I Quit

I quit…

…worrying about what is ahead.

…feeling shame about what is behind.

…acting like I have attained perfection.

…burying my fears, hurts and insecurities.

…saying I’m ok when I’m not.

…stressing about what others think of me.

…trying to be God.

…seeking to earn others approval and affection.

…caring about site views, comments and stats.

…striving for the goals I have set, rather than the plans of God.

…comparing myself to others.

…fearing relationships with other women.

…holding on to bitterness.

…conforming to the ways of this world.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. {2 Corinthians 5:17}

What do you quit?

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Linking up today with Bonnie

and Emily

OH…and…I’m posting this to enter a contest offered by MeridaHome at Design For Mankind! I want to win the iPad 2! (please don’t click the link because I want to win…haha!)

Guest Post – My Mom {Terri Puett}

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today I am very excited to share my mom with you. She encouraged in me a love of reading and words, and she is solely responsible for my latest creative endeavor: knitting. To add to the things we have in common, yesterday she graduated with her (second) Bachelor’s Degree from the same college I graduated from two years ago!

I am proud to call her mom!

Recently, in my theology class we were discussing God as creator. A statement was made that struck me. It was said “God created us because He wanted to – that it brought Him pleasure; and he continues to delight in creating us.” It made me think of knitting (I do that a lot).

I am currently making at least my ninth full-size blanket, my 10th sweater, and probably my 20th shawl. I have made more scarves and baby blankets than I can count. Do I do this because I need these things?

Not at all!

I could purchase them for much less money and effort (and really – how many shawls does anybody need?). No, I do this because I delight in watching the project form and grow. As each one is in progress, I look forward to completion and hope it will be as I originally imagined it.

Sometimes I find that it disappoints my expectations, while others it exceeds them; it’s not always easy to discern how it will turn out while it is still being formed – the big reveal is at the end.

I love to find a yarn that has qualities that intrigue me, combine it with an interesting pattern, and start a new project. I will inspect it and make adjustments as I go. At times I spot mistakes, have to rip a section back and do it again; or I realize that I need to add a new component to make it turn out just right.

At this point I would not blame you for wondering what this has to do with God, or maybe you can interpret my point already. In class, I suddenly had this picture of God “knitting us together in the womb.” I realized how much He must derive pleasure in assembling our gifts, personalities, appearance, and calling. He starts with the raw materials and slowly works in our lives to complete the pattern He had chosen for us. Just as I begin each project excited about the potential for beauty and usefulness – He must anticipate the possibilities of our lives.

He knows better than to judge us while we are still a work in progress; He is looking toward the end product and understands it takes patience to get us there. He will build us up in His kingdom “stitch by stitch” – knowing each small step builds on the last one. Sometimes areas need to be backed out and reworked as we veer off from the pattern. I know there are times we feel we have been taken out completely to start again.

It is a pain-staking process.

When knitting gets a hole in it, it can be salvaged by darning it. The hole is filled in by weaving a new piece of yarn back and forth to reinforce it – often it will end up sturdier than the original piece. How often does God fill in the damaged areas of our lives and create a stronger whole?

Again, I understand this analogy may be difficult for a non-knitter to relate to, but for me it was a revelation. When I create something with my own two hands (out of what was basically a ball of string), I love that item in a way I would never feel about something that came easily to me. I planned it, invested time and money into it, and brought it to fruition. I delight in the unique aspect of it – nobody else has this exact thing. It is mine alone.

God creates us because He delights in us – we are uniquely His – He pours Himself into us. I believe He treasures our variety (even though like knitting we are all composed of the same basic substance). He guides us, molds us, and loves us. Even if we are not following the exact plan, He can see that we are moving toward the desired end product – Christ expressed through us.

I find it interesting that the last thing a knitter does with a project is block it. You dunk it in water until it is pliable, then lay it out. It needs to be stretched to its correct shape and left to dry. It is only with blocking that the true beauty of a hand-knit shines through.

Lesson for us – let go of your preconceived notion of who you are, relax into God’s hands, and let Him shape you. Finally – rest in that new role and allow it to become permanent. The more complex the pattern the “harder” the blocking needs to be; just as God will stretch us further as we walk closer to Him.

Generally, when I think of God as Creator I see that as a big picture – earth, heavens, animals, man; but now I see Him as the Creator of individuals – personal and intimate – taking pride in us as wonderfully “hand-crafted”. I like that.

