Category Archives: i believe

On Desires and Grace

Last night I sat in a room with some of my sisters in Christ—worshipping, learning, talking and praying together. My heart wept as I listened to sweet friends tearfully share desires kept safe in their hearts. Facing the stark reality of disappointment and struggling to keep hoping against hope. Wondering how to keep hands open when day after day they are found empty. 

And I’ve been there in the place of closed hands, empty heart—waiting for my deepest hopes and finding only utter despair. Desires are odd, funny things. We keep them buried deep down under our piles of guilt and shame and felt unworthiness. Scared to even articulate them, to ask for them, to pray for them, to share them with our brothers and sisters in the Body. Maybe fearing that in doing so we set in motion some cosmic reverse psychology that ensures we’ll never experience them. Maybe feeling that we have no right to desire such things when our insides are coal-black and wicked. Maybe feeling that we could never deserve them because of what we’ve done or what’s been done to us. Maybe despairing of ever receiving them after so many seasons of expectant waiting. The not-good-enough of our hearts suffocating the yearning for the good, the beautiful, the Imago Dei

And I’ve been there, in the place of deep hurt and stark need and unutterable longing. But don’t you see—can’t you understand that the very existence of these desires, yours and mine, is grace? That the eternal striving for the beautiful and the good merely reflects our soul-striving for our Jesus? Apart from Him, we would have no thirst for good things. No hunger for things that fill empty hands and give joy. Every good and perfect thing that we long for, receive, and experience in this life is grace and grace alone because it originates from the very Source of grace and good things. And both the longing for these gifts and the receiving of them serve to clarify the reflection in the smudged, blurry mirrors of our humanity that always seek to picture Him more clearly. 

This is grace. And that is grace and the weeping and the yearning and the despairing and the heart-cry are grace. The hoping and the expecting and the waiting and oh! the receiving and the giving thanks—all are grace. Grace enveloping us, all around us as we inhale to receive and exhale to give and give thanks and it’s all grace. 

And what of our desires, yours and mine? Can I really hold my precious longings up to heaven with open hands, expecting that they’ll be fulfilled and granted? Can I encourage you to do the same? I can’t pretend to know the future but I can say with certainty that if my Jesus wept before the Father with his desires unmet and unrealized then my tears are not met with shame and guilt. My heart-cries are not met with shrugging platitudes because my Father—my good, beautiful, perfect Father who is Love has promised me good, beautiful, perfect gifts and that’s a promise I can carry boldly to his throne and claim with confidence. 

And I’ll be there again, in that familiar place of wanting and hoping and waiting. Maybe you’ll be there too, and together we’ll name our desires with tear-streaked faces and thrust up our waiting arms, hands open in confident expectation because we know that our Father delights in giving good and perfect gifts to His children.

gracious words {#shereadstruth}


SheReadsTruth

have you heard about she reads truth yet?

two lovely ladies decided to read the Word together- and invited other women to join them. since it began, my twitter and instagram feeds have been blowing up with the #shereadstruth hastag.  as soon as i found out about it, i knew this was something i needed to do. my husband and i read through books together and study them – i call it my “how to study the Bible” class. 🙂 but i also love the idea of women all over the place reading the Word together, in community, and growing- using our love for technology and social media to increase our love for God.

having started late, i’m pretty far behind. but i’m catching up.

this morning i read in Proverbs 15 about the power of our words and the kinds of words that our Father loves to hear from our mouths.

the words He loves to hear are soothing, gentle, wise, and gracious words.

verse 26 stood out to me: “gracious words are pure in His sight.”

and i prayed that today, He would give me gracious words. words that soothe and heal. words that are filled with His love.

what have you read recently?

 

oh! and… i have a giveaway winner to announce! (so exciting!!!) the randomly selected winner of the Redeemed Grace Jewelry set from DaySpring is…. Katie!

Katie, email me your mailing address and we’ll get that to you! thanks so much to everyone who entered.

grace {and a giveaway}

grace.

it’s such a lovely word.

we love to sing of grace, to speak of it.

to experience it.

my husband taught a sunday school lesson on the necessity of the atonement yesterday. about the curse that was placed upon our fallen world because of the first man and woman.

the broken, empty world in need of such grace.

but grace is not just for our redemption. it’s for our everyday.

this grace that we love to sing of, to speak of, to experience- it’s ours. a free gift from the Father who loves us more than we can fathom.

