Archives for posts with tag: grace

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure:  God’s story never ends with ashes.”

~Elisabeth Elliot

 

 

DSCN0865

Asheville, North Carolina July 7, 2017

Waves of Blue on Mountains High

Rolling in  as I stroll by

I Lift my heart,  I Lift my eyes

As waves of blue draw me nigh

And what comes as I lift my eyes

Waves of Grace I can’t deny

DSCN8657.jpg

Giving myself 15 minutes to write what I’m thankful for for this week…so here goes…

Thankful for Sky.  For wide open spaces. For sunsets and endings to days.  Good to have endings so that we can have beginnings.

Thankful for sons on the way home from different places & different ventures, a daughter on the way out to see family, and me sitting right there in the middle of the comings and goings being thankful that I get to see them as they come and they go. Thankful they have places to go to do their thing, but that there’s a magnet of family to come home to.

Thankful for friends. For truths shared. Encouragement. Laughter. Gut-level prayers sent up, and the ‘you’re not in this alone’ reality that sweet friendship brings to both sides. Internal perspective has a way of changing external views. So very thankful for friendships that help me see things through the lens of faith.

Thankful for stark realities of death that lead to beautiful awareness of LIFE and the gift of each day. That the darkest moments one one’s life can lead to wake up calls of living well in so many more lives. Thankful that the Bible speaks of deep gut-level HOPE that doesn’t let us or loved ones go in times of loss.

Thankful for stupid videos that my son shares that make me laugh like crazy….and make me admit that his quite goofy sense of humor may have come from someone.

Thankful for evening walks after the rain.

DSCN8653

Thankful for triple chocolate gelato (almost as good as the pistachio)…and for a son who eats a lot of it so that his mom isn’t tempted to eat more. Thankful for the memory of a year ago…eating my first gelato on a small island in the Archipelagos of Sweden…and for the son who was determined to help me check some things off of my bucket list.

Thankful for a ridiculously cluttered garage that is becoming less cluttered, and for the many moments in the past week of finding lost treasures of notes from kids, family photos, and little reminders of different stages of our family. Thankful for the laughter and cleansing tears shed in the reminders, and for the laughter and smiles from my kids as they get unexpected photos popping up on their phones with “remember when” messages from a mom who is trying hard to hold things loosely, but hold tightly to the things that matter.

IMG_5109

Bookmark Josh made years and years ago 🙂

Thankful for a misty rain that watered the plants that I had forgotten to.

DSCN8683.jpg

Morning Glory

Thankful that God’s mercy is new every morning.

Thankful for spinakopita and Greek salad and lunch with coworkers.

Thankful for time with my girl of laughter and talking and accomplishing daily tasks as a team…always feels so good to be part of a team working towards a common goal. Thankful for her feisty self that has a heart of compassion and wisdom underneath all that beauty and spunk.

Thankful for calls from sons…and catching up and laughing and connecting…and the little things that remind me that even though they are now men with lives of their own, they are so the same little guys with the same eyes that I looked into when they were young.

Thankful for my husband’s determination to provide for our family, and for the humility and wisdom to keep pressing on when things aren’t anywhere near easy street.

Thankful for walks with friends and wise decisions to meet at the River Trail instead of DQ.

IMG_5119

Carolina Thread Trail

Thankful for good reports from family members and the reminder that we all aren’t quite as invincible as we may think.

Thankful for new books to read and the desire to learn and grow. For me from the library, and for my youngest from Young Life youth leader. Yep Thankful for people investing in my kids big time.

IMG_5124

Thankful for quiet mornings, coffee, and for the missions and checklists for the day.

Thankful for “Thankful Thursday” posts and for the way being grateful for the little things has a way of empowering me to tackle the big things/tasks of the day.

Welp, my 15 minutes (stretched to 20 actually) are up.  Thankful for those who take the time to read these words, and for the many connections we all have. Thankful for words that bridge connections.  ❤

Hope your day is full of many, many…. Blessings ~

Heather

 

“..give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18

Thankful Thursday

 

DSCN2582

On this Thankful Thursday (actually, it’s finally being posted on a Saturday…better late than never..)… I’m thankful for flowers (weeds) by the side of the road that beckoned me to stop and breathe for a few minutes.

