Thursday, June 16, 2016

There's Peace in Perspective


Hey all my sweet peeps. I hope you are having a wonderful day. I know that right now things seem bleak... alot of times when Facebook blows up with a lot of negative stuff you tend to see less of me. I try to keep things positive, so I don't typically comment or share all the stuff going around. But, between politics and several very real and hard hitting tragedies it has gotten so bad that I just wanted to take a moment and talk from the heart. Will you hear me out?
Everyone has an opinion and some will voice it and others won't. I know there are tasteless things being said and harsh words back and forth over it and over a million other things people can't agree on right now. I don't want to bash anyone and I am not on my soap box preaching... this is as much a reminder for me as for anyone else. I am only saying this because this is what God is speaking to my heart today. Sometimes we just need to take a step back, not internalize what we are seeing or hearing, and just try to see it from a different perspective.
Here is what I mean... sometimes our first response to tragedy is "how could this happen?" we look for someone to blame. This is human nature... a natural reaction. Others of us look for a way to cope or not deal with the sad feelings... we might turn to humor... or we might just be angry and lash out at people. This is also human nature. When we don't know how to deal with what we are seeing we often turn to behaviors that from another perspective just seem cruel... and maybe sometimes it is... but many times the ones who are the most cruel are the ones who have never been taught how to deal with emotions, never had empathy or grace demonstrated to them, or have so much tradegy and hurt in their own lives that they simply can't deal with it from anywhere else. I know it stinks and we WANT to blame someone..., we want to seek out justice... but real justice would mean no grace... and were it not for God's grace we would all be so condemned.
So, when I get that grudgy/judgy/grumpy feeling I am taking a moment to evaluate and figure out how I can apply some grace. Its as much for me (if not more) as it is the person I am applying it to. When I give grace and allowances I quit stressing over what others are thinking and doing, I am not wasting my precious time, attention, and emotional energy on the frustration and strife worrying over others inevitably causes. I have peace. I save my energy for what God has for me, because what I give focus to, I give power to in my life. I want God's Word to have power in my life. When I need a perspective change I remember this verse.
Phillipians 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Grace Wins

Grace… it’s been on my mind a lot lately.  Jesus had a lot to teach me about grace, and it took me a long time to grasp it.  And yet, grace abounds.  And here I am still… with a whole lot more to learn.

Its funny, as a young girl I thought it was in my power to be loved by God.  I had this skewed image of Jesus as a holy finger wagger reminding me constantly of all that I shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t dare to do if I were a good christian girl.  If I could just “get it right”, it would all fall into place and I would have my crown of jewels in heaven.  It wasn’t in my power at all to be loved by God.  Nothing I could do would make him love me… because He already did.  Nothing I could do would make Him love me more… because He loved me more than I could ever understand at that time and probably more than I ever truly could fathom.  I didn’t get it… I didn’t understand grace.  I accepted it, surely… but I somehow still thought I owed a debt for it… but the truth is, the debt has been paid.

Grace is an outward sign of the redemptive power of unconditional love.  Grace wins.  Grace allows us the freedom to be human without being relinquished to condemnation and the opportunity to experience love in a way that brings gratitude and humility.  Grace WILL change your heart.  When we experience God’s love through the lense of grace we are able to see those around us with much more clarity… not defined by our own agendas or perceptions, but by God’s.  We find compassion where there was contempt.  We can trade our anger for understanding.  We find peace where there was once turmoil.  The things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Growing up in a Baptist church I learned a whole lot about keeping God’s commandments, about being holy and reverent and chaste.  I learned a lot about my duty as a good christian “lady” and that I needed to protect my “witness” so that God can use me in the kingdom.  I grew up fearful of messing up, fearful of not “getting it right”, buying into the lie that there are people living perfectly holy lives that are more righteous, more loved, more favored, and more blessed by God than I could ever be… because Lord knows I was a mess - living with secret sin, afraid to be real, unable to talk about my struggles for fear it would be a “stumbling block” or would ruin my “witness for Christ”.  Believing I was alone in this, because that is exactly what the enemy wants… he wants us to live in fear.  He wants us to live in the dark, alone and isolated, believing we are the only ones.  Because there is power in numbers, power in common ground, power in truth… even the dirty gritty truth.  Because once we are willing to bare our souls in the light of God’s love we are able to experience His grace… undeserved, unencumbered grace.  We can bask in the reality that we aren’t alone in our struggles, and that no matter what we have done or where we have been God loves us and because of what we have done and where we have been he can use us… for HIS glory, and not our own… because in our weakness He is made strong.  Grace is so much more powerful than fear.

