Grace Upon Grace

“What love the Father has lavished upon us that we might become children of God” (1 John 3:1)

Ephesians 1 paints a beautiful picture of the Fatherly affections bestowed upon us by our Creator. Imagine it, we who have rebelled constantly against His will, He died a merciless death to save. God was under no obligation, no contract, no requirement to save us. We never have and never will deserve His forgiveness and love. But He freely offers it anyway. 

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17)

“I have come that you may have life, and have it in abundance” (John 10:10)

Not only does Christ’s death seal us for forgiveness and salvation, He blesses us here on earth with new life. He gives us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of sorts, according to Ephesians 1, but this isn’t a mutually beneficial agreement. God did it for us because He loves us. He doesn’t owe us anything.

“He has blessed us with every heavenly blessing” (Ephesians 1:3)

Now you may notice that it doesn’t promise every earthly blessing. Jesus says quite the contrary when He warns the disciples in John 16 that, “you will have troubles in this world”. But every heavenly blessing that the Father has to bestow, He does in abundance. We are coheors with Christ, our future is sealed, and we have hope of a place where there will be no tears. 

After all, we know that “all God’s promises are yes in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:20)

The Great I Am has given us more love and grace than we could ever deserve. He didn’t stop with creation. He didn’t stop with redemption. He didn’t stop with salvation. He continues to bless us above and beyond what we could ever deserve. He strengths, heals, restores, and claims the victory in our lives each and every day. 

We don’t deserve it, but He doesn’t care. He loves us. He died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). And today, we are still sinners. I’m still a sinner. But my God who started a good work in me is carrying it on to completion (Philippians 1:6) 

Taryn

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Accepting Grace

I’ve learned a lot in the past several months about offering grace to those around me. I’ve learned to not harbor anger against others, to give cheerfully and sacrificially, and to forgive patiently and unceasingly ((not by any means am I perfect at those things, but God has been teaching me and working in me))

But what I haven’t learned is to let others do those same things for me.

I don’t think I should get help. I don’t think I’m worth it. I don’t think I deserve grace. And frankly, I don’t deserve grace.

But God didn’t take that into account when He forgave us {according to the riches of His grace. Which He lavished upon us — Ephesians 1:7-8}

I like to think I don’t need help. I like to think I can do it myself and take responsibility for everything on my own. I like to be the first to help everyone else, and the last to ask for help myself. I’ve claimed 2 Corinthians 12:9 as my life verse, and yet, I act as if I don’t need His grace. I try to make myself enough without it.

{if you are ready to partake of grace you have not to atone for your sins–you have merely to accept of the atonement. All that you want to do is to cry, “God have mercy upon me,” and you will receive the blessing — Dwight L. Moody}

I’m not supposed to try to make myself enough. God has only asked me to stand here with hands open and accept the grace that He lavishes on me through Himself and the people He has put around me.

He didn’t ask me to be the answer to every problem or to do everything for myself. Rather, He commanded the opposite. He asked me to be a member of His body and to work in unity with other believers.

{for as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another — Romans 12:4-5}

{two are better than one, because they have a better return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up — Ecclesiastes 4:9-10}

If I truly believe in the power of the church working as a body, I have to not only work as one of its members, but let those around me build me up and help me as well. I have to learn to accept grace from those around me and most of all grace from God. I can’t do this life alone, but I can do it through Christ and His people because I’m drowning in His sufficient grace.

So to all of the people around me who have shown me grace this week, thank you. I’m sorry that I held on to my stubborn pride and didn’t want to let anyone help me. I’m sorry I wasn’t grateful enough and rather remained adamant that I could do it all myself. I can’t. God knew I needed every one of you, and you’ve helped me more than you will ever know.

I can’t do life alone, and praise the LORD, I am not designed or required to live in solidarity. I need only be humble enough to ask for and accept help and grace from those around me who want to show it. Most of all, I need to humble myself before the throne of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords every day of my life and ask Him to forgive me, redeem me, cleanse me, and thank Him for His abundant grace. He has never yet failed me and I know He won’t start failing me now.

Taryn

The Myth of “Righteous Anger”

Search “righteous anger” on Bible Gateway

Since I know you didn’t actually do that, let me tell you what it says. Nothing shows up.

Those two words don’t appear side by side in the Bible. 

In fact, James 1:20 says quite the opposite

{for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God}

So where did this term come from?

Who came up with the idea of “righteous anger”?

