The Grace To Be Human

When we reduce ourselves and others to merely "what need can be met", then we have failed to understand what it is to be human.

The overwhelming needs of other people can cause us to just live on auto-pilot where the highlight of our day is checking every one else’s needs off of our list.

Because that is what successful people do.

They git ‘er done.


But that is not and has never been the picture of life that God has had for us.

Paul said it this way:

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

Galatians 5:1

(The Message)


I guess what I’m trying to say is that what you do is important, whether it’s a career, or it’s a title like mom, or maybe you have this burning desire to do something great – it’s your destiny, your calling.

These are so critical.

But only if you are free to be you – no strings attached.


Even in the best of situations, positions and titles can easily become something they were never meant to be.

Things like our “vision” and our “purpose”, our “calling” and our “destiny” can easily slip in and replace the core of who we are.

Our identity.

And vision, purpose, calling, and destiny should always come secondary to our identity.


Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.

Proverbs 4:23

(The Message)


You and I see it all the time.

We can find a false identity in our careers and feel completely lost when we no longer have the 9-5 grind due to an illness or a company downsizing.

Those crazy stay at home, homeschooling moms who no longer have any identity outside of what they do for their children and husbands.  You know the ones, they spend hours either posting or trolling for new ideas on Pinterest.

It can even be as simple as identifying with a group or organization rather than seeing ourselves and others as human first.


And it’s a temptation, lets be honest.

We end up selling out our relationships with ourselves and others on the altar of our false identities.


For the overly responsible ones, relationships sour into a place of quiet resentment as they continue to quietly pick up the slack for those who were ambivalent or who failed to see their responsibility.

For others, life can become a place of broken and shallow relationships, as they never understood what it meant to be accountable to others and to willingly ask for feedback so that a true connection might occur.

Because when we reduce ourselves and others to merely “what need can be met”, then we have failed to understand what it is to be human.

We fail to understand that as God is, we are.

We just are.

He loves us just as we are.

Without performance.

Any changes He may ever ask of you are only out of three reasons:

  1. to benefit yourself
  2. to strengthen your relationship with someone in your life
  3. to deepen your connection with Him


The life He desires for us is so much more than the cheap quality of life that comes just from fulfilling a purpose or meeting a need.


Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.

Proverbs 4:23

(The Message)


And so every once and awhile, God allows life to shake us up a bit.

Please understand me, God is not orchestrating horrible things so that he can get your attention.  But like any good parent, he does step back sometimes to allow us to experience the consequence of our poor choices.

So that we can see how self-destructive our patterns have become.


Several years ago, my husband and I both lost our jobs and I was pregnant with our oldest son.  We also had just bought our first home.  We were rocked.  We had no idea how we would make it. And we were both wondering why God had left us up creek without a paddle.

But you know what.

We survived.

More than that.

We grew and thrived and learned the hard lessons that God was teaching us about ourselves.

And as brutal as that season was.

I don’t regret it.

Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t be the first to raise my hand to do it again, but I definitely don’t regret it.

Our lives had become so efficient.

We were successful.

We had plenty of money.

We both worked hard.

But the truth is, that we weren’t really living.

We were just really efficient at getting things done.


But what kind of life is that.

And what had all of our efficiency reduced us to?


Human vending machines.


I can honestly say that I am more alive today than I was back then.


My house is messier, because I have shifted from focus from just having a clean house to teaching my kids how to pick up after themselves.

Our financial state is still considerably less than when I was also working (now, I’m one of those crazy stay-at-home, Pinterest-trolling, homeschool moms), but I wouldn’t trade the freedom of being able to be with my kids during the day as they are learning and growing. (just as long as I don’t lose my identity in it!)

It also gives me the freedom to hang at Starbucks and write.  The other amazing gift that has come from having less disposable income is learning how to do things for myself.  I just reupholstered my dining room chairs for $60 instead of shelling out $1000.00 for the drool worthy Pottery Barn version.


My Pinterest stalking habit paid off.  I reupholstered our dining room chairs.  This picture is before the nailhead trim was finished.

I have more peace.  And that, my friends, is maybe worth more than anything else.  I am not running around trying to meet everyone’s needs all the time anymore.  I still slip up and fall back into old patterns but far more often I can just chill and let the unimportant things go.

I could keep going.

The list of all of the things we took out of that season is long.

But it can be summed up in this:

When we reduce ourselves and others to merely what need can be met, then we have failed to understand what it means to be human.


