My New Year’s Prayer For You

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Happy New Year!

First I want to give a huge thank you to all of you who take the time out of your day to read my words.  I have experienced swings of renewed purpose and doubting my calling, of spiritual highs and soul-deep dryness, of joyful growth and painful pruning; your likes, comments, and follows have encouraged me to continue writing through all of life’s seasons.  Indeed, my friends, our Father has used you mightily to grow me up in my purpose here.  I appreciate every one of you, and hope my words have given you encouragement, hope, and even a chuckle or two throughout the year.

(((Hugs to you!)))

As we begin this bright and shiny new year, my prayer for all of us is this: that we may truly comprehend the depth of our Father’s love for us.

May we become rooted in the knowledge of our position as beloved children of El Elyon, God Most High.  We are royalty, my friends, secure in our status and infinitely treasured!  Isn’t that a lovely thought?

May we allow that to become more than mere thought, but to soak down deep and become our reality.  Then we can, through the grace of our Lord, be unshakable and filled with joy, regardless of what may come our way.

May we be the light of this world, our Father’s love pouring out of us in rivers, drenching those He brings our way.  Let us live out our eternal reality each and every day this coming year!

Grace and peace to you,

❤ Rebeca

 

*Photo by Serge Bertasius Photography, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

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When I began blogging two years ago, I did not expect the amazing community of writers I would get to know.  There are many wise and gifted storytellers out there.  Once in a while, I stumble upon someone who can infuse their stories with such passion and vividness I feel as though I am experiencing life with them.  Mary Ann Perez is one such writer.

As she has shared parts of her story on her blog I have been privileged to see life through circumstances very different than my own.  I have seen through Mary’s eyes and I have both laughed and cried.  Her story has given me much to ponder about my own life, and of how insulated I am.  Her words have given me a compassion and empathy I didn’t have before, particularly for children growing up in unstable environments.

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This Year I Will…Oh, Look! A Squirrel!

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Herding cats would have been easier than trying to corral my young son’s attention. His eyes were constantly moving, taking in everything and nothing all at once. He would pace and chatter, touching whatever his hands happened across. Those hands would absently explore an item only to discard it and move on to the next, though never back to the place it was found. If I needed to impart instruction, I’d grasp him by the shoulders and say, “Stop for a minute and look at me. Listen. Are you with me?”

Fuzzy head nodding, his soft, hazel orbs would settle on my green ones for a moment before darting away like a school of fish. They would swim back to mine every so often as I spoke my instructions, but never for long. There were simply too many other things to look at and process. Our doctor said he had Superman hearing, but my words often got lost among the many distractions in his young head. Touching him and making eye contact seemed to help. A little.

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Ingrown Eyeballs

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I’m an affirmation junkie.  Gary Chapman would say that my dominant love language is ‘words of affirmation’, but that sounds too tame.  I think I may actually have a problem here.  The mailman once told me I was beautiful.  No, he wasn’t hitting on me, he was simply being his normal friendly self, but his words impacted me.  I grinned all day.  I ran those words through my head more times than is polite to admit.  But more importantly, I felt beautiful because of his compliment.

I used to keep every nice note given to me.  Each word of thanks or praise was read and reread, then tucked away for safekeeping.  They made me feel good.  Mere words on a page have a mystical power over me.  Reading them makes me feel loved, and more, worthy to be loved.

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Applause, Applause, Applause

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I watched the numbers climb with equal parts delight and dread.  As a writer, I want my work to be enjoyed.  Each piece I put forth for public consumption represents hours of painstaking labor.  A crummy first draft can be pounded out in short order but I refuse to post the first unpolished words that find their way out of my cerebral cortex.  A significant amount of time is spent rereading, rewording, and bouncing off of my manly Muse before I present the finished product.  So as the number of views broke my admittedly modest personal record, I couldn’t help but feel a tingly sort of thrill.

However, as the number of people viewing this particular post continued to rise I began to feel a sense of unease.  I became rather obsessive about checking my blog stats that week and my heart became unsettled.  Thankfully, the furor died down quickly.  After all, I am but a blip on the radar of the blogosphere.  But the conversations that ensued in my own circles as well as the ribbing I received only served to burden me more.  Why?

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The Nice Church Lady Said What?

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I cursed a blue streak this morning. I’m not quite sure what came over me. Perhaps it is related to the fact that my left ovary woke me up at 5:00 this morning; the pain shooting all the way down to my knee, for Pete’s sake. The ol’ hormonal rollercoaster of my advancing years is…notably more intense than I’d anticipated. Or maybe I can blame Microsoft for making things so danged convoluted. I am convinced that they are conspiring to drive the average person insane so they can take over the world.

Yes, indeedy, boys and girls. I swore at my computer. And not just a simple slip; an “oops, did I really say that?” moment. No, I called it vile names and accused its motherboard of demeaning acts. Microsoft was told in no uncertain terms where to go. ‘Bombs’ were dropping like rain in the Pacific Northwest. And I am ashamed to admit that my Lord’s name got caught up somewhere in my tirade. (No children were harmed in the making of this tantrum. They were thankfully in another part of the house.)

