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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Preaching To Your Anxious Heart In The Night

I awoke last night worried and anxious. I didn’t want to be awake at 3 am, and I surely did not want to be spending those precious few hours of sleep, worrying.

But there I was, mind racing, with uninvited thoughts and lists of all that was unfinished or unfavorable. And as it is with all middle-of-the-night wakings, all the concerns of my mind seemed unfathomably difficult and impossible to reconcile. In between tossing and turning, were incoherent sentences beginning with “What if…” and “Don’t forget…”

The coughing baby.

This house we want to sell.

That house we want to buy.

The emails.

The 10 yr. old birthday party I’m behind on planning.

That thing she said that really hurt.

The doctor’s appointment still unscheduled.

The house to keep perfectly clean for the showings that may or may not happen.

The summer passing by too quickly.

The anxious heart. (Oh! to be anxious about having an anxious heart!)

I’ve been down this road before…this game your mind plays with your heart when you’re too tired to think clearly. It leads nowhere productive. Problems are not solved, tasks are not accomplished, fears do not subside. You can’t worry or think your way to rest. 

And my lips begin to automatically recite words that have been tucked away…true words I own...

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.…” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.”
 (Psalm 42:11)

“Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me…” (Psalm 23:4)

New print available in shoppe, 8x10 and 11x14.
New print available in shoppe, 8×10 and 11×14.

More come to mind, as I frantically work to fall back asleep….and I realize: I am earnestly praying. I am diligently seeking his face. I am recognizing my smallness and his greatness; my neediness and his faithfulness to provide.

Because sometimes the dark reveals what you are too proud to recognize in the light, I’m praying more in my drained sleep than I do in my filled up day. 

And, in that broken sleep, a gratitude for God’s mysterious ways of wooing us draws me in:

He loves me enough to wake me up that I might draw close to him and ask of him

It’s daylight now, and the pressures of the day pile up like the dishes in the sink that greet me before breakfast is even finished. I must be wearing it on my face — the worry, the discontentment, the fear of the unknown, the impatience with living in limbo, the reluctance to do the next thing — and Troy gently says to me, 

“Babe…the Lord would have us not have the answers, that we might find ourselves wholly submitted to him, trusting in his care, and dependent on his leading.” 

And, rather than shirking under the admonition, I settle into it…because in his kindness, the Lord saw fit to draw my heart to his in the night, when I have nowhere to run, nothing to distract me, and nobody to hear from but the only One who hears.

What small or great need do you have today? What desperation do you feel but are too distracted to lay at his feet? Preach to your own heart, friend, with the Word of God…and trust that the place of strain he has you in today, may very well be the very place in which he’s choosing to show you the relief only he can provide.

I’m pressing in and learning alongside you….

Because of grace,

*Title image by Tish Goff

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.

 

 

 

Everything I Own, I Carry With Me

If, as a teen, I knew what I know now, I would have made a greater priority of hiding God’s Word in my heart. I would have read and re-read my Bible, culling the Scripture verses that would be undoubtedly necessary to weather life’s storms.

But I was busy making excuses, believing life would offer more time for such things…later. Boy, was I misinformed.

If there was ever a time to have the truth of Scripture and the promises of God at the ready, it would be now…as a wife, as a mother, as an adult, navigating the demands, the pressures, and the heartbreaks of real life. And, the verses I hold dear and have firmly memorized? Are the ones I committed to memory at a young age. With dozens and dozens of verses half-memorized or paraphrased with addresses unknown, my Bible is oftentimes replaced with the search bar in my browser or with my Bible reading app. While online resources and technology offer invaluable help in having God’s Word right at our fingertips, it’s also, frankly, made me lazy. For all the verses I  know many words to, I have relatively very few committed to memory without the help of keyword search or reference help.

And this is not an issue of pride, or being a good Christian. This is an issue of survival skills and resourcefulness. It’s an issue of keeping your greatest treasure the closest.

There is a Latin saying by Cicero:

Omnia mea mecum porto.

(All that is mine, I carry with me.)

-Cicero

And while this Latin proverb referenced Cicero’s own wisdom as his greatest wealth, as followers of Christ, our treasure and our wisdom is the living Word, himself. He is all we have.

When technology, concordances, devotionals, and other resources are unavailable, what do we have of the God’s word securely carried with us wherever we go, in whatever circumstance. There is indeed SO much vying for my attention as a wife and mother, and time is so limited. But, as we run this race, we realize the only way to run it well is to run it unfettered…and running light.

Let worthless things go. Drop the unnecessary guilt and baggage. Toss aside earthly things that distract and discourage.

But carry the treasure of God’s word with you. Commit it to memory and hide it in your heart. It’s the only thing your soul truly needs…and it may be the only thing you truly have in the end.

Friend, are you– like me– armed more often with your cell phone than any other thing? I’m asking the Lord to renew my heart for the joyous and intentional work of hiding His word in my heart. Won’t you join me?

(GraceLaced sponsor, Treasured Word, is a handmade shop dedicated to scripture memory. She makes it easy to carry Scripture with you wherever you go…)

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.

