Finding Grace #61

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 gracethis week?

This week was jam-packed getting ready for our first road trip of 2017. It’s always hectic trying to pack, clean and prepare the car. I also needed to finish planning our route, make reservations, and make sure everything is good in our absence. Thanks, God, for Your grace, provision, and protection!

We have been spending time with family this weekend, as we mourn the loss of my aunt. She passed away in late January, but her services were delayed until better weather. Our large family needed to have time to make traveling plans. I am so glad many of us were able to get together, comfort and encourage each other, and share good memories.

I am praising God for good weather this week! With road trips, there’s no telling how the roads will be. Rain, snow, or fog can make navigation difficult. Thankfully, we’ve had gorgeous weather every leg of the journey.

Finally, I am thankful for good friends and neighbors who helped watch Lydia this week. With so much going on, I needed to focus. They were instrumental in giving me space and time to think and plan!

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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)!

On the Right Track

Right now I have a strong sense of peace. I have many activities and projects waiting for me… But I am enjoying the quiet. I can easily become overwhelmed by all I have to do…

But when I choose to stop and just enjoy the Lord’s presence, all the chaos subsides. None of that seems important as I rest in Him. I’m thankful for the peace He brings!

This week, I am celebrating small answers to prayer. Despite all of my own effort—working hard to get results—God kindly reminded me that He is faithful. I don’t have to worry or stress because He will never let me down.

In fact, God gave me peace through a simple conversation. Someone confirmed that I was on the right track, just by listening to my concerns and giving me some feedback. The words I heard matched what was already on my heart through prayer.

As soon as that happened, I felt the Lord’s assurance that He has it all under control. He is the one who brings my breakthrough(s)! I can trust Him for His timing.

When He wants me to do something differently, He will make it clear. He always comes through for me! In the meanwhile, I don’t need to try to do it all on my own or figure it out.

There is great freedom in understanding God’s grace. I know He loves me know matter what. His love is not based on what I do, but who I am. I don’t have to compare myself to anyone—there is no one like me! He has made me unique and loves me just for being me.

Currently, there is a small stack of dishes in the sink and I just remembered there is still laundry in the dryer, waiting for another round. I need to go through the mail and clear off the dining room table. But all of those tasks will get done soon enough.

With Jesus, there is no rush. He refreshes me with His love and grace. Somehow, I always have the right amount of time to finish what needs to be done.

In the quiet, I have been thinking of all the ways God loves me. In addition to His protection and provision, I can see how He has helped me in the past. Whether it was related to family, friends, college, jobs, or making decisions, He always worked things out in His time. He has never left me on my own.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn to conserve my energy for certain tasks and let others go (or come back to them later). Grief is like that. Parenthood is like that! Instead of being frustrated with uncompleted tasks, I am learning the ebb and flow of resting in the Lord.

Instead of worrying about unanswered or unsolved problems, I can trust Jesus. When the Lord moves, I move. When He rests, I rest, too. When He says to make plans, I plan. When He says to wait, I wait. He always leads me to Victory!

Yes, staying in-step with Jesus is what matters most. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. His timing is perfect. He always comes through…He is faithful!

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Jesus, thanks for being my Shepherd. Thanks for leading me with grace. Refresh me with Your presence. Help me draw near to You. In Your Name, Amen.

Questions: Do you find it easy or difficult to stay in-step with Jesus? What does that look like for you? Are there any changes you need to make?

Tasks: Memorize Psalm 23.

Finding Grace #55

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 I felt like I was living out of my car…but for good reasons! I simply had a number of meetings and places to be. I worked two longer-than-normal days, but had help from a good friend who watched Lydia before school. She was a huge help!

On Wednesday evening, I had the privilege of speaking at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) at my church. I am grateful for the three years I spent at another local MOPS chapter when Lydia was little. This week, I shared my story with a small group of ladies, discussing some of the struggles and joys I’ve had. Momsand women in generalneed to stick together, and I was glad for the chance to share with these ladies.

Yesterday (Friday) was quite busy, but fun. Besides our “normal” Friday activities, I met with a lady from church; encouraged two people who recently loss their spouses; had our neighbors over for pizza and playing; and Skyped with family in Illinois. It was great to see some of the amazing people in my life. I am so thankful for how God uses me!

Today has been full of activity too. In addition to our Saturday routine, we went to a birthday party; cleaned the house; did two loads of laundry; and made my second fruit salad of the week. YUM!! I am looking forward to relaxing tonight before another busy week. I am so thankful for God’s sweet and refreshing grace!

