Saturday, June 28, 2014

Breath Moments



There are moments every day that I wish I could capture forever in my head and heart.

Never forget.

Taking pictures and writing are part of how I remember.

Video recordings were crucial when the kids were little because the sleepless nights, endless feedings, and diapers sucked all my memories into a vortex.

There are still countless moments I miss-- a mama lost in daydreaming or huffing to catch my breath.

But, for the occasions I am present, I am struck breathless with delight in the good interactions between my children.

I observed my two boys this week as they rested on a lavish couch in an orthodontist's office.  

Wall to ceiling windows provided us a view of the city.  Angry clouds pregnant against the skyline, raindrops finally splattering the glass, trickling like tears and blurring our view.

We reclined in a room stuffed with antiques-- ornate carved wood and sculpted bronze.

I made the observation out loud that it appeared we were in the Professor's study from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

One boy playfully speculated that an enormous chifrobe against the wall was not what it seemed...it really must be the doorway to a frozen world.

After a while, the girls nestled near me playing games on my phone to pass the time.

Watching my boys laid back laughing and talking to each other, unaware of anyone else in the room, brought joy to my heart...a prayer that this would be their future relationship.
  
When they fly from our nest.

This all was a taste of heaven (and later a taste of not-so- heaven as we waited for 2 hours in the waiting room, but that's another story involving my deep desire to stab myself with dental equipment).

These breath moments are sweet to my soul.

This morning Little Bitty was perched in my lap, her teeny nose turned up, tiny hands tenderly resting on my cheek as she sniffed.

She gazed down and back up again for a long inhale.

Breathing in my scent.

Her dark eyelashes fluttered as she peered back up, nose enveloping my smell.

The lashes naturally curled, framing dark eyes.  

Perfect.  An angel face.

Frizzy hair from a night's sleep-- in need of taming.

Forty years and I've never groomed a little girl's hair like hers.

Ringlets past her waist.

God's mercy to make us so different, yet so much alike-- both a desire to be seen and known.

All of us imprinted with that longing by our Maker.

As she inhaled again I asked,

What are you doing?  are you sniffing me? 

Yes, mommy, you smell good. 

A breath of heaven moment.

She noticed a picture on my computer screen as I was placing an order for homeschool curriculum.

An advertisement with a random mom and kid whizzed by as I scrolled to make the payment. 

And she asked the question.

Is that my new mom?

My breath caught in my throat.

I kissed her forehead, breathing in her scent.

No honey, I'm your mom in your family now.

She held up three brown fingers and my stomach tightened, knots twisting and turning tight, anticipating the words that were coming.

My breath shallow as the words slipped out of her lips,

I have 3 mommies.  

Our heaven-moment ruptured, shattered around me.

She hopped down.  On to something else.

Bare feet slapped the honey-stained oak floors as she galloped to her room to play beach with her sister.  

Her hair bouncing in a high pile on top of her head.

Her sing-song voice rambling as she twirled her fur-trimmed princess purse.  

The Tinkerbell nightgown swaying above her chubby mocha legs.  The sleeves an airy tulle.

And I was left alone trying to pick up the pieces that I can't put back together.

Breathing is sometimes hard.

In the moments when I'm surprised by His goodness.  

And in the moments I'm knocked off guard.

Because I can't scramble to repair broken hearts.  Fragments of my own heart surrounding me like splintered wood.

I pray for the only Restorer to heal and repair brokenness.

Give strength for the unknowns in all our lives.

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.  (Isa 58:11-12)



Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Quiet Place - (Guest Post)

 
http://www.thequietplaceblog.org/2014/06/a-prisoner.htmlI'm honored to be featured on my friend Hillary's blog today.  Please check it out and feel free to comment on her blog.  You can get there by clicking on the link above.  Or clicking here.





Monday, June 23, 2014

The Gift of a Challenging Child

 
all photos credit alanmathews photography


First of all, let me be clear that I never expect my children to bear my grief or counsel me.

Yet, God has given my nine-year old son an amazing gift.

I don't say this with pride, but with awe and tears.  Because it has been birthed through great hardship.

For this child has some ongoing challenges that are much more complex than the other children.

He is the toughest one to parent.  He's the one who often runs away in anger.  Like down the streets of Washington, DC.  That kind of running.  Crossing roads of a big city alone.

