Guarding Your Heart

“Guard your heart.” I’m sure girlfriends who are younger than me get really sick of me saying this whenever they ask me for advice. That’s my default answer to just about every situation they can throw at me–but obviously, it’s extremely important to guard your heart because everything that we do flows from it. Image from Disciple Magazine [http://www.disciplemagazine.com/www/articles/144.478]

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
{Proverbs 4:23}

Secure it. Shelter it. Shepherd it. Shield it. Tend to it. Defend it. Watch it. Preserve it. Keep an eye on it. Guard it!

It’s easy for me to tell them to guard their hearts, but it’s much more difficult to actually apply it–especially when I forget to remind them that it’s only through Christ that a heart can be guarded.  

For several years now, I’ve pondered this verse and how it corresponds to Philippians 4:7. The relation between these two verses is so beautiful!

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
{Philippians 4:7}

If I am trying to guard my own heart, I will fail every time. But as Paul closes out his letter to the church at Philippi, he reminds them that the peace of God is what guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus!

The peace of God will guard it! Where does the peace of God come from? First off, you must realize that there’s nothing you can do on your own to please the holy and righteous God of the universe. We are at enmity with Him. There is no peace. The good news is that the holy and righteous God of the universe has provided a way for us to have peace with Him! He provided a way for us to escape His just judgment through His mercy in sending His Son. Jesus Christ died the death that you deserved to die. And when you place your faith in Christ and what He has done, He cleanses you from your sin–just as if you never sinned!–and clothes you with His righteousness. THEN we have peace with God!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
{Romans 5:1}

Since I have been justified by faith, I have peace with God through Jesus Christ, my Lord. He is my Master who knows what is best for me and I serve Him out of a heart of gratitude. I have eternal peace, but sometimes I can lose that sense of peace when I stray from what He wants me to do. When my heart becomes zoned out and lazy, unwatchful and unalert, my guard is down. It becomes easy to default to my fleshly depraved nature and lose all sense of peace.

But to add peace in my life, I simply need to obey what God has told me to do.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
{Proverbs 3:1-2}

It seems like God is always teaching me the same lesson: Get in the Word, apply what He shows you in the Word, and He will always bless you with peace as you’re obeying.

But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
{2 Thessalonians 3:3}

The Lord will be faithful to keep my heart for all eternity. May I be swift to obey all He has laid out in His Word!

Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
{Proverbs 4:23-27}

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one thousand gifts {2604-2675}

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
{John 14:27}

Peace.

That is what God has given my family and I over the past couple of weeks. I never thought I’d be able to face the passing of my grandmother–even though I knew were she was going and knew she’d be better off and knew that God was in control. It was a day I dreaded for a majority of my life.

I know you have one of those fears, too.

You know that day you never think you’ll be able to face? Don’t worry about it.
He gives you grace when you get there–not a moment too soon and not a moment too late! He’s perfectly on time.

He’s absolutely DRENCHED us with grace.

He’s blanketed us with peace.

He’s flooded us with mercy.

He’s proven His love.

Take heart! There is nothing to worry about. He will do the same for you as you trust in Him!

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
{Isaiah 26:3-4}

2604. a bank holiday and christopher columbus (in retrospect, this day off was one of the greatest gifts ever–I spent most of the day at home with my grandmother during her last full day on earth)
2605. telling a student, “don’t do iiiiiit!” and him responding, “that’s exactly what mrs. b said.” {made. my. day.} can’t say she never made an impact. 🙂
2606. roger cruz providentially bringing us dinner
2607. a foggy, brisk morning turned to blue skies
2608. the call
2609. praying for God to show mercy and Him being exceedingly merciful!
2610. just knowing.
2611. a precious, kind waitress
2612. peace beyond description
2613. locking the door and going to red lobster to celebrate a LIFE WELL LIVED!
2614. knowing that granny heard “well done” around noon today ~ laughing thinking how she probably reacted to seeing uncle benny and aunt lee ann in heaven ~ being jealous that she’s singing to our King face-to-face ~ loving that she is basking in His glory
2615. {isaiah 40} {psalm 46:1}
2616. peace that is indescribable & no tears. numbness?
2617. being able to laugh hysterically while making funeral arrangements. SUCH a blessing! (and those directors–my, my…)
2618. a “that’s ok” perfectly timed on accident for a really good laugh
2619. old pictures ♥
2620. grace — for the MOMENT.
2621. wayne coming to haul our garbage
2622. a sovereign tray of sandwiches from cassie
2623. using the $6,258 timpani to test a website’s payment options
2624. election training–being the “perfect voter”
2625. the sovereignty of God on display in my refrigerator. vegetable soup FTW!
2626. family. ♥


