Making Progress

I just get so frustrated.
We often speak of deeper things via email so that we can linger long over ideas, drawing them more fully into ourselves before we respond.
I feel that after so many years of following Jesus that I should have made more progress, that I should be more like Him, think more like Him, speak more like Him. Yet I still struggle every moment to obey, to control my temper, to love others.
Me too, Dad. Me too.
My heart feels heavy when I look at any given week and how much I have failed my husband, my daughters, my God.
I want so desperately to be like Jesus, to have love be my first response in any situation, to be grateful for everything that comes my way.
Yet day after day I lose my temper, I choose my own desires over the needs of those around me,
I forget to walk with God.
Have I made any progress at all? It certainly doesn’t feel like it.
Yet God tells us that creating a new heart is not up to us. We are not capable of changing our heart of stone for a heart of flesh, but God promises that He will do this for us, that He will change us to look more like Jesus, to be who He created us to be.
Will I believe Him?
Will I trust what He says more than what my physical eyes can see? Will I trust the Word even when contrary evidence seems to mount up higher?
…. it is certain that the Christian does grow in grace. And though his conflict may be as severe in the last day of his life as in the first moment of conversion, yet he does advance in grace — and all his imperfections and his conflicts within cannot prove that he has not made progress. ~ Charles Spurgeon
As in so much of this walk with God, will I choose to trust His promises or my own imperfect judgement?
Heart of stone
May we all push aside the guilt that we pour down on our own heads and say with the 17th century monk, Brother Lawrence,
When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, “I shall never do otherwise, if you leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss.” Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it. ~ Practicing the Presence of God
May we all trust God that much and give ourselves no further uneasiness about it.

My Prison

Sometimes I live in a prison.
It is a prison of my own making, but it is a dingey dungeon nonetheless.
These bars over here are the guilt I give myself whenever I read instead of playing with my children. The guilt that I feel Every Single Time.
Those dirty, cinder block walls over there are the pressures I put on myself to be sure I am teaching my kids every single thing they will ever need to know in their lives. Perfectly.
That low, suffocating ceiling up there is the stress of trying to be the perfect wife, with the perfect body and the stellar cooking skills. The pressure of trying to give without taking. Ever.
It is an unreasonable prison, and I know it. Deep down I know that I am imperfect and that it is okay to rest, to receive, to care for myself.
Gratefully, I live here only some of the time. Only some of the time do I give in to the pressure I feel around me; only some of the time do I tuck deep into my heart those perfect photos on Pinterest.
The rest of the time?
Those are the times in which I wisely choose to listen, instead, to a God who says “I love you No Matter What”. Those are the times in which I choose to listen to One who tells me that His is a “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”
And in those times?
There is release.


Art Credits: photo of prison 1 and last photo of open door by Miguel Saavedra, photo of prison 2 by Colin Brough, photo of cellar prison from rgbstock. photo of prison window by Chris Hitchcock,

How to Give Yourself Grace

I’ve written about it before in this space, but since I will never act perfectly until the day I see my Lord face to face, I will just have to continue to write about it in hopes that this act of writing will somehow help me.  Perhaps it will help someone else as well.
I want so desperately to follow Jesus without having to fight against myself; I want to do the right thing at the right time without a raging internal struggle; I just want it to be easier for me to obey.  Will you join me over at Embracing Grace to talk about the grace God gives us even when we can’t give that grace to ourselves?  I’d love to meet you over there.

Losing My Temper Again

Her eyes begin to flood, her hands creep up to cover her open mouth, and her body caves in on itself, trying to hide from the world around her.

My eyes narrow, my hands clench into tight balls of anger, and my body tenses up as if ready for battle.

By this sixth meltdown of the day, occurring because we took a different route home from the game, my heart is weary and my patience is gone.

My voice is low but harsh as I demand that she stop fussing and quit crying, and I spit at her to just be quiet if she can’t be happy.

Hurt radiates from her eyes as her sobs get even louder. Guilt pierces my heart as I once again realize that I lost my temper because I didn’t want to deal with her. Hard truth: She was inconvenient to me.
I remember that she hasn’t had much sleep because her sister just moved into her bed to make room for Baby. I remember that she is struggling with a new sport and feels afraid of too many kids all crowded around the same object. I remember that she is only four and that if I sometimes have irrational meltdowns, perhaps she is allowed a few as well.

This feels like my moment-by-moment cycle: I forget, I am harsh to those I love, I remember, I am guilty. 

I now speak harshly to myself, trying to will myself into perfection, into loving without fail. This always fails. I am not perfect and my will is not strong enough.


I am loved by One Who is pouring more than I could even imagine into the lives of my husband and children.

I and my family are loved by One Who loves us enough to call us His children

We are loved by One Who, before the world was even made, loved each one of us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault. 

I am loved by One Who can make up for all of my mistakes, Who tells me that His power is made perfect in my weakness, Who reassures me that His grace is sufficient. (II Cor 12.9)

My strength is not sufficient to calm my temper.

My will is not sufficient for me to love my loved ones perfectly.

My fierce desire is not sufficient to force my little ones’ hearts into a state of loving God and each other.

His grace. This is sufficient. 

I am struck with relief and gratitude, and so I sing. 

He is good when there is nothing good in me. 

He is love, when I am not, on display for all to see. 

He is my hope because He has covered all my sin. 

He is true even in my wandering.

I run to His arms and allow His power to be made perfect in my weakness. I trust all of our hearts to His love.

(song adapted from Forever Reign by Hillsong)