Ready for another one of my mishaps? My husband is a gracious and patient man. This one is a doozy. Plus thoughts on an amazing local non-profit, the benefits of an airfryer and bunny poo. Seriously, you need to watch this one. Six minutes. Feel free to laugh at my expense.
I was a born procrastinator. Much to my mother's chagrin I was born a year late. I was due in December 1981, but was born in January 1982. My mother was pregnant for 42 weeks. My parents missed the tax credit. I was expensive and caused pain from the beginning. They adored me anyway.
On more than one occasion I waited until the night before to tell my parents about a huge science fair project. I deserved a failing grade. My parents taught me mercy by pulling more than one all-nighter piecing together an acceptable project to turn in the next morning with bloodshot eyes.
Today I see God's mercy played out over and over again. We deserve to fail. We deserve punishment, but He loves, blesses and forgives.
My first born son's due date was December 29. He was born November 12. He came almost 8 weeks early. We were NOT prepared. My water broke spontaneously and he was born four hours later. Our baby showers were scheduled for later that month. We procrastinated in making any purchases for the baby until after we had a chance to inventory what we were generously gifted...which left us with little of what was needed when the little man arrived. We did not have a car seat to bring him home. There were no diapers, wipes or baby soaps in our possession. While we were given a hand-me-down crib, it was not assembled and we didn't own a mattress. I didn't have a hospital bag packed. I didn't buy any postpartum clothes or supplies. We still had two Lamaze classes left and I hadn't finished reading the third trimester pregnancy chapters in the book my doctor had given me, let alone the chapters on labor and delivery and infant care. We were caught completely unprepared.
God's grace showed up in the form of bags full of hand-me-down clothes, hospital visits from dear fiends and pastors, overwhelmingly generous baby gifts, a huge bag full of food and snacks to carry us through our NICU stay. His grace was seen through the expertise and gentle care of the doctors and nurses who cared for us. My dad came to the hospital every day to sit with the baby while I got a chance to shower and go to the cafeteria for food. Home cooked meals were delivered to our front door night after night. We had done nothing to deserve these gestures of love and generosity, yet they were given selflessly with joy. Grace given freely.
Procrastination doesn't pay, but mercy and grace are overwhelming. I learned my lesson. I just started the third trimester of my current pregnancy and my hospital bag is already packed. Now I buy, wrap and ship Christmas presents in July. I set goals to finish reports for work at least a week early. Our freezer is stocked with extra loaves of bread and a side of beef. Life is far more relaxing and pleasant when we prepare in advance and I'm learning to look for ways to extend Mercy and Grace to those around me.
The lesson is deeper than to-do lists and due dates. No one knows what tomorrow holds. Only God knows our individual expiration dates- when He will call us home. What is He calling us to for which we are procrastinating? Is there someone to forgive? Or perhaps we need to apologize and ask for forgiveness? Maybe we need to tell someone we love them...or more importantly, that God loves them. Maybe we need to tell someone about Jesus.
Brothers and Sisters let us put procrastination aside and pursue Grace and Mercy with everything in us. Time is fleeting!
P.S. Mom and Dad- I'm sorry it took so long for me to learn this lesson. Thank you for your patience!
Interview with Tim Mackie from The Bible Project.
I had such a great time meeting Tim Mackie. He was engaging, brilliant and open. I was impressed. I bought two of The Bible Project's coffee table books. One for me because - let's face it - I'm a book hoarder. And one to share with one of you! Contest details coming - but for now, check out the interview.
I've been thinking a bit this last week about what it means to hear God. The topic has been bantered about on various social media sites because of negative comments about VP Pence "hearing voices from Jesus" which were made on the tv show The View. Apologies were made and the Vice President didn't' seem to mind. I'm only interested in the drama because it seems there is quite a bit of confusion outside the faith community about what it means to hear from God.
Frankly, there is quite a bit of confusion inside the church too about the ways God speaks. I've talked with plenty of worried kids and concerned adults asking if their faith was invalid because they haven't heard God speak audibly. Typically our conversations talk about how God speaks through the Bible, or through our circumstances, or silently in our consciences. Sometimes people share miraculous stories of God's intervention in their lives.
From now on - when this topic comes up - I'm going to tell people to read Mark Batterson's new book Whisper. This is an easy to read, uplifting explanation of how and why to slow down to listen to God.The book is full of examples, stories and encouragement. I listened to the audio version and as a side bar here - if I'm ever in Washington DC on a Sunday I'm going to Batterson's church to hear him preach. He's an engaging speaker. If audio books are in your arsenal of book reading options this is a great one to add to your list.
Our society is loud. Frenetic. Too busy. Batterson argues effectively that this may well be one of the reasons so much confusion is around hearing God speak. We don't shut up long enough to listen. Try it. God's whispers are worth the quiet.
