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.

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Grace Beyond the Lines

Recently, at a writing conference, the speaker talked about how we as children learn these beliefs about ourselves and  then we carry them into our adult lives.

As he spoke, an experience from third grade popped back in my mind. I had completed a worksheet for English. The content was absolutely one hundred percent correct; however, I had not stayed within the lines. My freshly learned cursive writing had extended beyond the given lines. I was required to stay inside from recess and fix my “mistake.” For a quiet, shy young someone who already aimed to do the right thing, this only fed into my drive for perfection.

This perfectionism has been a constant companion into adult life. It drives my performance, my anxiety, and my fears.

Last fall, God really began unravelling some of this root of the need for perfection. It has been a slow unravelling, but I no longer believe that perfection is the goal.

At work, we talk about redefining success as progress not perfection. I may not like mistakes, but I can embrace them as part of my growth.

Today, I am grateful for the grace of second chances. I am grateful for the freedom to not be perfect. When we walk in His strength, His grace is sufficient.

Sometimes, following a God given dream involves taking a risk. You may just have to look, write, or walk beyond those “safe” lines. What the world views as a mistake may just be the very path He has set before you. Pray, listen, and trust.

Just Enough…

I attended a wedding last night. It seems like Friday night weddings are becoming more popular. As the pastor delivered the wedding message, this phrase really resonated with me…

May you experience just enough failure that your hands stay tightly in His and may you experience enough success to know you are following His calling for your life.

I think we underestimate the importance of failure. I think we forget the value of learning from our mistakes. 

If we are brave enough to honestly look at our lives and allow God to peel back the layers, the areas where we need to surrender and grow are exposed.

Some of my most difficult moments in life have been wrapped up in failures. Yet, some of my most rewarding moments have been unraveled through those very same failures.

Enough failure to lean closely into God and enough success to smile and know…yup, God is working through the mess in my life.

I am reading In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. He believes that our trials have a way of helping us rediscover our purpose in life.

I have seen that play out in my life time after time.

Trust God. Embrace failure. Celebrate success. Seek your purpose in Christ. And chase those things you believe He is calling you to chase. Discover all you were created to be day by day!!


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.

Never Alone…

Yesterday morning as I sipped much needed coffee and waited for the rest of my group to arrive, I did one of my favorite things-people watching. 

People in for their morning jolt of caffeinated energy. Men in business suits. One man who I overheard sharing with his friend that his wife was mad at him. A nurse grabbing food before her long day. 

All this hustle and bustle in and out, so few able to take time to leisurely sit down and enjoy their morning. 

Me, taking the luxury to enjoy the few minutes before the rest of my group arrived.

My mind wandered to many thoughts, one being the culprit cause of my recent sleeping challenges.

Anxiety.

What is the root behind anxiety? 

Fear.

Fears of failure, messing up, losing something or someone…and so on. When those fears take root, they grow. They begin to feel so very real. The heavy breathing, the racing heart, waking up in the middle of the night, or not even being able to sleep at all.

Been there, done that.

Why do so many of us allow fear to consume us?

We live in a world filled with so much uncertainty. The one thing that remains the constant is Christ. He is our Provider, and our Protector. He loves us so much.

I attended Day 1 of the Global Leadership Summit yesterday. As I listened to these great leaders, I was reminded of so many important things. Failure is not always a bad thing. The willingness to be vulnerable can be a catalyst for success. Change hows into wows.

What was reinforced for me is the importance of connection, transparency, and openness. Great leaders are humble and learn from mistakes. They nurture and bulid up others.

They don’t rest in anxious thoughts.

What fears do you have? I hear so many people share that they struggle with anxiety. Understanding our fears and the reasons behind them is powerful. It helps open our hearts to true change.

I want to be a leader whose eyes are open to my growth opportunities.

The most reassuring thing of all? Life is far from perfect, but we are never alone. When anxiety sets in, He is right there to meet us where we are and carry us through.

I am looking forward to Day 2 of the Global Leadership Summit. To learn more, check out…Global Leadership Summit