I’m thankful for the sun on my face and the wind through my hair. I’m thankful for the solid ground under my feet and vast sky beyond the field and the awareness that like those flowers (weeds), I’m pretty small in this vast, vast world.

I’m even thankful for the stressors that push us to find the respites. And for the respites that sometimes show up in unexpected places, like roadside ditches where a few little flowers (weeds) are blooming with a beautiful sunset in the background.

I’m grateful for the truth that  when we’re fully-alive and fully-living and fully-putting-ourselves-out-there, well, there will be pain…and heartache…and uncertainty and struggle.  There will be loss, and hurt, and defeat. But there will also be victories won, big and little. There will be muscles made and skills honed and fortitude grown in the struggles if we don’t lose heart, if we don’t give up. That’s the key isn’t it? To not lose heart?  To keep on keepin’ on.  To keep on putting one foot in front of the other…

I’m thankful that one of the very things that might help us to not give up or give in or lose heart could be as simple as a phone call, a letter, an I’m thinking of you text, or a glimpse of some roadside flowers (weeds) that glow in the mellow tones of the sunset on a warm March day.

DSCN2586

I’m thankful that although sometimes stopping and breathing and taking in the sunset might take moments from our days, it adds energy and hope and light and joy and value to the rest of the moments of our day because, those moments of taking it all in? They help to process, to see things in a different light.

I’m thankful that my children (who happen to be adults ) whom I adore are living and pushing and stretching. And even though it is so incredibly difficult to watch at times,  I am thankful for the growing pains, the casualties, the falling downs and getting-back-up and the tenacity and compassion and gratitude that can result from those moments. I’m praying that they always have hope to get back up in a world that is pretty good at pushing down.

And I’m hopeful that irregardless of how many times my  kids fall down and need to get back up,…I’m hopeful that they will be those who help lift up, not push down. That they will be little respites to those in need. That they will love because they know they are so loved.  A lot of people don’t know that to the core. I pray they KNOW it, and live it out of the love that they have received. Not just familial love.  Supernatural, all-consuming love from the God who knows every falling down, every gift, every scar, every fabric of their being. The God who Loves them and knows them to the core…and calls them to know Him more.  He’s the Ultimate lifter of our heads, of our hearts, of our hands.

God’s infinite, all-consuming grace seems so clear and present in these little snip-its of time that I take to see it. It is mine to show up and open my eyes to see and hears to hear and heart to just feel….and He always shows up.  Sometimes in flowers. Sometimes in weeds. And sometimes it’s not about what they are, but just about how I see them in the Light of grace.  And it’s a bit ironic that I often see those things more clearly on tougher days because on those days?…On those days I am aware of my need, and I’m looking, seeking, knowing that I need to take time to find the reminders of grace. What we seek, we often find.

Oh, and am thinking that more than anything…in this crazy, chaotic, rushed and so often angry world where the ground doesn’t seem so stable and the future doesn’t seem so clear?…Well, knowing that He sees us in a different light and loves us through it all and beckons us to dare to LIVE a life counter to so much of what we see….that knowledge beckons me on to know that regardless of what I see to the left or the right, He’s with me  in the middle of it all. And sometimes all it takes to be reminded of that is to take a few moments to stop and see.  Yes, what we seek we often find. When we see things through the eyes of grace, there’s very little room for seeing weeds as anything but beautiful, beautiful flowers.   And the cool thing is that in Christ, God sees us through eyes of grace. Kind of like looking at us and seeing it all, but treasuring us as a beautiful flower. Knowing that we are loved like that can change the perspective on any landscape we face…be it on mountaintops, valleys, or roadside ditches.

