Grace… My Story…

img_0596-1In truth… I want to be able to continue to balance this life God has given me… I want to become a woman of balance for life… And I believe that’s part of cultivation… This ability of a sense… That allows you to see who you are… Where you’ve been… And where you might go next… And that’s me…

I grew up in religion… I’ve never fully accepted grace… Because I believed it was for everyone else… What I was supposed to give away… Not for me to keep…

And then I’ve been through consecutive years in my life… Years where I choose to work my way out of religion… Years where I wanted it all settled… I needed it straight…

And those years, well they produced harshness inside of me… I was afraid of letting God reach out to me…
Sure, I could allow the Holy Spirit to lead me… But God… Jesus… Grace… Mercy… I was tired of hearing about it…

So I shelved it in a way… All of the words… I placed them to the side… I had never accepted them fully…

And I didn’t want to hear them at all… Which made me sick… I was going insane…

Trying to work my way out of religion.. It’s just not possible… We have to have grace to get out.. We can’t work to get out at all…

Then I found myself here… In Cali…

Dazed… Confused… Despressed… Sick… And just hurt…

Hurt by myself for working to make things a giant mess.. And so I stopped…

I stopped learning… I stopped trying… I stopped carrying burdens of self and others…

And somewhere… Somewhere over the course of two years… Well I actually gained an identity… An identity based in grace…

Because God, in all of His grace brought me here… And whether it may have been through the encouragement of others… His grace and goodness has been my story while I’ve just lived for two years…

Even through my dad’s death… That could’ve been awful…

But God’s grace and love for me has been so strong… So much so that I’ve been able to be stronger than ever…

And now… Now as I’ve been choosing to come to a place where I just accept my role as a daughter in His Kingdom… Well I am finding that it’s so simple… I don’t have to read my Bible (I never do)… I don’t have to pray like the religious… I don’t have to study like I’m insane and need an “answer”…

I just have to accept grace and love and peace… And within that… Well I don’t care to try and fit in to become secure in who I am… Sure I might want to sometimes… But for the most part, I’ve learned to love me… To give my problems and the ones of others to God… And to stop trying to figure it all out…

And I believe everyone is different… The religious… The non-religious… But we all want better in some capacity…

And honestly… Grace is the only thing I’ve found and accepted… The only thing I’ve learned as a “parent”… The only thing that truly allows us to become good and better in life…

Because if I didn’t choose grace with the kids I nannied… Well… I might’ve gone crazy… But somewhere in there, I learned that they are learning… That they aren’t perfect… That I’m not perfect… And that they deserve patience, love and grace…

Because within it, it builds respect and trust…

And now, looking back… Well… I believe I can continue to allow God to just simply continue to give me grace in the midst of every day life situations…

And that, within itself, produces a huge Kingdom/lifestyle of pure, authentic grace…

Enough for me to just live…

Grace… Life Bender…

IMG_0575In this moment… I feel… Well I feel caught…

Caught in my own thoughts…

Consumed by the last two years of my life… How fast they’ve moved… All that’s taken place… How I’ve gotten here… To this moment…

And within the thoughts… Well I find myself questioning why I’ve always wanted the things I’ve wanted…

Why have I chased after them so?…

Whether it’s been a mental chase… A physical chase… Or even a spiritual chase… There are certain things I’ve always expressed to God… Things that I wanted…

And now that it seems like I’m “here”… Like I’m in those “moments” I always “wanted”…

Well I don’t know what to do with all of it…

And I think… For the most part… It’s because I’m changing and have changed…

The more grace I receive in my life… The more grace I can extend to others…

And in receiving and extending grace… Well I find my desire… The religious want to “help people”… Well it’s fading out fast…

Which makes me all together somewhat nervous… Because then what am I left with?…

I’ve thought for so long I wanted to be a a certain place, extending help to those in “that” arena of life… But now, well now my heart is changing…

And I guess it’s fair to say that I’m a little nervous…

Because I don’t know what choosing to embrace grace is doing in my life…

And what if the desires I’ve held for years change?… What if I find myself not caring about things I thought I held so near and dear?… Because what if I discover my reasoning for helping was a religious, pious?…

