Let’s Get Going!

It’s time.

Let me be honest, it’s WAAAAAY past time!

I’m sorry to say it has been months since I last sat down to write a post for Throne of Grace. If you are a regular around here you know that our family and business survived a big move this year. I know many of you were praying for us and your prayers were felt and answered! The Lord has been so faithful in all His provisions and although it was tough, through the power of our Savior I can say we not only survived, but truly did thrive in the midst of the move!

Even at 8 and 6, boxes provide endless entertainment!

Even at 8 and 6, boxes provide endless entertainment!

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Moving Day!

As many of you can attest, big life changes have the power to strengthen our marriages and family relationships or they can be totally devastating. Our prayer all along was that we would stay united as a family, that the challenges of such an undertaking would not compromise our witness to those around us, and that we could glorify God even when it was hard. We had many failures along the way but, praise God, He is allowing us to triumph!

Our new home...for now!

Our new home…for now!

The story is not finished. We are still adjusting (a little dazed!) and living in a month-to-month rental, so we are looking at yet another move down the road. Along with all the personal changes, Throne of Grace is undergoing a makeover as well. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to put into words all that has happened in the last few months!

My attention has naturally been drawn to a million other places as I’ve packed and moved my family and I’m thankful God has given me a ministry that is flexible and can work around our family life. But the task of communicating all the changes and getting back to consistency with this blog has seemed daunting for some reason!

It hit me today how it parallels one of my lifelong struggles with being a type-A perfectionist. If I can’t do it right, I don’t want to do it at all! This mindset can be paralyzing at times! So even after the boxes were unpacked and production in the Throne of Grace workshop had resumed, this website has sat stale and lifeless. I keep waiting for just the right words to explain the past 6 months and get this blog rolling – and they haven’t come!

Satan loves to paralyze us, doesn’t he? It’s one of his many wily schemes. If he can’t discourage our faith, he’ll try to render our faith ineffective. I’ve definitely seen this spill into my prayer life over these past months! This girl who has dedicated the past 6 years of her life to equipping others to live and leave a legacy of prayer has a new prayer journal that has [big confession coming…] been empty for months! [gasp!]. Will you be shocked if I say that I wanted to set it up just right and hadn’t quite decided how I wanted to do it and hadn’t found the perfect pen to use yet…? Such silly excuses, but it’s true!

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Am I the only one who has felt spiritually paralyzed?

Maybe it’s not your prayer journal that has sat empty like mine.

Maybe it’s that ministry that God is calling you to take on but you haven’t answered because it’s just not the perfect time yet.

Maybe it’s the neighbor that you have smiled and waved to for years now, but have never invited in for a cup of coffee.

Maybe it’s the conversation that the Holy Spirit has been nagging you to start with a group of friends, knowing that doing so will out you as “in the world, but not of it”.

Maybe it’s not for lack of prayer but a sense that the prayers are producing no answer and you have no idea how the Lord wants you to move forward.

Whatever the situation that has you frozen, don’t you think its time to get going? I sure do! This girl is getting a move on! I’m starting to see a pattern…when I find myself stuck, it is often because I’m making things WAY TOO complicated! The best thing for me to do is to get back to the basics. Return to what I know. Simmer the situation down to God’s simplest principles. He is a simple God.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30)

 

I hope you’ll join me and the rest of the Throne of Grace team as we refresh ourselves with a review of the simple disciplines of the Christian life. Let’s get going! We will begin next week with a look at the purpose and privilege of prayer. Watch for that!

Last month we celebrated 6 years as a ministry! Praise God! It’s a good time to remember where we started as we launch ahead with some  changes for the future. I look forward to sharing more updates with you soon…

Glad to be back with you at the Throne of Grace!

By His Grace and for His Glory,molly

A Calm in the Eye of the Storm

I warned you that it might get quiet around the ToG blog for awhile…and indeed my attention has been elsewhere the past couple of months! The Garibaldi family is in the midst of a season of chaos. Crazy times, I tell you!

Those of you who know me, know I like to have my ducks in a row. It’s not a wonder where my son gets it! At age one he was sorting cereal on his highchair tray by category. This is a true snapshot of how he leaves the shower every day:

ducks in a row

Literally…ducks in a row!

My ducks are currently anything but in a row! It feels like they’ve been blown out of the bathtub!

Since I last posted to this blog two months ago, here is a *somewhat* brief synopsis of what’s happened in our lives:

* My husband and I (pretty much out of the blue), felt led to take a step of faith and put our home of the last 8 ½ years up for sale. Then, in the span of 5 days , we met with a realtor, prepared the house, got it photographed, and had our first open house.

* With just a few days notice (and with the house newly on the market!), I left my husband and kids and jetted off to Utah with my sister and her family for 8 days to help with the adoption of my beautiful niece Georgia.

Calm in the Eye of the Storm 2(Couldn’t resist the urge to include a photo!)

