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Grace Upon Grace

What is grace? In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. I have heard it said many times that grace is the unmerited favor of God. An Old Testament word describing God’s grace is chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. The New Testament word is Charis. It focuses on the provision of salvation. There are many scriptures I love about His abundant, endless grace. Scriptures that talk of the grace that radically changed this undeserving, unworthy soul. SAVED METRANSFORMED ME. Grace that is STILL transforming me.

But what has brought me to my knees over and over again for the past several months is realizing that grace isn’t just something that He does for us, it’s also something He gives to us. It’s so much more than what simple words could ever describe. Anything I type on a page feels so inadequate. Trust me I’ve tried many, many times. Oh how I wish I could open my soul and let you see what my heart feels!

God has given me the undeserving gift of tangible grace. His beautiful grace manifest in my life. Grace that I pray I will never take for granted. Grace that I choose to reconize as the miracle that it truly is. Grace that I can see, touch, hold, smell and taste. The people in our lives that love us unconditionally even when we don’t deserve it. That is grace. The children that still choose to honor you even when they know how far from perfect you really are. That is grace. The friends that choose to walk this journey with you. Holding your hand and fighting in prayer and speaking words of encouragement over you each step of the way. That is grace. Those beautiful, breathtaking grandgirls that look at you like you hung the stars and the moon. That is grace. That unexpected miracle of someone He places in your life at the very moment and place in time where He knew you would need them most. That is grace. Grace that takes your breath away and brings you to your knees when you realize the hope that God has breathed back in your life through the gift of them. THAT IS GRACE.

Oh sweet friend, look around you right now. Look for Him. He is there. His grace is there, you need only look. It’s been there all along but for so long I missed it. I pray you don’t have to walk through the journey that I did to finally open your eyes to the tangible, miraculous evidence that is in the room with you right this very moment. Grace upon grace upon grace. But I would walk that same journey again a million times over if that is what it took to bring me to this very place…eyes wide open to the grace that abounds in my life, choosing to reach over and touch grace’s face, place it’s hand in mine while standing in the truth that He is enough, even if…

“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16

 

Take a Deep Breath

I want everyone to stop and just take a deep breath. If you are reading this and you could follow those simple instructions I have good news!!! He’s not finished with you yet. It has nothing to do with the color of your skin. If you’re a man or I woman. If you’re tall or if you’re short. If you’re young, middle-aged or old. It has everything to do with Him. If He has breathed His breath into you today, He is not finished with you yet! Isn’t that amazing?! Doesn’t that make you want to get up and do a little happy dance?! It sure does that to this Jesus-Loving girl!

I know that it gives me so much hope to know that His mercies are new today and that He has a plan and a purpose for my life. He designed ME and YOU for a specific purpose and plan! He created us to reveal His hope and glory to a dark and dying world. And until we take our last breath there is kingdom work still to be done. And you know what blows my mind more than anything…because of the blood that He shed on the cross it levels every single one of us at the feet of Jesus. There is no sin greater than the other! There is not one of us that can live a perfect, blameless, and sinless life. Not one that does “it” better so that He loves you more than someone else. Not one of us more or less qualified for the calling He has given. When we become His children we are clothed in His righteousness.

We can not operate in our own abilities to live a life that makes us deserve one single ounce of His grace and His mercy. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit alone that makes all things possible! What?! Yes! All that He is, fills us from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet from the moment that we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

So we don’t have to fulfill our God designed plan or purpose based on any of our own abilities . We only can fulfill them when we operate in His strength. His power. Everything that is Him, we have access to! Wow! Just WOW! Stop. Soak that in. The Christ. The Savior of the world. The Redeemer. The One who is my Enough even if!! If that does not excite you today we do need to check your pulse! Ha! We need to see if you weren’t able to take a deep breath earlier because you can’t be alive and kicking! If that doesn’t do something in you and to you, we may need to call an ambulance.

Never forget that when when we accept Him as our Savior it changes everything. It changes us! I don’t want to live an ordinary life just hoping I make it to Heaven. I want to live a life unabandoned for the sake of Christ so that all that He is, is what I walk in every single day! That’s what changes us! I want to know that you and every single soul that I cross paths with, can live a life that we were called to live because of Who’s we are. That we can live a life that is holy and fully based on what our Savior does in and through us. That is where my joy comes from. That is where my help comes from. It’s Him. All Him!