And it’s so easy to do, whether it’s in a career, a church position, a praying mama pulling for her kids, a public speaker, a role that we have put on ourselves, I mean really you can lose your identity in just about anything.

Because of the needs of other people.

And the false expectations we have of ourselves.

Whether they are real or perceived.


So today, I hope that you’ll give yourself some grace.


Grace to be patient in the learning process.

It will occur whether we want it to or not.  Our choice is will we allow God to teach us something new about ourselves or not.

I hope that you’ll accept the gift of grace he’s giving.

It’s his grace to be human.







Grace Up

So, there’s this forever old debate in the church, especially the American church.

Are we preaching too much grace?

Are we tossing around words like grace and mercy like those guys toss spatulas and eggs at Benihanas?

It’s all fun and games until a customer gets egg on his face or worse a spatula in the eye.  Then where’s your grace?  Oh, don’t worry about mercy – it’s coming your way. . .because it’s tattooed on the customer’s knuckles.

Meanwhile, the debate continues.

Is sharing about the grace of God over and over again giving people a license to sin?

I think it depends on your perspective of grace.

Grace by definition is “God’s unmerited favor”. . . which if you’ve been in the church long enough you can repeat that definition forwards, backwards, on a train, in the rain, when in pain, ain’t it a shame, this is getting lame.  But hardly anybody knows what the heck that really means.

It means, the fight is rigged so that you  win.

You win.

So what’s this debate about then?

This grace stuff sounds alright.

Yeeeeeeaaaaaah, but there’s one catch.  You gotta man up, er, I mean grace up.

You can’t step into the ring, tell the ref you got this bagged, and then go sit in your corner til the final bell.

So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land! . . .

That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

Romans 6:1-3 & 12-14 (The Message)

Grace is God’s favor, that we didn’t earn. . . so we can live in freedom.  Sometimes grace is gonna look like God is giving you a freebie (maybe someone bought you groceries this week), sometimes grace is gonna look like God giving you a choice (maybe you have two jobs offers to choose from), sometimes grace is gonna look like discipline and God is training you to be able to handle more (responsibility, money, honor, etc).

But maybe more than anything else, grace is God’s favor, his help and his strength to help us get back up when we do sin.

Sounds churchy  huh?

All this talk about sin.

Dunno about you but the word sin takes me to the place of “don’t do this” and “don’t do that’, and “dear God don’t even think about that one.”

But here’s another definition, sin is “missing the mark”.

What mark?

Relationship with God is the mark.

Sin is anything that causes you to miss that.

Which is a much easier way to look at things than trying to remember what you can and can’t do.

So when it comes to grace – for me it’s the gentle voice of the One I love saying, “I love you and I believe in you.  Don’t let this thing come between us. I want better for you. ”

And I dunno about the rest of the church but I don’t know that there could ever be too much preaching on that.

Graduating God

Let me tell you about my day . . .

or my days these days. . .

I wake up most days to the sound of 6 alarm clocks.  The first two are the peaceful, generic melodies pre-programed into my husband’s and my cell phones.  The best part?

There is a snooze button.

LOVE the snooze button.


The remaining 4 alarms are as follows:

Alarm #3: A high pitched wail, similar to that of a fog horn or severe weather siren.  This one has no snooze button and in fact will get louder if ignored.  She is known in these parts as “Papaya” but is often times mistaken for a baby.  Note:  None of our earlier models can produce decibels like this one can.

Alarm #4: This one is called the Cyndi Lou Who.  Her alarm of choice is usually the soft sound of “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy. . .”.  She also has no snooze button but her overall ability to force her parental units from a dead sleep is fairly slim. . .unless she can’t find her blanket known as “Fuzzy” or “Fuvvy”.  Should (God-forbid) that “Fuvvy” go MIA, sweet Cyndi Lou Who can produce sounds that can pierce eardrums, cause extreme embarrassment in public places and break sound barriers.

Alarm #5: The Dom Bomb.  This is something resembling an explosion of noise and blinding energy.  There is no snooze button.  He would emphatically add, “you can’t snooze da Dom Bomb”.

Alarm #6: Bossy-albeit-forgetful-Beagle-who-sleeps-in-my-bed-at-my-mercy alarm.  Kicks issued to my kidneys, alerting me that the previous 5 alarms have all sounded. Three of which are still bothering her REM cycle.  Also, has no snooze button.

The funny thing is, I’ve been thinking lately that this is only temporary.

One day, I will miss this.

One day, my house will be quiet between the hours of 5:30 am and 7 am as I sit and drink my coffee in peace.

