[my boy]

Today my oldest son is 19.  I am not sure where the time has gone.  He graduated from high school in the spring and started college in August.  I remember vividly bringing him home from the hospital and all the newness of being a first time mom…no sleep, putting him in the swing in the middle of the night just so I could close my eyes for a minute.  I remember thinking that if I could just get through that season everything else would be a breeze.  Then he became a teenager and worse than that a driving teenager.  I went from a physical tiredness to a mental tiredness.  I worried (and still do sometimes) when he is behind the wheel.  Praying that he will make good decisions and most importantly that he will love Jesus and make Him first in his life.

There are so many things I didn’t do right as a mom.  But then I remember God’s grace that covered me over the times of heartache and over the times I just knew I was messing him up for life.  As a mom, I can’t fathom that God loves him more than I do.  But I trust His Word and I have faith that He does indeed love him to the moon and back.

 

[humility]

Humility 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.  Or so I thought.  Turns out things will get done even if I don’t do them.  Go figure.

I am a perfectionist and anything worth doing is worth doing with excellence.  Good is just not good enough.  And I would expect others to have my same work ethic and I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t. To be honest, I had been establishing my worth on what I accomplished. Based on my schedule a few months ago (and the last 10 years) my worth was off the charts!  Not really.

God is teaching me that my worth is not based on what I do but who I am. When I take on tasks that He hasn’t assigned to me, well, I’m just miserable.  I’m pretty hardheaded and it has taken a long time for Him to get through to me.  But His grace proves true everyday and for that I am thankful.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  James 4:6 ESV

[exhale]

I love worship music. I feel closest to God when I’m singing praises to Him. I heard Plumb’s song “Exhale” today and I listened to the words as she speaks about grace…
 
Oh God We breathe in your grace
We breathe in your grace
And exhale
Oh God we do not exist for us
But to share Your grace and love
And exhale
 
To breathe in His grace and exhale. That gives me such comfort on a hurried Monday after a busy weekend where life can get in the way of taking a few minutes to just breathe my Savior in and exhale all the stuff the world throws our way.  To take my eyes off of myself and to share His grace and love with another person who needs it just as much as I do.

[the gift]

Who doesn’t like to get gifts?  Gifts let us know that people care about us, whether it’s Christmas or a birthday or maybe an anniversary.  It makes us feel special and loved.  We didn’t have to do anything to receive those gifts.  We accept them with no questions asked.

What if we accepted the free gift of salvation from God?  For those of us who are saved, we know that the gift is free, but do we live like it? Do we continue to try to earn God’s love and grace through our good works? Sometimes our good works can become idols. We might be looking for recognition and approval from others.  We might want others to think we are important.  But when we do this we are putting the glory on ourselves and not God.

God saves us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Nothing we do can save us.  God designed it that way so He would receive all the glory, not us.  Let everything we do be for the glory of God.



[amazing grace]

I had decided to choose “intentional” as my topic for this challenge because it is the word God laid on my heart for 2015 via the One Word 365 challenge.  But on Thursday morning, God changed the topic to grace.  I didn’t know why at the time and I may not even completely understand by the end of October but I will take any confirmation He gives me.

That first confirmation came on Friday.  I was able to attend the Extraordinary Women’s Conference this weekend in Roanoke.  There’s something about being in a coliseum with 10,000 women all there to praise, worship and learn.  To hear all these women singing praise & worship songs together brings me joy.

I bought my ticket in February and really hadn’t given much thought to who the speakers were.  I knew Angie Smith would be there but I didn’t check the schedule until I looked at the program Friday night.  It wasn’t until after the first three worship songs, which were all about grace, did I realize that the theme of this weekend was “Amazing Grace.”  All of the speakers touched on grace but Angie Smith’s talk really struck a chord.  She taught on Acts 3:1-10 about the lame beggar who sat at the gate Beautiful everyday begging for alms.  Peter and John pass him one day and he asks them for alms.  Peter tells him that he doesn’t have alms but that he can give him healing through Jesus Christ and the beggar is healed.

She shared how we ask the Lord to get us through the circumstances or outcomes of whatever holds us in chains, but we don’t ask Him to deliver us from the bondage.  She used the example of her fear of flying.  She said she prays on take off that God will just get the plane above the clouds.  And on landing, she prays that God will just get the plane below the clouds when she should be praying that God will deliver her from the fear she holds onto.

God showed us how much grace He has for us by sending His Son to die on a cross for our sins.  He has delivered us from the pits of hell if we choose to believe and follow Jesus.  There is nothing He can’t deliver us from if we choose to believe.

In her words, grace makes no sense…we don’t deserve it but oh to have the faith to know that God, our Father can deliver us from anything if only we ask.

And just because she’s so stinking cute I will share this…

 

[his grace covers me]

I’ve shrunk back in relationships, worrying too much about what others think of me and always assuming they think the worst. I’ve shrunk back in ministry, unsure of my gifts, unsure of my place, and feeling as if I was on the outside, mostly because I put myself there and kept myself there. I’ve shrunk back as a mother, letting my failures and insecurities lead. I’ve shrunk back in my writing, afraid to remove the protection I’ve placed around my heart, uncertain that I have anything to say and, above all, questioning if this is God’s idea or if it’s been my selfish idea all along. I’ve even shrunk back a little from God, holding parts of myself away from him.
 
What if I lived as if the gospel were true every hour of every day? How would that change things?”
From Good to Grace…Christine Hoover
I have spent the last couple of years feeling exactly as Christine wrote that. How did she read me so well? I think I felt a little validation that I’m not alone and that I’m not completely crazy.
So I started to think about what if I lived as if the gospel were true everyday? How does that change things? It changes everything. When I live my life as if it depends on me I will screw it up every time. When I live everyday as if it depends on God it gives me comfort knowing that He is in control. He knows what’s best for me. He has a plan for my life.
It.takes.all.the.pressure.off.
It all boils down to pride and fear. Pride that is self-centered, fear that God doesn’t really know what He’s doing and that somehow He needs me.
 
It’s about a lack of faith that Jesus died for my sins. He rose from the grave and sits at the right hand of the Father. There is nothing I can do to earn His love because I already have it. 
 
His grace covers me. 

[31days of writing]

It’s a daunting task. 31 straight days of writing. I’ve had problems writing once a month. There’s so much to say but getting it down on “paper” hasn’t been easy for me. Do I have anything to say that people actually want to hear? Will it make sense or will it leave people going “huh?”

Tack on the pressure of writing on one topic for 31 days straight. Again, daunting. But I’m going to take a chance and try. So what will my topic be?  A few topics came to mind but where I ended up is “Grace.”
Grace. It sounds so simple but it can be so complicated.  I have been reading Christine Hoover’s book “From Good to Grace” and I have highlighted almost the entire book. I suspect a lot of my writing will touch on what God is teaching me through her book.
So, here I go, a little scared but determined that God has something to teach me through this. Here’s to the next 30 days.