Indescribable Grace

Sometimes an old acquaintance posts something to Facebook that makes you stop and think:

I have no idea if she was talking about me or not.  Hopefully I wasn’t so bad to actually qualify as a “godless whore”, but you never know.  I was definitely a bit of a mess.  Either way, it got me thinking about so many things.  Like how the choices you make and the reputation you earn can follow you the rest of your life.  And also how amazing it is that a perfect and holy God can overlook it all.

I’ve battled against the Enemy’s lies this year and I finally feel myself becoming stronger again.  God’s truth is once again drowning out the sound of defeat and discouragement and I feel myself rising again to do battle against the Prince of Lies. These words of healing played through SUV speakers last week….

There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide

She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”

But don’t you know who you are, 
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You’ve been remade. 

Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try

But don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made, 

You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You’ve been remade. 

You are more than the choices that you’ve made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You’ve been remade. 

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done, 
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been, 
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel, 
But what He felt to forgive you, 
And what He felt to make you loved. 

You are more than the choices that you’ve made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You’ve been remade. 

You are more than the choices that you’ve made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You’ve been remade. 

You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade. 
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.

(You are More by Tenth Avenue North)

[ From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/t/tenth-avenue-north-lyrics/you-are-more-lyrics.html ]

And those lies that my sins are bigger than my Savior have haunted me in my past and they’ve haunted me this year.  The lie that all of my weaknesses and inadequacies, my struggles and my stumblings with these children, this husband, this life, that He’s not big enough to overcome it – all a lie from the one who seeks to devour and destroy.

A dear friend sends this quote yesterday from The Mother Letters:

It is a complete matter of trust that He will give our children what they need despite our shortcomings. ~ Rachel McAdams

And last night as we sat in worship we sang the lyrics,

Sing to Jesus
Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts
He is our great Redeemer
Sing to Jesus
Honor His name
Sing of His faithfulness
Pouring His life out unto death

Come, you weary
And He will give you rest
Come you who mourn
Lay on His breast

(Sing to Jesus by Fernando Ortega)

Oh the mighty Savior that He would bear our sins and shame and welcome us with open arms, a soft place to fall.  And that He would cover over my weaknesses and fill in the gaps with His strength and healing.

So as I come back to the Facebook post that prompted this spilling of words, two things come to mind.  First, for anyone young who happens to be reading this – what you do now matters.  Who you are now matters.  In a world of social networking and digital never-to-be-deleted connectedness, your choices now matter a lot.  But the second point, and this is for the young person and everyone else – this God, my God, He’s big enough to cover it with His grace.  Friends from fifteen years ago may not offer fresh-start grace, but Jesus does.

And for that grace, the thanksgiving never ends.

1714.  four days, five doctor’s offices

1715.  six and a half hours in outpatient care

1716.  a mended arm

1717.  a red cast

1718.  my girl feeling so much better

1719.  serving the hungry with my Chandler, my servant-child

1720.  going to the airport to welcome home the Jayhawks

1721.  making a memory with my girls

1722.  feeling the weight lift

1723.  James MacDonald study

1724.  bearing up

1725.  finding His blessings

1726.  the annual candy toss

1727.  Easter celebrations

1728.  a Texas trip with my Emma

1729.  evening with good friends from Matt’s past

1730.  audiobook on the iPod

1731.  discovering the joy of listening to a book

1732.  last days of school – the end is near!

1733.  pinpointing some of my struggles

1734.  praying through changes

1735.  a new office, a new chapter in our lives

1736.  home school conference, lunch, and shopping with my favorite

1737.  a two hour nap

1738.  quiet girls

1739.  Overflow worship

1740.  relentless, overwhelming grace

All for His glory ~

~ Sara

Story-Tellers

“Store up comfortThis was the prophet Isaiah’s mission.  The world is full of hurting and comfortless hearts.  But before you will be competent for this lofty ministry, you must be trained.  And your training is extremely costly, for to make it complete, you too must endure the same afflictions that are wringing countless hearts of tears and blood.  Consequently, your own life becomes the hospital ward where you are taught the divine art of comfort.  You will be wounded so that in the binding up of your wounds by the Great Physician, you may learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere.  Do you wonder why you are having to experience some great sorrow?  Over the next ten years you will find many others afflicted in the same way.  You will tell them how you suffered and were comforted.  As the story unfolds, God will apply the anesthetic He once used on you to them.  Then in the eager look followed by the gleam of hope that chases the shadow of despair from the soul, you will know why you were afflicted.  And you will bless God for the discipline that filled your life with such a treasure of experience and helpfulness.

