I've been thinking a lot about a grace filled life these past few days. The thought kept popping into that part of the brain that likes to ponder about life and stuff. Most of the time it is a God thing. Sometimes it's just me, especially when the thinking is all about sugar cream pie.
Actually, it all started after reading a post on Sally's blog. This link will take you to her post but don't go there now are you will miss my ponderings... be they ever so humble. :)
Life has its' trials and tribulations but I'm convinced we are not to struggle with our days. We are to have joy and peace in the midst of each days, our journey He gives us (I firmly believe) will never be more than we can handle... although I've questioned this a few times when passing through a storm.
A grace filled life is also one which fully utilizes the best this world has to offer and surrounds oneself with that which brings joy, to themselves and their family. Not in such a way to add discontent or tension in an already difficult situation but taking full advantage of our God given ability to create beauty around us.
If God is nothing else (besides being Holy and Love), He is creative. We are made within that image and a grace filled life must have within it things created... our own, from nature, the works of others... that which goes beyond being utilitarian but adds Beauty our heart desires.
What do I do to make every attempt to live a grace filled life... even as dark storm clouds of trials whirl around me?
First... I read the Bible. Only the Bible explains life. As much as I love devotional books and those by gifted teachers, only by going straight back to the Source do I get full Truth. Why should I be surprised by trials when I am told "in this world there will be trouble"? Yet, I am also told Jesus gives peace but not like the World gives it. His peace is possible when in the storm.
Second... I do read books by those gifted in bringing the Word to life and making it even more understandable. I also read general nonfiction which teach and inspire as well as fiction that takes me away to another world. Imagination is God's gift to make up for our finite existence. I have certain titles I read over and over which bring their own grace to my life, most by favorite authors and some of them even childhood favorites.
There are also beautiful books I peruse when I need to be cheered... favorite cookbooks, books with beautiful gardens, a small collection of Victoria books (and the few old Victoria magazines I have as well as the new), and titles containing work by favorite artists or illustrators.
Third... I surround myself with beauty that I can afford. After over thirty years of marriage, I probably developed an affinity for English Country design because of many years of collecting as well as inheriting items from parents. I (try) to keep a balance between the decorating I like and having two men live with me. Quite often in the early morning when the sun is filtered through lace curtains and bringing with it a soft light in this room... I sense His presence just as much as when I'm reading the Gospels.
Of course, Beauty also comes through getting close to nature (okay, so I hug a few trees now and then). With all the rain we've had this year, the forest reminds me a bit of a jungle but it is so beautiful and peaceful. I'm enjoying my garden even if it daily reminds me of Eden's fall as the wet weather has blessed the weeds and not my flowers.
I used to enjoy sitting near Lake Michigan with my feet in the sand... just far enough away from the incoming waves so my toes would get wet but not my clothing. Peace has also come by walking through the park in town and sitting on my deck, surrounded by trees and flowers.
Fourth... I filter what I bring in through my other senses. We are all different in that respect. For instance, I not only love British film and comedy but vintage science fiction and modern day mystery. John Denver makes my heart sing but others cringe... just as Christopher's favorite radio station makes me wonder at his taste in music (although we also similar styles, too). I now rarely (very rarely) sit down and listen to news being discussed on the 24/7 channels.
Fifth... a grace filled life has to be filled with forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves and others while we strive to be more Christ like. A couple of years ago, my son told me growing up in this house certainly taught him all about forgiveness... as only those of us who are imperfect and live with less than perfect people can know.
We not only must forgive others but ourselves. I still have memories pop into my mind once in awhile of things I either said or did long ago that I later regretted. I've learned to ask myself if I've asked God's forgiveness, knowing I have... and then I remind myself if He has put it behind Him, then I can do the same. Holding on to our own failures is just as toxic to a grace filled life as continuing to hold another person's sin against us by not forgiving.
Forgiving ourselves or others does not mean we did or said and what another did was not right. Forgiveness just means we "let it go". I have to "let it go" each and every day with those I live with.... and a cat who persists in hairballs on the sofa.
I must admit I find a grace filled life much easier with furry friends surrounding me. As I write, the elderly kitty is breathing softly beside me. My idea of Heaven is an English cottage surrounded by a weed free (perfect) garden and my furry best friends surrounding me... as well as additional friends with fur. Except Bigfoot.
Our circumstances change so much from childhood to old age. At this time in my life, I tend to be at home a lot and my social life is not what it used to be (given challenges with fatigue I choose more alone time). We all will have different seasons throughout our life... changes that come with our own age and that of our children, when we move, job changes with our spouse or our own... the decision to start or stop working outside the home, health and money challenges, etc.
The Bible tells us there will be Trouble but we also have promises of Grace, and Peace, and Forgiveness, Love... and Joy. Joy is a result of walking the path He has for us and trusting that He is in control... no matter what the trouble.
I will probably not be back until Monday as more family arrives this evening. :)
Picture: The forest as of last week