A Grace-Filled Gift

September has always been my favorite month. I love the crisp, clear, blue-sky days. My husband and I have our Anniversary at the end of the month. Our daughter’s Birthday comes at mid-month. And then just 2 days later, my own Birthday falls.

But this year, I have faced this month with a kind of dread. It seems that everywhere we turn another disaster or catastrophe is waiting. My heart has been so burdened for this world. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed in the weight of all this heartbreak and brokenness.

And then there is my own condition. My Rheumatologist agreed with me that my body is exhausted from all of the allergic reactions and side effects from the many medications we have tried. So, we are not pursuing any other new treatments right now, and I am very appreciative of that! However, that leaves my RA minimally treated, with small flares keeping me awake most nights. Add in the pain of a stubborn occipital nerve that isn’t cooperating with its ablation, and some days I feel that I might jump out of my skin.

I recently was reminded of a blogger that I had read about in January 2016. She suffered from severe Ankylosing spondylitis, a disease in the same family as Rheumatoid Arthritis. When I first began to read parts of her story, I heard the Lord nudging me to begin my own blog. I tentatively dipped my toes into this writing space, and I purchased her book: Choose Joy, by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. Her story was published after her death, put together by her dear friend. Reading her words of honesty about how she faced her disease touched me so deeply in my own early days of chronic illness.

But when I began re-reading her words this past week, I was astonished at how much has changed in my own life these past few years. My weakness loomed in front of me. I read about her choices to choose joy in the midst of the struggles, and I pondered the deep surrenders that God has taken me through also. But I heard His Spirit calling me deeper yet again.

I’ve learned (over and over) that being tough and being strong are two completely different things. I just had to stop being tough and start being strong to figure it out. Now I’m strong enough to live the life I’ve been given instead of the one I think I’m tough enough to make.

Frankl, Sara. Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts (p. 162). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

He is always bringing us into more Christ-like-ness in this life we are living. HIS life was lived in utter surrender to His Father. He never sugar-coated the facts, but was blazingly honest in His declarations of the pain that the world and He, Himself, would soon face.

And yet, His life was one of utter joy in the presence of His Father, and with those He loved. He fully displayed the joy of the Lord

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 NIV

It was His joy to bring us to the Father. He knew what His ultimate sacrifice would accomplish, and that filled Him with joy, even in the face of such deep sorrow.

Could I allow Him to bring that same joy to me? Could I allow Him to set HIS joy before me?

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-8 NIV

When that Scripture flowed through my heart, I knew the great gift He was bringing to me. What an honor we have been given, to show the riches of HIS grace in our lives.

Suddenly my Birthday took on a whole new meaning: I have been created to show the incomparable riches of His grace! Living that out has taken many forms throughout all of the changing seasons. But in this one season called today, my weakness and pain are the very opportunities where I have been allowed to display HIS strength in me.

When the pain rages, when the sorrow consumes, when the burdens weigh heavily, and when my days stretch endlessly, these are my places to abide in Christ’s strength for me. This is the season to let my words tell of His great love and mercy showering over my life, to be strong in His grace, in the midst of my own weakness.

You then, my son, (daughter) be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1 NIV
Monarch on Autumn Joy Sedum

Are you feeling the weariness and brokenness of this season? He has grace for you today also.

His joy has not ended in this hard season. No, He is calling us all to follow Him and to find the gift of His grace more precious than ever.

Will you pray with me?

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for giving Yourself to bring us to the Father. Your gift of grace overwhelms us. We must confess that we are weary and worn in this world. We are mourning over the heartbreak that we see. Thank You for entering the pain with us. Thank You for calling us to Yourself today. We bow before You here and receive YOUR fresh grace. We want to display Your grace to those who are hurting in this world. We want to be Your beacon of JOY to those who have lost all hope. Thank You that You are still here with us in this season, just as You were with Your disciples all those years ago. And YOUR plans to bring us into Your glory and grace remain unchanged today.