2627. approximately 198 people coming to the visitation to honor granny and show their love. unbelievable.
2628. big, heartfelt hugs
2629. curing hiccups (with ziploc bags?!)

Uncle Sam and Amelia curing hiccups by catching them in a ziploc bag

2630. “shouldn’t we be mad at adam and eve?” -amelia. i love love love gospel chats with children!
2631. hugs–the squeeze-you-silly kind
2632. the absolute kindest, most genuine thank you anyone has ever given me
2633. the grace and strength to play the prelude
2634. mom singing
2635. aunt janna’s beautiful tribute
2636. dad preaching the gospel so clearly and honoring my grandmother (and mom) so well. my question to you today is not “do you know the Lord,” but “do you love the Lord like granny loved the Lord?”
2637. amanda reminding us that “we take care of people” in our family. that’s just what we do.
2638. a most lovingly prepared lunch. homemade rolls, cake, and even an apple cake. i love those new lifers!
2639. cousins.


2640. seeing little cousins playing together and hearing doors slam all over the house. “excuse me. can i have a glass of water now?”
2641. negotiating the price of a pint of blueberries
2642. a string of toilet paper. LOL!
2643. hearing my 95 year-old aunt ginny fill in the Scriptures at the graveside service. such a blessing!


2644. a full house. “when love is in the house, the house is packed!”
2645. telling jerry that they definitely put the fun in funeral
2646. being reminded that my life is not my own
2647. sunday lunch at pf chang’s with ate, mom, and dad!
2648. teaching sunday school
2649. best sunday afternoon nap ever
2650. “when i get carried away” piano duet with mom for offertory
2651. the GOSPEL beautifully proclaimed
2652. john 14:1-6 preciously recited by ava
2653. leftovers with EVERYone after church
2654. bronze mums


2655. celebrating sadie’s birthday
2656. a reply
2657. ate making dinner for us
2658. mrs. cantrell eating with us
2659. trusting in the Lord rather than chariots or horses after that ridiculous debate
2660. spicy creamy tomato basil chicken soup at bella notte for lunch with dad
2661. a reply AND a follow. unbelievable.
2662. starjazz with erin…finally!
2663. sending cards
2664. He frees our hearts to live out His grace
2665. kind, presumably encouraging words
2666. a hug from hunter on a seemingly wasted lunch break errand
2667. andrew peterson & caleb concert at SBTS with mom & dad and getting to sit with the Hunters!
2668. ♪ promises written in a script of stars! ♪
2669. my fingerprints being covered with the fingerprints of God


2670. dinner at the vance’s!
2671. sketch gas station, sketchier flea market, a beautiful drive down US-60, 12 great bands, a goose chase that ended at dairy queen, hysterical laughs on I-64, and a heart-to-heart on new circle. happy john moose day!


2672. a most hysterical announcer with “something-to-think-about” thoughts
2673. celebrating mom’s birthday at chop house!
2674. there is nothing that happens by accident. God is absolutely SOVEREIGN!
2675. eglon, ehud, fat, excrement from the buttocks, and FIGHTING THE FLESH!
^^ that’s an awkward one to end on, but really…go read judges 3, one of my favorite childhood Bible stories…then go listen to a beautiful Gospel exposition of it by my dad! ^^

“To see the glory, name the graces.”

