Tag Archives: grace

7-in-7 Day 5: Almost Within Reach

I want to tell a story
Of the power of grace
You may not believe it
But I’ll tell it anyway
At one time I thought
I could be good enough by myself
I didn’t need Jesus
Or anyone else

You see, not long ago
I was lost in this world
Broken by shame
I was a scared little girl
A smile on my face
Would tell the world I was fine
But the shame in my heart
Would tell me that I’m lying
I had endured abuse
And tried to take my own life
I had heard talk of God
But didn’t believe the hype
If He was so great
Why were my arms lined with scars
If He was so loving
Why was I falling apart

So I just kept on reaching
For the next thing I would need
To be happy, find peace
As I watched my soul bleed
At some point I would find it
Joy, love, and peace
If I would only try harder
It was almost within reach

“Almost within reach”
That’s a funny thing to say
It means the same thing as
“It’s too far away”

My mind was convinced
That I could fix all my problems
I didn’t really need to face it
In order to solve them
I could push them away
And ignore the burning pain
That rose in my heart
With the break of each day
It was almost within reach
I had almost achieved it
I was almost enough
I really couldn’t believe it

“Almost within reach”
Means I’d still fall on my face
When I jumped out to grab it
I’d land in a pool of mistakes
If I had only tried harder
If I had just been better
I’ll reach it one day
I’ll just try over

What was I reaching for?
What did I want to achieve?
Every time I thought I made it
I still landed on my knees
Peace, that’s what I wanted
Peace in my heart
Peace that would stay
In spite of my scars

That’s when I met grace
It was “almost within reach”
Almost, but too far
So God reached out for me
He said, “this is yours,
Stop trying to earn it.
Let me love you where you are
And you can have it.
You are a sinner
You can’t be good enough
But if you’re willing to see it
I’ll show you true love.
Look at the cross
And the love that was shown.
My Only Son gave His life
To make you my own.
To you, new life is given
It is freely yours
Only because Jesus died
To conquer the war.”

New life, grace, mercy?
What exactly did that mean?
Could I really stop trying?
Could I really “just be”?
The answer was yes
That’s all He wanted from me
God simply wanted
To give my soul peace

“Almost within reach”
Was always a lie
Peace couldn’t come
From clinging to my life

I don’t pretend to understand
Why God is who He is
I can’t fathom His greatness
All I need to know is this –
I’m not who I was
His grace changed my heart
Jesus loves me, He saved me
And He’s healing my scars
Day after day
His mercies renew
And day after day
I find peace in the truth

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Miscarriage vs. Abortion

I haven’t written a “compare and contrast” essay since middle school, but I’ve had some thoughts weighing heavy on my mind and I can’t think of a better way to express them…so let’s compare and contrast two very tragic experiences – miscarriage vs. abortion.

On the one hand, abortion is a choice that a woman makes to willingly take the life of her unborn child and abortion is the unplanned, spontaneous loss of the baby. But on the other hand, abortion and miscarriage both result in a stopped heart beat and the loss of a life that was beautifully woven together by the hands of a creative God. They both result in a woman wondering what could’ve been.

Let me give you some examples:

A young wife found out she was pregnant, and although it was unexpected, she was thrilled by the thought of the new life growing inside of her. She touched her hand to her belly in excitement and anticipation of the changes that would take place in the coming months. The undeniable beauty of the pregnancy glow began to shine across her face as she filled with glorious anticipation.

Until the day she saw blood. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she tried to process what it meant; she already knew. She went to the emergency room while her heart cried out for God to protect the small life inside her. Minutes felt like hours as she sat in the waiting room with her knees to her chest, trying to hold back her sobs.

Finally, the moment of truth. She was lead to an exam room and the doctor brought in the ultrasound and he said the words she had been dreading.

“There is no heartbeat.”

The world around her seemed to go black. Doctors and nurses were still talking and doing their jobs. But she couldn’t make sense of any of it. The words, “no heartbeat”, were playing on repeat in her head. A nurse reached out and sympathetically touched her arm. She was startled back to reality by the touch and the tears started. Her hands slid down her abdomen to the same place they rested just a week before. Instead of life, she now felt a void – like a small piece of her heart was missing.

The process of an abortion is much different. Abortion requires the heart-wrenching choice to choose death over life. A choice that, at the time, may seem like the only answer. A choice that looks like an “easy out”. A choice that will stop the beating of a tiny heart. A choice that, like miscarriage, steals a piece of her heart.

I won’t go into as much detail here about what the scared, pregnant, college girl goes through as she decides the fate of her unborn child. I’ll let you read about the scars of abortion separately.