Who decided that as Christians it would be righteous of us to be angry, even if our anger is directed towards sin? 

God doesn’t need our anger or want our anger. He didn’t call us to anger. He called us to love. That’s what Jesus emphasized over and over during His earthly ministry. 

If anyone were going to be angered by sin, it should have been Jesus. He was the one they were sinning against. He was the one who was going to have to bleed and die for it. And He is the only one to ever walk this earth and not be just like them — sinners. And yet there are very few times when the Bible mentions Jesus getting angry or acting in anger. 

Jesus didn’t ignore the injustices all around Him, but rather than letting His actions be fueled by anger, He let them be fueled by compassion and love. 

Love is what God commands in the Great Commandment. Love is what Paul describes as bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring all things (1 Corinthians 13:8). Love is what Jesus showed on the cross to a broken and dying world, devoid of any reason to be loved. Love is what no one deserves, by what Christ calls us to show. 

Anger won’t draw anyone to the Father, but love will

“Jesus will not accept the common distinction between righteous indignation and unjustifiable anger. The disciple must be entirely innocent of anger, because anger is an offence against both God and his neighbour.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There are surely injustices in this world. There are surely things we must fight against in this world. But rather than convincing ourselves that our anger towards these things is righteous and is what should be going on, why don’t we focus on letting love drive us to do great things. To share hope and comfort with this broken world. And to point every person that we see back to Jesus. 

I’m not here to tell you you’re an awful human for getting angry. I’m here to tell you that unless we do something with that anger, unless we allow Christ to take it from us and replace it with love and passion to do something about the injustice in our world, then it’s meaningless. And worse than that, it’s stealing our joy. 

When you really think about it, why would we want to be angry in the first place? I sure don’t want to be. I don’t like how it makes me feel and I certainly don’t like the person that I am when I’m angry. So, as much as possible, I’m going to choose not to be angry. Even if it seems like I’m in the right, or that my anger may be “righteous”. I don’t want to choose anger anymore, I want to choose love. 

Taryn

Brokenness Aside

<<I am a sinner if it’s not one thing it’s another, I’m caught up in words, tangled in lies. But You are my Savior and You take brokenness aside and make it beautiful>>
My life is broken. 
I am broken. 
My life is marred my anxiety. By fear. By pride. 
And I’ve let those begin to define me. 
The shards and fragments and rough edges. I’ve begun to feel like I deserve them. Deserve to have to wear them as scars — as strobe lights declaring my faults and failures to the world. 
I wake up and see myself through a shattered mirror. I see myself, but only under the layers of cracks and distortion and fog. 
And you know what?
I’m a broken person. The Bible backs me up on that. I’ve fallen short of God’s marvelous glory (Romans 3:23). But He is the Creator who takes our broken pieces and doesn’t discard them, but instead reshapes and remolds them. Who takes them and somehow makes them beautiful. 
He is the Creator and when I turned to Him and asked for His salvation almost twelve years ago, He took the broken mirror away. He washed me white as snow. He healed my brokenness and started reforming and refining and sanctifying me. Sculpting me to be more like the image of Himself. 
He declares me to be His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) and all of my brokenness and weakness doesn’t cease to exist, but He does use it for good (Genesis 50:20), and His power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) 
My Father loves me so much that He doesn’t want me to keep watching my reflection through broken glass. He wants to turn me around and let me see myself through His eyes. 
Someone worth dying for. 
Someone He wants to use to accomplish His beautiful purposes. 
A child of the King. 

Above the Noise

2 Kings 19:11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Let me tell you, my life has been chaotic recently. 

And I thought I could handle it too, with my willpower and genius time management, I was gonna make it through. 

Check every box and write every essay and keep every commitment — oh yeah, and in the meantime keep a smile on my face and look like I have my life together. 

But you know what?

That’s not the goal. 

This blog post is a sermon to myself and a lesson some of my best friends have been trying to teach me for a long time. 

I. Can’t. Do. Everything. 

And you know what finally made me realize it?

Rest.

The beauty of rest. 

God created and set aside a while day each week for rest. Sabbath. To be in the quiet and commune with Him. To slow down and let the true priorities take their place. 

When I’m running a million miles an hour, I love the rush of adrenaline, I love the feeling of productivity and accomplishment… but I lose the little things. 
Life is full of tasks and checklists, but all the beauty in the little things are choked out. 


