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Glory to God in the Highest

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Merry Christmas to all and glory to God in the highest!
We also want to take this time to say thank you for letting us serve you over this past year.
It's been a privilege to take this journey with you, and we pray that each of you feels more grounded in God,
and the beautiful person He created YOU to be.  While this is our last post, the collection of over 360 posts we've shared with you will still remain, and we hope you'll come back to look through them
when you are in need of inspiration and encouragement.

Thank you and best wishes for a blessed 2013 from all of us at Beautifully Rooted!

The Day She Prayed For A Brother - Guest Post

 There I stood, tripping over Tupperware containers strewn about the floor. She sat at the table coloring. These are the days of Play-Doh, crayons and finger -paints.  The times of wooden spoon drumming on upside down pans. She turned to me as I scurried about the kitchen in my busy mom mode, interrupting my momentum abruptly by the one simple request.

"Mommy, I want a little brother or sister."

I pause and weigh heavy my response. Yet, I am not sure of what to say, wanting to avoid what I do not know or am unsure about, really. What comes out is, "Sweetheart, you can ask God by praying."

Thinking to myself, I have answered well,  I continue once more with my kitchen busy work.
As I move about, she, still seated at the table, folds her hands, bows her head and utters these words, "Dear God, please give me a baby brother or sister.  Amen"

I smile at her sweet expectant faith. Until she comes over and tugs on my pants, looking up at me with a slightly perturbed expression.  I ask her what's the matter, as her eyes dart around the kitchen  expectantly.  You'd have thought something was about to  fall from the ceiling. She looks at me, Junior Mint eyes, directly and replies "Well, I prayed. Where's my brother or sister?"

You know, friends, my sweet girl was almost three at the time she said this,
yet aren't we just like that sometimes? We pray. Perhaps pray again. We wait. We're expectant, hopeful.
But then we tap our foot, drum our fingers on the tabletop, fold our arms and humph. We demand an answer.

But when God does not answer us right away or He doesn't answer a specific prayer the way we think he should we wonder,  "Why, Lord? "

Sometimes we forget that our God knows the beginning from the end. He has His eye on eternity and  every hair on our head. He knows what needs to come to pass and what needs to be held back. He knows the when. We may not understand why God allows certain prayers to be answered immediately while others seem to remain unanswered. Elizabeth Elliot says it best, "If God were small enough to be understood, He wouldn't be big enough to be God."  Wow. Let that sink in and set you free. This God who has eternity etched in the palm of His hands is the same God who leans in close and hears our prayers. So raise your voice to Him who is listening, and utter words from thoughts He already knows.
He is good, He is trustworthy, He is listening.

The Lord makes firm the steps 
    of the one who delights in him;
 though he may stumble, he will not fall, 
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

Psalm 139: 1-18 - Guest Post

Yesterday I had lunch with a sweet friend of mine. I knew that she was down about something, so as we munched on our food we chatted about what’s been going on in her world. She told me about how the past two years have been full of struggling to accept the grace of God, how she can’t fathom a God who would love her without her earning it.

As I sat across from her I couldn't help but remember back to summer of 2011 when, after 8 years, I finally gave up trying to earn the love of God. I shared the story of the summer with  her and encouraged her that God’s love is perfect, that He loves her so much and could never love her less or more than he does right now. His love just IS.

Fast forward to 6 am this morning: I was at Seek Week (Seek Week defined: A full week of, as a church, daily pursuing God through prayer, fasting and worship). During the response time Nick encouraged all of those who have a hard time believing that God loves them, who have a hard time accepting his Grace, who have a hard time letting Jesus accept them as they are, to come up to the front to receive prayer. How I wish my friend was there (unfortunately not where the story is going)! But nonetheless, there is a big story going on here.

As Nick opened up the front for prayer at least twelve women walked forward. I looked at the women standing there and my heart broke. Why is it that we, as women, have such a hard time receiving the grace of God? We don’t believe that God could actually love us just as we are. Instead of accepting that love, we run around exhausting ourselves by being a part of every ministry possible, saying yes to anyone and everyone that crosses our path, feeling guilty if we ever say no to anything. We lack boundaries with our time and relationships and feel as though taking care of ourselves is just selfish… All of this in hopes that we can be loved by God.

I think the truth we women fear is that we are sinners and there is nothing we can do about it. But the truth we need to grab hold of is that God’s love is BIGGER than our sin. He redeemed us and freed us from the law when he died on the cross for our sins and rose again. He simply calls us to himself. He is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Light. No one comes to the Father except through him. No amount of good deeds, no amount of asking for forgiveness, no amount of devotional time can make God love you less or more. Again, his love just IS.

Since that summer of 2011 I have read Psalm 139 on a consistent basis. It reminds me that no matter where I choose to go, no matter what I choose to do that God is there and that He loves me. It is a constant reminder that God knows me. And even in him knowing me fully, he STILL loves me. How grateful I am for a Heavenly Father that knows every part of who I am – the good the bad and the ugly (that some people would look at and go, she said said/did/chose what?!) and loves me perfectly anyway.

