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 #75

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. We enjoyed my mother-in-law’s visit before she left on Tuesday. Then, Lydia and I ran errands and relaxed before the rest of the week picked up.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I attended an all-day work training. It was really good, and I felt like it was meant for me. Now, I am a ‘lifestyle coach’ for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Instead of teaching the year long program, I facilitate it. This is much more collaborative and research shows great success long-term. In some ways, I felt like I was designed to run this program. As much as I enjoy teaching, I think I enjoy facilitating (listening, asking questions, coaching) even more. I’m excited to be a part if this exciting program! Even better, I earned 10 hours of continuing education–and my company reimbursed me the training fee. Praise God! Of note, a dear friend graciously volunteered both days to watch Lydia. I am so grateful for her help and God’s provision!

Last night, Friday, Lydia and I joined our neighbors to watch the grand finale of the Pyrotechnics Guild International. The PGI creates new fireworks each year, so it was quite the show. We sat in a nearby parking lot with snacks…so we didn’t have to deal with as much traffic! It was a fun and beautiful night!

Today, I have been celebrating my birthday! Normally, I have something planned out, but this year, I just decided to meander have a low key day. We visited friends and just hung out. I’m thankful we because I was able to enjoy the slower pace and savor each card, gift, call, text, email, or social media shoutout. I was also available for deliveries of flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries during the day. 🙂 To extend the celebration, tomorrow, I will go to lunch with a friend after church!

Recently, I came across the idea of the little free library. I’ve seen them before, but just noticed one in my neighborhood this week. I love the idea, and have a lot of my own books to share. So, I think I will buy one (or get some help building one). I just have to figure out the details on what the options are. Reading and literacy is a valuable skill to pass along!

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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 #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)!

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 #62

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 we got back into our routine after our road trip. As we returned to Fargo, I noticed bright whites, stunning pinks, and deep purples on all the flowering trees in the community. I don’t have any on my property, but I always enjoy seeing them around. Maybe I will have to buy one for next year!

At my own house, I noticed my maple trees all had new leaves. My tulips also bloomed while I was gone! My neighbor sent me a picture while I was gone, but they are even more pretty in person!

Many of us neighbors have been out in our yards this week. It’s been fun to see all the kids playing again. A year older, they are a little more developed in their social and playing skills. I’m excited for another outdoor season! Today it is in the 80s so the kids are playing with buckets of water, bobbing for apples, and playing in the neighbors’ slip-n-slide!

Today, I mowed for the first time this season. I should have mowed before our road trip last week… but didn’t. So parts of the yard were so high that Lydia and the neighbor kids thought it was wheat. It was ready to sprout! I laughed when one neighbor girl took a pile of the grass home and asked her mom to put her “wheat” in a vase with water. 😉

Finally, this week we traded child care duties with one of the neighbor families, which was really helpful and fun! We each took turns with school pick up and drop off. One night I had a work meeting so they watched Lydia after feeding us a yummy dinner. Then the next night, I watched their boys for a few hours while they had a nice night out.

I’m so thankful for God’s 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 #57

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

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

This week was good overall! We enjoyed a birthday pool party for a little family friend on Monday. She was born about six weeks before Dave died, so she is quite special to us. We’ve enjoyed seeing her learn and grow over the years. It was fun catching up with her parents and older siblings as well.

We’ve had a beautiful week weather-wise! It was bright and sunny most days, and I happily wore shorts on a few occasions. On Thursday afternoon, I sat outside with a couple neighbors while our kids played together. A few other neighbor kids joined us for riding bikes and scooters, chalk on the sidewalk, snacks, running around, and other shenanigans. An exciting early start to summer!

One highlight of my week was enjoying the serenade of a little finch 3+ days in a row. At first, I thought he was a purple finch. However, later I decided he might be a house finch. Either way, he was red/brown and quite cute. He sang his heart out, without a care in the world! As I listened, I remembered God sees and cares for every detail of our lives.

Lastly, Lydia lost her first tooth! She diligently wiggled it all week and last night, just before bed, it came out. She was very proud of herself. We plan to get some frozen yogurt as a special treat to celebrate this milestone!

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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 #45

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?

I hope you’ve been staying warm this week! I always appreciate those days where we can stay home when it’s cold, snowy, and blowy. But each day this week, Lydia and I needed to be somewhere (work, school, errands, etc). I’m thankful for my reliable car with all-wheel drive…and for all the years I spent commuting to work during Illinois winters! Praise God for His safety and protection!

I can already tell this is going to be an interesting year. I’m excited for all the possibilities, but know I will need to keep a prayerful attitude. Already this week, I have had to make some small, but impactful decisions. Like always, I’m praying for wisdom and clarity, along with courage to do whatever I need to do (depending on the decision). I’m thankful for God’s input and His provision.  I also appreciate my family and friends who sometimes act as “sounding boards” and help me filter my thoughts! Thanks!

On Thursday evening, I babysat for a family across the street while the parents went to a show. We had a blast! The boys and Lydia were all well-behaved, despite the late night. It was fun to observe their interactions, while playing with stickers, the Light Brite, etc. They even let me play Go Fish and watch their dance party! I was glad to help, and the next evening we were invited for a visit (and dinner!) at their house. I’m thankful for great neighbors!

Today, on our way home from the store, it was about 11 degrees above zero. Heat wave! The sun felt so warm, I nearly had to take off my heavy winter coat while driving. It was wonderful! This next week should be warmer still (in the twenties and lower thirties). I hope to get more time to play in the snow. We have a to-scale version of Mt. Everest just beyond the backyard that keeps calling my name!

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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)!