Tuesday, December 25, 2012

my gift of grace

I am not sure where to start this story, as I'm not sure where the beginning is. But somewhere between green leaves budding out of the trees and those very same leaves falling to the ground, my heart was forever changing.  To feel the seasons of life leave its imprint on my heart has been one of my greatest gifts. The sense that what has been and what is to come all has been linked through the simple truth of the Lord's steadfast presence along the way, no matter how near or far I have been. As I turn around and look back, I see what He has done...what He might be doing and what He can do.

To carry life again this time around feels like a huge blanket of grace has been laid over me.  I slowly stepped out of a season of life leaving me very frail, broken, and tired. I wasn't sure who I had become through the process, but knew I was walking away from that season into a newer season...a different gal, a better version of myself with a heart open to anything He set before me. Willing hands ready to serve and feet ready to walk anywhere, filled with his grace as I found His joy through the things often unseen by the naked eye.  

I can't really explain what I spent much of my time doing in the midst of leaves growing and falling, but along that time frame, I knew I was preparing for something. My home, my body, my heart.  I could feel Him calling me to be still and know He was God as I found peace in that stillness.  I was cautiously going forward, a bit fearful of what may lay ahead and yet thankful to be walking again at all. 

As I prepared and followed, I knew that there was something more to come... and then it happened. After years of off and on infertility and lost babies and while I was breastfeeding, the smallest miracle happened... God breathed life into me. Not just the form of life through a baby...but the kind that speaks to my heart each day telling me I was made for more and that I was worthy and that He was not done with me yet.  While I spent time close to Him he prepared not only my home, my heart, and my body...but He prepared my ways for me so that all I could do was simply follow with no looking back. To be honest, at one moment in all my blind preparing I thought He was getting me ready to make some changes within our home. I thought he was leading me to homeschooling full time and was mentally letting my head be encouraged by me heart's nudges that something bigger was coming. 

The day I learned I was carrying new life was a day of a little bit of shock, but mostly a day of humble, humble knowing. This was it. This is what was next, even when I thought I was barely doing God any glory with the first blessings He had given me.  Where I had been did not define who I could become. And this new little life forming fearfully and wonderfully in my womb was proof that God gives and God takes away and even in both places, He shows us His grace through his gifts. His gifts. They are always here...if you can't see them...you are not looking close enough.

I am beyond humbled and grateful to be carrying this little life. When I learned I was carrying a daughter, I was all alone. And in my time by myself I carried this secret and found God again. Steadfast, always. I decided to keep this secret until Christmas morning and surprise my husband and boys. I spent a few weeks with my secret knowing this time with just me and baby girl was not timeless. But I dreamed about her and talked to God about her and thanked her for already making me more of who God wants me to be. For she has come into my life when I have learned that my purpose is only as valuable as I let God make it.  It is always valuable in His eyes...it is my own that I must not lose sight of. So I will wait for this little girl to arrive knowing I was made for such a time as this. And when she comes and I first hold her, I will know that He gives and takes away and no matter where I am that day or the days following...I was made for Him. And as a mother, I was made for her. And all of them who have grown in the same womb before her. Always and forever with a purpose just for Him. And always and forever receiving his grace. She is my grace gift...my first little girl.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blessed be Thy Name...always

By my bed sits my little book of gifts. When I decided to jump in and take Ann Voskamp's challenge to come up with 1000 gifts of my own, I wanted to see if her way of seeing through the world through small pieces of God's grace could really make a difference. So I found the perfect size notepad with pretty pink flowers covering it and wrote down my first gift.

1. clean white sheets to rest my very tired body

When I wrote my first gift I was in a season of months on months of very little sleep, a needy baby boy, a new business, and a roofing project going on around me. I was so very tired in every way and the first gift I saw was my bed, to no one's surprise, and the crisp white summer bedding that waited for me at the end of every day. As my days let up, my gifts began to come more and more as I ran my pen across my paper and started to see...started to hear...started to feel. By the time I wrote down my 100th gift, I knew this gift numbering thing was slowly changing my heart.

100. breath of fresh air
101. swinging on a front porch
102. toes in the water
103. breeze through the windows
104. warm homemade bread with melted peanut butter
105. baby's head on my shoulder

As my gifts started to pile up, my eyes began to see the everyday pieces of God's grace all around me. Once I found myself in the 2 and 3 hundred's, I was becoming very aware of what God gives us everyday and how I was living letting it all go unnoticed most days. Rush here, do this, be there, make that, get this, go....go...go. The pattern in my life had me worn thin and the only thing saving it was the new time God carved away for me after months of long days and this little list that was helping me recognize the beauty all around me...his grace.

I began to have a patient heart as I walked through my days to stop and really know God was with me. I could feel him in the sunshine against my face on a warm day and the touch of my baby's hands wrapped around mine as he learned to walk and the sway of that old swing on our back porch as I closed up many summer nights with my biggest boys and the sip of hot flavored coffee on my lips. These things that seem like everyday occurrences are really second chances...over and over again, day after day, God gives me many little pieces of His grace to embrace and my heart is filled with his joy.

My heart has found a place of stability as I keep penning away my gifts of grace... But as I watch around me, I wonder if I would stay in this place of grace gift searching and seeing if my life suddenly fell apart.  Sure money is tight and I've been throwing up while my baby grows inside of me and we have crappy insurance, but my life is good. It is blessed. The gifts I count keep getting put down each night before bed and I am thankful here.

I drove home from the doctor's office the other day and out my window were pink ribbons tied to trees alongside the very church where my dear friend stood and said goodbye to her baby boy almost 3 years ago. Only in that church today stands another mother who is saying goodbye to her very own sweet young girl and the pink ribbons have me thinking about her, and my friend, and the hearts of those who have truly felt loss. How do they see God's gifts when the very gifts that came from their bodies are passed on way too early? I stand in awe at the faith I see them living out as they walk this life with less of who they created.

303. time to see
304. a mothers love
307. a mothers trust
311. a mothers surrender
316. a mothers grace

I see these mothers and they are being used by God, surely they are. In my time of blurry vision I found this list making of 1000 gifts to help me lift the fog and see the gifts around me.  I am finding through their faith in what has and is happening in their life, that my own is being taught to keep seeing and believing and trust that God gives grace through all things.  The mothers who have felt loss deep in their guts are standing tall as they lean on their Savior to help them step into their days filled with little pieces of God's grace. They do not go unnoticed and the grace they are leading their life with speak volumes to me as I have been searching for the little pieces of God's touch through out my every day life. These mothers who have stood in the same church and shed similar tears and said goodbye way too early to the ones they've shared a heartbeat with are some of the biggest vision of God's grace that I have found... grieving mothers willing to stay true to the one who gives and takes away...and still walks away saying, Blessed be Thy Name.

My book is filling up with the wonders of God's second chances that are all around me. But watching these mothers is filling my heart with truth that even in the deepest places, you can feel God's grace.  Even when you have no daily list of all the precious gifts you've seen or felt,  the heart can be filled just knowing the Deliverer of second chances. And some days that is the only thing I need to write down for the day...

325. I know Him. Blessed be They Name.