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!

*******
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)!

Rest: A Holy Staycation

This last week has felt somewhat like a staycation. It’s been great! My mother-in-law came to visit, so it was a good opportunity to let a few projects sit. We enjoyed our time with her doing things we don’t usually do. Of note, we also registered Lydia for Kindergarten in a few weeks!

I’m celebrating another birthday this week, and it seems timely to regroup and get refreshed before a new season starts. Around each birthday, I reflect on the previous year and make changes if needed. But this time, I am taking a wait-and-see approach.

While Lydia and I are both excited for the upcoming transition, there are a few details we just don’t know yet. We have about all the information we could possibly have, but some of our decisions can only be made as we go.

Instead of worrying, I’m thankful Jesus knows what we need and is preparing us! In the meanwhile, I can pray for wisdom and guidance. I can soak up His unfailing love and never-ending grace. I can trust Him to see us through!

I can spend quality time with Lydia, knowing that as she starts school later this month, those times will be fewer and far between. I can also refine my self-care routines to ensure I have enough energy in my tank. This includes getting adequate sleep, eating healthy foods, and making time to exercise.

Most of the time, I feel like I have a million things to do. Nonetheless, it seems like the Lord always brings me back to a certain point… REST.

In some ways, this time of R&R is like a ‘holy staycation’ with the Lord! Instead of running off to the next thing, I am using this time to be with Jesus.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that God often moves s-l-o-w. Sometimes I grow impatient while I wait! But, when I embrace the same pace as Him, I am refreshed and rewarded.

Following Jesus requires us to stay close to Him. In times of transition, it is even more important to seek Him and listen for direction. With all the noise around us, we can’t hear His still, small voice unless we walk close in step with Him.

Interestingly, a quick Bible search on the word “stay” yields 246 results. As I briefly peruse the list, I see that when God asked someone to stay, He had further directions or blessings for them. And at other times, He prepared the path ahead. He honors our commitment. (As a side note, sometimes people refused to wait patiently for the Lord and it cost them!)

For example, the Israelites stayed at Sinai for the Ten Commandments. Rahab stayed home and was saved at Jericho. Jacob stayed with Laban and eventually married Leah and Rachel. Ruth stayed with Naomi and met Boaz. Even Jesus stayed where He was, before He left to raise Lazarus from the dead, to God’s glory.

Indeed, I love when God directs my steps, like He did recently when we cancelled our Glacier National Park trip and when my mother-in-law came to visit. At times, He has specific activities, meetings, directions, and even special encounters for us.

And sometimes, He leads us to rest. Praise God!

**********

God, thank You for leading us as we walk with You. Thanks for letting us rest. Please guide us in this next season. We commit our path to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Is God asking you to stay and rest or get up and go? How do you know the difference?

Tasks: Instead of figuring out your next steps, just rest. Let the Lord lead You in His timing.

 

Finding Grace #73

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, I felt God directing our path in ways only He can do. Originally, we had planned a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana to visit some friends. Our trip was scheduled for last week and this week. However, last month, we prayerfully canceled the trip. I just didn’t have peace and decided the timing wasn’t quite right for a big trip. Among other reasons, my friend was having surgery and wouldn’t be able to hike much.

Well, God had other adventures planned for us, some of which we could not have known ahead of time. I feel quite blessed to see God move in our lives this week. And, we were able to be a blessing to others as well. So cool. If we had been out of town this week, It’s interesting to think of all we would have missed here in Fargo!

On Sunday, Lydia and I had lunch after church with a friend. We had fun talking about faith and lots of other things. I was thankful for the chance to spend time with our friend. It’s always encouraging to hear what God is doing in the lives of those around us!

Monday was all about writing. I had a routine phone meeting with a writing coach/editor. I received good feedback overall, but also discussed some things to improve. Later that night, a friend watched Lydia while I met with some ladies from the writing conference I recently attended. We reviewed what we learned and discussed our writing ideas and projects. I hope to meet with them once a month or so for encouragement!

On Tuesday, I met my good friend for another exercise class. Last time, we tried Barre; this time, Aerial Fitness! It was fun, but more challenging than I thought it would be. Still, we enjoyed it and I think we could try it again!

