Finding Grace #102

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 with 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 really good! On Sunday night, I was preparing for the week ahead, which included meals, dishes, and laundry. Lydia was watching the Olympics and asked for an after-dinner snack. I hadn’t eaten my meal yet and was a little short with her. She offered me an emoji stress ball that she uses when she is “stretched.” Her misinterpretation was cute and a good reminder not to take myself so seriously.

This week, I went to two movies in the theater! Lydia and I went with a friend to see ‘Peter Rabbit’ on Sunday afternoon. Then, on Monday, I went to see ‘The Greatest Showman.’ Both were good in their own ways. I don’t see too many movies in the theater, but was glad it worked out!

This week I had a great conversation with a dear friend in Illinois. All week we’ve been comparing notes about various events at the Olympics. One night, I called her to catch up with her and spent some time listening and encouraging her. I was encouraged too!

Today, another dear friend watched Lydia for me while I had a meeting. They went to cheerleading and out to lunch. I was grateful for her help! Tonight we plan to watch a movie at home…and/or the Olympics. 😉

It has been a beautiful sunny day for us! I have noticed the mornings are getting brighter and the sun is staying up longer. God is so 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)!

Finding Grace #101

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 with 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 jam-packed both with activities and God’s grace! On Sunday, Lydia and I ate lunch with some new friends. We had fun getting to know a mom and daughter from church! I also learned my new friend’s husband worked at Caterpillar when my late-husband, Dave, did. It was so cool they knew some of our story! And, it was comforting to see how God continues to place encouraging people in my life.

This week a good friend received some news that seemed really unfair. In fact, it may mean the end of a personal dream. Still, we know that God has a good plan for her life, a plan full of hope and a meaningful future. I will be watching to see how God uses her and provides for her in new ways…He is faithful!

This week, work turned out kind of odd. It went well, except that none of my patients showed up! Nonetheless, I used my time wisely and was able to work on a few projects. But it was a little funny to have my schedule open up unexpectedly!

After school yesterday, Lydia and I went sledding at a local park! Despite the temperature only being 5 degrees (F), we had so much fun and enjoyed having the hill to ourselves. We will definitely be going back…and next time will bring our ice skates, too!

Going sledding helped us get excited for the winter Olympics! We are looking forward to several events, including ice skating, speed skating, snowboarding, and luge. It’s always fun to watch athletes at their peak! I’m praying for extra grace for the athletes… and for the politics. It is cool to see so many cultures coming together! I’m sure it makes God happy too!

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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)!

It’s Totally Unfair!

This has been an… ‘interesting’… year already. I have seen God direct my path and use me to make a practical difference in other peoples’ lives. But, honestly, I’ve also seen some things that seem totally unfair to me or others…

For example, recently a friend slipped on her child’s Legos in the dark, hitting her entertainment center—with her face.  She busted her nose and needed major surgery. An accident yes, but still unfair.

Another friend had to forgive someone for major offenses when they clearly didn’t deserve it. Forgiveness is required for that relationship to move forward. But it’s definitely not fair.

I have seen friends struggle with various injustices, such as discrimination, financial difficulties, and health problems, too. It is easy to see how anger and resentment build up.

My own story is complex with its own challenges and I know yours is, too. We don’t have time to rehash or compare our stories here… Besides, these issues are not always bad—though at times they really do seem unfair.

Most of us, if we allow ourselves, could easily go down the “poor me” path or the “this would be better if” road. But one thing is certain: Complaining doesn’t help.

If our emotions are allowed to run the show, we will get stuck and never move forward! Instead, I have learned the best thing I can do is redirect my focus back to Jesus. When we bring Him our fear, pain, sorrow, anger, resentment, and embarrassment, He gives us hope, healing, wholeness, peace, forgiveness, and joy.

We can trust Jesus through and through. As both God and man, He has a unique perspective. He understands what each of goes through because He has been there, too.

You see, Jesus faced the same types of battles. Quite often, He didn’t know where His next meal was coming from or where He would sleep. Yet, He was expected to help people at all hours of the day/night. He was often put to the test and judged unfairly. He was used by the people but rarely thanked.

Also, Jesus was like a local celebrity so He was scrutinized at a higher level. He never could win over everyone—but He reached out to help as many as would receive Him.

All Jesus did was done with love. He healed people and comforted them. He even raised the dead back to life! He taught new ways to love and used His own life as an example to follow. Yet, he was still rejected.

Then, at the end of His young life, Jesus was wrongly accused and suffered a horrible death on the cross. Completely unfair. But to Jesus, we were worth it. He loves us so very much!

When I compare my conditions to what Jesus faced, I have no room to grumble. Jesus was well-acquainted with the ups and downs of life. So… if Jesus had to struggle, then we have no excuse.

At least we are in good company!

