Sit and Stare: A Grace Story

Hi friends! Today, Jamie Sumner from The Mom Gene  has contributed the first guest Grace Story on Grace for the Wasted Space! I’m so excited to have a piece of her story here because she writes about something that we can all relate to: Perspective. She tells of hope found in the middle of a hard season that may not ever change this side of heaven. However, the thing she focuses on is prayer despite the circumstances that she wishes were a little bit different. And that is where the truth is not only found but where it resonates with each of our hearts. The waiting and hoping doesn’t necessarily change things, but the praying, well, it always does. Even if the only thing that it changes is the person praying. Welcome Jamie by leaving her an encouraging comment and then go check her out at her beautiful blog: The Mom Gene.


Sit and Stare


13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.

Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob. Paul lists them all and their faithful deeds like an exemplary contact list before he gets to this aside. Whenever I read this passage, I feel it in my chest, that balloon expansion as each one performs the necessary act of faith and then receives the reward. Abel offers the best sacrifice. Noah builds the boat and sees the rainbow. Sarah waits decades and has a baby. But Cain murders Abel and Noah must start from scratch on the new boggy earth and Sarah dies before she sees substantial proof of the patriarchal branch leading to the future Israelite nation. They listen to God and receive a blessing, but it is the smaller blessing. A slice of the pie.

I could read up to verse thirteen and stop there. Put a period to the happy ending. There’s so much good there. But if I’m begrudgingly honest, the rest is the best. It’s the whole pie. It’s the land we were built for where these tiny stories fit together to make a better scene. I prayed over my infertility and was blessed with Charlie and Jonas and Cora, but we also got cerebral palsy and a wheelchair and twins who must push behind rather than run beside their big brother. Big blessings with bigger wishes yet unmet.

The alien heart in me aches for the place where the three will run together. I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to hug them all while they stand on their own, heights not marked by braces or standers or stools. But I will try to be satisfied today knowing we will.

The thing that keeps me praying in this world is that there is another one. If this was all there is I think I might not be able to see my way past all the unfulfilled desires and the unfairness.

I might only see the wheelchair and not the boy. I might only feel the fear for my children’s future in what looks like a scarier and darker world than the fluffy one from which I hatched. But that’s not the full picture. It’s like the impressionists with their dots. You stand with your nose too close and it looks a jumbled mess. You take a few steps back and it’s a lady, a boat, a lake, a masterpiece.

I’m really trying to let these verses elicit hope rather than frustration. It does not always work. But it’s never going to work if I don’t practice. You don’t speed-walk through the museum. You sit and stare and let all that wide thinking and talent settle over you. You read every signpost steering you on to the next. You assess each piece from every angle, because each approach is different. And then you go back and visit again on another day in another mood and see even more and leave hoping that some of it rubbed off on you.

JamieSumnerBioPic

Website: http://mom-gene.com
Facebook: The Mom Gene
Instagram: themomgene

Advertisements

Blind Belief: The Only Way to Really See

blind belief-

Do you have to see to believe? This question has been on my mind lately. The world we live in only understands believing in something if there are tangible reasons to back up their beliefs. You know, like evidence or proof.

But what about those things that God has told us in the stillness? What happens when what we see in our daily lives doesn’t line up with what He has whispered to our hearts? It’s at these moments that we have to make a choice:

Am I going to believe beyond what I can see

or doubt because I can’t see? 

In John 20:29 Jesus says, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” 

What are you believing for that has YET to come to pass? What promise are you holding onto despite evidence to the contrary?

For your spouse to prioritize you over his favorite sport even though he just skipped going on a date with you to watch the game?

For you to be well even though your doctor said that you’re going to struggle with this disease forever?

For your children to make good choices despite the bad ones they are making right now?

It’s so easy to lose sight of the rainbow to come when we are living under a rain cloud, isn’t it?

We have to be blind believers. Faith must be our sight. This means that I let my hearing sense take precedence over my seeing sense. That I let God’s voice of truth become the guiding force in my life. EVEN WHEN MY CIRCUMSTANCES DON’T LOOK LIKE THEY’RE EVER GOING TO CHANGE. (Anyone else struggle with this like I do?)

Let’s retrain ourselves to speak what God has said instead of what our physical eyes can see. The more extravagant the promise, the more we should speak it thus reminding our hearts to believe when the circumstances of our lives become unbelievable.

I BELIEVE: that my spouse does love me more than football and He will show me because God blesses those who believe without seeing. I BELIEVE: that I walk in health and wholeness because God blesses those who believe without seeing. I BELIEVE: that My children are choosing to live wisely in an unwise world because God blesses those who believe without seeing. 

