[end of summer]

I’m not one to start the next season before it actually begins.  I’ve tried to live in the moment and enjoy the season I’m in.  While Fall is my favorite season of the year, it will come like it always does the third week of September.  I refuse to order a Pumpkin Spice Latte before Fall actually arrives.

It seems like once July 4th comes and goes I start to see posts and tweets longing for sweatshirt weather and football.  The first day of school definitely ends the summer social season.  But I am holding on to this season because of the many wonderful things (and not so wonderful) that happened over this summer.

For a long time now, God has been calling me to disciple other women.  I’ve led a ladies Bible study for years and while I love these ladies with all of my heart there hasn’t been anyone that I’ve created a one-on-one relationship with outside of our weekly meetings.  I had been praying that He would send me someone local that I could pour into and who would pour into me.  He did just that in June and every Tuesday night we meet at Starbucks and talk about life, struggles we are going through and what our hopes for the future are.  It has taken me out of my comfort zone but it has encouraged me to reach out to other women as well.  For this introvert, it can be difficult to take the first step.  It’s even more difficult to open up and really trust someone with your heart.

The summer has had its challenges. He has taught me through a relationship at work that isn’t going as I’d like, how to communicate, to be bold and have hard conversations even if the relationship can’t be restored.  I read a post by Dr. Tony Evans this week that when a broken relationship cannot be healed, we need to seek healing from that broken relationship because it could harm future relationships.  It breaks my heart when relationships cannot be restored but God can renew our hearts and move us to a place of healing.

He has renewed my heart and awakened in me a joy and expectancy that I wasn’t sure would return.  He has been faithful and has even sent us three families that have become near and dear to our hearts.  He has given us new ministry opportunities and ways to serve that I didn’t even dream of.

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I am thankful for the opportunities He has provided and the struggles that I have had to navigate.  I am thankful for a renewed joy and expectancy He has given me.  I am soaking up these last couple of weeks of summer and I will NOT order a Pumpkin Spice Latte until after September 22nd.

[rest]

I really look forward to Saturdays where we have absolutely nothing on the calendar.  As an introvert, staying at home in my PJs with a hot cup of coffee, a good book or movie is about as joyous a time as I can have.  No schedule, no time clock, no agenda…just time to rest my mind and my soul.  With so many responsibilities during the week I need that time to unwind, to rejuvenate and to think about what God really wants me to do for Him.  I used to feel guilty for not being busy or not doing something the world (and sometimes the church) thinks I should be doing.  I overpacked my schedule for so many years with activity, some really good and worthy activities.  But God has a different path for this season of my life and it clearly includes more time with Him and my family.

While I still use these days to catch up on some things, like laundry or going through all the mail from the week or even balancing my checkbook (which by the way I love to do) these are activities that I complete without pressure and without a timeframe.  I also get to spend more time with this one…the only one of my 3 who still likes to cuddle.

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Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.  Psalm 62:1

[seek]

I was just perusing Facebook and saw this on the Proverbs 31 Online Bible study page…

What dead end are you dealing with tonight? Have you asked God for direction?

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This sums up exactly how I am feeling right now with 31 Days of Writing. I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. So I will be asking Him for direction and praying over this verse.

[letting my soul breathe]

Letting my soul breath…I’m not really sure how to do this.  I have been so busy for so long that I don’t know how stop and sit on the bench.  I am reading Emily P. Freeman’s new book Simply Tuesday.

I have spent the last 12 years very involved in church ministry and just recently stepped down from all of my leadership roles with the exception of leading a women’s Bible study.  The Lord has been pressing upon my heart to build relationships.  I was so busy getting things done that a lot of times relationships were overlooked in and out of the church.  God made it clear that isn’t what He wanted from or for me.

I  am still seeking Him on what this looks like and I no longer feel guilt about what I’m not doing.  I am enjoying people  more and really focusing on building relationships through my Bible study and a small group I am a part of.

Hmmm…maybe He is showing me what it looks like.

 

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[weakness]

Admitting that I am weak has been difficult for me over the course of my life.  I grew up in the 80’s where women were taught to be strong and to rely only on yourself because others will let you down. That hasn’t proven true over time but I still like to do things myself, because well, no one will do them as well as me., right?  For most of my life my worth has been based on performance. God is teaching me that my worth is not based on what I do but who I am and when I take on tasks that He hasn’t assigned to me, well, I’m just miserable.  I am choosing to be still in this season of my life and listen to Him as I study His Word and pray for His direction.  I am a doer, so sitting still and waiting is very difficult but I choose to so.  He has a plan and a place for me and for you.

I am learning to be ok with my weakness, because in it I am made strong through Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (HCSB)

 

[grace wins every time]

So life happened this week and I wasn’t able to pull out posts on Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday night our church youth group participated in Fields of Faith.  It is an event that takes place on an athletic field where the students invite their friends and lead prayers for the community, leaders, schools, etc.  It took place after our local high school’s football game which ended much later than expected.  Thursday night my daughter had a volleyball and then I was playing catch-up for my Friday night Bible study.

