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)!

Heroes Among Us

Monday marked the 16th year since 9/11 happened. I was in college and remember watching the television in a commons area while I was between classes. Initially, I was confused about what occurred because it was completely unexpected and I had no frame of reference for it. As more details became clear, I was glued to the media. As horrific as it was when the two towers fell, there were also amazing stories of heroism.

On Monday, I watched videos online about 9/11 events and found more stories of heroic men and women. These courageous and unselfish men and women lost their lives but saved many others.

In one short video, a man named Rick Rescorla, was on the 44th floor of the South tower when he saw the North tower on fire. He went against orders to stay put and told everyone to evacuate the South tower. After most of his coworkers left, he went back to help other areas. This heroic man was last seen racing up the 10th floor stairway to help more people. Minutes later the tower collapsed—but not before 2700 people escaped.

With tears, I thought to myself, “Wow, what would compel him to respond that way?” In that moment, I remembered reading Luke 16:10 just prior to watching the videos. This verse states that if you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones…

Instantly, I realized…that man was just being faithful. He simply took the next step, the next right choice. I didn’t know him, of course, but I would bet Mr. Rescorla’s decision was an extension of his character (and perhaps his position at work and military background).

He had probably been making similar choices all along—yet with smaller impact—for years. I’m speculating, but I imagine he had been faithful in the small things, and when “the big thing” came, it was a ‘no brainer’ for him to look out for others.

It had likely become second-nature.

I’ve noticed that many heroes have similar reactions when asked to explain their actions. While we are in awe of their bravery, most heroes humbly shrug off the attention, saying, “Oh, anyone would have done the same thing I did. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” Most heroes don’t consider themselves extraordinary.

So it seems each small choice really does add up over time. I’m sure Mr. Rescorla didn’t think about how ‘qualified’ he was that day. There wasn’t time! He just stepped up to do what he could in that moment. He used his voice and his authority to make a difference.

Some people put their lives on the line nearly every day, such as the police and those in the military. I’m thankful for these heroic men and women.

But even without training, you can be a hero right where you are. Today.

Hopefully, you won’t be faced with life-or-death decisions! But, we can all reach out to help a friend, neighbor, coworker, or even a total stranger. Think of all the recent stories just from people affected by hurricanes or wildfires…

You may be a hero to someone and not even know it. Be a good example for those who are watching. Be faithful in the small things—the often mundane tasks—and sooner or later, you see the difference you are making!

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God, thank You for giving us grace and wisdom! Help us be brave and bold as we walk through life with You. Guide us each day and give us eyes to see the needs around us. May we be quick to respond. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Where were you on 9/11? Who is your hero?

Tasks: Find a place to volunteer your time. Or, donate some money to a cause that is important to you. Be consistent and faithful in your commitment.

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)!

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?

Finding Grace #77

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 #76

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 saw the Lord directing my path in many areas! As we come into a new season (of weather and life), I see new opportunities on the horizon. It’s always exciting to see what the Lord has for me…but I already know I need to rely on Him for strength in this transition time. The biggest change for us is that Lydia’s going to school!

My friend came over for Taco Tuesday this week. She also helped me make final decisions on the little free library. I decided to buy everything new instead of building my own. That’s easier and quicker all around! I mentioned the idea to a few neighbors, so hopefully we can all enjoy it together. I can’t wait until it arrives and is all set up!

On Wednesday, I met a coworker for lunch. We discussed some upcoming ideas and options for me at work. I’m glad for the new opportunities I have as a result of the job merger this spring. It will be fun to see all that happens!

This week I’ve done several special activities with Lydia. In a couple weeks everything will be different… I can hardly believe it! So, we’ve been relishing our time together.  I am amazed at who she is becoming. It seems she’s grown so much even this month!

Today, Lydia and I went on a little scavenger hunt to find other ‘little libraries’ in Fargo. We saw several different styles of decorated libraries, including a newspaper vending machine-turned-robot book dispenser. We only made it to about eight of the locations, so we’ll save the rest for another day (or two). Lydia loved finding new books!

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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)!

Tacos: A Happy Update

I had an interesting realization yesterday while I was preparing dinner. I had invited my friend (and recent roommate) over for ‘Taco Tuesday.’ She is a good friend and we’ve enjoyed several meals together in the six months she stayed with us. Our favorite meal together has been tacos!

As I was making my black bean and corn salsa, it struck me that I am eating tacos again! I blogged about tacos previously (a year-and-a-half ago). Back then, it was a difficult meal for me. Dave loved tacos so much and always helped me in the kitchen. Tacos reminded me of him and made me sad. I had to make other foods (or variations) instead.

Well, yesterday, I realized that making tacos is no longer a problem! My friend and I happily (and unknowingly) created a new experience regarding tacos. With that, I felt a deep sense of God’s grace and goodness. He has healed another portion of my heart and brought me joy again! That’s a huge Victory!

I hadn’t even noticed the healing process these last few months. I’ve been focused on other things. But yesterday, I was reminded that when we trust the Lord, He always comes through. He is faithful.

I had no expectation that when I opened up my home to a friend in need that God would help me too. I simply wanted to be a blessing. Yet, God has blessed me too!

Occasionally, a wave of grief still comes my way. I’m sure that will always be the case, to some degree. But, I no longer avoid tacos or other things that cause me pain. I am able to face each challenge head-on, without too much difficulty. Thank You, Jesus!

Whether we’re dealing with emotional pain (like grief) or physical pain, we want healing to happen right away. We want to feel good again! But healing takes time and occurs step-by-step. It’s a process.

Indeed, it takes God’s special touch to bring complete healing. We may look okay on the outside and think we are good… But then something may surprise us (like making tacos) and we see a whole new layer of healing has occurred!

When we focus on the Lord, we naturally give our pain less attention. I’m not saying the pain doesn’t exist—but rather, Jesus is worthy of our devotion. He is magnified instead. Similarly, when we serve others, our problems seem less important.

Enough time has passed since the original ‘taco post’ that I haven’t even thought about tacos since then. Until yesterday, I didn’t remember that tacos were once a challenge.

Still, I am grateful that God had me making and eating tacos for several months before I became aware of the difference in my heart. Truly, all these months, it hasn’t been a struggle to eat tacos! 😉

Now tacos are associated with positive memories, like my dear friend and ‘Taco Tuesdays.’ And, I can see just how far I have come. It makes me love the Lord even more, because He has made me stronger. He’s brought me healing through helping someone else. Praise God!

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Heavenly Father, You are so faithful! Thanks for Your healing touch. Thanks for walking with us, step-by-step, through each challenge. May we trust You more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Can you see the Lord working in your circumstances to bring a good resolution? How can you trust Him at a deeper level?

Tasks: Meditate on Psalm 89:8 and Philippians 1:6. God is faithful!

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)!