A Letter to 17 Year Old Me

As I approach my 27th birthday, I look back on the last ten years and marvel over all I have learned and how I have grown. My 27 year-old-self looks just about nothing like the youth of years past, and not just because I have 3 babies under my belt and the stretch marks that come with them. I have changed because God has been gracious to work His way in my life beyond any dream I had ever conjured in the days I scribbled names in notebooks and browsed the internet for potential careers.

I’ve matured, married (quit college), and become a mom and missionary. But mostly, I’ve been molded by the hands that created me which so graciously continue their work on me. In the bending, in the being re-made again and again, I’ve learned a few things. If I could go back and give my teeny bopper self (you can say things like that when you’re my age, y’know) some words of wisdom, I have a few things I would say. I hope you’ll be touched and challenged by this “Letter to My-17-Year-Old-Self.” Please share it with a young gal you know who might benefit from this perspective!

Dear Young(er) Me,

I’m writing you from ten years down the road you’re walking now. Life hasn’t been easy but it has been blessed. I write you this to encourage you to keep the faith and following God. I have some things I want to share with you. I know I can’t change anything but maybe some looker on will see some wisdom in these simple lessons.

Make plans, but only tentatively, knowing the Lord will likely change them. I promise, you’ll be glad He did. Make progress and strive for change, but allow God to do the heavy lifting. You have big dreams in your heart, but they’re too big for you. Even when the dreams are good and the work is fulfilling, they’re heavy and can be a burden. You need Jesus. As much as you want to, you can’t do everything and you sure can’t save the world. Thankfully, He’s already done that job.

Devote yourself, first, to God before any other relationships or commitments. Trust God to build your tribe, adding and taking as He sees fit for your personal growth and peripheral influence. Know that devotion to Christ, though admirable, is not always inclusive and inviting to those that prefer to remain on the fringes. It’s OK to be weird or a little radical in your pursuit of God, though you may lose some friends along the way. God will bring the people into your life that will encourage and build you up as you seek to please Him. And the seasons in between, you will learn of the sweetness and love of Christ in a way you would never have otherwise. And you’ll be thankful for these times that left you vulnerable and aching for the Vine.

Continue reading at Where My Heart Goes

Thanks for reading,

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Busy + my word for 2017!

Busy Times

“Busy” just doesn’t describe the whirlwind that has been my life since arriving in the US. We’ve been busy with good things: visiting family and friends, teaching the Bible, allowing our kids to experience some fun “American” things, presenting the need at churches new and old, fundraising for Camp Refuge, and sharing about all that God has done in our lives over the past two years. But busy is still busy. And, sometimes, busy steals my joy. When my joy is taken from my hands, I see the good things in a warped way. Distorted images of the good things coupled with whispers from the Enemy about how things should be or how I am supposed to feel twist the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart into something I don’t recognize and don’t wish to claim. And, certainly, something that is not pleasing or acceptable in the sight of God.

But all the same, He has met me here in the busy and among towering grocery displays where I’m overwhelmed by choices and the confrontation with all the things I don’t have but think I may need. He’s met me in the awkward moments chatting with a long-lost friend to whom I’m explaining the complexities of my foreign life and finally realizing how alone I felt over there. He’s met me while turning prune-y in the tub, listening via headphones to a stranger read the Bible aloud because I just can’t keep my eyes open or focus long enough to let the word of God soak into my heart any other way.

I may be exhausted, but I am refreshed by the truth that God is not exhausted by me. He is not observing my head-spinning behaviors amid a seam-split schedule and shaking His head. When I turn my eyes away from the crazy and to Him, He doesn’t ask why it took me so long. He welcomes me back with a smile, and, though I feel a gentle conviction for neglecting my time with Him, there’s only peace and love where I thought there might be guilt and shame. But then I remember, that’s just not like Him.

