Grinding The Wheat in 2017

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that what I do here and on Instagram is equally for preaching to own heart as it is to encourage yours. I’d tell you that true hope isn’t in pretty prints but with the good news they proclaim. I want to be a John the Baptist with brush in hand, pointing to the One who actually brings life. May GraceLaced art be a starting point, not the end itself. Let’s not treat the Word as Spurgeon describes: 

There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in His service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. 

Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning, “I will meditate in Thy precepts.”  (C.H. Spurgeon)

Friends: persevere in the grinding, gathering, plucking, and stooping low to drink from the Well offered to us. May all the beauty + truth you find here in 2017 merely adorn what is most satisfying: Christ himself.

We can’t drink from a cup that is already full of our agenda and striving, so to that end will you pray for me as I pray for you: That we would be emptied of our kingdom and filled up with His.

That’s my commitment as I seek to steward this space well; thank you for beginning another year with me here. 


In effort to grind the wheat this year, I’m beginning (again) another year-long reading plan with the ESV Bible App. You can choose from several plans, and read passages in app, or have it read to you. It’ll track your progress and keep you working through the Scriptures in manageable chunks.

I’d love for you to join me. It’s not going to be perfect, and some of us will have to set aside our ideas of a perfectly quiet house and unfettered time with all our commentaries open, plus endless hours to Bible journal — let’s be real; that’s not going to happen every day. Some us won’t make it all the way through without missing a single day, and it will drive us crazy, but that isn’t the point. It’s not about us, but about knowing Him and the promises of His Word, in its entirety. The point is to PERSIST:

I hear the app only has Bible reading plans for the iPhone version. If you’re an Android user, I will post daily reading charts as often as I’m able in my Instastories in the mornings: Instagram.com/graelaced. Join me there for encouragement!

Sometimes it’s not the words of my mouth that’s the problem – I’m fairly good at guarding those; it’s the meditations of my heart that can run unfettered, which in time, will reveal itslef in my speech too. I’ve been sharing on the blog and in Instastories about not just liking the bread, but #grindingthewheat in 2017. We do that by tethering the meditations of our hearts to the unfailing Word of God…not for a pep talk or for self-affirmation, but to align our desires with His. Our Rock and our Redeemer isn’t just faithful for salvation but for every day we’ll need hope for our tongues + minds in 2017! 


By the way….Did you purchase last year’s Garden of Truth calendar? Now that the year is over, are you re-purposing it and memorizing the scriptures? I hope so! Let me know how you are using last year’s calendar, I’d love to know.

And if you haven’t purchased a 2017 Hope In the Desert Calendar, don’t wait! They are 50-70% off in the Shoppe, depending on quantity. My hope is that you will let the Word minister to your heart day by day, and that these scriptures will be hidden in our hearts as we preach the truth to ourselves!


Praying for you as you grind the wheat and grow in the Word in 2017. It’s worth it…to persist and not give up. I’m standing and seeking along with you. 

Because of grace,

 

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Farewell to 2016 {from the Simons Family}

As we head into the last weekend of 2016, our family’s reflecting on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Was 2016 as hard for you as it was for us? We will all collectively celebrate the turning of a new year in just two days, but some journeys and seasons in life simply don’t reset just because the calendar says it’s a new day.

As always, new beginnings start in our hearts. 

For me, it begins with giving praise for all Christ has done to redeem us and to give hope to our foolishness. But it also begins with tracing back through, and not forgetting, what waters He’s brought us through this year, and how we’ve learned to praise Him, even when they’re not waters we choose to tread. 

(Photo credit: Joy Prouty, Wildflowers Photography)
(Photo credit: Joy Prouty, Wildflowers Photography)

2016 gave new meaning to Job’s words: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
 

From the start of the year, when my oldest son and I traveled with Compassion Bloggers to Ecuador.

