Monthly Archives: October 2012

There is Grace at the Crosswalk

 Grace is the very opposite of merit… Grace is not only undeserved favor, but it is favor shown to the one who has deserved the very opposite.  ~Harry Ironside

grace at crosswalk

I was dropping my kids off today at school. I parked and went to walk my kids across the crosswalk as I do every morning. A woman hesitantly stopped for me to allow my children to walk across. She glared at me as if she was doing me a favor (but she really didn’t want to). I snickered under my breath and thought, “Unbelievable.” My husband once told me that I didn’t hide my facial expressions very well. I guess it showed because I received a second evil glare as she drove past. “Isn’t this a Christian School?” I thought to myself, “Aren’t parents suppose to slow down if children are crossing?” I was more annoyed that she was acting as if I was inconveniencing her- it was obvious she was late and in a hurry.

As I drove home and reflected I heard a still small voice. Not audible- just in my heart. “You need to have more grace for others.” And at first my pride tried to shout out, “Uh, hello Lord, did you see the way your ‘supposed’ daughter just acted towards me?!” (I could almost hear my children’s usual banter, “But she started it!”).

And then the Lord told me that His grace is for me even when I don’t deserve it; even when I’m being ugly. He asked me if I would give others that exact same grace, even when they don’t deserve it. After all, isn’t that what grace is?

And He didn’t stop there dealing with my heart. I wondered why I always felt like He was dealing with me (again hearing my own children’s arguments in my head, “But it’s her fault!”). Then He showed me that He is always at work on everyone’s heart. At that exact same moment He was trying to work on my heart He was working on her heart too. It’s just that not everyone is going to listen when He’s working on their heart, and that it’s not up to me to try and deal with her heart. I’m responsible for how I respond. Her actions are between her and God. My response to her actions is between God and I. Instead of being worried about how other people treat me, I need to be more concerned about my own heart and how I will respond to them, not if, but when they act ugly towards me.

Grace- undeserved kindness.

Is the kindness I show to others based on how they treat me or am I able to return a smile for an insult? And not the kind of sarcastic smile I can give when I’m annoyed either. A genuine, “I’ll love you anyways” smile. Grace. You don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. But every single time we allow our flesh to be in control and act ugly towards someone, instead of a heavy hand swooping in from heaven, we hear- my grace is sufficient for you. I love this quote from a book called Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges- Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment. It is the love of God shown to the unlovely. It is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.

It’s because of His grace, that I see my sin for what it is- sin and I am quick to repent for my mistakes. It’s because of that grace that I received (and receive daily) from Him, that I should be able to give grace freely to others. Remember, we never know what someone else has had to walk through. I don’t know if that lady had a fight with her husband that morning or is going through a divorce. I believe our grace towards someone who does not deserve it is like pouring out water to someone who has been stranded in the desert- life giving and refreshing. We’ve received it so freely- why do we insist on holding on to it?

If grace were a person, (and He is- He is the person of the Holy Spirit), what would He say? This is what grace would say:

 

In a line, grace says, “Go ahead of me.”

Even though you aren’t treating me kindly, grace says, “It’s okay. I have no idea what you’re going through.”

Grace says, “Here, have the last one.”

When driving, grace says, “go ahead, get in front of me.”

To your child when they make a mess, grace says, “It’s okay, I’ve made messes too.”

Grace says, “I’ve been there; it’s okay.”

When your spouse has let you down or disappointed you, grace says, “I forgive you.” (And then you really let it go).

To a friend who is running late, grace says, “It’s okay; I’ve been late too.”

To the person who is a little rough around the edges, grace says, “It’s okay; I’m going to love you anyways.”

To the person that offended you or really hurt your feelings, grace says, “I forgive you and choose to let it go.”

 

 Lord, I’m so thankful that you don’t give me what I deserve, but you pour out undeserved favor. I am thankful for the gift of grace that’s been given in my own life. Today I ask that you would help me pour out that same grace to others. Before I’m about to respond or react, would you gently whisper, “grace, give grace”. Lord, that people would see You in me- not in my own strength, but because of your Holy Spirit that lives in me. Grace- I receive your grace today for all of my many shortcomings and I choose to freely give that grace away. In your precious name, amen.

Romans 3:24- all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Ann Voskamp Interview

This interview with Ann Voskamp, in my opinion, is life changing. I had to stop it several times just to allow the Lord to speak through her because of how deep these words spoke to me.

