Monday, January 26, 2015

My Empty Space Is Made For God's Grace

Pushing the cart around, I saw so much I wanted to put in it.  Chocolaty breakfast bars, guacamole, those new chips.  You know, fun pantry stuff.  Instead, I grabbed two blocks of cheese, two loaves of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a few other essentials.  It was going to be a sandwiches-for-dinner kind of week.

I started to feel a little bratty, a little entitled.  But with every step of obedience toward the register and away from the things I really didn't need, God spoke to my heart.

You are well-loved.  Always provided for.  Never without.  You are my baby girl.  Boast in my provision sweetheart.

By the time I stepped out into the rain to rush to my van, I was excited about the challenge before me.  I was excited about peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Let's do this, God.

Our lack has always been blessed space for God to fill.  It has always been opportunity for God to love on us.

Our empty space is made for God's grace.

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 Christ's power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

The apostle Paul let this truth sink down into the very depths of his heart until it took up residence there, and he taught it to the church in Corinth with intention.  Only he wasn't concerned with queso and the latest coffee creamer.  He was being beaten and tortured in prison.  That alone makes me a little ashamed of the pouty face I carried through the grocery store.

It is that gap between what we need and what we have, that gap between where we are and where we need to be that allows the power of Christ to be magnified and seen.

And isn't that our purpose here on earth?  To bring glory to our Heavenly Father?

We are designed to live in a way that shines a spotlight on what God has done in our lives, how gracious He is.  And let's be honest, the spotlight is needed because those areas are usually pretty dark.

I am always amazed at the things God uses to shape me.  Like what goes into my grocery cart and what gets tossed out (my entitled attitude.)  Or how I react when I'm late and can't find my keys (or my self-control.)  Or any one of the countless other mundane details of my daily life.

What are you lacking in today?  What is your need?  Will you ask and allow God to fill it?  I promise you will fall a little more in love with Him each time you do!

Monday, January 19, 2015

When Fuzzy Platitudes Aren't Enough

" I don't always know what to say, but I'm always willing to listen.  Please know that we are here if you need us."

I had just shared with a friend some devastating news about myself.  Although there was no grand solution to my problem, her words gave me rest.

When those we love endure nightmares and heartache, we grasp at the air for the right words.  The compassion that God has instilled in us kindles our desire to soothe their pain through our call, our message, or our visit.

But sometimes we come up short.  Sometimes the only thing we can think to say is what we've heard a dozen times before.

She's in a better place.

He doesn't deserve you.

Everything happens for a reason.

And we get the vague sense that our words have somehow evaporated into the ceiling without piercing the broken heart before us.  Platitudes.

When the broken heart in front of you writhes with the unimaginable pain of faithlessness, devastation, cruel death, or broken promises, what do you say?  How do you stare into red, tear-filled eyes without their salvation in your pocket?

When life throws heavy things at us, it brings into sharp focus our need for a savior.  It allows Jesus to bust down the door where we are held captive in our fear or pain.  It allows us to fall in love with Him.

And that's where we begin when we come up short.  Pointing a broken heart back to Jesus always plants hope.

When those we love are beaten and ravaged by the world and sin, they don't need those phrases that have been said so many times that they've lost their meaning.  They don't need a pat on the back.  They need Jesus.

Our place is to remind them of how God loves.  Whether we demonstrate that to them through our service or it comes out of our mouths.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

And how does He love anyway?

He's the friend who takes you to dinner when your husband doesn't show up for marriage counseling.

He's the small group leader who arranges for meals to be brought to your home while you suffer the chemo.

He's the former addict who sits with you hour by hour as you wrestle with the demons of withdrawal.

He's the mother who holds your hand as you plan the funeral for your newborn.

When hearts are broken, there is no other specialist like Jesus.  He always knows what to say.  And what not to say.  And He lives in each one of us as believers.  When we don't know what to say, we pray. 

We pray for God to move.  To heal.  To soothe.  To calm.  To bind up the wounds.  And then watch as Jesus does what He does best.

When fuzzy platitudes aren't enough, we let God live and move through us.  He knows exactly what the broken need.

Monday, January 12, 2015

God Has Not Called Me To Be Super Mom, But A Sanctified Mom (With Printables)

I have a problem with lists.  I write everything down in accordance with my Type-A personality.  Copy paper, notepads, napkins, old envelopes, and even smug bills that I just feel like defacing...nothing is safe from my scribblings of meals, groceries, errands, bills to pay, rooms to clean, etc.

