January 11, 2015

Clinging to Grace

My resolution a few millennia ago was to discontinue the use of resolutions in my life. I have commitment issues with resolutions. Resolutions and I... we just weren't meant to be together.

But January, January is sooo in love with resolutions. If January was Ross, then resolutions would be his Rachel. (I've been binge watching Friends #Netflix).

There is something so magical about the fresh start that a new year brings. New beginnings, fresh start, start over, do-over.
Just thinking of these terms brings a sigh of excitement and wonder!

I don't think we can help but to yearn for a fresh start.
We cannot help to yearn for it because we all need to start over. We crave it and it feels like a gift from nature to have a new Day One.
And not just this generation, or the last ten, but every single human being from the 6th day of creation to tonight craves a fresh start.

Sin hijacked our start.
Sin can often come wrapped in "new". Promising new peace, new experiences, new joy.
But the reality is that sin only brings new hurt, new pain, and new consequences.

Sin brings guilt and they throw a party in your heart and mind.
Their job is to convince you Day One is gone, and never coming again. You blew it.
You schmuck. You idiot.
And while others may tell you there is a restart, sin says: "You couldn't have it, even it if existed, because you are unworthy of new. You are dirty, you are worn, you are sick and broken. Old is where you belong."

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
 
How?
I am dirty, I am worn, I am sick and I am certainly broken. I am not a qualified applicant for a new creation.
 
It is by grace that you have been saved through faith in Christ Jesus... Ephesians 2:8

 
For you resolution setters, what propels you into the new year?
Doesn't the memory of the past year push you to make better choices?
 
In the same way. When we are a new creation in Christ, we are not patients with amnesia.
We remember we are unqualified. We remember our sin.
Why?
 
By grace you have been saved through faith in Christ Jesus. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works,  so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
 
We remember the sin and choices because we can more richly celebrate the gift of grace. 
We did not earn grace and yet grace was given.
Our actions in sin kept us unqualified, but as grace moves in our lives (via the Holy Spirit) that New Life begins to ooze out in all the other areas of our life: 
-at school
-at work
-at church
-with strangers
-with family
-with friends
 
I don't set resolutions. I can't keep them. But this year I was encouraged by a blog post from Aimee to have a word to "cling to in 2015." I loved this idea!
 
So for 2015, I'm clinging to this gift from God. I'm clinging to Grace.

January 8, 2014

My Waiting Broke



I began to cry in the middle of the night. Trying to console me, my husband asked what was wrong and I simply whispered "I'm tired of waiting..."

He stayed up with me until almost dawn as I whispered my heartache over this waiting game. I shared how my life had just been a chorus of phrases like:

"In 2 years, In 5 years, After you get this done, When that is paid off, After you have that degree, take your time, just wait..."
 



I was tired of waiting for life to knock at my door, hand me my diploma and the keys to the minivan.
But that knock is never coming and my waiting was broken.

When I had purged all these feelings, my husband gently spoke: "But we are living our life."

He reminded me that we are not waiting...we are doing! That just because we are working toward something doesn't mean life is on hold. We are living.

I was defining "life" based on what other couples in their mid-20's were doing. "Real life" was having kids, a minivan, and a mortgage. And that is real life! It's their real life, but not mine, not right now.

I have these weird day dreams where I leap into the future and try to describe my present situation. When I think about this period of my life I would say:
"Aw, my 20's. The was when I was waiting for everything."

But what I need to embrace is this:
"Aw, my 20's. That was when I was a newlywed, and we went off to Bible College for 5 years, and traveled overseas, and met amazing people."



It gives me comfort that my husband's words of wisdom came right out of scripture. Matthew 6:34 was meant for us list makers, the doers, the 5-year-plan makers.

 In this section, Jesus reminds us that he will take care of our needs and that we simply need to draw near to him. Then he gives a final reminder because he knows we rolled our eyes; he says:

"Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Every day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

Then in a beautiful reminder I am drawn back to Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God!"

So no more waiting for life to show up. It is right here, right now.
I'm embracing my mid-20's and the life that I have. My 30's, motherhood, and an adult job will come soon enough. But this is my life NOW. And I don't want to miss it while I wait for something else to come along.

~Renda



December 10, 2013

I'm kinda pissed but very blessed.

