Finding Peace with that Proverbs 31 Lady.

I really don’t like that Proverbs 31 lady. She is just so… together. Her life is perfectly organized and well managed. She has everything figured out. And everyone just loves her. She is not a normal woman- she stands out big time.

I want to like her, really. The problem is when I look at her I see all of my inadequacies. I see the inevitable dust on the shelves and the dog hair that reappears the second I put up the broom. I see the imperfect relationships in my life. I see my inability to master anything half as well as her.

So instead of looking up to Proverbs 31 lady, I bitterly resent her. I have this vision of her in my mind. She’s totally gorgeous- no acne, skinny, flawless. She’s balancing a quiet and clean baby on the hip with one hand, sewing clothes the other, and dinner is cooking in the background (and you can bet it won’t be burned!). Ugh.
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But the closer I grow with God, the more I can stop picking at my flaws and imperfections. I can start to understand that I am enough, exactly as I am. And it has nothing to do with my performance or perfection. It has everything to do with God being the utmost priority in my life. More than a clean house or an employee of the month award is my relationship with God. When He is my priority, He spills out into all of the other areas of my life.

Every single day I need God’s grace to save me, heal me, and make me perfect in His sight. It is God’s grace that gives me a purpose, not my performance or perfection.
So maybe I can find peace with my friend in Proverbs 31 when I look at her with this light. She isn’t a checklist of who I ought to be, but a reflection of who I can be when God’s love is my first priority.

God wants us to be so filled with Him that others cannot possibly look at us without seeing Him. His love should change us and make us stand out. Others should see something different about us. Just like Proverbs 31, we should stand out.

God’s love for us is what makes us stand out. Despite my shortcomings, God chooses to love me. I can extend love and grace to others because love and grace have been extended to me.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

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All Things New.

My husband and I have been busy working summer camps with high school summer missionaries for over a month. This means we are spending the majority of our time out at camp, and not home. We had some fresh garlic … Continue reading

Get Up and Live.

You will know that I am the Lord, My people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.

(Ezekiel 37:13)

It is the very essence of God that He will receive glory through our salvation, through bringing  us to life. As I read Ezekiel 37: 1-10, I see myself laying in the valley. Remnants of myself, what once was a body, now dry and disassembled. Scattered amongst the remains of others. Surely I have been picked over by scavengers. Maybe my belongings were looted by passerby. Whats left now is a skeleton of a man, if it can be called that.

Those who look out over me see hopelessness. They see what once was but is no more. To them, I am finished, useless. What could have led me to this state? One act. One act that lead to a terrible fall. One bite, if you will. It set me on a downward slope of never-ending consequence where each action leads to an exponentially greater fall. The more I tried to save myself the harder and faster I fell. Then I hit the bottom. It’s there, in the valley, that I lay, among others who met the same fate. Each of us trying so desperately to save ourselves. But now we lay here. Dry. Dead. Disassembled. Desperate.

That is when He comes along. He sees us not in our current state, but in a restored and brilliant manner, powerful and worthwhile. It’s with one breath that life begins to come back into us. With one breath we become reassembled. With one spoken command we are more than restored, to a holy and blameless state. His Spirit is within us, His power is among us. We are more than the men we once were. We are a new creation. A great and powerful army.

The same shell that was once useless, lifeless, and broken now has purpose. There is now a reason for its existence. In living, the Breather of Life receives glory. Our life in its restored state is a testimony to His power. It shows that He is good, He is strong, and He is the Lord.

On My Honor.

On my honor I will do my best….

Today Christians are given a beautiful opportunity to show God’s love, mercy, grace, and mildness to others. Regardless of your stance on the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America, or gay rights in general, you are being given the opportunity to respond.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
Colossians 4:5

Don’t be deceived. What appears to be a source for conflict is really an opportunity to respond. How you respond is up to you. But it is how you choose to respond that will either further the Gospel of love or deepen the lie of self-righteousness.

It really doesn’t matter what you think. Sorry- that sounds harsh, but its true. God’s truth does matter.

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

So God’s truth for us is to regard others as incredibly valuable and precious people- His divine creation, and to love them intensely. I love that the HCSB translation uses the word intense. Something intense is usually skirting the line between joy and pain. How would it feel to love someone so intensely that it almost hurts?

As people talk (and talk they will!) about the latest decision made by the BSA, try to remember that each conversation is an opportunity to share with others that God loves them deeply, exponentially more than He dislikes their sin. Try not to focus on what the people are doing that is wrong and immoral- you can’t change that. Instead, focus on the larger, all-encompassing message of love to all people. Love people, whether they are themselves sinning or supporting something you feel is inconsistent with God’s word. After all, its that intense love that will cover a multitude of sins.

On my honor I will do my best,
To do my duty to God and His people,
And to obey His omnipotent law.
To love others intensely at all times,
To value others above myself,
to be wise and exhibit intense love.

Biblical Truth I Learned Through Teaching: Tough Love

I’m a first year teacher and there is an immense sense of victory I have coming to the end of my first year. It has been a long, challenging, and nonetheless awesome year. While I’m paid to do the teaching, I must admit that I did quite a bit of learning. And despite the ‘separation’ of church and state, many of those lessons where biblical truths, teaching me more about myself, my faith, and leading me closer to the heart of God. 

Lesson One: Tough Love

“You know I’ll always love you but right now I just don’t like you..”
Which To Bury; Us Or The Hatchet, Relient K

I love my students. I love getting to know them. I love when they run into my room and start talking about science. I love watching them help each other. I love getting to be part of the moment when they finally “get it”.

But if I’m being honest: I don’t always like my students very much.

They are not always easy to handle. They sometimes disrespect me, don’t feel like working, don’t do their homework, don’t want to be in my class, and sometimes they just don’t like me.

But there is an overwhelming certainty even when things are hard: I love my students.

I’m reminded of God’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). If a neighbor is a person who is in your immediate surroundings that you “do life” with, aren’t my students really just neighbors?

Here’s where I get stuck: how on Earth do I love someone who I really don’t even like sometimes? In John 12, God gives us instruction on how to love each other.

John 12:15

As I have loved you. This is the most difficult, beautiful, arduous task God could possibly give a broken, sinful, selfish, prideful gal like me! I mean, think for a moment about how He has loved us. He made us, gave us everything, and set our lives in motion. We disobeyed Him. He then continued to love us, correct us, send His Son to die on a cross to bear the weight of our sins, and through grace, offers us eternal life. And we are supposed to love people who are hard to like that way. Whoah.

So how do we do that? I think there are a few simple ways we can try to emulate the love the Father has shown us.

1) Pray for your neighbors.
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1)

2) Forgive your neighbors.
…accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. (Colossians 3:13)

3) Serve your neighbors.
and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45)

And when all three of those seem difficult to do, remember that you do in fact love them and that God loves them. Its not always going to be easy, and its going to take practice, but it always feels better when we are living a life that brings glory to God.

Father God, You are so patient with us. Help us to remember your graciousness toward us and extend that same grace to those in our lives. Help us to love with Your love and see others as you see them. It is Your will for us that we love one another. Help us to live within Your will. In your name, Amen.