However, his personal struggles have cultivated an amazing ability to be in tune with the feelings of others.

In our family, he is Little Bitty's greatest advocate.  He knows minimal about her personal story, but he loves her deeply and grieves intensely over her future.

Foster care, and his own personal difficulties result in this child grieving and praying in a very authentic way.

His hard places have planted seeds which have sprouted into lovely green meadows of compassion.

His dark caverns have produced lanterns that glow with the dazzling light of truth.

God has used his gripping fears to paint a palette of bold hues of courage, brushing faith and truth across the canvas of our home.

This child calls me to more.  He believes in me.  He fights for me in way that is an in your face strength...he fully believes that I am better than my sin.   He is like his daddy.

This child calls me to repentance.

These are not things I expect from my children.  Ever.

This is not how I envisioned shepherding hearts.
My heart the one being tended.

I have gazed in wonder, as the Father has carved the steep, shaky, trails of this child's difficulties into flat, firm, pathways.

I can't explain it.

I am just an observer.

For this is God's hand, not mine, who is shaping this child.

Today, during a morning of extreme defeat- the liquid of my incessant sin pouring into a blender with four rotten hearts- violently pulsed into a milkshake of bitter.

Here, in the messy, shaken rot, this precious boy came near with open hands.

He sat down in my lap, his hand outstretched for mine, urging me not to bury my anger in the wreckage.  

To talk about it. 

Because this child has lived deep anger, deep anxiety. 

At nine-years old, he is an old soul.

He laid his head on my chest.  He grieved for me, his tears streaming.

I said, buddy I know you understand some of my sin struggles right now.  You understand the tightness in my chest.  You've walked down this path.  You know this is not who I really am.

He nodded his head and wept, as he held my hand.

We talked about how God uses it all.

The struggles turn into beauty, ministry.  Over time.

We talked about how it is a process, learning to grieve and trust.

Like building a tall Lego tower (that's all I could think of!).

The tower takes effort and investment of time.

Trust and faith in the process.  Courage and perseverance.

Yet, when completed, there is a strong and beautiful tower.

That's my lame analogy for a nine-year old.  Trying to put it
in simple terms for a boy-- God's process of creating beauty.

It takes time.  It takes faith and perseverance.  But there is beauty in His time.

My precious boy understands deeply.

He didn't let it go after the Lego tower talk.

He pursued me further to show me breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.

For my spouting anger.  For my broken heart.

And I sat in awe as he ran off to play with his brother.

How the Father reaches down to love me, at my worst, through the tenderness of a child.

He uses the fire to mold and transform.

Creating beauty.

Propelling us to more.

Even within the walls of our broken home.

These children, all of them, teach me more than I could ever train them.

Truly a gift.


But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'  Luke 18:16





Thursday, June 19, 2014

Not My Dream


 
Is this really my life?

I fought hard against this calling.  This is not what I really wanted.  I wanted a simple life.

Holding a child in my arms who is thrashing against all my efforts to love is not what I dreamed for motherhood.  Our life is continually disrupted by birth family visits, social workers, and court dates.

I signed up for this?

It's often this way:  a child slipping into an infantile state and wailing for anyone else to come hold her besides me.  Anyone but me.  Muffled sobs against my shoulder that she wants her brothers who live with another foster family on the other side of town.

And I rock and struggle to draw her flailing form into my arms.  She shrieks foreign guttural sounds.

After returning from a visit with birth family, this what happens.  But, this time is not so bad.  Last time it was projectile vomiting.

And I rock and whisper...

I know you are confused.  I know you are angry.  Mommy loves you.  Will you be my baby and let me rock you?

Over and over we do this.  My chest heaving with hers, our tears mixing a salty stream between us.

She battles hard.  Her exhaustion eventually wins, as she relents and her body becomes still.  I sway back and forth to the music of our beating hearts.

I hear it all the time:  I could never be a foster parent.  I just couldn't let them go.

But what if God may be calling you to foster care?

Seriously.

You want to know a secret?  I said the exact.same.thing.

Do you think we do this because our hearts are stone hard and we have a special gift in letting go?  Or that we're not fearful?

We, too, have wrestled with every fear and reason why we shouldn't do this.  For years.