The beauty of laughing and long walks with dear friends. The beauty of tea dates and phone calls with friends in other states. The beauty of taking my little siblings to the library or reading a book just for fun. 

And you know what else gets choked out?

The voice of God. 

Going back to 1 Kings which I referenced in the beginning, Elijah was surrounded by the whirlwind of life. But that’s not where God was.

God came in the still small voice, and we have to be still and calm to be able to find them there.

When I’m caught up in the hubbub and rush of life, I’m not going to hear Him. I’m not going to see Him.

Last week, I was rereading a letter my best friend wrote me during freshman year. She told me that God doesn’t knock us flat on our backs so that we will walk right back to the things that knocked us down.

This semester has already knocked me down. And it’s knocking me down over and over, because I’m not letting God speak into it. I’m not letting His still small voice lead me, but rather I’m being led by the busyness and agendas and craziness that I’ve inflicted upon myself.

One of the first Bible passages I ever memorized was Psalm 23, which says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life.”

God wants to give me rest. And I want to learn to embrace it. Not to take it as being lazy, but to except it as a gift he has given me to blessed me in so many ways. And also to allow me to fully experience my relationship with him in the way it supposed to be.

I want to really learn what it means to be still and know that he is God. (Psalm 46:10)

Taryn

White as Snow

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Y’all! It’s snowing in Texas!!!
Needless to say, I’m giddy like a little kid! It hasn’t actually snowed in Texas in at least two years, and even though it’s just flurries, it put me in a great mood and I’ve decided to shelve the post I had planned for today and write a new one instead:)
The snow is so gorgeous. I love watching fall and then swirl together in piles across the road, it looks so pure and perfect and clean.
And that’s what God makes us to be like as His redeemed sons and daughters.
After David committed adultery with Bathsheba he cried out to the LORD, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
And later God proclaims through the prophet Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow,” (Isaiah 1:18)
That absolutely floods me with joy. Most days, I don’t feel clean or worthy whatsoever. I feel dirty and shameful and dark. But to be compared to this beautiful clean snow, that just reinvigorates my passion and thankfulness for what Jesus did for me on the cross.
I don’t ever want to cease being in awestruck wonder of the amazing God I serve. Of His cleansing, redemptive power and of His marvelous, unconditional love. I hope you all have a wonderful day and that your new year is starting off amazing!!

— Taryn

10 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

Hey everyone!

So technically, I’m not done with college until next week, but as I’m in the midst of finals and projects and all of that fun stuff *not* I had all of these things bouncing around in my mind and wanted to go ahead and get them out there:) Some are basic college tips, some are about life and growing up, and as always, God has revealed some pretty awesome things to me about Himself as well. Thank you to everyone who has come on this journey with me through reading my thoughts a couple times every week, you’re brave 😉 Here we go!
1. Use Rate My Professor — Just do it. Of course it’s beneficial to stay away from the bad professors, but also, look around and figure out who those professors are that you just have to have. This may be just me, but it’s much easier to get myself up and to class in the morning when I’m actually excited for the lectures. I have two professors whom I absolutely love and that gets me to class on days I really don’t want to go.

2. You have to be proactive about making friends — In high school, especially going to a small private school, making friends came naturally. Here on a campus with 30,000 people, I could easily go all semester without speaking to anyone *guilty as charged* I told my Mom I have one and two-half friends on campus, and even that is a stretch. Honestly, I know some of my professors better than any classmates! I’m pretty upset with myself and how I let this semester get away from me. Be willing to start conversations, get to know the people around you, it won’t just happen if you don’t put any effort in.

3. Go to office hours and ask questions — I already mentioned that my two “best friends” on campus are professors, and this may sound really nerdy, but talking to professors excites me so much!! They are such smart people! I love asking questions after class or going to office hours to talk about things in more depth. They love when students come to talk to them about things other than makeup exams and late assignments. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at your disposal!

4. I’m no longer a slave to fear — I have sang these lyrics for years, but honestly sang them without much thought. It seemed like a no-brainer because I had never felt enslaved to fear in the first place. Until this semester. I have no idea how or why, but anxiety has been taking hold of my life bit by bit this semester. And honestly, it seems like it is still getting worse before it gets better. The littlest things can set me completely off, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night absolutely sure that something terrible has happened. I worry about anything and everything, and yes, I know the Bible says “do not worry” 365 times. But when I go into panic, I have no control over that. I make myself physically sick and life seems completely and utterly overwhelming.

