Finding Grace #72

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?

Today, I am praising God for another beautiful week. The weather has been hot, even after a few rain showers. That’s summer… 🙂 We stayed inside during the heat of the day, but then spent time out in the evenings.

Otherwise, it was somewhat low-key with work and writing deadlines. A couple friends helped watch Lydia during my work hours, so I was glad to save some daycare costs.

In turn, I watched some of the neighborhood kids on two occasions while their parents went out. It was a blessing for me to help others; Lydia had fun playing with her friends! It was really funny on Thursday night when I used the radio app on my phone so all the kids could play musical chairs in my front yard! I’m sure it was quite the scene for all the passers-by on the bike path and street!

I worked hard all week to get things done, so on Friday, Lydia and I had a free day. We meandered around town, ran some errands, and went to lunch! Then, we hung out with the neighbors and had dinner with them. It was a much-needed rest day!

Today, we are relaxing, cooking food for a busy week ahead, and finishing up a few tasks around the house. Several of the neighbor kids came over to play, too. They rode bikes, played ‘water buckets’ and ran through my sprinkler, among other activities. It’s been a great end to another grace-filled week! Praise God!

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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)!

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.

Finding Grace #69

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?

I saw God move in many ways this week. I’ve received a lot of encouragement and practical support over the years, and I know how much of a game-changer that can be. So, now I challenge myself to look ways to help others. Sometimes, that means just encouraging someone; other times, I’m able to help in a more tangible way. This week, I was able to do that with two different friends with different needs. I am excited to see what God is doing in them, with them, for them, and through them!

The Lord graciously provided friends to watch Lydia. I had a work meeting out of town and preferred not to send Lydia to daycare the entire day. Then, God lined up my schedule perfectly so it matched up with my friend’s availability. On another day, a different friend watched Lydia early in the morning before daycare opened so I could maximize my time to meet an deadline. That day, Lydia was able to sleep in and I was able to reach my goal.

I love sticky notes. I generally have a million of them around the house. I’ve tried to go electronic, but still prefer old-school pen and paper. I recently decided to actually use my planner as a list-keeper instead of just a time-manager. (Great idea, I know!) Wouldn’t you know, I have felt less stress lately because I can write a task or project one time instead of over and over on various notes. Now, I can focus on just enough tasks for each day and cross them off once, yet still see progress on what I’ve accomplished. (It’s the little things…!)

I enjoy long holiday weekends! Today started off chilly, but has turned out bright and sunny. I ran about five errands (and didn’t have to wait long in line!), mowed the grass, laid down mulch, made sun tea (unsweetened), and worked on a few projects. Lydia played inside for a bit and has been outside too. The perfect day!

As I am writing this, Lydia is eating dinner on the deck. I ate with her but finished before she did. She would have finished sooner, but she’s been “yelling” back and forth with the neighbor girl who is patiently waiting to play. From inside, I just heard: “Hold on! I’m just eating now because my mom made me. I have two more broccolis and one piece of pizza. I already ate my strawberries. They are really healthy. Did you know that my mom is a dietitian? It starts with “d” and she tells people if they are making healthy choices or not.” 🙂

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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 #68

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?

We had a peaceful week! For the most part, we focused on work, swimming lessons, and a few projects. I gave two presentations this week, which is always fun. The topic was ‘all about cholesterol’ which reminds me of the days I spent teaching heart healthy classes in cardiac rehab. That was seven years ago, but I still think about those fun times often!

On Monday, a friend and I went to see Wonder Woman. It was a cool movie, especially on the big screen. I recommend this movie, even if you don’t normally enjoy superhero shows. I’m still processing it all, but for now, I will simply say that we all have superhero potential within us. And, with Jesus, we can do anything and everything we need to do.

Once again, I really appreciated the friends who helped me with Lydia this week. She also went to daycare three days, while I worked, but my friends’ help was also invaluable. I was able to focus on a large project and make good progress.

I made a cheesecake in my Instant Pot for a neighbor/friend’s birthday. I delivered it today, and she invited me in for a piece. As a dietitian, I don’t recommend lots of cheesecake…but it does make a thoughtful gift! I made a few alterations to the recipe, but here is the original link, if you are interested!

Today, it has been a good day to stay inside and relax, because it has been a little cool and rainy. Other than visiting our neighbors for a bit, Lydia and I have been watching movies and enjoying quiet time together. I even took an hour long nap!

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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 #67

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?

We had an amazing week! We did so many fun activities and saw a lot of wonderful friends. During the day on Monday, we had friends over to visit. This family has been so helpful and encouraging to us over the years. The husband previously worked with Dave, but the family was relocated a year ago for work. They happened to be in town this week, so we caught up with the mom and three-year-old little girl, while the husband worked.  We were honored to see them!

