The One Thing We Need If We Want To Serve Jesus

Generally, neither being a wreck nor getting in a wreck are good things. Yet being wrecked, at least when God’s involved, is what we all need.

Wrecked can mean “to reduce to a ruinous state,” no thanks! But it can also mean to “bring about” or my personal favorite, “to rob, salvage, or repair wreckage or a wreck.”

No one wants to be left in a ruinous state, but to be salvaged or repaired? Yes, please—I need plenty of that! You, too?

search for Me

Handling It Alone

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the type to handle things on my own. To go it alone. To wear the persona that all is well, even when it is definitely not.

Over the nearly 8 years of miscarriages, I stuffed my pain deep inside. No one wants to repeatedly hear about my loss, I reasoned. Everyone has their own problems. Besides, I really am blessed; how can I complain?

So I “handled” it. 

When our little girl was first diagnosed with a lifelong disability, family and friends grieved with us. Yet I soon found myself stepping up to handle it. 

I can do this thing called disability. It is my cross to bear. 

This became a pattern in my life. Whenever pain entered my life, I stepped up. Whenever hard came, my resolve strengthened. I could manage it.

The problem was I became good at handling things alone that I should never have tried to shoulder myself. I grew to become an achiever, a doer. I invited God to come along to support me, but deep down I believed I had this.

That carried over into my work as an encourager as well.

As I began to type words on the screen, as I shared my thoughts with the online world, it slowly became a consuming task to handle well. I was driven to succeed in the writing world. To prove I could make it.

For nearly four years now I’ve shared the love and hope and grace of our Lord. And it was and is real. It was and is my heart. But first and foremost, ministry should beat in sync with His heart and be in His timing, not mine or yours.

Underlying all I was doing was this desire to do it well—for me—to prove myself. To learn enough and do enough to make things happen.

Wrecked, in a Good Way

And then last weekend the Lord wrecked me! At She Speaks, a writers, speakers and leaders conference hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, message after message, speaker after speaker, addressed the motives behind our desire to minister. Is it because we want to bring glory to God or affirm ourselves? Are we waiting on the Lord’s timing or pushing our own timeline?

With each powerful message, I grew increasingly convicted to surrender more. As each layer was peeled back, I began to see how much my ministry had become about me doing well instead of me doing God’s will.

I saw where I was striving instead of abiding and thriving. I pushed ahead where I should have followed the Lord’s leading instead.

I had subconsciously fallen into the trap of wanted to achieve more than I wanted to serve Him. 

And then She Speaks happened, and I was wrecked. An uncomfortable wrecking that is allowing God deeper access to my heart to repair and salvage what was becoming tainted and set on self. 

I didn’t invite this. I didn’t realize I even needed it. And I’m not certain how it will play out going forward. But I trust the end result will be beautiful because it will be from God’s hand. 

Needed Encouragement

I thank God He brought me to an event where the organizers didn’t offer us attendees what we wanted to hear but what we needed to hear. Because the kind of encouragement we need isn’t the kind that leaves us stuck where we’re at.

The encouragement we need is the kind that challenges and leaves us exposed to the Lord’s wrecking ball of love—a process that salvages and repairs in the deepest places of our hearts. Exactly what we received from She Speaks.

It’s a process that hurts deep and heals deep, bringing us in closer relationship with the Lord. It’s a process that leaves a beautiful outcome in the aftermath of the wreck.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Reflections: Has there been a time when the Lord has wrecked you? What did that mean for your life?

Not only am I thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “wrecked (in a good way)” as well as Bonnie Gray from Faith Barista, and Kelly Balarie for #RaRalinkup, but I’m linking up specially with (in)courage to help celebrate their 6th birthday. I love these special linkups. They provide an abundance of great inspiration and encouragement all in one place. Click on the image below or links above to check them out.

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If this post encouraged you, please consider sharing it with your family and friends. And don't miss a single post, click here to subscribe to receive each one in your inbox (or complete the form in the sidebar). It's free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Christian walk, Healing, surrender, Writing

When Uncertainty Enters Our World

A precious little girl sat across the aisle for me, at the opposite window. No more than 8 years old, she chattered endlessly to the mother-like woman next to her.