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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 #48

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 favor—His abundant grace—this week?

Overall, this was a good week! The weather turned chilly again, in the teens and twenties. But, overall, it was bright and sunny. Praise God!

I had several one-on-one meetings week with a variety of people. I was glad to talk with these friends to help them process life events and decisions. Often, by listening to others, I also gain valuable insight into my own life. I still have some pending decisions to make, but I’m giving my concerns to the Lord. Indeed, I’ve been praying for each of these decisions on-and-off for 2+ years! I know God’s got me got me covered!

I’m extra grateful for God’s grace and comfort during loss. Sadly, this week we had a death in our extended family. My dad’s youngest sister died quite unexpectedly. She was fairly young and so it was a shock. She was a beautiful soul and will be sorely missed. Still, it was good to talk with so many of our family members this week. I’m thankful for the love we share, even if we don’t see each other often due to living in several different states!

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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)!

Gifts Galore

As I previously mentioned, this entire holiday season has been the best in quite some time! The last several weeks have stood out for many reasons. Each situation—including Halloween, Lydia’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Dave’s birthday—has seemed extra special this year. Praise God!

So far, Christmas has also been distinct. We’ve decorated more, started new traditions, and even skipped a few tasks. We’ve simplified where needed, but have also celebrated at a deeper level this year.

This year, Lydia and I are keeping it simple. I am enjoying the slower pace. Lydia…well, she’s super excited what’s already around the tree. I don’t go overboard, but loved ones have been sending gifts!

That said, I’m not super creative when it comes to gift-giving. In the past, I struggled if I couldn’t find ‘the perfect gift.’ Sometimes I would end up giving nothing if it wasn’t ‘just right.’ But I have since put off perfectionism and put on grace! And gift cards still count. When given with love, everything falls into place. It’s not so much the gift, but the heart that counts.

Jesus is certainly the most precious gift we could ever receive. At the same time, we give gifts to show love to each other. And, we show our love for God by living for Him—doing our best and giving our best back to Him.

I didn’t always understand this. I often felt like others had better gifts and talents—or were better at using them. Perhaps they were just willing to give whatever they had!

I felt like whatever I offered had to be super special…something extraordinary.

Yes, it took me awhile to figure out my God-given talents and abilities. Thankfully, I have learned so much these last few years. He can use anything given back to Him with the right heart. When we use our gifts to serve God and bless others, that’s when we find the most fulfillment, joy and peace.

When I didn’t have much emotional reserve, I brought my tears. I also brought my grief and uncertainty, fears and doubts. I guess you could say I gave out of my lack.

And in return for my weaknesses, Jesus gave me His strength. He also gave me even more of His love and grace, peace and joy. Yes, God has brought healing! He always gives out of His abundance! Gifts galore!!

This year I have seen beauty instead of ashes, color instead of shadows. He’s given me gladness in place of mourning (see Isaiah 61:3). And this holiday season, I have given the Lord praise with a grateful heart.

This week, we’ve had the honor of hosting a friend with her little toddler. Each day has been different but really fun. My friend made plans to stay with us months ago, and we have been looking forward to it. But her visit has also been such a gift to me!

We have visited other friends, watched movies, played in the snow, and shared childcare duties. We’ve enjoyed good food and stayed up late, talking and encouraging each other. These one-on-one skills use my strengths and bring me joy. And as we discuss what’s on our hearts, I can see more evidence of God’s healing my own.

This year, it really has been simple. I’ve been able to rest and give back to the Lord out of the abundance He’s already given me. And, as I have given hospitality, time, and friendship, I have been blessed with even more of the same!

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Father God, thanks for giving us Jesus. Thank You for Your gracious healing and dear friends. Help us give our best back to you each day. Change our hearts and perspective as we experience Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have special plans for Christmas? What was the best gift you have ever given or received?

Tasks:  Write down your God-given talents. If you don’t know your strengths, pray about it! Ask God and other people what you do best. Then, serve and bless others!

Hope and Healing for the Holidays

What a difference a year can make!

This year, my holiday preparations started back in September! One Sunday, I went up front for prayer during the church service. I asked the volunteer couple to pray with me; I was a little nervous about the upcoming holidays.

I needed peace and reassurance, because the entire last quarter of 2015—October through December—was pretty rough grief-wise. So I was praying for a non-repeat.

I’m so glad I asked for prayer.

Praise God, we’ve had by far the best holiday season yet. We’ve had many special moments with family and friends over the years, but this entire season has been good.

