Living In His Grace

I thought this challenge would be different…

When the MOHL girls came up with the challenge idea, I anticipated a year of “doing” more - living more. My idea of “living it” was witnessing, and serving, and being, and doing and I expected to hear marvelous stories from the girls and those joining in the challenge of experiences they would have of God using them in amazing situations. {Looking back now I think my “Martha” tendencies were peeking out again!}

 All that happened, but… God changed me on the inside more than anything tangible I could have done on my own to show off at the end of the year. :)

What He was trying to teach me this year wasn’t in the doing more, it was in the resting more. Which completely sounds the opposite of “living it” doesn’t it?

This year turned out to be about so much more than I expected. It was healing.
It was more of Him and getting to know Him all over again. In having a relationship with the Lover of my soul. :)

It was being still.
It was knowing that it’s more than enough.
And it was in the call to love in the simple things.

It was seeing myself through His eyes… not through my own, and certainly not through the world’s eyes. Accepting me, for me and knowing He is continuing to make me more like Himself everyday, and will not fail in that. He is faithful in all things.

It was grace living, not works living.

Living in His grace day by day allows each of us to truly live for Him as we desire to do. Grace is the beginning and the ending to everything Christ has done for us and we cannot follow in His steps without first acknowledging how much His grace empowers us to love and live each day.

It isn’t “Live It”, but living in it. 
…Living in Him.  

Living in His merciful, boundless grace.

ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

~ Ephesians 2:8-9 ~

May the Lord bless each of you and keep you as we enter a new year… who knows what God will have for us to learn and experience in 2014!

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(Never) A Day Without

…Do you ever forget that though? I know I certainly do! It’s so easy to go about my day-to-day activities and forget how much He loves me. I go about my normal routines, chat with my friends, work alongside my family, and try not to get into too much trouble. ;) When something unexpected happens…anything from a water leak to a forgotten post to write…I handle it on my own, because after all, I can do this!

If I’m worried, I’ll pray… but with a desire more for the struggles to be over than in seeking His counsel or His will to be done in my life.

If I’m overwhelmed with the busyness of my to-do list… I don’t stop to reflect on His peace.

 It’s well past lunch time and then I remember… have I had my devotions today? Has my attitude been loving and kind and how I know Christ would want me to act? Have I been focusing on Him, or only on myself? Why is it that He’s so mindful of me…yet I’m not mindful of Him?

As this topic came up, I pondered it a great deal. What would I write about? What thing would I choose to go without for a day - internet, facebook, movies, fiction books? All good choices, but nothing seemed important enough of a challenge for me personally. The more I thought about going without, the more I realized how much I really am blessed with.

Really think for a moment; do you go without food, or shelter, or clothing? Mostly, no. There are, of course, times we can’t get the cute new pair of shoes we want, or can’t go out for pizza this week, but at the end of the day we’re provided for. More than that, as God’s children, we have the Holy Spirit within us, God’s grace every day, and the Lord’s hand on our lives every moment. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

For each new day we never have to face it alone, because God is with us.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:20 NIV

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  - Hebrews 13:5 ESV

God always provides for our daily needs, whatever they may be - food and shelter, grace, and peace. He’s promised, and He never breaks His word.

And that’s why I keep singing.

Because, you see, I never have to go one single day without Him. 

And neither will you if you’re His child.

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Grace, When I Forget

When I forget to live it,  
there is always God’s grace.

Grace, when I’m too hard on myself.

Grace, when I’m not hard enough…

Everyday I see it; everyday I need it.

This summer I’ve been reading Andy Stanley’s “The Grace of God” and truly it’s been one of the most beautiful books on the subject I think I’ve had the pleasure of reading yet in my life. He shared that God’s amazing grace is woven throughout every page of His precious Word…did you know that?

From beginning to end every story in God’s Word is covered with His grace again and again. Take a moment and think about it. Take your favorite Bible story: David with Bathsheba, Jonah running from God’s call, Martha and her mixed up priorities; each one found forgiveness and grace when they forgot to live and walk they way we’re called to.

