Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Grace: Part 3

One of the first things that we were taught when we got here was how to love the children.  Giuli said that some of the most important ways to show the kids that love them is to hug them and make eye contact, and just listen to them (even if we don't understand what they're saying!).

But she also told us that the Bible tells us to love others like we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39).  And that doesn't mean just the selfish, think of myself first kind of love.  The kind of love that God means is love like his, when you are able to forgive and love yourself.

When we refuse to accept God's grace it's so much harder to give grace to others because we don't understand grace very well.

Because of God's love we want to do better, but we don't have to do better in order for him to love us.  We could never possibly be 'good enough' to earn his love.

What she said really hit me because sometimes I really struggle with allowing myself grace when I make a mistake or when things are just hard.  It can be much easier to beat myself up over a mistake than to let it go. 

But just like Giuli told us, God doesn't blame us or get mad at us for making mistakes or struggling.  Instead, he helps us up and tells us to keep going, that he's strong enough in our mistakes. 

God wants us to know just how much he loves us so that we can learn and grow, and so that we can love others fully.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Love is...

Love is caring so much about someone that you are willing to deal with their quirks, their imperfections and their mistakes.  You allow them to be who they are, but also encourage them to grow as a person through their walk with the Lord.

You are there when they need someone because you care.  You want to help, because you understand that you would want someone to do the same for you.  Whether it's through a hug when the day is long, or a meal when they're sick, or just listening, you're willing to do those little things that make the world seem like a much friendlier place.

And no matter how difficult they are, when they mess up, make you cry, or just aren't in a great mood, you still stick around.  You understand that disagreements happen, and you might have to talk through them to fix things.  And bad moods don't last forever.

It's stooping down to do the tasks that you think (or even know) are below you, or aren't necessarily your responsibility.  Whether that is cleaning up someone else's trash, or comforting someone that you didn't hurt, you become the hands and feet of love.

You stick around because God does the same for you.  You take the time to care because God cares about you.  You do the tasks that are beneath you because that's what God does.  When Adam and Eve sinned, God personally sacrificed the animals to cover for their sin, and hand made clothes for them.  Jesus came and took our sin upon himself so that we could make the choice to accept God's love and his plan for us. 

'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' John 3:16 (NIV)

'We love because he first loved us.' 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

It's that simple.  When you are able to understand even just a fraction of the love God has for you, you want to share it. 

Imagine the person you love the most in this world.  Close your eyes and think about how much you love them.  It's an awful lot, right?

Now imagine that love multiplied hundreds and thousands of times more.  I get kind of lost!  God loves us so much more than we can possibly love anyone.  His love is perfect, without any ulterior motives, greed, jealousy, hurt. 

As imperfect humans, we can never love like that.  But the more we learn about God's love, the more we'll want to love others. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Giving and Receiving

    At dinner last night we were talking to our translator, and she was telling us about Peruvian culture, and some of the cultural norms.  One of the things that she said was that since so many people in Peru have very little, they are accustomed to always receiving. Even many of the churches don't talk about tithing, or giving to the church because they don't want the people to feel like they're pressuring them into giving. 
    When she lived in the US, she said, she learned so much about the blessing of giving to others, and being able to share what God has giving to her.  She used the example of sowing seeds.  She was given seeds, and if she starts to sow them, she'll receive more.  But if she hoards them to herself, there is no need for more to be given to her. 
    It made me think of the balance that we need to have in giving and receiving.  If you're always receiving, you never have the chance to bless someone else with a gift.  But on the other hand, if you're always giving, but never receiving, you're going to get burnt out.  You need to give people the chance to pour into you, to help you, and invest in your life as well.
    There are so many blessings to both giving and receiving, you just have to be able to balance them.  At the end of Operation Barnabas last summer, our leaders encouraged us to find a way to have people pouring into us, and a way to pour into others.  Find a way to be plugged in and let others pour into you, and teach you. But also find an outlet where you can be pouring into others, teaching them, ministering to them. 
    God gives us so many ways to grow, we just need to know how to partake in them.


Monday, July 7, 2014


As I sit in the Ft. Lauderdale airport waiting for my flight to Lima, I'm thinking about how I got here.  And when I say that, I don't mean driving to Latrobe, and getting on a plane and flying here.  It's the things that God has orchestrated in my life to get me here.

And all of the pieces of it as well! God is constantly working events in your life together for his plans.  Where he wants you to be, he will open the doors and make a way for you to walk through them at just the right time. 

Most of the time, it won't make sense in the moment.  It hurts, or it is something that you have to go out of your way to do, or it leads to what you think is going to be an awkward moment.  But looking back, you an start to see how God is weaving the events of your life into an intricate tapestry of his plan.

He does know what's best, and what is the way to get your attention and get to your heart.

He loves you more than you can imagine, and will never do anything that is to your detriment. I can't promise that you'll never have hurt because God doesn't promise that.  But he does promise that the hurt is for good, and that he will carry you through it.  And someday, you'll be able to look back and see his great plan being worked in that. 

Isaiah 49:6

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago and she said something that really hit me. 

     "Sometimes people need to notice tho."

We had been talking about various physical ailments/problems and how we tend to not be dramatic about when we aren't feeling good. But when I said something about normally being able to function fairly normally when I'm not feeling 100%, she said "sometimes people need to notice tho."

And it's been stuck in my head since.  It goes further than just physical problems. Just like it's okay for someone to notice that you need to take it easy for a little while, it's also okay for someone to help ease some of your mental/emotional pain as well. 

God did not place only one individual on the earth for a reason. He filled this earth with living, breathing people. People to cause pain and ease it. People to love you and dislike you. Everyone is part of His plan. And that plan involves community. 

Some things that come along with community are accountability, fellowship, common interests and traits, a 'second family', and the ability to be real with people. And depending on how you look at these things, they can either be good or bad. Accountability is great if you're trying to grow, but not so much if you're trying to hide something. People being there is so helpful for not feeling so alone, but not if you're trying to shut them out. 

"so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:25-27 NIV)"

I don't know about you, but if my left hand was broken, I'm sure my right hand would want to know so that it could pick up some of the slack. We in Christ are supposed to work the same way. We are a body. If you're hurting, someone needs to know! You won't feel as alone when you realize that someone has gone through the same things that you are going through. It's so encouraging!!

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24, 25 NIV)"

Believe me, it's certainly not easy to let people in. I've spent most of my life believing that I had to always be strong for other people. But it is a lie that Satan used to isolate me from other people that could encourage me and help me grow (Proverbs 27:17). Believing that I could never show weakness or my failings put so much stress on me- almost to the point of breaking. But I'm starting to learn that it's okay to struggle. It's okay to mess up. 

You are not perfect. 

And that's okay! 

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)"

It's really, really hard to open up sometimes and admit that I might need a hug, or someone to talk to. 

But so worth it. 

Because sometimes, people need to notice. 

Isaiah 41:13