Small beginnings

We begin something new.  We start, but it doesn’t end the way we think it will.  We take a different route.  We try a new craft or creative outlet.

I like starting new things.  But sometimes it gets hard.  A new lesson with old feelings attached.  I want to start something new, and settle in.  Like into a big fluffy couch.  But it seems anything worth while in this life will keep us on our toes, growing, learning, responding, teaching.

I’m not sure I’m clear today.  I’m struggling with small beginnings.  I like to pick something up, and be awesome at it immediately.  Anyone else?  Writing is challenging for me.  It’s a place of insecurity.  But the more I do it, the more it flows.  But it was so small at first.

I paid for a blog (for accountability to actually do it), committed to write twice a week, to grow this practice.  It’s not flourishing yet, but it is a move in the right direction.  It is growing this passion in me to write.  I like how it feels.  It feels inspiring, which matches with my personality type.

The verse in my quiet time yesterday was Zechariah 4:10 “ Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”  WOW!  He is so good.  The reminder.

Maybe you came from a small town, our Savior did.  Maybe you don’t have a perfect look, people were not drawn to our Savior because He looked pretty.  Maybe you’re not sure you have what it takes, but don’t discount your small beginnings.

David was the smallest boy in his family when God chose him to be Israel’s next king.  Our Savior rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in the triumphal procession.  Ruth lost her husband and was living with her mother in law when she found Boaz and became a part of Jesus’ lineage.

God does not despise small beginnings.  He loves them!

So take whatever next step God is calling you too.  He will meet you there.  Sometimes we have to step in faith to know that He is there.  Then we get to tell others, He is there.

It is never just for us.  I like that.

 

New Mercies

I keep seeing this word: mercy.  In my quiet time this was the verse for today with the caption: choose grace.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

The old testament talks about God being slow to anger and abounding in grace and mercy.  We get annoyed with Israelites after a few rounds of their complaints.  We don’t always associate grace and mercy with God in our crisis or even our daily life.  Normally my words to myself are “Can’t you get it together?”  “Why are you anxious about that, it’s not a big deal?”  Frustration.  Lack of empathy.

We think if we show compassion to our neighbors or ourselves, we are giving a pass.  However, it is clear this is important way of living in scripture.  I think modern psychology would agree.  Punishment does not equal lasting change or a “good head on our shoulders.”

What if we let feelings pass, if we slowed down long enough to see if we needed something, made time to be quiet to hear and listen.  We are scared though huh?  Scared if we stop what we might hear.  Well, I can promise you this.  Just from this Hebrews verse alone, we can know our God is gracious and cannot wait until we come to Him to receive the mercy and grace undeserved, but that He wants to lavish on us anyways.

We can wake up tomorrow and do it differently if we know we have grace and mercy.  Perfectionism comes when we think we will be punished.  Punished for anything and everything.  Not a great way to live.

Example: I’ve felt guilty my kids don’t help pick up much, I bear the burden of most of that.  Now, I could stay there punishing myself-which means I will try harder to keep the house neat and tidy and get angry when our third runs through the living room pouring legos all over the floor or my oldest says he’s just too tired.

Or grace and mercy say, tomorrow is a new day.  Make a stride.  You can’t fail at this, because grace will meet you when you lose your cool as I teach my children to pick up.  And lets be honest, may grace meet me when I succeed, keeping me humble not trusting to much in my own ability to get it right.

So where can you give yourself mercy and grace?  Giving it to yourself means you’ll give it to others too.

Whatever it is, you got this.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself today!

Remember: Lamentations 3:23 “…His mercies are new every morning.”

 

Don’t lose heart

Do you know you have worth?

If you are a believer and you know intellectually you have worth, good.  But what’s better is if your heart believe it.

What matters most is that at your worst, do you know you have worth?  That’s when it makes its way to your heart.

Most of the time, we believe our worth when we are working, accomplishing, and getting credit for it.  But do you know when all the lights turn off and you are falling asleep at night that the God of this Universe sits looking on you, believing you have worth that you are worth pursuing and saving.

