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.

 

Celebrating Our Freedom

I hope you had a great 4th of July! As Independence Day rolls around every year, it’s a great time to reflect on what freedom means. Despite our differences, we Americans have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for our freedom and all who have fought for us. God has graciously blessed America!

I certainly don’t want to take any of my freedoms, rights, blessings, or gifts for granted. Sometimes, however, these things can be difficult to define. I suppose each of us has a different perspective on what “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means. That’s part of what makes America special.

On Sunday, we celebrated our freedom at church. At the core of America’s history is religious freedom. If the first European settlers had not come largely, due to religious persecution, we might not be here.

The United States has had many ups and downs over the years. But regardless of political tension or drama, America remains an exceptional nation. People all around the world come here for better opportunities. Some come for education, safety, a new start, or other reasons.

Both as a nation and as individuals, we are called to be a blessing to others. We have many immigrants who call our church “home.” On Sunday, we extended that blessing to people from twenty-one other nations. They stood up and said which country they are from and we blessed them. It was powerful.

It’s amazing to think that we have so many countries represented in one congregation! Some of these people have become American citizens and some will return to their own countries one day.  As we connect with each other, each interaction has potential to change the world.

As a Christian, I am also a citizen of Heaven. Spiritually speaking, I have even greater freedoms, rights, blessings, and gifts. I also have greater responsibilities to help others in practical ways. Thank You, Jesus.

Lydia and I had a rather low-key holiday, which is fine with me. We slept in! We sat on the deck and relaxed on my new red benches (see pic). I did a little reading, while Lydia played. Then, we enjoyed a bike ride around our neighborhood.

Later, we hung out with our neighbors. Together, we ate dinner, enjoyed the hot weather, and watched neighborhood fireworks around a campfire. We watched a gorgeous sunset of purples, oranges, and pinks.

As we made s’mores, God joined in the celebration. His lightning made an awesome backdrop for the fireworks! Lydia and I walked back home around 11pm, and around midnight, I enjoyed listening to a rain storm.

It was the perfect ending to a great celebration!

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Father God, thank You for blessing our America. Thank You for the freedom we have in Your Son, Jesus. Help us be wise stewards of all you have given us. May we show others Your grace and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What are you doing with your freedom? How can you be a blessing to someone else?

Tasks: Give thanks for your many blessings and freedoms. Look for ways to help others.

A Punch Bowl of Blessings

“That’s a pretty punch bowl, Natalie.” An older woman and I were talking on Sunday.

“Thanks! You know, the funny thing is, I have had this punch bowl for nearly ten years—it was a wedding gift—and I’ve never used it! So, I loaned it out for an event and am taking it back home. My friend was the first one to use it!”

I’m guessing my generation is probably the last group to add this to a wedding registry. The generations after me likely won’t even know what a punch bowl is!

My late husband, Dave, died four years ago, and while I appreciated the generous gift, clearly, it was not something we desperately needed. So for now, this beautiful punch bowl was returned to the original box under my stairs. But as I put it away, I felt a little silly.

I started to wonder, “How many other gifts did I ask for but haven’t used?” Hmmm… what I thought was important back then… really wasn’t.

God has blessed me with both material gifts and spiritual gifts, and I don’t want to take any of them for granted. Just like punch in a bowl, our blessings are meant to be shared.

Am I using those gifts as intended or are they sitting on a shelf somewhere? Am I helping others? Am I a refreshing source of God’s sweet love and grace… or not? 🙂

Both gifts and punch bowls are associated with celebrations. Even though I’ve never used my punch bowl, I still have plenty to celebrate! Over the years, I’ve hosted or joined lots of parties. Graduations, weddings, job promotions, new babies, holidays, etc.

But most often, I enjoy celebrating God’s goodness and grace in everyday life. I relish the freedom that comes from knowing His love. I’ve learned to extend myself the grace I usually reserve for other people.

I continually lay aside my perfectionistic tendencies and let go of lofty expectations. Just as the Lord’s mercies are new each morning, I can explore new things about myself and life in general. I can set new goals as I walk with Jesus and become more like Him.

