Oct 12, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 12...Rest


Do I really know the meaning of rest?

I'm one of those people who cannot sit still...and I know a lot of people say that but seriously I can't. I'm constantly trying to think of how I can multi-task. If I'm sitting down to watch something on TV I try to think of something I can accomplish while I do so (fold laundry, cut coupons, answer emails, sew something). If we're heading out for a rather long-ish car ride I try to think of things I can do while I'm sitting in the car (cut coupons, make lists, sew something, etc.). Sometimes when I'm laying in bed I think "You should probably be doing __________, or writing down ___________, or yada, yada, yada."

It's kind of messed up now that I think of it.

I'm definitely a Martha girl, unfortunately.

Its sort of a never ending cycle. I tell myself that if I can just accomplish one more thing then I can really truly chill out and relax/rest later. However, when I accomplish that task and should be heading toward that "rest" I always seem to find one more thing I should do...

I began reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver a year or two ago. I never finished it. I think in part because I didn't like how much I related to Martha. When I was reading it I remember thinking about how I would be sooooo frustrated and upset if Jesus told me that Mary was right. While I'm slaving away trying to get food on the table for Jesus and his disciples, Mary is just sitting there at Jesus' feet and how Jesus advises Martha that Mary has chosen better.

Kind of makes me crazy just thinking about it right now. 

Sometimes being 'type-A', or a 'doer', or whatever you want to call it makes it truly difficult to relax and enjoy a good rest. As I've stated in previous posts---anxiety can really do a number on me and this is one area where it definitely does.

I find myself battling back and forth with this. Yes, I need to take time to chill out and just be. However, where would we be without a least a few Marthas in this world?

The problem isn't with being a Martha...its more with not having our priorities straight. If my doer attitude is getting in the way of my relationships and my faith then its time to re-evaluate.

With the upcoming holidays I know that I may have a tendency to swing into full on Martha-zilla. This year I am going to remember to practice grace and spend more time on what is important rather than what I deem urgent.

Oct 11, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 11...Teach


I have taken some pretty difficult classes in the past, both in high school (calculus--) and college (too many to list). 

However, the most difficult class I have taken, and am still enrolled in, is this class called parenting.

And good heavens the teacher can be very demanding.

But look at this face...

He has taught me all sorts of things.

In the way of grace he has taught so very much.

He has taught me to take time to play and enjoy simple things.
     My perpective has totally changed since Ethan came into my life. Things that seem so small and unimportant are now so exciting and new. Just playing with a cardboard box is super awesome to this little guy. I am more apt to recognize the small and simplistic beauty during my day because of Ethan.

He has taught me that its ok to admit when I need help.
     My issue with control (that I've spoken about previously) makes it very difficult for me to admit defeat or that I can't do it all on my own. While he is definitely 2 1/2 and thinks he can do anything...he will also very willingly say "I need help mommy" if he needs it without being concerned how he might be perceived. Plain and simple--he needs help, so he asks. This is a nice reminder to me to also reach out and accept/rely on those who love me and just want to help.

He has taught me to trust.
     For someone who prided herself on her ability to take control, get things done, and keep things very neat, orderly and organized...this whole parenting thing has taught me that I'm soooo NOT in control. I've felt inadequate and overwhelmed more than I ever thought I could. Mothering Ethan has tested my faith in a million ways. This has forced me to lean into God and his faithfulness. He reminds me that praying to God for patience, wisdom, or peace for my soul is ok and that I am dependend on God.

I am so thankful to God for giving putting this teacher in my life! I have learned so much in these last two years and am so grateful for these daily reminders of Grace.

Oct 10, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 10...Care


I love to care. 

If that sounds weird, let me elaborate.

What I love is to take care of people, things, situations, etc...almost to a fault. 

It can be difficult being an organization-lover. It's very stressful, demanding, and gut wrenching at times. And at other times its incredible, and fulfilling, and basically the greatest feeling ever. 

There are a lot of things I "care" about on a regular basis. 

I care about my family,

                                my job,
                                      my health
                                            my house,
                                                  our finances
                                                        the students I teach
                                                              my friends

But sometimes this "care" should in all honesty be called "worry". I have always suffered with this issue. I'm a worrier...and with worry comes anxiety, and sometimes its debilitating. Like today, I am simultaneously worrying about all of those things on my list (and then some). I find it really difficult sometimes to step back and look at things 'big picture' style and I get hung up on the 'trees' rather than the 'forest'.  

So friends, for those of you who relate to this crazy girl's description...here's a good dose of grace in the form of some scripture to help us all with that worry and anxiety.