Even when we signed up for ten weeks of intensive training, we still questioned:  Is this what we're supposed to be doing?

We walked the tough road of watching my daughter's best friend in Kindergarten and her foster family.  After three years, she went home to her mama, which is nearly an hour away.  The girls rarely get to see each other anymore.

He pricked our hearts a long time ago.  When we became believers, we felt led to minister to abused and neglected children; however, life seemed to get in the way as we had three biological children within three years.  Life circumstances sealed the door closed as well.  Yet, in His absolute perfect timing, He swung the door off the hinges-- a path forged by the friendship in my five-year old daughter's life, along with our broken past.

We decided we would start slowly by trying respite care--ministering to foster families when they needed a break.  The call for our first respite placement came before we were licensed-- the call to take a seven-year-old boy for a week-- a short time span, but it rocked my world emotionally.

He was the same age as our middle son.  He endlessly spoke of his losses, his words permeating every quiet space.  My ears burned with stories of his past-- his mama's choices, his grief.  My kids were carefree, laughing and talking about superheroes while this dear boy attempted to connect by sharing his stories of drugs, police, and guns.

My two biological boys fought like tigers all that week with the extra testosterone in the mix pressing against their comforts-- their stuff (specifically Legos).

My chest was a cavity of shards every night I knelt down with him.  He was a bundle of blankets and tears asking Why.  Every.single.night.  My heart was filled with anguish and prayers for his mama.

I thought I would die.  I didn't know how to handle this.

Was this really where He was calling us?

His mama's addiction was the same that caught my husband and our family in a net and almost destroyed our lives four years beforehand.

There was no mistake this sweet boy was our first placement, a ripping away of our comforts and a reminder of our rescue- what our lives could have been.

Yet, a bursting of our children's comforts is not a bad thing.  They are called to more, just as we are.

I am repeatedly caught off-guard by how children love with pure hearts.  No agenda or to-do list.

My kids are big sinners, like us, but they are unencumbered by worries and exhibit a freedom to love without bounds that I don't have.

Babies seemed to rain from the sky last summer.  My kids spent the months of June and July bouncing fussy babies, feeding hungry ones, and bringing joy to little faces.

Meanwhile, this mama breathed into a paper bag, trying to regulate my oxygen level because it was hard loving other people's kids and adjusting to different schedules and stages of babies.

As my kids begged for more babies, my heart was doubtful.  Unsure if I could manage this calling.

So, we detoured--pursued adoption for six months, while we continued to serve as a respite foster family.

We thought adoption seemed safer, you know?  Ha!  Insane thinking- my friends who have adopted can tes.ti.fy to that.  Adoption bears its own heavy grief and uncertainties.

The Lord shut the door on adoption for us.  We ran after every country and adoption agency known to man.  He slammed that door tight.

I grieved all last summer.  The realization set in-- He was cementing our feet in foster care.

We couldn't run from our calling, our passion.  We couldn't unloosen what He had sealed in our hearts.

And the phone call came in October.

Would we take the little bitty girl we loved with all our hearts?

The one that had us all wrapped around her tiny brown fingers.

She had occupied our crib more than any other child, spending countless hours in our home as respite.

Full-time foster care frightened us and kept me up at night, but we knew without a doubt.

We said yes to Little Bitty, jumping in with both feet and all our doubts and fears.  Holding out empty hands to the Father, knowing this was our calling.

She is worth the thrashing and grieving for her birth family.

We are not extraordinary.

We are normal, fearful, questioning, struggling, people doing what He has called us to do.  Often we do this with anger at injustice and shaking fists, accompanied by much fear and trembling.

But, we are still standing.

Because He strengthens the weak-kneed.

Gives hope to the weary.

This is not the dream I had.  His plans are bigger and better.

Because we serve an extraordinary God.







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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Can He Be Trusted?

photo credit:  vestedway.com

This morning marked the third court date in the eight months since Little Bitty has been with us.

I arose to music of twittering birds and sunrise spilling golden patches through the blinds.

A knot in the pit of my stomach, tightness in my chest.

My mind visualized the brokenness we would be entering for the day.

I slipped into a downward spiral-- a deep cavern of fear. 

Peeling back the thick layer of fear, I discovered another layer-- this one more dense, full of anger and frustration.