So today if you’re able to take a deep breath knowing that He has placed us right where He wants us to fulfill the very purpose that He designed us for, let’s rise up and walk in that Holy Spirit power that you and I are filled with! Let’s dance in the grace and the mercy that He gives us new each and every morning! And let’s walk out the calling… no let’s run to fulfill the mission that he called us to and let’s watch what crazy, amazing, life-changing things that He has in the days ahead for us until we see our Jesus face-to-face knowing He is enough, even if…

2 Timothy 1: 6-7  “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1: 12-14 “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

There’s No Instruction Manuel For This

For every season of life I have walked through, or am walking through currently, I have come to realize there is no perfect formula on how to ensure that everything comes out perfect or that I come through without experiencing heart break or pain. Marriage, divorce, weight gain (I’m a girl so you know it had to make the list), parenting, grief, widowhood…every season I’ve walked through I’ve read book after book. Scripture after scripture. And you know what? I have discovered that there is no perfect formula that guarantees each chapter of my life reads like I would write it if I held the pen. If there was a formula or check list we could follow for every chapter to only be filled with happiness, growth (but not my waistline), success, passionate filled marriages, spiritual growth, perfect children and all those details we want our lives to include, wouldn’t we all be following those steps? Wouldn’t there be story after story of lives filled with all that is good, beautiful and shiny? I know mine would selfishly be.

The reality is there is no perfect formula. There is no instruction manual. But there is a Sovereign God and His infallible word that He has left for us to cling to in every season. And one of the most powerful, yet beautiful truths I have learned through these past few years, is that I have to choose to seek, listen and walk with my Savior to know what I am supposed to do (or not do!) in each and every situation. I am called to have an intimate relationship with The One who will show me the way even on the darkest of nights. If there was a simple “cookie cutter” answer I wouldn’t need to seek Him in prayer or spend so much time soaking in His word to find Him. Find healing. Find hope. Find joy. Find whatever I need or am lacking of in that given moment…He is the one thing that meets them all!

No there’s not a check list we can follow to make sure we avoid every pot hole, valley or storm but my God is enough, even if that thing you fear most is written into your story. He is enough even when your parenting is lacking and your child has lost their way. He is enough even if they walk out on you. He is enough even if your Goliath walks into the doctors office with that diagnosis. He is enough even if He doesn’t heal him. He is enough even if it seems as though your whole world is falling a part around you. He is enough! I can honestly say I am grateful that He isn’t letting me write my story because I never would have truly known He was unless I had walked through each of those messy, painful, gut wrenching moments to allow Him to write the most beautiful love story I’ve ever known…the story of a totally surrendered girl that has fallen head over heels in love with The Lover of her soul! And I pray I will lean into Him each and every day until my faith becomes my sight, knowing and trusting that He is enough, even if…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans‬ ‭5:1-3

One story, many versions

I love when God shows me something over and over again, confirming that there are specific things He wants to teach me in that moment. Something He knows I need or something He wants to open my heart and eyes to in His truth. Recently I wrote about a song He spoke to me so powerfully through that I had heard 100’s of times before and now it’s was when I was studying about the life of Jesus leading to His death, burial and resurrection. It was scripture that I have read many times over and now He opens my eyes to seeing things in those same scripture that I have never seen before! Those revelations that we’ve talked about before where He knew I needed that very specific truth at that very specific moment in my life. Those truths that take the scripture from being just words on a page and transforming them into powerful truths that transform me. Comfort me. Empower me. That just blow me away!

Have you ever thought about how in the four different gospels that there are four different accounts of the resurrection? Some parts of the story the same but all four telling us of some details the others did not. And have you ever thought about the fact that every word is God breathed? Every word is infallible? I’m sure I’ve heard many pastors, speakers and small group leaders talk about each of these facts numerous times in my well almost 50 years in church (I know, I know…I look like I’m 29! Ha!). This revelation that God was whispering over my soul wasn’t even about the resurrection or even a specific story in the Bible but it was if God chose to use Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to describe THE EVENT which makes my God different from any other, from each of their perspectives…through their own “lens” then wouldn’t you think He is still using each of His children to do that very same thing today. He designed us each so uniquely. Down to each and every detail. Could it be He wants to use those very unique things for very specific reasons?