Fear changes behavior… but it doesn’t change the heart.  When we live our lives by a set of rules, Christian principles that we must live up to, then we are living more by fear… we don’t want to “mess up”.  It becomes about the outward appearance of a “holy life” rather than a heartfelt relationship with the Savior.  Living by grace is living in God’s agape love, understanding we won’t always get it right, but that striving to reflect Christ’s love and grace to others is much more important than any Christian checklist or by-laws or doctrine that we will ever try to check off, line up to, or live by.  

Fear gets you an “insurance policy”... a buy-in that comes with a cost… one that you quickly learn you can’t possibly pay, and one that lands you in a pit of despair and self condemnation.  You spin your wheels trying to “be good” and wondering if the policy is going to pay out in the end because perhaps you didn’t follow the fine print.  That isn’t any way to live.  

Grace is an outpouring of God’s love, mercy, and favor… for our own benefit.  Grace has allowed me to come out of the dark… to see my past in the light of God’s love.  It has afforded me a ministry to many others who think their past disqualifies them.  To those who think they are far too damaged, carry too much baggage, and hide their past and their hurts out of shame.  God’s grace has filled me with a love that sees the brokeness and envisions the beauty God will bring out of the ashes.  

Don’t live another day with the lie that you aren’t good enough for God’s grace… the truth is none of us are.  And yet, he pours it out on us so freely.  You don’t have to pretend, you don’t have to hide your past, your flaws, your secrets… they lose their power over you when you lose your fear that you can’t live up to God’s standards.  And you can only lose that by realizing you never could and God knows it… which is why He gave us Jesus.

I no longer live in guilt and shame… God traded the oil of joy for my mourning.  Out of despair I now have purpose.  I choose love.  I choose grace.  I choose to show grace to others in the way that God has been gracious with me… and THAT is The Great Commission.  Grace wins.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Science projects!

Remember the days when it was exciting to stay up late working on a school project to get it finished the night before it was due?  Yeah, not so much now.  LOL  It is now 1:00 am and I am just about to go to bed after helping my 4th grader finish her science project on Uranus - don't giggle, I know you want to but remember we are the adults, not the 4th graders ;-).  Why the procrastinatin, you ask?  Didn't we have a long weekend to work on it, you say?  Why yes, yes we did.  Unfortunately, I didn't know about the project until Thursday and didn't get the project guidelinbes until Friday because KK and I were at Scottish Rite for her procedure when the teacher passed them out.  Apparently, KK misplaced the one she recieved when she returned and didn't think about it until late last week.

I made it out alive... barely... and with only a few tears, which were completrly my boneheaded fault.  We did a paper mache  model of uranus and it's 5 major moons and planned to hang it in a black lined boxed painted with stars.  In my efforts to speed the drying process of the paint I popped that bad boy in the oven.  It worked so well to quickly dry the paper mache moons we didn;t get to yesterday but needed to be able to paint.  Totally forgot to pop the balloon before I put it in the oven... didn't even cross my mind what could happen.  We open the oven to a beautifully dried but busted wide open Uranus. MORTIFIED!!!  But, Daddy to the rescue.  He came up with the idea to cut it in half and mount it on the back wall of the box rather than hanging it.  The problem then because how to affix it to the wall... my handy dandy glue gun no where in sight.  It remains to be seen if the liquid nails I happened to scrounge up will hold it but if all else fails... DUCT TAPE!!!  We shall see what the verdict is in the morning.  Until then, I'm going to rest my pretty little head.

Nighty night!

Mrs JD

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I break for blogging

So it's lunch and God has been weighing pretty heavy on me these last few days. I have a lot on my heart and mind and felt like I needed to express myself a little. So, I'm taking this opportunity on my lunch break to blog.

I know God has filled me with purpose in order to fulfill a purpose for which he purposed me. The purposed for which he filled me with purpose I have not purposed myself toward achieving. In fact, I would have to say I have run from it. In my heart I've know that there was something... something I never could quite grasp about what God wanted me to do with my life. I couldn't grasp it likely because I distanced myself from it. But I can see clearly that God made me and shaped me to do exactly what he has called me to.

I feel some guilt for having ignored, not recognized, or just plain run from God's plan for me. At the same time I feel fear that maybe I'm wrong... after all, seems I've been wrong so far. I've already determined that I'm not using my God given talents and in fact some of what I do flies in the face of my weaknesses. But I have to remember that life is a journey and God is going to put things in my path that will develop me spiritually, emotionally, and personally. I can't say definitively that way back when I was even intended to recognize God's purpose... perhaps I was where he purposed me to be for that time... as a way to develop me and bring me to the place I need to be in order to serve his purpose.