DSCN2584

Blessings ~

Heather

“We love because He first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

“For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

thankfulthurs15

Just got back in from seeing the sunset as my son (pre-drivers licensed son) drove us around town to run a few errands.  I sat in the passenger seat trying to encourage him to leave at least an inch or two for mailboxes, and practiced my breathing.  He’s my last of 6 children to teach how to drive, and well, let’s just say we need quite a few more hours of practice driving under his belt before he goes for his test.  But overall, we’re making progress because I didn’t feel quite so much the need to will the car to stay on the road and I was able to take some photos as we  (oops, I mean “he” ) drove.

The week had lots of highlights.  There was lots and lots of time well spent with four of my six children.  And do you know what some of my favorite moments were?  Coming into the kitchen and seeing all 4 of them sitting on the deck talking …for hours.  Yep, I’d say that’s time well spent.  Then they took goofy pictures and laughed. hopeandboys5

This next photo was taken when I had just finished talking with their brother in Sweden and shared some crazy news with them about some of his fun adventures…Here’s their reaction…hopeandboys1

….and then, here’s the traditional posed shot…

hope

Hope and Josh got to catch up after not seeing each other for a long time…

hopeandboys3

Yep.  Thankful as all get out.  I also got to see my parents after not seeing them since Christmas, and that was time well spent as well. So fun.

There were some sweet surprises this week.  On the way back home from church, we saw a doe and a fawn…still had spots.  I was amazed at how tiny the little guy was, and he didn’t get more than a few inches away from his mother.  When I stopped to watch, they watched right back, and I was amazed at the lack of fear.  I even had time to grab my camera and take a photo.  deer

The mama doe sure looks proud and protective.  I know just how she feels…

So after the weekend, Monday was full of fun as we celebrated with students at school.  We had awards ceremonies and parties and celebrated victories. One of my favorite moments was when our therapy dog, Skye, granted us one last visit. She comes twice a month to my classroom for reading, but mainly, it’s for connection. So many of my students have some difficult backgrounds and are pretty emotionally detached.  Sweet Skye helps bridge those gaps for a lot of the students, but especially for one little guy. He hardly smiled, except when Skye was around, and he was totally engaged when reading to her.  So on this last day of school, he got to hug her and walk her one more time and we all were thankful for the time well spent. thankfulthurs22

The next day the staff corralled children and tried to keep them occupied which wasn’t easy without much structure in the day.  At 11:00 the teachers lined up and waved gleefully at the buses leaving the campus.  (Dare I say that some of the teachers even danced!!)  And then, we as a staff were off to…an entertainment center to celebrate as a team!  I almost missed out on the fun because my list of “to-dos” was longer than I could stand, but reluctantly went because this team of teachers and staff are a team worth celebrating with.  And I’m so glad I went.  We got to choose from bowling and putt-putt and laser tag, and I chose…laser tag!  Was so much fun I couldn’t stand it! And I came home and announced to my boys that we should all go as a family soon so I can show them my skills, ha!  They laughed so hard and seemed shocked that I’d choose laser tag over bowling or putt-putt. Not sure if I should be offended by that or not, but I’ll let it go for now.

I also got to hold a sweet little brand new baby boy. Has been a while since I’ve held a little one in my arms.  And, it so reminded me of all of the little movements and mannerisms that little ones have.  The sights, the sounds, the smells…nothing like a baby.  I got to hold the little guy for awhile, and when I gave him back found myself just thanking God that I got to be a mom for all those years with little ones in my arms and at my feet. They’re so grown up, now, but my heart and mind can go back to those days in a moment’s notice.  Sweet sweet memories.  Well, most of them, anyway!

So, the next day, Tan’s baseball game was cancelled and  I felt relieved that there was a little space in my day.  We (he) drove, and we ended up down at the Greenway for a walk.  It was absolutely beautiful, and so fun to spend time catching up with Tanner.

The sun was just going down and seemed to dance on the water.  Loved our time.  We even got to see one of his favorite teachers who also happens to be the mom of one of my older children’s friends.  Was so good to see her and catch up a bit. Yep, lots to be thankful for.

