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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Full of Grace

Life is hard. We are broken. We choose to live out of the flow of the Spirit. 
Worry, anger, forgetfulness. Seeking the advice of man over the wisdom of God. 
We're quick. To forget the taking captive of thoughts and turning them obedient to gratitude, joy, and peace. 

And then grace enters in. 
Well, grace doesn't enter in. 
It's always there.

When I hit my knees in confession and cry out in repentance, the hope, grace, and peace of God rescues. He saves and He delights. He delights in my mind and calls it home. 
It is only grace that chases me.
It is grace that calls me home. 

Grace is so much more than we can comprehend it to be. 

We are under grace. 

Grace is everywhere. 
Grace is in the moments when you wish you'd gotten it right.
Grace is in the moments when you realize.
Grace is in my learnings. 
Grace is when I remember. 
Grace is when I delight in God. 
Grace is in my mind. 
Grace is when I pursue Him. 
Grace is always in the good, not just the bad. 
Grace is not reactive. Grace is the character of God. 
Grace is everything, everywhere. 
Grace to abide in His love. 
Grace is in steadfastness.
Grace is receiving what we don't deserve. All of it. 

Look around. 
It all is grace-full gift. 
Full of grace. 

By the grace of God, I live. 
By the grace of God, we are given abundantly free life. 
To rejoice, remember, and live by the flow of the Spirit. 

oh, by grace. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Standing Firm

Last week, at Starbucks, I overheard one barista talking to the other and she asked her - 

"what's the first thing you said this morning?"
"what's the last thing you said last night?"

If you know me, you know I don't let stuff like that pass by easily. 

What interesting questions!
and it struck me then, and it's struck me ever since. And all the time, I think, how am I starting my days? What is the first thing I am saying? What am I setting my heart and mind on? How am I laying myself to rest at night? What's the last thing I am saying?

It really is important, if you think about it. It really is important what I am saying last and it really is important what I am saying first. It's important how I start, what direction I choose to put my feet down, if I set my mind on Gospel peace. It's important how I end, at night when thoughts can run free. It's game changer important. 

I have spent a fruitful amount of time this spring and summer learning a new abundant, life giving freedom. I am set free by the work of Christ. 

And lately, I feel the Lord telling me - continuously, over and over - STAND FIRM.

It's all over the Bible. 

One of my favorite Biblical men is Moses. He was called by God with burning bushes and staffs turned to snakes to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity. He says no, please send someone else, and God is faithful to mold him into a powerful leader. 

And after the Israelites have been freed from Pharaoh and the Egyptians are pursuing, God's people start to panic. 
They've tasted freedom, but they're not so sure now. 
And as silly as it sounds, they state that maybe they should have just stayed in Egypt. They're so unsure! And although it seems silly, maybe it's the way we all react. We've tasted freedom, over and over, the goodness of the rescuing grace of God. And then our sinfulness says WAIT. We're in hot pursuit! God are you still there?

And the Lord says to Moses and Moses says to the people STAND FIRM. Fear not. He will fight for you. The Lord will hem in you from behind and before.

And then it comes again in the Armor of God of Ephesians 6. Paul writes, dress yourself, clothe yourself, arm yourself. The helmet, the shield, breastplate, belt, sword, shoes. And then stand firm, you must stand firm. Guard yourself in prayer. In all things, everywhere, at all times. 

And then in 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Thessalonians 1 and 1 Peter 5 and Philippians 4 and 2 Chronicles 20 and Isaiah 46. The principle, the idea, the cry of stand firm. It's everywhere in the Holy Word because it matters.

Because isn't standing firm just remembering? Remembering what the Lord has done? Remembering the freedom found in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus?
Isn't standing firm just remembering who God is?

And so to answer the barista's question. 
I am disciplining myself to think on standing firm. To say it to myself when my eyes open, when my feet hit the floor, when I greet each day. To remember, as I walk out the door, what the Lord has done. Stand firm in that armor. 
And then when I finish each day, before I even have to take thoughts captive, remember to stand firm in my set free status. Live and express gratitude for a freedom in a life that's been set free. Stand firm in the Lord.  

stand firm in freedom. remember what the Lord has done. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Grace, Love, Peace

Let's get real.

Life is hard.

I had a friend text me that the other morning - life is hard! And she texted me too that God's mercies are new every morning and that I must cling to the truths that I am loved dearly by a God who hears our cries!


