Grace of Submission

I don’t always know best. I often think I do.
There were many days this summer on our God sized Project that I really wished I knew best. My way was faster, easier, and ultimately not how it got done.

I know just enough about construction to be dangerous. The creative, artistic part of me can come out a little too much. “It’s close enough.” “Does it really matter?” “Do we have to spend the time to do it that way?”

Shop floor
Shop floor

This entire summer was invested in a proper foundation for our shop, for my future. I would have expected two months at the most to be where we were four months into the project. I know the investment is worth it. That doesn’t automatically make it easy to have a good attitude. Our building season is short and we are really short on space. For too much of the summer I let the pressure of my desires ruin my attitude.

6" of insulation under the entire floor
6″ of insulation under the entire floor

Making sure everything is super insulated has been SO time-consuming. The extra insulation will save us money on heating forever.

 Am I insulating my soul? How do I insulate my soul? Constant feeding on the Living Word of God insulates me from setbacks and discouragement.
So much goes into the foundation. Everything must be square, straight and level. Then there is water-line, electrical, plumbing and heating that all has to be thought of and at least partially included in the foundation. It takes a long time and lots of effort.
River of red tubing
River of red tubing

Our spiritual foundation takes time and effort, too. In a sense it is finished, Jesus is the cornerstone, the author and finisher of our faith. In another sense we must keep building what Jesus has done into our own lives. Just as I had to choose to believe His offer of salvation I have to choose to believe He wants what is best for me, that He loves me, that He has good plans for my future. Submitting to what He says instead of what I feel or see. Chose His eternal truth over facts.
Over and over I have chosen to submit to my husband on the building project and God on the timing. My husband wants what is best and knows far more than I do about building. I submit, defer to his decision on how things must be done. He has patiently listened to my suggestions and questions, my pushing for somehow going faster or easier.

Proof I was doing more than taking pictures :)
Proof I was doing more than taking pictures 🙂

I also know God wants what is best and He is always faithful, never late. As a dear couple at church keep reminding me: Our project is not behind. We are on God’s time.
He is building in me and my family a foundation straight, level and square. We are going to need it. Just as the longevity of our building through wind and weather and even earthquakes depends hugely on the foundation our longevity of loving and serving God rests on our foundation of faith in Jesus and His Word. It would be easy to fall away when storms come without a good foundation.
The grace of submitting means the foundation is being built properly, even if I don’t always like the process or the timing. I can submit knowing the outcome will be what I really want not just what would be nice today.
Choose His eternal truth over facts.

Grace, Please? Thank you!

This week’s post was supposed to be about grace.
Instead I am asking for grace.
Building season, growing season, summer – pretty much everything but winter – is really short here in Alaska.

Doing as much as we can on our own on our God Sized Project keeps me very busy. We make progress every week. We are very grateful for Brian’s schedule that gives us 3 day weekends every week. We also have a LONG way to go. 
So I am asking for grace. I’ve not had the time or mental energy to put together a post for this week.
Thank you!
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We burned a outline of Alaska on our building site in April.Fire of Grace in Alaska IMG_1282
We cleared the ground for the foundation in May.Spreading GravelThe void had to be filled. Filling the hole.

Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.
Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.
Compacting for a strong building site.IMG_1772We dug in the footings in July.
IMG_1973Form boards and insulation under and inside the footings. IMG_2179Beginning of August we’re putting steel in the footings and insulating the outside of the footings.
I’ve posted a list of blessings God has given us almost every week, mostly to remind myself of His faithfulness. If you care to see how He’s providing look here: God Sized Project
How have you experienced grace this week?

Waiting Is Grace

Waiting is Grace

Waiting is not something I always do well. Often do not do well really.

I was so excited when I saw that waiting is grace.

Then I spent a month waiting and realized my excitement was quickly lost.

Why does God wait until the last possible second to provide what we need? 
It is grace. 
Think I’m crazy. Stick with me.
Remember Abraham. He waited 25 years for Isaac. That took – or maybe developed – patience. It took grace.
Let’s look at another scene with Abraham and Isaac.
1 Some time after these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” Abraham replied. 2 God said, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.” 3 Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants with him, along with his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he started out for the place God had spoken to him about. 4 On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place in the distance.
This instruction makes no sense. Yet Abraham does not hesitate to obey. Amazing!
Let’s look farther on in the scene.

5 So he said to his servants, “You two stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go up there. We will worship and then return to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. Then he took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 “God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replied. The two of them continued on together.

Faith in the God who has been faithful for so many years.

9 When they came to the place God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood.

He is really doing this!

10 Then he stretched out his hand and grabbed the knife to slaughter his son.

Still doing this!

