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Currently Browsing: Grace Gifts
Jan
29

The Salt and The Light

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for Omar,

who is far away and wants to be home

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In a service about honoring others, my pastor reminded us that we are called to be the salt and the light.

All afternoon, I rested in this place wrestling forgiveness and sacrifices and the things I am called to in the midst of injustices and hurts I am exposed to, that I see, that break my heart.

We are not called to be comfortable with another’s maliciousness or to overlook it.

Yet, at the same time, we must have compassion towards those who wound us even when understanding eludes us.

And that is what sets us apart.

God sees this, that such injustice breaks our hearts and we can not overlook it.

At the core we are all rotten and that’s why we so desperately all need Jesus.

Can you see it?

The beauty of it all,

 the redemption drenched in such immaculate grace.

And we have chosen it.

These are things we ought to pray, that one day all will experience intervention in a divine and unique way that can never be misunderstood so at once each will come to know truth and redeeming love.

This is why we pray and ask God the hard questions and plead with Him to set things right.

This is why we wait so the Holy Spirit can move effortlessly on our behalf.

All we must do is be still and know His awesome power and radiate love even to those we innately want to rail against because God will fight for us.

For He will always set right what has become  a skewed.

This is why God can use us, because we are salty and His light can pierce the darkness through us.

It is why He opened our eyes to it in the first place.

Rest in this.

He is faithful and good.

Always.

 

Jan
21

walking in faith

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IMG_0382He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20 nkjv

It began with an unexpected change in circumstance, then the inkling of a dream appeared, the goodness of a heart emerged.

For the first time in a marriage, God has placed a husband and wife on the same path.  Excitement has replaced fear. Anticipation has replaced discontent. Joy has replaced anger. Sacrifices and commitments hold firm even on the days they are least likely to be kept.

It has been a year fraught with disaster and drenched in beauty.

Few understand we are opening more than a business.  In the center of it all is God and a ministry. It is about the building of faith and the saving of a soul.

The delays and stumbles along the way have just been attacks of the devil, his worthless attempt to thwart the plans before us.  The devil does not like it when we follow God.  He will attack from every angle because he wants to see our demise.  He will attack at unexpected times even when everything we do is right.  He will bury the truth no matter how loud or how many times we speak it in our defense.  He will use those around us including friends and even family.  He will twist and turn us and wring us through.  And when we think there is not one person left that can hurt us, not one person who could do any more damage to the situation, he will turn around and use us too.

But in the devil’s use and abuse of us, God faithfully refines us.

The truth I know is those who sit back and attack my character, spread lies and slander me, they lack the ability to see their own imperfectness.  It is never fun to hold a mirror up to our own soul because it can be a dark and scary place even if we are not bad people.  We are not going to like what we see there. So we must be brave and trust God’s goodness. It is so much easier to find someone else’s faults, someone else’s sins because it distracts us from our own so in this we must refrain.

But for the last eight years, that is exactly what I have done.  I have held that mirror daily and asked God to fix my broken places. Few have bothered to notice because most see only what they want to see, often because it suits their self-centered wants.

IMG_0372Yet in the wake of arrogance and hatred of others, I am refined by God.  In the turmoil and chaos, I learned I do not have to defend myself because God will fight for me, I am becoming a wiser person who is able to discern God’s voice and a bolder person who can still praise Jesus for all His goodness and grace even though so many fight against me, and a stronger person because God has taken away anyone from whom I can seek approval in lieu if His own.

In it all, He has taught me to focus on Him and Him alone. This doesn’t make me perfect, however it does make me more receptive to hear God.  And no other person can tell me what God wants from me.  They can offer unsolicited advice and opinions, but God speaks to us individually, discreetly and uniquely.

And He whispers to my heart every moment of every day….

I know the truth.

I know your heart.

So hang on because I am here.

Do not fear.

I will not leave you nor forsake you.

I have a plan for you to prosper you and give you hope.

So be obedient.

The bad, misguided things people do to us are gifts.  We can not understand God’s ways or motives, but you can be sure He understands ours.  If we have love in our hearts, are willing to give others the benefit of doubt even when past history dictates we ought not to, are willing to give when we have little so someone who has less can have something, if we are willing to pray to God and listen for a response, if in that moment we are tempted to gossip or slander or believe lies and do not, if in a moment of being pushed beyond our limit even though for months we have been respectful can control ourselves in a moment of anger and rash behavior, then we have the beginnings of change. Even if we stumble in the midst and make a mistake.

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When no one will hear truth, when you feel alone and abandoned, just remember God will fight for you and He alone will remove every obstacle that stands in the way of His plans. And you won’t have to do but one thing: when God reveals the truth and opens the eyes of those around you, to those who have believed lies about you, extend forgiveness to those people because that is the entire reason Jesus died for us – to save us because He loved us.

And above all, we are called to love.

