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Posted April 22, 2015

Book: Woman of Strength: Learning from the Proverbs 31 Women
Authors include: Kimberly Hahn, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, Gina Loehr, Barbara Curtis, Genevieve Kineke, Anne Costa, Heidi Bratton, Johnnette Benkovic Servant Media.
Cincinnati, OH. 2015. Pp. 112

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In this book of meditations, you well meet the real woman of Proverbs 31: dignified, strong, caring, creative, and resourceful. Most of all, she's a woman who knows what really matters: loving God and growing in her faith. The reflections in Woman of Strength focus on the attributes and virtues found in Proverbs 31 and suggests a prayer for each day.

An Excerpt from the Book:

With Willing Hands

No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God

The fact that the Proverbs 31 woman works with willing hands highlights her delight in her work. She has a cheerful rather than a complaining spirit about her work. The translation from Syriac says "Her hands are active after the pleasure of her heart." This is the attribute I want to have.

Usually, homemaking tasks do not frustrate me. Sure, doing the same chores week after week can get tedious, but I have been trained by my mother to see the spiritual side of things --- it is possible to rise above the mundane to see the big picture. What seems like menial work can be meaningful work.

But one day I stopped in my tracks, midway up the stairs, with a basket of clean clothes. There it was: the same Healthtex shirt I had laundered for years. Michael had worn it, Gabriel has worn it; Hannah had not worn it (since it was too boyish), but Jeremiah had worn it. Now, week after week, I was carrying it back up the stairs after Joseph had worn it, only to have him get it dirty again.

I was caught, for a moment, in the futility of what I was doing. The laundry basket almost became too heavy to carry. I cried out, "God help me! How many times am I going to wash this shirt? What's the point of all this repetitive work?" All of a sudden I felt caught on a point of self-pity, but I really did want a different perspective.

Almost immediately, the thought came, Think how many children you have been able to love, week after week, through this one little shirt.

I paused. Though the task had not changed, I had. I realized with gratitude, that though the work was repetitive, the work on my heart and mind was not. Through the mundane work of a homemaker, God was fashioning a home in my heart where love could be expressed in myriad acts of kindness, including laundering the same shirt, which has only recently been retired from active duty since David had outgrown it.

I was not caring for the shirt; I was caring for the child who wore the shirt. The load of laundry became light, and I carried it easily the rest of the way upstairs.

I realized that though I may be sweeping the same floor, wiping the same dishes, making the same beds, washing the same clothes, something is different --- I am. Little by little, God is giving me more of a servant heart as I relinquish my will to his, allowing the ordinary tasks of my day to reflect the extraordinary love he has for my loved ones through me.

Through ordinary work, God gives extraordinary grace. When I cooperate with that grace, I remember, "I can do all things in him [Christ] who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:23)

Lord thank you for the many opportunities you give me each day to love and serve you and my family. Truly, this is an honor. Make me a strong and resilient instrument of your love and devotion.

Kimberly Hahn

Table of Contents:

More Precious Than Jewels
What really counts
Crown of creation
The bride of Christ
Wrapped in God's arms

Called to Love
A sincere gift
Real love
Expansive souls
Love with dignity
The apostolate of presence

Love begins at home
The foundation of trust
We are family
A place for people
Counting on women: the story of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Handmaids of the Lord
Prioritize your priorities
Every woman is a working woman
Nothing packed in plastic, please
With will hands
Housework and heaven's work
The story of St. Zita
Hostess with the mostest

God is our strength
Morning prayer
Driving home the truth
Firmly rooted
Fasting helps
The Eucharist

Wisdom from Above
The gift of wisdom
Living up to our dignity
Ponder the stars
Humility yields victory
Wisdom from our Mother

Spiritual Motherhood
Skipping for joy
The way to joy
Deborah's witness
The story of St. Monica, wife and mother
Mothering matters
Sister Teresa Maria