 11  Just then, an angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. 12 “Do not harm the boy!” the angel said. “Do not do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me.” Genesis 22:1-12 NET

Talk about the last possible second! The knife was in the air!

Waiting requires faith, without faith it is not possible to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). Requiring us to wait in faith is grace, allowing us to be pleasing.

Us waiting brings Him glory. Us waiting in faith brings Him more glory.

Us wandering around wringing our hands about when and how the provision will come robs some of His glory.

Us waiting with Biblical hope, the earnest expectation of a great good, brings Him glory.

We were created to bring Him glory. The waiting is grace.

I am waiting for financial provision or unpleasant situations to shift, not waiting for a way out of sacrificing my child!

I will put the energy of wondering and “hoping” to real hope and patience in faith. My God will supply all my needs.

I will provide the priests with abundant provisions. My people will be filled to the full with the good things I provide.”  Jeremiah 31:14 NET

 

Compacting the Foundation – Grace in the Shaking

After I dig out the clay – the lies, the misconceptions, the doubt, the ingratitude, the worry, the fear – I need to bring in new material, – reading God’s word, listening to godly people and God Himself.

Then I need to plant it firmly in my soul.
The hole must be filled.

A strong foundation isn’t built over a void.

Bringing in fill in the International Harvester dump truck
The fill had large rocks. Just left as they are they would make the foundation weak. The spaces would allow water to collect, potentially allowing frost heaving or erosion under the foundation. It would allow settling when the weight of the building sits over the voids, even small ones.Leveling it up.

The rocks could be removed, or they could be packed in tight. Compacting takes water. Water, pressure, and shaking.

Filling the hole.
26 Whose voice was the cause of the shaking of the earth; but now he has made an oath, saying, There will be still one more shaking, not only of the earth, but of heaven. 27 And the words, Still one more, make it clear that there will be a taking away of those things which are shaking, as of things which are made, so that there may be only those things of which no shaking is possible. 28 If then, we have a kingdom which will never be moved, let us have grace, so that we may give God such worship as is pleasing to him with fear and respect: 29 For our God is an all-burning fire. Heb 12:26-29 BBE (emphasis mine)

Getting flatter, more solid.

Leaving holes, little voids in my soul allows me to settle.

A little complaining, a little impatience, a little questioning of God’s faithfulness or goodness. Each void can be filled with His word so I am less shaken.

To fill the voids in my soul I need water. Jesus my living water and the washing with His Word. Not just passing my ears, not just on Sunday morning or a few minutes in morning devotions.

Compacting
I need His words pounded deep in my soul. Firmly planted as part of my foundation.

Meditation is the work that firmly plants the word. Think on His word again and again. Each meditation pushes it deeper. The solid truth being pushed deeper, closer, firmer – fills the voids.

Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.
Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.

I know the shaking is grace, I choose to welcome it.
The shaking can be quite unpleasant when we forget who and what is shaking.
The shaking transforms something rough and useless into a prime place to build. What grace!

This is the same rocky spot, now tightly compacted, ready to build.
This is the same rocky spot, now tightly compacted, ready to build.

When we remember God does the shaking, that we have been given an unshakable Kingdom we can rest in the shaking.
The shaking is grace.
We are given grace through the shaking.
We give grace through the shaking as we praise and worship our God of grace.

Are you allowing the shaking to build a firm foundation?

Redefine Failure

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I need to redefine failure.

This was a revelation to me. I have read many books and articles about defining success. I was well aware I needed to have God’s view of success, know what He required, be more concerned with that than what any person said success was, looked like or contained. I have spent many hours reshaping my vision of success. It still needs frequent touch ups and even remodel work.

Failure though? I know what failure looks like. Don’t I?

Failure is quitting, giving up, walking away. That is what my mind said.

“If you are still trying you haven’t failed.” That is what I tell others.

The revelation was for me failure was messing up, making a mistake, anything short of perfection. Even worse this definition often applied to my children.

My mind had one definition. My heart had another. Maybe my heart and mind had definitions for everyone else and other definitions for me? my children? How could I ever feel good about who I am as a mom if I am doomed to “failure” by my very definition?

I can’t. Neither can you.

So I realized I must redefine failure.
I turned to Webster’s 1828 to see what he said failure was.

Failure
FA’ILURE, n. fa’ilyur.
1. A failing; deficience; cessation of supply, or total defect; as the failure of springs or streams; failure of rain; failure of crops.
2. Omission; non-performance; as the failure of a promise; a man’s failure in the execution of a trust.
3. Decay, or defect from decay; as the failure of memory or of sight.
4. A breaking, or becoming insolvent. At the close of a war, the prices of commodities fall, and innumerable failures secceed.
5. A failing; a slight fault. [Little used.]