A few weeks ago a faculty member could walk on stage (during chapel at school ) without striking fear into my heart. But a few resignations later, I cringe when anyone is about to make an announcement.

I get attached to people.

The first resignation was by our school President. Sure he was following God's Will for his life, but he never asked me if it was okay. He was one of the major reasons I chose this school. Now look at him, just leaving like it ain't no thing. I was suppose to shake his hand at graduation.

I get attached to people.

There have been more changes and more ill-timed, unrelated resignations since then, and now I almost vomit when it's announcement time.

You need to know this. It's December, it's finals week, and my dearest friends are graduating ( I will not see them until May). I'm stressed, I'm sad, I'm homesick.

Today crossed the line for me.
Whistle blown.
Flag on the play.
Pass interference !

A professor of Youth and Family Ministry ( which is my major ) announced his resignation today.....on stage...during chapel. Leaving me to cry ball my eyes out , trapped in a gym full of people. Doesn't he realize that I just changed my major for the third time? Doesn't he realize that I already finalized my Spring Semester schedule with his classes? Doesn't he realize that I am not done learning from him yet?

I'm kinda pissed.

Back somewhere in 2005ish I was called to the Principal's office during my Biology class. My brother had come to the school and needed to meet with me urgently. We were able to sit outside and he told me that he would be moving from our town in Oklahoma to some Bible College in Missouri. I was almost a Junior, I was about to graduate. We were best friends, how could he do this?!

That night at youth group, God got a sense of humor. My youth pastor announced that he would be making the transition into mission work overseas. Him, his wife, and kids would be leaving...me. But, how in the world am I suppose to graduate High School with their guidance? Couldn't they wait until I was done?

 As the years went on, the bitterness slipped away and God gave me a beautiful outlook on this situation. These people were not trying to hurt me by leaving, but they were setting an example. An example of responding to the call that God has placed on our lives.

I don't know if people cried and stomped their feet when David and I up and left our cozy comfort in Oklahoma to be poor college kids in Missouri. Regardless of how people responded, we are responsible for obeying the call the God have us.

Today, sitting in the gym, with tears gushing out of my face, I was transported back through those memories. And as much as I want to lash out at those resignations, I have to respect the obedience that these men and women are exhibiting.

I need to remember that their God given abilities were not meant to serve me, but to Give Glory to God. I need to remember that they are giving me a gift: the gift of setting an example.

So, in this emotional trial of change, I have been blessed.
I'm still kinda pissed...but very very blessed.

~Renda














October 7, 2013

Prayer. Is. Powerful.

The sickness is healed.
Relationships are mended.
The car sells.
The house becomes available.
The bills get paid.
There is food to eat.
The job calls and makes the offer.

God has done crazy amazing things in our marriage over these 5 years and if we had a central theme to summarize it, it would be Prayer is Powerful.

Sometimes the prayer is answered. Sometimes a lesson is learned. But God is always faithful to move in our lives.

The most recent area that God is moving in our lives:

We have finally found a church home! We have been in search for 2 years for a place that we know Jesus is Lord, that has sound doctrine, and is a place for us to grow in fellowship with the community of Christ.

Through lots of prayer, gentleness, patience, and faith, I was allowed to put my job on hold in order to focus on the next area of ministry that God has placed on our household. After looking at my class load, my responsibility at home, and what this new ministry adventure will require, quitting my job (temporarily) was the only solution.

 The ministry opportunity that required me to quit my job is that my husband is leading a mission trip next year. Through the dating and marriage years of our relationship, I have been praying that my husband would have an opportunity to go back to the people of his heart. There is a lot to do (the harvest is plenty). We are so excited to begin contacting prayer warriors and financial supports !


Lean in

There is a reason I wanted to share how God is moving in my life along with the topic of prayer.

These were not the answers I was seeking.
This was not what I had in mind when I prayed to God about finding a church and doing missions.

IT'S BETTER. 

I feel like this what Matthew was talking about when he said:
"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and these things will be added." -Matthew 6:33

Echoed from the psalmist in Psalm 34:7
"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." 

I want you to be encouraged to seek God in prayer. Even when you are not sure what to say, or how God will even meet your requests. Just know that God is listening, and he knows exactly what you need. Do not restrict yourself to your ability to meet your needs.

~Renda