Grace upon grace

One story I have not liked in the Bible is David and Bathsheba.  How could God use someone who’s had an affair and then killed the lady’s husband.  I wrestle with this in my denial of my own sin sometimes.  Then David and Bathsheba are named in the lineage of Christ.  Jesus, Messiah, the Holy One.  They are named with countless others in Christ’s lineage that did not “earn” their way onto that genealogy, but they are used by God for a greater purpose even though they have many flaws and failures.  Their qualifications weren’t because they were good enough and did all the right things.

That is the God we serve.  A God who is willing to show us the worst of the worst and we say nah, He can’t use that.  And He does, every day.

His grace knows no bounds.  There is no sin we could produce that God has not already seen and forgiven in someone else.  He longs to give us grace.  But we settle for pride and try to work our way out of the bad situation.  When will we learn grace is always better and produces lasting fruit?

John 1:14-16 says,

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Jesus came in grace and truth.  Maybe we believe if we come to God with our junk He’ll say, “Now I told you not to do that and you are bad.” But what He says is, I know.  I know what you do, how you spoke, or what you thought.  And my grace is here to meet you in that to help you.  Grace upon grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says,

“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul boasts that He is weak because in that humility he receives what he ultimately needs, grace.  And God promises that His grace is enough for us in our weakness.  What are your weaknesses?  Yell at your kids?  Gossip about a friend?  Cheat?  Lie?   Grace will meet us in our weakness, if we seek Him.  Then, it will give us power to live in His power.

Finally, James 4:6 says,

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””

All we need to do to get grace is to humble ourselves, and one of the best ways I know how is to pray.  Pray today and humble yourself before God, and before you get up and go, receive the grace that He promises.

 

New seasons

New seasons bring excitement, change, grow, rest, nerves, and the list can go on.

You might hear someone say, “I’m in a new season.” And with that brings all sorts of things to my mind. So, I think “are they doing okay?” “Ooo, Are they pregnant?” “Are they working on something?” “Are they hoping for something to come to fruition?”

And for some it might be all of the above (except for us pregnant=we done).

When I begin a new season I feel totally inadequate, wobbly, and unsure of myself and what I’m doing.

Isn’t this life though. The circling back through, changing the season so we can look at something in a different way. And if we are off balance that might be good so we can learn something new and go deeper. Deeper into who God is and what He wants for us.

Our world cycles through its seasons and God created it and us. He cycles us through things too and that’s okay.

The other night we were reading a book about how leaves change throughout the seasons. Leaves have all the colors for fall even in summer, but the green outshines the oranges, reds, browns, and yellows. And with each season something new is revealed.

So in this season, what is God revealing to you?

He’s revealing to me:

He is all I could ever want.

He will never condemn me and he wants healing, redemption and freedom in my life.

He loves me on my good and bad days.

He sees something in me I cannot see yet.

He is good.

Go into a new season with hope, because with Christ it will be good.

Out of hiding

When my daughter was born, Frozen had just released on DVD and my mom obliged and got us a copy.

I fell in love and so did my anti-napping, two year.  So each day after lunch, I’d turn on Frozen and our oldest would fall asleep within ten minutes.  And I’d be holding a sweet sleeping baby girl, so I’d usually finish watching.  It quickly became one of my favorites and I really didn’t mind when they wanted to watch it.

I love the story.  About a girl who is scared and trying to be in control of something powerful.  Something she’s scared would be dangerous and hurt someone else.

Then love steps in, her sister sacrifices herself for her and she knows that love is the answer.  Isn’t this what Jesus did for us?

Forgive the correlation if you don’t agree  (I know Anna is not Jesus, and this is not a story like Narnia).  But stay with me.

He saw us.  He saw us about to be taken out by our sin, our hiding.  He saw all the broken places, all the fear, all the hurt and He came.  He came for you.  He came for me.  He came for us.

We all have places that feel too broken within us.  Places that we are scared of, but those are the places that need less hiding and more love.  Redemption.  So God can use it for good.

That lonely hidden self will show up in insecurities, fears, anxiety, depression.

Maybe you find it hard to let God in and let those places be loved.  Me too.

