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Posts from the ‘All Is Grace’ Category

A Time Line with Meaning

Learning to deal with dyslexia pretty much consumes my day. This is not a complaint, although within the last few months it may have been. Abby and I are having a really good year, and the God of creation is gifting us with creativity.

This morning, I got an idea and kept running with it. Abby mumbled something about me being weird, and I think I forgot school was for her for a minute. Do we really need students to have school?

Anyway, here are some facts about dyslexia, and this is the reason I went in search of an idea:

Memorizing non-meaningful facts (facts that are not personally interesting and personally relevant) is extremely difficult for most dyslexic children and adults. In school, this leads to difficulty learning:

History facts: dates, names, and places. Dyslexic students do well in history classes that emphasize why some event happened, and the consequences of that event, rather than rote memorization of dates and names. (Information taken from the above website)

Maybe it’s just me, but “rote memory of non-meaningful facts” isn’t very appealing to me, and dyslexia is not my struggle.

So, we set out to make a time line.

And, we made a big time line.

It covers the border of two walls.

It starts with Father Abraham (2000 B.C.)  and will end with Daughter Abby (2013 A.D. 4th grade).

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We plan to hang pictures as we go to make it more attractive.

Please share your ideas, and we will share our finished product at the end of the year.

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Multi-Sensory Gifts from God

Abby and I are currently engaging in the “Barton Reading & Spelling System: An Orton-Gillingham Influenced Multisensory Structured, Explicit, and Systematic Phonics System.”

If you’re cross-eyed right now, join the club. Nearly a year ago, Abby (our middle child) was diagnosed with mild dyslexia, and it seems we’ve been scrambling since then. We are learning all we can to get the training and help we need, which may lead to my brain exploding.

So, in the spirit of Multi-sensory Education (and sanity), here are a few things that have brightened the last few weeks:

What a beautiful sight to see head, thorax, abdomen, compound eyes and simple eyes on our sidewalk after studying insects with Abby

What a beautiful sight to see head, thorax, abdomen, compound eyes and simple eyes on our sidewalk after studying insects with Abby

 

Delicious tastes from picking fresh vegetables with a neighbor in a nearby garden... Our kids even got to try and hate eggplant.

Delicious tastes from picking fresh vegetables with a neighbor in a nearby garden… Our kids even got to try and hate eggplant.

 

Hands touching pen and paper in our new "family journal." Add a little or a lot every day - whatever you want to say.

Hands touching pen and paper in our new “family journal.” Add a little or a lot every day – whatever you want to say.

 

The smell of corn dogs and funnel cakes at our first college football game.

The smell of corn dogs and funnel cakes at our first college football game. And, lastly, the sound of our oldest singing and playing guitar.

 

 

 

The Gift of Heart-Shaped Biscuits

I’m sitting in my chair thinking back over the week. It didn’t start so great, but it’s Wednesday afternoon, and the gifts in my life have increased beyond number already. As I’m thinking about the gift of children, I hear Celie, Abby’s friend, playing in the back of the house say, “Time is precious.” It melted right into my thoughts. Time is precious. It’s grace given to us by God, and when we have it with our children, our entitlement should never rise above it. But, that’s what happened to me so many times early in the week. My entitlement swelled bigger than my gratitude; I was under the impression I should be getting more.

Christ paid the ultimate price – his life – and did not utter a word. He came to serve and was never entitled in his serving. These are the truths I have to lean into when my deserving-mentality rises up. And, in this reminder, I am better able to see that my children are a gift. Teaching Abby is a gift. And lots of other unexpected gifts have been granted this week…

  • Going to get the mail and running into Ashley, when I needed adult conversation
  • Abby learning to make biscuits on her own
  • Sarah soaking in numerous conversations about faith and how it applies to her life
  • Fitting in exercise while I listen to my favorite music because Abby had a playdate
  • 30 minutes of really good coffee with my friend Kelly
  • A table of young adult girls discussing creative ways of sharing the Gospel

Entitlement easily blinds us from seeing that we are surrounded by little gifts that really aren’t little at all. We forget that time is precious, fleeting, valuable. Knowing that Christ humbled himself and suffered, so that we can enjoy all good things he has to offer, opens our eyes to the truth that he is deserving. He is worthy of more becomes our focus, and our entitlement shifts to praise and gratitude.

