Telephone Lines and Grace Connections

Do you remember the game, Telephone? I whisper a message to someone who tells it to the next person. And on it goes until the last person repeats the message. Generally, what happens is the message gets all mixed-up and comes out funny. Or rude!

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Telephones then became instrumental in connecting people via technology innovation. Do you think Mr. Bell envisioned all of our communication and technological advancements since then?

I wonder if we have really made all that much progress…

You see, our communication can still be shaky. I’ll speak only for myself—I don’t always say the right thing. I can lose my temper and say things I regret. Then I catch myself, apologize, and do better. But that’s no excuse for my poor behavior.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “ Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (my emphasis added).

Can you hear me now?

Telephone lines

People are like telephone poles, and grace is sent between the poles. Standing alone—not connected—they’re useless. Telephone poles need to be linked together, one after another, until the message gets transmitted.

What is the message we need to share? Good News! Pass it on!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

If a telephone pole or line goes down, the connection is lost. So it is with the message of God’s grace. Our words have potential to disconnect the very people God wants to reach. Or, we can speak with loving grace—connect others to Jesus!

No, I’m not going to make you eat soap, nor will I provide a list of “appropriate” words. Instead, let us simply extend a line of grace and carry the loving message of Jesus Christ!


Grace can come in many forms and kind deeds, but our words carry special weight (see Proverbs 18:21). We’ve probably all had something negative said to us or about us. That hurts, and the impact can be devastating. Often, those in close proximity can do the worse damage. Yet, the effect doesn’t remain localized. It influences the whole pathway.

The words we speak to ourselves are just as important as words spoken to each other.

Have you experienced the power of an encouraging word when you needed it the most? I’ve had several moments in the last few years where the path was unclear. It has been difficult at times to see progress or know if I need to make changes.

Over time, I’ve had the opportunity to share my story with new people at church. I also invite them to a class I facilitate, which helps volunteers get involved. Once, during a prolonged period of uncertainty, someone introduced me like this:

“This is Natalie. She does a great job in her role, and we are so thankful for her.”

It was not fancy or elaborate, but I was encouraged to know I was making a difference! Before that, I wasn’t even aware of the effect of my effort.

Even six months later, I remembered those empowering words. In fact, my whole outlook changed as I suddenly had more clarity in my vision and purpose.


“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”   Proverbs 16:24

Let nothing interrupt the flow of grace in your life.

 Do not miss an opportunity to be an ENCOURAGER to someone else. Look for the inherent value in others. Use your words to speak Life with a well-timed word!

Would You Like Some Brownie Points?

In some ways, grace sounds a lot like simple etiquette. And while I have absolutely no plans and no desire to become the next Dear Abby…


Here are some easy ways to earn ‘Brownie points’ with me:

1. Be gracious. If you are rude or inconsiderate, I will still try to be kind when we are together, because of Jesus and in His Name. 🙂 (But, it is much more pleasant when your words and actions are seasoned with grace.)

2. Be honest. Generally, honesty and integrity should be first. But, if you aren’t gracious, it’s hard to connect with you…even if there’s something difficult I need to hear. (If the truth is spoken with a loving attitude, I’ll understand you have my best interest at heart.)

3. Keep your word. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Follow through on what you say you will do. If you can’t do something, that’s alright, no problem! (Just don’t sign up for it…No wishy-washy or empty promises, please!)

4. Be reliable and show up on time. Okay, those may be two separate things. (But they go hand-in-hand in my book.)

5. Pick up the phone when necessary… or just because. So many messages get mixed up via text and email. An encouraging word is always welcome! (I also appreciate a quick, “I received your message, thanks!” but I will let that one slide…ahem.)

6. Don’t read (more) into every single word or action. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt. Most people would never intend to hurt someone else’s feelings. Accidents happen. People make mistakes. Be quick to forgive. (As Joyce Meyer says, “Just because you are given offense, doesn’t mean you have to take it.”)

7. Smile! As my Grandpa Y. always said, “It doesn’t cost anymore to smile.” He was a very smart and well-respected man! (So, you’ll be smart if you take this advice and smile!)

8. Buy or send me chocolate. Brownies are only one suggestion! I like dark chocolate best, and my address is____________. (And yes, they do send cookies in the mail!)

Okay, okay, the last one may have been a little joke! As a Registered Dietitian and foodie, I still believe in and promote a healthy balance.

I don’t need piles of chocolate all at one time. But if someone could make a sign-up sheet, that would be great! 😉

These are general guidelines with no one particularly in mind. And this is not an exhaustive list. But seriously. A little grace goes a long way! Thanks in advance!

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you” (Luke 6:31).

Questions: What is on your list? How can I earn ‘Brownie points’ with you?! 🙂

Got Stress? Get Grace!