Now all that sounds really negative and not at all like something I’ve learned this semester. But God has been right here leading and guiding me through. Even though I can’t always feel His presence. He keeps reminding me through His words and promises that His grace is still more than sufficient, He has a hold of me and is never letting me go, and although Satan wants me to be afraid, I am no longer a slave to fear. He has called me by name and I am His. I am His child, and nothing can ever change that. He wants me and loves me just as I am, anxiety and all. And that is something worth rejoicing and celebrating about.

5. Don’t take all your classes on one day — Especially seven. Don’t do seven classes in one day. Because inevitably exams and group projects come up and you will be at school for 14 hours straight. I won’t make that mistake again.

6. You’re not a failure — In a way, these next three all flow together. I have always been a perfectionist and put way to much pressure on myself. But I finally had to realize that I’m not a failure by Christ’s standards. I can’t make everyone happy. Not my friends or family or professors or even myself — and that’s not the goal. The goal is to pursue Christ with everything I’ve got and let that be enough. And when I do that, “failing” is irrelevant.

7. Push yourself, but give some grace too — I had to realize this semester that I couldn’t push myself in absolutely every area or I was going to crash. I pushed myself to take a lot of classes, so I had to realize I couldn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t keep a 4.0. There’s balance in life. I worked incredibly hard and studied for all my exams, but some nights I just needed to read and eat ice cream and forget about it all for a few hours. You won’t survive without the grace, so don’t feel guilty for it.

8. To say no! — Yes, that extra Bible Study on Thursday nights would be great. Yes, going to the grocery store every single week would help my family out a lot. Yes, I would love to be able to take my siblings to McDonald’s and the library all the time. My two best friends are captains of their soccer and basketball teams and I would love to be at all of their games. But I can’t do everything. Even all the good things. Even all the things I want to do. So sometimes I have to step back and say no to things, even good things, so that I can say yes to the things that are really most important.

9. Group projects aren’t pretty – -True story. I have a group project due on Monday for a group that has seven people in it. We had our first meeting three weeks ago and four people showed up. The next three still haven’t ever done their parts. Some people don’t care, some people never text back, and that’s going to have to be okay. You aren’t responsible for all of them, just do your best and let it go:)

10. God has already won — In a song by my favorite band, Anthem Lights, they sing Our King has won the war, He reigns forevermore, Hallelujah Hallelujah

The lyrics are simple but so true. God has displayed that truth in my life over and over this semester. When I struggled with health issues, He reminded me that He was the ultimate healer and His ways are so much higher than my own (Isaiah 55:9). When I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, He reminded me that He was my peace and He was never ever leaving me (Isaiah 26:3). When Satan threatened to attack, when I ran out of time to study for my math exam, when everything around me tried to knock me down… God had already won. He is so much bigger than anything I faced this semester and then anything I will ever face. He speaks victory over me, and I get to live in that victory every day for the rest of my life.


Wow, as much as I wanted to share all of this with you guys, it also reminds me of how faithful my God is and makes me realize how much He has brought me through and taught me over these past four months. I can’t wait to take on whatever He has next, however crazy, I know that His grace will be more than sufficient for all of it.

Taryn

“Perfect Church Girl” doesn’t exist

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have my life all together! Not by a long shot. But I definitely fall into the “perfect church kid” stereotype. I’m at the church every time the doors are open, I play in the praise band, I’ve been a camp counselor, I know everyone there and they know me… but none of those things are synonymous with the word “perfect”. I’m really good at putting up facades. I’m really good at faking things. For the first fourteen years of my life, I let everyone believe I really was a pretty great kid. I hid the darkness in my life, and always smiled and knew the Sunday School answers to all the questions. But I was never vulnerable, I never let my guard down and admitted that I was struggling. And after hearing that I was “perfect” one too many times, I started feeling pressure to live up to that. 

My identity became being that “perfect church girl” I felt that was what I was supposed to be. I started believing that anything less was not acceptable. I was completely missing the point though. God doesn’t call us to be perfect through the world’s eyes. He calls us to follow Him. And that means admitting that we are not perfect!! Only in Jesus can we be made righteous. 

