WFMW: Yes to Grace

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster, Sara, for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I’d been waiting on the call for four years, but it still took me by surprise. The call wasn’t telling me to hop on a plane and fly across the ocean as I’d planned. Instead, the call was about a little girl a state line away with an immediate need. I opened the picture from our adoption caseworker and stared into the sad face of a blonde-haired girl in a dress with pink ruffles. She looked disheveled; it was obvious she needed a mother’s touch and a big pink hairbow.

I wish I could say that we acted without hesitation, but it wasn’t so simple. There were the unknowns to consider and the questions you never voice outside of a prayer. We had long, whispered talks in bed that led to sleepless nights.

In the end, we said, “YES.”

Our family grew to 3 kids in 3 weeks–it took twice that long for the honeymoon to wear off. And then, we were left with a mess–someone else’s mess that magically became ours with a simple three letter word…

Y-E-S.

It’s funny how such a small word can hold such weight and power.

frozen hat

Call me naive, but I thought that the big yes would be enough, that I would somehow be off the hook from other yeses. The thing about saying a big yes, is that it demands a million more.

Will you walk through deep grief and explosive anger with a little stranger? Yes, Lord.

Will you peel back the layers of trauma that are keeping this child in bondage even when it gets unbelievably ugly? Yes, if I must.

Will you keep her and change her name to your own when everyone who knows you best and everything within you says to raise the white flag and scream no? To tell the truth, I’m still pondering that question. Trust me when I say, “It’s complicated.”

Sometimes saying yes means adding to your mess.

It isn’t easy parenting someone else’s child with huge, gaping, flesh wounds of trauma. It’s downright messy and the wounds don’t heal fast. In fact, it gets worse before it gets better as you peel back the layers and uncover years of hurt and behavior patterns.

It’s humbling to be the first person to tell her about Jesus and grace. It’s even harder to live it and extend grace again and again and…again, but these are the small yeses that my big YES demands. So, I keep loving and living grace even when it feels like love will never be enough. I fight for her healing, for therapy appointments, for someone to just help her already with the stuff that I am not equipped for. I set the bedroom door alarm at night to keep everyone safe from her and to keep her from hurting herself. I raise the expectations and wait for her to live up to them…slowly.

pink gloves

But most importantly, I keep buying the pink hat and gloves with Elsa and Anna on them when I’m on my self-imposed “mommy time out” after a day that threatens to break me. And, in the morning, I give them to her with a fresh smile and a simple explanation.

Her eyes turn downward and she quietly says, “I don’t understand why you got me a present, Momma. I wasn’t very good.”

I pause, take a deep breath, and reply, “You’re right, sweetie. You don’t deserve a present, but I don’t want you to be cold. When I saw this hat, I knew it would make you smile.”

She thinks and stares at the pink hat and gloves with Elsa and Anna on them for what feels like forever. Then, slowly she lifts her chin and whispers, “It’s kinda like grace.”

My throat grows tight and tears burn hot down my face, ” Yes, baby. It’s exactly like grace.”

And with that, I’ve got enough energy to say the next YES.

 

Bio:
Sara headshotAn accidental homeschooler, Sara never would’ve guessed she’d trade her Master’s degree and a traditional classroom to teach her kids at home. Sara spends her days keeping her three active children busy with a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of mess. She blogs at Happy Brown House, where her passions and life collide. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, Pinterest.

WFMW: Sometimes Saying Yes Means Saying No

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster, Lisa, for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Heart exploding “Yes!” swiping at tears, I finish Rhinestone Jesus.

Hours “dreamstorming” follow, “It’s sort of like brainstorming…Except instead of writing down ideas, we’re writing down our dreams. The wilder, bigger, and crazier, the better.” (p.57)

Sometimes Saying Yes Means Saying No

Excitement resurfaces. Eagerness returns.

God shows me my life is like a Texas-sized steak dinner complete with a loaded baked potato, corn on the cob, and a fluffy roll. All on a cheap paper plate.

My plate is too full. I need to limit my portions so my paper plate won’t fail and find my juicy life-steak wasted.