* Due to the adoption trip conflicting with the annual big Throne of Grace trip to the Believe Boutique, we had to cancel Throne of Grace’s plans to travel to Arizona. The Believe Boutique is usually one of our top-selling boutiques of the year. Instead, my resourceful sister, Emmy, hosted an “Instasale” on her Instagram account and in a matter of about 2 hours, sold more than 45 sets of prayer cards and about 15 prayer journals!! Praise God for his incredible provisions! Thankfully, He also provided the help of some dear friends upon my return to invoice, package, and ship all those orders!

* After just a couple weeks on the market, our house sold and we put an offer in on another home in our same town on the same day, hours before heading to Northern California to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Our offer was immediately accepted but then 5 days later we learned that the home we were in escrow on had to be taken off the market due to the fact that the sellers had fallen out of escrow on the home they were purchasing. (Did you follow that? One of those chain reaction things…)

* We ended the Thanksgiving vacation with a trip to urgent care (after I had endured horrible, unexplained foot pain for several days) and then a sudden and violent onset of the stomach flu that wiped out the whole family for a week!

* The past several weeks have been spent pounding the pavement looking for a future home for the Garibaldis – to no avail! We finally came to the point of deciding a small apartment would be the best bet to give us more time to scrimp and save and keep us “free” to jump on just the right house when it becomes available. Yet, finding an affordable apartment that offers short-term leasing options has proved to be extremely difficult as well!

So now you are up to speed! Here we are, attempting to pack but not really knowing if we are packing for a new home, packing for an apartment, packing for storage…wondering why we ever brought this on ourselves! We’ve been waiting for the neon signs from the Lord pointing us in the direction we should go and they aren’t coming! Yet, the Lord has given us confirmation that He is asking us to let go of this home we have loved and enjoyed and that we need to trust Him to provide in His perfect timing.

God has given me several seasons of life like this one. Thankfully, I can count them on my fingers! But each time He does I find Him whispering the same eternal truth and each time He does, the reality of this truth sinks just a little bit deeper.

“Be still…and know that I am GOD.”
(Psalm 46:10a NIV)

You see, just about anyone can experience peace next to a quiet fire with loved ones gathered ‘round while familiar Christmas carols play in the background and a soft snow falls outside (being an Orange County girl, it is interesting that this is the picture of peace that comes to mind!). Just about anyone can experience peace walking barefoot along an empty beach at sunset, listening to the waves lap along the shore. (Better?) 🙂

But the real challenge, the real calling we have as Christians is to experience peace in the midst of the chaos.

In the midst of boxes.

In the midst of mess.

In the midst of family strife.

In the midst of devastating diagnoses.

In the midst of marital strain.

In the midst of unpaid bills.

In the midst of over-packed schedules.

It’s when the storms of life are swirling around us, and yet we have a treasured inner calm, that we can really see the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s nothing short of supernatural! And you know what excites me even more? It’s when the storms of life are swirling around us, and yet we have a treasured inner calm, that OTHERS can really see the work of the Holy Spirit! That’s when we give the Lord the opportunity to really get the glory for what only He can do!

Life is chaos around me but by the grace of God, as I abide in Him, He promises me His unexplainable peace! Admittedly, my mind and my heart waver almost daily between walking in faith and swirling with anxiety right now. But I’m clinging to that promise!

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
(John 15:4-6 NIV)

Oh how I want that! Yes, I want to experience His calm and His peace! Desperately! But even more, I want to bear fruit as I go through this challenging season. Don’t let it go to waste, Lord!

My garage is piled high with boxes that have yet-to-be packed.

Calm in the Eye of the Storm 1

Escrow closes on my home in a couple weeks and we’ve currently got no place to go. Plans A, B, and C have all fallen through to this point! But our foundation is firm.

“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
(Matthew 7:25 NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to keep You at the center of all the chaos! Let us not forget that You are the foundation of this house. Thank you for the reminder that even as the storms blow around us, You will not let it fall. May we look back in the months and years to come, may our children look back, may those watching our witness look back, and glorify our Lord because of what You have done!

Thank you, dear friends, for your faithfulness to the ministry of Throne of Grace even as we have been out-of-touch!

We would certainly love your prayers and would be especially blessed if you have a few moments to share your stories of God’s provisions of peace in the midst of seasons of chaos. Leave us a comment below!

If you, too, are finding yourself in the middle of a storm right now, seeking HIS calm, we’d love to be praying with you! Leave us a comment, or contact us by email so we can do that!

By His Grace and for His Glory,molly

Blessed Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Hello Throne of Grace friends! Our blog has been hijacked today by my super fun, super godly, super real friend and sister-in-Christ, Amanda. I’m going to give her a quick introduction and then let you get to know Amanda for yourself! I know you’ll love her!

