Sweet Mercies, Everyday

God’s mercies don’t come in one color; no, they come in every shade of every color of the rainbow of his grace. God’s mercies are not the sound of one instrument; no, they sound the note of every instrument of his grace. God’s mercy is general; all of his children bask in his mercy. God’s mercy is specific; each child receives the mercy that is designed for his or her particular moment of need. God’s mercy is predictable; it is the fountain that never stops flowing. God’s mercy is unpredictable; it comes to us in surprising forms. God’s mercy is a radical theology, but it is more than a theology; it is life to all who believe. God’s mercy is ultimate comfort, but it is also a call to a brand-new way of living. God’s mercy really does change everything forever, for all upon whom this mercy is bestowed. —Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

This past week I turned 33. No Magic happened overnight to make me feel any different. I woke up weary as always. Everyday for the past 33 years, waking up to reality, each and every day…I am not discouraged though and I am incredibly joyful.

I have dreams that I can fly regularly. It’s been my reoccurring dream since I was a child. That and the weird dream animal changeling that chases me, but that’s a story for another day. In my dreams, my fear of heights vanishes and I become able to soar over city and field like a human hand-glider and a running start takes me off. Sometimes, when I just wake up I am still in the in between half dream-half reality and at those moments, my brain hasn’t told my heart yet that the night’s endeavors are not reality. It’s a sleepy, glowy feeling still where all things are yet possible.

There is cold reality of this world that we wake up to every day. It is easy to feel fatalistic, and want to give up completely . There is reality and the contrast, what feels like magic, what feels like dream, but is actually the truest reality and the greatest thing possible that has already happened and will happen.

That thing is the amazing mercy and grace extended to us through a true heavenly king living for us as a man and dying for us as a man and raising as a king, and by his tremendous sacrifice his Father makes us heirs with this king. This is no dream or fairy story where the pauper becomes the prince, this is real life. The truest reality. God’s mercy is extended to us, broken and poor in spirit and those that run to Jesus are made sons and daughters of God, heirs to a heavenly throne.

I really used to hate the analogy of a heavenly heirship because of ill-use by those that would cherry pick their bible verses toward a works-based religion but It is silly for me to diminish truth because some are bad truth-tellers. The truth is we deserve nothing but are given everything.

One thing that always stood out to me in the Beatitudes was “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“. What a merciful statement. The poor in spirit are as the Matthew Henry Commentary states:

 To be contentedly poor, willing to be emptied of worldly wealth, if God orders that to be our lot; to bring our mind to our condition, when it is a low condition. Many are poor in the world, but high in spirit, poor and proud, murmuring and complaining, and blaming their lot, but we must accommodate ourselves to our poverty.

I live in a very poor neighborhood in our city, right next one of the richest neighborhoods in our city. What does that mean? Well, to God none of those arbitrary neighborhood lines make a difference because we are all equally sinners in need of a savior. The rich and poor in reality are really just a vapor and the truly merciful bit is all these worldly distinctions of rich and poor matter nothing to a Merciful, Benevolent God. So, it’s the matrix of the Gospel, where the dream of the Kingdom is real and are “former lives” are no more. Of course, we must live these lives in a way, while we have them, as an emptying of self and an accepting receptacle of the pouring of his spirit. This is why the “poor in spirit” inherit the Kingdom, regardless their bank account balance.

I think a lot about poverty these days. Like I said of where we live, we chose to live here but it is also true that we couldn’t afford to live elsewhere so it is a mingling of desire and necessity for us. I am realizing at 33, life is a dichotomy on the surface. I live with the poor, most would call us poor, but I have daily interactions with many people I would consider wealthy or well-off or doing fine. Then the other end of the spectrum might see us as the ones, “doing fine”.  To be truly honest because I see a lot on both ends I can say that I most never meet a prideful poor person. Poverty has a way of kind of weathering that down. I am not saying that poor and needy people can’t be prideful or that wealthy people cannot be humble and poor in spirit, that would be stupid to say, but what I am saying is that the fear of being judged for asking for help is not there, the fear of sharing their difficult circumstance stories with strangers is not there. Most people that are poor know that their need is great and they can’t do it alone. But, I think I can liken that to what the Bible means by “poor in spirit”, we have need and the Father tells us to lay down our pride and come and He will give us a Kingdom, True mercy.

