Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Proverbs 31

I'm a christian and a woman which means I've heard my fair share of teaching on Proverbs 31. I mean, I even did a study with an organization called P31. I've joked about how much of a  P31 women I am... ironically it was always while we were doing something highly domestic activity like cooking a meal from scratch or up-cycling some mason jar to use as a lamp or something, never that we were selling land and using the profits wisely.

Yet in all of this teaching, I've never once looked at verses 1-9. It seems we've treated these like two separate chapters and celebrate that Solomon remembered to include direction for women in his advise to his son. Thank about that for a second... if Proverbs is advise written to his son, why in the end would he all of a sudden say "oh yea... to you women out there... this is how you should act."

As we studied this chapter last night in my community group and I listened to the women once again become burdened by this list and I began reading the first 9 verses (yes we'd all conveniently skipped over those this time too). The very first verse says "The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him." WHAT?! Why do we skip that verse... it changed how I read the rest of the chapter. It continues "What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, the son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vow?" This is a Godly mother's rebuke to her son. I can hear it now "What are you doing? I raised you... have you forgotten?" After this what I would call classic mom line, verses 3-9 outlines, what I believe her son wad doing to deserve this rebuke ... drunkenness, chasing loose women, neglecting the poor and needy. And, that's when we get to the oh so famous verses about an excellent wife.

Proverbs 31 isn't a list of direction to us women on how to be a good wife, it's a Godly mom's holy rebuke to her son... "Son, what you are doing is not good... you need to be looking for this..." If this is true, it changes how I read this book. Now I read this as wise words from a Godly older woman. The preciousness of these verses isn't that women were finally remembered in a book written to a son, but that a son found so much wisdom in his mother's words. How amazing is it that he would keep the rebuke filled words from a woman (women didn't have the voice then that we do now).

Women: Reread these words in this context and see how it changes for you. Hear and accept these words as you would wisdom from an older woman.
Men: Hear the rebuke of this wise mother and chase after what is more precious that jewels.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Last week was probably the worse week of my life. Actually the last month have been absolutely miserable, but God has been gracious and faithful to show me so much about himself through this time. One of these moments happened immediately following my grandma’s visitation. 
Right after leaving the visitation, my aunt, her two daughters, and I got into her car where my aunt told us we had an important stop to make before heading to the farm. By this point we were emotionally and physically exhausted and just wanted to go home, have dinner, and relax. The thought of another draining task exhausted us even more, yet we knew things had to be done and agreed to the stop. 
She pulled out of the funeral home parking lot, went around the block, and pulled into the playground. One of her daughters exclaimed “are we going swinging?!” My aunt quickly replied “yes, we need to swing.” We pulled in and went running for the swings and climbing for the slides. It was a small break of joy amidst our suffering.

Afterwards I reflected on this small, but special moment and realized how much having fun together brings a family together. To my extended family, stopping at a favorite park to have fun and enjoy each other was not a foreign concept; it was part of their family culture. This meant that in the middle of suffering they could come together and find relief and joy. They talked to one another, they knew what each other needed without it being spoken, they could find joy in suffering together. In contrast, my immediate family, who doesn’t have a culture of fun, barely spoke to one another. There was no fun in the midst of suffering; just suffering in silence, alone. 
Having fun is universal. Having a culture of fun isn't limited to our families it extends into our work and community. And, as I look towards the summer months where my community slows down and purposely gets outside, it's impressed on me the importance of having fun. When we have fun together, we get to know one another. We bond deeply. We see what brings laughter to each other. As we learn to have fun together, we better know how to handle suffering together. 

Monday, May 13, 2013


There's this little statue at my grandparent's house. It's of a little boy with his arms folded holding a little bird. This little bird is made of lead and is pretty hefty in weight considering it's size. This little statue has been at my grandparent's home for as long as I can remember. And, I can remember fairly well, because that little bird was in my hand from the time I walked in the door until they had to rip it from my hands to go home. I surely received some lead poisoning from this little guy... effects yet to be seen. Every single grand kid (and now great-grand kid) has done the same thing. This little bird is proof that age appropriate and high dollar developmental toys are far over rated.

While I sat with my grandma Thursday afternoon, with tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said "we're going to have to pack up the house, is there anything in the house that you want?" I immediately started crying saying we didn't need to think about that now. She then went on to talk about her mother's silver that she's added pieces to over the years. I thought to myself... no I wouldn't want anything valuable or big ticket items. So I listened as she talked about her silver for a little while. Then it took all I had to not get my name on that stupid, little bird first and escape the emotional battle that's guaranteed with my cousins.

