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I Think it’s Called Grace

Last week, I work hard in my own, small domain. I organize closets and scrub the fridge (how did I not know the possibilities of its shininess?!) and try to be a good mama. I completely fail the latter quest (and really, the first one too) in moments where I contort, all ugly. Moments where my mouth screeches and only berates, doesn’t bend low to disciple. I ask forgiveness from two little girls, their soul windows opened wide, taking in my fleeting words of humility. The oldest says she can forgive and I thank her, knowing that I’ll have to ask the same thing of her tomorrow, and the day after that. It’s 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed, as Dr. Seuss would say. He said that a kid could move mountains. I think on another, more laudable person who said I could move the rooted things, the seemingly immovable mountains, if only I ask.

 

I ask. And somehow? He can use the broken, constantly failing people – like me, and I daresay, you – and if we ask for things with the faith of the smallest of mustard seeds . . . HE moves. The Timeless One. The Ever-Abiding One. I ask, falteringly, hesitantly, more than a little doubtingly, but with just a small spark of hope in His power. And He moves.

 

He takes my stubborn, prejudiced, ungrateful heart, and transforms it, in an 180 degree sort of fashion. The kind of spin on my soul’s axis that only He can direct.

 

He works wonders in the heart of the one I love. Like only He can do.

 

Does He completely perfect things . . . us? By no means. But He hears heart cries and . . . He moves. How can He be such a Servant-King?

 

He serves us every day in this earth beauty. Common grace, I think they call it. I drink it in.

 

 

The common grace of a flower. Of petals opening and their sweetness wafting on warm, spring breezes.

 

 

And the grace of friends supporting, praying, lifting you up. Holding fast to you when you don’t think you can do life like this anymore – let alone, live it to glorify a Humble, Servant-King.

 

 

Of answered prayers and seeing the Gardener till and aerate our hard-caked hearts. A softness and life-giving richness is opened to light and beauty grows.

 

 

How does a Sovereign, all-powerful God, bend so very low and breathe His life and give His grace and shape our hearts? How do I not live in more constant gratefulness? I can only try.

 

Little, meager thank-you’s to an All-Powerful King, yet our humble Bridegroom.

He has bent low and I must count.

I whisper thanks.

 

#397 sunlight on all-white dogwoods

#398 water flowing over fountains

#399 hammock-rocking, side by side

#400 bubbling over giggles

#401 little arms, reaching up

#402 loving being home, with this little family all tucked and breathing deep

#403 the Gardener, tilling, aerating our hearts

#404 giving sisters who make wonderful aunts

#405 long walks with my girls

#406 side by side, stroller-riding girls, leaning over to love on each other

#407 also, more opportunity to lean on Him – call on Him – in learning to direct their anger away from each other

#408 that I can ask forgiveness, again and again. and again.

#409 yellow finch hopping on branches

#410 old, sturdy vines, hugging, clinging all the way up

#411 laughing, laughing, laughing with friends

# 412 the day-in, day-out, continual learning that I am not in control . . . giving up those I love, letting Him work

#413 a changed heart . . . mine. learning to love right where He has me

#414 that it could only possibly be His work

#415 balloon excitement

#416 flowy skirts in warm, Southern spring breezes

#417 silly pictures

#418 praying friends

#419 little girls in new hairbows

#420 being surrounded by beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ

#421 that we can take turns holding up each other’s arms

Whispered Thanks

 

The Smallest

If you have faith, as small as a mustard seed,

You can say to this mountain,

move from here to there,

and it will move.

If you have faith, as small as a mustard seed,

you can say to this tree,

be uprooted and planted in the sea

and it will obey.

If you have faith,

as

small

as a

mustard

seed.

(Singing this today . . . a song adapted by Seeds Family Worship.

Taken from Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6)

 

Is it really possible?

A mustard seed’s size of a faith?

And He can use it to uproot

the

immovable,

the age-old?

 


 

It seems like a ludicrous promise.

 

But He, Himself, said it.

 

The one who spoke a word

and the mountains formed

and trees stood stalwart.

 

 

He offered us the promise.

The dare?

I will begin the asking.

In His hands are mustard seeds for the taking.