At work, I finished a few projects while Lydia hung out with a friend. This friend has a heart for kids and I really appreciate all she does to teach Lydia about life and faith. She has been so helpful over the years, and she’s such a blessing to us!

God definitely directed my path on Thursday. I was supposed to chat with a widow friend and planned to encourage her over the phone. She ended up needing to reschedule, but that worked well for me too. I was preparing for a meeting that night and was able to focus my attention on that. The meeting went really well and we had a good time. I was so thankful for the opportunity to grow my skills and present my topic from a new angle!

Similarly, on Friday, I was supposed to meet a newer friend but she needed to reschedule. So, I was able to clean my house (haha!) and prepare dinner for some other very dear friends. They are moving out of state, and so I was honored to be able to visit with them before they go.

Today, was the best day yet. We had a relaxing morning and read in Lydia’s Jesus Storybook Bible. After some discussion, Lydia decided to accept Jesus into her heart! Leading her in prayer was such a sweet experience, and I told Lydia it was the best decision she will ever make. What a blessing!

Finally, tonight, we are going to a send-off party for our friends who are leaving tomorrow (my dinner guests last night). Then, we are going to see Beauty and the Beast at a local outdoor amphitheater. My neighbors had extra tickets and generously shared them with us. I had thought about going, but never got tickets. So we are very thankful!

What an amazing week! I am so glad the Lord directed my steps. If we had gone to Glacier National Park, we would have likely missed so much. (I will get out there sometime soon!) Thank you, Jesus!

*******
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)!

Merging with Grace

Well, today’s post turned out differently than expected. I had a different—I thought better—piece written, but changed my mind late last night. I had been concerned with some key changes happening in my life…

I am starting a new job today!

My former workplace was acquired by a larger healthcare company through a merger. With this new opportunity, I have had mixed emotions. There will be some growing pains as with any transition. But all in all, I think it will be good. My job and my desk probably won’t change much right now.

It’s been a big prayer on my heart these last few months, so I was going to write something about challenges or transitions… But then I had a good, godly conversation last night and my heart changed. I also received a few well-timed messages from other friends. And suddenly, my “big concerns” just didn’t seem so important anymore!

Regardless of what happens, God is in control. My job may change, but He is unchanging. No problem or concern is too big for Him. Jesus loves me. His plans for me are good. Once again, He’s got this!

Now that I am excited for this new season and opportunity, my topic evaporated! So, I decided to go another route instead and share Scripture verses Ive been relying on lately.

We must build our lives on the solid Truth of God’s word…not our dreams, circumstances, or feelings! Praise God, I don’t have to be afraid!

Regarding Psalm 118:24 (above), it’s easy to praise God on bright, sunny days when everything seems to be going well. But we need to remember to praise Him on cloudy, difficult, or uncertain days too!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” A great reminder!

I also love 1 Corinthians 15:58, which says, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” Amen! God sees you and knows how hard you work.

This next verse is similar. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people”(Colossians 3:23, NLT). Another version says “work at it with all your heart” because really, we don’t work for a paycheck. Ultimately, the Lord is our Provider and we work for Him. Let’s be diligent!

God cares about every little detail and moment of our lives. Even the tough ones! “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9, NLT). JESUS is your treasure and your reward!

I dont know how my new job will pan out. There are valid pros and cons on both sides. But, I can move forward with grace knowing God will work it out! I can give God the chance to bless me with my new job. I can let Him show me just how much He loves me—how much He cares.

**********

Heavenly Father, thanks for your grace. Thank You for being God so I don’t have to be. You are a wonderful Provider. Please bless the work of my hands. Give me peace and rest as I trust You to do the work through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Did any of the verses above jump out at you? How can you apply them to your work or volunteer situation? Do you have any verses to share with me?

Tasks: Write down meaningful verses on an index card and meditate on those words throughout your day. Write down a prayer to the Lord with the verse. Let it sink into your heart and bring new life.

7 Steps to Making Wise Decisions

It’s only January, but so far I have already made some big decisions that will have impact on the rest of the year. It has been fun to see all the possibilities! But it can also be challenging with all the unknowns. I don’t like a lot of risk!

Of course, in a perfect world, I would love to know all the details and have all my plans figured out in advance. But for me, that’s where faith comes in!

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT). In the midst of Life’s uncertainties, we can trust God’s plan.

