Dear Younger Me

This week, an online friend asked her other friends to give their best life advice in three words or less. She then asked her audience to write what advice they would share with their 16 year-old selves. (This is applicable when looking back at any age, really!)

I was inspired and wrote, “Find the good.” Then, I reposted her questions on my own page. I loved reading all the phrases! Afterward, another online friend shared it from there.

All week, I have been following each of the three posts for catchy little words of wisdom. It’s amazing what a little time and distance can do for our perspective. The things we thought mattered often don’t amount to much. Experience is a great teacher!

Some people answered with a humorous approach. I saw advice such as, “Chill out, lady. Don’t do that!! Go to sleep. Be Wonder Woman. Eat more cake.” Haha, yes!

Some people turned the focus back to God, writing, “God is good. Jesus loves you. Jesus is Lord! In Christ alone. Put Jesus first. Walk with Him. Trust in Him.” Praise God!

Some of the comments focused on character qualities, like, “Be thankful always. Be kind. Be more honest. Be the good. Be adventurous. Be flexible. Save your money.” I agree!

Some phrases were more inward-focused, almost like personal coaching. “Just breathe. You are enough. You are loved. You are beautiful. Let it go.” So good.

I also noted other words along similar lines. “Don’t settle. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. Embrace the imperfections. No regrets. Never give up. Make it work. Life goes on. Take the chance. Don’t be late! Forgive, move on. Just be yourself.” Yes!

I had just a few phrases of my own, originally. But then I kept refining and adding to my list! I was trying to collect all my thoughts and capture all the others shared already. 🙂

Life is beautiful. Sure, life is tough…but it is quite beautiful when we pause and take it all in. Beauty surrounds us in nature and in each person we meet. Let’s take notice.

Find the good. Sometimes the negative parts of life are glaring back at us. But it takes a special set of eyes to find the good. See beyond the present moment. See the potential.

Do your best. Just show up. These two can go together. We can only do our best each day and trust God for the outcome. Part of doing our best is to show up and be present.

Set your mind. Whatever it takes. These two phrases also can go together. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Some days, it’s a challenge to stay focused, but do whatever it takes.

God’s got this. I use this phrase often, especially when writing blog posts, apparently! Whatever the struggle, I know God can handle it. He will empower me to do what I need to do, and then He will do what only He can do. He’s more than able!

Regardless of any advice we might share, what God says about us is key. I love you. I forgive you. No matter what. You are free. You are mine. Come follow me. Receive new life. Do not fear. I am with you. Nothing is impossible. It is finished. You are secure. Peace, be still. 

I will be thinking about all these great words of wisdom for quite some time. It’s encouraging to hear what other people find helpful. We all have our own journey and it’s important to monitor what we are telling ourselves. Let’s be gracious with ourselves. 

When we look back and summarize our experiences, even in just a few short words, we realize how far we have come. Thank you, Jesus… Life is short. Live it well.

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Heavenly Father, thanks for loving us so much. Your words are full of grace; they bring LIFE to our hearts. Be with us, Lord. Give us wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it. Help us make good decisions, not choices we’ll regret. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What advice would you give to your younger self? What words of wisdom would you share with someone else? Which of these words (above) resonate with you?

Tasks: Share your advice (three words or less) here, or with someone who would benefit! Listen to the song, Dear Younger Me, by MercyMe.

 

Finding Grace #37

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!

snow-and-grass

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

  • This has been a fun week! A friend from Illinois stopped by to visit on Tuesday. She was in town for a few days, and we were so glad she made the effort to see us.
  • On Wednesday, we discussed the power of forgiveness at church. Per brain researcher, Caroline Leaf, when we forgive, endorphins and other chemicals are released in our brains. The effects of forgiveness are then carried all throughout our bodies. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Science shows what we already knew from the Bible…forgiveness is healing!
  • Lydia and I had a great day on Thursday. We took some treats and a handmade thank you card to our favorite drop-in daycare, since they are closing next week. We’ll miss those ladies, who have been a big part of our lives these last few years! Then, we had about an hour before preschool, so went to read books at the bookstore. As we were leaving, a man sitting nearby said thanks for the story time. We reminded him of several missed opportunities over the years with his kids, when he traveled long distances for work. Now that he has a little grandson, he’s happy to have another chance. (As a result, Lydia and I promptly decided we should do that more often!) 🙂
  • We had our first snowfall of the season early Friday morning. We only got a couple inches, perhaps, but it was a wet, heavy snow. Our temperatures should be in the 30s for a few days, so it is likely to stay. Thankfully, my driveway and the local roads weren’t too bad! I think Fargo was on the edge of a big snow storm in Minnesota!

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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?