Jul
19

Peace

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Come to me all of you 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 humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 

Matthew 11:28-30

A year ago I found a card while shopping and on the front was written this:

Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart.

It was just a card on a store shelf as I was headed to the milk case.  But in my heart, I felt something swirl.  I bought that card.  I prayed about what true peace really is and exactly how would one come about having it all the time – at least enough to remain calm in the din of everyone else’s chaos.  The only thing I could answer with was Jesus:  true peace is focusing on Jesus in the midst of this chaotic and messy world so I can remain calm in my heart. And if I am faithfully showing up to exist in His presence, He will calm my world.

And He will calm your world too.

If you need Him to.

If you will let Him.

For too many years now, I have tried to fit into the mold the world begs us to fit into: one of perfection.  The harder I tried, the worse I failed, and the more my world spun out of control leaving an empty place allowing the chaos and hectic demands of the world to reign over my time here on Earth instead of God. And for me, there was no peace.

In the past few months, God has been showing me a better way: I am perfect enough when I have a disciple’s heart faithfully following Him.  I believe I can futilely spend my time striving to be the world’s version of perfect or I can choose to linger in Christ’s presence so He can perfect my spirit.  There is truth that beauty comes from within and it gives us a glow that refuses to be hidden when it is God-induced.  For too long, I have given my attention to everyone and everything else first.

Sometimes, there was no time for God, but surely He understood how busy I was.One day, overwhelmed and on my knees, I begged God for His sweet peace. He answered me with wisdom.

“I spend too much time drawing you back to me so I can focus you.   It is not enough to see you sometimes.  I need to see you every day. I have these gifts just for you. Without me, inner beauty fades and the sweetness of the spirit can evaporate leaving despair.  It is necessary to travel the dark and droughty places in your soul.  But Jesus is here.  You can believe it and you can trust Him.  He will walk with you intertwining His spirit with your own and He will strengthen you from within.”

 

I decided it was time – for my way, it turns stagnant and dead ends.

 

I do not want to rush this gift, but slow down, fully delighting and reveling within each moment so He can love me and teach me.  And there is no better way to experience God than in the perfect spirit of His own divine uniqueness.

Feb
8

Grace Gifts

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autumn's jewels

I am ashamed to admit this, but last May, the first time I began reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp – I did not finish.  You see, when I first picked it up I read the first six chapters straight through before I ever budged from my bed that Saturday morning. 

 

 

 

Then, gently, thoughtfully, set it aside.

intimate simplicity

 

winter beautifully fading

When confronted with truth so boldly, I must stop and consider how it will change me.  I must consider what it will require of me. 

 

 

 

 

 

And I tend to take the long way around, most all the time, on matters such as these. 

forgiveness

 

 

 

 

 

I move slow as my world spins about me with the hopes that wisdom and understanding will fall on me, coating me in shimmers of a brighter light. 

 

Spring's Grace

 

 

 

 

Change is never easy and I battle it with a fierceness unrivaled – especially when instigated by someone else, even if that Someone Else is God. 

 

 

Now, I move slower still towards peace. 

bees busy working

 

 

Even though I have long hunted God and His beauty, the idea of keeping another journal meant more time and it seemed the one thing I was shortest of…

 

 

 

and is it not always this way? 

snapshot memories of happy

 

 

But God has His ways, and His truth follows me around like a snippet of a favorite song – be ignored, it will not. 

 

forgiveness

 

 

 

Gratitude is a snapshot of memory that keeps His beauty forefront in my mind; always there, His omnipresent certainty dwells deep in the spirit. 

 

 

 

one true love

 

 

It springs up renewing me, maturing me, stilling me in His presence so I can receive His forgiveness and His love so that His light might shine brighter in me.

 

 

 

 

Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise Thee ~ Psalm 63:3 nasb

 

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you,

Elizabeth

Jan
29

The Salt and The Light

for Omar, who is far away and wants to be home In a service about honoring others, my pastor reminded us that we are called to be the salt and the light. All afternoon, I rested in this place wrestling forgiveness and sacrifices and the things I am called to in the midst of injustices and hurts I am exposed to, that I see, that break my heart. We are not called to be comfortable with another’s...
Jan
21

walking in faith

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20 nkjv It began with an unexpected change in circumstance, then the inkling of a dream appeared, the goodness of a heart emerged. For the first time in a marriage, God has placed a husband and wife on the same path.  Excitement has replaced fear. Anticipation has replaced discontent. Joy has replaced anger....
Jul
19

Peace

Come to me all of you 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 humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30 A year ago I found a card while shopping and on the front was written this: Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble...
Feb
8

Grace Gifts

I am ashamed to admit this, but last May, the first time I began reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp – I did not finish.  You see, when I first picked it up I read the first six chapters straight through before I ever budged from my bed that Saturday morning.        Then, gently, thoughtfully, set it aside.   When confronted with truth so boldly, I must stop and consider how it will...

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