Michele Phoenix has written a compelling, gentle and persuasive novel. The Space Between Words explores the beautiful glory of life against the confusing horror of terror. It asks the oft repeated question about how a good God can allow tragedy and evil. The setting in France, the believable nuanced characters and the apt dialogue blend with a history lesson in the French Huguenot martyrs to create a story I couldn't put down. If you have lingering questions about the redemptive power of healing and God's ability to work all things together for good this is the book to add to your library. I'd like to take the author out for coffee.
Allow me to wax atrotheophilisophical for a moment. It’s six AM in the middle of January and I am currently sitting on the sand at Cannon Beach in Oregon. This isn’t the kind of beach where you go out and catch waves at the crack of dawn. The waves are far too small. This isn’t the kind of beach where you splash around in the water. The water is far too cold. This isn’t the kind of beach where you lay out and soak up rays in your bikini. Come on, it’s Oregon! No, this is the kind of beach where you stand and appreciate the wonder that is God.
I came out here by myself. I am literally the only one here as the sun is not quite up yet. It’s peaceful and quiet.
Yet amidst the peace, just a hundred feet away, waves are constantly crashing. Over and over, never stopping, even when I’m not hear to witness them. They come closer in and go farther out all day long with the tide. It’s a constant clash of water against land.
I look to my left. In the darkness, I can still make out the form of Haystack Rock rising up out of the water. That rock that the Goonies used to find One-Eyed Willie’s treasure now shows me the God doesn’t do things on a small scale. This rock towers over its surroundings, beckoning gawking eyes, curious children and thousands of selfies every day.
By even Haystack Rock seems small when I look up. On this clear morning, millions of stars greet me in a dusting of brilliance across the dark sky. The constellations are easy to spot so I took out my phones Star Map app and looked at what they all were. The ancients has some serious creativity when they thought three bright stars together looked like a man holding a sword. But then I realized, these are the same stars those ancients looked at thousands of years ago. They are ancient themselves and they were just given to us by a Creator for us to enjoy! God could have left the sky black or made the earth reflect more light or even made the stars as spots of light but he made them into their own suns with their own galaxies, each one sitting light years away from another!
The ocean, the rock and the stars are immense, spectacular, and beautiful. They did not just happen. This kind of thing takes some creativity and an overwhelming kind of genius to create it. I’m standing in literal awe of it this chilly morning.
I wonder if God does to? I wonder if God says “Hey, that came out pretty good!” or “Oh wow, that wave made a fantastic crash against Haystack Rock!” or, my favorite, “Wait until the humans discover this REALLY awesome star they haven’t even found yet!” Does God marvel at His creation like I do? It’s hard not to.
Now let this blow your mind: that same God who made the ocean that covers the globe and gives life and chaotic beauty, that same God who made Haystack Rock pop out of the ocean, that same God who made trillions of other astronomical bodies spread out so far that we may never discover them all before Jesus returns, is the same God that says “I love you and I want YOU to be my child!” I mean...WOW!! Just wow! I hate to be one of those guys that brags about what his father does for a living, but look outside... see that sky? MY Father made THAT!
I should probably finish because the sun is coming up and hiding the stars and the tide is getting really close to my feet. Let me encourage you with this: Just take a minute to look around and realize that this is all a gift from our Creator. Take a minute and think about how much is there that we can’t even see. Take a minute and thank God that He loves you enough to give it to you expecting nothing in return. Take a minute and say thank you
I have moments when I feel like an impostor. It often comes when I’m with a large group of people, even more often with the dreaded semi-organized-group-of-women events.
I turn off my car in the driveway and sit in the gathering darkness. I’m slightly late—intentionally. I exhale a hard sigh of resolution. Why did I agree to come?
And then I’m inside, in the warmth of a close group of bodies. I’m wondering where to sit—in that solitary chair by the door, or on the end of the couch by those women I don’t know? I’m wondering if I dressed appropriately, suddenly self-conscious of my wardrobe and the ways my body is slowly changing with age.
In the crowd of people I don’t know and partially-know, I feel awkward, like I don’t belong. What if they realize I’m not that cool? Not that stylish? Not that pretty? What if they realize I’m not as well read? That I haven’t actually read that philosopher or that work of classic literature? What if my jokes aren’t funny? What if…?
I’m worried of being found a fraud. I’m worried of once again being the awkward elementary school girl, sitting with her back to a brick wall, with the latest message that her friends have moved on to others.
My insecurities make me long to be seen. They also make me fear what people will see. So much of my focus can be consumed by what I am presenting to others—am I beautiful, engaging, funny, smart-but-not-too-smart? I can spend so much energy trying to make myself seen. I fear being overlooked or invisible.
If I close my eyes, I can see myself there, sitting on a grassy hill behind the church. Winter had finally released its clutches, and the grass was vibrant in its new growth. I sat with my knees pulled to my chest, my heart full of questions. Why couldn’t I escape these insecurities? What drove them, feeding them with the rumbling of my empty stomach? What would set my mind free?
The words came then, clear, loudly inaudible: Look at Me, Diana.
My eyes shot up from the ground. And in a moment that proved that real life can have even more contrivance than fiction, my eyes, shifting from the earth, focused on a rough wooden cross that stood hitherto unseen before me.