It’s not just that the physical design of our bodies that are uniquely designed down to our fingerprints but our minds and even our personalities. Our likes. Our passions. Some of us are introverts. Some of us are not! I would raise my hand here if there was an insert in Word Press for that! Ha! Some sing soprano and some of us absolutely do not. We have different gifts and talents. We are very unique down to some of the smallest details…the very details He chose to place in us. Soak that into the deepest places within your soul. And after you soak that in I want you to grab onto to what God spoke so clearly to me. Truth that is not just for me but it is for you as well. There are many “versions” of His children but there is only one story that is being written. ONE. HIS story. We are each a part of that amazing story of love, grace and mercy and He so desires for us to fulfill our designed “role”. We get to be a part of The Story just like Moses, Mary, Martha, Peter, Paul, Sarah…well you get my point. We are just as important to Him (and isn’t that all that matters) as each of those we have read about in scripture. Just because we don’t hold a book in our hand with our names in it, never forget The Story is still being written. It is still being lived out and we are those called to this very moment in time to carry out what only we were created to do. It blows me away and brings me to my knees to think He wants to use me and you to fulfill His plan! Wow! Me. So undeserving, so unworthy but yet so loved by my Creator that has called me to such a time as this. When we choose to walk in the strength and authority of who our Christ is, He will use us to make an impact that could have a ripple effect for generations upon generations. Not because of anything in and of ourselves but totally and completely because of who He is. And the most beautiful part is that He will take us, even if we are a hot mess, and use us, when we choose to surrender to His will, in the most amazing story ever written!

Lord thank you for loving me more than my mind can fathom! I will trust You with everything I have and all that I am even if….

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Psalm 119:73-74 “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.”

Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Echo of My Days

Don’t you love how the Lord speaks to you through something you may have read or heard many times before but then in that moment you have this amazing revelation that absolutely takes your breath away? Recently I was listening to Bethel Music’s “King of My Heart”, as I’ve done 100’s of times, but this time a specific lyric jumped out like it had never done before. “Let the King of my heart be the fire inside my veins and the echo of my days“. I don’t know why on this particular day, during this particular concert in my car (don’t judge me…they actually happen quite often) those lyrics spoke to me in the most profound way but they did.
Echo. Be the echo of my days. Wow! Think about that…how I live my life each and every day creates an echo that can be a reflection of Him. What words I choose to speak to others and over myself echoes. If I choose generosity it becomes an echo. If I choose to extend love to those that aren’t easy to love…another echo. He fills us with His Spirit so that we can live in such a way that there is a beautiful echo of His grace, love and mercy that reflects Him and Him alone. An echo that is repeated, reverberated into the lives of those He places in my path that allows them to see He is THE Healer and Redeemer that loves us wholly, fully and completely no matter what our story looks like. The echo of hope for the hopeless. The echo that reminds us that He trades our ashes for His beauty. Even when I choose to cry out to Him that I am broken and weary and can’t do this without Him, His echo comes back to me that He is my strength and my comforter. It is an echo that allows my life to reflect my Jehovah-Rapha and it’s His echo that comes back to me and fills me to overflowing of all that He is!
My prayer is that I will choose to make Him the echo of each and every day that God gives me. Nothing wasted. Nothing that doesn’t reflect Him even if tomorrow doesn’t look like I had hoped it would. The echo that continues long after this world forgets my name. The echo that, when I stand before my Savior and He calls out my name, will reverberate to all of heaven “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. May He always be the echo of my days even if…


Are You Staying or Stepping?

Have you, or are you, walking through a season that has left you battle weary? Worn out. Broken. Empty. Too scared to hope again. That season may look like a young momma with more to do than there are hours in a day. It may be when there is more that needs to go out than the bank account has to give. A broken marriage. Wayward children. Losing the love of your life…you get where I’m coming from? As most know, I’ve actually walked through each of those seasons and that journey has revealed to me that He is enough. Always! Let me say that again…HE IS ALWAYS ENOUGH! So why is it that even when we KNOW He is good, He is faithful, He is our supply for all that we will ever need but can still find ourselves being scared to hope again? Really? How crazy is that?