It’s not just what we have done—but also what we haven’t done—that’s different. We’ve hosted visitors, attended holiday events, and enjoyed new traditions, sure.

One thing we did not do: Send Christmas cards.

I felt I would have been running short on time to crank out cards to our many loved ones. And because our season has gone well, I decided to be still and take it all in.

Sure, the picture below is unedited (with other peoples’ heads in the way). 🙂 But, I have more peace and joy as-is. Honoring Jesus by not being so stressed feels way better.

Also, this season, Lydia and I reached a happy milestone! We decided to put up the ‘big’ six-foot Christmas tree for the first time in at least five years.

For the last several years, it was just too much physically and emotionally to handle decorating the tree on my own. It brought me more tears than joy. Yet this year feels vastly different—I am grateful for God’s gracious healing!

Last week, my neighbor helped me bring up the tree out of the dusty closet, so Lydia and I could decorate it. Now that she is old enough to understand more, it is so fun to see her excitement! Lydia is delighted with all things Christmas.

For me, this holiday season feels like a gift. It’s like I am seeing things in full color! To be honest, for the first time in years, I am truly excited to celebrate the wonder of Jesus’ birth!!

I am already looking forward to Christmas, without even knowing my exact plans!

Instead of rushing through the season from one event to the next, I’ve taken time to pause and enjoy each moment. We hung a new wreath outside and bought new bright red, Christmas decorations for inside. We’ve played games, made treats and watched holiday movies. It’s been fun!

Dear friend, I pray you are also having a wonderful season of celebration. I hope you are able to feel the joy of Christmas. But, I also know how you feel if this feels like the worst season yet. Last year was unexpectedly difficult for me. So, I’ve been there!

Maybe this year you need to simplify your decorations or buy something new. Or, quite possibly, you might just skip decorating altogether. I understand!

It might be less stressful to stay home for Christmas or maybe you will feel better by traveling to visit loved ones. I’ve done both!

Yes, each season has its own unique challenges. Remember to treat yourself well.

Ask for help, when needed, and adjust your expectations.

If you want to read my holiday posts from last year, click here for the start of my December 2015 posts. I hope you are encouraged!!

You may feel like each day is a battle, when everyone else is laughing and carrying on. You might have to fight just to put on a smile. I get it.

I also know the best thing you can do…. Whether you are facing fear, loneliness, discouragement, or immense sadness, bring it to Jesus.

If you feel like you have nothing to bring to Him for Christmas, bring whatever you have. Your honesty is precious to Him! He can handle it and use it to heal your heart.

Jesus loves you deeply, and He will never leave you alone.

You don’t have to have your life perfect…Just come!

Someday, Life will be good again. It will get better! But, it’s going to take some time to heal. Let our dear Savior King touch your spirit with his grace and love.

Linger in Jesus’ presence. Even if that is all you can do today, that’s okay. The rest will come. Take it one day, one hour, or one minute at a time. Don’t forget to breathe. Conserve your energy, and reserve your best for Jesus.

In the midst of your struggle, God is there. His plan for you is GOOD. Remain close to Him and you will find peace and grace in your time of need.

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Father God, thanks for Your gracious healing. Thanks for making all things new. When our hearts are burdened with grief, pain, or discouragement, remind us to turn to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Do you have any special holiday traditions? Who, or what, are you missing this season? How can I pray for you?

Tasks: Find someone you trust and ask for prayer. Find a quiet spot and just be still before the Lord. Let Jesus fill your heart with peace.

Turning Trials into Triumph

Happy September! We had a great first day of preschool on Tuesday! Of course, Lydia did awesome. I kept it together (mostly) and tried to enjoy the change of pace as well!

First Day of Preschool 2016

Though, on Monday, Lydia played with several friends in the neighborhood. One last hurrah! Thankfully, Lydia was out of earshot when a little girl asked me:

Where’s her father?

Surprised at the question, I explained that he had been sick and is now in heaven. The little girl nodded her head with genuine concern and said, “Oh… that happened to my dog, too!” And then she went back to playing with the other kids.

What a perceptive little girl! She must’ve known all the other dads were at work. While I didn’t expect her question, I was glad she had the courage to ask. Her cute little response made me smile!

Then, on Monday night, Lydia and I talked about preschool as we ate dinner. I told Lydia how proud of her Dave would be. I also reminded her of what she could say if someone asks about him. It doesn’t happen often, but I want her to be comfortable and prepared.

