Tag Archives: grace

Just Like Yesterday

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Yesterday was a wonderful day.  The power company was doing some work on our street and we would have no electricity for several hours.  Since I work at home and can’t work without internet and computer, I decided to get a couple of things done and because it was Love Your Pet Day, I had a couple of things in mind for Sampson, my precious pup. We headed out and delivered some glassware I had promised for a display then we were free to play.  It was beautiful so we spent a lot of time outside. There are very few opportunities in my busy life to play without time restraints so I took advantage of it.

I loved yesterday.  I could wish that every day was like that.

This morning, we woke up to clouds and a little bit of rain.  My first inkling was to complain and feel disappointed but instead, I thanked God again for the day we enjoyed yesterday and decided this was going to be a great day too!

While taking Matt to work, I caught a glimpse of the sunrise.  It was still raining, mind you, still looking yucky but it was like He burst through the clouds as if to say, “HEY!  I’m still here.  I’m still God in the rain and sunshine, and I’m with you regardless.  Chin up little girl!”

There you go.  God’s still God in the best of times and the worst of times; any kind of weather and ever-present in whatever we must weather.  That makes the whatever-comes-our-way good, or for the good, if we keep our eyes on Him.

It’s so easy to complain, be dissatisfied and unsettled if we base our mood and our outlook on all that’s around us.  This is another stellar day God’s given us, and with Him it’s just as wonderful and blessed, filled with grace, mercy and Him as any yesterday we’ve had.  Let’s live like we believe that.

Psalm 118:24

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Inconveniently Incompatible.

I’m training for a new job which uses similar software of my other job.  I was delighted to hear this and thought how convenient that would be in many ways, thinking I could use the same for both jobs and I’d be a step ahead in the training process because I was familiar with how to use it. When I clicked on my already installed program, I discovered I couldn’t get to where I needed to go for training.  Bummer. This meant I would have to have two separate operating systems and one computer won’t support that. True, I’m familiar with the software so that part of the training will be easier, but another computer is a necessity.  Convenient quickly became inconvenient.

In the quest to plant their feet in the Promised Land, Jericho was the first city designated to be taken. In Joshua 6 the Israelites were specifically instructed that after the walls of Jericho fell they were to kill every living thing in the city (with the exception of Rahab and her family) and to take nothing except certain things God instructed them to take (6:18-19).

Take nothing.  Take nothing.  They were told not to even look upon the plunder so they wouldn’t want it.  Apparently that wasn’t direct enough for Achan (7:1) who loaded up what he shouldn’t have.  When they got back to their camp God told Joshua the people had been disobedient and to go through family by family until the unfaithful one was found then burn what he took, everything he owned and kill his family, which is what Joshua and the Israelites did.

The punishment seems a little harsh for the crime, doesn’t it?  I mean, a whole city had just been destroyed.  They killed every living person and animal. They gathered what God said to gather. What’s a little extra?  Who would know?  So one person out of thousands disobeyed which had an effect on the rest of the people.

The second generation of Israelites were wandering in the desert, having grown up in the wilderness with no material possessions but the clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet.  It was all they knew.  They come into this destroyed city which God says is theirs and see all this stuff (although fire damaged) so from a human perspective, it’s easy to understand why they would be attracted to picking some of the spoil left behind and in another case that may have been fine…but God said to take nothing.

Sin and obedience, even when we think it’s insignificant and won’t affect anyone, are incompatible.  We may get away with our compromise for a little while but sooner or later if we don’t deal with it, God will.  To many living in the 21st century, this seems ridiculously harsh but these stories are in our Bibles to show who God is and how He deals with His people and (especially) willful disobedience.

Incompatible things won’t cohabitate well.  Try as we may to make them work, there is a glitch…an uneasiness…even if it looks and acts like it works.  Just like the software I mentioned, I probably could have found a way to make it work, but I was told I needed two separate applications of the program so I made the decision to get another computer.  Rather than bring problems upon myself and more importantly jeopardize the new job and maybe even my current one, I decided to be obedient.

If there’s some little persistent thing in our lives we think doesn’t matter rest assured, it does.  It could be the thing that robs us of the peace Jesus so wants to be ours.  More importantly, though inconvenient and perhaps embarrassing to deal with, our ultimate goal should be to live to please God, be obedient to Him so far as we can control.

Let’s do an inventory.  Where have we compromised?  What have we watered down?  What have we brought with us that we know we shouldn’t have?  Our obedience could very well be the gateway to our next blessing.  Don’t risk it.  Deal with it. When we do and ask for forgiveness there may be lingering consequences but there will always be God’s mercy and grace to help us through making it right.

Reruns

“Why me Lord, what have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known…”

This time of year is bittersweet.  My son was born 33 years ago tomorrow.  Every year I replay the days leading up to his birth and it astounds me that it feels like it did then.

I was in labor 23 hours and I was rushed for an emergency C-section when my water broke and it was green and his heart rate became very concerning.  The fear grips me to this day.