I'm learning a new language (life language and literal language GREEK) and greeting new adventures. And what's so neat and so completely and only by grace is that these past few weeks and months have been marked by PEACE.

what is the secret? 
the way to peace is JESUS.

The reading of the Word of God. Over and over. Psalm 73. 121. 139. 
The Lord is with me. 
The Lord guides me with His counsel.
My help comes from the Lord.
He will not let my feet be moved. 
The Lord is my keeper.
He is the shade on my right hand. 
The Lord will keep my life. 
The Lord will keep my going in and my coming out.
He hems me in, behind and before.
The Lord lays his hand upon me.  

How can we fear anything with a God who's gone before us, who hems us in as we go, who holds our right hand, who keeps our lives, who promises, who loves, who guides, who lays his hand upon us?

This is our God. 

wow. It's better than we ever dare ask or think or imagine, isn't it?

Recently, I reached a resounding conclusion that this stubborn heart doesn't often reach. 
I said out loud, "I have no idea what I'm doing."

And the thoughts, they've been constant. So all day, I am learning, that if I can't completely stop them, I can pray in the middle of them. And all in between them and on top of them and all over them.
In the moment, in the midst, in the fight, in the battle, these are the REAL prayers. I can't think them up or make them sound good by default or change them. They are real and they are honest. 

Mine are most often pleas. 
I need grace and wisdom and guidance. really badly. 

"Lord, lead me. Help me."

It's a different place than I remember being in. I am so incredibly happy! My life is wonderful! I count myself highly favored by a most gracious God!
That is not it. 
It's this. 
I'm doing new things. Decisions. My heart.
And I literally feel, and know, that I cannot take one step forward without praying and seeking Him. It feels weird and scary and paralyzing. It feels so important. 

But maybe it's this.
Maybe this desperation is where I should be.
This humble clinging. This waking up and praying, getting dressed and praying, driving and praying, thinking and praying, studying and praying, reading and praying, eating and praying. This startling, vulnerable place, this wide open place that I am trying to fill with LORD HELP ME.

and then knowing that He will. 
the Lord will help, and He will reveal, and He is good.
the Lord hears. 

I am living the most powerful story I know. I am living in the GRACE of GOD. I am living, belonging to a great Healer. I living by new mercies and the joys anew each day. Renewal, redemption, free from sin, new creation, love of God - these all identify me.

Perfect love casts out fear.
Abundant grace covers all.
The peace of God.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Just Some Thoughts

After completely shattering my iPhone, I conformed and finally bought an Otterbox. It's all kinds of teal. The two of us are getting along just great.

I am obsessed with my tattoo. Every time I look at it, it reminds me that I am SET FREE. I am set free, so I can live free! Galatians 5:1, always.

I'll be honest. There are a lot of big decisions and unbelievable vulnerabilities. This heart of mine feels wide open. The default is fear. But by the grace of God (purely by His grace), I can move forward in freedom and in light. And that feels oh so {Gospel} good.

Thanks to the wisdom of a friend, I've been praying the armor of God in Ephesians 6 over myself most mornings. It's been a game changer.

Sometimes I wish I had bad vision so I could justify wearing glasses. IF YOU WEAR GLASSES, YOU ARE SO COOL.

Anxiously anticipating Tuesday's release of Away from the World, the new Dave Matthews album. And September 25 for new Mumford & Sons. September, hurry up.

Still learning abundant life and that Jesus came to give it.

Advance kickoff tonight - so excited for this year! I've got such a special group. Those 6th graders are something else.

Miss those senior girls like crazy. So proud of them in their first few weeks of college and the way they are living, loving, being free, and showing Jesus. My heart is full.

The biggest thing I am learning right now is how to pray. Boldly, how to make my thoughts my prayers, how to constantly be in communion with the Father. How I cannot, literally cannot, move forward on my own. This life can only be done through the wisdom and grace of God.

Praying the confidence and mind of Christ.

Jesus did things differently. He viewed people differently. He loved differently. He served. Washed feet. He's compassion and grace.

I think clouds are the most amazing creation. I think they are fascinating.

Semester has started and boy, is Greek going to be hard. Absolutely am LOVING my Church History book, but who's surprised? This girl's got a undergraduate degree in History.

I have the most amazing, life giving, patient, encouraging corner. They lead me and point me and walk beside me to Jesus. Eternally grateful.

Grateful I have a new identity in Christ. breathe easy. breathe deep. Jesus died because He loves me. and you.

This quote.

"Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don't you often hope: "May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fulfill my deepest desire." But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.

