"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Grace, it always comes back to grace...



Recently I mentioned that I regularly buy myself a bunch of flowers when I see them on sale at our local supermarket. Usually, especially if they are carnations, they have a good seven days of beautiful display once placed in a vase with fresh water.

In a private conversation later, the person I was speaking to shared that for her flowers were an unnecessary indulgence, that she could more wisely use that money on needful things. She wasn't being judgmental or mean, just expressing why she couldn't bring herself to purchase flowers.

I didn't respond immediately, but inwardly prayed for God to give me the courage to share my story about flowers, and why they are a significant expression and celebration of the healing power Christ has brought to my life.

When she heard my testimony she apologised for her remark, but really there was no need as each of us is genuinely ignorant to the reasons we do, or don't do, certain things. I don't agree with some of her responses to life, but that's because I have not walked in her shoes and lived her experiences, just as she has not followed in mine.

In fact everyone we meet will be carrying some form of emotional or habitual baggage from the past that influences their choices, behaviours and beliefs, and from the outside looking in you or I may be tempted to question why they respond, react and do certain things that make no sense at all to us.

Living with an attitude of grace is a beautiful thing, and along with mercy and kindness it is the part of God's character I desire most of all...but it does not come naturally, it comes only after immersing myself in His Word day by day by day, and yet still I fail at extending grace more times than I'd like. Grace, mercy and kindness are attitudes (and heart choices) which need refining over a lifetime so it's important you know that I will never in this life get it right all the time. 
Neither will you, and neither will the people in your life now and those you are yet to meet be any different.

I'm learning not to be offended when others criticise or question my choices. I'm learning to not jump in quickly with my own judgments but to step back and remember to show them the same respect and grace I'd like shown me. Again, I'm a work in progress and will continue to get it wrong sometimes, but being aware of my own humanity highlights to me the humanity in someone else, and this helps me to show grace and respect even when I may not understand the 'why' behind what they do - which could be anything from extreme frugality to liberal acquisition of fabrics or shoes.

You know, when my husband entered university to begin a Bachelor of Education degree in his 30's, we lived on a tiny income with three children at home, two of whom I was homeschooling. Each fortnight when I did the groceries every cent was carefully allocated as I followed a well thought through budget-friendly menu plan and shopping list, but there was one indulgence we gave ourselves. Good coffee. There was a reason behind it, but that reason is between my beloved and I.

When guests would visit for a meal or cuppa there was often a remark made about  'that' coffee and how we could afford it on our meager income. True, it was an extravagance, but it was our extravagance balanced by the thrifty areas of life they did not notice - the corners we cut, the frugality we chose in clothing, furnishings, purchases, gifts etc.
 I made our own bread, cordials, jams, cooked everything from scratch, grew as much of our salad vegetables and greens as I could, and rarely did we buy takeout apart from $2 worth of hot chips for Saturday lunch sandwiches (a treat, smothered in tomato sauce by our children).
That good coffee was a blessing and we never felt bad about it. It was something special we purchased for each other and knew God did not mind, in fact, I think He was happy that we gave each other this one small gift during the four years of University.

Today we have a brilliant coffee machine that grinds the beans and makes our daily cappuccinos, lattes, iced coffees or doppios. Good coffee is still our gift to each other!
But we still live thrifty in other areas and I still cook almost everything from scratch.
And I also buy myself flowers these days for a very precious-to-me reason, a reason that matters to God.

I guess what I'm trying to say today is to remember that every one of us has a story, and that story may be one of deep scarring, pain, loss, overcoming, joy, abandonment, poverty, riches or immense change. Our stories quite often define the expression of our nature and though God steps in to heal and teach and correct, some things will still leave a mark which will influence our choices.
All of us will do something that another person would not (I am not talking about sinful things or breaking the law)  like me buying flowers or our choice to enjoy good coffee, and that's fine.
That's us. That's them.

But grace, show grace.

Look at your own life and realise it has it's very own quirks and nuances and habits that your neighbour will think odd or mean or wasteful or extravagant. It isn't something to judge or criticise, it's just me, you, them. In our humanity.


God bless you,



36 comments:

Allie-oops Designs said...

I love you so much, dear Jenny. This is a beautifully stated reminder of the women we want to be, and must take care to be. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ennyjay, how much I love you! Amy in Missouri

Unknown said...

Jenny what a beautiful post. Re the flower buying, when I was preparing to retire my husband mentioned that perhaps buying flowers every week was an extravagance that I may not be able to do but it gives me so much joy. I may not do it every week anymore but usually there are flowers in the jug in kitchen because that seems to be where I spend a lot of time and they always make me smile. Different people have different needs and perspectives but it is not up to us to judge. Julie

Little Quiltsong said...

