Finding Grace #82

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 was a fun week, and we had some great weather overall. School and other activities are going well and we find ourselves settling into the swing of things. I had a work meeting, and it looks like I will soon be seeing patients more consistently. That makes me glad because I like feeling useful and productive!

On Monday, there was no school, thanks to a teacher development day. It was cooler outside, so Lydia and I relaxed indoors by playing games, reading books and watching a movie. I also got ahead on some housework, but I liked having a calm day together without a lot of running around. I also caught up with family, which is always good!

The fall has brought weather in the sixties, but we still have had a lot of sunshine. I mowed for (hopefully) the last time this season. If anything, I may have to mow once more, but now will be focusing on getting the house and yard ready for winter.

With all the lovely weather, we’ve still been able to outside with the neighbors! Most of Lydia’s friends are in school, so we value anytime we can connect with them. One evening, we even ate pizza with one of the families. I love our impromptu get-togethers!

On Wednesday night, on our way home from church, Lydia said, “Mom, I know how to spell God: G-o-o-d!” Part of me didn’t want to correct her…because God is good! I shared this on my personal Facebook page because I felt it was profound. Then, on Friday, a friend who is on the radio shared it on her morning show. She timed it so Lydia could her it before school. It was exciting for Lydia to be featured with an encouraging message!

Today, we received a package of books for our little free library with an encouraging note! It was from some college friends, now residing in Indiana. That was such cool surprise and thoughtful gift from them and their four children! 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)!

Finding Grace #79

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 a fun week with many unexpected blessings. On Sunday after church, Lydia and I had lunch with dear friend and her parents. I’ve known them for awhile, but haven’t seen them much lately. We shared fun stories and good food. It was a real treat!

Monday was Labor Day and pretty low-key at first. However, the evening perked up when a friend stopped by with banana bread. We shared some chocolate zucchini bread with her and enjoyed great conversation. When she left, another friend brought over a Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner and books for my little free library. We also had a good time together! Seeing both friends (and eating yummy food) was just what I needed!

One day after school, Lydia and I Skyped with Dave’s sister and her family. It was great to see her, my brother-in-law, and all their kids. They live in Florida, and are keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma. They don’t live in the direct impact area, but anything is possible at this point. The trajectory could change at any time. They’ve made wise plans, and I am keeping them and the entire region in prayer. Lord, have mercy!!

The rest of the week was spent with work, school, writing, and cleaning. Not super glamourous, but important. I bought a new vacuum and enjoyed trying it out. It is cordless and lightweight which makes going up two flights of stairs much more manageable. My old one was broken in two places and always seemed to miss a lot of debris and dust. So, I am happy to finally get a machine that holds up to the hype!

Lydia and I received two yummy surprises in the mail this week. She got a package of cookies and other treats from another dear friend in Florida to celebrate the start of school. This sweet lady is also on my prayer list this week! Then, I received a box of garden fresh tomatoes from my uncle in Ohio. He’s the one who also helped install my little library during his visit last week. We both felt honored to receive such thoughtful gifts!

Earlier in the week, I did laundry and mowed the lawn… so today has been relaxing! We read some books, talked with my family in Illinois, and are having dinner with the neighbors tonight. God is good!

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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)!

Little Red Library on 8th

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” –Harry S. Truman

Recently I decided to put a ‘little free library’ (LFL) in my front yard. An LFL is essentially a free neighborhood book exchange. Typically, it consists of a wooden, water-resistant box on a post in a yard or common area. But, I have seen other creative LFLs like a repurposed newspaper vending machine or a telephone booth. The ideas are endless!

A few weeks ago—right before my birthday—my neighbor across the street pointed out an LFL a couple blocks away. I was hooked on the idea and immediately started considering options for my yard. The more the merrier!

The ‘caretaker’ of a little free library is called a steward. I asked for input from the steward of the library near me. He was kind to answer my questions and provide some insight into the decisions I was making. Lydia and I also went on a scavenger hunt around Fargo to see others and get ideas for what we wanted to do.

I have already been to that other little library about four times out of curiosity! However, I wondered if an LFL closer to my area might get a different level of traffic. We each live near the same school and parks, but I am closer to about seven apartments and see a lot of foot traffic from kids, dogs, and bikes.