Anger at the broken system, the injustice.  The shattered lives that leave children teetering in limbo, unable to sustain roots of stability.

Each time there's a sprouting of hope and buds of new life, there's an uprooting caused by circumstances.

It effects our entire family.

All of our hearts pour and water and fertilize soil, yet healthy growth can't fully happen.

Complete stability seems like a mist, as we juggle visits with birth family, social workers, and court dates.

Yet, my anger, fears, and frustrations are ultimately not about my circumstances, the system, or broken lives.

In the quiet spaces of my soul, questions echo and ricochet against the walls of my heart:

is God really good?  Can He be trusted?

Because, I tell you, when I'm in that dark pit, weeping in the fetal position on my bedroom floor, it comes down to those questions.

In my anguish and worries, I cry out where are you God?

My eyes quickly fix on the situation and messiness of life and wrong choices of broken mamas and daddies.

Innocent children unfairly suffering the consequences.

His provisions and faithfulness of the past become foggy when I'm in despair.

I can't remember truth when I'm in that black cave of unbelief.

I crumbled onto the floor this morning as the sun rose.

I felt like all our efforts were futile.  Layering on makeup and dressing in my Sunday best seemed pointless.

We were notified yesterday that this court date would likely be rescheduled.

More dropped balls.  Paperwork.  Legal stuff.

I didn't want to talk to God this morning.  It felt like a waste.

I was angry.

The spot on the hardwood floors where I was lying and weeping was near my devotional.  I hesitantly cracked it open.

And there it was...Isaiah 43:1-4.

My verses from our year in the RV.  The promises I securely clung to during one of the most grueling years of our marriage.

The same verses were spoken over us at our wedding vow renewal on our 15-year anniversary-- a re-commitment to each other and Him.  A celebration that He sustained us.

The same verses a dear friend and I discussed last week, hanging out on my den couch.  The chocolate brown corduroy cushioning the pain of our stories, our wounded hearts.  In the midst of hot coffee and sugary treats, our hearts bonded over how He often rips away the things of life.  His goodness in spite of our questioning, aching, and grief.

Here it was again.  In the quiet of my bedroom.  Him awakening my heart to truth in the early morning hours.

He poured Isaiah 43 over my soul like a parent calming their child:

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.'

I wept.

He has not forgotten these children.

He has not forgotten us.
 
We may feel weak and ill-equipped, but we are not.  His spirit is fully able to strengthen and give us everything we need  (2 Cor 12:9, 2 Pet 1:3).

May He rescue me over and over from my unbelief!

So, after we sat at court a few hours and got a new court date, we came home, packed up the kids and headed to the pool.

Celebrating life.  Living in the now.






Sunday, June 15, 2014

Freedom

Catie and I on our second tattoo adventure


I recently positioned my bare wrist on a table in front of a bald-headed tattoo artist.

He was much younger, his body a canvas of our current culture-- artistically inked and pierced from the top of his smooth head down to his toes.

Okay, I didn't actually see his feet, but judging from the rest of his body it is quite safe to deduce they were tattooed-up as well.

There I was, my epidermis overturned and exposed in close proximity to this man, his body a colorful painted portrait.

My skin revealed patterns of flesh-colored creases and rivers of purplish veins turned upward, as he cleaned a sharp needle and gingerly touched the tip into ebony ink.

He bore down, the needle sinking into my flesh, inscribing the word.

My heart word for the past year:  freedom.

Courage, and a sense of freedom, pushed me into the tattoo parlor for the first time nine months ago.

Courage sometimes comes packaged in dear friends (including my awesome husband).

My friend Catie -- her bravery and courage is contagious on many levels-- has gone with me twice to get tattoos. 

People told me they were addictive, so I went ahead and knocked out two tats on the first trip, convinced I'd never, ever step across the threshold of another tattoo joint.  Ever.

This was gonna be a one time deal.  In and out.  Yeah, right.

Then the last nine months happened.  Foster care, spiritual attack, crisis after crisis.

I was tempted to get a tattoo sleeve on my shoulder and shave my head-- get all inked up with scripture.

Because I'm walking with a serious limp and need some intense reminders permanently marked on my body.

I opted out of the shaved head and full body art thing.  But that may be coming. 



