weekly grace and links

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This week has carried a lot of tiredness around with it. I have been thinking about grace and miracles lately — how much I see both of those in my own heart turning to the Lord every morning, in every moment, with every heartbeat. Sometimes the greatest miracles are seen in the most commonplace things and people, and this is what I think I completely miss so often miss. Yet there is grace for every moment: a new beginning every day, a heart that still beats through the ache and the hurt, a sun that rises every morning with me. These are the small things in the midst of the mundane — but these are the things and the moments that matter.

These songs have been playing around here this week: The Sower’s Song by Andrew Peterson and  Song of My Father by Urban Rescue. Andrew Peterson’s music is absolutely beautiful. The lyrics always touch my soul with honesty that often speaks right into the place I am in.

Here are some good reads to edify your soul:

Your Weakness Is Not MeaninglessGod’s beautiful design of love can be seen in our limitations. Our greatest experience of God’s love is in the place where we need His grace the most to meet us in our weaknesses.

It’s Okay to be Damaged – All the Best People AreThis post by Scott Sauls is absolutely beautiful and so important. “In the end, the more conservative we are in our beliefs about the Bible – the more we truly believe every single word of it – the more liberal our loving will be. Because the narrow path of Jesus? It always leads to a broad embrace”

You Can Forgive Your ParentsThis post by Marshall Segal spoke right into my soul and into my life — and maybe you are in a similar situation. “Christian, your parents did not get in the way of God’s plans for you. They were God’s plan for you. Can you look back at your life, with Joseph, and say that? Ultimately, my parents did not send me here; God sent me here. Whatever my parents meant for me, God meant it for good. He did, he is, and he will — in every hardship and in every relationship.”

For the Dark Days. Mary Anne Morgan’s photography is absolutely wonderful; but her words surely touch my soul. Her pondering on the light that God provides, brought light to my day, too.

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weekly grace and links

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This week has been a week of chasing the small glimpses of hope. I have been carrying these words from C.S. Lewis close to my heart:  “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Some days, the hope that I am grasping to hold seems quite far away. Some days, my faith feels smaller than a grain of sand. But there is the promise to stand upon, that there are only better things ahead because our God is a good, good Father and He only gives the best to us.

Here are links to great reads I stumbled across this week:

Choose to Sing into the Darkness. Reading through the Psalms, we hear of the author’s pain and suffering and yet — there is always this one thing: praising God. No matter what we walk through, we can always find a thread of hope in the darkness and we can sing praises to our Lord and Maker.

Learning to Pray in a World of Distractions. In all honesty, prayer has always been a difficult discipline for me. Yet, these words stopped me: a prayerless soul is a dead soul. Yet prayer is how our hearts align with God’s, and it is this communication that is essential to our soul health. So take a moment to read these words, my friend, and let them inspire you to bring you closer to your Maker in prayer.

Hope. Mary Anne Morgan’s photography always stops me, and these words on hope are too good to miss.

Don’t Resent God’s Training Ground“So, serve wholeheartedly today. Make the most of every opportunity. Run the race marked out for you with patient faith and persevering hope, setting your heart on the promise that he is working all things — all suffering, all waiting, all confusion, all reroutes, all journeys in the wilderness — for the good of us who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).”

Why you need a reading plan & good books. “When your battle is hardest, God always sends you arms — arms to hold you, arms to hold up your hope, to hold up your hurt and let it transform into more heart. To whisper you are Beloved and you are Brave and on the days when you feel unBrave, you are not undone, but undoubtedly are carried forward by the determination of grace.”

glimpses of grace, vol. 9

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It is almost the beginning of the Advent season, which is somehow unbelievable because this fall has seemed to fly by in some ways and stretch beyond what I thought I could take in other ways. But this time is the perfect time to stop and willfully make ourselves see the glimpses of grace in the here and now, that are around us all the time. Here are some great reads, to touch hearts and souls, to transform us for the better.

Lori Ferguson Wilbert wrote about walking in shame and this is the best post I have read in a while. Every part of my soul relates to walking in shame, no matter what season I am in right now.

Life is hard, but God is good. The simple truth is, life is hard. But our God is good and there is always hope. Jason Helveston writes here about four reasons why life is hard because, as he says, we usually want to find deeper meaning in our hardships. Here are also specific ways to respond to our difficulties, and there is wisdom in these words for all of us.

Here, Christel Humfrey writes a beautiful post on our current pain that reminds us of future gloryWe were made for eternity, and God’s blessings in the here and now remind us of that beautiful future. Yet it is so easy to forget this, which is why our current pain reminds us of our future glory.

So often, we turn away from others and from God — because of fear, shame, or most likely — pride. We do not want others to see the ugly side of our hearts, of our lives, so we limp forward, pretending that we are fine. Francine Rivers writes beautifully on what happens when we allow things to entangle us.

Here is an absolutely beautiful post from Ann Voskamp, on how to live when the breaking waves of life, stress, fears, or sorrows come. “When tough things keep coming at you — you think you have to get tougher. I say it quietly, not sure she hears me over the waves? “Hearts that get tougher — leave you with nothing of value to give.” Love is what we have to give —- and love comes from places that are vulnerable and soft and tender enough to feel — to break. Only those who are really vulnerable enough to be broken —  get to be the ones who really love. Only those who are really vulnerable enough to be broken —  get to be the ones who really love. It can be that when you feel broken — it’s proof that you’ve given.”

