Finding Grace #92

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

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

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

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

This was a good and interesting week as I saw God working all around me! On Monday, Lydia’s school let out two hours early due to blizzard conditions. A blizzard means poor visibility, not necessarily a ton of snow. I ran two errands just as the storm was starting and was glad to get home safe. When I picked her up from the bus, Lydia said, “Mom, I am only a little sad…because I love school so much!” We spent the rest of the day doing fun little projects!

Early in the week, I met with some ladies in a writing group. We meet once a month, and I shared about my blog. It was fun to see how much I have grown through the writing process. Later in the week, I had another important writing meeting. I left feeling encouraged about a big project. There is still a lot to do, but I am on the right track!

This week, I shared a video with a friend after we talked at church. The video was about something called a Journible. This is a simple little journaling book in which one can copy the Bible by hand. There are many benefits, including understanding and remembering God’s word at a new level. I have a few friends who decided to do this with me. If you would like to join us (or need more information), leave a comment here or check out Grace and Lemonade on Facebook. I will post more information there. I’m excited to encounter God’s word in a more personal way!

Lydia and I decorated our Christmas tree last night. We listened to Christmas music, and I tried my best not to be sentimental. It is still a little bittersweet to put up old ornaments that Dave loved so much. But, seeing Lydia’s face light up was well worth the emotions I was facing. This season, I am choosing to walk in Victory!

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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 #78

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 an exciting week with lots of momentous events! A couple of neighborhood families gave us zucchinis, tomatoes, blueberries, and sweet corn. Delicious! I’m thankful for good neighbors and all the ways God provides for us.

My aunt and uncle visited from Ohio this week! We went shopping, out to eat, and to the movies with them. It was extra fun for Lydia’s first two days at school. I’m grateful they were here so I didn’t have to come home to an empty house this week! (Going forward, it might be nice…but it’s still an adjustment for me!) It was bittersweet without Dave, but it was also a personal Victory for us and a necessary beginning.

Lydia had a great start at school. She went easily and was eager to meet new friends. She used her new lunchbox and later tried the hot lunch. We took her to school the first day, but then she rode the bus from them on. She jumped off the bus and basically ran the whole way home (down the block). I pray she always has that energy and joy of learning!

This week, Lydia received two little lockets (one pink, one blue), along with other items for school. Just simple little tokens. Then, on the first day of school, to my surprise, she requested a picture of her daddy, Dave, in the blue locket. Later, she said maybe she’d like a picture of me too. ? So, my aunt and I spent some time this week making that happen. Lydia was very excited and has been rotating the lockets each day.

With Lydia at school this week, my aunt, uncle, and I found other things to do. Thankfully, my uncle is handy and was eager to have a project. I recently ordered a little free library online to share my love of books with my community and neighborhood. Praise God, it arrived on the same day as my aunt and uncle! So, he was able to help install the new library. I’m really looking forward to being a library steward!

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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 School Pictures and Mosquito Bites

It’s almost here! There’s a lot of excitement in our house as tomorrow is the BIG day… Lydia goes off to school! We’ve had her clothes picked out for a week. Her backpack is ready to go and her school supplies have been delivered.

We’ve practiced a basic routine (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush hair and teeth, etc). Lydia is ready to ride the bus and ready to learn. She’s excited to meet new friends and eat lunch at school. We’ve both been praying for her teacher, classmates, and a good experience. Praise God, we’re all set.

I was hugging on her the other day, saying, “My baby’s going to Kindergarten!”

Not missing a beat, Lydia’s quickly responded, “Mom, if babies went, it would be called ‘Baby Garden!’”

Yep, life is pretty simple when you’re a kid.

All in all, I have prepared and coached Lydia as best as I know how. I have prayed for years about schooling and other decisions. I trust God to take care of Lydia.

Yesterday, I took Lydia to school for a routine assessment with her teacher. I filled out a little paperwork and gave the teacher a heads-up about our story (Dave, cancer, etc). Hopefully, she doesn’t think I was too emotional…I didn’t mean to shed tears!

Lydia was unfazed, but for me, it just is part of a cycle. Normally, we do okay, but in new situations that are already emotional, explaining things can still be a little difficult for me.

Lydia also got her school picture taken (her grade only)! I thought this was a wonderful idea to get it out of the way before school even started…

That is, until I was brushing Lydia’s hair. That’s when she nonchalantly mentioned three mosquito bites on her face, from playing outside the night before! I hadn’t even noticed the bright red dots, because I was trying to tame her mass of wavy curls (you know, to make them “just right” for the school picture).

Well, I did what I could to cover the spots on her forehead and nose. I used a little of my concealer (makeup) and hoped for the best. While it was frustrating, it was also a little funny. Lydia wasn’t bothered by the mosquito bites, but hated the concealer! Of course…

As we left home that morning, Lydia also told me she had a hole in her the knee of her black leggings. “Oh great,” I thought. “It’s not even the first day of school! Thankfully, that won’t show up in the pictures…maybe her teacher won’t notice!”

Then, I was reminded in 1 Samuel 16:7, that God does not look at our outer appearance, but what is on our heart. I had been focused on Lydia looking her best, but that’s not what matters most. I would much rather her be kind and caring toward others.

