I will find grace when I need it most

Every day that passes convinces me more that this life is not easy (perhaps not meant to be easy), and then I read a beautiful blog post that puts it all into perspective. Check out this post by Beth Vogt for a dose of fresh insight today. It really blessed me. And stay tuned next week for a guest post by Beth. Can’t wait for that!

Today I want to propel myself – and everyone else – into the weekend with one more powerful thought on God’s grace. It comes at an especially challenging time for me, which makes it all the sweeter. My dear husband continues to fight the battle in repairing his knee, and my littles fight battles against each other and me. For an overly sensitive girl, it can be difficult to push past their emotions and remember my place in the kingdom. That’s one reason I’m so thankful for my Bible. It reminds me of God’s grace.

I’m starting to equate grace with strength. Yes, it means free and unmerited favor, but if God’s favor doesn’t give me strength then nothing will. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come boldly to the very throne of God, not with heads hung low and fearful. What greatness is it that allows the created to approach with assurance and confidence the Creator? Only our God. I read this and realize that He hears my prayers. He sees my situation. He offers grace and strength to continue serving Him in spite of appearances.

I will find grace when I need it most.

With prayer, my husband will heal. By God’s grace, my littles will outgrow this stage of defiance and sibling rivalry. And by His grace, I will be strong and continue serving them in His name.

Whatever your situation looks like today, approach the throne boldly, with reverence and belief in His love for you. Ask for the things you need. Trust that He hears you. Then go share His grace with someone else in need.

What does grace look like to you?

 

The Lord is my strength and my song

Happy Tuesday, Confess-ers. (I actually looked that one up. It doesn’t exist in the dictionary I traditionally use, though the word ‘confessors’ does. But that one means a priest who hears confessions, and while you might be a priest, I’m guessing the majority of my readers are not. So I made up a new word to fit the situation and it will go in my own personal dictionary along with words like conversorial and nephanderthal. Ask my husband for the definitions because he’s usually the one making up the words.)

When I was in college, sleep-deprived and distracted, I often made the 30-minute commute between my house and the campus without a single realization of how I got there. Today is much the same. I have no idea how we got to Tuesday because it was just yesterday that I posted my last confession.

A quick update on my husband (I’ll call him dh, writer-speak for dear husband, from now on): His knee surgery was a worst-case scenario. The doctor actually turned his kneecap over and grafted bone and cartilage into a 2cm hole. But the good news is that he won’t he non-weight bearing for six weeks. As he’s able, he can begin walking on it with assistance even now, less than one week later. Praise God!

Today’s confession is dedicated to my dh. He’s the strongest man I know, physically and mentally, but he didn’t get there without God. Thankfully he recognizes that. His surgery on Wednesday, and the recovery since then, has demanded that he rely on God for strength. I’m learning just what that means, and Exodus 15:2 is a powerful confession for the reality of our strength. “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God and I will praise Him – my father’s God, and I will exalt Him!”

The Lord is my strength and my song.

I find that in the midst of hardship, if we can offer a sacrifice of praise – or song – we can bear the difficulty. Inside God’s grace, we find His strength and it carries us. We begin seeing only His goodness and kindness, and the hardship becomes less immediate. Not invisible or invalid, but not impossible. So whatever your hardship is today, find your way into God’s presence and confess this truth. I know I will.

What is YOUR declaration for strength in hard times?

I will not be afraid because God is with me

My husband has surgery today. Fear threatens to crash down my door and hold me hostage for the next several hours.

It’s a fairly minor operation to repair damage in his knee, but he will have general anesthesia. That always makes me nervous. Significant recovery time can have its pros and cons. It includes lots of pain killers, drugs and otherwise, and six weeks of no weight on his leg. My husband is a very active man. This, too, makes me nervous. How will he handle being on crutches for six weeks? No work? Going up the stairs backwards and not playing with the littles?

Before I can even comprehend his recovery time and my role in it, I have to get through the 90 minute operation, beating back fear and reminding myself that I will not be afraid.

I will not be afraid because God is with me.

The Bible says it everywhere. (See Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, and Psalm 23:4 to start.) Isaiah 41:10 has long been one of my favorite verses. The New King James version puts it this way: “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Just as comforting is the knowledge that God is with my husband and, therefore, with the surgeon. I have no reason to fear the operation itself or the time after. God is with us! I say it again, out loud so I can absorb it with all my senses. And if I get a few curious glances in the waiting room this afternoon, I’ll encourage others to confess the truth, too! I will not be afraid because God is with me.

What is your favorite verse in Scripture?

He creates new things out of nothing

Forgive my quiet these last few days, dear readers. I have been contemplating the Creator nature of God, and today’s confession is an awesome concept that I can barely grasp. The all-powerful-ness of it both comforts me and challenges me.

Saturday, I catapulted myself into the fear zone by publishing my debut novel, Forsaken, on Amazon. (For a more detailed description of Forsaken, click on the Books tab.) I tried for almost fifteen years to get noticed by a traditional publisher. I wrote, met with critique partners, attended conferences, wrote query letters, sent proposals according to individual instructions, joined writers groups, networked, studied the craft of fiction writing, and studied the business of novel writing. I prayed. I wept. I prayed some more and I tried to quiet my desire to become published. God continued to light that fire within me.

