Category Archives: graduation

common sense and good grace… {for Jadon}

There’s a boy that I love… a third son whose name means “God has heard.” A tenderhearted grace that arrived in our lives in a season when I thought my womb would remain closed for forever. It’s a long story, really it is. One that I’ve written about at length in another manuscript that’s yet to make it off the bookshelf. Safe to say, Jadon’s birth filled a deep longing in our young married hearts to have a child together. He’s a miracle, and today I was given another keepsake to treasure. Today, my son finished the 5th grade.

 

There was a season not long ago when I didn’t know how it would finish for us… how we’d make it through the stresses and rigors of the curriculum. Some of you may remember my frustration—a time when common sense and good grace threatened to leave the building. Thankfully, sense and grace prevailed, and today my son finished the 5th grade. Not just any kind of a finish… a strong finish.

Jadon and his awesome tutor, Ms. Ann!

And I applauded him. Choked back a few tears, thought back a few years, and realized just how far common sense and a very good grace have carried us all. It doesn’t always end this way. Not everyone makes the honor roll, at least not on this side of eternity. Some of us scrape and scrap our way through to the finish line believing the finish line to be the honor, not the grades. But every now and again, we receive the glory of having them both—the honor roll and the finish line colliding as one and reminding us that all has not been lost in the struggle to get there. There has been gain and growth that will carry over and push us forward into the next chapter of our stories.

 

I don’t know how that next chapter will read for Jadon. I do believe it will be hard for this miracle boy growing into a man, especially as he tries to meld into a mold that doesn’t fit with his uniqueness. We’ll be homeschooling next year, a change that will certainly bring challenges our way. But despite the many unknowns regarding Jadon’s tomorrows, this I do know. Common sense and good grace will take him where he wants to go… where he needs to go. Common sense and good grace never fail. Common sense and good grace make the honor roll every time.

 

May God grant us all an ample supply of both as we press on in faith toward the finish line. As always…

 

Peace for the journey,
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Get Up!

“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.” (Mark 2:13-14)

 

Sitting at the tax collector’s booth.

Is that where you’re located today? Parked alongside the road, watching the Lord and others pass you by, all the while waiting to collect on their good fortune?

You’ve heard his preaching from a distance. Maybe even witnessed a miracle or two in his comings and goings, all the while sitting by nursing your curiosity, maybe even nursing a grudge. Feeling overlooked and underpaid, you linger with your coppers in the shadows of his passing grace telling yourself that they will be enough. That they are why you’re here. To collect your due and to do so using the law as your compass, not grace.

Collecting money or receiving grace. Collecting the approval of man or receiving the love of God. Where are you today? Sitting by the road thinking you haven’t been called or walking the road with Jesus knowing you have been called?

You’ve been called. There’s no “thinking” that you have heard otherwise. You’ve been called.

Now it’s time to walk. Time to push your chair away from the table, from what you thought you were supposed to be doing with your life. To leave the security of the few coppers of borrowed grace that have been surrendered to you by others and to start receiving the free grace that rightfully belongs to you as a child of God.

It’s not enough to notice Jesus. To make acknowledgement of his passing. To mentally ascend to understanding and truth. Noticing, acknowledging, and ascending can all serve as precursors to following Christ, but the real work of discipleship begins when you get up and follow him.

Get up from your complacency.
Get up from your comfortableness.
Get up from your high opinions.
Get up from your selfishness.
Get up from your self-importance.
Get up from your self-pity.
Get up from your pride.
Get up from your woundings.
Get up from your sin.
Get up from your excuses.

Just get up from the table of whatever is keeping you tied to the side of the road, and start walking with Jesus. You’ve been called, and the day will soon be over. The night is fast approaching, and the nighttime is not the right time to reason out your calling. The night time is the best time to rest in your calling—to know that you know that you know—that leaving your coppers on the table was the best leaving of your life.

