Mercy

Vinnie, the Hamster, and Grace (Before I Recognized It)

Maybe you’re curious about my knowledge of all things “hammie” in my previous post. Rightfully so. I omitted some history to keep it focused, but I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to tell a story or two about my fascination with hamsters in junior high. I “had a hamster” like most people have a potato chip. Know what I mean?Teddy-Bear-Hamster

Enter the newest of my collection at the time. He was an adorable, cream-colored, long-haired Teddy Bear Hamster. Introductions had gone well with a potential cagemate, so I assumed all would be well with the two. Then, before I’d even come up with a name, tragedy struck. They had a spat, and a hamster hand grenade went off! The poor newbie got the worse end of the deal, and his damage was pretty severe. As the only body part that really stuck out and had no fur protection, his ear was hurt badly. (I’ll spare you the details.)

After cursing the offending critter (as I’m sure I did at the time), I scooped up the victim. His little ribcage heaved rapidly, as he huffed and puffed from the stress of the fight. The wound was messy, so there was only one thing I could do. I ran down the stairs, calling for help.

“M-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m!”

As the mom of two boys, I know what that high-pitched, whiny, polysyllabic name means: whatever it is, it’s bad. I’m sure my mom knew that, too. She braced herself for what came next. Then she did the only “sane” thing you can do when your junior high daughter has a pet that’s wounded and in danger and there are tears streaming down her face. She called the vet.

You can giggle just a wee bit here, if you like. The ear was torn. It probably would have healed ugly, but fine. I think my hysterics just pushed her response to my plea. (Note to self: this has application to life…)

Fast forward to sitting in the vet’s office a short time later. Just try to imagine the look on Dr. Whitney’s face, if you can. A tearful junior high girl sitting next to her mom, a hamster with a messy, torn ear on her lap, and he’s gotta be Super-Man. Yep. He does.

The doc’ was honest. He wasn’t a small animal vet, and this was, obviously, a small animal. He would, however, do what he could to help us. If I understood the real danger of anesthesia in very small animals…he would do a quick procedure right then. Out to the waiting room we went.

Sometimes 25 minutes moves like liquid mercury—and sometimes it’s like molasses.

Half an eternity later, we were called back to the exam room, and there was my little, one-eared, long-haired, cream hamster! (A little punch-drunk yet as he wobbled around the table, but alive!) Yep, Doc’ Whitney was Super-Man that day in my eyes! Whether he was uncertain of the outcome of the procedure, or he was an example of grace to me that day, there was no charge—and I went home with a named hamster that day.

Vinnie.

As in, Vincent van Gogh.

You probably saw that one coming. I take my clues and cues from situations in my world around me sometimes. Predictable maybe. Vinnie was one of the nicer, non-biters I had during my season of hamster obsession.

No threads of Bible verses in this one. It’s just a story-telling moment. Sometimes you see grace in everyday moments, with everyday people, and you still know it’s grace.

Have a lovely weekend!

~Jennifer

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Photo Credit: This isn’t my hamster, but the little guy sure looks like Vinnie. Problem is, the photo can’t seem to be sourced. If you know where it came from, let me know!

Edits to the photo you’ll have to imagine: missing right ear.  *grin*

Edited to add:

For those who might like to be entertained by my son’s and my efforts at showing Vinnie more accurately, here you go—

PhotoShop edits by: DJ & JJ

PhotoShop edits by: DJ & JJ

Bible Verses: Lamentations 3:21-26

This morning it was deeply impressed upon my mind yet again that I need fresh grace, fresh mercy. Some mornings are quiet, coffee-sipping times filled with lovely reminders of the presence of God, the beauty of his creation, the incredible relationships that bless you….

This morning was not that, or hasn’t been yet. So, I headed to one place I knew would offer hope.

But in my mind I keep returning to something, something that gives me hope—that the grace of ADONAI is not exhausted, that his compassion has not ended. [On the contrary,] they are new every morning! How great your faithfulness! “ADONAI is all I have,” I say; “therefore I will put my hope in him. ADONAI is good to those waiting for him, to those who are seeking him out. It is good to wait patiently for the saving help of ADONAI. Lamentations 3:21-26 CJB

It’s an incredible thing that my God never runs out of love, mercy, and forgiveness! May I never lose sight of the depth of his love for me, and may I have strength to choose the life he’s set before me in response to his amazing grace!

I hope your day is filled with gentle, loving reminders of your great value to him.

~Jennifer

Pondering Grace: The Mercy-Grace Connection

hebrews416I don’t know if you think about things and find yourself turning them over and over in your mind at different times, but I do. Hebrews 4:16 continually surfaces, and I find myself captivated by its lavish display of love and grace.

Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne from which God gives grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 CJB

Here I am, a woman who often falls fantastically short of perfection, who often does the wrong thing because I can be tempted to lean toward the selfish and self serving end of the spectrum. There’s benefit there (or so I think in the moment). And li’l old me is hoping to approach the Holy God to have a chat? Could I possibly do enough good things to outweigh my striking imperfection in comparison to God’s complete perfection? Could I ever really walk into the presence of God with my own list of accomplishments and wow him?

The One who sits on the throne is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. If he created all things and knows all things, who am I? I stand in stark contrast to who he is in many ways, but I am encouraged to come close to God with boldness and confidence. Really? Is that possible?

I love that, by approaching God with confidence, mercy and grace is gifted when I need it. And I need it often! In my hurried and harried moments, I make knee-jerk decisions and go with emotionally-charged behaviors that are just not who I want me to be. It’s not who my heavenly Father wants me to be, either. When my buttons get pushed or a goal is blocked, my response can be to quickly strategize and regain control of the other person or the situation (though, I’m really focusing more and more on self control these days). In less than stellar moments, I desperately come to my Abba Father—and he grants mercy! The Holy God does not have to respond in mercy. He doesn’t have to; he chooses to. In love, he grants mercy. He doesn’t give me what I truly deserve for my miscreant behavior; he chooses love over any other option.

He gives mercy; we find grace. There’s that sweet fragrance wafting by again. Grace. I didn’t get what I rightfully deserved; but more than that, I received what I never really deserved. That’s unmerited favor. I couldn’t buy it, earn it, coerce him into giving it, or sneak in the back door when he wasn’t looking to receive it. This is the lavish gift I receive. Really?!

This verse as a standalone is mind-blowing and encouraging; but placed back in its original context, it starts to make more sense.

Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:14-15 HSC

I think most of the above is self explanatory. (There is a discovery to be made in connection with “confession” in verse 14, but that might be a whole topic in itself.) Catch the bigger theme for now: Jesus, the high priest, who can sympathize with us in our struggles because he lived this difficult life facing every kind of temptation, lived it without sin.

The flow of the text directly indicates the reason we can approach God with bold confidence is because we have Jesus, the Son of God, as our “great high priest” making all the difference. Isn’t that pretty amazing?

Li’l old me is feeling pretty special and very loved right now. I hope you do, too.

Thanks for reading along. I’d love to read your thoughts, so please feel free to share.

~Jennifer

Photo Credit: Bible Verse 101