The next morning I read Psalm 47:4 where the beginning says "He chooses our inheritance for us..." God knows me intimately well, better than I know myself. He knows what I need, want, and cherish already. He knows what is the best for me. Now, my grandma knows me. She honestly played a major role in raising me, but as much as she knows and loves me, it pales in comparison to Christ. In this weird way, when I read that verse I pictured Christ lovely placing that little bird in my hands saying "here, I know how much this means to you."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Simple Faith

Since crying over the phone with my friend, things have not gotten easier as I watch my grandma's health deteriorate. She has stage 3 Multiple Meyloma which a younger person in excellent health who underwent invasive treatment would live around 5 years. My grandma might have a year. She doesn't believe she'll make it to Mother's Day (tomorrow); I think we have weeks and praying she makes it to her 65th wedding anniversary in the end of June.

Thursday morning we got the message to get to the hospital ASAP. We typically gather once or twice a year at Christmas and in the summer. My grandparents are always prepared for this and have outfitted their home to accommodate us. Their basement as a row of twin beds so all the cousins share a room. Last night as we were falling asleep my oldest male cousin started praying quietly out loud to himself. I don't come from a family of great faith and prayer is something done before big, festive meals. So there was something very special about hearing this young man pray. He prayed briefly and so desperately to himself. To hear him pray was so beautiful especially since he's autistic and relates to people differently. I just laid there and listened to his simple cry to God.

"God, be with me.
God, be with my grandma.
Help my grandma.
Help me."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Community in Trying Times

The past week has been incredibly hard and I don't think it's going to be getting easier any time soon. Last Thursday my grandma went back into the hospital. She was just there the week before after being short of breath and having low oxygen. Then really early Saturday morning they transferred her to the larger hospital because the small town hospital couldn't get the fluid to drain of her lungs with oral medication. Saturday she had fluid drained from around her lungs, Sunday she had a CT scan that showed masses in her abdomen, Monday she had another CT scan this time of her whole abdomen, Tuesday she had a biopsy of the masses, and Wednesday she had a tube inserted into her lung cavity to make draining fluid easier. Today she rests.

I was with them Saturday through Tuesday. It was probably the hardest days of my life so far. My grandparents provided a refuge and retreat for me all through my childhood. My best memories are on their farm: riding their garden tractors, sewing with grandma, and sweeping grandpa's wood working shop. Every summer they would take my brother and me on vacation in their motorhome for a week or so. We saw most of the US by their sides. Now, she's in the hospital and there is no other place I'd rather be than by her side. Yet, it's not easy. I'm a couple hours away from friends and community who now love, support, and care for me.

It's this community that I am so grateful. The word cancer had been thrown around several times, but Tuesday morning the words "advanced cancer" were spoken for the first time. It was too much. I had to leave the room and eventually leave the hospital. As I walked out the doors, I texted a good friend of mine and then talked on the phone. After hyperventilating crying for a bit she spoke grace and love over me. She reminded me of the gospel and the holy spirit that is giving me strength, wisdom and courage.

From that moment on I was different. I was living out of Christ's strength and not mine. There are few moments in my life where I can distinctly remember experiencing the mystery of Christ's church interceding for me. God uses His church to speak to His people. Nothing else would have satisfied or comforted me but the words of God being spoking directly into my life and circumstance by a good friend. God's words and grace are real and felt in times of trouble. He is always present and quick to lavish His Fatherly love, protection and comfort.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Old Familiar Verses

I seem to skip over verses that are extremely familiar to me, as if I've gleaned every ounce of knowledge or power from them. Yet, it's these familiar verses that speak such volumes of truth to me; they are famous for a reason. These past weeks Psalm 23 has spoke such life into my soul.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,
     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters,
     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
     for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
     I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
     your rod and your staff,
     they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
     in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
     my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
     all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

As I look at what God does in this section and what my role is, I'm astonished at what I find...

God:                                          I:
shepherds                                   follow
commands                                  lie down
leads                                           walk
restores                                       sit
calms                                          dwell

Too often I think I need to command (even God), it's my job it go to Him, I must discipline and fix myself, I have to prepare my way and a place for me. Yet, God says to me follow, lie down, walk with me, sit with me, dwell with me in the home I've prepared for you.

May I remember God's goodness in these verses always, and never believe I've gotten everything I can out of them.

Friday, March 22, 2013