But then in the same thought… What if I allow this revelation on grace to actually consume me… To actually become a part of who I am… At my very core… To be my foundation… And what if it not only helps me get rid of religion… But what if it stirs inside of me a desire and a passion I never knew existed because it was too deep beneath the “I can solve their problems” mentality…

Grace… Covers a Multitude…

Over the years my grandmother has taught me a lot of things…
Aside from all of the things about God… Well my favorite would have to be baking…

From an early age she taught me how to bake… I don’t remember why… But I do know that I grew to love almost everything about it…
One day, after baking a cake, the cake split right down the middle… I was a little panicked because the cake was a gift…

That’s when my grandmother laughed and said, “Icing covers a multitude of sins”…

Then she instructed me on how to ice the cake just right so no one would see the ugly crack down the middle… So it would be covered forever…

It’s funny… I’ve referenced that story so many times…

But right now… Right now in my life… The place that I’m waiting in… Well I find God saying the same thing to me…

That grace… Just like that icing… Covers a multitude of sin…

And I have to admit… He showing me so many areas… Practically every area… Where I don’t apply grace… Where I’m unkind and graceless towards myself… Areas where I don’t choose to let grace be for me too…

Because for some reason I’ve allowed myself to stay in this religious trap of thinking my way through things… I’ve allowed myself to mentally work really, really hard to “figure out” how to solve the situation of the moment…

But that’s where I am realizing I’ve been so wrong… Because I see this trend of doing rather than being… Of doing work rather than allowing grace to cover it all…

And honestly… Honestly being graceful isn’t difficult at all… To me, it can be so simple…

And I guess that’s why I feel so encouraged… Encouraged just to step back from life’s situations… From the areas where I feel like I may be short… And just allow grace to cover it all…

And There’s More Grace…

IMG_9632The church…. It knows exactly how to push my buttons… I mean exactly…

Now… I respect the truth… And I respect God… And I love both of them and consider them close to my heart… But then there’s the church… The concentrated group of people who are Christians…

And I don’t really call myself a Christian anymore…I’d rather say I’m a believer… In Jesus… In truth… In accepting others…

And I’m not perfect… And I am hypocritical…. And I am judgmental… And I’m sure I’ve chosen to follow the very idea of where my annoyance lies right now…

But why… Why does the church continue to boast about accepting everyone… All that want to be a part… But then choose to follow rules…

And I get it… A leader told you too do it… But in the same sense… Why can’t we just accept everyone?… Because what if I was some emotionally distraught young woman looking for comfort… Looking for somewhere to share my story and to be heard… For truth to be spoken to?….

But I guess this is just another moment to kindly practice grace… To kindly love the truths the church does share… To kindly forgive… And to kindly move forward…

But also to examine my life and make sure I am accepting of those around me… And that I don’t shut people off because the religion that impacted my life “taught” me to….

It’s just such a catch sometimes… And I know I’ll have other moments of judgment… Probably today… Moments of not accepting those around me…

But I just want to take this… To take it and learn from it… And to be more of what Jesus actually taught and stood for… Welcoming… Without rules and regulations… And without the answer of “because the leaders say so”…. That stuff rubs me the wrong way….

And I also think this is a moment for me to recognize that as much as I hate the church… As much as I hate the things it stands for but forgets to practice… Well I will most certainly continue to follow what the Lord tells me to do… Even if that means being somewhere on Wednesday nights that doesn’t give too much to me…

And I will also continue to allow God to be exactly what he is to me right now… And I’ll stop trying to fit in and find him where I’ve always looked for him… Where I know him to be…

Because what if one day God can’t be found in churches, small groups and the Bible?… What if there is a time coming where we need to find him in others things?… Things that are alive and moving and real?…

And if that is so… Which I believe it is… Well then I want to continue to find him and see him through all of creation… The things that I see all around me… The life that changes and grows with time… The things that have structure but not rules…

I guess that’s where I am right now…

And the Grace Continues…

IMG_3383What would my life be like if I wasn’t constantly learning on a moment to moment basis… Constantly making mistake after mistake… The kind that help me grow and make me better…

And then I find myself so grateful for the opportunity placed in front of my feet… That I can learn how to raise kids without them actually being mine… And I continue to learn what I will and will not be as a parent… And it brings me so much hope…

But at the same time… It’s so rewarding to be in this place right now in life… Sometimes… In the midst of life… Well I forget how genuinely blessed I am… I get so glued to the drama in my current life and forget to see the entire picture around me…

And it’s good… It’s always been good…

And I think that’s where I find myself right now… In this place of being grateful for grace… For redemption… For the fact that life can change so swiftly… Or be changed so swiftly… For the fact that I can change and be better… Better than yesterday…. For the fact that I can teach a child how to do those things….