Thank you so much Jenny! So well said again - I need to remember this! The Lord knows us all best. I always felt I needed to justify myself, when people pointed fingers, but each of us has a different story and they cannot be compared. Wishing you a Blessed Sunday!

Jackie Heath said...

Jenny! What a treasure you are! You always feed my soul, but especially today I feel so blessed to be a part of your journey of sharing what is important to you! Your post on "Grace" is so relative to a special grandaughter of mine. You see, her middle name is Grace, and it is by God's grace that we have her. My daughter had tried for a number of years to get pregnant, eventually her physician told her that their last step would be in vitro but unfortunately the expense was way beyond their finances. So after the last round of treatment she gave up. But, several months later, found out she was pregnant! We all rejoiced and were so thankful for,this little blessing ! That baby girl is now 18 and will be graduating from high school this year. She has had to overcome many obstacles in her short life, but always displayed grace towards others. Even when they made unkind remarks,etc about her. She doesn't know that I am making her a quilt for,graduation, and I have included some of your blocks in it. Yesterday she came over and I asked her to give me several of her favorite scriptures and quotes. She said 2 things that really stood out to me and I read something very similar in your blog today. "Amazing Grace" and this little quote that I had not heard before, " I be smart, I be kind, I be important". I loved it! Thank you, sweet Jenny, for sharing! and keep that,good coffee brewing along with beautiful flowers on your kitchen table. I do love to see them in your pictures!

Tammy said...

Thank you for this lovely post, Jenny. It's daffodil and tulip season here in the Pacific Northwest. For the past few weeks I have bought a few bunches of each to enjoy in our home. We recently had a meeting with our financial advisor which got me to thinking again about what we spend our money on. Like you and your beloved, I and my beloved cut corners on certain items and "splurge" on others. Beautiful flowers remind us of the wonders that God has given us. I love having natural elements in our home. It's therapeutic to say the least. Keep enjoying your flowers (and coffee)!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Jackie, no wonder you are proud of your precious granddaughter. The quote is from the book/movie "The Help" and is something Blossom and I say to each other often. xxx

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Amy, I miss you.
Love Ennyjay xxx

Margaret Vernon said...

Grace. What a beautiful word and beautiful meaning. By God's amazing grace we are all connecting through you, dear Jenny. BTW one of the songs at our wedding was Amazing Grace ... my husband and I would not be together if it were not for the grace of God. You talk of extravagances ... each of us has her own. I may have a few!!! Years ago, after my stepmother died, dad visited us after 20 or so long years. We had ham and salad sandwiches for lunch ... it was the first time in his life that my father had had sliced ham from the deli. When we were young, ham came in a tin and only at Christmastime, in the teenage years we had it very occasionally. It was only as a married woman and seeing the sliced ham in the supermarket deli that I started buying it ... my extravagance back then. When we visited my father he prepared us lunch - salmon sandwiches and tinned asparagus sandwiches. The butter was so thick that we could barely eat them but somehow we did. I think that was my father's extravagance ... either that or the butter was so hard that he could only cut it off in chunks lol! Grace, as you say, Jenny is definitely an attitude which needs refining. I often have to step back and not say something or respond in a more loving, graceful way ... we are presented constantly with opportunities for this refining! If you ever get the opportunity, Jenny, read the biography of John Newton who wrote Amazing Grace ... wow! Won't say more but I am sure that you will know of his story. Thank you for your heartfelt writings again, Jenny xx

Tina said...

Ah, perpetual grace! Thank You Lord! So beautifully written. Thank you for your heart, Jenny!

Diane said...

Thanking you again for your wonderfully written, God inspired posts. You are a treasure and a blessing!

Kathy said...

A beautiful post. Thank you for reminding me to think first.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so true. I love your heart and your beautiful soul dear Jenny. Thank you. Today I was so sad because I had my mind on my youngest son who passed away four years ago. He loved to garden and had lovely flowers amongst his vegetables. Winters are long here in Upstate New York so I occasionally buy pretty flowers until mine grow in the summer. They make me smile and I feel closer to my son and our God who created them.

Jacqueline said...

A post that hit its mark with me. Thanks

Kit Newlin said...

Oh Jenny, your words strike such a chord of yearning in me. Yearning to draw closer to our Lord. Thank you for your steadfast example of a precious, godly woman who isn't afraid to show us your vulnerabilities. Blessings and Hugs!!!

Lisa Emery said...

You are one amazing lady, with a true gift for writing and sharing your heart...God’s heart!

Brenda said...

Hello Jenny; Your post touched and revealed quite a few items in my life. It is such a blessing that the Lord has chose you as a teacher for so many of us, as you are learning on your journey. I appreciate your sharing thoughts on Grace as they will help guide me through some changes taking place. Have a spectacular day!

