Tag Archives: grace

Freedom

I’m out by the lake writing today and marveling that the sun is actually out. It’s so pretty unlike the grey and cloudy day I wrote about on Friday. I look at the water and contemplate freedom. Now that the month has changed over, I think about the anniversaries occurring this month that represent freedom to me.

The third anniversary of this blog is this month. Three years ago, I remember thinking that I really needed to start a blog in which I mainly wrote about my Christian faith. I never denied my faith in my other blog, but there is no mistaking what this blog is. From the title to the header where I have Ephesians 2:8-9, it is a blog which talks about God, Jesus, and my faith–fully and honestly. I’m so thankful I have this little place to praise my Lord and Savior and to ask all the questions I’ve needed to ask. I hope some of my musings have helped you along the way.

The second anniversary this month is the big one. If you live in the United States, you know that tomorrow is the 241st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Freedom to think, freedom to speak, freedom to write, freedom to pursue our lives the way we want to. I know some of you would say our freedoms have eroded in recent years, that you’ve had to fight this circumstance or that. I’m not here to argue specific incidents. We were given the mechanisms to fight for our freedoms, and I think they have worked fairly well over the years. I am grateful for the freedoms I have here, nonetheless.

What I am here to discuss is what we do with our freedoms whether we live in the United States or somewhere else. Because, as Christians, we answer to a higher power than just the leader of a country. We answer to our Lord and Savior. The laws and tenets that He inspired His prophets to write for us in Scripture help us to live in harmony in this world and with our brothers and sisters. They give us our moral center and help us to know how God would like us to live. Do they work all the time? No, sin exists here and will exist until Jesus comes back for us. We will fail God though we might not want to. That’s where grace comes in like it says in the Bible verses at the top of this page. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I look at these verses about grace and think about all of the laws from Scripture that I do my best to follow. And then I think about what Jesus says in Luke 10:27. “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”  This is the ‘law’ God wants us to follow most of all, and this is the ‘law’ that makes me free. Love. Love, the way Jesus loved us.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the final anniversary that is happening this month. This coming Sunday my husband and I are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary. What I’ve most appreciated about our relationship is that he’s given me the freedom to be myself. He hasn’t asked me to fit into the world’s standards or into rigid Christian standards. He’s supported my interests and has been my cheerleader for everything I’ve tried–from homeschooling to writing. Our life together has not been easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I think that’s the point of this freedom God gives us. It’s not a freedom to take advantage of people or do whatever we want. It’s the freedom to love the way God wants us to love.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

The Twilight Time

Every year, I get to this point and think something should be happening during this time, but it never does. I finally decided this year to give it a name. So, drum roll here. The week between Christmas and New Years is known as the twilight time. Yes, some people have to work while others are on holiday, but, for the most part, not a lot gets done. For those who are working, the main thing that is generally said is, ‘Let’s wait until after the new year to get that done,’ while those who are on vacation are in relaxation mode and not thinking about work at all until after the new year.

For me though, this week has turned into a week of consideration. A week to consider what I’ve done right this year and what I’ve done wrong. And I have done plenty wrong as I’m sure you all have. I’ve let down my family and my friends in many ways, and I’ve not let Jesus lead me the way I should. As Paul says in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.”

I feel like I have people fooled sometimes. One time I heard someone say, “If people knew what I really struggled with, they wouldn’t want anything to do with me.” I struggle with this as well.”

We received a card during this season which detailed all the ways this person appreciated members of my family, and he didn’t have a whole lot to say about me. Imagine how uncomfortable I was when I saw him on Sunday.

Also, on Sunday, I had another encounter with someone who said how much they appreciated me. My first thought was to tell him I knew how much they appreciated my husband because of all the work he does with the media team, the implication being there wasn’t anything to appreciate me for.

You might see a common theme with these statements and feelings, :-), but for you to fully understand where I’m coming from, I need to go back to this week of consideration. I’m looking out at a dark and cloudy morning. It’s raining, but the overhang to our entrance is sheltering me. This has not been the best year for us. My husband got sick and spent some time unemployed. We moved, and life got more expensive. These things could and have been discouraging. I have wondered at times if I’ve had the strength to go on.

