Monday, September 30, 2013

Inspirational Quotes- St. Augustine

Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.
I read this while I was doing a health course for high school this year. It made me stop and think, just how often have I paused to wonder? Have I completely forgotten what it is like to feel wonder at something so beautiful, so unique, so pure?

When I think of wonder I think of a young child who is just discovering the world for the first time. They are entranced by everything, the movement, the colors, the sounds, and the way things feel. The smallest thing holds them entranced.

I think our culture has grown very dull, lethargic, and well, too grown up when it comes to wonder. We have anything, and everything as soon as we want it. It takes something pretty huge to elicit a response. We have almost ceased to experience wonder at the daily "small" miracles that take place around and inside of us.

Well I, for one, am ready to experience that sweet kind of childlike wonder again. I want to see myself, God's highest creation, in a new light. We as humans are such an incredible miracle.

Stop for a moment today to contemplate just how truly wonderful you are. Not only are you incredibly beautiful, intelligent, and complex. But YOU, you are made in the image of the Creator Himself! And if that doesn't make you wonder, then nothing will.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Becoming Grace Part 3- My 16th Year

Part 1 of Becoming Grace was about being shown that I was the not being the person God intended me to be. Part 2 was about my major panic attack that left me feeling completely raw and helpless. I want to wrap up this series by sharing about the most recent year of my life. My 16th year.

I can remember being six and thinking that in just ten years I would be sixteen. Sixteen was a magical age, or so I thought. I would be old enough to wear makeup, go to big girl parties, wear stylish clothes, be beautiful, smart, and ready for anything! It would all be so wonderful!

I had gotten a little more practical after during the ten years that followed. Life had kicked me around a bit more, I had had some dreams die a very painful death, I had felt scared, sad, lonely. But I think as I lay in bed the last night as a fifteen year-old I still had a remnant of that feeling, that sixteen would be magical!

Well, like so many bubbles of false ideas, I had mine burst by reality.

I started my sophomore year of high school just two days after my major panic attack. It was really hard. I to like be prepared for the school year, but instead it felt like I had fallen into my new school year. Later that year my dad started a new job that meant he had a two hour commute each day. While being a good thing in the long run, this put a lot of strain on our family. In early spring we started looking for a place to live that was closer to where he worked.

We found a house at the end of April and had closed on the deal by the end of May. The next few months felt like a blur while we tried to maintain two houses. We had to deal with plumbing issues at the old house and a brown recluse problem at our new place. We moved in June 30th under very primitive conditions. July was spent making a lot of trips back and forth between both dwelling places. Later in August we had to put our sweet girl dog, Sonora, down after she came into contact with what was a potentially rabid skunk. In the midst of all of these we've had a lot of strife, internal struggling, stress, and tears.

I didn't write that whole paragraph to make people feel sorry for me, and I am not writing to whine about it. I am just stating the fact that this last year has been anything but magical. It has been a lot of sweat, late nights, fights, tears, fear, and the drudgery of everyday life.

Despite the many difficulties of this last year, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

During this past year, starting last September, I have experienced a kind of fellowship with my Father that I never want to let go of. Through all of my circumstances, personal struggles, and tears, my Father has reached down and grabbed a hold of me in a way I have rarely ever felt before. I have found peace in moments when before I felt chaos. I have found promises in the Bible that before were just some inspirational words on a page, but now they are promises for me! I have experienced a grace pouring from Him that is like no other.

I have experienced a radical change in some of the ways I see the world. I see life, beauty, and people in a whole new way.

Life is precious and wonderful not because it is always fun, or perfect, but because it is a gift from God and our chance to give something back to Him.

Beauty is something that God created because He is beautiful, and values beautiful things. When I am enjoying beauty, I am living out of that part of me that is made in His image.

People are God's highest creation, His masterpieces, His beloved ones. How His heart must ache when He sees the horrible things people can do to each other. How He must weep when His children are crying out in pain. How He must laugh for joy when He sees them smile, and share His love with others.

What I used to want to be when I grew up and what I want to be now are two different people. I used to want to be a hero. I wanted to be famous, someone people would know and be excited about. Someone who could help save the world. Someone who reached the thousands, millions.

But when I look at Jesus, I see Someone who touched people; and not just crowds, but individuals. Single, insignificant, ordinary people with their own pain, sin, scars, joys, and dreams.  He loved each individual as much as He did the entire group. And when He touched those individuals in their humanity, He started a revolution that is still effecting millions today. Including me, He touched me.

My name has become a large focus of mine for the first time over the last year. What "Grace" really means is something I never thought deeply about until now. God told my Mom to name me Grace because I would be a child of grace, mercy, and peace. I finally paid enough attention to realize that was not who I was and I needed Jesus' help to make me that person.

I now know what I want to be when I become an adult. And I know who I want to be until then. I want to be someone who people remember because I touched them. And not just the multitudes, but the individuals as well. I want them to remember me because I reached out, and they got to experience the redeeming grace of God. His redeeming grace through me, His Grace.

This is the entry I put in my spiritual journal the night before I turned 17. One year from the day that I turned that "magical" number 16.

"Lord, I dedicate this next year of my life to You. I pray that You will teach me, and lead me. Help me to see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, speak with Your voice, feel with Your heart, and touch with Your hands. Lord, it is my desire to be a person who people remember being touched by. I want them to remember and love being touched by Grace; and by grace I speak not just of me, but of Your everlasting grace. I am Your Grace dear God, I have been saved by grace, and I desire to extend that same grace to the world. So here I am Lord, I am Your Grace. I love you Oh Holy One. Alleluia. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

I have so far to go, so much to learn, and many more mistakes to make. There will be moments where I revert back to being the person my flesh wants to be. But in my spirit, in the truest part of myself, I desire to be Grace. I now rejoice because I am finally on the road to Becoming Grace.