Friday, December 15, 2017

What's on Your Christmas List?

I have a perfume fragrance called "Amazing Grace".  Are you familiar with the brand?  If you visit any department store, you should be able to find it in their perfume and cosmetics section.  I love the scent.  There's a story behind it for me.  It was first given to me by a student some time ago as a Christmas gift.  I fell in love with the gift, not only because I liked the scent, but because I could really use some grace during that time in my life.  It was on my Christmas list and did get it once again a year or two ago.  And every time I use the fragrance, I think about God's gift of grace, and I ask Him to cover me with it.  I'd say we could all use a good dose of daily grace!

On a random note, I've gradually become a tea drinker.  I especially enjoy a nice hot cup of  tea in the morning or at night.  For a while it was chai tea.  Tried it once and was quickly hooked.  I guess sipping on tea makes me feel good.  And some time ago, I started a new practice as I thought about having my morning tea.  With every sip, I picture God's grace for the day.  It's as if it is filling me up, and my prayer would be that it overflows unto others.  And I'm reminded, one can never have enough grace.  Okay so that wasn't too random.

You see the days are hard sometimes.  At times, I wish I could claim a "do over" or a "skip" card, as to not have to deal with daily struggles or acknowledge my shortcomings.  And I wonder, what would I do without His bountiful grace?  If it wasn't for His grace, I would give up on a daily basis.  I'd throw in the towel on my marriage, on parenting, on friendships, on everything that God has blessed my life with.  Yeah, that's the kind of God's child I am.  I can be ungrateful and demanding and truly forgetful about how big and wide His loving grace is for me.  If it wasn't for His grace...

If it had not been for His grace, I'd be a drug addict today.  If not for His grace, I'd have become a pregnant teen dropping out of high school.  I would have committed adultery.  I'd have committed even murder, and then I would have taken my life as well.  Yes, if it had not been for His grace, what a wretched soul I would be!

But oh the sweet fragrance of His grace!  How it covers me and frees me.  It not only forgives me, but allows me to freely forgive and love others who are just as undeserving as me.  You see His grace, not only frees me from what should be deserved punishment and/or consequence, but it also allows me to live graciously.  Not always gracefully, but definitely graciously.  So that when I'm faced with challenges that are beyond my strength, I can still move forward knowing that if I fall, He will be there to hold me.  The sweet sweet smell of grace covers me when I am tempted to lash out or build a wall to keep me from vulnerability before others, and I'm able to surrender my will and allow Him to work through each situation, knowing that He blesses me.

You see God's grace is not only a one time gift for salvation.  But it is an ongoing pouring of blessing and favor on my life that pardons me and helps me to make way for mistakes and hardships, knowing that He will work it all for my good and His glory.  What an amazing gift!  Not wanting to sound cliche, but it truly is the gift that keeps on giving. 

So what's on your Christmas list?  Have you any need for grace?  I know I do!

2 Corinthians 12:9New International Version (NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Excuse me while I talk to myself

So I admit that after turning forty, I've gradually developed this random habit of talking to myself.  I'm not embarrassed to admit it, with hopes that I'm not the only one.  Do you ever catch yourself giving yourself some feedback or back talk, when no one else is around?  Well, if I'm honest, it happens even when others are around. While on the topic, please tell me that I'm not the only who stands in front of the mirror and gives herself a pep talk.  

Pep talks.  Yeah, I think we all need them from time to time.  Sometimes actually, it seems we need some constant talking to.  Like on those days when the gray clouds never seem to dissipate, making the day seem much longer than usual, and the burdens wear heavy on your shoulders, and all you want to do is hide away from the demands of this world.  There are days that turn into weeks and months of ongoing hardship and even suffering, and all we conjure up to do is throw up our fists at those gray skies and cry out for help.  There are times when our faith is shaken so forcefully that we question that very faith we once proclaimed boldly on much brighter days.  And we desperately need some talking to.

Yes, it's times like these when our soul longs for talking to.    And I'm reminded of the heartfelt expressions of David the Psalmist, as he felt the need for an internal conversation, a one one with his own self.  He inquires, "Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?"  And as he addresses his inner self, he reminds himself of a God that He can count on.  He continues, "Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God"-- Psalm 42:5

This is what I love about David.  At least it's one of the many things I admire about the guy known as "a man after God's own heart".  I love that he is relateable and still he pours out his soul.  He doesn't hold back.  He's sincere, and yet doesn't pretend like he's got it all together.  He knows that he can be genuine and honest with the God of Israel.  And, like me, he talks to himself.  Except my words go a little differently and possibly with a different tone.  But all the more, God listens.  

He listens as I try to keep my composure and I clutch my lips with fear that others will notice my fears, but I still end up as I now randomly do, whispering under my breath, "What's going on with you?  Come on get it together girl!  You have a God who loves you and is for you.  You know He's trustworthy.  He's never failed you.  Put your hope in Him.  Let your guard down.  It's safe to put your hope in Him.  Open your lips to praise Him, for He is worthy.  He is worthy."