It’s Totally Unfair!

This has been an… ‘interesting’… year already. I have seen God direct my path and use me to make a practical difference in other peoples’ lives. But, honestly, I’ve also seen some things that seem totally unfair to me or others…

For example, recently a friend slipped on her child’s Legos in the dark, hitting her entertainment center—with her face.  She busted her nose and needed major surgery. An accident yes, but still unfair.

Another friend had to forgive someone for major offenses when they clearly didn’t deserve it. Forgiveness is required for that relationship to move forward. But it’s definitely not fair.

I have seen friends struggle with various injustices, such as discrimination, financial difficulties, and health problems, too. It is easy to see how anger and resentment build up.

My own story is complex with its own challenges and I know yours is, too. We don’t have time to rehash or compare our stories here… Besides, these issues are not always bad—though at times they really do seem unfair.

Most of us, if we allow ourselves, could easily go down the “poor me” path or the “this would be better if” road. But one thing is certain: Complaining doesn’t help.

If our emotions are allowed to run the show, we will get stuck and never move forward! Instead, I have learned the best thing I can do is redirect my focus back to Jesus. When we bring Him our fear, pain, sorrow, anger, resentment, and embarrassment, He gives us hope, healing, wholeness, peace, forgiveness, and joy.

We can trust Jesus through and through. As both God and man, He has a unique perspective. He understands what each of goes through because He has been there, too.

You see, Jesus faced the same types of battles. Quite often, He didn’t know where His next meal was coming from or where He would sleep. Yet, He was expected to help people at all hours of the day/night. He was often put to the test and judged unfairly. He was used by the people but rarely thanked.

Also, Jesus was like a local celebrity so He was scrutinized at a higher level. He never could win over everyone—but He reached out to help as many as would receive Him.

All Jesus did was done with love. He healed people and comforted them. He even raised the dead back to life! He taught new ways to love and used His own life as an example to follow. Yet, he was still rejected.

Then, at the end of His young life, Jesus was wrongly accused and suffered a horrible death on the cross. Completely unfair. But to Jesus, we were worth it. He loves us so very much!

When I compare my conditions to what Jesus faced, I have no room to grumble. Jesus was well-acquainted with the ups and downs of life. So… if Jesus had to struggle, then we have no excuse.

At least we are in good company!

By definition, grace is an unmerited or unearned favor. Yes, God’s grace toward us is also unfair! We don’t deserve any of it!

Thankfully, God does not see our uncertain circumstances like we do. He can see the end from the beginning—and His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours.

Trials have a way of refining us for the better—though it may take some time to see how. But no matter what we face, God loves us and is for us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He leads us and guides us.

God never changes. And no problem or difficulty—however big or bad—can change God’s goodness toward us. He has us covered!

Yes, God’s grace is unchanging, unfailing, unrelenting, unearned—and praise God, totally unfair!!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Jesus! Your everlasting love and abundant grace toward us are beyond unfair. Thank You! Help us have the right attitude as we walk in grace, love, and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How do you respond when life seems unfair? Can you trust Jesus?

Tasks: Listen to “O’Lord” by Lauren Daigle and “Grace that Won’t Let Go,” by Mark Harris

Magnifying the Lord (and Other Divine Moments)

I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we are going through something difficult, we have a tendency to make the problem our focus. Also, we can get bent out of shape if someone else is doing better than us. We compare our failures (or lack of progress) to someone else’s successes.

We can also lose our joy when we only bring the Lord our worries and complaints, not our praise. Yes, He cares about every detail in our lives, but He is worth so much more!

Thankfully, our setbacks are no match for God’s abundant grace and power. Instead of acting defeated, we can choose to magnify Jesus…not our problems.

I love this example from the Gospel of John:

In John 3:22-36, John the Baptist’s disciples were concerned that Jesus’ ministry seemed more successful than John’s ministry. At that point, people were going to Jesus more than John. But John was not jealous of Jesus and didn’t see Him as a threat.

John knew he was called to point people to the Messiah—and that’s what he did. He was faithful. I love how in John 3:30, John the Baptist humbly magnified the Lord.

Yesterday, on my way to work, I prayed like I often do. However, I felt discouraged and had a lot of questions for God. I was also confused because something just. seemed. unfair.

