Finding Grace #75

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 in 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 week was full of God’s grace. We enjoyed my mother-in-law’s visit before she left on Tuesday. Then, Lydia and I ran errands and relaxed before the rest of the week picked up.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I attended an all-day work training. It was really good, and I felt like it was meant for me. Now, I am a ‘lifestyle coach’ for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Instead of teaching the year long program, I facilitate it. This is much more collaborative and research shows great success long-term. In some ways, I felt like I was designed to run this program. As much as I enjoy teaching, I think I enjoy facilitating (listening, asking questions, coaching) even more. I’m excited to be a part if this exciting program! Even better, I earned 10 hours of continuing education–and my company reimbursed me the training fee. Praise God! Of note, a dear friend graciously volunteered both days to watch Lydia. I am so grateful for her help and God’s provision!

Last night, Friday, Lydia and I joined our neighbors to watch the grand finale of the Pyrotechnics Guild International. The PGI creates new fireworks each year, so it was quite the show. We sat in a nearby parking lot with snacks…so we didn’t have to deal with as much traffic! It was a fun and beautiful night!

Today, I have been celebrating my birthday! Normally, I have something planned out, but this year, I just decided to meander have a low key day. We visited friends and just hung out. I’m thankful we because I was able to enjoy the slower pace and savor each card, gift, call, text, email, or social media shoutout. I was also available for deliveries of flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries during the day. 🙂 To extend the celebration, tomorrow, I will go to lunch with a friend after church!

Recently, I came across the idea of the little free library. I’ve seen them before, but just noticed one in my neighborhood this week. I love the idea, and have a lot of my own books to share. So, I think I will buy one (or get some help building one). I just have to figure out the details on what the options are. Reading and literacy is a valuable skill to pass along!

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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)!

Finding Grace #57

I love the concept of 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 in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

This week was good overall! We enjoyed a birthday pool party for a little family friend on Monday. She was born about six weeks before Dave died, so she is quite special to us. We’ve enjoyed seeing her learn and grow over the years. It was fun catching up with her parents and older siblings as well.

We’ve had a beautiful week weather-wise! It was bright and sunny most days, and I happily wore shorts on a few occasions. On Thursday afternoon, I sat outside with a couple neighbors while our kids played together. A few other neighbor kids joined us for riding bikes and scooters, chalk on the sidewalk, snacks, running around, and other shenanigans. An exciting early start to summer!

One highlight of my week was enjoying the serenade of a little finch 3+ days in a row. At first, I thought he was a purple finch. However, later I decided he might be a house finch. Either way, he was red/brown and quite cute. He sang his heart out, without a care in the world! As I listened, I remembered God sees and cares for every detail of our lives.

Lastly, Lydia lost her first tooth! She diligently wiggled it all week and last night, just before bed, it came out. She was very proud of herself. We plan to get some frozen yogurt as a special treat to celebrate this milestone!

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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)!

Finding Grace #38

I love the concept of 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 in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

  • We’ve had the best week celebrating Lydia’s birthday and Thanksgiving! In fact, this has been memorable in many ways, since my parents visited us this week. They have not been to North Dakota for Thanksgiving since the week Lydia was born! My mom and dad brought Lydia lots of small gifts and we celebrated her birthday again… We had a yummy cake and played several rounds of Go Fish!
  • My dad was able to help me out with several little house projects this week. I have friends who help with other tasks, on occasion, but some of the little ones add up. Dad fixed several drawers in three dressers, so now we can open them all the way! He also hung up my bike and a hose, and made us all breakfast on a couple mornings.
  • My mom, Lydia and I went thrift shopping one afternoon. We didn’t need any Black Friday items, but we got some really good deals and had a relaxing time together. Other than that, we’ve had fun touring the Fargo area, reading a multitude of books to Lydia, and decorating for Christmas!
  • We’ve been watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix. It’s been fascinating to watch and a good history refresher (with creative licensing, of course). We didn’t watch the new Gilmore Girls show, ahem, but perhaps I will do that another time. 😉
  • God is always so good to us. Psalm 68:5 always comes to mind, where it says God is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows.” This week, celebrating Lydia’s birthday and Thanksgiving with my parents was just what we needed!

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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)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

Birthday Blessings and Beyond

Lydia and I have enjoyed celebrating her birthday over the last few days!

