Filled with Joy

This week, in addition to Thanksgiving, we are celebrating Lydia’s birthday! Regarding gifts, Lydia only requested one thing: a little toy bird. Of course, I bought it and kept it as a surprise. Actually, I bought her two because I couldn’t decide between them…

Then, a couple weeks ago, we were discussing her birthday. On a whim, I jokingly asked, “Well, what if I don’t get you a gift? Would that be okay?”

To my surprise, Lydia didn’t even blink. Immediately, she cheerfully replied, “That’s okay, Mom! You could just draw me a picture instead.” She went on to explain, “That’s what I do for you since I can’t go and buy you gifts when it’s your birthday or Christmas.”

While I was touched by her response, Lydia probably figured she would get gifts from other people… So perhaps she wasn’t concerned with missing out on a gift from me.

In the past, Lydia has gotten cards or presents from friends and family in several states. A good Father, God always makes sure she is taken care of. She is well-loved!

On her birthday, Lydia took popcorn for a snack at school. Then, at lunchtime, I joined her class for their meal. I also saw most of our little neighborhood friends. It was a fun experience! The kids were so excited to have a visitor.

 Overjoyed, the kids wiggled as they stood in the lunch line. They each wanted to sit next to me, show me a trick, or tell me an interesting story. The principal read a special Thanksgiving story, and I enjoyed talking with Lydia and her classmates.

After school, we went to Cherry Berry for frozen yogurt. Then, we came home to open presents. Lydia was happy with my gifts—a puzzle and two little birds that sing and can repeat what you say. (I may be regretting that soon!) She also received gifts from friends and family. Thank you!

Over the years, I have learned so much while watching Lydia learn and grow. She loves to read and do math! It is amazing to see her become who God intended. Indeed, she has many of Dave’s best qualities. I know he would also be so proud of her.

This season (and birthday) is our fifth time celebrating without Dave. Sometimes it can still be a little bittersweet. Each year has been so different, yet the Lord has been so kind and generous to us. The joy of the Lord is my strength!

Nothing can replace Dave, yet while we miss him, we keep moving forward. God loves watching His children grow through trials and walk in Victory. We can always celebrate His goodness and grace because God’s love never fails.

These days, I don’t often cry because of grief. Instead, if I am teary-eyed, it is usually because I am so thankful for all the Lord has done for us!

This week—and through this season—we will celebrate our many gifts, new milestones, and our dear friends and family… This year, our hearts are filled with joy.

Thanks to all who continue to encourage us and check in on us from time to time. Thanks for all your prayers and support! It means so much to us. We are truly blessed.

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Father God, You are so good and gracious. Thanks for taking such great care of us. Help us remember just how much You love us. Let us share Your love with those around us, especially during this holiday season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What are you thankful for? How have you grown this year?

Tasks: Call a friend who needs some encouragement during this season. Take them a meal or invite them over to visit. Be a blessing to them!

Finding Grace #89

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?

I felt so blessed this week to catch up with so many wonderful people! On Monday, a meeting was rescheduled, so we had dinner with a friend. She brought me roses and we both had a great time together!

I also caught up with family and several friends in different states. It’s always fun to see how many of us are connected and what God is doing in each of our lives. I’m thankful to know so many lovely people!

Work went well this week. Some of my patients had complicated issues, but, God helped me provide the right education and answer their questions. Instead of just focusing on their nutrition needs, I treated them with compassion and met them on their level.

Today, we attended a Junior Bible Quiz meet. Lydia didn’t buzz in or score, but she had fun anyway. I think she’s getting more comfortable. I’m glad she’s getting God’s word down in her heart. I’m also enjoying getting to know more families in our church.

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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)!

Roses and Redirection

I hope you are having a wonderful week! On Monday, I planned to attend an evening meeting, but then it was rescheduled for a later date. No worries…God redirected my steps!