Nonetheless, in prayer, I gave my concerns to the Lord, thanked Him, sang a song, and asked Him to direct my steps. I chose to come to Him for peace and help, knowing He cares for me and is greater than any of my problems (real or perceived!).

Then, at work, something unexpected happened. A friend from church popped into my office! She recognized me but wasn’t previously aware that I worked there. We caught up for a few minutes and briefly shared what God was doing in our lives.

We discussed some nutrition topics, but soon our conversation turned to the concerns I had just been praying about. I hadn’t planned on telling anyone, but it felt good that she understood. It seemed the Lord directed our conversation!

As my friend stood to leave, I was struck with an idea. “You know, I was planning to attend that worship event at church last Friday night, but at the last minute, a friend really needed help. I had wanted to go, but felt the sacrifice of my time was worth it.”

This special event had been on my calendar for weeks. I was looking forward to what God might do during that time. I was anticipating something good! Yet, in the moment, I decided to stay and help my friend. I made the best decision but wondered if I missed out.

I continued, “So on Friday night, I prayed about my decision not to go, saying ‘Lord, I can worship You anywhere, and if You have something specific to say to me, then I trust I can receive a word from You anywhere, too.’”

To my amazement, yesterday God showed up and spoke encouragement through my friend. Before she left, she hugged me and prayed for me.

Cue the happy tears!

Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified”

–From the song, “Magnify,” by We are Messengers

Yesterday, I was in awe and deeply touched. God cares so much to speak to me in personal ways… He is so good!

Only God knew… I needed a special word from Him on Tuesday instead of Friday!

I truly believe that if I was still focused on my problems, instead of the Lord, then I would have missed the chance to talk to my friend and be refreshed.

I don’t know exactly how God will handle my problems. But I do know He is working on them for me. I don’t have to worry or be afraid. I can trust Him and magnify Him.

He is greater!

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Oh God, be greater than the worries of my life. Be stronger than my fears, doubts, and questions. Lord, wherever I go and in all I do, be magnified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How can you magnify Jesus in your life this week?

Task: Listen to the song, “Magnify,” by We are Messengers.

Jesus is Greater

For the last two weeks, I have been scribing the Gospel of John with friends. We are enjoying the process so far, which includes people in eleven states. My friends have invited their friends, too!

It’s amazing how much more I have noticed when going slow and writing it down word-for-word. We are each going at our own pace, but checking in as we go. I have divided each chapter into sections so we just post on what we are currently working on.

I’ve noticed everything from punctuation to chronology, such as the timing of miracles and Jesus’ calling of his disciples. I can sense John’s attention to detail and the honor he must’ve felt when writing about his dear friend and savior. I can also see God’s love pouring through each page and each interaction.

Already, I am amazed at how many times the religious leaders ask Jesus to prove Himself and His authority with a sign. Yet, we do the same thing.

We pray and then immediately want to see our prayers answered. We ask for guidance and then want something to pop up (out of nowhere!) to show that we are on track.

But we can trust in Jesus, the Living Word. He is greater than all things because He was before all things and created all things. He was in the beginning with God…

I love that every single time someone asked Jesus to help, He did. To start, He turned water into wine! And later, He provided food, healed the sick, calmed a storm, and raised the dead…

He met with people in everyday places: weddings (Cana), funerals (Lazarus), drinking fountains (woman at the well), and in the middle of the night (Nicodemus).

When we understand just how much Jesus loves us, we don’t need a sign. We can do what He says (obey) and let Him work out the details on our behalf.

He knows what is best for us and loves to provide us with all we need.

When we pray, we can have confidence that God hears us. We know He is moving, even when we don’t see something happening. We walk by faith, not by sight.

It’s not always easy. In fact, I know lots of people who are going through really tough situations right now. Life hasn’t gone according to plan.

Like Nicodemus, you may have a lot of questions for the Lord. He is the Answer.

Even Jesus went through brutal circumstances, too. He was often judged and misunderstood. His own people used him for miracles but then rejected him. He gave and He gave and He gave. Yet Jesus was rarely thanked for all He did.

Then, on top of that, He was crucified…and still chose to forgive. Wow…

I don’t know the exact details of your situation, but Jesus does. He cares deeply about all you are experiencing. With His help, you can do all you need to do.