And again back to mercy… mercy in Hebrew is Checed pronounced kheh’·sed (that k is virtually silent, Hess-id). In the Hebrew Lexicon it means Benevolent, as mutual benefits, mercy to those with misfortune. Isn’t it a beautiful story that regardless our circumstances and state we are all equally in need of God’s benevolence, we are equal at the Cross, all in need of adoption into this heavenly family? This is mercy and it isn’t a dream, it is the realest thing.

In this neighborhood, a church from the suburbs, my church, is beginning to make this place their worldly home, merging with an existing body and praying for how we can serve this community as Crawford Avenue Baptist Church. I am obviously not from the suburbs but this suburban church was a very good church home for our family and we made the trek out to Berea Baptist Church in Evans, Georgia every week to be a part of this family because the word was taught and hearts were being changed. The geography was not important. Now, in God’s infinite mercy, He is bringing a whole family to this community in Harrisburg, Augusta, Georgia to make a whole, new family and to love the people here. I know God is being merciful to us by providing new facilities for our church when we needed them. I know God is being merciful to both churches by bringing us together as a family. I know God is being merciful to me because I have prayed (and I am sure others have) for a Gospel-Drenched church to love Harrisburg well and to contrast the poor and often damaging theologies taught by the well-meaning here, I know God is being merciful to the residents and transients of Harrisburg because, well, as churches go, they can’t do better than one that truly does aspire with the help of the Spirit to righteousness. To be completely sappy now, excuse me ;), there is a Berea Love Bomb about to happen in Harrisburg but more than that, much more, is that God’s mercy means that the love bombing has been happening from the beginning and it wasn’t us doing it, it was God. The plans He orchestrated and the hands He moved, He already knew He would do it, I am so thankful for his immense mercy.

So, as we start to see how all things are merciful things as they work together, even the hard and hurting things, the wandering times, the home-less times, everything is colored by his mercy. We know that the Father loves us well and we can rejoice in sweet new mercies everyday and call out to the one that makes us his own, and this is all, dream coming true.

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

image2 (1)Read more about Berea Baptist Church’s Merger with Crawford Avenue in the community of Harrisburg in Augusta, Ga: HERE.

Revisiting Plans & Priorities

 

I have to remind myself of goals and priorities constantly so I don’t forget. In January, I set out to make a list of plans & priorities for the year. Now that it is spring and no longer winter, I thought I should revisit and see how things are going for me so far. This is not a checklist of things I have to mark to validate me as a person but a guide for the type of life I want to create this year.

My categories where Faith, Family, Home, Homeschool, Mother Culture, Art, Writing/Blogging and I just wanted to check in on these things for growth and accountability. Blog friends or Real Life friends I encourage you to ask me how these things are going, I am encouraged when others take interest and likewise take interest in the progress your friends that set priorities this year.

So I’ll go down the list (with excerpts from the Plans and Priorities Post):

Faith

“This is a primary priority because without Faith I am hopeless. 2013 was a year that God helped me begin to unravel from depression and hopelessness and show me to delight in my circumstances, so 2014 will be even more so a testament to what He is doing. I will continue to study and trust more. I want to be more thankful as well this year.”

I have been trying to study more and trust more and grow in contentment and joy. I can say it isn’t an easy battle when a history of depression rears it’s head and you forget truth, but it isn’t my fight really, I am trying to remember to give it up. I just pray I continue to do so. I have been reading a few things for personal study, I read “Keep a Quiet Heart” by Elisabeth Eliott which is helping me to examine my heart. I also stick with my old steady “Morning & Evening” by Charles Spurgeon. I learn so much from this beautiful and encouraging devotion and Spurgeon has a way of putting things to my brain that are equal parts inspiringly truthful, achingly beautiful, and simply revelatory.

We are also very happy to be in a church home for the past year after a very long church search that lasted almost a year prior to that. It is a sweet community of believers and biblical learning that we are happy to take part in.  I am very thankful for the teaching that is really good and encourages me in Faith, this is a recent sermon that blew my mind: Behold I see the Heavens Opened. I encourage you if you live in Augusta, Ga and do not have a church home to join us this Week for our Easter Series.