Quit collecting on the grace of others, friends. Start walking the grace that is yours. Get up, and walk forward with Jesus. Today is the day of salvation. I’ll meet you on the road. As always…

Peace for the journey,

~elaine

PS: The winner of Nancy’s study according to random.org is Rebecca (the original winner, Leah, already has the study and wanted another of you to receive it). For another chance to win a copy, please visit Nancy at her blog and enter into the give-away. Leah, the study will be coming to you directly from Nancy!

A Good Day

A Good Day

Good days.

I don’t know if we get a quota on them—like one good day a week … a month … a year … until we reach the max, and then we’re done. I know that there have been seasons in my life that seemed to portion out like that. Times when no matter how I turned things, wished for things, and even prayed for things, good remained hidden.

But not today. Today was a good day any way you turned it. In fact, this week has spent in good measure. Full and rich and close to perfect. Yes, there have been moments of chaos and times when my mind wandered beyond the boundaries of certainties. Tears have found their home upon my cheeks, and a pain or two has whispered its insistence into my heart.

But as I stand this night on the threshold of a seventh-day pause, I do so with a backward glance that yields a satisfactory nod to a week well-lived and to a God who isn’t capable of authoring otherwise. We sometimes think that he does … author otherwise. When pain, hardship, heartache and questions are our requirement, it’s difficult to reason the good of God.

I understand. Life has afforded me a few occasions for arriving at that conclusion. But life and the pursuit of all things sacred have also afforded me something else.

A growing understanding and knowledge of God.

For every comprehension that eludes me, for every question that surfaces in my heart to challenge the integrity and goodness of the God whom I call Father, there is an overriding and overwhelming anchor that pushes my thoughts through to the other side of my confusion.

Faith and the certainty of all things therein.

That is where my conclusion lies. In the unseen and unimaginable wealth of a God who is willing to sustain my breath a day longer in hopes that I will arrive at a declaration concerning his incomparable goodness. Regardless of the mitigating factors that collect and gather to beg my thoughts in another direction, God is after my acknowledging him for his goodness.

Some days, like today, it’s an easy reach … an easy write … an easy prayer of thanks. Some days, not so much. Perhaps for many of you, there’s been nothing easy about this day. I’ve heard from a few of you. I want you to know that I walk with you. I covenant with you in prayer for some easy and some identifiable good to work its way onto the scene of your life. But just because we don’t always see God’s good doesn’t mean that it has been diminished because of our difficult.

This faulty theology cannot stand up to the truth of who our Father IS. We can spend a lifetime blaming him, labeling him, squeezing him into a box that “fits” our need to have everything make sense, but at the end of the day … at the end of this life … no seemingly justifiable scrutiny on our part will keep God from being good. He simply and profoundly cannot help himself.

Good is what God IS. Good is what God does. God’s good is what woke you up this morning. God’s good is what will safely see you through another night’s rest. God’s good cannot be fully explained nor can it be completely measured. Still and yet, we get the privilege of trying. And for me, today, it was an easy find.

Today was about as good as I imagine an earthly good to be. Tomorrow holds a good all its own. When I get there, I pray for the willing eyes to vision its unfolding and the expectant heart to receive it all the more. I earnestly and sincerely desire the same for you. Would that we all could get to the end our week with the overriding and truthful conclusion that our God is good and worthy of all our praise.

Sing him well in your Sabbath tomorrow. From my pew, I’ll be listening for your voice alongside mine.

So shall he. So shall he.

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On Graduation…

I’ve heard it said before that “this life is but a dress rehearsal for the next.” If that’s true (and I happen to think there to be some merit in this understanding), then we are best served by paying closer attention to the scene changes in our lives … to the crescendoing moments that warrant an audience’s notice and applause therein.

When the shifting of a season takes center stage, God offers our hearts an invitation for reflection. We can either refuse its pause, or we can bow our souls to the moment to consider its worth as it pertains to the grander epic being played out in creation. If our “now” resembles in part our “next,” then there is value in the momentary pauses that fill our lives. Through them we hear the eternal whispers and glimpse the grander glories that await us on the other side of a long and, sometimes, fragmented obedience.

