Saturday, July 30, 2016

Grace to You and Peace

Sometimes...I just don't know how to pray. Illness, loss, divorce, conflicts, hardships...My heart is heavy for so many people and at times, I just don't have the words. What do I ask for? How do I pray? How do I form the words when the heart hurts, and the soul aches, and the mind is numb? The prayer that never fails; "Thy will be done"..but even if it hurts? Even if it means I don't get my way? Even if someone still suffers, dies, walks away, gives up, or takes years to come back to Jesus? My thoughts are not His thoughts. His timing is not mine. I read these verses this morning that at least gives some direction.

"Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers."
Philemon 1: 3, 4

GRACE to you (dignity, balance, thanksgiving)--for every mile, for every trial. New grace to face a new day even when there are no answers. Dignity to accept mistakes and to receive forgiveness. Balance through a diagnosis that will change a life forever. Thanksgiving that God's hand can still keep, protect, and guide.

and PEACE (one accord with God, tranquility, quietness of spirit)-- to be still and know that He is God. Period. And He alone can fix, bend, or mend people and problems. Not I.

"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." Oswald Chambers

For those on your prayer list-- for the faces you will see tomorrow in church that are smiling yet covering tears unshed--for all those on your heart and in your mind, when you find yourself making mention of someone always in your prayers...urge for GRACE, seek for PEACE. And give thanks for these gifts that He alone can wholly provide.

When the soul seeks for a voice, sometimes the only words you need to cover it all from the One Who covers all are Grace and Peace.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Sands by the Sea

Every Sunday we drive an hour from our house in El Paso, TX to our church in Juárez, Mexico. During the ride, we listen to a mix of music that we take with us. It seems on every Sunday there's one particular song that just really 'speaks' to us and we listen to it 3 or more times and crank up the volume. The song plays through our minds during the week and can be a continual encouragement to us. A few weeks ago, our 'Sunday Song Selection' was a song sung by the Perrys, "All He's Done For Me".

..."The scars He bore, The thorns He wore
They should have been mine.
But willingly He cried, "Father,
Not my will but Thine".
It would be easier to measure
The sands by the sea
Than to thank Him for all
He's done for me."

This photo was taken when we were on deputation raising support as missionaries. We were in Florida at the time and the sound of the waves and the feel of sand between our toes was bliss. Living in the desert here, we don't see the ocean unless we travel for days to see it. We are far, far away from that kind of body of water.

As I was editing this photo to use for this post, I began to really think about the 'sands by the sea'. How many are they! Part of Hebrews 11:12 says that 'the sand which is by the sea shore [is] innumerable'! And to think that it would be easier to measure them than to thank God for all He's done for me is an incredible mental image. It causes me to be in awe of just how great He is and how indebted to Him I really am.

"To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever." Psalm 30:12

Here are a few more photos from our visit to the ocean that day.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Step of Consciousness-Find Your Even Place Part III

Here it is: My third and final post in my "Find Your Even Place" series.

: A Step of Clarity--Stop, Clear Some Space & Breathe 

Second: A Step of Consistency--Look & Clear 3 
Third: A Step of Consciousness-- Listen for the 'Why' to Clear the Chaos

This has been a somewhat exhausting, yet freeing, journey..if that even makes sense. When I came across the phrase in Psalm 26:12, "My foot standeth in an even place", I had no idea how those 7 words would be changing me. In this "Step of Consciousness", I am listening for the 'why' I have held on to excess clothing I no longer wear, excess books I no longer read, excess stuff tucked away in boxes I no longer need nor want, excess emotions that weigh me down. I have kept these things and through multiple cross-country moves over the years.

...(Whether it's because I had a valid reason at the time for keeping them or my mind was too cluttered to know what to do with it all, I don't know.)

I look in my closet and ask, "Why have I kept these books for so long?" or "Why do I have this shirt in my closet 'just in case' when I don't even like it anymore?" "Why do I have boxes of house decorations I no longer have room for?" "Why do I sign up for all kinds of e-mail subscriptions when I know I don't have time to read them all?" "Why do I have so many plastic containers in my kitchen when there are only 4 of us in the house?"

