Saturday, June 23, 2012

What Makes a Good Christian:

Isaiah 64:6 
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..

Two and a half weeks ago, my husband and I welcomed our son into the world.  He has been such a joy and a blessing in our lives, and he has taken up much of our time along with his blessings.  

As I was falling asleep last night I was thinking about how little time I have actually had to myself lately.  Having two children under the age of two can be taxing on the minutes in the day.  Not only so, but my alone time with God has been little to none throughout the day.  I haven't read my bible much at all throughout the past couple of weeks, and haven't set foot in church either.  My prayer time has been limited, and when I do pray...they are self-centered prayers asking the Lord for energy, strength and wisdom.  No prayers for the poor, no prayers for peace, and no prayers for others. 

For a moment as I contemplated these things, I felt a twinge of guilt.  I felt like a "bad Christian".  I have been given so much, and lately, I have been giving back so little.  

It's easy to fall into the guilt trap, isn't it?  It's easy to look at all that God has done for us and feel embarrassed, ashamed, and  disappointed at what we give back to Him.  

But today I was reminded of something that has really shifted my thinking and challenged my beliefs: 

You see, what makes a good Christian is not how much we give back to Him, but how good we are at receiving his grace.  

His grace, again, and again, and again...

This is ultimately what the Christian life comes down to....a person who understands that no matter where you are in life, what you are or aren't doing, and who you are or aren't, we are all in need of God's saving grace to cover our failures and our failings.  Each and every single day.  

There is no shame in this because in this is the definition of the gospel.  In this is the definition of God's love, pouring down on us even when we are unable...or at times pour it back on Him.  And that is why we love Him, because He first loved us.  

I'm learning to apply these truths in practical ways this week.  I'm learning to receive God's grace and forgiveness over and over again throughout my days.  I'm learning to accept His blessings and his limitless love without a hint of shame or guilt.

I hope you will, too.   

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What 5 Years of Marriage Can Do:

1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God

Today is my 5 year wedding anniversary.   

Five years ago, I was holding my dad's arm, walking down the long hallway that lead to the doors of the church where hundreds of loved ones sat, waiting to witness the sacred commitment that I would soon make to my soon-to-be- husband.  I had so many thoughts going through my mind, and a dozen emotions flooding my heart but loudest of all was the joy that I would be marrying the man of my dreams and the love of my life.  The entire day was an incredible celebration, filled with laughter, tears, romance, and deep feelings that overwhelm me with just the thought of them.  It was a day that we will never forget as long as we live.  

Fast forward five years.  

My husband is sound asleep on our linen colored couch, with a little newborn on his chest sleeping soundly.  Hours before were filled with about a dozen diaper changes and feedings.  Newborns really like show off  their new found bowels, don't they? 

My daughter is snoozing upstairs, and I am starting to hear her stir through the baby monitor.  Soon enough she will be running around like the energetic 20 month old she is, asking for juice, books, cookies and crackers, dancing to the music and pleading with us to go play outside one more time.  We'll let her, as soon as she uses the potty, which may or may not be a 10-20 minute escapade. 

In exchange for a white gown, I'm wearing a white tank top and yoga pants.  My long flowing hair that was pinned just right is in a crazy looking pony tail.  No time for a tiara today.  John's sharp tuxedo- now a T shirt and a pair of gym shorts.  At least his hair pretty much looks the same as five years ago...maybe a little less endowed now, but who's counting. The beautifully ordained church and reception hall have now transformed into our little townhouse, toys and children's books all across the floor replace the flower petals that escorted me down the aisle.  No guests to witness anything magical today...reminding me that sometimes it's harder to live life well when no one is looking.   

It's amazing to think back on where we were...and where we are today.  I'm overwhelmed with emotions today, in an entirely new way.  I had so many dreams of what marriage would be, of what my future would look like and how God's glory would play out in my I walked down that aisle 5 years ago. 

Most of those dreams have been shattered.  But new ones- greater ones- have been birthed.

The Lord has taken these five years and taught me where true joy is really found- not in a marriage, not in a family, not in a successful and exciting life: it is found in His glory.  Nothing less will do.   

He has taught me to seek his glory in every small thing in my life, offering it back to Him in any way I know how.   Every diaper change, every nursery rhyme, every special moment sitting on the couch with my husband.  Every messy meal, cutting food into little bites, every bubble bath, every bed time story.  Every conversation with my husband, every time I cook a meal, every household chore.  Every embrace, every kiss, every touch.  Every thing in life becomes God's, used for His glory- though it may not appear as we had imagined "glory" to look.

I have watched God's glory invade our lives and our marriage the past five years, and I have seen the evidence of His glory in my life as the fruit of my attitude. 

In the end, I am learning that it's not what I do that brings Him glory, but it is 100% about the way that I do those things.  You learn to stop striving for more, more, more- when life becomes an avenue of giving God glory in what you have and how you react to and now. 

No matter where you are today.  No matter what you have, or haven't accomplished.  No matter how close your dreams, or how far.  No matter who you are with, married or single, children or is so easy to get caught up in what you want, rather than what you have.  It's so easy to see God's glory in what you want to accomplish for Him, rather than what He has already accomplished in you. 

This has been a struggle for me over the past five years, a struggle that I feel I am winning (for once!) today.  I struggle I never imagined entering marriage, and then entering parenting...because from the outside in, it seems that when I have this ___________, _______________ will be okay...

I have learned that the only answer to the blanks...are God's glory being lived out in my life, being thankful, merciful, loving, and gracious in my day to day.  Being grateful to Him for the mundane, routine, ordinary parts of my life.  Nothing else has shown itself to be more worthwhile of my efforts.  

I am reflecting on my blessings this June 9th, 2012.  Every single one of them...ordinary, mundane, and routine.  Most of all, I'm reflecting on my gratitude for the love of my life, my husband (still snoozing, mind you...but looking as handsome as ever!).  May I ever be grateful for him, ever in love with him, and ever honoring him all the days of my life.  May I bring God glory in the way I love and cherish this man. 

Lord, help me not to get caught up in what I want, but only to bring you glory in what I already have. 

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, and to the God that holds us both together each and every single day.