After we laid out Lydia’s new outfit, a sparkly green dress, I painted her nails to match. Then, we read The Night Before Preschool and said our prayers. Lydia was asleep in no time. She was ready

crayons

ME, on the other hand?Let’s just say I needed some time with Jesus!

There wasn’t anything really ‘wrong.’ I was excited for Lydia!

But emotions welled up as I reflected on how far we’ve come—and my conversation with our new little friend. The actual words hadn’t bothered me; it was an honest question. But I was upset that we had to have the conversation. A subtle difference, sure!

I couldve wallowed there for quite some time. Ahem. But I didn’t. I took it to Jesus, because I know He loves me so much. And praise God, He helped me turn it around!

I gave Him my sadness and concerns. I chose to praise the Lord with thankfulness instead. Then, slowly my heart grew glad as He reminded me that He will go with Lydia.

And, yes, He’s got this!

Psalm 145_13

Now I’m taking a *wild* guess here, but I bet you are facing some changes or challenges of your own. Maybe it’s a really good transition you have been praying about, like a new job or school. Or, perhaps there are heavy burdens on your heart—things you didn’t see coming. An unexpected circumstance popped up and you don’t know what to do. Maybe you have been dealing with the same difficulties for awhile with no relief in sight.

Don’t worry. God’s got this!

At the beginning of the school year, teachers often conduct a basic review to assess what  students have already learned. It can also be helpful for us to review all the trials God has brought us through. When we see our circumstances in the light of His goodness, we can see He has a plan. And, we can trust Him more going forward.

The Lord excels at turning trials into triumph!

(To be clear, I don’t look at how far I have brought myself, for that is not worth much.)

It’s the Lord who has carried me all these years. He is my Shepherd!

When I don’t know what to do, He is my Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace.

His Presence is always with me, and He will never leave me to fend for myself.

When I am afraid, He is Protector, my Shield, my Refuge, and my Defense.

He loves me with an everlasting love. (Which is A LOT!!)

I know God has good plans—filled with hope—for my future.

He always keeps His promises; He is faithful to complete every good work He starts.

Yes, it’s safe to say Lydia’s in good hands this year. Besides having wonderful, caring teachers, God’s got her covered. Of course He does…He loves her even more than I do!

And if you let Him, God will take good care of you too!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for all the ways You care for us. Help us make the most of these new opportunities. Help us grow in grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What changes or challenges are you facing? Do you believe God can handle it?

A Heart and Home Make-Over

This last month, I have been redecorating and reorganizing my house. It all started when I replaced my plain eight-year-old shower curtain with a more colorful one! Woohoo

😉

Before long, I noticed how much the shower curtain brightened the bathroom and my mood. I hadn’t planned on revamping my entire house, but soon that’s what happened!

new shower curtain

One day, my neighbor came over and helped me assemble a little side table I had bought. We discussed where to put it and came up with several options. Two hours flew by as our kids played and we rearranged my upstairs!

We moved two chairs in the living room, and noticed the (old) side table didn’t really “fit” in my new plan. So, I sold the entire matching set, including the coffee table from my basement. As I removed furniture no longer serving its purpose, I grew more excited.

I began to see my house differently, as I sensed God filling me with creativity.

Ultimately, I also sold with my dining room table with eight chairs—most were stored in closets around the house—and replaced it with a smaller set. I parted with my patio table and ten chairs—way too many for us—and received a bistro table and two chairs as a birthday gift.

My house looks so trim now!

table

Yes, this last month has been a refreshing experience for me! I have sold or given away many items, and returned things borrowed from friends.

Still, most of the changes have been ‘in-house.’

For example, I hung up pictures and wall décor, which instantly made my house more inviting. I moved tables, chairs and bookcases, opening up a ton of space.

I cleaned and reorganized my office and gained mental clarity as a result! I am so pleased to see the immediate changes in my environment. I’m amazed at how lighthearted I feel!

stairway

And then, to top it all off, I decided to re-stain my deck! It had been done two summers ago, but was looking worn. With the boost of energy I gained from my inside home makeover, I felt empowered to tackle the outside too.

Two years ago, Lydia was far too young to get much accomplished on my own. I often needed help with inside and outside house maintenance.

Even simple tasks felt like a chore when combined with grief and an active toddler.

Back then, six or seven men from church spent several hours one Saturday staining the deck, laying mulch, and organizing the garage. What a blessing that was! This time, however, I decided to attempt it on my own.

