The Secret to Being Brave

The day will forever be etched in my mind. I so wanted to be brave, but the moment we brought our firstborn home held apprehension and insecurity.

My joy over this little guy’s life remained, but my confidence evaporated as my husband and I looked at each other across the bed, the weight of responsibility hanging between us.

Now what?

Here we were, this precious week-old life and two seemingly ill-equipped, unprepared adults. 

Questions assailed my mind:

How could we offer all Daniel needed to grow strong and healthy in mind, body, and soul? 

What if we did this parenting thing all wrong? 

How would he survive our lack? 

Were we up for this lifelong commitment? 

And the answers scared me more than the questions:

We couldn’t offer him all he needed. 

We would do things wrong. 

We would lack.

We could never be up for such a huge commitment. 

Unknowingly-brave-

But through the past 20 years of parenting, where we fell short, God filled in. In our dearth, He provided abundance. When we lacked courage, He was our brave. 

My husband and I slowly learned the ins and outs of parenting.  We overcame our fear and set about to raise this little guy and his three siblings. But it wasn’t without trials and missteps.

By God’s grace alone, those earlier questions were answered in glorious ways:

God provided what we could not.

God placed others in our lives to offer parenting wisdom. 

God’s grace covered our lack.

God carried us when our strength failed. 

Unknowingly Brave

I didn’t know how to be brave when tasked with stewarding such a precious treasure. But God did. And He provided that courage when I most needed it.

There have been many other occasions through the years when I’ve felt overwhelmed and under prepared to handle a task or circumstance. 

But each time God showed that His abundant love and grace more than makes up for my lack, and looking back I find I’ve been brave in the end. 

In His strength, by His hand, I can be unknowingly brave. You can too. [←Tweet this.]

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

Reflection: Has there been a circumstance where you’ve been surprised to find yourself brave in the end? Is there now an occasion you need God’s strength to face?

I’m joining Suzie Eller and her Friday linkup party, writing on the topic of living free and not feeling like you have to brave all the time! Click the image below to read all the inspiring posts in the linkup.

trees

 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Courage, Fear, Grace

When Love Is Hard {Short Bursts of Encouragement}

I need to love… I need to love… I need to love…

The chant continued as I argued with myself and God. “But this person doesn’t deserve my love.” “My heart isn’t there; it’d be a lie.” 

It’s not the first time I needed to remind myself to love someone. It likely won’t be the last. 

Reminder for when love is hard. Click on the image to download/print it.

Reminder for when love is hard. Click on the image to download/print it.

When Love Is Hard

Loving another human being is hard. Sinful person plus sinful person doesn’t equal easy relationships.

The call to love well in the midst of crazy schedules, different personalities, and unexpected happenings is a high calling indeed. 

It’s much easier when the person earns our affection by acting appropriately, saying the right thing, or completing the proper task at the proper time. 

But we are not asked to love only when the other person is deserving.

No. We are commanded to love everyone with the love we’ve received undeserved from God. 

If love was reserved only for those who deserved it, whoa, I shudder to think where I’d be!

But how do we love if our hearts don’t feel it? What do we do when love is hard? 

We lead with our actions. We piggy back off God’s supply and ask for His love to pour out. 

We act out love, over and over. Our hearts will catch up. And we will be blessed for it. 

Praise God!

We love because He first loved us. Even though we seldom (if ever) deserve it.

Love today. Regardless of whether you feel it. Love because you’ve been loved, firstly and perfectly.

Love until your feelings follow suit. [←Tweet this.]

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Reflection: What do you do when love is hard? How do you love when you don’t feel like it? 

Today I’m joining Holley Gerth for her Coffee for Your Heart Wednesday link-up and Rachel Wojnarowski for Whimsical Wednesdays. Click on the images to read more linked-up posts. So much wonderful encouragement!

  

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in love, Short Bursts of Encouragement

How to Find the Peace You Desire

path-peace-life-

In Christian circles we talk a lot about our hearts. How our hearts can be led astray. How we need to guard our hearts. How we need God to transform our hearts.