Failure can mean an area that is not perfect, an area of deficet. I realized again as I thought about those definitions the need to seperate myself from my behavior. I have been told this many times. I have failings, short comings, deficets. That is far different from “I am a failure.” The later is what I all too often hear in my head, from myself, when I experience a failing.

I will fail in the sense of small, or large, choices along the way. None of my failures are enough to redefine me as a failure. I am the righteousness of Christ Jesus by His righteous work.
In redefining failure I must give myself grace to be okay when I make mistakes. Grace for the time it takes to change habits. Grace to learn. Grace to try again because then I have not failed. I, in fact, cannot fail because I will never give up trying to look more like Jesus. Bringing glory to God is success. Looking like Jesus brings God glory. Success acheived.

For sake of full disclosure I can think through truth and process failure in my mind. I can reason and maybe even know in my head and my spirit that I am not a failure. I still fight feeling like one far more than I would like to admit. I do not say that to make you feel hopeless. I say it to keep away any illusions that because I write about issues and bring them neatly wrapped in scriptural truth does not mean I have it all together. I still need God desprately. every. day.
No matter how I fail or feel He will never fail. That’s grace.

What does failure look like for you?
Success?

Why Grace?

Grace.

Why write about grace?

What good does it do to study grace if I am not willing to live grace?

Giving grace, making allowances, the benefit of the doubt comes easy most of the time, except to myself… expect when I am hurt… or scared… or full of pride.

Why talk grace for others if there is no grace for the face in the mirror?

Grace for others is hard to muster when grace is not received.

Freely I have received so freely I must give. (Matthew 10:8)

Grace was freely given. Have I freely received?

Grace has made me the righteousness of Christ. (Romans 5:17) Do I freely receive that? In my head I do. In Bible study time I do. When I fail? When I choose to be selfish? When I wish a thousand times I was different?

I don’t receive it very well. I push it away with questions, confusion, doubt. I must choose to receive by faith.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, (emphasis mine) Thessalonians 2:16 NHEB

Grace gave me comfort and hope. They are given. They are available. I must take hold. I must choose comfort. I must choose hope.

God has freely given, so freely that I may leave His gifts sit on my shelf unused forever.I choose to open His gift of grace. I take down from the shelf again.

Do you struggle with freely receiving grace?

Do you struggle to freely give grace?

What is Grace Anyway?

I felt the word God gave me to meditate on this year was grace. I was really having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. I have heard the GRACE acronym God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, but that didn’t seem to cover it.

I went to Webster’s 1828 as I love to do. I found grace is a noun, something we can have and give. Webster’s definitions include: kindness; the free unmerited love and favor of God; Favorable influence of God; The application of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. A state of reconciliation.

It is also a verb, something we do. Webster’s definition includes: To decorate; to embellish and dignify. To raise by act of favor; to honor. To supply with heavenly favor.

Honor, favor, dignify. I like the sound of that. Still something seemed to be missing.

I did a search of scriptures for grace. The first thing I noticed are all the different ways grace is used. This was helpful. One word used for many things.

The first place grace is used is:
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  Genesis 6:8 KJV
It says “found grace” this phrase is only used in the Old Testament. So grace is a thing, one can find it.
Next is “obtained grace”.
And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esther 2:17 KJV

The phrase “find grace” is found once in the NT.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 KJV
There is a throne of grace. Grace is sought and found with both God and man. Grace is given, poured out, shown. See Ezra 9:8, Psalm 45:2

Reading the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) entry about grace shed more light on why grace is hard to get a hold on. The term is used in many ways including:

  • giving favor and the gratefulness that arises from being favored
  • grace is power, almost synonymous with Holy Spirit
  • in the Greek culture grace was almost only used to mean unmerited favor

I think I am most intrigued by grace being power and synonymous with Holy Spirit.

Reading in The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible I found that grace is made up of letters that mean life or continues and wall. So grace is a continuing wall. Neat! It was used for the wall surrounding the camp. “Within the walls is the family clan, a place of freedom, compassion and beauty.” What a beautiful picture of grace! And I have found a new book I love to read.

So what is grace anyway? My definition for now: “a place of freedom, compassion, and beauty surrounded by an unending protective wall.”

What have you learned about God’s grace?

How have you experienced God’s grace?

My Life, January

January has been a great time of getting refocused. I love the new year, setting goals and all that planning. This is the first year I think I have easily focused on the progress I have made rather than being discouraged by how far I have to go. My goals are much simpler than past years. I plan to keep growing. I have some good things in place, I am growing so I plan to just keep going.

Christian:
I am reading and rereading:

  • Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk
  • Jump Off the Hormone Swing by Linda Dillow
  • So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore
  • The Seven Desires of Every Heart by Mark and Debra Laaser
  • I am also doing the Supernatural Mothering Bible study by Ashley Brendle.

