Sometimes, Grace isn’t so easy…

Maybe it’s the rainy day. Or maybe it’s because I am tired and haven’t been sleeping well.

Or maybe sometimes, grace isn’t so easy.

I am writing, reflecting on grace, but here I am right now in this moment finding myself wondering…why is this so hard?

Why is it so hard for me to accept the gift of grace from others? And even more so, why is it so hard for me to extend grace to myself?

I am quiet tonight. Reflective. 

Unexpected grace extended to me when really I wasn’t expecting it. It would have been easier for me to hear…you messed up, you made a mistake, how could you not….you get the idea.

It is so much more difficult for me to receive grace from others than it is for me to extend it.

And extending it to myself? Even more difficult.

It is easy to slip back into the performance perfection based expectations I hold of myself.

This often seems to happen to me as I am in the midst of something bigger than myself.

This morning, I read this: “Here is the great irony about opportunities. They usually come disguised as insurmountable problems.” Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly the place to find grace. Even if it isn’t so easy.

Do you find it hard to accept grace?

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We’re Not so Different…

Today, I am tired. It was one of those nights where you just lay there and try to will yourself to sleep.

I pushed through the day. Many of those surrounding me were doing the same thing. It didn’t help that the weather was somber and rainy skies.

Towards the end of the day, I had an interaction with someone which made me realize something. 

We’re not so different.

As I listened to her make a completely irrational statement and follow it with, “I guess that just comes from the anxiety,” I couldn’t help but think, I get it. I get it.

Max Lucado defines fear as something that sees a threat whereas anxiety imagines a threat.

It often takes only one thing to trigger the anxiety before it spirals into a volcano of what ifs.

It’s really not the easiest way to live. 

I know. I’ve been there. And to be honest, every day is a concentrated effort to decide that I will not live like that.

How have I traveled this far to a place where peace comes easier and sooner?

By the grace of God.

Last year, I was just beginning this journey to battle anxiety head on. Click here to learn more.

The past year has definitely been a journey. I have realized that men and women, young and old, rich and not so rich suffer from anxiety.

We’re really not so different.

God meets us where we are and loves us as we are. He is opening my eyes and heart to a willingness to be vulnerable with safe people. 
Anxiety is a journey, but He promises to be with us for the duration of the journey. 

That alone should bring some peace.

And my interaction from earlier? I simply reassured her, smiled at her, and let her know everything in that moment truly was okay. It’s so wonderful that I can now be a source of steady and calm encouragement for others who struggle with anxiety, too.

That is only by the grace of God.

Unforced rhythms of grace

As I drove home from a very long day at work, I listened to the end of a recorded sermon from one of my favorite pastors.

The message focused on being worried and upset. The scripture she taught from is a passage near and dear to my heart because it hits so close to home in terms of what I struggle with.

  • Luke 10:38-42 Now as they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and kept listening to what he was saying. But Martha was worrying about all the things she had to do, so she came to him and asked, “Lord, you do care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself, don’t you? Then tell her to help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her.”

Martha, Martha, Martha.

I can relate to Martha. I am the busy one. I find it hard to even sit still and watch TV with my son without doing something else with my hands… folding laundry, flipping through my phone, sorting through the mail…you get the picture. 

In turn, I find myself holding those same expectations of others. It’s like I expect people to be busy all the time. 

As I listened to the close of her message, something captured my attention deeply.

She talked about being still, in His presence, in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Unforced… obviously means to not force something

To take that one step further, it means to be free….

Rhymth…a strong repeated pattern

Grace…the undeserved favor

When I think of it all wrapped together, it comforts and amazes me. 

And to be completely honest, convicts me.

Why?

I find it so much easier to wrestle in the unrest of anxiety and fear instead of rest at the feet of Jesus. I ask Him to please take my burdens, but I so easily take them back as I play through the game of what ifs and conjure up a multitude of circumstances.

In the famous words of Dr. Phil…. how’s that working for you?

Um, well, actually not so well. 

What if instead I chose to rest at the feet of Jesus like Mary?

How different would my life feel if I trusted in the unforced rhythms of grace?

As anxiety tugs at the deepest places within me, I ask myself those very questions.

What if I trust Jesus with my worries and fears enough to let Him keep them instead of me trying to take them back to hold onto them just a little while longer?

Could I finally find the quiet I yearn for in the unforced rhythms of His grace?

I believe I could. And you can, too.

It’s a sweet surrender…a little more dying to self. If we choose to trust Him, He promises to be right there with us.

Rooted Trust

What do you root your trust in?

For He shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will it cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:8

Those two words jump out at me…fear and anxiety. 
I heard a pastor reference this passage and I have been reflecting and praying over it.