By definition, grace is an unmerited or unearned favor. Yes, God’s grace toward us is also unfair! We don’t deserve any of it!

Thankfully, God does not see our uncertain circumstances like we do. He can see the end from the beginning—and His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours.

Trials have a way of refining us for the better—though it may take some time to see how. But no matter what we face, God loves us and is for us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He leads us and guides us.

God never changes. And no problem or difficulty—however big or bad—can change God’s goodness toward us. He has us covered!

Yes, God’s grace is unchanging, unfailing, unrelenting, unearned—and praise God, totally unfair!!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Jesus! Your everlasting love and abundant grace toward us are beyond unfair. Thank You! Help us have the right attitude as we walk in grace, love, and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How do you respond when life seems unfair? Can you trust Jesus?

Tasks: Listen to “O’Lord” by Lauren Daigle and “Grace that Won’t Let Go,” by Mark Harris

Magnifying the Lord (and Other Divine Moments)

I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we are going through something difficult, we have a tendency to make the problem our focus. Also, we can get bent out of shape if someone else is doing better than us. We compare our failures (or lack of progress) to someone else’s successes.

We can also lose our joy when we only bring the Lord our worries and complaints, not our praise. Yes, He cares about every detail in our lives, but He is worth so much more!

Thankfully, our setbacks are no match for God’s abundant grace and power. Instead of acting defeated, we can choose to magnify Jesus…not our problems.

I love this example from the Gospel of John:

In John 3:22-36, John the Baptist’s disciples were concerned that Jesus’ ministry seemed more successful than John’s ministry. At that point, people were going to Jesus more than John. But John was not jealous of Jesus and didn’t see Him as a threat.

John knew he was called to point people to the Messiah—and that’s what he did. He was faithful. I love how in John 3:30, John the Baptist humbly magnified the Lord.

Yesterday, on my way to work, I prayed like I often do. However, I felt discouraged and had a lot of questions for God. I was also confused because something just. seemed. unfair.

Nonetheless, in prayer, I gave my concerns to the Lord, thanked Him, sang a song, and asked Him to direct my steps. I chose to come to Him for peace and help, knowing He cares for me and is greater than any of my problems (real or perceived!).

Then, at work, something unexpected happened. A friend from church popped into my office! She recognized me but wasn’t previously aware that I worked there. We caught up for a few minutes and briefly shared what God was doing in our lives.

We discussed some nutrition topics, but soon our conversation turned to the concerns I had just been praying about. I hadn’t planned on telling anyone, but it felt good that she understood. It seemed the Lord directed our conversation!

As my friend stood to leave, I was struck with an idea. “You know, I was planning to attend that worship event at church last Friday night, but at the last minute, a friend really needed help. I had wanted to go, but felt the sacrifice of my time was worth it.”

This special event had been on my calendar for weeks. I was looking forward to what God might do during that time. I was anticipating something good! Yet, in the moment, I decided to stay and help my friend. I made the best decision but wondered if I missed out.

I continued, “So on Friday night, I prayed about my decision not to go, saying ‘Lord, I can worship You anywhere, and if You have something specific to say to me, then I trust I can receive a word from You anywhere, too.’”

To my amazement, yesterday God showed up and spoke encouragement through my friend. Before she left, she hugged me and prayed for me.

Cue the happy tears!

Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified”

–From the song, “Magnify,” by We are Messengers

Yesterday, I was in awe and deeply touched. God cares so much to speak to me in personal ways… He is so good!

Only God knew… I needed a special word from Him on Tuesday instead of Friday!

I truly believe that if I was still focused on my problems, instead of the Lord, then I would have missed the chance to talk to my friend and be refreshed.

I don’t know exactly how God will handle my problems. But I do know He is working on them for me. I don’t have to worry or be afraid. I can trust Him and magnify Him.

He is greater!

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Oh God, be greater than the worries of my life. Be stronger than my fears, doubts, and questions. Lord, wherever I go and in all I do, be magnified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How can you magnify Jesus in your life this week?

Task: Listen to the song, “Magnify,” by We are Messengers.

Finding Grace #99

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 with 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 but good! Once again, I felt God directing my steps each day. I helped friends, met important writing deadlines, and was productive at work. I’m grateful!

Recently, I noticed my furnace wasn’t quite working like it should. I set up an appointment for this week to have it checked out. Turns out, the furnace was fine and just needed a little servicing. I will make sure to keep the maintenance up from now on… Oddly enough, the batteries in my thermostat needed to be changed, though they have lasted about 7 years as-is! Thankfully, the batteries were an inexpensive fix! 

On Wednesday, Lydia scored a book called, The Book With No Pictures, which she loved. She remembered it from last year and started reading it to herself in the bookstore. I couldn’t resist buying it for her. She kept laughing for about an hour!

