Tag Archive | grace

The Path


My old roommate and I took a bike ride in Peninsula last week.  For the uninformed Peninsula is about 20 minutes south of Cleveland.  I had never visited there prior to and it was cool to do a little road trip in the middle of the week.  We intended on renting bikes and catching the train back but the next stop for the train proved to be further than anticipated and we didn’t make it in time.  Instead of cutting our ride short we opted to go the distance and ended up biking over 10 miles!  Not too shabby for a couple of folks who hadn’t biked in years! 😊😏 As soon as my feet hit the pedals the serenity of nature engulfed me and I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness.  I know my friend felt the same and we peddled forward with grace and peace.

At one point we stopped for directions and were told that if we kept along the path the next train stop would be about 7 miles out.  We kept that goal in mind but as I shared earlier, we didn’t make it.  Still, I watched as we passed sign after sign, paying attention to the names of the paths.  There were so many!  It was clear to me that we needed to stay on our path in order to get to where we were going.  It was also clear God was giving me a picture of this spiritual race.

There are so many paths in this life.  There are so many arrows pointing this way and that way.  Some look appealing and inviting but not all will get you to where you need to be.

In this instance we stuck with our path and we made it back safely.  Sometimes sticking to the same path can get boring, especially when you are called to go the distance.  It can feel like you are missing out.  You can even get weary.  But every time I get off the path I end up in pain.  I end up functioning as a lesser version of myself and experiencing a shame I know my Father never desired for me.

One thing I’m grateful for is His grace to get back on the right path and to have a friend (or several) to ride it out with.

Thank You Lord for bringing me Lianna and so many who stick closer to me than a brother.  Your grace is sufficient and I am not deserving.


SHALOM

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Getting Aqcuainted With Grace

One would think grace would be something to be received and understood at the onset of Christianity.  If only it were a class you took at the beginning of your enrollment on the path of truth.  I would have surely signed up, checked off my checklist and aimed for the A that decorated my academic career (prior to college that is). But there was no class and after 15 years on this journey, I’m led to believe, grace is ever unfolding. 

As a recovering perfectionist (recovering because I am at least aware which is the first step to truly recovering) I have spent most of my journey trying and doing and accomplishing.  If I don’t do it who will? But what I’m learning is that God will.

God still will. Somehow, someway, even when I fall short and miss the mark and send the text when I shouldn’t, His promises still stand.

He still stands.

I went running this summer and I paced myself up a steep hill.  It was hot that day. Too hot for a run but I was determined. Funny thing was that when I got to the hill the sun was no longer my enemy and shade became my friend. Shade kissed me with each step forward and offered a relief to my burning skin as my thigh muscles flexed and thrived. It was in that moment that I had a picture of grace.  Grace does not remove the obstacle you are called to overcome, instead it offers the ability to overcome it. It travels with you during the hard parts of life and manifests in a breeze or a cool shade on a hot summer day.


A friend sent me a message from Graham Cooke and I think he had a great revelation on grace. “Grace reminds you of who you are”, he said. That is the training I have received and continue to receive: identity. 

Who am I? 

Who are you?

Often our behavior reflects our perception of identity. I asked God recently, “Why does this (insert your this) have to be a big deal?” I have asked this question numerous times but this was the first time I had received an answer. “Because you are a big deal”, He said.

We are a big deal. Whether we want to be or not. We are because we are made in His image and He is a pretty big deal.

SHALOM

The Trade (Poem)

Can I trust you with my mess?

The bruised brokenness of smelly sweat?

The scarred woundedness that oozes green gross disgusting stuff?

The pores on my skin open with it and no matter how many bandages I try to cover them with, there just never seem to be enough

Enough

I’ve had–enough

I’ve come–to the end

And hang on this rope by a thread

I loosely dangle over a pool of grace

But I am afraid

If I fully let go You’ll flee from me

The blood and gook and ooze will be too much for You

My lust

My shame

My feelings of inadequacy caused me to hide in the comfort of another

Lose my sanity for a while

Even all the while–You were there

My blood

My sweat

My tears

You traded them for peace

You nailed them to a cross and they oozed out of Your feet

Your hands

Your sides

You became my mess

A bloody mess

On a cross not fit for a King

And now I am a Queen

Beauty is more than skin deep

And still you made this brown skin beautiful

And still you clothed me in royal clothes

Still You attracted me to an attraction that was more than just physical

Intimacy is more than just physical

And now I know, because it never sustained me

And now I know, only You can sustain me

Me and my mess

You are my mess

And I am your Queen

His Mercies Are New

windowlight_1

 

This morning I got dressed in another fabulous outfit. I know they are fabulous because my roommate tells me so each morning right after our greeting 😉. We made chit chat about the upcoming election (apparently it is not on Nov 4th the way I’m pretty sure it has always been), the game last night that we were slammed in and of course the one and only Ben-Samuel😊.