Wife:
I am blessed beyond words. We will have our 20th anniversary this summer. I am amazed. We are both committed to growing and serving one another and I must say it is wonderful. I am enjoying this season very much.

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A historic picture. Our family with Holocaust survivor Peter Loth.

Mom:
We had the honor of meeting Holocaust survivor Peter Loth. His joy was wonderful. His hope so contagious. His story more tragic than I ever could have imagined. His book, Peace by Piece, I have not read yet. I am not sure how I will handle the horror of what he lived through. I know it will wreck me, in a good way, but I am not ready quite yet. My Love is reading it right now so it’s easy to just wait for him to finish.

I am teaching a class I called Story Time at our co-op. I have been enjoying the little bit of creative outlet. I’ll be sharing some of the lessons with you like The Empty Pot, A Lesson in Patience.

I am finally stepping out into homeschooling the way I have always wanted to educate my children. I found Heart of Wisdom’s site again and have been doing some reading on Lifestyle of Learning and/or Delight Directed approach. I longed to do this, and tried, but haven’t – not the way I want to anyway. I am making moves in that direction and feeling so much more free.

Author:
I am pondering and listening for direction about writing and marketing this year. I will be blogging at least once a week. Once a month about Grace, sharing about Story Time, devotion ideas, and a random monthly post or two.

I have the opportunity to do a second edition of Christmas is About Jesus. I would be adding More Time with God discussion questions and activity ideas to each devotion. I gladly welcome any feedback about this idea.

How was January around your house?

Welcome to 2014

I meant to do this a month ago… I just couldn’t seem to settle down to think, to listen. I still feel I have unanswered questions about where my writing will take me this year but I thought I would let you in on what I know, for now anyway.

I have my tagline as Christian. Wife. Mom. Author.

Mostly this is to remind me of my priorities. As much as I want to be a successful author (not exactly sure how I define that) it really is the last on the list.

Christian: If my relationship with God is not growing my writing will be of no value.
Wife: I can imagine nothing that would be worth letting my relationship with my husband suffer.
Mom: I have my children under my roof for such a short time. There is so much to teach them, for them to teach me. I cannot waste this season.
Author: I write from the other three. I strive to write with a quality that will keep my writing relevant after my current season is over. I write to add value to your life. In this season “being a successful author” cannot take over my life. How do I keep it from taking over?

Here’s the plan for this year.
I am planning to post once a week. I think it will look like this:
1st Week of each month: One Word ~ Grace
2nd Week: Story Time – Read a fun book, do an activity, discuss Biblical lessons
3rd Week: Devotion or Biblical Object Lesson
4th Week: My Life – I’m thinking what we are studying, working on, fun links, maybe how I am doing on my priorities.
5th Week: Only some months will have a 5th week so these will be random. I may do an interview, share links I like, or have a guest post.

I am also playing with a new feature I found where I can post a quote or a quick thought without doing a full post. Still seeing how it works, but I think you’ll be seeing more of those. Of course if I have time and more things I have to share I will post more often. I am just trying to keep it simple enough I can still be doing it next December!

Your feedback is more helpful than you know. If a post speaks to you or is helpful in any way please let me know. If you visit and it seems a waste of your time graciously let me know what you were looking for that you didn’t find. We may not be a good fit or I may need to improve in that area.

Blessings on you and yours in 2014!

2013 Wrap Up

Well I am more than a little behind heading into 2014.

How about you? I hope you are transitioning smoothly.

This post was started mid December and well- here it is anyway.image

Another year rapidly draws to a close. I am not sure I am much further on my journey to learn about dreaming than I was a year ago. I still have questions. I still have issues. I have a file of unfinished posts about dreaming. I have started to dream again, hesitating, halting, even arguing at times, but it’s a start.

I am in a place of evaluating and planning. Writing once a week for the blog seems reasonable, yet I look back at the last two years and I’m not so sure….

A common line of questions for an author seems to deal with future books. I have ideas, I have starts. I have no definite plans. Feedback from you, my readers, on what you need, what you are looking for would be great.

Here are some things I gained in 2013:
  • I’ve acquired a strange passion for making wire trees.
  • A deeper conviction of the importance of quality communication.
  • A growing hunger for meaningful connection with God and people.
  • The conviction that God wants me to dream dreams impossible without Him.
  • New tools and awareness for the spiritual battle I face in and around me. (more unfinished blog posts…)
  • New deep friendships.
What about you? What have you gained in 2013?
Where are you headed in 2014? Where is your focus?

Stop by next week and I will have my One Word for 2014 and share my plans for this blog and other writing, too.