Madness…March and Other Kinds

March 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

My heart thundered in my chest as I tied my shoe. I wanted to win…I got the ball and went up for a shot. I missed, but I knew I was fouled.

You would have thought I was playing in the NCAA National Tournament. Instead I was nine-years-old playing 3-on-3 during recess with my friends.

I was so angry that a foul wasn’t called that I slapped one of my friends in her face. I was MAD! I also ended up in the principal’s office which nearly killed my little I don’t-want-to-disappoint-those-in-authority heart.

Over twenty years later, I still have that madness in me. I want to win, I want to be right, I want to be smart, I want to be strong. I don’t want to be told I can’t do something. That madness is pride.

But God. He has a way of changing our hearts. He reminds me that being right isn’t most important, love is. He has used my children to humble me, my husband to teach me submission, and my friends to help me learn to laugh at myself. He has taught me that grace is more important than my pitiful pride. So I thank Him for so many things…

301. Basketball…I forget how much I like it.
302. “Pway wif me mommy”
303. The sunlight through my blinds
304. “Mommy you turned off the lights” when the sun became obscured by clouds
305. The sound of my dryer because I have one and I have clothes to dry.
306. Toys everywhere showing me signs of life
307. WARM weather
308. Prayer the honor and privilege to come to the throne of grace.
309. Friends who sharpen and refine me
310. Smell of fresh-baked bread
311. Water from the faucet is clean and ok to drink
312. Hot water for warm showers and baths.
313. Laughter
314. A friend who spends two hours with me waiting for my car to be “tuned-up” at the car dealership.
315. Spring break…Ahh deep breath…
316. Sonic Chicago style hot dog
317. A haircut…Seriously I lose at least 2 pounds every time she cuts it.
318. God’s word it is applicable to me, to my kids, to sixth graders, to college students, to 90 year olds. It is amazing.
319. That God wants me to be a part of His plan and His family. Little ol’ sinful me.
320. My husband..He will always lead me even when I have a hard time following.
321. God blesses me when I follow my husband’s lead
322. A new computer
323. My husband spoils me
324. My little J saying, “you my best swend (friend) mommy.”
325. Listening to a friend teach on hospitality…She blessed me with her words.

What are you thankful for? Share! I can’t wait to hear!

Coffee Stains…

March 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

So my attitude has been terrible lately….

Bad attitude about events I needed to attend

Bad attitude about potty training

Bad attitude about cleaning my house

Bad attitude about writing

Bad attitude….I prayed my attitude would not infect others. I believe mostly I kept it between God and I…There was that one morning…My bad attitude infected my kids…I am glad for grace…

And I have stained my clothes with coffee the last two days.

Here is what I realized…My bad attitude lasted as long as I kept to myself. My cave, my cocoon. Yes I need time to myself and I need quiet and I need to think, but God created us for community

My bad attitude feeds on my solitary self-centered meditations. It feeds on my thoughts, my concerns, my disappointments. I flounder in self-pity and continue to pet and primp my bad attitude. I deserve better. I don’t want to do that! Everyone else needs to get with the program.

Then it happens…A friend calls, I enter into her world. I listen to what God is doing in her life, her concerns, her frustrations, her fears. I stop looking only to myself, my frustrations and see there is more out there. I discover that the world does not revolve around me. I find perspective in the middle of my irritation. My frustrations do not dissipate. My attitude doesn’t magically get better. However taking my eyes off of me and placing them on the One who has plans for me changes my heart. Why does it take a friend’s difficulties to draw my eyes to Him? I don’t really know, but one thing I do know.

God created community for this…to draw us out of our self-centered little holes and bad attitudes.

What have you learned through community that you couldn’t learn any other way? I can’t wait to hear!

Have Mercy!

March 16, 2011 § 8 Comments

Someone asked me knowing what I know now what I would tell my sixteen-year-old self if I could go back in time.

Sixteen…Driving…High School…After school job…Kansas Bible Camp…Debate/Forensics (speaking tournaments not CSI type stuff)…Youth Group…

I was the “good little Christian girl.” I carried my Bible to school. I helped lead a Bible Study (held off campus on Thursday nights). I spent summers working at Kansas Bible Camp. I went to church every Sunday and since my church was too small for a youth group I went to Topeka Bible Church on Sunday nights for youth stuff. I prayed at See ya at the Pole events.

I looked great on the outside. Oh, but I missed out on something. Somehow I thought I was smart enough to figure out that I needed God. Everyone who hadn’t figured out they needed Jesus were less intelligent than me.

