Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grace at Home No. 208


Welcome to this week's Grace at Home party! I'm so glad you're here to celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace and beauty.

I've been out of town this week, so I don't have any features to share from last week's party. Next week, I'll have a double portion to share. Still, I want the party to go on.


Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The spiritual discipline of rest


My greatest desire is to show grace to all--to my loved ones at home, to my family and friends and neighbors all over the world. Of course, in order for my life to be a reflection of God's grace, I need God's grace for myself. I need to spend hours with God, to soak in his grace.


Honestly, though, I don't have time for this.  My to-do lists are long; the hours for completing them are short.  Surely I need to advance, not retreat!

Yet I am pulled again to God's word.  The words of Isaiah leap off the page, spoken to the people of God who needed to hear.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
You said, 'No! We will flee on horses.'
Therefore you will flee!
You said, 'We will ride off on swift horses.'
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
A thousand will flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you will all flee away,
till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill."
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are those who wait for Him! (Isaiah 30:15-18, NIV)

So I am on retreat this week. And, boy, am I grateful to be part of a group that values retreat. I serve on the Ministry Team of Renovaré, and every year we retreat together to a beautiful place in Colorado.



We all love it. We're excited to be here. But the fact is we have to make ourselves do it. This kind of withdrawing from society and getting away together takes a good deal of preparation and sacrifice, both for us and for our families. But the effort is worth it, for we all need rest.

“The number one enemy of Christian spiritual formation today is exhaustion,” writes our friend and team member Jim Smith in his important book The Good and Beautiful God.  This is a bold proclamation, but I believe it is right.
Surely the need for rest is not a new development, nor is the instruction from God to rest a new instruction.  God commanded His people: “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work.  But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:9-10).  Hmmm.  A commandment to rest. 
Throughout most of human history, men and women have been aided in their need for rest by the fact that there was light by which to work only for a portion of each day.  As civilization progressed, humans found ways of producing light to see in the darkness, but those sources of light were usually expensive and often scarce.  Faced with the reality of no light by which to work, humans slept during the darkness.
That scenario has changed.  As humans have developed more reliable ways to generate light, they have simultaneously warded off the darkness for longer and longer hours.  What was once a reliable source of rhythm for the cycle of work and rest is now gone.  We can now have light available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Darkness is now hard to come by in some parts of the world.
Yet the way the human body functions has not changed much in the years since God commanded his people to observe a day of rest.  The amount of time generally set aside for sleep has shrunk, but the need for it has not.  In these days filled with artificial light and late-night opportunities for work and play, we must now be very purposeful in the pursuit of physical rest.  I think we often fail to consider that we must choose to rest or else we're likely to have rest forced upon us when we are exhausted to the point of physical, mental, or emotional distress.
A friend of mine discovered this truth the hard way over the past few years.  An intelligent, well-educated, talented woman, Marian is a busy wife and mother of three.  At one point she was active in her church and community and was homeschooling her children.  She was doing a wonderful job at many worthy tasks, but she wasn’t resting.  Scooper writes:  “I was unraveling in every way imaginable.  Chronic headaches and unshakeable exhaustion were constant companions, but they were nothing compared to the state of my weary soul, a soul that was dealing with far too much in its graceless, tapped-out state.” 
After a time of retreat that included a good deal of sleep, Marian realized an important truth.  “Our culture preaches the false gospel of productivity and Christians have swallowed it down too, living out a subconscious theology that God helps those who help themselves, make it to the top, and save the world while they’re at it.”
A false gospel, indeed, and the antidote to it is to choose to stop.  To rest.
When you stop to think about it, you realize that resting is an act of trust.  Trust that the world will keep on spinning, the sun will keep on shining.  Trust that God is good and loving and will provide for us.  Will our work pile up while we rest?  Perhaps.  But our ability to do our work will also accumulate.  Rest is not in vain.
Do you need some rest?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Grace to pursue grace


"This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 188:24).