Trust me, your YET is on its way.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23 

Sunday Rest #9

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.”

1 Chronicles 16:8-11

photo credit: Nothing will ever be more beautiful than the love you have brought into my life. ❤ via photopin (license)

Weighty Words

21878126926_a97110dd02

My love of words goes way back to when I was a child. I’ve always been a fast talker which was only propelled further by my love of reading. I enjoy words so I use them quite often. On average, they say that women speak about 20,000 words per day.(Language Log) I think it’s safe to say that I surpass that estimate by about 1,000 words.

It’s even been a long running joke in my family (natural born and married into) that noone can understand me when I talk because I say things so quickly that it’s like I have a Speedy Gonzales complex. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s got to be a skill (or burden?) that I was born with because once I start it’s really hard to stop. I’ve had to do a lot of listening to make up for the years of incessant talking.

This morning in prayer God was showing me why I do this. I tend to talk so much because of an underlying fear of not being heard. So I talk and talk in an effort to convince myself that because I said alot I got my point across. That the more I fit into the conversation, the more you really get “me.” I’m afraid of being misunderstood.

But the Bible says in Proverbs 17:28 thatEven a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

It’s funny how we think that more words proves knowledge when, in reality, fewer words showcases wisdom. The amount of my words is not what grabs a person’s attention. It’s the weightiness of my words that causes someone to tune in. Basically, the gift of gab is not actually a gift.

I don’t want to just be knowledgeable. I want to be wise.

Armed with my new biblical insight on words, I have decided to challenge myself to only speak if I really do have something to add to the conversation. If I’m chattering non-stop then I’ve fallen prey to the lie that I have to talk to be heard. And I don’t.

My words are always important because God says they are. But in order for others to hear the depth of my heart in the words that I speak, I need to focus on what the Holy Spirit wants me to say. If He wants my point made clear, then He’ll provide the exact amount of words for me to use to get it across.

If He doesn’t provide the words, then they just don’t need to be said. Whew! Ya’ll pray for me! 🙂

 

 

photo credit: I couldn’t afford a horse via photopin (license)

Are You Listening?

photo credit: Praise via photopin (license)

I was reminded this morning that God is always speaking. Even when we can’t hear Him. He is. We just have to be looking for His hand at work and listening for His voice.

Take a minute right now. Take a minute to notice Him. He longs for you to really see Him, to really hear Him. There is so much He is saying.


 

In the crash of the waves – “I am overwhelming you with My love.”

In the whirling of the wind– “I am right beside you. I will never leave.”

In the laughter of your children– “You are forever mine. You make me smile.”

In the sounds of silence– “In rest, I whisper in your ear about the good plans I have for you.”


It’s hard for us to comprehend that God enjoys talking to us. In fact, we over-complicate things in our limited human intellect and assume that because He is not speaking in an audible voice that He must be avoiding us. But God is not like man. We can’t reduce Him to what we know.

Can He speak to us in a recognizable way? Sure. He does. But the beauty of an intimate relationship is being able to know the other person so well that you can hear Him speaking even when He is not uttering a sound. That’s what God wants in a relationship with us. Intimacy. Connection. An unspoken language that can only be discerned by spending time with Him.


 

Today, as we enter into the weekend, I challenge you to take some time to listen. What do you hear? The atmosphere around you may be loud and chaotic. But, trust me, if you fine-tune your listening skills, you can hear Him in the quiet places of your heart.

As we focus on His goodness, we begin to walk in confidence that God loves us (John 3:16), that He’ll never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6), that we are His beloved children (1 John 3:1), and that He has an amazing purpose for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Are you listening?

 

Mosaic of Grace

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

Brokenness is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s the only way to true intimacy with God. And intimacy with God is the only thing that brings everlasting joy despite the brokenness. So one is dependent on the other it would seem.

Being broken before the Lord simply means that you are honest about your sin and shame. Unabashedly honest. Not out of fear that God is mad at you (cause He’s not). Not to check it off your list that you said, “I’m sorry” (cause that’s not really an apology). Not to get Him to pat you on the back (cause He won’t).

Admitting your humanity to our perfect God is simply the way to keep yourself humble. God isn’t looking for your perfection.He just wants you to willingly admit when you mess up out of an overwhelming desire to please your loving Father.

Because He is love, after all. He is the only One that can meet all your needs and satisfy your deepest longings. But to really know Him, to really see Him in His goodness, means you have to let go of your expectations. Because He isn’t confined to what you can think up. In fact, anything you and I could think up wouldn’t even come near to what He can do.

