Good morning!

ON NOW

You may ask why it is a good morning. I could give you the Gandalf spiel about mornings, but I will refrain.

I am awake. As I turn my head, the grace of God is far too great to count. I can begin to list all of God’s little showings of grace to me, but it would take all day.

As I have looked at this year with anticipation and joy and thankfulness, I also see discontent creeping in. It is the easiest thing to make New Year’s Resolutions, and it seems somehow even easier to break them. When 2016 rolled in, I didn’t make any hard and fast resolutions. However, I did make a small list of areas in which I want to grow. One of those areas is discipline.

Gross. Discipline. The dreaded word. It means you can’t do anything fun, right?

Totally wrong!

By exhibiting discipline in my homework and responsibilities, I have better time to do what I really want to do.

My dad always told me that I would be better off if I did my work before I did anything pleasurable, and he was right. He still is right.

Procrastination often leaves me feeling discontent. I put of my work for so long, but once I start it, I realize that it isn’t so bad after all. “If I had only done my homework first, then I would actually have to time to [blog, paint, write letters, read, bake, spend time with friends].

I don’t want to label myself as a procrastinator.

I want to know myself as someone who works hard and rests well. I want to say, at the end of the day, that I enjoyed the responsibilities and beautiful moments.

As I go through this year, I think the content of my blog will change a little bit. Not drastically. But I want to blog about the various things in which I find the joy of God. That means attempting to keep plants alive and being a giddy school kid when they bloom, and painting little pictures for people to brighten a letter.

And that means recognizing the grace of God in the little things. That means being disciplined in order to have time to look around me and appreciate the little things.

Sometimes, when I am on Pinterest or Facebook, I wish I had another’s life and beautiful moments. But more than that, I want my own beautiful moments. I wouldn’t trade my way of life for someone else’s. I just need to recognize the absolutely beautiful moments of my life by logging out of Facebook or closing Pinterest.

I have a beautiful life because Christ has redeemed me, and He has brought me before His throne and into His presence. He has blessed me by giving me a husband that encourages and challenges me towards Jesus. He has given me two families that serve the Lord and each other in beautiful ways. I have a beautiful life.

I will pause to see the beautiful moments.

 

A Pile of Stones

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

She waits. She flinches. Who will it be? Who is going to cast the first rock? Where will it hit? How long will she experience the pain?

But Jesus, the righteous Judge, the One Without Sin, does not cast the first stone. Instead, he asks this woman caught in adultery where her accusers have gone. They have left. They knew their own sin.

"Nether do I condemn you."

The Sinless Christ who could condemn chooses not to do so. Rather, He forgives, and urges the woman to leave her sin behind.

Note: While the Old Testament prescribes stoning as a punishment for some sin, it can also be seen as a picture of condemnation. Stoning was a condemnation from one’s community for an act that often affected more than just that individual.

As I stand here, I am both the condemned and the condemner. I am a hypocrite. I want to cast stones, yet I deserve to have stones cast at me. I rage against those who have sinned against me, yet I know I have sinned against others.

God seems to think that it is amusing to get me in a tizzy about something and then reminds me that I do the exact same thing I am upset about someone else doing to me.

In my desire to cast stones at someone else, my desire is actually to heap stones upon myself.

Ouch.

A mental image: Think about Super Mario Bros. You’ve picked up a Koopa shell to toss. It hits the corner wrong. And now you’ve just knocked yourself out. That’s exactly what I have done. (I apologize if you have no experience with Koopa shells and have no idea what I am talking about…)

Nearing the end of the semester, I faced a lot of discouragement when I heard that several people were saying uninformed things about me and my life without knowing what was going on. People were making judgments about my life without really knowing all of the pain I was experiencing. Some were “concerned” about me, and in positions to talk to me about their concerns, yet they didn’t; they merely talked about it with others. Some of their comments had merit, yes. But to hear about these comments from someone other than the source was painful.

It hurt. I had a heaping measure of righteous anger.

I was mad about something I myself do.

I have done that. I make judgments and comments. I don’t always love my brothers and sisters with my words. I justify my words with “concern” and the “need to process.”

I hate that. I hate that I may have hurt people as I have been hurt. And I may never know who I have hurt.

 "Go, and from now on sin no more."

Jesus does not want me to walk away from His grace unchanged. He pointed out His grace to me in the midst of my frustration. He asked me to forgive and to look at my own life. Before you check the speck, examine the plank in your own eye, right?

So that’s fun.

Looking at a mirror is a little terrifying sometimes.

But there is grace. There is hope. There is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ.

Waiting for Heaven

This semester is probably the first period of time in my life that I could honestly say I “would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

In the past, I told God that, yes, I wanted Him to come back, but if He could wait, I would be okay with that. If God would just wait until I used my education, accomplished something on the mission field, got married, lived a little bit, and then came back when I was older, that would be great!

And I said that to God?

Yeah, I did. And it really reveals my selfishness. I wanted things to go well in my life, and my mind was not set on heaven. I thought it might have been, but looking back, I see very clearly how my mind was not set on leaving this temporary earth.

This semester of school, God has been teaching me lesson after lesson about His kingdom and His glory. I am so thankful that the Lord would teach me this now, molding my thoughts into His.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes about our heavenly dwelling, and how we are “longing” (5:2) to be clothed “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up in life” (5:4). My heart should desire heaven, looking beyond this here on earth. (Please take a few minutes, click here, and read this handful of verses from Paul.)

In light of this mindset – hoping for heaven – life here on earth has so much more meaning. Suffering has more meaning. Pain has more meaning. And hope has more meaning.

 

{Read here next.}

Can You Say “Ouch?”

God has been teaching me from James 3 lately about the power of the tongue.

But the more he teaches me, the further I seem to have to go. My flaws become more apparent as I learn more. How painful! But in the end, it will be better, right?

I thought sanctification would be better as I got further along the process, but it seems more painful. I am distinctly aware of my sin, my flaws, my foolish words.

Since God placed James 3 on my heart, I seem to mess up more. Or maybe I just notice more. I thought I was doing well, but it seems I was just blind to how bad I was.

Does this sound hopeless? Yes!

But thankfully, grace triumphs! Without grace, I would be without hope. But because of grace, God forgives me.

I know I have wronged so many people with my words. Humility allows me to apologize and seek forgiveness for others, but it cannot take my words back. I can apologize, I can seek forgiveness, I can change my ways, but I cannot take back words that have already come out of my mouth.

James 3:9-12 says:

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Salt water overwhelms fresh water. My foolish words taint my wise words. Ouch.

As I continue to search God’s Word for wisdom and encouragement in using my words wisely, I plan to share that with y’all. So here is to the process of sanctification. Without God’s grace, I would be hopeless. But thankfully, God’s grace is greater than all my sins and all my flaws. What a message of hope!