Abortion and miscarriage have nothing in common – until you look at the aftermath. The young wife who lost her baby at five weeks due to miscarriage is depressed and confused and angry at God. She does not understand why and she struggles with her doubt. But what may come as a shock to many, is the scared girl who chose to abort her baby at eleven weeks is also grieving.

The woman who chose abortion may not grieve immediately. She may not grieve for many years. But when she grieves, when she feels the weight of her choice, she will feel the same confusion and anger. When she grieves, she will trace her hands over her abdomen, feeling the place where her baby once rested soundly. She will crumble into a pile of regret.

I was both of these women. I was the scared woman in the emergency room who desperately wanted to hear the strong heart of my unborn baby beating under my belly. I was also the scared girl in the abortion clinic who just wanted to find a way out.

And in both situations, I grieved. I didn’t grieve my abortion for five years, but the grief was the same.

So what’s the difference between the five week old baby that I miscarried and the eleven week old babies that I aborted? One was wanted and one wasn’t – that’s it. They were both people. They were both little bodies that were, just like you and me, hand crafted by God for a reason and a purpose.

When I miscarried, I told friends and family what happened. I was given a lot of support, hugs, and prayers. But after my abortion I hid in silence for five years before I let myself grieve and when I did, I was still too ashamed to ask for much support.

The point I want to make in this is that, whether a child is lost due to miscarriage or abortion, or even still-birth, the life of ANY unborn child had value and purpose. A woman who aborted her baby and the woman who miscarried both have an equal right to grieve the loss of their babies.

The only answer to the grief, no matter the method of the loss, is the truth of the Gospel and the hope that can only be found the Christ. God can handle our doubts and our anger. The only choice we have, if we want to find true healing and not just a band aid, is to trust God with our deepest hurts.


I’m a Bad Mom

Parenting has it’s good days and it’s bad days. There are ups and there are downs. There are times when I’m pretty sure I’ve blown it and times when I feel like I’m the greatest mom ever.

Parenting is hard. I wish someone would’ve sat me down and explained to me just how hard it was BEFORE I became a mom.

I don’t know much about parenting….as my kids are still young and I’m pretty much just rolling with the punches as they come.

But there are a few things I do know:
1) I’m not perfect. I can’t be perfect. I will make mistakes as a mom. I will mess my kids up. That’s not the important part, what’s important is how I handle it after the mistake has been made.

2) My children aren’t perfect. They are human beings – little sinners just like me. I can’t expect perfection from them. I can’t expect them to do everything I tell them to do or listen to everything I say.

3) I am a sinner, saved by grace, and my job is to teach my children about the Giver of that grace. My job is not just to tell them about Christ, but to show them. I need to show them what grace is. They will remember my actions much better than they remember my words.

But if I’m being totally honest here, I’m not very good at being a gracious parent. I’m a control freak, a perfectionist, an introvert, and socially awkward. I fail my children daily when I lose my cool. I fail them when I try to obsessively control the world around me. I fail them when I avoid talking to other people because I get anxious.

I love my children. Every time I fail them, I feel a part of me break inside. I beat myself up over and over for making the same dumb mistakes. Why? Why do I do it? If I know that God is gracious and I want to teach my children about His grace, love, and mercy, why am I so reluctant to accept it myself in the area of parenting?

Because I set ridiculously high standards of perfection for myself. I expect myself to be the perfect mom so when I mess up, I feel the weight of my own guilt and shame come crashing down on top of me.

So here’s what I want to say to all the other moms out there – GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE!! Trust God in your mistakes. Use those mistakes as tools to show your children who God is.

I know this is easier said than done. Even now, as I write this, I am trying not to berate myself for all the ways in which I was a “bad mom” today.

Let’s stop comparing our hidden life, our sins and failures, to the external life we see of another mom. You’re not the only mom who feels like you’re ruining your kids lives. Reach out a hand to another mom and I can almost guarantee that she feels the same way.

Our job as parents is to point little sinners towards grace…little sinners that are often little versions of ourselves because our sins have rubbed off on them. They know our triggers and push our buttons and while our love for them is never a question, our own sin doesn’t always want to show grace.

I’m not a perfect mom. I don’t have perfect kids. But if I do nothing else right, I pray that I will at least show my kids the meaning of grace.


7-in-7 Day 1: Hold on to the Promise

7-in-7 Day 1….I’ve been in a poetry rut lately, glad for 7-in-7 to help draw it back out of me.

