Day 30: Rest in Your Mess

Photo credit: Jennifer @ http://www.jenbh.blogspot.com/

I’m a mess.

I stay up too late at night so I’m groggy and cranky when the alarm goes off – IF I hear the alarm go off. I run late – EVERY.WHERE. I lost a lot of weight, got new clothes, then gained the weight back and now nothing fits right. I put off emptying the dishwasher until the sink is full of dishes. “Luckily?,” I have a cat who can’t get it through her thick skull that she’s not allowed on the kitchen counters, so I have to keep the counters clean or she’d be licking anything left on the counter. I nag and complain and am rude to my husband when I think he should be home helping me clean. I get sidetracked by Facebook or Pinterest or blog reading instead of doing something constructive. I procrastinate. I’m jealous. I get angry. I covet my neighbor’s…well, everything.

Let’s just stop there for now. I could go on, but we all get the point – I’m a mess.

You’re a mess, too. I don’t mean to sound rude, but you know it’s true. Even if you don’t let anyone see it, you know it.

We are all messes. That should actually be comforting. Because God meets us in our mess – we don’t have to clean up our act before He wants us or before He will accept us. Romans 5:6-8 says:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Weak = messes. Sinners = messes.

We don’t have to hide our messes from one another in community, though, pretending we are already perfect. God is perfecting us as we grow closer to Him, but we’ll never be absolutely perfect this side of eternity. Pretending to be so is really only adding to the mess.

Be willing to show your mess to your friends. Be real about your mess in community. It only creates more opportunity for grace to abound (Romans 5-6) or, as Mary DeMuth put it, it’s where grace will find a home.

Rest in your mess because God shows His love for you in your mess. Then grow in grace, releasing more and more of your mess into His hands, allowing Him to work in you. My prayer for you from Philippians 1:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Can you believe it’s Day 30 of the series on Rest?

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You Will Find Him Here

Today is Day 19 of the series on rest.
I posted this song nearly a year ago, but the message is perfect for the Rest series. You will find Him – He is here. Come and rest here.

Photo credit: Piotr Zarobkiewicz (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Creative Commons)

Claygirlsings

Come and rest here.

I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head for some time now. It pulls at some inward broken place in me, drawing me in. Do you feel drawn to find rest?

Come and lay your burdens down.

Come and rest here.

There is refuge for you now.

Doesn’t your soul ache from the pressures of life? Don’t you want a safe place to hide?

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Day 11: Rest for your Weekend

Fritz in box

Find yourself a comfortable place to rest this weekend.

Drink in the sunshine while you can.

Fritz in window

Fritz and Chloe

Spend time hanging out with a friend.

Be yourself, even if that means being a little silly.

Chloe in tea

Rest in whose you are

Rest in whose you are, in Christ.
(Be sure to pay attention to the song in that link.)

This is Day 11 of 31 Days of Rest.

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Many thanks to my models, Fritz and Chloe for giving of their incomparable talent to this post.

Day 1: Rest from Expectations

Last night, I got my intro post up for #31Days and tweeted it to my friends, tagging the Nester. AND SHE REPLIED!

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Now, I didn’t go all nutso fan-girl like I did when Nester’s sister, Emily Freeman posted a comment ON. MY. BLOG. (nutso fan-girl tweet), but still, it’s Nester. That’s pretty sweet.

Later yesterday evening, one of my elders commented about my blog series that he was interested in it because it follows along with what he will be preaching on this Sunday at Karis Church and then he posted the link to it on our internal church communications site. Whoa.

Later still, I was checking my stats (we all do this, right, bloggers?) and saw that I had hits from 6 different countries, which I’m pretty sure is a new record for my blog. Wow!

I’ve had a number of people I know and don’t know say how much a series on rest sounds like just what they need and they are looking forward to being blessed or they are sure that others will be blessed.

And I love hearing all of these. My goal is for my blog to reach others and to become a ministry.

But Whoa.

I’m suddenly feeling all this pressure. What if I don’t meet up to all these folks’ expectations? I’ve got to bring it. People are looking to me to have these fantastic insights on rest; I can’t let them down!

These are the thoughts swirling through my head even while I’m trying to brainstorm ideas for today’s post.

So I realize that, today, I need to rest from expectations. I want to put expectations on myself of how this 31 Day series will go based on my perception of your 31 Day series or what I think you must expect from me or even based on how my series on prayer went last year.

