Posts tagged hayil
LETTERS TO MY SON: how to spot a strong woman

“A wife of noble character who can find?

    She is worth far more than rubies.”

-in letters to King Lemuel from his mother-

(Proverbs 31:10)

Dearest son,

Like the King’s mom, I am writing to you for a specific purpose: to paint a picture of the kind of woman you will want one day to be your wife.

And like Lemuel’s mother, I am assuming that you are actually looking, that you have rejected the laisez faire attitude I see so often in men. That uber-spiritual sounding stance that “God will provide and I don’t have to do anything but wait”.

Because I don’t believe that. In fact, I believe that it is the honor for a man to actively search for a noble woman to stand by his side and join her strength to his.

Apparently, Mrs. Lemuel felt the same. She recognizes that women of “noble character” are few and far between. Valuable and rare.

And that such women are worth finding.

Hayil, the Hebrew word translated in the NIV as “noble character”, is used throughout Scripture to depict a man or woman of strength, wealth, influence, might, and firm character.

A strong woman.

A woman like Rebekah.

And Elizabeth.

And Tammy.

Three strong women of vastly different personalities and gifts and interests who have set a standard for you of this kind of excellence.

Rebekah is extremely intelligent, she loves to learn and read and research and discover. Right now she is throwing all her skills and drive into making her husband a success. She believes in him passionately and is sacrificing her own interests to build their business around Steve’s gifts and calling.

Tammy is kind and steady, with a wealth of wisdom about people and relationships. Her intuitive insight into the souls of the people around her adds incredible strength to your brother’s ministry. And she is relentless in her loving on and caring for John Mark.

Elizabeth is a woman who does life with excellence. She doesn’t just cook, she researches and learns and creates, using fresh, healthy foods to both nurture and nourish her family. She pours her intelligence and drive into every aspect of motherhood and lavishes her beauty on her family.

Three women of strength… of noble character.

And so I’d like to leave you with a list in my own words.

What A Woman Of Strong And Noble Character Looks Like In Everyday Life.

  1. A strong woman is trustworthy. (vs. 11)
  2. A strong woman doesn’t feel compelled to dominate. (vs. 12)
  3. A strong woman uses her gifts and time and talents to give to others. (vs. 12,13,20)
  4. A strong woman goes the extra mile. (vs. 18)
  5. A strong woman is always thinking ahead. (vs. 15,21)
  6. A strong woman takes care of herself with confidence. (vs.22)
  7. A strong woman is capable and smart and hard working. (vs. 24,27)
  8. A strong woman is hopeful. (vs. 25)
  9. A strong woman is wise and kind with her words. (vs.26)
  10. 10. A strong woman is in awe of God. (vs. 30)

And may I offer you just one more word of advice?

Do not be afraid of strength in a woman. Because, Matt, you will need a woman of this kind of soul strength to catch the vision God is developing in your heart.

Yours is a big vision, one that you cannot do alone. Just like Steve’s and Brook’s and John Mark’s.

And as long as she “gets it” and is able to see how her own gifts and talents fit in with yours, she’ll add to your strength rather than compete for her own way.

And when you find her, dear son-of-mine, cherish her.

From my heart,



8 Scary Things We Women Do…

when we think we need a man to make us happy.

Dear son,

A couple of letters back, I began to warn you to be alert and aware of the kind of woman who has the potential to sap you of your God-given and much needed strength. I let you know how close I came to being that kind of wife to your dad. And how he took me by the hand and helped me to know that only in utter dependence on God would I ever have the hole in my soul filled full.

Because even though I was honestly seeking God with all my heart, I still thought that being married to a godly man would make me feel forever loved and happy and fulfilled.

I think most women think that deep down. And it’s wrong.  It doesn’t work that way, not even a little. And it’s not supposed to. No man can satisfy a woman in those deepest places of her restless heart. Only God can do that— and for most of us women it takes a lifetime to figure out how that really works.

Now that I’ve scared you half to death, let me offer just a couple of words of practical description to help you recognize and avoid a needy woman. Remember, I’m describing who I once was, who I fight not to be even now.

#1  A man-needing woman will need more of you than you have to give.

#2  A man-needing woman will insinuate that you are not “there for her enough”.

#3  A man-needing woman will put you on the defensive- a lot.

#4  A man-needing woman will use her sensuality to bind you to her.

#5  A man-needing woman will often give in to intense expressions of emotion, requiring excessive      amounts of assurance from you.

#6  A man-needing woman will want you all to herself all of the time.

#7  A man-needing woman will generate a great deal of conflict.

#8  A man-needing woman will argue that you need to help her more rather than seeing her calling to be your help.