Whether you need a friend, provision, peace, healing, mercy, or forgiveness, come to Jesus. Or, maybe you need to do the forgiving—if you let Him, Jesus will enable you to rebuild and move forward with Victory.

Cling to Jesus. He loves you beyond measure. Whatever you need, let Jesus help. With Him, nothing is impossible!! Praise the Lord!!

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Father God, thank You for Jesus! Lord, you are greater than anything we face. Please give us wisdom and courage. Help us to do what is right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you believe that Jesus is with you and for you? Will you trust Him to help you?

Tasks: Listen to the song ‘How He Loves Us‘ by the David Crowder Band.

 

The Proverbs 31 Woman: What’s So Special?

Last year, my church read the One Year Bible by Tyndale. I followed along, but most of the time listened to each day’s reading on my YouVersion phone app. So on Sunday (Dec 31st), we finished the Old Testament, the New Testament, as well as Psalms and Proverbs.

Sometimes I wear my headphones, but on Sunday, I did not. Thus, Lydia was listening, too. Proverbs 31 piqued her interest as it lists attributes of a godly wife (or woman). She asked, incredulously, “Wait, Mom…who IS this woman?!” I had to laugh at her reaction. Sometimes, the list does seem impossible!

It seems no one really knows who the woman is. It could be the author’s mom or wife…or more likely even a composite of several women. Anyway, to be clear, we don’t have to be Rosie the Riveter or Suzie Homemaker. We don’t have to feel bad for not doing all those activities listed.

Indeed, we often set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations. This is certainly more likely at the start of a new year. For me, it always seems if I am doing well in one area, another goal is suffering. Maybe I try to do too many new things…

We want to read more, sleep more, and have more fun; weigh less, spend less money, and eat fewer sweets. We feel like we have to do it all to be successful: clean more, eat more veggies, give more, spend more time with our kids, etc.

Thankfully, God doesn’t look at us in the same way—for all we are or are not doing.

Interestingly, the Proverbs 31 woman’s physical appearance is never mentioned. So what makes her worth emulating? What makes her so appealing to us, even all these years later? What’s so special about her?

Here’s my theory… It’s not because her children are dressed immaculately. It’s not that she can afford servants to help her. It’s not her personality or that she is married to a husband who appreciates and encourages her. It’s not even because she’s a bargain shopper or a whiz at using her Instant Pot. Though, those are all wonderful things.

I believe her godly confidence is what makes her so attractive—that is, her confidence in the Lord. She knows she is loved and fully lives out of that freedom and grace. She doesn’t feel the need to compare herself or her life to other women, or anyone.

She trusts the Lord to bless her work and be her provision. As a result, she is kind and generous, wise and industrious. She does not run around frantically but is content and cheerful. She rests in the Lord while she works to honor Him.

This year, I do have few personal goals. Of course… But most of all, I want to stay close to Jesus and let Him lead me. He is the source of all my hope and my expectations.

I’m not saying I will completely relax my standards. But when the laundry sits too long, or I forget to start the dishwasher (again), or I get behind on my exercise program… I will remember my ultimate goal, my ‘One Thing’ is JESUS.

It doesn’t matter what else I do—if I don’t have Jesus, I have nothing. Jesus is my strength and my joy. I trust Him to bring me through to Victory! Without Him, all my “good” efforts won’t last. But with Jesus, I have all I need—and an abundance to share. Praise God!

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Dear God, thanks for loving me so much. Help me make changes as YOU see fit, without setting myself up for unrealistic expectations. Help me stay close to You this year. Be my one thing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What about the Proverbs 31 woman stands out to you? Are your goals for the year realistic or do they need to be adjusted? What are you looking forward to this year?

Tasks: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else! Stay close to Jesus and He will make you exactly who He wants you to be. Make Him your ‘One Thing.’

Finishing Strong: 2017 Year-End Review

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! As we come upon the new year, I always like to consider the adventures we had and lessons we’ve learned.

2017 was a year of transition for us. I knew that before it ever started. I had been praying for months (and in some cases, years) for events I saw coming. I appreciate how the Lord gives us a vision for things to come and prepares us to walk them out.

For example, I had been praying for two years about getting a roommate. I was not sure what that would entail, but I kept envisioning someone staying in my guest room. Then, in January, my dear friend needed a place to stay and the timing all made sense. We had a wonderful experience during those six months, and I think a large part of that was God’s blessing from all the prayers. Our friendship is even stronger now!