O Almighty God,
who alone canst order
the unruly wills and affections of sinful men;
Grant unto thy people
that they may love the thing which Thou commandest,
and desire that which Thou dost promise;
that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed,
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

This is a beautiful prayer, but I especially appreciate it when I consider this reflection on the prayer written by my friend Chris Webb:

"If you look at it carefully you find it's a prayer that we might be given grace to pursue grace. Our unruly wills and affections are constantly being enticed away from God. But if you, Lord, transform us by grace to genuinely long for a life immersed in you--to desire your commands and promises--then we will become open to the gracious gift of Christ, in whom all true joys are found. In fact, grace will fix our hearts on Jesus, who is full of grace and truth.

"A man once told Jesus, "I believe - help my unbelief!" It may be that you want to say, "I need grace--give me the grace to long for grace!" If so, this might be your prayer today."

Yes! I need grace to pursue grace. How about you?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grace at Home No. 207


Welcome to Grace at Home in the summertime! Can you believe that the summer solstice has already passed? The days are flying by, and I hope this summer is treating you well.

Here are some links from last week's party that caught my eye:

Meg at Hello Farmhouse created this rustic frame from reclaimed wood and shows us how to make one just like it. She also includes printables for vintage patriotic scenes. Perfect for Independence Day!


Pat at Life at Lydia's House made this beautiful Mason jar chandelier, and she gives a step-by-step tutorial for making one.


Shenita from Embellishments by SLR keeps a beautiful home--and she shares all her summertime essentials. Great ideas here!


Patti from Old Things New shared an amazing story of God's goodness in this tribute to her less-than-perfect dad. Be sure to read this!


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A prayer for busy times


It's full-fledged summertime now. I was looking forward to it. I thought it would be a time of slow, lazy days--just what I needed after the craziness of May.

But the slow, lazy days haven't materialized. Of course, some of the craziness of this season has been good activity--a family wedding, a trip to see my family in Tennessee and Mississippi, a trip to Washington with my husband for a charity gala, family birthdays, and more. Lots and lots of fun events crammed into a few weeks.

On top of that, I've had days of caring for my crazy dog who somehow got into a container of ibuprofen with a childproof lid, eating heaven knows how many pills before my son discovered the evidence. Nothing like taking a dog to the animal emergency room in the middle of the night to get your summer started right!

And this week our water heater went kaput. No warning, just all of a sudden no hot water. A visit from the plumber confirmed that there was no repairing to be done; replacement was the only option.

Mercy. I feel like I need a cold drink and a hot bath.

But as busy as the days can be, I am heartened to remember that I am not alone. My heavenly father knows everything that is going on, and He loves me through them all. On days when it seems that my hours are consumed with thankless tasks, I know that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Perhaps you, too, could benefit from this little reminder, words inscribed on altar found in the Hebrides:

Even though the day be laden,
And my path dreary,
And my strength small,
A song keeps singing in my heart:
For I know that I am Thine;
I am part of Thee;
Thou art kin to me,
And all my times, all my times are in Thy hands.


I've found myself singing this over and over to myself; perhaps you'd like to join me.  Thank God for His nearness!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Grace at Home No. 206


Hello, friends, and welcome to the Grace at Home party! Can you believe that it's already the middle of June? I'm grateful that you're here to celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace and beauty.

Here are a few links from last week's party that caught my eye:

Ellis from My Heart Lives Here created a lovely summer mantelscape.  Look how simple this is, yet so pretty.


Pamela from Momma Can took us on a 4th of July tour of her home.  She's inspired me to deck my halls with some patriotic decor!


Patti at Old Things New offered excellent step-by-step instructions for painting an exterior door. A very handy guide to a task that can be a bit daunting.


Tehila at Women Abiding shared an encouraging but challenging post about her gift cupboard--and how she's noticed some changes in it lately. You'll be glad you read this inspiring piece.


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party.