Psalm 139:13-14

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

Terri is the happy wife of Bob, and proud mother of Melissa, Janelle, and Darren. She has eight incredible grandchildren (and is very excited that four of them are moving back to WA!) She graduated (yesterday!) from Life Pacific Bible College with a degree in Ministry and Leadership, and works full-time as a Dental Hygienist in Public Health. All other time is actively consumed with Knitting (capital K) and related activities (it may be a bit of an obsession).

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I don’t want to be a hypocrite

This is the third post in a series on guilt. If you are just joining in, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

::

Here’s the thing, I am struggling through this right now.

In fact, most of what I right about here are the things I am wrestling with. This place is where I have chosen to share the joys, frustrations, triumphs and failures I experience as a Christian.

I’m not an expert. I don’t have it all together. I’m a work in progress.

So when I do a series where I talk about one of those areas I’m progressing in, I feel this pressure to tie it all up in a neat little package. To offer you:

Three Easy Steps to Throw Off Guilt

But then I would feel like a hypocrite, because I’m finding that there’s no easy steps. I can’t give you magic words that will erase the pain you see in someone’s eyes when you let them down. I have no prescription to break up the ball in the pit of your stomach; the one that forms when you’ve stumbled again. I have nothing to offer you.

But God…

He brings freedom. He offers compassion. He gives grace.

So I’ll let Him do the talking, and sit back and listen. I pray that these Scriptures speak to you in the same way God spoke to me through them.

…and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens…But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage. Ezra 9:6, 8 (emphasis mine)

 

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (emphasis mine)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (emphasis mine)


Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (emphasis mine)

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away,
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD;”
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. Psalm 32:3-5 (emphasis mine)

::

The only way to shake off the feelings of guilt that can plague us is to acknowledge our sin to Him, to confess, and then receive His forgiveness.

We are forgiven.

We can come boldly.

We must proclaim His mercy over us.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Yes, there will be times when the Holy Spirit convicts us. A scripture, a word of knowledge, a sermon, anything can be used by God to highlight an area in our life where we are straying from His perfect will.

However, the conviction of the Holy Spirit leads to repentance and restoration, not the shame and division that comes from guilt.

We tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others, or than others are on us. We must learn to accept the grace and forgiveness that God has given us through the work of Jesus on the cross.

Daily, weekly, consistently the process of handing our guilt to God must be repeated. There’s no quick-fix; no insta-millionaire. We walk, lead by the Holy Spirit, the path of repentance and forgiveness.

I’ve shared this video of my husband singing Joseph Hart’s “Come Ye Sinners” before, but I felt like this song so perfectly illustrates the call of God to us.

We all are sinners, saved by grace. In those times of guilt and shame, we need to arise and go to Jesus, so He can embrace us in His arms. And don’t ignore the warning in the song…

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden, bruised and ruined by the Fall. If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all

Do you find it harder to give grace or to receive grace?

What Scriptures do you turn to when you need to be reminded of God’s grace and mercy?


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Void

The two-story building on the corner of our street has been empty for three years now. Except for at Halloween. Each fall, like magic, all sorts of terrifying and provocative costumes fill the once vacant storefront windows. Fake cobwebs replace real, and people flock there to find the just perfect outfit for their trick or treating.

These parasitic businesses feed off the carcass of failed investments. This year we have two stores, directly across the street from each other. As if one wasn’t bad enough, my children can now see animatronic witches and glowing skulls everywhere they look as we pass each day on our way to and from Eli’s school.

Yesterday as I was driving by, I realized what a perfect analogy these stores provide of what can occur in our lives. When we repent of our sins and look to Jesus’ sacrifice to cleanse us inside and out, we are at that moment set free from those sins. At that point the Holy Spirit enters our heart to produce fruit as we walk with Him: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

These fruits grow in us as we spend time with God, in prayer, worship, silence and service. Our relational times with Him fill us and cause us to become more like Him. Like they say, we are like the company we keep.

However, if we shut off areas from Him, barring the door against God’s healing water of life, there comes a void. If that void is not filled by Him, it will be filled by something else. Jealousy, anger, bitterness, addiction, and more hide out in those dark corners. Ashamed to have something so ugly in our hearts, we hide it away, hoping others won’t notice because of the works we’re doing.

It may be only for a season, or it might take up permanent residence there, either way we’re left with a parasite. It eats away at us, filling a structure that is solid and sound with cheap and temporary thrills. All because we let a space stand empty.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11, emphasis mine

Have you locked off areas of your life from God? Is there something you’ve kept hidden because of shame of what others would think?

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