It’s been humbling to live this widowed, single mom life; I’ve been forced to reevaluate and revamp several things over the years. I’ve had to change spending habits, exercise routines, how I cook, parent, and more. I’ve celebrated many victories too!

Similarly, I’ve also ditched things (or items on my to-do list) that no longer bring me joy or fulfillment. Life is too short to get stuck always doing something you don’t love!

As I think of all my blessings, I am in awe. I have wonderful people in my life. I have health and wholeness. I have a voice to speak up about important issues. My hands aren’t afraid of hard work. And yes, I have more than enough material resources so I can bless others.

It’s safe to say that when I first registered for that lovely punch bowl, I had no clue how much life would change in these ten years. Life sure is different than what I planned. Sometimes it feels a little chaotic, but I’m learning to go with the flow more each day!

I’m most grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness. That’s something I will never stop celebrating!

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Gracious Father, You are the Giver of all good things. Thank You for the rich blessings You’ve given us. Help us have the right perspective and use each gift as You intended. May we have wisdom and a spirit of generosity as we bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What random gifts have you stored away and forgotten about? What are you going to do with them?

Tasks: Take inventory of your gifts, talents, and other blessings so you can use them!

Summer Hours

This summer is already off to a great start. I don’t know what it is, but I am feeling super relaxed lately. The funny thing is that I actually am just as ‘busy’ as usual, but I don’t notice the stress. My activities and responsibilities haven’t changed much, but I have switched gears and taken a hiatus from certain activities so I can focus on others.

I generally enjoy each season for what it brings–even winter. But, summer is special because everything just seems easier and there is more time for fun adventures. Routine chores like washing dishes become more simple thanks to outdoor picnics and grilling. Laundry seems to take less time too. Yay for shorts, t-shirts, sandals, and swimming suits!

Summer break doesn’t just apply to school kids. Many families change their schedules, but most colleges and some businesses also have ‘summer hours.’ They may open and close earlier, or take certain days off. Work time is condensed, and play time lasts longer!

I love summer hours because I am reminded me of how good it is to rest in the Lord. Indeed, the long summer days are full of God’s grace. Here in Fargo, at the peak of summer, it is light out until around 10:30pm. Of course, the warm weather and beautiful, sunny skies help. Time almost seems to stand still.

I love how summer reflects God’s goodness in our lives. Last night after dinner, I saw a little bird called a “tree swallow.” The male is dark iridescent blue, with dark wings and a white chest, while the female is brown and white. I’d never seen one before this week, so it took me by surprise. I couldn’t identify the female using my bird book and binoculars… But, thankfully, the male stayed put for more than twenty minutes. It was so cool, and it felt like these little visitors were a gift from the Lord.

The beauty of summer is seen in the flowers it brings. I like flowers that are pretty but don’t take a lot of maintenance. But there are many beautiful kinds! I even enjoy seeing the prairie grass sway in the breeze. It reminds me that God’s love is wild and free.

Summer means traveling to see family, but also spending time with friends and neighbors. Summer is a time of generosity and abundance! It means sharing food, sun screen, water toys, and pool time with each other. It also means popsicles, watermelon, swimming, baseball games, and impromptu campfires.

Of course, summer also brings things that can make us uncomfortable, like heat and mosquitos. Sometimes, the heat warrants a retreat indoors to the air conditioning. But, most often, we learn to deal with it in creative ways. A good reminder about life in general.

I love being outside and catching up with my neighbors. So I bought some new outdoor chairs this week to replace some older, rather uncomfortable folding chairs we’d been using. I’ve also been thinking…God has summer hours, too. Yet, His timing is way better than we can ever imagine. He is always with us and sustains us from day to day, season to season. And from where I sit, it’s easy to see that He loves to take good care of us.

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Praise God, thank You for summer! Each morning shows us Your faithfulness. May we turn our eyes and heart to You when we see the beauty You have created. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What is your favorite part of summer? What are you currently thankful for?

