Grace Giver

I think this is all part of the test, Tammy.

These were the words spoken to me by our chaplain at work. He was referring to my struggles with the IT issues and having to reschedule a portion of my licensure exam.

The night prior, I had made the decision to extend grace towards the representatives on the other end of the phone. It certainly was not their fault I was in this situation.

After eight phone calls, I was definitely feeling frustrated, but I felt God asking me to be a grace giver. And, I knew my son was listening, too.

I am in a book study group reading Because He Loves Me:How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

On the day of my test as I waited for two hours to see if I would be able to take my second round of tests, I read ahead in the book, grateful I had tossed it in my car. In chapter three, she talks about the concept of spiritual amnesia. She provides some real life everyday examples…a late repairman, a child who failed the spelling test, an overcrowded freeway… everyday encounters with life. She provides examples of grace responses and self-righteous responses.

This really stuck with me. I would say how ironic that the very place I read this would become the root cause of my extreme frustration just a short while later only I don’t believe in irony. I think God orchestrated the occasion.

I need opportunities to extend grace just as much as I need to recognize my need for grace.

So, maybe Pastor, you’re on to something…maybe there’s more to the test than what I anticipated.

And that, my friend, is a very good thing.

#write31days #grace

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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

Comfortable with Uncomfortable

I remember sharing a thought with a friend once…I don’t think God wants us comfortable.

In the valley of comfortable is the land of complacency, stagnation, and indifference. I have been there more than a few times.

In Joshua chapter 7, after experiencing a great victory, the people face a defeat. Joshua laments, Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all-to deliver us into the land of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?

How does God answer him? Get up!!

How easy do we forget our victories when we are faced with challenges, defeats, and mountains??

I am not comfortable now. I am being stretched and challenged. More than once recently, I have felt God telling me to get up when I felt knocked down.

This morning, I can smile. I have had some challenging days, but I have sensed the Hand of God all over my life. Little things have caused me to step back and smile. Progress not perfection. Seeing my son interact in such caring ways with residents. Positive interactions with the staff and residents. Allowing myself to take feedback, reflect, and be willing to grow from it instead of internalizing and being defensive.

Sometimes in the midst of struggle, it can be hard to find the light in the desert.

The light is there. When we keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on God, it keeps our focus on where it should be. My friend, I don’t know what your life looks like, but if you are feeling uncomfortable…trust God to use your situation to stretch you and grow you closer to Him.

My Moments

It’s been a little while since I’ve been here. Life has been swirling around me a hundred miles an hour.

Today, I wanted to sleep in. My internal clock woke me hours before my alarm sounded. Except for the sound of my husband snoring beside me, it is still and quiet.

My dog nudges my arm. He misses me, too.

I could go back to sleep but a long list of things to do looms before me. I will face them. Like all things, this season shall pass.

For now, I will keep plugging away at the moments that fade into hours, into days, into weeks.

I hold onto moments. Sometimes, in those moments of frustration, exhaustion, or completely feeling overwhelmed, reflecting on moments is all I need to refresh my soul.

My moments are nature, family, friends, my dogs. What are yours?

God bless and I pray you may experience some moments of stillness, solitude, and beauty today.

Who do you say He is?

Who do you say I am?

This is the question Jesus asked his disciples. He wasn’t interested in what they thought other people defined Him as. He wanted to know who they defined Him as. (Matthew 16:13-15)

Our pastor asked us to close our eyes during the sermon. We were to ask ourselves that question. In the quiet of the church, with my eyes closed, I dared to ask myself that question.

Rescuer.

Jesus is my Rescuer. As my Savior, He has rescued me from the depths of hell. He has rescued me from the storms of life. That’s not to say I haven’t endured the storms, but He has walked with me to the other side. And most often, He rescues me from myself.

How often are we slaves to the bondage we enslave ourselves to? The pain of our past. Bitterness. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Complacency. Unworthiness.

What is enslaving you?

As I sat by myself enjoying some much needed quiet time, I glanced down at my feet dangling in the water.

What did I focus on?

The chipped off paint from my nails. Life chips away from our feelings of completeness, worthiness, and beauty. Just as the chlorine stripped away the paint, we allow the irritations of life to strip and chip away at us.

So, yes, Jesus is my Rescuer. He rescues me those feelings of unworthiness, of failure, of fear…

When the world screams that I should just give up, throw the towel in, walk away, be knocked down, surrender to defeat…He whispers to me that He is right with me in the midst of every storm, every failure, every feeling of defeat and inadequacy that I feel. He knows those hopes and dreams deep in my heart. And, He knows the fears that surround them.

I am stronger from the struggle.

When I can analyze not internalize and self reflect for my growth and spend 1-1 time in prayer, yes, I know I will be okay. The struggle is real and the battles seldom cease, but Jesus is my Rescuer.

His promises are true. He sustains and carries me. He anchors me.

I challenge you to ask yourself…Who do you say He is?

Waiting

The other morning, I embraced the coolness of a spring morning and took my dog for a walk before work. As often happens, I had to wait on a train. Quill wanted to bark. Once I convinced him that he was no match for a train and he needed to be calm and quiet, I snapped this photo.

Where my initial reaction would normally be one of annoyance at having to wait, I felt myself being challenged to think differently.

Sometimes, in life we have seasons of waiting. There are times when we just must wait. God can do His greatest work in these seasons of waiting if we are open to what He is doing. I think of the waiting we endured as we waited for the news to travel to our son. I remembered the waiting period for medical test results. I recalled the waiting for the potential phone call of hopeful news of a new job. Dreams and opportunities require waiting seasons of growth and well, waiting.

Waiting teaches us to trust, to be expectant, and to rely on the strength of One much greater than myself.

Every season has a purpose. God does not waste one single moment.

Wait on the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait on the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Whatever you might be waiting to happen in your life, trust God that there is a season for everything. He always goes before us.

Not All is Lost

Sometimes, we lose things.

This past weekend has been challenging for me. I dropped my phone for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately, I cracked my internal screen, and the black screen of death stared back at me. I lost pictures, notes, and other odds and ends stored on that phone.

My wedding ring broke. The band came apart. This is likely from excessive hand sanitizer use in my daily job. I have lost the familiarity of having my ring on my finger until it is fixed.

We lost our freedom temporarily the other day when our Jeep stranded us miles from home. We were at the mercy of others to come rescue us.

Over the past several years, I have lost the ability to eat whatever I choose due to chronic stomach issues and an autoimmune disease.

Yet, sometimes, the things we lose aren’t tangible things we can touch.

What do we do when the things we lose are intangible? When we can’t touch them or easily replace them?

Things like patience, hope, peace…

I have been reading the book of Joshua. In chapter 7, Joshua and his people are defeated. Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the ground. He cries out to the Lord…why have You brought us here to destroy us?

God had called them out of their comfort, but He had also just brought them victory over the battle of Jericho. Oh, how easily we forget God’s miracles and blessings in our life when things seem hopeless.

How did God respond to Joshua?

Joshua chapter 7:10… So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie on your face?”

The chapter goes on to talk about holding people accountable…they have a second chance at the battle…they win and all praise is to God.

How many times have we felt defeated? Hopeless? Exhausted?

The story doesn’t have to end there.

In loss, there is much to gain. Jesus gave up His life so that we may live and live more abundantly.

God is the God of all our days…the good ones, the bad ones, and the really hard ones.

Sometimes, the greatest blessings are found in the times of loss. Sometimes, we have to die to self-our pride, fears, self reliance- in order to discover the blessings of all He has in store for us. Not all is lost.

May He be the God of all your days.