And for good reason. 

Just read the Lord’s strong caution against blindly following our hearts: For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). 

Sounds awful! 

Power of Our Minds

Yet for all the importance of our hearts, I sometimes think we forget the power of our minds and the need to align it with God’s truth.

Like most of us, my mind naturally gravitates to self, sensationalism, control, and fear. To the flesh. 

Every ache or pain, I imagine the worst. Every issue, I want to “figure” it out first before I take it to the Lord for help. Every struggle, I try to rationalize it or find a reason for it. 

So while my heart may draw me in the wrong direction, my mind takes it a step further. It tries to justify that direction, plan it, and figure out how to make it happen or convince me it can’t be done. 

In other words, my mind wants to take charge, to be in control. 

But as a Christian, we are a new creation in Christ, our thinking should be His thinking, our reasoning should be His reasoning. Our desires should be in line with bringing Him glory.

Our control, our thinking, our very lives should be surrendered to God. 

Finding Peace

Scripture tells us that filling our minds with God brings peace. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

We all like to feel the love of God, to get the high that comes with song and ceremony and setting. Yet it’s important we know the God of love too. [←Tweet this.]

It seems Christians are much more likely to attend a concert than regularly attend worship. To gather in fellowship rather than for Bible study. To spend time immersed in nature or leisure than in the Word. 

But we need to do more than feed our feelings for God.

If we want to experience the whole of God’s peace, we also need to feed our minds with Him. We need to know who He is, how He thinks, and what He likes and dislikes. 

In exposing ourselves to daily Scripture and sound biblical teaching, we saturate our thinking with God, and our minds are transformed along with our hearts. 

There’s nothing wrong with attending Christmas concerts and gatherings, taking hikes, or singing songs. They help us feel near God and each other. And that’s good.

But it’s in Bible reading, hearing the Word preached, and biblical study where we learn who He is and what we are professing.

It’s in feeding our minds with the thoughts of God that they will become set on the Spirit.

And that’s the path to life and peace. 

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” Romans 8:5-6.

Reflection: Do you think as Christians we are gravitating toward feeding the heart more than the mind? Do you think worship has become more about a feeling than about knowing God? How do you care for your heart and your mind? 

Since beginning more than 3 years ago, I’ve counted more than 3,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! So here we go: #3282–3302, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Harvesting gourds and last of the raspberries; Listening to a wonderfully funny address by Liz Curtis Higgs; Fall decorating with pressed leaves, prairie grass, gourds, and acorns
  • Breathtaking brilliance of a sun-filled fall morning; Warmth of a car heater after a chilling football game; New-kitten softness
  • Friends who encourage me in little things,like my new glasses; Freezer full of deer burger;Helping a young mom find hope
  • Hanging out on the living room floor with my 2 youngest: wrestling, laughing, loving; Digging potatoes from the moist ground; A candle’s glow
  • 19 years of being mom to my second-born, what a blessing he’s been; Rach “kissing” an earthworm; Night with nowhere to be and no packing to do
  • No surgery needed for hubby’s mom after falling and breaking bones in her wrist/hand; Full day of outdoor fun with family; Supper around a campfire
  •  Hugs by friends; Exploring the divinity of Jesus in Bible Study–fascinating; Apples dipped in homemade salted caramel

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Peace

Because We Are All Remarkably & Wonderfully Made (End Bullying)

*Don’t miss the video at the end of this post!*

remarkably-wonderfully-made-

In a recent hazing event at our high school, a young man was left taped to a pole one evening. Fortunately, he wasn’t physically hurt. But I can only imagine how he suffered and may continue to suffer emotionally.

After the smoke cleared, many in the community strongly condemned the action. Incredulously, others waved it off, saying it was just boys having some innocent fun.

I wonder, did those people ask the victim if he was having fun?

And it’s an oxymoron to call something innocent if it is done at the expense of someone else.

If adults won’t stand up against put-downs and harassment, how can we expect our youth to?