…To the unexpected opportunity to fulfill a family dream of creating a respite in Durango, Colorado,

…To Troy coming to the end of his 8 year journey as headmaster of a classical school we were part of founding,

…To writing and painting my first book, due to release in September 2017,

…To a painful season of goodbyes and new beginnings,

…To the best and the hardest moments in training young hearts,

…And to ending the year looking at one another as a family, and as a small business, and marveling at His bountiful blessing, first and foremost displayed in grace, everyday.

The One who’s birth we celebrated just days ago – Emmanuel – has been faithful and merciful at every turn. His hand has guided and provided for us as a family in both physically and emotionally.

Coming soon to GraceLaced Shoppe...
Coming soon to GraceLaced Shoppe…

And as a small business owner, I thank you, on behalf of my family and the GraceLaced Team, for not simply purchasing my artwork and products in 2016, but for joining us as we seek to adorn the gospel of Christ and make the beauty of God’s Word and creation known. He is worthy; we are honored to reflect His glory.

I’m excited for what 2017 may bring, but as we prepare to share these changes and things to come, I keep in mind: Let your will be done, Lord.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

— Proverbs 19:21

If there’s one thing I learned in 2016, through the fire of refining by the Lord’s hand, it’s that I want no plan that is not of Him and in Him and for His glory. 

To that end, Lord, lead us into 2017…to Christ be the glory for all that is to come.


In case you missed it in our newsletter, or on social media, we are closing out the year with a huge Inventory Clearance SALE!

GraceLaced Hope In the Desert 2017 Calendars are 50-70% off, popular prints and all Christmas products are marked down, and many prints are discontinuing. Prices good while supplies last! Sale ends 11:59pm MST 1/1/17!

Because of grace,

 

On Discipline and Freedom {Year End Perspective with New Year Eyes}

I’m notoriously terrible at New Year’s resolutions. I typically don’t pick a word, don’t sign up for gym memberships, don’t go on a diet, don’t commit to a routine, and don’t resolve to do better. It’s not that I don’t want to do any of those things, it’s just that I long for change to be lasting and motivated by joy and conviction…not guilt or legalism.

And maybe there’s also a bit of this:

Fear over past failures that keeps me from pursuing future possibilities = Expecting less so that I’m disappointed less.

That kind of reasoning would make sense if we were a people that relied fully on our own abilities, but I know better than that if I rehearse what I believe.

  • We have been redeemed in spite of what comes naturally.
  • We are forgiven in spite of our unworthiness.
  • We are given new beginnings in spite of every failed one that’s come before.

We, of all people, can look to the future without being bound by the past. For us, disciples of Jesus, a new year and setting goals may very well be a part of our growth and sanctification…if Christ is our end game and not our stepping stone. Discipline and growth are to encourage us to greater depth with our walk with Christ, not as the means of deliverance itself. When I remember that nothing I do with more discipline will simply fix all that ails me, I’m free to pursue routine and discipline for what they are meant to be: a tool. 

The disciplined person rises courageously, even heroically, to meet life and conquer it. He resolutely faces his duty. He is governed by a sense of responsibility. He has inward resources and personal reserves which are the wonder of weaker souls. He brings adversity under tribute and compels it to serve him.

— Richard Shelley Taylor

We typically cower to adversity and do what it says – at least that’s what I did many times in 2015. But, discipline…rather than binding us, can be freeing. I’m not a very disciplined person – spiritually or otherwise; it’s an area I’ve struggled with my whole life. But in pursuing a disciplined life, I know what we gain is a tethering of ourselves to the truth of God’s Word, to the anchor of habitual prayer, to the consistency of preaching truth to ourselves. Discipline teaches our hearts to TELL OUR anxiety, fear, worry, sin, and faithlessness WHAT TO DO. 

  • So, if I had to choose a word for 2015 (which I don’t do), it’d be: TETHERED…because every plan, every hope I have for 2016 is of no benefit if not by him, through him, and for him. (Romans 11:36)
  • If I had to begin a new routine, it’d be to strive once again to be in God’s Word daily, working my way through the entirety of the Bible in 2016 (which I’ve never done in a year.)
  • If I had to make some physical changes, it’d be to commit to daily active exercise, as well daily active prayer.
  • If I had to resolve to improve in an area, I would be resolute in my acknowledgement that without Christ, I am nothing.  