One day, maybe I’ll get around to eating breakfast.

One day, I plan on shuffling to the bathroom first thing in the morning without an audience.

One day, I’ll sit with my cup of coffee and watch the clock.  I’ll fiddle with the handle of my mug and toy with the idea that revenge is a dish best served hot and that maybe I should go bounce on the beds my 3, now teenage, kids asleep upstairs.  Maybe a bullhorn would be a nice touch.

One day, I will have graduated from the days of babies and toddlers and moved on. . .

And life is always like that.


We learn, we grow, we get to graduate to the next season in life.

But even with all of our graduating, we never graduate God.

Life was meant to teach us that.

Life is pretty smart that way.

But graduating is necessary because it causes us to grow up and have a more mature relationship with him.

Which is actually really awesome.

We get to grow up.

God wants to be with us that much, for us to know him at an adult level.

That he wants us to know him that completely.  To be able to relate to him and have adult conversations with him.

He wants that.

But even in his wanting, he waits.  He waits for us to grow because the truth is, even with all of our graduating. . .

We never graduate from him.

We are in perpetual relationship with him.

Oh sure, our relationship changes, just like mine will with my kids.  I’ll no longer have to change diapers and contrary to popular belief in my house, I will not be wiping anyone’s butt when they are 18 (don’t ask, you don’t want to know the thoughts that roll around in little minds).

But my kids will always be my kids.

We don’t graduate from a relationship with God.

We graduate into a new depth of relationship with God.

We graduate into a deeper kind of grace.

 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18 (HCSB)

I love that we can’t outgrow God.

There is a whole relationship with him that we’ve never imagined.

Whether we’ve been hanging out with him for minutes or years or decades.  He is so full of surprises and mysteries and the conversations never get old.

He will blow your mind if you let him.

And that’s true for every stage of life, every conversation, and every graduating step.

Letting go

Submitting to others.

Man, does it throw a wrench in a girl’s plans.

My husband changed Write Nite on me. . . with good cause – we are saying good bye to Teri and Brian tomorrow night (check out my blog from last month titled, “Go West” for the full story).

I kinda wish he didn’t change it so that I could avoid the good-bye.

I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest knowing that they will be so far away and part of me wants to say, “Don’t go. Stay in Minnesota, blizzards in April are fun. No, really they are.”

I’m actually thinking maybe I should come up with some scenerios to stall their plans like, pulling the spark plugs out of their car when they aren’t looking or siphoning the gas out of their gas tank.

But the other part of me, the less selfish part says, “Go.  Go do the amazing things that God has planned for you in Idaho.”

I can understand Peter when he told Jesus he didn’t really need to die on the cross, because that selfish part of him wanted him to stay.  But Jesus, knowing that all of humanity was resting on his obedience, had this to say.

Matthew 16:23 (NLT)

 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”


But the truth is, Jesus wasn’t really talking to Peter.  He was talking to Satan.

Do I think Peter was possessed by Satan?


So what did Jesus mean when he said, “Get away from me, Satan!”?

I think Jesus, discerning the source of the words was taking a stand saying, I will not be dissuaded from following what God has asked of me.

The words coming out of Peter’s mouth were based out of fear and selfishness, but it looked like some really good wisdom.  It sounded like it could have been mistaken for faith –

Peter: Naw Jesus, no way could death happen to you.  I’ve seen you heal the sick and cast out demons.  I was even there when you raised Lazurus from the dead.  I’ve finally gotten to the place where I have the faith to see you as the Son of God.  You don’t have to go the cross and die.

Jesus stunned Peter back into a reality God had set up long before Peter was around.

This was the very reason that Jesus came.

To die so that we could live.

And the words coming out of Peter’s mouth were trying to convince Jesus of the opposite.

I think we all have those moments when we will fight the urge to say, “stay” when in our hearts we know what we should be saying is “go”.

We will undoubtedly have those moments to choose whether we will be like Peter.  Do we speak faith into another person’s God given dream or do we hold them back with our questions and concerns?

And we will also have moments to choose whether or not we will be like Jesus.  Some of us will have those who have the grace to let us go with their love and support into the great unknown – it could be anything from trusting God while you start a new business or taking a season to wait on God until he shows you what’s next.  Some of us will have those who are afraid to let us go, and we will have to decide whether we follow God into the greatest adventures of our lives or whether we pull back and stay where it’s comfortable.

I might be a hot mess as I say good-bye tomorrow but I want to be able to say I was able to let Teri and Brian go with grace – even if it’s sloppy, boogery type of grace.