Be reminded of the last time you sat staring at your baby or someone else’s sleeping.  That baby had not done much to deserve such adoration except for being there.  Created.  Alive.  Breathing.

At the end of the day, you’d probably say that most people around you have worth.  You could believe it for them, and tell it to their face.  But could you tell it to yourself?

Probably the hardest part for me in this journey of faith, is not loosing heart when its the valley of life.  When it looks bleakest.  When I’ve failed.  Do I still believe then?  It is easy for our faith to go to our head, and for us to have all the right answers.  But in the depths, do our hearts believe it?  That God is good.  That He is for us, because we are worth it.

Our humanness makes us worth it.  Nothing earned.  Or credited to ourselves.  Just to have breath in our lunges means we have worth.

That is why we fight for the innocent, the persecuted, the ones that have fallen through the cracks, the oppressed.  We want answers for them, maybe because in our depths we need a God who seeks after the oppressed, the wrecked because in our deepest selves we have been wrecked and oppressed.  Because we are human, and sin entered this world.  We have suffered.

You have worth.
When you know it, you’ll tell others when they doubt their worth.

One of the greatest blessings to keep giving out.

 

 

Right where you are

Seasons.  They come and go.  And if we aren’t careful we will be worrying our way to the next one, instead of being right where we are.

You may not want to be where you are health wise…

career wise…

relationship wise…

But you are there for a reason, and to wish it away is to miss the point.

It is easy to be in seasons of wondering, not sure which way to go.  I’d say it is normal sometimes too.

But take up what you have already learned and build with what you have.

Health wise, make a new choice for yourself, a kind choice.  Maybe just a walk with your family.  I wasn’t sure if I’d get good use out of a gym membership right now, and was a little sad that I don’t have one.  Kinda sulky.  So last week, I decided I’d go for a walk with my mom and son while my other two kiddos were at MDO and do some squats, jump rope, and planks.  Pretty simply.  My body didn’t think it was that simple the next day.  But it was a pretty easy choice.  Today I mowed the lawn.

Career wise, some of my friends are going back to work after staying home, some are working part time while they stay at home, and some have worked from the git go.  It’s easy sometimes to sit back and think of all the things we could have if I worked.  Stuff.  Money.  One day, I believe those things will be, but right now it’s not.  Right now, my two youngest need me, and I like to be with them.  Not every day, but that’s not enough to throw in the towel for me.  So, right now I celebrate for my friends, and I work while I’m waiting.  Growing skills, writing, mentoring, leading, organizing.

Man, relationships are hard.  Our families live far away, and it gets harder the older my kids get.  And I could and have sat around saying, “oh we can’t do that because we don’t have family here.”  But we do.  My neighbor is my family, my friends are my family.  And thank the Lord, our parents visit a lot!

So sometimes you are in the transition, and sometimes you are just right where you are.  And it is okay.

Let yourself know that today.

It is okay.

Gratitude

Oh my gratitude has grown tremendously in this season of life.  Gratitude for creation, for small moments, for quiet, for swinging, and reading.  Gratitude typically slows me down helping me stay in the moment.

I get joy just thinking about all these moments of deep deep gratitude.  A lot of those moments have little to do with me.  But they are an exhale to my Savior for gifts that are 100% from Him.

Peaceful moments with my husband on stressful weeks.

Surprise flowers blooming out of the ivy.

Quiet moments as my sweet babies are asleep in their beds.

Music while I’m cooking.

Counseling moments that worked out something deep.

Writing.

Getting wrapped up in a good book.

Summer rain.  

Rainbows after the rain.

Most of these moments of deep gratitude have little do with something I’ve done.  Gratitude isn’t about being happy all the time, but about realizing even in our worst moments goodness still abounds because it has less to do with us and more to do with Him and His goodness.  It has to do with our Father who loves to give good gifts to His children whether we’ve been good or bad.  He draws us to Him, and tells us we are still loved even when we’ve totally mess up.

