We are just over halfway through our August promotion for teachers during Back to School month, which means the time is drawing so close to when these amazing educators begin to welcome students back into their classrooms (if they haven't already)! We wanted to take a few moments to reflect on teachers we had and consider the amazing people who have chosen to be educators today.
Think back to a teacher you had who had a profound impact on you. Was it a kindergarten teacher or a fourth grade teacher or a teacher you had during those awkward middle school years? Maybe it was a high school teacher that came alongside you when you were trying to figure out what you were going to do with the rest of your life (no pressure). Perhaps it was a college professor who saw something in you that you did not see in yourself. For the vast majority of us, the impact was not necessarily because of the subject content that this teacher delivered, though that mattered. It may have been in part because of the teacher’s passion but it was more likely because that teacher made you feel valued and accepted and like your life mattered for something. That educator quite possibly changed the trajectory of your life. Think about that for a moment. Think about it - and be so thankful.
Today’s teachers are doing the same things. They are loving students, calling out their potential, and teaching them discipline along with reading, math, social studies, and science. They are balancing a hundred things all at once, trying desperately not to drop any of the balls in the air. The job of a teacher is tough because our teachers do not stop at teaching kids the basic math facts, especially not today. They are caring for students struggling with trauma at home, bullying at school, increased mental health issues and decreased personal connections. They are teaching kids how to balance technology, work collaboratively with classmates, make healthy choices, and be kind to themselves and others. Their workload has grown and they need to fit more in the same amount of time.
The impact of a single teacher can be greater than any single person on Earth. They see students for their potential, not for their current behavior. They give off their love of learning and joy for life in the way they speak and act, and this is transmitted to the kids. They understand that sometimes the kids who are the hardest to love are the very kids who need it the most.
Many teachers are excited to get back to the school in the fall. This seems foreign to many of us. Wouldn’t they want to prolong their vacation? Don’t the students completely exhaust them? Could they seriously be excited to enter a classroom with 25 students with 25 personalities and 25 learning styles and 25 other things they are dealing with? That answer, surprisingly for those of us who cannot imagine serving well in that profession, is yes for many educators. And for that, we are so grateful.
Teachers, we know you deserve so much more than a 20% off coupon, but we hope this small token is a reminder to you that you are valued and important and loved. We think you are amazing, we celebrate you today, and we thank you! We hope this next year of teaching is your best yet and that you realize every day the impact you make on the students around you.
And for the rest of us, if that teacher who made an impact is still around, take a moment to let them know – a phone call, a card, an email. You will make their day – guaranteed.
Think back to a time when you laughed so hard you could not stop the tears from running down your face or could not speak because the laughter just could not stop. Isn’t it interesting that these times of laughter are so ingrained in our memories that we can remember some instances from decades ago? Laughter has been shown to do all kinds of good in our hearts, minds, and bodies. Knowing that, we can all embrace the need for more laughter in our lives.
We love laughter so much at Arabella that it is mentioned in the verse that defines our mission: “She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). She laughs without fear of the future. Do you? It seems a bit steep to imagine doing so. With world unrest, crazy national politics, ever-present economic issues, the hope but uncertainty that our children will actually survive to adulthood (and be decent people too), and the myriad other worries we women continually spin in our minds, it is sometimes difficult to imagine not only the absence of fear but in its place the presence of laughter, joy, and peace. Is this verse just some unattainable idea that we can never grasp? Not if we believe the Bible is relevant for today.
The verses before Proverbs 31:25 give some context as to how this particular woman could possibly be able to “laugh without fear of the future.” She has done everything she can to prepare for what may be needed for future success: she respects her partner, works tirelessly to provide for her family, makes wise business decisions to boost the family bottom line, and cares for the poor. She has done everything she can do to prepare for whatever the future may hold, and knows that after that she must leave the control in God’s hands.
Um, what? She must leave the control in God’s hands. The thought of it feels scary, but why? But then, we are talking about God - who holds the stars, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and who knows everything that will ever happen. He has set this amazing, beautiful, complex world in motion. If He can design the intricate details of a honeybee’s comb or a beaver’s dam, He can absolutely hold us in His hands and direct our paths. And this is one reason the Proverbs 31 woman could laugh at the days to come.
