How To Cover Your Guilt

One of my son’s vocabulary words this week is “sentimental”.

Sentimental

As the hormotional component in this marital equation, I could wax sentimental about A Lot Of Things, but I’ll spare you.

Instead, my mind instantly went to the fresh new ways God has shed His abundant grace on me, lately.  So. Many. Ways.

I blew it, and big, this very week, in fact.

And, once again, El-Channun (the Gracious God) showed up. And big!

I committed to being  a part of an amazing team of women with servant’s hearts and a willingness to do a Great Thing each day, online.  As a member of this team, my commitment required one time slot over each of four days, over the course of a few months, to do my part in this Thing.

For the last few weeks, I dropped the ball.

And my gracious Team Leader covered my shifts.

I told her and myself, “I will not drop the ball again!”. And I meant it.

But I did.

And the guilt I felt as I heaped ashes on my head.

  • Letting someone I care about down.
  • Not keeping my word.
  • My inability to be consistent now revealed

I let my mistakes become monumental in my mind.

But she poured out grace, instead. God showered me in grace through her.

  • Recognition and praise
  • No condemnation
  • Love poured out

Undeserved.  All.

In this final week of my time studying A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, I came across a couple of words, mid-sentence on page 200 that spoke right into my heart:

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He cannot love me more.  Tears wash my dirty cheeks as I realize, afresh, how very much this God I long to be more like, loves me.  Despite myself.

He loves me no less for the times I snap at the ones I love.  Or whisper wrongly.  Or step forward too quickly. There is nothing I’ve done, not a thing, that He didn’t already know.  There’s not a single thoughtless word or deed that He didn’t already willingly agree to be nailed to the cross for.

God’s love is bigger.

And that is something to get sentimental about!

Yes indeedy.

Thank you for joining me on this journey through “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  Please consider joining us over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ next Online Bible Study of “Made To Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst, beginning January 19th. Sign ups are here.  If you’d like to read some of the other thoughts participants had on these final chapters of “A Confident Heart”, please click the button below.

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Table For Two, Please

One of my dearest friends loves to eat at restaurants. She’ll bring her favorite book and politely ask wait staff if she can “rent the table” for a little longer, when she finishes eating.

When I get the privilege of meeting her for a meal, I can always count on two things.  The first is that she will arrive before me.  I try to get there on time – I really do; but she knows me well. The second thing that happens, without fail, is that as I round the bend in the restaurant to get to our table, I find her hunched over whatever book she is currently reading, devouring a page. It makes me smile every time.

Her enthusiasm for reading is infectious.

And I can identify. I feel a lot like that whenever I get alone time with my God to read His Words.

Carving out the time in my day to do that is no easy task.  And, I’m sure that’s true for many of us.  But, it’s also critical.  Renee Swope reminds us, in her book, “A Confident Heart”, that we can’t “find” the time to spend with our Jesus.  We have to make the time.

Find_Time_ACH

And He can help us do that.  We need only ask Him to.

Even if we work outside the home and have family responsibilities. Even if we work the night shift, or struggle under the weight of unemployment, or suffer with a long-term illness. Even if we are double-dog tired by days end. Whatever your “even if” situation is, when you ask Jesus to clear the way for more time to spend with Him, I can promise you, He will! He’s just waiting to be asked.

Maybe, that’s why I love spending time with Him.  He doesn’t force me to come to Him. He invites me to.

He’s inviting you, too.

Who doesn’t want to accept an invitation like that?

Jesus_Invites_Us

The time that I carve out to spend with God is indeed at a table; but not at a restaurant table.  No. My kitchen table serves as the place where I can lay out His Good Word and my pencil and notebook and concordance and notecards and…

It’s a production, you see.  I want to be able to look up any word I don’t understand.  I need to be able to write any thoughts that He may bring to mind about my current thinking or behaving.  His truth needs to be underlined or starred or re-read out loud. Sometimes, I feel the need to re-write some Truth to be placed in a location where I can easily see it again and again.

And I just can’t do that in a restaurant.

But I most certainly can at home. For it is in those precious quiet moments, without distractions that I am able to hear Him speak soothingly to the hurt places and joyfully to the dark places and softly to the hard places.

And that table? It is always a table for two.

Join me over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study today. We’re discussing chapter 9 of “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  And the topic?  #WhyWorry I don’t know about you, but I stand to learn much about that!  Go be encouraged.

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Hammer Time

I can almost bet you were hoping for a pithy 80’s post here.  Ain’t gonna happen.  Sorry.

I am a master (mistress sounds all sorts of wrong) at squashing any thoughts I might have that propel me to the completion of a goal.  In fact, I’ve discovered that my thoughts follow a pretty stinkin’  predictable pattern of progression.  There always seems to be a point where I turn on my heel and stomp out. Sometimes, I quietly try to crouch down and crawl out. But either way, I give up. Maybe you can relate?

Let’s say that my final step is to actually build The Thing I’ve been planning in my head for years a time. And, let’s also say that I’ve taken the time to gain some solid knowledge and practice putting hammer to nail. Also, let’s assume that I’ve made sure to get confirmation that This Thing is what it is supposed to be.

It’s time to pick up that hammer and start doing the hard work of laying board up to board and nailing things together until they take shape.