God already sees the end from the beginning. His plan for you is GOOD and He’s given you everything you need to follow that plan. Yes, He’s got you covered!

Those who know me well would say I am a thorough decision-maker and planner. But some choices are worth more than others. And at times, I have two options that appear equally beneficial. Occasionally, I have the luxury of putting off a decision; I can delay making a choice until I have more details.

While that stability is great overall, it can also make me slow to make changes. Sometimes big decisions won’t wait that long! My ‘strength’ can become a weakness when I really should jump… instead of stall!

Thankfully, I have several steps to help me decide faster when I need to!

It’s not a formula, but it does help me avoid regret!

1.     First, I pray for wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it! I picked up this phrase from a friend, but I like the dual purpose. I usually remember to pray for wisdom, but sometimes I can still be afraid to do what I need to do. I cannot make wise decisions if I am not seeking the Lord. At the same time, I cannot move forward without courage. More often than not, this means doing it afraid!

2.     Next, I make a pros and cons list. This seems obvious, but once I get all the information down on paper, it stops swirling around in my head. As the fog of indecision lifts, I gain clarity on what really matters.

3.     Then, I consider my feelings and motivations. While I can’t make decisions based on feelings alone, I do gather input. Am I excited about this opportunity? Do I feel strongly that it is important? Why do I want to do this?

4.     Taking it one step further, I separate my passion from my feelings. Each of us was born for a unique, God-given mission. Our passion can point us in the right direction. That doesn’t mean it is easy, however! In fact, it can be tempting to give up or walk away when challenges come. The danger is that we may not fulfill God’s call on our lives. Often, those tough moments are what God uses to refine us. So, I discern whether I need to stick with the commitment…and lay aside my feelings…or forgive someone…or make other changes. If God leads me to something, I can trust Him for the next steps in His timing. I don’t want to quit when God wants me to stay and grow!

5.     I also review some lessons learned from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes. In brief, this includes counting the personal cost. Do I have the time, resources, and energy for this? How will it affect my family and other commitments? (and much more!)

6.     I consider the long-term impact of my choice. How will I feel about this in 6 months? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? (You get the idea.) If we are not careful, we might make decisions too quickly without considering the sustainability of the choice.

7.     Last but certainly not least, I seek wise counsel. When weighing every option is too much for me on my own, I need help. This is NOT rehashing my problems with everyone I meet. This is intentional discussion with those who love me enough to tell me the Truth. I present the facts, concerns, pros and cons to those I trust so they can give me feedback. Typically I ask for input from godly people who are older and wiser (or, someone who has been through something similar). I regularly ask my parents, aunts/uncles, pastors, and other friends who have insight to share.

For me, many of these steps are fluid. I may go back and forth between them until I have peace. If I don’t have peace, I hold off until I do. This has saved me so many times!

Praise God…Jesus is the Prince of Peace!

Then, I sit back and have confidence. I know I gave it my best shot. And, if for any reason I was wrong, God still has my back. It might be a learning experience or a blessing in disguise. He will work it out for my good and His glory!

**********

Father God, thank You for grace and love! Thank You for providing peace and joy as we serve You. Please give us courage as we make wise decisions, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How do you make decisions? Do you have anything to add to the list above?

Task: Identify one or two trusted friends or advisors the next time you make a big decision!

Finding Grace #46

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?

This week felt like a blur! Lydia and I had a full week, with our normal activities, but also had some extra events too. This week, I needed some wise counsel before making some decisions. I had the sense these decisions would dictate other important choices and events this year. (Don’t you love all the unknowns in Life’s adventures?!) Praise God, everything went well! Thank You, Lord for wisdom, peace, and clarity as I make decisions and plans!

By Friday night, I was mentally drained from a week of meetings, deciding, and planning. I was exhausted as I drove to a women’s event at church. But since I invited a friend, I knew I needed to go. I’m so glad I did, because I was refreshed as I sang praises to God with so many wonderful ladies. I was encouraged as I listened to three ladies share their stories of God’s faithfulness. I was energized by connecting with old and new friends. It was just what I needed. What grace!

