Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Biggest Lie About the Proverbs 31 Woman

Can we talk just for a second about the Proverbs 31 Woman? I know. You’ve seen all of the blog posts and read all the books and shared all the hand-lettered graphics about her. She’s who you’re supposed to want to be, right? She’s what we’re supposed to be striving for. She’s the reason you took up knitting. She’s the prime example of a God-fearing woman. But ladies… I just can’t.

I can. not.

You want to know which part of Proverbs 31 gets me the most? “She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household,” because let’s just be real, okay? This is not something I am ever going to be able to do. Most mornings, my kids wake me by screaming, “we want Froot Loops!”  In fact, MOST of the P31 virtues escape me. I am indecisive. I am often selfish and lazy. I’m not a great cook, I own no less than six different grey t-shirts and wear them with black leggings or jeans most days. And I. Am. Exhausted. The only thing I’ve ever “spun” is a web of lies known as, “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.” My faith-style in this season of life would best be described as “momma tried,” okay? I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here when it comes to wifery (not a word, but fun to say) and motherhood. I’m just trying to survive and love people the best that I can.

You could say I struggle, all right? But the more I read, the more I realize something: Nowhere in Proverbs 31 does it say, “She is without sin,” or “She never feels lonely or doubts the Lord,” or, “She never loses her temper with her four year-old when he draws on the walls for the umpteenth time, “ or even, “All her hard work brought her great joy.” In fact, Proverbs 31 tells us very little about the heart of the woman which it’s describing. Sure, we know what she does and we know some characteristics: Trustworthy. Hardworking. Creative. Obedient. Business-savvy. She’s spinning yarn and wheeling and dealing all while donning the finest fashions. She’s a hustler, baby. But she’s completely made up.

That’s right. Proverbs 31 was not a biography of some noblewoman that was revered throughout the land. Ya know who wrote Proverbs 31? King Lemuel (or Solomon. Or Lemuel IS Solomon. It’s a whole thing. Google it.) basically in the words of his mother. It’s a list of the virtues of an “excellent wife” according to the ESV, and/ or Bill & Ted (If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young to be my friend).

So essentially, a queen that wanted the best for her son created a checklist for a royal wife. I’ll stop short of calling this an arbitrary list (because, ya know- blasphemy and all) because there’s a reason it’s included in the Word of the Lord. These virtues- this list of characteristics- they’re true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on these things. The Lord wants us to see this list and acknowledge that those things are worth striving for. Who wouldn’t want to be called blessed by her children and praised by her husband? But the biggest lie about the Proverbs 31 Woman is one that we tell ourselves: that we cannot come before God as we are- that we still have items on the list to check off before He will have us. And I have to tell you, that’s just not true.

Christ speaks of my value in Matthew 10:29-31. He demonstrated His love for me in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And He calls me more than blessed; he calls me Beloved.

You do not have to be the P31 to be a cherished daughter of Christ. You don’t have to be her to be loved or find a spouse or contribute to the Kingdom. Mostly because you can’t be her. You will never check off enough things on a list to make others love and value you more, and you certainly can’t send your resume to Christ in the hopes that he’ll add your name to the list of contenders for salvation.

That’s done. You’re His. You with your clearance-rack fashion, parenting failures, and less-than Pinterest-worthy kitchen. You with your utter lack of sewing skills. You and all your selfishness, laziness, doubts, shame, fear, and the ugliest parts that you try to hide behind the highlight reel of your social media feed. He sees all of those parts because he made those parts of you… And He loves those parts of you.

So take heart, Christian woman. Maybe you’re not an “excellent wife” all the time. Maybe you haven’t seen a sunrise since the last frat party you went to in college and your food preparation specialty is box-mix-brownies (which is probably Jesus’ favorite food anyway). But you’re in the good company of all the other P31 Wannabes. We’re all just out here, trying to untangle our wool and flax. And we have Froot Loops. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.

Monday, May 1, 2017

An Eclectic Big-Girl Room for Birdy

I just wanted to hop on and show you a quick re-vamp of my daughter's room! I can't even count the number of times this room has been rearranged since moving into this house. I try to change it in order to give Vesper the proper space to do whatever it is that Vesper does- one week it's dancing and gymnastics, and the next it's reading and writing. This week it happens to be playing with her dollhouse and drawing animal pictures. I recently acquired a new headboard for her room, so I figured now was as good a time as ever to repair it and set it up in her space! Now she can use all sides of her dollhouse, and still have space to play on the floor or sit at her little table and draw to her heart's content! Check out the list below for product details!

Headboard: vintage, purchased on Facebook Marketplace
Quilt: Steinmart (for similar, search "orange paisley quilt" on Amazon!)
Rug: at home
White chest: Target (painted Du Jour White by Valspar)
Wall color: Pinwheel Pink by Glidden
Dollhouse: vintage, thrift find
Paper mache giraffe bust: Anthropologie (no longer available)
Bunting banner: DIY
Bible verse print: Etsy (similar here)
Toile curtains: came with the house! (score!)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Undeserved Ordinary: Beauty in the Chaos of Life

