…to sing thy grace.

Welcome! This is a place for hearts and for grace. A place for life and story, laughter and tears, the serious and the silly. I hope you see my heart in all that I write, and that ultimately you see the Father's heart for you as we learn together to tune our hearts to sing his grace.

Grab On To Hope! :: For A Post-Retreat Monday

I’m thinking about all the students and leaders who were at Woodlands Fall Retreat, here yesterday…

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and who are now sitting in a classroom…(or back to reality.)

 

What a let down right?!?!

The weekend was full of beautiful weather, friends, worship, and time studying God’s word together. It was just awesome!

So I know Monday morning likes to just come along and steal our weekend peace and stomp on our hope doesn’t it?

 

Well here’s to those of you saying NO WAY NOT TODAY! Monday morning you can’t steal my hope.

Because I know there are little nagging things trying to drag you down…there are unresolved tensions, there are looming projects that seem to have no end, there are people who tick you off, there are people we can’t change or fix…

This morning I was tempted to give up hope as I met a challenge that I’ve been facing for a while now with one of my children. Thankfully, (after a few tears…) I was reminded that our challenges can either make us give up hope and stop praying OR they can actually push us to hope and to pray. Without this challenge this morning…I would be just going along thinking about MY day, MY plans, MY comfort. Instead I was forced to my knees and I was reminded that I can do nothing apart from Jesus. And that is actually the BEST way to start my day.

So friends reading this, let me encourage you to grab on to hope. Get a good grip. Don’t let go!!!!

That test, that person, that problem, that drama, that phone call, that injury, that whatever….let it turn you to Jesus! And students…you face so much…but there is nothing that can take away the hope that you find in Jesus! Whatever you learned or experienced about God’s goodness, his grace, and his plan for you…hold on to it, don’t let Monday or anything else take it away.

Singing His Grace,

Jess

Right Of Way :: On foggy mornings, rules of the road & the importance of yielding

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I drove the kids to school in the fog this morning.

The mist hung thick over the trees kissing the grass with dew.

Car headlights cut through the fog, creating a spectacular glowing effect.

I looked down at the dash. My gas light was on. The needle was solidly on the red.

After drop off, I pulled into the gas station to fill up. With a full tank, I began to pull the van back out on the main road, but as I looked to the left, a car had turned and was headed my way. My brian did the split-second-decision-making-thing that driving always requires…Should I pull out? Do I have enough time? Should I wait for him to pass?

My Massachusetts driver at heart told me to PULL OUT! GO!

My learned southern hospitality said BLESS YOUR HEART, YOU GO FIRST.

And I hit the break. I let him pass and then pulled out on my way thinking to myself…You know, he did have the right of way. I thought about how mildly frustrating it is when cars pull out in front of me and I have to hit my break just a touch. You know what I mean…We all think to ourselves…Hey! I’m driving here! I have the right of way!

You see there are rules of the road. There are time-tested, logical guidelines for drivers to follow that makes everything go smoothly. Right of way is one of them. Yielding to cars already driving on the road, no matter what part of the country you come from **wink** is the best way. And yet, how often does our busy schedule, our agenda, our impatience trump another driver’s right of way as we hit the gas and pull out? And before you think I’m trying to give you a guilt trip about your driving…let me tell you the next thought that I had as I headed back to my sleepy house on the hill in the fog….

I thought…Oh Jess, how many times do you trump God’s right of way in your life? Are you yielding to him? Do you let him go first, or do you let your busy schedule, your agenda, and your impatience keep you from yielding to what God wants to do in your life?

I could see myself, eager, foot on the gas pedal ready to go, when the best way…the way through the fog…the smooth way, is to yield and let God have the right of way.

But yielding is hard! It means waiting. It means following. It means letting someone else set the pace, course, and destination in my life. That is so against my nature. And yet, I know the times I’ve been unwilling to yield to God I’ve ended up lost, confused, burned out and out of gas so to speak. I’ve learned that God deserves the right of way in my life. I’ve learned that he wants what is best for me. I’ve seen his faithfulness. He has guided me through. I know the journey isn’t over, and for that reason this morning I remember to pause and consciously decide to yield to God’s right of way in my life.

Where are you this morning? Do you find yourself in a mental, emotional, spiritual fog? Are you confused, discouraged, burned out? Or are you all gassed up and ready to go? Wherever you find yourself, take some time to ask yourself: Am I giving God the right of way in my life?

