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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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!

Life Interrupted

Some of God’s greatest gifts truly are wrapped in unlikely packages. Mine came in all 6 pounds and 10 ounces of baby goodness.  Sweetman and I loved every single inch of this package.  He seemed perfect.  We dreamed of life as parents of a bouncing baby boy.

Two years later, our lives were interrupted by the diagnosis of Autism.  I could try to tell you how I wrapped myself around that diagnosis and accepted it with open arms, knowing that if “God brought us to it, He’d see us through it.”  But I didn’t.  I really didn’t.

Here’s what I did do:

  • I cried out to God for answers
  • I leaned hard and heavy on friends who loved us despite my child’s behaviors
  • I continued to believe God had His hand in this, on us, and around him
  • I learned the power of a desperate prayer thrown heavenward morning, noon, or night

There were moments where I longed  are still moments when I long to be able to take part in those conversations where I talk about the sports that are played, the interests that are pursued, the unique passions that are on display “already”.  But I can’t.

What I can do, however, is to stick with it.

Because there isn’t any easy button for this life interruption.

But God…

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I realize, now, that the healing of this mama heart of mine is going to be a life-long process. And there will be more heartache along the way. But, you know what?  I can honestly tell you that I’m okay with that.

In fact, I say “Yes!” to God because my Sweetboy is fearfully and wonderfully made.  By Him.  For me.

And through it all, I’ve come to understand that this child? He is indeed perfect.

For us.

Oh yes he is.

I’m joining a community of over 24,000 Jesus lovin’ ladies from all over God’s Green Earth for a blog hop today.  We are studying the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” by Lysa TerKeurst over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study. If you’d like to read some of the other beautiful words from this online community, click the button below.

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I Used To Think I Needed People

I used to think I needed “people”.

Last year, if you had asked me if I could ever see myself joining an online Bible study, I may well have gotten a good long chuckle out of the question. I’m a people person, you see.  I am invigorated and filled with joy at being with others.  Being able to reach out and hug the neck of a friend, or lay a reassuring hand on the shoulder of another mama, or look into the eyes of a sister and share in some joy with her?  That’s The Stuff I live for.

But, God…

He had other plans for me.

Life turns, as it is want to do. And as I looked around me at All The Quiet and the lack of necks to hug, I realized that I had a choice to make.  I could say #YesToGod in whatever He had for me in this new season; or, I could stand with my hands clenched tight wondering about the road ahead and what it would look like and where it would lead and if I would like it and… That’s no way to spend a day. Or a season. It’s just not.

So… I heard the messages God seemed to be sending me.  The ones he sent through His Word. The ones He sent through precious friends urging me to stay plugged in, For The Love.  He sent me a podcast or three, and a radio broadcast or two, and a magazine article or four, about the growing trend of online Bible study.

Light dawned on this marble head of mine.

I heard.

My heart said, “Yes God. I will do this thing. I’ll engage right here.”

Although it felt like a small thing, this yes to God, it wasn’t.

I am beginning to see that it was a surrender. And a beautiful one at that.

I stood ready to be amazed by what this new obedience would bring.

And, what did it bring?

It brought a much deeper appreciation for the self-discipline required to crack open the Word of God with the intent of digging in deeper. Without a team to urge you on in person, or a table with 10 sets of eyes looking at you for your next thought on a passage of scripture, or the agenda for the next hour and a half in front of you and the clock to remind you that you need to stick to it.  Thank God for giving us a spirit of self-discipline!  I’ve been needing that Spirit, something fierce, these last few months.

This particular “yes” to God brought a realization of how very different the rhythms of online Bible study are than in real life Bible study.  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are all available to me 24/7.  I can hop on and engage in a conversation about what all of this obedience looks like whenever I am able, or whenever I feel led to.

And, maybe most significantly, my “yes” brought me back to an awareness of my need for daily grace. What attempts to compete for God’s attention for you, my friend?  Because, this little sinner can tell you, the list is long over here.  L.O.N.G.  And it can even get a little whack-a-mole ish.  My husband pops up and says things like, “Hey! Remember me?  We used to kiss a lot.”  And just when I think I’ve got the endless stream of twitter feed/facebook status/blog comments under control,  the Sweet Children pop their noses up close to mine and attempt to nuzzle, reminding me that there is real life love to be given, too.  And don’t even get me started on the dust bunnies that come out of nowhere, the books piled high in hopes of being read, or the magazines from 2011 that hope to be perused in this decade.