In Your name, Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

Thank you to so many friends who continually point me to Jesus, who lift my eyes up to the beauty of my Savior. My dear friend, Joy Lenton, just released a free ebook, Soul Shots: 31 Days of Pocket Wisdom for Your Hurting Heart. Her words brought such stirring in my heart to look for God’s gifts of beauty in our everyday moments. Find her book here at her website, Poetry Joy.

And my dear friend, Anna, sends me so many songs and Scriptures throughout the night seasons. They come at such times that only God could have planned. Last night as she sent this song below, her words of praise for His Creation all around us set my heart to ponder and listen for the words He was speaking to me for this post. May He bless your heart also as you pause with this simple and grace-filled Scripture Song:

I am linking this week with: #RememberMeMonday #TellHisStory #LegacyLinkUp #GraceAndTruth

33 thoughts on “A Grace-Filled Gift

  1. “This is the season to let my words tell of His great love and mercy showering over my life, to be strong in His grace, in the midst of my own weakness.”

    Your ability to find joy in the hardest of times leaves me with no excuses, Bettie. Blessings to you for how you encourage me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lisa,
      His grace is such a gift for each of us, and I am so thankful for the ways that you encourage me also. Oh, may we look up to Him in the middle of our moments. Blessings, love, and prayers for you dear friend!

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    1. Dear Jennifer,
      He has been so faithful to keep our hearts so fixed on His grace! I have felt that same encouragement as I have read your beautiful testimony also. What a blessed gift He has given us to share across all these miles! Blessings and love and prayers for you also, dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your ephesians quote made me think of this quote:
    “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” ~ Ephesians 1: 16-21 – that great power He talks about makes all the difference – and you write “opportunities where I have been allowed to display HIS strength in me” – that same strength he worked in Christ! Your contrast of strength and toughness – oh, that’s so good to learn we don’t have to just “tough” through, that our strength is in Him! Happy Birthday, Bettie! Praying that strength continue to flow through you and joy come out of you! ~ Maryleigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Maryleigh, I love that whole passage from Ephesians! What a blessing and encouragement to read through those words again tonight. You are so right that “the great power He talks about makes all the difference.” The “immeasurable greatness” of His power is something that we so easily push aside when we think that we need to “tough through.” Oh, why do we do that, when He is right here waiting to pour His strength over us? Thank you for your sweet encouragement and blessings! May you be blessed deeply this week also!

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  3. Your words given to you by Christ inspire me to do better, Bettie. His grace is enough, we are taught. However, you are also living out the fullness of His grace. I am also encouraged by how God equips you through the encouragement of dear friends like Joy and Anna. I am so thankful to God that He does this for you, and continues to set your eyes on Him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lynn,
      And I am also thankful for the encouragement that you so often bring to me. Truly it is HIS equipping that helps us to live out His fullness of grace. I pray that He is blessing you this September with His grace also!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed in the weight of all this heartbreak and brokenness.” Oh so true, Bettie. I love the comparison Sara gives between being tough and being strong. I especially love your insight into how Jesus never sugar-coated and was blazingly honest about His pain. I just read that Hebrews verse last week. I am always so in awe of how He counted it joy to go through what He did out of such incomprehensible love for us. Thank you so much for continuing to testify the incomparable riches of His grace in the midst of all your pain. And have a blessed birthday and anniversary! Love and blessings of strength and peace!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Trudy,
      Thank you so much for your sweet comments and wishes here! You have been such an encouragement to me on this path of seeking the Lord’s truth and joy in the midst of our own difficult days. It truly is incomprehensible how He could love us so much. Oh, but I am so glad that He does! I pray that you are being filled with His grace today, dear sister. Love and hugs and blessings for you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What an inspiring post this is! The grace and peace of the Lord Jesus shine brightly in you. Whatever it is the Lord allows in our lives, if we, by faith, are convinced of his love for us, we will be able to accept it.

    Blessings,
    Patti @ Clothed with Joy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Patti,
      Yes, our hearts are so ready to accept His will when we see His deep, deep love for us. Thank you for your sweet comments here today. May you be blessed with His grace and mercy today also!