But, then, I flip these discouraging things on their side and realize how much God has blessed us. We have a place to live. Some people don’t. We have food to eat. Some people don’t. Things have been paid for, sometimes anonymously, but they have been paid for. And, my husband has work again. Some people don’t.

I am blessed beyond measure even with the burdens I carry, and I am so very thankful. This twilight time has been a time of reflection so far as well as a time of consideration. It is showing me how I’ve been blessed as well as what I can do better in 2017.

God wants us to have time for reflection. It is when we are most open to hearing His voice and knowing what really matters to Him. He has helped me realize that I have let others define me for way too long. The only definition that matters to Him is that we are His children and that I am His daughter. And, whatever mistakes I make, I can always come back to Him, and He will receive me with the grace He bestows freely.

This is my prayer for all of you–that as we go into 2017, we are able to lay our burdens at His feet and accept the grace He gives to all of us.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Four Years

It sneaked up on me this year. On this day four years ago, we drove into Birmingham. I didn’t imagine then when we drove down 280 at 7 PM that this place would become home and that I would meet people who would become family. People who are so dear to me that I can barely breathe when I think of how much they mean to me. We came here to take advantage of an employment opportunity for my husband and though he is no longer at that company, I am grateful we were able to move here for the opportunity.

Yes, this year has been a struggle. We have dealt with sad and happy occasions. First, the happiest one. My older son graduated from high school and started college. When we moved here, one of my utmost desires was that we could stay in one place for both of my children’s high school years. We’ve managed that for the older one. He has made lifelong friends and put down roots getting to know other people–teens and adults who love and care about him. I wasn’t able to stay in one place for my high school years, and I wanted to do that for both of my children.

We have also dealt with difficult situations. With unemployment. With sickness. With going from a household of four to a household of three. There have been many adjustments. Sometimes the rope I was holding onto would fray and almost fall apart, especially over the last couple of weeks.

But, I would not change a minute of it. These last four years have been precious to me for two reasons. The first is because of the church home, the family we have found. I have learned about truly being a part of a community and about being loved as part of that community. Yes, it is imperfect. It won’t be perfect until we all get to heaven. But, knowing even that kind of imperfect love has meant the world to me. The other reason, the most important reason is that God has come back to my heart and to my home, and I understand what grace truly means. So very grateful to my Lord and Savior!

God’s blessings on you all today!

 

 

Grace

It’s been a little over a year since I started this blog, and while I covered the topic of grace in my first post, I thought it was time I revisited it. God has been pouring out His grace on me in the last few weeks. Pouring out His grace–even though I’ve doubted, even though I’ve struggled, even though I couldn’t feel His presence. He’s been working on my heart and spirit though as I indicated the other day with my post about prayer. I had an idea about how He could answer my prayer, and that is what I was praying for.

But, when He told me I needed to change the prayer and I did so, things started to happen. No, my husband hasn’t found a job yet, but the blessings and the grace He has poured out have continued to astound me.  God is growing characteristics in me that needed to be sharpened and  refined in the fire such as patience, humility, understanding of others, and a true acceptance of grace. Things that we need are coming to us more rapidly than I can even type, and I find myself wanting to share them with others. None of this is being done with perfection and will not result in perfection, but I am rejoicing anyway because I have the “peace that passes understanding.”

I am going to end with the words of an old hymn.

Grace Greater than Our Sin

  1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
    Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
    Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
    There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

    • Refrain:
      Grace, grace, God’s grace,
      Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
      Grace, grace, God’s grace,
      Grace that is greater than all our sin!
  2. Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
    Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
    Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
    Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
  3. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide;
    What can we do to wash it away?
    Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
    Brighter than snow you may be today.
  4. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
    Freely bestowed on all who believe!
    You that are longing to see His face,
    Will you this moment His grace receive?

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Christmas is Over—Now what?

Now that Christmas is over, now what? What can give us the same anticipation that waiting for Christmas does? May I suggest sharing God’s love year round and not waiting for a special time. May I suggest displaying more patience, more grace, more joy, and more peace. May I suggest giving the world who doesn’t believe a reason to believe.