The thoughts came like a flood. That when my eyes were focused on Him—on Christ my Savior, His love bleeding out—I could see myself rightly. I could see how loved I was, how seen I was. I was set free from my need for perfection, of the need to prove my worth. If I looked at Him—not at myself and not at the imagined gaze of my fellow students and friends—all the clamoring voices demanding I be good enough fell silent.
And that’s when the second phrase cut in—disarmingly clear: Make them seen. Make them known.
Since that afternoon, years ago, I’ve taken those words as a sense of calling. Look at Me, Diana, and make them seen and known. In my moments of clarity and obedience, I’ve turned my own desires to be seen and known by others, to be noticed and applauded, and turned that energy and concern towards making sure others are known and seen.
My Father in Heaven turns His eyes to me. He is the God who sees. He sees me—the best parts and the worst parts of who I am—and He delights in me as His child. This offers me the security to be free of people-pleasing, approval, and the desperate desire to be noticed and lauded by my fellow humans.
I’ve come to realize that most of us are secretly afraid inside—afraid of what people will think, afraid of what they’ll see, afraid of what they’ll do when they see us. Most of us are like little children, looking over our shoulders to see if someone is watching as we play and twirl and jump.
We put on a show in the hopes of being noticed. We drive ourselves to unrealistic standards of perfection. We obsess over the perception of our bodies, our brains, our achievements. And we cover up the parts of ourselves that could give any hint of our failure, weakness, or imperfection…of our humanity.
So when I find myself in those situations when my insecurities rise like floodwaters, drowning out my joy, drowning my ability to love my neighbor, I try to call myself back to the love that seeks to consider others more important than myself. I work to make them seen.
I listen to stories. I ask them of their family, their work, their play. I look for the delight on their face and chase after it. I try to set aside my pride and be more concerned with making them the most important person in the room, the star, the seen-one. I practice hospitality—the spirit of welcome that meets people as they are.
And, in God’s ironic way, I don’t have to stifle those insecurities—they simply quiet and fade away. And I’m free to be who I am. I’m freed from my introspection and navel-gazing. I’m free to love.
Find more of Diana's encouragement at her blog www.dianagruver.com
That's the Book: Ephesians
I spend a lot of time talking to my girls. This weekend I talked about pre-algebra and the order of operations. Mind numbing; and I like math. We also talked about LOL dolls and the relative merits of the color change or glitter series. I tried explaining that something mass produced in China and sold in every retail store in America can not be labeled "ultra rare". They don't believe me. As I'm sitting here writing about the book of Ephesians I"m wondering what conversations they'll remember when they are grown.
The traveling pastor Paul spent two years preaching in the town of Ephesis. The book of Ephesians is a letter he wrote to this church years later when Paul was in prison. He was reminding them about all the lessons he taught when he was in their city. If I was writing my girls a message to keep and ponder and reinforce what I had hoped they'd learned while I was their mom Ephesians would be a beautiful model.
Oh how your dad and I love you! We're proud of you. We cherish you. And the best news of all? God in heaven loves you too. He included us all in his family. Don't ever forget. Remember when I used to tell you every day I loved you? Sometimes you'd say "Mom, I know! I know!". God is the same. He throws his love at us every way imaginable.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1: 3-6
I pray for you every day. I pray you'll grow and know and see what matters. What your future holds. I pray you'll be amazed by the crazy big power of God and how it is available to you.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1: 18-19
You know my loves, Dad and I aren't perfect. And frankly, neither are you. Thank goodness for grace! We get in on God's plan because He gave us himself. Oh Happy Day! Guess what? He saved us all and has a plan. Don't you love a purpose? Mom sure does.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no on may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
Mama has lots of big ideas. So do you my passionate and energetic little misses. Don't forget God has more and bigger ideas. And He LOVES to show up when Mom is out of options, in over my head, and needing help. Its that upside down thing we talk about. God does his best work when it seems darkest. But don't be scared. He is able to do all those big amazing ideas better than we ever planned. Whew. He is so good.
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3: 17-21
Girls, I pray you have lots of opportunities, wide experiences and learn about the world. Gotta tell you though. Its dark out there. Some people get lost. Girls I want you to be wise and on a solid foundation. As you grow, watch and be careful.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:14-16
If mom has some advice about life its this; Be nice. Let go of junk. Choose grace.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Listen, I know this is a lot. Some days you'll be tired and cranky. Mom has those days. Sometimes I yell and snap and sigh and complain. But less so as I get to know Jesus better. I'm so grateful that God has given us tools to accomplish these goals. Like all the other tools in life - they only work if you use them. Stand firm to the end. It'll be worth it.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of Salvation, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17
My precious daughters. We talk about lots of stuff. Homework and housework. Toys and friends. Rules and rights. But these words? The ones about Jesus and God and grace? Remember these.
I was able to go interview one of the founders of the Bible Project, and now I'm an even bigger fan!! Watch this! Now!
This is pretty funny. God totally has a sense of humor and my guess is he's a fan of The Skit Guys. Watch and laugh.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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