God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters.”

~ Streams in the Desert, January 11

We all have a story to tell.  One day soon I will tell my own story here, my story of life before kids, husband, and all that is typically written about here.  I will tell of the times God carried me and how everything changed.  That time is not yet, but He pricks my heart with it periodically.  Today I was just blessed to remember that “God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters.”

May you be comforted by His never-ending grace today ~

~ Sara

Things That Haunt

There are sins and scars that we carry around with us, no matter how often we repent and forgive and make new.  They are sins that were committed against us, against our will.  And they are sins committed against ourselves.  Both leave scars and marks – brandished with a scarlet A – never to forget.

Time fades the marks, but sometimes the demons that created them cut them back open.  There’s no preparing for it.  They follow you everywhere.  Even to tropical, peaceful places, where you think you should be able to escape.

**********

I lay in bed, fighting against the one I’ve hurt, fighting against myself.  I battle the lies in my head and silently ask God why.  The silence answers back.  Perhaps He doesn’t speak because He doesn’t need to.  We’ve hashed this out before.  I know the truth.  But sometimes….sometimes the lies shout louder than the truth.  Too often it seems the truth whispers.

The one I love fights his own battles on the other side of the bed.  His own demons and lies fill his head.

This is not how it was meant to be.  This is not what we were made for.  But broken people in a broken world hurt and in the crucible of marriage where we are laid bare and torn open, we can hurt even deeper.

We sleep.  It’s late.  We’re both tired.  Nothing productive will come of further discussion now.

Wounds still bleed in the morning.  Scars are still raw.  But talk comes more easily.  We know the enemy of our souls, of our marriage, is the one who started this battle.  It is him we rage against, not each other.

We pray and reunite, our hearts still wounded, but our resolve strengthened.  Things of the past cannot be changed and decisions made long ago will follow us forever.  But we serve a God who makes all things new.  He is a God of second chances.  He forgives and never gives up.  And we must be the same to each other.

I was nineteen, you were twenty-one
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much too young
But we did it anyway

We bought our rings for forty each
From a pawn shop down the road
We made our vows and took the leap
Now fifteen years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

“I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard
Is a good place to begin

‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love’s chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

‘Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you

Dancing in the Minefields / Andrew Peterson

Freedom and Poverty

It started a few years ago.  It was winter, almost Christmas, and we were looking through the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog.  You could donate to help rescue girls from human trafficking.  Matt said something like, “I think maybe, someday, God will want us to do something like this.”  I thought to myself, “Seriously?  That’s a whole world of issues we can’t understand.  If I’ve got issues from what I’ve been through…those poor girls….I can’t imagine.”  But having been abused myself, my heart breaks for girls mistreated.  The idea is not dismissed, just shelved for the time.

First I read this book…..

….and I know I must act.  But how?  Life is so busy.  But I know that’s no excuse to ignore the needs of those created in His image.

Then Haiti happened.  We prayed for the safe return of Matt’s brother and sister and their team.  They came home and seven Haitian children were (legally) united with forever families.  We watched news reports of fathers and mothers in Haiti selling their children because they could not care for them.  I wept as I tried to fathom the despair a mother must feel to believe selling her child is her best option.  And I wept for those children who have no mother or father to hold them at night, who were sold by those God ordained to protect them.

This summer I picked up this book….

….and I begin to find ways to act.  I highly recommend it.  I’m about halfway through it.  It is varied in it’s scope and highly practical with countless ways to practice “kingdom justice” in the midst of our already busy lives.  Please pick up a copy.  Today.

This weekend I read this post and God struck something in my soul.   I talked to Matt.  We agreed to pray about how to be involved.  Maybe not in this particular ministry.  But something.  Somehow.

This morning I woke up to this post.  (Do you think God is trying to tell me something???  I’m not even kidding.)

My Jesus has set me free from so much.  From sin, bondage, bitterness.  He carried me through the storms of my own abuses and has placed me forever under the shelter of His wings.  I do not know how I can stop human trafficking from my home schooling, middle American life.  I don’t know how I am to rescue girls the age of my oldest daughter, bought and sold to be used by men while I keep up with laundry or get my groceries or take my own girls to ballet and horse back riding lessons.  But I know those are someone’s girls.  They have hearts and souls and dreams.  They have a heavenly Father who loves them.

I know this happens here in America and around the world.  I know it’s not just girls affected.  I know I cannot ignore it.

I do not yet know what the Lord has planned for us in this area.  For now I will pray and wear awesome jewelry.

What about you?  What are you doing with the freedom God’s given you?