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

Mercy, Peace, & Love {Jude 2}

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
{Jude 2}

My sweet 93 year-old grandmother went home to be with Jesus this past Tuesday. It has been an interesting wave of emotions, but if there are three words that can sum up what I have experienced in the past week, they would be “mercy, peace, and love.” God showed such mercy in taking her quickly. He has blanketed us with an indescribable peace. And He has shown us His love in countless ways, mainly through His people. (I can’t thank you all enough for the kind words, hugs, cards, food, phone calls, hauling garbage, moving furniture, cleaning, flowers, blankets, windchimes, kisses, and so much more. It’s absolutely overwhelming.)

Many of you know that my family moved in to care for her six years ago (you can read a little more about that in this post) so we are all feeling a huge void, yet there is also an incredible sense of freedom because we have been confined for so long.

There are way too many thoughts for me to sift through right now, so I will close by simply sharing with you a prayer of thanksgiving I wrote out on Tuesday night.

Lord~
Where do I even start?! You have been exceedingly merciful. I’ve never had the grace to face this day because I’ve never had to face it before. But since I’ve had to face it, You’ve given such grace and lavished my family and I with such mercy. 

Thank You for taking Granny so peacefully and quickly while I wasn’t home. You are so merciful and so good to answer all our prayers. 

I thank You for blessing me with a grandmother who loved You and served You faithfully for so many years. Even after she was bedbound, You gave her purpose. She was a blessing to so many who came to her home–even at the last when they were coming to take care of her instead of the other way around. 

Her love for You was most evident in the way she showed hospitality and cared for others. Everyone always knew they could come to Aunt Shug’s for a bite to eat or to stay the night or to drop off their kid for an afternoon. I thank You so much for passing that love down to me. I pray that I may continue to carry on her legacy of hospitality and kindness–caring for others and ultimately pointing them to You–even if in the smallest of ways. 

Thank You for her quick wit and unprecedented sense of humor. And her giggle–oh, her giggle. And her smile that could just light up not just a room, but the whole house. 

Thank You for letting her remember who she was in You and because of You up to the very end. Though she may have forgotten everyone and everything else, she never forgot You. She could always sing of Your faithfulness and quote Your comforting Word. 

Thank You for giving me the privilege of taking care of her. Though it wasn’t always easy or my favorite thing to do, I learned SO much through it all that I wouldn’t trade for anything in all the world. 

Most of all, thank You for the hope that we have because of what You secured on Calvary. The peace that comes from knowing You are sovereign and knowing where she is–it truly is indescribable. 

May I never forget Your faithfulness to me and may I always look back fondly on the times and countless memories You gave me with my sweet grandmother. 

Giving thanks to You for You are good, for Your steadfast love and abundant mercy endure forever. 

Thank You for holding my heart in Your hands. 

{Psalm 46:1 ~ Isaiah 40:28-31}

Because I knooooow He holds the future…and life is worth the living just because He lives.

Open Wide

“Open wide your heart.” 2 Corinthians 6:13

Opening your heart up to others, letting them in, and loving them can be so painful. The more you love, the more apt you are to getting your heart a little banged and bruised up.

When you open your heart to others, it can start to fill up quickly and get heavy at times. People share their burdens, which can sometimes become overwhelming. Wide-open hearts provide lots of opportunities for heartbreak. But at the same time, they also provide a lot of opportunities for joy.

What I have to keep reminding myself is that God opened up His heart to me, a rebellious sinner who broke the heart of the very One who created me. His love is so pure and unconditional and He expects nothing in return.  Absolutely nothing will be able to separate us from His love. {Romans 8:39} As Tullian Tchividjian wrote in Surprised by Grace, “Once we know that we’re forever loved by Jesus, we’re free to love others regardless of the risk, because our deep need to love will be satisfied.”

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”  1 Peter 1:22

May I love others well with the same kind of love that God showed to me: an unconditional, never-giving-up, in-spite-of, expecting-nothing-in-return, forever love. As I open my heart wide to others, I must trust the Maker of my heart to protect it. And He will.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one,
not even to an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.
It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
{C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves”}