Grace upon grace…..

It’s been about 3 months since we packed all our things up and began moving. What a process this has been. The whole move in general has not unfolded exactly as we had planned in our hopeful minds. But of course, His plan is far richer and more beneficial for enabling us to glorify Him. When we accepted the offer on our old home we had pretty quickly gone under contract with an approved short sale. We were told that it being “approved” would enable essentially a normal closing. It was wishful thinking to expect being able to directly move from our old home to our new home. So we found a rental that allowed month to month leasing. As with most short sales you run into your share of surprises. I lost track of how many times we changed due diligence and closing dates, haha. We jumped the gun on giving our notice to the landlord and that is how we ended up here with our cousins. So that’s the short version of the story.

As I stated in my previous post, I am so grateful to be here with our cousins. God is using this in a much greater way than simply housing us.

It’s been humbling to parent alongside them for the last month. As parents we are all aware that we have different styles, different priorities, things we find more important than others, ect. What I am reminded of after living here is to never get too proud in my parenting. I don’t know it all, I am not perfect, neither is my parenting. I want to be humble enough to acknowledge the areas I need maturing in and also receptive to learning from other people.

1 Peter 5:5 and 6 “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

Now you may accuse me of the obvious here but I’m saying it anyway. You really can’t KNOW a person unless you live with them. As close as we have been with our cousins I still have been privileged to know them even more intimately after having lived with them.

One thing that really sticks out to me, specifically in regards to how they parent is the giving of affection and grace. I struggle at points with both of those actions. I have many fears and reasons but after observing this family in the throws of reality I have concluded that you can’t underestimate the power of affection and grace. I believe that their children will grow up, no matter what happens, with a complete confidence in the fact that they are loved and treasured by their mom and dad. I have been apart of some chaotic mornings getting everyone off to school and watched both Nicole and Scott set aside it all to send their family off with love and kisses. This is not some rote, habitual, disingenuous action. It’s sacrifice.  One of my biggest problems is moving beyond how I feel to choose love and grace and affection. It requires sacrifice to set aside bad moods and attitudes and convey to your family members “No matter what, I love you.” Those words and a simple hug and kiss can often be the hardest thing for me to express when I don’t feel it. Yet for our young children those actions, whether they were received a lot or not enough, will shape them.

John 1:16 “From his fullness we have received grace upon grace… “

Romans 12:10 “Love each other with genuine affection,and take delight in honoring each other.”

Nicole works full time. This adds a whole new level of admiration I have for her. I have watched her turn off whatever happened throughout her day and walk through the door with a smile ready to embrace her family. This is no easy task for a mom. When we return home from anywhere we are welcomed with the many needs of our family. When I asked her how she does it she told me “When I turn into the neighborhood I just start praying……” And let me tell you I can see the evidence of those prayers.

The other quality I would note of this family is their humility. They are not afraid to acknowledge their own imperfections and weaknesses and their great need for His saving grace. None of us are perfect, but that is how His power is displayed. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I’m only scratching the surface here on what all I believe our family has gained from living here. It has been such a blessing to see their love in action on a daily basis. I know God is using this for a very specific purpose. He knows the areas I struggle in. It’s no surprise that he would move us back on Crimson to drive home the power of grace.

2 Corinthians 4:15 “as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.”

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The G in Generosity

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (Romans 12:10-13 NLT)