Matthew 6:27-29

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
       --don't worry, be happy...worrying can't add time to your life, in fact its a big ol' fat waste of time!--

Proverbs 12:25 The Message
25 Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.

--Amen to that! Sometimes when my 'caring' gets out of hand and I begin to perseverate...my body physically feels heavier. If I could lay my trust in God a little more often I might not feel so weighed down--

And a big fault of mine is not being committed to prayer...I feel like I haphazardly throw up a prayer sometimes when what I really need to do is remember this little formula I read about: 
WORRY replaced by PRAYER = TRUST (credit)
I love this. 
And I also love this:

Matthew 6:30 The Message
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers— most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
--To me this is kind of like a “Helloooooo, if God cares about wildflowers, obviously he cares about YOU!” And yeah, I do need to relax, thanks for the reminder! I need to stop worrying about getting stuff done, or getting something fixed, or created, or taken care of…and be more worried about responding to God’s grace. I need to pray more and therefore trust more.--
And lastly, this little nugget feels like a snuggly warm blanket right now:

1 Peter 5:7 The Message
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
Thank goodness! When it comes to care I need to consistently remind myself to look to the CEO of Caring and allow myself to be cared for too. 


Oct 9, 2014

31 Notion of Grace Day 9...Join


Join me in spreading the news; together let’s get the word out. God met me more than halfway. He freed me from my anxious fears
Psalm 34:4 (The Message)

This verse just really hit me today. Showed up, unannounced, and stayed all day in my little head. :)

And it immediately aided in getting Amazing Grace stuck in my head too...I think I've hummed/whistled/sang (maybe not out loud) parts of it all day. 

  1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found;
    Was blind, but now I see.
  2. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  3. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  4. ...
  5. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’d first begun.

But seriously, read over those lyrics...this simple little song sums it all up. 

So thank you Mr. John Newton for these beautiful words (and the goosebumps that come with them).

I'm so glad I found this 31 Days challenge. It's pushed me and pulled me and its only been 9 days. I am glad I joined in on this journey and am documenting all of the Notions of Grace in my life. 

Oct 8, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 8...Say


"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:6).


There it is. In plain black and white.

When someone is rude, has a snarky comment, or is just downright mean to me or someone else,  sometimes my hotheaded and argumentative side wants to explode to the surface, throwing back some snippy, snide remark.

However as it says in Colossians... :: sigh ::

Our tongues have incredible power. We can build someone up or tear someone down using just mere words.

Grace = mercy. 
Grace ≠ justice.

When I'm having a particularly tough time figuring out a way to show Grace, I find myself actually repeating the word Grace, over and over in my head...as if willing my whole body to show Grace.

Sometimes it works...

Sometimes I just have to smile and walk away. :) And that's ok, because sometimes NOT saying anything is the best way for me to show God's Grace. Sometimes, silence is golden.

31 Notions of Grace Day 7...Go

 When things go wrong, don't go with them. 
-Elvis Presley

Tricky one today.

Go where?
Go do what?

hmph...I seem to have hit a wall. Maybe its because I've already fallen behind and I feel discouraged (catching up from yesterday-oops).

All that comes to mind is letting go...

          Sometimes in order to be in an attitude of Grace, I have to let go.

As in let it go Courtney...so you messed up in the first few days and didn't manage to post every. single. day. It's ok. The blogging police are not going to show up at your door. The guilt you are feeling is only bothering you...and it makes you pretty cranky sometimes. You do NOT always have full control over everything.

It's in our blood I swear. It's the extra leg of the Y chromosome that men don't get that's why they're XY not XX.  This "letting go" idea is so foreign and unnatural to me. I say I'm going to let it go, but honestly do we ever just "let it go!" (Come on Elsa, I can hear you belting it out in my head right now.)

I've found a book that's soon going to grace me with its presence--like what I did right there? hehe (probably to sit on my nightstand for a while, but hey that's ok, I'll get to it someday).

The book is called: "Let. It. Go." by Karen Ehma.
    The tagline...beautiful.

            How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith

Yes Please! :)

In the free study guide offered online there is a section that asks the reader to take inventory of areas in her life where its most difficult in terms of wanting our own way and being in control. Let's just say I could probably tick off all of them. 

In the past I probably would have listed work situations and maybe my own appearance (not just physical) as areas where I needed to have a lot of control. It has certainly shifted more currently to more of a relationships with spouse, children, as well as appearance of my house/life.

