Tag Archives: peace

Be Inspired! Conversation with Julia Roller (part 2)

Be inspired! I’m excited to launch a special focus in June featuring interviews with Christian women whose stories, thoughts, ideas, and choices inspire me—and will inspire you—to love more deeply, to seek God more passionately, and to live more abundantly.

be inspired
To kick things off, we’re continuing the conversation with Julia Roller about motherhood and the spiritual life. (Click here to read part 1 – you’ll love it!). Julia’s new book Mom Seeks God honestly depicts the ups and downs—and the hidden beauties—of her journey as a mom toward experiencing God in new and different ways.

At the end of this post, read how you can easily enter a drawing to win a free signed copy of Mom Seeks God as well as a free, signed copy of my Bible study guide Awaken Your Soul!

Here’s part 2 of our conversation.

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Your book Mom Seeks God chronicles your experiences with different spiritual disciplines & practices and how they fit (or sometimes don’t) with the reality of motherhood. How has your faith-life (practices, etc.) grown and changed as a result of being a mom? What practices or disciplines seem to “work” best for you in this stage of life?

Julia Roller lowres

My faith life has changed in many ways, most of them for the better. I find that I see God more easily these days, in my children as they grow and learn, in my husband, in those around me. I feel less pressure to get everything right and more of a feeling of confidence that God can make beautiful things out of my broken and imperfect efforts.

 

The disciplines that are most dear to me right now are some of the disciplines of abstinence (of taking away rather than adding): simplicity, silence, fasting (from all kinds of things in addition to food). One of the overall things I realized after that year was that I was trying so hard to DO MORE. In order to be a better parent, to be a stronger Christian, I thought I had to add more stuff to my list—more activities, more books, more prayer, more time. No wonder I felt so exhausted all the time!

It surprised me how much I benefited from and felt close to God through the disciplines that involved doing less. As I was able to turn things off (in the practice of silence), give something up in order to increase my focus on God (fasting) and try to do one thing at a time (simplicity), I found that I was able to open up some space in my life to slow down and listen for God’s voice.

Mom Seeks God jacketWhat practices or disciplines might you recommend for other moms to try–especially those who may be new to the idea of spiritual disciplines?

Prayer is always a great place to begin. I think we often put prayer off—to a time when we have more time, when we have quiet, when we can really focus. For moms, that time may never come! I am a big fan of praying short prayers in the moment. When I tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I do it right then. When I find myself in a moment of frustration or anger, I try to take time out to pray right then. This gets easier with practice. I also encourage moms to look for that time of day that can be the best time for them to have a consistent daily time with God. For me it’s at night before bedtime; I know for many other moms, the early morning works best. I love the idea of coming before God when I am at my best and since I am a night owl, for me that time is at night, when I can reflect on my day and look forward to the next one.
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On Guilt, Grace, and Letting Go

This month journey with me through the theme “Surrender Your Guilt.”

stones handSo often we go through life holding on to guilt, burdened by secrets, harboring hidden pain, or listening to the scolding voices of self-condemnation. We let false messages about ourself, our worth, our failures, and our inadequacies dog us through life. We carry around lies, sins, failures, weaknesses, and all kinds of assorted junk.

And we need to let go.

In honor of my new book by the same title, we’ll explore how God’s grace enables us to do just that. Grace is so much more that we often see; it’s deeper, more expansive, challenging, life-giving, compelling, absolute and complete . . .

My list could go on and on! But to start things out, let’s focus on 5 amazing truths about grace that have been heartening me, changing me, healing me, inspiring me, and calling me.

1. Grace forgives us.

2. Grace convicts us.

3. Grace costs us.

4. Grace empowers us.

5. Grace sustains us.

I wrote an article exploring these 5 critical ideas in depth — it’s FREE on Today’s Christian Woman.com.

Here’s the start of the article, “Freedom in Forgiveness.”

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If you would have asked me two decades ago as a Christian teenager about God’s grace, I could have easily explained it. I might have told you about the acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” or maybe I would’ve explained the idea of “unmerited favor.” I may have outlined some of the theological squabbles about grace and salvation among various Christian traditions. And I definitely would have quoted Ephesians 2:8–9 to make sure you understood that it’s free.

But now, decades later with some life under my belt? I’d tell you today that grace is bigger, deeper, and more expansive than a simplified acronym or a theological transaction. It’s like that saying, “The more you know, the more you realize all you have to learn.” I’m discovering that grace is much more and does much more than I was able to understand in my youth. And I’m certain that decades into the future—when I’ve walked through more joys and heartaches and hopes and fears—my experience of grace will be even richer.