Tasks: Find one new way to relax this week! Invite a friend or neighbor to join you!

On Tying Shoes and Learning New Skills

Lydia has already grown so much this year, both in height and skills. She has lost her first two teeth and has grown almost three inches in six months. Even more exciting, Lydia has grown into her larger bike and no longer needs the smaller one from last summer!

Lydia recently asked me to teach her how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a little messy even with supervision, but I’m glad it cultivated independence. She’ll need more practice before I let her do it completely alone!

Lydia sometimes enjoys doing chores around the house, too. She likes helping with laundry, garbage, and dishes. Like any kid, her enthusiasm comes and goes. 🙂

This week, we’ve been focusing on tying shoes. I asked Lydia a few months ago and decided she wasn’t ready. “No thanks, Mom. Maybe another time.” But now she has grown into a pair of sparkly tennis shoes so she is eager to wear them!

As I am teaching her, I’ve been remembering when I learned to tie my shoes! I learned differently than I am teaching her. Nonetheless, I think the new way is a little easier.

Sometimes, we’ve both been frustrated. She’ll get upset when she can’t make the ‘bunny ears’ and I don’t like to watch her struggle. But I’m resisting helping her too much.

So, I’ve decided to have her practice about ten minutes a day and then let it go. If she wants to do more, great. Overall, it’s been a positive experience as we celebrate her small wins!

Even though I am watching Lydia struggle, I know she will appreciate the freedom it brings. It will also help her in the near future when she starts school again.

It might take a lot of practice, but in the long-term, the struggle is worth it.

With each new level of independence or growth, we all have new challenges to overcome. These challenges can be good or bad, depending on how you look at them.

Each challenge brings an opportunity to learn. What causes one person to struggle, may be simple for someone else. How one person learns is likely different from the way someone else learns. In the end, though, it’s rewarding to see someone learn and grow!

In Jesus Christ, we have a perfect example to follow. By His grace, we can come to Him for help and direction. He is a wonderful Teacher! Ask Him to teach you how to get to the next level. He knows exactly you need.

I’m glad God teaches each of us according to our unique purpose. Some of the lessons may be more difficult to learn than others. A loving Father, He is so proud of us for trying! Obedience is key, but there’s an abundance of grace!

God is not limited by our challenges, but uses them to help us grow. Thankfully, we are never left on our own to just “figure it out” as we go. The Lord is right beside us, cheering us on. He’s only a question (or prayer) away.

God’s timing is perfect. He never asks us to do something without teaching and equipping us to do the work. He wants us to succeed and live in Victory!

With God, all things are possible. He is patient with us as we practice, learn, and grow. He does not expect perfection and is gracious when we need a do-over. Thank You, Jesus!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Your grace. Lord, teach me Your ways and guide me in Your Truth. Give us courage as I live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What is something the Lord is teaching you right now? Is it difficult or fairly easy? (Hopefully, it will become better with practice!)

Tasks: Take the first step in faith and obedience today! Pray and then do what God is asking You to do. He will be with You! 🙂

Live Like You’re Loved

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He loves you like you are!

The lyrics above belong to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson. I’ve enjoyed listening to the song since I first heard it. But lately, I have been listening to the lyrics a little more.

For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve had noticeably less energy lately. My lethargy could be related to the weather, stress, lack of sleep, etc. (or a combination of factors). However, I’ve been enjoying the rain we’ve had, don’t feel overstressed, and have been sleeping pretty well. So, who knows?

Quite possibly, I could just be worn out trying to doing too much!!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

As I have considered these lyrics, I have taken the song to heart. When I think of all I still have to do, I take it to Jesus to help me sort it out. He loves it when we come to Him! I don’t have to be chained to my to-do list!

So, I have been intentional about taking breaks and resting. I’ve enjoyed reading, catching up on a favorite show, and calling a friend. Lydia and I have walked to a nearby park to play, colored, and made a fun treat together. On a couple of days, I’ve even squeezed in a short nap!