My Word for 2017

The word I’ve chosen for 2017 is expand, and though it would certainly be relevant, I’m not just referring to my dress size since dwelling in the land of donuts and drive-thrus. I want to expand my knowledge and view of God. I desperately want to know Him more and grasp even the most basic understanding of His heart for me and for the world. I want to expand the reaches of my tiny tribe and the testimony of these lives changed by the hand of the Lord. I want to see the gospel reach into the streets of Kapan, Kathmandu and see families changed by the Gospel. I want to see the family of God expand day after busy day and week after weary week. I can trust He will be faithful to meet me there in desires met and others unfulfilled, ever expanding my love for Him as I consider His quiet and powerful ways of winning my heart. He may never be as demanding as a scribbled-over calendar with names and dates and tasks to be done. But in the going and the doing, I sense His presence. Without guilt and shame, I’ll turn my heart to Him again and see all the ways He’s shown Himself to me when I was too busy to notice.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (Ephesians 1:17-19).

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Moments of Hope @ LoriSchumaker.com, Monday’s Musings @ What Joy is Mine, Glimpses Linkup @ Embracing Every Day, Literacy Musing Monday’s @ Mary-andering Creatively, Tuesday Talk @ Sweet Little Ones, RaRaLinkup @ Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story @ Jennifer Dukes Lee, Mommy Moments Blog Hop @ Life of Faith,

Focused Feasting in a Culture of Craving

Five Minute Friday: CRAVE

I am well-acquainted with craving. When I was living overseas, I found myself craving the most random things. I craved turkey sandwiches, sweet potatoes, and sour candy. I also craved convenience and comforts of home. Even more, I found myself craving connection with other believers and a more intimate relationship with Jesus as the loneliness in my heart grew and grew.  I was surrounded by unbelievers and understood little of the spiritual offerings at church in my second language. I realized that I had to fill myself with God’s word and busy myself with His work. Only then would the intense longing, the craving subside.

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Back here on American soil, I have access to all the things I’ve craved for the last two years. What’s surprising to me is that nothing is as good as my memory made it. Nothing quite satisfies. Along with this dissatisfaction with fulfilled cravings, I sense a frustration upon seeing the culture of craving around me. Of course, this is amplified in the holiday season as we all create wish lists and seek to find the one perfect things our loved ones lack to stick in an overstuffed stocking. I try to remember this. Maybe this isn’t an accurate representation of America. But maybe it is. And maybe it’s also an accurate representation of my heart. Whatever culture I live within, I take my heart with me. And my heart is filled with longing, with craving.

I was created to crave Jesus. I grow and thrive in communion with Him, feasting on His word. I don’t want to suppress my appetite for the things of God by filling myself with the sweet and sugary tastes of this world. They satisfy my tongue but starve my spirit. This focused feasting might not change the local culture, but it will change me. That’s a good place to start.

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What are you craving?
How may you satisfy that hunger with Jesus?

Talk to me in the comment section!

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Fresh Market Friday, Five Minute Friday

Encouraged and Empowered by Hospitality

We had planned a quiet day at home: fallen leaves swirling around the backyard we shared, our daughter playing on a borrowed swing set. We would leave this home soon. I cherished another day looking out French doors across the vast green where chickens and barefoot toddlers roamed wild, but Thanksgiving Day in this fashion just seemed wrong. Visa decisions and an international move loomed as we prayerfully anticipated our son’s upcoming birth, trying also not to relive the day we met his brother whose home was made in heaven.

We joined our church family to lift words of spontaneous praise to the Giver of all good gifts. My hand swooped across my belly as I relished the swishing that indicated a child thriving within. Dark clouds had been dominating the light of joy which made brief, infrequent shifts in the daily climate. Grieved over this storm I hadn’t chosen to weather, I silently asked forgiveness and begged for peace. Certainly, these are among God’s greatest gifts.

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Minutes later, a mom of nine, with whom I’d previously only shared pregnancy horrors and birth stories, approached me, and said, “We would like to have your family over for Thanksgiving dinner. “ She proposed this so matter-of-factly like her house wasn’t full enough and she didn’t have a sufficient amount of work to do.