Well, you and I don't have to kill ourselves. We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children, and friends loved or wounded us. That's the truth of our lives. That's the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That's the truth spoken by the voice that says, "You are my Beloved." - Henri Nouwen



I am constantly learning about prayer. Constantly being stretched in my prayer life to learn a greater dependency in translating my inner thought monologues into a dialogue with the Father. And in this time, in this season, I am learning bold prayer. Learning Hebrews 4:15-16. Drawing near with confidence to the throne of grace and receiving mercy and finding grace. Because we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but who in every respect, has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. What a gift to draw near.

And drawing near is intimate and it is powerful and profound. Our Father says come, tell Me, tell Me, because I know it all anyway. I made you and love you. And lately, for me, I hear Him whispering approach me boldly. All that my human nature says is think about it, pray about it. But the thinking can be my prayers and they all can be honoring the Father. All of it can be brought before Him. There doesn't have to be a separation.

Bold prayer is not telling God what we want or demanding we get what we desire. It is a posture of belief. I'm still learning and I am still wading through, but I believe that bold prayer says God, I believe you are who you say you are and you can do what you say you can do. And I believe God says yes! or He says no, not right now. He is a good, good, GOOD Father who does not shoo you away and gasp in surprise or disgust at what nerve you have to ask Him that.

Our Father desires us to be in intimate communion with Him.

Bold prayer communicates, God I'm bringing this all before you because I trust you, I want your will to be done. And what my mind sometimes asks, but how do I know what to pray if I don't know the will of God? how bold can I make my prayers?
But it's not about those questions. It's about posture, humility, Scripture. Who do the Scriptures say God is? The Scriptures say God is Healer, He loves companionship and relationship, the fruit of the Spirit. That is His will. It's praying with the motives for His time, His plan, for His glory. And ask. I believe He says ask.

I am learning that in this season of my life, I can't afford to not pray. I'm wading in new territories, doing new things, making new decisions, navigating hope over fear and I LITERALLY CANNOT DO IT WITHOUT PRAYER. I literally cannot do this journey on my own. I do not have the wisdom to do it on my own. And while that may be daunting, it really is not because I am learning boldness. I am learning to abide in Jesus, to drown it all in prayer, to be free, and to approach the Father with my heart. Oh, with this heart of mine.

Because really what is underneath bold prayer is a desire to honor Him and worship Him. It's about seeking His will and watching Him reveal His path. I am relearning that 'bold' does not mean 'selfish,' that 'bold' can mean 'trust,' and bold humility can be a most beautiful thing.

The Lord has gone before me. He leads my right hand. He guides me with His counsel and He will receive me to glory. And as I am simultaneously learning this boldness manifested in prayer, I am learning armor of God. Be bold under the protection of God. Stand firm! And pray at all times, in all things, in every occasion.

Humbly, boldly pray.
Make prayer a priority and pursue it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The words of Jesus in John 15. I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me, you can do nothing! In me, you will bear much fruit. Remain in me. Remain in my love. Remain in me.

In a time of waiting. In a time when direction is sought, when we hope for something, when we hold fear at bay. When we are learning bold living. Practicing the daily putting on of the armor of God and living fully in the land and possessions He has given.

Stand firm. Abide.

And all day today, that has whispered deep to me.

Abide. now. Abide now. Answer, answer now. Live obedient to Him.

Just this past Thursday, in the lobby of church, a woman and her friend walked up and looked like they were looking for something. Could I let them in the prayer room? And after I let them in and turned to go, one of the women asked, 'is there anything we can be praying for you today, friend?'
In my surprise, I said the first thing I could think of. 'I'm starting my grad school classes this Tuesday.' And they respond like I have just said the greatest thing, lots of praise Jesus! and that's so great!

and then one of them looks me right in the eye and says
'I pray for you the confidence of Christ and for you to have the mind of Christ.'

makes me tear up every time.
the confidence and mind of Christ.

And Ann Voskamp writes, "How else can there ever be a song? Unless you answer the call of God? That's the only rhythm that can make music: to do the will of the One whose heart beats at the center of the cosmos. Regardless of what anyone thinks of us. Maybe the genuine followers of Christ always march to their own drum - Thrum: I will walk with God. Thrum: Even if I walk different than everyone else."

pray and walk and dance and sing and make music and stand firm and put on armor and remain in His love.

When my mind races to WHAT DO I DO. BUT WHAT DO I DO. I hear a voice that says abide. Just abide. Just abide in Me.