We interrupt our series to let you know that the True Woman ‘08 conference begins tonight in Chicago. It is the vision of author and speaker Nancy Leigh DeMoss and also features speakers such as John Piper, Joni Earekson Tada, and our dear friend Carolyn McCulley (yeah!).
The vision of this conference is to help women:
- Discover and embrace God’s created design and mission for their lives
- Reflect the beauty and heart of Christ to their world
- Intentionally pass on the baton of Truth to the next generation
- Pray earnestly for an outpouring of God’s Spirit in their families, churches, nation, and world
For those of us who weren’t able to make it to the conference this weekend, we can watch live or follow along on their blog.
“SHE does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Prov. 31:12
For the next few days we’re going to consider this verse, drawing in part from a message given by Nicole.
First, take a look—Who is the one designed and appointed to bring my husband good? It’s none other then me! Many people may be a blessing to my husband, but as his wife, I have been created, fashioned and designed to be the most effective at bringing my husband good.”
We learn this in the first pages of our Bible. Gen. 2:18 says “Then the Lord said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (emphasis mine).
What was not good? For the man to be alone.
What was good? For the man to have a helper, his wife.
Each of us, no less than Eve, was carefully fashioned, down to the last detail, to be a helper “fit” for our husband. We have a unique ability to do him good. The strengths, talents and gifts that God has given to us are the perfect combination to complement him.
I am sometimes tempted to sinfully compare myself to other women who I think are more beautiful, gifted, creative, or competent than me. But no other person, no matter how gifted they are, could fill my role as Brian’s wife better than I can. I have been carefully fashioned by my Creator to serve my husband.
The truth that God has made me a helper fit for my husband fills me with faith for my role. It also excites me to do him all the good that I possibly can!
“She [that’s me!] does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (Prov. 31:12)
As we study a topic like “doing your husband good,” I think of the women I know who are in difficult marriages. Maybe you are one of them. Maybe your husband has sinned against God and against you in significant ways and yet remains unrepentant. Your seemingly senseless situation poses the question: “How can God expect me to do good to my husband?”
For the answer, we must view such circumstances in light of the cross, where God the Father sacrificed His only Son. This event did not seem to make sense either. But out of Christ’s unspeakable suffering, God, in His perfect wisdom, provided salvation for mankind. If He has purchased our salvation through the suffering and sacrifice of His Son, can we not trust that He is working good in the midst of our suffering (Rom. 8:28)?
If you are in an exceptionally trying situation with your husband, I encourage you to pour out your heart to the Lord of love. He knows, He sees, and He hears; and though your tears may be lost on your husband, they are not lost on your heavenly Father. He is the compassionate Lord who urges us to draw near to Him so “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).
Although you may not understand, you can be sure your marriage has God’s loving inscription upon it. God’s unerring wisdom has ordained your relationship with your husband—for your good and for Christ’s glory. Look to God for strength to endure, for the Lord promises that He will husband you (Isa. 54:5-6). God will renew your strength so you will not grow weary in doing good to your husband.
And you do not know what the Lord has planned for your future. Your doing good to your husband could be the very means God uses to soften his heart toward you and toward Himself.
I hope that as we continue this little series you will be encouraged to persevere in doing your husband good, for the glory of God, and in the strength that He provides.
“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12).
We want to examine one aspect of the Proverbs 31 woman’s portrait: her role as a wife.
“Doing Your Husband Good” wouldn’t play well on the cover of a woman’s magazine these days. In the aftermath of the feminist movement, motherhood has made a comeback, and even domesticity has regained popularity, but the role of a wife as portrayed in the Bible remains repulsive.
As Christian women we can sometimes resemble our culture’s portrait of the worthy woman more than Scripture’s. Motherhood can consume us, the home is an endless cycle of chores, and then we try to carve out some time for ourselves—our own hobbies and interests. There can be little time or energy left to do our husbands good.
But our role as a wife is to be our highest priority, our first concern. Our husband should come before the kids, before the house, and yes, even before our own hobbies and pursuits.
Scripture makes this abundantly clear, as Mom points out in Feminine Appeal. She cites Genesis 2:18 where we read that the woman was created to be her husband’s helper; then 1 Cor 11:9 where Paul writes that man was not created for woman, but woman for man. In Titus 2 we find that “the list of instructions for the younger women begins and ends with their relationship to their husbands.”
What does this look like, especially for those in difficult marriages? Mom weighs in tomorrow.
She’s the woman we love to hate: the Proverbs 31 woman.
For one thing, she never seems to sleep: “she rises while it is yet night” and “her lamp does not go out at night.” Her family always has clean laundry (folded and put away in drawers, no doubt)—they are clothed in fine linen and purple, the best materials available.
This woman manages her household with skill and wisdom. On the side she is able to turn a profit in business ventures for the good of her family. In her spare time she cares for the poor.
She’s strong; she’s wise; she’s godly. And she’s intimidating.
For that reason, we sometimes avoid the Proverbs 31 woman. If we were at a party with characters from the Bible, most of us would probably rather hang out with some of the more “flawed” women: Sarah who laughed at God’s promises, or Rebekah who was deceptive, or Martha who was rebuked by our Lord.
It’s an ugly quality in us as women: we sometimes take delight in other women’s weaknesses and avoid those we think are better than us in some way. And who is more perfect than the Proverbs 31 woman?