As I looked for a good tie-in to today’s post, I immediately loved this acronym:

S.T.R.E.S.S. = Still Trying to Run the Entire Solar System

Now, I could tell you all the reasons why my week was stressful. This would include a conference, a deadline, tech difficulties, and a cranky child. I’m sure you understand.

Yet, they might just be good excuses. We all know Life happens. It’s easy to complain.

I could also offer advice on how I met these challenges. I’d share how I took a nap, took a walk…and took some chocolate. I’d recommend arranging for childcare, using a crockpot for easy meals, and rescheduling certain activities for another time. All good things!

(I’ll leave out the perfectionism and procrastination part…I’m sure that wasn’t related.) 😉

But you see, in my tiny little solar system, it can’t be all about me, what I want or know. I can’t even decide what to have for breakfast…so I am totally inadequate to run the show.

So I’ll keep trusting in God, the Creator of the Universe. He is excellent at dealing with stressful events. And, He is an ever-present Help in time of need!

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
He who watches over you will not slumber.”

–Psalm 121:1-3


Let’s take a moment to clarify and renew our minds with God’s word. We can overlook important details or connections when we feel overwhelmed.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.” If you don’t have peace, try realigning your focus.

Often we get stressed because we feel responsible for end-results—as if success depends on us. It is useless to depend on our own fleeting energy instead of God’s everlasting strength.

If God started something good in you, He will be faithful to complete it (see Philippians 1:6).

Both perfectionism and procrastination can yield stress. But the root is fear. In the chaos of our emotions, we can lose sight of the vision and purpose God has given us.

So, remind yourself of God’s constant love. We don’t have to be afraid!

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God blesses obedience, and He has equipped us to do what He has called us to do (see Ephesians 2:10). If we’re trying to do more than that, it’s no wonder we are stressed.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Lord God, I praise you! You spoke out Your Word, and created the heavens and the earth. Nothing is too difficult for you! You do all things well. When I am overwhelmed, help me seek You first. I want to do it Your way. Give me wisdom to know what to do, and the courage to do it. Thank You for Your abundant grace. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.

Questions: What are your best techniques for handling stress? Do you have a favorite Bible verse that you find helpful?



Race Toward Grace!

I have a good friend, Kim, who is not only a stellar dietitian, she’s also an impressive Ironman triathlete. She has amazing endurance, in her ability to train and compete. In addition, Kim typically runs several marathons every year, including her 9th Chicago Marathon this coming weekend (October 11th).

I am a “sometimes” runner, at best. I do well for awhile and then get off-track. It can be difficult to jump back in to a routine! Thankfully, Kim made several excellent points as we discussed how Life is like a marathon.

Essentially, Kim pointed out that races often don’t go as planned, “Not every race will be a good one.” Plans can fail, and the weather can be totally unpredictable! Yet, our ability to adapt to the unexpected is crucial. We can learn from what goes wrong in order to improve our outcome next time.

Kim also said, “No one runs a marathon without running a mile first. It is a process.” You can’t finish if you don’t start. Similarly, the temptation to quit will inevitably come.
Kim’s advice? “Do your best, and stop comparing yourself to others.”

Kim tends to break down the distance into smaller chunks—one mile or one landmark at a time. She also reminds herself how fortunate she is to be able to race, when others don’t have the opportunity (or ability). Hey, a little gratitude can go a long way!

(Thank you, Kim, for your wise words!)

For many of us, however, a marathon in real life is out of the question. Whether it is timing, or health issues, or other things, most of us will not regularly run long distances.

But, all of us can take small steps to reach goals we set for ourselves. Large tasks may seem overwhelming. But when broken down—mile by magnificent mile—it is achievable.

To run a race, you have to place one foot in front of the other. Over and over again. Sure, some people have more speed. But, as long as you don’t give up and quit, you will finish!


“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

So, let’s take it a step further as we run this race called Life…

1. Keep your eyes fixed on the goal. Jesus is the Champion. He already ran the perfect race, and will help us run our best. (see Hebrews 12:1-2)

2. We are in this together! We may run as individuals, but we support, encourage, and cheer each other on.

3. Run light. Get rid of any extra gear that will weigh you down. Get rid of sin, anger, fear, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc. It feels so good to give our burdens to the Lord!

4. Keep moving forward, despite obstacles. Go around, through—whatever! Just don’t stop!

5. Track your progress. Look at how far you have come! Slow progress is still progress.

6. Trust in your training. When trials come, depend on your routine. You know what works. Runners run. Prayers pray.

7. Rest and recover. Walk if needed. Pace yourself. Do whatever it takes to finish strong.

8. Keep your head held high. Breathe in confidence. You are victorious, in Jesus’ Name!

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Questions: What goal are you running toward? What are some steps you can take?