When he was taken, I was under general anaesthesia so I didn’t see him, but I was told he wasn’t breathing.  They resuscitated him for 11 minutes and when he finally started breathing he had grand mal seizures.  When I finally did see him, he was green and unconscious on a ventilator.  I remember seeing him laying there, lifeless and to this day, I relive what that heartbreaking moment felt like.

I remember my Mom and family holding a death vigil at the hospital for the next three days until I held him and he opened his eyes for the first time.  Until that moment, he had had no urine output, low body temperature and every time he was touched to draw blood he seized.  I only got to hold him because his doctor told me that was the last thing to do, they had tried everything else.

The battle for his life raged on for years.  When he was six months old I was told by a doctor that if he lived to be a year old, he would never walk and talk. If you’ve never experienced this kind of pain, no words do it justice.

Now almost 33 years later, I look at him and wonder how anyone who has ever met him doesn’t believe in God and the fact that He still is in the miracle business.  I stand in awe of what He has done in our lives.  I stand in his doorway at night listening to him breathe sometimes and cry thanking God for letting him live and not only live…thrive.  Why would He do that? Why bless me…bless us…like that? He could have died…he should have died as I could have/should have.

To not share what He has done in both our lives would be a crime.  I know God exists. I know He loves us.  I’m sure He has a more divine plan for our lives than we can imagine and I want you to know the same is true for you.

As I reflect on those bittersweet reruns, I’m jolted to the now.  I’m well aware of the fact our story could have been so different…and had I been my judge it would have been different.  I didn’t deserve to live and I didn’t deserve to have my son live.  But God chose different.  He chose to let us live and experience Him. We KNOW Him and what He can do with a surrendered heart, believing He can do exceedingly abundantly more than we can even conceive. Grace still prevails…almost 33 years later!

We all have things that have happened that we will never forget and sometimes feel the pain associated with them.  That’s just to show us how far we’ve come.  It’s okay to remember and when we do, let’s be grateful.  Happy birthday, Matt.  No matter what I will always, always be thankful God chose me to be your Mom.  I love you.

for the complete story/testimony, go to http://www.amazon.com and search for my book, “But Grace Prevailed” 

Reflections of Grace

No meeting is by chance.  If I never believed that before, I certainly believe that today.

I was in the store buying cold medicine for my son when a young lady and I began a conversation.  I’m apparently one of those people who others find easy to talk to.  She started crying telling me about her life and when she did, something inside of me quivered.  Everything she said that had happened sounded a lot like my life.  She started with her childhood in painful, familiar detail, how she had been treated differently than her other siblings ultimately being robbed of her birthright as the oldest child, having a sick child with very little family support, divorced, financial issues, church hurts…I mean everything she said paralleled me.  Anger and resentment oozed from every word.  I could feel her pain.  Listening to her started a rewind of everything I have been through and the pain associated with it.

This woman had anger and bitterness all over her.  It was palpable. Her countenance shouted it and her tone of voice certainly did.  She smelled of alcohol, pupils dilated.  I asked her if she used to which she quickly, almost proudly confessed that was the only way she could live with her “stuff” adding she would have killed herself long ago had it not been for her children.  With those words, I got it.

I’ve learned when unusual things happen like this to look for what I call “the God-side”.  I believe everything happens – including those we meet – is for a reason.  I prayed a quick silent prayer for Him to show me and don’t let me miss it.  This woman was me; I would have been her had God not saved me. For a brief moment, God let me see who I would have been had it not been for the intervention of His grace.

Admittedly, there are days when the hurt over what has happened in my life captures me.  Who doesn’t have those days? I shed a few tears and remember…but I don’t stay there long.  I choose not to.  Is it easy?  No. It would be easier to wallow and stay mad, hurt and disappointed.  It’s work to get up when you fall isn’t it?  You have to defy gravity and make a physical effort to get back on your feet.  The choice is yours.  You can stay down, because you know it won’t feel good getting up, or you can prepare yourself and make the effort to stand.

After she finished speaking I offered to talk with her more if she wanted to, and I took her down the road for coffee and a bite to eat.  When we got settled it was my turn to share.  I told her how literally everything she said was pretty much what I had been through, too.  Her eyes widened and she asked what I had waited to hear.  “How then, if all that has happened to you, are you so happy and positive?”  There it was…the reason for the encounter.  She needed someone who identified with her, her life, her pain one on one to tell her about The Difference Maker and I needed to remember why I wasn’t consumed with anger and regret.

This being a Christian…this faith we so freely shout about is hard work sometimes.  Life is painful and extremely unfair.  Those we are supposed to be the safest with often turn out to be our greatest betrayers.  Our circumstances can suck the very will to live right out of us if we let it.  I’m learning daily that perspective is everything.  How we look at things…and looking for God and HIS will and perspective while going through something can discourage us OR it can make us want to believe there is actually something bigger, something good that can be found in our pain.  I believe that’s part of the “work” of our salvation.

