Pause. Renew. Next.

Tag: grace

Soul-Care Reflections: Grace for the Body

What happens when our bodies make us slow down? In this soul-care episode, I am sharing about how a recent injury is making me not just “talk the talk” about slowing down, but actually, physically, slow down.

Having grace for our physical bodies is an integral part of soul-care. In the same way, having grace for the body of Christ is an integral part of our faith walk. It was no accident that God named the church his body.

Join me for a pause in your day. I hope you leave feeling renewed. May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

When Grace Overflows

I’m not proud to admit it, but apparently I underestimated my child’s ability.

Swimming lessons started this week. Due to fear of water on their part, laziness on my part, and a pandemic that put us behind a year, this Mom was late in putting my two youngest in swimming lessons. I pulled up the information on the classes offered at the YMCA, but I had no clue which class was most appropriate for their swimming abilities. So, I took a shot in the dark and placed them both in the same class. (Saves on driving, right?)

I was wrong about both of their skill levels.

Swimming lessons!

Surprising both me and his swimming teacher, one of my children could do laps back and forth in the pool. His teacher pulled him aside after the first lesson and told him he qualified for a more advanced class. He didn’t want to move up, so she generously volunteered to spend extra time with him after class helping him hone his skills.

In contrast, my other child was not yet ready for the class I placed him in. His specialty has been clinging to the wall and trying not to swim. He does enjoy the occasional splash and face dunk though, so he’s working his courage up slowly.

I would love to say that this is the first time I’ve under or over-estimated my children, but it’s definitely not. In fact, sometimes I think parenting is like one big experiment. Our job is to train these little beings into responsible adults, but most of the time we’re still learning how to be responsible adults ourselves! No, I definitely don’t always see my children clearly for both their strengths and weaknesses. It’s a work in progress, and they continually teach me so much!

Here, I want to lovingly juxtapose my parenting abilities with that of our Heavenly Father. Listen, if ever there was someone who could rightly assess our strengths, weaknesses, faults, and abilities, it’s our Creator. He knows the inner workings of our minds, our emotions, and our motivations. Even more astoundingly, he knows all that we’re capable of, and the good works that still lie in our future. He knows it all, and he never underestimates us.

If that weren’t already the best news, there’s more! He totally never overestimates our abilities either. He knows that on our own, we can’t always make it as far as we think we can or as far as we dream we will. We just may not have the resources or skills at our disposal. He, however, has an endless supply of resources. Like the loving Father that he is, he promises to provide for our needs (Philippians 4:19). He also promises that through His grace, we will not only have our needs met but be able to excel at every good work He lays before us (II Corinthians 9:8).

And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 

II Corinthians 9:8 CSB

I don’t know about you, but that is REALLY good news to me today. There is some “good work” that currently lies in my path that feels way above my skill level. Truthfully, many days, even parenting feels above my skill level. Still, we’re promised that God’s grace will not just flow, but OVERFLOW, so that in every way, with everything that we need, we will not just accomplish but excel at the good work before us.

What is the good work that the Lord has laid before you, friend?

I pray that this encouragement helps you realign your own estimations of not just yourself, but of the God who goes before you in it.

Pause: Take a deep breath and allow your mind and body to be still. When you’re ready, read through II Corinthians 9. What stands out to you from this chapter? Underline or highlight any phrases or verses that resonate with you.

Renew: This chapter is not only about provision but also about gratitude and generosity. How do gratitude and generosity play a roll in the good works you are accomplishing in your life right now? Take some time to consider in what ways you can reframe your thinking through the lens of gratitude.

Next: Take time to think, journal, or reflect this week on ways that you’ve seen the Lord’s grace overflow to you. If you know that you need help outside of yourself to accomplish the good works that lay before you, pray specifically for those needs. He is faithful to listen and respond to His children.

May you rest in His grace this week.

Pause, Renew, Next!

The Blame Game, Gas, and Grace

It was a typical Monday morning, and I was running late.  Between getting my children and myself ready in the morning, I seem to never have an extra minute to spare.  I hastily climbed in the van and turned it on.  With dread, I noticed that my gas gauge rested on E.  

A wise woman once told me that, when things go wrong, people intrinsically blame either themselves or others.  Well, I can admit it:  I am usually an “other blamer.”  In this instance, my husband got the full brunt of my blame, since he had been the last one to drive the van.  “Why didn’t he fill up the tank?!!!,” I thought.   If he had been sitting next to me at that moment, I’m sure he would have gotten an ear full.

Since I didn’t have time to stop for gas without being late to work, I drove on the fumes of denial, hoping the gas warning light would not come on.  Unfortunately, halfway to work, it lit up.  I called my husband, told him the situation, and asked if he thought I had enough fuel left to make it it to a gas station after work.  He calmly stated that it would be fine, reassuring me that the van had plenty of miles to go before it ran out of gas. So, I switched my focus to work, not giving it another thought.

After work, I remembered that I needed to fill up.  I got back in the van, turned the ignition, and started calculating which gas station was closest.  Glancing at the dashboard, I did a double take. My gas meter now read “full”.  There were only two logical explanations:  either my car’s meter was reading incorrectly or my husband had come and filled up my tank while I was at work.  I called him, and, yes, with our boys as witnesses, my husband had come and filled up my tank.

A full gas tank, thanks to my husband!

 As surprised and grateful as I felt, I was equally ashamed for the anger I had felt towards my husband that morning.   I began thinking about this scenario and realized  that I often treat God the same way.  I cry out to him for help, but often inwardly blame him when I’m stressed that things aren’t working out.  I can get frustrated that He won’t answer my prayers in the way I want and in my time frame.

I’m certainly not the only one with this problem.: Israel, of the Old Testament, was the same way. God longed to care for His chosen people, but they continuously found ways to be angry and disobedient.   God promised to provide for them, but they tried to get their needs met through other means (namely, Egypt).  Still, in the midst of their rebellion, God had Isaiah proclaim to Israel:  

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;  therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!  Isaiah 30:18 NIV

I’m so thankful for the long, enduring mercy of the Lord.  He consistently comes to His people’s rescue.  He longs to show compassion, kindness, and mercy. He enacts justice.

During times of fear and frustration, it’s easy to misread the intentions of others – even our loved ones.  Clearly, I misread my husband’s intentions and was quick to blame him for forgetting to refill my tank.  In the same way, we often misread the Lord’s intentions.  Just as my husband reminded me how much he loves me by coming to my rescue, so the Lord shows love to His people by rescuing them through Jesus.

Pause: Take a deep breath and close your eyes.  Meditate on Isaiah 30:18.  What about that verse stands out to you?

Renew: Spend some time reflecting on how you respond in times of stress and frustration.  Are you a self-blamer or an other-blamer?  Do you find that you misread others’ intentions when you are in this state?  How does this affect your relationships?

Next:  Take time this week to intentionally notice and journal:

  1. When others go out of their way to show you mercy and grace.
  2. Times you notice the Lord is showing you grace and mercy.

Focusing on these areas will change your perspective on your relationships – both with others and with God.

Do you find yourself waiting on the Lord right now? Then, Isaiah 30:18 says you are blessed.  He longs to show you mercy and grace and bring justice. Keep waiting on Him.

Pause, Renew, Next!


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