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,

 

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

Do We Have Anything in Common Anymore?

Five Minute Friday, COMMON
// indicates when my 5 minutes ran out and I kept on writing anyway!

After a year and a half in Nepal, I am returning to America for a 3 month visit in 10 DAYS. Someone asked me the other day what was the first thing I wanted to do when I returned aside from visiting my family. My mind went totally blank. I said, “Go through a drive-thru?” just because that, even after only 18 months abroad, seems like a total novelty to me.

But I also very much look forward to coffee dates and lunch meet-ups with my mom and other friends. I imagine myself sitting across the table, chit-chatting the day away, and I realize… my imaginary conversation is happening in my second language! I try to re-imagine, and I can’t think of anything to say in my first.

I wonder if they will think I’m as weird as I feel like I’m going to be. Will we still be able to hold a conversation free from several awkward silences? Will their babies I’ve never met be scared of me? I wonder if they will think the stories I tell are interesting or just strange and unrelateable. Will we have anything in common anymore?

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My husband assures me that these fears will be unfounded (although there is no guarantee their babies won’t be afraid of the crazy person declaring herself their aunt). My friends that loved me before I left have still loved me with all the distance and silence between us. We might not pick right up where we left off, but maybe that’s why it’s called catching up.

We may not find common ground in our recent cultural experiences, but we will find it elsewhere. Maybe this table where we sit needs a perspective only my strangely unique experience could bring. Maybe more, this friendship needs me to not worry and just show up. To sit across the table with my biscuits and gravy (Bob Evans, y’all) and sigh. It sure is good to see an old friend.

Thank God for the Pit Stops

Five Minute Friday, JOURNEY

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“We traveled for two years and visited over 200 churches sharing about our missions endeavors. We spent A LOT of time on the road and racked up thousands of miles. Along the way, we made lots of pits stop. Generally, we just stopped for fast-food and potty breaks, but occasionally something else would demand a stop. We were too tired to keep our eyes open anymore. Our toddler ran out of juice. Flat tire. Nauseous pregnant lady. Saw friends getting off and exit and had a spontaneous double date at Waffle House.

These unplanned stops often weren’t welcome on our journey. They seemed to be an inconvenience when we just wanted to get from point A to point B. But they were necessary. We needed to stretch. We needed to rest, run around, stretch our legs, and nourish our bodies. We needed the pit stops.

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I think of the pit stops along the way of our journey to the mission field. The financial support that got a slow start. The family member that spent months ill before passing away. That car accident that rocked our world, took our baby, and canceled a whole month of meetings. The waiting and waiting and waiting for a visa that never came. These things were all unplanned and unwelcome.

But these times were all a part of the journey. They have made us the family that we are, serving in the country where we serve. During these times, we have been forced to seek the Lord and know His heart better. We have learned about ourselves and about each other.

We’ve learned to thank God for the pit stops.”

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The Simple Secret to Being Super Fruitful

Day 27, BOUQUET

We recently helped the people of the sweet church we attend honor their pastors. As we planned for the special surprise, we brainstormed what gifts we could give. We settled on some Nepali landscape paintings and were thinking bouquets for their wives. That is, until we were reprimanded for our temporal thinking. Because, duh, flowers die.

Such is the nature of flowers. So much so that the Bible uses them to symbolize the brevity of life.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
(Psalm 103:15-16).

 

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Flowers removed from their source of sustenance cannot thrive. Flowers in a vase or blown away blooms can buy a day or two on borrowed water and sunshine, but they must be firmly planted in soil to survive.

As children of God, we rely on the Father to sustain us. To grow, we are only required to abide in Him. Abiding in Jesus, we bear fruit, living the for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:5-12).

Thriving in our Provider’s care, we worry less about surviving and more about serving.  Everything we are commanded to do is within our reach because we are connected to the boundless Vine. We soak up the goodness of His great gifts, and we keep his commandments because it is our natural response. We extend His grace to others as we grow. We aren’t promised that everyone will appreciate the beautiful work He bears in us. But we are promised that our green-thumbed God will perfect the work He begins, and that our fruit will remain. It will make a difference.

We can’t use the brevity of our existence as en excuse to not be fruitful. For whatever time He gives us, if we merely rest in His capable hands, we will thrive and bloom good works naturally. He will see our fruit as if we grew it for ourselves, and He will call it good.

When death takes us forever from the Vine, we may not be remembered. But our fruit remains, planted in others, cared for by the One who sustained us for so long.

Are you abiding in Christ and keeping His commandments?
Is His great care evidenced in your care for others?

Talk to me in the comment section!

For more about what it means to abide in Christ, check out this post by Trillia Newbell