Often, what we think is important…isn’t in the long run. No one else will probably notice the mosquito bites or a tiny hole down the road. And while it makes for a memorable story, it’s not a big deal. God loves us so much and created us on purpose!

We don’t have to look or be perfect. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, our blemishes are not concealed…they are completely removed and forgiven. Thank You, Jesus! His grace covers us from head to toe. Nothing we do (or don’t do) can alter that!

While Lydia is the one going off to school this week, I’m sure I will have more ‘lessons’ to learn this year, too! I’m thankful for God’s grace each and every day. He is so good!

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Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so much. Thanks for sweet reminders of Your grace and delight. Thanks for creating us with intent and for a purpose. May we live to bring you great joy! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Question: Do you have any funny school picture stories?

Grace for the School Daze

August is flying by and very soon Lydia will be headed off to school. As the date draws near, I find myself wanting time to slow down. This Mama Bear has been spending extra time with Lydia, trying to cram in as many special moments as we can.

So far, we’ve baked cookies and done mini makeovers (including makeup, haircuts, and nails). We’ve colored, read tons of books, played games, and put together Lego sets. We’ve ridden our bikes, gone on a scavenger hunt, and eaten donuts at our favorite local place.

I’ve also been quizzing Lydia regarding our address, my phone number, and her school identification number. She’s especially excited about riding the bus, meeting new friends, and eating lunch at school. 🙂 Lydia has been practicing basic addition and pre-reading skills this summer (mostly on her own)—she’s so excited for school!

Yet, I’m only half-joking whenever I ask Lydia what I’m going to do when she goes to school all day. It will be very different and will require both of us to make some adjustments. Her suggestion? “Mom, you can take naps and go to work!” She’s so ready…

In many ways, this transition period to school represents a personal Victory. It is quite humbling to see how far we’ve come. Yes, it has been quite a ride these last 4+ years!

A couple months after my late-husband, Dave, died, I was crying one night because I didn’t know how I was going to make it as a single mom. It was fairly late, and for some reason, Lydia was still awake. I sat in the dark with her, rocking her back and forth, with tears running down my face.

Just a toddler, Lydia still required so much hands-on care and I was very overwhelmed. Feeling desperate, I prayed, “Lord, I need wisdom! How am I supposed to discipline, train, and care for Lydia on my own?” I certainly needed help and a new perspective.

As my tears dried, I slowly felt the Lord’s peace surround me. Truthfully, I still didn’t know how I was going to make it—but I did know I wasn’t doing it alone.

As I write this now, I can see God’s grace and His presence all along the way. He’s given me stamina for those tough disciplinary moments. He’s given me strength to stay in Fargo when it surely would have been easier to move closer to family. He has filled the gaps in my parenting skills (Psalm 68:5).

Getting to this point–this current transition–seemed impossible. But with God’s help, I have learned to face challenges head-on. He has made me steadfast in my faith and taught me to stand firm. He’s given me meaningful work and a renewed purpose. I’m so grateful.

Looking back, it doesn’t seem possible that those long days and nights have stretched into years. But here we are! By God’s grace, we’ve made it this far! Thank You, Jesus!

Clearly, when it comes to the school years, we have a long way to go. We are just starting on this new journey and there will be many challenges ahead. Yet, I’ve seen just how faithful the Lord has been these previous four years. He’s come through for me in more ways than I can count. He is so good to me.

So despite my mama-nerves, I am grateful for this necessary transition. It might feel a little chaotic at first, but the Lord is walking with Lydia, just as He is with me. A loving Father, He cares for her even more than I do…which is quite a lot! Like a Papa Bear, He will continue to protect and guide her each step of the way.

Whatever you are facing today, put your trust in Jesus. He loves you more than you can imagine. He longs to comfort and encourage you, strengthen you, and provide for you. If you let Him, He will help you do what seems impossible, too. He will lead you to Victory!

Praise the Lord!

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Heavenly Father, I praise You for leading us to Victory! Thank You for all You do for us. You are so good and so faithful. Please continue to guide us during each and every transition. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: In what ways has God lead you to Victory in the past? What can you do to trust Him now? How can you praise Him in this moment?

Tasks: Meditate on these verses: Psalm 3:8, Psalm 18:35, Psalm 32:7, and Psalm 118:21. Praise God for what who He is and what He is doing in advance!

 

Finding Grace #27

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!

mums

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

  • So many interesting things happened this week! Lydia started her first week of preschool. So that was pretty big! She did great and is enjoying it so far. And, we are both adjusting to have a (more) set routine. I’m thankful for this transition year before school ‘full time’ next year!

  • I lead at team at my church; our goal is to plug people into volunteer ministry. We discussed upcoming events, changes for this fall, and welcomed another member to our team! It is an honor to help people understand how God made them and watch them thrive in their God-given strengths.
  •  This week the neighbors on our street had a block party. After living here for about six years now, we still have never met everyone. So, the party was a great opportunity! Lydia played well with all the kids, and I met some “new” friends too. We had so much fun staying up late. We got home around 10:30pm!
  • Today, while Lydia and I ran some errands, we enjoyed perfect weather of lower seventies and sunny skies! We also picked up some pretty mums, two mini pumpkins, and some bulbs for spring. It is fun decorating for fall!

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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)!

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

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?