http://definedbygrace.net Mon, 10 Mar 2014 22:02:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Embrace the Ordinary http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1030 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1030#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 22:02:33 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1030

 

 

 

 

 

Make the Ordinary Come Alive

By William Martin

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel in an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.

Sometimes we dismiss the ordinary of life as being just that…ordinary. But the ordinary makes up the most of our days. Our days can seem to run right into each other, often becoming a repeat of the one before with a little drama mixed in to let us know that yes this is a new day.

We can see ourselves as ordinary. We clean our houses, we feel like we cook the same meals each week, we do laundry, dishes, and necessary but not so fun jobs. And they never end. We drive kids to things and from things. We volunteer, we give to those in need, we do our job that we get paid for and oftentimes our work goes unnoticed. Or we forget the impact that we do make.

And we can soon think of ourselves as ordinary, at least in the world’s definition.

There is nothing wrong with ordinary, as defined by God. We are made in the image of the Creator of the Universe, in the image of our great God, and our savior Jesus had the same body, same emotions, same feelings, same everything as us. And if that’s ordinary, then I’m all in!

Our lives may feel ordinary and we wish things were different. They may be routine, and routine can get us in a rut, but there is nothing wrong with ordinary.

In our culture ordinary has become a dirty word. According to the media we are supposed to have these super exciting lives filled with tons of friends and lots of laughs, all of us going out every night after we worked at our uber exciting jobs, and we are to use our smart phones to record every moment of our extraordinary lives.

But life is not like that, and for those who do it, great, but they are missing out if they have to be entertained all the time and take “selfies” to prove how exciting their lives really are.

Life is full of the wonders of the ordinary. The sun comes up every morning and sets every evening and people who don’t recognize how beautiful, how creative, how necessary, how life giving, how powerful, how miraculous that ordinary process is are missing out on God’s workmanship, his masterpiece, his canvas, his power, his life.

Stars glow, birds chirp, waves crash, grass grows, flowers bloom, bees pollinate, butterflies flutter, rain falls, leaves change, babies are born, children grow, people die, and life goes on. And all of this “ordinary” is nothing short of miraculous…if you dare to see it that way.

Our ordinary life can be extraordinary when we allow God to use us right where we are to show the people around us His love, His forgiveness, His grace, His freedom, His abundance, His glory.

When Jesus meets our ordinary something extra happens. We are changed from the inside out. We shine like the stars, we light up a room, we bloom where we are planted, we fragrant the earth. We become the steady, reliable, miraculous ordinary that many depend on.

When we embrace God’s plan for our lives – however ordinary they may seem to us – we bring God’s extraordinary kingdom down to this ordinary earth and people are changed.

Bring God into your ordinary and ask Him to open your eyes to the wonders all around you, and inside of you. Look around at what God has blessed you with – the everyday things we take for granted.

And then place your beautifully “ordinary” life into the hands of our extraordinary God and see what He does through you.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going to work and walk-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can for him. 2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

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Gather the Leftovers http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1025 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1025#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 00:36:37 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1025

 

 

 

 

 

“After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.’” John 6:12

Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.

How many times have I thrown things out because they were leftovers, crumbs, fragments of something once whole? If it appears useless to me, I toss it. Sure, I may save it for a bit thinking that it may be useful one day, but I usually throw it out to make room for something better, more whole.

But Jesus said to gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted. Nothing is wasted.

That means my yucky past is not wasted. That means all my failures are not wasted. That means all the times I meant to trust God, but did it my way are not wasted.

That means that I am not a waste. That means that God does not see me as a leftover, but as something worth gathering to Himself and making whole again. That means that God sees potential in the brokenness of my life; that all of my life – good and bad – can be used for His glory.

Everything can be used for His glory.

Everybody, no matter how broken, is valuable.

That person that I avoided eye contact with so I didn’t have to get involved…nothing is wasted.

That woman who is holding up the grocery line as she searches for her food stamps…nothing is wasted.

The haunting past that I try so hard to run away from…nothing is wasted.

The tears that come so easily as I try to be so brave, but know that I’m dying inside…nothing is wasted.

God is in the business of renewing and redeeming. He takes everything that has happened to us and everything that we have done wrong and restores it, renews it, redeems it, and reuses it.

If we let Him.

See that’s the thing, isn’t it? God can make a miracle out of anything, but we have to let Him have it all. It’s surrender. It’s a cry out to God asking Him to take it all and make it beautiful.