This week I’m extra thankful for Lydia. Everyday, she has used her manners before I reminded her. She has done well entertaining herself without prompting. We’ve had less whining and more cheerfulness. And like her Daddy, she is a great little organizer. Thank You, Jesus! As I decluttered two bathroom drawers, Lydia tossed old items and sorted like-items. I’m proud that she came up with several good ideas on her own!

Today, Lydia and I Skyped with family in Illinois. They were gathered for a belated Christmas party. We didn’t make it home, but are thankful for technology so we could check in! As I hung up, I thought to myself, “I have the best family! Thanks, Lord!”

*******

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)!

Good Goals, God’s Grace

Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 is off to a good start.

Do you make any New Year’s resolutions? Or do you choose ‘a word’ to mark your year?

When considering options for this year, I thought about making changes, choosing a word, or trying something new. But in the end, nothing really resonated with me.

So maybe I will just keep on my current path! That’s a good thing because I don’t think I could appreciate 2017 without my focus from last year.

2016 became a year of rest for me. I felt the need to apply more grace and more space to my everyday life. Once more, I realized I can only do so much. If I don’t remember to take care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anything (or anyone) else.

Last year, I focused on getting adequate sleep, taking breaks, and keeping a restful mentality. It sounds fairly simple, but it required some effort! The hardest part was cutting out extra activities and distractions. I had to decline many new activities (even some really good opportunities).

I said “no” to finishing my to-do list every day (even when it kept calling my name!). I pushed back deadlines when necessary, instead of trying to push myself to reach an unreasonable goal.

With that restful attitude, I redecorated my house and make it a better representation of our life now. I’m so thankful I did, because now I have a better perspective going forward.

In terms of goals and growth, I don’t like to make drastic changes (though, sometimes I probably should!). Instead, I’d rather adjust my habits. It’s not rocket science, but it does take some determination. Because, of course, I like to take my sweet time

This year, I am developing more self-discipline and consistency in my life. Nothing really new—just less excuses and procrastination! I am not adding any new tasks, but I have tweaked my routine—the timing and structure of it all!

Not super glamorous, but necessary.

Sure, I have specific goals for sleep, exercise, reading, water intake, and more. The common theme, however, is waking up early to accomplish these goals before Lydia wakes up. Or, at least as many of them as possible!

I could go on and on about SMART goals, accountability, or setting up a tracking system. I will spare you all that—but I am amazed at what I can do with a proper bedtime!

By simply readjusting my timeline, I’ve been getting enough sleep and using my time more wisely. I’ve had more energy early in the day, and sometimes can cross off a few more tasks. Generally, I have more wiggle room in my day…and a better attitude all around!

Of course, theres always something to potentially derail me. Even this morning, I have had to switch things around and save them for later. Ill always be a work in progress…

Thank God for His sweet and refreshing grace!

Still, I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be our most exciting year yet. There will be challenges, important decisions, and transitions. Lydia will start Kindergarten and we may try to squeeze in a trip or two. We have lots of options ahead!

But, truthfully, I can’t do it on my own.

I cannot maintain any level of success in my own strength. Trust me, I’ve tried and failed many times! A (recovering) perfectionist’s worst nightmare! 😉

Yes, the only way I will be successful is if I seek the Lord’s input first.

If I am too busy, always running around, I can’t ‘hear’ from the Lord. A slower pace and a more open schedule means less stress and more ‘listening time.’

God created me to do good things and He has the best plan for my life! So it’s wise to check in with Him before setting my schedule (see Ephesians 2:10).  A huge timesaver!

My victory comes from the Lord. My help comes from Him, too! Jesus sustains and defends me. His grace is more than enough to meet my need. I place my trust in Him!

So set goals. Yes, absolutely! But pray too. Ask the Lord for help.

Life is short. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. Only Jesus brings real, lasting change. Commit yourself and your plans to Him. Then you will have true success!

**********

Father God, thank You for the gift of Today. Thanks for new mercies, grace, and opportunities. Show me the path to take. Help me accomplish the tasks You have for me. I trust You, Jesus. In Your Name, Amen.

Questions: Are you trying anything new this month or year? How is it going?

Tasks: Commit your tasks and plans to the Lord. Trust Him to help you accomplish all He has for you!