I have found it to be much safer to take what I have at this moment and be satisfied. Of course that is biblical (Philippians 4:12) to be content in any and every situation but that’s not really what I mean by being satisfied with what I have. I mean that place where you want to just stay where you are because it’s safe, familiar & comfortable. That place where you don’t have to take a chance by hoping for something more, something greater than you’ve ever known, because what if you only allow yourself to hope again only to find yourself heartbroken because it didn’t look like you hoped that it would. That place where your scared to hope for healing because you don’t know if you can even let your heart go there. That place where you want to step out of the boat and trust that He is making all things new. That He is turning your mourning into joy…and then doubt whispers in the “what if’s” that make you want to retreat into all that is safe and familiar. What if the cure doesn’t come or the child doesn’t come home. What if that dream you’ve had deep, deep inside never becomes a reality. Do you stay where it’s safe or do you step out of that boat?

This morning the Lord whispered over my soul, what I already knew, but needed Him to wrap my doubt and fear in… “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11. Truth that I can stand on and not only walk in but run with courage knowing I can allow myself to hope and dream again as long as my hope is anchored in The Hope. As long as I seek His will and His face in all things, He will never fail me. He will never fail you. We can keep stepping out with courage and hope again, knowing that God is and always will be enough EVEN IF….

Do You Trust Him? No, really… Do you TRUST Him?

I have found that saying I trust Him has proven to be much easier than actually living it out. You know that fearless life that you sing about on Sunday mornings. Those lyrics that are so powerful and inspiring..but then you walk out of the church doors and there is life waiting for you. That life that you didn’t sign up for. I know I have looked around at my life, at times, and think how did I get here? I can’t do this! It’s too hard. It’s too painful. IT IS TOO MUCH! It’s in those moments that God, with His merciful, grace-filled love reminds me…it’s not about you. It never has been. It never will be. It’s about Him. His plan. His purpose. HIM. So do we trust Him even when it looks nothing like that script we want to give Him? Do we trust Him that He is making all things new? Do we trust Him that He will trade our ashes for His beauty? Do we trust Him enough to give Him the pen and let Him write our story because He will use it to reveal His glory?

I know that this girl would have never known the answer to that if the “even ifs” had not been written into my story. Isn’t it when we face our greatest trials that we are also faced with deciding…Can I trust Him? Will I trust Him? That trust that holds steadfast even if your prodigal child hasn’t come home. Even if the diagnosis comes. Even if you find yourself in a pit so dark and so deep that you aren’t sure you could ever climb out. Even if ______________. You fill in the blank with whatever the enemy is wanting to use to whisper in doubt and then ask yourself…Do I trust Him?

This morning the Lord brought this scripture to my mind when I was thinking on this whole for real, for real kind of trust…not a very theological statement but you know what I mean.

Matthew 16: 24-25 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up my cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life must lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

This morning, as I soaked those scriptures in God, was reminding me of something….I didn’t get to special order my cross. He custom designed it. He knew how high to make it. How much it should weigh. He knew every detail of what He had asked me to carry. That cross. My cross. My life. The life He called me to lose so that He could save me and give me His life. The Life that brings hope, joy, peace, love and so much more, even if my story looks nothing like I had ever imagined. And you know what I am beyond grateful for? That He knows exactly what I need. He knows He will supply my every need in supernatural ways. But you know what He wants more than anything? He wants ME to know it! He wants my confidence to be in Him. He wants me to know that if He has done it before, He will do it again. Those walls will fall. That battle will be won. He’s never failed me and He never will! I was blown away, once again, that as I entered into the service a few minutes late this morning He had this song for me! That reminder that I CAN TRUST HIM even if..

What if the miracle comes in pieces?

What if a miracle doesn’t look like we think it should? What if the miracle isn’t in the form of healing your husband. Miraculous healing of the cancer that is ravaging her body when you want the healing to come now. The restoration of the broken marriage. The bringing home of your prodigal child in the time you think the miracle should happen. What if the miracle comes in pieces?

What if the miracle comes in the shape of grace that reaches down and saves a girl clothed in sin and shame. What if the miracle is that He literally took all of “it” and traded her His beauty, love, hope and soul healing for her ashes. What if it’s that He gave her a new name. A new mind. He took what should have been mine and gave me Him. ALL of HIM!

What if the miracle came in spite of poor decisions when love was too young to really know what love was but God still gave them miracles in the shape of their two amazing children. What if it’s when you feel worthless, ugly and broken and the miracle drives up in your driveway in his green S-10. The miracle that is unconditional love. The miracle in the shape of love that sees YOU as God sees you not as you see you. The you that you didn’t even know existed. What if the miracle is a simple man that simply loved you. What if that miracle of love produced another miracle. A miracle named Grayson.