Earlier in the month, a friend helped pressure-washed the deck. Another friend gave me a few tips and walked me through the process. (I’m sure they would have helped more if I truly needed it.) But I was eager to finish it before cooler weather comes.

My goal was to have the deck completed by Labor Day, and I did it a week earlier than planned! I’m proud of myself for accomplishing a time-consuming task like this. What’s more, Lydia played all afternoon with the neighbors, helping me focus! (Many thanks!)

sitting area

My house definitely feels more like home now. Everywhere I look, I see something that makes me smile. What a difference a few updates can make!

Indeed, small changes can yield growth mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Of course, before we can move forward in life, we have to let go of what is in the past. It can be a lengthy process…and that’s okay.

I’m curious how this will set the stage for new memories as we step into the fall. I’m also interested what the impact will be as we move toward the holidays. Last year was more difficult emotionally than I thought it would be…

green picture

Yet regardless of what the coming seasons hold, I trust God’s wisdom in prompting me to make these updates. He knows exactly what I need in order to keep moving forward.  I’m grateful He provides creative inspiration and direction along with peace and joy.

He renews us day by day, and has good things in store. He’s watches over us, provides for us, and is always there to encourage us with His grace!

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Heavenly Father, You are so good to me! Thank You for the grace and resources to make changes long-overdue. Help me keep moving forward with courage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Have you made any home improvements lately? How did it affect your outlook? Are there other life changes you can make?

Full Circle: A Gift from Around the World

Last Thursday, Lydia and I went to a memorial car-and-bike show! This is the fourth year Dave’s employer, Caterpillar, has held it in his name. Yet, this year seemed extra special.

Lydia looked forward to the car show all morning. “Is it time to go yet?” she kept asking. She dressed herself, and proudly wore her light pink CAT sweatshirt. “I’m ready!”

Lydia_2016 car show

Each year has been a little different, though I always come away in awe at how much love and effort is put into the show. This year was distinct because Lydia is now old enough to learn a little more about Dave and remember where he worked.

For the first couple of car shows, Dave’s 1965 Chevelle was present. With God’s help (and a cool story), I sold it last year. Lydia doesn’t (really) remember Dave, but I am so thankful she remembers his car!

As usual, we ate lunch at the car show, and saw a few familiar faces. We visited with Dave’s coworkers and caught up with old friends.

Then, we went on a tour of the facility. I have been on several CAT tours over the years, but this was the first time Lydia was able to follow along and ask questions.

Every so often, I would pause to clarify anything she was unsure about. I pointed out different projects Dave had worked on and equipment he helped set up. Dave loved working for Caterpillar and I am still so proud of all he accomplished there.

IMG_0787_smaller

We passed several pictures of employees being recognized for achievements. One section held three pictures—a memorial wall. Dave’s photo was first.

Lydia asked, “Why is my Daddy’s picture up there?”

I don’t always know how to answer her questions, so with tears in my eyes, all I could manage was, “Because they loved him so much.”

I was honored to see Dave’s picture, but in that moment I felt the deep loss. Not just for myself, but for Lydia…and all the potential one life can hold. We moved on, and I was thankful for the safety glasses (hopefully) hiding my mixed emotions.

Later, we met a man whom I vaguely recognized. Perhaps I met him on a previous tour, but he jumped up to say hello when we were introduced. He also greeted Lydia and answered a few questions about his machine before we left. Soon, we were on our way to another area.

Minutes later, we observed another machine at work. I noticed the man (from before) had followed us and was waiting patiently to talk with us. As we finished watching, he held out a small, brightly decorated drum.

Lydia_Drum from Singapore

“What’s this?” I asked.

“It’s a drum from Singapore,” he said. “One of the ladies there…hmmm… what’s her name?”

“Jennifer?” I suggested.

“Yes, that’s it!” He replied, with a curious look on his face. “Jennifer gave it to me.” His voice grew soft, “And lately, I have been looking for someone to give it to…”

He nodded toward Lydia, and gave me the drum. “I would like her to have it.” Astonished, I thanked the man for the drum and then told him about when I met Jennifer.

“Jennifer was part of the Singapore group that visited several years ago, to learn how to run their new CAT facility. Dave helped them with the set up.”

I went on, “When I was pregnant with Lydia, they came to see everything firsthand. Dave made hotel reservations, rented a mini-van, and drove them all around town!”

“I met Jennifer and her coworkers (most had English first names) at a team building event out in the country. The whole group excitedly took pictures of tractors, corn, and cows! Dave stopped along the way so they could document their trip. We had a lot of fun!”