Have you struggled this week with entitlement?

Can you shift your thoughts to praise and gratitude?

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Grace that is Greater

God’s timing is perfect. His words are perfect. We need those reminders.

Do you ever feel like you stink at life? Right now, I’m having some days that cause me to shake my head at myself. The ugliness of my sin is surfacing all around me — being critical, impatient and judgmental are the three that first come to mind. I want what I want, and I want it now. I want everyone around me to stop doing irritating things, and I want them to stop now. I want everyone to become aware of their own sin, and I want them to be hit with the truth of it now.

In all of this, God’s words have been greater.

Isn’t it remarkable how God touches our lives in different locations, throughout the weeks? Over the weeks, as I have been dealing with these struggles, God has met me. There have been sermons, scripture, phrases and talks with friends that have all spoken into these areas. Some of the comments may not have been intentional, but God knew. For my waiting, I ran across, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)  I have heard friends speak on the importance of believing in God and self-forgetfulness. A group of girls spoke deeply into my life about waiting. And, the most important word of all is God reminding me that I am his. Nothing can change that.

We’re not supposed to get it right all of the time. We’re not even expected to. If you’re where I am, I have three words for you that were given to me that I hope will lift whatever is causing you to beat yourself up:

Grace to you.

May you feel God’s favor today. He is pleased with you because he is pleased with Christ in you. You were bought with a price, and you belong to him.

        Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, 
	grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! 
	Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured, 
	there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt. 

	Grace, grace, God's grace, 
	grace that will pardon and cleanse within; 
	grace, grace, God's grace, 
	grace that is greater than all our sin! 

	Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, 
	threaten the soul with infinite loss; 
	grace that is greater, yes, grace untold, 
	points to the refuge, the mighty cross. 

	Dark is the stain that we cannot hide. 
	What can avail to wash it away? 
	Look! There is flowing a crimson tide, 
	brighter than snow you may be today. 

	Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, 
	freely bestowed on all who believe! 
	You that are longing to see his face, 
	will you this moment his grace receive?

Stronghold of Blood > Stronghold of Regret

Regret is a prison worse than any other, darker than any dungeon – that holds secrets. The pit is deepest and sickest because it lies in our stomach, when suddenly, the memories flash through our minds. Few know what went down there, and we hope the rattling of the chains that keep us bound will not be heard. I have them. You have them. A friend recently mentioned on Facebook that she has them, and a whole slew of people echoed her call in one form or another with I can relate.

How can we erase horrifying memories of the past? You may have many or you may have one particular decision that you just can’t seem to shake. What do we do with those gut-wrenching thoughts that appear from nowhere, paralyzing our thoughts and actions, deeming us unworthy of the Gospel we proclaim? You’ve been there, minding your own business, when out of the blue, you’re haunted by the past. Satan questions your very ability to speak the truth of God’s word. What do I do with my regret? We push it down, it rises up and sometimes, the burden is so great we finally need relief.

The LORD as a Stronghold

Stronghold is not a term we typically use in relation to the Lord, but it was of common use in the Old Testament, particularly by David. “The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.” (Psalm 37:39) Against regret, may the Lord be our stronghold – a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

We may not be able to erase memories of the past, but the Lord is our stronghold. He will build a wall of protection to guard our minds in the time of trouble.

The Best of Forgiveness 

It is often said that to move beyond regret we must somehow find it within our hearts to forgive ourselves. I believe forgiveness of myself is too small. Christ’s forgiveness of me is bigger than what I can do for myself, and it is sufficient to cover regret. When I tried to move beyond my guilt, I was pretending. I was only covering over my sins of the past, holding my breath, hoping enough time would pass to regard me acceptable again.

There is a stronghold greater than the regret of my past – the blood of Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9)

The petty forgiveness I can offer myself nowhere compares to what the blood of Christ lavishes on my life.

Nothing is Wasted

In Christ, nothing in our lives is wasted. He makes all things beautiful for himself – yes, even your thing. It is not possible to live  a life with no regrets because we are fallen, but it is possible for that regret to be so overwhelmed and swallowed up in the blood of Christ that we rejoice in the work Christ has done on our behalf.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

This Easter, may the blood of Christ be your stronghold in a newfound way. May you experience release from regret and live freely in forgiveness, redemption, justification and salvation.