Be Strong and Courageous {Drawing Close, Day 4}

Photo Oct 03, 11 23 37 AM
Photo Oct 03, 11 23 37 AM

There’s a Latin saying by Cicero that we love in this house: “Omnia mea mecum porto” – All that is mine, I carry with me. That which you possess is really what you hold invariably within you. Or…that your greatest wealth is the wisdom you’ve acquired.

The boys are memorizing Joshua 1:1-9 at school and at home. And, while it is a great exercise and discipline to memorize scripture, my greatest joy is knowing that in the work to memorize it, they might hide and tuck that truth away in their hearts and carry it with them forever. The testimony of God’s faithfulness and his enabling of all that he calls us to

And, so, while we were working on our memory work yesterday, I picked up a pencil, and put image and flow to these words that ring hope and assurance of God’s promises…out of self-sufficiency and into dependency on the Almighty.

Be Strong and Courageous
Be Strong and Courageous

Are there giants in the land?…sometimes they come in the form of seemingly undefeatable trials, insurmountable pain, or even overwhelming fear. His precious word reminds us that God always has a plan…he always provides for his purposes…and he is always faithful to his people. Our job is to believe and do what he says. I committed to sketching each day this month, so this is my offering this day. I’d like to turn it into a chalk lettering sometime, but for now, it is a simple sketch, available for you to download if you find encouragement in it.

Drawing Close {31 Days of sketching and noting grace through drawing.}
Drawing Close {31 Days of sketching and noting grace through drawing.}

Today, I’m drawing close to the strength and courage to do what can be only made possible by a faithful and trustworthy God. One whose story is all I need to carry with me. 

Join me everyday this month for the Drawing Close series.

Day 1: Drawing Close Intro Day 2: A Portrait Day 3: Parts of A Whole Day 4: Be Strong and Courageous Day 5: Day 6: Day 7: Day 8: Day 9: Day 10: Day 11: Day 12: Day 13: Day 14: Day 15: Day 16: Day 17: Day 18: Day 19: Day 20: Day 21: Day 22: Day 23: Day 24: Day 25: Day 26: Day 27: Day 28: Day 29: Day 30: Day 31:

 

If {A Poem for Father’s Day}

If
by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Happy Father’s Day.

Guest Post by The Preacher: A Home Saturated In God’s Word


I received an email from a reader sometime before the new year regarding how our family seeks to lead our  children to the Word of God. Though we corresponded months ago, she gave me permission to share part of her email on this post:

My husband and I have been talking tonight about the spiritual disciplines of our family.  Many times, we find ourselves coming up with creative ideas for family devotionals, worship, etc. but our follow-through is lacking.  We would like to do more with our boys (aged 9 and almost 6) than just the nightly family devotional…We also don’t want it to be stale or to end up primarily being about character issues we’re unhappy with…I thought of you and your husband.  Is your husband doing specific things as he leads your family that you can share? I hope you don’t mind me asking this personal question.  Our oldest just turned 9 and we are realizing that we have been falling short in this area with him and there is undesirable fruit as a result. Thank you so much for any help you might be able to offer.

I asked my sweet husband to guest post in response to her questions, as I think his insights will be a blessing and reminder for us all:

Maybe the best place to begin is to say that we too fall short.  You would think that spending time with our amazing God would be easy.  You might think that we would have to pull ourselves away from prayer and the Word so we can get earthly things done. But that is obviously not the case. There are so many things that compete for our attention.

I recently read these very convicting words from John Calvin: “Whoever has obtained Christ wants nothing that is necessary to perfect happiness, since we have no right to desire anything better than the eternal glory of God, of which Christ puts us in possession.”  I firmly believe that the starting point with our kids is to keep our own heart.  Our faith must be caught as it is taught.  We certainly need creative effort in our family devotions and other teaching moments.  But what speaks the loudest is what they observe in us. What do we value as a family?  What do we spend our free time doing?  What do we talk about with the greatest excitement?  It is not that we can’t be enthusiastic about a hobby, for example, but how does that excitement fit with our faith.  Does it compete or complement?  I want my boys to see my wife and me diligently reading the Word, making sacrifices in order to have time with God.  I want Christ to be at the center of our family culture.

So how do we do that on a practical level?  Here are some things we are trying to be consistently about in our household:

  • *We are working on memorizing the book of Philippians (John Piper’s example is inspirational.)
  • *We often listen to John MacArthur podcasts at the breakfast table or in the car.
  • *We pray together before school and before bed and other random times.  (Don’t forget to ask your children specifically how you can pray for them as well.)
  • *We try to do all corrective discipline with Scripture (Wise Words For Moms is a great resource.)
  • *We are reading through the Bible in a year using the ESV Daily Reading Plan, and we do that in the morning with our oldest, before the rest of the household gets up.  For the non-reading younger boys, we let them listen to audio Bible on the ipod, while thumbing through a picture Bible.  You can get a free audio Bible download here.

To sum it up, I think we need to read Deuteronomy 6 and be intentional about how we are going to saturate our lives with the Word, realizing that all of this must take place in the context the Church and Gospel-centered relationships. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

God bless you and your husband in your efforts to train up your children in the way they should go.