I ask God how; He shows me:

Sometimes saying yes means saying no.

Walking away from good things hurts. Weeks of prayer gives birth to the courage to say yes…By saying no.

Hours of sending resignations, RSVPing refusals, and politely rejecting requests bring sadness yet relief. With every agonizing decision, I feel my load lessen.

Like a child, I lift my plate to God showing Him how smaller portions perfectly fit my plate.

Satisfied with my new routine, I set goals based on my “dreamstorming” list and make progress. Slow progress. I determine to be content with slow.

When suddenly life navigates surprising turns.

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And I learn:

Sometimes saying yes means hearing no.

God’s “no” is a result of my yes.

Sometimes saying yes means hearing God say no.

In the no, I sulk; I sigh and, like a child, my disappointment fills the air thick.

I draw strength through Kirsten’s words:

“It all comes down to this one question: Do I love my comfort more than Christ? I get a different answer every day. But I believe we need to struggle…Struggle is the food from which change is made…Those who accomplish change are willing to engage in the struggle.” (p. 193-4)

Today finds me caught. Struggling. Hope for new tomorrows battles fear of future change.

I remind myself:

Sometimes saying yes means saying no.

His no reveals divine purpose. Freedom is found here. If I search for it, there is always a yes in God’s no. His way for my one thing. [Click here to tweet this]

Kristen says, “I believe we are all called to do something, just not everything. Focusing on our one thing and doing it well to His glory is both liberating and life-changing.” (p. 163)

yes in my mess

His no to me becomes my yes from Him.

Saturday Kristen spoke at our church.

“As women we fill our plates then add a side of Jesus when He is calling us to empty our plates then fill them with Him,” she says.

My heart shifts.

I understand my cheap plate is meant to hold only one thing. Jesus fills my flimsy plate perfectly.

He fulfills. Only Him. Always Him. When He says yes and even when He says no.

Yes is my response.

And sometimes saying yes means saying no.

“God’s yes and our yes together—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (MSG)

 

lisa
Lisa Smith is a wife, mother of four, and Children’s Minister in North Houston. Long talks at coffee shops, big sales on cute shoes, and all her girlfriends inspire her. She writes at LisaSmithOnline.com and posts regularly on Facebook and Twitter. She enjoys speaking at women’s events and is working on her first book.

Introduce yourself on her blog this week and be entered to win a free single Fair Trade Friday pack and a copy of Kristen’s book Rhinestone Jesus.

WFMW: Saying Yes Changed Everything

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster, Jennifer, for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

We were in the front of a little church in Nsongwe Village praying for women during a women’s conference. All of a sudden, one of my friends grabbed me, honestly I thought she was coming in for a hug, but she wasn’t. She held me tight and whispered in my ear, “Your yes matters.” She went on to say that because of my yes others would come to know Jesus and work on their faith. I was startled to say the least. How could she have known I had just been reading that very same phrase in Rhinestone Jesus? We weren’t even Facebook friends yet! After that I just balled like a baby. I love how Jesus works. When you say yes to Jesus, He just trickles into every aspect of your life.

Saying yes to Jesus changed everything for me. When I said yes my life was in shambles. My husband was on his way to prison. I was a new wife, a new mom, and newly living with my mom. This was not exactly how I pictured my life going down. I remember kneeling at the end of my bed after putting my baby girl to sleep. I just laid it all out for God and the mess I was in. I asked Him to come into my life and everything changed.

jennifer

Saying yes to Jesus changed how I lived marriage. I had been married before. It didn’t end well. I made selfish choices based on my ideas. I thought I knew Jesus then. I thought I really knew Jesus. Divorce is painful and I was headed that way for the second time when I said yes to Him. Truly.  Some things in our marriage were gradual others were instant. I remember sitting down with my pastor and he looked at me with all the love he could muster and told me that love is a choice. Just like Jesus choosing to go to the cross for me. That was a game changer. If God would still choose to love me as unlovable as I could be, how could I not try to follow His plan for marriage instead of my own? I knew how my version ended. It was not good. My husband and I gave Jesus our marriage and watched Him do amazing things. Six years later we’re still going strong, because our foundation isn’t built on sand anymore. To this day, I’d rather walk through that mess again than never have done it at all.

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Saying yes to Jesus changed how I lived motherhood. I had never been a mother before. I knew how to babysit, but at the end of the day the kids go home. I knew the basics of mothering my daughter in her infant stage. Like feed, burp, change, bathe, sleep, repeat. I knew there would be more though, because that precious girl in my arms was going to grow. What then God? I read my Bible about parenting, read the attributes of God, and prayed my heart out. I found a godly woman at church who seemed to have this parenting thing somewhat together and sought her out as my friend. I drilled her with questions and sometimes I just watched how she parented. I still do that. Saying yes to Jesus means I don’t know all the answers, but God does. It means hitting my knees and seeking His Council for her life. It means disciplining with a Biblical perspective and not my own opinions. It means living and giving grace and mercy. Plus loving that sweet girl like it is nobody’s business.

Saying yes to Jesus changed how I lived loving others. Sometimes that means shutting up when I really want to say something. I need my Philippians 4:8 filter and a glue stick instead of a chap stick. Sometimes it means doing things I myself don’t want to do, because I’m selfish like that. Mostly, it means trying to love people like Jesus loves people. Maybe it’s bringing a dinner, helping with homework, reading a book, making a phone call, or visiting in the hospital. For me it means partnering with a maternity home in Africa that is saving lives. Or as a family, going to the mission field and telling others about this amazing love that compels us to tell everyone we meet about Jesus. That His great love changes everything, because He first loved us. To share with others that God loves them, values them, and that they are important to Him. It means dying to self. Somewhere along the way I realized I must have been the Grinch. I continue to watch as God enlarges my heart, and more love than I thought possible fills it up. Just when I think it might burst at the seams, He fills it up again. Loving others Jesus’ way will do that to you.

Saying yes to Jesus changes everything if you let Him. He comes in and turns your whole world upside down for the better.  Saying yes to Jesus will take you places you never thought you would go. For me that’s Mercy House, Africa, Ecuador, and one Thanksgiving hunting down someone who was hungry to give a turkey to. People are watching your yes. Jesus is watching your yes. You might not always do your yes well, I don’t. That’s where grace and mercy comes in. Dust yourself off and keep going. Your yes matters to God. Your yes matters to you. Your yes matters to others. Your yes matters to your spouse, your children, family, friends, and even strangers. Leave a legacy of yes. Let Jesus change everything.

 

Bio:

bioJennifer lives in Florida with her husband and daughter. Her family has a heart for sharing Jesus with the nations. She loves her family, coffee, books, good conversation, travelling the world, and most of all, Jesus. You can find her writing about her adventure with God, marriage, motherhood, and ministry at This Grace Life.

 

WFMW: Saying Yes is Risky

 

I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster, Erika for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Sharing on Kristen’s blog, knowing that thousands may read this post, I am tempted to write about the “wow” yeses. You know, those moments that felt big and important and risky and profound.

My pride wants to impress you and my insecurity longs to win your approval by sharing what we’ve done and how we’ve influenced people for the kingdom and taken risks for God’s glory. But saying “yes” isn’t about me impressing you. Obeying God’s call has little to do with what everyone else thinks and everything to do with pleasing God.

I used to tell my students that following Jesus is the greatest adventure they could ever take. And it is.

Following Jesus means listening to His voice and following His lead. But it also means making decisions and choosing paths when the answer isn’t clear and the plan not fully understood. Following Jesus means walking by faith, and faith, by definition, means I won’t have all the answers. The outcomes won’t all turn out as I plan.

Saying yes to Jesus is risky. Many times, our yes, means leaving what is nailed down and secure — resigning from a job or taking a new opportunity, giving when the budget is tight or putting our reputation on the line because we’re standing up for what is right.

Saying “yes” to God can be big and audacious and exhilaratingly scary.

But here’s the thing.

Sometimes we get so caught up in looking for adventure, in looking for those audacious yeses to God that we start saying no to the areas where He has called us to be faithful.

Following Jesus is the greatest adventure – but sometimes that adventure looks ordinary, conventional, and maybe a little boring.

Our family has said some big yeses to God. We’ve given up and given in and given away, but one of the hardest yeses that God has asked me to make is to be faithful in the small, ordinary, sacrificial moments of marriage and motherhood.

God hasn’t asked me to merely be faithful to my husband. He also asks me to respect my husband, to serve him, and to share myself with him. God asks me to step closer when I want to pull away and pray for him when all I want to do is complain.

Similarly with my children. God is not calling me to say yes only with my time and energy. He’s calling me to say “yes” with my attitude as well.

I’m gonna be honest — a lot of times I say no.

I give in to my exhaustion and irritation and my downright selfishness. I stomp my feet or huff and puff or let resentment live in my heart, but the more I say yes — yes to patience and kindness and to obeying God’s Word and His Spirit — the more I surrender my pride and selfishness and plan, the more I say yes to God’s will, God’s way, the more joy and blessing and fullness of life I find all around me.

The little yeses matter, maybe even more than the big ones. After all, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10 ESV).

By God’s grace, I’m learning to say yes.

Yes, yes, yes to God, right here in my mess.

Bio:

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The wife of one amazing guy and Mom to four young kids, Erika is passionate about the Word of God and prayer, and her desire is to help people, young and old, grow in their relationship with Jesus.gue

Erika blogs regularly at erikadawson.com and is a contributing writer at ForTheFamily.org and the Allume Conference blog. She also speaks to women’s and parenting groups, and directs the Sunday morning children’s ministry at her church. You can also find her hanging out on Facebook or Instagram.

Her heart is for encouraging others to live out an authentic, courageous faith and equipping families to disciple their children.

She is the author of Pray Truth: Praying God’s Word for our Husband’s Heart and Clean on the Inside: A Family Devotional for Holy Week.

WFMW: Gratitude Changes Everything

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If you’re like me, you want to raise kids who are grateful. And not just one day a year. Cultivating gratitude isn’t easy and it’s not an annual thing. It’s a way of living.

I’ve been thinking about how to cultivate it in my family. How to stir it up in my own heart. How the gift of thankfulness changes everything.

Our favorite book is Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong and we spent several weeks it together last year. It’s the story of an Olympic runner who was a Lost Boy of Sudan. My kids were mesmerized and begged my husband to continue at the end of every chapter. It’s a painful story to hear–so much suffering, but it’s also miraculous and amazing.  We are about to start the book again because it has done one thing: it changed our perspective.

It’s hard to complain about dinner or cleaning up dishes when you’ve just read about a 6 year old boy who digs sand out of his handful of grain he gets every other day, as he’s being forced to be a child soldier.

4 Ways to Change Your Family’s Perspective and Spontaneously Create Gratitude:

  1. Exposure: let your kids see those with less–take them on a missions trip, even if it’s to the nearest nursing home or homeless spot under the bridge. Take blankets and food and share them. Sometimes we are reminded how much we have, by simply seeing how little others have. It’s powerful.
  2. Service: There’s just something extraordinary that happens when we serve others.  Not only can everyone serve, everyone needs to. It’s the key to unlocking fullness in life.
  3. Work: Complaining is the opposite of thanking. When my kids are griping about things in their life, it’s often best to combat it by turning the tables and letting them try a hand at hard work (laundry, making dinner, cleaning, etc). It immediately changes their perspective because it’s often not as easy as it looks!
  4. Introduction: Read books to your kids about different cultures. It easy to live in a safe, abundant bubble. Step out of it through reading and stir up gratitude. Here are some books that will do just that (that are family-friendly) are Running for My LifeKisses from Katie and The Hiding Place.

Gratitude is a way of life. Thankfulness is stopping long enough to say it or show it and making sure we pause in our busy day to receive it. In our abundance, being thankful is an act of beauty and acknowledging and appreciating the gifts in our lives makes us want to give them away.

edited repost