Day 654: So That

Ya know, after writing about Jonah yesterday on Day 653 I started to think about it.

And when I posted the pic from the blog to my blog’s instagram and I was looking at it

jonah belly of the whale

And I realized that I was essentially asking God what looked like two complete opposite things… one, I was asking for God to toss me into the proverbial sea and in the next sentence to show me grace and mercy.

Like, we don’t typically think of those two ideas as the same.

But, once again… God’s thoughts are not are thoughts. God’s ways are not our ways.

Cause think about it with Jonah. God could have just struck him dead with lightning or had him catch some kind of terrible illness that would kill him. But, God decided to show grace and mercy through the situation and toss Jonah into the sea…

SO THAT Jonah would be able to go to Nineveh and share the chance to experience God’s grace and mercy.

SO THAT Jonah would be able to tell this amazing story of how God chased after him to give him another chance.

SO THAT Jonah would live to tell the tale of God’s grace and mercy.

And oh man… what a story.

And that’s why I pray for God to “toss me into the sea”. I know that swimming around and getting swallowed by a whale would totally and completely be terrible, BUT I would be able to live to tell His story of grace and mercy.

if it will save my soul into the sea i'll go

To end… I am reminded of a song I have loved since high school. And a prayer that I have prayed time and time again (and I warn you, a prayer that He has been very, very keen to answer).

Take my world apart
I am on my knees
Take my world apart
Broken on my knees.

Here is the song. I’d encourage you to listen to it (the lyrics will be on the screen), but if you can’t the full lyrics are below. I just listened to it again sitting in La Madeleine’s and couldn’t help but bawl as they sang the cry of my heart.

“Worlds Apart”

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
more deeply than the oceans,
more abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you – take my world apart
To need you – I am on my knees
To love you – take my world apart
To need you – broken on my knees

All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me

Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart

I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can’t deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart

Day 633: Re-Imaging

One of my favorite parts of this whole blogging experience is the pictures. Some of them are just personal snaps I take on my phone (like from my birthday yesterday on Day 632) and some are pics I take and then infuse them with scripture or a quote. It’s really cool – I’m not an artist but I can use an app and convey some kind of truth or encouragement visually!

Recently, when I was working on Day 626: New and Free, I made this image…

go and sin no more

I loved it. It was so powerful to me.

And just as I was about to hit publish, my eyes glanced up at the text to which I was referring:

Your sins are forgiven.
Go.
And sin no more.

I suddenly realized that I had completely focused on the second half and forgotten the first.

And the most important part.

Your sins are forgiven.

And aren’t we like that with ourselves? We forget the MERCY and GRACE of Christ and go right to “DON’T DO IT ANYMORE.”

So, I re-did the image and used the new one instead

your sins have been forgiven go and sin no more

And I liked it so much better! For two reasons.

It was so much coooler looking to me!

And it was the full story of how Christ speaks to me. to all of us.

It’s the combo deal that we can get from Him. Forgiveness and Hope in a better future. Forgiveness of whatever we were in the past but also Hope that we can still have that full and abundant life that He offers.

So friends, really zone in on that today.

Your sins are forgiven.
Go.
And sin no more.

Day 507: Pardon Me Please

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Today’s positivity is, yet again, perfect timing! After yesterday’s conviction through my son (Day 506: Childish Conviction) in which he inadvertently called me out on my sin and altered the course of my approach to this covenant and then yesterday’s positivity just “happened” to be I am free (Day 506: A Slave No More) it was only fitting that today should be…

POSITIVITY: I am pardoned.

Now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Romans 8:1

All of my self-centered attitude. All of my pride. All of my gluttony. All of my food-lust. God will judge me not-guilty for all of it because Jesus stands in my place. And what’s really cool, is that because I am “in” Christ Jesus, God will just dismiss all that has happened, AND He will reward me for returning to Him. He will reward me for jumping off the road most traveled and getting on the road less traveled. (Thank you Mr. Frost for that.)

PRAYER:

God, You ARE Grace and Mercy. Just the fact that You even still interact with humans is evidence of that. And You are the Best of Grace and Mercy because you are also the Judge and the Eye that sees everything. Only You could fairly judge a person’s heart.

I am blessed that You have offered me Your Mercy. I know that given the state of my heart and my motivation, I didn’t deserve it, but you gave it to me all the same. I am blessed to have been treated with such kindness by You… when I think of some of the other ways that you could have tried to get my attention, I know that Your Grace gave me the easy way out.

Thank you for staying so close to me today. I have sensed You and Your Holy Spirit near me several times. Please stay near me longer, God. It is only with You that I am strong. Thank you for my pardon. Forgive me for my sin. Forgive me for being so focused on myself. For thinking I knew what was better than You did. For shoving my face with something other than what would fulfill me. For longing after something other than Your Greatness to sustain. Thank you that I am not guilty. Thank you.

Day 337: Restraining Order

I’m going to a breakfast party today for my ladies’ bible study.