They welcome with open arms, genuine hugs and joy filled faces. They offer themselves in service, willingly, gladly, and sacrificially. They offer their belongings, the ones God placed in their stewardship. They don’t hoard a thing, not a favorite, not the special, it’s a “what’s mine is yours” mentality. And they don’t dictate how or when it should be used. They give freely and they give generously. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. Not only do they open up their home, their schedules, and their service, they open up their hearts. They share their thoughts, their life, their laughter. Laughter really is good medicine. There is no way one could not feel comfortable and welcomed by them. You know they want you here, they love you, you see it in their actions. They love you at your best and your worst moments. They love you enough to forgive you too. This kind of love is super natural. It comes from Jesus, it’s His Spirit. But love is not always easy and we are always given a choice. They said “yes” though. They obediently accepted the call and opportunity to love someone. And His Name is lifted high. What a gift they have given us. These times we will never forget. A treasured memory that our family will dearly hold forever. I can not express enough thanks to these who have loved us so sweetly as Christ loves. We will move, I think, 😉 and quite frankly it will be very sad to go. But that is also part of His gift if you consider the alternative. We will miss the mornings eating breakfast and riding together to school. We will miss cooking dinner side by side and late evenings deserts. We will miss the joint efforts and extra hands. We will miss the cook outs and movie nights. We will surely miss the midweek date nights, girls nights, every night! We will miss the talks and the laughs we’ve been privileged to share so abundantly. We will miss YOU! Thank you for all you have done. Thank you for being willing vessels, ministering to other members of the Body of Christ. You have blessed us with grace and I am overwhelmed by His love.

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. (Hebrews 6:11 NLT)

20140207-083553.jpgThe Graham’s “South”

20140207-205141.jpgThese kiddos, as close as cousins get

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20140207-205252.jpgCaleb’s masculinity has survived the feminine toys!

20140207-205332.jpgAnd Nikki my dear, truly a sister to me.

We love you all! Thank you!

Be confident my heart…..

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Indeed. I took this picture in my favorite spot at our wonderful, gracious hosts home. 😃 We are staying a few weeks with our cousins, hoping to close on our home soon.

As we go through life, it ebbs and flows, but God and his goodness is steady and true. Sometimes I will read a particular scripture and it will just melt me. In a good way. Like melted chocolate, not like a melted Olaf. 😏

I keep coming back to my need to know God more deeply every day. Whatever insecurities or fears I have are all wrapped up in needing to know God more. The better you know someone the better you know their character. Knowing a persons character allows you to regard them as trustworthy or untrustworthy. God is perfect and there are absolutely no flaws in his character. Therefore what he says and what he has done is trustworthy. If I have trust/belief issues it’s because I am forgetting why he is to be trusted. Often times this happens when I am neglecting to spend time in his Word and in communion with him. However there are times when a new challenge or fear surfaces that I haven’t exercised my trust in Him with. Which becomes a learning process and requires the same, his Word and prayer. I want to deeply know Him. To me there is nothing more important. Everything in life hangs on how well I know God. Every fear, doubt, worry, or disobedience is a matter of disbelieving that God can fully meet the need. Faith is not just believing God exists. It’s believing every single thing he has told us in his Word and that he has/can/will accomplish it.

A lack of trust suggests we are afraid of something. Life is constantly changing and we have different fears in different seasons. My big fear right now could be wrapped up in fear of failure. And there are oh.so.many layers to those 3 words.

Below I am listing some of the fears I have off the top of my head with some scripture I have found to combat the fear with.

Fear of failing God. This is where my performance and legalism get me.

We conclude that a person has God’s approval by faith, not by his own efforts. (Romans 3:28 GW)

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. (Ephesians 1:4 NLT)

Fear of failing people. You want to talk about some layers, yikes. Obsessively trying to please others keeps me from feeling free to be myself, to be who God wants me to be. I can’t be very effective in glorifying God if I’m overly concerned about what everyone thinks of me. That’s pre occupation with self. I must be simply occupied and satisfied with God.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (Galatians 1:10 NLT)

Fear of failing commitments. There may come a point after I’ve committed to something with the best of intentions and God just needs me to step back and allow him to work. Possibly because I began working in my own strength and wasn’t allowing God full control or all the glory. I recently had to relinquish control over a situation and it required acknowledging a huge amount of pride I didn’t know existed. It was so hard being honest with myself, but allowing God to humble me brought about freedom.

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. (Psalms 37:5 NLT)

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9 NLT)

And what does God tell us about fear itself?

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Memorizing and meditating on scripture play a huge role in my believing and trusting God. In my desperation to know God and completely trust him I can’t get enough of his Word. That’s a cool thing too. No matter how long you’ve been a Christian the living Word of God will always grip you and teach you. God is glorious. May he be lifted high for the great things he has done and great things to come.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:2, 5, 6 ESV)