 But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” {Romans 5:20, ESV}
This year was meant to be so much more than how I’ve seen it played out. I haven’t stuck to my goals as much as I wanted to. And I still see in myself so many attitudes and actions that need fixing. That’s why God inserts a “but” in Scripture… because if He hadn’t interceded for us, we’d be in a sorry state indeed.

 When I fail Him once again, when I forget what living it looks like, or when all I can see are my faults…His grace is always there. He’s always ready to set me back on the straight path again with love and forgiveness. With God there’s always hope for the sinner.

The death He payed for our sins long ago on the cross also payed for the mistakes we now make, and the ones we’ll make in the future. We’re not perfect, and He doesn’t expect us to be. Yet He still chooses to use us, and our mistakes, for His glorious purposes.

 
 If this year you’ve felt discouraged by how little you’ve “lived it”, take heart, dear girl! The God who forgave Jonah, David, Martha, and Peter is ready to forgive you, and ready to make you like new again. His mercies and grace are new each day, and He’s working on making you like new in each day too. Have a little patience with yourself and keep working and living it!

But if you forget, His grace will be there for you again tomorrow.
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Finding the Significance in the Ordinary

Everyone has a story.

Each person is uniquely created by God. You and I have our own talents and personalities, our family’s are uniquely fitted to us, and the way our lives play out will not be the same, though we may have similarities between us.

I’ve always enjoyed history; learning about far-off places and people from another time…the fashions, the stories, the era, the society, the politics. Most especially the character of each individual and how their unique story attributes to their growth. Abraham Lincoln and Corrie Ten Boom, Betsy Ross, Laura Ingall’s Wilder, and Helen Keller; heroes of our country or of faith, all instill in me a desire for a greater purpose with my life.

But my life in comparison to their seemingly extraordinary lifestyles…?

Me/Rachel: stay-at-home daughter of 27, living at home, blogger, homemaker-in-training. A great reader (wasn’t that obvious?), and proficient baker. 

Wow. That was exciting wasn’t it? ;)

One thing I’ve learned is, 
it takes a closer examining of our lives 
to see God’s extraordinary plans for us.

On the outside, my days seem filled with the ordinary. A stay-at-home daughter, I unload and load the dishes into the dishwasher each day, meals need to be fixed for a hungry family, and there’s always laundry to be done, it seems. Then it’s off to “work” - blog posts, encouraging as many sisters in the Lord as He brings my way that day, reading to further my character, Bible study to further my relationship with my Saviour; in between are the chats with family and friends as we each go about our day. Usually there is also time for Pinteresting and crafting in the evenings before I head off to bed. :)

Mixed in with all that “ordinary”, 
I find my purpose. My calling.

It is here He wants me to be, at least for the time being. My task is to be usable and available for His master plan, whether that be talking with a weary, teary-eyed sister in Christ, or listening to her jubilant raptures of the exciting things He’s doing in her life.

Other day’s it’s serving my family and tidying up after messes I didn’t make, or baking up a special treat to bless and bring them some joy. Or maybe just a hug to remind them I love them. :)

David was just a shepherd boy, the youngest in a long line of older brothers. Yet, didn’t God help him slay the giant with only a stone, defeat mighty armies, and hide from a vengeful king? Wasn’t it this same Mighty God who told the prophet Samuel, “This is the guy I’m going to make king over all of Israel someday”?

Over and over the history of the Bible teaches me that God has an extraordinary destiny for each of us. But it may just start off with the humble beginning’s of a willing and obedient heart.

If you have a desire to be used by God in the ordinary of your day-to-day life, pray and ask Him to help you be willing, and to be obedient and faithful in the little things He’s calling you to right now.


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Spread Some Kindness!

 The next two weeks we’re doing something fun here on the blog! We’ll be spreading cheer by doing random acts of kindness all over the country right where we live.

 Kindness is a fruit of the spirit, and as Christians we are called to show love, mercy, generosity, gentleness, and to lift the burdens of those around us. By caring and giving we can make an impact on the lives of people anywhere we are!

Get Started!