Amanda and I go WAAAY back to the elementary school days…well, maybe even before that! We grew up in the same little church in southern California and have fun memories of church musicals and vacation Bible school. Then we ended up getting to be roommates in college for two years. I love that we had that time together as young adults as we were both so challenged in our faith and grew so much in those days. Here is a photo of Amanda and I and our other 2 college roomates – Josie and Becky. Amanda is the one on the far right:

photo of LSM roommates

Amanda calls herself an “Amateur Woman”, as opposed to a “Professional Woman”, which I love. It perfectly describes the way she lives life without pretenses for the love of life itself! Amanda has married to her college sweetheart – yes, I got to witness the relationship from its inception! – for the past 13 years. They live in Irvine, California with their two sweet and beautiful daughters, ages 9 1/2 and 6. Amanda is a solid Bible teacher, freelance writer, former MOPS coordinator, creative seamstress, fantastic cook, and has recently added encouraging speaker to women’s groups to her long list of useful skills. I could keep going but I’d better let Amanda take over…Enjoy!

Blessed Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The place on earth where I am happiest is a shallow stretch of the Big Sur river adjacent to river site 127. I lie in my inflatable boat in 12 inches of slowly-flowing water, a damp paperback in my hand, a cold drink tucked against one corner of the boat. The sycamores and redwoods are my walls and archways. The water on the stones is my music. The blue sky is my roof.

On our annual late-summer camping trip, I make it a point to get into my boat and find a sunny spot on the river as soon as we have camp set up. Sometimes the kids play around me. Sometimes they take off with their daddy for the rapids up the gorge, and float past me, bound for adventures downstream.

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A few weeks ago, you could have found me in my boat in the late afternoon, drifting slowly; no need to tie my boat to a tree as in year’s former, because the drought has lowered the water level. Late in the day, sunshine is scarce on the river, so I cherish the moments when I drift into a warm place, and hope I stick. One afternoon, after feeling a bit shivery as I floated through the shadows, I ran aground in just such a place. I took care to hold very still so as not to dislodge myself. I was happy, but a precarious kind of happiness, knowing all the time that one false move could send me downriver.
Five minutes into this delicate bliss, my band of merry boaters came loudly toward me: Jeff, our two girls, and our 10-year old friend Oceana. Oce was ahead of the others.

“Don’t touch me!” I called out. “Nobody come near me! I am finally in the perfect sunny spot and I don’t want to move.” Oce looked at my curiously. Then came Sophia, my eldest. “Don’t touch me! Don’t dislodge me,” I screeched as she held out her hands to me. Again, a curious look, slightly wounded. Down went the rest of the family. Peace was again restored to the river.

About 15 minutes later, the sun shifted and I began to shiver. So I lifted my head to get up and realized something. I was totally and completely wedged in my spot. On the downriver side of my raft, I was hemmed in by a rock and two big logs, forming a triangle-shaped dam. No matter how I had wiggled, no matter which of the kids had bumped into me, I wasn’t going anywhere. No wonder the kids were looking at me funny.

Had I ever so much as lifted my head out of the bottom of the boat, I would have seen this, and felt secure. And I would have received the disruption of my family with open arms.

What a fascinating metaphor. How often do I become reactive and irrational because I let fear or insecurity rule over me?

* My husband makes a thoughtless remark (simply because he’s distracted, trying to be funny, or just being, well, male), and I allow myself to question his affection and devotion.

* A friend fails to return a phone call and I imagine ill will on her behalf and fear the loss of the friendship.

* A week of high demands from my kids and I begin to imagine myself a slave, a drudge, a woman with no sense of self, no life of her own. The classic martyr.

* A flash of doubt runs through my mind and I fear the loss of my faith, and disqualification from my life work and ministry.

Were I to lift my head in any of these situations — look at my Father, see the Big Picture of my life — I would see that I am wedged tightly in a dam of goodness. It is built of solid stones and strong timbers.

My husband chose me and will keep his vows.  I have solid friendships with safe women, not perfect, but built on the wise principles of the Bible, the best relationship manual there is. I am a competent, not perfect, mother, and my life is full and rich with mission and purpose both in the walls of my house and outside of them. And running under all of it is the strength of the faith handed to me by generations, which I’ve embraced since I was a little child. And under that, the love of God, which was mine before I breathed my first breath. He has promised nothing will shake it. He is the Rock I am blessed to be standing on, hemmed in by His love, goodness, and wisdom.

How much less reactive, how much kinder and happier I would be if I remembered how secure I truly am, and stopped treating small disruptions like earthquakes. This morning, I am tired. We are home from vacation and there is no more river to lie in. My girls had a sleepover last night during which the favored game was Musical Beds. There will be a lot of demands today, probably tears, definitely reactivity. I hope I manage it well.

So I lift my head today and look up. I say “Thank you, Father, for making me secure. Hem me in on all sides.”

Wow! Thanks, Amanda! I definitely needed to hear that today! I hope you all were as blessed as I was. Let’s pray together that the Lord will give us His eyes to see the places where we feel precarious, and instead see how we are “stuck” in Him!

If you enjoyed Amanda’s devotion today, you can find her blog, Scraps of Soul, HERE. If you have the time, be sure to check out one of my very favorite posts she’s written, called In Defense of Martha, where Amanda brings a fresh perspective on the Mary and Martha story from Luke, chapter 10.

As I mentioned, she also does speaking engagements in the southern California area. She might be perfect for your next MOPS or women’s event. You can contact Amanda through her blog, or contact me if you’d like a list of her Fall speaking dates.

Blessings,molly