When the rage burned itself out, I was embarrassed. Even in the midst of it I knew it was totally uncalled for and unbecoming. I did it anyway. And I was left shaking my head wondering, “What the heck happened there?”

I envisioned myself ‘running the race’, as Paul put it. Just running along minding my own business, then a small slip. In slow motion, I’m flailing, falling, swearing like a logger. The other runners look on in horror as the words keep flowing from my lips like a broken sewage pipe…

I fear that I will be that sweet little church lady someday who says shocking things in the nursing home. Losing all ability to filter, this is the vileness that will spill forth.

Lord, help me.

I’ve been praying for a couple of days regarding what to write about to wrap up the year 2013. I started this blog last January, and as I pondered my outburst this morning, I realize that the benefits of writing are more profound than I ever dreamed.

You see, it would be really easy for me to have gotten completely derailed spiritually this morning. To spend the remainder of my day mentally castigating myself for my sinful behavior. It would be so easy to let the inner critic rule the day.

 “Some Christian you are!”

 “If your homeschool/church friends heard you this morning, you’d be kicked out of…”

 “Why try? You know you’ll simply fail. You suck.”

 “Boy, Jesus must be pretty torqued at you right now!”

As those very sentiments began to play like a bad recording in my brain, I remembered all of the other things the Lord has been teaching me this past year.

There is nothing I can do, or not do, that will make my Creator love me any more or any less than He does right now.

 There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, indeed, He is faithful to forgive all my sins.

 His tender mercies are new every morning. (Hopefully every minute!)

 Because of Jesus, I am seen as already complete and without blemish. Even when I royally flub it.

 I won’t always have to struggle with this costume of mine, praise God!

As those remembrances crowded out the inner critic’s voice, I realized that this is what building standing stones is all about. It is about having those tangible reminders that we are growing, that we are changing, that our Lord is indeed working on us. And to be able to see those reminders when we need them most. When we make complete fools of ourselves and allow the costume to run the show.

So, my friends, as the ‘Year of the Great Blog Launch’ comes to a close, I want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy days to share life with me. I am humbled and awed at the many comments and words of encouragement I have received. Those are what have kept me writing. And writing, I’m finding, is what is helping me to stay the course and continue running the race even when I have an epic stumble.

Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters. Have a blessed New Year!

Stripping Off The Weight

I was recently given the opportunity to be a part of a book launch. This was something totally new to me, and it has been fun to see a little of what it takes to get a book off the ground. I must confess to some feelings of apprehension though. I knew that, while book reviews aren’t really what I do here on this blog, I would feel compelled to at least mention the release of this book as part of its launch team.

But what if the book was a real stinker? Anyone can self-publish these days, but that doesn’t make them all good writers. What if it was only so-so? What if it had no impact on me whatsoever? I wanted to be able to, in all good conscience, give a positive yet honest review. In spite of my reservations, I accepted the challenge.

I was sent a copy of the book via email. My mission was to read the book, point out any copy errors, and give some honest feedback to the author. I opened it on my iPad, settled into bed, and began to read. I was captivated.

Teresa Shields Parker’s memoir, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds And Stopped Trying To Earn God’s Favor, is an engaging story of one woman’s journey from ‘super morbid obesity’ to a life of physical and spiritual health. Written in an enjoyable conversational style, Teresa’s story chronicles her weight loss struggles, how it began, how it affected her entire life, and ultimately how she found freedom through embracing God’s grace. You can find her book on Amazon here, or directly from her website here.

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I found Teresa’s story fascinating. This window into the life of extreme obesity is eye-opening and, for any of us who are also addicted to sweets, quite sobering as well. I had never heard of sugar sensitivity before, and found that information quite interesting. However, I found the spiritual journey that she shares to be the most thought-provoking part of the book.

The main purpose of grace is not for me to spend cheaply, squandering it on my wants and desires. Grace is for me to employ to accomplish the kingdom of God on the earth. That gives my life meaning and purpose. It makes me want to follow His ways all my life.” (Teresa Shields Parker)

This passage in particular really got me to thinking. I know I cannot earn God’s grace. It is entirely undeserved and unmerited. It is mine to make use of freely. But when I worship the idols of lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy or pride then grace ceases to flow. I find myself trying to earn God’s favor and, in so doing, end up with a cheap man-made imitation of God’s blessing. Then all I have to offer others is this facsimile of God’s power while I am left drained and empty. My impact for His glory becomes negligible.

I was made by our Creator God for a purpose. I am seriously rethinking how my ‘secret’ sins are impacting my ability to do the work my Lord has laid out for me. I am trying to see with clarity whether I am allowing His Spirit to fill me and flow through me, or if I am vainly working under my own power. All too often, I must confess that the latter is true. I get so busy ‘doing’, that I forget to simply sit at Jesus’ feet and soak in His presence.

So, my friends, “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1b, NLT)