What about us? Do we believe He has us, that He hears us, and that He has great plans for us? Do we allow Him to be in control? Consider these verses:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
True joy that brings laughter is attainable when we trust God. Trusting is possible when we know just how big our God is and that He loves us and “works everything together for good for those who love him” (Romans 8:28). We can laugh without fear of the future when we do not let the things around us determine our attitude, mood, or thoughts of the future. Different from living in denial, it is doing what we can to prepare for the future but then recognizing that worrying about it does not change anything, so we may as well do our best to enjoy the little things around us.
It takes a lifetime to grow in trusting God, but how can you cultivate laughter today? There are plenty of funny things you can watch on the internet (funny game show answers, practical jokes, dogs vs. cats, and many more). Children are hilarious. Spend a few minutes with a three-year-old, and they are sure to do or say something that makes you laugh. Meet some friends for chips and salsa or watch your favorite comedy. Be intentional, and make the time. No guilt and no shame – just laughter. It is, after all, at least as important for your health as eating well and exercising!
This Saturday, we are so excited to introduce a new line of shoes at Arabella called Poppy Lifestyle. Besides the fact that these shoes are both functional and super cute, the mission of Poppy Lifestyle complements the mission of Arabella. Our mission stems from Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come without fear of the future,” Proverbs 31 describes the woman we desire to become. Look at what else she does:
Works with eager hands (industrious, not lazy)
Brings her food from afar (only the best for her family)
Gets up while it is still night (no sleeping in for this woman)
Provides for her family (considers the needs of those closest to her)
Considers a field and buys it (entrepreneurial)
Sets about her work vigorously (no lackadaisical Sunday drive work ethic here)
Has strong arms (literal physical strength)
Makes a profit (smart business sense)
Works into the night (keeps going)
Opens her arms to the poor and needy (considers the less fortunate)
Speaks with wisdom (is not a busybody or gossip but teaches truth)
Faithful instruction is on her tongue (shares her work ethic and heart with others)
This woman is nothing short of amazing! Do you know anyone like this? Think of how incredibly she uses the gifts and talents God has given her. But . . . she is also any of us! As we have talked about in previous blogs, God created each one of us for a purpose. He uniquely gifted us to shine brightly for Him. Proverbs 31 is not included in the Bible to remind us that we will never measure up. Instead, it shows us what can happen when we grab onto how God created us and learn how to enter the sweet spot for which He made us. We believe this truth to the very core of who we are.
The people at Poppy Lifestyle also deeply desire to empower women to become their best selves. They do this not only by fitting women with their cute shoes but also by putting 10% of their profits toward women’s charities and causes. Their website states that, “Poppy exists for the sole purpose of uplifting fellow women” (https://poppylifestyle.com/pages/about).
We are often either comparing ourselves with others or striving for that unattainable perfection, or living in defeat because we don’t measure up to someone’s standards (a someone who may be real or just made up in our own minds). Let us take a cue from Poppy to celebrate each other and build each other up while living empowered to be the best that God created us to be.
We cannot wait to showcase this line of shoes, not only because they are adorable but because we also believe in empowering women to become who they were designed to be. So if you need a cute pair of flats, high tops, or fashion sneakers, join us at the store on Saturday, June 16th, or order online today. Let's empower each other in cute and comfy shoes.
“Oh my word.” I say this all the time when dramatically expressing how I currently feel about what is happening around me. Most recently, I have been saying it repeatedly to myself as I have been trying quite unsuccessfully to maintain discipline and sanity during one of the busiest months I have experienced. Some crazy person coined a phrase relatively recently called “Failing Forward.” It is supposedly a realized forward progress after each failed attempt. It sounds noble, of course, but sometimes the “forward” part seems nonexistent and just feels like failing and falling - again. For example,
Tonight I will go to bed on time. Two hours later: still on FaceBook
I will not yell at the kids anymore. Five minutes later . . .
Only one more episode of the latest, greatest series on Netflix. Six episodes later: only one more episode . . .
I will eat better tomorrow. Tomorrow: Sure, I will go out for ice cream.
We are not going to overschedule our lives anymore. Three seconds later . . .
I am going to keep the table cleaned off. Two days later I have to push the piles aside just so I can eat at the table.
Oh. My. Word.
As I lean on scripture to find wisdom and hope, there is a passage I have been thinking about almost as much as I have been speaking that favorite phrase. It is found in Romans 7 and reads like this:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:15-16, 18.