The Promises
As a child she was confused
She just didn’t understand
Why she always felt scared
Lost in a foreign land
There were times that she prayed
Hoping maybe He’d hear
That He’d reach down to her
And remove all her fears
But she didn’t trust
And she believed even less
That God cared for her
Her life was a mess

That scared little girl
Became lost as a teen
Blinded by the anger
From the hurt she had seen
She learned to smile
Through the ache in her soul
Convinced it’d get better
If she had more control
She hid all her emotions
She was too afraid to feel
But when you hide for too long
You forget what is real

So into adulthood
She carried the lies
And she blurred the line
Between truth and disguise
She tried all she could
To find approval and praise
But she never could see
She wouldn’t find it that way
With all that she had
She wanted to believe
“God, if you’re really there
Please come to me.”

Because He is faithful
And true to His Word
He showed her His love
Like He said He would
When she was dying
Drowning in shame
He came down beside her
And He bore her pain
He carried her out
Of the darkness she lived
Showed her she was made
For more than just this

You see, this is a story
I know all too well
Life without God
Was my living hell
Every sin that I had
Weighed down on my back
I tried to save myself
But the ability’s what I lacked
He gave me love
When I deserved death
And He showed me grace
When I had nothing left

The moral of my story here,
It’s as simple as this:
At the end of your rope
Just hold on to the promise
The promise of love
The promise of hope
The promise that no matter what
He won’t let you go


Fighting with God

Sometimes, I just wish God would take my advice. Seriously, wouldn’t life be so much easier if He would do things according to MY plans instead of His plans…

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, I’ll go ahead and also say I’m selfish. I wish God would give me my way so that things would be easier…but that’s not the case. In my heart, I trust Him, I really do, but my mind is fighting with Him in anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness. I just don’t understand the plan and there is absolutely nothing I can do…and that terrifies me.

But I’m glad, that even in my doubt and anger towards Him, even when I question whether or not He knows what He’s doing, He continues to show me His love, grace, and mercy.

Things don’t make sense now, but one day they will…and I live in hope for that day.

My Fight With God
If I can be totally honest
God, I think Your plan stinks
Are You sure this is right?
You want to hear what I think?
I’m sure that You don’t
But I’ll tell You how I feel
All these things that are happening
It just seems so surreal
Why don’t You answer me
Or show me what’s next
Just a glimpse would be great
To prepare for the steps
You tell me to trust
You tell me to pray
But quite frankly I’m mad
Because things won’t go my way
Yeah, I know that is selfish
But do You know that this hurts?
This world that I live in
Just keeps getting worse
You tell me You’ve been here
You say You know my pain
So why does it feel like
These cries are in vain
I don’t want to “be still”
And I don’t want to wait
I want to change this
Where are You? You’re late
I can see You moving
In the world all around
But here in my life
You’re not making a sound
Am I asking too much?
You’re right, maybe I am
I just feel so alone
Like You’ve let go of my hand

If we let truth be told
I know I can’t see
I know You haven’t moved
You’re still reaching for me
You know how I hate
To be out of control
Life feels like a twister
And it’s hurting my soul
But what I’m holding on to
Is nothing but dust
And dying to myself
Is an absolute must
Help me hold on
To the strength of Your truth
Fighting on my own
Is a battle I’ll lose
My strength has diminished
I don’t have much anymore
Just my hope in You
That You offer much more
So if I say that I hope
But I fail to see
Am I really living a life
That shows what I believe

I believe You are good
I believe You are near
Please help my unbelief
And meet me right here
I don’t understand
This life that I live
I don’t have much to offer
Myself is all I can give
Please forgive my anger
And my cries of doubt
It may not make sense now
But I know You’ll work it out


All I Need

God is all I need; I know that. But I am still scared of this world. I am tired of this world – the pain, heartache, sickness, and death. I’m ready to go Home, to my eternal Home where death is no more.

Sometimes life seems so surreal. It’s so hard to fathom the things that happening right now. We always think these things can never happen to us – until they do. My family shed many tears in the last 36 hours with the diagnosis of my sister’s brain tumor. We are all scared and wondering why and how this happened.

I can’t answer any medical questions. I don’t know why and I don’t know how. I don’t know what the outcome will be and I don’t know how we will all hold up through it all. All I do know, the only thing I have to hold on to when life hurts this much, is that God is with us. He is here. He has a plan. And He is active through all of this, even though we may not see it.

I need grace for every day. Some days I need more than others, but He ALWAYS gives me exactly what I need to keep on keeping on. So yes, I am scared, terrified even, of what the future of our family will look like, but I am trusting the One who holds my heart. I trust that no matter what happens, His grace will always be enough.