 

 

A Prayer for the Vows

***(Please excuse the lack of paragraphs. WordPress is bunching them all up together for some reason….)***
I wake up while stars are still in the sky. I groggily slip out from under the covers. I know that he is already awake and has been for quite some time. He has been working while the girls and I still slept. I walk to the kitchen and all I have to do is pour the coffee into my favorite morning mug. He’s already had a cup or two. Suddenly, I feel a little spoiled, but my heart bows in wonder. You see, when you marry your highschool sweetheart, you have the sometimes frustrating, but always honor-infused privilege of watching your spouse grow up before your very eyes. You grow up together, really. No matter what the age of your first introduction, husband and wife are witnesses to one another. Discipline is only one of the ways I’ve watched my husband grow over the years. I learn from my brown-eyed boy, become man. The one who says that I was taller than he was when we first met. I was 13. I don’t remember that…..
Even before we were married, our relationship had a lot of ups and downs. Some of the more difficult aspects of our relationship came from outside of us, but some were just . . . us. We were young. We were and are two different people.
Because in a marriage there is always one.
And always two.
The constant melding of two hearts, two lives, two distinct people with their own needs, dreams, desires, trying to become one. This is hard, life-long work. This unity does not automatically occur at the moment you vow your lives to one another. It doesn’t spontaneously happen simply because you make love to one another. It is in the continual melting of the metals of our cores – leaving the dross, leaving the safe and known – that we become something more pure and unwavering.
How I long to live this.
Late in the night, before his early morning work and before the coffee, I cuddle close and think on marriage vows. And I remember….
In the times of the worse,  the poorer, and the sickness, these are the times for which we made our vows. These are the times our words put on our flesh and His Life is breathed. Our vows were made . . . for this.
So, in the Better . . . give us grace to revel in love – love with abandon. Let us remember our past, rejoice in our present, and look toward the future with hope.
In the Worse . . . let us cling to one another, standing strong in the midst of life’s complexities. Save us from our own selfishness. Use the Worse to make us Better, that we may step out from marriage’s dark nights, more brilliant . . . more loving.
More one.



In the Richer . . . give us generous hands and hearts. Let us be wise with your gifts and thankful for your Provision. Let us also be poor in spirit, poor of selfish-wants, poor of desiring things that are not of You.
In the Poorer . . . let us be rich in love. Rich in joy and affirmation and affection. Love does not feed the hungry tummy, but it feeds the soul. It feeds the foundation of a marriage . . . a family.
In the Sickness . . . let us nurture and care for one another in our weakness. Be our True Healing – healing in the places we don’t even know are sick. Let us be joyful, for joyful hearts are good medicine.
In the Health . . . give us fallen-to-the-knees gratitude. Let us not take a day for granted, but let us tuck away every moment of catching up on each other’s days, every kiss, every wink, every finger, every crook-of-the-arm cuddle, every hand holding, every walk through the door after a hard day’s work.
In the Love and Cherish . . . let us love as You love. Let us be a channel straight from Your heart to the heart of the one we love. Your kind of love is the only love that withstands time and nourishes truly.
And in Death . . . let there be no regrets. Let us have lived lives full of a million “I Love You’s” in word and deed. You bring Life in Death . . . let our marriage speak when we no longer can….
Then there are the times of the in-between . . . neither better, nor worse – the times we just are. These are the times that feel most safe, but are in actuality, more suffocating. Give us strength to push past our apathy. Let us not be content with mere side-by-side, lukewarm living. Give us emboldened assertion to pursue each other and know each other. You are our Life.
You are our Life.

With our bodies, we Thee worship.

Sparrow

*Heads-up: This post is a bit long – just a story in the life of a regular-everyday mama like me. I promise it has a point. And I’d love for you to join me . . . learning the art of prayer….*


I’ve called her my grace because she has taught me so much about the One who is grace Himself. When my second daughter came into this world, I had a multitude of requests surrounding her birth. Little Mama-prayers – nothing monumental.

 

Of course, I prayed for a healthy baby. I prayed for other things though too – things important only to me.

Like, please, let my doctor be on call when I go into labor.

Please, let me have good nurses.

Please, please, keep my body whole.

Please, let me get the one larger mommy-baby room on the floor (my husband and I both come from gargantuan families and would have lots of visitors).

 

And there were more. Little, simple prayers that weren’t really huge requests in the grand scheme of things. They would just be, oh, so nice.

 

I woke up in the middle of the night that night and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was having a few contractions. “Hmmm . . . better keep tabs on those,” I thought. But more importantly, I was hungry. I rolled my nine-month-pregnant belly out of bed and padded my way to the kitchen.

 

Granola. I needed granola.

 

So, I ate granola at 3:00 in the morning and watched (what else would a pregnant woman watch in the middle of the night?) The Food Network. Giada De Laurentiis and I traveled all over New England from the comfort of my couch and we ate granola and timed contractions. I have to admit, between the two of us, she wins hands-down for looking amazing at 3 a.m.  😉 Giada didn’t know it, but as she talked of lobster and fish and oysters, I was slowly realizing that this was going to be the big day.