This is me every day, but these words were originally spoken by the Apostle Paul, who I would refer to as a Super Christian. If he struggled that much, maybe I just need to chill. I do no good when I live defeated because I am not good enough (in whose eyes, by the way? Mostly in my own alone). The truth is, according to Psalm 139:14, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has created me for a purpose. I lose sense of that purpose when I get stuck on how I do not measure up or the number of times I continue to fail and fall short.
The same goes for you. You are not a failure. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you were created for a purpose. Failing at something does not make you a failure. It could mean you need to work harder next time. Or it could mean you are not doing what you are called to do. We all think we “should” be a certain way, but sometimes what we are striving so hard for would be like a cow trying to climb a tree because the monkey is good at it. We know that is ridiculous, but we still do similar things. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. As you. Uniquely you. Different from everyone else who has ever lived. Rather than beat yourself up over what you are not, try these things:
1. Persevere in changing bad habits, but never consider yourself a failure – just get back up and try again, without shaming yourself. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). And while you are at it, remove the word “should” from your vocabulary. It is nothing more than a shaming word.
2. Consider whether what you are striving for is how you were wired to shine or whether you are borrowing others’ strengths and trying to make them your own. Rather than focusing on removing your weaknesses, it is better to grow in your strengths. Stop focusing on what you are not good at, and focus on what you are good at (some people were born to have spotless houses, others were not – be okay with that).
3. Remember who you are. The God of the universe created you for a purpose. Not only that, He created you wonderfully. Repeat that to yourself. He did not create a failure. He created a person who messes up sometimes – or a lot, but He did not create a failure.
4. Give yourself grace.
Life is too short to spend our time focusing on how we do not measure up. Know that you are loved and that you are good enough. Still need reminding? You can always buy the shirt!
Summer is quickly approaching. At every life transition, we have an opportunity that we admittedly often miss. We are notorious for not taking the time to be intentional about how we would like the next season to look, whether it is an actual season like summer or a life season like raising teenagers or empty nesting. Most of us know the saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” but how often do we still have the best intentions to live fully in a season and then get to the end and realize we missed the mark?
This is not meant to be a guilt or regret-inducing post. Do not dwell on the past – we cannot change it. Drop the “I wish I would haves” and look forward to the next season and what can be done better. This post is also not meant to encourage you to plan every second of your summer or life with activity. As summer approaches, sit down and consider how you would like things to look. And if you really want to do these things, write them down and hang them on the refrigerator.
Where would you like to go?
· A bucket list international vacation
· Getaway with your girlfriends
· A road trip out West to visit national parks
· A nearby state park you always say you want to get to
· More family trips to the cabin
· More alone trips to the cabin
· Tent camping with the kids (some of you just said, “I would rather have my teeth pulled.” Do not stop reading this post and decide it is not for you – just move along to the next section!)
Who would you like to see?
· Grandparents, parents
· Aunts, uncles, cousins
· High school or college friends
· Someone you know who is sick or dying. It does not feel good to go to a funeral and have someone say, “David would have loved to see you.” Knife in the heart. Go if you can.
What would you like to do?
· Go to a concert
· Declutter the house
· Have a garage sale (some of you had a similar reaction to the camping one – just move along)
· Participate in church services
· Learn a new skill
· Have a cookout for the neighbors
· Attend a community festival
· Bike a new trail
· Help an elderly neighbor
· Be a tourist in your own community
If you have children, what can they do? (Some of these are great ideas for us to do as well).
· Do daily jobs (really, they can)
· Limit technology use (they will survive)
· Spend time outside every day being active
· Practice instruments, read, practice sports skills
· Limit technology use (oops, did we say that twice? It is that important!)
· Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, food shelf, or humane society
The options are endless. Endless. As you plan and consider, avoid the temptation to overschedule. Keep some (or a lot of) days, evenings, and weekends open to be spontaneous or enjoy dinner out at a patio restaurant or have a movie night with loved ones. When you get to the end of the summer, you are not allowed to feel any guilt or shame at what you did not accomplish. Instead, it is our hope that you finish summer feeling great joy over what you did and ready to take on the next season.
We also hope you get to the end of summer feeling refreshed and renewed, and as our mission states, that you can “laugh without fear of the future.” Be so blessed.
