Guilt Can’t Live Where Grace Rules

The house is empty. The dishwasher is running. My daughter just shut the front door. I am alone. Maybe it’s only for a few minutes. I don’t really know. But one thing consuming my thoughts today: guilt cannot exist with grace.

Guilt may try to stick itself to grimey counters and flea-ridden rugs, but it cannot live with or exchange air with or coexist in a house with circulating grace.

Our family just travelled for over a month to three continents. We fought, grumbled, and complained on all three. We wearied of rolling luggage farther than Google Maps promised. We got sick of feeling slightly off-kilter on a luxury cruise ship.

We tried to see the best in each other most days, and often failed miserably.

Now we are home.

I see all I have with new appreciation: my fluffy bed, just firm enough. My big ‘ole house which can’t seem to cool down enough in the 90 degree heat. The fridge humming a little louder each day. But an intruder has tried to wedge its way through the closed front door.

My good pal, Guilt. I never invite her in, but she puts up a fine sweet-talking argument through the storm door. She’s loud, and darn it, she’s always ringing the door. Through the layered walls of my own house, she tells me my kitchen is a shambles, my kids are atrocious, I spent too much money on travelling, and I’m a miserable failure at everything.

She says I need to send my kids to a every camp available this summer, I’ve got to write like a mad woman to make a mark on the world, and doggoneit, I should be meeting everyone’s needs, but certainly not my own. She tells me I have to take up cross after cross.

I sit with now. You and me. A blank screen ready for words and this soothing ideology: grace.

The stirring of peace when I hear life happening, whether the washing machine or the door slamming after kid feet run down the driveway. The silence when nothing is happening at all. The knowing I bought bananas way too ripe, the black spots reminding me I’m ready for this shift.

I’m stepping into summer wide-armed and present.

Welcome, Mess.

Welcome, Imperfection.

Pull up a chair, Real. Tweet This

Come on in, Friends.

Guilt sits outside begging to be heard.

She’s a little kid, always running hard, insatiable in her hunger and thirst. Grace stands up at the table and lays a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s take her a glass of water, what do you say?”

“Will that shut her up?”

“Maybe. That’s up to you. Guilt always knocks, but she can’t live where Grace abounds.”

I see our pile of shoes by the front door, the ever-taunting mountain harboring dirt from all the places we’ve been. I remember how we dangled our sweaty legs in the Adriatic as we chugged soda as we sat on an old wall, Together. I sensed peace lapping at the rocks at Capernaum and our desire to bottle the moment immediately. I can’t shake  the spiritual glue which bonded our hands as we prayed over pasta and wine in Giudecca.

Someone comes through the door. My husband passes through, sweaty from staining deck furniture. I’m not helping, I’m writing. I cringe for a second. Silence broken. He exists as quickly as he entered.

“Well?” Grace asks, “Can we continue this conversation?”

I nod, knowing this afternoon respite is as true as walking through the front door after being away a month and opening the front door of home, always waiting, always shaping.

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Be Sabbath: Whispers of Rest

Be a culture of rest.

Be different.

Halt the striving, trying,

Scheming, making something more of yourself for a second.

Be resters, acknowledgers of your limits,

Aligners with your Maker.

 

Be Sunday people, Saturday people,

Call it what you will.

Be Sabbath. Be the Resistance.

 

Choose the better. Be the rester.

Recline in My love:

My provision, your shade.

My palm fronds stretch over your heart.

Hear my Whisper.

 

Resist the world.

Receive My love.

Whispers of Rest

I wrote this poem while reading Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. It’s the perfect read for easing into a slower season of summer, to rest with God and recover your life.

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If Your Purpose Was Existence, Nothing Else: Whispers of Rest

My gears are grinding to a halt, not of my own choosing.

My body screams, “Stop!”

Tears threaten to splash onto the table.

Neck tightens.

Hands tingle.

Pain tells mind what body intuits.

“Take care so you can live.”

Rest.

Live redemption, resurrection.

Love does not condemn

Receiver or giver.

Love loves.

Rest rests.

Curl up with a book.

Give space to your whole self

To breathe.

 

If your purpose was existence, nothing else.

Living as praise,

That would be enough.Tweet This

 

Whispers of Rest

This poem was inspired by the book Whispers of Rest, a 40-day devotional detox by Bonnie Gray.