Instead of my meeting, on a whim, I invited a good friend over for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other for a couple months and we decided to order Chinese food.

As a sweet gesture, she brought me some flowers. The pink roses really brightened my day as I had been feeling kind of “blah” earlier.

You probably know the feeling. We all have those moments, due to weather, insecurity, fear, or other factors. I wasn’t sure if I was discouraged or perhaps a little discontented. Frustrated or maybe impatient?

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I prayed about my attitude earlier in the day. I took it to Jesus! Before long, I felt more at peace. I was grateful for the redirection.

Later, my friend’s surprise act of kindness—the roses—actually felt like a personal gift from the Lord. He sees me and knows exactly what I need.

After Lydia went to bed, my friend and I continued our conversation. We had a great discussion and everything she said mimicked how I had felt that day. It was such a good reminder that I am not alone.

It was also good to see that our emotions can take on a similar pattern in each of our hearts—even if for different reasons. As we talked, we laughed and encouraged each other. We were both blessed that evening and had such a good visit!

Sometimes, our emotions can get the best of us. But it’s our job to keep them in check. As Lysa TerKeurst says, “Emotions are indicators, not dictators.” So, while it’s okay to pay attention to our feelings, we don’t need to let them have the final say.

This week, I am grateful for how the Lord directs (and redirects) my steps. I’m also glad that with Him, we always have hope. We don’t have to be discouraged…or discontented…or impatient…or _________ by what is going on around us.

What we see is only part of the story. If we are fear-based, we will always miss out on what God is doing. But, if we live by faith, we can rest, trusting that He has all the details under His sovereign care.

By faith, we can tap into all God has for us. He forgives our past and gives us grace for today. We also have hope for our future and strength to stand. Thank You, Jesus!

Often, life is not fair. But really, grace isn’t fair either. By definition, grace is ‘undeserved favor.’ Grace is extended to us because of who God is…not because of what we do.

We are loved because He loved us first.

So, let’s not worry or be afraid. We can trust Him to take care of all that concerns us. In His timing, the Lord will provide everything we need. Roses or redirection…it’s all good!

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Sovereign God, You are so generous and kind! Thanks for Your grace, roses, and redirection. Please help me trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you had some ‘holy redirection’ in your life lately?

Tasks: When you notice your emotions getting the best of you, stop and pray. Give it to Jesus. Let Him carry your burden instead!

Finding Grace #84

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 really good! We had a lot going on this week, though God was faithful to help us get through it all. My entry way light was replaced, which is a huge blessing. Now, I can cross it off my to-do list (after nearly a year of putting it off!).

This week, we had several late nights, due to meetings and activities. We had fun though! Surprisingly, Lydia wasn’t overly tired from staying up late. I had her take a nap one after school one day, which really helped. Perhaps she is also just getting used to the early mornings now!

Tuesday and Wednesday were full with work, writing, and church. At work lately, sometimes I’ve been using a new office in a different building. But I’ve called tech support about a half-dozen times for various issues. I had to request a certain program to be installed. Then, I had problems with logging into it. I also had to call about my printer, my mouse, and my phone. Hopefully everything is up to speed soon!

We haven’t been on any major road trips for a few months. But today Lydia and I went to Jamestown, ND, for a Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ) meet. We probably won’t travel to too many meets this year, but we enjoyed this one about an hour-and-a-half away! I didn’t have many expectations for Lydia, since this was her first time. Mainly, we were going to check it out so we know how everything works. Hopefully, when she is older, she will be able to jump right in! All in all, we had fun with friends and enjoyed a beautiful fall day!

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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 #83

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

This week was full of God’s grace! Lydia and I spent a little time with lots of friends this week. We have friends in town right now for the sugar beet harvest. It’s not October without them here! I also had lunch with another friend this week and spent time praying with several people.  It was a blessed week!

Monday was a big day for me in terms of being brave and embracing God’s grace. I had several other moments this week to not fake brave, as well. I’m so thankful for how much I have learned and grown these last few years!