Praise Befits the Upright

Words cut deep. Depending on their direction, they slice at different angles. Wounds or beauty may be the outcome. When God speaks, beauty.

In reading Psalms 33, I felt a sinking deep in my chest that made my heart ache, conviction.

Praise befits the upright.

Meaning…

extolling, commendation, admiration, exaltation, worship, voicing approval and esteem (of God)

is what’s

appropriate, characteristic of, fitting and suitable for

the God-follower

What’s more characteristic of my life is grumbling, complaining, greediness and idolatry. And, unfortunately, when I “catch” myself, I replace those traits with a mask of cheer, happiness, “I’m fine.”

Do our lives model that of praise? Not only that, but do we even dedicate time of praise of God? When I look back over the last several days of writing on how overwhelmed, overloaded with the circumstances of life and how worn down we’ve become, I can’t help but think no wonder I’m so weary! When all of life is focused on me, when all of life is focused on family or cleaning or shopping or activities, how can I expect less than a tired body and soul? Nothing breeds exhaustion like focus on self.

Amazing how turning our eyes from ourselves lifts our souls!

Not only does praise befit the upright, appropriate praise removes focus from the unworthy and directs it toward the One who is worthy of all praise.

Not only does praise befit the upright, praise/worship of God is what we are created for. So, we are fulfilling our very purpose on earth when he receives our heart first, our first glance and our first bow.

If you are worn out with life, shift your gaze from self and fix your praise on God.

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.

For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. (Psalms 33)

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! (Psalms 150:6)

Find Rest For Your Souls

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

The religious legalism was oppressive when Jesus spoke these beckoning words; It still weighs as a heavy burden in our lives. But, often we use these words to extend into other areas like being overwhelmed with life and needing rest in this wearisome world. Jesus supplies rest from the law, repose in this world and eternal rest for our souls.

Who in the midst of this busy and overwhelming existence would think it enticing to say, Come over here. Let me put a heavy, wooden harness on your neck.?

Yokes are definitely a commodity of the past. I haven’t been able to think of anything comparable, so this is a stretch to say this least. A three-legged or sack race is not wooden or heavy, but I keep envisioning my children on field day being tied to other kids, how burdensome it is for them to work together but, in actuality, against each other. I picture oxen being that way under such weight, then Jesus saying, Take mine on you. It’s easy. And my burden, (emotionally difficult to bear, source of great worry or stress, responsibility or duty, load, oppressive) it’s light.

We are tired, overwhelmed, forgetful. How can we possibly carry a burdensome, heavy piece of wood on our shoulders?

Jesus carried it for us.

He is not asking us to perform.

It has already been fulfilled. Accomplished.

He’s just wooing us to come.

Find rest for our souls.

The reason we can take on the yoke and the burden is because we’re not really taking on anything at all. We’re just accepting what he did on our behalf — a life we could never live, a death we deserved to die.

A yoke cannot be easy, and a burden cannot be light. Such is the beauty of the oxymoronic words of Jesus. Only through a perfect man who came and turned our world upside-down are these things possible.

Resting in the Middle

Clarity is setting in on the fact that life does not intend to slow down.

On Monday, many of us established together that we are overwhelmed and forgetful.

Although I have felt overwhelmed in different ways through different life-stages, I have often looked to the day I can put my feet up, read a book while looking out at the waves from my resort and rest. Then, my kids left the baby stage, and something strange started happening in my life — reality. What’s funny is that I’m not very idealistic, but I thought life would be easy when I didn’t have babies anymore. It is true that I sleep more, and my children are fairly self-sufficient, but now, they have homework and activities and relationships. Life is just a different kind of difficult.

I’ve even jumped ahead since then to times alone with my husband when our children leave home, but I’ve quickly been reminded by older-adult friends that life still comes fast and busy. Responsibility is always present even when kids go to college, get married, have kids and then our own parents will need to be cared-for.

Once again, whatever drives us to our Savior is not wasted.

But, how do we learn how to rest in the middle?