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Beneath the Birch: Whispers of Rest

As you read this poem, I will be in the Land of Sabbath, the Holy Land. I will be site-seeing, but I will be resting too. Before I left home, I started reading Whispers of Rest, a 40-day devotional by Bonnie Gray. Her words ushered me into the place my heart needed to be. Life was crazy at the time and prepping for a month away from home is no joke!

On a morning in the midst of the chaos, I chucked my schedule, found a quiet place with God, and wrote three prayer poems. I’ll be sharing them with you over the next three weeks. I hope they prepare your heart for long summer days and a lifetime of learning to really rest in God’s presence.

 

I lie on the white couch in the morning heat.

Blue sky kisses my toes.

I roll out my life before God, bowing my head beneath birch tree shade.

 

He knows when I sit and when I rise, my coming and going.

Words on my tongue?

They’re His.

 

My hidings, my running, my mess,

My making and worries.

He says, “I know you.

Everything.

Take My hand beneath the birch.”

 

May we walk light, grass tickling our feet.

We will nap and dream and be,

Knowing we are known.

Whispers of Rest Book

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She Is Priceless, and So Are You: #PutOnYourPearls

She is priceless and so are you.

Her name is Pauline.

Her name is Maureen.

Don’t ask me to buy another bag made by a machine.

I can’t do it. Not today.

I am beaten down.

So is she.

I feel the sting of defeat, of shame,

Ridicule and self-blame,

Her too.

Her name is Neelam.

Her name is Esther.

Middle Eastern Jewelry Group

Middle Eastern Jewelry Group

I walk around the house trying to make dinner with a crying kid tugging on my shirt and pause to bury my head in my hands.

I wonder how I will carry on today.

Her name is Novel.

Her name is Rang Yong.

Her name is Noel.

Don’t get me wrong, we live in worlds separated by wealth and status and Gross Domestic Product.

I’m not pretending to compare our lives.

See, I know her name and that changes everything. It changes how I see rows of identical bags and earrings at the mall.

Somehow we are connected, and I can’t shake the feeling we are related in unseen ways.

I know her name and that changes everything.

making bags in Zambia

Making bags in Zambia

We seek to find worth.

We hope to find love.

We are the same. We hope our children will turn out, unscathed by our choices.

Yes, I know it now. She and I, we are sisters.

We are sisters as we seek to find God and meaning and where we fit in this consumeristic, image-driven, war-ravaged, cruel world.

We pray the same things:

That God would hear more than just our desperate voices.

That He would see exactly where we stand—in the place between dignity and poverty, riches and slavery.

That He would answer us, but more than that,

That He would be near us and use us up. Completely.

I’ve never been destitute or pregnant with not a soul to care for me.

But she has.

Her name is Karma.

Her name is Jungchup.

Her name is Dolli.

I’ve not been used up, afraid for my life.

But she has.

Her name is Raju.

Her name is Belinda. 

Hopeless is hopeless, no matter where you are.

Hope-filled is hope-filled no matter your language, income, or marital status.

MeasuringFabric

Measuring fabric

Micah68print

For if we have anything good to give this world, it is our hands. How we use them is up to us.

We can use them for good to buy and sell, but especially to create.

Its these small working, stitching, creating life-giving hands.

She and I, we make beauty, together and apart.

Not just a bracelet or a poem, a scarf or a blog post. We make ART and it is our good work.

We make beauty, it is her name and mine, connected by our handiwork.

The Father calls us well made—not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of how He recreates us from the inside out.

The rescuer brings Good news to the oppressed and the healing.

When she creates, I create too, by making a choice to honor her—not her craft or skill or stuff,

I honor her. I put on my pearls.

I honor her children, her DREAM.

I honor the Maker of this gorgeous international sisterhood.

When you need worth and hope, give it. Tweet This

SeveralNecklaces

Artisan and paper bead necklacesYou see, I can’t forget my sisters anymore—

The women whose names I know.

The stories I see, the faces, but especially their handiwork, physical evidence of their hope.

I refuse to forget her story, her face, or her name, but especially, her faith.

Her faith that someone like me will bypass the cute bags on racks, the mass-produced jewelry and headbands.

So don’t ask me to buy another bag I don’t care about, a bag without a name.

I can’t do it today.

Instead, I put on pearls and remember and honor and give.

She believes as she creates—stringing beads, printing cloth—we are connected.

She believes I am a part of her story.

She believes we are the same.