Paul speaks of this grace in his letter to the Corinthian believers. he says:

 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -1 Cor. 15:10, NIV

 

this grace that redeemed us- this grace that set us free? it’s the same grace that makes us who we are, today and every day. no matter how hard i try, no matter how much i work, i can’t beat grace. and that’s the most comforting part- i don’t have to. i don’t have to try harder. i don’t have to work more. because of grace.

it’s by the grace of God I am what I am.

that’s what this lovely redeemed jewelry set from {in}courage does- it’s a subtle reminder of that everyday grace. grace dangling from your ears, wrapped around your wrist, fastened to your keys.

and {in}courage has generously given me the opportunity to give away one of these sets. yep, a giveaway!

entering is simple- leave me a comment on this post. i would love to hear about how you’ve experienced grace in your life.

for additional entries, tweet about the giveaway or share it on facebook- please tag me (@audreyjo) on twitter or share the facebook link. come back and leave a comment on this post for each time you tweet or share.

you’ll have until this saturday, june 2, to enter.

good luck! i’ll announce the winner of the giveaway next monday.

full disclosure:  I received a free copy of this jewelry set in exchange for hosting this review and giveaway.  Though this review was sponsored, all of the opinions expressed above are mine alone.

no longer strangers

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

Ephesians 2:19–21

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Feed Your Soul

A few weeks ago I got an email from Groopdealz, an online daily deals site that features mostly handmade items. I was so excited to see a Lisa Leonard piece featured! I’ve been following Lisa’s blog for several months, and I love her jewelry. We ordered her ‘pieces of my heart’ tokens to use as our cake topper in May, and they’re perfect! But I’ve really, really wanted a Lisa Leonard necklace for so long. And this one’s perfect for me, with its stamped set of silverware and three powerful words.

You see, I spend a whole lot of time and effort feeding bodies. I make weekly meal plans that correspond with grocery sale cycles. I clip coupons. I pick up a produce basket every week. I spend hours planning to buy, buying, and then preparing various ingredients. Food is very important to me. I’ve jokingly called it one of my love languages, because I derive a great deal of pleasure in preparing and serving delicious food that people enjoy. Yes, I’m very, very good at feeding bodies.

But feeding souls? Oh. Feeding souls. And just like that, a little piece of metal with a few words stamped on it brought the full weight of conviction onto my soul. How often do I feed my soul? How many hours do I spend planning and preparing to fill my soul with the Bread of Life? The Living Water? Not enough. Oh, Abba, not enough. And the reality of one of the verses read in this week’s Sunday School begins to sink in.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:7-14, NIV

If I knew the gift of God. If I knew the One who asks for a drink. If I really knew Him, I’d be seeking His eternal water. His living bread. I would spend time with Him, soaking up all that He is. I would feed my soul, and once it was filled to the brim and spilling over with the overwhelming goodness and love of my Savior I could turn and share the Water and Bread with the ones around me. I could feed their souls.

But like the Samaritan woman, I’m so consumed by the material, the physical, the right-here-right-now of my life here on earth that I don’t even desire the Bread. I don’t even thirst for the Water. I gorge myself on the temporary, leaving no room for the eternal. And my Father knows that that’s my propensity. That’s why He calls me:

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.

                                                                                                            Isaiah 55:1-3, NIV
He calls me to come. He calls me to eat the bread, to drink the water, and to delight my soul in the richest of fare- to joy in the satisfaction that only He can provide.
He calls me to feed my soul.

bits of splendor monday

From the Archives: God in the Margins

If we move too fast, God gets put in the margins of our lives, squeezed to the sidelines.

What would happen to my life if I put God in the center of the page? If His influence and presence were seen in every sentence, in every note that I jot to myself?

Sometimes my life gets so full that the margins become exceedingly narrow. God gets the tiny leftover spaces, or He gets shoved off the page entirely. A hurried life… pushes God out from the center of my life and into the margins, which are airmail thin.

Spiritual growth comes from listening to God and responding to Him in ways we might not have planned ahead of time. When there is no extra space in our lives, when we are living a “marginless life”, we have no reserves.

from Breathe: Creating Space For God in a Hectic Life by keri wyatt kent.

on resolutions- i mean ‘goals’

i’ve read several thoughtful articles recently on the subject of resolutions. specifically, from sharon and mark. and here’s what i’m doing this year- i’m not making resolutions. or, at least, i’m not calling them resolutions. because honestly, the very word ‘resolution’ makes me shudder a bit. it conjures up images of straining, striving, and trying. not images of achievement and satisfaction. so this year i’m setting some goals. because the word ‘goal’ brings to mind inspiration, aspiration, and possibility. and i’m not going to beat myself up over failures. i’m not going to pin all my hopes and dreams on their maturation. i am going to include practical, actionable, intentional ways to accomplish each goal- the rubber-meets-road.

and i’m not going to post my entire 2012 goals list here. suffice it to say that it includes things like budgeting, healthy living, and study of the Word, plus a few off-beat things like planning a lovely wedding and cleaning my car out regularly.

have you made any goals for 2012? what are they?

Don’t Settle

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Photo credit: Johnathan Mak via abc news
I’ve long been a hardcore apple user- I learned to read (literally! with reader rabbit) on an old SE-30 at the tender age of four and never looked back. Like most of the world I was saddened to hear of Steve’s death this past week. Just a few weeks ago James and I were discussing our long-term career goals and dreams and we talked about this quote:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.

Don’t settle.

As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it.

Don’t settle.”

-Steve Jobs via the wsj

Jobs was an incredibly talented man who undoubtedly changed the world. He was also a though-provoking example of the truth that all men are created in God’s image and, whether they choose to accept Him or not, they bear that image. May we as believers seek to develop and use our gifts as intentional image-bearers.