The next day, the game wasn’t cancelled and we got to enjoy a good game.  Well, actually, it might not be classified as a ‘good’ game cause we lost 16 to 2.  But boy oh boy did we cheer for those two runs, and every victory.  One of the little victories was a catch that Tan made out in left field!  (It was after missing two out there and when the ball started flying over shortstop my heart started praying like crazy that he’d make the catch.)  He made it and I said “Phew” and a grandmother sitting near me on the bleachers smiled a sweet smile at me and said, “I bet these kids prayer lives are getting pretty strong out there.”  Yep.  Probably so.  And probably their parents’ as well…Oh, and it was cool to hear, “You got this kid” when the “kid” saying it was my kid coaching his younger brother.  Chase is out there for every game helping the  team.  Love that. He’s the one in the photo holding the clipboard and giving me a goofy look.  I guess that’s what I get when I ask to take his picture…

So, that brings me to today, and the ride with Tan, and the conversations.  He and his teen-aged bearded scruffy self did pretty well driving.

We made it home. Another big “Phew” for sure.  At times it doesn’t feel like such a small miracle, especially when there are 6 cars behind you and your son seems to be looking at them in the rear view mirror more than he’s looking straight ahead.  Great analogy…not good to spend more time looking back than living in the moment of the day and moving forward.  Nope, not good at all, especially when the car seems to have a magnet drawn to all of those perfectly straight mailboxes centimeters away from an encounter with a moving vehicle. So, yes, more praying through things.  The little and the big.  Thankful God doesn’t discriminate between the two, but hears it all and says, “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.”  Love, Love, Love that.  thankfulthurs23

So,  I have a heart of gratitude. Period.  For this moment, right here, right now, and those moments in the week when I’m so aware that life is a gift. Period. Sometimes the moments lead me to pray hard hard hard urgent prayers, and sometimes, they lead me to just thank God big time.  And sometimes, I just find myself clinging to the fact that I am clueless about the next minute ahead but thankful that God isn’t.  And that chases fears away…sometimes quickly, sometimes not. Amazing the catalysts for prayer like baseball and driving.  Praying that God will use the moments of our days to bless and build up and move forward.  Thankful that the ordinary is extraordinary when seen through eyes of faith knowing that we are not alone and not just our own. How big is that truth?  I don’t think that any of us can really grasp the enormity of that.  But thankful for the glimpses.

Well, I’ll close for now.  Thanks for sharing in my little stories of the week..

Blessings ~

Heather

 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

Psalm 34:8

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/events/thankful-thursday/

thankfulthursday

On this Thursday, I’m thankful for…

~”Guess what?!!” calls from a few of my kids this week and the joy totally shared about successes that come AFTER lots of tenacity and hard work and perseverance and stick-to-it-iveness.  I’m thankful for lessons learned and successes celebrated and that it’s a total gift to be able to share in the joy.  That’s a gift, for sure.

~ safety during the very short sunset ride with my son who does not yet have his driver’s license, just a permit.  Thankful that we have a bit more time till he’s able to get a license.  Thankful for the dependent who will stay dependent a bit longer, and for the independence that is growing in him.

~ crushed ice, and the kind workers at  Cook Out who don’t act like I’m crazy when I go through the drive thru and ask for a large ice water – and nothing else, and pay a whopping bill of 27 cents.

~ for the refreshment that little things like ice water give, and for the fact that it’s so readily accessible.  Prayers that I don’t take the little things in life for granted that are truly the big things.

~ for Lemon Verbena soap, and cucumber melon candles.  For lit candles that provide  a warmth to our home when there’s a chill in the air.

~ the fact that I could still wear sandals to school today on a late October day as the temperature reached the high 70s.  I know winter is coming, and am enjoying the last days of flip flops.

~ for struggles shared and lifelong friends that bear the burdens, and for the privilege of bearing burdens, sharing burdens, as well.

~ for football games and cheering kids and adults who really do want to get in there with their kids.

~for grace that carries me through the day from the minute my feet hit the floor till the end of the day.

~ for vitamins,…and coffee when the vitamins just aren’t quite cutting it.