Gavin Ortlund writes about 3 ways to respond when slandered. Slander, like gossip, is something that I think we are bound to face when we are in ministry and going about the ways of the Lord. So here are some wise, grace-full tips on responding to slander in a way that it honors God.

glimpses of grace, vol. 8

Somewhere in the midst of these summer days, sunshine warm on skin and wind blowing through messy hair — it has turned into July. Yet it is written into the soul of these days, the empty ache of dreams frozen or shattered, the piercing grief of loved ones lost, the overwhelming hurt of a heart broken. It is there, in the quiet whispers of the ache of the mundane and never-changing circumstances, in the shaking ground of the changes that life brings and the overwhelming feeling of not being strong enough for any of this.

But it is here — the comfort spoken to us broken and fallen people; grace woven into the fragile parts of our heart. He is here, God with us — and we know, we can never break apart because we are always a part of Him. No matter the darkness we face, the morning breaks in light and we know, we are going to be alright.

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Here, to fill in the gap before I pen down the words growing in my heart — these glimpses of grace, always finding me in the unexpected moments. These days, I am listening to Lamb of God and On and On by Tenth Avenue North. They are both highly recommended for some soul rest.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Three Things to Remember When Life Is Hard. “When the noise in my head is disorienting, my flesh is wanting to escape and numb the pain, the trials in front of me are suffocating, and the future looks too daunting, I must remember.” Remembering is such a crucial part of our walk of faith — to remember God’s past faithfulness, to remember God’s love and purpose in our suffering, and to remember God’s promises of a future hope.

Speak into Suffering. “While it’s not ours to invent or assume others’ aches, it is ours to listen well, to acknowledge back to the sufferer what we hear, and trust that for every need of the heart, God has spoken abundantly and sufficiently in His Word. You can learn skillful application of His Word to human aches and be empowered to give others more than yourself—you can speak His Word.”

Marriage Isn’t Hard. “We hear over and over again that, “Marriage is hard. It reveals the depth of your sin. You’ll see how selfish you really are.” And it’s true, marriage is paramount in our sanctification – it allows us to become more like Christ, and it is sweet. But I can’t imagine “hard” being the picture that God intends to paint as the perfect love between Christ and the Church. Yes, we are faced with difficulties, sins and brokenness but those things exist whether you are married or not.” This article is one of the best I have read on marriage, as I love the perspective.

There’s something about small yeses. “Sometimes we’re asked to help and it’s a giant, heroic thing. But other times, the help needed is pretty small. The ask isn’t so big and when I say yes to that, when I’m willing to step just a little out of my way, great things can happen.”

Bikinis and Modesty by John Piper. I feel like the more time passes, the more of an issue modesty is becoming — in the world, but especially in church. John Piper has some good words regarding bikinis and modesty.

glimpses of grace, vol. 7

In Düsseldorf.

Last week I spent at Germany, at an intensive Summer School for Speech & Language Pathology students. The Summer School was held in Aachen but we got to explore the beautiful cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf as well (the picture above is a church in Düsseldorf). 

This week my semester at the University has started, and now I am desperately trying to figure out how to be a student full-time, work part-time, and starting to write a Bachelor’s Thesis that needs to be done in four months. To be honest, I have no idea how I will manage all this — other than to say there is no free time, very little sleep, and most likely quite many tears shed out of exhaustion the next few months. Yet, God is good and He will provide, be it strength or ideas or motivation or rest. He will provide.

All this is to say, I am sorry this space will continue to be quiet for a little while longer. But I have collected some articles for you to read. Be blessed, my friend.

Maybe it is just me but these days, it feels like people have stopped listening to each other — myself included — and I find myself craving for those situations when people just listen. The Lost Art of Listening. “But nothing will disarm a friend more than the grace you grant them when you listen with palms up and walls down — inviting their hurt or their joy, their exhaustion or their delight, their fear or their fun, into your own self so you can understand it from the inside out. Nothing is more powerful than giving someone the gift of truly hearing them without tagging on your own conditions, explanations, or justifications.”

Be a Human Infusion of Hope. Our fallen world is full of discouragement, with words of criticism and contempt and jealousy abounding in our vocabulary. Often, our pride chips in and we are too ready to speak words of criticism. Which is why we should see that when we choose to encourage others, we will be met with spiritual warfare as encouragement gives hope. So let us cultivate a culture of encouragement, and fight the spiritual battle that comes with it.

5 Attitudes of the Well Watered Woman. “Christ has purchased for us every provision we need. The well watered woman clings to this amazing truth, day in and day out, whatever need arises. Moment by moment our needs change… but God’s provision does not. When we learn how to live by faith in God’s grace, we’ll live well watered. Guaranteed.”

6 Costs of Real Friendships. In this world of Facebook “friends”, it is easy to forget the friendship that Bible describes to us. Genuine friendship takes a lot of work — and here are 6 costs of real friendships. But honestly? All these “inconveniences” are so very worth it when we find that true, real, biblical friendship with someone.

On the importance of having an eye for those who are new. It is that time of the year when people move to new cities and new places, and visit churches in order to find a home church for themselves. For a longer time now, I have seen the need for people to step up and welcome newcomers. Yes, it can be difficult. Yes, it can be awkward. But it is so important for us to make these people feel welcome at our church, and to offer them a safe place. At the same time, here is a guide for what to do when you’re new to a church.