I want to live in a state of brokenness. In a place of perpetual laying-down-of-my-will so that God, in all His amazing glory, can have His way in me. So that I can never know what it feels like to be on my own. The thought of living in this world without Him is terrifying.

Imagine hurting your best friend and then never saying I’m sorry. Instead, you just pretend like things are normal and you never bring it up. Water under the bridge. But is it really? Or will the pain that you caused your friend haunt you until you own up to it and ask for forgiveness? It’s not that your friend won’t love you anymore if you choose not to fess up. He just wants to know that you love him enough to make things right. That’s all God asks of us. That, my friends, is brokenness.

So as we end this year, I am taking my broken pieces of pain, regret, discouragement, un-forgiveness, and anger to the only One that can put me back together. And I can’t wait to see the mosaic masterpiece that His love creates from my shattered mess.

 

 

Does Prayer Really Work?

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/97041449@N00/15481757322">Stockholm</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

Praying can seem tedious at times. Like I’m not getting anywhere. Like I’m stuck in a cycle of asking, thanking, and then, waiting.

AGAIN with the waiting.

So many things in my external world have been contradictory to what I know on the inside of me lately. There are horrible things like cancer, addictions, and broken bones in the people I love. I pray and pray and pray. And nothing on the outside shows any sign of improvement.

And I cry. Not because I don’t believe that God will heal them. But because they don’t believe it. How can I blame them? It’s hard to believe when you can’t see any reason to believe. But faith isn’t about seeing, is it?

So, my answer to the ever-existing question, “Does prayer really work?” My answer, dear friends, is to simply keep praying. To stop would surely confirm the negative. But, to keep on praying, to keep on trusting, brings a surety into my life that nothing else can replace. Because the answer is never found in looking at our circumstances.

When I choose to look up instead of at the harrowing circumstances around me, my eyes get filled with light and my heart overflows with hope. The situations around me will change at some point. The healing will eventually come (even if I never see it this side of heaven.) But prayer is something that will always be a source of stability for me.

Because, really, it’s not about the things that change in front of me (good or bad). It’s about the God who never changes inside of me.

So be encouraged today: In whatever you are facing, God is with you. He wants you to come to Him. Because only He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

 

 

Morning Mindset

photo credit: Once morning via photopin (license)
photo credit: Once morning via photopin (license)

Take a minute and focus your heart this morning.

Focus on the good things that God has done for you.

Focus on the truth instead of the lies.

Truth like:

God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) 

You are never, ever alone. (Joshua 1:5)

The mercies of God are new every single morning. (Lamentations 3:23) 

You are a son or a daughter of God. (John 1:1)

There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) 

God’s perfect love casts out all fear. ( 1 John 4:18)

Let these promises wash over your heart today. Let them invade your thoughts with the good news of the gospel.

“Jesus loves YOU 

This I know

For the Bible tells me so…”

NaBloPoMo November 2015

The First Confession of Many

photo credit: Candles in a Restaurant via photopin (license)
photo credit: Candles in a Restaurant via photopin (license)

I confess, my mind is distracted today. I can’t focus and I linger too long on a thought instead of letting it pass me by. I woke up early to pray but I can’t seem to quiet my brain. I need a focal point, a phrase I can repeat, a song I can sing.

Have you ever found yourself here? Wanting to talk to God but not really sure how to begin because there is just a ton of stuff you could say and too much is overwhelming but not enough is vague. Yep. That’s me right now.

I mean, how do I shut off my thinker long enough to clearly formulate my needs and wants into words? All I can see when I close my eyes is the long list of things I have to do today…and tomorrow…and next week.

Being still can be really difficult. But God says that it’s in the stillness that I can know that He is God. (See Psalm 46:10)

How do I quiet my intellectual side so I can fully enter into the realm of faith? I feel like they are contradictory to each other so they can’t both be operating at the same time. Like, my brain wants to calculate the perceived time it could possibly take for me to save up the exact amount of money I need to pay off my car loan but God is like, “Shhhh….., just ask me about it. I’ve got a plan to get you the money you need in the nick of time.”

What does being still look like for a busy mom of 4? I’ll tell you what it doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like an hour of uninterrupted peace and quiet, that’s for sure. (Insert popular image of toddler fingers poking out under the bathroom door.)

Is that ok? Can I be still in the moments that I catch between preparing meals and changing diapers and helping with math problems and making sure my kids wash more than once a week? Is being still this elusive idea that noone can ever really accomplish?

Well, I don’t think God would tell me to do it if it wasn’t achievable. But, maybe, I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe being still is less about me trying to shut off my brain and more about God quieting my soul.

He is God, after all. Why do I think I have to do this thing on my own?