After several years of going back-and-forth, I finally decided to get a remote starter for my car. I had a coupon, so that helped. 😉 A friend and I went to coffee during that time, and we also enjoyed some tasty treats. I was thankful for the good conversation and a ride!

The weather was fairly mild this week in the upper twenties and thirties. Spring is still a long way off (at least in Fargo), but I can see it will be here before we know it!

Lydia cheered at today’s basketball games (for Upward Sports). She is really enjoying it! The basketball players must’ve been in Kindergarten or first grade. They were so little but surprisingly coordinated. We are looking forward to a great season!

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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 #98

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 with 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 felt God’s blessing and favor in several personal ways. I was able to help several people in meaningful ways. I prayed for these people and used my writing skills to encourage and advocate for them. I provided timely input when asked and used my strengths. It made me feel like I am exactly where God needs me to be.

We had all our usual activities, including deadlines, work, school, and JBQ. Yet, instead of feeling stressed, I was excited! I think it has to do with the fact that I saw God using me to move in the lives of those around me. I enjoyed seeing Him direct my steps!

The weather is warmer today, but early in the week, we had wind chills near forty below. On Monday, I spent an hour-and-a-half outside clearing snow… Let’s just say it was a character-building experience! My legs and feet are sore even now, but I am thankful for the ability to do what was needed. With the warmer weather, I am taking it easy!

Recently, Lydia joined a cheerleading program through Upward Sports. She and her friends cheered for their first basketball game today! I didn’t know if she would be too nervous, but she handled it like a champ. (I’m sure the camaraderie helped!)

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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 #97

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 with 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 good week, starting off with my ten year wedding anniversary. This was my fifth one without Dave. I’m thankful for the time we had together, but the fact that it snuck up on me shows how much healing has occurred. Lydia and I enjoyed our day.

At church, we celebrated a week of prayer, which I feel set the tone for the rest of my week! I didn’t know how I was going to squeeze it all in, but by God’s grace, I did. I met deadlines, had fun clients at work, and had enough energy for all our evening activities.

My cousin and I started an online cooking class together. Actually, she lives in Ohio, but we are comparing notes as we go. I made a delicious pineapple-mango salsa and bought myself a new cutting board! It is a six-week course, so I am sure we will make lots of good recipes! For me, it’s about being creative, having fun, and trying new things.

Today, Lydia and I enjoyed spending time with friends. It is too chilly to go sledding or be outside for long… So we went to their house to visit instead! It’s always good to hang out with friends! We enjoyed seeing what God is doing in their lives.

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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)!

Taking It Up A Notch

We’re only two weeks into the new year, and Lydia and I are off to running start! Last week, we began some new activities, and this week, we’ve added a couple more!

I’m really enjoying all the exciting opportunities ahead…really, I am! However, I can already feel my stress levels going up a notch.

Our normal routine is manageable and has a fair amount of margin. Yet adding even one thing takes consideration as we try to juggle it all. That’s fairly normal for most of us, but I prefer to have some flexibility.

On Monday afternoon, I felt a little overwhelmed. It was one of those days I had a million things to do but didn’t have much to show for all my effort. I was working on deadlines, dinner, dishes, and ‘backpack reading’ (for Lydia)… to name a few. I was also working on a small project for someone.

Later, a friend also invited me to pray at church that evening, as our church is holding nightly prayer events all week to set the tone for the year. We expect God to do good things in our lives, our church, and our community.

Absolutely, yes!

But on Monday, I honestly didn’t know how I was going to add it to an already full day. I had planned on going later in the week, but didn’t want to disappoint my friend…

Thankfully, I knew that praying was the best thing I could do. When I give my time (or other resources) to God, He always makes it work out in my favor. So, I trusted God and went to corporate prayer.

I’m so glad I went. Not only did I receive peace and a proper perspective, I also grew in joyful anticipation. I prayed with friends and heard how God was moving in their lives.

Praying was just the refreshment I needed! With my burdens lifted, I was able to stay in the present and not worry about my schedule or problems.

It was also a great personal reminder that prayer takes precedence. By taking our prayers up a notch we take our problems to God who can handle them so much better.

Our problems are no match for His power!

So far, this week, everything has worked out. I’ve done my best and will trust God to handle the rest. But many times, our circumstances do not change overnight. Sometimes things have to run their course, and some situations need God’s special touch.

There are things only He can do. Don’t give up. Press in and pray it through.

When we pray, God moves on our behalf. When stresses go up, so should our prayers. And if we let Him, God can take our faith up a notch too!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for all Your kindness, grace, and love. You are so good! Thanks for being with us, for listening, and for walking us through each problem and challenge. Help us come You to first, not as a last resort. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you ever felt like you didn’t have time to pray? Would you do it differently next time?

Tasks: Continue bringing your heart and requests to Jesus. He loves you so much! Also, read Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels.