I've said before that sometimes you just have to say "Maybe that is what it took." Well, maybe this is what it took to bring me to the point I needed to be to say "Here am I, Lord, send me." Now don't get me wrong... I'm still working on the "send me" part... because I honestly don't want to do this. But he is definitely leaning hard and pushing me towards that. All along the way before this revelation came about his has placed people, circumstances, scripture, and lessons in my life that all come in agreement with what I am hearing. And though I'm asking for clarity and hoping the message will change - perhaps I misunderstood or misinterpreted - it isn't changing. He isn't budging.

This isn't about what I want to do... this is about what glorifies Him. And I'm praying in the mean time that He will bring my heart into alignment with His will and purpose for me. Please pray in agreement with that. For now, it's time for me to get back to work.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Growing kids

I feel like I'm tending a garden here and my precious little plants have good root systems and are gaining height. It's important to properly water and ensure they have the appropriate nutrients so that their branches will be strong enough to bear the fruit of much labor and love. But I know that means that at some point as the grow and begin to blossom and those blossoms are pollinated and fruit begins to form that the fruit will be plucked and the plants must be pruned. I don't look forward to my children being plucked from me piece by piece as they begin to go out into the world more and more on their own and independent. I know I have to let go because the fruit they bear is important in someone elses life. I want them to give of themselves to others and have an effect on the world... but they are my babies and it's hard to see them grow up.

The milestones are so bittersweet. I am so very proud of each thing my children accomplish... but each thing brings them closer and closer to independence. I'm trusting the Lord to give me wisdom and discernment to know when to hold on just a little bit longer and when to let them go and do what He has called them to do and be who he has called them to be. In the mean time, the hugs will be a little bit tighter and last a bit longer... and I will enjoy each one, knowing that no matter how independent they become, how educated they get or how far away they go they will always be my children and will bear fruit representative of a legacy of love.

To quote a Nichole Nordeman song - I wanna leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to you enough to leave a mark on things? I wanna leave an offering. A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically. And leave that kind of legacy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions

Now I know what that is supposed to imply, but I mean this a bit different than the old adage here intends it. Let me explain.

I was on my way home from work today and I saw a couple of men hanging out at a busy intersection in town with signs. They were pointing them towards each car as they scooted through traffic as if to say "YOU need to read this!". I only got to read one of the signs and I have not been able to find the exact wording they used (had thees and thous in it) in any translation that I have access to but here it is from the NIV

Deuteronomy 7:10 (New International Version)

10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.


I wanted to roll my window down and ask the men if they really felt that the message they were pushing was effective. I wanted to tell them that we should be sharing the love of Christ instead of resorting to fear tactics. Have they not heard that you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?


Now, I am in NO way saying that this particular verse in the Bible is untrue, unimportant, or not applicable. What I am saying is that this is not the best tactic for trying to plant seeds and bring in the lost. I'm not saying that we should compromise the Word of God to make people more comfortable. What I am saying is that we can't afford to preach condemnation of sin without first showing them God's love. What I am saying is that there is a time and place for conviction and that is the job of the Holy Spirit and not some guy on the side of the road preaching hell fire and brimstone. If we want to reach the lost they have to know that it's ok to come as they are. We must share with them that God loves them no matter what they have done. He doesn't love the sin, but he does love the sinner.


I realize these men had good intentions. I'm sure they really are sincere about wanting to see the lost to be saved and sharing the gospel. But the primary truth of the gospel IS NOT that God wants to punish, the primary truth is that God loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross and suffer for our sins. And I don't know a lost soul that would be drawn to finding out more about a god that someone is seeming to say wants to destroy him. The approach these men employed will only serve to alienate and/or infuriate the lost, resulting in a lost opportunity.


When I'm thinking about the lost souls that drove by there today, unfortunately, I'm picturing them continuing to drive down that road paved with the good intentions of those men trying to share God's word. And they may drive that road all the way to Hell. The saddest part is that they left out the verse preceding the verse they chose to share, and that could have changed the message and the result completely.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (New International Version)

9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Forgiveness

Once again a theme in my life. Gee... I love learning this one. :-)

I'm emotionally exhausted so I'm letting someone else speak for me tonight. I hope you don't mind terribly.

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite a virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

-Reinhold Niebuhr