It’s scary, its new.  But is the right way.  To healing, freedom, being loved and the core of who we are.

Find a counselor, mentor, someone to walk with you.

Go listen to Steffany Gretzinger “Out of Hiding.”

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.

New Heart

I was thinking about our hearts last night.  How God moves in when we accept Him as Lord and Savior, but He doesn’t end there.  He wants all of our heart.

He promises to give us a new heart, but not by force.

We can look at the Old Testament and know God never forced the Israelites.  He asked things of them, He was tough, but what He really wanted was a willing heart.

I accepted Jesus going into junior high.  He pursued me, and asked other believers to speak life over me.  Something has never felt so right as the moment of being baptized and identifying with Christ.  That was the beginning.

I struggled later with salvation, and wrestled with things that I wasn’t sure Christians should be struggling with.  Legalism, guilt, shame, fear of not being forgiven, and just down right scared of failing God.  I had little trust in people, which translated into a fear with God-could I trust Him?  Could I let Him in?  Was I safe?  Was He going to destroy me once He knew my heart and my fears?  Could I let Him have these hurts in my heart?  Would He use them against me?

Would He love me still?

I wasn’t sure if He was kind or good.

But I can assure you, He knows my every secret, failure, and fear.

He loves me still.  He is so kind.  He is so good.  He will not use your pain against you.  But He will use it.  And when you let Him into those places of your heart, the pressure falls off of you and you can rest in the fact that He is the one who has held our life together all along.

And that truth is what is beginning to pull me out of those places I’ve lived.

Give Him more of your heart, ask Him to help you, allow people to speak truth over you in those times, and He will take care of our hearts better than we ever could.

*Counseling was also an essential piece of this awakening.  Hurts I thought would swallow me whole, could not, and I was reminded every time I went to counseling this was the right way.  Opening up, letting it out, and letting HIM move in.

The Good Life

Life with littles.

I have learned a lot.

As a parent you say a lot of, “no don’t eat the sand.”

“You just had a bath.” (mud from head to toe)

“Don’t put that in the toilet.”

It is a constant roller coaster of ups and downs and doing the same thing over and over.

Maybe it is the point, because I am a slow learner.  It takes me a few circles around the block for me to get the point.

I feel like the best mom when my kids are off their tablets/away from T.V., but there is a trade off.  And it usually means the house is a complete disaster.

Disaster equals play.

They have to see where the toys are, which means lots and lots of dumping toy buckets and picking them up to be dumped again.

Just writing it feels overwhelming.

But it’s not all parenting is.

Eventually, the evening slows to lulls.  The kiddos get a little sleepy.  We read our stories for the night.  Brush teeth (that is not the peaceful part).  And I watch those sweet kids fall asleep. Their eyes begin to drift slowly, slowly, until they close.  It’s beautiful.  They are content.  Happy I’m beside them.  And it’s quiet.

Life feels like a whirlwind, but there are these moments where it pauses.  Where it slows to almost standing still, where you can take it all in.  Don’t miss those moments.

It’s not just parenting, but marriage too.  It is the quiet in the car where you are just happy to be in each other’s presence and content to be quiet.

Maybe work, all the sudden you feel a groove in your job and you understand someone more and appreciate all they do.  The frustrations start to fall as you sit and just embrace where you are.  What you have.

Content.

Being content in the quiet has taken me a long time to embrace.  I used to believe silence meant something bad was about to happen, but it’s not true.  The quiet is where God tells you who you are, who He is and why He can be trusted in the busiest of moments.

Life is both.  Crazy and lovely.  Content and fast-paced.  Slow and powerful.  Meaningful and mundane.

Embrace it all.  And make those quiet moments count; loving those around you, listening to the songs of birds outside on this spring day, the sun shining, and the breeze blowing.

I’m sitting in my hallway, listening to my kiddos get along, the birds are chirping, my coffee cup is almost empty, and I’m writing.  Life is good.  It is not perfect, but it is good.

Importance of quiet: God is in the whisper, so we should probably make time to hear it.

Psalm 46:10 says “Be Still, and know that I am God.”

I like how the NET translates it, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God.”

Be still, embrace whatever moment you are in, and allow God to speak straight to your heart, I promise it is good, a gift.