Grace for the worst parts of me

10:25 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Luke 5:32
Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:31-32 (MSG)

A friend of mine recently started hanging out with homeless people. 

He isn’t just spending a few hours with them; he’s sleeping on the street with them. Once a week he takes a cardboard box and a sleeping bag and unrolls it on the streets to sleep with those who have no home. 

The homeless have allowed my friend to enter their community. He sits with them and hears their stories. The story of how a twenty year old girl has survived 13 years on the streets or Paul sharing how his greatest dream is to own a new t-shirt. 

My friend admits sleeping on the streets is the scariest thing he has ever done but his stories make me think about Jesus, about how Jesus offered grace to the people others overlooked. 

Day-after-day and night-after-night Jesus walked the streets sharing his life with all kinds of people. Jesus didn’t only greet the outcasts but he invited them spend time with him, to eat with him and to tell them his stories.

I read the stories of Jesus and I see how there is nothing that anyone could do that would scare him away. 

Throughout the bible it is clear that Jesus loves the people others love to hate. 

Jesus wants me – my pain, my struggles, my scars, my stench, my small dreams – around him. (tweet this)

Jesus wants outcasts around him. 

On the worst day of your life, when your sins all hang on you like signposts for all to see – on that day – Jesus wants you near him. (Luke 23:33-43)

When everyone else is pointing fingers and accusing you of the things you wish you’d never done – in that moment – Jesus wants you near him. (John 8:1-11)

Jesus has grace for the worst parts of meJesus won’t reject you in worst hour. He’ll look you in the eyes and say, “Come, come follow me, we’re going to my father’s house.”

And if you, or I, stop and say, “But I’m not good enough. Do you know what I’ve done?”

Jesus will say, “I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.”

How can I refuse an invitation like that? An invitation that looks past the ugly parts of my life and sees who I can be. 

Grace. Jesus has grace for the worst parts of me. (tweet this)

Ponder: Do you believe that Jesus wants you near him at your worst?

Pray: Jesus, thank you that you have grace for the worst parts of me. 

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Are your greatest fears the key to your biggest dreams?

11:47 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

dreams and fears
I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. Nehemiah 2:7-8 (NIV)

Two years ago at the end of January we heard my husband had cancer. 

We were fresh off a plane from a seven-week holiday around South East Asia. We had spent the last few weeks dreaming of what the next few years of our life would look like. 

Then came his diagnosis and we put those dreams aside to do the best we could to make it through the hard times ahead. 

18 chemo sessions, a stemcell transplant and 20 radiation treatments later and we’re sitting up and taking stock of the last 730 days. Looking around us, breathing out and going, “What have we just been through? Have we survived? What now?”

Sadly, we’ve begun to realise that we survived at the expense of our dreams.

In many ways we had to. Anyone who has gone through treatment for cancer will tell you that for the person going through it their direct caregivers getting out of bed, putting clothes on, going to work and eating enough to sustain life is a heroic act in itself.
My husband has another scan in six months. We have been warned he might need more radiation but we’ve started talking about how to make every moment count, about what we really want out of life, beginning to dream again. 

And we are talking about what we would do if we weren't afraid of failing.

I shared a few thoughts on this with a colleague the other day. She told me about something her pastor had said on Sunday about how sometimes we need each other to make our dreams come true. She reminded me of the story of Nehemiah. 

Nehemiah was a simple cupbearer for the King but when he heard his hometown was laying in ruins his dream became to rebuild his city. 

dreams and nehemiahAs a cupbearer, Nehemiah had few resources, so he took his dream to God and prayed and fasted about it. The king noticed how sad Nehemiah looked when he took him his cup of wine and asked what was wrong. 

If it had been me I probably would have said, “nothing” but Nehemiah took the risk and, praying under his breath shared his dream, his dream to make something out of the rubble. 

At the King’s prompting, Nehemiah told the king what he required. And the Kind ended up giving him everything he needed plus some armed guards. 

Nehemiah was so afraid that the bible records he prayed under his breath as he made the request to follow his dream. I like that because I can relate. Sometimes sharing my dreams takes more courage than I think I have. 

Sometimes it is through speaking our greatest fears that our biggest dreams can become reality. (tweet this)

52 days later, Nehemiah had reconstructed the walls of Jerusalem. 