Farm Quilter said...

I'm so enjoying the way God is using you as His instrument to minister to us. You remind me every day of the blessings I have in this life from God...my cup truly runneth over. Thank you for being such a kind, generous, Godly woman, willing to share your life and lessons with us.

Karen said...

Grace..grace wonderful grace...the only way to go!!

Margie West said...

Thank you Jenny! Margie/NY

Little Penpen said...

Such a wonderful reminder for us to show grace to others. You are such a sweet spirit and I am thankful that God uses you to minister to us.

Cil Stephens said...

I am a U.S. south Alabamian who just found your blog/store. Besides loving your designs, I don't know when I've ever found someone who expressed so eloquently and lovingly the goal to allow each of us to live our truth without judgment. For you are right, we are all a product of the experiences, good and bad, that has composed our life. What breaks one person might barely get another's attention. I admire your attitude, goals and spirit in that you don't underestimate the value of an every-day life well-lived.

Robin in New Jersey said...

This is perfect and very well said, Jenny. We are all different and we all have our own likes and dislikes, but that doesn't make us any better or worse than anyone else. God's grace is the best kind of grace. 😘

Joni said...

Jenny, your post came at such an important time to me. Beautifully written with so much love and heart. You are my gift from Our Lord!
Blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful Jenny!
It fits so perfectly with a quote I found just recently and love very much. I will share it here:

"Before you judge my life, my past or my character. Walk in my shoes, walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrow, my doubts, my fear, my pain and my laughter......Remember, everyone has a story. When you have lived my life then you can judge me."

Have a great week!
Sue M.

Deb said...

Jenny, hello gorgeous girl. You always manage to put things into words so graciously. We all have our wee foibles and why we have them is something many of us hold dear to only us. It is not our place to judge others.
I must say I love your flower buying and I can totally understand. It only takes one bloom to bring a smile and spread happiness.

Debby said...

Good words Jenny. Thank you for this reminder.

quilterseig said...

Oh Jenny! How I needed this reminder this morning. I received your blog post over the weekend but didn't take time to read it until this morning. I know the Lord had me wait because He knew I would need this gentle reminder today. I have been frustrated by the mistakes made by a coworker which I have to correct but you have made me see her through new eyes----the eyes of grace. After all, where would I be if my Savior had not seen me through eyes of grace? Thank you for your words. I enjoy your blog so much. Since we live on opposite sides of the world it is unlikely we will meet on this earth. I look forward to meeting you someday in heaven as we praise Him together.

Blessings,
Emily

charles roth said...

Thank You for this reminder ! Everyone has a story in their life and we must bemindful of that! I to love flowers n my home they brighten my day I to suffer from depression they make me feel better when I look at them!

slowerlowermama said...

Jenny, your words have been a blessing to me. I decided to look at all the people I meet and hold what negative thoughts I might normally think. You get an entirely different feel when you look at them in grace. Thank you again. Joan

Angie in SoCal said...

What an insightful post, Jenny. Thank you.

Sharon Aurora said...

Jenny, you have such a way of saying what we all need to hear. I'm always amazed at your wisdom.

Cyndi said...

What you have said summarizes Romans 14, we are to allow each other our differences, respect and show grace. Well said, Jenny! I am always blessed by your honesty and transparency.

Blessings to you, Cyndi

Abby said...

Such a lovely post. I too am a sucker for good coffee and pretty flowers. When my husband asks me to go camping I’m happy to go without a flushing toilet and hot showers but I will not go without my good coffee. (So when we have blackouts and storms everyone comes to our place for cappuccino and cake cause I’m the only one who can make them without power).
I’m intrigued by your reasons for buying flowers but for me it’s not buying myself flowers but others. I love to give that gift and see the joy that brings. (I do buy them for myself and my 6 year old daughter too)

Today I was trying to justify buying more house plants after I bought 2 plant stands that absorbed all my house plants with plenty of space to spare. But you reminded me that an extravagance is ok when it brings great joy and comfort. Not to mention the health benefits of house plants.

Thankyou.

Karna O'Dea said...

All of us have indulgences Jenny and it is no one else's business. I also enjoy buying flowers at times when my garden has nothing. I also get a coffee every day at work but usually bring my lunch. My son and husband enjoy the frozen coke form mackers so I get them for them now and again. Treats make life bearable for all of us. What you fancy is better that playing the pokies,etc

Mandy Currie said...

Hello Jenny, there's so much I want to say that I cannot find the words for. Just thank you, your post, especially your personal and Christian revelations bless me so much. You and I are much the same age and I think we have similar experiences with depression etc. But you build us all up with your beautiful posts. God bless you Jenny, you are a very special lady. I wish I was closer to you. Love Mandy xx