Are you looking to make changes in your life but fear setting goals or can’t commit to trying? I get it, friends, I do. Look to Christ as your end game. He is all you have and all you need…and to Him be the glory for the ways in which you long to be a new creation in 2016.


*Shh…there will be flash two-day End of the Year Blowout SALE happening at the shoppe beginning 12/31/15. Follow me on Instagram for details, or subscribe to the newsletter (going out 12/30/15 for early access and extra treats!

Because of grace,

 

How To Have A Triumphant Year

Is it too late for me to wish you a happy new year!?! I’m only about 10 days late, but who’s counting?

As the new year was approaching, I began internally anticipating all the buzz that would come with the calendar turning over to 2015: all the “one words” that would be chosen for the year, all the goals that disciplined folks would set, all the fresh starts so many would anticipate….

…and there I was, reluctant to join in on the “one word” fun, too non-committal to set any lofty goals, and much too burdened by real trials and heartaches to simply throw confetti and toast to fresh beginnings when the clock struck midnight.

So, I asked the Lord to direct my thoughts for the New Year. I asked him to teach me how to focus my heart and mind on what matters…all 365 days of the next year.

And, he gently reminded me: 

My goal setting, my discipline, my can-do attitude are all great aspirations, but they will not make 2015 the best year ever. I can’t perform or succeed my way to a more triumphant year. 

Because patting myself on the back is not the end goal. Falling on my knees is.

It’s nothing new, but I needed the reminder. What I think on and what I meditate on as truth will determine what I believe about my year and how I live in it. So these new prints in the shoppe are a compilation of what he’s put in my heart as I enter the new year…

Whatever is true…whatever is worthy of praise…let those be the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…that my ambition for 2015 would be to know that my hours and times are in your hands…and I’d live accordingly

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Only when I replace my thinking with his, only when I forget my agenda and remember his eternal purposes…do I actually begin to understand what his good is in a good year…what it really means to have a triumphant year.

I pray these thoughts brought to paper through paint and brush will encourage and bless you as you enter into 2015. I pray it reminds you of the truth I needed to remember, myself. And just a little word of hope…don’t give up or give in if it’s already off to a rough start. Perhaps we can preach to our own hearts the truth: Jesus doesn’t begin his work in you on January 1st.

“…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

He’s at work, even now…in the midst of all that feels uninspiring, less than disciplined, chronically imperfect, and short of hopeful. He’s at work even there.

Think on the Him, friend…let it be acceptable in HIS eyes alone…and live like today’s what he’s given you (because it is!) 

With all my love and anticipation for what he will do in and through us this year…

I’m so honored that you are here. If you enjoy this blog and would like new posts to come directly to your inbox, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced by email.

 

What 2014 Revealed About The Real Me {They Love The Wheat, But They Do Not Grind It}

If there’s one thing I learned in 2014 it’s this:

Who we really are through adversity and uncomfortable change, is really who we really are. 

I could regale you with the harrowing tales of our year long battle with selling our home (while playing the role of a perfectly tidy family of 5, ha. You can read all about it via hashtag #operationsimonsinthecountry on Instagram.) I could share of all the ways in which we were, as a family, under stress and under fire. I would tell you of how we barely made it to our new home, but we did. I might even tell you of how my little shoppe exploded and became a game-changer in our lives this year. I could tell you of the costliness and learning curve that it required. Oh, and also: that we celebrated the seeming realization of a dream to build our school’s permanent home, and to have it fall from our grasp. It was an eventful year…and these are just a few highlights.

But, friends, what’s really on my heart about 2014 is summed up in these words by Charles Spurgeon that bring tears to my eyes:

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” 
― Charles H. Spurgeon

Do you see yourself here, friend? I do. The pressures, stress, chaos, and demands of 2014 were intense…but when I look back, I see myself in this: “They love the wheat, but they do not grind it…the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it.” In this past year, I so often missed the opportunity to taste and see that the Lord IS GOOD. Yes, I loved Him, but so often forfeited the satisfaction of all that he offers by, instead, turning to self-sufficiency and sometimes, self-absorption. 

