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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Permission to Rest

Am I the only person who struggles with being still? Somehow, I don’t think so.

I have so much difficulty with doing nothing. By nature, I am a very self disciplined, driven individual. The concept of taking time for myself does not come naturally for me.

Sometimes, I can do a lazy Saturday morning. I use this time to write and move at my own pace. I enjoy those mornings, but I still measure them by what I accomplish during that time.

Moments of doing nothing? Of being completely still? Those moments are so important for me to recharge and catch my breath. I don’t allow for them often enough in my life. Usually, it is when I feel myself becoming unraveled that I realize that I really need to rest.

Being still is a gift we give ourselves. Being still before God, undistracted in His presence…a gift we can give Him.

Today, rest in the grace of giving yourself permission to rest. We all need to take moments to pause and reflect.

How can you make this time? Will you?

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.

31 Days of Grace

It’s Sunday after a long weekend. It was a great writing conference but it is nice to be back home.  I’m still not feeling 100 percent so today my thought is simply this…

I am grateful for the grace of changing seasons. New seasons bring new opportunities. 

What do you look forward to in this season?

The Gift of Grace 

When my daughter was about 7, we took a snowy road trip to the huge library in the nearby city. I wanted to hear three authors present on writing, and my husband and daughter decided to use the time to explore the city Library.

I left that presentation encouraged to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference that next year. My husband, always one for adventure, agreed, and our family boarded a plane in September for Dallas, Texas. While he and our daughter explored the city, I attended the conference. I’m not sure if I would advise having your very first writing conference be one of such enormity. I remember feeling so very overwhelmed. I learned how little I actually knew about the craft of writing.

Fast forward several years…I have been to several writing conferences. I have a piece published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul collection, a devotional published in a quarterly church publication, and several news articles in our local newspaper. Still no book of my very own, though.

It’s okay, though.

I am grateful that by the grace of God, I am where I am today and that by the grace of God, those early writings that I thought were so good never were published!!

Writing is not a sprint but a marathon. Yes, I need to set attainable writing goals. I need to write. I have realized that the goal of my writing is so much less about being published and so much more about my obedience in sharing what God has laid on heart. 

I am grateful for His grace in helping me nurture my gift over time. His timing is perfect.

Where have you experienced the gift of His grace in your life this week?

Seasons

It is a rare Sunday afternoon where I am hanging out in my backyard with my laptop and my terrier. I live in a small town and it is quiet and peaceful out here. 

Except for one blaring distraction.

It is not the neighbor mowing his yard nor the EMS sirens as they travel to the hospital down the road. The distraction is less about audible noise and more about the inescapable comparison to my life at the moment.

Overgrown. The fence that needs to come down is overgrown with vegetation. Weeds to be exact. Why? Because we have been busy doing life. Because when we do have a free moment, it is easier to stay inside than stare at the work that needs done.

Life gets like this sometimes. We overcommit ourselves. We say yes when we should pause and pray first. We leave so little whitespace in our lives. The responsibilities grow around us and squelch the joy of things we once felt passionate about. Burnout threatens to set in.

So, here I am now after a message at church this morning…do not be afraid. Here I am contemplating decisions of where commitments have overgrown in my life and what must be reprioritized.

When we want to welcome something new in our lives, we must be brave. If we feel God’s blessing upon a new chapter and if we witness a door opening, we must be willing to close the doors that need closed. Yes, I believe God closes doors for us sometimes. I also believe there are times when we need to step back and realize that some areas in our lives are overgrown. 

For example, do you want to start writing a novel? Maybe you need to step back from a committee you serve on.

Ecclesiastes 3:1…There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…

What season are you in currently? Maybe it is a season for something new which also means an end of a different season.

Isaiah 43:18-19…Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

Life is full of seasons. Don’t be afraid to end one so a new one can bloom.

Doors to Dreams

Closed doors on my dreams…slammed shut.

My life, my dreams seem to be unfolding so much slower than everyone elses’s.

 I listen to high school graduates with clearly defined dreams as they plan their next journey.

I step back, look at my life…. almost 40…my mind wanders to dreams yet discovered. Life often does not follow the neatly designed plan one would wish.

My dreams to write, to work in long term care administration, to adopt, to travel…some realized, some still held close to my heart, none forgotten.

Doors opening as my heart opens more, God speaking His truth into my soul.

A story published, an opportunity presenting itself…

This book….Draw the Circle, the 40 Day Prayer Challenge…my third time reading it. I finish it, I start again. It reminds me of His promises, His loves, His protection.

This today … “Go, Set, Ready”….you’ll never be ready.

No time is a good time. We make room for what is important to us. He opens doors and closes doors at the right times, in the right places, with the right people.

He doesn’t promise it will be easy but time after time, He promises to be there with us.

 Sometimes you have to go before you feel ready. You have to take that step of faith to set you in the right direction. You may never feel ready, but when God says go, then it is time to go.

My door has opened.

I think you are more ready than what you realize.

Words of confirmation spoken to me by someone I respect deeply.

Now is my time to go. To take a step of faith. To learn as I go. To trust Him. He will guide my path.

Go….before you feel ready or you may never go.

Set….pray and take that step of faith.

Ready….if you have been praying and listening, you will hear His voice as He opens and closes doors.

The path may not lead in the direction you anticipated, but God honors a step of faith in obedience.

What’s holding you back?