Family

“Instead of busy-ness, instead of this activity or that event, instead of every kind of distraction I want my family to be a priority and for us to find peacefulness in our home and with each other. This means we will continue in traditions like Sunday Radio Day, no media except music or talk radio. Also, we will make more intentional time together and less sitting around the tv.”

On the busy-ness front this is an ongoing battle that I am hitting with full force daily. It is so easy for our Yeses to become full schedules and stress inducing weeks. I’m not for that. I am not saying this is hermit time for us, -even though sometimes I think I’d like that- I mean that is time to be intentional with our time. Say maybe in your mind, evaluate and answer back with a definite “yes” or “no” when it comes to events that draw you from the home. We have succeeded in doing Sunday Radio Day and trying to reduce the media intake on school days, so I think we are getting somewhere. I can tell the difference between the character of my six year old that plays outside all day versus a little six year old that watches tv all day. We are definitely not an anti-tv house, just trying to reign it in.

We are also being more intentional with family devotions and going through this book together at night time storytime. I wrote a review this month and highly recommend it.

Home

“This is related to the care and cultivating of the home. I want my home to be simple, beautiful and help my family to thrive, so I am making an effort to make it so through the simplest of measures.”

Soooo…. this has been a big struggle for me, for like, always. I am learning to enjoy the day to day maintenance that comes with making a happy home, knowing that real life looks most days like this and it’s ok as long as I am helping my family to thrive and be happy…also coffee….coffee is my new friend.

Homeschool

“The past ten months we’ve had a new baby in the house and now that that new baby is somewhat an old baby we have gotten into better rhythms at home, especially in regards to school for Emma. As long as she’s learning truth, beauty, and goodness through her schooling we are doing something right.”

We are back on track with school and even though we are a bit behind on the schedule we are trucking through and happily making education a priority again. Emma ( our almost seven year old) is enjoying school time and I am loving this time together, sometimes school is interrupted by Alice’s (our 1 year old) needs  and that’s ok we resign to Mom’s bed to put Alice asleep while I read aloud from “Little House in the Big Woods”.

Mother Culture

“Mother Culture (Self Care and Interests ex. staying healthy-eating healthy, gym time and reading for pleasure and knowledge)- It is helping me to think of getting healthy as a thing I am doing to help myself and my children in the context of being a Mother opposed to some arbitrary goal I set for myself. My goal for this is more health, more wisdom.”

I’ve had a slow start and have started back working out and eating healthier. Thankful that one of my gifts recently was a Fitbit so I can track steps and progress. I am continuing to read and am always adding to my “to-read” list.

Art

“I never completed art school and I am down on myself a lot about it, in 2013 both Kenny started actively pursuing Art making more in our lives and this year I want that to ripen even more. Whether it’s photography or printmaking, I want to see more art making this year. I’ve started making plans based on this and am just praying for the occasional quiet times to work on these.”

I’m getting there, it’s hard to be motivated to make art after a long day of kid wrangling but I just need to be intentional with the time I do have.

Writing/Blogging

“I want to be more consistent with my writing and blogging without being overly ambitious. One plan that I am thinking of is setting a manageable schedule for me to work on this. Something easy-like twice a week, just to write out some of the things I have rolling around in my head.”

I haven’t done much writing lately but have been trying to post frequently and this is something I want to make a priority. It helps to sometimes get mangled thoughts on to “paper”.

I guess to some all of these things up the key word is Intentionality and just being mindful of the details.

So how are you doing with your plans & priorities this year?  Do you need encouragement for plans ahead? I hope to revisit this often and please share what you have going on in your lives.

Homeowner bliss

Some Instagrams Kenny and I took of our new place and park down the street, better pics to come when all is unpacked. 

We bought a house!!! We are grown ups now, with a mortgage and everything. We are incredibly happy with our new home, even though life is in total chaos right now. I will all be o.k., I need to take lots of big cleansing breaths and think positive. Yay, but we have a house and I am so excited. We can decorate and diy as we please! I’ll just ignore the fact that the house is full of boxes to unpack and I am so tired. It’s a blessing to have this problem.

We also have a small yard that is a major bonus since it’s been some years since we had one. Hopefully it will produce a wonderful garden next Spring. We will be building some raised beds and it will be just lovely.

I want chickens! Perhaps just a few at first but we are definitely looking forward to being more self sustaining. We are looking at plans and think we have found something we really like.

Just thankful for this new season and everything that comes with it.