Finding Grace #16

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!

creek waterfalls

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

What to say about this week? In all honesty, I felt so overwhelmed by technology! I spent way too many hours with computer problems on Monday, as I wrote in Ctrl+Alt+Del. Yet, it gave me some perspective. Then, later it the week, I tried about a dozen times to download MS Office with a (still valid) code. I probably tried about a dozen times, taking around 45 minutes each time, but only received error messages. Grrr!

For me, daycare is a necessity each week. I try to maximize my time when Lydia is there, so I can be present when we are together. Still, it’s an internal battle because I never feel like I get everything done. And Lydia doesn’t understand if I still have “work” to do; she just wants to play and have fun! (I’m pretty sure every parent struggles with this!)

So this week, I planned to use my “daycare time” to finally read (skim) a couple short manuals for online resources I use. I haven’t put much effort into learning how they work, so that was a major goal for this week. But the computer issues sidetracked those plans.

Enter God’s grace. When filtered through the lens of grace, I was able to regain my peace. I spent a little creative time cooking in the kitchen and realized that most of my “to do” list wasn’t urgent. My goals will still be there tomorrow! As long as I make a little progress, they will eventually get done. While computer problems are frustrating and inconvenient, they are not my main thing.

I realized I can try to force my plans to go one way, when God gently redirects me on another path. Sometimes I have to ask for help, which can be difficult to do. Often, I should be more realistic on what I can actually accomplish. Occasionally, it’s good to take a break and circle back around another day. But most of all, I need to remember:

People come before projects.

Even though I was annoyed with my computer and the lack of “progress” it caused, by God’s grace, I was purposeful in the areas that really matter. Clearly, being Lydia’s mom is priority, as are my other roles. Like being a good neighbor, friend, sister and daughter (not necessarily in that order). So, I made a few phone calls to family, sent a few messages to friends, and met a few needs that presented themselves as a result.

I took some extra time with Lydia each day. We built a fort, watched a movie, read some books, and played outside. We each focused on having good attitudes, and all things considered, it was a good week! And, today, I decided to try one more time…and successfully downloaded the program with help from online support. Thank You, God!

*******

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)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

Before and After

According to Donald Miller, every great story has at least six to eight “story turns” or “life turns.” Generally, the plot is built around story turns. These are pivotal moments in the story because once a character goes through that ‘door,’ they can never turn back. These moments change the character and life will never be the same again.

Story turns can be good, like getting married, having a baby, or landing a dream job. (The positive stress that comes with those is called eustress.) Somehow though, moments of distress seem to be the most memorable. Is that because we tend to focus on the negativity, or because they actually have the most potential to bring change?

time for change

I don’t always appreciate change. I like my comfort zone! Often, change isn’t comfortable, but it is good and necessary long-term. Change makes life interesting!

Two of my biggest story turns felt like a one-two punch: Dave’s cancer diagnosis followed by his death 364 days later. I had to learn to walk a new path. Things feel better (most days), but that’s largely because God has carried us as we have adjusted to our new normal. It still feels crazy sometimes, but God keeps reminding me to rest.

Dave and I learned so much when he was sick. But after Dave died, God brought me to a whole new level of grace. Grace for myself. I simply could not keep up with everything on my should-do list. So, I had to relax my standards…and then relax them again.

I knew if I was going to get through the grief process, I was going to need God’s help. Grief is a process. Change is a process. It hasn’t been easy, but in His strength, I’ve been able to accomplish what He has for me to do (Philippians 4:13). Jesus said He would never leave me, and I have chosen to trust Him to show me the way. I’ve relied on His power, and He has given me His peace (John 14:27).

Colossians 3_15

As a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, I often see “before and after” client photos or food journals. It is gratifying to see the differences after even a few changes are made. Many of them are difficult to implement, but carry life-changing potential.

So, here are some of my “before and after” snapshots (figuratively speaking):

Before, I tried to plan my way to a perfect outcome (or life). Now, I keep planning in perspective. My new motto in many areas is, “Close enough is good enough.” (It doesn’t apply to everything, but it’s a really good ‘get out of jail free’ card most days!)

Before, fear was closely linked to my perfectionist tendency to plan for all contingencies. I often had a nagging feeling that something could go wrong. Now, I praise God fear is no longer a stronghold in my life. I have learned to let things go… In fact, I rarely have any fear at all. And when I do, I catch it right away and deal with it.