I gave her two gifts—a Chicago Cubs t-shirt and a new razor scooter. Having grown three inches this last year, her hand-me-down scooter is almost too small!

Still, Lydia received many gifts, cards, calls and texts for her birthday. Because people in six different states remembered her birthday, we spread out the celebration!

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Since Saturday, Lydia has been opening a couple gifts each day, with a few more later this week. This girl is very-well loved.

We played multiple rounds of Hello Kitty Bingo and Go Fish. We made treats and Skyped with family. We went out for a birthday lunch, and Lydia took Popsicles to preschool on her special day. (Never mind that it was freezing outside!)

Thanks for all the birthday wishes—Lydia will be making several thank you cards!

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Of course, Lydia loves all the gifts and attention. But really, it’s not about the gifts. (She doesn’t “need” anything.) No, for me, it is different. Each time a gift comes in the mail, or someone remembers us, I am prompted to recall God’s goodness.

Again, it’s not about the token itself, but the love it reflects.

While we have many friends and family around the world, we don’t talk to everyone regularly. But each time someone reaches out to us, I am reminded of the magnitude of encouragement and support we have received over the years. Wow!

God has taken such good care of us. Thanks for being a part of that!

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“What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?”

Last night, I gained yet another perspective from Lydia. She is my greatest blessing. Instead of reacting to my frustrations (below), she kept her cool and was a real trooper.

Here’s the recap:

After doing a little research and considering a few options, I decided to upgrade my old router. To do this, however, I had to undo quite a few cords and other parts downstairs. One by one, I disconnected Dave’s speakers, a surge protector and an old computer. Probably about twenty (gazillion) cords…

I called both of my brothers for help, and they each talked me through a few key points. I also disconnected the printer, modem, and old router before reconfiguring the new. Long overdue, I also vacuumed the entire area!

Lydia was eager to “help” so I had her running all over the house for flashlights and such (to keep her busy, and out of the way). Though, she WAS the perfect size to squeeze in between the wall and table to grab a few loose cords!

These techy things always take me so much longer than I expect. So, I knew it would take awhile, but it seemed fairly straight forward. Well, it was more challenging than I thought and I was beyond frustrated. After about 2 hours, I decided to walk away for a much needed “break” (you know, right before I actually broke something!!).

Lydia wanted to watch a movie and have a picnic, but I kept stalling, telling her, “Ok, but just wait. Go play, and I will be done soon.” I didn’t realize so much time had passed, but that sweet girl made herself dinner and got mine ready, too! I made Lydia’s sandwich, but she got herself an orange, some chips, and even scooped out yogurt without making a mess! (Praise God!) She got my fork, spoon, and plate too. That was so kind of her!

Well, everything took so much time we didn’t get to watch the movie. Lydia was a trooper though. At one point, with mixed emotions, I apologized, “Sorry it took me so long. Your dad wouldn’t have had this much trouble.” (It was all his stuff and system.)

Thankfully, my sour attitude went over her head. Lydia quipped, “Yeah! It took me AND your two brothers to help you figure it out!” She was pretty proud of herself, and all the help she provided, along with dinner. 🙂

There’s never a dull moment around here! And sometimes, our deepest griefs, frustrations, and struggles end up making us the most grateful.

I am so thankful for my sweet girl. She always keeps me on my toes!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).

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Father God, thanks for your constant help and presence! Thanks for bringing us this far! Thanks for all your blessings. Help me not take them for granted. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What are you thankful for? What is something that frustrated you at the time, but you were eventually grateful for? How does the above quote (enlarged) impact you?

Tasks: Write down a list of blessings in your life. Write a thank you note to someone!

 

A Birthday Bash Rehash!

This past weekend, Lydia and I flew to Illinois for my mom’s 60th birthday. My sister and I threw her a party, but since I live twelve hours away, planning was a team effort!

My mom worked over thirty years as a florist, arranging flowers for weddings, holidays, and funerals. She was always saddened by the fact people typically only send flowers after someone has died. So, Mom wanted this party to be a celebration of her life while she’s still here to enjoy it.

Why wait until someone dies to show your love?

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It seemed fitting that people came to honor my mom this weekend! She loves to encourage others, and gives accordingly. Many people have benefited from Mom’s kindness and generosity over the years. Indeed, she inspires me to use my own gifts to serve others!

