Monday, January 30, 2012

Grace Quote


© 2012 Chantelle Henderson

I am currently re-reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  Between my obsession with Pinterest and one of my favorite quotes in the book I was inspired to create a "visual”.  This should not be surprising considering that I am a word picture fanatic.  

The photo of the vintage bottles was found by a random search I completed on the web (http://firstvine.wordpress.com).  Apparently they are bottles from Woodrow Wilson's wine cellar which he allegedly asked Congress to transport his wine collection from the White House prior to the end of his presidency; random but cool statement, right?

The wording underneath the photo is the excerpt from The Ragamuffin Gospel book which screams the word “GRACE” to those who understand exactly what Mr. Brennan penned.

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred-proof grace-of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the gospel-after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection your bootstraps-suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.” - Brennan Manning – The Ragamuffin Gospel

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grace In Pink

© 2012 Chantelle Henderson

For reasons I will not to go into, I will just say that it's been a ROUGH week.  Before I fully recovered from my recent bout with Bronchitis a stomach bug came knocking at my door. Let’s just say that me and sickness do not get along.  In fact, find me anyone who gets along with being on bed rest, fevers, a sore throat, and coughing, among other things, so I can pick their brain in an attempt to learn how not to act like a two-year old when I am under the weather.

Last night I just had one too many things tip me over the edge in my effort to hold it together and I just let go.  I say last night, but it was more like 12:30am.  The tears wouldn’t stop no matter how much I tried to fight them back.  To make it worse, it was what Oprah refers to as the “Ugly Cry” (LOL).  It was long after Jeremy & Ryan were fast asleep – or so I thought.  I was lying in bed and the lights were out.  The only noise was that of the floor fan I run every night as my “security blanket” and worship music playing softly on my iPod.  I thought for sure Ryan was asleep so I just started sobbing.  Quietly. Praying.  Quietly.  Talking to God.  Quietly.  I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.

I suppose after nearly 15 years of marriage I should have known that Ryan somehow would wake up.  “Tae Tae.  You ok?”, he asked.  The next thing you know his hand is caressing my back and he’s asking what’s wrong.  My only response was to turn to face him and scoot over until he was holding me and reassuring me that everything was ok.  As he held me I just shared a laundry list of things that were causing my heart to ache.  He was aware of most of them and later told me that he had been waiting for me all week to “let it out”.  He was well aware of the burden of some decisions I had to make and about the discovery of some undesired truths had been weighing heavy on me since Sunday [It’s now 12:30 am Thursday morning].

Can I just be 110% honest for a minute?  This week I once again found myself striving to be strong in my own ability and for me that means not crying.  The problem with me is that I somehow have convinced myself that tears mean I am weak. In my heart I know that’s not true but try to tell that to my head.  I’ve even read somewhere that tears could mean that “you’ve been strong for too long.”  If there is one scripture I should have recalled time and time again this week it is James 1:2-4 (The Message)Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  This passage magnifies the fact that the very things that will bring about the strengthening of my faith and the development of the Christ-like heart that I desire so greatly are oftentimes the creator of the salty, watery substance that flow uncontrollably down our face.  For me the release of tears are proving to be an agent of cleansing for my soul so I don’t know why I try to fight them with such great force. 

Last night Ry reminded me of that scripture in James.  We talked through my pain and we prayed together through the promises of God and eventually I fell asleep. 

I took my time getting out of bed this morning; more time than usual.  I reached over and grabbed a new devotional I’m reading this year, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  I was reassured through today’s entry that I needed to “Give up the illusion that I deserve a problem-fee life.  Part of me is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties.  This is a false hope!  As He told His disciples, in the world you will have trouble.”  WOW.  The timing could not have been better.  What a great confirmation and encouragement! I’m not a failure because difficulties keep presenting themselves.  In fact, I’m in great company.  The disciples obviously had their own share of challenges if Jesus found it necessary to tell them to have peace despite them.  I continued going through my regular daily routine……Bible Study, praying, reading, etc.  I started checking email and there’s one from Ryan.

“Good morning lovely.  You like pink, right?  Pink is a good color.”

Needless to say that started an email dialogue.

Me:  “Good morning to you too.  Um, yah....that's my favorite color.  And that is a totally random question.”

Ry:  “It may seem random, but it really isn’t if you think about it.  Think Pink.”

Me:  “Ok....I'll think pink.  Thanks for taking care of me last night and being the incredible man of God you are.  So back to the pink.  What’s the deal?”

Ry:  [No joke.  This is what he sent] “Use The Force Oby One.”

Me:  “LOL.  OK.”