~for students who struggle, but then realize that they can turn things around, and for those precious moments when they do change things around and are welcomed back into the community.  I’m thankful for goals and community and the hope that so many teachers really do seek to instill in their students at school.

~Thankful for song, and that the guitar that has been sitting in the corner for months was picked up today, and that it brings up the desires to write and to sing.  Thankful for song.

~Thankful for motivation. For dreams.  For passions.  For the total awareness that gifts are to be used, and the desire to find ways, to find outlets to use them.  For the joy that comes when you’re ‘doing your thing’, and for the joy I have as I watch others “do their thing.”

~I’m thankful for another day, and for the sobering fact of being reminded today that loved ones of those I care for have breathed their last.  Thankful for the reminders of how precious each day is.

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield, My heart trusts in Him and I am helped. Therefore my heart exults and with my song I will thank Him.”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/events/thankful-thursday/

Photo:  Boiling Springs, NC October 22, 2015

thankful thursday

Today, I’m thankful for sunlight.  I’m thankful for sunlight filtered through trees, for sunlight shimmering on the water, for sunlight on my face and the warmth that is so much more than heat.

I’m thankful for walks and talks with a  dear friend…for the laughter, and words, and just time well spent that comes when we take a little bit of time out of our busy, busy days just to do the stuff that matters.

I’m thankful for projects…big, long-term, investment of blood, sweat, and tears types of projects that are -done!  I’m thankful for the ones who put their hearts, souls, and mind into creating things that will impact others. I’m thankful for the encouragement people will get just from hearing people’s stories.  I’m thankful for the one who is telling the stories, and that lately, people have taken the time to not only listen to, but ask about his.

I’m thankful for frozen spaghetti sauce with meatballs that makes for a quick dinner when my walk went a bit past the dinner hour and my family was home and hungry.

I’m thankful for a job that  s t r e t c h e s  me to the limit, but that’s part of growth.

I’m thankful for Gevalia coffee, spinach salad, and croissants. I’m thankful that the scale is starting to tip the other way after tipping a bit on the other side.  Somehow it seems that time at work makes me think of chocolate quite a bit.  Seriously.  On stressful days, I think chocolate.  And my skinny assistant always has some.  And so does my fellow teacher. I am realizing that while they are good for me in some ways, providing endless supplies of chocolate is not one of them. At all. I’m thankful that clothes still fit and that tight was never my thing anyway. I’m thankful for scales that tell the truth and the ultimate truth that beauty in the world’s eyes is so different from beauty in God’s eyes…He sees the heart and wants us free.  I’m thankful for health and exercise and that a few extra pounds isn’t the end of the world…and that beauty is so much deeper than fluctuating scales.

I’m thankful for teenaged boys whose Friday night activities consist of going to football games and coming home to watch “Football Friday night” and the marathons of Friday Night Lights on TV. I’m also thankful for the “WhOAAA”s and “OH YEAHS!!!” that come when they see that one of them  made it on TV on this week’s version of the local news’ broadcast of “Football Friday Night”.  Yep, a little celebrity can go a long way.

I’m thankful for my kids finding their way.  For jobs. For hard work.  For lessons that  say, “I didn’t realize how much there was to just keeping up with everything.”  I’m thankful for time well spent with my girl and for little things like candles and scarves, and leggings that can make a difference.  I’m thankful for ‘chic flicks’ and Nicholas Sparks and the fact that having a good cry every once in a while seems to make it easier to laugh.

I’m thankful for sons who want to come home from college, and sons who want to go back. I’m thankful for papers written and a sixteen year old son who really did want to think about the differences and similarities between Gilgamesh and Oedipus, and who knew exactly what he thought a hero is. I’m thankful for the arts and the way they stretch the minds and hearts of our kids and for the way people from the past can greatly impact people of the future.