The party was an open house, and Mom requested no gifts. Instead, she asked for donations of canned items to the local food bank. (See the last picture below!)

Even on her birthday, my mom was thinking of others!

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I knew we would have a good time, because my family knows how to have fun! But, the party was even better than I could have expected. Everything turned out perfectly.

It was a good reminder for me to just let God take care of our ‘plans.’ He always does an excellent job of providing just what we need!

As I looked around the party room, I could see evidence of God’s grace. The food was plentiful and delicious. But really, the atmosphere was key. The mood was warm and welcoming, inviting everyone to sit and stay awhile.

The relationships were what made the party special!

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In our small farming community, we knew some people wouldn’t make it because of the Harvest. Even so, we were so glad a few farmers left their fields early to come to the party. (That rarely happens because time is so precious!)

It’s a busy time of year, and some people couldn’t make it due to previously scheduled trips or other events. That’s understandable! Still, we still had a steady stream of people throughout the night. In fact, one couple postponed their special anniversary trip because they “wouldn’t miss it for anything.” 😀

I enjoyed seeing people at the party that I haven’t seen in quite awhile. It was exciting to catch up with dear family and friends. (Since I moved away six years ago, I don’t always stay in the loop.) I also loved meeting newer friends and introducing them to Lydia!

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On Saturday night, we had a wide variety of backgrounds present. It was another instance of God’s grace bringing so many people together for a common purpose. Praise God!

I even saw people sitting together that never would have done so previously. People were laughing to the point of tears, overflowing with gratitude. Only God could have restored those relationships—and what an awesome job He has done!

Throughout the evening, I heard comments, such as, “We haven’t been to a party in forever!” or “What a great reason to get together and celebrate!” Sometimes, we can focus on surviving the daily grind or acquiring more stuff, instead of what’s really important.

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It’s also tempting to focus on what is ‘wrong’ in our lives…what is not going well, who slighted us, or how we will make ends meet. But none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

My mom’s birthday party was so much fun! She has spent years encouraging others, and so many people showed up in her honor. It was amazing to see!

As the evening came to a close, my very wise mother said, “People are our treasures—the only gifts that will last. We can always get more stuff, but people cannot be replaced.”

Let’s remember to celebrate one another more often!

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God, thanks for the relationships You have given us. Please help us to be an encouragement to others and use our gifts as a blessing to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: How can you use your gifts and talents to be an encourager?

Task: Write a thank you note to someoneor call them just to catch up!

 

Finding Grace #23

I love the concept of 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 in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

  • This week was loaded with God’s goodness and grace! Earlier in the week, as I worked on Wednesday’s post, I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness over the years. It took me awhile to craft just what I wanted to say…my heart was bursting with gratitude for all that the Lord has done for me!

  • I took full advantage of my birthday week, which also coincided with the Olympics. I stayed up late each night watching swimming, gymnastics and other activities. I slept in late most of the mornings too. It felt like a mini vacation!
  •  Over the last few weeks or so, I’ve been selling some old house items and replacing them as I go. I sold my dining room table and chairs a couple weeks ago, but hadn’t found anything I liked until this week. We have been using a smaller table in the meanwhile. I probably looked at a dozen different stores (online and in-person). On Wednesday, I looked at an online sale and then went to the store to see a table in-person. The table was not on sale in-store, but they honored the online price anyway! I was glad to save money and was thankful God worked on my behalf.
  • Also on Wednesday, my neighbor and her mom were dividing a sedum plant and shared two of the sections with me. I was able to fill in a couple gaps in my flower bed. With a little help, I was able to envision a couple changes for this fall to make the flower bed look better. I was thankful for their generosity!
  • Yesterday (Friday) was my birthday and it was a wonderful day. Lydia actually acknowledged my birthday, instead of forgetting it or thinking it was HER special day. 🙂 We talked with several friends and family; had lunch with a friend; opened a few gifts that were sent in the mail; and enjoyed a local minor league baseball game. It was so much fun seeing Lydia’s excitement during the game! She followed along and enjoyed cheering. She had her first cotton candy experience and loved the fireworks at the end.
  • I also received many birthday wishes, cards, texts, emails this week. This was in addition to kind comments on social media and my blog this week. It is always so cool to see how many people we still have encouraging and supporting us, both near and far. Thank you!