 

The contractions slowly progressed until all of a sudden, they came in a flurry and I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t walk. Perfect! My doctor had told me at my appointment earlier in the week that he was going to be on call just the Saturday of this particular weekend! One prayer answered.

 

We rushed down Georgia and Tennessee mountain roads to get to the hospital.

 

But by the time we reached the bottom of the mountain, all of those frenzied contractions had all but ceased. I was determined that I was not going into that hospital just to be kept in a bed. I wanted to be more than convinced that this was the real thing before being admitted to the hospital.

 

So what did we do?

 

We went to Sonic, of course.

(For those of you not from the Southern U.S., Sonic is a drive-in, fast-food chain where the waitresses still come out to your car on roller skates! They serve a mean Cherry-Limeade over mouth-watering pellet ice. If you’re ever down this way, you gotta try one.)

 

And as we sat waiting for our order, I realized. I could not possibly be in labor. If any other woman was sitting in a Sonic Drive-Thru ordering a morning shake instead of waddling through those hospital doors?

 

I’d pat her sweet, little shoulder and sympathetically say,

“Honey, you need to go on home. This isn’t it.”

And I hated to admit it, but it was true.

 

So after an hour or so of walking at the mall, trying to get something going, we went home and I crawled in the bed. Exhausted.

My husband went to get his hair cut (Yes, I gave him permission – if this was the day, I didn’t want him scaring our new, little one with scraggly hair. <sheepish grin> Oh, okay, you caught me – it was really all about the pictures.). Our oldest was with family. I tried to nap.

 

But I was disappointed. I  had thought this was the day.

 

“Lord? I thought this was it. What’s happening? I’ve done this once before, why is it so different this time? My doctor’s on call. My husband’s off of work already. This would be the perfect day.”

 

The contractions were only every 20 minutes apart and far from noteworthy. The doctor called and told me I could come into the hospital and he could check my progression if I wanted him to. I was tempted. But also terrified. I wanted as natural a birth as possible and didn’t want to get stuck at the hospital, or be pressured to be induced, etc.

 

I told the doctor that I needed to pray and I’d let him know what I decided.

So my husband and I, we cuddled in our bed and prayed . . .

“Lord, you know that we think this would be a perfect day for our daughter’s birth. We pray that you would show us what is going on here. If this is real labor, we just pray that you get things going because the doctor isn’t on call tomorrow. If this isn’t the day, please stop all contractions for now and give us peace in your timing.”

 

We closed our eyes for about five minutes.

And then my eyes flew open to the bedside clock. Hard contraction.

Five minutes.

Contraction.

And another and another.

Within an hour of that prayer, I was in that hospital bed, very close to holding our baby in our arms.

She came.

And she would have come, regardless.

 

But, I had my doctor. I had good nurses. I got that big room. My body did more wonderfully than it did the first time around. And I had a healthy baby girl. And there were other prayers too.

 

Every single prayer? Even the small, it-would-be-so-nice-but-it’s-so-small-I-probably-shouldn’t-even-bother-asking-You requests? He answered, “Yes.” He has said yes to me before. He’s said no to me plenty of times. But surrounding her birth, He showed me more of His loving-kindness. He showed me that He *truly* listens. He showed me that He cares – even about someone like me – that His eye is truly on the sparrow. He showed me that nothing is too small to ask.

 

Let us not be afraid to ask of Him.

 

Am I saying that He will answer every request with a “yes”? No, I’m not saying that. He sometimes has to say no to our requests, but I have no doubt that in those instances, He says yes to something better. I’m also not saying that prayer is only about asking of Him, but that is a subject larger than the scope of this post, or my understanding for that matter.

 

What are your requests? Big or small? If there is something on your heart, would you please give me the honor of taking you before the Father? Because seeing His faithfulness in my life and in the lives of others strengthens and encourages me. If you feel comfortable, feel free to share your request(s) in the comments, so that whatever readers come this way may pray for you as well. If that is too public for you, please feel free to email me at lifeinlimits@gmail.com.  Either way, I promise that you will be taken before the Father. Let us take advantage of this blog community….

 

~Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16~

~Prayer is the easiest and hardest of all things; the simplest and the sublim-est; the weakest and the most powerful; its results lie outside the range of human possibilities-they are limited only by the omnipotence of God. ~E. M. Bounds~