Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Forgetting Grace

It’s been one of those days and I’m scrambling for a solution.  Isn’t there a book I can read with a formula I can use to fix this?
I steam inside.
How did we become this?  What did I do/not do/forget to do that allowed all this to be?
I always seem to think that more information will solve the problems.
But life is not lived out in formulas and equations, and in real life there are more recipes that fail because I am always trying to fix heart issues with ‘just the right ingredients’.
Add a little of this, use less of that, try this new miracle formula…and voila!
Same problems, different flavor.
There is nothing on the internet today that will fix the problems in my heart.
There is no earthly book, no potion, no method or manipulation that will solve this lack of grace.
I just need Jesus.
And what more do they  need?  More law, because that really worked for me?
Not so much.
They need a mom who’s been washed, washed, and washed again and once and for all, because sin is a daily battle and grace covers it.
The one encouragement that we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and He’s strong enough to make us want to do the right thing.”
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace
We are all people with problems, living with people with problems.  There is so much room for grace here, so much gospel to be lived out.
But when we forget grace and use methods instead, we sleep with elephants on our chest because we fail, I fail.
I have this Hero and He won me with grace.  He’ll win their hearts, too.

Meeting One Person {Risk Part 2}

Friday, I said that risk was good and that we need to meet lots and lots of people.  Then I drove off to the big city, full of people, and ran into several that I already knew.  I gravitated towards them, the known and the safe, and walked by hundreds I didn’t know.  Hundreds I didn’t meet.

Dinner at The Horn of Africa {in Portland!}

Stopping for fuel

I suppose I took my turtle shell with me.

Saturday in the Goodwill, two men mocked Christians and laughed at one very dear, very devoted and well-known saint.  They bantered and built their conversation around lies, and I just looked at the clothes on the hanger.

A real risk-taker, I was.

I was a country mouse in the big city without my husband and I just felt little.  I felt sure that my husband would want me to keep to myself in that situation, but honestly, I was happy in my shell.  Happy and risk-free.

Then Sunday, back in familiar fellowship, there was a new family.  I swallowed hard and fought down the self-doubt and really, fought down the pride that worries about self.

I extended my hand and forgot names and had to ask again and I may have talked too long or too loud or too irrelevant, but I did it anyways.

I actually introduced myself to someone new.  And today we talked for 30 minutes on the phone.

I had thought that I had failed after the Goodwill incident.  I felt guilty for not standing up for the truth and for being timid.  I read about Stephen this morning,  his boldness and his risk, and thought again about my lack of both.

But another good friend put it this way.  What’s risk to you is not necessarily risk to me.  What’s hard for you may be natural to me, but there other things that scare me, and other places for me to take risk.

Introducing myself to new people really is hard, as silly as that may seem to some.  It really seems like risk to me.  That’s one of the reasons I write.

So I overcome, one baby step at a time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Giving Thanks for all this:

281.  Good friends

282.  A day with far-away friends

283.  Working on the dam with Jake

284. Being with my sister

285. Catching Fred {?I’ll be asking some questions ’bout this one?}

286. Jacob making soft pretzels, and taking bits of mom’s granola

287.  Bailey saying something not funny, and only her laughing

288.  Three people asking if we’re sisters : )

289.  driving 8 hours round trip  for a few good books,  a homeschool shot-in-the-arm,  and lots of good memories

290.  Good stories from the kids at home

Five Minute Friday: Risk

I’ve set my watch for 5 minutes.  I’m supposed to be leaving right now, on my way to Portland with my beautiful daughter for a couple days of book choosing and lattes.  But it’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt:

RISK.

GO

It’s much easier just to stay home, and when I’m out it’s easier to tuck inside the shell.

There is so much risk associated with being in public.  What if I say something stupid?  What if I say something irrelevant?  What if I don’t know what to say at all and I pull a Peter-on-the-mount?

I still remember the first time my dad made me order for myself at a restaurant.  I was Piglet-p-p-p-petrified, certain that the waitress would…I don’t know, laugh at me?  Give me the wrong food?  Not understand me?  I remember that I was scared, just not what I was scared of.

Something irrational, I’m sure.

And I remember many many foot-in-mouth times.

But risk is what I need.

My husband actually tells me to talk more.   Crazy.  He thinks I have something profound to say.

I’ve stood in front of large groups and sat with small ones, said lots of dumb, silly, laughable and forgettable things, and I’m always scared of the risk.

But a few weeks ago this came to mind (I hesitate to say the Lord told me…so take it for what it’s worth to you):  I, you, we all who follow Christ, need to meet lots and lots of people.

Scary.  That means lots and lots of risk.

But I, you, we all, have something worth risking ourselves for, and something worth saying.

STOP

When You Want to be Free

Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. – {Gal 4:7 NKJV}

We always struggle for freedom.  We fight to get out from under the law, and when we find Christ sometimes we still fight.

Fight to be better, do better, live and love better.

We struggle to make fewer mistakes so that our family will be happier.

We live as though the goal in life is to make God love us more, or make our spouse, friends, or children love us more.

What more do we want from Christ’s atonement?

