Love Thy Neighbor

I came across this shirt today and thought it summed up the idea of true LOVE for others (picture below). How often have we heard ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’ or ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The concept seems simple right? First, you must love and respect yourself. You must be kind in your thoughts, gentle to your shortcomings and give yourself grace on the hardest days. Sometimes it’s hard to do that, but when it comes to loving ourselves the concept is much easier. We strive to feed ourselves, fulfill our basic needs, necessities and fulfill general duties to our families and friends.

Even at the most surface level, this concept should be easily applied to anyone else you come across. Being kind, respectful, providing help if you can, giving grace when people mess up should be our default…and yet it is so easy to judge and be hateful. This is where many people get it wrong. We were not put on this earth to judge. We all make mistakes, sin and fail. We are called to live a life of love. To serve others the way Christ did. How many stories are there in the bible that has Jesus talking to tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners? Do you see him segregating himself from those he deems unworthy? No. So why do we?

To the clerk at the grocery store, the homeless person you pass on the way to work, the hateful family member, other professions, beliefs, nations, religions, nationalities, prostitutes, sinners and tax collectors….we owe love. We teach by loving and caring.

Something Marshall, my husband, and I often talk about is that respecting someone’s point of view, listening to their thoughts and validating their thought process does not mean you have to agree with it. You can kindly listen and not agree. You can respect and have different views. You can love without jeopardizing your own beliefs. Why is this so hard to grasp?

So remember today:
Love thy foreign, homeless, prostitute, imprisoned, disabled, gay, straight, transgender, enemy, blue collar, white collar, old, young, black, white, lonely, jewish, muslim, christian, atheist, male, female, racist, addicted, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, different from you __________ NEIGHBOR.

Love+Shirt+Main

What identifier do you need to fill in the blank so you remember this? Go out today and LOVE. Be kind, be strong and be loving to everyone you meet. Maybe pray a little too.

~Shelby

 

Images property of https://cyny.org/all/loveshirt. Also- go buy this shirt.

“Be a first-rate version of yourself, not a second-rate version of someone else.”

—Judy Garland

When we see people being successful it’s hard not to feel envious. It’s hard not to wonder why my life isn’t working out the same way their is.

Remember you don’t want to be a copy of someone else. You are meant to be completely unique and serve a totally different purpose on this earth.

Be new, be YOU, be innovative. Don’t be afraid to be different or like what you like. You excel and be bold in who you are. Be first-rate today.

Managers of the Mysteries of God

1 Corinthians chapters 1-5, Week 1

This is the first full week of reading She Reads Truth’s 1 & 2 Corinthian’s bible study! My Wine Women and the Word gals have been reading and preparing to chit chat over some wine and the teachings of Paul.

First, props to Paul for just laying it all out there. There was no beating around the bush, not intricately constructing of words, no nonsense…this man fiercely wanted to get a message across to the Corinthians by all means necessary.

Our readings this week dealt with power, false wisdom, spiritual wisdom, foolishness, servanthood, our calling, humility and discipline. Yeah…that sounds like a lot. Paul knew the tendency of the Corinthians towards self centeredness and self sufficiency and has swooped in to set the record straight. As human beings we are all prone to this lifestyle and listening to Paul was pretty humbling.

Paul tells us

God is faithful; you were called by him into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9

It starts out simple. Fellowship is when you associate with people who share a common interest. Jesus died, we follow his teachings, we are saved. BOOM DONE. Yeah it can be that simple, but we humans like to complicate things with our selfishness, hence Paul talking to the Corinithians. The Jews and the Greeks especially had a hard time accepting Christ. Jews found weakness in Jesus’ death and the Greeks, who dwelled upon the wisdom per their culture, found Christ’s death to be nonsensical.

It’s really easy to see where they are coming from. Belief in something that is unseen takes inordinate amounts of faith. No, we can’t just download the answer to life in Christ and install it into our brains. We can’t google our way to eternity. It takes a quiet listening to the Holy Spirit speaking within you, it takes stepping away from what the world deems as important. It makes you step off the religion cliff, trusting that by following God we will be safely caught in a net before we crash and burn. The non-followers of Corinth could not make sense of this leap of faith and deemed it foolishness.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who don’t believe, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.