Before, I worried about decisions, trying to figure out all the details in advance. I still believe planning is wise, but I don’t over-plan due to fear and worry. Now, I wait to make a decision until I have peace about it. Of course, that doesn’t mean I know all the information beforehand. But, I’m okay with that now. I don’t have to have ALL the answers to walk by FAITH. I know God will come through for me, so I wait for His peace.

May 15th 2016_Three years

Before, I would do everything I could to avoid confrontation. (I was also more of a people-pleaser!) I respectfully address and resolve conflict much quicker now, not letting simple issues drag on. Perhaps I have a shorter fuse now. One thing I do know is that Life is too short to get worked up about petty issues!

Before, I was always busy but didn’t feel like I made much progress in any area. After Dave died, God streamlined my focus. So now, I am doing less random activity, but having much more impact in areas that are important to me. I have felt much more fruitful and productive these last few years.

How about you? What are your biggest “before and after” moments?

**********

God, You are good! Thank You for writing our stories with Your love and grace. Thanks for being with us on the journey. Draw us near to You, in Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: As you look back on significant “life turns,” can you see how God shown His faithfulness to you? How has your life been changed as a result?

The 12-Hour Turnaround

It is amazing what rejuvenation can come from a get-away. Lydia and I spent almost a week in Illinois, while we visited family and a few friends. It was just the ‘reset’ I needed.

Usually, we drive there and back in two days, stopping overnight each time. This adds a couple extra days to our trip—which is fun, but not always feasible. So, this time, we drove for twelve hours all in one day to Illinois and then the same road trip back to Fargo.

Now we have taken this route numerous times in nearly six years. And we have done the long all-day trek several times too. But this time was different.

sunrise from car

On this road trip, I needed a major turnaround. Yes, an attitude readjustment!

It could’ve been related to not sleeping well the night before. Perhaps it was the sense of leaving family and comfort behind. Maybe there were other factors too—like postponing breakfast—but I was in a funky mood at the beginning of the trip!

It was still dark as we started out. After a little while, Lydia fell back asleep. As I listened to her soft snoring, I started to reflect upon all we were driving back toward (in Fargo). There’s nothing like a little distance to give you some perspective!

Before, on the way to Illinois, we were driving toward family. But, as we drove back to Fargo, there was a void. I also realized as the third-year mark of Dave’s death approaches, we have been making these trips without him longer than with him.

I continued thinking about lessons learned, how many things have changed. Lydia has grown so much! Also, at least eight families—much of our support system—have moved away for various reasons. Though, God has been faithful to provide new friends and a wonderful drop-in daycare!

Other aspects of our lives are fairly steady. I’ve taken huge leaps forward, yet I feel there is still so much to do. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Though we love calling Fargo home—and have no plans to move—it has not been without challenges.

As we made our way North, I turned on the radio. I have a SiriusXM subscription which is awesome for traveling. I don’t use it often in Fargo, but on Monday, I was thankful for the encouraging words on The Message (Channel 63).

With God-focused songs, like Trust in You by Lauren Daigle, I knew I needed to give all my fears and frustrations to God. When I fear, I forget God’s faithfulness. But, the truth is, the Lord has been so, so good to me. He is kind, generous, and trustworthy. I don’t have to worry, because the He is in charge of all the details.

two arrows

As the hours rolled by, Lydia and I sang and talked. As I feasted on God’s grace and truth, a weight lifted. The closer we got to Fargo, the more light-hearted I became. Soon I was confident, hopeful, and trusting God again. What a relief knowing I don’t walk this path alone!

God continually gives me opportunities to trust Him at a deeper level. Oddly enough, I found new motivation to make some changes I previously resisted. My resistance is not on purpose, but I can be stubborn!

Being stuck in my car, I was open-minded to make changes regarding my daily routine. It’s funny how sitting in the car all day makes me want to switch up my exercise plan! 😉 Now, I have a renewed vision for Fargo and am excited to see all the Lord has in store!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Following God is not always comfortable or easy. But, it is so worth it. God is for me not against me. He gently redirects me when I get off track. I can trust Him because He loves me so much!

**********

Father God, thanks for Your unrelenting grace and love. Thanks for never giving up on me. Lord, I need You—I cannot make it on my own. Help me trust You more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What are your favorite music tunes for the car? Has God ever changed your heart during a road trip?