But God himself has commissioned what Charles Bridges calls this “full-length portrait of the virtuous woman.” We are not to shy away from her in pride because we feel we can’t attain to all her virtues. Rather, we are to humbly admit that while we fall far short of her example, God has called us to learn from her.
The Proverbs 31 woman is not meant to discourage us, but to inspire and encourage us. God desires to make us more like this godly woman. Just as he gives us grace to fulfill all of His commands, so He has provided power to help us resemble this lovely portrait. So let’s take a closer look.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And we’ve had too much caramel.
After two weeks of reading, buying, baking, eating and writing about the sugary stuff, it’ll be a while before we can look at it again, much less eat it. We’ll steer clear of the caramel section in the grocery store this fall, lest we run into countless bags of caramel in one place. There probably won’t be any caramel desserts at Thanksgiving this year either. We may skip Thanksgiving baking altogether and go straight to Christmas cookies, just to be safe.
In all seriousness, while we are carameled-out for the moment, we thoroughly enjoyed this contest. Many of your amazing recipes will be Mahaney clan staples for years to come, much to the delight of our husbands and children. So thank you!
Here are our final favorites, Caramel Apple Pizza from Amanda Schulte and Oatmeal Everything Bars from Beth Muzik….
Caramel Apple Pizza
From Taste of Home 2001 Annual Quick Recipe Book
1 tube (18 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
4 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 3 large)
1 can (12 ounces) lemon-lime soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping*
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Press cookie dough into a greased 14-in pizza pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Run a large flat spatula under crust to loosen from pan. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and milk until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust. In a bowl, combine the apples and soda; drain well. Toss apples with cinnamon; arrange over cream cheese. Drizzle with the caramel topping and sprinkle with pecans. Cut into wedges.
Yield: 8-10 serving. *Editor’s Note: Fat-free caramel ice cream topping is not recommended for this recipe.
Oatmeal Everything Bars
1 - 14 oz. bag of caramels
3 T. milk
1 1/2 C. butter
2 C. flour
2 C. oats
1 1/4 C. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 C. chocolate chip (approx)
1 C. pecan halves (approx)
Microwave caramels and milk (medium power for 2-3 minutes/check and stir every 30 seconds). Set aside. Melt butter and combine with flour, oats, brown sugar, soda, and salt. Press 1/2 of butter/oat mixture into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips. Sprinkle pecan halves. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips/pecans. Top with spoonfuls of remaining butter/oat mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Wait a good 30 minutes before cutting. Their really gooey when they’re hot! ENJOY!
Let me tell you, the fun didn’t end with the four girltalkers. This caramel contest brought much joy to four husbands, seven children and one brother. Mike has never had that many dessert options at his fingertips at one time. Let’s just say that he handled the situation without much difficulty.
Tara Beth Townsend contributed a great Thanksgiving dessert and our first winner for today: Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Cheesecake. Samantha Weinhausen is our other winner with a yummy layered Caramel Apple Dip.
Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
1 cup sour cream
For Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.
For Filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined.
Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.
Caramel Apple Dip
* 2 (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 2 t vanilla extract
* 1 jar caramel topping (for ice cream)
* 1 large Symphony candy bar with almonds and toffee, crumbled into small pieces
* A couple sliced granny smith apples
In a large bowl cream together, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Spread mixture in a pie plate. Next pour the caramel topping on top of the cream cheese mixture, followed by crumbling the candy bar on top of the caramel layer. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Serve with sliced granny smith apples.
This caramel contest was more than we expected: more work, more mess, and definitely more fun. We were also pleasantly surprised by the chance to use your recipes to bless others. Kristin and Nicole brought caramel desserts to small group meetings at their churches. Janelle and I took plates with an amazing assortment of caramel confections to meet our new neighbors. The only downside is that we’ve probably raised expectations for homemade gifts we’ll never be able to meet again: brownies from a box are going to be underwhelming after the variety of delicious bars, cookies and muffins we delivered last week. I have a feeling our neighbors will be consistently disappointed in us from now on. Or, like Janelle said, maybe we’ll have to do another contest—in the interest of evangelism, of course.
Today’s winners sent in two fabulous cookie recipes: Robin Gilmore
contributed Special Thumbprints/Caramel Brickle and Candace Teichroew
gave us Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies. Thank you both!
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
In large bowl beat first four ingredients until light and fluffy.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off and put in separate
bowl adding baking powder, stir. Add flour mixture to butter mixture
and stir until smooth dough forms.
3/4 cup almond brickle chips
20 unwrapped caramel candies
1/4 cup half ‘n’ half or milk
Combine dough and brickle chips; knead to blend. Refrigerate dough 30
minutes. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; place 2 inches apart on
ungreased cookie sheet. Make thumbprint. Bake at 350 degrees for 11
to 14 minutes or until lightly browned around edges and set.
Immediately remove from cookie sheet. (May have to indent again) Cool
In small saucepan over medium heat, melt caramels and half ‘n’ half,
stirring until smooth. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of filling into center of each
cookie. Makes 3 1/2 dozen
Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 package (13 ounces) Rolo candies
4 squares (1 ounce each) white baking chocolate, melted
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, 1 cup sugar and brown sugar. Add
the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in
vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; gradually add to the
creamed mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans.
Shape a tablespoonful of dough around each candy, forming a ball. In a
small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and pecans; dip each cookie
halfway. Place nut side up 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake
at 375° for 7-10 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked. Cool for 3
minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle with
Yield: About 4 dozen.