Either way, I don’t think you can have too many book exchanges in one area! 🙂

While many people decide to build their own little library, I decided to purchase everything. For me, it came down to cost versus time and ease. Without the right tools and experience, it was worth a little money and peace of mind to make sure everything was done well. Plus, I wanted to beat the cooler weather!!

I used birthday money from my parents and in-laws to cover some of the cost. Books were a huge part of growing up for me. I have always loved to read and learn through books. In fact, each year, my mom volunteered to listen to kids read at school.

Mom was an extra pair of ears for the teachers. Indeed, many of my peers still attribute their reading skills to her sitting with and listening to them. Similarly, my mother-in-law has worked with children for many years, too. So it seems fitting to honor them in this way.

It felt like perfect timing in that everything I ordered was delivered exactly five minutes after my aunt and uncle arrived last week. It was a blessing my uncle could help me with this project on a moment’s notice! I’m so grateful!

“The more you read, the more you know.
The more you know, the smarter you grow.
The smarter you grow, the stronger your voice,
when speaking your mind or making your choice.”

The overall goals of the little free library movement are to strengthen communities and inspire readers. Going to the regular public library is good too! But some people just won’t get there (due to a variety of factors). Plus, then you have to return those books. 😉

With the LFLs, you don’t have to return the books. Of course, it is good manners to return or at least replace the book…but not mandatory. Yay for stress free reading!

I’m excited to see what books pop up in the little library.

Reading is not only fun, but it can be empowering, too. Reading opens up the world of imagination and creative thinking. Books can lead to great conversations and exchange of ideas. Books can teach and offer different perspectives.

To me, good reading skills are key to lifelong learning. I read somewhere that if parents can foster the love of learning in their children, they are more likely to be successful throughout life. Apparently, the love of learning is a better predictor of success than having access to the best schools or athletic opportunities. Interesting!

Either way, reading and sharing books is a great idea! For more information, check out littlefreelibrary.org. There is even a world map of all ‘registered’ little free libraries online.

You can also follow along on my new Facebook page, find me at Little Red Library on 8th. I will highlight books in the library each week. I welcome book donations, too!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Your love and grace! Thanks for providing a fun way to share books and reading with others! Please protect this little red library and bless all who participate. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you enjoy reading? What types of books or genres do you prefer?

Tasks: Follow Little Red Library on 8th on Facebook. Join in the fun! Take a book, return a book, share a book!

Finding Grace #76

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, I saw the Lord directing my path in many areas! As we come into a new season (of weather and life), I see new opportunities on the horizon. It’s always exciting to see what the Lord has for me…but I already know I need to rely on Him for strength in this transition time. The biggest change for us is that Lydia’s going to school!

My friend came over for Taco Tuesday this week. She also helped me make final decisions on the little free library. I decided to buy everything new instead of building my own. That’s easier and quicker all around! I mentioned the idea to a few neighbors, so hopefully we can all enjoy it together. I can’t wait until it arrives and is all set up!

On Wednesday, I met a coworker for lunch. We discussed some upcoming ideas and options for me at work. I’m glad for the new opportunities I have as a result of the job merger this spring. It will be fun to see all that happens!

This week I’ve done several special activities with Lydia. In a couple weeks everything will be different… I can hardly believe it! So, we’ve been relishing our time together.  I am amazed at who she is becoming. It seems she’s grown so much even this month!

Today, Lydia and I went on a little scavenger hunt to find other ‘little libraries’ in Fargo. We saw several different styles of decorated libraries, including a newspaper vending machine-turned-robot book dispenser. We only made it to about eight of the locations, so we’ll save the rest for another day (or two). Lydia loved finding new books!

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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 #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)!

Welcome to Progress!

Happy New Year! I love new beginnings and a fresh start. Does it feel any different to you?

For Christmas, we drove twelve hours to my hometown in Illinois. We enjoyed seeing a few good friends and some family. It was refreshing to celebrate Christmas with family for the first time in years. Lydia had a blast during her first Christmas with my immediate family!

On our road trip, there are a few key areas when two highways merge or separate. I’ve driven that route several times, but I use my car’s navigation system to track progress and ensure I don’t miss important interchanges along the way. If I take a detour, the lady’s voice gets a little exasperated… 🙂

I always carry a small road atlas, too. It has been helpful on our trip through Lake City, MN and our trip to Wyoming. I like to see what is coming up next!

Back in Fargo, my GPS has also proved helpful. With population growth comes building and development. Yet sometimes, I hardly recognize certain streets even in my own neighborhood! There are new roads, new houses, apartments, stores, and traffic signals.