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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)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

A Note to My 29 Year-Old Self

This week I am celebrating! Not only is it my birthday week, it’s also the one year mark of making my blog public. Can you believe it?! I feel it is still a work in progress, but I am so grateful for you all. Thanks for sticking with me! 🙂

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Dave often celebrated my birthday week. That’s because one year, he forgot the exact date and decided to give me gifts every day! He was pretty smooth like that.

These days, celebrating my birthday, like many other things, is different without him.

Typically, I’ll eat lunch with a friend, talk with lots of friends and family, and get a massage. This year, I am also taking Lydia to a local (minor league) baseball game. She’s been asking to go all summer, and the fireworks at the end might be a special perk!

Around my birthday, I like to look back on the last year and set some goals for the next. For whatever reason, this week I also considered all that has happened since moving to Fargo six years ago this month. It’s bittersweet.

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I have noticed many major life events have occurred since my 29th birthday. In short:

I was twenty-nine when Lydia was born. While Dave and I were thrilled to be parents, the sleeplessness threw us for a loop! Five months later, we were just starting to sleep well when Dave was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. After 364 days of fighting cancer with Dave, I became a widow and single mom at the age of thirty.

Hence, the last few years have been a continual adjustment (and readjustment). So much has changed. But far be it from me to complain!

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Have you ever wished you could tell your former self how something works out? Hindsight brings clarity! I can’t explain it all in a simple blog post, but God has been so good to us.

Someday I’ll have all the words… but not today. So for now, with much gratitude, here’s a note I wrote to my 29 year-old self!

Hello, dear Self,

I know you cannot comprehend all that the next few years entail. You can’t possibly fathom the pain and struggles that lie ahead. But God does—and He’s got this.

You don’t realize this now, but fear has been a constant presence lurking in the back of your mind. It limits your decisions at times.

Yet God knows this—and He’s going to free you from all your fears. What’s more, as He destroys old mindsets, you will learn to walk in Victory. The whole process will certainly be scary, but He will lead you through. Trust Him!

Sometimes, this journey will make you question everything you believe about God. But He is big enough to handle your doubts and fears, your anger and resentment.

He’s got this.

There will be moments you can barely breathe. You won’t know how you’re going to make it. When you think you cannot take anymore, you’re right. But take it to Jesus. He is your hope and firm anchor. Let Him carry the burden for you. He cares for you deeply and knows exactly what you need.

When you feel like giving up or running away, stand firm. The battle belongs to the Lord. He is your shield, your protector, and your defense. He’s got you covered!

When everything falls apart, you will see God holding together what remains. He is your rock and your salvation! Everything that really matters is secure in Him.

Yes, dear Self, life gets rough up ahead. It can feel quite heavy at times. But don’t worry. God’s got this! In fact, there is much good along the way.

New goals and dreams, new purposes and plans. Long-awaited answers to prayer.

God will use these experiences to show you just how much He loves you. He will prove His love and power are stronger than any difficult thing you will (ever) face.

 And yes, He’s absolutely got this!

It won’t be easy, but in time, you will see the pattern of grace. From this side of it all, it actually IS amazing. When the dust settles, you will be grateful. And despite all odds, you will still wake up with wonder at this life you get to live. What a gift!

What felt like defeat, was really training grounds for a new path. Where there was doubt, trust will deepen. In place of despair, hope will rise. In the midst of pain, you will find peace and beauty. You will flourish!

Praise God—He’s got this!

So do not be afraid, dear Self. You are always loved, never alone. God will not falter. His mercies are new every morning, and His grace is more than enough.

Keep your head held high, because the best is yet to come. God is working all this for good, even when you don’t see how. It will be beyond your wildest imagination!

Seek God’s grace and goodness each day. Rejoice in the Lord’s unfailing love and faithfulness! Most of all, hold on tight to Jesus.

Cling to Him for He is your strength and your life.

And you know what? He’s got this!!

XOXO,

Your 30-something Self

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Gracious God, thank You for bringing me through with Victory. I celebrate your loving kindness—You are so good to me! Bless this next year and help me live for you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you ever written yourself a note like this? What words of wisdom would you write?