Dictionary.com defines freedom as:

1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint. 
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3. the power to determine action without restraint.

In Christ, the chains are gone. 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  (Gal 5:1)

My husband and I squeezed together shoulder to shoulder in a marriage class this weekend.

And there it was, MY word, spiraling out of the counselor's mouth penetrating my heart as I furiously made notes in my journal.  

Freedom.  The nucleus of our faith.

Yet, it is often not the core of our home.  As we blanket ourselves in our own rights and agendas.

After 19 years, we are more free, but there is still a rub between us.

Sin is still wildly alive and will be until we die.

I still cringe at my beautiful reclaimed barn-wood kitchen table that is now home to an endless pile of clean, wrinkled laundry.  Socks always missing a mate. 

Piles of dirty food-caked dishes mock me from the sink.

Quiet (or loud) resentment is not freedom.

Freedom and restfulness invade our space when we speak gospel-breathed words.

A letting go of ourselves and what we think is fair.

True intimacy comes with a pouring out.

An emptying of ourselves.

Opening our hands and releasing-- allowing each other to be who we are.  No strings attached.

A tight grip on the Father's hand, eyes pointed vertically.  That is what produces rest.

Letting go of each other and grabbing our Savior.

Freedom.  Grace to say no.  Grace to say yes.  Serve without expectations or entitlement.

Saying no to my sense of fairness and equality.  Saying yes to love freely.

Because we come to Him with nothing.  He pours out freely.

As a girl who's still searching the horizon for her voice-- in writing, in marriage, in parenthood, in relationships, it is no mistake that part of my calling includes being a voice for the fatherless, the least of these.  

Part of that freedom and voice has come through saying no to certain activities and expectations from others.  Saying no to the rules I place on myself.

If we are resting in His grip and His leading, then we are freed up to say no (or yes), regardless the cost.

Paul says in Galatians 1:10:  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Matthew 5:37 says let your yes be yes and your no be no (paraphrased).

We are not called to say yes to every person or situation that comes into our lives.  We are called to follow Him.  Living freely in who we are created to be releases us from the desire to make excuses or please others.

Oh how many times I've said yes to something when my heart and head are screaming NO, say NO.

And once again, I become the overachiever, fixer, people-pleaser.   By His spirit, this is becoming less of a struggle than in the past.

Freedom.  Permanently on my wrist as a reminder of who I am in Christ.

Even with permanent markings, I still forget.  I still fail.  every.single.day.

 We have the freedom to fail because of the nail-scarred hands waiting to catch us when we fall.

It all fits into His plan.  Our failures can become His glory.

And a wave of salty windswept sea overtakes me again and I float in the surf of a life with Him- freedom to get it wrong, freedom to love fully and live fully.

It's only in riding the swells of His grace and swimming in the current of His love that I remember again-- I have sweet, abundant freedom and hope.

In marriage.  In ministry.  In parenting.  In relationships.

Praise Him!


Seacrest, Fl sunset ~msingleton




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Something's Breaking



 (This post also featured on The Forgotten Initiative)

Since my children were tiny, I've kept up with their funny sayings and questions, as a way to remember the stages of life and the cute things they've said along the way.

Little Bitty has been with us almost eight months and I haven't allowed my heart to open fully to her precious little sayings.

Almost every week, we are hysterically laughing over something she's said or done, but the fortress around my heart has many layers of thick stones.

I think to myself, oh I will remember that and write it down later.  

But later never comes.

Because I'm not sure my heart can bear the grief.  

Her name and cute sayings engraved alongside memories of the other children.   

My heart screams not to do it because she may not stay here forever. 

This past Sunday when I dropped her off at the church nursery, her body became rigid.  

Brown fingers clawed tightly around my neck as she frantically cried Mommy repeatedly.

This was new.  She had never done this before.

The nursery worker reached out to take her.  

But I held tight.  

I made my way over to the flax-colored cushioned glider near the wooden slide and play tunnel.  

A room full of happy three-year old girls in smocked dresses gazed in our direction. 

I held her as she cried.  And I rocked.

I stretched my long arms around her tiny frame and something broke.

The cement I've jammed in the nooks and crannies of the fortress walls began to crumble, stones spilling out of my heart like dominoes.