It’s not about our circumstances. Life is messy. It is about our response and where we root our trust. We don’t need to fear the situations that complicate our lives (the heat) because God can and will use these situations to produce good things in our lives. We need not be anxious when life feels like it is falling apart (the drought), because God sees the whole picture and is working in our lives.

It is easy to trust when things are going well, but this verse reminds me to keep my faith rooted in God despite my circumstances.

He can create good stuff in my life.

Strength in Weakness

It is early morning. I am feeling a bit paralyzed by thoughts racing through my mind of everything that needs done today at work and home.  I have been working long days and feeling a bit exhausted at the moment.

I need to catch my breath, to be still for just a little while longer.

Times like these, I rely heavily on the lists that I make to keep myself organized and sane. I love lists, only lists can become overwhelming if you keep adding to them and never seem to put a dent in removing items.

Sigh…

It seems fitting this morning that the passage I read is this…

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul is talking about this thorn in his flesh. We are never clearly told what this thorn in his flesh is, but it seems to keep him grounded in his dependence upon Christ.
What is your thorn in the flesh?

None of us like to think of being weak. That is so contradictory to what the world values, but it is our weakest moments that can cause us to draw closest to Christ. Think about your own life. When have you been most aware of your brokenness and your need for Christ? Your weakest moments.

I think of these stomach ailments I live with in the form of ulcerative colitis. Most days, I  am relatively okay, but I have learned to redefine what it means to be okay. Social eating is not as fun as it once was. I also struggle with fibromyalgia. Most people close to me personally and professionally at work have no idea I deal with these things except for my strange eating habits. I tend to push through the pain. I am aware of my dependence on Him.

Anxiety? Yes, another thorn in my side. I am learning to trust God through the fear and anxious thoughts. I am acutely aware of my need for God to work through the anxiety.

It seems like a contradiction. Power in weakness. Much like joy in the pain. My greatest times of growth have been during valleys where I knew I needed Him.

I heard a song at church on Sunday…. don’t tell God about your mountain, tell the mountain about your God.


When we are weak, He is strong. Being dependent upon Him is a very good place to be.

Settle me…

Every day, I journey to work via an hour commute. And of course, at the end of my long day, I journey back home that hour route.

That’s a whole lotta thinking time.

I have come to really, really appreciate this quiet time. It is me, my Christian music, and my thoughts. The drive is easy with little traffic and my mind has the opportunity to reflect.

I have needed this time. Over the past several months, it has become my prayer time. During these moments, I am not distracted by the busyness of the world. Yes, I pay attention to the semi trucks around me, but the noise of the world is quiet. 

This time settles my anxious soul before work. It settles my racing mind after work.

God is around us and alive in our everyday lives. He is working, speaking, breathing truth. These quiet moments in the morning and in my commute are welcomed moments to be still.

I am learning to still my mind. 

But may the God of all grace who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10

Settle…to become or make calmer, quieter, adopt a more secure, steady life

Life is full of challenges and change. Life is full of people who are challenging. God is bigger than all of this.

Being a Christian does not mean life is easy, but it does mean never having to be alone.

Lord, settle me. Calm my racing, anxious mind. 

Sometimes, I allow my mind to travel to my favorite places of calm…


This calms me as I recite Scripture from memory.

Lord, settle me.

I encourage you to find some moments of quiet. Carve out some whitespace in your day.

And, Trust God to settle you.

Running on Empty

“Oops.” 

I looked down to see the gas gauge of my Jeep much lower than I realized. 

I took my son to school and then decided how much to press my luck before stopping for gas. I prayed that I would not run out of gas, but I also realized that it was within my power to stop before that happened. I exited the turnpike an exit earlier than normal and began to pray. 

Thankfully, I made it. My morning adventure of almost running out of gas parallels too much to my life at the moment.

You know it is a rough day when five people through the course of the day ask you if you are okay. That was the day before. Tired. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Life feeling a bit overcommitted.

Simply stated, I had let myself run too close to empty. Like the warning light in my Jeep, the warning signs were there. I needed a time out. I needed sleep. I needed some whitespace in my life.

God always provides. He poured into me through people He has placed  in my life who care about me.

Running low on fuel often catches us off guard. We go, go, go, and wonder why we feel like collapsing.

Situations like these are great opportunities to take a time out and step back to re-evaluate what we need to surrender to God. If we are honest with ourselves, there are probably areas we are trying to control which we can’t which sets us up for running out of fuel. 

This morning, as I read from Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson….We tend to view the goal as the goal; but in God’s economy, the process is the goal. It’s not about what we’re doing at all. It’s about who we’re becoming in the process. Page 207

That means sometimes it takes a reality check of running low on fuel to step back, catch our breath, regroup, and consider the process. In our moments of weakness, He is our strength. 

Where are you running low on fuel? God is the greatest source of energy.