We Fall Once More

Fall Once More

Yesterday marked the first day of fall. We had a humble, but much anticipated, celebration in our home all day which we lovingly termed our Fallibration. Nothing fancy, just simple fun. A fall sign made from repurposed brown packaging paper from an Amazon order, dollar store cups, plates, and a table cloth, and plenty of baking and books for all.

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Each year the turn of seasons is a good place to pause, praise, and perceive what the Savior is teaching us in our current season. Also, to identify what type of season we are in. It is easy for us, particularly women I believe, to assess our entire season of life on the last week alone. I know I do. My husband can ask me how I, we, our family is doing, and I will base my answer on the afternoon and not the week or season in its entirety.

We are back in the throws of toddlerhood and homeschooling as September is turning a brilliant red and bursting into October. I have failed in grace and fallen so many times in need of grace. Can you relate? In fact, this week, while apologizing to my oldest son, my daughter quipped with a knowing grin, We have to forgive you everyday mommy. It’s true, we fall once more and need to be forgiven daily. Maybe not by our children–as my daughter was partially teasing, or maybe we so– but certainly by our Heavenly Father. The maker and sustainer of our physical seasons and our life’s seasons knows our weaknesses and limitations. He remembers out of the dust we were formed. We fall once more and then turn and fall into the forgiving grace-filled arms of the Savior.

We repent and seek change in ourselves, our reactions, and reconciliation with God and man daily. God knows we will fall under self-sustained burdens. That is why we need to be in fellowship and friendship, with Him, with a local Body of Believers, and with the Church Universal. He assures us in His word:

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.… (Matthew 11:28-29)

As we fall once more, may we keep these and similar verses in mind so that we may fall forward in grace and sanctification; sustaining ourselves with God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of believers.

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Being the Ten Percent

Living the 10 Percent

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

(Luke 17:11-19, NIV)

Jesus performed miracles for multitudes. Yet, this story of ten men healed of leprosy warranted spotlighting in the gospel of Luke. Ten men pleaded for mercy, only one thanked Jesus for the merciful act of cleansed skin.

Often times in life we petition for acts of mercy from the Father, family, and friends to be met with the granting of our requests. How often do we return the mercy with thanksgiving once it is granted? Are we living like this leaper and being the ten percent who express gratitude? Or, are we living among the ninety percent who grab the grace and keep on going?

November provides perfect practice for thanksgiving and grateful living. As we count our blessings and practice days of gratitude may it be more than a seasonal decor, a hashtag of 31 days of gratitude captioning our social media, or a reason to gather with family. May this month remind us to be the ten percent and thank God for the blessings and grace in all circumstances.

Thanks-giving opens the door to joy-filled living. The ungrateful can quickly become the greedy. The frenzied  who don’t pause to pleasure in what is, will exhaust themselves seeking the next thing.

This month we will further explore together the topic of being the ten percent and seeking to live a life of gratitude in a culture that values gain over saying grace. After all, it is Jesus’ saving grace which ushers in our saying grace.

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

G. K. Chesterton

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God’s Grace, Our Grief

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I may be intimately acquainted with only my own grief and sorrow, but Jesus is acquainted with the sorrows of all mankind.

There are moments when I stop to ponder rampant human trafficking, people dying of unclean water and unsanitary living conditions, children dying of malnutrition, or simply the plight of a young child whose mother is yelling and belittling him in a McDonald’s restaurant. In those moments, I look at the fallen world and weep as Jesus wept.

However, more often I chose to look away, or look only long enough to give my money and not my energy in prayer, my sympathy but not my savings, my pity but not a passion for Christ-centered, gospel-driven change.

Please join me over at iBelieve today for the rest of the post.

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Unpacking Christmas: Three Gifts

 A Christmas Poem

Christmas dawned cool and bright; I awoke at 6 AM that morn’.
All the presents were still wrapped and the ribbon yet untorn.

I began to wonder with delight what the day’s festivities would bring
Would I get that iPod shuffle, a DVD, perhaps a ring?

