Moving Forward...

2015 is a year of change for my family. My husband will be turning 40, we will have another driver, as our oldest will be turning 16 and getting his license, our middle boy will be entering the teen years, and all 5 of us are going on a big trip out of the country together for the first time. This is a big year for us. Even with all the change, I am really looking forward to what God is going to do. Last year was a huge learning year for me personally. God always has something to teach me. It was my first year with The Freedom Movement and through that involvement, God revealed a lot to me about myself, my sin, and my relationship with Him. I learned a lot of hard lessons, but through those lessons I felt a freedom in my relationship with Him that I had never experienced before. I realized that I am insecure and a people pleaser. I cared too much about what people think about me and focused too much on trying to make everyone happy. This was physically and emotionally exhausting. My people pleasing mindset also affected my relationship with God. I spent so much time trying to do the right thing and to please Him that when I messed up, I would beat myself up and not be able to feel or accept His grace and forgiveness. My insecurity led to putting negative labels on myself and never feeling good enough. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t see the person that God created me to be. 2014 was a tough year, but it was also one of the best. Going through all these personal struggles brought me to a place of freedom and a simple, loving and grace-filled relationship with my Lord.

Our word for 2015 is the word BRAVE. This word perfectly describes how I want this new year to look. I want to be brave enough to be the person that God created me to be, without insecurity or worrying about what people think of me. I want to look in the mirror and see the woman that God sees. I want to be brave enough to speak truth and to love without fear. Last year I learned so much about God’s grace and forgiveness for me, and I want to be brave enough to give that to others. My heart is ready and open for all he has for me and my family this year. Let’s all be BRAVE together!

Making Room for Grace... (when you're known as Jenni Justice)

"You don't give grace easily, so that is why you have a hard time accepting God's grace?" Those were really hard words to hear, especially coming from my husband, but they were the truth.  My husband is such a great example of grace. He forgives easily and doesn't keep a record of wrongs. I, on the other hand am quick to bring up things that happened 10 years ago if we are in a fight, even things that I may have said I had forgiven him for.  It's a joke amongst my family and friends that I am JENNI JUSTICE. I am all about justice and right and wrong. If you do something wrong you should pay for it.

Is this the way our God thinks? I do believe that our God is a God of justice, but he is also a God of compassion and grace. He knows first hand the struggles that we go through and forgives us. He loves us unconditionally, just as we are. I've been learning day by day to have more grace towards others. It's actually very freeing to give compassion and grace. When I choose to hold onto bitterness and resentment, it consumes my mind. To instead walk alongside someone and to love them with no judgment is so much easier. Who am I to judge them anyway? That's not my job at all! I'm called to love others just as God loves me.

When I lay in bed at night trying to fall asleep, that is when I always do my deepest thinking. The other night I was thinking about God's grace towards me and I thought about God as my father. This made me think about my role as a mother to my boys and how I show them grace so naturally. My husband has said that I give my boys more grace than I give to others. Why is that? As I laid in bed the other night I really thought about it.

I came to the conclusion that it's because I know my boys in and out. I know when they're hurting and when they're happy. I know when they've had a bad day and when they just have a bad attitude because they haven't eaten. There are times they need discipline and correction but there are other times when they just need grace. As their mother I can usually see those times. They need me to love them unconditionally and to be there to pick them up when they fall, just as my father in heaven is there for me.

As I laid there in bed it made sense to me, and I prayed that I would have the same set of eyes and the same love and grace in my heart with my husband, family, and friends that I have with my boys.

Learning to Accept God’s Grace and Forgiveness

I wrestle with a battle of the mind. I sin and ask God for forgiveness. He forgives me but I don’t accept it. It’s a vicious cycle that is always on repeat. I am a very black and white person, right and wrong. When I do something wrong I feel like I need to be punished. I hold on to it and let it fester in my mind, punishing myself. The enemy uses this against me all the time. He tells me lies  like “look what a bad wife you are”, “look at what a bad mom you are”, “remember when you said that”, “remember when you had that impure thought”, “how could God ever forgive you”. I started to believe these lies from the enemy. I believed I didn’t deserve God’s grace and forgiveness, and it was completely exhausting. I felt this heaviness and my faith felt dry . I wasn’t allowing God in, I was allowing my sin to put up a wall between me and God. I felt depressed and alone. My soul was thirsty but I wouldn’t allow God to fill me up. Finally enough was enough. I NEEDED to accept God’s forgiveness, my soul needed me to be filled with his Grace. We all sin and fall short of his glory. God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He is the only one that is perfect, I am not nor will I ever be. Being able to finally accept his love, grace, and forgiveness for me felt so freeing. Like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt so alive and filled with his love. My journey with this isn’t close to being over. Daily it is a struggle but I am learning about God’s grace studying what his grace really means. He loves me unconditionally, his grace covers me.

Recently I was at church and our pastor shared this quote. It spoke volumes to me:

It’s easier to let God’s law convict than to let his gospel set free. Two great obstacles to joy are guilt and grudge: either we feel guilty about our own sin, or we bear a grudge against someone else. In each case, we fail to grasp the gospel, which teaches that both conditions are entirely unnecessary, for they can readily be healed through forgiveness- either receiving it for ourselves or extending it to another.

-Mike Mason

Forgivness, Grace, Love….this is our God.