Little seemed to bother the young lady until the plane began to roll away from the gate. Then without hesitation, she grabbed the hand of her guardian. I heard her declare, “I’m not afraid!” yet she maintained a firm grip on the hand offered until we were safely in the air. 

What a wise little girl!

When uncertainty enters our world, we need a hand to hold. Someone to assure us that all will be fine. Even if we can proclaim, “I’m not afraid!” it is still a comfort to know we have someone that cares holding onto us … just in case. 

in Your hand

Security

Not all of us have a motherly type we can grab onto, but we all have someone who will readily hold us. He is there to comfort, redeem, discipline and guide us. He is the One powerful enough to create all life, to calm the winds and waves with a word, to hang the sun and moon, to breathe life into dust.

He is the One who loves us enough to send His Son to die for our sins.  He is the One who says come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest. He is the One who wants us with Him forever. He is the One who is willing to forgive every sin and redeem every hurt. 

He is our Father, our Lord, our shelter, our strength, and our righteousness. He is our Messiah and Savior.

What could possibly be more comforting than grasping the hand of the Lord of the universe? 

So whether you find yourself in a pleasant interlude, are going through a time of uncertainty, or are in the midst of a painful season, trust Him. Take the hand He offers. Don’t let go. 

Because in His hands rest all the security we could ever ask for: the guarantee of a lifetime with Him, a lifetime free of all pain and sorrow. That’s security we cannot find in the hands of anyone else. 

That’s security that can carry us through all the uncertainties of life. 

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand.
Psalm 31:14-15 NASB

Reflections: What other things are you tempted to place your trust in instead of the Lord? 

Closing in on 4 years of counting and I’ve surpassed 4,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4059–4079. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • My guys being understanding about me being present but not really present today; Gracious people willing to proof my proposal and One Sheet; New phones and service all working
  • New little blue suitcase; Packed for ‪#‎SheSpeaks2015‬; Hubby’s willingness to handle things at home while I’m away
  • *Flying, even enjoyed the minor turbulence ; *Safe arrival at‪#‎shespeaks15‬; *Sharing dinner with many women who love Jesus
  • Hearing awesome messages of substance and meaning; Meeting amazing women of faith, like my roomie and Suzanne Eller Author and Speaker; Finding soul rest in the prayer room
  • Glorious day of worship and inspiration; A hard truth realized with freeing results; Day filled with hugs with new and old friends
  • Powerful, hard, but ultimately good messages; Red velvet cake for dessert; Ladies willing to let God use their hard stories to minister to others
  • Breakfast with Suzanne Eller Author and Speaker and some of the ‪#‎livefree‬ girls; Safely home with family; Rachel’s welcome

If this post encouraged you, please consider sharing it with your family and friends. And don't miss a single post, click here to subscribe to receive each one in your inbox (or complete the form in the sidebar). It's free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in One Thousand (or more) Gifts, trust

Where the Ugliness of This Life Turns to Beauty [a letter to my younger self]

Well I did it. I missed a Monday post. Nearly every week of the last 3 years I’ve published a post on Mondays. This week I had to, no I chose to, extend myself a wee bit of grace and skip it. The past couple weeks have been packed with preparations, kids’ stuff, and editing. Thanks for understanding.

Because of the miss, this letter to my younger self encouraging me to trust God in my messy journey has my 1000 gifts entries from last week. 

glorious life-

Hi Julie, 

Can I whisper something to your young, vulnerable heart? You have a glorious life ahead! Yes, you. 

And the best part? You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to fit in. You don’t have to complete a certain number of steps. 

You see, it’s not about the perfect job. It’s not about the amount of money. It’s not even about how good you are.

But I have to tell you, this glorious life of yours, it’s not without problems. It won’t be without pain or heartache or struggle.

Oh, there will be plenty of laughter and love. But there will also be tears and anger. 

There will be happiness and fun, but there will also be sorrow and confusion. 

How? you may ask. How can there be sorrow and joy? How can there be suffering and peace? How can life be glorious if it is difficult? 

Here this, sweet younger self, only through the power of the cross is there glory in anything! You can expect a glorious life because glorious doesn’t mean without pain or frustration. 

You see a glorious life is not a perfect life. It’s a real life wrapped in the grace of God. 

And in that wrapping is where the ugliness of this life turns to beauty.