Shocked and relieved, I scribbled down her number, promising to call her after discussing the plan with my husband. But what was there to discuss? We had a clear calendar, an empty fridge, and restless souls.

I entered her home round belly first and toddler on my hip. I wish this memory included me bringing along some tasty treat to add to the spread. We had little to offer aside from ourselves, broken and weary as we were.

No one seemed surprised that we were there which says much about our holiday host. She embraced me with butter-covered hands, pulling me against an apron adorned with flour. Her hair was plastered to her brow, evidence of the labor of the day. I basked in the beautiful glow communicating a persisting joy I hadn’t possessed in quite some time.

There was a sense of belonging in this place which was more like the set of a sitcom throwback than a modern monument to perfected homemaking. I waddled over to a well-loved La-Z-Boy and settled to watch football while the oldest siblings took my eager toddler to bounce around a super-sized trampoline. I exhaled my worries and breathed in the enticing aromas of the equally sizable supper to come..

We feasted on fresh-baked rolls, sweet potato casserole, and new-found friendship. We savored the sweetness of spoken memories and a family founded in Christ. We ate until we were full, and we wasted the day away in the comforting silence of satisfaction punctuated by stories, laughs, and the occasional temper tantrum of a tired two year old.

It seemed, the forecast within my weary ministry/momma heart was changing. I sensed sunlight peeking through the clouds. And with it, a realization: I had vowed to carry my light to the edges of this earth but had allowed the fierce winds of sorrow to blow it out. How could I shine for Christ in the darkest of places when I carried a flameless candle in my own home? I pondered these things while I walked around the track at the park in attempt to prod my son out of my protruding belly. My induction attempts were unsuccessful, but the change in thinking as I walked ’round and ’round were well worth the waddling.

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Our home grew to include ten tiny toes a few days after this life-giving holiday celebration and the days of healing that followed. Our daughter stayed at our new friends’ home, jumped on the trampoline all day, and went to sleep in a room full of giggling girls.

I can never repay her for what she unknowingly did for me those days, how she awakened my weary soul to see all that there truly was to be thankful for. I can, however, extend grace born out of gratitude for the sacrifice made to make us daughters of God. This gratitude moves me across the world with my little light in a depth of darkness that makes my knees knock together, begging God for added souls to our spiritual family.

Kindness blew away the swirling storm and replaced it with sunshine in my soul. I was encouraged and empowered, ready to share the warmth of this kind of genuine love for the Lord and for the least of these —like me— around the world. I take lessons learned from beautiful friends like this one, open my heart and prop wide my front door to the hurting and whole alike. The forecast looks as promising as a Thanksgiving spread.

 

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Moments of Hope @ LoriSchumaker.com, Monday’s Musings @ What Joy is Mine, Glimpses Linkup @ Embracing Every Day, Literacy Musing Monday’s @ Mary-andering Creatively, Tuesday Talk @ Sweet Little Ones, RaRaLinkup @ Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story @ Jennifer Dukes Lee, Mommy Moments Blog Hop @ Life of Faith,

His Glorious Grace: A Guest Post

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My new friend Patty from Glorious Within Her has stopped by Grace to Go to share her heart with you lovely people today, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Make sure to visit her page for Biblical encouragement and practical resources for living a glorious life! (Oh, and did I tell you she has some beautiful things in her SHOP?!?) I hope these words challenge and uplift you as they did me. Take it away, Patty!

 

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His Glorious Grace

I woke up to find my website had not gotten any views- something unheard of for me. I panicked figuring it may have been hacked. On top of this, I had to feed my son, get him dressed, and keep him busy. He’s nearly walking on his own now and getting into everything so I knew he would take up most of my time that day. I had to finish getting multiple loads through the washer and dryer before wrangling my way through those multiple loads of laundry and returning them to their homes in dresser drawers.