How can we find solitude in the middle of life’s overwhelming, busy day-to-day circumstances?

I try a little of everything. Sometimes I stop dead in my tracks, shed a few tears, then keep moving because I don’t have time. Others, I sit and cry for five or ten. Sometimes I read a verse or two in my Bible. At times, I sit and read for hours. Sometimes I say “yes.” Mostly, I say “no.” Sometimes I pray. Other times I listen. Sometimes I doze for a minute. But, a few times a month, I take a nap.

Ann Voskamp says, “Praying with eyes wide open is the only way to pray without ceasing.”

I have a friend who runs herself ragged, working for the lost to be saved. Whenever I question her exhaustion, she says, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

It is true. We can find ways to “rest in the middle,” but our true rest will come in eternity.

How do you find rest in the middle? Please share. We can all use a little help.

 

 

 

 

Overwhelmed and Forgetful

“I used to have a handle on life but it broke.”

At 6:30 p.m. last Thursday, I looked across the dinner table at my 10-year-old, searching her sweet face as I often do and made my way to her braces realizing she had a dentist appointment AT 2:40 p.m. THAT DAY! I just shook my head and dropped it down because this has been the story of my life for quite some time now.

This is not only the story of my life but the story of most women in my life. Try as we may to hide it, we cannot do it all! I hear it from moms all of the time — I forgot to turn to in my child’s science project. My child has been sick, and I totally missed the signs. I can’t be there to help at my child’s school. These statements are laced with guilt and shame, but they are mostly hidden until we feel safe enough to share.

In light of this, I’ve been asked two questions lately that I’d like to share:

Weekly, I meet with Katie. She is a newlywed. She has asked the question How do you do it all? And, because I am pouring buckets of wisdom into Katie, my response to her is (drumroll) I don’t. I know. Very anti-climatic.

My laundry piles up so high that my closet stinks. We eat frozen pizza at least once a week. I forget dentist appointments unless my kids remind me. My preschooler only takes show-n-tell if he remembers. I can’t recall everyday, common words at least once a day. All of my children have already had cavities. I forget to take medicine, drink water, turn off the oven and pray.

The truth is, I never really had a handle on life. It was only a figment of my imagination.

The other question has been asked by a few: I am so overwhelmed; what is God trying to teach me? Again, I have a mind-blowing answer, I don’t know. Tweetable, right?

I do know that we must, in every circumstance, big or small, realize our deep need for our Savior. Whatever drives us to God is not wasted. And, maybe it’s just me, but believing that God will not give us more than we can handle seems to be contrary to what we’re called to. Why wouldn’t he give us more than we can handle when he is the source everything? Everything. We must have him to handle anything. Anything. The circumstance you’re in may be more than you can handle, but it will not exceed His grace.

So, be overwhelmed. Be forgetful. Let it drive you down.

Then, be overwhelmed by the kindness of the Savior who is always is control, never-forgetting and abounding in grace.

You Can’t Have One Without The Other

For the first 25 years of my life, I was given “Moses.” I’ve never really liked to be told what to do. The rules made me angry. I couldn’t live up to them or follow them. I rebelled, fought, couldn’t submit and was enraged by the law.

In my mid 20s, I was given Jesus, and the difference was freedom.

Those years were not useless. If it weren’t for the law, I wouldn’t have known my need to be set free. If I didn’t know my inability to follow the law, I wouldn’t have been looking for the one who fulfilled it.

In thinking about my freedom this morning, I keep thinking about these verses… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)

He did it for us. We can’t be good enough.

John Stott says, “Some try to go to Jesus without first meeting Moses. They want to skip the Old Testament, to inherit the promise of justification in Christ without the prior pain of condemnation by the law. We need the law to lift off the lid of our respectability and disclose what we are really like underneath — sinful, rebellious, guilty, under the judgement of God and helpless to save ourselves. Not until the law has humbled us even to hell will we turn to the gospel to raise us to heaven.

There are some, however, who go to Moses and the law to be condemned and stay in this unhappy bondage. They are still living in the Old Testament. Their religion is a grievous yoke, hard to be borne. They have never gone to Christ to be set free.”

Stott describes two responses to God’s law and follows up with the question:

Which one tends to describe your life?