However, there were still some surprises…the big one is that my dad’s youngest sister died in January. She lived in the mountains of Colorado and so once the majority of snow melted (May), we trekked there to celebrate her life. It was an unexpected loss and an unexpected road trip. But we were thankful to see our extended family, too.

Some of the transitions were known about, however I did not know how they would play out. My job went through a merger in March, and I was unsure of the fallout. I prepared to stay but also felt it would be wise to have an exit plan. Thankfully, it has worked out well for me. That too, was covered with much prayer! I learned a new level of trust and rest during this process. I’m grateful for the Lord’s provision and graciousness!

Additionally, Lydia started school (full-time) this year, and so that has also been a transition. I was a little nervous about how that would go, so I covered that in prayer too. Overall, it has been a smooth (and mostly fun) experience for both of us.

In many cases, I have felt the need to just “roll with the punches” through some experiences. This summer, I decided to change travel plans and stay home instead. Dear friends were moving, a project needed significant work, and I wanted to get ready for the start of school. So my dream of going to Glacier National Park will have to wait…hopefully I will get there someday…but I am at peace knowing the Lord’s timing is perfect.

Sometimes, when life feels a little chaotic, it’s difficult to know what to do. But, if we rely on the Lord, it will all work out. I was hoping to make it home for the holidays, but was unsure about the weather. So, I prayed and planned and prepared as best I could. Then, the weather held up and we literally jumped in the car ready to go. I’m grateful we did because the weather turned snowy again the next day. God is so good!!

I don’t know what 2018 has in store, but I know Jesus has it under control! I am eager to see how He moves in our lives. I know whatever challenges come, He will be with us. As I pray for His wisdom and timing, the Lord will lead me and prepare me for what is to come. Jesus has never let me down, and I am excited to walk Victoriously with Him each day!

So let’s finish strong. Don’t give up. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). If you let Him, He will work it out for your good and His glory. Trust Jesus!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for bringing us through another year. Thanks for walking with us and teaching us along the way. May we continue to draw near to You in the new year. Please direct our path, showing us what to do and what to avoid. May we trust You more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What events or circumstances stand out to you this year? Can you see the Lord’s faithfulness? How has He come through for you?

Tasks: Pray for wisdom going into the new year. Ask the Lord to give you a vision and prepare you to walk it out. Thank Him for going with you!

 

Finding Grace #94

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing with God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

This was a busy but good week! I worked extra hours this week, in case I want to take some time off next week. Lydia will be out of school, so it is good to have options. I’m thankful to have a flexible schedule and understanding supervisor!

On Sunday, we celebrated Dave’s 39th birthday, his fifth in heaven. We went to church, Blaze Pizza, and the new Ferdinand movie. We think of him often, but I know he would be proud of us! We received several calls and texts throughout the day. I’m so thankful for everyone’s continued prayers, support, and encouragement! I’m also grateful for how far the Lord has brought us and look forward to how He will continue using our story.

On Wednesday evening, we attended a Christmas Eve service at church (early!) to give us more flexibility with our holiday schedule. This year, Lydia has been learning Christmas carols at school and on the radio. It was fun to hear her singing Joy to the World and other songs. I also enjoyed seeing her take it all in and process the lyrics.

At the Christmas Eve event, we also lit candles at the end of the service. It was a leap of faith to give Lydia her own candle. We caught the eye of more than one mom…! Thankfully, nothing (and no one) caught on fire. We did, however, have a good conversation about how Jesus is the Light of the World and how we can share His light with everyone we meet. Thank You, Jesus!

During the Christmas Eve event, a video was shown of kids acting out the first Christmas. Sometimes it is good to see the Bible from a different angle. In one scene, the little shepherds raced to find Jesus. One of the boys fell in the mud with a thud. In that moment, I could envision the real Bible characters in their struggles…and what challenges they might have faced. The shepherds were likely outcasts and the wise men were foreigners (on a lengthy trip in unfamiliar territory). Life wasn’t easy for any of them. I know we can all relate. Yet, they pursued Jesus anyway. What joy each of them must’ve felt when they finally found Him!