My scraps of paper are strewn from my desk to the kitchen, to my van and back again.  They often hide from me in said places and I end up creating duplicates.  Feeding the madness.

The startling number or inability to keep up with them is not my problem, however.

At the end of the day, when I look at my list and realize I've only crossed off half of my to-do items, the perfectionist in me gets ugly.

She doubts my calling, challenges my abilities, and makes me feel low.  She's ruthless.  Above all, she's grace-less.

My One Word for 2015 is Grace.  It's terrifying.  And it has already shown up in my lists.

Upon writing my to-do list last week, the Father whispered to my heart,

"Will you make room for me?  If a sick friend needs groceries at home, will you run for them and forget your own for a day?  If I call you to write, will you leave the germs to overrun that bathroom for another day?  When your children so desperately need extra doses of you, will you make that phone call, pay that bill, send that RSVP, or fold those clothes another day?"


So, I re-wrote my list.  I left room.  I split the realistic from the not-probable.  I included a reminder that my day belongs to my Heavenly Father and He shall do what He pleases with it.  I also included a reminder that I am not all-powerful, invincible, or faster than the speed of light.  A reminder that God has not called me to be super mom, but a sanctified mom.

Grace.  Sovereignty.  Right there on my To-do list.

*I made a few scraps of paper for you too.  Just in case you're like me.  Print them out and use them as a reminder of Grace and Sovereignty.  Love you friend.*

(This last one was inspired by Lysa TerKeurst's latest book The Best Yes.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

An Open Letter To The Child-less Critic

So you're in your twenties or thirties, maybe even a later stage of life, and you are without kids.  You see all these parents these days and you think, This is what's wrong with the world today.

Whether at the grocery store or visiting with your nieces and nephews, you realize that all this disrespect and disobedience is a product of lax and lazy parenting.  Maybe they are uneducated, maybe they are just too tired.  Either way, you can't wait to have little angels of your own so you can show them all how it is done.

You are so precious.  Let me enlighten you, dear one.

No childhood experience, babysitting job, or degree will shape your parenting beliefs, convictions, or practices like the twenty-four-seven immersion of a priceless little life that calls you mommy or daddy and looks to you for every need.

I have one of those little brats that you just wish you could get your hands on.  A week with him and you would have him straightened out, right?

Well, in our house, he's not a brat.  We call him strong-willed.  He's a boy who isn't easily swayed.  He doesn't accept ideas just because everyone else accepts them.  He's passionate and wild and lives life as full as he can possibly push it as a four-year-old.

That makes my job tough.  Adventurous, you might say.  But here's the thing about raising one of these little soldiers.  My goal is not to make him flawlessly obedient to my pre-conceived notion of how children should behave, what would make me look good, or what would make my life easier.  My goal is to introduce him to Jesus Christ.  And along with that comes grace.

I want him to know that Jesus paid an ultimate sacrifice for us even while we were still sinners.  We did nothing to deserve it.  Quite the contrary.  We pave the way for that understanding by the way we discipline him now.

I have absolutely no intention of breaking his will because that is the very thing that will make him virtually impervious to peer pressure as a young adult.  That is the very thing that will bolster his leadership.  That is the very thing that will mold him into a friend, husband, and father that will not back down in the face of Satan.  He will rise, he will fight, and he will be victorious when the world threatens and asks if he believes in Christ.

So while he is young, we will pray and follow the Spirit's leading on how to raise this little soldier for Christ no matter what your opinion is.  Don't worry.  We've got this.

While we are chatting, let's remember that children are a work in progress.  Barely on the earth for the blink of an eye and being rushed daily with how to live, behave, and love.  I refuse to look at my toddlers and preschooler and question whether or not they are good enough.  I refuse to question whether or not I am good enough as their chosen parent.

When they fly from my nest as young adults, I will see the fruit of the last 18 years of blood, sweat, and tears.  I know that I will make mistakes, and I know that I will have a lot of victories.  But above all, as I lean on my Heavenly Father for the strength and wisdom to be a Godly mother, I know that I will be able to rest easy when my task is complete.

Let's not forget that you, too, are a work in progress.  The Heavenly Father is not finished with us yet either.  Every day we are being molded, trained, disciplined, and loved into looking a little more like Him.  A dose of humility should do us all a little good when we think we could do it better than others.

God bless you, friend.  And I mean that.  Parenting is an adventure.  Buckle up!