I’m thankful for friends who hold firm to Biblical standards who may want to absolutely flip out in certain scenarios (and rightly so), but choose to trust God who is unseen rather than give in to the stress of the circumstance that is so very present and seen.  I’m thankful for faith that trusts in the firm foundation of what God can and will do rather than ride the roller coasters of life that depend on circumstances and people’s choices and attitudes and actions.  God’s grace covers and protects and comforts and allows those who trust Him to have a teflon spirit which lets things roll off that need to roll off. I’m thankful for sisters in Christ who encourage us to walk well, not to do what can be rationalized or excused.

I’m thankful for words.  For a 7 year old who is learning to use them and for the smile that comes across her face that seems to electrify her whole body. I’m thankful for magic markers, and stickers, pencils, and candies that encourage a struggling kid to keep working…that the struggle will lead somewhere worthwhile, and giving up just won’t.  I”m thankful for days when we see that teaching makes a difference….for gains made and the smiles and sense of pride and accomplishment that comes when students realize that they are making gains.  Funny, how academic gains can so impact the countenance of a kid.  I’m not talking about pride in a bad sense, I’m talking about confidence in a beautiful sense that encourages.  En-courage.  Give courage.

I’m thankful for Fridays. For thankful Thursday posts that come any day of the week.  I’m thankful for rest.  I’m thankful for a house full of boys/men, and ….me, and for a room to be able to have quiet and a candle while they have LOUD and football. I’m thankful for the fact that in the morning, they’ll be snoozing quietly, and I can have full reign of the house and put the music on and do my thing, and have my kind of loud.  I’m thankful for friends and family, for sure.

Blessings ~

Heather

https://wordpress.com/tag/thankful-thursday

light in the darkness

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  John 1:5

Darkness can loom in so many ways.  It can fill a room.  It can fill a heart.  But when light comes in, the darkness flees.  It flees. Light dispels darkness.

Hope is like the light that floods spaces and makes the darkness flee.  Darkness is fleeing in Charleston, South Carolina.  Darkness is fleeing because love is flooding a space, and where there is love, there is hope.  Where there is hope, there is light.

Can hope and grief walk hand in hand?  Yes.  Definitely.  Deep, all-encompassing grief can walk hand in hand with hope.  Grief looks at what has been lost. There is a definite place, a definite need to grieve in times like this. Many precious, precious lives have been senselessly lost.  Hope looks at what can be gained.  What could possibly be gained as a result of a young 21 year-old man brutally murdering people at a Bible Study?What could possibly be gained?

The people of Charleston are making a conscious choice to see what could be gained from the loss.  There has been great loss.  Can there be great gain?  Can light fill the darkness?  It seems to come down to the choices.  The victims’ families have courageously made attempts to forgive, to hope, to love in the midst of deep, deep loss.  Like a chasm that goes to the depths, the victims could choose to wallow, to hate, to feed the hurt that this gunman caused.  The darkness could become deeper and darker if they chose to fuel the pain.  But there has been a conscious, courageous choice, decision, determination to walk in hope, to forgive, to walk in light, and to love.  There has been a conscious choice to focus on the light instead of the darkness.

Through depths of pain, they are reaching heavenward for hope.  Where there is hope, there is light.  “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. ” Hate cannot overcome evil.  Love overcomes.  Love overcomes evil.  It is a gut-wrenching choice.  But that choice is the difference between walking with hope and walking in darkness.

Sometimes loss is gain.  Praying that the seemingly senseless deaths of these 9 precious church members will somehow allow light to shine in dark places.  That their loss would be gain for others. That the incredible loss of these lives would help to make clear, to draw the lines of black and white, darkness and light, on the issues of love and hate.  That the tolerance for hate would be dispelled by the decision to overcome evil and hate with good – to let light dispel the darkness. Romans 12:21 says ” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Being overcome is passive.  It is the natural response to something bad happening to us.  We want to blame, to vindicate, to make the crooked way straight by judgement.  To “overcome evil with good” is active, a determined response that does not go the way of the path of least resistance.  To OVERcome takes courageous determination to choose what may cause short term pain for the long term gain. It is active. It is a decision, a pursuit, a determination that leaves the path of least resistance to the wayside and chooses the road less traveled.

