Simply joys~

I sport a baggy, comfy sweater with my hair piled into a messy knot on the top of my head as I sit down. The house is dark and quiet–quiet at last. Although there is a beauty to be found in the noise of a house full of people, I treasure the quiet too. Perhaps it’s this time of year, the weather, or the black coffee… but there is an overflow of memories, praises and lessons from this fall so far and I’m thankful.

Yes, thankful for things like…

-The opportunity to learn and start on my Doula certification.

-Iceskating with sweet cousin and little sister… I might as well have been flying and dancing in the air.

Iceskating!

 A Grandmother willing to give up her week to help us paint

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The countless inside jokes, times of laughter and fun that happen every single day around here… Siblings are the best.

The fragrance of fall: chai, candles, the fireplace, that cold fall scent in the wind…

-Opportuinities for this little Texas girl to wear sweaters.

-Many little hands learning the skill of basket-weaving. Stories. Laughter. Wednesdays.

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-Heart-felt prayers with dear friends in the parking-lot. Marveling at my God’s power as He had worked mightily in the lives of the ones I prayed with. Mightily indeed.

-Rotten milk and finding the lesson in it.

-Deep discussions and driving lessons with my Dad.

-Indian/Mediterranean treats.

-Friends in Christ whom when you ask “how are you doing?” it is always meant and answered at a spiritual level. And conversations that could go on forever about the Lord.

-Morning devotions with family.

-Forgiveness, grace, and lessons… oh so many lessons. Oh so much more to learn.

-Learning to choose joy. Like earlier this week as we were getting ready for some last minute, out-of-state guests I was frazzled. And I showed it. Little sis wanted to know what was wrong–why I wasn’t being “me.” I tried justifying my attitude, but then the Holy Spirit pricked my heart. My attitude wasn’t helping anything and it wasn’t honoring my King. Even though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I smiled. “Abba, help me choose joy.” And I began to sing to the Lord. As my praises wafted through the house my heart was transformed from one of complaining to one of praise. I want to be a woman of joy, a woman of praise–not ungrateful or complaining!

-Encouragement in the form of conversations, e-mails, verses and comments.

-Oh and Jesus. My precious Yeshua. Learning afresh of His love for me–letting the beauty of 1 John 4 sit in. Longing to know Him and His love for me even more. There is Joy in His presence.

These things are just a few–only a drop in a bucket. And so I slip into bed whispering thanks and asking Him once again to draw me nearer.

-Grace

Oh taste and see

I just have one question for y’all this evening…it’s something that has been growing within my heart the last few weeks.

Have you tasted Who the Lord is?

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I’m sure you’ve heard the Truth many, many times that God is good. Do you know this as merely a fact about God, or have you tasted it, have you experienced His goodness?

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalm 34:8

Have you tasted that the Lord is gracious (1Pet. 2:3), awesome, loving, true, and real?

Do you really know the Lord for yourself? Meaning, have you learned Who God is by a first-hand relationship, or simply by what you have read or others have taught you?

Who is God to you? What aspects about Him can you say you know because you have spent time with Him? Perhaps He is just God to you right now. Perhaps He is your Savior or Strength. Perhaps He is your Truest Friend, or the Husband of your soul.

Wherever you are in your relationship with Him, I encourage you to press on to know Him better. To really know Him for yourself, not just what others have told you about Him. To know God deeply and intimately. To know His heart.

And when you know His heart, you will know how He feels about sin, you will know what to pray, and I promise, you will be changed.

Like Paul, may we count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. And may we never get to a place where we stop getting to know God.

In Christ,

Grace

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed by Your greatness. Overwhelmed by Your love. I see Your hand, Your artistry in people’s lives. You are the Master at taking something lost, ugly, broken, and defiled and turning it into something beautiful.

I find myself in awe of You, asking why.

Why do You love us? Why do You heal us? I don’t understand, Lord…I don’t understand. You are altogether wonderful, beautiful…words cease…You are good.

I pray, You answer, and lives are transformed. You are good.

The God of this universe actually delights in me…how wonderful is that?? I was created for His pleasure! (Rev. 4:11) These are truths that I can scarcely comprehend or bring myself to believe. This truth brought me so much freedom… I don’t have to try to be like someone else, or measure up to the worlds standards. It gives God upmost pleasure when I be just exactly whom God created me to be.

I love this passage in Psalm 139:17-18:

How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with Thee.

God’s thoughts toward me number more than the sand? If so, then God is constantly thinking about me. I find myself in awe not really knowing how to respond or what to say.

This holy, holy, holy God is in-love with this sinner. He wants to spend time with me. He holds my hand. He carries me. He feeds me. He constantly gives me good gifts. He takes pleasure in me, and is always thinks of me.

Even after I murdered His Son.

I can’t begin to fathom this kind of love…I find myself speechless. He is so great and powerful, yet so gentle, so loving. He truly is beyond my comprehension. I’m glad I serve a God that can’t fit inside my mind.

Even in the midst of struggles this past week He has been so faithful bringing me encouragement just when I need it. Like on Wednesday I had but just said “Lord, I feel so alone” when in walked two vessels to encourage me. He’s been doing a lot of things like that lately. I am truly overwhelmed with His goodness. Oh praise the Lord, for He is good.

More than anything I want to know God; I want to be close to His heart.

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye. Being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19

I want that. Mmm…Abba, teach me Your love so that I may be filled with You.