That little yes that I uttered? It brought a beauty to obedience that I’d never seen before.  It brought a startling beauty to surrender. I can maneuver through my day knowing that God will be woven throughout every thought, word, and deed.  I can do no thing apart from Him anyway.

Rich_Whooten_Vineyard_Creationswap

In saying yes, God gave me the eyes to see and the ears to hear that I don’t necessarily need “people”. But I do necessarily need Him.

And in Him I will remain.

Yes indeedy.

I’m participating in a weekly blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  If you’d like to read how other hearts are responding to the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst, click the button below!

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All In

Have you found it?

That thing that you’re looking for.

Are you inching any closer to grabbing a hold of it?

I don’t know about you, but my soul has been longing for more lately. Anyone else?

Maybe it’s this new season of parenthood that’s upon me or the new life stages; It could simply be that for the first time in a long time, I have the time and space and desire to examine those things that my soul has been lacking.  I’m not really sure.

But, this I know. While my days may indeed be filled with the mundane, that does not mean that life, itself, is mundane.  Oh, no!

In Lysa TerKeurst’s book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”, she states that,  “A holy God in the middle of life’s mundane activities will change your life.” 

Whether you’ve just started walking with God, or have been walking with Him for decades, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you know pretty stinkin’ well that life with Him is anything but mundane. Amen?

Blessed? Sometimes. Adventurous?  If we’re so blessed. Peaceful? That depends on whether we’ve got our eyes set on external peace or internal.

But life with God is never mundane.

Even in the mundane.

In fact, I wonder what my God thinks of all this soul hunger I’ve suddenly developed; this deep desire that I finally have to be radically obedient to whatever He has for me.

Whether what He has for me is located in the bunk beds down the hall, or in the marriage that takes constant tending and dying to self, I pray that my heart cries “Yes!”. It may be that God has a mission for me in the halls of my children’s school, or in a place that is more than I can ask or imagine. Or maybe, it’s simply in a place that beats wildly right underneath my very skin and bones. . I still pray that I am able to cry “Yes!” with everything I’ve got.

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Whatever God says to do, I realize now, I must do! And He is waiting for me to surrender it all – heart, soul, and strength to Him to make of it all what He will.

For His glory.

That excites me.

My soul finally longs to be all in.

And that’s exactly where you’ll find me, my friends.

In the midst of figuring out how I can say YES to God.

Wanna join me?

I’m participating in a weekly blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  If you’d like to read how other hearts are responding to the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst, click the button below! If you’d like to join over 22,000 women from 120 countries in this Online Bible Study, click here.

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Seek First

Matthew6_33_missindeedy

When there are more tasks at hand than hours in the day,

And the heft of your circumstances exceeds the girth of your paycheck;

When you are tempted to check out,

And it seems like running away might be a good idea;

If you are on the verge of shutting down,

And all hope seems lost;

Seek God first.  

The Message puts it this way:

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”

And the New Century Version puts it this way:

“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.”

Does any of this speak Truth into your heart, my friend?  Because, it surely does mine.

Those times that I am in the throes of agony, mired in controversy, or trapped in indecision, I don’t always seek God first. In fact, sometimes?  He’s the last One I seek.

Can I tell you something?  That never works out that well for me.  And I am not using the word never, lightly. It may bring momentary stress relief or seeming clarity to a muddy situation – but after?

When Later comes, time shows me that I could have gained more peace and perspective had I simply sought out my Creator. First.

Truly? Who else could know me better?  Who else could know the situation better. 

Who knows the beginning from the end?

Seek First the kingdom of God.

Oh, do!

Yes, indeedy.

and

One way that I seek first is by filling my heart with God’s peace and perspective one minute at a time. Proverbs 31 Ministries has been a part of my spiritual sustenance almost as long as I’ve called myself a Christian. One ministry that has been a constant and easy encouragement has been the one minute radio broadcast that Lysa TerKeurst and Renee Swope provide. These broadcasts air on radio stations across the country. I can not tell you how many times I’ve been struggling, turned on my radio, and caught this quick broadcast, only to have it be on exactly what I’m struggling with!  I can. not. tell you! Click here to listen to today’s P31 Ministries broadcast or to learn more.