Somewhere between Sunday morning and today, more rubble has come loose between the two of us.

The strongholds collapsing.

Little Bitty has been resting as I rock her before bedtime.  Normally, she doesn't fully relax her body against mine. 

There's always fidgeting and something else that she must do, which means pulling free from my grip.

Tonight in the dark I sang her favorite songs off-key.  

Swaddled her in a creamy yellow blanket from birthmom. 

She snuggled close, her legs unmoving.  Her tiny form melted into the nooks and crannies of my body.

Finally something is happening.  A movement in both our hearts.

I prayed, kissed her fuzzy head goodnight, and walked across the hall to my bedroom.  

Picked up a pen from my dresser.

And began to scrawl on a tiny notepad. 

The words and sayings that I love about her.  

Because she will be a Singleton for as long as God allows.

Her name will be forever etched in our hearts.  Her words written next to the other kids' funny sayings.

Because something is breaking and coming unlodged in my heart.  

I want to remember. 

No matter the outcome. 

So here they are, a few of my favorite Little Bitty sayings:

Ash-les (eyelashes)

Unbuckle (unbutton)

Toe-mangoes (tomatoes)

Ewww, your breath is coming out (bad breath)

We have a hamburger situation (have no idea-- we were driving into parking lot at Walmart)

Birmingham is made from ham

Wonderwear (underwear)

Mom, I see a lobster!  (carpenter ant in the driveway)

My foot is spicy (she has a rock in her shoe or her foot is asleep)

Gally-up (giddy-up)

Last-erday (yesterday)

We are married Mom (handing me a pile of fresh-picked flowers) 

 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Raining Grace

Raining~ m singleton


...be renewed in the spirit of your minds
(Eph 4:23)
 
...you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator
  (Col 3:9-10)


Shame, doubt, and fear hunt me.  

Every. day.

I can hastily dive deep into a tangled mass of lies about who I am-- vines of deceit wrapping my feet and pulling me down like quicksand.  

My brain moving like well-oiled metal gears-- the repetitive rotation of untruths.

 The lies of the enemy, along with our own fleshly desires and patterns are nothing but distractions blocking us from our true selves and love for Him.

As the Spirit moves, and I believe truth, grace finds me, wrapping me like a heated blanket on a frigid winter day.

Grace slips around me, kindling the cold coals in my heart and rewiring the twisted gears in my brain.  It covers and I wrap tightly in its warmth, feeling the soft, nubby edges and complete surround of truth.

Grace is not what we deserve, but what He freely pours out.


photo credit: blogbuilddirect.com
  
Not only is grace warmth to our cold souls, but it is also a furious, pelting rain-- never ceasing, never deserving, never based on our own goodness.  

Based only on the Father's love and kindness.  

He sends down a flood, pursuing me until I fall into the grace-storm of His love.

We can try to run, but He will keep chasing His children.  


photo credit:  almostalamode.com

In John 21:4-5 we see Jesus pursuing His disciples and extending this undeserving grace.  They had abandoned Him and run hiding in fear.  Instead of lashing out in anger, Christ called them his dear children and cooked them breakfast on the beach.  (John 21:4-5)

Grace is freeing.  We get it wrong over and over again-- just like Jesus's disciples. 

When we've squandered it all, our feet slipping, our bodies floundering in lies, we can remember:  it's not getting it right that brought rescue.  The scandal of mercy and grace is that we come to Him by doing it wrong, over and over again.

That is grace.  It is mysterious.  

It is jaw-dropping awe.

Because He's already done it right on our behalf.

Freedom comes with Christ at the center of our lives.  We wake up and discover our true self, who we were created to be  (2 Cor 5:17).

 Moving deeper into Him takes our eyes off ourselves and others.  Our selfish flesh is still present, but by His grace, we can live more fully in the calling He created us to live out.  If our identity is fully in Him, other people's opinions and expectations of us diminish.

As I opened my bible this morning, there it was again in the worn pages of Ephesians 5:1-2:  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love...

Dearly loved children.

And I am thankful He again and again pursues the tangled mess that I am-- pouring an unending daily rain of grace upon me.

For I am:

A new creature.

With a new purpose.

A new life.

A new heart. 
http://thebrowntribe.net/2015/04/grace-rains-down-and-grace-truth/

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