Rest from expectations.

I got myself in some hot water by collecting expectations about my marriage. Spurred in part by being surrounded by young married couples still in the honeymoon phase, I looked around and then looked inside and concluded that my marriage did not measure up. People around us are having babies and adopting children and I collect another expectation. A successful blogger’s career takes off; I collect another expectation.

Photo credit: Keenan Pepper (Creative Commons)

On one family vacation, my sister and I discovered quartz in the rocks on the property of our parents’ friends. I think we even visited a tourist trap selling quartz that was mined from the area. To our untrained eyes, it looked like diamonds. During that vacation we collected rocks. They were cool rocks. They were glittery rocks. And sometimes we could smash them open and find beautiful colors inside. That box of rocks sat on our back porch for months.

Those rocks are like my expectations. I gather them thinking of how beautiful they could be or how they will improve my life, but I end up carrying a box of rocks around. I don’t know, it’s not a perfect illustration. It came to me as I was typing.

The point is to rest.

Stop carrying around the weight of expectations, whether they be put on you by a family member, friends, society, or yourself.

Rest from these weights. Don’t try to measure up to someone else’s standards. Today, you are you. Trust that you are in God’s hands and He is working to make you all that you will be. He is making you new.

Rest today.

Breathe out – and release the hold of expectations on your life.

Breathe in – and trust the work of Christ in your life.

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This is Day 1 of 31 Days of Rest, part of the Nester’s 31 Day challenge. Check out some of the other great blogs participating.

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Set Free: What Mercy

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We’re praying through A City Set Free: 40 Days of Prayer for Columbia in Karis Church and tomorrow, Day 20, is praying for those incarcerated and their families. Tonight my Missional Community met and in the course of the evening, discussed and then prayed for Day 20. One comment was made that we tend to judge people in prison looking at the wrong they have done, forgetting that we have done wrong, sinned, and had that wrong washed away – forgotten by our Heavenly Father.

That’s mercy.

It’s easy to talk about grace sometimes. We want more grace and we want to show grace and we pray for God to lavish his grace on us. Those things we don’t deserve, the gifts of the Father.

We don’t as often talk about mercy. We have sinned grievously and yet the punishment was paid by Another. What mercy was shown us, that our sins were forgiven and the debt owed was paid in full. We once were prisoners, chained in the stench of our sin. In Christ, we have been shown mercy, and have been washed clean. Pure. Free. Restored. Released from our prisons.

Praise God for his mercy!

—–

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt was Mercy. There’s a couple hundred other bloggers who also wrote on mercy. You can check them out at Lisa-Jo Baker’s site. The basic rules are to write for 5 minutes on the week’s prompt – no editing. I’ve learned I’m a slow processer, because some people end up with twice as much content than I do or more. But, it’s still a fun exercise in writing freedom and it has helped me blog more consistently.

Somewhat random, but I’m going to include it because it has mercy in the first verse: we are going to be learning a new song in church on Sunday, so I’ve been previewing it. I want to share it with you as well.

I once was dead in sin,
Alone and hopeless
A child of wrath I walked,
Condemned in darkness
But Your mercy brought new life
And in your love and kindness
Raised me up with Christ,
And made me righteous

It’s Time to Call a Do-Over

Do you ever find yourself heading in one direction and, while it’s just not working out, you are reluctant to switch courses?

As kids, we had a word for that. You need a do-over.

The sun got in my eyes; I call do-over!
I was laughing too hard at her joke; do-over!
I wasn’t ready! Do-over!

It seems as adults, we feel the weight of failure if we realize the pinterest project isn’t going right or plans we made aren’t falling into place. For some reason, it’s harder, now that we’re grown up, to admit we sometimes need to call a do-over.

I’ve come to realize I need a do-over as June begins. I chose a One Word 365 in January. And it was good great! But the things God is teaching me this year have taken a different direction. I have wanted to blog about my One Word, but it’s taken a backseat to other lessons that hit closer to home.

So, I’m changing my word:

I’ve been trying to cultivate more grace in my life, to recognize grace when it’s given and to accept it as a gift from others and from God. Some days are more successful than others. Recently, I was flipping through a new devotional book on the subject, when something completely different smacked me upside the head.

The first chapter talked about Psalm 23 and there it was, in question #7 – Content. Are you content with what God has given you? Is what you have enough to be satisfied?