As I drive around, sometimes I get confused. I wonder where that road leads…Was this stop sign there before? I am amazed by how fast things change. When did that house go up? Without GPS, I am left guessing. How on Earth am I supposed to get over there? Where is the turn? Welcome to Progress, right?!

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Using my car’s navigation system is similar to seeking God’s wisdom and input for my life:
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

For me, each day is a fresh start—a chance to try again by God’s grace. Thankfully, I don’t have to wait another 365 days to begin again. His mercies are new every day!

It is vital to seek God first in all we do. I find my day (and life) goes better when I do. In fact, it has saved me much heartache and time over the years by first running ideas, feelings, and plans by the Lord. Spending time with the Lord in the morning prepares me for bumps along the way. That time is well spent…praying and reading the Bible is like mapping out the journey. I can’t afford to guess at life!

Others might prefer a different time of day. The important thing is to check in regularly with God. When detours come—and they always do—know where to turn for guidance or redirection. God hears every prayer!

Often “progress” doesn’t come easily. It is frustrating when things feel out of control and the way seems unclear. When facing roadblocks or setbacks, turn to Jesus for help. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He knows the plans…and they are good (Jeremiah 29:11).

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I like to start the year with a new devotional, like Jesus Calling, which helped me focus on the Lord during our cancer journey. This year, I am reading an updated version that has an evening portion too.

 Some people like to read the entire Bible in a year. You can find a plan that fits your needs online or on your phone. Try out Bible Gateway and YouVersion.

It honors God when we seek Him before anything else. And, He blesses us in return. “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).

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God, thank You for sharing Your wisdom with us. Your word is a lamp to guide our feet
and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). As we seek You, show us the path to take. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What insight do you need from the Lord? Will you commit to spending quality time with God and seeking Him first this year? What resources have you found helpful?

 

Favorite Nancy!

I have aunt whose name is Nancy. Lydia remembers Aunt Nancy reading to her when she came to visit us last year. In fact, Aunt Nancy read just about every book Lydia could find! Then, on our family vacation in July, we saw her again. Later, Aunt Nancy also mailed Lydia some books for us to read.

I also recently met a lady named Nancy at our church. I called her, and left a voice mail. When she returned my call, Lydia got excited (and a bit confused!).

Besides these lovely ladies, we received the book Fancy Nancy from a cousin in the mail. Lydia and I often quote the book to each other, as we really enjoy it!

It’s fair to say the name “Nancy” has been a hot topic around our house!

While I was on the phone with Nancy from church, Lydia was jumping and singing. “Aunt Nancy, Aunt Nancy…. She’s my favorite!”

After I got off the phone, I tried to explain a few things to Lydia. First, we don’t sing loudly when someone is on the phone. Second, there are two different “Nancys.” I explained how Aunt Nancy is my aunt, so she is Lydia’s great-aunt.

I thought I did a pretty good job—until Lydia began twirling and singing again. Loudly. Off-key. “Great Nancy! She’s my favorite! My Nancy! Aunt Nancy, Nancy! I looooove her!”

Lydia will gain better understanding someday. For now, I am going to enjoy her singing…

Zephaniah 3.17

“Great Nancy! She’s my favorite! My Nancy! Nancy, Nancy! I looooove her!” Soon, I was able to envision God doing the same thing. (Though, I doubt He sings off-key!)

The Bible says God delights in each of us. He sings and dances at the thought of me and Y-O-U. Can you sense His excitement?! He protects us and watches over us while we sleep. Even when we are totally unaware, God still adores us.

As if that is not enough, our Creator God is more than able to love each of us in personal ways. It is not good for parents to play favorites—because we don’t do it well. But, Father God, in His grace and wisdom, takes great joy in each of us as individuals.

Do you understand what this means? Yes! YOU are His favorite! (And so am I!) God thinks of you every moment. He has you written on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).

But when Life gets tough, it is easy to forget God’s love. We can’t always sense God’s loving presence. But He is there nonetheless. He calls you by name, and has fashioned you for a specific purpose. He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

So let’s make this personal. Insert YOUR name here, and imagine God singing about you!

“Great ________! He/She’s my favorite! My ________! ________, _______! I looooove him/her!”

Listen. Can you hear it?

Then share this with the next person you see-—more than likely, they need to hear it too.