Why I Love the Book of Psalms

A couple years ago, I was talking with a friend over coffee. She was telling me about her favorite Psalms. She was so enthusiastic as she listed off various reasons why. I sat there wondering if maybe I had judged the book wrong. Other than a select few verses, I thought the book of Psalms was a bit of a bore. I preferred to learn more about the history and grit of the Bible...not poetry.

Challenged by her admiration of the Psalms, I sat down and started reading them. I quickly realized this book may be one of the easiest to relate to in the Bible. There are several that prophecy the Messiah coming and events in his life. You can read more about those here. They are also quoted several times in New Testament scripture. 

What are Psalms?

The book itself contains 150 individual poems called Psalms. Psalms is derived from a Greek word meaning "words accompanying music."  There are multiple categories of Psalms, but they are generally broken down into three types: 
  • Hymns 
  • Lament
  • Thanksgiving
Hymns

These tend to be praise based. As you read them, you may even notice parts of them you have been singing for years from various praise and worship songs. Some examples of hymns are numbers 146-150. 

Lament

These were the Psalms that got to me the most. It can be hard to relate to the Old Testament when you already know how things worked out. I often hear people say, "Why doesn't God take away this pain?" or, "Why are things worse now in the world then they were in biblical times?" 

However, as you read the Psalms of lament, you realize that many had the same questions and thoughts that we do. Their first person accounts of grief and despair remind us that there was severe heartache as various events throughout the Old Testament transpired just as there are now as the world continues to unfold. Psalms 22 and 77 are examples of lament.

Thanksgiving

These are Psalms offering thanks and praise to God for what He has done and what prayers He has answered. One of my favorites in this category is Psalm 30.



Last summer Well Watered Women had a challenge on social media where we all wrote a Psalm out and reflected on it daily. As I took the time to write them, I realized what a blessing these words really are. They remind us to communicate with God. They remind us of our gifts and talents. They remind us to give thanks to Him for what He has done in our life. They remind us to be raw and real with our Creator. There is nothing you can say to scare Him away. If you have questions for Him, ask. We are fully known and accepted by Him. 


What book of the Bible to you relate to most? Which Psalm is your favorite? 

My favorite Psalm of all time is Psalm 34. It says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." When I read that I am reminded that I don't have to be happy all the time. I don't have to accept everything around me with a smile and shove emotions down just because I'm a "Christian" -- He has space for all of my emotions. All of my fears, trials, and failures. 

-- Cayla


Gals Helping Gals: Galentines + Giving Back


I had the honor of hosting a giveback event for Last Marriages on February 10th. A group of readers and I cozied up in my home and drank wine from Traveling Vineyard. We were supposed to be learning about the wine as well, but I'm not sure we learned anything other than -- that stuff is good  and buffalo chicken dip pretty much pairs well with it all, haha!! We each brought items to donate to the Elkhart County Jail Ministry and wrote out a handful of cards to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. 


Together we collected over two dozen pairs of underwear, four dozen pairs of socks and almost $100 in gift cards that the ministry will give to inmates upon release. 


I wish I could tell you that I confidently planned this event with no reservations...but that would be a lie! 




Two nights before I texted my friend Rachel. I had anxiety because our floors still aren't finished (a project we have been putting off for almost two years) and we still have old 1960's interior doors up. Our small bathroom still needs remodeled.  As she reminded me that literally no one cares about the interior of my home, I had a moment of conviction: Satan was getting to me. It may sound dramatic, but it's true. He knows when you are doing something positive -- don't think for a second that he won't try to sabotage your confidence in it. God doesn't care about what home improvement projects have passed me by. But, He does care about the discipleship opportunities I let pass by. The times when He's pushing me to say "yes" and I choose "no". 

Do you ever have those moments? Where you look back and wonder where that anxiety even came from? I have hosted dozens of times before with the slightest care that my humble abode is still a "remodel in progress". Yet here I was...less than 48 hours away from a giveback event that I put so much of my heart in while having a mini panic attack.

As I sat in my house looking around at the metal chairs some guests would have to sit in, I really had to stop and say "thank you" to God. The very women this event was for didn't have a place like mine to go to sleep in that night. My house in its current state is one of the nicest places I've ever lived. I have a healthy body that was able to grocery shop, prepare food, and clean my home beforehand. Most of all, I have to thank Him that I live in a community of women who is striving to improve Michiana for everyone. 

Here are some of those amazing women working to make
Michiana better! 

I don't know who this post is for but hear me loud and clear: The times you feel the least qualified are the times you need to take the biggest leap. On the other side of fear lies the person you were created to be...the changes you were born to make. When you are thinking you can't? That is absolutely when you CAN. 

