Grace for the Hard Things

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

So, parenting is hard. I can’t speak for anyone else but I don’t think I’ve ever cared about anything as much as I care about how these two children turn out. I mean, will they ever eat with their knife and fork for an entire meal or get through dinner without uttering the word “fart”…or just doing it at the table?

I become the proverbial broken record over a hundred daily (and sometimes random and should-be-self-evident) things – like, “Why are you letting fig beetles loose to fly around the living room  again?” or “No you may not see if your homemade battle axe made from a Pepsi bottle taped to a stick can break the neighbor’s window.” Sometimes my words fail and what does come out of my mouth is less instructive and more…yell-ish.

Not a good Jesus-look.

One hard day I retreated to my room on a mommy time-out. Down on myself for how I had responded to my little ones, I prayed and asked the Lord what needed to change in me (heart-wise…didn’t take a genius to see where my behavior had failed to cut the mustard) and suddenly I saw my heart in a new light. I was terrified of failing my kids as a parent, and that fear was making me into a control monster. By force of my will, I would MAKE them into MODEL CITIZENS! They WILL be willing and able to tie their shoes and do it in less than 35 minutes!

As I prayed the Lord whispered to my heart what I needed to lose in the attitude department. Be patient with the rate they develop.

But Lord, I’m so scared they won’t learn in time…help.

I will give you wisdom to guide them, and patience.

And suddenly I was at peace. The Lord had spoken to the storm of fear in me and now it was a sunny day. I wasn’t scared anymore because He was with me and will be with me and them every step of the journey into adulthood, and beyond.

There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear…. 1 John 4:18

Whatever hard task you’re doing, you’re not alone either. The God who gives abundantly, generously is right here. Ask Him to shine a light on your heart today and invite His wisdom, love, peace, and truth to guide and transform you in the hard things.

Priceless

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This statue at Buckingham Palace is breathtaking.

I’ve always struggled with my self worth, with feeling like I wasn’t enough; that I was too broken and useless to be truly loved. Where that feeling or belief came from God only knows but it has weighed down and hindered my soul for most of, if not all of my life I think.

Until God spoke into my darkened heart.

It’s not like I’d never heard that I was precious to God before, but somehow the words always pinged off my mind, never settling in my heart. But one day I came to the Lord in prayer, asking Him what He wanted to speak about, point out. And in the silence that followed He spoke to my heart. Drop your low self worth. I saw in my mind a flea sucking on me, draining me. (Gross, I know. But God always, and not surprisingly, knows how to pick a poignant analogy, and I love a good analogy – how well He knows me!).  He reached in and plucked the flea off of me and cast it away.

I felt a weight lifted off of me but had no truth to replace the lie that had been so lodged in my heart all these years. I asked Him what now? What should I see in the mirror instead? Then I saw a new image. A beautiful piece of art, a statue made of pure gold. It had the sense of being of incredible worth, something universally valuable. And I knew that was me, in His eyes. Priceless.

“Behold, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus is the cleaner of stains, the healer of brokenness, the strength for the weak, the redeemer of all creation. If you are His then you are perfected, declared righteous. And He will touch the broken bits, heal and lead you too. He is right there with you right now.

So much love to each of you! If you need prayer, reach out. Most of all reach out to Him today. Ask Him what He wants to say to you! Come to Him – don’t be afraid! He is the good, gentle shepherd. He carries the weak and binds up the wounded heart.

Amen.

 

 

 

Sinking Lifeboat

Our sweet and stressed out fluffball, Muppet.

My dog is playful and fun and sweet with people, but on walks… well our walks are proof positive that you can love and hate something at the same time. Our 25 pound fluffy buddy gets so excited as the leash goes on but becomes an anxious and sometimes difficult to manage companion once we hit the pavement. I don’t know what he went through before we got him, but I don’t think being a stray was fun for him. He startles at noises and falls apart when he sees another dog. I’ve done my best to build his confidence, hired a trainer, watched all the Dog Whisperer, but I guess there’s only so much I can do. He needs healing in his doggy heart.

And a better world to live in.

Today as we walked (ran, startled, cowered, bolted…) I sighed and longed for the day to come when all things will be made new. When there’s no more anxiousness or fear. When there’s nothing left to cause harm in all creation.

And I asked the Lord what He had to say to us, as we suffer many difficulties and fears in this present, broken world, and I felt His kindness toward us. Then in my mind I saw us in a sinking lifeboat – the world as we currently know it – and Him holding out a hand of rescue to us from a mighty ship passing by.

“Behold I am making all things new…” Rev 21:5

He’s going to make everything right, friends! Hallelujah!! And He offers us all to be part of that new world. That is the gospel, the GOOD news! Good wins, evil and death and suffering are cast out forever, and a remade creation thrives in peace, justice, goodness, and perfection under the kind and wise rule of a leader, Jesus, the Creator whose very essence is Love.