I stood in judgment of those who were not following Jesus. Instead of extending grace, I looked down. Instead of considering someone’s story, held them accountable for what I had experienced. Surely everyone heard of Jesus, surely they should know. I did not realize the depth of my need. Instead I decided who was worthy of God’s love.

I fear I pushed more away from God than towards Him. I behaved like a self-righteous Pharisee and I looked great on the outside, while on the inside I was a rotting corpse. I missed grace and mercy. I read James and didn’t apply verses like:

“Act and speak as those who will be judged by the law that gives freedom because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13

I am grateful that God’s mercy extended to even me. I have since become aware that I am helpless and hopeless without Jesus. I am aware of the ugliness of my sin and my desperate need for grace and mercy. Since God has made me aware of this, I am more able to offer mercy and grace to others.

How about you? What would you tell your 16 year-old self?

I was Smart, Once

March 3, 2011 § 8 Comments

I used to know a lot more than I do now.

I had the best opinions about everything. I knew how to solve complicated problems because I was right.

I was going to be President. It would be easy, I already had all the answers.

I didn’t have experience, but I didn’t need it. I had a great imagination and logic.

I was smart once, but I also missed out on some things.

Namely: grace and mercy.

I didn’t realize how much grace I really needed. I lost sight of mercy in the pride that I “figured out” that I needed Christ. Somehow I saw that I needed Christ “back then,” before I asked Him to be my Savior, but then I had it handled from there.

I would put on a self-righteous smug smile and say I loved the lost, but in reality I found them less intelligent than me.

I never stopped to consider their backgrounds and experiences that could drive them away from Christ. I never considered that grace was the answer. Instead I spewed judgment. I was right and they were wrong.

It took me many years to discover it wasn’t judgment that brings others to Christ it is grace. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

Grace and kindness lead us to the cross. Getting a glimpse of the depth of God’s grace, the magnitude of His kindness draws me to Him. Swimming in the sea of His kindness and grace is where I find a deep and abiding love for Him.

The more I realize the depth of my need, the more His grace and kindness grow. The larger His grace and kindness, the larger my love for Him. The more I love Him the more I desire to obey His commands.

His ways are upside-down, inside-out and topsy-turvy in our society of personal rights. He even told us in 2 Cor 1:27 that, “…God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

I was smart, once. Now I am a humbled, grace covered, child of God. I hope as I swim in God’s sea of grace, I fall more in love with Him and that my love with be contagious. I know I have said it before, but knowing I am in desperate need of graces frees me to extend grace to others. The more I swim in that ocean of God’s grace, the easier it is for me to live a life of grace.

Do you have a story to tell about how you used to be smart and God changed your brilliance to foolishness? I would love to hear your stories. The comment button is under the title of the post.

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Offering…

February 28, 2011 § 6 Comments

Ding-Dong! DIIINNNNGGGG-DOOONNNNGGGG! Rap-rap-rap-rap.

Inwardly I sigh. My mind begins to roll. Didn’t I just send them outside to play? Isn’t their dad outside with them? I am just trying to get dinner started! UGH!!! I am being interrupted.

Reluctantly I turn the water off and slowly with mind still churning and frustration mounting I plod to the door. Secretly I hope she will be gone by the time I open the door. But she isn’t.

There standing with crooked glasses, face beaming, and smile wide is my precious L. “Here mommy,” she practically jumps the words. She lifts up her four-year-old hands full of the first flowers (weeds) of the year. Her offering of love to me.

My frustration disappears, tears well and I choke out a weak thank-you for my little precious girl’s thoughtfulness.

I return to the task of cooking and a song from this morning at church starts playing in my head...”I bring an offering of worship to my King. No one on Earth deserves the praises that I sing. Jesus, may You receive the honor that Your due. Oh Lord I bring an offering to you.” Then it hits me. Do I truly wholeheartedly bring an offering to my King? Do I like my precious L run to the Lord with my treasure of sincere gratitude and love. Or do I reluctantly mumble thanks as I pass through my days?

So I continue to count the things for which I am grateful!

