Knowing Love

Some 16 years ago, back in high school, I remember one of my good friends speaking about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We’d all heard it many times; “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” Yes, we knew all that well. They are great verses but it was nothing of news to me; I’d heard it preached many times already. Those specific verses had even just played a big role in one of the hit films “A Walk to Remember.” Except this time, instead of where the film had depicted the verses in relation to love between humans, my friend was relating the verse directly to God and his character. He was explaining that God and love are synonymous. God IS love.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Kayla Anderson Character of GodThat connection was new to me. I knew God is love. It’s one of the most talked about character traits of God but never had I considered using the words synonymously and in exchange for one another so effortlessly in that manner. And so, my friend read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to us in this way,

God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.

All of the sudden, looking at those verses (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying scripture isn’t perfect as it is but this was simply a thought change) made them mean something deeper to me. Since the new revelation I had that day, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 have always been life verses to me – verses to live by, for I know that we were created in the image of God and these verses have no grey area of who God is and what his character is like. Verses that were cut and dry of what I was to model my life after, truth about God and who he was, is, and will always be. Not only that, but they remind me that he is a God that is for me and not against me – which I need to remember in the midst of challenges, both minuscule and mountainous.

About a year ago, I found a wood sign with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 painted on it. I picked it up and brought it home with me. Without much thought, I hung it up on a wall in my home that had the right space for it. It didn’t dawn on me till much later that the wall I chose to hang it on was the most central wall in my house – one that was in the middle and central point of the six lives dwelling in our home. On a wall that supports and holds our home in place soundly. A perfect spot for the encouragement and reminder that God is Love and what we should be modeling our lives after.

Character of God Kayla AndersonReminding me to have patience when my kids have spilled milk for the fifth time that day (because sometimes it’s hard to not cry over the spilled milk). Patience for the baby clinging to my heels.

Reminding me to do as I always tell my kids, which is to “use kind words in a kind voice,” even when it’s asking the same thing of them for the tenth time. Or to be gentle and kind to all those which I encounter, whether in my home as guests or as soon as I step out of it, because I don’t know what mountains or valleys they are walking through in their life.

Reminding me to not be self-seeking and looking after what I want to do – but to serve my family eagerly.

Reminding me to not be easily angered and to keep no record of wrongs when in conversation with my husband. To not dwell on past hurts from my husband, my friends, family or even the mail lady, but to release them and truly keep no score sheet, no tally marks – no record of wrongs.

Reminding me to keep faith in all things because there is always protection, trust, hope and perseverance in him. Because if God IS love, then God never ever fails.

And that’s the kind of God that I can put my faith in.

Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.



Messy Learning

One of my biggest surprises when it comes to parenting is how non linear it is. I always imagined that once I taught my child something, that we could just move on to the next thing. That once she learned the alphabet song,  she would always know it and we could build on that. It’s been much messier than that. She might know the alphabet song for a time and then months later “Q R S” have mysteriously disappeared and been left out entirely. Not to say that my children never retain anything, but it requires so much more relearning and repetition than I expected.

Messy Sarah ClewsPredictably, I also expected my walk with Jesus would be more linear. Instead I find that the more I know Jesus, the more I realize what a mess I am and how short I fall. Those lessons in humility I hoped I had learned in my early 20s? I find I’m learning them all over again. I’m so thankful that I am in relationship with a God who acts as a loving Fatherloves me just as I am, and meets me right where I am.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)

It was one thing to try and live a life honoring to God when I was single, with no kids, and very few financial responsibilities. Now, the stuff of life—financial strain, three small children, exhaustion, surgery (4 in the last 5 years!) recoveries, job shifts, changes in friends/community— chips away at my fragile veneer and reveals my own selfishness and controlling tendencies. When some of these props are taken away or changed, I find that I’m often just a hot mess. But in this mess is exactly where God is working.sarah clews mess

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

God won’t give up on me. And he’s not expecting me to have it all together. In fact, He is most glorified when I admit what a mess I am.  Each time he says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”(2 Corinthians 12:9)

So I bring him the untidiness, shambles, and mishmash that linger within me and ask, “Teach me again, Lord Jesus.”

sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.