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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

A Part-Time Confession

As of late, I’ve been wanting to find a devotional that I can connect with and apply truly to my life and the stages I’ve lived and am living in. I have to admit that I’m not at all good with starting and actually finishing a devotional with 100% dedication and effort. Either I’ll finish it, but not have gotten anything out of it, started it with a full intent of learning more about our wonderful Creator and then lose that drive and slowly “wean” (if you will) off, or I’ll start it and lose interest quickly.

Was I successful in my search of actually finding a devotional? Nope, not really. But I decided to start with rereading a book I had once read, but I had walls up and was making excuses for my actions at that point in my life. I’m really glad that I decided to reread this book (and I’m definitely going to reread it with a highlighter in hand!) – now, at this exact point in my life, I can’t say I’m completely over everything I’ve gone through, but my heart has softened and my eyes have been opened and I realized so many things I missed when I read it for the first time and how much of the book I had forgotten – parts that shouldn’t of been forgotten.

What is this book? It’s called Confessions of a Good Christian Girl by Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan.

I can’t begin to explain the content of this book and the talent Maltby has in writing books for Good Christian Girls who are really broken on the inside and struggling to hold onto life. She covers every aspect that troubles women – writing with wisdom and advice, but also adding a personal touch, like the likes of a journal. A couple of my favorite chapters are chapters two, six, seven and nine. Each chapter is title with a title that often one’s heart will call out. Chapter Two: “I Can’t Take It Anymore” – The Desperate Pain of Suicide, “I Never Meant to Go There” – The Treacherous Trap of Addiction,  “Can God Hear A Crazy Woman?” – The Torment and Stigma of Mental Illness, and “How Much Longer, Lord? – Practical Grace for the Chronically Discouraged. I can’t stress how much I just wanted to reread the lines of those chapters over and over and over – highlighting and copying. The content in those chapters – I don’t want to forget them. I remember reading through them this second time and just going: “Amen,” “Yes,” “Exactly” (and so on so forth).

    Having listed those chapters as my top favorites, I’m sure many of you can guess what I’ve struggled with. Being only a teen, I’ve honestly been through a lot – but so have a lot of other teens, and frankly people in general – especially Good Christian Girls. At one point in her book, Maltby points out that it is often the women who are those Good Christian Girls that struggle the most, yet they – we – hide it, wanting to help others and follow Christ’s example. We push everything down, becoming accustomed and acquainted to the ways we live our lives. I can totally attest to that – I may not be that young woman who is constantly involved with cooking dishes for new moms, potlucks, and Bible studies… but I am that young woman who is constantly striving to grow deeper in my relationship and ministering to those around me. But I’m also that young woman struggling to keep hope, to strive to get one more day under my belt, and constantly battling my own mind in a battle of strength and weakness; to keep from reverting back to ways I’ve always known, the depression that caused me to hit dangerously low points, and memories that bog me down so that I am unable to move on.

    One of the passages in Maltby’s book was a slap in the face – a good slap (if that’s possible), as in it brought me back to reality and realization. And in saying this, I obviously want to share it:

        “This kind of pain can feel like living in slavery. Eternally trapped in our circumstances.
Yearning for release but unable to break free. Sometimes we can’t even imagine what freedom
would be like. Or sometimes the real trouble kicks in after we’ve been released… And we know that God is at work in our lives – we’ve seen the evidence. But still we find ourselves lost and wandering, somehow unable to find our way into the next chapter of our lives.”

– Tammy Maltby, The Confessions of a Good Christian Girl, pp. 203

There were points in my life that I also was testing and questioning my faith – I even strayed for a bit (I won’t go into detail – but I can say it was the worst feeling emotionally, physically, psychologically, etc. I have ever experienced). Even while I read the portion of the book where this passage I found, which I’m about to show you, I was struggling and in reading this and praying, I felt at peace – I knew God didn’t give more than we could handle – but in reading this on a off-white piece of paper brought the thoughts in my head into reality. The portion goes:

        “How do we believe in God and serve Him and love Him with heart and soul and mind and
strength when these very parts of us are compromised? … The answer, once again, is grace [from
God] … He knows our frames, remember. He remembers we are but dust (Ps. 103:14). He knows the limitations of our physical bodies, our sin-wrack souls. And his grace is sufficient enough to cover the ground between the best we can manage and the kind of fulfilling, purposeful life He wants for us.”