It’s releasing to Him the anger, the pain, the heartache, the brokenness. It’s choosing to forgive others and ourselves. It’s making the decision that today is the day that I leave the past where it belongs and choose to walk with Jesus. It’s deciding that today is the best day of my life, that today is where I want to live and breath and think about. It’s telling God that He can use me wherever, whenever, but let’s start today.

Thank you, God, for taking the fragments of our lives, what the world, what we would view as leftovers and gathering them to you. Thank you for looking past the mess and seeing the potential of a great message of restoration and redemption. Thank you, God, for taking what was meant for bad and using it for such good.

Nothing is wasted. Let God gather your fragments, your leftovers, and restore you. You are not wasted. Your life is not wasted. You are a miracle waiting to happen.

 

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Would You Like Some Cheese With That Whine? http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1018 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1018#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 07:00:26 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1018

 

 

 

 

 

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23

UGH! I couldn’t stand myself. I heard my whiney words and couldn’t stop them from spewing out of my mouth. Anybody who would listen got a taste of some nasty, stale, ungodly whine. Poor souls.

The event is less than a month away and I’m working it like it needs to be worked – putting out the information to my web of connections, calling on churches, and praying for big numbers.  All of this while I was hooked on my whine.

The only thing I wasn’t doing on a regular basis was trusting God to bring the women to the event.

The one thing I did do on a regular basis was wonder out loud if I was enough to bring people in, if I can connect with mothers while I am childless, if fewer women than my goal attend would that affect my reputation. In short, I whined incessantly.

It became a habit that began to spiral out of control. And I couldn’t stop it.

Until…

As I was whining yet again about how much work I was doing and how little response I was getting, I heard words from a most beloved source that stopped my whining…and turned it into anger.

My wonderful husband who is as long-suffering as he is loving said, “You are making yourself too big in all of this.”

Ouch!! I was so angry I almost hung up on him.

I was angry because he was right. He nailed me and it stung. But it also woke me up.

I was making myself too big. In God’s economy numbers of people in attendance don’t matter. It’s who is supposed to be there. My reputation is based nothing on the world’s standards, but on God. If I do what He has asked me to do and show up, God will take care of my reputation.

God’s opinion is the only one that matters. He asks us if we’re willing to go. He doesn’t ask us to predict the finish; He asks us to take the next step. He wants willing people who can be humbled to His plan.

I thought I was being humble in thinking that I wasn’t enough, but by focusing on my own short-comings and measuring success by who comes to see me, I was in fact prideful. This is not about me. It’s about God. It’s about who responds to God’s message of love. It’s about showing up and doing my best for God’s kingdom.

It is not about us. It’s about God. It’s about the people in our lives who need Jesus desperately. It’s about daring to speak a word of truth with someone when the Spirit nudges us. It’s about loving others in the name of Jesus and trusting that God will water and harvest the seeds that we sow.

Whining is a nasty habit that the enemy loves to make a daily ritual. Whining takes the focus off of Jesus and others and turns it directly onto our weaknesses. And that’s where Satan wants our focus. When we take our eyes off of Jesus the glare of our imperfections blinds us from the truth.

And the truth is we are ineffective without Jesus. Without Him, we can’t love our enemies and even sometimes our friends. Without Jesus, we don’t have the strength to carry on when the numbers don’t line up and the walls seem to be closing in.  Without Jesus, we are nothing.

But when we focus on Him and align our lives with His teachings we can accomplish abundantly more than we could ever think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

With man, things seem impossible, but with God anything is possible.

So, with the words of my wonderful husband firmly planted in my head and with the promises of God nestled warmly in my heart, I gladly put down the whine.

Will I be tempted? Probably. But my prayer is that I will recognize my propensity to whine well before it morphs into an addiction.

 

 

 

 

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God Says I Am http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1010 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1010#comments Wed, 25 Sep 2013 07:00:27 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1010

 

 

 

 

 

 

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

I recently wrote a post titled, “Fifteen Minute Pity Party” in which I stated:

      And failure is not an adjective that describes us. Too often we slap that label on us     and let it define us. We walk into a room and say, “Hi my name is Failure. Would you like a list now of all of my mess ups or should we wait until later.”

And then I found Matthew West’s song, “Hello, My Name Is,” which talks about labeling ourselves by our past and not who we are in Christ.

Check out his lyrics to ‘Hello, My Name is

Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget

Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief

These are the voices, these are the lies
And I have believed them, for the very last time

Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, 
And I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life

What love the Father has lavished upon us
That we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King

Powerful!

