems like an eternity for a half-witted husband and five young children. We try to do some little thing for her while she's gone (this year I cleaned out the fridge and polished her stainless sink) in addition to making sure she comes home to a clean house. When we woke up this morning, I gave the kids a pep talk about serving Momma and they got fired up about serving her. When we were finished cleaning, I asked them all the things they love about Momma. Here it is in the order they thought of it:

1. She cooks
2. She's funny
3. She teaches us
4. She doesn't make me (Heidi) eat too much broccoli
5. She teaches us to play softball
6. She keeps us healthy
7. She buys us stuff
8. She's caring
9. She always puts us first
10. She loves God
11. She's godly
12. She's kind
13. She helps us grow in our knowledge of Christ
14. She cleans
15. She's smart
16. She's wise
17. She's loving
18. She's helpful
19. She's pretty
20. She's persistent
21. She's patient
22. She's consistent
23. She's comforting
24. She's hospitable
25. She's good
26. She disciplines us

To this list I'll add she is truly the sweetest, purest, strongest, hottest helper I could ever imagine. I honestly cannot think of a way to improve on her. Maybe I'm just biased.

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her (Proverbs 31:25-28).