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

I am grateful for God’s grace when I feel weak. I know with Jesus, I can do everything I need to do! He is my strength and my song. When I’ve specifically asked Him for help this last week, ultimately, I have been more productive throughout the day!

Yes, the Lord has given me everything I need. His mercies are new every morning and His grace is sufficient. Nothing can compare to His lovingkindness. Praise God!

Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

This part of the song (above) is my favorite. It feels a little like a personal anthem. When I remember how much God loves me, I can hold my head up higher. I can smile and laugh and play. I can walk in freedom, knowing He gives me Victory. I don’t have get bent out of shape over imperfect progress. I can enjoy myself instead of stressing out!

“Live like you’re loved” could mean something different to each person and could vary by season of life. I love that we are all unique!

For me, it usually means acknowledging and honoring my weaknesses, inabilities, or failures. This often means asking for help and letting the Lord meet me where I am. Coming to Jesus is the best and first step. Lord, I need You!

I find ‘living loved’ also means recognizing when someone else needs help, because I’ve been there too. When I serve someone else, I notice my problems are not so urgent. Showing compassion is a win-win for all of us!

When I take the time to pause and soak up His love, I notice God all around me. He renews my joy and I can share generously with others. I don’t have to focus on my lack of energy (or other resources)… because with Jesus on my side, I will always have enough!

Life is short. Live like you’re loved!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for all You do for me. Thank You for renewed strength every day. As I depend on You, please give me energy and direct my steps. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What does “live like you’re loved” mean to you? What is something you can do to live loved right now?

Task: Listen to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson!

Because He Promised

This past Monday marked four years since Dave died, after he battled cancer for 364 days. On occasion, I find myself pausing to think about it all. It still seems unreal at times. But most days, I am simply glad for all God has done in our lives since then.

Sometimes we want to rush through our painto get through it as fast as possible—to stop the hurting and find relief. But healing takes time. So, I am grateful for Jesus’ healing touch these last four years. He has given us space and time to heal, learn, and grow.

Indeed, these last four years, God has ordered our steps and reordered our lives in ways only He can. I usually pray about my agenda for each day. But on Monday, I specifically asked the Lord to direct my steps. Like usual, my schedule had many possibilities for the day… but I also wanted to conserve my emotional energy!

I could see God at work when my neighbor took Lydia to school with her son. So, I was able to run an important errand before work. At work, it was good to talk a little but also keep my mind on other things. Later in the day, we decided to hangout with our friends for an impromptu playdate. The kids played water games and the moms chatted!

Earlier, Lydia had suggested we eat strawberries and ice cream in Dave’s honor. (Dave always loved strawberries!) I had planned to do something with Lydia along those lines, but didn’t have any specific plans. So on a whim, I offered to share our strawberries and ice cream with our friends outside. The timing worked out so much better than I could have imagined. It’s hard to beat ice cream with friends on a hot day!

It’s always good to bless others, and our friends were so gracious. It was just what I needed, but nothing I could have planned. Praise God!!

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the song “Even If” by Mercy Me. It captures the essence of our cancer journey, my previous struggles with fear, and our determination to stand in faith. Here’s a snippet of the song… (I put the link at the end of this post if you want to listen.)

You’ve been faithful
You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can

I know You’re able
And I know You can
Save through the fire
With Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

Yes, God is more than able to save the day. We pray and do everything we can, but in all things, He has the final say. And that’s okay. I can trust Him to do what is best for me, because He has promised to do so. Even if I don’t understand.

God doesn’t expect us to do it alone—He only asks us to trust Him. It does take faith, yet the Lord has an impeccable track record. His love never fails! I have experienced His sweet, unfailing love firsthand!

These days, I find much comfort in God’s promises. His promises reflect His loving character and awesome power. The Bible is full of them but the ones I cling to most are the promises of God’s presence, His peace, His plan, and His provision. For me, these are like pillars, giving structure to His other promises. 

God has promised never to leave nor forsake me. Sadly, people often come and go. Plans will change. Life has many twists and turns, ups and downs. But through it all, Jesus is never far away or out of touch. I can come directly to Him…because He promised.