 You can do a lot of just a little, you can do something really big or simply share that beautiful smile all day long. Have fun and see where God may be calling you to share some love and joy this week.

Need Idea’s?

  •  Practice kindness everyday…here’s some thoughts. All it takes is a smile and a kind word and a thoughtful heart.
  •  26 Acts of Kindness: some very good idea’s and I love the printout she made up that went with her “gift” to pass it on!
  • Leave especially nice comments on some of your favorite blogs to encourage and thank them.
  • RACK on your own family! Tidy the house for mom, leave a little note for your sis, phone grandma and tell her how much she means to you.

    These are only idea’s…get creative and see how God can use you in little ways in your area to be a light for Him! We’ll be sharing our stories in the next two weeks so come back to see how we shared some kindness.

     If you participate with us these next two weeks, then we’d love to hear your story and idea’s you had to spread kindness in your neck of the woods in a guest post!

     ~*~

    Here is a free image we made for you to printout, if you’d like to use it with a small gift or to write a note of encouragement on the back!

    “It’s not having much that makes you rich — it’s the giving much that makes you rich.” ~ Ann Voskamp
    ***

    We’re so excited & hope you’ll join us!
    ~The MOHL Ladies~

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    Daring Faith

         Have you met my friend Rachelle? From the day we met her joining our little band of MOHL-er’s she’s been inspiring me to be daring…just like her little blog declares. :) Or perhaps you’ve met Sarah? She too is daring as she plunges into the world of authorship, and occasionally likes to dream up big schemes like meeting up half way across the country so we can see each other. I have been blessed and surrounded by many daring girls through this blog and in my friendships. But me, daring? Never.


    “We are a quiet set of people, 
    more disposed to staying at home.”
    ~ Jane Austen’s Emma
         I always have considered myself a mousy sort of person. Ever since I was young I’ve been content to be at home…never had any daring dreams of seeing the world, or of doing or being anything greater than what I am. I actually like myself that way too, for the most part. :)
         What in my life has been daring for God, I’ve been wondering. Just as in everything else this year, I see His hand in the little things and those everyday choices…
    * Daring to trust in the Mighty One’s provision for my daily needs.

    * Daring to live fully right where I am, today.

    * Daring to rest in His presence, when the world says “Go” and handle it myself.
    * Daring to dream dreams that are bigger than myself (and again trusting that God will fulfil them).
    * Daring to pray with a heart that does not doubt the God of the Impossible. :)

         My summer has been a lot about daring faith. When there are obstacles in your life, whatever they may be, you have a choice to trust and have faith in God, or you can choose to allow doubt to seep it’s way in. Sadly, I’ve been doing more of the latter until about a week ago. Finally I’d had enough. I asked my friends to pray for me and my family; I got down on my knees in prayer seeking God’s help; and I let go of my expectations and my wants with a confidence that the Lord would see me through without my finagling. And you know what happened? I had peace! And I - or rather the Holy Spirit - has finally been able to send that dark cloud of doubt away.

    Daring faith begins with daring prayer. 
    Daring living, begins with daring faith.
         Faith is the foundation of our Christianity. Without that we are incapable of living it in anything (Hebrews 11:6). If you want to be daring in life, begin with having a daring faith, my sisters, and take God at His word {because His Word is truth!}. It will take you places you never thought you could go before…

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    ~ The Blessings Jar ~


    In my room sits a little jar.

    In this jar there are little blessings.

    Take them out one by one and you can see the seemingly insignificant ways God has blessed me this year.

    “Long talks with daddy.”

    “A mother’s sweet love and care.”

    “Thankful for Your love, Lord. You always have Your eye on me - I am not forgotten. *El Roi - the God who Sees*.”

    “Long chats with friends.”

    “Snow-covered mornings reminding me of God’s forgiveness.”

    Countless times a day God says, “I love you.” But I don’t hear Him.
    I’m too busy.
    I have my own agenda.

    Taking a moment to write down these little everyday blessings has been a reminder of His love and care over me. It’s the one goal I made for my live-it year.

