Lenten Challenge 2014 – Day 2 – Virtue

NOTE My blog has traditionally been all business, but for at least a little while it is going to become intensely personal.  During Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, I am participating in a photo challenge.  The way it works is that the organizers have given us a list of words, and every day we are supposed to take and share a picture based upon that word.  Because I hardly ever do things the easy way, I am also attempting to write a devotional that goes with these pictures.  I will probably take the weekends off and will also quite likely miss a few days.  Hopefully not too many.   Last year I participated in a similar challenge.  This link will take you to my 2013 Lenten challenge. This years challenge is entirely blog-based.  This year the challenge is sponsored by Catholic Sistas. 

Please pray for me and/ or bear with me, and if this isn’t your cup of tea, just keep on checking for portrait posts in between these challenges — or check back in after Easter.




Whenever I think of the word, virtue, in a Biblical context, the Proverbs 31 woman pops right into my head.  Do you know her?  She’s that ideal perfect woman. We stand in awe of her, but in actuality once we start comparing ourselves with her we feel very VERY inadequate.

In Bible times she was beyond amazing.  In today’s world she is the woman who does it all and has it all. I want to be her when I grow up. WAIT!  I’m 53 blinkin’ years old.

Here’s how I think Proverbs 31 would describe a virtuous woman in the year 2014:

She is an excellent wife, and her husband trusts her judgement completely because she always treats him well and looks out for his best interest.

She is a successful businesswoman who enjoys her career.

She is a gourmet cook, whipping up all sorts of exotic and ethnic dishes.

She gets up before sunrise every morning.

She takes good care of her employees and treats them all fairly when they have a special need or problem.

She invests well and  turns her profits into a farm not too far from home where she plants a vineyard or vegetable garden or an orchard – totally organic, I’m sure.

She works  out at the gym to stay fit,  and probably has a 26.2 sticker or at least a  13.2 on the back of her spotless mini-van.

Her car doesn’t run out of gas, her bathrooms are all stocked with plenty of toilet paper, and there’s always an extra gallon of milk in her fridge.

She’s the Queen of Pinterest, not just collecting beautiful ideas, but actually DOING them and creating new ones.

She  serves in the soup kitchen and chairs the cancer gala.

She dresses impeccably and makes sure her family looks great too.

She has a successful and well-respected  husband.   Yeah, they really said that  smack-dab in all the middle of the descriptions of this woman.  WHA?????

She is  such a fine artist that people pay well for her designs.

She is afraid of nothing when it comes to  the future or getting old.

When she speaks, only wise words come out of her mouth and she is always, always kind.

She keeps her home clean and gets things fixed when they wear out or break.

She’s never lazy — DOH.

Her children are proud of her, not embarrassed to be seen with her at school events or at the mall.  Her husband’s proud of her too.

It might be easy to dislike  a woman like that if they didn’t throw in that part about always being so WISE and KIND, right?  But y’all she’s so dang NICE!

Even if it took a lifetime for her to do everything in the list,  just reading it all in one short passage wears on me.   Sometimes it motivates me to work harder, to strive for more and better  — but mostly it makes me tired. There’s no way I can be all of that.  I can’t seem to get past the paper clutter in my office.

What about the many amazing and lovely women who don’t have any children?  Those who never married, or if they did, their husband is neither successful OR adoring?  How do they feel reading something like this?

What are WE TODAY supposed to do with this perfect PROVERBIAL woman?

We keep right on reading through to the last lines of the verse.

Virtue has nothing to do with doing things  and being a financially successful businesswoman.  It has nothing to do with spouses or childbearing. It has EVERYTHING to do with verse 30, but most of us are just too tired  and intimidated to keep reading by the time we get that far.  Here’s what it says:

“ But a woman who  respects the LORD, she shall be praised.  Give HER the product of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Ahhh… that’s so much better.  Just  Honor the LORD.  Even a failed Proverbs Woman — someone just  like ME — can jump onto  the simplify your life bandwagon by flipping over to Micah 6:8.

“He has told you, Oh (Wo)man, what is good; and what does the LORD require or you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Dear God …. If you and I work together, we can do that.  Please help me to be fair with others —  and to be kind —  and to keep my ego in check as we walk through this life together.   That is all.  Amen.

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