His video is presented using the sticky labels we get at church and business events with room for us to fill in our name. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuJWQzjfU3o&list=TLBbi-8SsiHJbsRgJm6x_5SXkqE-1Lae8m

Our names come loaded, don’t they? When I write “Heidi” I too often define myself by what I once was or worse what I think I’m not, as opposed to seeing my true identity in Christ.

And I know I’m not the only one.

The truth is we aren’t defined by our past, our failures, our weakness, our inabilities. We are so much more than just what we aren’t. No we’re not all athletic or mathematically gifted. We all aren’t musical or good communicators. We all aren’t graceful or sweet-natured.

But we are all good at many things.

Society and the media do a fabulous job of showing us all that we aren’t, or what we don’t have, or worse, what they think we all should be.

The noise from all the negative voices in the world drowns out the voice of God who calls us by name. Isaiah 43:1 says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.”

1 John 3:1 says that we are called the children of God. All throughout the scriptures is the truth of what we are: redeemed, loved, forgiven, beautiful, wonderfully made, gifted, mighty, free, made on purpose for a purpose, worth dying for. All because of the lavish love of God and the incomprehensible sacrifice of Jesus Christ who bought us for a price.

So I decided to have fun at an event I was holding and then at church the following day. I propped up poster board, laid out colored markers, and wrote across the top “God says I am…”

Children, grandparents and all ages in between wrote words on the board. When I picked up the board I was delighted with words sprawled in big letters and those in tiny print. They were different and heart felt and purposeful.

People paused when they saw the board. Some thought longer than others. Many immediately picked up a marker and wrote. But all who wrote know what God says about them.

And don’t we know? But how often do we forget? We get caught in the trap of negative talk and self-doubt and forget God’s truth.

So I challenge you to put up poster board in your house, label it “God Says I Am” and every time you and your family and friends walk past, write the first thing that comes to mind. If you struggle, pray and ask God to remind you. He will.

And put up a poster board in your church or other public place and encourage people to write their words on it. You’ll have fun reading  what they wrote.

God says I am something special. When I write my name I want it to be loaded with how God sees me. Don’t you?

God says I am….

 

 

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Today is a New Day to Love http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1003 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1003#comments Thu, 19 Sep 2013 11:12:47 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=1003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34

A friend died today. And I am brokenhearted.

She was my age with a husband whom she adored and two young children.

Her death came as a shock since I hadn’t expected it. I hadn’t planned for it. I hadn’t said everything I wanted to…or needed to.

I wasn’t there as she passed from this reality to the glorious presence of her savior. I wasn’t there to console her husband and children. I wasn’t there to mourn her death and celebrate her life with the others who loved her. I wasn’t there….

Today I found out that my friend died…seven years ago.

How did I let time pass without reaching out? Why did I allow a move and the busyness of life to separate us?

Yes, I can use the excuse that I was just too busy or that she could have made an effort too, but those don’t mean anything now that she is gone.

She did call years ago and I was too busy, too into myself to dial her number. And then as time passed when I would see her number I was reminded that I owe her a call, but the years created too big of a gap to cross. Would she be kind when she answered and I said, “I’m just returning your call…5 years later”?

The answer is a resounding Yes!  She would have welcomed me back into her life as though no time had passed…as I would have her. I know that now, but then I wasn’t so sure.  Not as a reflection of her – she was beautiful inside and out – but as reflection of how I saw myself.

I have only recently learned to truly love myself. I now extend myself the same grace I extend others, but that wasn’t always the case. And I wasn’t always so gracious toward others either.

Until I learned to love me, I couldn’t truly and completely love others. I couldn’t forgive myself for letting years demolish a beautiful friendship so I assumed she would feel the same about me.

But I know now that all of the insecurities, all the doubts about others’ love for me were lies the enemy told me to keep me isolated, hurting, discouraged, damaged.

And today I am brokenhearted. I believed and lived those lies for so many years and a beautiful friend slipped away without another word from me.

But Jesus said that He came to heal the brokenhearted and to set the captive free. And while my heart is broken over this shocking death, I will not be held captive by grief or guilt.

Instead I vow to love, love, love my friends; to tell them how much they mean to me; to not let time pass without closing the gap life can create.

I will begin with you. Simply because you’re reading this we are connected. You are a part of my life whether in whole or in part. And I am grateful. You are beautiful and talented and full of potential. You bring hope and life into a world that so desperately needs Jesus. You are truly extraordinary and all of us are better people because you are in the world.