So dear Julie, grab onto Jesus’ outstretched hand and never pull away. For in His embrace you will be gracefully led from a barren life to a full one. 

Enjoy the dance!

“We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12

Reflections: What would you tell your younger self?

I’m thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “a letter to your younger self” as well as Bonnie Gray from Faith Barista, Kelly Balarie for #RaRalinkup, and even Susan Mead for #dancingwithJesus. I love these special linkups. They provide an abundance of great inspiration and encouragement all in one place. Click on the image below to check them out.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY    beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge

Closing in on 4 years of counting and I’ve surpassed 4,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4038–4058. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • My guys being understanding about me being present but not really present today; Gracious people willing to proof my proposal and One Sheet; New phones and service all working
  • Glimpsing our resident bats exiting their daytime resting place under our siding to start feeding; A happy Rach dropped off at Camp Courageous; Prairie garden in bloom
  • Full day spent with the boys; Seeing Danny in action and loving his job; Hearing from presidential candidates who obviously love the Lord
  • My boy’s home from camp! He came with a bonus: no more “Joey home?” from Rachel; Several amazing women gracing me with their “yeses”; Seeing my nephew and brother-in-law
  • Fresh insight from a difficult place–kind of the way it works; Summer mix of heat and humidity; Rachel providing lunch and a berry smoothie!
  • *My beautiful backyard, I want to never take it for granted; *Scent of freshly mowed grass, brings back all those wonderful memories of putting up hay; *Fingers that aren’t tired of typing, yet, as I prepare for ‪#‎shespeaks15‬
  • *Computer fixed for free under warranty, nearly new now!; *A day of writing; *Blessing of ceiling fans in 90+ temps and high humidity

If this post encouraged you, please consider sharing it with your family and friends. And don't miss a single post, click here to subscribe to receive each one in your inbox (or complete the form in the sidebar). It's free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Abundance, Christian walk, Jesus Christ, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, trust

The Only Place to Find the Abundance You Long For

An abundant life can be defined in many ways. Happiness, purpose, worth, standing, and love are some of the words we use.

But what if it is much more than that?

What if the abundant life has little to do with circumstances and much to do with a little thing called grace?

share-abundantly-with-Christ

Full. Rich and satisfying. Abounds all the more. Utterly. Much more.

These words are a Hebrew scholar’s attempt at defining the undefinable. Something Jesus said, promised even, and offers still.

But what is it really, this life we all so desperately want but which we feel lies just out of our reach? Is this undefinable achievable?

Is living an abundant, rich, and satisfying life in a world that insists on spinning out of control when we least expect it even possible? Must we wait until we’re walking with Jesus in heaven to realize it? 

Yes and No 

Abundance, as difficult as it is to understand, is real and available. If it weren’t, Jesus wouldn’t have promised. But it’s not attained in the way we often expect. 

You see, it’s not something we achieve. It’s not something we pay enough for or do enough to get.

The abundant life is not attainable through our defining nor our striving, but is only found in our surrendering and our receiving. Because true abundance is only found in a gift, the gift of lavish grace poured out on each of us as we dance an imperfect dance in a battered world. 

In our spinning and our tripping, we look for where we can step, which direction we could go, and what we could do to slow the spin and right ourselves. We look for how we can find the glory of a life lived in faith. 

But it’s not in the knowing that we find it. It’s not in the right prayer or the right steps. Not really.

The abundance we’re looking for is found in the silence, the repetitions, the struggles, the looks, the sameness, and the craziness. It’s found at the ends of us, in our weakness and in our helplessness.

The abundance we want is found as His gift. 

Glorious Abundance Exists Here

Oh, yes, glorious abundance exists! And it’s not “out there somewhere” but right here, right in the midst of our messes.

Because that’s where His grace meets us: in the depths of our hurting hearts, in the missteps of our dance, in the silence after the music quits. At the end of “us” waits the fullness of God.

This rich and satisfying life we don’t quite understand but yet long for?  It’s real and it’s for each of us.

When we look at the promises of God in the light of His greater purpose in our lives, when we surrender are all, it’s all grace. And that’s when our dance can be unencumbered and we can swing through life holding nothing back and receiving everything.

That’s true abundance. That’s lavish grace. 

“Just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

Reflections: Where in your life is God’s grace meeting you and lavishing abundance? 

