A Virtuous Woman: A Proverbs 31 Ministry
Melissa Ringstaff, is the founder and director of A Virtuous Woman. She lives with her husband in Harlan, Kentucky. The story of her Proverbs 31 ministry and website will be an inspiration for those contemplating a new ministry or a website for their existing ministry. A Virtuous Woman is a must visit website for women of all ages.
Young women today often struggle with finding a balance between keeping a neat home and keeping all the commitments that come with being a wife, mother, church member, sister, daughter, friend, and homemaker. Trying to do it all and have a closer walk with God can be completely overwhelming at times and she may even feel like she has failed on every account.
I can't remember the first time I read Proverbs 31. But I do remember over the years hearing women dismiss the Proverbs 31 woman as an unrealistic portrait, someone they could never become. In 1999 I began a small website centered around Christian homemaking. I had no knowledge of html programming or how to build a website. But I have always believed that if you want something bad enough and you work hard enough that anything is possible. I dreamed of ministering to women around the world, helping them to become the women God had planned them to be.
A Virtuous Woman
In 2001, when my husband and I settled on naming the ministry A Virtuous Woman I began to really study the verses. I realized that each verse, each description of the virtuous woman held so much promise for women today.
I realized that God had given us this woman as an example to strive for. Becoming a virtuous woman does not happen over night! It is the journey of a lifetime; the walk of a woman seeking to do her best for the glory of God. I wanted women to understand that just because we now have washing machines, grocery stores, and shop at the mall everything we do is either providing for or taking away from our families. The Proverbs 31 woman had a heart filled with love for her God and for her home. Everything she did was for the betterment of others.
Through a lot of trial and error, a lot of heart ache and head aches, A Virtuous Woman's website was slowly built. We began to reach hundreds of women each month and I was thrilled as we watched the numbers grow. In 2004 we made the decision to file for non-profit status and I redesigned the website to a more professional layout that hopefully appeals to the majority of women. I went from randomly posting articles to meeting set deadlines each month. I searched for volunteers and new writers. I learned about search engine optimization and how to reach more women.
By 2005 we were reaching thousands of women a month from every denomination, our discussion forum was active and growing, our e-newsletter had hundreds of subscribers, and women were telling me how our free printable household notebook and step-by-step instructions, were changing their lives.
I had visions of women coming together in local communities to learn together, laugh together, and grow together. So, recently we launched our Proverbs 31 Clubs. Soon after launching the Proverbs 31 Clubs, I began to offer women more detailed and prettier household notebooks - our Practical Homemaking Planners on CD. These have been very popular! For several decades women were choosing to leave behind the role of homemaker, but the trend now is turning back. Women have a desire to return home, to raise their families and provide the warm haven and the love and comfort children and husbands need.
In February of 2005, we mailed out our first issue of A Woman of Worth to a few subscribers. Our print newsletter subscription base is steadily growing and we are looking forward to the day when we can go from black and white print to glossy color!
The goal of A Virtuous Woman is to reach women for Christ, to help them overcome their daily struggles, to find better ways to accomplish their goals, and to find encouragement when they are down. We want women to understand that the Proverbs 31 woman was not a super-woman. She was a woman filled with the joy of salvation, the courage of a saint, and the desire to be the woman God wanted her to be. We can all be virtuous women. After all, we are told that, "[We] can do all things through Christ who strengthens [us]." Philippians 4: 13