Today is a new day to love. I’m in. Are you?

 

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In Pursuit of Me http://definedbygrace.net/?p=995 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=995#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 07:15:45 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

When I was a little girl I dreamed of being pursued by a handsome hero. I read a lot of books while growing up (still do). Reading allowed me to be a strong, courageous, outgoing, witty girl who rescues victims and is courted by a perfect guy. I dreamed of being pursued not because I was a damsel in distress, but because the man saw me as spirited with a touch of sophistication, beautiful but bold.

As I grew older I wanted to be pursued, but often I took the role of pursuer. On the balmy May evening that I met my husband, I saw him across the marina and noticed his beautiful…legs. Yes, ladies, I liked his legs! So I walked up and introduced myself and followed him around all evening to make sure he talked to me.

I pursued him.

So glad I was that bold, spirited girl or I might have missed my chance with the love of my lifetime.

At times in the past I often wondered what it would feel like to be pursued. And, if I’m honest, I felt a bit cheated.

But then I realized I was and continue to be pursued on a level greater than my husband could ever reach.

God was in pursuit of me since the beginning of time. He saw me in a crowd of billions and said, “I want her.”

And He pursued me.

God didn’t wait until I came close to Him. He didn’t wait until I was perfect. He came after me when I was turned away from Him. He lovingly and gently drew me to himself and welcomed me without judgment.

And He continues to pursue me.

He comes to me in the storms of life when I’m turned away by fear, frustration, guilt. He doesn’t wait until I’m perfect to call me to my purpose. He draws me gently and lovingly to himself and holds on tight.

And He pursues you.

He loves you and wants to have an intimate relationship with you. He is in love with you and draws near to you now. Not when you’re perfect. Not only when you turn to Him. He is pursuing you now, calling your name, wanting to lavish you with His abundant love.

After my husband and I were dating a while I wondered if he would run the other way when he discovered the many ugly things about me. Instead of running, he embraced the messiness because he saw all the goodness in me that I was blinded to.

Jesus does the same thing. In the midst of our yucky mess he comes to us instead of running the other way. Matthew 14:24-27 documents how Jesus walked on water toward the disciples in the middle of a very ugly storm.

“Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’ But Jesus spoke to them at once, ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’”

Naturally we focus on Jesus walking on water – as we should. But I get excited that Jesus came to the disciples in the middle of their messy storm.

And He does the same with us. In the middle of our mess, Jesus walks to us. While the storms of life are beating us down and we are fighting to just survive, Jesus comes to us.

Verse 32 says that when Jesus climbed into the boat, the storm stopped. Not only did He walk to them during their storm, He climbed into the middle of it with them. And when He did, the storm stopped.

Jesus climbs into our lives promising that He will ride out the bad with us. He moves into all the spaces of our lives – good or bad – and makes himself at home, if we let him.  Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!”

God’s unfailing love pursues us all the days of our lives. Always pursuing. Always loving. Always coming to us…no matter what.

You, my friend, are pursued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Fifteen Minute Pity Party http://definedbygrace.net/?p=987 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=987#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 15:40:43 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=987

 

 

 

 

 

“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss, yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:20-23 NLT

“You have 15 minutes for a pity party and then it’s time to move on.” These words were the bane of my existence when I was a teenager. They came at me often and made my turmoil seem so much greater. They made me drop the curtain on my dramatic damsel in distress one-girl show and focus on how I was going to get out of my situation. Ugh! This let loose my internal hysterics.

These words were uttered from my very wise mother. But in those days I wanted the entire world to hear how I had been mistreated, misjudged, and misunderstood. I wanted someone to agree with me that my life stunk, that no one ever understood the challenges I faced as a teenager, that being a middle child I was doomed to be average.

My sisters and I chuckle now when we discuss this with our mother. And I do remember how mad it made me, but I see the wisdom in her words now. My mother’s childhood was challenging and didn’t leave time for wallowing in self-pity. So to her self-pity is a waste of time. Nothing gets accomplished when we are rolling around in our yuck like a stinky pig in her sty.

But life is filled with yuck. And getting out of it can be so difficult that staying where we are seems like the safest bet. I know because in the past I’ve stayed in the pit and prayed a ‘woe is me’ prayer to God for stretches at a time.