Hallelujah!! What a God, what a hope!

Reach out Him, friends! Pray! If you’ve never taken His hand of rescue, today is the day.

“What I mean brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. … For the world in its present form is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29a, 31b

In the Stillness

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You know those times when a book comes along at just the right moment? I’ve had the privilege of reading my friend Courtney Ellis‘s book Uncluttered and it’s just been a string of moments with God in my life as I read. The book is about decluttering our lives and souls and making space for joy, for God (it’s also really funny and totally down to earth. And I’m not just saying this because she’s my friend and will read this. It’s laugh out loud funny and then soul touchingly meaningful, and all shared through real life stories so it’s super fast and easy to read. And I’m not getting anything out of posting this – it’s just that good I wanted to share. You, too, can get your very own copy here! 😊).

But I digress!

Today I read this passage in Uncluttered

I used to fill every moment I waited in a grocery line with social media browsing, every silence in my car with the radio, every evening with a couple episodes of something or other from Netflix. But now, in these moments between an appointment and the house, between choosing produce and purchasing it, between asking a question and receiving an answer, between getting into bed and falling asleep, I have learned to listen for God. He’s always been present, but it is only now I am learning to hear.

During this holiday season I felt a little distant from the Lord. Now that the whirlwind has passed, I’m realizing that I filled every moment with planning and buying and celebrating – and I mean every moment. I’m pretty sure I was mentally Christmas shopping in my sleep. There was no time – it seemed – to sit and pray like I used to, and I hardly had time even to consider my choices.

But I was just reading in Courtney’s book yesterday (and not coincidentally – I felt like God was calling me to read it!) that busyness is a choice. None of the demands of life have control over us unless we let them. When we choose to create space, God is right there reaching out to us. And wow, you guys, there is no better way to spend time!

It’s hard to change old habits but I’ve resisted social media for a time, almost like a fast, so I can make space for the Lord, and He comes in with such warmth in my heart, such reassurances of His love. Such hope. I’ve recently been grieving several losses in my life (which I was also too busy to grieve – seriously, if you’ve suffered a loss, make time to grieve and do it with the Lord!) and in just a few minutes God graciously unraveled the knots in my soul with truth and hope and kindness. He was beckoning to me when I was all tied up emotionally and when I responded to Him, set things aside and took time with Him, there was such grace there to carry me through.

But I needed to make that space, that time to sit with Him.

What can you set aside today to connect with the Lord?

Though She Be But Little…

Meet the stoat. He’s fluffy and adorable… and as fierce as they come.

Mr. Cuteness here can take down prey ten times his size. The secret: perseverance. He grabs on, holds on tight, and keeps biting till his prey bleeds too much to go on. Kinda gruesome, but it made me think – what an awesome picture of perseverance in prayer!

We see something (even something huge) that needs healing or fixing and we take it to God, knowing that He is bigger than this thing, and wise enough and good enough to bring good about. But doubts creep in. Fears begin to loom bigger than faith. We think “this beast will never go down, I am too small.” We think about letting go of Him, letting go of trust.

But here is what the stoat can teach us. It’s not the size of the problem (or the tininess of the pray-er), it’s the surety of the method! And prayer marked by patient, faithful trust in the good God Almighty is our proven method. The moment a doubt rears its head in us, we run back to God and seek Him, surrendering the problem to Him again. We keep running back to the Lord – asking His good will to be done in this situation, remembering all the times He’s cared for us. Affirming to Him again that we know He is unchanging and always good and infinitely powerful. And we wait on Him to act.

And the beast bleeds a little more.

A friend of mine right now is battling a sudden illness and the doctors don’t know how to treat it. Of course I went right to praying for her, but when I didn’t see immediate results, I got discouraged. Why wasn’t God answering? Should I stop praying? But God, knowing my heart, sent two messages (an email and a text) from two different people I’d recently prayed for, telling me how God had answered the prayers and how encouraged they were. Then my ill friend herself texted me to remind me of something God had shared with her in our prayers together that was keeping her encouraged.

And I realized – God is at work, right now. He is the God who hears. The God who never lets go of us, never stops working all things for the good of those who love Him.

Jesus said:
Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  Matt 7:9-11 GNT

The beast is bleeding, I just need to keep hanging on. Just wait in trust, and I know I will see my Father’s goodness and mercy and love win.

What can you bring before the Lord in patient trust today?

Lord, just like the weasel help us to never let go of faith in You and Your goodness. Bolster our faith in the promise that You give good gifts to Your children! In Jesus Name, Amen