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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Welcome to this New Year.

Happy New Year friends! Please take a moment to read and share this- it truly blessed me! Let Jesus carry each day for you. Don’t worry about the weeks ahead. Avoid letting the activities and expenses of the coming month … Continue reading

For the Least of These.

Once a year my church completely shuts down for a whole weekend. No services, no meetings, no bible studies. Everyone is encouraged to go out into the community and serve. More than 800 volunteers serve in areas ranging from home renovations to yard work, giveaways to random acts of kindness. I was blessed to be able to serve on the car wash team this year. We spent all day washing cars completely free- no donations accepted. Just free.

While I believe we live in a society of entitlement and all too often greed, I have found that people have a hard time truly accepting anything for free. Why? Because that requires humilityadmitting that you have a need.

At one point in the day, a very challenging old woman came by. She wanted her car washed, but on her terms. She began bossing around some of the younger volunteers and making demands. She also (repeatedly) expressed her disappointment that we were not vacuuming or buffing the windows inside the car. I am not the most patient person. Really, I wish I was, but it just isn’t my gifting. I so badly wanted to say, “Look, lady, we are doing this for free; take what you get.” But I didn’t. Instead, I stayed quiet and continued to serve. I heard the still, small, patient voice inside.

Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.
(Matthew 5:12)

As I was detailing the inside of my new friend’s car, she began to share her story. She told me that she was a recent widow. She shared that she was a breast cancer survivor, but was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. She shared some of her financial struggles. It became clear that this was a woman who was in need of some love, grace, and patience. When we finished her car, she gave me a big hug and expressed her gratitude. She said she wouldn’t have been able to afford a car wash on her own or do it herself. Seeing her gratitude was the biggest blessing I could have received!

Reflecting on her testimony and the events of the day, I am reminded of Christ’s gracious sacrifice for us. The same way my challenging friend wanted a free car wash done her way, we often want to accept the free gift of salvation on our own terms. “Jesus, I will accept your grace, but I still want to do this.” “Jesus, I’ll let you save me, but I’m not sure I want to do such-and-such.” We need to remember that grace is free- you don’t get to have it your way. We struggle with salvation because we lack humility. With salvation, just like at the car wash, all you need to do is accept the free gift, no strings attached and no work required.

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Father God,
I thank you for being able to serve today. Thank you for blessing me with enough, so I can give to others. I pray for my new friend. May she find peace and healing in You. Help me to remover that You are offering grace as a free gift. No work required. Give me a humble heart that is willing to accept that grace on Your terms. In Your Almighty name, Amen.

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.

Love is Patient.

I am so glad God gave us relationships to help us go through life. Relationships with family, relationships with friends, and then… romantic relationships. However, relationships are hard. God knew that when he ordained love. In 1 Corinthians 13: 7, He even warns that love would need to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.”

One of the hardest things I think love can endure is distance. There are so many different circumstances that lead to long distance relationships: military, moving, college, meeting online, etc. As someone who is personally enduring distance in a relationship, I am always looking for wise counsel and good advice. That is why I asked my awesome, strong, and totally adorable friend Brittany to write us some advice. Brittany has been married to her husband for 5 months, and he has been away for 4 of them- talk about enduring all things! I hope her words bless you as much as they bless me on a daily basis!

Ever wonder how to survive a long distance relationship? How to survive the heartache of being away from the one you loved?
I wondered how other people do it and told myself “I could never do that…“; I would never put myself in that position.
Well guess what? I’m in that position. Funny how things work, huh?

Most long distant relationships couples can call everyday, text everyday, and even Skype everyday. In mine, I can’t do that. Why you ask? Well, my husband is a United States Marine. He just finished boot camp almost a month ago and he is still in training now. I’ve been married to him for 5 months and 4 of those months he has been away from me and I rely on the mailman in hopes he has a letter for me from my husband.

It’s hard waking up every single day and putting a smile on your face and acting like everything is okay. Most people can’t do that, but every morning I take time to pray and do a daily devotion. If God was not part of my life I would not be able to do this. I would not be able to be married to someone who is in the military. I would not be able to show the world that I am stronger with each and every day. God is the center of my everyday life, along with my husband. Every time I feel weak and I’m going to break down and cry I pray. I ask God to give me the strength to keep that smile on my face. Sometimes it’s okay to cry. Crying shows that you have emotion and without crying you can’t get stronger.

This verse is everywhere; in my room, my bathroom, and my car. Every time I read it I get a sense of strength and peace.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

God is always with you, no matter what. You may feel lonely being away from your love but don’t EVER forget that God never leaves you and is always there to listen. My husband and I have a verse that we write in our letters.
May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. (Genesis 31:49)

My husband feels very guilty being away from me for so long and not being able to call for months. He says God created man to watch and protect his wife at all times and I can’t do that when I am away from you. So, I found that verse one day doing my devotions and I mailed it to him. He was overcome with so much peace and gratitude the Lord is always watching over.

Being in a long distant relationship is very exhausting. Wondering what they are doing, how they are doing, if he is okay. But with God all those worries and fears subside. I have never had a stronger relationship with the Lord than through being a marine wife. When he first left for boot camp I questioned myself, “Why is God putting me in this situation? Is he punishing me for something by me being away from my husband?” At first I was mad at God, but I needed him in order to be able to survive all of this.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
God brings you through anything He puts in front of you. If you don’t have God, your long distance relationship will not work. Everyday is another day farther than you last saw them but another day closer to the day you will see them.
Stay strong! Always remember: God is on your side.

A special thank you to Brittany Andras, USMC Wife.