1  Corinthians 1:18

Paul sees the Corinthians have fallen victim to worldly distractions. They’re getting wrapped up in titles, in who they serve, which church they follow or what person they study under. Paul says

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave growth.

1 Corinthians 2:6

It is not an allegiance to any teacher, it is only God that matters. Teachers and bible studies can supplement, but they are not the main focus. They are merely tools in helping spread the word. We may strongly support global missions, feeding the poor or funding missionaries, but it is important to remember that though those things are good, they are merely ornaments on the life we are building. The foundation is God and can be nothing else.

In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul says something I love: His Grace is your qualification. I have a tendency to feel inadequate when measured up to successful and smart people. Lies creep in: Who am I to be leading a bible study? Why am I attempting to give advice? Am I qualified to spread the good news of Christ? WHAT IF I GET IT WRONG? Paul reminds the Corinthians that whether we are newbies or lifetime scholars of the bible, we all qualified. We have all been given the same mission:

A person should think of us in this way; as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1

Ok how cool is that? “Managers of the mysteries of God.” That’s going on my resume. It’s important to remember that no matter where you are in your faith you are already fulfilling your mission. If you believe, if you live a life worthy of God’s teachings, if you humble yourself and make Christ the center then you are already showing the world that there is something more important worth living for. You are ministering simply by living.

When you follow God your world shifts. You may do many of the same things, but your purpose shifts. Suddenly we are called to love unconditionally, to give, to serve, to not judge others, to live by God’s word and to model it for others. We no longer become the center of our own lives, Christ does. This often means others do too, as we are called to serve others as Christ served others. We are called to be humble, kind, strong, truthful, to learn and to listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit (even when we don’t want to).

When I think about it this way it sounds simple. It makes all the premeditated instagram posts, the constant resume builders, or the worldly desires I have fall away on a heap beside me. When we put on humility, love and discipline we have nothing to fear from others or the world. It makes me want to run through a field of flowers and joyfully shout that God has GOT THIS. Most of all, it makes me want to keep reading Week 2 of the study…I’m soaking this up like a sponge and can’t wait to see what comes next.

Questions to consider this week:

  1. What righteous thing do I put as more important than God or the Holy Spirit? Is it my own understanding? Is it the teachings of a favorite pastor or author? Evaluate: is God my center?
  2. How is the foolish teachings of the world clouding my judgment? What thing, though it may seem logical, is holding me back from firmly grasping God’s truth?

 

I’d love to know your answers 🙂

~Shelby

 

 

Getting Caught in the Frenzy

It’s the last week of school, Grad classes are moving full steam ahead, we had Mother’s Day, school carnival, baseball games, wedding shower prep, taking down my classroom, teaching yoga classes, bible study and not to mention every day things like, oh yeah, eating and sleeping.

It is so hard not to get caught in the frenzy.

One of my biggest weaknesses is being present in the moment. So often I am doing one thing, but my brain is 3 activities ahead. We remember activities based on what we give our mind to. It’s very hard to fully experience, let alone enjoy, something when you are constantly running through mental to do lists.

When I teach yoga classes I will often say, “Set aside your mental todo list, it will be there when you are done. Take this time to fully focus your mind on your body and on your mat.” I had a teacher say this in a class I was taking and, though simple, made me stop and really think. Making your last mental note before jumping full focus into an activity is a good exercise to help you be fully aware of the current experience.

I had some great counsel recently on grounding. Grounding is the act of rooting yourself and your thoughts in this moment. Think of it literally: when we ground ourselves on our yoga mat, in the classroom with kids, or in your living room with family, you are feeling the ground beneath your feet. You are rooting yourself in that location and even in a conversation. If you often find your mind wandering, your body pacing or constantly moving, you probably are not grounded. Allow yourself to settle and enjoy.

The counsel I received was this wonderful exercise. When you walk into a new room or a new situation as your day progresses, think through these 4 senses:

Take a deep breath, look around and
4:
Note 4 things that you SEE
3. Note 3 things that you HEAR
2. Note 2 things that you FEEL (touch or feelings)
1. Note 1 thing that you smell

Feel free to mix and match and take time to observe your environment. If we allow ourselves to get caught in the frenzy we will be swept away by stress, doubt and sleepless nights. There can be peace and enjoyment in the frenzy. For me the goal this week is simply to ‘experience.’ As I get better at this exercise the goal will be to truly ENJOY. We all start with baby steps.