Please notice, my son, that a man-needing woman is not a bad woman. She may be beautiful and gentle and sweet and sitting in the front row with her Bible open at every gathering.

But until a woman figures out for herself that men are not meant to fulfill her craving need for more, and that only a close and intimate and dependent connection with God can fill that craving, she’ll be a strength sapper.

And you, my dear son, need every ounce of your hayil to do what God is calling you to do and to do it with the “vigor” (vs. 3) of a king.

From my heart,


Dear girls,

Don’t hate me! I get it, I really do. Yet I also know that the truth is what sets us free from ourselves.

So let’s be honest with each other, confess our weaknesses to each other, and go after all that God has waiting for us if we’ll only ask.

So… comments anyone? Do you see this in yourself?

Go ahead and make up a “pen name” for this one if you want… no need to completely terrify our guys!

Somehow I think if you’ll be honest here you’ll give all of us the courage to keep learning.

From my heart for you,


LETTERS TO MY SON: two kinds of women





Dear Matthew,

There are, I have come to see, two kinds of women: God-needing women and man-needing women.

God-needing women are women who are learning and growing and practicing what it looks like in everyday life to “hope in God” (see I Peter 3:5). They’re not perfect, not by a long shot. But they’ve figured out that only God can satisfy the craving in their hearts for more. And they’re pursuing Him actively and purposefully, gaining wisdom and knowledge and intimacy with God.

These women intentionally reject the notion that a man will make them happy. Instead, they look to God for all that He has to say about happiness and joy and serving and giving out of the overflow of a heart that belongs wholly to Him.

That’s the kind of woman I pray you find when the time is right.

Man-needing women are pursuing men.

They’re sure that a man will quench their raging thirst for affirmation and affection. The right man, they dream, will sweep them off their feet and carry them away to a world of beauty and romance and love, love, love.

And they’ll drain you of every last drop of your hayil in their frantic attempt to find what they crave.

Now, let me tell you the real truth about me.

When I married your dad I was just 19 years old. I had grand dreams of being a godly women, wanted with all my heart to serve Him and honor Him. I knew I was marrying a godly man and I loved everything about the life he offered me. With my head in the clouds, I imagined that being married to a leader would offer me security and a place in this world. It would be like being at church 24/7. All happiness and singing praises and satisfaction at the deepest level.

I was wrong.

In reality it felt like the church wanted everything from Phil and I was supposed to be chipper and happy and smiling and nice all the time.

But I was lonely.

And needy.

And not happy.

Somehow we survived that tumultuous first year of adjustments and my unrealistic expectations and I began to realize that my good and godly and loving and romantic leader of a husband would never fulfill me.

In fact, the deeper I delved into Scripture, the more it dawned on me that it was not his job to fulfill me!

Yet that yawning hole inside my soul beckoned to be filled. With your dad’s wise guidance and many hours spent with godly older women, I began to understand that my desperate neediness was meant to drive me into an intimate and satisfying relationship with Jesus. And that He alone could fill those empty places.

But, Matt, it wasn’t a pretty process.

And that’s why I want to warn you away from women who erroneously believe that a man— any man— even you, will make them happy.

With Lemuel’s mom, I want to warn you away from such a woman- a woman like I once was. Because the truth is, I was sucking the life out of my husband, trying to grab all his strength and vitality and attention for me.

And you know the rest of my story.

How God let me get to a place of deep surrender and how He has been filling me and feeding me and satisfying me all these years— not by my good and godly husband, nor through my super-smart-absolutely-perfect children, but just in Himself.

Lemuel's mother cries out for her son to listen! listen! listen!

She knows that the wrong woman will ruin the king. The word there in Hebrew means to “wipe out”. And that is exactly what can happen if a leader marries a man-needing woman.

And it is almost what happened to your father— because of me.

Next week, I’m going to write out another one of those lists for you. I know how men think in tangible, identifiable terms. But for now, just listen, my son.

Don’t be fooled by the giddy idealism of a girl who thinks you will sweep into her life and carry her away on your gleaming white horse and make life perfect.

You can’t.

What you can do is invite a woman whose heart is filled with God to join you in serving Him. You can offer her the breathtaking adventure of following at whatever the cost. You can point her to the security that can only be found in Him. You can point her to the Cross, and all the life that dying to self offers to everyone who chooses His way.

I love you, son. And I’m praying that you will have the discernment to know the difference between a woman who needs God and a woman who needs a man.

From my heart,


To the women who are reading this:

Can you offer some practical pictures of what a God-needing woman does with all that desire for more?

Would you help me explain what it looks like when a well-meaning woman thinks a man might fill that emptiness?

 After all, I’m thinking there must be a whole lot of women like me who are learning the hard way how to find all our hope in God.