Sorry. Allow me to be a bit more specific…

I’m going to a breakfast party today for my ladies’ bible study without my kids.

We get to drop them off at the church and then go over to the leader’s house for our final meeting. I’ve been a part of this ladies bible study for a couple of years now (it’s called Mom Matters… isn’t the double meaning cute?) and this last meeting is my favorite part! It’s just relaxed and a great time to spend with the women that I’ve been growing with all semester.

And we are all bringing a little something for breakfast. Our leader had us reply all to her email and state what we are bringing…

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And there were also emails claiming donuts, sausage balls, pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies and the like.

Now don’t get me wrong… I ain’t knockin homemade cinnamon rolls or sausage balls. On the contrary, I love them both under old circumstances.

But, it just sorta struck me that it always seems to go this way with parties (especially those at Christmas and really especially those with only women) that we slough off all desires of being healthy and dive into decadence and indulgence.

And…… why? I mean… well, why???

(And trust me… this is not me pointing fingers! This is a self dialogue, really, to myself… about myself. Next year I have planned on having “free days”, and even as I write this I know that I will need to sit back and evaluate that plan… cross examine it against the Word of God.)

    For God has revealed his grace for the salvation of all people. That grace instructs us to give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this world, as we wait for the blessed Day we hope for, when the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ will appear. He gave himself for us, to rescue us from all wickedness and to make us a pure people who belong to him alone and are eager to do good. Titus 2:11-14

I read these verses and I am reminded that God has called me to a higher standard (what an honor!) and, often, that standard looks very different from the way the world views things. Things like ladies’ breakfasts. and book club meetings. and birthday parties. and holidays.

He has asked me to practice… restraint. And in a world where self-indulgence is king and self-denial is frowned upon, well… that action is different. It sticks out. It looks weird to people. It looks weird to me.

Which is why I love the last verse of that chunk, verse 14…

    He gave himself for us, to rescue us from all wickedness and to make us a pure people who belong to him alone and are eager to do good.

I mean… look at those words I bolded.

To rescue us.
To make us a pure people.
To make us belong.
To make us eager to do good.

Gosh, isn’t that worth a little self-restraint here and there?!?! It’s just cool to think that I have been rescued from pumpkin bread and cranberry blitz bars.

So, anyway, I’m gonna have to read up the Word to see what I can glean from it. (Cause I know that there were a plenty of celebrations back then…)

But for now, for today… I know that I want to go to that party and “live [a] self-controlled, upright, and godly life in this world”. And give God thanks for His Grace through my restraint.

Day 175: Christ Convo

Every time I think that I have got it down… got it figured out… got it good… got it all learned…

then I realize how much I still have to learn. This is why we need to be around our elders. We’ll live better lives if we listen to their wisdom. It’s like they give us the fast track to happiness. If we listen to them, more often than not, we get to skip over the mistakes and the hardship.

And this particular lesson is: prayer.

And how many times have I learned this lesson? I dunno… lots.

My husband’s grandmother gave me a book when he and I got married called The Power of a Praying Wife. I ignored it for a year or two. I prayed… sometimes. When I prayed… I asked for what I wanted. what I thought was best. what I had figured out would be good for me.

Yeah… I got a lot of what I prayed for… and it wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

Then, I read through that book… not even sure why, but it totally changed my perspective on a bunch of things. Like, I stopped praying specifics about what I wanted God to change about my husband, and I started praying only that God would give my husband wisdom and that He would continue to make my husband more and more like Him.

Yeah… that worked a lot better than the self-centered blech I was praying before.

And yeah… I’m having myself a little bit of a revival about prayer right now. Only this time it’s not about my husband, but just about me.

I have always been the type to pray continually… just when something pops into my head I pray about it. I also used to journal my prayers a lot (at least I did before I had kids… since I had my first son five years ago, I fall asleep three or four lines in)!

But lately, there has been almost no prayer… no conversation… going from me to God. And honestly, I think I have been blocking out what He’s been trying to say to me. Yesterday’s post was really the first time that I had really talked to Him.

And I find myself almost having to retrain myself with how to pray. or with being comfortable with praying. or with “making” myself take the time to stop and pray. or all of those.

You see, I think that what I did for a while is that I was replacing prayer with the reciting of scripture.

Now, reciting scripture to myself has gotten me through a bazillion temptations… but I think what happened is that slowly I started to lose my connection with the One that said the scriptures in the first place! It was almost as if instead of relying upon God and God’s power to save me, I was relying upon the Bible… almost in a worship-the-wrong-thing kind of way.

Oops.

But part of this whole thing is a learning process. And it takes times of “failure” and a following of introspection.

And it’s kind of nice that an “oops” is sufficient. Because after the “oops” comes action (like I talked about here). The action is prayer… reconnecting with the Spirit of God. reconnecting with His Power. reconnecting with His Love. His Grace. His Hope.

Oooooo, and I just found this:

I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:1-2