I just brushed it off and didn’t think much else about it.  I figured he was bringing me a pink pair of pajamas home, which is a comfort item for me.  Or maybe something else like a pink coffee mug.  I went out to my desk to get some paperwork and there it was. A handwritten note on pink stationary on top of a topical Bible where he hi-lited the scripture.  Psalm 30:5 “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.  Not only did this man take care of me by holding me, praying over me, and comforting me last night, but he insisted that I sleep in this morning instead of getting up at my usual 6:15.  He took our son to school which adds an extra 30 minutes to his commute.  It also meant he had to get up an hour and a half earlier than usual.  As if all that wasn’t enough he took the time to write me this beautiful note on pink stationary (which he no doubt had to look for) which is my favorite color and kept me in remembrance of the Father’s promises.  Who does this?  Needless to say I shed some tears of joy.  I felt so overwhelmed by the love of my husband and the comfort of God’s word.

As you know by now if you are reading this, I have one word for 2012 and it is the word GRACE. I couldn’t help but to take notice between my husband’s touch in the dark as I was weeping and finding his note on my desk that God’s grace comes to us in many ways. Today it came to me through my husband loving me as Christ does the church. He walked out Ephesians 5:25-26 (HCSB) - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. After seeing the note I felt like I was swimming in an ocean of grace. I kept this poor man up all night and yet he thought to do this for me. Of course I called him as soon as I saw it and thanked him for my “pink” surprise. He could have brought home pink pajamas, a pink mug, pink roses, or a pink anything, but instead he gave me a priceless treasure on a pink piece of paper. A reminder that my tears won’t last forever and that joy comes with the dawning of each new day.

Once again, in a very unlikely way I am discovering that God’s grace is ever-present in so many ways.  This time it was written on a pink piece of paper and hi-lighted in yellow.




Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Simple Night Time Prayer


A simple prayer for those days when we require a little bit more grace than others:

 .*.   .*.  Jeremiah 17:7 – “[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.” Daddy, tonight I speak peace over our hearts and minds. I thank you that Your Holy Spirit leads and guides us into all truth, no matter how pretty or how ugly it may be. I thank You that we can choose to believe in, trust in, and rely on You. I pray always and in all ways that our hope and confidence is always YOU-not man-not ourselves. Forgive us for when we’ve not done so. Keep us in remembrance that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING good, admirable, precious, pure, holy, righteous, excellent, admirable, and the many other words that can be used come from You and YOU ALONE. Daddy, thank You that we can lay the chaos and confusion in our lives, as well as our worry, fears, insecurities, inadequacies, and imperfections at the foot of the cross knowing that You have us on The Potter’s wheel fixing those things “blemishes” to create a masterpiece to display for YOUR glory. As we wait, may we remain focused on the eternal, unseen things and not that which is seen with our natural eyes, which is fleeting and temporary. You are so good to us. I call you Faithful. Thank You for seeing us through the raging storms AND for allowing us to celebrate during the days that are filled with warmth, sunshine and calm. I love you. Thank you for watching over each and every one of us tonight. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.  .*.   .*. 


Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Counting On Grace Backstory



* This is my first entry for my new blog dedicated to GRACE.  You can find it at www.countingongrace.com *

Journal Entry from 1/4/2012: Yesterday I decided to call an old friend. I was recently on the new website Pinterest (www.pinterest.com). Pinterest is pretty much a virtual dream board. You create various boards, for example,‘Dreamhouse’, ‘Fashion’, ‘Favorite Quotes’, etc. I was looking at her boards when I saw one that was labeled ‘My Word For 2012’ and it was simply the word ‘Pause’. For whatever reason I was so intrigued by that one word. Just one word. Isn't it amazing how the human language is made up of so many words and phrases? And yet, ONE word can change your life as you know it. Think about it; Stop. Go. Yes. No. Maybe. Wait. With just one word a life, a mind, or a heart can be changed for all of eternity. I must admit, seeing her board titled ‘Pause’ did provoke me to stop what I was doing and just think. In other words, I paused. 

Here we are in the year 2012. I suppose like most people I feel a sense of what God wants for me and my family in this new year. I feel strongly that the theme or phrase for us is “The Best Is Yet To Come”. I really do believe with every fiber of my being that the best is yet to come. My husband and I have talked about it, prayed about it, and even jokingly looked at one another and said, “Well, that's good to know.” After the last five years we’ve experienced it is a very welcomed encouragement! In the back of my mind there was something about the one word factor. I've thought about it all day and the majority of yesterday evening. What is MY one word 2012? Even last night as I was drifting off to sleep words such as quiet, serenity, and love kept coming to mind. For some reason none of those seemed right for my one word. I didn’t just want the word to be a simple cliché. I wanted it to be something I could explore, observe, and research. Then today it hit me. GRACE.

In entries yet to be published I believe you will come to understand why GRACE is my one word for 2012. Be assured that it’s coming from the perspective of someone who has learned and continues to learn that I must count on God’s grace each and every day - second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.

One Year. One Word. GRACE.