Little Drummer Girl

At home, Lydia likes to bang on her own makeshift drum—an old Garrett’s popcorn tin from when she was little. The popcorn is long gone, but it has provided hours of headaches entertainment in our house over the years. Ahh, my little drummer girl!

“I wonder what the little drummer boy’s name was.” –Lydia’s Christmas carol commentary

In the song, The Little Drummer Boy, the (fictitious) little boy has nothing in comparison to other gifts brought. Yet, he gave what he could…a simple song. In some ways, we are all like the poor little drummer boy.

God is the Giver of all good things (James 1:17). He has given us the best gift in His Son, Jesus. Nothing we can bring will ever match His glorious sacrifice. All that we are or ever will be already belongs to Him, because it came from Him. So we can only give a portion back to God out of what He already gave.

The value of what we bring comes in the form of gratefulness—humbly accepting all He has done for us. As any loving parent, aunt, or uncle understands, it brings God great joy when we praise, honor, and adore His precious Son, Jesus.

What can we offer Him in return? In Luke 10:27, Jesus said that we should love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This might include your time, effort, or money (1 Chronicles 21:22-25). God loves a cheerful giver, and out of His own abundance He ensures we always have plenty (see 2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

You may not feel like you have much to contribute, but like the little drummer boy (whatever his name), we each have a gift to bring… And when you lay all of it before the King, He takes it and makes something good.

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The great news is that because of Jesus, we don’t have to stay “stuck” in our circumstances or grief (or any emotion). We can rejoice that God continues to work all things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Praise God!

In our brokenness, we become a vessel He uses to bless others.

Because we are all so unique, this will look differently for each of us. For me, this recently has meant bringing my grief to the Lord and then being available to talk with others in their pain. Helping others has been healing in and of itself!

For someone else, it may be caroling at a nursing home, visiting a prisoner, or feeding the hungry. Maybe babysitting, writing an encouraging note, or giving a hug is more your style. Be generous. It all counts! They’re all gifts to the One who receives it. (see Matthew 25:35-40).

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Each of our gifts, talents and struggles will be different. But, we ALL honor the King when we bring our very best to Him.

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Father God, Thank You for Jesus and all the wonderful things you have given us. We can’t out give You, God. You are so generous to provide good things for us. Help us bring our very best to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions to consider: What are your gifts? How might they honor God and help someone else?

Put on Your Pants!

Over the last year or so, Lydia has been doing more things for herself. You’d think I would have more time. Though in reality, I spend about as much time coaching her and suggesting ideas. Here is an example of a typical morning:

Lydia, procrastinating and playing: “I don’t know what to wear!”

Me, checking the clock: “Well, you could start with your pants.”

Lydia, starting to whine: “But, but, I want to wear a dress….and I don’t know which shoes to wear!”

Me, quickly building up steam: “I said, put on your PANTS!”

(Can you relate?!)

Lydia plays, jumps on the bed and wastes time, preferring her own agenda. I know it is par for the course—no one said parenting would be easy. But, it drives me nuts!

“I don’t know what pajamas I want to wear…”

This also happens at bedtime, so I’ve had many “opportunities” to ponder the situation.

Pants

And truthfully, there are times when I act the same way. (Gasp!) Yep. I can delay in obeying God in the most simple things—like adjusting my schedule, or calling to encourage a friend, or offering to help someone. I wrongly think whatever I happen to be doing is more important.

Often, God will ask me to do something that doesn’t quite make sense. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable or inconvenient. Occasionally, it even seems inconsequential—a tiny task that won’t make a difference. “It won’t matter if I don’t…

Yes, it does matter! Delayed obedience is still disobedience.

Like an exasperated parent, I bet sometimes we drive God a little crazy, too. Thank the Lord for His abundant mercy and grace!

I want all the answers, the whole picture. I want to know the purpose, plan, and the procedures. I want a guarantee, don’t you?!

Well, like my child (ahem), I just have to take the first step. I pray for wisdom and courage. I seek wise counsel. Yes.

But I can’t delay if it still seems unclear. God will provide the next step when needed. If I make a mistake, I don’t have to worry. His grace gives me a do-over.

(No. Grace is not a free license to do whatever we want. Sorry!)

Lots of Pants Hanging

By faith, do the uncomfortable, inconvenient thing. Even if it doesn’t seem important.
Soon, there’s momentum—moving in the right direction and seeing results. Praise God!

Is there a next step you need to take? Please stop resisting, and do it cheerfully!

Not sure what that is? Try one of these from Colossians 3, my emphasis added.

v. 12: “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

v.13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

v.14: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

v.15: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

**And whatever you do, PLEASE, don’t forget to put on your pants!!**