There’s so much on my heart right now, more than I know how to articulate. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a post or not…this may not make any sense to anyone but me. Oh well… may you find yourself in-love, in-awe, and overwhelmed with God, friend.

Our God is great. Selah.

In His love and by His blood,

Grace

One question…

Every Wednesday evening, when school’s in, I attend a three hour long class at my church called Faith Bible Institute (FBI). It’s amazing, and this semester just started up last week. Over the course of the past three semesters that I have taken, I have learned and grown so much…each evening leaves me with so much to think about, and wanting more. That’s where I find myself this evening…

So many thoughts and questions run through my head right now…One however, stands out.

How much do I love God?

Here are some thoughts I hurriedly scribbled down in my journal during this evening’s class:

Am I constantly looking for ways to love God?

I want to be so in love with God that I am constantly looking for ways I can serve Him. I should look at every opportunity, everything Christ asks me to do as a joyous privilege to show my love for Him.

Now things are clicking…the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. For when we do this, we will be so absolutely in love with Christ that we look for every opportunity we can to show Him our love. We would automatically keep His other commandments. No wonder “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he that is that loveth me.” And, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” It just goes round an round in a circle.

Oh, and God’s love is so incredible. He continually is showing His love for me. Scarce can I even begin to comprehend the depth of His love! Even while I was a sinner, Christ died for me…

After writing that and thinking over it, I was left with one question…

How much do I love God?

Sure, I love Him enough that I would die for Him…But do I love Him enough that’d I’d rise up early in the morning and give Him first place (that means before I check my e-mail). Do I love Him so much that every spare thought is of Him–when my mind wonders, does it go to Him? Do I love Him so much that I truly give Him the glory in everything? Do I love Him so much that every chance I get, I turn conversations towards Him?

I have this picture in my mind of a girl who every spare moment she runs to God’s Word hungry for what He has to say to her. At the back of her mind she is always thinking of Christ. She simply can’t wait for each morning, and jumps out of bed bubbling over with eagerness to spend time with her Lord. In short, every thought, word, action, deed is solely focused on Christ and is done as an expression of immense love for Him.

Oh how I want this for myself! As I write anguish swells up deep within me…This is the thing I crave–to know and love God more.“How?” I ask. He replies, “one day at a time.”

And with that I slip into bed underneath a stack of warm blankets, my mind and heart racing, longing, anguishing, and asking one question…

How much do I love God?

A Servant’s Heart

It’s been a good start to the year.

As I begin to type, I hear raindrops gently beating on the window. After a dry summer, rainy days have become especially dear to me. So peaceful…and the smell of rain? Beautiful.

I pause and glance down at the keyboard and see on my wrist a bracelet that my little sister, Christiana (7), gave to me for Christmas. It has Matthew 22:37 on it:

 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  

She couldn’t have possibly known how much I love that verse, and how much it means to me. Oh, my aim is to love The Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind.

Father, give me Your heart to love You with…
I am totally incapable of loving You the way I should.

Ah, the Lord has been showing me much lately in the way of being at home and the selfishness of my heart. For some reason, I’ve always had this vision of when I get older I’ll suddenly be this super-amazing Christian.

Someday I want to pour myself out to others…
Someday I will be a joyful servant to all…
Someday I will show the love of Christ to every needy heart…
I will be ever so diligent and patient…
And whatever I do I will throw myself in wholeheartedly in service to the King.

But my Lord says, “No Grace, that’s who I want you to be right now–in your own home. I want you to invest in the lives of your siblings, and serve them joyfully.”

You see, it’s so easy to go to someone elses home, or church, and serve joyfully and be oh so “picture perfect.” It’s so easy to be a good Christian and pour myself out to others. But what about when I’m at home (when there is no one to impress)? Do I always give my very best? When something is asked of me–in my home–do I jump up to joyfully serve, and go the extra mile? So often I only give the minimum, and only that after a sigh.

If this is the case–if I only work and serve when there are those to praise me– then I am become one who works for the praise of man. Is that my pursuit? Is that what I’m living my life for?

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:22-24)

Oh! How convicting this passage is to me; for you see, I am one who thrives off of the praise and approval of man. To say I like people to think and say good things about me would be an understatement…so much of what I do is rooted in pride.

The whole fact that I care so much about what others think of me, shows a lack of love for God. If I truly did love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind, then everything I did would flow out of a heart of love for God.  Instead is this pride and self focus…this is really a hard thing to admit.

Oh I want a servant’s heart.
A heart that thinks not of ones self, but considers others first…
A heart that is selfless and sacrificial…
A heart of all-consuming love, leaving no room for pride…
A heart where God has first place.

 The really sad thing is, everything that I do on earth with a motive of pride will burn up as hay and stubble when I get to heaven. That two seconds of praise that I worked for was my reward; I won’t get rewards for the things done out of a motive of pride. Oh! May every motive be inspired with love for Christ!

Lord, I want to live for You and love You more…I want to bring glory to You, not me. But I am so inadequate, oh help me!

He is helping me–ever so faithfully helping me, leading me, guiding me, and holding my hand. I am learning to serve Him and not man…and doing it heartily. No, I cannot give Him any less than my best. Anything He asks me to do I must throw my whole self into; whether it’s something small like doing laundry, dishes, mopping floors or something big like feeding the hungry, winning souls, going on the mission field. Whatever it is I am to do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men.

There’s so much more I could say on this, but for fear of boring I’ll stop–for now. May you serve Christ, dear friend, joyfully, willingly, and heartily.

All for Christ’s glory (and not mine),

Grace

Psalm 16:11