Later on Monday afternoon, many of the neighborhood kids were outside playing. I had a couple large boxes that they were playing with. I used duct tape to make a playhouse for them, while they decorated it. I’m not sure who had more fun! Then, we played foosball in the garage with a couple of the girls. We played three rounds and each of the three girls (including Lydia) switched teams to play on my side…because my team kept winning. 🙂

On Monday evening, I cut my friend’s hair. It was fun to help her and we were pleased with the results. I’m glad she trusted me so much! (I finally did mention about cutting my dog’s hair as a teenager.) By God’s grace, I have kicked perfectionism to the curb!

We had some severe thunderstorms throughout the day on Tuesday. No major damage was done to my property, praise God, but two of my trees were hit by a trampoline that blew in from a couple houses over. Mainly, the stakes took the brunt of the force, and the trees were merely scraped. I would not have believed what happened if another neighbor hadn’t taken a video! Thankfully, the owner of the trampoline came to retrieve it and helped me re-stake the trees. We reviewed the slight damage on the trees and agreed to keep an eye on them. I don’t think they will need to be replaced, but I was glad my neighbor was gracious to help. That’s being ‘Fargo friendly!’

Several friends watched Lydia for me this week (on top of paying for daycare, like usual) so I could get things done. Thanks to the generosity of my friends, I was able to finish up some work duties, write, and run a few errands. I always try to return the favor somehow, or at least pay it forward.

It’s great to have friends who don’t keep ‘score’ but both sides always continue to give generously. A couple summers ago, a neighbor friend had given me a plastic sandbox for Lydia. I decided to get rid of it recently, so this neighbor helped me sell it online. We decided to put the money in our mutual ‘pizza fund’ for those times we eat together. We also swapped kids back and forth, shared meals together with everyone bringing something, and enjoyed s’mores around a campfire. One neighbor oiled our bike chains and get them in better shape. I even met a couple new neighbor girls today when they came over to borrow a cup of sugar. I’m thankful to be a part of a great community!

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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)!

Cutting Hair and Change

Recently, a good friend asked me to cut her hair. She didn’t have time to get into a salon, and really just wanted a simple cut anyway. I am by no means a pro, and only trim Lydia’s hair periodically. Still, I was honored that she would trust me at such a personal level.

We had fun, though I decided not to tell her about the time I was assigned the chore of trimming our beloved golden retriever’s fur… that was back in my super-perfectionistic teenage days. Back then, I could envision the outcome, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get there. At first, I cut out cockle burs and matted fur…

Then I just kept cutting, trying to make it look even. Later, a concerned neighbor asked what happened because our poor dog looked like he got hit by a car. He was so embarrassed he didn’t want to go outside for a week!

Yes, I learned from that mistake and know when to put away the scissors now!

When my friend arrived on Monday, we took before and after pictures. We agreed on how much hair to cut—about six inches. I immediately cut off around four inches, because it was dry and tangly. But I wanted to be a little more cautious with the rest. You can always cut more hair, but can’t put it back after it’s gone!

Periodically, I stopped and we reviewed the progress in my bathroom mirror. Well, I’m happy to report that my friend was very pleased with the results. Her hair now looks healthier and has a lot of bounce. She seems even more confident with her new look!

As she learns to style her shorter ‘do, hopefully, it will save my friend a little time. I told her to search for any areas that were missed so we can make slight adjustments, if needed. Overall, it looks really good and she’s received several compliments.

Regardless of your preferred hair style, we can all use a trim from time to time. With our locks or lives, it’s important to rid ourselves of anything that weighs us down. It’s healthy to remove the dry or dead parts of our lives.

Sometimes, though, it can be a little painful to say goodbye to what has grown comfortable. Change can be scary at first! It’s helpful to have support and encouragement as we look at ourselves in the mirror to see what needs to go.

When we finally do make a change, it can be freeing! We wonder, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Well, perhaps that’s part of the learning process. At any rate, change usually ends up being the best option.

Change may require that we learn a new style or way of doing things. My friend will have to style her hair a little differently now, but that is also part of the fun and adventure. Let it bring confidence instead of dread. Just as a haircut offers a new look, life changes can offer new perspective.

In some cases, it is possible just to make small changes instead of one big jump to the final goal. Maybe a phased approach helps one grow accustomed to the idea of change. At times, little tweaks can be made rather than abandoning the outcome altogether.

Lately, I have been challenged to change a few personal habits. But other changes could include stepping out of your comfort zone to volunteer, apply for a new job, make a difficult phone call, write an important letter, or offer someone forgiveness. Just take the first step and everything else will fall into place.

 It was fun to see the positive difference a simple hair cut could make for my friend. May we all embrace change like a hair cut and see other good changes happen as a result. Change is not always easy, but in the end, it is worth it. One small change can lead to many others… with growing impact!

Praise God we don’t have to do it on our own!
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God, thank You for loving us as we are. Thanks for prompting us to change and for walking with us through the process. Give us wisdom and courage as we live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Are there any changes you need to make? Do you have any funny hair cutting stories?