A pitiful, sickly, and self-centered kind of prayer and a determined effort and selfish desire to be right with God are never found in the New Testament. The fact that I am trying to be right with God is actually a sign that I am rebelling against the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I pray, “Lord, I will purify my heart if You will answer my prayer— I will walk rightly before You if You will help me.” But I cannotmake myself right with God; I cannot make my life perfect. I can only be right with God if I accept the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. Am I humble enough to accept it? I have to surrender all my rights and demands, and cease from every self-effort. I must leave myself completely alone in His hands ~ Oswald Chambers

I cannot make myself right with God anymore than I can free myself from the bondage of sin.  Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe.

I’m reminding myself of this constantly, and praying to show this to my kids – that we are not good but God is.  We are not good and we can’t try harder or work more to become good.  There is so much tension in trying to be good.  

I just want to be His.

 


Marveling at Grace

No man is born, either naturally or supernaturally, with character.  He has to make character.  Nor are we born with habits; we have to form habits on the basis of the new life God has put into us.  We are not meant to be illuminated versions, but the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. ~ Oswald Chambers

Practicing thanksgiving…

 262.  smiling sleepers

263.  Hank the Cowdog, and getting to do my best Drover voice

264.  my wonderful wife of 16 years, today *blush*

265.  God’s provision for our family

266.  All 5 of my special children

267.  one home

268.  kind words from others

269. beautiful, quiet Wildcat Rd.

270. morning runs

271. instant hot water

272. summer break

273. 4 kids cuddled up in one bedroom, listening to a book on tape at bedtime

274.  sunshine in my window and a happy anniversary kiss on the forehead to wake me up.

275.  wonderful dads, awesome Father

276. fishing, swimming, swamp-walking together

277. a phone that withstood the swamp

278.  kids camping in the yard

279. coffee with my husband

280. friends coming to play

Five Minute Friday: Path

I love Fridays because Lisa Jo makes writing so fun.  Just five minutes and she even gives you the topic.

{In fact, come fall my children will be joining the fun…but don’t tell them yet.  Summer has just begun and we may lose pen and paper for a little while!  We are ready for a few lazy days, a few unpressed and spontaneous ones.}

But me?  I’m writing.

GO!

He actually found me.  Knocked on my door and said, “Remember me?”

I had never planned for marriage, never had the list of attributes or thought about churches or wedding dresses.  I had never seen a marriage that really looked like a blessing.

And my life had a way of just living itself out without my planning, anyways.

But he had the guts to knock on my door (well, my parents’ door anyways) and smile.  Just pop in and what next?

A difference in years and backgrounds and theology and none of it matters when God orchestrates something grand!  When God hacks away at the weeds on your path, and cuts out the poison oak and blackberry bushes that seem par for the course, when He does all that, who really needs plans?

All our planning or not planning just falls by the wayside.  We just follow the path.

So that was 19 years ago I guess.  And three years later we were married.  In a church.

And now 16 years after ‘we did’, after he quavered out Long as I Live and drove me away in that little white Toyota, I know I couldn’t have planned anything better than this.

Happy Anniversary, Baby.

STOP

I could go on and on, but the whole point is five short minutes of writing…

 

 

Creating Time and Art

We’re all making art here.

Horatius at the Bridge

Imagination puts blocks together into story, and there we are with brave Horatius.

We have free time to find.

Squeezed between the must-be-done and the screaming-urgent, we can all find time for a little creativity.

Dirt-movers create landscape and potential, a place to plant dreams.

And a little mud for boys-on-bikes.  *enjoy*

The left-handers choose girly pink paint and oil pastels to make their art, and it all comes out beauty.

And here, on the corner of the house that has stood empty for 5-ish years, the house-in-progress that has sheltered more birds than people, God put art.  Right there by the gutter drain full of slime.

And all I have to do is choose to see it.  To grab my camera and go find it today, because tomorrow I might forget.


“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, find opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein

Choosing Rightly {Overwhelmed by Your Options?}

How do you  make choices in this world of infinite options?  And are some decisions just too small to fuss over, or do you think He cares about them all?  I’m curious.

Sometimes the problem is not that you don’t have enough options.

It’s not that you have a big decision to make and your choices are just too few, and you feel forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

The problem  sometimes is that there are just so many good choices.

Whether it’s which charity to support, which cause to throw your voice behind, which restaurant to eat at, which outfit to wear, or what books to read.  Being in the Land of the Free can be such a huge burden.

A friend asks for homeschool advice, which curriculum to use, what do I love the most?  Do I open up the myriad of catalogs-websites-books-opinions out there and boggle her with the next 12 years of planning her child’s life?  Do I tell her all the pros and cons and finish with, “But whatever works for your family!”?

I need toothpaste.

Whitening, natural, sensitive, mint, cool mint, peppermint, or spearmint?

Bible?  KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, NASB…

And do I expose my kids to this smorgasbord?  Do I give them so many choices for breakfast that they feel entitled to always have it their way? 

It used to be nothing but oatmeal.  Why did I waffle?  What have I done to the simple life I wanted for us?

I like having choices, don’t get me wrong.  I like what I like and sometimes I like to change what I like.

