Do you ever feel like a pressure cooker, ready to blow steam with the slightest provocation? As women, most of us face daunting daily demands on our time, energy, and emotions. As wives and mothers, the stress increases exponentially. There are days when I start off in a great mood, until the first person wakes up, and then it’s downhill from there!

On those days, I am wise to pay particular attention to today’s two targets.

Target SIX: Staying healthy and strong, body, mind, and spirit.

She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms (17)… Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come (25).

To do James or anyone the good of Target Three and not evil (see A Wife’s Power of Influence), I have to take care of myself. My mental and emotional wellbeing is intimately intertwined with my spiritual and physical wellbeing. If I neglect personal time with God, or if I’m tired, sick, hormonal, toxic from poor food choices, or desperately overdue for the endorphins of a good run, my family pays the price. I end up in the pressure cooker. They end up with evil, and it’s not good!

As an aspiring Proverbs 31 woman, I can take the pulse of my wellbeing daily and make time for the things that give me strength. This is most difficult right before my monthly cycle, when I’ve been known to have out-of-body experiences, watching myself feel, do, and say things that make no sense to me, and feeling totally powerless to stop myself. My family is often the casualty of my unreasonable, disagreeable disposition. When I recognize what’s happening, I try to rest, sleep, minimize stress, take my supplements, and continually talk myself through the few days when everything I say and do might be categorized as evil. Taking responsibility for managing my condition (and lots of dark chocolate) often takes the edge off enough for us all to survive. And I ask forgiveness often!

Circumstances don’t always allow for the ideal every day, but we can be consistently intentional about spending quiet time with the Lord, praying and studying His word, sleeping, exercising, and eating healthy meals.

Sometimes I need solitude or time with a girlfriend, filling my tank so I can pour into others. Other times, staying strong means seeing a doctor to evaluate medical issues that may be interfering with our physical, hormonal, and/or mental health.

Ultimately, God is the source of our strength. He is the one who sustains us and keeps us well, but we do play a part in girding ourselves with strength.

Target SEVEN: Valuing our work.

She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle (18-19).

When I worked full-time outside the home, it was intensely satisfying. My performance was measurable, recognized, and rewarded. The same was true for selling Mary Kay; I knew exactly how I was doing by my sales, awards, and advancement. I would ghost write for a friend at times, and her enthusiasm and praise were exhilarating. Early morning and late night hours seemed a small price to pay for the satisfaction of feeling like I was “producing” something worthy of another’s notice.

Our merchandise is what we traffic; it’s our profit. As wives and moms, according to God’s economy, we deal in selflessness and sacrifice, character and values, teaching and training, serving and exhorting, persevering and pressing on. Are these things valuable in our estimation? Do we consider our husbands, homes, and families to be our gain?

Learning to value my family and home as my most important job has been a journey. Going from a world where performance is praised to a thankless existence can discourage the heartiest of souls. Yet, every hot meal we cook, kind word we speak, character we shape, value we instill, lesson we teach, scripture we repeat, diaper we change, load of laundry we fold, injury we pray over, mess we clean up, heart we console, or peace we make is worth its great price.

As we perceive the merchandise of marriage, home, and family as good, our lamp is the fire or passion that continually burns for that which God deems highly worthy of our time, effort, and sacrifice. And when we don’t give up, even when we can’t see that anything we’re doing is doing any good, our lamp literally doesn’t go out by night. We stretch our hands to the distaff; our hands hold the spindle.

Often, what is required is beyond what is humanly possible, “but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint “ (Isaiah 40:31). Thus, we “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Lord, according to Your goodness and grace, strengthen us and instill Your values in our hearts today, that we may esteem that which is most important to You as we become more wholly Yours today.

For the rest of the blogs in this series, see:

Take Note Not Offense

The Perfect Wife, Who Can Find?

A Wife’s Power of Influence

The Whatever-It-Takes Wife