Arabella Boutique has this cute inspirational tee with only one word on it, but that one word encompasses a magnitude of deep meaning. The sole word on this soft, comfy shirt is “Happy.”
According to Webster’s Online Dictionary, the definition of happiness is “enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment.” Well-being and contentment. If we stop and think about those two words for a couple minutes, our heart rate may just slow and we may start taking some deep breaths. But then, our thoughts may turn to the opposite of those things: rat race, a frenetic pace, and the world pressing in.
Oh how we love to be busy! We complain (brag?) about how many things we can accomplish in one day, how many activities our kids participate in, how little sleep we get, and how many hours we work. The more we can fit into our schedules, the more successful we feel or we think people see us. It is the American way.
But what if instead of measuring our success by our schedule, we measured it by our level of happiness? Sure, we all know some super busy, always-seemingly-happy people. But by and large, we often sacrifice our happiness to attain things we think are important, or we get stuck in a rut of overcommitment and cannot figure out how to get off the crazy train.
How often do we pause to consider whether the things we are doing are bringing us to a greater place of contentment and well-being or whether they are sucking the life right out of us and leaving us unhappy in the process?
There is a perfect verse nestled in the middle of the Bible in the book of Psalms. It contains only eight words that, when strung together, form an impactful statement with the answer to our questions about how to achieve peace and contentment and ultimately be happy: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
This is the message we need to hear today.
We can rest in Him and find peace and happiness – even if we have a hundred things to do. In our stillness, we can assess our lives to see if we are mindlessly striving, and we can be intentional about finding well-being and contentment there at the feet of God.
At Arabella, we recognize the conflict of doing what everyone else is doing in their busyness and striving for something different. We celebrate all your successes, AND we recognize your need to be still and refresh. Take some time over the next few days and make yourself sit for a period of time or go for a slow walk in the beauty of the outdoors. “Be still and know that I am God.” Soak in His presence, and you will find well-being and contentment. You will find your “happy.” Then take a deep breath and order your favorite outfit from Arabella!
 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happy, Accessed April 30, 2018.
The changing of seasons and the beauty of creation are great reminders of how amazing God is. A recent weather adventure in my home state of Minnesota reminded me of how much I love the variety of seasons here and how much we all appreciate spring.
On a Friday night in mid-April, there were no carts available in Midwestern grocery stores. The weather forecasters predicted snow in feet instead of inches, and while they had been wrong many times, there was a chance shoppers may actually be stuck in their homes and could not survive without milk, bread, and frozen pizza. The following day brought a blizzard warning and up to two feet of snow. Following the snow, neighbors broke out the shovels and snowblowers and got to work . . . and then they got to work again after the snowplows dumped what felt like ten feet of heavy snow at the end of driveways.
Six days later, children were biking and rollerblading in shorts, teenage girls were painting toenails on the back steps, and homeowners were breaking out the patio furniture and dusting off the grill. Neighbors were all out again, but this time there was energy, joy, and laughter. The birds were singing cheerful songs, the tulips were growing, and the last bits of ice were moving down the river. People who had not seen each other for months were stopped on the sidewalk, soaking up rays of sunshine while they chatted about how beautiful the day was, especially in light of the previous weekend.
I am often struck by the beauty of creation. It strikes me at times when I am quiet enough to see and when I am intentional about paying attention. Some of my favorites are the sky, the trees, and water.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1). The portrait of the sky is different every day as the clouds change shape and the sun changes its hue. There is brilliance in a hot summer day, power in the strength of a lightning bolt moving through the night sky, and a million other portraits in between.
There is little more beautiful than snow-covered limbs in winter, except maybe the deep-colored red, orange, and yellow leaves in fall, or the flowering buds in spring, or the intense greens of summer. Even the variety of trees is beyond comprehension. God blesses us every day with these items of beauty that sometimes are here for only a few days before moving to the next stage.
Water clearly shows the creativity and power of the Creator of the universe. The rushing power of mighty waterfalls, the quietly meandering streams, the stillness of a lake in the early morning, and the calming laps of the ocean move our hearts to greater peace.
There are so many amazing facets to creation that we could never tire of talking about: the miracle of the human body healing itself, the intricate perfection of a colony of honey bees, the production of a plant from a tiny seed, the vast array of creatures that live in the depths of the ocean, and so many others.