Center stage moments are God’s gift to us. I’ve authored a few of my own in the course of my forty-three years on this earth. More than these, I’ve sat ringside to the moments of those whom I love the most. This weekend holds one of those pauses for me. My son will graduate from high school.

I’ve walked this road before, thus granting me the benefit of hindsight. This one doesn’t sting as profoundly as the first one did. Not because this one is less important, less special, or any less embraced, but rather because familiarity removes some of the mystery of it all. I can better enjoy this milestone because the pain behind the first one wounded me deep enough to teach me … to shape and to modify my heart’s approach to the process.

There is worth in this moment. There was worth back then. But back then, I couldn’t see it. All I could do was muster enough strength to get through it. This weekend, I will have the privilege of soaking things in rather than soaking up my tears. Thus, I choose the pondering of a high school graduation and its merit as it pertains to the bigger picture. What is it about “turning the tassel” that speaks of a heavenly tomorrow?

Here’s what I think…

Graduations are launch pads. Behind them? Lots of time logged into the classroom of programmed learning. Ahead them? Lots of time logged into the classroom of experiential learning. One is the necessary predecessor of the other if the “other” is to walk easier—more truthful and more peaceful. Without the benefit of a preceding knowledge, our launching resembles a premature push from the nest that often ends with an unnecessary wounding. Sometimes the wounding is fatal, but more often than not, it leaves us with a limp that slows the process of our becoming.

There is a time to every season in our lives. This is my son’s graduating season. He stands on the launch pad of an incredible “next.” He’s ready to fly, and I’m ready to push, knowing that his wings have been fortified with eighteen years worth of feeding that have prepared him for the highs and the lows of the winds that are certain to follow.

He harbors just enough courage to take this step; I harbor just enough grace to let him do so. And between the two of us and our “just enough’s”, God is faithful to come alongside and offer his portion of “more than enough” to see us through this moment and to move us further into the promises of a better tomorrow.

There is coming a moment for each one of us … a graduation of sorts … that will launch us from the safety of our nests into the mystery of winged flight. The time we’ve logged into our earthly classrooms, coupled with the learning therein, will be the lynchpin to secure our safe passage. Some will launch prematurely, unable and ill-prepared to face the frontier of God’s forever. Some will launch at just the right time, with just enough courage and more than enough grace to land them safely into the arms of a waiting Father.

Either way, all will be required to make that step; thus, what you’re doing right now holds value for what you’ll be doing in God’s next. You may not think that this day’s unfolding matters for much of anything. You may think it matters little. But I think it all matters to God. Every scene of our lives—every mile we walk, every test we take, every prerequisite laid out for us in the curriculum of a heart’s shaping—is significant and necessary as it pertains to the turning of a final tassel when we stand before our Creator.

In that moment, God won’t be looking at the long list of credits that we drag behind us. Degrees and promotions and the applause of man aren’t enough to launch us toward eternal flight. No, what our God will be looking at is the heart that supersedes our fleshly gains. Did it beat for him? Did it walk for him? Did it love for him? Did it die for him? Does it, in any way, look like him?

That is the criteria for our graduation, friends. If we pass that test, then the tassel will turn, the diploma will be given, and the sacred commendation of our Savior will speak a final blessing of truth over our life’s journey…

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21).

If “this life is but a dress rehearsal for our next,” then there is much to be learned via a high school graduation. I will be paying attention to the details this weekend. God is ever speaking. How I pray for a heart to be ever learning. Thus, I pray…

Keep me as a student in your classroom, Father, all the days of my life. Keep my heart in a posture that is willing to receive your instructions as vital and necessary for the road ahead. Forgive me for thinking that I “know it all”; forgive when I make excuses for “knowing too little.” Teach me just exactly what I need to know, and then fully grant me the courage and grace to walk in that knowing until I get home to you and receive my final graduation. Amen.

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