competing for grace

When your days feel smashed together in a blur, because the calendar is filling and the hours are few, you  suddenly realize that summer’s days are a rare commodity.  As August descends in a flurry of busy, the ability to rest and to enjoy the fleeting warmth of the sun’s rays is usurped by agendas, meetings, and to-do lists that are becoming Mount-Never-Gonna-Tackle-This.

The joy moments may flee quickly, if we let them, but if we let mercy meet us in the chaos…if we let love be the pursuit we chase after… then we can stop and pause, breathe and wait, while we transition into our tomorrow’s deadlines.

When His heart illuminates ours… when we know God and are known by Him… the focus of our living, the passion of our journey, the end we are looking towards always leads us to Love. Because Love is extended when grace and mercy cover our everything.

love is

Love perfects our imperfections, completes our incomplete places, reflects the image of His reflection, and makes known the One who KNOWS us.

Thinking about these words in 1 Corinthians 13 is making me stop and pause  to collect some grace moments today.  Perhaps because I just celebrated my 23rd wedding anniversary with my love and best friend. We’ve been through so much in this life we have lived together.  I am grateful beyond words for the way the Lord orchestrated the lives of two wayward souls, tying us together in a bond that promised more than we could ever understand.


Maybe, it is because our oldest daughter will turn 21 on Saturday, and I can’t figure out where time has gone and I am counting memories of this curly-haired, brown-eyed girl who has turned into a beautiful woman before my eyes…an independent soul who needs to have her wings spread so she can touch the sky.  She has experienced more trials in this life than one so young should know…but she is seeking His heart in the midst of her struggle. She is putting these pains at the Cross and learning to exchange the weight of His glory for the burden of her brokenness.

Maybe it’s because it is our son’s senior year and one more of my little fledgling flock is bursting with ideas and dreams and goals and I am not ready to let them go. We train them to be prepared to leave… to go out into the world and make a difference because they have met compassion head on and learned a path through mercy to the seat of Christ. We train them to be strong, to think deep, to speak beauty and truth into their world because His Word can change every situation. But I forget to trust God fully, because the transitioning place isn’t always safe. 3 kids picture

And perhaps, it is the bittersweet goodbye to the middle school years of our youngest as she forges her way into the next chapter of life as a 9th grader, determined to be completely different than her siblings and making a colorful show of cascading beauty upon the world as she expresses her artistic self in stereo. She is stretching me. She is yearning to be seen as more than the youngest  and she is not afraid to be brave and wear her skin well.  Yet, I am longing to hold her youth gently close, protecting its precious innocence a little longer.

Maybe… that is a part of it.

But then maybe it has more to do with this heart that God has tilled and cultivated to long for more than this warped world has to offer us. Because when the reality of the world’s entropic settling weighs upon balance of our living, it feels like the scales are unfairly balanced and there is little promise to find a harvest of grace in our days.

What if we turned the tables on this pursuing that tries to capture our days casting us into the lot of not enough? What if we cultivate grace so that we can contend for beauty because Love has met us where we are and sharing that is our purpose?

As we recognize the strife that steals and destroys the goodness His rest has provided us as we choose His way, the way of love,  then we are no longer a slave to the demands of the way of the world.

I am finding that the discontent that has gotten a foothold in the door of my own home, no matter how many times I tell it to leave…has a lot to do with chasing an empty trophy I was not destined to pursue.

Raising teenagers has surely opened the door up to a lovely display of drama in extreme.  Somehow, no matter how hard we try to fill them with the truth, even in the body of Christ, there is a contending for position and a disengaging because of status.

And somehow love seems less of a measuring rod when our eyes are looking, scanning, and seeking for the things we think we need… or perhaps the people, activities, and labels we perceive as acceptable. But what if we dare to change the reality of comparison and spill love as a competition of grace?

As a mom, I can easily forget how the ‘fitting in’ during these years can forge the self-image we carry into our days. But watching it through my children’s eyes, I remember the scars I carried well into my walk with Jesus… they were not immediately fixed by the washing of His blood upon my soul. They were deep-rooted memories that only consistent cultivation and abiding close to the heart of love can work out.

If I am honest, they are still being gently prodded forth because the struggle is still real and this grace-chasing Jesus lover needs to grasp the meaning of’ love is’, even still.  And  I want to protect my kids from the hard and ugly that we all have surrounding us, but the trial and the breaking through are the very things that perfects us.


 In patience and gentle obedience to His calling, we are made into a reflection of His glory, because  LOVE is the way we are known and understood.  Love is the only weapon that doesn’t leave a scar of death upon our soul, because He already bore the death  we were called to be buried into and has kept the scars as proof of this ransom.

The wounds we wear are never meant to break us, but perhaps they  are meant to be a catalyst for mercy in someone’s life around us. 

And I wonder, about leaking love into life, like one who is chasing grace like a competition.  What if we choose to contend for the opportunity to spill grace into people because we have been changed by  all that love is?

Thinking on conversations lately about fitting in and finding life-long friends; about future plans and finding life-long purpose; about seeing His handprint and finding life-giving faith… I am challenged  to wage a battle for grace in my midst.


Because if we are competing to be those who are contenders for grace,  extenders of mercy, and obedient to love well … then we all win.

James writes about impartial favor and unconditional love through mercy in the 2nd chapter that bears his name.   He is warning us to be unbiased in this world, with our love, and to choose rich faith as our kindred-ness, rather than similarity, likability, position, or gifts.

Contending for grace and mercy lead us to live out love in obedience.

So speak and so act as people should who are to be judged under the law of liberty [ the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love.]- James 2:12

This law of liberty is the law of love and mercy exults victoriously over judgment.

Christ entered into grace with others because compassion was fueled by all that love is. He chose to step into the mess of our lives and to look past the scars we wear. He saw purpose and enough in those he met. He called for life and expended mercy because He loved them well.

Today, I am pondering the power of chasing after grace as a competition… not to win for myself, but to win for Christ. To seek out the way of letting grace spill, because love and mercy are the antidote to comparison in this world and compassion is always the way we win.

It is enough…because love is the greatest.

How are you finding #gracemoments as you contend to spill the love of God into the lives of others today?



If you are a blogger, link up here with  a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*

Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.

If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment.  Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.

Each week I will  try visit as many of your amazing  posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.