The God of Grace

So what is grace? In Scripture, “grace” draws together several key biblical concepts. In the Old Testament, it’s the “favor” God shows (hen in Hebrew); it’s being merciful and compassionate (hanan); it’s steadfast love (hesed). In the New Testament, the Greek word charis builds upon these concepts to communicate the favor of God understood, particularly, through the lens of the forgiveness and redemption we find in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE ON TODAY’S CHRISTIAN WOMAN.

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Join me in conversation this entire month as we explore how to live guilt-surrendered, grace-enriched lives!

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The Second Advent

This week in my TCW Advent devotional calendar I encourage readers to focus on the theme of waiting. We often tend to think of the people in the Old Testament awaiting the Messiah — and this is a crucial aspect of Advent. But traditionally Advent is also about our waiting. We too are part of the great Story!

colorful lightsThe word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” While God’s people in the Old Testament waiting the coming of the Messiah, we await the Second Advent: the culmination of our hope. This Second Advent will usher in Jesus’ kingdom of peace and justice!

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). 

Focus this week on your own waiting, your own hope. Jesus shall reign!

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Eye to Eye (A Digression)

My local writers group is connecting for a collaborative project. We’re all writing creative pieces exploring a common theme: Eye to Eye. So this posting is a digression from the entries on “being” for the month.

Here’s my short piece . . .

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Meditations in a Hospital Room

Eyelids drooping. Cheeks both slack and thin-skinned, fringing her jaw in narrow hanging folds. Mouth somewhat agape.

Inside, I was a bit horrified by the sounds, the saliva, coming out of that mouth.

And, deeper still, I was ashamed of my own horror.

Ashamed that, though this was my own kin, my dearly loved flesh of flesh, part of me stood back, hovered over, gawked at the strange spectacle of tubes and needles and humiliating gowns and hospital smells. Though an adult, I felt like a child – so unaccustomed with death. Stunned, and like a toddler raging, part of me utterly refused to accept the very physical, corporeal, reality on the bed in front of me.

My Nana lay dying.

And it was – it still is, so much later – so difficult to accept that the small, thin body under the impersonal, white blanket was the strong woman who taught me how to hike in the woods. Who invited me to prick up my ears and hear, really hear, the warm and droning buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz of the bees, skipping along the black eyed susans and ragweed. Continue reading

Savor Everyday Mercies

How do we cherish our families? Part of it comes in learning to see the beauties hidden in the small moments of life. So I’m very excited to introduce you to my dear friend Darcy Wiley — a great cherisher of moments. Darcy blogs over at Message in a Mason Jar and is “Mom” to three kids.

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Darcy, tell my readers a bit about yourself!

cherishfamilyThanks for hosting me, Kelli. It’s a joy to be at your place today. I always say I’m a world traveler turned stay-at-home mom. I try to go about my domestic life with the same eye for discovery that I had during my decade adventuring abroad. The kids definitely keep things fresh. The world is an amazing place when filtered through the lens of a 6-year-old boy, an almost-4-year-old girl and their baby sister. We love to ride bikes, do gardening, read books, go creek stomping, and lots of other things. Full-time motherhood is a pretty amazing gig when you think about it. I take a lot of pictures, but my real favorite way to gather mementos and to process a meaningful experience is in the written word. Right now, I’m in a catch-22, where the kids give me all kinds of material but often my work of caring for them leaves me with very little time for writing a complete piece.

As you reflect on the last few months, what has God been teaching you about cherishing your family?

I’ve been learning how love needs space to flourish. To me, that means clearing the schedule as much as possible to allow for unexpected challenges and to allow time for interacting without the grumpiness that hurry brings. Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable that I say no to a task they think I should volunteer for. But anytime I’ve given into false guilt at the expense of my family’s sanity, I’ve regretted it.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the pull between my two callings of parenting and writing. A few weeks before my daughter was born this spring, I had put a lot of creativity and time into the Take Heart series on my blog. As much as I loved that, I found myself surprisingly excited about being forced to slow down on posting in order to focus on the intense neediness of a newborn. It has been a re-centering time when I felt the privilege of tending to my flesh and blood as my first priority. In fact, as much as I want to share my thoughts and feelings and writing pieces with a greater population someday, I feel the Lord often reminding me that these children are the masterpiece I’m sending out into the world.