Tuesday and Wednesday were full with work and other activities. I bought a new light for my entry way and notified the electricians so they can help install it next week. I also bought groceries and cleaned the house… you know, all those important tasks! Yet, I am grateful to have a flexible schedule to get everything done in a reasonable time frame.

I love autumn. Today, Lydia and I spent most of the afternoon with friends on an outdoor adventure! We went on a little hike and treasure hunt. Mostly, we found pretty leaves and a few cool bugs. But we ‘walked to Minnesota and back’ via a pedestrian bridge. We also tracked an ‘alligator log’ through the Red River. Finally, we ended up at Cherry Berry for frozen yogurt! It’s been a beautiful day!

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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 #82

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Finding Grace #80

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?

Sometimes, life get so busy that we fly through our days and miss what God is doing. This week was full like usual, but I was able to slow down and see the Lord move in personal ways. On Sunday, it felt like God had my number… The sermon coincided with a class I lead at church. The six participants were struggling and we had a great conversation about how to stay close to Christ and put him first. I love when God uses me to encourage others! I’m excited to see how the rest of the class goes, too!

I met some more coworkers in my field this week. We had a meeting and I was able to  envision some new opportunities in the near future. No major changes, just little things to make me feel like I am contributing to the team. I wasn’t sure what to make of the merger this spring, but so far, it has been a blessing in disguise. Praise God!

On Wednesday evening, Lydia and I went to church for the Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ) program. JBQ is like a Bible-based quiz bowl competition that gets God’s word in young kids hearts. This is Lydia’s first year and she loved it! I also helped by quizzing kids on the topics/questions of the week. We are both looking forward to a fun year!

Besides writing for the blog, I also wrote a little article for my small neighborhood magazine. In the article, I introduced my little free library to our community. I’ve seen several people stopping by, even from outside our area. Lydia and I are having fun with this project and will probably go on another library scavenger hunt soon!

All in all, this week was very rewarding. I enjoyed a massage, talked with family, celebrated a friend’s birthday, and made some cheesecake to share with other friends. Lydia went to bed super early last night and woke up in an excellent mood after 13+ hours of sleep. I enjoyed relaxing while she slept! Praise God…Here’s to a fun weekend!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Finding Grace #79

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Little Red Library on 8th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Grace #77

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

This week was full of God’s grace! Each day was also full of activity. On Sunday, we Skyped with some of Dave’s family. Lydia met some of Dave’s extended family for the first time. I am thankful for modern technology that we can “see” people all around the world and talk at the press of a few buttons!

Monday, of course, was the solar eclipse! Lydia and I had fun tracking it in real life and online (via the NASA broadcast). After that, I went to work for a few hours and had a writing meeting that evening. Lydia was able to go to daycare to play.

On Tuesday, I worked, had coffee with a friend, then went back to work. 🙂 After that, I took Lydia with me to get an oil change followed by haircuts. It was a full day, but the timing was good to get those last minute errands done before school starts.

Wednesday went fast, but was good. I spent some time praying for a friend going through a tough spot. Intercessory prayer is both an honor and a privilege! After that, I went to work and had a good meeting with my supervisor. I am interested to see how my fall schedule plays out with Lydia in school. It will be good to get into a different routine!

On Thursday, Lydia woke up excited for all we had planned. At lunchtime, we went to Caterpillar for the fifth memorial car and bike show held in Dave’s name. Then, we did a little last minute shopping before going to an open house at school to meet Lydia’s teacher. Immediately after that, Lydia went to a friend’s birthday party. It was a fun day!

Yesterday and today have been more laid back. Lydia and I ran to Menards and Walmart for some household items and groceries. I mowed the grass and had a couple good phone conversations. I also did some cleaning, organizing, vacuuming, and laundry. It’s been good to “relax” after the busy week!

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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)!