But I get easily overwhelmed.  When it seems like the decisions are huge and there can only be one choice that’s right, I feel like that man at the fair, juggling knives.

You’d better get this right.

But there are a few things I’ve learned about making decisions, mostly from my husband.

1. God knows your heart.

This brings me peace in the swirling.  He’s not waiting to pounce if I choose A instead of B, not crossing His fingers hoping I make the right decision.  If my heart is right with the Lord and I am not purposely ignoring Him, I can trust His guiding.  I can rest in His grace.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you.  But to do justly, To love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – {Mic 6:8 NKJV}

Doesn’t He make it simple for me?

Yes.  Because I need that.

And I need to know that He sees me as His child, trying to please Him but getting sticky jam-fingers all over the kitchen.  Would He scold me for the jam and tell me that He wanted eggs, not toast?

2.  Once you make the decision, go with it.

I had to choose a sink recently.  I stressed over it, really.  Stainless, I knew for certain.  One-hole, definitely.  Deep enough for a big pot.  But in order to have a row of drawers to the left of the sink, I had to order one narrower than my current sink.

Would I like it?  Would it work for our family?  Should I choose a bigger sink instead of the drawers?

Because now  is the time to decide…this isn’t something we can just change later if it doesn’t work out.

I ordered the smaller one and decided  I would like it.  It would be perfect and I’d be happy and it all would be great.  And guess what?

It is.

That’s not to say that we need a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.  Not to close ourselves off from other opinions or suggestions or, especially, clear direction from the Lord that we are wrong.

But just that convincing yourself is sometimes the biggest obstacle and once you’ve narrowed down the choices, prayed, sought counsel, and have peace, go for it.

And I know, it was just a sink.

But if you’re choosing something a little more life changing than a sink,  pray, read, ask, pray again, check your heart, and go for it.  Move forward until God tells you otherwise.

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. – {Pro 14:26 NKJV}

3. Deal with your mistakes.

You will choose the wrong thing sometimes.

Some mistakes only require a little paint to fix, or a phone call or a letter or some elbow-grease.

Some mistakes really can’t be fixed, but you can start doing things right from this point on.  You can own up to the mistake and endure patiently, you can trust God through the consequences, and you’ll have gained wisdom when it’s all said and done.

We’ll know more when it’s over,  my husbands says.

Maybe you chose the wrong job or the wrong neighborhood or the wrong way to spend your time.  Maybe it was the wrong ‘parenting technique’ and now you feel like it’s too late.

It’s not.  Start doing the right thing now.  

Maybe you feel like you chose the wrong spouse, in which case I would refer you to #2 above and pray that you pour yourself into  being the right spouse.

Whatever the mistake, there is grace sufficient for a repentant heart, and times of refreshing will come (Acts 3:19). That’s always the best choice.

————————————————–

Choosing thanks….

250. starting over, again, because Mercy is new every morning

251. friends and family that stop by

252. my ‘new-to-me’ computer hutch, given by a friend

253. unprompted apologies

254. Jan : )

255. Academy for Character Education

256. odd jobs

257. two red-winged blackbirds out the window

258. sunshine and fresh air in the morning

259. 5 flat acres, a creek, good neighbors, and no oak trees  : )

260. crazy kids in the creek

261. 6 minuscule fish that become 22 whoppers in Ethan’s retelling of it

Five Minute Friday: Expectation

Five Minutes of uninterrupted, unedited words.

GO…

Expectation

I guess I’m kind of a fatalist?

I’d rather not hope in things that might disappoint.  If something exciting might happen, I’d rather just assume that it won’t  happen and then be so happy when/if it does.

I often wouldn’t tell the kids about something exciting that was maybe going to happen, like going to a friends house or a camping trip, until right before it was time to leave.

You know, so they’re not disappointed if the plans fall through.

Because hope deferred makes me sick and I guess sometimes I just distract myself with other things, certain things, immediate-result type things.

Like laundry.

But I want to live differently.  Because of course there are things I can expect with certainty.

Image

I expect, with certainty, that the sun will come up every day until Christ calls me to the Land of my Expectation.  That’s hope that doesn’t disappoint.  He is expecting me.  *smile*

And I expect that He will surprise me with His goodness, even today.

STOP!

{You can do it, too.  Write for five minutes and don’t pick apart the words…just write!  Click over here and join us, even if it’s not Friday.)

Proof

Last week I told you all here how I was freaking out in the camp trailer.  Now that I am ‘stable’ again, I can laugh at it all.

Isn’t that sad?  That the perspective I need comes only in hindsight?  Such is the way of the forgetful.

But as I was clicking through pictures last night I found this proof of my freaky-ness and had to laugh at myself.  And then scold my daughter for capitalizing on my insanity with her camera.

Here is the posed picture:

See how sweet and serene I look, all happy and excited about packing up my household?  Don’t I look so organized and together, neatly placing household items in the box?

And then the real me let loose:

Crazy lady, swallowing her tongue.

If you can’t laugh at yourself today, then at least you might laugh at me.  It’s ok.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. – {Pro 17:22 NKJV}

 

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