2021 Reflections on the Grace God Still Gives Us

2021 has been a tough year, hasn’t it? Most likely, for all of us in one way or another. Physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Losses of different kinds. Deep hurts in so many hearts. Uncertainties and fears about the future.

But God… Yes. But God is still with us and is giving us grace to survive. Even when we feel forsaken. Even when we feel weary, troubled, and sorrowful. Even when events in our lives or in the world have crushed us. He is still holding us up with His faithful love and compassion that will never, ever leave us.

This year God is teaching me on a deeper level how crucial it is to:

🦋 Remind my fainting heart to keep my eyes fixed on God’s unchangeable character. All the heartaches and changes in our world may disorient us or depress us, but God will never change and His love will never abandon us.

🌈 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 NIV

🦋 Let go of my tight-fisted grip of “needing to fix” situations out of my control. This is so hard to do, isn’t it? But God longs for us to leave these anxieties in His Almighty hands and to believe in His power to heal, redeem, and bring justice in His time and way.

🌈 “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT

🦋 Diligently seek, pay attention to, and thank God for the beauty and the blessings still surrounding me. There are so many blessings right in front of us that we take for granted each moment, right? The beauty in God’s creation, the strength we’re given with each breath and step we take (whether emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually), the kindness and love many people still do show. And on and on it goes. Even in the midst of chaos and heartaches, God still heaps on the invaluable gift of His grace so freely.

🌈 “And from the overflow of His fullness we received grace heaped upon more grace!” John 1:16 TPT

What has been the toughest trial to you personally this year? What special grace have you been given even in the midst of it, whether in the moment or in hindsight?

When Our Hearts Long for Reminders of God’s Faithfulness In Days of Uncertainty

“I hope it gives you joy,” she said.

I found a terrarium kit and a Green Bean Peperomia plant at a nursery. The clerk’s comment still warms my heart, and I thank God for people like her.

So what really is joy? I used to criticize myself more for not feeling “joy,” because I thought of it more as exuberance. But I know now that in a spiritual sense, it is more a deeply-rooted, inspired happiness within us. A depth of contentment in Christ.

“The word that describes happiness, joy, well-being in the Bible, is shalom. And it’s a term that covers all the different parts of who we are. Emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational. It’s really what we crave when we are talking about truly being happy with that sense of deep well-being.” ~ Holley Gerth course of 7 Ways to Thrive as an Introvert

So in that sense, plants do give me joy. 🙂 They bring life into our home. When colder weather settles into my bones and winter weariness drains my limited energy supply, they warm and rejuvenate my heart. They are visible testimonies that the life of every living thing is in God’s hand. They are beacons of hope and light, reminding me that our Life-Giver also has our every breath in His hand.

© The Lovely Scribe

My Little Terrarium

Above our kitchen sink, live plants brighten my day throughout every season. Did you know that live plants can energize a home by filtering air and increasing oxygen inflow?

My Fairy Garden

Reminders of God’s faithfulness revitalize me. Birds remind me of God’s faithful loving care. And you know how much I love butterflies. 🙂 My sister once surprised me with some flowers, and she had asked the floral shop to include a butterfly. After the flowers died, I slipped the butterfly into my cactus pot.

FROG – Reminder to Fully Rely On God.  BUTTERFLY – Reminder of God’s faithfulness and His power to break our chains and to free us to fly.

It seems these uncertain days and the increasing troubles in life require us more and more to open our eyes to beauty, to wonder, to what reminds us there is still hope. To refresh, refuel, and revitalize our sinking spirits.

What gives you joy? What refreshes your heart? Do you take time for it? Or do you think it’s a waste of time to pause in life to do something that revives your spirit? Maybe an uncompleted to-do list weighs you down? Perhaps depression has smothered the longing even to look up and search for joy?

“You know what makes your heart refreshed,
the things that make you come alive.
We need to drink in beauty wherever we can get it—
in music, in nature, in art, in a great meal shared.
These are all gifts to us from God’s generous heart.
Friends, those things are not
decorations to a life, they bring life.”
John Eldredge

In the way God has designed you, what makes you come alive? What gift from God’s heart especially enlivens your spirit and helps you to remember God’s truth and faithfulness?

Faithfulness
by Hillsong

What I Learned This Summer

gods-glory-in-butterflies
I had fun with this collage template and some of my butterfly photos. Every butterfly I see is God’s whisper to me – “I am still with you, My child.”

When I decided to take a break this summer, I was so overwhelmed. Every time I went back to the computer, that feeling would become even worse. It was time to step back and rest in body, mind, and spirit. Time to examine where I was in my relationship with Jesus and my purpose on this earth. These are some of the lessons I learned or relearned:

I need Jesus like the very air I breathe. Without Him I will suffocate in this journey of life. I have had times in my life where it felt like my bronchial tubes closed up and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I would die. Without Jesus breathing His love and life into me, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I will not survive.

I can worship God just by taking time for Him, by resting in His love and rejoicing in His goodness. I don’t give more glory to Him by doing more. I need to be more concerned with filling up at His fountain instead of how much I “do.” When my well is dry, I can’t offer refreshment to anyone.

I need to concentrate more on encouraging one person at a time, whoever is placed in my life’s journey. I need to quit beating myself up over not making enough of a difference in this world. At the beginning of this break, I thought that without my blog posts I wasn’t encouraging anyone. But God opened my eyes more to the needs of people He sets in front of me each day and reinforced the truth that even a smile or a compliment can encourage and make someone’s day, whether to a loved one, an acquaintance, or a stranger.

At the beginning of the summer, I was struggling with rebellion against chronic illness. I cried out – Lord, I am so weary of all this. Won’t You just take me now? What good am I doing here when I can’t even think to write a blog post? Why won’t You heal me, Lord? Why won’t you make me stronger in body and mind? Why does this have to get worse as I get older? How is this to Your glory? And on and on. At the same time I felt guilty that I was feeling fretful and complaining so much. After all, don’t others have it much worse than I do? I should be ashamed of myself. But God taught me that it’s okay to bring all my questions and troubles to Him. What is invisible to others is so visible to Him. Even when others have it worse, that doesn’t mean I should chalk off my own troubles as nonexistent. It’s still important to acknowledge I have a chronic illness and emotional trauma from past abuse and to grieve the losses. But it is also important for me to open my heart more to what I can still do that others can’t. To open my heart to all the blessings still surrounding me. To be grateful for His upholding love and grace through every loss in my life. To remember that He can transform the physical and emotional weariness into the beauty of growing stronger in Him.

grievinghowplanschange-6

I want to open my eyes more to the beauty around me. To see God’s beauty everywhere. To thank Him more. Even for ordinary, everyday things like seeing a dog as he sticks his head out of an open car window, the wind flapping his lips into a silly grin. So happy in the Creator who created him. I want to automatically whisper, “Thank You, God, for showing me this.”

I put too much pressure on myself to perform at this website. If I don’t post something every week, I feel like I’m a failure to God, to others, to myself. That’s not true. If I feel in my heart I need to rest from it, I need to listen. It’s ok if a new post doesn’t come out every single Tuesday. It’s ok if I don’t feel strong enough to write vulnerably every time. It’s ok even to just share nature photos and/or a sentence or two. God can make one word or photo breathe hope into someone’s heart just as well as many words. Nothing is impossible with Him!

possiblewithGod

“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
Matthew 6:31 NLT

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

A Child's Trust What is something God taught you this summer?
Are you in the midst of a heavy trial? What is giving you hope?

“Find Rest”
Francesca Battistelli

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