Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Grace on a Thursday: Opening gifts

It's funny that Grace on a Thursday is falling on January 5th. Because it's my birthday. I'm 37 today.

I did have a passing desire to be like her and do something super generous for the world. 37 random acts of kindness in celebration. Seems like everyone's blogged about it. Everyone was all fired up a few months ago to do copycat birthday celebrations in one way or another. It's sincerely a great and inspired idea. And honestly, I totally DON'T want to do it.

Maybe because Christmas just ended, but I feel like I've just done 37 things for others. But times 10. I'm tired of doing and cooking and decorating and making every single thing intentional. I just want to get a pedicure and an ice tea on my birthday.

A piece of me feels sort of lame and selfish about that, but God is speaking to my heart. He's graciously reminding me that He wants us to take sometimes. After all, how can He fill me up if I don't take time to receive anything from Him?

What if my husband and children and friends all selected and wrapped beautiful gifts for me today and I left them unopened on the counter. Let's say all birthday long, I busied around, taking care of everyone else while they stood there staring. Then the next day, I kept on doing the same. I could not stop giving long enough to receive. I ministered at church, helped with homework, prayed for someone, fed the dog, watched her kids, called grandma, washed their clothes, made them dinner, read a story, sang a song, and picked up the mess. Just what if I never opened their gifts? What if I didn't see myself as valuable enough to stop, in order to let them give to me?

I do not want to be that woman who neglects to open the gifts God has for me.

I do not want to be someone who neglects her own soul care and calls it "giving."

(And yes, I just implied that getting an ice tea and a pedicure could constitute "soul care". It most certainly can, if those things are simply a vehicle to taking time out in order to remember who I am, and whose I am. Of course, if getting a tea and a pedicure are just part of the busying around, it doesn't count at all.)

I do really try to let God refresh me and bless me. I try to open His gifts. And not reluctantly, but with enthusiasm. With a hopeful expectation too, knowing that He is an awesome gift giver, desiring to meet my deepest needs.

I will say that being able to stop and receive blessings and refreshment from the Lord is a tricky business. It takes some vulnerability, and I know women who can't seem to do it. Either they feel unworthy, or they don't understand the importance of letting Him refresh our souls from time to time. In both cases, a better grasp of grace is needed. Grace is simply favor God has for us that we don't deserve. It has nothing to do with worthiness. It's just free love. It is room to be regular you, all performing switched off.

Grace is as important as air for us to function rightly. God doesn't need burnt out martyrs; He needs strong, healthy followers. Putting aside God's huge storehouse of blessings and refreshment and joy and love for us in the name of serving is just not His desire.

I know Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. It's the foundation of everything I believe. But sometimes we forget how much time He spent alone. Talking with His father, or his best pals. Relaxed. Getting filled back up.

Heck, back in those dirt-road days, had there been a Happy Nail in sight, He may have even gotten a pedicure. I'm just sayin'.



  1. this is an amazing post.
    first of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY LADY!!!
    you are SO right about receiving the gifts of God. i'm realizing that it's difficult for me, but i need to remember that it's not selfish to let the Lord take care of me in order to prepare me for His plan.
    you are awesome.
    i hope you have a wonderful birthday!!

  2. Such an encouraging post and a great reminder! :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :)

  3. We are such a people of doing, but not so great at just being. Thanks for being honest about how you are feeling today. I pray you receive rest and a fresh filling of His Spirit today. Happy birthday, Leslie!

  4. first, hApPy BiRtHdAy toooo YOU!

    enjoy receiving, resting, absorbing today!

    this line resonated with me...
    "It is room to be regular you, all performing switched off."

    for about 2 years God has removed me from going, doing, giving, pouring... from always being ON.
    my identity was so wrapped up in my abilities that i didn't know who i was in Him. i'm still discovering "regular" me, and learning to live with her not over achieving.

    jesus would be fun to get tea and a pedicure with.

    so glad you were born!

  5. these two sentences:

    "a room to be regular you, all performing switched off"
    "God doesn't need burnt out martyrs".

    both so true, thank you.

    I'm so glad you're getting that pedicure! happy birthday! here's to a restful day, and a fruitful and grace-filled 37th year!

  6. ...and there I was "whining on your shoulder" last night and totally didnt realize it was the eve of your birthday.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! I love and appreciate you.
    Today, our cleanup begins. The smoke damage is just intense and overwhelming me. But Im stopping to say a prayer of blessing for you.

  7. Happy Birthday Leslie!
    Everytime I come to your blog and read a new post I feel so filled up and refreshed. Your realness and honesty makes my heart so happy. Thanks for being you.

  8. Oh happy happy day. Happy Birthday pretty Lady! I so hope you opened your gifts and received some good things. I turn 35 next week... didn't know we both had January birthdays. But I am so glad to know you...much love.

  9. Well hello dolly. Listen. Why is this so hard? Why do I know better...and yet continuously forget...over, and over, and over, and over again. I feel as if I am a bath tub that has had the drain pulled and is dry and empty. Somewhere in the back of my mind all of what you said lives...and yet I forget. Thank you for the sticky note tacked to my forehead today. Thank you for putting down words that get right to the core. Thank you for having a birthday and then needing to get an ice tea and pedi and telling us about it. Thank you.

    p.s. happy birthday

  10. Happy Birthday to you!! I hope you got your tea and pedicure and that you felt refreshed. I hope the new year will be filled with abundant blessing and joy even in trials.

    Thank you for this post. I am learning these things... slowly but surely God is teaching me to receive and that I need to be filled by Him. I burned out so badly in service that is has led to chronic illness. It has been a long road. I need to learn to serve how Jesus served and rest how he rested.

  11. Happy birthday and God bless you.

  12. Happy Belated Birthday, Leslie!
    Thank you for following the call God has for you, and in turn blessing us with your wisdom and beautiful insight!
    May your day be as wonderful as your ministry here.

  13. i think your birthday maybe wasn't exactly what you expected. but i know that you still got some special gifts. and ella and i even got a couple yummy breakfasts and cute nails out of it :)
    am i extra good at receiving gifts since i did and it wasn't even my birthday? that's me! a reciever! ;)

  14. Happy Birthday a little late. I hope you were able to recharge your batteries! I always leave your blog blessed so thanks for that :)