Finding Grace #96

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 with 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 really chilly week, but we still saw an abundance of God’s grace! We jumped back into our normal routine and also added some fun activities. Lydia started a cheerleading program with friends at Upward Sports. They will cheer during youth basketball programs. I hope it will be a good way for Lydia to make more friends, have fun, be active, and learn use to her voice in a new way.

We resumed JBQ on Wednesday and Lydia has learned so much already! It is amazing to see these young kids hide God’s word in their hearts. I believe it’s one of the most important things they can do, so it’s good they are starting young. It makes me glad when Lydia says how much she loves it.

Of course, I went back to work and also tackled my ‘usual’ projects, such as deadlines and housework. I also started a new at-home yoga program which I always enjoy. I’ve been doing ‘Yoga with Adriene‘ on-and-off for awhile and can really notice a difference in how my joint, muscles, back, neck, and shoulders feel. I also notice when I skip it. It’s a good reminder to take care of myself…and remember to breathe!

In the little bit of ‘downtime’ I had this week, I watched a nature show on Netflix called ‘Frozen Planet.’ I love these types of shows! I enjoyed watching polar bears, penguins, caribou, wolves, and other animals prepare for winter. I also watched snowflakes and ice form in slow motion and was in awe of just how amazing our Creator God is! It is a short series, so I will have to watch more of it later!

This week, I started scribing the Gospel of John with some friends around the country. We simply copy down each word in John, going at our own pace. This is a great way to spend time with Jesus, the Living Word, and learn directly from Him. Then, we connect online and discuss our thoughts on each section. It’s been really rewarding both personally and corporately. My friends come from a variety of Christian denominations and backgrounds, so it is really cool to see the larger Body of Christ (that is, the Church) in action. One benefit of doing this is that we can retain the written Word longer than just reading it. Plus, we can share insights and encourage each other along the way. 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)!

Finishing Strong: 2017 Year-End Review

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! As we come upon the new year, I always like to consider the adventures we had and lessons we’ve learned.

2017 was a year of transition for us. I knew that before it ever started. I had been praying for months (and in some cases, years) for events I saw coming. I appreciate how the Lord gives us a vision for things to come and prepares us to walk them out.

For example, I had been praying for two years about getting a roommate. I was not sure what that would entail, but I kept envisioning someone staying in my guest room. Then, in January, my dear friend needed a place to stay and the timing all made sense. We had a wonderful experience during those six months, and I think a large part of that was God’s blessing from all the prayers. Our friendship is even stronger now!

However, there were still some surprises…the big one is that my dad’s youngest sister died in January. She lived in the mountains of Colorado and so once the majority of snow melted (May), we trekked there to celebrate her life. It was an unexpected loss and an unexpected road trip. But we were thankful to see our extended family, too.

Some of the transitions were known about, however I did not know how they would play out. My job went through a merger in March, and I was unsure of the fallout. I prepared to stay but also felt it would be wise to have an exit plan. Thankfully, it has worked out well for me. That too, was covered with much prayer! I learned a new level of trust and rest during this process. I’m grateful for the Lord’s provision and graciousness!

Additionally, Lydia started school (full-time) this year, and so that has also been a transition. I was a little nervous about how that would go, so I covered that in prayer too. Overall, it has been a smooth (and mostly fun) experience for both of us.

In many cases, I have felt the need to just “roll with the punches” through some experiences. This summer, I decided to change travel plans and stay home instead. Dear friends were moving, a project needed significant work, and I wanted to get ready for the start of school. So my dream of going to Glacier National Park will have to wait…hopefully I will get there someday…but I am at peace knowing the Lord’s timing is perfect.

Sometimes, when life feels a little chaotic, it’s difficult to know what to do. But, if we rely on the Lord, it will all work out. I was hoping to make it home for the holidays, but was unsure about the weather. So, I prayed and planned and prepared as best I could. Then, the weather held up and we literally jumped in the car ready to go. I’m grateful we did because the weather turned snowy again the next day. God is so good!!

I don’t know what 2018 has in store, but I know Jesus has it under control! I am eager to see how He moves in our lives. I know whatever challenges come, He will be with us. As I pray for His wisdom and timing, the Lord will lead me and prepare me for what is to come. Jesus has never let me down, and I am excited to walk Victoriously with Him each day!

So let’s finish strong. Don’t give up. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). If you let Him, He will work it out for your good and His glory. Trust Jesus!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for bringing us through another year. Thanks for walking with us and teaching us along the way. May we continue to draw near to You in the new year. Please direct our path, showing us what to do and what to avoid. May we trust You more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What events or circumstances stand out to you this year? Can you see the Lord’s faithfulness? How has He come through for you?

Tasks: Pray for wisdom going into the new year. Ask the Lord to give you a vision and prepare you to walk it out. Thank Him for going with you!