Tasks: See change as a great adventure, full of possibilities. Move forward in faith!

Finding Grace #66

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 favorHis abundant gracethis week?

This week was good! I worked as usual, but also squeezed in an important (non-work) meeting in my car one day. I clocked out of work, drove around the block to find shade, and left my car running for the a/c while I made my phone call. I didn’t want to open my windows because the road construction nearby was stirring up a lot of dirt in the air. After my meeting, I drove back to work to finish out my day. I usually am home for that routine meeting, but didn’t have time to go home and come back. The things we do to make ends meet! Thankfully, no one really minded me talking for an hour in my car!

This week, Lydia attended Vacation Bible School. They talked about God making each of us for a purpose. Lydia enjoyed playing, singing, making art, and eating “really good” snacks. She had a great time and already has asked me to go again next year! 

I bought my first watermelon of the season this week. It was delicious, of course! One night at dinner, Lydia told me, “Mom, I’m feeling really loved because you’re giving me lots of watermelon.” I posted what she said on my social media page. A friend of mine hosts a morning radio talk show. She quoted Lydia, reminding us to savor the simple things of life. That was really cool! Later, I tossed some of the watermelon into a fruit salad with grapes, oranges, and strawberries. Yum!

Weather-wise, it’s been another warm week. Thankfully, the wind blew strong and it really didn’t feel too bad. We played with the neighbors on several days. Tonight, we ordered pizza with friends and ran outside to a local ice cream truck that was passing through our neighborhood. Always a fun treat!

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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)!

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!

Finding Grace #65

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 lot of fun! We had the usual the usual work and daycare routine, of course, and I also had a deadline to meet. But all that went well, praise God. (By His grace, I not only met the deadline, but went above and beyond!) Thank You, Jesus!

Best of all, this week we squeezed in a lot of play time. We watched a few movies in the cool basement and enjoyed long afternoons outside in the sun with friends. I mowed yesterday, so have the whole weekend to relax. I am loving summer already!

It’s been hot this week, in the mid-eighties or so. But, we’ve been enjoying the heat anyway with popsicles and water games. Lydia could practically live outside!

Today, Lydia and I were invited to a nearby lake with our neighbors. We drove to Osage, MN, to Big Toad Lake and spent most of the day outside at their family home and restaurant. It was a great way to beat the heat. We were graciously fed and treated like family. The breeze on the lake was just right. We went wading and saw lots of wildlife, including a bald eagle, baby snapping turtle, fish, and a couple leeches! We even helped save a baby bird… I hope to go back again!

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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 #63

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?

I’m not sure there are enough words (or space!) to describe this week. It was really sweet to see how everything worked out, by God’s grace. It started with Mother’s Day on Sunday, which combined the 4th anniversary of Dave’s death on Monday, always makes me aware of the void in our lives…of all he is missing. However, both days went well. We had lunch on Sunday with a friend and an impromptu ice cream celebration on Monday with more friends. I felt God’s love all around me and many people checked in with me. Thank you!

Lydia’s last day of preschool was on Wednesday, so we prepared end-of-year gifts for her teachers. All year, Lydia had been asking me to get her main teacher a jar of pickles. (Apparently, she likes them!) So, for the last week of school, I finally agreed. We wrapped up two different kinds of pickles along with a gift card and thank you note for her teacher. Lydia decorated the bag with stickers. I hope she found much humor in it, because Lydia was really excited! (I explained the pickles were from Lydia, specifically…not me!) 😉

On Wednesday evening, we also had an impromptu pancake dinner ‘party’ with the neighbors. After school, I dropped their little boy off and we ended up staying. We were trying to decide what to have for dinner, and I said Lydia had been asking for pancakes all week. I ran home (across the street) for pancake mix, oranges, and my electric skillet. My neighbor supplied bacon and sausage! It was so fun (and delicious!)

On Thursday, a friend watched Lydia while I went to the dentist (no cavities!) and did some writing. I really appreciated her help and felt like I got a lot accomplished. Later, we joined our neighbors again for the Fargo Youth Run (one event of many, during the Fargo Marathon week). We all ran the half mile. Lydia was proud of her cape and “Finisher” medal! I prayed for good weather, as it has been a little cool and windy that day. It was a perfect evening for a run!

I’ve had a dull headache all on-and-off all week, so didn’t do as much as I planned on Friday. Instead, we decided to stay home and rest. Praise God! After a brief afternoon nap, I accomplished a few tasks after all. On a whim, I decided to mow the yard because it may rain for the next few days. I’m glad I didn’t procrastinate!

Today, we shopped for groceries before a gentle rain started. Then, a friend across the street came over to play. I did some reading, made a couple phone calls, and prepped some vegetables for the coming week. After a brief nap, Lydia and I are taking it easy tonight. Maybe we will enjoy a movie while it rains!

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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)!