Maybe if when I'm feeling all micromanage-y and control freak-ish I should make it a point to remember this:

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. – Elvis Presley

Source : http://www.coolnsmart.com/giving_up_quotes/
When things go wrong, don’t go with them. – Elvis Presley

Source : http://www.coolnsmart.com/giving_up_quotes/

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. – Elvis Presley

Source : http://www.coolnsmart.com/giving_up_quotes/

Oct 7, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 6...Know

Know...thats the word of the day today (well actually yesterday, but hey life happened).

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”  ~John 13: 34-35

What a great, simple, wonderful way to live life...to Love one another. 

I don't 'know' if I can compare or ever even fathom the level of love that God has for us.

When I thought about it and tried to imagine what God's love is like here is what I decided I do know: 

When Ethan needs to be held and I snuggle him all up and hold him...I feel like that is what God's love is like--being all wrapped up and comforted. 

Or when I'm sad/upset and Ethan leans over and says "It's ok, I will kiss it" and his cute little face looks all sorts of concerned and worried...I feel like that is what God's love is like. Nothing but genuine concern for me...

Or when I'm having a rough day and Aaron lays a hand on my back or reminds me to take a breath...that is what God's love is like--a small gesture that helps ground me a little. 

I only hope that in my daily actions I am recognizable as a disciple. 

Oct 5, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 5...Stuck

Excellent word for today...Stuck.

I'm feeling stuck today. Stuck in a funk. I like to call it the Sunday blues...

I am currently finishing up some paperwork for school this week (observation this week-eek!) and in the sidebar of a website I was looking at the verse Psalm 142 popped up. Its obvious that I have been using the internet more frequently to look up Bible verses...the little advertisement robots have been filling the ads on websites with biblical material and other Christian based ads. Today God sprinkled me a with a little Grace through these little robots. Hey, at least they're good for something...

Psalm 142
142 1-2 How I plead with God, how I implore his mercy, pouring out my troubles before him. For I am overwhelmed and desperate, and you alone know which way I ought to turn to miss the traps my enemies have set for me.  ...   5 Then I prayed to Jehovah. “Lord,” I pled, “you are my only place of refuge. Only you can keep me safe. “Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring me out of prison so that I can thank you. The godly will rejoice with me for all your help.”Living Bible

This is my prayer today...

If there is anyone else out there feeling a little anxious and frazzled this afternoon, please feel some love and support coming your way...

Oct 3, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 3...New

When I initially started planning and thinking about my 31 days of writing I decided I wasn't going to give myself a time limit. Typically Five Minute Friday is just that--5 minutes. I didn't think I could  do it that fast soooo I left the time frame open. And for the most part, that is what I am going to do. On Friday's however I am going to push myself and stick to the 5 minutes.

Today's Five Minute Friday Prompt is :: New

             annnnnd go,

New, the whole idea of blogging is not new for me. However, the idea of really digging deeper and searching for ways to "do life" with notions of Grace is new.  Some days I feel like wow you're really rocking this idea. You're lovin' on everybody, even when they don't deserve it, and despite them showing the exact opposite of Grace. 

And other days...well, maybe its not so good.

You argue with your husband in the morning. You're not as forgiving when things aren't done quickly!

You're impatient with your two year old when trying to get him dressed and out the door in a timely manner so you can be to work on time.

And then...as you're on your way to work and thinking about all of the things you have to get done today, and how at school today its the emergency evacuation drill and you will be missing out on two periods of the day, and how you have your formal observation next week and feel unprepared when maybe a couple years ago you would have had it planned down to the second weeks ago, and maybe a colleague is rubbing you the wrong way and you do not wish to be in his/her presence today, you have to stop dead in your tracks. 
Because there is a massive tree laying all the way across the road. 

Yes, this was me today. And as I sat their contemplating what I should do I realized...God was saying: hey, you can't do a whole lot today if you keep going with the attitude you have, slow down sister.

Slow your mind

Slow your pace

Don't let the anxiety overcome you...

Everything you're stressed about could come to a screeching halt like traffic did this morning. The house on that side of the road has quite a mess to clean up, they as well as some of their neighbors probably do not have power this morning and are probably going to be late to whatever they had going on today. 

In two words the image of the fallen tree said: "CHILL OUT!"

And so just like that my first opportunity to show Grace was to myself. 

Not exactly what I had planned but, as is usually the case, I'm not the one making the plan.

                 Thanks for the (maybe not so graceful) reminder ;o)

Oct 2, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 2...View


My view of Grace is ever evolving like I said yesterday. Being a teacher, when I don't know enough about something I tend to research it like crazy until I feel satisfied that I have exhausted all avenues to finding out more about said thing. 

