…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.

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

Tune In

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{A Writing Exercise}

I’m sitting at my desk, wondering what to write. The coffee maker just beeped–three high-pitched notifications–I’m ready! I’m ready! I’m ready! I’ll get some here in a minute. I have a wee little preschool girl sipping her chocolate milk next to me. She saw the chocolate milk mix on the counter this morning…it was supposed to be hiding. I hear birds singing outside and a fan is still humming upstairs all by itself. “Mama can you get me some honey and peanut butter toast?” She asks. Then whispers “And can you cut the crusts off?”

“Yes Baby.” I reply.

She moves to the couch, breathing heavy in concentration, she adjusts the huge fleece blanket just so and snuggles under it.

The refrigerator pops. Or is that the freezer? Who knows. The dog licks his paw. Minding his own business but always in the middle of things. The air conditioner clicks on. My son drops his sippy cup. The two kids begin discussing how it happened. He pretends to fall asleep…snoring loudly.

And now he is sleep walking. :)

So the morning begins. I will go pour that coffee, and make that toast, and I will referee arguments and try to fold some laundry…

 

{What are you doing this minute?
What do you notice? What can you hear? Tune in to what surrounds you, maybe even jot it down just for fun! }

 

We made it to the weekend…

IMG_7878I hope your weekend is full of things like dessert for breakfast…

time with loved ones…

a good book…

the beauty of nature…

and belly laughs.

Singing His Grace,

Jess

 

For when you STILL feel overwhelmed…and you’ve already prayed about it…

 

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We talked a little bit about when you feel overwhelmed the other day.

Since then, I’ve been reminding myself to “shape my worries into prayers” and to pray as my first response. And as the week has gone by, many worries have crossed my path…some simple as a laundry heap, some complex as relationship, some close to home like dropping off my son at Kindergarten, some as far away as Iraq. All have caused me to worry, all have led me to prayer.

That release of worry to a great God, to a good God, has changed the way I have faced these worries. Nevertheless, I wanted to be clear that we are not talking about a “quick fix” where situations disappear into thin air, and you get to frolic happily in a meadow or sip your coffee in peace at Starbucks. Not so much.

Because of this reality, I want to ask this morning…

What do we do after we have already prayed about it…but nothing we are facing changes?

Sometimes God changes our situations, he heals, he rescues, he shows up in crazy God ways. Other times he changes us.

So you maybe prayed this week about something, or asked God to take away your anxiety…and yet, today it is back again. You can doubt God, questioning his love for you, OR you can pray again and then step out in faith and do the next thing.

In an effort to be helpful…Let’s break it down:

1. Pray again. Many times Paul talks about “pray without ceasing“(1 Thess 5:17). This rarely means kneeling by our bed all day long praying. Yet it absolutely means our minds and our hearts should drift back to prayer in everything we are doing. Our thought-patterns can be at best distracting and at worst down right destructive. Instead we must fill our minds with prayer. If we let constant conversation to our loving Father be as simple as “Help,” or even “Jesus,” we are keeping communication with God current and open. Just because we formally prayed about something once doesn’t mean we don’t need to keep praying and releasing it to God throughout our day.

2. Step out in faith. When we pray, when we give our emotions, anxieties, worries, and situations to God, we change the posture of our hearts to admit our need for God’s help. As we pray, we need to change our actions to show we trust that God is for us, and wants what is good and best for us. We submit to his will by moving forward with our responsibilities and our daily calling to love those around us. This is an act of faith. We may have question marks in our lives but we act on the clear and obvious things God has called us to. (Example: care for our family, love people around us, do our jobs with integrity, etc…)

3. Do the next thing. Often, when we face a tough situation, a flood of emotion, or anxieties, we feel closed in. We feel lost or in a fog. We begin to question and grasp for answers. Instead of flailing, fixing, or fretting…just do the next thing. It might be unloading the dishwasher. It might be mowing the lawn. It might be paying a bill, or finishing that e-mail. It could be walk the dog, go for a run, return the library book, call that friend, write that note, or go to the grocery store. As we pray continually, step out in faith, we can do the next thing and trust that God is big enough and in control enough to give us grace for each moment. When we do the simple things in faith, how much more will we be ready to do the big things in faith when it is time?

We read in 2 Corinthians that Paul prayed and prayed for a “thorn in the flesh…a messenger of Satan” to be taken away from him. Though we do not know what specifically Paul was talking about, we know from his faithfulness as a missionary and follower of Jesus that although it made him weak and humble before God, it did not stop or compromise his ministry. Paul tells us this:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV)

So today. What do you need to pray about again?

How can you step out in faith, letting God’s power be made perfect in your weakness?

What is the next thing you need to do as you rely on the sufficiency of God’s grace?

 

Singing His Grace,

Jess

 

For When You Feel Overwhelmed…Or…”Shaping Your Worries Into Prayers…”

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Where do you go when you are overwhelmed?

What do you do?

Do you call a friend?
Do you cry a little?
Do you push it out of your mind and try to distract yourself?

I find myself doing all these for sure…sometimes all at once. :)

But one thing I’ve noticed about myself is when the anxious thoughts start knocking on my door, my response is to try to control something…even if it is the clutter on the counter, or the crumbs in the car. When my emotions seem out of control that is when I try to find something in my life to keep in control. And friends, I can tell you from the past, that this is not a helpful or healthy first response. It seems like it is…you start thinking things like “You can do this! You can handle this! You can just try harder! You can fix this!” But this “positive thinking” or mental pep-talk is not what you need. Ya, it sounds great…but there is a problem. Simply controlling our fear and anxiety drives us to “fake it.” We tell others and ourselves and God that we are ok. We are handling it. But we’re not. And God is not fooled. His heart aches because we are not living in his peace, we are not living in humility before him–we are hiding our need for him.

So this morning, with headlines in the news that will break your heart, and anxiety about your kids starting school, and about your job, your family, your health, your most raw and hurting insecurities, fears, and anxieties…LET US GO BOLDLY TO THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HELP US. Let us not try to control, try harder, or distract ourselves…but let us name our fear, name our anxiety, name our stress and then ask the maker of heaven and earth to come near.

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I don’t know what you are facing right now, but this world is full of hurt. I know that when you log on to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, everyone looks like they are partying and celebrating while you are suffering. Friends, this is not so. Hearts are hurting and you don’t know their story. People don’t Instagram their boss letting them go, their child’s angry tantrum, their spouse distracted and distant, their medical bill, their puffy red-eyed selfie. The world doesn’t want that kind of vulnerability, but our Heavenly Father would love for us to be so open with him about our need. When we lay our worries before him he can bring peace….a peace that passes understanding. Think about what that means. That means having peace that makes absolutely no logical sense. So you should feel angry, stressed, hurt, bitter, fearful, rejected, confused, or lost because of what you have been through…but instead you feel peace.

So let’s get really concrete here. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

1. Name our feelings, our thoughts, our fears and anxieties.

2. Pray specifically and in humility admitting our need for God.

3. Give thanks for all that he has done for us.

Friends this is no easy task. But you are fighting by giving up the fight. You can control your anxiety by releasing your anxiety in prayer. You can be strong by finding strength in God and not yourself. Even Jesus, the perfect, holy, sinless Son of God looked to his Heavenly Father for strength as a model for us. Amazing!

In closing, there are so many passages of The Bible I could point you to but this one is a good place to start.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:4-7 The Message)

Need more? Just search “anxious” over at biblegateway.com that should get you started.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

 

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