We’ve had some snow this week, which is perfect for Christmas. One day, the sun reflected upon the white in the most perfect way. It was so beautiful that Lydia and I felt like we were driving through a winter wonderland! Merry Christmas!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

The Best Deal Ever

Have you noticed how people often go crazy for a good deal? This holiday season, consumers shopped more online than in regular stores… and set new records for Christmas spending! I, for one, certainly contributed to those figures! I discovered lots of new items for Lydia, other people…and myself. 😉

In many cases, I prefer to shop online because I feel it saves me time (which is also money). It’s even better when everything is delivered directly to my door!

I buy anything from clothes, books, coffee, toiletries, gifts, and lots more. I have several friends who order perishable groceries online.

This year, some of my favorite online purchases were a Dead Sea mud mask, a heated mattress pad, and erasable pens. I try to buy what I need, but clearly, I also buy items just for fun.

It is certainly easy to spend more money online. My go-to statement after showing my purchases (and receipts) to Dave used to be, “Look how much I SAVED!!” He would roll his eyes, and tell me, “Spend more, save more!”

Somehow, I don’t think he was convinced…

While deep discounts are good, FREE is even better!

Have you ever noticed the frenzy that occurs around free stuff? One can usually find free birthday coffee or ice cream. There are also free concert tickets for the ‘umpteenth’ caller into the morning radio show. And, often some ‘lucky’ person will win a free prize for sharing a company’s Facebook post…

I’m sure the odds of winning aren’t that high, but it doesn’t seem to stop us from trying.

I recently balanced my checkbook and updated my budget like I usually do… And to be honest, I felt a little convicted about extra purchases beyond just the usual toiletries. So I decided to return some items that I didn’t really need.

Thankfully, I had my receipts and felt better afterward. But as I considered my choices and habits, this thought struck me: Do I run to Jesus like I do a good sale?!

Really, Jesus offers us the BEST DEAL EVER: Total forgiveness and redemption FREE of charge. He gave us everything, at no cost to us.

He takes away our shame and regrets and gives us His peace. He shoulders our burdens and eases our pain. He is Immanuel and walks with us through each circumstance. He is a faithful Provider, too—in Him, we have all we need! Thank You, Jesus!

Yes, Jesus’ love, mercy, and grace are not for sale, but they sure did cost Him everything. What a wonderful Savior and treasure He is!

I hope you bought some awesome gifts with great discounts this holiday season! However, don’t forget about Jesus! Salvation truly is the BEST DEAL EVER.

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Jesus, thanks for all You do for us. You are so good. Help us keep You the focus this Christmas. Show us all the treasure we have in You. In Your Name, Amen

Questions: Do you prefer online shopping or in-store (local) shopping? What are your favorite purchases this year?

Tasks: Next time you are shopping, pause and thank God for Jesus: THE BEST DEAL EVER!!

Seeking the Savior

Last month, my mom, Lydia, and I went to the movies. We saw “The Star” which tells the Nativity story from the perspective of the animals. It was cute! Since then, I’ve noticed a theme: That special Star keeps popping up in our daily lives!

For example, the other night Lydia woke me up in the middle of the night. “Mom, you should move the Star from Afar because I just found it in the bathroom.” Thanks, Lydia!

The Christmas Star from Afar is a special thing we started last year during Advent. This year, Lydia begged me to set it up. She finds the Star in the morning and we discuss a Bible verse. She then moves the wise men to the star. On Christmas Day, the Star will finally appear over the little stable with Baby Jesus. Pretty simple…just how I like it!

To clarify: I don’t recommend hiding Christmas items in the bathroom! : ) I simply put it somewhere Lydia would find it quickly on a school day. Finding the star each morning has helped Lydia look forward to waking up and getting ready to go.

This past Sunday at church, the sermon was also about the Star and the three wise men (or Magi). Scripture does not denote the number of wise men, but we usually go with three because of the three gifts they brought. Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh.

The Magi were very well-educated, as either astronomers or astrologers. At any rate, they noticed something new in the sky and were eager to follow the Star (or light, as it may have been). What amazes me is that they expected to find something good—the Baby Messiah—probably without having a ‘proper’ or perhaps ‘personal’ knowledge of God.

I’m also amazed by the fact that no one else seemed to understand or pay attention to what was happening in the sky around that time. Jesus’ birth was foretold over centuries. Why did no one else seek the newborn Jesus?