After breakfast came three presents they were wrapped just as I liked.
When I shook them they were silent, small, and tender…was that right?

The first I gently opened wondering, “Was it delicate and sweet?”
I gasped as I discovered Forgiveness had been given me.

I wept as I recounted all the selfishness, anger, and pride
that had accompanied my character; those traits I try to hide.

I was thankful for this present, overwhelmed at such generosity
to be given what I hadn’t asked for, nor deserved, but yet would be
the greatest gift that only Christ could offer which cost His life on Calvary.
I lingered with Forgiveness one more moment then proceeded to open next,
a present a little larger and more glittery than the rest.

Grace and Mercy came pouring out as soon as I unwrapped the ribbon then
light shone all around it as I gingerly looked in.

Ah, Grace, greater than all my sins which beckons me to come
and Mercy to let me visit with my Savior and consider all that He has done.

Grace, which accompanies Forgiveness but continues to set me free
to pursue the King of Glory and to know the King of Kings.

I marveled once more at Mercy that would allow me to behold
a precious gift much greater than all my weight in gold.
Could there be more to this Christmas? One more present still left beneath the Christmas tree?
I rubbed my eyes in wonder as His Spirit had set me free.

The third gift looked more rustic a little rough that was clear to see.
I eagerly unwrapped this present and was astonished to see… me.

A dirty mirror met my gaze and I started then to fret
as I picked up a note inside then proceeded to read it.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13

Dear One,

I have saved you to make My Name and Glory known among the nations.  Let us move beyond your childish ways this year and clean this mirror together. It is not an easy task, but with Me all things are possible.  Let’s make this a year to love others. I want to use you to extend Forgiveness, Grace, and Mercy to all mankind. Will you join me?

Love,

I Am

Oh, Christ whose grace is greater than all my wicked sins,
would you choose to use this vessel though it is dirty deep within?

That you would change me and use me to set other captives free.
Yes, I will join you on this journey, take up my cross and follow Thee.
Will you join us on this journey, take up your cross and follow He?

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Of Grace and Peace

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:2)

Paul’s letters begin with these words: grace and peace. Each time they are accompanied by, ” from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In his letters to Timothy, Paul also adds mercy.

Jesus mercifully came to pour out His grace so that the Holy Spirit might forever reign in believers hearts giving them peace.

That I would carry a greeting of grace and peace to my brothers and sisters in word, heart, and spirit. That takes the infiltrating mercy I receive from God to turn and pour out mercy upon mercy. Giving mercy just as I have been freely given mercy.

How often is my soul in a state of unrest? Worry, sin, and striving can lead to this state, but abiding in Christ Jesus and growing in love and knowledge of Him ushers forth His grace and peace in my spirit and yours.

When the angels told of the birth of Christ, they ushered in their tidings with,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased. ” Luke 2:14 (emphasis mine)

In the form of a warm and fleshy baby boy, peace and joy were birthed to earth so that striving and death could be ceased.

I long to behold the baby boy of Bethlehem whose birth we celebrate over two thousand years later. To be one of the lowly shepherds to coddle, kiss, and worship his tiny fingers and toes. To bask in the earthen glow of a heavenly Savior is to know Love.

Our King.

I must recognize my thirst for my Savior and His Word beckoning to me, “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The shepherds momentarily laid down their duties to partake of His grace and joy. I should do the same.

How did the lowly shepherds spend the rest of their earthly days?

What joy did they take forth into their mundane tasks?

Was that moment in a stable enough to sustain them till heaven or did they ask God for more? How many of them lived the thirty-three years more to receive the eternal anointing of the Holy Spirit?

Indeed the baby boy of heaven changed everything.

This Thanksgiving which ushers in the Christmas season, might we remember to receive His grace and peace in all things as we worship the new-born King of Kings turn Risen Savior? Might we pause from tasks, turn from distractions, and then bow our heads in meditation and wonder at the gift of Christ our Savior?

Grace and peace to you in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season and every one thereafter.