What 4321 things are you experiencing right now?

 

34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34

Wine Women Word Wednesday

Wine:

Couldn’t help myself…this is a busy week after all! I have the will, so where is my Rosé?
Rosé-Kick-Off1

Women

With a woman so strong, so accomplished and so admired, I couldn’t help but share this quote. I don’t like that the stereotype among women is that we can be catty or mean to each other. So often I see quite the opposite- women boosting other women and standing up for each other. This is something young and old women alike need to be reminded. When you stand for another woman you stand for yourself.
instagram-15

Word:

Proverbs 4:25-27
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.

I love reading psalms and I love reading proverbs. There are so poetic. Not knowing where to search today I simply searched our date 4:25…I love what it showed me. Keep your eyes forward, ponder your path and turn your foot from evil. There is so much going on right now for all of us, this couldn’t have had better timing.

 

I shall ponder this verse over a glass of wine!

~Shelby

The woman to be admired & praised.

This is just poetic.

Proverbs 31, The Message

1-31 A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
    all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.

She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.

She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
    reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
    when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
    her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
    but you’ve outclassed them all!”

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises!

Hospitality

romans 2-1-03

I have been working on the hospitality study from SheReadsTruth. I’ve always categorized Hospitality as taking care of someone. Like when you have someone in your home, whether for a meal or for the night, it’s how you take care of them.

But I’m finding that it’s more than that.

This study has focused on glorifying God and living in harmony. It’s about your relationships with strangers, friends, children, and the self righteous. It’s about showing love to the people that are hardest to love.

For the Wine Women & the Word bible study I prepared a study of hospitality. The article from SheReadsTruth describes something that just happens so easily. It’s that mindset that if I work hard, get good grades, get a promotion and live upright that things would always go according to plan.

I crashed and burned too many times before realizing the fallacies of that mindset.

How easy is it to think that because we are doing good things, because I’m living for God, or helping others, that I deserve only good things to happen to me. It seems like simple cause and effect, right?

But if you’re in the same boat I am, you know that isn’t the case. I really struggle with this because when I started realizing that bad things happen to everyone I started wondering why I was working so hard for perfection. People get sick, relationships change, jobs are lost and injuries happen. It’s all part of our life experiences.

Over the past few years I started falling into the habit of thinking, “of COURSE this is happening to me.” When you only notice the imperfections in your day your outlook on life starts to look a little gloomy. Realistically, for every two steps forward we take one step back. It’s all part of trying new things, putting yourself out there and living boldly.

Perfectionism enhances self-righteousness. When you strive for perfection, you are striving for something that doesn’t exist. You can’t be perfect and it’s self righteous to think you can be. When you fail after reaching for perfection you have a much farther way to fall. We cannot expect perfection from ourselves because we are flawed and we are sinners.

The story of the prodigal son is one of my husband’s favorites. It describes a son that took his inheritance and ran off, only to squander it and sheepishly return home. He knew he did not deserve the favor of his father and was even willing to work as a servant on his land. When he returned home his father went to him, welcoming him home with open arms. The older brother was very angry and resented the fact that this brother returned home despite all his screw ups. He felt that he deserved so much more because he had acted rightly.

It’s so easy for us to see other people’s faults and ignore our own. It’s easy to become jaded when you work extra duty at work while other teachers are celebrated (**cough, something I’ve experienced lately).

Maybe you know someone that had a past of poor choices and mistakes. It may seem hard to love on them, or even hard to trust them. But in reality, it’s not our duty to hold that against them or to tell them how they should be living. If someone is making an effort to be better, they deserve to be encouraged and lifted up. This portion of Romans 2:1 sums it up very simply:

For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Imagine being slower to judge, quick to love and open to sharing in other’s redemption. Each of us have shortcomings and judging others just condemns yourself.

Make a conscious effort to set aside your judgments and assumptions this week. Clothe yourselves with love and understanding. What tangible steps can you take? How can you show hospitality to someone that you struggle with?

I’m making an effort to show love to those not-so-trustworthy students. It’s so hard not to assume they are talking or causing trouble. I want to show love and fairness to each of them and not pass judgment on their character when they have days of struggle.

Who will you be showing hospitality to this week?

 

~Shelby


Judging others: Matthew 7:1-5
Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32