As I dug into this story I was reminded how God gives me dreams to do something with them. Nehemiah could have held his dream of rebuilding Jerusalem close to his heart and missed out on being part of history. Instead he chose to share his dreams and everything changed.

This story has been challenging me all weekend. Making me think about the dreams God has given me and whom I should be sharing them with. 

Ponder: What dreams do you think God has given you? How would it help you share these dreams if you shared them someone who could help you achieve them?

Pray: Jesus, give me wisdom about the people with whom I should share my God-given dreams. Amen.

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Letting things go and learning to forgive (or the story of forgiving my father and mother)

9:58 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

bible verses about forgiveness Psalm 130:3-4
If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped. Psalm 130:3-4 (MSG)

Just after I joined twitter I saw Leslie Leyland Fields ask the question, “Does anyone have a story of a time they needed to forgive their parents?”

I hesitated.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to share the story then. Part of me isn’t sure I want to share the story now. 

The book Leslie interviewed me for released this week. It’s called Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. It’s a book about relationships and respect and the messiness of forgiving our parents. 

I worry about hurting the people that gave birth to me in the retelling of the story. I stumble over how to tell the story with truth and respect and love. 

This morning I said to my husband, “I don’t want to write this post, but I have to, because sometimes it’s the things that are hardest to write that others most need to hear.” 

I’ve always known that my parents love me and only want the best for me. Which is why years before I met the man I married I sat down and shared a list of character traits with my parents that I hoped my future husband would have.

I asked them to help me see through the blindness of love, to look for character over a good-looking face. 

A few years later I bought Xylon home, a man who to a greater or lesser extent ticked every box on my character list. He bravely told my father he would like to marry me one day. 

My parents confessed to me a week or so later that they thought I should marry someone of the same skin colour and culture as me. 

I was confused.

I loved my parents and they loved me. I’d been brought up in a home where people of many races and languages had come in and out the door like family and now they were saying it wasn’t okay for me to marry someone different from us. 

Xylon and I broke up. 

I felt the best way to honour my parents at the time was to take a step back from the relationship, to disentangle myself from feelings so I could try and see the situation from their perspective. 

My mother and father had grown up in different world to me. I didn't see that as an excuse but I did realise that the lens they viewed the world with was different to mine. I prayed. I fasted. I talked through it with couples who had mixed skin colours and couples who had skin that matched. 

After eight months I felt like I had moved to the point where I felt that sometimes you can honour your parents and disagree with what they think. 

God's essence is forgivenessI told my parents if Xylon still wanted to pursue a relationship with me I would do it. I remember standing on the grass in front of the house with tears rolling down my face. The salt licking the wounds on my soul and telling my father that I loved him but I didn’t agree with him. I also told my parents that I forgive them. 

I never really felt unforgiveness towards my mother and father but somehow standing there that day I saw that there was potential for bitterness to grow in the future. 

I wanted to have a good relationship with my parents. In fact I wanted more than anything for my relationship to be healed. 

Two years later my father walked me down the aisle to my husband under a canopy of trees dripping rain. 

Eight months after that my parents helped us through my husband’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. 

I can’t imagine our lives without my parents support, but without forgiveness our relationship would have been ruined. I hurt my parents and my parents hurt me but we chose to forgive and move on and build a stronger relationship. 

I think we managed to do this because my parents had learnt to practice forgiveness in their lives. 

They had taught me as a child to forgive and not hold onto pain, to use forgiveness as a reflex when I was hurt, not to justify the other persons actions but to free myself from those actions. 

There’s a verse in the bible that speaks about how forgiveness is God’s habit. 

I like that. I imagine God wearing forgiveness like a nun. Walking around with it cloaking his very being. 

It also makes me think of God forgiving the same way I absentmindly comb my hair back behind my ears.

God’s very essence is forgiveness. (tweet this)

Forgiving can be hard but I’ve found that when practice forgiving quickly, when I forgive rather than hold onto my anger or pain or confusion it can become a habit, a habit that gives me the chance to find healing and hope. 

Ponder: Do you struggle with unforgiveness towards your parents? Please share your stories of forgiving others in the comments to encourage others. 