And it amazes me still that it’s so simple to share the faith that I was raised in… It’s so simple to share it without sharing the religion that micromanaged my life… To teach a child it’s not about how you start, but how you finish… That it’s better to have a day with a bad attitude and then become good, rather than just have a good attitude all day…. Because to me it shows that we have the ability to change… To transform and become better…

And I don’t know why grace is so important to me right now… I once defined it as the ability to forgive by seeing past the hurt and pain and then the ability to become close to others through love… And I know we all define it differently… That grace is what saves us and causes us to live a fuller life…

But I think to me… In this moment… This moment in life where I find myself pursuing simplicity but also pursuing meaning… Well I find it as a catalyst… Something that we use and can use everyday… Within every moment… Towards ourselves and others… If we just simply try….

And I guess that’s why it continues to become a topic of discussion when the 5 year old I nanny for has a bad attitude… It used to be all the time… Constantly it seemed I’d have to remind him to change his attitude… But now… Now he says, “hey Amanda, I changed my attitude.”… He says something before I have to chance to point out that he’s become a better person….

And I think that’s so encouraging… I think it’s so uplifting to see change… Well actually grace applied in such a small situation… That a child can grasp the fact that he doesn’t have to carry a bad attitude and stay angry with his world… But that he can just change in that moment and be a little bit better than before… That he can show love to others around him by forgiving them and seeing that they aren’t out to get him…

It’s such so encouraging….

And it also reminds me to continue to show myself the same amount to grace and love… To extend grace to myself and be forgiving when I make a mistake or have a bad day… And then to return it to others…. To show grace to them as well…

Because at the end of the day I believe we all have the capability of living life with a little more grace…

Graceful Heart….

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It’s Easter…. Last Easter I was with my dad… My entire family actually… Not knowing that it’s the last easter… The last holiday we would spend together as a family… And it’s sad to know that he’s not with us this year… That I cried myself through my sister’s first performance on the West Coast… And that the tears wouldn’t stop until I reached my car after the performance….
He just would’ve been so proud… Ya know?… So proud and so excited to have flown across the country… 1, 700 miles just to watch his daughter take on the lead role for one night…
And I’ll I could do after the show was try to hold myself together… Until I saw mom… And then both of our hearts sank again and we began to cry….
And it’s moments like this… Moments that don’t have words… They are the ones that I generally need to express in great detail…. Because expressing them makes them a little less heavier… And causes me to feel much more lighter… And then I have hope again that life is going to continue to become a better place….
But it’s just all of these firsts….
The first time celebrating his birthday…. Thanksgiving…. Then christmas…. And now the first watching my sister do something that I know would bring my dad so much happiness…. So much gratefulness… And so much love…
But then I find myself being grateful for other things… Like the fact that mom is here… She would’ve been here any way… But my grandmother and aunt are here too… And it’s a special trip of sorts for the three of them… So I find myself thankful for those things….
And I know this isn’t generally a holiday where we say how thankful we are…. But it is one where we celebrate god’s grace…. And I just feel like…. In the midst of everything I’ve experienced…. That my year has been full of so much grace….
And even in the midst of dad’s evident absence…. Well it’s nice to see grace within this entire weekend full of family…
Because it may not be the best easter ever… like the ones where I got to have easter baskets and egg hunts… or the ones that I refused to not “celebrate” because Jewish teaching taught me about Passover, rather than Easter….
But it’s truly a significant one… Because it’s the first without… But it’s the first that I’m spending with a heart full of grace…. And that graceful heart…. Well it might be just enough to move me on to the next mountain I decide to climb in life….