Drum from Singapore

When Dave died, the Singapore employees sent condolences, cards, and a (monetary) collection. They said how much they enjoyed working with Dave and appreciated his help. I couldn’t believe their generosity and compassion…it was amazing.

Back then, I was touched to receive such kindness from so far away.

On Thursday, receiving the beautiful drum was certainly unexpected. But, for me, it was a poignant reminder of love sent around the world. It was just what I needed in that moment. Only God could bring it full circle all these years later!

Dave was always thinking of how to help others. The drum also serves as a memento of how even small, thoughtful acts can impact so many people.

Lydia does not understand all of this just yet, but to me, the whole day—tour and drum included—was a huge blessing. Now whenever I have a sad moment, I am going to look at that pretty drum and remember that God sees us and knows exactly what we need.

He cares about every aspect of each person’s life and provides encouragement when we need it most. Yes, God uses each little detail to piece together a beautiful story of grace!

Praise God!

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God, thanks for Your grace. Thank You for loving me so much. Help me turn to You in the difficult moments! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you had a ‘God moment’ lately? What did you learn?

Sharing Our Stories

Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement around the three year anniversary of Dave’s death! My mom and aunt visited for a few days to celebrate Dave and comfort me.

I kept their visit as a surprise from Lydia, but the joke was on me. My sister also came…to surprise ME! We had a wonderful visit: shopping, eating yummy food, and sharing stories.

I love how each of our lives interconnect. I’m thankful we encourage and support each other through the ups and downs of Life. I also love a good cup of coffee. 🙂

I don’t need anything fancy! I’ll drink coffee at home with milk, most days. Even better, I enjoy coffee with a friend, sharing stories and experiences, learning from each other.

coffee

What’s more, I love how each of us can impact those around us with the stories of our personal lives. Never underestimate the power or significance of your story.

Whether you enjoy coffee or not, don’t be afraid to share your story with those around you. Even total strangers can benefit!

The night before my visitors arrived, my mom had an interesting conversation with the cashier at a certain store. She was picking up some snacks and a little trinket for Lydia.

“Oh you must be going on a trip!” said the cashier, an older woman.

My mom mentioned the reason for her trip, and told the cashier a little of my story. The lady grew quiet, and said, “My daughter is a younger widow, too. She doesn’t have small children now, but she is having a difficult time.” (Her husband died in a sudden accident.)

My mom is compassionate and understanding in these types of moments. Through the course of their conversation, Mom shared about my blog, and that God has taken such good care of us. We are not angry with God, and keep moving forward.

This prompted the cashier to say, “I don’t really know how to get ahold of God.” So, Mom explained the basic gospel message to her. They chatted a little more. Then, the lady wrote a few things down, and squeezed my mom’s hand as she left.

2 Corinthians 1_3-4

Isn’t God good?! He meets us right where we are, and longs to comfort us. After all, our personal life stories are just a small part of the greater one He is writing.

We overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus!) and the word of our testimony (see Revelation 12:11). As we share our stories, we are healed. But it doesn’t stop there. It is not all about us. Our redemptive stories also bring God glory and bless others. Knowing this makes my pain more bearable!

We have the ability to affirm and speak God’s truth to one another! Once we have worked through our own mess, we become His messengers to others. When infused with His grace and wisdom, our words bring His power to set people free.

Please note: I am not suggesting to “spill your guts” or share other people’s secrets (gossip). If you need help processing your pain, please consider professional input.

latte with heart

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

Did you catch that? What was meant for evil—to hurt or stop us—God is working for good. Our pain does not go wasted. God collects each and every tear we cry. If we let Him, God will redeem our experiences and help someone else grow closer to Him, too.

Yes, grief and other emotions are normal. But we cannot stay there. Instead of dwelling on the loss, the anger, the negativity… Take it to Jesus. His love never fails. Let Him walk you through to Victory, and then share what He has done in your life with others.

At the end of you life, the only thing that will matter is your relationship with Jesus Christ, followed by how you treated other people. We can’t take our stuff with us!

Ultimately, the coffee won’t matter, but our stories will.

So speak up. Tell your story. See God heal your heart and touch the lives of others. Our stories (and lessons learned) can change lives—even to the point of eternity.

Isn’t that worth it?

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God of all comfort, thank You for healing our hearts. Give us courage to share the deep parts of our lives with others. Give us wisdom and grace as we encourage and learn from each other. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: If you like coffee, how do you like it best? What part of your personal story (testimony) could be shared to encourage or comfort someone else?