She believes she is part of my story.

That changes everything.

 Give a Gift, Honor the Oppressed

In honor of Fair Trade Friday artisans, #PutonYourPearls Tuesday, May 16. Partner with women who are finding freedom with Mercy House and around the world, women who make HOPE.

They are the ones teaching us how to change the world with our gifts. Honor a woman or mother in your life by giving to one of the fair trade organizations here.

She is priceless, and so are you.Tweet This

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IDENTITY: Finding the Proverbs 31 Woman in the Middle of Kid Chaos

Words by Shauna Blaak

The Proverbs 31 Woman―you either love her, or you hate her. She will either inspire you to greatness, or she will remind you of your weakness.

Rising early, working late? No thanks.

I can’t compete with that. I am definitely not a morning person. Does that really mean that I’m NOT a Proverbs 31 Woman too?

Great. More guilt!

Years ago, when the kids were little, I remember having a conversation with the Father in the middle of Walmart, of all places. (Yes, God shops at Walmart.)

I had been complaining to Him about how busy I was. I couldn’t compete with all of the other super moms around me who really had it together. I wasn’t rich enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t popular enough.

I remember saying, “Sheesh, God. Proverbs 31 sucks. It’s not fair that I have to do ALL of this stuff and Erwin doesn’t. He just gets to be the husband and be served all the time. I’m so tired. I can’t keep doing this.” 

In hindsight, I realize now Erwin had never demanded these things of me. It was I who put unrealistic expectations on myself, trying desperately to be the good wife. I was trying to live up to the Proverbs 31 Woman and exhausting myself in the process. No wonder I didn’t like her.

Out-of-the-blue, I had one of those almost-audible moments of hearing God’s voice.

He said, “Shauna, you are ALREADY a Proverbs 31 Woman. You see those boots in your cart?”

(I had about six pairs of winter boots in my shopping cart. Walmart was having an incredible end-of-the-season sale, so I was buying every size available because I knew that at least one of my four kids would need them next year.)

“Well, that’s just like verse 15, ‘She rises early and provides for the needs of her household.’  It’s not about being a morning person and working yourself to death—it’s about foreseeing the needs of your family BEFORE THEY ARE EVEN AWARE OF THEIR NEED.

“Your kids don’t even know they need boots next winter, but you do. You ARE a Proverbs 31 Woman!

“I’m proud of you!”

That moment radically changed my perspective on Proverbs 31 and my abilities as a wife and mother.

I realized that I had been looking at this all wrong. It’s not about working harder and performing better. Proverbs 31 isn’t a crazy ‘To Do List’ that I have to get done in one day. NO!

Proverbs 31 is a BLANK CHECK of purpose and destiny that I GET to accomplish in my lifetime!

What, seriously?

I GET to be creative and profitable.

I GET to be strong and beautiful.Tweet This

That’s awesome! I’ll take it!

——————♥——————

Let’s be honest here. Comparison is the silent killer of most women.

Comparing ourselves with the super mom down the street, or worse yet, the super mom on Facebook or some mommy blog. It’s no wonder that many of us slip into silent depression and give up hope altogether.

We don’t need to live that way any longer. The enemy has been a master at speaking death to us for far too long. It is high time that we hear the Words of Life that our Father speaks over us.

That’s exactly why I wrote, IDENTITY: Finding the Proverbs 31 Woman in the Middle of Kid Chaos.

We don’t have to hate her anymore. We don’t even have to compete with her. This creative and interactive study into IDENTITY and finding out WHO GOD SAYS WE ARE will have each of us breathing a sigh of relief.

You’ll love this book on your own, but you’ll love it even more when you do it together with friends. Perfect for mom groups and ladies’ Bible studies.

Find yourself in the unconditional love of a Good Father!

Shauna Blaak

Shauna is happily married to her college sweetheart, Erwin, and they have four teenage children. For the last decade, they have been living in South Africa and pastoring the worship ministry at Victory Church in Jeffreys Bay. She knows better than most the challenges that come with being the super mom of an international family. Shauna has a wealth of wisdom to share with other moms who are asking, “Who the heck am I now?” Find her at BlaaklistWriters.com.

Launch Party on Facebook + Giveaway: Saturday, May 6 from 9-11 a.m CST.

Win a copy of the book by sharing the “WIN a BOOK” announcement from the facebook page.

Excerpt used with permission from the author.

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