Remember Grace

I have recently been reading a challenging and life giving book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” by Peter Scazzero. One day, while reading this book, a particular sentence jumped off the page… 

(Photo by  Nicole Wilcox  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by Nicole Wilcox on Unsplash)



“Remember grace, which reminds us there is nothing we can do or not do that would cause God to love us any more than he does right now.”


Now, I don’t know about you, but I find that to be an incredibly powerful and freeing truth. Over the years I have struggled with depression and feelings of inadequacy… that sense that I could never measure up. But, I have learned and accepted this truth...God loves me. Period. And He has chosen to do this by grace.



What does “grace” mean? In Christian belief, grace is defined as the free and unmerited favor of God. Or put more simply, God pours out on me what I don’t deserve! That is a gift, not something I can earn or increase by my actions!

(Photo by  Element5 Digital  on  Unsplash )



In other words, I don’t have to work harder to earn God’s love!



We live in a culture that screams at us that the more we do the better we are. We are measured by our achievements and rewarded in society as such. Unfortunately, we often get caught up in this mindset with two major errors.



First, we use wanting to achieve accomplishments as our motivation to make us feel better about ourselves. We strive to achieve rather than allowing our achievements to flow from our natural passions and giftings. This always ends up in burnout. I saw this in a surgeon friend of mine. He was a very gifted surgeon in his field, but he confessed that he hated being a surgeon. He wanted to impress people and please his parents so he pushed himself to be the best surgeon he could be. Unfortunately, he did not enjoy his work and it inevitably showed in his bedside manner!


Second, we take this drive for accomplishment unknowingly into our spiritual life. When we do this we build a mindset and behavior into the false idea that if I do more for God He will love me more. Once on that slippery slope we will begin to believe that as God loves me more He will give me more. And like a hamster on a wheel we expend copious amounts of unnecessary energy striving and struggling to get more of God’s love. More of His gifts. More stuff. Stop the madness!


My friend, you are loved. We are loved! We don’t deserve it, but God’s grace is enough. I believe with all my heart when a person comes to understand God’s unmerited favor, His pouring out of what we don’t deserve, the response from the heart of man is a desire to draw closer to Almighty God.


I want to encourage you today to remember grace. God’s grace. Be still and know that He is God...the God who loves you. Slow down, enjoy His presence, and be restored!


-Shelly

When Your Stuff Becomes Suffocating

I'm not a pack-rat by nature. I love to throw stuff away and I hate clutter. But that's not always the reality I live in. As I get older, I seem to collect more stuff. What is that?

Sometimes more isn't better. Sometimes it's just more. I forget who said that. Wise.

I remember reading a book by Margaret Feinburg, called Scouting The Divine, a few years ago. She went to live on a sheep farm for a few weeks to learn the ways of sheep. She found out that sheep have to be instructed when to stop eating. If you give them too much green pasture they will actually gorge themselves, bloat, and die. There's an interesting fun-fact for you. This is why the Good Shepherd leads us to quiet waters when we need it. He leads us to green pastures, but He also knows when to tell us "No." He will actually lead us away from green pastures so we don't eat ourselves to death. Hmm.

In my recent health story, I've discovered I am packed full of "stuff"…namely, in my colon. Too much stuff isn't good anywhere for anyone, not even Mr. Colon.

Funny how this strange theme keeps coming out (pardon the pun) in my life. Sometimes what we crave, what we hunger for, is the exact opposite of what we need. I want caffeine, chocolate, and sugar (enter five exclamation points here), and my digestive tract is like "Hey, if you eat one more piece of crud - we are going on strike. And we mean it! We have created a Union, and all the organs are on board. If you abuse us one more time, we quit! Good luck with that. We refuse to be the butt of your joke."

Too. Much. Stuff. 

It's hard to resist. Marketing this day and age is off the charts. It's personalized. It's smart and learning your likes and dislikes. It knows if you like organic wine and if you menstruate. It whispers, "Wouldn't you like to have this? Why would you hold out on yourself…you're worth it!" It promises satisfaction, contentment, and relaxation but always leaves us wishing for one more thing. 

We can't relax. We have to buy containers to hold our stuff. We have no place to put the containers. And then we lose what we bought and re-buy it all over again. Okay, maybe you don't do this, but I do.

Maybe we weren't meant to own 9 million trinkets of treasure. I recall something vaguely like, "Don't store up for yourselves treasure on earth…"

Honestly, if I wasn't married, I'd go buy a Tiny House and find a little piece of property with breathing room. I’m not joking. The simpleness of that kind of life sounds so appealing…and yet, can you imagine how much stuff I'd have to throw out, or give away, or sell in order to move into that kind of lifestyle? A. Lot. 

And that's a lot of dying to do.

Most of us don't want to die to ourselves or our stuff. So we die a little inside each time we feed our never-ending cravings. And we teach out kids to collect stuff too.

Perhaps our proverbial colons are backed up. Maybe our life-plumbing could use a flush. Maybe our souls would wake back up if we stopped numbing them with stuff.

Can I tell you one more TMI fact about my colon? I've had to re-train it to start contracting again. Literally. My colon fell asleep because it was in a food coma. I would only have the feeling of needing to go about…every 7-9 days. Ya'll, that's not normal. The only way to get it to wake up and behave like a colon was to get rid of the excess junk that had paralyzed it, and stimulate it  on a regular "healthy" schedule. Eek. TMI? Sorry.

I think our souls are in a stuff coma. We have over-consumed items with no soul-nutrients, and under-consumed the life-giving words of God. Because of this, we are reaping a sleeping soul. It doesn't respond. It doesn't hear the voice of God. It doesn't care. It doesn't move. It's stuck, suffocated by our stuff. 

I'm preaching good here…right into my own soul. 

Maybe now is the season of waking up. A season where we start living and breathing with vibrancy again. A season where we are not consumed, but instead consuming the goodness of God and finding contentment just from being in His presence. And just maybe, 2018 is the year we methodically throw out every piece of junk that's suffocating us.

Joyfully,

Rachel B.

PS - if you need a humor-infused book on getting this done, check out "Clutter-Free" by Kathi Lipp. She's the real deal. Her father was a pathological hoarder. She has lived to tell the tale, and has helped thousands of people find freedom from clutter. 

You Are Not Forgotten

Photo by  Jamez Picard  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

Psalm 42:8 (NLT)

Psalm 42:8 (NLT)

I love how gentle the God of the Universe is. Sometimes in sickness, or less-than-perfect health it can feel like God is a little angry, sadistic, or oblivious. 

Let me assure you: He is not. 

He is closer than a whisper. Sweeter than the deepest love you've ever known. He can sing exponentially better than the best singer you have ever heard. And He chooses to sing over you. Every. Single. Day.

Is your soul awakened to the loving-kindness He is pouring out to you? During hardship, suffering, or walking the unknown, one of the biggest tendencies is to wall yourself off. Why?

It's easier to hide then confide.

My sweet sister, keep your heart wide open. Keep your soul soft and malleable. I promise you our Heavenly Father has not forgotten about you. Listen for His daily reminders of love. Be on the lookout. Courageously choose joy and hold it close to you. Don't let anyone or anything steal it. The Lord is fighting for you. He is on your side leading you to hope, healing, and wholeness.

 

Joyfully,

Rachel B.