Then, with the progress of the internet and some brilliant people, self-publishing became more realistic. Less of a stigma. It became, at the very least, a way to make a couple of bucks and find out if I really wasn’t ready for traditional publication. So my Great Experiment began. And so did my internal speech.

He makes a way where there is none. He guards my reputation. He opens doors that can not be closed, and He closes doors that can not be opened. Romans 4:17 says He brings the dead back to life and He creates new things out of nothing.

Since Saturday, I have been busy confessing this truth because of the peace and strength it gives:

God creates new things out of nothing.

As if we need examples of this, we can point to the creation of the world. Angels, light, dark, stars, the sun and the moon. Plants, animals, oceans. The creation of human beings in His image. And He made a way for us to be saved when it looked like there could be no hope.

Now, He has created another new thing. I’m a published author! Praise God for His creator nature and His faithfulness.

What has God created in your life?

I will be energetic and strong, a hard worker

It’s frigid and snowy today, which makes me crave hot cooked meals, cookies, and a fireplace to cheer up the house. Overcast skies like the one outside my window make me want to be productive, but my motivation lags. Words escape me and distractions abound, so that even writing a blog post becomes more time-consuming and draining than usual.

The Proverbs are full of admonitions to work hard:

“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince  or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter” (6:6-8). This Scripture goes on to say that a little extra sleep, a little more rest, and poverty will pounce on me like a bandit.

Proverbs 10:4 tells me that lazy people become poor but hard workers get rich.

And of course there’s the Proverbs 31 description of a wife of noble character. “She is energetic and strong; a hard worker” (31:17). This woman is more precious than rubies. Sounds good, no? I like it so much, I choose it for today’s confession.

I will be energetic and strong, a hard worker.

The entire Proverbs 31 woman is a bit much for me to bite off all at once, but taken in small chunks I might be able to achieve something of value. From the creation of the world in Genesis 1 to the renewing of it in Revelation 22, it’s clear that God honors hard work. He looks favorably on the person who doesn’t wallow in laziness or self-indulgence. With that in mind and written on my heart, I will move through this day working hard, with energy and strength. Even if it is noon before my morning tasks are completed.

Are you naturally a hard worker, or do you need someone to give you direction and motivation?

I will speak kind words

Occasionally, I get a glimpse of myself that closely resembles Godzilla. Screaming, gnashing of teeth, breathing fire. I’m sure this is what my littles see when I’ve asked them twelve times to get their socks and shoes on, and that thirteenth time, that most unlucky time, I lose all self-control.

Screaming. Gnashing. Fire. Not pretty.

A friend told me recently about memories of her now deceased mother. They included a few kind moments, but overall she remembered being told how she was trouble, too much work, in the way, and on and on. It affected her for many years. As she told the story, I saw myself and my littles. And I cringe as I write this.

There’s no getting around it. As much as we love them, kids are hard work. And as I admitted yesterday, I am incredibly selfish. The two character traits don’t mix well. Downhearted and quite convicted, I turn to my Bible for some strength and truth. I find this:

It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home. Proverbs 25:24

Well, that made me feel much better. My family would be better off living in a very small, dusty, dark space than to live with my meanness. I agree, but I don’t want to be this way. I keep looking.

The tongue can bring death or life. Proverbs 18:21a

I’m on a roll. Seems God it telling me something. Words are a powerful thing, and perhaps I haven’t been using mine the way He desires. One more piece of Scripture seals it:

Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24

Now that’s something I can work with. What kid doesn’t like honey? So, today’s confession is revealed:

I will speak kind words.

This is a beautiful confession for every day, and it’s supported by the other verses in Proverbs 18 and 25. When my biggest little resists instruction, or my littlest little won’t sit still for anything, I will speak kind words. I feel better already.

Can you see yourself in today’s confession?

God’s weakness is stronger than my strength

I know, I know. We’ve spent all week talking about your strength and your power and your ability to do anything, and now you’re reading a post that says you’re weak. I haven’t turned the tables on you, and I haven’t been telling you lies. It’s about perspective and source.

What is your perspective? You have strength through Christ. Remember one of our first confessions. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. You have power through the Holy Spirit who lives in you. You are qualified by God.

The source of your strength and power and ability is God. Today’s confession gives us perspective. “God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25

If you read that entire passage in 1 Corinthians, it says that God takes foolish things, powerless things, things counted as nothing, and He uses them. I take that personally. I’m nothing, powerless, definitely foolish. But I’m chosen by God. Can it get any better than that? Don’t forget to couple today’s confession with a confession of His love for you.

God’s weakness is stronger than my greatest strength.

What confession of love did you choose? Share it so others can be blessed, too.

Power to be successful

Have you ever done anything you’re especially proud of? For me, it’s sometimes as simple as getting the laundry done and making dinner on the same day. But there are those really great days when I manage to craft a story or a scene in my book and it hits all the right notes. When I defuse an argument between my kids with creativity and finesse. When I correctly sense someone’s pain and speak to it with truth and love and kindness. I can’t take the credit for any of that. To be painfully honest, I’m just not that good.

But God is.

There’s a difference between having power and being powerful. One says power is given to us, the other indicates a self-originating and self-serving kind of strength. Today’s confession recognizes that we have power to do great things, to find success. The important thing to remember is that the power is not our own. It comes from the God of love. He loves you enough to give you this power. What are you doing with it?

Yahweh God gives me power to be successful. Deuteronomy 8:18

Where is your success? Can you see God’s hand in it?