Too often we define ourselves by our yuck. We label ourselves as bad instead of a good girl who made a bad choice. We see ourselves as failures and are certain everybody else is judging us as such.

But failure is a part of life.

Almost every biblical character that most people can name by heart made huge mistakes in their journey with God. Abraham fled to Egypt, lied about his relationship with Sarah, didn’t wait for God to give him a child and yet still became the father of the nation of Israel. Moses murdered an Egyptian, disobeyed God by striking a rock, but God used him to bring the Israelites back to their homeland. David committed adultery and murder but after all that was still called a man after God’s heart. Peter denied Jesus, was hot tempered and questioned Jesus’ motives, and God used him to become the rock of the Christian church.

We are going to fail. No question. But it’s how we respond to failure that determines our success.

It’s okay to grieve when something doesn’t go as planned whether in life or business. It’s natural for our hearts to hurt when someone damages our reputation or uses piercing words to wound us. It’s necessary for us to have the opportunity to get closure when something we’ve worked hard for disappears without a trace.

In Lamentations 3 Jeremiah writes that he will grieve over his loss.

But he also hopes. He dares to hope in God and His faithful love, believing that God makes all things new, celebrating that God’s mercies are new every morning.

Even in the midst of challenging circumstances we can believe that God can make something good come out of our yuck.

The promise that we are not alone as we walk this life changes the way we look at failure.

Failure seems to have a negative connotation and yet I believe that failure only happens when we dare to try something new and different. Failure is a stepping-stone to success. And many times we are one step away from victory but we give up just shy of it.

And failure is not an adjective that describes us. Too often we slap that label on us and let it define us. We walk into a room and say, “Hi my name is Failure. Would you like a list now of all of my mess ups or should we wait until later?”

God made us and declared us good. We are defined by a living and loving God of second chances who refreshes us each day with a new start.

Would you join me in giving yourself a fresh start each day? Do you dare to hope in the promises of God and His faithful love?

You have fifteen minutes for a pity party and then it’s time to move on…to greatness.

 

 

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My New Normal http://definedbygrace.net/?p=980 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=980#comments Wed, 14 Aug 2013 07:30:32 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=980

 

 

 

 

 

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise for our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3

I recently read a blog where the writer described her new normal. It required her to let go of some old friends and situations that were not good for her. It meant taking a step outside of her very comfortable existence and trying something new. It dared her to walk along God’s path and to see that it was oh so good.

Her new normal…

My new normal…

I am not the same girl as I was 20, 10, even 2 years ago. I have dared to step out in faith and trust that God knows what He is doing in my life – even when it seems at times chaotic and at times uncomfortably silent.

Yet the voices that held the old me in bondage continue to rise up and dictate my days. And old habits die hard especially when those voices – as negative as they are – were constant companions for over 20 years.  And even though they don’t take residence in my brain as habitually as they did in the recent past, they still whisper and taunt me when I dare to step up and step out. And unfortunately I have invited them in and listened to their harassment.

But Paul said that anyone who is in Christ is a new person. The old is gone and the new has begun (1 Corinthians 5:17). And because I have committed my life to Christ and finally believe that I am new and I can do all things through Christ, then I need to silence the nay sayers and create my new normal.

My new normal means…

• Believing that I am chosen by God; I am His beloved and He is mine. Acknowledging that I am precious to Him. Living as though I am the bride of Christ, a mighty warrior. Knowing I am beautiful, desired, created on purpose for a purpose and that I am defined by God. Period. His opinion is the only one that matters.

• Grasping the power of Jesus in me and holding tight to Him when I am the most frightened. I can do all things that God has called me to because the power of Jesus lives in me.

• Walking as a woman confident in the talents God gave me, but living and boasting only about Jesus and the way He can change a person from the inside out.

• Living a fun, extraordinary, abundantly joyful life. Jesus died so that I can have an amazing time on this earth serving Him and telling others about His amazing grace. With God’s help I am daring to love extravagantly.

• Taking off the mask and being real. As I risk letting others see my flaws (and there are oh so many) my hope is that they will see Jesus shining through the cracks in my life. Jesus is the only one I want people to see when they look at me.

So what is your new normal? Do you have one? Would you like to?

All of the above truths belong to anyone who has chosen to follow Jesus. They are ours, but we must believe and receive them as truths in our lives.

Today is the best day to begin creating your new normal. The past is gone and doesn’t have the right to haunt us or keep us bound to our old selves. You aren’t that same person any more. You have grown. You are changed because of God’s amazing grace.