Bullying

Bullying stems from a lack of respect and love, for oneself and for others. I believe it damages both bullied and bullier. 

Unfortunately, our family has dealt with bullying in a couple different forms. It’s devastating to the recipient, and it’s effects can last a lifetime.

Everyone is a potential target for bullying, but those who exhibit something obviously different from others or who can’t defend themselves or speak out about it are more susceptible.

That leaves our children with special needs at a much higher risk of being bullied. 

The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that in 2013 nearly 1 in 3 students (27.8%) report being bullied during the school year. And children with disabilities were found to be two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers (Marshall, Kendall, Banks & Gover [Eds.], 2009).

Remarkably and Wonderfully Made

Life is too short to waste it tearing others down. We need to teach acceptance and empathy. We need to demonstrate respect. We need to show love. To everyone, not just those we deem worthy. Why?

Because each of us is the undeserved recipient of the greatest love ever offered.

Because each of us is remarkably and wonderfully made by the Author and Perfecter of that love.

In light of those truths, how can we do otherwise than show love and respect to our brothers and sisters.

“I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

Reflection: Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever been the bully? Please share in the comments. Help us learn from your stories.

Joni Eareckson Tada shared this video presentation by Nick Vujicic on a recent post of hers in observance of October as National Bullying Prevention Month. I knew immediately I needed to share it as well.

Nick Vujicic is an Australian who was born with no arms and legs. He received merciless bullying as a lad, and for several years wanted to end his life. Thankfully, at age 15 Nick realized he was just as remarkably and wonderfully made as his peers and that God created him with a purpose in mind.

A bit over 20 minutes, Nick’s presentation is powerful, moving, and effective. You will not regret watching a single second of it.

Share this video with others, your children, coworkers, other parents, church members. Be informed, and inform, teach, and guide others. Speak out against bullying and demonstrate the reason Christ died for all of us: love.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Worth

Why it is Good to Dance (Celebrate) {Short Bursts of Encouragement}

Awkward and off-balance, Danny swung me around the dance floor. My first time swing dancing and I looked foolish, I’m sure of it. Part of me wanted to hang back, play it safe, not accept my son’s invitation. 

But how often does a mother get to dance with her college-age son?  

Playing it safe would have robbed me of the precious gift of those moments.

And so I danced, spinning dizzily and laughing away the embarrassment. I held onto the treasure of the moment despite my awkwardness.

Grasping the hands of my son, I held a gift. This time I chose to unwrap it.

Celebrate-before-the-Lord-

Click on this image to download/print and celebrate!

Celebrate Life

How often do we choose the safer option?

How often does the fear of looking a fool hold us back from fully living, heartily rejoicing, or boldly proclaiming?

How often does protecting our self-image get in the way of celebrating this gift of life or giving God glory?

How often do we live as slaves to fear when we are really heirs to freedom? 

Sadly, there have been many similar opportunities that I’ve let slip away. Times when I was more concerned about looking foolish than savoring a moment. And I can’t get those times back. 

But I can learn and grow from them. And I have. And I am. 

Today, let’s determine to do better at delighting in the precious moments the Lord orchestrates. Let’s be more intentional about savoring His gifts. Let’s make a point to display the richness of a Christ-centered life, not just speak of it. 

As redeemed children of God, let’s smile easier, laugh heartier, savor oftener, and proclaim with more fervor. Let’s celebrate before the Lord.

Today and every day that we are granted breath, let’s choose to express the joy of our salvation. [←Tweet this.]

David was dancing before the Lord with all his might,… [He said,] I will celebrate before the Lord. 2 Samuel 6:14, 21
Reflection: Do you find it difficult to express joy? Have you missed celebrating and savoring moments because you were more concerned with appearances?

Today I’m joining Holley Gerth for her Coffee for Your Heart Wednesday link-up and Rachel Wojnarowski for Whimsical Wednesdays. Click on the images to read more linked-up posts. So much wonderful encouragement!

  

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Daily Living, joy, Short Bursts of Encouragement

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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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