At the heart isn’t this what we want to tell our children?  When they’ve hurt their sibling, told a lie, or yelled something in anger.  We want to draw them close and remind them of the good around them and how little is has to do with them.  That they are loved cherished and adored.  We want them to feel it and more importantly believe it.

Oh deep gratitude. I’m asking God to open my eyes to the things I can be grateful for.  Past, present, and future.

What are you grateful for today?  Don’t let it rest upon something you accomplished today, look deeper and ask God to open your eyes, slow down.  Smell the roses.

 

Good book reference: 1000 Gifts by Ann Voscamp.

Fully Known

You know how your mom, friend or spouse just know you.  Like when they buy you the perfect gift or call you at a moment you needed it most.

But, sometimes it’s annoying, right?  Like Jesse in Full House, when Rebecca had figured Danny out and even when he was trying to do the opposite of his personality she knew what he’d do.  He was exhausted trying to be someone he wasn’t.

It’s good to be known.  But it doesn’t always feel good.  It feels vulnerable, exposed.

Tauren Wells sings in his song “Known” that, “…it’s not one or the other: its hard truth and ridiculous grace to be known, fully known and loved by Him.”  I’ve been on one side of that line.  The hard truth.  I knew who I was.  I knew the depth of my sin.  But to sit there was too much.  It was too heavy, like a boulder on my chest.  Sin was debt I knew I could never pay no matter how hard I worked at it.

Freedom is to accept who you are, human, unable to do anything to save yourself, plus receiving grace that is absolutely ridiculous.  Grace completely engulfing our sinful selves.  God gives us grace upon grace because He knows who we are, how fallen, utterly dust humans.

James 4:6 says, “God gives grace generously…opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Proud and humble are the opposite.  Admitting you have faults, you are broken, you are in need: humility.  Because we all have faults, we all are broken, and we are all in need of saving.  Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  None of us can do it.  Think about the greatest person you know, yep, they are sinners in need of God’s ridiculous grace.

But you don’t understand, Tara, you don’t know me.  You are right, but God does, and He paid for all that you are hiding.

1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves…”  Isn’t that the truth, we think hiding and saying we don’t struggle with this or that sin somehow validates we are saved.  But God says confess your sin to be forgiven.

Grace balances the scales, in our favor.

So, let God know all of those completely empty places you carry, so that, grace can enter.  And know that it is both.  It is our admission of sin and God’s act of extending grace to us.

Grace- it overflows so that our sin is no more.

We are His, complete and whole.

Ending nicely

Yesterday, I was looking for inspiration.  A passion to read something, and I was looking through my books ready to pick up a new one for July.  I remembered I had gotten 7 Women by Eric Metals.  The tag line for the book is “7 Women…and the secret to their greatness.”

I felt like this would be just what I was looking for.

So I’m reading Susanna Wesley’s biography, chapter 2.  I’m reading, and thinking wow, this lady had it rough.  She lost two sets of twin babies along with other children, her husband was really terrible with money, he abandoned her at points in his life to raise their kids on her own, and their house burned down twice.  Her kiddos suffered great loss in their marriages.  Not a story with much good.

I was really wrestling with it last night before I went to sleep, letting God know I did not like her story.  Like it is my responsibility to like someone’s story or not, my first problem.  The second was that I wanted her story to be a fairy tale: she followed Christ and everything turned out great.  But that’s not how her story goes.

However, at the end, what she did have left, her most prized possession, her faith.  It was intact and so were her kids’ faith.

I felt last night I was asked, what do I want for my life and my kids?

Do I want that cushy perfect looking life, or do I want a faith for myself and my kids that will last and will never falter no mater what we go through in this life?  Both might be possible, but if I had to pick what is my heart wanting.

I want the later.  I want a faith so deep, that whatever this world tells me is the worst I could endure and still keep walking after.

We aren’t promised perfect lives.  But we are promised a perfect God who rests within us when we believe in His perfect Son so that we can endure.

What do you want?