Some of her topics that hit home:

  • Be careful when you say yes to responding to others and do it prayerfully because when you feel the need to respond yes to everyone, you are saying no to your family.
  • Serving her family is her first calling.
  • They read a scripture together after each meal, as a family.
  • She is very uncomfortable with the whole number thing. Her blogging has always just been a quiet place between her and the Lord and she does not have an option for others to leave a comment and she does not check the counter to show how many ‘hits’ she’s had on her blog. She says even if her writing has affected or changed or encouraged even just one, then God has used her.
  • She doesn’t keep track of how many books she’s sold- that’s up to God how He uses her writing.
  • She has always journaled and has shelves full of them (yes!).

I could say so much more about her, but I will let you watch the interview!

Be blessed!!

 

And this is her keynote talk from Allume conference. It is so full of amazing blogging goodness, about us, as writers- writing our messy stories. I just had to add it! http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/10/how-to-live-blog-write/

There’s a Write Reason I’ve Been MIA

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 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven- Ecclesiastes 3:1

It’s a season.

It’s good.

I am usually 100% focused on Kids Choir this time of year. And I am still quite focused on this- things like teaching the kids songs and motions, getting ready to work out stage details, costumes, angels, and drama details. We are definitely plugging away towards the Christmas performance. But I have to admit, some of my attention has been on a different project lately.

Towards the end of last year, I knew our school librarian (Mrs. Roberts) was wanting to add a writing program in the school. She had mentioned it to me, which of course I was completely on board with it. Then at the beginning of this year she had mentioned it again, and asked if I might be interested in helping to start it out if she got it approved. Teaching kids to have a heart and love for writing is something I was passionate about, so I said yes. And it got approved! The plan is I get 2 weeks with each of the Elementary grades (2nd-5th) to teach a creative writing mini-workshop (so basically, every single day from 1-2 until mid December).

So Mrs. Roberts gave me everything she had on teaching kids creative writing. And for the past few months I have inundated myself with any and everything that has to do with teaching kids creative writing. I have fallen asleep with these books, drooled on these books, and kept many in my car just in case I had a few minutes before pickup. In all of this writing goodness (I thoroughly enjoyed my research) came a few boxes of teaching materials called the 6 Trait Crate.  So I decided to teach my 2 week class from the 6 Traits (Ideas, organization, voice,word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions). And of course I add a bunch of my own stuff to the lesson plan. It’s been tiring yet wonderful.

I love when I see something click in a student and the light goes on. When their faces glow as they read their stories out-loud in class. As they have become more and more confident in their ability to read their ideas and stories in front of other students.

And what joy in discussing bold beginnings, mighty middles and excellent endings. What a thrill to read the beginning sentence of J.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and others. What a delight to introduce them to their favorite author and discuss how that person got started as an author.  What fun to tell them I wasn’t even going to correct their grammar or spelling (yet) but to just go ahead and write and dream with their pencil.

But today was the ultimate. I had just finished week one and was feeling pretty good about how well things went this week. I had heard that several of the students enjoyed my class. But then their was Gabriella.

I approached the class to pick up my son. With these huge chestnut brown eyes she looked up at me and said, “Mrs. Barnard, I really like your class. I’ve never written before. I never knew anything about this (insert melting mamma here).” She then showed me a poem. “Have you ever done poetry,” I asked. “No, never.” She wrote the sweetest poem about her cupcake. And she went on to tell me her love of cupcakes.  She did a great job. She also told me she was going on vacation this weekend and was bringing her writing notebook. She couldn’t wait to write about it. She gets it. She’s got that spark in her eye.

I went home completely humbled that God would choose me. I am honored. Even though it has taken place of some other things in my life and a change in schedule, I remember why I said yes. I said yes for all the Gabriella’s out there that had something in them that they never knew was there. For those boys that are always in trouble in class, yet their stories flow with such creativity. For the kids that tell me they never heard anything like this before, and look so thirsty for more. For my son in that class, who is already such a creative writer, to be encouraged to continue writing.

Sometimes God will tug on our hearts to do something for a season. I have found that to be true of how He works in my life- in seasons. And it might be a commitment. But if God is in it, He will bless your faithfulness and use you even when you don’t feel adequate (because I assure you, I do not). Christ in me is more than enough. And Christ in you is more than enough. What season are you in? Is He asking you to say yes (or no) to something? Listen for His still small voice and and He will gently nudge you towards His path and purpose for your life.

**So yes, I might have dropped off a little bit from the world wide web (facebook/twitter), but for this season, which is so small in the large scope of things, it is so worth it!**