Is this a tough thing to do? Oh yes! And, why would that be? Because, all of us who do claim Christ are still broken people and still human. And, we still mess up. But, I want to do better. I want people to see Jesus in me.

A verse that is one of my favorites comes to mind. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

So, the next time I’m tempted to yell something in traffic or the next time I’m tempted to lose my temper in a restaurant, I’m going to pray for God’s peace in my heart, and I’m going to pray for words to use so people will see God’s peace on my face.

God’s blessings on you today!

God is Able

Jude 1:24

“All glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.”

God is able….when a child is not doing well in school. God is able….when we get a flat tire. God is able….when a friend has cancer. God is able….when a friend is heartbroken over a situation with her sister. God is able….when my husband is ill. God is able….when a world is hurting. Why do Christians have a hard time believing that? I have some ideas, but they will bend and prick the conscience of every person who claims Christ as they did for me yesterday.

First, we don’t believe in a big enough God. Sure, we might pray for the big things, but God hears all prayers even from hearts who ache for reconciliation and from hearts who want to do things for God, but lack courage to do so. I wish there was a simple answer for this, but I think the best answer is to stay on our knees in prayer. Praying for faith, praying for belief, praying that God today is still as able as He was all those years ago when a little baby boy was born in the tiny town of Bethlehem.

The second idea I had is one that is a common theme, sad to say, among many Christians including myself. God cannot demonstrate He is able because we don’t think we deserve it. I started this blog because of what I have learned about grace, and grace, first and foremost, means we do deserve it. Ephesians 2:8-9, my theme verses for the blog, state, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.” God sent the gift of His son for all of us. He paid the price so we wouldn’t have to.

And finally, we pick our burdens back up after we think we’ve given them to God. God can’t demonstrate He is able if we’re still holding onto our burdens–the small ones and the big ones. So, my prayer for you and for myself is that our fragile humanity can get out-of-the-way and let God demonstrate He is able!

God’s blessings on you all today!

Into the Unknown

Into the unknown–a lot could be gleaned from the phrase, but that’s kind of where I am this week. It’s like I’m on the top of a cliff with the precipice crumbling which means I have no choice, but to jump. The unknown is not one of my favorite places to be as I’m sure it is with a lot of you. In our society, people take pride in being prepared, in knowing what’s going to happen. Their hearts and minds are settled if they have prepared for every contingency. But a lot of times, we don’t know what’s going to happen.  And, if we are being honest, we don’t like being in the position of not knowing what’s going to happen.

Back in Biblical times though, when Jesus came on the scene, He was the unknown. The people around Him and the Jewish establishment didn’t know what to expect either.  They didn’t expect His grace, His love, the sacrifice He ended up making for all of us.  His disciples didn’t expect their worlds would be entirely changed when He asked them to follow Him and then didn’t expect to change the world themselves through what they had to share of His love and His grace.  I’ve been a professed Christian for a long time, but I am still learning more and more of this every day.

The unknown is a scary place. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say the circumstances I am in right now are scary. But, I know my Lord and Savior has me in the palm of His hand, and I just need to trust that He will provide. The lyrics of the song Oceans by Hillsong United demonstrate this aptly.

“You call me out upon the waters/The great unknown where feet may fail/And there I find You in the mystery/In oceans deep/ My faith will stand

“And I will call upon Your name/And keep my eyes above the waves/When oceans rise/My soul will rest in Your embrace/For I am Yours and You are mine

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters/Your sovereign hand/Will be my guide/Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me/You’ve never failed and You won’t stop now

“So I will call upon Your name/And keep my eyes above the waves/When oceans rise/My soul will rest in Your embrace/ For I am Yours and You are mine

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders/Let me walk upon the waters/ Wherever You would call me/ Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander/ And my faith will be made stronger/ In the presence of my Savior

“I will call upon Your name/ Keep my eyes above the waves/ My soul will rest in Your embrace/ I am Yours and You are mine”

God’s blessings on all of you today!