Grace in Every day Places and Spaces

Write 31… it’s that time of year again!!

I have been quiet here. My life has been spent like this…

Studying. When I haven’t been sleeping, eating, working, spending time with family, or at church, I have been studying. A lot.

Today was supposed to be the day.

I started the morning with my normal routine. I read a devotional on grace from a devotional my friend had given me. The author talked about grace not being all about comfort. Sometimes, God’s grace is what pulls us from one situation to another. Grace doesn’t always feel like grace. It’s not the fuzzy blanket and warm cup of tea on a cold day kind of comfort. The author cited the book of Judges where God set judges to save them, but they still wouldn’t change their ways. They couldn’t see grace in their everyday spaces and places.

Today, I pondered those words and reflected on something I had told my friend a few years ago. I don’t think God wants us comfortable.

Hear me out on this. When we are comfortable, we can easily become complacent. Growth doesn’t happen in the land of complacency.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This verse has taken on new meaning for me. When my heart is focused on Christ and I delight in worshipping and being with Him everyday, then His desires for me become my desires for me.

Some days, it takes effort to recognize grace in everyday places and spaces. Like today. I conquered one test, but when I went to finish the last two, the testing center was experiencing technical difficulties, and I was told I would have to reschedule. I walked away disappointed. I confess…I cried out in tears once in the privacy of my car. I had been ready. I had prayed on the drive there.

Even if life doesn’t turn out like I want, I know His hand is there. Grace in everyday places and spaces.

I will get the test rescheduled.

All will be well. There are lessons in seasons of unexpected waiting.

That’s His grace in everyday places and spaces.

Join me for 31 days of everyday grace. #write31days #grace

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Story

This captivates me.

I drive by this dilapidated house and barn daily on my commute home from work. It fascinates me. Something about old abandoned buildings have always grabbed my attention.

A story lies behind this falling apart barn and farmhouse. It begs to be told.

My mind is racing on the way home from work, but this building always causes me to refrain from the rush of thoughts in my head to imagine its story.

Sometimes, a story, an escape from reality is exactly what I need.

What catches your attention?

Words of Gratitude

As I have been sharing lately, my life is a little intense right now. I am in the middle of a training of sorts towards where I feel called-long term care administration.

This particular season in my life leaves little time for writing, but I have been trying to squeeze in what I can.

Thursday after work, a box greeted me.

With the busyness of my life, I had forgotten this was coming. Inside were ten copies of the Chicken Soup for the Soul edition honoring mothers. Of the 101 stories, I have the humbling privilege to have my story be one of those.

As exciting as it is to have your story be published, this particular story touches me very personally. It is a tribute I wrote to my son’s birth mother. I feel such a deep sense of gratitude towards her for the beautiful gift I have been blessed with of raising my son.

If you have a chance to purchase the book (what a great Mother’s Day idea), I hope you will take a few moments to read my heartfelt words. The book releases March 20th.

The love of a mother takes many forms and sometimes, it is the greatest sacrifice of recognizing that you cannot provide your child with the life you feel he or she deserves. For this great sacrifice, I am forever grateful to call her son, my precious son.

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.

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?

31 Days of Grace…just breathe

Breathe.

It seems like such a fitting name for where I am today. I really needed to step back and catch my breath. I am attending the Breathe Christian writing conference this weekend. 

I’m still not feeling well. I have never done well with antibiotics. If there are side effects, I experience them. My tooth hurts so eating is a challenge because well, quite frankly, it hurts to chew.

But, I am here. My best friend who I actually met at this conference two years ago is attending with me. My husband is supportive of my writing. For two days I have the opportunity to be surrounded by people who get this writing thing.

I am grateful to be with a friend who extends grace to me and accepts me as I am. Over caffeinated and talking a mile a minute on the way to the conference…but she is the one who bought me the coffee 😉. She recognized that I was not feeling well and was willing to drive to find a restaurant to accommodate my crazy food sensitivities coupled with my now chewing difficulties.

I am grateful for the grace she extends me. 

Sometimes, a writing conference is less about writing and more about life lessons God has for me.

It’s all part of the story. Just breathe.

Solitude

Solitude. 

Sometimes, I just need stillness.

Silence. Do you find it comforting or does it make you uncomfortable?

At my writing group the other day, my friend captured the essence of why I must write.

She said… I find writing a time of solitude to connect with my inner self.

Sometimes,  I feel as though I will emotionally burst if I do not write. I keep a prayer journal. I write poetry. I blog. I write devotionals.

Writing is sweet release. It is also my sacred time of quiet solitude.

As my friends and I talked about solitude and silence, one of them made the comment that some people can’t handle long commutes because of the solitude. I look forward to the quiet of my commute. I pray. I listen to music. I think. I calm my thoughts.

Connection with others is a great thing, but sometimes you need solitude to reconnect with yourself first. In these quiet moments, I can pray. I can calmly breathe. I can put things in perspective. I remember Who is in control. 

This morning as I prepare for a whirlwind of a day, I take these few moments of solitude to refocus. Everything will be okay.

In what ways do you find your own place of solitude?