Prayer: Lord, I want forgiveness to be my habit. Help me to let go of bitterness and forgive like a reflex. Amen

{Buy the book}
If you struggle with the deep pain of a broken relationship with a parent then you might want to buy the book I refer to in this post. Through Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard’s own compelling personal stories combined with a fresh look at the Scriptures, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers illustrates and instructs in the practice of authentic forgiveness, leading you away from hate and hurt toward healing, hope, and freedom. You can buy the book on Amazon here

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{Get my book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

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What do you want out of life?

5:15 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Bible verse about slowing down Jeremiah 2:25 (MSG)
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’ Jeremiah 2:25 (MSG)

Often God has to speak to me for a while about something before I listen. 

I find at times like that God gently prods me in the direction he wants me to go by placing the topic front and centre in my life. 

If I pick up a book it’ll be the only thing the author wants to write about. If I speak to a friend that will be the only thing they can talk about. When I read blogs every one will talk about the same thing. 

Lately, I’ve felt like God has been speaking to me about one thing: REST. 

I read it on my friend Lesley’s blog

Margaret Feinberg wrote about how the quality of your life depends on this one thing

And I started reading a book about it. 

I even had the chain break on my bicycle and considered the beauty of slowing down in life as I walked my bike back to the car.

And I found this verse in Jeremiah 2:25: 
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out?” (tweet this)

Something in my soul went “yes!” as I read this verse. “Yes! I want to slow down. Oh God, you know I want to take a deep breath and just sit with you for a while.
Yes! Yes! Yes!”

In the midst of telling God rest sounded like the best thing since an ice-cold coke on a hot day I read:
Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’
devotional about what you want out of life
Ouch! 

I’ve been turning that question over a lot in my head, “Just what am I after anyway?” 

I guess it boils down to what I want to achieve in life and who I want to be. Am I after money and a nice house or am I after a life that oozes God whether I have those things or not? 

I know that I want to put God first. I want to be able to slow down when God tells me to take a deep breath. 

I want to be a servant of God’s, not a slave to my things. (tweet this)

I’m still meditating on this verse, and I don’t have the answers for how this will look in my own life. 

I’m trusting God will keep gently prodding me in the right direction. 

And I’m taking a deep breath and reminding myself to not be in such a hurry. 

Ponder: Do you think your stuff gets in the way of finding rest in God? What helps you to slow down?

Prayer: God, help me to slow down. Give me a heart that runs after you. Amen. 

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{Get the book}
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What I pray when I'm afraid

4:45 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

2 Timothy 1:7 God's not given us a spirit of fear
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Sometimes I am brave. 

Brave, might not be the right word, perhaps fearless is better. Better, only because fearless can be separated into two words: fear and less, which is just about how I manage to fake courage. I just try to fear less. 

Fear tends to find me easily. It always has. 

As a child I used to walk through the house late at night, pausing in each room to check each family member still breathed. 

Perhaps it was this tendency towards irrational fear that caused my parents to put 2 Timothy 1:7 to a tune. 

It’s one of the first songs I can remember learning. I sang it many nights when I was afraid: 
For God’s not given me a spirit of fear, 
But a spirit of love, 
and of power, and a sound mind,
To live each day and glorify his name. 

I still sing it sometimes. 

A prayer for when I am afraidI sang it on dark, lonely nights driving back from the hospital where I had just left my husband and I sing it sometimes when I wonder if God can see my future

I love that this song taught me a bible verse without even trying. 

It also taught me from my earliest days that fear doesn’t have power over me and that fear doesn’t need to overcome me because fear isn’t from God. 

Fear can be replaced with God's power, his love and a sound mind. (tweet this)

Now when I sing this song I understand what I didn’t as a child, that perfect love – like the way God loves us – can drive out fear. 

When I ask God to replace my fear with his power, love and a sound mind, he will. 

Knowing that God is bigger than anything I fear helps me to be fearless. (tweet this)

Ponder: Do you believe God is bigger than anything you fear?

Prayer: God, you haven’t given me a spirit of fear. Come and replace my fear with your power and your love so I may have a sound mind to live each day glorifying you. Amen.

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{Get the book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

Enter your email 
to receive my free ebook
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When you’re wondering if God can really see the future (& a free printable for the days when you think he can’t)

4:45 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

God can do more than we imagine
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 (NIV)

I squint at the road ahead. I can barely see through the rain. 