    I’m not always faithful in writing these jar-blessings, but seeing my little jar sitting in my room has been a beautiful, tangible way to remember that God is at work in my life. My blessings are my stones of remembrance (Joshua 4:1-24). Because you know…sometimes I forget how good He is!

    This year and this challenge were not what I expected. It never is, is it. God has His own plans and His own ways and I don’t always understand them. But one thing He’s taught me is to look for the blessings when life gets hardest. By choosing to see the little everyday joys it’s a little bit harder to grow discouraged, isn’t it? Again, if I’m being real and honest, this isn’t accomplished easily, but it’s well worth the effort.

    And that’s one more thing I’m so thankful for, because when I fail and make mistakes, and my Martha-can-do-attitude abandons me in fear and all I can see is how I don’t measure up, it’s nice to see He doesn’t fail me. His mercies are always new every morning.

    So each day I have something to look forward to. :)


    To God be the glory, 
    Great things He hath done”

    ~*~

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    I Will SING!

    “Come, let us sing unto the Lord:
    Let us make a joyful noise 
    to the rock of our salvation.

    O sing unto the Lord a new song: 
    sing unto the Lord, all the earth.
    Let the heavens rejoice,
    and the earth be glad…

    The Lord reigneth; 
    let the earth rejoice!”
    {Selected passages from Psalms 95-97}
    ~*~

    I’ve been singing since I was a little girl…

    My parents instilled in me a love of singing and of music and I grew up singing as I worked on my chores or craft projects, riding in the car…you name it.

    However, the “doom and gloom” of growing up, or hardship and suffering in the midst of trials, has somewhat dimmed my joy of singing out loud in the last few years. I realized that by letting my heart and my thoughts ponder on my predicaments frequently, instead of rejoicing in my great God, that I don’t sing like I used to. I allowed my trials to discourage me so much that I lost my “joy of the Lord” for a time, and in losing that I didn’t feel like singing - maybe I didn’t feel I had a reason to sing anymore (ever felt that way before?).

    “The heavens declare the glory of God” - if the earth and the heavens are doing their job in praising the Lord then so shall I! Who wants to sit and mope when there is so much “scope for the imagination” (to quote the Anne girl)?

    There’s music in the sighing of a reed;
    There’s music in the gushing of a rill;
    There’s music in all things, if men had ears:
    Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.

    ~Lord Byron

    What kind of testimony am I being to the lost if I hang my head and grumble and complain? No matter what happens, God still reigns, His proof is in the times and seasons and His care in each little rosebud and daffodil. I want to sing, rejoice, and revel in the glory that God has created for us to enjoy! I want to shout out loud in praise that God reigns in my life! And, I want others to know why I have this reason to sing.

    So I say to you, NEVER stop singing. Never cease to praise the Lord, singing it out loud, no matter what you are going through. The Lord is with you and there is no need to worry or fear or fret - keep singing till the day is done.

    ~*~

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    In All That I Do, In All That I Am

    I’m a girl of simple dreams. The few I have are as big as I can handle… and there’s a lot of waiting, and a lot of work left to be done.

    More often than not that waiting means I’m not making much progress towards accomplishing my dreams as quickly as I’d like. There’s so much I want to be doing, but sometimes it takes awhile before God allows those big dreams to be fulfilled. So instead of growing discouraged, I try to focus on what He calls me to now, right in this moment.

    I hear Him….

    When He calls me to be still, to rest and sit by a well;

    In the call to be an authentic real girl;

    When He urges me to rejoice with others and to let Him have my dreams;

    And when love is put to the test;

    Or, when He reminds me that it’s enough…to love and to be there. I don’t have to compete or measure up.

    My days are filled with emailing and encouraging my sisters in Christ, cooking and folding laundry for a family who loves me, striving to rejoice when more trials come, reading and learning and drawing closer to the God who calls me to follow Him. It’s the simple everyday things He’s called me to love.