Here are some thoughts that go through my head,though, as I begin. Please, tell me I’m not alone?

“There are so many pieces to put together.”

“What if I get halfway in and realize I’ve measured incorrectly?”

“Am I sure these are the right kind of nails?”

“That hammer is gonna get heavy after the first 30 nails.”

“This is going to take a sweet forever.”

“Minus the sweet part.”

“Man, why did I start this project again?”

“Shoot! That hurt!”

“Ain’t nobody got time for this!”

“There are plenty of these Things already in the world.”

“Where is that devil dog?”

Distraction.

Dissuasion.

Incompetence.

They are all whispered into my ear.

And here’s the thing about All The Whispers: If I were to listen carefully to how each of those distractions, all of those suggestions, every point about my incompetence were being delivered?  I’d notice the hissing for what it is.

Lies.

Told by the father of lies.

Not today, buddy.

This goal will not be an epic fail.

I choose to tune out the thoughts that are against me and go with the thoughts that are for me.

By the Creator of Truth.

I am capable because I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Each seemingly insignificant pound of hammer to nail head honors Him in not despising the small beginnings.

I am, indeed, the right person for this job because He called me to it.

This thing is important because it brings glory to God.

Where it should be.

And most importantly, I’d rather take my cues from the Master Carpenter any day.

And with that, I do believe I’m willing to pick up that hammer again and resume the building.

After, of course, a little devil dog break.

Yes indeedy!

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I just need to plug Renee Swopes’ book “A Confident Heart” again, here.  Those thoughts above about “against me and for me” thinking?  They are hers. She has truly given my heart strength and courage as I’ve been going through this book.  Click the title of the book to go get your own copy.  I love you, but I’m not sharing! I say that in love, of course.   (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

Two Steps Right

A little change in perspective is so good for the heart sometimes, isn’t it? I am no dancer.  The Nana called me “Grace” growing up and it surely wasn’t because of my ability to be graceful.  Not even remotely.

But life is, I’ve found one great Dance.

I have found myself doing a little dance that I don’t like, lately.  Maybe it’s one you can relate to?

Make a To Do List, dosie-doe;

Work to accomplish it, around I go;

Measure myself by another’s stick

Dip and loop, feel downright sick;

Guilt and Shame weigh down this heart,

Drag myself back ’round to start.

But, lately?

Lately, I feel my Dance Instructor teaching me some new dance steps. Steps that require less of my effort and more dependence upon Him. Moves that don’t involve me watching “the rest of the class” to see what they are doing and follow suit.  No. He wants me to move the two steps right that will be best for the dance He’s created for me, only.

He started planting these moves in my heart some time ago – around the time that He reminded me that I am never going to be enough – without Him.  That I am never able – without Him.  That I am never alone; or – without Him. He’s been modeling these steps in His Instruction Manual for thousands of years. But, at the time that I first read them, I wasn’t concerned enough about what He said to do.  I was looking more towards my fellow dancers.

Not now.

No.

Now, I am looking at my Teacher and I am eagerly awaiting the next dance moves that He meant for me.  You see, I have found that my heart is filled with a new confidence in His ability to direct my moves and steps.  They are so much more graceful – with Him.  They are far more powerful – with Him.  They are accomplished far more easily – with Him leading.

I know, now, that my Dance Instructor loves me with an everlasting love.  I know that His mercies are new every morning that this clumsy dancer needs a fresh start.  I am sure, now, that if I fall, He will be there to help me up.

And that dance that I spoke of before?  It is a thing of the past.  As my heart continues to gain confidence in my Dance Instructor’s love for me, I trust Him and dance with abandon.

For Him.

With Him.

In Him.

And, although I may never be called “graceful”, I will be called Loved.  Redeemed.  Worthy.

Yes indeedy.

And I can dance to that!

How about you?  Do you find your heart racing for all of the wrong reasons lately?  May I encourage you to sit, rest, and look to The Master Dance Instructor again?  He longs to direct your steps and make them straight. Oh, how He does!

Today, I am linking up again with the community over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  Weekly, we meet together to discuss “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  Click the button below to see what other heart confidence is growing as we study together.

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Doing It Scared

There are just so many things.

So many things that I, daily, do scared.

Want a “short list”?

  • Attempt to walk in heels higher than an inch
  • Cook
  • Wear anything white
  • Exercise

And then there’s the more serious stuff:

  • Parent
  • Believe in the promises God whispers through His Word
  • Speak up on others’ behalf
  • Make choices about media, attention and adoration
  • Trust that it really is all Good for those that love Him

And, friends?  That’s the Short List.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how super-confident others perceive me to be.  And yet, how very little confidence I truly possess. (I do believe some folks confuse the Gift of Gab with the trait of Confidence, but that might well be a different post for a different day.)

I can’t help but wonder if God is allowing me glimpses into all of these things I hold so fearfully in my heart because He is preparing a way for my heart to gain more confidence. True confidence.  In my heart. Where it needs to be.

Proverbs 31 Ministries is beginning their next Online Bible Study on October 13th.  It’s called…

Wait for it…

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. 

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Can I even tell you how God-orchestrated this study seems to be for the current health of my heart?

Will you consider joining me? And a “couple” of other women from around the world?

Click here to sign up.

And if you’re doing it scared, know that we’re in this together!