Yielding may look like giving up something or someone who is taking priority over God.
Or it may look like rearranging your schedule.
It always means pausing, and opening our hands…loosening our grip on control…

The Old Testament is full of stories of generations of Isrealites who did not yield to God’s way. In 2 Chronicles we read this rebuke to the people:

Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God…(2 Chronicles 30:8a ESV)

This morning, before you dash out on your own, recommit yourself to giving God the right of way in your life.

Singing His Grace,

Jess

 

Some thoughts…

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Just popping in this morning to share a few things. My brain feels like listing my thoughts so here it goes…

1. Fall is breathtakingly beautiful.

2. My days look a little different with two kids in elementary school and one in preschool. It feels so strange…and wonderful…

3. I get to go shopping by myself.

4. I get to meet my husband for lunch.

5. I get to finish what I start.

6. I have quiet time.

7. I can go to a coffee shop.

8. I saw a mom with a little one in the grocery cart and almost cried.

9. We were talking about changing diapers last night and I DID cry because I don’t change diapers anymore. (Didn’t see that one coming.)

10. I love where I am. I love where I’ve been. I love where I’m going. But man! The kids are getting big.

11. I’m still trying to figure it all out. But, for anyone stumbling on this in the middle of tiny tots at home…it is a crazy hard season. CRAZY hard. But it doesn’t last. Nope, nope. It goes by in a blink.

12. I’m learning to how to fill my moment and days with things that bring life to my family and to me…praying, reading, baking, meal planning, organizing, shopping, walking, journaling, breathing deeply, keeping the van clean(isn). I know this season is not forever, so trying to figure out how to get the most out of it!

How about you?

Are things looking different in your life? Or, are you faithfully pushing through a season that has looked the same for a while. Isn’t it so nice to know that we have a God who is always doing something new in our lives? And yet, HE never changes. Pretty much awesome.

Thanks for reading my thoughts.

Singing His Grace,

Jess

A Broken Phone and Glimpses of Glory


So my phone was giving me problems. I had to keep powering it off and powering it back on again for it to even make a phone call.

But, it required me to go get it fixed. And before I could go get it fixed I had to be sure that all my photos were backed up.

I plugged the phone into my computer and just like that, in the span of a few minutes I relived our entire summer. Beginning back in June through the first days of school, until just yesterday I saw image after image flash before me. And I was overcome with thankfulness.

Each smile, each treasured moment, each special person…I am reminded of the gifts we unwrap each moment.

Summer Collage

It was seriously like stepping out of time for a second and watching days and weeks and months flip by. I noticed how much Derek’s hair has grown, and how different Ben looks with his hair cut now. Even the silly photos, or the random captures of sunsets and books and coffee mugs added to the whole feel and tone of the last few months. It was a strange and beautiful experience, maybe you’ve had something similar happen to you…but all I could do was sit back and smile and say thank you.

Because so much can change in a moment. Life seems so guaranteed. But our logic is flawed. We think that just because our heart has been beating and our lungs have been filling for the last *fill-in-the-blank* years of our lives it will continue on doing just that. But that is just simply not true.

And the temporal, the lovely now, that is here just for a moment and gone with hardly enough time to capture in an image, slips by. Change is happening all around us. Summer with all its strawberries and sand has come and gone. Fall is one sudden cold snap away. Snow pictures will soon fill my phone’s camera roll, and we march on giving thanks for the good behind us and yearning for the good ahead of us. And God who stands outside of time knows exactly how many times our heart will pump and just how many breaths we’ll inhale. He knows how many summers we’ll savor and how many Christmas mornings we’ll celebrate. And one day he’ll call us to eternity and teach us the ways of heaven. All will be restored, death will die, and the flashes of glory we’ve seen now will pale in comparison to what has been prepared for us.

So thank you phone for having issues. In fact go ahead and break every few months, so that I can sink deep in thankfulness and glimpse our great God weaving this story moment by moment!

Singing His Grace,

Jess

Blend all my soul with Thine…

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So many thoughts and emotions swirling in my mind and heart…

You too?

Oh good, glad I’m not alone.

I’m also glad that God knows my thoughts and my heart before I do!

I’m loving the words to this hymn…pictured above.

And here’s a prayer for us today:

May the breath of God that made us and now sustains us fill us today.

May our souls be blended with His.

And, may we glow with the light of his love.

Amen

Parenting :: Letting go of a demanding spirit and turning to a spirit of prayer.

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Oh friends! I can’t wait to share this with you this morning!

Because I just love when God takes something we know with our minds and then suddenly we read something or see something and we come to understand with our hearts!