I can’t drink from a cup that is already full of my own agenda and striving.

But, friends, if you relate to my year, let me encourage you with this: it’s not with shame and doubt that we should feel conviction as we go into 2015; it’s with a heart tender toward his unrelenting love and pursuit of us. If you and I feel burdened, it should be burdened by the often-times lack of sensitivity to the Lord’s sweet faithfulness, kindness, and welcome, and not because we don’t measure up (because on our own, we never will.)

Rehearsing that we have – yet again – failed to grind the wheat, failed to slowly and thoughtfully meditate on his word, will only drives us further from his loving arms. Rehearsing how good, patient, and ever-merciful Christ is, will cause us to fall at his feet, and drink. 

And as Spurgeon said, sometimes – even in our overwhelmingly socially connected world – silence and solitude are key. Sometimes we really must stop spinning and speaking, and be silent and still. 

2015 will undoubtedly be no less stressful, chaotic, or wearying as 2014….no less challenging to my mama bones as I raise these little men…but where I turn in the midst of adversity is who I really am. Lord, God, tune my heart to sing thy praise. Tune my heart to the deep satisfaction that is knowing your word in 2015. Let me grind the wheat that I so love and find it ever filling.

It’s never too late, the effort is never too small, friends. Will you join me? 

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Thank you for your faithful friendship, readership, and support of GraceLaced this past year. I’m grateful for each one of you, and eagerly anticipate the praises we get to proclaim as he grows us and proves himself faithful in the next. See you in 2015!!

Because of grace,

I’m so honored that you are here. If you enjoy this blog and would like new posts to come directly to your inbox, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced by email.

 

A Prayer For All Of Us Resolution-Breakers

Dear Lord,

We are resolution-breakers…please teach us, in deeper ways, how You, oh God, are the promise-keeper. 

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

We are so quick to get discouraged, disheartened, and disappointed…so let us put all our hope in You.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)

We are afraid of failure…help us to remember that you have won the victory.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

We are so distracted by all our wants, desires, and dreams for the new year…teach us, Lord, to desire your purposes first.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”(Proverbs 19:21)

We are eager to measure ourselves by our successes and achievements…may you, God, be our only boast.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

The end of one year and the start of a new is wonderfully renewing, and yet, so full of opportunity for self-absorption. Lord, help us to examine ourselves and to be introspective without making idols of self-bettering and fulfilled living. If there’s any good in us, it is Christ…if there is any fulfillment in our lives, it is You, alone. 

Let all discipline, striving, and resolving be in response–and in REJOICING over– what you have already accomplished in us, not what we think we must accomplish for you. 

 

Glory be to you, oh God: “The strength to follow your commands, could never come from me…let my song forever be: My only boast is you!” (from Sovereign Grace Music’s “All I Have Is Christ”) …

Enjoy the free download, and Happy 2014 to you…Jesus is all, friends. 

 

Because of Grace,

Don’t miss a single post! I’m so glad you are here…if you enjoy this blog, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced by email!

Desiring To Be More Than We Were Last Year

It's Not Too Late To Trust God With Your New Year

What feeling arises when you think about goals you set last year and the ones you hope to achieve or become in the new? Do you feel an anxious drive to succeed or do you struggle to find motivation in the face of guilt and defeat?

I have known both of these responses. And both responses have found their common denominator in my sinful pride and self-sufficiency.

Desiring to be more than we were last year, hoping to grow more disciplined, aiming to be more joy-filled and gracious….these are not merely self-improvement goals, or ways to form your family to look more like the Christian “ideal.” Instead, it is, for a child of the King, already ours already in Christ, but is realized through obedience and perseverance.

Join me at Mom Heart Blog today as I share about pursuing goals, and trusting in His strength in the pursuit. Be blessed, friends!