I’m thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “nothing holding me back” as well as Bonnie Gray from Faith Barista. I love these special linkups. They provide an abundance of great inspiration and encouragement all in one place. Click on the image below to check them out.

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If this post encouraged you, please consider sharing it with your family and friends. And don't miss a single post, click here to subscribe to receive each one in your inbox (or complete the form in the sidebar). It's free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Abundance, Brokenness, Struggles, surrender

Is the Grace of God Truly Sufficient for My Daily Concerns?

“What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.”
~Rick Warren

I fail in so many ways. Just the past 7 days I

  • backed into someone else’s car,
  • nearly backed into our own car,
  • forgot some important paperwork for my son,
  • became a bit too pushy with my other son,
  • grew impatient with Rachel’s incessant inquiries about her brothers,
  • and ordered a device I didn’t need because I failed to look at the warranty information of my current one.

And those are just the failings that immediately come to mind! Can you relate?

Every day is filled with moments when we fall short and other moments when life circumstances drag us down. 

In the big scheme these may seem like minor issues, but such everyday happenings take their toll on me, and I’m sure they do on you too. 

We need a constant infusion of hope to keep going.

God of all grace...

Grace-Driven Hope

As Christians, we know the hope of Christ for our salvation, but many of us wonder about His grace for the dailiness of life. At least I occasionally slip into that trap.

We ask, in a nutshell: Is God in the little things? Does He care about my daily concerns?

In another nutshell: Yes!

Not that He has His hand in whether we paint our fingernails or have ham instead of beef for supper. But when we experience distress (of any size), God cares, and His grace covers it.

Why? Because we are His children, and He loves us!

It is tempting to think our problems aren’t big enough for God to concern Himself with. But if the Lord only cared about our eternity and not our present, why not provide salvation in another way and spare His Son (and Himself) the agony of  persecution and crucifixion?

Grace of God for All Sizes

God wants relationship and part of that is providing for us daily! 

The Lord says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He doesn’t say only if your problems are this big or involve this much pain. Since our distress is a big deal to us, it is a big deal to God.

When I have to clean up my daughter’s mess every day, it is a big deal.

When you’ve been in the house for 3 days straight with a feverish and vomiting 1 year old, it is a big deal.

When your teenager flips in your face, “I hate you,” as she slams the door, it is a big deal.

When your car breaks down yet again and you know your check will bounce, it is a big deal.

When it’s already been a long day and you have a screaming baby and fighting toddlers in the grocery store, it is a big deal.

When your young adult is making decisions that break your heart, it is a big deal.

When the music stops in the middle of your dance, for whatever reason, it is a big deal.

And God cares.

If Jesus cared enough to change water into wine at a wedding (John 2) …

If Jesus cared enough to call the little children to Him (Matthew 19:14 and Mark 10:14) …

If Jesus took the time to speak to the woman who received healing by touching His hem (Luke 8:43-47) …

… then we can rest assured He cares enough to provide for our daily concerns as well.

The grace of God has sufficient length, depth, and breadth to do just that.

Yes, thank God we have His amazing grace to ensure we’ll be dancing for all eternity! But we also have His daily grace for the dance of this earthly life!

No matter the size of your problems, they don’t stand a chance against our Big God. After all, they are always temporary, while His grace, it is eternal.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Reflections: What aspect of your life do you wonder if God cares about? Do you question the length, depth, and bread of His grace for your daily concerns? Read the accounts of Jesus’ care I reference above, then rest in the knowledge that His grace is truly sufficient for all sizes, for the temporal as well as the eternal. 

Closing in on 4 years of counting and I’ve surpassed 4,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4038–4058. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • *On the receiving end of a couple’s grace today: means so much when someone extends such grace; *Many outstanding to-do items checked off; *Interacting with Joey and Rach throughout the day, even when “at work”
  • Morning meeting on a lake with sweet ladies; Lunch with a dear friend; Walk with my guy to end the day
  • Enough black raspberries picked for preserves and special Liebesbriefe pastries; Girl’s night at the barn; Chilling with Rach on the Pooh garden bench
  • Curling up on the couch in the morning sun; Breakfast in the barn, just Rach and I; Seeing trees we planted now 20+ feet tall
  • Day spent with Mom; Rachel’s excitement at spending the night with Grandma and Grandpa’s; A mother who wears the same size shoes as you do: scored!
  • *Rain stymied our morning exploring but gave us time to play games with Mom/Grandma; *Making a diaper cake with my sweet sis-in-law; *Rach loving on a baby toad, blowing him kisses and happy when we saved him from the road‪
  • Successful send of the boys to church camp for a week; Spotting a family of ground hogs along the road; Evening sunrays filtered through the trees