My prayer for my friend, the women who stood up this morning and for Christian women everywhere is that they would no longer fear being fully known by God…that they would know in their heart and in their mind that God is crazy about them- blemishes and all. And more than that, they would know that God wipes those blemishes away! He did not die in vain. He died to set us free. And you are free indeed!
And finally, for those of you who have a hard time receiving God’s grace- know that you are not alone. You are not crazy. You do not have to hide. This is a road that many of us are walking. For those of you who are a little further along the road of accepting God’s grace- let me challenge you to speak out about your journey. As women, let’s encourage and walk with one another towards the beautiful grace and perfect love of God.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

How precious are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them. If I were to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand- when I awake, I am still with you.” –Psalm 139: 1-18

Labor of Love

I have a pretty traumatic birth story, not about me coming into this world, but my daughter. It still couldn't compare to Mary's.

I was 20 years old, and it was 4:30am. I was in massive pain and I knew this was it. The father of my baby was still drunk from the night before after I had begged him not to drink an ounce because I knew I was in labor the morning of that day before, right when I woke up. I could not get my baby's dad out of bed, I had to splash cold water on his face, and when he came to, he was angry. I just kept thinking to myself, "What kind of mess have I gotten myself into?"

My mom was out of town, my best friend was no where to be found, and my sister was telling me it probably isn't time. But I had to go. I had to move. You know that feeling if you've been in labor.
Suitcase or not suitcase, I was on the move. Taking care of not only me and my child, but a drunk twenty something guy.

I had to be the driver. Yep. I drove myself to the hospital in labor. 

As I pulled out of the parking lot to our sketchy apartment building, I felt and heard someone pound on my car. I slammed on my breaks, and got out of the car, and someone yelled,  "What do you think you are doing, you almost hit me_____!"

Then my baby's dad runs over to the guy and starts pouncing on him and they proceed to get in a brawl, while me and the guys girlfriend were screaming stop, "I'm in labor!" "She's in labor can't you see, stop!"
as I am literally bent over in the worst possible pain of my life.

We drove away with my baby's dad having a black eye, and scratches all over his face.
Down the interstate I go 80-90 while the contractions let up.
I drop it to about 25-30mph while the contractions come on.
It was a 40 minute drive, that took me an hour and a half.

When we arrive at the hospital, (not my perfectly picked out "birth place"), 
they tend to my baby's dad's messed up face!
I stood there seriously like, "This has got to be a joke, no way is this my life."

I finally made it to my room and my baby's dad passed out for the remainder of my birth experience, which was a blessing that I see now. My mom arrived with 20 minutes of me giving birth thank goodness,
my dad was there talking about how cold it was outside, (January 15),
and my sister was by my side.

And with all this mess my story could never compare to Mary's experience while in labor. My story can't even touch her experience. I had an easy labor experience compared to Mary. I can't imagine being on a donkey, about to deliver, being in pain, fatigued, beyond frustrated, hot, sticky, and climbing all those hills and how exhausted she must have been for hours and hours. Not the most perfect of circumstances.

Think of how frustrated we get when one of our plans is thwarted; we didn't get pregnant when we wanted, we didn't have more than one child, we didn't get the hospital we wanted, or the doctor we wanted and on and on. Think of all the several stops they made and she still wasn't able to get off that donkey!

A stable, which was the only place for them to land finally, is said to be a cave type place; mountainous, really rocky. A manger, pictured above is a trough or an open box in which feed for livestock is placed. Well, the king of kings was placed in that!

It's told that it was really a cold night the night He was born. But I've learned differently. I've learned that the month probably wasn't even December, and I've learned that it was probably actually really hot. Again, how uncomfortable and miserable.

Everyone tends to think of Jesus coming into the world like they do Christians-
all neat, and perfectly put together, pretty, serene, picture perfect, squeaky clean.

I can tell you for a fact that is not how Jesus came into the world and I can tell you for fact that is not how Christians are. In fact if more Christians embraced their brokenness, and their messy, dirty lives, maybe more people would believe in Jesus? Following Jesus isn't about following rules to make us perfect and without flaw. It's so much more than that as we all know. It's about seeking God in every moment and having intimacy with Him through and through by prayer, worship, community, service, reading, writing, song.
We will never be without flaw, but if we are seeking closeness with our Savior, we have all we need or could want. I have found my needs become my wants over the years.

Because HE defines love. His birth and death define love. 

I think Mary's birth story can remind us of humility. She was giving birth to God! A king of all things! What I love and have come to adore about her birth story is that it screams radical, it defies "normal", it goes against what's expected, and it revolts against pride and control. God was showing us that He's a humble God, and we need to be a humble people. Not so in control of what we want for our lives. We spend so much time trying to construct our lives, and then things go completely wrong or opposite of what we hoped for, and then we don't know what to do.  

Mary's birth story is so important to us and the world because it's a beautiful example of lowliness. It's a remarkable story on meekness. It's an unbelievable story of surrender and suffering. It's the perfect example of how we ought to move forward in our lives. The same way Mary did. Trusting her Father, surrendering to what she wanted, and trusting the whole way. Even if we aren't warm, or comfortable, or polished. Even if we are desolate and tired, or dirty or at our wits end with no where to land. Because you and I, like Mary, will be safe and sound in the workings of the Father. 

Our stories will be beautiful, no matter how they might appear on the outside. They will be significant stories of faith like Mary's. They will have taught us how to endure suffering. They will teach us to remain servants, and chisel away our flesh. These are the most upside down stories that the world will look at and think, "Wow, what an ugly situation, but what beauty has come out of it for them." These are shocking stories, so we can be a witness and give glory to the worthiest of worthies! It is my story, it is your story.