What if the miracle wasn’t in the healing but in the disease. That miracle that comes when you realize you have nothing without Him. That you WANT nothing without Him. That miracle of total surrender that is sweeter than honey…the very presence of Him lifting you up out of darkness and revealing He is enough even if.

What if your not standing in front of a room full of women for their benefit but to prepare YOU for what only He could know was coming. To anchor you in that truth that He is enough even if. Even if the phone rings the next morning and tragedy strikes in the most horrific way. What if the miracle was the gift of her friendship that reaped a harvest of love, forgiveness and new friendships of her beautiful family that will last a lifetime. That ripple effect kinda miracle. That miracle named Kay that has created a ripple effect that reveals His glory and will continue for generations to come. What if she was the miracle that reminded me that all of the women that sat in my living room and let this broken, grief filled, Jesus loving woman just be me and pour my heart out over and over again through word and tears were miracles too. So many holy filled, grace laced miracles.

What if it’s in the moments when you are totally emptied out. DRY BONES. Nothing left to give out. Nothing left to pour out. That place where you finally cry out to Him wanting to know “Is this it? Is this all there is?”. And then one day He ushers in yet another miracle that reminds you that broken crayons still color. He reminds you that He is not finished with you yet. He whispers into the depths of your soul that He is the Miracle Worker who will take, what felt as though it had shattered you in a million pieces, and in His hands make them into the most beautiful mosaic you’ve ever seen. He reminds you that even though sometimes the miracle comes in pieces it is still a miracle!

Oh Lord, fill me up! I believe in You and I know,that I know, that I know, You are enough even if…

OMG

Have you ever had one of those OMG moments? Now I’m not talking about the moments that the world uses so flippantly, I’m talking about one of those moments when God absolutely blows you away. Right out of your socks and onto your knees moments. That Oh, MY GOD! Oh God you see me! Oh God you heard my prayers this morning. Oh God you really are MY GOD! My Defender. My Healer. My Redeemer. My Everything! Well, this girl had one of those beautiful, “take-your-breath-away” moments this morning. Oh how I love Him even more for these intimate moments.

I woke up around 4:00 am and had several things on my heart that I wanted, no needed, to talk to God about and not only did I cry out to Him, He reminded me, oh so sweetly, that He heard me. As I started getting ready I hit the button on my phone, like I do every morning, to play “random” praise and worship music. Would you believe that God not only sang A song over me but an entire worship set!!!! WHAT??!!!! Oh yes He did!!!! All my worship leaders out there know that means He gave me three amazingly beautiful songs. Ha! Three love songs that spoke so clearly. So loudly. So intimately to my soul. Oh sweet friend trust me when I say God sees you. He is faithful. He hears your prayers for the friend that needs miraculous healing so that she not only sees her children grow up but sees the face of her grandchildren when they breathe their first breath. He hears you when you cry out for the child that Has lost their way. He hears you when you are full of fear, grief or so broken that you don’t know if you can go on. Even when you don’t want to go on…He hears you. And He cares about every single detail. Better yet, He is the answer. See my friend HE IS ALWAY ENOUGH EVEN IF….

My “worship set” the Lord sang over me this morning….

 

I Stand In Awe

My heart is racing as I sit here and type out each word. How does He know? How is His timing always perfect even when, in the middle of “it”, it doesn’t feel that way? How does He take what’s in my heart and in my journal and pour it into the songwriter so that they will pen the song that He will sing over me when I need it most. Oh how thankful I am that our Savior is sovereign. How thankful I am that He sees me. HE SEES ME!!! He see us and still loves us in spite of all that we’ve done and will do! I Stand in awe of Him today!

My journal entry from November 2016…

When I truly came to the place where I believed, deep within my soul, that this life has never been about me & it never will be, it took me to this level of unwavering belief in WHO my God is & that I can trust Him fully. I can step out in faith fearless because it doesn’t matter what circumstances I may face because He will use what I give Him & use it to reveal His glory. It’s about Him. It always has been and it always will be! I’m sealed safely and securely in Him. He will always be there to pick me up, clean me up, heal my brokenness, fill my mourning heart with joy because He is enough no matter what tomorrow holds! He is enough even if…

“Truly He is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:6