That is what happened when I read this passage from, A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller.

I know I can’t change my children’s hearts…BUT I STILL TRY.

My parenting has become more about demanding what I want and less about asking my heavenly Father what HE wants. Both what he wants for my kids…but even more…what he wants for ME.

Ouch. I can’t lie, it stings.

But a good kind of sting.

The kind of sting that brings understanding.

Parents, if you find yourself knowing that prayer is important in your parenting but lack that heart-level understanding…let me share this passage with you!

Parenting And Prayer

     It is surprising how seldom books on parenting talk about prayer. We instinctively believe that if we have the right biblical principles and apply them consistently, our kids will turn out right. But that didn’t work for God in the Garden of Eden. Perfect environment. Perfect relationships. And still God’s two children went bad.
Many parents, including myself, are initially confident we can change our child. We don’t surrender to our child’s will (which is good), but we try to dominate the child with our own (which is bad). Without realizing it, we become demanding. We are driven by the hope of real change, but the change occurs because we make the right moves.
Until we become convinced we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously. Consequently, repentance is often missing. When we see, for example, our son’s self-will, we usually don’t ask, How am I self-willed? or How am I angry? We want God’s help so we can dominate our son. We forget that God is not a genie but a person who wants to shape us in the image of his Son as much as he want to answer our prayers.”

Convicted? I know I need repentance and a renewed commitment to prayer as the ONLY way to change my heart and my children’s hearts.

And honestly, I am breathing a sigh of relief…Because I have felt the pressure (self-imposed mostly) to parent well, to have “good” kids…

Through prayer, I can let all that stress, pressure, anxiety, worry, and guilt go. I can lean on the Holy Spirit, I can parent with peace, gentleness and patience not because I somehow mustered up those things or poured a second cup of coffee, or slept 8+ hours…

No matter the circumstance, through prayer, I can parent out of a place of HOPE in God to work in the little hearts I live with.

So prayer? That’s it?

Um, actually yes.

It sounds crazy. But that’s just it. What seems like foolishness is absolutely it!!! God is enough. So like children, we ask for help and let him do only what he can.

And maybe somehow you are reading this and you are not a parent. But I’m pretty sure we all have people in our lives whose hearts we would LOVE to change. Maybe we’ve found ourselves even demanding change.

I’ll invite you to join me in letting go of that demanding spirit and turning to a spirit of prayer. Because OUR OWN hearts will be changed.

Singing His Grace,

Jess

~A Mini-Book Review~

A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, is not actually a parenting book and I would highly recommend it to you! It has opened my eyes to how the spirit of this age (and my own heart) is one of cynicism and it also gives powerful and practical insights into prayer. I’m reading it slowly and carefully letting each chapter teach me to turn to prayer.

 

Show up. Be brave. It’s going to be great.

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He gave me a big squeeze and a kiss and then just one more hug.

Sleepy eyes, hair still a little disheveled…He sat down with the other kids against the wall outside his kindergarten classroom.

“Let me tell you something in your ear,” he says.

I bend down and he whispers his usual question, “When are you going to pick me up?”

“Two-thirty Buddy,” I reply.

He nods. Then looks away calmly taking in the morning hum of excitement. This is his signal it is okay for me to go.

I wave, and leave, heart exploding, eyes welling.

Kindergarten.

That first big moment to let go just a little bit. To let him be brave. To let me be brave.

And we don’t have to have it all figured out. But sometimes we just get credit for showing up.

We put our hope in a God who is able to do abundantly more than we can ever ask or even think and we just show up because we know it’s going to be great.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Not that there won’t be hard days…challenges we would never have even thought to prepare for…heartbreak, loneliness, and disappointment. There will be. But we show up knowing that even on the worst day, God is good. Even in hard things, our good is what God’s heart beats for…

So if today you just showed up, and that’s all you could do, that is A-okay.

Even if there were tears, even if you don’t feel up to what lies ahead, you showed up. God can do the rest friends. In fact when we just show up expecting it to be great…because HE is great, that is where it gets really good. That is where we see Him wow us, delight us, woo us with his love. So whatever you may be facing, kindergarten, an interview, a goodbye, a diagnosis, a new season of life, or just another day… take some deep breaths this morning. Really BIG breaths in and out. I’m serious…this is not a metaphor or cliche…take those deep breaths. Remember that even the birds of the air are provided for…how much more will your heavenly Father provide for you?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:26-27 ESV)

Show up. Be brave. It’s going to be great.

Singing His Grace,

Jess

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