Proverbs 31:21 "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet."
I'm so thankful for God's Word. What a great blueprint God gave us to follow in Proverbs 31! In this one chapter we receive direction in so many different areas as women, wives, mothers, and even employers. Each time I read it, I get something new out of it that I didn't get before! God's word is alive and always challenging me to step it up!
There are different ways to look at this verse. It could be interpreted as completely spiritual, with snow (or winter) representing death and scarlet representing the blood of Jesus. Meaning that her children have been fed spiritually and are saved and ready to meet the Lord at the time of their death. Or, one could apply it literally, as meaning a virtuous woman plans ahead and makes sure that her children have warm clothes to protect them from the elements of winter.
For me, the key message here is that this woman thinks ahead, she manages her time and her resources in regard to the clothes her children wear, for each and every season. Now, in this day and time we live in, it is easy to get caught up in commercialism and trends. The marketing world knows that we Moms like to dress our children well. We will dress them well when we ourselves may not have anything to wear! Speaking for myself, it is hard for me to purchase things for myself when there are so many cute things that I could buy for my children. So it is easy to go the wrong way, if you find yourself thinking that your child HAS to have these clothes even if you cannot afford them or if they do not really need them. A few months ago, I was convicted of a competitive spirit regarding dressing my children for church. I wanted them to be the cutest kids there! What a stench in the nostrils of God. But thankfully, He showed me and helped me to change my ways!
That doesn't mean that I stopped dressing my kids in clean, neat, and well-fitting clothing that becomes them. I am particular about what my children wear when we are out anywhere. My husband often get frustrated with me because I want my girls to have a hairbow in their hair even if we are just going to Wal-Mart! But the truth is, we already look different to the world. I am a dresses-only woman, I do not wear makeup or jewelry, and I have very long hair. I stick out like a sore thumb! As do my children. And the world is watching. They are already critical. If I take my kids out in public looking like they just rolled on the ground and dug their clothes out of a Salvation Army bin, what kind of impression does that make?
Especially for those of us who have larger families (more than two by today's standards), we should be extra careful in how we present our children. Yesterday, I went to town with a friend of mine and we met up with her mother and eight younger siblings. Talk about people staring! They just couldn't get enough of all of us and our kids (seventeen in all). While we were eating, a couple of people approached our table and commented on how well-behaved they were, and how cute they all looked with their hairbows and dresses (there were only three boys in the whole bunch). But what if we had all went in with them mis-matched with their hair uncombed and hanging in their faces? The reaction would've probably been more of pity for those poor kids who looked like nobody took the time to take care of them.
Yes, it takes time to bathe, dress, and groom small children. Shoes get lost. Clothes get stained. This is where we have to manage our resources and time like the woman in verse 21. If you know you are going somewhere, lay clothes out the day before. Find the shoes they need to wear and put them up somewhere out of reach so you are not searching for that lost mate at the last minute. Have a certain basket designated for stained garments so you can stain-treat them before you wash. When an outfit is outgrown, put it up where you don't have to dig around it in the drawer or closet. Put bibs on messy children (I still put one on my almost 4-year-old). Take care of what you have. For your children's sake.
A few years ago, I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office when in came this mother with a passel of children! I counted as they walked in, single file, and sat down in the chairs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!! Not one of them moved when their mother walked to the desk to sign in and fill out papers. They were all dressed neatly and attractively. This mother had it together! I was in awe! To give an opposing scenario, I once knew a family of five children whom you heard before you ever saw them coming ;). They would come to church with their hair halfway combed and their clothes ill-fitting and mis-matched. I felt sorry for those kids, when other kids snickered and steered clear. It really wasn't their fault. I heard people talk about large families negatively, because of the impression this family left. Again, it was all in the Mother's abilities or inabilities to manage her children's appearances.
Now, I'm not saying it's right, but how our children look leaves the impression of how we take care of the rest of our lives. If we don't take the time to do our best for our children, which is our most precious commodity, then will we put the time into other aspects of our lives? It is a reflection. Even more so for those of us with 3-plus kids. If we are going to hold forth the standard of large families, we need to do it right!
May we strive to give our best in every aspect of mothering :).