We had two doulas in attendance...which meant lots of talk about 
birth, empowerment, and mamahood! 

I think one of my favorite moments of the afternoon was when a woman told me it was one of the only events she had attended alone since having kids. I was so proud of her for taking time out of her busy life for her community and for herself. It reminded me even more of how often I need to focus on what I can do, instead of what I can't do. 


A big thank you again to Shelby for taking the time to teach us all about wine and laughing. She sent me the wine list beforehand as well as menu ideas for pairings which made meal prep a breeze! 



An additional thank you to Tabitha who came over early to help prep as well as vendors who donated items for the raffle! 



I am inspired by each of you who attended Gals Helping Gals + to those who dropped off donations that couldn't attend. As always, I couldn't do half of what I do without my handsome, giving husband who works hard behind the scenes to help. 

If you would like to be involved in the next Gals Helping Gals event, please sign up for the Last Marriages newsletter :) 

-- Cayla



CONVERSATION: Did You Know There Are Lost Sheep Inside of Your Church?

When I saw the conversation portion of Cayla's blog, I knew I had to write. I do not have an intriguing title like I wish I did. I am not sure if what I have to say fits in with this space, because I am not someone who was hurt by any church member or organization directly. Due to a string of events that have taken place during my church journey though, I do feel like I have some stuff to say and a challenge for anyone willing to read.  

I believe many of us see when someone comes to church regularly that they have it all figured out. Well, they don't. Did you know that there are lost sheep right inside of your church? 

My mother died of a heroin addiction years ago. Many Christians would hear that and assume she never went to church. But that's a lie. She went to the same church most of her adult life. 

I remember we would leave church on Sunday's and then not hear from anyone after. At church we youth group kids were inseparable, but even at school we had our own cliques. Kind of like grown ups I guess. Each one with their own friends and careers and responsibilities. Other than a casserole dropped off after my father's funeral it was like we didn't exist outside of those Sunday mornings. My mom didn't have time for the choir or many of the other groups so I always figured that was why. I accepted it for what it was. 

While my mom was still attending church, I grew up, had my own kids, and moved a few states away. I would call my mom and ask her if she'd been spending time with any of the women from church of had a chance to check out any groups. The answer was always "no".  She would say everything was "fine" and I would leave it at that.

When my mom died from her addiction to heroin, I didn't think anyone local would be shocked. I thought I would be the odd man out - you know, the son who didn't know because he moved away. I figured I would hear at least one story about the signs someone saw of her drug use. I was wrong because her church congregation was just as surprised as me. Turns out the friends from the church she attended for almost 20 years had no idea. One person said to me, "I feel so bad. I didn't know there was a lost sheep in our congregation."

Those words have stuck with me for a long time. Just thinking of my mom as a "lost sheep" in a church she went to weekly used to make me feel sick. Even I would take her still attending church as a value of all being right with her soul. Obviously it wasn't. So tell me, why is it we believe the people outside of the doors are hurting more than those inside? Is it because we are protecting our own vulnerabilities to the point that we can't help the vulnerabilities of someone who is right in front of us?

It is hard to even tell this story because I'm not blaming the actual church facility she went to. That is part of why I asked for my name to be left off of this post. Also, there are many people who walk around daily with heroin addictions and no one knows. I just want to encourage us to check on those outside and inside of our congregations. Ask God to encourage your mission field for where you are as well as where you could be. 

After receiving this submission I realized I needed to brush up on this specific parable. I agree with the author that often when I think of the parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:11-14) I often am drawn to think of those who do not yet know God...those who do not sit inside church with me. I remember learning this parable as a child and being told, "If you truly know God you never turn away. If you do turn away, you were never really saved." 

As I reread this parable, I realized I (and the person explaining it to me earlier in life) may have missed the point. 

The parable doesn't state that the shepherd owned 99 sheep and randomly searched for one additional sheep to make it an even hundred. Instead, it reads that the shepherd already had all 100 sheep in his care when the one went away. He then chased after it and safely brought it home. It also states that he was happier about the one who returned than the 99 that didn't wander off. 

In this specific conversation piece, we read of someone who sat in the pew (AKA, one of the 99 in the flock) most Sunday's that was most likely not in the best place emotionally. But, it may have been assumed by others that because she was still inside the walls each Sunday that things could not have been dark for her. Although the parable tells us that the shepherd was happier with the one who returned, it also clearly states that he did indeed go back to his flock. He knew that they needed him just as much as the one. He knew that all one hundred were stronger together. He didn't assume that they could make it the rest of their lives without Him. He didn't forget about any of HIS sheep and neither should we. 

-- Cayla