All I Need
In times like this when I can’t see
All I have is hope in Thee
I’m letting go and falling hard
I need to know You’ll catch my heart
I’m trusting you to be right here
With your love to calm my fears
I need Your arms stretched out to me
Embrace me now and let me see

Walking blindly through the rain
The grip of love holds my pain
I’m scared, I’m desperate, I’m confused
Waiting to see what You will do
The only One who’s conquered death
Gives me hope for every breath

Life is hard, I want to flee
And all I have is rest in Thee
I lay my life here at Your cross
And trust in You to find the lost
Fighting this world all by myself
Leaves me crying out for help
I’m exhausted of all my strength
And trusting in Your priceless grace

Walking blindly through the rain
The grip of love holds my pain
I’m scared, I’m desperate, I’m confused
Waiting to see what You will do
The only One who’s conquered death
Lifts me up to give me rest

Hear me now, hear every plea
All I want is peace in Thee
In the chaos of this place
Help me now to seek Your face
Your love all I’ll ever need
I’m crying out on bended knee
Though it seems like it’s the end
You are there at my defense

Walking blindly through the rain
The grip of love holds my pain
I’m scared, I’m desperate, I’m confused
Waiting to see what You will do
The only One who’s conquered death
Gives me peace, He’s never left


The Verdict

The Verdict
There are things in my life
That I’d rather ignore
Instead of facing pain
Waiting beyond the door
But You say I must trust
To accept Your grace
And that You will meet me
In my darkest place
What little I’ve known
Was rooted in lies
My mind was poisoned
By the enemy’s guise
If I say that I’m sorry
And turn from my hate
Is it really that easy?
To accept Your grace
The “not guilty” verdict
Echoes through my head
Replacing my understanding
With the words You’ve said


Grace

Grace
My life, I surrender
And my heart, I lay down
Asking for the grace
I’ve seen given in bounds
Am I deserving?
We both know I’m not
But I’m on my knees
Begging just for one drop
One drop of Your grace
That can heal my pain
Your unending grace
That can clean the stain
The stain of my past
The stain of my sin
Can be gone in a moment
If I’ll just let you in


Something Happened in Me

This morning, something amazing happened inside of me. As I listened to the sermon, I was reminded of an email that I recently sent to a close friend about the things that I need to release control of and hand over to God – and let’s just say, it’s a pretty long list. I need to follow Jesus unconditionally; and unconditionally means just that. I need to remove anything from my life that keeps me from being everything I should be, everything I was made to be.

God made me to be so much more than I am today. I am not defined by the things I have done or by the things I have; letting those things define me keeps me from following unconditionally. It doesn’t matter is all of my outward actions are good and nice, if my heart isn’t in the right place, then it doesn’t amount to anything. If every kind or polite act is to serve my own selfish interest and not in the name of Jesus, then I am wrong. I need to follow Jesus without throwing my desires in there.

Since I started going to Grace Bible Church I have come into contact with some of the nicest and most Godly people I’ve ever met in my life. I have met some amazing men and women who have come beside me to help me understand God’s Word and how to understand and follow His will for my life. These people, who God has placed in my life, have shown a whole other side of humanity – a side that I never knew existed. I didn’t realize, before, that there were still people in this world who could love and give and care for others for no reason in particular, but just because we are all children of God. I have seen my fair share of brokenness and hurt in the world but now that I’m also getting doses of love, peace, and joy along with it, I’m beginning to realize that the world is not such a bad place after all.

This morning, I saw God’s grace in the face of an amazing woman whose kindness touched my heart. It truly is an amazing thing when we realize that one person can completely impact another person’s life. It kind of hit me this morning, even though I already knew this; I was reminded how my actions, good or bad, can affect someone else’s life. I need to remember that one small act of kindness can show another person of God’s love and of God’s grace in a way that no one or nothing else can.

Thank You, God, for the grace You have given me and for the love You continue to show me every day.


Things I never knew

I know that I can’t possibly be the only person in the world who looks back on their life and thinks, “wow, how could I have been so stupid.”

My life, at times, has seemed to be crumbling beneath my feet and I tried every possible thing in the world to ease the pain…except God. For some reason, seeking help from God wasn’t even something I ever considered. I don’t remember what age I was when I decided that there was no such thing as God. If there was a God, how could He allow such pain in this world? How could He allow so much hurt in a little girl’s life – hurt that she had no control over. What kind of God is that?

I wish I could go back in time and talk to the 16 year old me. I would tell myself that God really is there in the midst of the pain, anger, and fear. Quit doubting Him because of how much you hurt. He never promised life’d be easy, but He did promise that He’d see you through.

You see, Jackie (that’s how I spelled my name back then), you’ve experienced your fair share of hurt in life – but God never wastes a hurt. I know that you can’t see it now, but God will use you to speak into other peoples lives.

Hold on kid, life will be alright. I know you don’t understand it right now. But one day your eyes will be opened as if for the first time.

Sincerely,
Your older self


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