I then made my way downtown and into the little cafe across the street  from my job. “Well we’ve gotta win it tonight!” I say to the Owner. He knows exactly what I’m referring to because the city is a buzz by the fact that after 50 years we have a chance at the World Series. “Yep!” He quips. “We’ve got no choice now!”  Well, that’s one way of looking at it, I thought.  At one point we were 3 to 1 and so close to holding the title as champions for the 2nd time this year and suddenly it slipped through our fingers. But instead of focusing on the loss the Owner and I realized we must take it in stride. We must see it as a challenge that we can–once again–overcome.

I talked with my boss this morning. I shared my fellowship is praying for him and  invited him to our next meeting.  He too came in the office with a fresh outlook. The business is struggling and we are at a loss as to what God is doing.  All we know is today.  The mercies that are given today.

And they are new mercies.

And all we can do is walk in them…

SHALOM

Unexpected Paths

I watched a periscope from my friend today where she shared about the unexpected outcome of some events in her life. She had been counting down to this point in the year and had an expectation of what it would look like when she got here. She was dissappointed, crushed even, with what she found.  I can relate.  I had such high hopes about this year.  Such an optimistic, expectation of what lied ahead. But instead of promotions and financial blessings and the next level of glory I desired, I became engaged in a battle I did not want to fight.

I have faught many battles in my faith and have had victory over them all (He always causes us to triumph). But never have I ever felt I was fighting alone. Until this season.

This season revealed some deeply hidden things. It exposed a lot of lies and false mindsets and beliefs. It showed me that God’s mercy has been the reason I have had the strengths that I have.  He showed me this by taking them away.

Life does not always turn out the way we plan or expect. When faced with this season there were many times I wondered if I would make it through the transition. Yes, I’ve seen His victory so many times but not with this particular situation. How could I receive deliverance if it has been an issue for this long? 

Finally before my final breakthrough I came to a point of believing that “Though He slay me yet I will trust Him”. No I did not believe He was slaying me but I did believe it was in His power to help me and He was choosing not to for His own purposes.

God has done too much in my life for me to leave Him but I see now He is the One keeping us together. It is His love, His strength, His grace. Not mine.

Here are some really good moments that have happened lately…   

  
SHALOM

Redefining Success, Choosing Joy, Learning Grace

I’m reading a book called “Single & Free to Be Me” by Dr. Clarence Shuler. In it he shares a counseling session he has with a 40 year-old single, successful business woman. She tells him she does not feel successful as a person and he helps her to see that she feels like a failure b/c she is basing her value on her relationship status. He then leads her in redefining success in a sense. This takes several sessions I’m sure but his approach at “peeling back the layers” assists me in my own self-evaluation.  
How do I define success for myself? Instantly I know that I would easily define success by my career. Yet God has led me these 10 years on a path to remove that type of thinking from my mindset. I cannot feel successful in my career even though I really would like to. And of course, there is the relationship status. But since I cannot go to those things to find success, b/c Holy Spirit has been and is teaching me those are not sturdy foundations, I went to Him.  

How does God define success? And here is what I wrote:

1) Success to Him is doing the Father’s will (obedience).

2) Success to Him is perseverance (long suffering, patience).

3) Success to Him is faith.

And after discussing these things with a friend, I will add that success to God is when we evolve and manifest wholeness. When we learn and grow each day.  

Upon further reflection I realize that my tendency is to place value on temporary things and the outward demonstration of talent, gifts, and accomplishments. Yet God values what is inside. The inner being. He values character and maturity and mindsets. Understanding His definition of success makes me feel like more of a successful individual and I’m sure helps to expose lies I have believed, just as I’m sure Dr. Shuler’s client experienced in his office.

3 days ago I woke up full of joy. The whole day I had such joy and it was unexplainable. I had a very “normal” day, like many days in this season. I went to work, ran a few errands after work, cooked, did dishes, and watched a movie. But every single event was filled with joy. I was enjoying the Lord. I was enjoying myself. I was in such a great mood and I knew it was the joy of the Spirit. I knew God was teaching me that the fear and anxiety I have been battling in this season is the real enemy. My circumstances had not changed one bit yet I was able to feel elated and led to celebrate the day. I’m learning that I have to fight for joy. My personality is more melancholy, serious and reflective which serves its purpose in my own self-evolvement but also can lead to pessimism and anxiety. Being type A does the same thing. Knowing this about myself, and realizing b/c I have absolutely no control over changing my circumstances in life, well, I must choose joy if I want to enjoy the life I have been given. I actually have to fight for it as joy is not a natural tendency for me.  

You have probably heard me talk a little bit about grace on this blog lately. That is another revelation I have been getting. I am seeing it is the Father’s grace that I have had joy these 3 days. I realize that whatever life He has called me to, He has given me grace to walk it out. He has given me grace to stay and wait. That grace can look like joy in the midst of frustration. It can look like the disappearance of anxiety and sorrow. It can look like peace where there used to be fear. 

His grace is amazing.

I was caught in such a dark place of anxiety and I did not know how to escape. Anxiety gave me a false sense of control and it was an illusion that entangled me in an addiction of worrying. But He humbled me which allowed me to release control.  

He met me. He heard my cry. And He showed me the way to peace. And hope. And joy.

Gal 5:22-23

Psalm 18

SHALOM