This post originally appeared on the Red Dirt Revival blog in April of 2014

It hit me at the strangest moment. As I my hands were submerged in soapy dishwater and dinner over-cooked on the stove, I watched him sweep the walkway in our front yard. I turned to look out over crumb and clutter-covered kitchen counters and a dining room table with dried-on spaghetti sauce and the pink paint that remained after the Valentine's crafting months ago, into a messy sunroom where pillows were tossed haphazardly onto the floor amongst books and blocks and my two fair-haired babies watched a television show that certainly exceeded the recommended daily limit.
And somehow, I saw beauty. And I thought of how this was never the life I wanted for myself yet how blessed my life has become.
This life that is daily filled with tantrums thrown and meals refused and counters wiped and re-wiped and dogs shooed and laundry folded and refolded after the babies tossed it onto the floor.
Where windows are smudged and dishes are dirty and the sink smells and the shoes never make it to the basket.
Where the carpet is beyond salvage and the furniture is second-hand and the light bulb in the fridge has been burned out for a week and the bananas always brown before you can eat them.
Where time and patience and naps are often in short supply.
Where the back yard needs mowing and the toys litter the floor of my shower even though the children have their own bathroom and mending piles up in my closet.
Where everything needs painting and updating and plans are big but the time and budget is small.
Where my bed only stays made for about five seconds before that darling little blue-eyed creature crawls into it and begs, "Momma, snuggle!"
Where in the dark of the wee hours of the morning, I stare into the bright lights of that damned and blessed baby monitor checking and re-checking that those babies are still fast asleep, covered up, and peacefully dreaming of the adventures that were had.
Where a little boy plops himself into my lap and insists that I read book after book yanked from the shelf, and then discarded in the middle of the floor.
Where night after night, he lays his tired bones next to mine and grasps my hand as sleep comes fast and heavy, and then kisses my cheek when the morning comes too soon.
Where tears are numerous, and dedicated to moments of extremes- anger, hurt, fear, frustration, yet still and often, joy.

And all this... mess of a life- the marriage, the children, the house, the mortgage, the two cars, the dog... it was never what I wanted. It was the makings of a dull and repetitious and empty life for which I refused to settle. Because when my body was younger and my mind was more naïve and my eyes were too wide and wild, I was sure that all I ever wanted was a life lived fast and free...

And God found me and rescued me from my own selfish destruction and placed in my path those amazing blessings that I never asked for and I certainly didn't earn. And even then, when days were long and hard and the babies refused to sleep and I- short-sighted and merely mortal- began to mourn the loss of my freedom and my body and my time and my rest and my youth, He continued to bless me. To give me more than I thought I could handle, and more than I deserved.

How great is His love for me. How many are His blessings. How vast His faith in me... that He would entrust such a rich life to one that did not at first appreciate the utter and absolute wonder of the simplicity set before her. I am forever grateful that my God is greater than my self, and that His plans for me are far bigger and more exquisite than my inferior, inglorious dreams.

I haven't the holiness to see what He sees all the time. I haven't the strength to bear it in my withering mortal soul. So I just continue to trust that dirty dishes and mismatched socks and messy hair and piles of mail are all signs of a life lived fully and humbly and simply. I take my cues from small cherub faces, flush with laughter and arms held around my waist and words whispered quietly in the dark. I remind myself that this is holy work, and this life that I never wanted, is the life I could never ever replace or trade for all the world...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Everyday Light Life: December

December flew by as it always does leaving a trail of glitter and glow in it's wake. We started school again today, and let me tell you, we were DRAGGING and wishing the holidays would come back! Here's what our month looked like:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Vesper's Good From Wood: How my 5 Year Old Became An Entrepreneur And Helped Others In The Process

I have one of those children that just loves to love others. She has a huge heart and is constantly finding new and creative ways to show love to those around her. One day, in the backseat of my car, she hatched a plan to make money to give to those in need. She would make and sell ornaments (for a penny each, bless her heart) and give every single cent to people that needed food and Jesus. From there, a small business venture was born.

I helped her set up shop with a few wood slices, some chalk markers, and some twine. She designed the ornaments, and then dictated to me as I drew them
"Give the pig a necklace!"
"No, it's a GIRL hedgehog. She needs a tutu!"

We posted about our little business on Facebook (you can check it out here!) and a crazy thing happened: we sold them. All ten of our first batch sold within a single day! We had people requesting specific designs and asking for orders of multiples and even offering to pay much more than our asking price ($5 per ornament). So my little girl got brave and decided to draw a few of her own. And lo and behold, they too were a hit!

Before we knew it, we had sold over a hundred ornaments and earned nearly $550 to donate to a charity chosen by Vesper- and even better, they matched our donation! Novo ministries shares the gospel and feeds inner city children that come to their Bible clubs. Ves loved the idea of helping kids her own age!

What began as a little idea from a girl with a big heart turned into such a wonderful experience! I got to encourage my girl to operate a business, be creative, follow her heart, and be Jesus to others while using her talents, and we watched our family and friends rally around to support her. To be completely honest, this ended up being a lot of work for me. I'm the one that had to order wood slices, drill holes, package, and ship ornaments. I let her help with every single aspect, but in the end, the adult obviously carried much of the burden. And I wouldn't have changed a thing. To see the way her eyes lit up every time I told her we had another order, or showed her a picture of someone's ornament on their own tree at home... gah, if I could just bottle that feeling for her... My heart was so happy and full!

Who knows, maybe next year, we'll sell 200!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Everyday Light Life: November

Look, I'm not even sure how it's not still October, okay? And now I'm staring down the barrel of Christmas?? It feels like an impending storm... so for just a little bit longer, I'm denying the inevitable, and hiding out from the chaos that plagued last month. Here's how November 2016 looked for us (can you believe we were still wearing sun dresses at the beginning of the month?! Oklahoma weather is crazy!):