So I pray that grace will be extended to me for missing two days. 🙂
I heard Matthew West’s new song “Grace Wins” twice today on my hour and half drive each way for a meeting today.  This portion of the song really stood out to me as I listened to the words…
 
For the prodigal son, grace wins
For the woman at the well, grace wins
For the blind man and the beggar, grace wins
For always and forever, grace wins
For the lost out on the street, grace wins
For the worst part of you and me, grace wins
For the thief on the cross, grace wins
For a world that is lost

There’s a war between guilt and grace
And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof
Grace wins every time
 
For all the times I fail or fall short, grace wins every time.

[do your own thing well]

On Monday and Tuesday nights my daughter has dance classes. I sit in my car and read or finish my bible study homework or just waste the whole hour on social media. But last night I used that hour to write the day’s blogpost. And here I sit on Tuesday night doing the same thing. Turns out this dedicated hour is a great time to get my thoughts together with little to no interruptions.
I am participating in Incourage’s book club this month reading Emily P. Freeman’s latest book “Simply Tuesday.”  Every Tuesday she has a message on Periscope and today’s really spoke to me.
She spoke about 1 Samuel when David killed Goliath. The woman were singing in the streets that Saul had killed thousands but David had killed tens of thousands. This would begin Saul’s competition with David that would eventually lead to his demise. But she talked about how Saul was trying to be a better version of David instead of just being who God called him to be.
That has been my struggle with blogging. When I think of ideas I convince myself that someone else is already writing about that topic and they are doing such a great job why would anyone read what I have to say?  She said “just do your own thing well.”  It doesn’t matter if someone is already doing the same thing. It won’t be identical to what you want to do and we all bring different perspectives. She said just ask yourself “what is the next right thing to do.” Do that thing and then ask the question again.
So what is your next right thing to do?  Mine is to seek God through prayer and His Word and listen to what He is telling me even if someone else is already doing it and to do it well.

[grace extended]

Day 12 of this blogging gig and I will say it…this is hard. There is so much I want to say but I just can’t find the words to type. So I’ll start with asking the question, “what does grace look like to you?”
To me it looks like the sunrise each morning as I wake up and realize that God has given me another day to worship Him.  It’s when my children laugh (teenagers no less) because as bad as I think I’m screwing up parenthood, they really are happy, well adjusted kids. It’s when my husband kisses me and I realize that he is a gift given to me by God that I so take for granted on many days. It’s when I realize what He has done for me. He chose me and He sent His Son to die on a cross for my sins so that I could spend eternity with Him?  This defines how I receive grace.
But when I think about how I give grace to others I fall short. I can be judgmental, unloving and critical. My pride can cause me to think ill of others when Christ came for them just as much as He came for me. If Christ gives them grace then why shouldn’t I?  My focus this week will be extending grace to others as it was and is extended to me…to love unconditionally and to love others where they are.
So what does grace look like to you? How do you receive it and how do you extend it?

[let’s be real]

Our Sunday night small group is reading through Thom Rainer’s newest book, “I Will.”  Tonight’s chapter focused on small groups and the importance of being in a small group.  He says that if we are not involved in a small group we are just marginal church members.  Since we have been active church members we have always participated in Sunday school which qualifies as a small group according to Mr. Rainer, but I have always longed for the relationships that are built from a smaller group of people that meet regularly outside of church.  Our church building is great but to me it can be a bit sterile as opposed to the warmness of someone’s home.

Part of our discussion was about why people don’t want to meet in homes anymore.  Have we lost our sense of hospitality?  Is the church building a safer place to meet?  Is there something about being in someone’s home that causes people to think that they must let down their guard and be real?

I will be the first to admit that I have to really trust someone before I will open up and share what’s on my heart.  It can be scary to think that you might open yourself up to someone who may not understand your situation, judge you, or worse shatter your trust by sharing information with others.

Regardless of where we choose to meet, does the chance that someone might hurt you override the chance that you might develop a relationship that brings you joy, someone who will pray for you, hold you accountable and stick with you for a lifetime?

I think we need to give ourselves grace and those we seek to develop a lasting relationship with grace to take that chance to be real.

                                                                                      Photo credit Lifeway.com

 

[spotlight]

I was listening to thepointedlife.com this week on Periscope and she made a comment that really hit home with me.  “Be the spotlight, not in the spotlight.”  For many years I have based my worth on good works, my accomplishments and what I can do in my strength.  This is what Christine Hoover calls the goodness gospel. But God is working on my heart and slowly teaching me that I only need to be a spotlight for Him.  It’s not about me, but about glorifying Him in how I live my life, how I relate to others and others see Jesus through me.