Actually, some people did look for Jesus… Evil King Herod was jealous and wanted to kill Him. So perhaps it was a protection the newborn King didn’t gain a lot of publicity! Also, the shepherds found Jesus after being notified by an Angel and Heavenly choir, but not because of the Star. All things considered, most people must’ve ignored the sign. 

To seek something, you have to be focused and intentional. For instance, on this blog, I use the tagline: Seeking God’s sweet and refreshing grace. It’s as if I am on a mission to find His grace and goodness. I am looking for these things on purpose!

The Magi in the Nativity story traveled a long way to find Jesus. It was a costly and time-consuming trip, possibly requiring a couple years’ journey. They were dedicated!

It makes me wonder…am I like the Magi seeking King Jesus…or do I act like everyone else who apparently couldn’t have cared less about the Savior?

Oh, I never want to take my Lord for granted. I want to seek and celebrate Jesus Christ each and every day! He is worthy of my time and adoration.

Each of us has the potential to ‘be a star’ for others. We can point people to Jesus, living in such a way that they are drawn to Him. On the other hand, our actions and attitude also can deter them from coming to Jesus. Am I helping or hindering others from finding Jesus?

Both positive and negative events (or people) can cause us to seek Jesus. When life is good, these things help us praise Him. When things turn bad, we can praise Him for His help! Either way, we have to be intentional about turning our hearts toward Him.

If we don’t seek Jesus first, we will miss Him in the chaos of everyday life. If we are not careful, something else will always pull us away from Who is most important. Ultimately, I don’t want someone to get stuck following me (or some object or an idea). But I do want to direct them to Jesus the Savior.

Jesus is our Peace and our Wonderful Counselor. He alone is the Rescuer that we need. In Him, we have Victory. Come, Lord, Jesus, Come!

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Dear Jesus, thank You for being our Savior King, our Rescuer! As we celebrate Your life, may we be a pleasant reminder to others of Your love and grace. Help us point people back to you. All blessings and honor be unto Your Name! Amen

Questions: What (or whom) are you following? Does it lead you to Jesus or away from Him?

Tasks: Read about the Nativity in Scripture: Matthew 1:18-252:1-12; Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20.

The Scenic Route

Recently, on the way to get groceries, Lydia asked me, “Mom, is this what you call ‘the scenic route’? I had driven through a neighborhood and around a pond. I intentionally bypassed the main road and avoided about five stop lights.

I often do enjoy less traffic and curvy roads over the normal stop-and-go route. I like noticing the details, such as new houses or construction, trees changing color or losing leaves, and/or holiday decorations.

Our trip to the store wasn’t all that exciting…but it did make me think. This holiday season, I’ve decided to take the ’emotional scenic route.’ That doesn’t mean I am ignoring traditions or avoiding anyone. I am simply slowing down to enjoy the journey!

I’ve been more intentional about ‘doing nothing.’ That is, I’m trying to set aside time to rest and meander with nowhere I have to be. Ok, so this doesn’t happen often, but it’s a goal!

I am taking time to stop and notice all the good around me. It’s something we should do every day, but we can often become so focused on putting out fires that we miss the little things that are going well.

As such, I have noticed more internal peace. I also have noticed when my heart is not peaceful. If I suddenly am feeling worried, stressed, or restless, I can make quick adjustments in my attitude, relationships, or schedule.

I have noticed more joy in a season that sometimes brings pain. The holidays can be rough for many of us, though I am learning to just be present in each moment.

For example, yesterday, as I waited for Lydia’s bus after school, I was in a contemplative mood. I was stuck in a funk, problem-solving and praying for wisdom. Suddenly, I noticed tall trees in the wind, towering over a house near the bus stop.

The trees have already lost all their leaves before winter. Their bare branches stretched straight up toward the sky. As they danced in the breeze, limbs waving back and forth, I imagined them giving glory to God!

Watching those huge trees sway in the wind prompted me to take a second glance. It really did look like the trees were worshipping God!

I soon realized that I was holding onto my ‘little’ problems when like the trees, I should be praising the Lord! Jesus is greater than my problems!

I quickly surrendered my bad attitude and let God handle my problem. It was a special moment, which I might have missed had I taken another route or been reading on my phone.

Life is an adventure, isn’t it?!