It’s so easy to take loved ones for granted. Cherishing them is a choice! What are some ideas you have for concrete ways women can cherish their families? Continue reading

A Fresh Look

I love the fresh feel of this day: a blank page, a new year, a symbolic fresh slate. Of course, it is just a normal 24-hours like any other 24-hour cycle. Yet we join to acknowledge it is “New Year’s Day.”

future lookLooking ahead into a fresh year can be hopeful and exciting. So many goals to pursue and dreams to reach for! Like a great big shiny platter overflowing with inspiration and determination, 2013 gets served up to us to relish with joy.

Yet in all the joy, determination, and goal-setting (which I “get” as an obsessive goal-setter myself), I must play Debbie Downer for a second. Because, if you’re like me, you’ve come to know that our hope isn’t some fairy-tale world of goodnesses. Because, if you’re like me, you may start to wonder on a day like today, “What heartache or tragedy or trial will befall me in 2013 . . . that I cannot even imagine now?” Not pessimism but realism forces these questions, because heartache or stress often blind-sides us. That’s part of the horror of tragedies — those who suffer often have had no time to prepare, no notion of what was coming.

Jesus offers us a big dose of this “downer” realism when he tells his followers, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). (That’s not the most seeker-sensitive message, Jesus, we may want to whisper. That’s not the most strategic slogan to brand your Way!) But there’s no hokey, slick, sparkley-toothed salesmanship around here — no “just trust Jesus more to get a problem-free life” garbage. Jesus will have none of it. That’s simply not the gospel.

As we look forward into 2013, squinting to glimpse what may take shape, we face two realities. The first: What we cannot control. Continue reading

Oh So Much . . .

Merriam-Webster tells me gratitude‘s antonyms are ingratitude, thanklessness, unappreciation, ungratefulness.

But in soul-terms, much more could be added to this list. On the polar opposite end of the scale from gratitude we find habits and mindsets like worry, bitterness, spiritual malaise, self-reliance, pride, mistrust, over-busyness, selfishness, consumerism, and self-centeredness.

When our hearts are full of a pervasive and interwoven sense of thanks — a conscious awareness that God has given us oh so much — we’re able to live soul-centered in the peace and joy of the abundant life.

When we don’t? We start to buy into the lie that we don’t have enough, that we just need what’s more or what’s next. We live a life grasping out in all the wrong places for an elusive “satisfaction” that cannot be found in material things.

When we train our sight on the many goodnesses God has poured into our lives — loved ones, friendships, sunrises, smiles, bonds of love, church family, and a multitude of rich spiritual blessings — we’re buoyed when hardship or suffering comes. We can trust God because we know how God has come through for us in the past. We can rely on God even if things turn out badly, for we know from experience that God is good.

When we aren’t strengthening our souls in gratitude? We instinctively respond to trouble with worry and anxiety. Rather than relying on God, we turn inward in self-aggrandizing reliance on our own abilities and efforts to work miracles. And if things don’t get better? We become people poisoned by bitterness and anger. Continue reading

Trust’s Nemesis

“Do not worry . . .”

Are these words of comfort . . . or command? Or some strange combination of both? Jesus challenged his followers “Do not worry about your life . . .” as he described God’s profound and generous provision for his people. (Read the full passage here.)

This wasn’t some flippant “Don’t worry about it!” like people often say today — because there’s no real comfort in closing one’s eyes to a scary reality and pretending it isn’t there! Continue reading

Learning Be-ing

Perhaps the title of the post should instead be “Un-learning Do-ing.” Doing, of course, is not a bad thing. What we do is very important to God in many ways and is part of who he made us to be–and we will explore that in an upcoming month.

But in our discussion of be-ing, do-ing can be a real danger. It is dangerous when what we do entirely defines who we are. It is even more dangerous, I think, when doing becomes inextricably linked with how we “use” time–When everything must be utilitarian, practical, or some sort of accomplishment. And it can be especially dangerous when doing = contentment and goodness while non-doing = discontent and discomfort that must be avoided at all costs. Continue reading

Lessons on Be-ing

We’ve just wrapped up a month of focusing on gratitude. This month’s focus: be.

We’ll look at God’s good gift of rest this month, explore principles of Sabbath-keeping, and consider how we might fast from busyness, at least for awhile. As a do-er by nature, I need repeated lessons from God on how to simply be.

I got one such lesson this past Monday. After several nights of sleep deprivation caring for two daughters with high fevers, I felt like I’d hit a wall. I was strung out on caffeine, doing my best to get through the day, living the sometimes-frazzled-mom-life, and really looking forward to some sleep.

And then I literally hit a wall. Continue reading