Oy.

I have learned the secret of being content.
No, not me. Paul said that.
I have so far to go.

But I realized that he figured it out. This is it. This is the secret, if I can get a hold of it. This is the key. So, I’m going to spend the rest of the year with Content as my One Word 365.

I’m not even sure yet what I’m going to say on contentment.  Even as I read that devotional, I thought to myself, “I’ll probably forget it tomorrow, but this – right now – this is it. This is the secret. I need to remember this.”

Will you walk with me through the latter half of the year as we discuss being content?

What have you learned about being content in your life?

Is there a direction you’ve been heading that you need to change? Is it time for you to call a do-over?

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With my soul – it must be well

It is Well with My Soul

Photo credit: and12ey (Creative Commons)

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say
It is well; it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet
Though trials should come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And has shed his own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul;
It is well with my soul;
It is well; it is well with my soul.

We sang this in Karis a month ago. By the second chorus I had tears rolling down my face and could no longer sing.

At times I feel so miserable in my life and yet I don’t know what it means to suffer like Horatio Spafford, the author of the song.

Do you know the story behind this song? Delayed by business concerns, Horatio put his wife and children on a boat to Europe ahead of him. A shipwreck, then a rescue, led to Horatio receiving this telegram from his wife: Saved alone. All of their daughters died in the shipwreck. As Horatio crossed the Atlantic to join his wife in Europe, he wrote this song.

If he, and so many others like him, can face losses like that and still glorify God, what excuse do I have? How can I not say, ‘it is well my soul?’

It must be well with my soul, even though I feel terrible.

It must be well.

It has to be well.

Christ shed his blood for me and my sin…

oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Has been nailed to the cross
And I bear it no more
Praise the Lord – PRAISE THE LORD! – Oh, my soul!

This morning, my cousin, his wife, my mom and I will sing this at my Aunt Ruth’s funeral service. Because Aunt Ruth believed Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, we know she is in heaven and that those of us who also believe will see her again one day. In that day, there will be no more tears, or sorrow, or death.

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound
And the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well.

It must be well.

It has to be well.

It is well with my soul.

This comforts me in the anguish of my soul. May it also comfort and encourage you.

You Have So Much More To Offer

I am in my 40’s and I am still painfully insecure. I ought to have grown out of that by now, right?

At a conference in early 2012, the opportunity presented itself for me to meet a young female entrepreneur who I admired online.

“Hi Maggie! I love your work and sense of style!”

Did I say this? No. I was too shy to introduce myself afraid of being rejected, so all I said was a timid “hello” and moved on.

Warm fire

A short while later I sat morosely kicking myself by this lovely fire. All my insecurities piled on me with a weight that grew heavier by the second. Instead of dealing with a mere moment of bashfulness, I was suddenly flooded with memories of a lifetime of missed encounters.

Do you ever do that?

I really never thought much about it until I saw how bothered my husband gets when I’m negative about myself. He loves me as I am and it’s insulting to his love for me when I insist that I’m unworthy of it.

I’m not alone here. I see other women I respect who don’t feel that they have much to offer and, while it’s easy for me to perceive the lie of satan in their lives, I’m blind to it in my own.

But we are women made in the image of God.

We are chosen by God for eternity.

Jesus gave up his life for us on the cross.

We are his Beloved.

I don’t have an answer to fix my own insecurities or yours. But I know that we should not dwell on them or let them drag us down and keep us from becoming all we can be in Christ. I know that God uses our weaknesses as opportunities for his strength to shine through. As Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 12:

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.

I hope to offer you some encouragement tonight. Whatever it may be that you are beating yourself up about, stop. See that God is at work through you. That where you feel like you fail is where he steps in and shows his strength and power through you. And if you’re struggling and just can’t see that, then know. Know that his grace is sufficient for you and that he is with you. Trust his word. Believe it.

You, and I, have so much more to offer. Our insecurities and weaknesses are shining the light of God’s strength to a darkened world.

I’m continuing to count the gifts God is giving me:

  • Jewel-toned colors through a stained glass window.
  • The warmth of a purring cat.
  • Sunshine and warmer than average days in January.
  • A peace that descends as notes reverberate through a piano.
  • Chocolate. 🙂
  • Sunset darkening the sky a little later each day as winter ebbs slowly into spring.

I’m linking up with:

The Scenic Route

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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