The amazing response of so many of the family members of the victims of the Charleston shooting has taken us all down a road less traveled.  It is a beautiful thing.  We expect to go the way of vindication, the way of judgement, the way of hate, the way of darkness, the way of chaotic reactions. But the example of the victims’ family  members is taking us on a journey of forgiveness, of love, of light pushing away the darkness and not letting us be overcome with evil.

What is giving them the power to forgive, the power to overcome this incredibly devastating loss?  Jesus. Faith in Jesus.  He knew a thing or two about loss and gain, about the road less traveled, about the way sacrifice can bring about the greatest incredible gift.  And these grief-stricken Christians know the way of the cross.  They know the power of sin, but greater still is Christ’s love for the sinner, and the way His sacrifice paid the penalty.  They know the way “the love of Christ compels us” to live a life for others, not for themselves. (2 Corinthians 5:14) They know that there are unseen battles going on that can only be fought in prayer and in the determination to let light shine, to let love overcome, and to pull up every ounce of courage to not go the way of hate.

Yes, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.  Christ has come. It is finished, done, complete.  But is is ours to bear the torch and share the truth that the love of Christ compels us to say. I am thankful and amazed at the grace flowing from these grief stricken believers and thankful for the way they  are leading.  I”m praying that God just fills them up with peace that passes understanding, hope that encourages them, and warmth that covers them when the pain is just too much to bear. Darkness is not going to win.  But there IS darkness and there’s a battle going on for which prayer is the greatest weapon. Love wins.  That’s the end of the story.  But the battles along the way?  They are sometimes devastating.  There is darkness, but it will be overcome, not as long as there are people like these precious Believers who are choosing to hold fast to the truth of the gospel and to light their candle in the darkness.

We as Christians believe we know the end of the story.  Hope wins.  Light wins.  Love wins.  But, there’s a battle going on that must be fought one little courageous candle at a time.  Praying the inspiration from the Christians in Charleston will help people from all around have the courage, tenacity, faith and hope to let it shine and let the light swallow up the dark.Every little candle can make a difference.

pathway crowder mt

There are times in our lives when we realize that we are reaching limits, and we feel as though we just can’t go on. But we have to. We say things like “One day at a time”, and try to do our best to ‘get through the day’.But sometimes a day can seem like an eternity. We need help right here right now. We need grace that will cover us in the most difficult of moments.

I can remember a certain day many years ago when I was a young mom of 4 preschoolers. It was one of those days when I was distracted with some struggles in my marriage.I felt stretched beyond belief. I’m sure that my children sensed my restlessness as they seemed to be a bit on edge as well. I can remember being in the kitchen cleaning up from lunch. The tasks were always close companions. I was feeling frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed. I had the radio on, and a song came on that snapped me back into reality. However it was not the reality of what I felt, but the reality of what is True, and what I could truly count on.

The song was Buddy Greene’s “Grace for the Moment”. My despair melted away as I listened to the words. I stopped cleaning and literally sat on the hardwood floor of the kitchen. I remember the tears rolling down my face as the reality of the words of the song sunk in. “Grace for the moment, all that I need Grace for the moment and faith to believe all the promises given are there to receive …grace for the moment…all that I need.”

That moment was a fork in the road for me. It was literally like a light bulb turned on inside of my Spirit. I got it. God was right here, right now. I knew the verse about God’s grace being sufficient for me…in my weakness. But somehow this song moved me beyond the words to the truth that God is not far off. He is present, in the now…the RIGHT now. All I have to deal with is this moment, this here and now, and God would give the grace to do just that. The future that I was worried about? That was not now. The past that I couldn’t change? That was forever gone. But in this moment, each sacred moment,…that was the moment that God would provide the grace for.

So here’s the thing. God IS. God IS present in the moment. This truth has been like a breath of fresh air to me through the years. We all have our stories, and I promise you, I have mine as well. But God has so shown up at every turn. As Psalm 46:1 states, He is a “very present help in a time of need.” Present. Right here, right now, He is present, available.