Take some time today to stop and reflect on the creation around you. Plan a time in the near future to spend time near the water and be still. Take a walk through a forest as spring awakens the land, and simply drink it in. The world rushes in and constantly presses against us. Be intentional today to stop and look around. As spring brings refreshment to the earth, allow the new life of spring around you to bring nourishment to your soul.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.[a]
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!
Is your life amazing every second of every day? Do you see the light at the end of every single tunnel? Can you keep going at breakneck speed for the rest of your life?
Let’s be honest. The answer is no - for you and every other person who has ever walked on this planet. Some are better at being eternal optimists, but for the most part, many are just good at faking it . . . or living in denial. Pure denial.
There is plenty to drag us down.
There are the heavy things: unexpected job loss, a cancer diagnosis, separation or divorce, aging parents, financial failures, or the untimely death of a loved one.
And then there are those things that threaten to peck you to death like a chicken feasting on a yard full of grain. That person whose expectations you can never meet. The weather that ruined the vacation that was supposed to reboot and recharge you. The picky eaters you have to feed. Every. Single. Day. That coworker you swear was put on this earth to make you go mad. The feeling of being one step behind in everything that is happening around you.
In order to survive instead of crawling into a hole and throwing ourselves an awesome pity party, some of us have gotten pretty good at faking it. We are productive citizens. We succeed at intelligent conversations. We can go out with friends and appear that all is well. We can fake it ’til we make it, right? But faking it is exhausting.
There is a better way (and hey, we have this great t-shirt to remind you of it every time you wear it).
Faith it ‘til you make it.
Yes. So much, yes. Just reading that brings a sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air, a release.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see,” Hebrews 11:1. Where do you put your faith?
There is a great story in the Bible about Jesus and his disciples in a little storm (okay, a big storm). Those disciples were a little bit dense and had some trouble understanding what Jesus was doing.
Read the following excerpts:
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.
“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Matthew 8:22-25
In the following scenario, the disciples are in a boat in the middle of the lake and suddenly see Jesus walking toward them on the water:
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31
Well, okay, then. Jesus calmed a squall. Jesus gave Peter the strength to walk on water. If he did that with them, he can do that with us. We can trust the One who can calm either the storm or the one in the storm.
Our fretting and striving are often in vain, and if we just rest, God will work out the details. If we believe that, we can successfully “faith it ‘til we make it.” So no more faking it. Be real. Be authentic. Share your struggles with your closest friends and with God. Then choose to have the faith to know that it will work out in the end, sometimes not the way we would have chosen, but always in a way that is good.
You were created with a purpose. Let those words sink in for a moment . . .
YOU were created with a purpose.
You were CREATED with a purpose.
You were created with a PURPOSE.
Has it sunk in yet? Do you believe it? You, dear woman, were created with a purpose by Someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine. Psalm 139 is full of so many amazing truths. I share the following verses often with my friends and my teenage daughters when they are struggling with feelings of inadequacy or misplaced identity:
For you [God] created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
When I was made in the secret place,
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
God did not just speak you into being like He did the sun, mountains, and animals. He knit you together in your mother’s womb before you were born. And how He created you is evidence that He adores you. Read that last sentence again. Do you believe that He adores you? He chose all the attributes of your physical appearance: hair type, eye color, nose, and body type. Sometimes I am tempted to question whether His finger got stuck on the “curly” and “thick” buttons when He chose my hair, but then I remember that this crazy hair does indeed make me unique (the grey, though – I could do without so much of that). If there are people around you, stop and look at them for a moment. Isn’t God’s creativity amazing? Think of how drastically unique each person is in appearance. We are that much more unique in our hearts, minds, and souls. I love that!
So why do we struggle so much with feelings of inadequacy and insignificance? As women, we often fall into the comparison trap, ever aware of our imperfections in relation to others. Do you ever find yourself with thoughts like this?
She is so beautiful. I wish I had her _______ (hair, eyes, body, style).
She always cooks the most amazing meals! We had macaroni and cheese for dinner – again.
How on earth can she accomplish all she is doing? I showered today.
She is a great Mom. I have failed in more ways than I can count. Why can’t I be more like her?
That woman has the best life. Why does she get to be married to a perfect guy and have those great kids when I am still single? Or . . .
Her life seems so carefree. She does not have to worry about anyone but herself. All I do is drive the kids to their next activities.