Occasionally, we find a bypass that gets us to our destination more quickly! And sometimes, scenic roads can take longer…

Quite often, we don’t know what lies around the next corner. Taking the scenic route can lead to unexpected road conditions or detours. Surprises may throw us off-track, but if we move forward with expectancy, we are better prepared.

Either way, this season, I plan to enjoy each day for what it is. I’m making up my mind to embrace each challenge as it comes. I’m choosing to have a good attitude and praise God. He is always faithful, so I can confidently smile and expect good things ahead!

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Dear Jesus, You are so gracious. Thanks for showing me beauty and glory each day. Help me stay in the joyful present with You. Guide me and give me peace each day, no matter which path we take together. In Your Name, Amen

Questions: Do you like to meander along the scenic route, or do you prefer to follow the beaten path? Do you like to map your own way or follow the navigation (ie GPS)?

Tasks: Pre-decide your attitude before the path changes. Pause each day and notice what is going on around you. Decide to praise God no matter what!

Birds, Boots, and Blessings

Last weekend, Lydia and I played in the snow with our next-door neighbors. Lydia joined the kids who were building a snowman, while I talked with their mom. I had my back to the wind, but my legs and feet were still cold.

At one point, someone pointed out a bald eagle, flying low and parallel to our property line. It has been awhile since I last saw an eagle, and I’ve never seen one so close to my house. So, it was really exciting!

The next day, Lydia and I were inside and we heard a cute little purple house finch on our deck. He sang his heart out, as we spied through the window. I had just assumed most of the birds had gone south for winter, so it was a nice little surprise!

Then, yesterday, I bought a new snow shovel. My neighbor across the street, Melissa, helped me clear my driveway that morning and recommended it. A great friend, she also recently inspired me to get a heated mattress cover… It’s awesome! So, I happily took her word on the snow shovel too! 🙂

As I drove home from the store, I was in awe. Besides the shovel, I also bought myself a new pair of snow boots. (Ok, Melissa had nothing to do with that!) I have been in search of snow boots since we moved to Fargo in 2010—7+ years ago! Besides snow, we get many days of below zero temperatures and negative wind chills.

Yes, I have hiking boots and dressy boots. But for our super cold winters, I hadn’t found something that would work for me day-to-day. I’ve tried other snow boots, but none have fit just right. They are either too big in the ankle or too tight in the toe—or both. Most boots I’ve seen have lousy traction or make my feet look huge…or are crazy expensive.

Gray, mid-calf, lace-up boots with a rubber bottom, these new boots are rather simple. But God knew what I wanted, and they are exactly what I had been looking for. And, they will go with everything I wear. Bonus!

On my way home with my new shovel and boots, I also had a good laugh. I watched a Canada goose walk out on a snow-covered pond and just sit down. I have no idea why it was sitting there, but it was funny. Technically, we are just south of Canada, but I think most of the geese continue on to warmer weather!

Maybe it was taking a break or waiting for friends?

As I considered the goose, I remembered the bald eagle and the purple house finch. All of them had surprised me in their own way. Each of them provided me with joy and encouragement at just the right moment. Thank You, Jesus!

As I thought about all three birds—each so unique—I praised God for taking care of them. He meets their needs, keeps them warm, and feeds them. Not one bird falls to the ground without Him knowing about it. And, we are worth much more to Him than a simple sparrow or finch… or odd goose…or even a powerful eagle!

Yes, God promises to take care of us too. Each year, I’ve managed to get by when I am outside thanks, in part, to Smart Wool socks. But this season, I will be extra warm with my new boots. What a welcome surprise!

In His own way and timing, God provided the snow boots I had envisioned all those years ago. When writing this, I was also reminded of other things I have prayed for over the years. The boots are both a blessing and a reminder that God faithfully meets my needs.

I can depend on the Lord—and, He also uses me to bless others. This year, Lydia and I donated coats, hats, gloves, and snow pants so local kids can stay warm, too. It’s cool to see the Lord ‘return the favor’ as He also provides for me and answers my prayers in only ways He can. Praise God!

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God, You are such a good Provider. Thank You for filling my life with good things! Thank You for being faithful and for blessing me. Help me be a blessing to others. Use me to meet the needs of those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How has the Lord blessed you recently? How can you bless someone else?

Tasks: Make a list of all you are thankful for; share it with someone. Make a list of prayer requests; update your list as you see how God faithfully answers.