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Finding Grace

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When we dropped Little E off for one of his weekly visits with his biological father, my heart broke once again over this little boy. If and when E is reunited with his parent(s), the difficult circumstances that he found himself in the first two and a half years of life will not vanish without a trace. Our stresses of three children will return to only two, our frustrations with the state and its ways and regulations will momentarily be put on hold until we feel  we are ready to serve and love another child, and our contact with this precious child will be primarily non-existent.

As our car pulled out of the gas station where we meet his dad, tears filled my eyes and I told God once again, “This is not fair.” Only weeks before I had written a post for iBelieve on the subject of fairness.  I am linking to it below. Once you have read the article in full, please come back and see if you would add anything to the list of God’s grace in E’s case. If I think on it, I know there are multiple graces in the face of a seemingly unfair situation.

Even if we have not verbalized it, we have all thought it, “That was not fair, God.” Someone else was rewarded the promotion at work, the date with the guy, the house that we bid on. Another friend tells of her unexpected pregnancy when we have labored in prayer over just one child. Children are born with disease, into poverty-stricken homes, or left as orphans.

It’s simply not fair. He is not fair. Or is He? If He is, do we sincerely desire God to treat us fairly?

Think for a moment, what our lives would look like if God treated us as we so often demand: fairly. What if that which we worked for was all that His hand allowed; if people, including our families, treated us only with the kindness and respect which we have shown toward them void of mercy and forgiveness; if our religion was based on merited works?

My life, for one, would look drastically different if God treated me tit for tat. Would yours?

Click here to continue reading the entire article over at iBelieve.

God’s grace is demonstrated to E in his placement into a loving, Christ-filled home. Yes, he is separated from his biological parents, but he has received the best medical attention we could give him, he sleeps in a safe environment, and has two great siblings. Had it not been that he was taken away from his family he may have gone much of his childhood void of the message of Jesus and God’s great love for him.

This all reminds me of a Laura Story song that I am sure you have heard. If not, click here, or on the link  below and close our time today in reflections on the grace wrapped in pains of life.

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Instruments of the King


If reading in a reader click here to view video.

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. ~Romas 6:13

As strings glided upon strings and strokes of keys resounded, our Father was praised and His Body edified.

Lifeless wood emits sound only as skilled as the hands that craft the instrument and string its cords. So too is a life.

I once was dead in my sin; absolutely blind to the God of the universe. His spoken word, spilled blood, and resurrected Son brought the newness of life that I walk in.

Paul instructs us to present ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. Sunday evening I was soul-blessed by a Christmas concert of the Annie Moses band. I heard what instruments yielded in the hands of skilled artists produce. Similarly are the lives of men orchestrated by our righteous, holy God.

Music such as I heard last night takes hours and hours of practice to produce, so too a righteous life. Discipline begets discipline and holy obedience in turn a holy life. Patterns and practices of holiness are the result of one choice upon another to obey Christ with faith that we will be fully rewarded. Further, faith that His ways are truly best.

This created instrument has been used for both righteousness and unrighteousness. When my last note is played and I am laid in an earthen case, it will be the symphony of His story that will play on. May this instrument present herself for righteousness as the skilled hand of the Creator plays out His grand story.

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Pour Another Cup

 

Today as I pour my morning cup of coffee it is with the realization that number three is days away from making his or her debut. We have decided not to find out the sex of the baby; rather I should say we haven’t made preferences known. We were officially licensed for foster care last Thursday, September 27, 2012. It happened only minutes after we picked our kids up on our return from the Grand Canyon.

I half expected a phone call in the night on Thursday: foster care families are in high demand. An empty bed is a scarce commodity in our county and little bodies in transition ready to fill them are at all time highs. Thankfully, we made it through the night without a call.

I am certain that God has plans in this foster care/adoption journey and they begin and end with giving Him glory. In the middle is pruning and sanctification; both of which I and my family need.

As we prepare for baby number 3, I consider the sacrifices that parents of young children are called to make. Another baby will ground us more. It is only in the last year alone, our children were “old enough” to leave overnight for the very first time to go on mission to Honduras and just recently a GTD trip (click here) to celebrate 10 years of marriage. Trips like these may have to be revisited later than I would like. That is the hard truth we face as we begin to foster; however, equally true is the fact that the babies that will enter and exit our home are known and loved by their Creator God and He has chosen us to be a part of their journey.