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  6. Dear Bettie, you always have a way of finding the joy and peace no matter how difficult your pain is. Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your struggles but then realizing that even through them you can have that joy in Christ, that He is there with you through every trial.

    You are such a blessing to me, dear sister. I appreciate you so much and am so thankful for you. The way you humble yourself before God, not minimizing the pain, but looking to Him for comfort, is so encouraging and inspiring.

    Much love to you and many blessings, my dear sister/poet/friend! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Gayl,
      I am so very grateful for all of the ways that you bring such encouragement and prayers for me too. Your words and your art help me to remember the beauty that God has for us. And you help me to feel safe to share my heart with honesty also. I am so grateful for the ways that God has brought us together in Him. Blessings and love for you too, my dear poet/sister/friend! xoxo

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  7. Dear Bettie, the way you never cease to look for and discover joy and hope in the midst of adversity and pain is humbling and heartening. It’s a beautiful gift of grace and a terrific testimony of how God works in you to showcase His glory, reveal His grace in your gritty reality, and His strength in your weakness. You are such an inspiration to me and many others. I’m challenged by these words from Sara Frankl’s book, which is one I must read, I think: “Now I’m strong enough to live the life I’ve been given instead of the one I think I’m tough enough to make.”

    Oh to be able to say this and truly know it deep within! My September-Sister and beloved friend, it’s an honour to be mentioned here, thank you, and a far greater honour and privilege to read your words and to journey with you through debilitating chronic illness. May God continue to uphold, strengthen and keep you through the hard, shower you with His great grace and love, and fully equip you to write, savour your housebound life, share your words and pray for others. Blessings on your anniversary and birthday to come! Much love and gentle hugs. xoxo ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Joy, Yes, I was so blessed by Sara’s words and her heart for the Lord. And I thank you dear sister for the ways that you have helped me to see the grace of God in this life we have been given. I have seen you live it out also. I think it’s harder for us to see it in ourselves, but our spirits can bear witness with each other of God’s grace that is shared between our hearts. I am so thankful that I could share your words and ebook here. May the Lord bless and shower you with His mercy also, dear September-Sister! Thank you for all of your prayers and love that you have shared. Much love and hugs for you across the pond! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Such an inspiration, Bettie. I can only imagine how your face must glow with God’s glory (2 Cor. 3:18)! And with you I pray to display God’s grace to those who are hurting in this world, and to be His beacon of JOY to those who have lost all hope!” AMEN!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Nancy, Oh yes, I am so thankful for your joining in prayer here that we would be HIS beacon of Joy to those around us. He is our only strength and grace! Blessings and love to you today.

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  9. It is just awful to think of the terrible pain you must daily endure, dear friend. So often Jesus brings you to my mind to pray for you, as I suffer in my own body and long for relief. Surely our sufferings in this life will make Heaven all the sweeter for us. One day, we will meet at Jesus’ feet, and the knowledge of that is what keeps us going. No wonder the Apostle Paul said if in this life only we had hope, we would be of all men most miserable. Sending much love to you, my sweet sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Oh, thank you my dear sister for all of your sweet prayers. What a precious gift from God to be able to pray for each other across the miles. May you feel His comfort and grace pouring over you today. Our hope is so fixed on HIM and the glory that is to come when we meet Him. Your words make me think of that old hymn, “What a day that will be, when our Jesus we shall see!” Oh, may we keep our hearts and prayers lifted up to Him. Love and blessings to you also dear sister!

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  10. I am so sorry for the RA pain you experience, my Dad had RA as well. But you are stewarding so well the grace the Lord has entrusted to you. Thank you for sharing this, even in trials. He is so faithful! Your writing is a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mariel,
      Oh, I am sorry to hear about your Dad’s experience with RA. Thank you for understanding how it affects those of us who must deal with it. I am so grateful for your sweet encouragement. His grace is truly such a precious gift to be able to share with each other! Blessings for you today!

      Like

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