If this post encouraged you, please consider sharing it with your family and friends. And don't miss a single post, click here to subscribe to receive each one in your inbox (or complete the form in the sidebar). It's free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Daily Living, Grace, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

Why We Might Be Trying Too Hard To Be Safe

Some of the hardest moments in my life were watching my children being whisked off into the sterile environment of a surgical room. All four had been under the skillful hands of a surgeon at least once in their lives.

Each time I would have gladly switched places with them. As a mother I’d do almost anything to keep my children safe and pain free.

However, there is one area in their lives where safety should not be paramount: their faith.

Bold Not Safe

Loses-life-finds-it

As persecutions of Christians increase around the globe, we’re faced with the stark reality that to be bold for Christ can be uncomfortable, even dangerous. The “safe” answer, then, is to be silent in our faith.

Yet Jesus is clear we are not to keep the Good News to ourselves. It must be shared. 

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.” Psalm 105:1

Just as the apostles sacrificed their safety to share the good news of the fulfilling work of Jesus Christ, so must we be willing to do the same.

Professing and living out our faith is not always safe, but that should never be a reason to compromise. Truth should never be exchanged for security.

Because security is no substitute for a faith-lived life. When we “play it safe” we miss out on the blessings of serving the Lord where He calls.

Three Lessons On Stepping Out Boldly

Queen Esther sought security when asked to confront her husband, the king, on behalf of the Israelites. In response, her uncle Mordecai imparted words of wisdom for all of us to heed.

“Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace.14 If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Esther 4:13-14

Since most of us are not royalty, it is tempting to think these words do not pertain to us. We couldn’t be more mistaken. Listen, friends, to Mordecai’s golden nuggets. They are for you and me, just as they were for the lovely Esther.

  1. Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews. If we are Christians, we have an obligation to boldly profess such. Hiding in silence will be far worse than being bold for our faith. We may experience less bodily persecution, but spiritually we will suffer.
  2. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come … from another place. God has a plan. He wants you to be a part of it, but whether you agree or not, His plan will be carried out. You can choose to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands or not; no matter His will will be done!
  3. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this. God’s timing is perfect. He wants to use you to further His Kingdom. Whatever your position in life, you are called to boldly serve the Lord in that place.

As much as our flesh screams for security and protection (as Esther’s did), God calls us to be willing to forsake temporary safety to reap eternal blessings.

Walk In Amen

It’s natural to want to be safe, to keep our loved ones safe. In fact, in many aspects it is the loving thing to do.

But when safety takes precedence over obedience,

when it silences the sharing of the good news,

when it’s valued more than Truth …

it becomes a stumbling block to spiritual growth and must be sacrificed.

Like you, I want my children safe, but more importantly I want them to be willing disciples of the Lord.

I want them to desire His will in their lives more than they aspire to comfort and ease.

I want them to be willing to risk all for the truth of the Lord of all.

More than anything I want my children to boldly say Amen, and then willingly and confidently walk out that Amen.

Every day l whisper prayers of protection for my children. But even more so, even with my last breath, I will pray for strength of conviction and passion for the truth of the Lord to fill their hearts … and mine.

For only at the bosom of the Lord is true safety found.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” Matthew 16:25

Reflections: Do you struggle with being bold in your faith? If so, what holds you back? If not, why not? (Answer in the comments. Let’s encourage each other to be strong ambassadors for Christ.) 

I’m thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “safe” as well as Bonnie Gray from Faith Barista. I love these special linkups. They provide an abundance of great inspiration and encouragement all in one place. Click on the image below to check them out.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY    beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge

If this post encouraged you, please consider sharing it with your family and friends. And don't miss a single post, click here to subscribe to receive each one in your inbox (or complete the form in the sidebar). It's free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Daily Living, Faith

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Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's BLESSINGS to get lost in its HAPPENINGS. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 10:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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