I wait for wipers to wash the water away, but they only make the road ahead seem even murkier. 

I look at my husband who is driving and wonder how he sees the road ahead. I am tempted to tell him to pull over. 

There is no way he can see where we are going. 

I try to focus out his side of the window and notice that his side is clear. The wipers on his side of the car work just fine. 

I remember him telling me that the car shop didn’t have two wipers so he just changed his. 

My fear is unfounded.

I breathe out. My husband can see the road ahead. 

I stop looking out the window and focus my eyes on my husband’s face and engage in the conversation about what our future might look like. I forget that my view of the road is so blurred.

I do that kind of thing all the time: try to take control of a situation by worrying. 

Driving on the highway in the rain I have to remember that my husband can see more clearly than me. 

It's the same with God. I get uptight because he can see the road ahead more clearly. 

I doubt the Psalmist every drove but he wrote a verse that I’ve found myself holding onto, 
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
prayer for worryWith him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 

I am trying to stop focusing on the things I can see and focus more on the God who sees all things. (tweet this)

Instead of peering into the future and panicking because I can’t see where God is leading me I’m trying to speak to God about the dreams he’s put in my heart. 

I’m finding when I speak to God about my fears for tomorrow I focus on him instead of my cloudy view.

Stressing about tomorrow, when God has so much more planned for me then I can imagine, seems foolish. (tweet this)

So I am keeping my eyes on the Lord because with him at right hand, I will not be shaken. 

Ponder: Do you ever wonder if God can see the future more clearly than you can?

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you. Amen. (tweet this)

Free Printable - Psalm 16:8
{Free Printable}

I find it helps me to print out verses that remind me of the truths about God to help me through days when I wonder if his promises are true. If you’d like to print this verse and put it somewhere you’ll see it often go here for the free PDF download


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You can share this devotional on twitter by clicking here. I’d also love for you to connect with me on my Facebook and twitter pages or if you're viewing this via email you can leave a comment by clicking here.

{Get the book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

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What fear can do (and how not to let it cripple you)

5:00 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Proverbs 19:23 devotional
The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23 (NIV)

I developed a phobia once. I’m sure it has some long name. I never looked it up. 

I had an unnatural fear of escalators

You know those giant metal teeth that link up like a zip to try and suck clothes and people, and especially children, into their tubing and wires. Yes, I was scared of those.

At 21, I should have been past the stage where a long flight of stairs appeared more inviting then an easy ride on revolving metal steps.

While I was struggling with this fear, I learnt that phobias are coping mechanisms the mind creates when a person is afraid of many unpredictable things. 

In order to cope with irregular anxieties the mind decides that instead of feeling terror all the time it will create one thing it can focus all its fear on. This will normally be something that is predictable, that the brain understands and can cope with. 

My brain, for some reason, chose to fear escalators. 

Around that time I found the writings of a wise sage. This man wrote that the fear of the Lord leads to life and that there one rests content, untouched by trouble. 

It made sense to me what this man said in Proverbs 19:23. 

It made sense that the only way to not be afraid – to be content and untouched by trouble – was to fear God. 

I wanted my fear of God to be greater than my fear of anything else. (tweet this)

When I talk about fearing God I’m not referring to the type of fear that sees me shivering in a corner begging God to hold back his wrath. 

A prayer to pray when you're afraid
I’m talking about the kind of fear for God that can worship God for who he is: a creator, magnificent, a saviour, a star-thrower. The kind of fear that is less terror and more awe. 

I still sometimes hesitate before I step on to an escalator but I no longer feel controlled by that fear. 

I know that my God is bigger than anything I fear. (tweet this)

I also know that it’s a little too simplistic to just say fear God and all your phobias will go away and your life will be untouched by trouble. 

I think maybe what happened when my fear of God became my focus is that the things I used to fear became smaller in my heart. 

When my fears became smaller I found more space for God. (tweet this)

With more space for God I find that I rest contentedly, not because I am untouched by troubles but because I trust God to carry me through them. 

Ponder: Do you believe that God is bigger than your fears?

Prayer: God, increase my awe of you till my fears seem insignificant in light of you. Amen. (tweet this)

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{Get the book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

Enter your email 
to receive my free ebook
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Photo Credits Wendy van Eyck | Design: Wendy van Eyck