Passport of Peace

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I didn’t tell you the whole story. I wanted to understand what all of it meant first, and though I am still unsure, I think it is time to share more of the story — at least in part.

Maybe it is pride, but I hate that even for a moment it has to be about me. My life’s been poured out, a drink offering…and I am spilled out faster than I have refilled…and the cup has been found bone dry. Ann the Counter says, It’s a startling thing to witness: a breaking heart can break down a whole body.

My arms have reached toward Heaven and Father and my cry has been that of a toddler, “Up! Up!” Arms that have reached toward others and the same others over and over and over….now reach to Daddy God that I might be (en)raptured.

The other day I dreamed a dream. You may have read about it, I wrote about it here. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but occasionally I have a different kind; different than the kind that makes sense while you are sleeping, but not so much when you’re awake. You see I had a dream of fleeing to Canada, to a heart that understands pain. A heart that I only know by her words illuminated on screens of many sizes, and a little yellow book begging me to count. I know her by heart, you could say. But in my dream I couldn’t get across the Canadian border because I had no passport. And she was disappointed because she had wanted to soothe my heart with ordinary beautiful things. And then I woke up. It was then that the miracle occurred. You see, when I scribbled my heart in bleeding words that day, I hadn’t read her words on her graffiti wall. This is when I knew it was no ordinary dream, for her words that day were all about forgotten passports and grace to enter in anyway.

I felt like the double rainbow guy with , “What does it mean?”

I determined that my passport of grace was the invitation to count again. I was rusty. Out of practice. No longer could I see on my own. Hands trembling, I put on Ann’s rose colored glasses, her calendar of prompts. A pinprick of light shone bright in the dark of my storm. And now she writes these words straight to my stormy heart,

“Sometimes God will calm the storm for you, but sometimes God will calm you for the storm. Sometimes God calms the storms — and sometimes the storm stills swirl and He calms our fears.”

And then today these words, “…and in You, Lord, there is always the relief of a quiet retreat — the relief that Peace is a Person, not a place: “You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.”‘ Ps. 119:14 MSG

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I need not rock in Ann’s chair on her front porch, for we share the same place of retreat; His Words. Because Peace is a Person, not a place. He is my retreat, my Destination, and all I need is a passport of grace.

Still counting…

Three things full
32. My day was very full!
33. My stomach
34. My fundraiser is getting full of participants!

35. Thankful that He has made even my enemies be at peace with me.

Three things smelled
36. Fragrance after the rain
37. Peonies laden with dew
38. Stuffed peppers given as widow’s mite

39. Left overs from senior’s group
40. Wet screens

A gift unexpected, unwanted, unlikely
41. Lunch brought by client

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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And with my dearest Emily…

Losing My Grip on Grace

I am done with striving.
Striving to keep a certain kind of house.
Striving to be a certain kind of homeschooling mom.
Striving to be the perfect wife.
Striving to play the part of Executive Director.
Striving to write a novel.
Striving to write a blog.
Striving to be a better friend real and virtual.
Striving to eat better and buy healthier food with a tiny budget.
Striving to look good even though I don’t even have money for a hair cut.
Striving, striving, striving….

I. give. up.
His grace will have to cover my striving.
I am at the end of me and what I can do in every area.
Now it’s time to see what He wants to do.
I am tired.
willing to let go.
It feels like I just don’t care anymore.

But that’s not it.
I have just realized that in all my striving
I have lost my grip on grace.
And I can’t do it anymore.
Not without Him.

What if the only thing I strove for was Him?
Might I find that I am a better wife?
A better housekeeper?
A better writer?
A better friend?

Lord, you are all I need…for in You is found everything.
Your grace does not wear thin. There is enough to cover all.
It is sufficient.

Necessary Enoughness

It’s afternoon and cool air still rumples the pages of a notebook, and takes a spin with hanging fern baskets. The wind chimes tinkle, birds chirp, lawn mowers hum and a breeze kisses my forehead as I listen to an airplane scrape across the sky.

I am amazed at how much more I enjoy these moments now that there are fewer of them. Not long ago, I was home all day and failed to capture the beauty of my own front porch. Now that I am working outside the home it seems that my quiet at-home moments are condensed like frozen orange juice before water is added. Strong and full of flavor.

And then a thought comes to me, it is difficult to fully enjoy what you have more than enough of.

Even in the world’s financial markets, the surplus of an item reduces its value.

How can I keep value and still have my “barns be filled with plenty”?

And what do I do about God? After all, He is the God of more than enough. How do I keep from devaluing Him? Taking Him for granted the same way I overlooked summer sweetness in my own home?

Perhaps I value my full barns when I share their contents with others…my more than enough food, more than enough clothes, more than enough grace.

The “Amazing Grace” wind chimes are at it again, swaying and swinging while all the while singing. And I remember Ann’s words, “All is grace.” My more than enough is grace, and His grace is more than sufficient enough. The thought occurs to me that the answer is once again, “blowin’ in the wind“, and I am touched by His enough-ness, filled to overflowing and determined to value every moment of it.

Grace Like A Snowflake… Day 11 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Snowflake 1

full of grace. Hail Mary full of grace.

i feel grace-depleted. what little i had left
has melted on my nose tip like a lone snowflake
this warm winter season.

my husband needs grace. i have none.
my children need grace. i’m empty.
no. more. grace.

an angel came to Mary.
with a proposition and a plan.
she said yes.

God’s Word comes to me
with a proposition and a plan.
i say no.