God has promised me inner peace. In fact, Jesus said He IS my peace. I don’t have to live in fear or worry, or deal with unpredictable emotional roller coasters. I can give Him my cares, knowing He is cares deeply for me. I can rest in His love…because He promised.

God has promised good to me. He didn’t say it would be easy or that I would have all the answers…but He did promise to work it all out in my favor eventually. If a situation is not good, then God’s not done yet. I can trust Him…because He promised.

God has promised to provide for me. God has generously provided me with a job, but His provision goes beyond covering my finances, housing, bills, or food. He has given me enough to share with others as needed. I also have a wonderful family and lots of friends. Jesus has given me grace and space to grieve. I can rely on Him…because He promised.

Dear friend, my situation (and yours) is not a surprise to God. It may not make sense right now….it may seem impossible. But with Jesus, all things are possible. He’s got this!

We do not often know when or how it will all work out, but the Lord is faithful. He does not waver. He always does what He says He will do. All of God’s promises are YES in Christ Jesus! In Him, we have the AMEN and give Him the glory (see 2 Corinthians 1:19-20).

Sure, waiting is a challenge. But hold on. A promise is a promise.

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Heavenly Father, You are good and faithful. Thanks for Your promises. I choose to trust You, Jesus. Give me strength to stand firm. In Your Name, Amen

Question: What Bible verse or promise speaks to you right now?

Task: Listen to Even If, by MercyMe. Trust in Jesus!

On Spring Cleaning

I have been doing some much-needed spring cleaning lately. I’ve dusted, washed windows, and reorganized some cabinets. I have cleaned those places that are usually overlooked. I still have a lot more to do, but I feel good about my progress thus far.

I have gone through our closets and removed what we no longer need, donating them or passing them onto friends. In Lydia’s case, I’ve removed items that no longer fit! She’s grown so much, and I am preparing for the next season.

Outside, I have pruned the dead off of certain plants in hopes that green shoots will soon start to grow. I have worked on the garage too, though that is an ongoing project!

Our hearts and lives can all use some spring cleaning from time to time. This could be a time of letting go or moving forward. I like the perspective of making room for new things, though the point is not to acquire more stuff.

In order to grow, we have to release “what was” before we can grasp “what will be.”

In a couple weeks, it will be four years since Dave went to Heaven. Four years of making it on the Lord’s strength. Four years of praying it through, knowing the Lord still has good plans in store for us! Because He is good.

On occasion, I will find something of Dave’s that I forgot about. This might include a book on a random shelf or a tool in the garage. I keep what I can still use, but try to address the rest. For the most part, I find it gets easier as time goes by. But there are days when nostalgia (or another wave of grief??) kicks in and it becomes more challenging.

Like faith, spring cleaning is not for the faint of heart!

Letting go or cleaning house doesn’t always mean we have to physically get rid of anything. Sometimes, the best thing we can change is our mentality. As our attitude shifts, we begin to see things differently. This may even lead to other positive changes!

To start, we can let go of a crazy schedule that no longer suits us. We can embrace the peace Jesus promised us. We don’t have earn His love!

We can let go of anger or resentment, embracing forgiveness and a change of heart. Jesus died to give us total freedom. Bring your turbulent heart to Him.

We can get rid of outdated expectations (our own or those put on us by others). We can pray for God’s perfect timing and purpose, knowing He loves us dearly.

We can purge our hearts of fear and worry. We can trust God to make a way, even if it looks impossible. He is more than able.

We can nix the desire to do everything ourselves, or in our own strength. We can always ask for help. And, we can trust God to do what He says He will do.

We can kick bad habits to the curb. We can praise God for the new life we have in Christ!

We can work to live and not live to work. We can rest, trusting God to protect and provide for us. We can sleep, knowing the Lord is watching over all that concerns us.

We can put on love and pass it on. We can share Jesus with our friends, family, and neighbors! We can make a difference in our communities.

With courage, we can move forward in faith. We can rely on God’s unfailing love and abundant grace. His mercies are new every morning!