There is a reason that saying is popular. “The grass is always greener.” We have an enemy who feeds us thoughts that breed discontentment with the ways we have been uniquely blessed, to make us think we are failures, or to keep us so busy chasing our idea of perfection that we never find the true purpose for which we were created.
It is time to stop those thoughts and start believing the truth. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Whenever you start thinking those negative thoughts, stop and say, “No, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Or memorize this verse and repeat it often:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
You are God’s masterpiece. You are not a rejected lump of clay or a destroyed oil painting. You are God’s masterpiece. No matter what. No matter your past. Your failures. Your shortcomings.
In a previous post, I mentioned that Arabella is a store with an Uncommon Mission. We are committed to help you see the truth about who you are. The clothing we sell cannot make you a masterpiece, but once you believe you were created with a purpose and that you are worthy of being called a masterpiece, we can help you set out with a new attitude and a new outfit. We order only a few of each piece we sell because we want you to believe to the core of your being that you are unique. Then you can set out with confidence, seeking the purpose for which God created you.
Our primary goal is always that you believe the truth about who you are. And then, of course, we hope you fall in love with our clothing line so you feel empowered to live out your purpose with strength and dignity, laughing at the days to come because you have no fear of the future.
It is uncommon for a clothing boutique to blog about things other than their amazing clothing line (even though it is) or the perfect accessories (even though they are), but Arabella is anything but a common boutique. At Arabella, we are mission-driven and mission-focused. We love helping you put together amazing outfits, but we also know that when the beauty that lies within you is released that your outer beauty is magnified in indescribable ways.
Arabella’s mission above is taken from Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” The mother of a long-ago king shared these words of advice with her son as he considered what kind of woman he might desire to marry. The verses of this well-known proverb found contain significant attributes that contribute to the highest character of a woman. Of great significance is the fact that this woman that the king would one day marry would become the queen. If we follow the fairy tales, we might imagine that a queen would simply dress in expensive clothes and do nothing of true significance other than attend fancy parties and look lovely next to the king. Not for this king and not for his wise mother. This mother paints a different picture of the woman her son might marry. I imagine this woman to have her head held high while her presence fills the room, a strong woman who does not shy away from a challenge yet moves forward with grace, and a woman fully confident that she possesses great worth and value as well as the ability to accomplish any task at hand. She works extremely hard, uses her mind, provides for others, and does not worry about what the future holds . . . nor does she just sit around waiting for it to happen or waste a lifetime figuring out what it is she was called to do.
And neither should we sit around waiting while life passes us by. We have each been given gifts and talents to share with the world, but in the face of so many pressures and the hectic pace of our society, we often lose sight of what we were created to do. Whether married or single or young or older, we often feel like we should do it all. We keep striving and straining and comparing over and over until we are burned out and unhappy, depressed and anxious. Our unsettled hearts tell us that we have missed the mark and that we have failed, so we keep striving and straining, stuck in a place where we are not flourishing and where we are definitely not happy. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. It is time to get out of that rut. If you realize you have turned down the wrong path, stop, take a deep breath, turn around and look for the sweet spot you have been called to live in. That task may seem daunting, but there are some things we know for sure. God calls us to follow Him. Seek Him. Read His Word. Simply draw near to Him. He is faithful to respond.
Next, think about what you love to do. What are you good at? What fills you with energy? When have you felt the most alive? What strengths have others pointed out in you? If you have not asked your closest friends and family members, go ahead and ask them. I can tell you that there have been instances in my life where people have offered their unsolicited opinion, and what they said surprised me. As I considered these things and began to pursue whether God was calling me in a certain direction, I was sometimes surprised to find out that they had seen something in me that came so naturally to me that I did not even recognize it as a gift. When I enter that sweet spot of where God has called me, I know I am clothed with strength and dignity. Gone are the rushing, straining, and striving. In their place are God’s grace, strength, and peace.
What about you? Are you ready to get out of your stuck place and seek what God is calling you to? Or are you afraid? Do you desire the comfort of what you know opposed to what the great unknown could be? At Arabella, we believe so strongly in this uncommon mission that we will do all we can to support you as you boldly seek to find out who God has called you to be. We look forward to sending you off (in unique, fun outfits) to live and work in your sweet spot, “clothed with strength and dignity and laugh[ing] without fear of the future.”
Heather Schmidt and Jodie Schmidt.