After our talk she had lightened up a little, and actually smiling and laughing.  I prayed with her and told her God was on her side and with her not against her.  I told her everything that had happened in my life and hers, I believe, is to bring us to saving faith in Jesus and getting closer to Him.  Once we understand that everything here is temporary and He is eternal and all of it is used to draw us closer to Him, it makes what we go through less devastating and gives it purpose.  The human-ness in us begs for a reason. He is the difference in our lives, only He brings good out of the bad and I wouldn’t want to live without Him – it just wouldn’t be worth it.  She said I had given her something to think about, that if that were true it would all be worth it.

Exactly.

The more I think about that woman, the more profound that encounter becomes.  I got to see who I would be, what I would be had I not been saved.  God allowed me to see reflections of grace in my life…how He had really changed my heart, my attitude, my countenance.  I could have been her in every way because that’s where I was headed.

I would say there are many people around all of us that are living riddled with anger, bitterness and brokenness.  They need our compassion but they also need to know the difference God has made in us.  Tell them and be sure you pay attention to the reflection you see.  That could have been you.

 “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16  (NASB).

Don’t Forget!

I was talking to my aunt this morning about the humid Mississippi weather and remembering the humidity of Alabama. If you’ve never been there it’s brutal and suffocating. As soon as you walk out of an air conditioned building it masks your face and soaking sweat envelops your body.

Here in these mountains, it seems relief is just shade away. There seems to be a breeze…although slight at times…to relieve one’s suffering. Yet we complain about how hot it is.

Murmuring seems to come no naturally. It’s not hard to find something to say something negative about. The wah-wahs roll off our tongues without even a thought.

The upstairs of my house has no air conditioning ducts so it gets pretty hot up here on hot days. It’s easy to fuss when I walk up here to work or to go to bed. Ahh, the human condition. Always something.

I wish it were as thoughtless to say something positive instead of spew the negative.

Forgetting that one kind person I come in contact with, I easily, resourcefully remember every unkind person. Instead of being grateful for what I do have, I willingly recant what I don’t. Why are we that way?

I’m going to try harder to call to mind all the good and let the bad go. On hot days, I’m going to seek a cool breeze. Without complaining, I’m going to turn the fans and/or window unit on to relieve the heat and be thankful I have them. I’m going to thank those who speak blessings rather than be ill with those who don’t.

I’m going to remember a fresh season in my life when I was literally afraid of everything and thank God I’m coming out. Yesterday and the trials associated with it are gone. Today’s a brand new day with brand new mercy, grace for my needs and love from my always-loving Papa-God.

When unfavorable comes and uncomfortable visits, seek the good and be grateful it’s not as bad as it could be. Seek reprieve and remember when it was worse. Be grateful where you are…and enjoy. Don’t forget the pain but remember God’s grace that got you through and be thankful.

The Corner of “Can” and “Will”.

I was walking our dog this morning and I kept looking back to see the sunrise. That’s one of my favorite things, to watch the sun rise. I was walking away from it but that didn’t change the fact that I knew it was coming. Even though I didn’t have to look at it to believe the sun was coming up, I wanted to see it. I knew it was happening because everything was becoming brighter and lighter. So at the moment of “peak” I stopped on the corner to watch it in hopes of capturing a perfect picture. I had a choice: I could keep walking and miss it or I could stop for a minute and catch it. Either way, the sun was DEFINITELY coming up. My decision either way wouldn’t stop it but my decision would determine whether I got to enjoy the blessing of seeing what I believed would happen, happen. 20141001_073148 I am SO glad I stopped.

That’s the way FAITH is with our lives. We find ourselves often in situations we can do absolutely nothing about. Things are definitely NOT easy. I mean at this age, did you plan for your life to be like it is? I sure didn’t! So we find ourselves at a crossroads…a “corner”, if you will. We can become depressed, despondent and disappointed and step into that dark place of believing we’ve been let down, forgotten, life isn’t fair…and survive it thinking it will never get better. That attitude may be justified but it grows anger, bitterness, resentfulness and distance from God. If He’s good and controls everything, and loves us, why does He allow such pain and despair? Here’s a real theological answer for you:  I DON’T know. I DO know this world is not heaven, He IS in control and He affords the opportunity through WHATEVER the circumstance to show us Himself.

So here we are. We know He CAN do whatever we need Him to do…but do we believe He WILL? Do you turn the corner in your heart to go closer to Him or in your time of great heartache choose to walk the other way?

This I do know: He wastes nothing, not even the horrible. Even then, I have found Him to be the One source of comfort, caring, mercy and love. I choose NO MATTER WHAT to turn to Him because of His track record! I look back sometimes to see what He has seen me through, and choose not to dwell on the bad things, the unfair things, but I choose to dwell on HIS faithfulness. He could have left me in the mud and mayhem but He didn’t. After calling to Him and depending on Him more times than I can count, He could have said “sorry little girl, you’ve exceeded the amount of grace I am willing to give” because believe me…I have needed a LOT. Not only that, I choose to believe what He says daily and believe His word applies to me personally!

If you find yourself standing on that corner of decision, I pray you’ll choose stepping in the CAN on your way to HE WILL. No matter what you see or feel choose to believe. That opens the door and allows Him the freedom to come in and show you what you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Only believe.