I love how God gives us visuals in the Bible of people’s very real struggles. Moses struggled when God told him he was the man for the job of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses just didn’t think he could do what God was telling him to do. But God tells him two things. First, He says, “I will be with you.” And then, when Moses asks him who he should tell the Israelites that God is, He says, tell them “I am that I am.” In the now. The Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, Creator of all, and Ruler over all, says, “I am that I am.” Not “I was”. Not “I will be.” He says “I am that I am.” And who He is is a God who reaches down and is with us. Present in the Moments. Amazing Grace, yes, that’s for sure. Each moment, He is so available. The beauty of it is, a lifetime of moments are all lived one moment at a time…and it is but ours to invite Him to be with us in each one. And that makes all the difference.

As Buddy Greene says, There’s “Grace for the moment. All that I need. Grace for the moment and faith to believe. All the promises given to those who receive is grace for the moment, all that I need.”

Blessings~
Heather

Gracee's Thumb

Sometimes, the imperfections in life add the most beauty. I have quite a few photos of my thumb, but in this age of photo-editing, most of those photos are cropped or deleted before they meet the eye. But this photo, well it’s not of my thumb. The thumb belongs to a 7 year old little girl named Gracee. She took the photo of her mom and me. And the thumb? Well, I think this imperfection makes the photo just perfect. It literally has her fingerprints all over it!

I think sometimes, in this day and age, we miss the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the imperfections of life. I can remember a precious woman once showing me the piece of furniture that her son had sunk his teeth into when he was first teething. Twenty years later, she could rub her hand over that piece of furniture and smile remembering the precious stage of life that her son was in during that time. So when my son, who was learning to write his name, autographed not one, but three pieces of furniture by digging in with a ball point pen, I remembered her words. It helped me to not scream to the high heavens and run out to sand and refinish our furniture in order to have it be acceptable in appearance to others outside of our home. (Did I mention that the furniture was antique cherry and had been my Great Aunt’s? Yikes.) I am thankful that she had told me that story because my reaction probably would have been quite a bit different for both me and my son on that day had I not heard that story, that’s for sure.  ( I think I still did scream though, to be quite honest, but my son did survive and we have laughed about his ‘autographs’ many times!)

Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, or to appear to have things altogether. We order our worlds so much, that there’s very little room for imperfections, and we can get so down on ourselves for making mistakes or appearing to not have it all together. But imperfections often give opportunity for grace. Rigidity and perfection give way to grace and creativity because the fear of making a mistake is alleviated by freedom to fail. The irony is that in being okay with failing, there’s freedom to grow. When one is terrified of making a mistake, there’s little room for growth. When one is around someone who appears to be “perfect” it can make a person feel very constrained and guarded for fear of making a mistake. I’ve been that person…so hard on myself and feeling so condemned by internal thoughts of just not measuring up. However, having 6 children in less than 9 years quickly helped me get over that myth of perfection and hang on to being thankful for the little things in life! Martha Stewart menus quickly give way to spaghetti and grilled cheese in the real world of raising young children. No matter what I did, I couldn’t measure up to some of these external standards. The freedom came in giving up on those external standards, and listening to the calling that God had on my life  as a unique individual.  The way I lived my life would be just that,  my life.  And my prayer is that God’s fingerprints would be seen all over it.

So, bring on the thumbs in photos, and teethmarks in furniture. Bring on the spaghetti and meatballs and paper plates. There’s grace. Our awareness of the beauty in our world can be so heightened by the truth that we are imperfect. We are. And that is so okay. God loves us right where we are. Knowing that can help us to want to grow and be all that He has created us to be. I love Gracee’s photo. If her thumb had not been in it, it would have only been part of the story because it would have just been a picture of her mom and I. But with her thumb, well, that tells the story of a little girl who was excited about taking a photo of her mom and her mom’s friend, and that was sweet. She wanted to give and do that for us. That’s the ‘big picture’, and it just makes me smile.  Nope, I won’t be editing this photo.  It’s perfect with its imperfections.

So it is with Grace.

%d bloggers like this: