I ran a marathon once. It was brutal! The brick wall? It’s real. But one stride at a time, my friend and I persevered, legs full of lead, lungs burning, eyes watering, sleet falling. The last few miles, running in the shadows of downtown Houston’s skyline, we alternately shouted: “Go Shauna!” “Go Leesa!” “Go Shauna!” “Go Leesa!” Back and forth, all the way to the finish line. We looked like dorks, but we didn’t care. We were determined. Together, cheering each other on, we made it.

Are you determined to hit our targets? I’m cheering wildly alongside you. Please, oh please, cheer for me, too, as we press on.

Target EIGHT: Serving others.

She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy (20)… Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land (23).

I love to serve our community as a family! I can think of nothing more fulfilling for our together time, but too often, I find myself waiting on James to take the lead, silently blaming him when we neglect opportunities to help others. Unfulfilled longing breeds quiet discontentment.

Then God illuminated the word she in neon: she extends her hand to the poor; she reaches out her hands to the needy. It doesn’t say he or they. She does it because he’s “in the gates” doing what he’s supposed to do. In other words, while her husband is earning respect in the public and economic sectors of the community, she serves. Her kindness to the poor and needy contributes to his reputation. She is the family when she serves. She is his representative. She is able to serve because he is doing his job as leader and provider.

It’s not that our husbands don’t have a biblical obligation to be generous with the poor, take care of the orphan and widow, give and serve. They do. James wants to serve and enjoys it when he is able. But our roles and the ways we give and serve may not look the same.

Our family’s benevolence rests on my initiative! James is completely spent by the end of a week “in the gates.” I’m the one with time to research and coordinate our family’s community involvement. James will often join us, but if he can’t, I can still go, both for me and on his behalf.

And I can involve our kids. The more God elevates my role as mom, the more I guard against commitments that require extended time away from my family. When I do serve, ideally, I do so with my kids. It’s a way to simultaneously model, teach, and train them to recognize and meet needs the Lord places before them. Because one day, they will be in the gates, or they’ll be married to someone who is, and this principle will apply for them, too.

Target NINE: Being prepared.

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple (21-22).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been caught off guard when the first cold snap or heat wave reveals a child has nothing to wear! Last year’s Bermuda shorts are now Daisy Dukes, or the jeans that were too long last year are now Capri pants. And it always seems to happen when there’s no easy opportunity or allotted funds to shop. In a house with mostly girls, the emotional trauma can be quite stressful!

While these verses describe beautiful, costly garments made by her own hand, this target isn’t about becoming seamstresses or even having the finest clothing. It’s about being prepared and making excellent choices with what we do have, skills, time, and funds.

Are we giving forethought to upcoming seasons, commitments, and events? According to our resources, does our family have the apparel and shoes they will need? Some of us have one clothing group: jeans and T-shirts. Others need uniforms, snow gear, athletic, professional, and/or formal clothing. Still others, like me, prefer to spend as much time as possible in exercise cloths and pajamas!

Whatever our lifestyle requires, as Proverbs 31 women, we can strive to be prepared, anticipating needs and doing our best to meet them according to God’s provision, without amassing debt, and with choices that honor God (see Love Covers a Multitude of Immodesty and Ten Modesty Makers). For many years, garage sales and hand-me-downs were manna from heaven when it came to making sure my family would have what they needed. God provided for our every need, every time. He still does. My part is to evaluate our resources, research our options, and put feet to God’s lead as our true provider.

This Proverbs 31 thing requires doing hard things: faith, discipline, sacrifice, trust. It’s tempting to do what’s easier for the immediate, personal pleasure, but we can’t follow God by satisfying ourselves.

But by His grace, when we follow God, we will be abundantly satisfied.

Lord, Your ways are marvelous. Your word speaks truth that brings lasting satisfaction as we desire to live more wholly Yours today as women, wives, and moms.

For the rest of this series, see:

Take Note, Not Offense

The Perfect Wife, Who Can Find?

A Wife’s Power of Influence

The Whatever-It-Takes Wife

A Wife’s Pulse and Profit