251. Mouths sticky with peanut butter
252. nearing done with sewing project #1 for my girls
253. seedlings poking up in pots on my kitchen table
254. Seedlings leaning toward the sun…that I would lean toward the Son!
255. First flowers of 2011
256. Purity talk to fifth and sixth graders was fun! No one passed out! 😉
257. birds singing their songs
258. overcast days that remind me of the sun
259. youngest one in underwear!
260. smell of yeast in bread
261. smell of bacon
262. home-made dinner ruined only to find a new wonderful restaurant
263. the sound the pages of my Bible make as I turn them
264. My three blessings working together to help each other
265. My L standing up for her little brother
266. the hats my girls wore to church today
267. school project completed and working on it together
268. laughter
269. wisdom that comes from my husband
270. smell of coffee in the morning
271. Gift of prayer that I may approach the throne of Glory!
272. Honor of praying for friends
273. Butternut Squash soup
274. The smell of outside in my kiddos’ hair
275. E can ride her bike without training wheels now!

Are you bringing an offering of praise to God? Share what you are grateful for…Leave a comment! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Same Flood Different Foundation

February 18, 2011 § 3 Comments

Did you know that I am writing a book? I have a few friends reading over the manuscript currently. One of them e-mailed me and said that the difference between Christians and Non-Christians is their foundation. The wise builder and the foolish builder went through the same flood, but the one with the firm foundation wasn’t wiped away.

We all go through floods. Floods of illness, infertility, financial crisis, death, loss. The question is how firm is your foundation? Have you allowed Jesus to be your foundation? Have you dug in deep to His truth? Are you walking in close relationship to Him daily?

I do not always walk closely with my Lord. I sometimes falter and fail. I turn to myself, my friends, my husband, my children and build my life on them instead of Him. Those parts of my building crumble when the floods come. Only the parts deeply rooted in Jesus stand firm. There were times when the floods came and I discovered I had Jesus as my foundation, but nothing deeply rooted in Him. The flood swept it all away. I was left with my foundation. I was left with my Savior.

He is more than enough, but I don’t want to labor in vain. I my life to stand firm despite the raging flood. I want my life to count. Not because it makes me a better person, I am a wretch. Not because it makes God love me more, all my deeds are like filth to Him. I want my life to count because I want to bring glory to God. I want Him to get the credit, honor, and glory for all of it.

How do we build a firm foundation? We read His word, we find a fellowship of believers who sharpens us, challenges us, guides us, loves us, supports us. We pray and live a life of thanksgiving to the Giver of all things. Each thing we thank God for strengthens our foundation. Each prayer sent up draws us ever closer to Him, who is our Strength. Each time we dig into His word, we discover more about His abundant grace. Let’s never forget to dig down deep into our God who loves us so!

How is your foundation? What are you doing to dig deep into your Foundation? Stick around and share with me…I can’t wait to hear about your foundation.

The Smelly Truth About Sin

February 16, 2011 § 6 Comments

“EWWWWWWWW…MOOOOOOMMMMMYYYYY, J pooped,” her voice shakes the paintings on the walls as she flees her brother’s presence.

“J we don’t want to play with you when you stink,” his other sister chimes in with the painful truth. I wince to hear her shun her brother. Oh, but I understand why. In fact there is a part of me that wants to shoo the offender and the odor out the door. It is nasty.

The smell permeates the room, paint peels, the smell discolors the carpet (ok I exaggerate, but the smell does stick around for a long time). In fact it hangs in the air long after the diaper has been changed.

As I changed my son today, it hit me. Sin is so nasty, so stinky, so disgusting that God cannot have it in his presence. But it is the sin not the sinner He shuns. God doesn’t say stay away from the sinner with the poopy diaper. No, instead like a mother changing a nasty filthy diaper, God calls us near to Him. He draws us close and uses His Son’s blood to cleanse us. Just as we put a clean diaper on our child, God wraps us with His grace and love.

However the sin smell can linger. We humans don’t like the messiness of it all. We like nice explainable packages and clean good smelling people. So as my daughters did, we point our fingers, shun the sinner, and fail to extend grace.

When we remember that we have stinky poopy diapers and are in desperate need of grace, we are free to offer grace extravagantly to others. We can sit with our friend who has confessed their sin, the smell still hanging in the air, their rears chaffed by the rash it has caused, and we can love them through the pain. We can do this because we are painfully aware that without Christ our sin would still be filling our pants, the smell permeating our skin. Our offer of grace does not remove the consequences of their sin, it only reminds them that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. It only echoes God’s response to us when we run to Him saying, “I pooped again. Change me please.” Amazingly God never runs out of Christ’s blood in which to cleanse us nor does He run out of grace in which to wrap us.

Oh the amazing love of Our Father. That we as cleansed and redeemed sons and daughters would extend His amazing grace to others!

Is grace difficult for you to share with others? What are your thoughts about God’s grace? I can’t wait to hear what you think. Jump in and leave a comment!

Now for your enjoyment a little silliness…This video always makes me smile…

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