    To those around me, my calling may not seem important when seen from the outside, but I know God has a purpose greater for my life than anything I could hope for. It’s a life-journey to discover what that is and how I can become all He’s made me to be. I have God-sized dreams I pray will one day come true, but until then my job is to listen closely for His will for me today. That calling can be as humbling as serving a glass of water to my dad, or as great as writing a book with a message He wants to use through me…and it’s even writing this little post.

    It’s a call of daily surrender (Luke 9:23).
    You see…
    …everything that happens in my everyday, 
    is part of His calling.

    It’s His calling me to serve and love and treasure and rejoice…to listen and seek and praise in all that I do, in all that I am.

    …It’s simply following in His footsteps.

    Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), 
    do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, 
    sending thanks through Him to God our Father.”
    ~ Colossians 3:17 ~
    (from The Voice bible)

    Meditation for your day: 
             Do you hear His calling in the everyday moments, or are you too busily distracted with planning out your own life in your own way? Do you have God-sized dreams that have been put on the shelf for a time? Trust the Lord with your dreams and ask Him to help you to enjoy the little everyday moments to serve and enjoy His presence.

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    My Dad & I

    Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 
    Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

    ~ Ephesians 6:1-3 ~

    How many times have we heard this verse quoted to us by our elder’s growing up? Dozens of times probably. But I have a confession to make; I’m a stubborn and sometimes head-strong girl who often finds it hard to obey and honor my parents the way I know I ought to. Wait a minute…you too? Oh good, then I’m not alone.

    My father may be the one I have the most difficulty in honoring. Mother’s Day is easy; I make my mom something special, honor her with a wonderful breakfast, write a sweet card, tell her I love and appreciate her. I see how hard she works and I try to match her and be like her. My dad though? Why is it I seem to only see his faults and the mistakes he makes?

    This week my family read the story of the prodigal son and it reminded me that we have two choices: we can be like the sons in this story who dishonored their father by thinking they were superior and seeing only their father’s flaws, having the “what’s in it for us” attitude, or we can be children who respect their parents realizing that they are flawed sinful human beings just as we are, and give them a little grace.

    It isn’t easy choosing to honor our parents when they sin, especially when their choices affect us so much, but if we choose to hold on to bitterness we will be the ones who will be destroyed in the end. Parents have a lot of pressure from the world and the Christian church to raise their children properly. There are so many choices to be made! I’m so very thankful to have parents who have made wise choices for me growing up, and who have taught me how to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and soul.

    I want my parents to know that I trust their decisions, that I will not speak ill of them to others, and that I can be counted on to set the good example for my younger siblings. My desire is to let them know how much I love them by serving them and respecting them even when I don’t agree or have a different way of doing things.

    Living It Out!

    All or May I’ve been trying to honor my father more by…

    • Not speaking (or thinking!) ill of him. This has probably been the most difficult part for me. It all starts with my heart and choosing not to concentrate on the “flaws” I see in him. I know I make mistakes too, we’re all of us flawed, and he’s been a wonderful dad and good provider through many difficult challenges. I want to be more gracious and loving toward him - it’s the first step for me in respecting him.
    • Choose each day to remember what a gift and blessing my father is. I got a good wake-up call in this as my dad had a serious heart surgery this month and is still feeling the effects of this a little bit. I know how blessed I am to still have my father here with me, so I want to enjoy my time with him instead of sitting here and looking at where he’s messing up.
    • I’ll set aside what I’m doing to listen to him speak. It may not be a good time for me, but maybe it’s a God-appointed time. If I say I’d be willing to be there for my future family, it’s kind of hypocritical not to start now with the family God’s already given me.
    • Keep the Kitchen Clean: with my dad’s health troubles, this is one way I can bless him so that he doesn’t have to wash something or work in a messy environment to fix his meals throughout the day. It also helps us have a more harmonious family!

    It’s been wonderful to see the progress the Lord has allowed me to make in my relationship with my dad this month by trying to honor him more just by following these few steps. One person can make a difference in the family dynamics!

     Meditation for your day:

              How can you begin to show honor to your own parents today? Write down some ideas and get started! If you have past experiences with your parents that are keeping you from doing this, ask the Lord to give you a new heart that will be forgiving, gracious, and respectful - He will do it!

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