Praise God!

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God, You are good and Your love endures forever! Thank You for giving us a fresh start every day. Help us rely on You for strength and courage in every season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you done any spring cleaning lately? What did you let go of or remove from your life?

Tasks: As you make changes in your home and life, notice how it makes you feel. Lighthearted? Cheerful? Free?

Finding Grace #58

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 busy, yet felt more relaxed than usual. That’s probably because I was able to catch up on a few things around the house. I had a lot to do, but accomplished a lot too. We also spent a fair amount of time outside which always feels like a staycation!

Lydia and I enjoyed getting a head-start on Easter activities! She had a party at school, and we went to a Good Friday service yesterday. It is always humbling to see all that Jesus went through during his crucifixion. Thank You, Jesus. Today, Lydia and I decorated eggs and talked about the new life we have in Christ.

This year, I have really enjoyed watching the changing of seasons. In addition to seeing and hearing more birds, this week I noticed the first signs of green grass. I noticed a few trees blooming. A few tulips and irises are starting to grow too. 

A big highlight this week was that Lydia lost her second tooth! We went out for pizza last night and it came out during dinner. I knew it would likely come out that evening, but it still surprised us. Lydia looks so cute without her two bottom teeth. It is fun watching her undergo big-kid things!

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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)!

Easter Excitement!

I don’t know about you, but Lydia has been looking forward to Easter for weeks! She’s been learning about Easter at church and school. While she doesn’t understand all the details, Lydia has made some good observations.

A few days ago, I read a kids magazine to her before bed. The magazine, from Compassion International, explained that some kids in other countries don’t have access to clean water, shoes/clothes, or food. The article was thorough, yet simple enough for Lydia to grasp.

“Lydia, what if some kids walked through dirt or garbage, but couldn’t wash their hands or feet?” I explained, “That could bring germs inside their house and they could get sick.”

Ironically, the next magazine article was about humility and being a servant. We read in John 13 about the Last Supper, where Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. He chose to serve.

We talked about pride versus humility. To hit home the point, I asked Lydia if she’d ever wash one of her friend’s feet. Her response? “That would be kind of gross…but I could do it.” I got a good laugh out of that, but was glad for her honesty!

We’ve also had some points of clarification, such as when I said Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. “Mom, I know what ‘trade’ means like if I have a toy that my friend wants, I give it to them and they give me something they have. But, what does buh-trade mean?”

I love hearing Lydia’s thoughts and seeing her excitement. She may not have all the answers, but she does have the faith of a child. She knows Jesus loves her!

Lydia also seems to understand the real meaning of Easter. “Jesus dies on the cross for our sins. And, Easter eggs remind us that we were lost and Jesus found us—kind of like how you hide the eggs and then I find them.”

Then Lydia added, “By the way, Mom, are you going to hide the Easter eggs when I go to bed or in the morning before I wake up?” She’s sure excited!

At Easter, we celebrate the love Jesus showed us on the Cross. With compassion, He laid down His life for ours because we each owed a debt we could not pay. His sacrifice was the only way to restore our relationship with God. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (see John 14:6). Jesus paid it all!

With His blood, Jesus washed away our sins. Jesus’ grace covers our faults and failures…past, present, and future. Praise God, His mercies are new every morning!

Because of Jesus’ death, we have forgiveness and freedom. Jesus is our righteousness and our defense. And because of His resurrection, we also have new life!

We have purpose, protection, and provision! We no longer have to live in fear; we can come straight into God’s presence. We are healed in Jesus’ Name!

God’s grace and salvation are for everyone. Have you received them?

If you belong to Jesus, the same power that raised Him from the dead lives in you and me (Romans 8:11)! Because of Jesus, we have Victory! Hallelujah!

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Precious Jesus, thank You for the Cross! You alone are worthy of all praise. Victory belongs to You! Thank You for loving me so much, Lord. May my life bring You glory. In Your Name, Amen.

Question: What does Easter mean to you? Have you accepted Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross?

Tasks: Read through Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection story. Praise Jesus for His sacrifice!