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift. Not from works, so that no one can boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9

Now, don’t get me wrong, God does call us to holiness. (Leviticus 20:26) We are called to do our best at everything to do for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:13, Colossians 3:17). But we aren’t doing any of this through our own power. And it’s not about what we do anyway. Being “perfect” isn’t a standard anyone can ever live up to. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself or anyone else. Even the apostle Paul, who was stoned and persecuted for his faith, declared,

“But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ — the righteousness from God based on faith.” — ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:7-9‬ 

The goal isn’t perfection. “Perfect church girl” doesn’t exist, and it’s not the goal anyway. Don’t put pressure on yourself or anyone else to be that. Instead, focus your energy on following Jesus and living in His righteousness. Be willing to be vulnerable and admit that we aren’t perfect, that’s why we need God’s grace. And thankfully were drowning in His sufficient grace every day of our lives. Grace that covers our failures and shortcomings. Grace that covers all the times we are less than perfect. 

I used to let the fear of other’s opinions paralyze me. I was more worried that I would lose my “perfect” reputation that that I was living less than the abundant life God had planned for me. One night the summer before freshman year, all my facades crumbled. My youth group was on a mission trip, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t hold together my “perfect” image anymore. I made rash decisions that shattered my image and revealed how not together my life really was. I regretted it instantly, but not because I felt guilt for my sin. I regretted that my image and reputation could never be the same again. 

Now, I wish I could go back and not do the mean things I did that night, but God taught me so much through that experience. He taught me that my priorities were all twisted and while I thought I was living all for Him, I was really living all for myself. Living to be “perfect” is our selfish way of trying to win the world’s approval. I am more than guilty of that. But God has been revealing to me for four years now that “perfect” isn’t the goal. Living for Him, and admitting I’m hopeless without Him, acknowledging that I need His help and grace… That’s the goal. 

If I were to walk up to God on judgment day with a scot-free reputation but a dirty heart, He would see right through me. I need Him to cleanse my heart and make me new. And I have to humble myself and admit that my heart is a filthy mess without Him. I may be a “perfect church girl” by stereotype, but I don’t want to be that anymore. That doesn’t even exist. Don’t settle for a label or reputation less than the abundant life God has for you. He urges us to lay everything down before Him and live passionately pursuing Him, that’s how we find abundant life. So I’m laying down my reputation, I’m not going to focus on what others think, I’m going to try to be who God has called me to be and rely on His strength alone. Will you join me?

It’s okay NOT to be okay

 

 

 

“Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong…”

 

These are the opening lines to one of my favorite songs “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. Honestly, that’s how I feel about life most of the time. Like I’m not allowed to fall apart, I have too many people counting on me. I need to be a good sister, daughter, employee, friend, band member, student, and so many other things… All while having a smile plastered on my face because as a Christian, I’m supposed I be joyful. But you know what? Sometimes I don’t feel very joyful. Sometimes I’m falling apart on the inside, and sometimes, I don’t have the strength to fake it one second longer. As the next line of the song says

“But life hits you out of nowhere, and barely leaves you holding on”

Sometimes, God is calling us to put on a smile and keep going. And I’m not saying that we should make our life into a pity party. But it is okay to admit you’re struggling. It’s okay to
need help. To need rest. Some nights, it really is okay to need to scoop a bowl of Blue Bell and collapse in bed at 7pm. And some days, it’s okay to not be the strong one and instead admit that you’re hurting. To ask for help and prayer and let down the facades for a while. It can be tough to be vulnerable, and it’s easy to feel like that’s weakness. Like we’re not supposed to let ourselves have problems. Like we’re supposed to push through and not let them bother us. But that’s definitely not the case.

Throughout the first half of my junior year of high school, I was extremely sick with mononucleosis. It should have put me out of commission, but I didn’t want to let it. I wanted to prove that I could keep working, keep going to school, keep playing in the praise band… But in reality, I couldn’t. And although I though I was “being strong” and “being a fighter” I was actually hurting myself all the more. It took hitting rock bottom where I could barely climb out of bed to be willing to admit I wasn’t okay. To be willing to ask for time off work. To be willing to tell my friends I was the furthest thing from okay. And you know what? Sometimes that’s okay.

Sometimes I still have awful days. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, or some crazy combination of the two, there’s days I need some extra grace. And that’s okay. You don’t have to pretend you have everything together, no one does. Some days you’re going to need a nap, and you know what, God knows that. He made us to need rest, and He’s going to keep being faithful when we take some. Be willing to take that first step, admit you can’t do it anymore and fall on His grace, I promise it’s more than sufficient.

“When you’re tired of fighting, chained by your control, there’s freedom in surrender, lay it down and let it go”