I pray for these children, as I pray for our own, that in the time we are blessed to raise them (even in those moments I do not want to pour another cup of milk or change another dirty diaper) that their early years will have a lasting, visible effect as that seen in the life of Moses:

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

~Hebrews 11:24-26

We want all the children who pass through our home to have a Homeward focus because of being here and influenced by the living and active word of God: the Bible.

So we will ask the Holy Spirit to pour another cup of grace, mercy, provision, and wisdom into our hearts and minds through prayer, the Bible, and His people so that we may turn and pour Him into the lives of His kids.

Please pray for us on this journey. Thank you sincerely for reading friend.

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Good Friday Not Good People

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

~ Matthew 27:24-26

Many people believe that they are “good people.” Failing to compare ourselves to God, we can always find someone worse than us.  One elderly lady I witnessed to last year said that she doesn’t do bad things “like those politicians.”

Like Pilate, we wash our hands of Jesus blood when our pride says, “I have not sinned, I am a good person.”

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

~Romans 3:23-24

Jesus did not drink the cup of God’s wrath for good people. Rather, when sin entered the world through Eve and Adam eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, good people ceased to exist. All people thereafter became fallen, sinful, lost people separated from their Creator by our sin nature. Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin so that fellowship between God and man could be restored for eternity.

Christ’s sacrifice is not a blanket forgiveness for all people. His blood sacrifice provides forgiveness of sins for those who repent, turn from their sin in confession and action, and believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~Romans 10:9-10

We continually strive to teach the children scriptural truths. A few weeks ago Ron talked to Emily about her sin nature. He explained that we all have a sin nature that is contrary to God. Since that time we have used teachable moments when Emily wants to disobey to reinforce this teaching on the sin nature versus following in obedience to God’s commands.

Earlier this week Emily asked if we would cry in heaven. I told her God will wipe away every tear. At this point I do not know if there will be ongoing wiping of the tears for eternity or a one time event. Next she asked what would happen if she disobeyed in heaven. Insightful questions indeed! I said those who believe on Jesus as their savior will live in heaven and upon earthly death will loose their sin nature. In heaven we will not have a sin nature at all. Praise Jesus! Emily’s face lit up and her mouth and eyes widened in surprise. She replied, “How will He take it out? How will He get it out of our stomachs?”

The priests and onlookers shouted out that Christ’s blood be on them and on their children. However, His blood is on each of our hands as we have all sinned against God.

Praise the Lord Jesus Sunday comes after Good Friday. Let us ponder today the cross and crucifixion of Christ and praise Him for His substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf.

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A Canvas of Thoughtfulness

Our days are fleeting like a blank canvas soon full with the artist’s desire.

One moment fresh and new we enter the world, and a few breaths later the Gallery Cathedral of the Great I Am.

It is silly for me to even think I have a sense of measured control in life.

I have control over my responses to events and the pursuits that I so choose. However, so much else is much like grasping water in my hand; impossible to control.

Laying in bed last night this thought struck me, “I cannot control my death.” Startling is it not? I sometimes fool myself into thinking I am assured of my next breath.

The last two days with the children have been as ideal as it gets with this mama’s limited patience combined with that of a two and four year old.

In the surprise moments of revealing in God’s created world, thankfulness for gifts each morning have been so sweet.

As the brush holds midair awaiting it’s next stroke, I pause to tell God thank you for this moment and this moment and this moment.

Then the next moment, when I forget and hasten to sigh, roll my eyes, clench my fists, and demand my own way.

The brush strokes black.

Next movement, the ultimate Artist’s Son’s blood washes it clean in the cup of everlasting life and brushes a vibrant color onto this canvas in it’s place.

So thankful that the Gallery awaits wretched sinners turned saints like me. Thankful for His brushstrokes. Thankful that I have this family painted on.

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