According to Webster's Grace is the exercise of love, kindness, compassion, mercy, favor; a disposition to benefit or serve another. 

This definition may sound basic but sticking with the whole idea of simplicity to combat the complexity of the world we live in, this dictionary definition is certainly helpful when trying understand Grace.  

For myself the definition is lacking in that it does not mention or make any indication of where Grace came from originally. From a biblical standpoint Grace comes from God.  It is God giving us his love, kindness, mercy, and favor.

Even with all of this I still find myself asking what is Grace? And I realized, maybe this Grace thing is up to interpretation a little...

I really appreciate the following explanation, partially because I too have a two year old and also because this just really sums up my "view" of Grace. And the Rev. David Rogers Ph.D. is far more eloquent in his definition than I could ever be...

"Grace is a free-will gift of love from an Everlasting, Eternal, Self-Existent God who loves Man so greatly as to punish Himself rather than His children. All that He requires is that we love Him, trust Him, and obey Him. It is much like me telling my son in his toddler years to not touch something because it is hot and I get burned in the process. And, all I tell my son is don't do that you will get burned. Jesus took my place... Grace is His bearing me up when life is difficult. Grace is two sets of footprints in the sand when I need a friend and one set when I can no longer bear up because He carries me. Grace is not a thing to be possessed or demanded. Grace is the free gift of His good pleasure in acts designed to assist and bless Man. Grace is not a substance. Grace is an action from a loving Father who is God..." Credit

Nothing I could do would make God love me less and nothing I could do could make him love me more. He just loves me--unconditionally, unfailingly, infinitely. So if God just freely hands out this gift, why am I not also freely extending this gift to those around me? God tells us to be like him "for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16). To grow closer to him we are called to be more like him. With that being said I need God's Grace the most when I am aware of areas in my life that are not going as they probably should. With this incredible Grace comes incredible responsibility. Grace is something I could and should be extending more openly. 

I know that I like it when others show me Grace. I like to feel loved and to know that when I have done something wrong or hurt someone I won't be yelled at. I appreciate when people are patient with me when I do something in a way different then they had intended. I want to know that when I make a mistake it will not be held against me. 

If we want to be treated like this then why do we not offer this on a regular basis to others? Because its difficult, stressful, daunting, and sometimes discouraging. But:  

"Grace comes in all different shapes and sizes. Even the messy ones." 

So, here we go...an adventure to show God's Grace in all different shapes and sizes, including the messy ways. 

Oct 1, 2014

31 Notions of Grace Day 1...Move


I love to create. When someone suggested I sell the things I make I really didn't think much of it. I like to make stuff, I like to give things to other people, and thats where it stopped. 

But I stumbled upon Etsy, thanks to my friend Jenn (of Make Mine Blue) and thought "hey, maybe I'll give this a shot."

The first thing you have to do is create a shop...and every shop needs a name. I went back and forth for quite a few days trying to figure out what to call my shop. I didn't want it to sound too cheesy and I also wanted it to be catchy. And so a few days later Notions of Grace was born. (Unfortunately given the season of life I am in, there is nothing available for sale in my shop, but there will be soon). After creating this shop I had a chance to be part of a craft show where I sold some of my handmade items. A lady at this show approached my table and asked where I came up with the name for my shop. I had never been asked this question...and honestly, I didn't have an answer for her. She abruptly said "Come on girl, this is your chance to share!" I sort of brushed it off but later her voice came back to me. Her question got me thinking...why did I pick Notions of Grace. The "Notions" part is easy--sewing notions. The "Grace" part, welllll I didn't really know why. 

We use "Grace" pretty freely, but describe it/define it/explain it. Ummmm.

What do all Generation Y/Millennials do when they can't answer a question?
If you go this route be prepared for some serious confusion and for a headache that may ensue. 

Due to this confusion (and headache!) and because I feel like life is just far too complicated and complex as it is, I have decided to go with a very basic definition/view of Grace.

I truly appreciate this two word definition: 

Unmerited favor

And yet, while I appreciate the definition...I also find it insufficient. 

But I'm going to go with it. 

And since today's one word prompt is "Move" I have decided that for the next 31 Days, I am going to challenge myself to make a more conscious move toward Grace, because as Jesus commanded, "Love each other as I have loved you." John 15: 10-12. He calls us away from our own personal comfort and more toward service. And if I can't do a good job defining, describing, or explaining Grace...then I'll be a walking example of Grace.  

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