All this combined with cleaning around the house and a host of day to day tasks that had to be done left me overwhelmed. It just seemed like too much to do with not enough time to get it all done. I struggle with perfectionism. So in my mind, if I didn’t get everything done, I failed. And I hate to fail. I wanted to do it all and do it excellently. As these thoughts were taking up residence in my mind, my son began to call out. We had just finished breakfast and I needed to brush his teeth, something he hates. While I was brushing his teeth, he began to scream even louder than usual. And as the stress mounted, I cried out to God. Actually, I screamed out to God.

And then, I felt worse than before. Not only did I still have a mile long list of things to do, but I chose to stress over and allowed myself to get overwhelmed. I had upset my son in the process with my reaction. I had cried out and he cried out, too but in a different way. When he saw me stressed out, he got stressed out. And he didn’t understand. My heart broke. My mind flooded with thoughts about what a terrible mom I was. I thought about how selfish I had been. How prideful it was of me to think I could tackle anything without God’s help!

In that moment, God reminded me of His glorious grace. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The Lord never expected me to carry today’s burdens on my own. He instead calls me to peace and rest in Him. He reminded me that when things get crazy, when I get overwhelmed, when I rush around trying to solve problems or get things done, He is right there. God is with me in my mess. Just as Jesus chose to be with humanity in its mess when He came to this earth as God veiled in flesh and spoke those very words.

God was not upset with me. He was not even the least bit surprised by my actions and reactions. Psalm 139 reminds me that He knit me together in my mother’s womb, He knows every single word I’m going to speak before it is ever on my lips, and He ordained every one of my days before a single one of them came to pass (v. 4, 13, 16). He knew I would sin and make mistakes. He knew I would miss the mark. Therefore, He sent Jesus to soak up God’s wrath for my sin so that by His glorious grace, I could be made right with God the Father.

Obviously, God does not want me to continue in sin. In these times, I need to repent. But that’s just it. I come to Him and recognize before Him the error of my ways. All I have to do is repent of my wrongdoing and ask Him to help me turn to His ways continually.

And by His grace, His glorious grace, I am forgiven and made right with Him (1 John 1:9). Then He makes me able to be at peace, regardless of the piles of laundry or the stacks of dishes. God sets my eyes to focus on Him. And as I focus on Him and serving Him, I am better able to serve my family and meet the needs of those I am called to minister to. Instead of being overwhelmed by tasks, God helps me to accomplish each one as a declaration of love and heartfelt service to Him and my loved ones.

When I trust God in this way, my heart is at peace. And when my heart is at peace, my home can reflect God’s nature. Guarding our hearts and allowing God’s grace to keep them at peace allows our home to be the haven of rest and beacon of hope it needs to be.

Since God is not a respecter of persons, He is willing to do the same for you (Romans 2:11). Is there a place in life where you are messing up? Is there an area of struggle you are facing? Do you have a hurt or hang-up you want to overcome?

Turn to God today and to His glorious grace. Ask Him to forgive you and to help you turn away from what’s not pleasing to Him. Let His grace work in you. Let him help you through it. Don’t take on the challenges by yourself. You were never made to. He doesn’t expect you to. The Lord wants you to wait on Him and on His glorious grace. His grace that makes us right with Him. His grace that makes us able to operate in His ways. For it is by his grace that He bestows on us righteousness, beauty, love, and so much more.

Have you ever been in need of God’s grace, His glorious grace? A grace that bestows beauty and worth when you fall short of it on your own?
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I’m Patty! Christ follower. Wife to Matthew. Mom to Solomon. Daughter. Sister. Former teacher. Current stay-at-home mom. Lover of God and His Word. Sharer of joy and laughter. Seeker of wisdom and justice. Passer on of godly encouragement and wisdom. I want to see women living out the fullness of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love in every area of their lives. I want for each woman to realize she is glorious within her.

 

Coffee For Your Heart @ Holley Gerth, Women With Intention Wednesday @ Women With Intention, #GraceMoments Linkup @ Journeys in Grace, Happy Days Linkup @ Life of Scoop