And I look inward and ask, "Why have I carried this grudge all this time?" "Why have I not been the first one to reach out and reconnect?" And many more why's have come up in this process. It's time to answer that question of 'why' by recognizing what really is profitable and what is just taking up space-- whether it be space in my closet or storage shed-- or worse, space in my head and heart.

Part of Psalm 34:14 says, "Seek peace, and pursue it." In finding balance in this last year during major life changes, this phrase has been a motto as well- balance with food/weight, finances, relationships, possessions... Both 'seek' and 'pursue' are action verbs...

**Seek**- attempt to find (something): -peace/reconciliation, unity, order
**Pursue**- (of a person or way) continue or proceed along (a path or route)

In the attempt to continue on this path of finding balance, I've been able to answer a few 'why's' to clear some chaos.

I held on to the box of my mother's memories for years. I kept them because they were hers. But that's just it--they were hers. Any connection I have to her is truly through the people who knew and loved her ..and who know and love me. And who have been open in sharing their sweet memories with me.

I held on to clothes that are the "few-sizes-smaller me'. And while I hope to be smaller (I'm working on it) in a year, I am not now. It's time to let them go. 

I held on to gift books, and recipe books, and how-to books that I no longer look in. Not once in who-knows-how-many-years. I kept them because I felt guilty for getting rid of them because they were given to me. But I don't feel that sense of guilt anymore because I'm able to discern what is beneficial to me **now** vs what used to be.

Answering that 'why' is a huge step if you're looking to clear some things in your life and maybe have a fresh start. But we can't go forward if there's disorder, confusion, and 'mental fog'.

I started with clearing excess e-mails subscriptions instead of trying to keep up with new recipes, exercises, and too many DIY projects.

I moved on to clearing just 3 things in a room at a time instead of stressing over trying to get it all done.

And now I'm clearing 'chaos' by acknowledging what really matters and what will benefit where I am **now** in this place in life. Part of Hebrews 12:1 comes to mind about laying 'aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Excess stuff and emotions --it's been high time to clear it and not carry it.

"My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD."
Psalm 26:12

Friday, July 15, 2016

Pleasant Words, Sweet Health

"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24

Someone needs kindness today and not judgement.

Someone needs a helping hand today and not a cold shoulder.

Someone needs to be looked in the eyes today and told that they are loved.
The power of pleasant words and of purposeful encouragement can change a life today for they are sweet and they reach way down deep into the corners of our soul.

The power of pleasant words today and of prayerful care can help heal brokenness for they reach way down deep into our very being- past the thick 'protective skin' we wear to soften the blows of life. 

Someone needs the gift of grace today and bit of that sweet health.

New Summer Graces Page Update!  Jars in July

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Turning the Corner

Turning the corner...that's a good way to describe the bend in the road we've had in the last year, in a lot of areas. I'm still working on my 3rd post in my "Find Your Even Place" series and have about 'nailed it' and will share soon. Letting "stuff" go, letting emotional baggage go, letting the past go...all this to find space to breathe, to clear our heads and hearts, to get
back to the simple things in life. We've already donated several bags of clothes and books, thrown out broken things, and it feels good.

Why all these thoughts of simplifying and clearing space and stuff here lately? Part of it
comes from too much HGTV! Ever see the Tiny House shows?? The owning of less stuff
and the experiencing more life -there's something to that. I think maybe because we've hauled around enough boxes of stuff we no longer need or want through several cross-country moves over the years is getting to me. And I'm ready to turn the corner and let most of it go and start with a new perspective, a clean slate. John's not overly fascinated by a 'tiny house' like I am --haha-- but I do like the idea of not feeling tied down to so much stuff.

And part of it is that 'seek peace and pursue it' (Psalm 34:14)
-- peace within ourselves, where we are in life; pursuing or re-discovering what's really important and what's trivial
-- peace with our possessions; pursuing what's really needed and what's just taking up space
--peace with relationships; pursuing forgiveness in relationships that needed mending or that needed to be let go

Sometimes we make things too difficult and overthink things. Sometimes, it's just a matter of making up our minds to do something different, turn the corner, and let it go.