Mary said yes.
she was full of grace.

i say no
i am replete of it.

awake. repent.
say yes.

graceful.

1. The Journey Advent photo comes to us from Dana at DRGT/Just Wondering. Her beautiful calendar comes from Ann Voskamp’s 15 year old son, who made these beauties so that he’d have money to donate to Compassion.

2. The Jesse Tree Advent photo comes to us from Blue Cotton Memory. She writes of raising Boys to Men.

3. The Traditional Advent photo comes from Christina at To Show Them Jesus. She writes about her experiences as a home schooling mom.

4. The German Advent calendar photo comes from me. 🙂

Thanks everyone for your participation!

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:

Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!

Linking with my dear Emily:

and with the amazing poets at dverse

Painting Grace Graffiti or How I Almost Quit Blogging

A Little Piece of 80s
Photo by Twig_Is_The_Future

“Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;
take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighborhood bullies
straight to you.” Psalm 17 (The Message)

Recently, I questioned my place here in the Blogosphere. This test, is seems, is common to bloggers who remain. It is our Wilderness of sorts. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted of the Devil. His temptations were, at the core, focused on keeping Him from doing what He was called to do.

And so it is the same with us. Our enemies, whether real, or in our own mind, are sent to keep us from doing what we were meant to do…and part of this test must be done alone. But I’m not writing about that part today. I’m writing about the part when strong hands pick me up when I am weak. I’m writing about community.

You see, as I went through my blogging valley, I received encouragement from the unexpected. I expected encouragement from my readers,…and I did get some. But the encouragement that blew my mind was from my blogging mentors. This wouldn’t be so surprising had they known that I considered them my mentors. However, I had admired them from afar, both in proximity and in anonymity. Sure, I left glowing comments on their blogs, but I never asked them for advice or let them know that I was watching their every move in order to copy their behavior in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I’d experience some of their success.

Within moments of posting my blogging woes, I received this comment from Jen:
I saw this on FB and came by to read and was I so surprised to see my name here. And then, my heart broke a little when I read the next few lines. And I know that you know, but I’m just confirming that the world would be a little less caring, a little less bright, and a whole lot less beautiful without YOUR words in it. You are a true original and I am so glad I know you.

This was so humbling and healing. Jen is possibly the kindest blogger I know. She was the first to invite me to join her blogging community, teaching me how to linkup with her weekly community Soli Deo Gloria. (Yes, I was that green at the moment.)

Then there was the Twitter mission started by Renee at Lessons from Twits and Teachers…she and the iconic Ironic Mom Leanne Shirtliffe decided that they were going to beat up the voice in my head that was telling me to quit.

A few days later, I read this Scripture in Psalm 17 from the Message Bible,

“Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;
take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighborhood bullies
straight to you.”

It was then that I realized that this is just what my friends and mentors had done. They had painted grace-graffiti on my fences, telling my bullies to “KEEP OUT!”

Epiphany! What if I am ever ready to build a fence around those who need protection, even if it’s from themselves? And what if I, with pen or keyboard in hand, determine to ward off those bullies with grace-graffiti? What better place to write grace-graffiti than a real-life virtual wall on Facebook, or as a Tweet? Can I challenge you as well? Find someone who is needing a grace word, and paint some grace-graffiti on their fence. It might be just what they need to continue on!

Jen and Michelle thank you for your kind and encouraging words….and Renee and Leanne? Wow! You really went the extra mile. Keep painting that graffiti! Come to think of it, after Jesus finished with his temptation, two angels were sent to Him in order to minister to His needs…that’s who the two of you were, my angels. Thank you.

What grace-graffiti has been written on your fence lately?

Giving Thanks today with Ann:
and with Laura: and with Michelle:

56. for a husband who shampoos my carpets.
57. for the pattern the stark dormant trees make on the powder blue sky
58. for sunny skies despite cloudy news.
59. for the smell of banana bread in the house even if it’s not for me.
60. that I have enough groceries in the house that I can put off shopping. one. more. day.

and a brand new community at: GettingDownWithJesus

Grace That Runs Deep

Grace is a simply complex concept.
Some spend it indulgently on things they desire
…but that the Father does not.
And grace runs deep,
even when we are shallow.
There are others, depending on grace,
leaning on grace,
living on the manna of “what is it?”,
daring to because even our goodness is failure,
and that grace runs deeper still.

Deep in our veins
Deep in our vitals
Deep in our hearts,
and dear God I hope
more and more often
Deep in our mouths.

Grace wasn’t cheap for Him.
It cost Him everything.
Yet there are those who cheapen it,
spending it on willful, on-purpose, sin.
They say, “I am free to do this, God’s grace has covered it.”
And it has.
But that grace is cheapened,
the way a pure virgin gives what is once-in-a-lifetime precious
in a cheap hotel
on prom night.
The time and condition seems “right”,
but emptiness follows.
For the life of one who cheapens grace refuses to be changed by it.
And this was never God’s intention.
The changing agent,
this pearl of great price,
Grace
was expected to be worn by His Bride
like a ring of promise
remembering that
we are His.  we belong together.
And love like that drives us to please.
To Please our kind lover.

And a river runs through it,
runs through a life changed by grace.
Cutting through rocks and valleys,
creating canyons and fertile crescents.
A place of beauty, changed by the power
of rushing waters.
The rushing waters called grace.

Linking with beautiful Emily at:

And Ann at:

And Lovely Laura at:

And Beautiful Shanda: