A Grace Note: An Advent of Simple Surrender 


Dear Reader, 

I’ve been sitting on the dining room floor, right beneath our tiny Christmas tree, sorting through decorations and reading old Christmas cards and contemplating where I can possibly add more twinkle lights to the walls and shelves and doorways of our tiny little home. And I had this overwhelming feeling come flooding over me just a moment ago that I have so much more than I need…that I have all of the decorations that I could ever ask for, that even our small home holds more space than two people really need, and last night when my mama called to see if there was anything we might need that she could pick up for us for Christmas I was honestly stumped. God has changed my heart so much this year. I have no idea where that materialistic and discontent girl I was a year ago has floated away to…but God has done some miraculous work in order to make our simple life something extraordinary in my eyes. My husband has always been able to see beauty in the small and simple, and I’m finally seeing what He sees and my heart is bursting at the seams with the quiet joy God is filling it with. I have felt restless the last month or so. I have pulled up my old resume and just as quickly tucked it away again. I have reached out of my anxious heart to take the reins back…to seek worldly accomplishment and gain over spiritual rest, and I have found that by morning God has already stilled my heart again. Living small and simple requires a faith and trust in God that is huge and extraordinary. This I am learning. Quiet does not mean worthless, small does not mean insignificant, peace does not mean apathy, and joy does not mean without suffering. Life isn’t going the way I had originally thought it would…but that’s kind of what is making it so beautiful. God shows up in the unexpected…and He plants hope and joy and peace right where we are. My emotions have changed like the weather this year, but God hasn’t changed at all, He has stayed beautifully perfect and Good and His love hasn’t faded for even one second. My thoughts keep drifting back to a God who shows us daily that real royalty is found in humble manger beds, and that real life comes with surrender

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

A Grace Note: A Moment of Simple Thanks


Dear Reader, 

One of my favorite memories from this Thanksgiving weekend is summed up right here in this photo of my husband’s strong hands playing the keys of my childhood piano. This piano has always had my heart. It arrived free to my family from a school which no longer needed it, a hundred years old and seasoned with its slightly cracked bridge and scratches of an instrument well used and worn in. I learned to play the hymnal at this piano. And still today my sisters and I come home and sit down at its creaky bench and run our hands over its familiar keys. Playing this piano feels like home. And seeing my husband sit down at it and play the melodies of both of our hearts makes my soul glad in a way I never knew possible. I’m still overwhelmed by the thankfulness I feel for this time spent with family. I have an ache in my heart at the thought that tomorrow evening we will drive away from it all again and return to our schedules and our plans, but I have such hope for things yet to come, for dreams yet to be dreamed, for our own home to someday grow into the home that I yearn for. I love these people. And I wasn’t able to capture the fullness of just how much I love them when it came to my turn at the Thanksgiving table. But I carry them in my heart, and I carry home around in my soul, and I cherish who they are. And I love this man sitting here at the piano that helped to grow my soul. What a Thanksgiving my friends. What a beautiful life. I hope your Thanksgiving was beautiful as well. I hope you had a moment of quiet simple joy and that you have already begun to gather thanks for all the blessings yet to come your way. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

Thankful For the Hard Things: Infertility and Thanksgiving Part 4

The last video for the Facebook Live series is now posted! There are links for all four videos posted in the Follow Me section of the blog, in case you missed it! I’m praying that the series will be able to break through some of the bitterness and pain of infertility this Thanksgiving, and that it will help us to lift broken hands and broken hearts in honest and redemptive thankfulness. 

Thankful for the Hard Things Part 4: Elizabeth

A Grace Note: Thankful Anticipation 


Dear Reader, 

Frost has settled on our rooftops this morning, and as I stepped out of my front door I was greeted by the crisp scent of a fast approaching winter. It’s that in between time of year, the time when Thanksgiving begs us to hold onto autumn for a few more days before bidding it goodbye, and yet the flurries of snow falling from the heavens pull our hearts into anticipation for the season of Christmas, for advent, for our Savior. It’s this stuck in the middle part, the time between the giving of thanks and the receiving of a promised gift, that I tend to get wrapped up in. But this is the story of our entire lives. It’s what we are meant for, to give thanks and to wait for Him. This hydrangea now sits on my porch, wrapped around a pumpkin and seated under a little sign that reads, “Give Thanks”. And today I am striving to overflow with that thankfulness, even as I wait. Because in every season, we are to be thankful. And it’s not just a command, but it is the desire of God’s heart, that we would see the beauty of every season and trial and grace. Thanksgiving is about who we are as God’s people and how we strive to live this life. Christ taught us that even when the bread is breaking…even when He was broke for us…there was reason to give thanks, to lift our hands in praise, and to stand before the giver of Life with our hearts wide open in joy and in anticipation of who He is and who we will become. Dwell in this in between time, create a merging of thanks and anticipation. See that God is good in every season, and try not to rush too quickly away from this season which begs us to hold on for just a few days more. Christ is coming, may He find us with our hearts wide open and our souls humbled in overwhelming thanksgiving. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: A Warm November Day


Dear Reader,

This honey golden hydrangea made its way into my heart today. I’ve had a rough week, friends. And honestly, I just wanted to hide away with this autumn and her beautiful colors and her warm breezes. But then God sent me this glorious day. Two of my dearest friends came today, and two little girls along with them. And we drank warm coffee, and we talked about ridiculous things, and we laughed and talked about how our lives are going these days…and man are these days just going by. It’s been years since the three of us sat together like this and talked the day away, and the Lord must have known how deeply my heart has missed and needed them. And then away they drove, off into this glorious November afternoon and I set my hands to raking and my eyes to searching for the remnants of this season passing by. And I came across this hydrangea, and marveled at how it has been beautiful in all of its seasons, turning from green, to white, to honey gold. How beautiful are our different seasons, and how redeeming are the days when our hearts feel whole again. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

In Him,

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

Grace in a Slow Fading Autumn

 


The leaves have all fallen down and are gently resting around the yard, still waiting to be whisked away by us lazy people indoors who would rather admire them from the window panes. The warmth of a Wisconsin sun is still hanging on, long past its prime, and while the nights are turning brisk and chilled, winter still feels far away. And yet, Thanksgiving Day is next week already. It turns out that while the days grow shorter, and the knowledge that snow will one day come rings loud in our heads, the world keeps on spinning and time keeps on ticking. A summer that refuses to say goodbye can’t stop the leaves from falling, or the new season from saying hello.

This autumn has been my life story these days, all summed up in a season refusing to go and the begonias below my kitchen window refusing to let their colors fade. I want so much to hold on to what I want…to my dreams and my plans. But God keeps bringing beauty in unexpected places. It is a bittersweet goodbye I am experiencing, and yet an even sweeter hello to the possibilities which lay ahead.

It turns out that God never promises you stability in your plans. He never says, “design the house and I will build it”. Instead He says, “I will design and build a life, and will guide you through it.” He formed the curves of this world in His hand. He filled the sun with His warmth. He poured out His heart into His people and He baptized the world in oceans and rivers and tides. His Heavens hang high in wonder. His stars give light to the earth. And here I stand, in my tiny corner of this beautifully created world, and hang tight to blue prints that I thought up myself, refusing to surrender to the very creator of beauty, to the very Creator of my life.

Why is it so hard to give away what was never yours? Why do we hold so tight to “normal” and “ordinary”? I’ve watched this autumn so gently breeze its way in even while the summer warmth so stubbornly held on, like me, saying “I’m not ready.” And this is what God has been doing with me. He hasn’t ripped my dreams out of my hands. He hasn’t abruptly uprooted everything I’ve ever wanted. Instead, He’s been letting me say goodbye to things that might never be. He’s given me space and time to dream something new, and to wade gently into the waters of surrendering everything to Him. It’s been a Grace that I know I don’t deserve…time to think, and to change, and to grow into someone different. And I know that not all change ushers so gently in. But I’m thankful for the way that God has been dealing with me. I’m thankful for His gentle and slow hand over this area of my life.

Thanksgiving Day will arrive as it always does. And we will gather around tables and turkeys and friends and families. And we will bow our heads and fold our hands, and fall silent as the prayers are offered up, as our thanks makes its way from our heads to our hearts. I know that this world isn’t really our home, but these people we are gathered with will always be our people. I know that this earth is temporary, but the Grace that is extended to us while we are here will mark our hearts forever. And I know this season of my life isn’t meant to last an eternity, but how it is molding my faith will.

We can be thankful in hard things, world. We can find beauty in whatever it is God is working into our lives. Not every corner of our lives is going to be tidy. We aren’t going to let go of every season gracefully. We are going to stumble and we are going to struggle to loosen our stubborn hearts. But there is Redemption in our transformation. There is Mercy in where God is leading us.

There is snow in the forecast for next week here. And yet tomorrow it will be in the high 60’s, a sweet summery goodbye to an autumn that gave us all time.

There is so much to be thankful for. There is so much beauty ahead.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

 

A Grace Note: Perspective 


Dear Reader, 

Sometimes we have to change our perspective. We find ourselves needing to stand and view the world and our lives from a different angle, in a different light. This often arises when our dreams don’t go as planned, when our foundation gets shaken. And we search for new ways to spin our life stories, to keep in trend with the constant and steady spinning of this world. And there are worldly perspectives and perspectives of the Holy and Eternal. It’s the Holy and Eternal perspectives that we often find hold fast. They don’t change. They are faithful to time and to a God who gives life to them. Seeing our lives through the eyes of an Eternal God is often not what we really want, because we live in a temporary world and we are soaked in the desire for instant gratification of our dreams and requests. But God is a weaver of time and life stories. His perspective is Higher and Holier than ours. The Creator of time…often takes His time. While we grow impatient, God grows lives and stories and souls and eternity. He invests time into a world that needs it most. We mortals feel our clocks running out and we panic, but God never does because He knows that our lives don’t stop here, that we are actually creatures of eternity, that Holy things take time. Don’t panic if you feel like your life just isn’t happening yet. God has a different perspective than you do. He doesn’t create anything useless. His purpose always prevails, and His art of weaving together every detail of a life always results in something beautiful, even if the world can’t see it, Heaven does. Have faith. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: What Christ and Veterans Have in Common


Dear Reader, 

My mind is drifting back to this tiny chapel in the woods again. November feels like it might actually be starting to settle in today. The chill of the changing season is becoming more noticeable, and all of autumn’s golden splendor seems to have settled into a blanket on the forest floor. The warmth that has held on so long this year, well after the glory days of summer, seems to me symbolic of a year that just isn’t the norm. Turmoil keeps rising to the top, impatience and rhetoric keep nudging into our peace. And yet this chapel in the woods stands just the same as always, quietly and alone and off the beaten path. God calls us to much of the same, to be in the world but not of it, to be at peace amidst turmoil, to live with joy when the world shows us no reason to, and to love our enemies. He calls us to live off of the beaten path, to find the narrow path where chapels like this one stand quiet, strong, and at peace. Where chapels like this one serve as road marks for the way Home. Our words are recorded in a book of Life. Our walk is viewed by a multitude of angels and witnesses and God Himself. We are citizens of a Homeland where hurt, and disappointment, and judgement simply exist no more, from a land full of peace, and mercy, and rest. America will always strive to be the home of the free and the land of the brave…but Heaven will always be that in its truest form. We have veterans who fought hard battles here and still do, who sacrifice their lives willingly in almost a mirror image of what Christ willingly did for the people of His Homeland. And today we are thankful and grateful and humbled by the men and women who fought to bring peace to a world broken and hurting, who fought our wars for us, who were broken for us, so that we could be home. And I dwell today in my Savior, who fought another war I could never win on my own, and who promised to bring me Home, to safety and to peace. We can’t win wars alone, dear friends. Whether those wars be in rhetoric or in physical form. The truth is that those who Christ died for, He also lived for. and He called us to life too…a different life. Be like this chapel, be the peace the world can’t understand.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: Turning Your Hurt Into Ministry


Dear Reader,

I took this photo at Holy Hill last month. And as I look at it now all I can think about is the word Ministry. Christ holds His cross here, and while He holds it He’s looking at His people…He’s speaking to them, ministering to them. He suffers yet that suffering doesn’t stop Him from seeing their faces, from wanting to heal their hearts. I’ve had the phrase “turn your hurt into Ministry” all morning. And I look at this depiction of Christ and wonder how I’ve missed it for so long. It’s what we are called to do…carry a cross and reach the world. Maybe our ministries aren’t supposed to stop when we’re hurting…maybe that’s when they are meant to start. My struggle with infertility has been a cross on my back for years. And God keeps showing me that sometimes the only way to minister in a meaningful way to someone is to personally know the hurt…what is hurting you today? Can God use you in it? Can a ministry grow from pain? I can’t think of a better way to show the world that Christ has won us. That we are willing to take death and see life, feel hurt and produce growth, encounter obstacles but build ladders and bridges. Christ saved the world, loved His people, and is bringing them home, all because of a cross He carries on His back. Maybe this changes the world. God can take suffering that the devil wants to use to break you, and turn it instead into a story of victory, and courage, and love, and ministry. Christ calls us to be like Him. So take your suffering and nail it to that cross. Christ’s cross left nail marks in His hands and in His feet, and His ministry left a mark on the whole world. Our sufferings will most likely leave us with marks too, and like Christ has shown us, those marks can build ministries in ways that are so much bigger than us. Love like Christ loves. See His face, and follow His lead. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

Thankful for the Hard Things: Infertility and Thanksgiving Part 2

Dear Reader,

I started a four part Facebook Live Series last week to talk about Infertility and to dig in deep, in order that we who are going through it might be able to offer up some honest thanks to God this Thanksgiving. Today the second video of the series was posted and we talk about Sarah. Sarah has a messy story, but so do many of us. She manifests some of our deepest and darkest emotions. But God loves her, and her messiness is not able to derail God’s plan for her, and your messiness can’t derail His plan for you either. Won’t you join me? Like Hand Washed Grace on Facebook to follow along, or check the Follow section of this blog to get the links. Here is a quick link to the second video. Thankful for the Hard Things: Infertility and Thanksgiving Part II

In Him,

A Fellow  Grace Wanderer

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