– Tammy Maltby, Confessions of a Good Christian Girl, pp. 167-168

It is also important to remember that we are not alone – yes, we have God’s grace, but we also have Christ, who not only is our Savior, but also our Friend… And on an ending note, I want to remind those who maybe be struggling personally, or know someone who is and you want to give advice or don’t know how to work through with them but not abandon them, that “[t]hrough it all, never forget that you have a constant Friend in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is always present with you, a dependable Helper and Comforter. The more time you spend in quietness, waiting on the Lord, the more you will experience His closeness and know His practical grace. He is the Companion you need most for your journey… and He is always there for you” (Tammy Maltby, The Confessions of a Good Christian Girl, pp. 220). I hope that this all makes sense to you all and that y’all can remember to depend on Him and to find that hope in the dark room. It takes time, believe me, as well as dedication and support. But all things are possible with Christ, I know that for a fact – He gives me the strength to carry on day in and day out – even when I sleep and dream (Matt. 19:26).

    – T.L.

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Good Thing to Remember

I was talking to one of my best friends, about how tonight (or the night of September 6, 2013), at bible study, one of my old youth pastors, was visiting, and he talked about how there are good Christians, Christians who study the Bible, go to church, to good, etc. but they don’t really live for Christ. What they (we) really need to do is die to ourselves, so that we can live for God. We need to focus on the things he’s given us each day, and when we have accomplishments, we need to not praise ourselves or be happy. We need to praise and thank Him.

There are times, when I’m desperate I go to God. But most of the time, maybe I’ll say a quick prayer and go on my way. But it’s only in time of need, when in reality I should be talking to him each day, not just when I need that “lean to” person, even though he’s happy to help and is always there for us. God also wants us to focus on him all the time. He wants us to go through trials. He’s going to test us; to see how well we stand up and also to remind us again (and again if necessary) that we need him. More than ever. And when we get lost, he knows how to capture us and bring us back.

My friend made the comment of: “That’s definitely hard to remember to do every day. We get so caught up in our lives that we forget about Him who gave us life.”

My username on so many accounts is “CapturedbyChrist.” And it’s true. But I sometimes don’t let him capture me, I’m like a mustang, running away, not wanting to submit; to live my own way, when in reality, I need to submit to him as my leader, the one I need to trust, depend on, love, and always remember no matter what. He’s always there for me.

We do, we get so caught up in school, how our grades are, what homework we need to do. We’re always planning ahead. We don’t take each day step by step. We take each week leap by leap. With God, we oh so often as for what our future is going to look like; what’s the master plan, when instead, we need to be asking him what the next step is. Not leap. Step. One foot in front of the other. Slowly, steady, constant. No leaps, jumps, or haste. Patience is key.

Some of this little “philosophy” is based off a book (I don’t remember the title), and how it states the “Joseph Principle.” Of how, in the end when Joseph was thrown in the pit by his brothers, was sold into slavery, then by his wisdom, became the 2nd in command of Egypt and it just so happened the Israel was having a famine and his brother came to Egypt to seek food, Joseph recognized them, at first he was a little angry. But he forgave them, and he was able to save his family and bring them to Egypt. All this wasn’t by his own power, or glory. It was by God. God had a step-by-step plan for him. God knew what he needed, he knew the whole story, and he knew, even when Joseph celebrated, that he wasn’t doing it for himself, patting himself on the back, no Joseph was thanking God. Joseph knew what God had done. God’s grace and mercy are ever over-flowing and present.

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