Embrace the change. Dare to live a life dependent on Jesus.

You have the power to create your new normal.

 

 

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Christ is All that Matters http://definedbygrace.net/?p=958 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=958#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 19:16:19 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=958

 

 

 

 

“Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.” Colossians 3:11

Do you ever get so caught up in the busyness of life that your priorities get shifted? I do. I get so focused on getting the next job so I can pay the never-ending demands of bills, that I forget my purpose.

Jesus said that because He came and died for us we could live an abundant life…and that means here, not just in eternity.

So sometimes I let my meaning of abundant life overshadow Jesus’ meaning. When I think of abundant I want abundance. Yes, ever flowing money to meet all of my wants and then some.

And yes Jesus does want us to live in the freedom of a stress free life and in this world that often means an excess of money. But I can honestly say that I have been more joyful during times of need then when I’ve had more than enough.

It’s because during those times I’ve had to rely solely on God to meet all of my needs. I’ve had to focus on Him instead of my problems, because if I didn’t I would be a complete wreck. And by focusing on God and not me, I found joy because God is greater than any problem I will ever have.

And to be honest, focusing on me is just plain boring. God is simply amazing and continues to wow me. Without Jesus I’m just blah.

Right now I’m in a time where I need to keep looking to God for sustenance. I need Him desperately to fill me with strength and courage and boldness. God has to come through for me on a daily basis or I will crawl back in my cocoon and raise the white flag of surrender to the world’s pressures.

But I am reminded that Christ is all that matters. We are called to be in the world but not of the world. We have to deal with the issues we face, but we don’t have to surrender to the materialistic, self-absorbed mindset of our society. We need to be Kingdom-focused.

Our main purpose as Christians is to guide people to Jesus. Our lives should be a living testimony of how God has changed us from the inside out. We should be the happiest people on this earth. The joy of the Lord should exude from us. We should be incapable of keeping silent about Jesus.

Christ is all that matters. This place is temporary for us, just a blip on the timeline of our lives. We all have problems, and yes some are extreme, and yes I’ve been through some strength zapping times.

But I’m choosing to believe that Christ is all that matters. I can get through anything because Jesus said I was important enough to die for. And He said that about you too.

So what will you believe? I hope you will decide that Christ is all that matters

 

 

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Nothing is Wasted http://definedbygrace.net/?p=949 http://definedbygrace.net/?p=949#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 13:50:14 +0000 Heidi Dittmar http://definedbygrace.net/?p=949

 

 

 

 

 

“I replied, ‘But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.’” Isaiah 49:4

Have you ever felt like your work is futile? That all the things you do are for nothing? Do you ever wonder why God put you in that job, that marriage, that position, that calling? Do the dirty dishes, laundry, floors, kids all seem to pile up taunting you with their never-ending demands?

We see people in great positions receiving abounding accolades and we wonder why we aren’t called to greatness. Our jealousy threatens to rear its ugly head. So we decide that when our circumstances change, when we get that job, when our children are more self-sufficient, when our spouses give us more attention then we will be happy.

The monotony of life can suck the joy out of us. And we can become complacent, complaining, contrary, and ultimately discontent. And that’s a dangerous place to be.

But can I tell you that nothing we do goes unnoticed? God sees it all – the great and the mundane – including our attitudes that accompany our every day tasks.

When our heart is right with God, when we realize that He is our ultimate reward, when we are more concerned about His approval rather than man’s then we can be content in any situation, with any role, with any task.

Because ultimately our number one job on this earth is to love as Jesus loved. And God calls us to love the people we see on a daily basis. And that means overbearing clients, eccentric coworkers, grumpy neighbors, disobedient children, and impatient strangers. God has placed us exactly where He wants us so that we can let Jesus shine through us to a dark and hurting world.

God is not surprised at where we are in life. He watches over us, leading us to places where we can serve Him best. Our skills, talents, personalities were all designed by Him and He asks us to serve Him in the mundane as well as in the thrilling.

We aren’t all called to be on a stage with thousands applauding our efforts. But we all are called to be a living testimony of what God has done in our lives.

So if you ever feel like Isaiah was talking about in the verse above, just know that nothing you do for God is ever wasted. Even if your efforts seem to go unnoticed or are dismissed, know that you are planting seeds and that God is ultimately responsible for what happens.

So trust Him, keep living out loud what Jesus has done for you. And know that God sees you and is pleased with you and He will reward you so much better than the applause and attention of thousands.

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