Writing Reflections

This past weekend, I went to my first writers conference. The conference was held in St. Paul, MN, which is about 4 hours from Fargo. I arrived on Friday afternoon for the Saturday conference, then spent another night before returning home Sunday afternoon.

In order to attend the conference, however, I needed help with Lydia. Childcare is perhaps my biggest challenge as a single mom. Often, I have to make up my mind to do something, and then figure out how I am going to make it work with Lydia.

This is true for conferences, parties, appointments, concerts, certain church meetings, etc. Many times, I just decide the event is not worth the hassle of figuring out child care. But, if I do choose to attend, I trust the Lord to help me make it work.

This weekend, my family came to the rescue! They trekked several hours to meet us in the Twin Cities. Then, they took Lydia to explore the Cities while I was at the all-day conference. Lydia was glad to have grandparents, aunts, and uncles all to herself!

I was grateful for their help…Lydia was grateful to go to Mall of America!

At the conference, I saw several agents, acquisition editors, and publishers. I heard them speak at workshops and at a panel luncheon. I have followed some of them over the years, so it was a really cool experience to see them in the hallway, like any other person!

While I’m not currently ready to publish anything specific, the conference itself was a good confirmation that I am on the right track with meeting my goals. Thank You, Jesus!

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the conference was that I didn’t have to explain that I am a writer. You might be thinking, “Well duh, you were at a writers conference!” But it’s common for writers to deal with self-doubt.

In the past, seeing myself as a writer was a challenge. So, I prayerfully invested in a couple online programs and learned to see myself in a new way. Consistent blogging has been helpful, too. Just putting myself “out there” has boosted my confidence in writing.

I’ve come to see writing as a means to document my journey and reflections on life, what God is doing, and how I interact with others. Writing helps me learn more about myself and the world around me.

This past weekend, it was great to ask people what they are writing or answer questions about my own projects. Just having taking people take me at ‘face value’ was refreshing. Even if I didn’t have anything to “show” that day.

In the past, I might have gotten stuck or discouraged. But to my great relief, I was able to see just how much I’ve grown! Praise God!

Our Heavenly Father is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He knows how our stories end, because He sees the end from the beginning of time. In fact, our own stories are wrapped up in His larger story. So, we can trust Him as He leads us!

As we read His word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, God shows us who He is…and who we are, too. We just have to read it and embrace what He says.

The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we understand about ourselves. It’s a great investment of our time, and by His grace, He calls us like He sees us!

We are saved. We are forgiven. We are free. We are chosen. We are loved. We are redeemed. We have new purpose. We are called. We are empowered. We are His.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy writing… Maybe God wants you to do something different…like stay home with your kids, go back to school, volunteer, change your diet, forgive someone, or introduce yourself to a neighbor. It can be scary to put yourself “out there.” I know.

But ultimately, we have to make a choice to trust. Jesus is faithful and more than able to get us where we need to be. We just have to take the first step.

With His unfailing love and support, how can we fail? Let’s see ourselves like He does and cooperate with Him. We can’t go wrong! And who knows, maybe soon, you will be doing something you never thought was possible!

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God, thank You for putting Your dreams within our hearts. Thanks for walking with us along the way, giving us guidance. Help us see ourselves as You do. Help us be brave! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a dream that seems impossible? How can you trust God and take the first step?

Tasks: Write down all the reasons your dream seems unachievable. Then, write a Bible verse next to each reason, such as Philippians 1:6 or Philippians 4:13. As you pray through each verse, redirect your focus on Jesus and trust Him to help you!

Finding Grace #71

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?

When I reflect back on this week, I am so grateful. I am in awe of how the Lord meets my needs, but also helps me bless others. When I think of all that He has done for me, I am reminded of how small I am. Yet, He cares for each of us and orchestrates our lives as they intersect. Only God could take care of so many details and make good out of chaos!

I have been enjoying my new bike, and have even gotten in some longer rides. A friend stayed with Lydia one afternoon so I could go explore for an hour. It’s cool to see how much more “involved” I become when pedaling around my local area. I feel like I have more freedom and can get closer to things I otherwise wouldn’t even notice. Thanks, Lord!

I convinced a dear friend to buy a workout pass at a local fitness center so we could go together. I don’t belong to a gym, but it was a really good deal. To maximize our experience, we decided to try new classes we wouldn’t normally do. (We purchased ten sessions.) It helps going with a friend to try new things. This week, we tried a Barre class. It was a little sore the next day but had a lot of fun. I can’t wait to go again!

A few months ago, I took a leap of faith and signed up for my first writing conference. Well, that was what I did today! It was such a good day. Really, it was something I didn’t know I needed…but was so encouraged by all I heard and learned. It’s great to feel like I am on the right track! We worshipped the Lord, met other writers, and attended breakout sessions and panel discussions. I saw some ladies from my church and we might meet up again to encourage each other in our goals. God is so 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)!

A Punch Bowl of Blessings

“That’s a pretty punch bowl, Natalie.” An older woman and I were talking on Sunday.

“Thanks! You know, the funny thing is, I have had this punch bowl for nearly ten years—it was a wedding gift—and I’ve never used it! So, I loaned it out for an event and am taking it back home. My friend was the first one to use it!”

I’m guessing my generation is probably the last group to add this to a wedding registry. The generations after me likely won’t even know what a punch bowl is!

My late husband, Dave, died four years ago, and while I appreciated the generous gift, clearly, it was not something we desperately needed. So for now, this beautiful punch bowl was returned to the original box under my stairs. But as I put it away, I felt a little silly.

I started to wonder, “How many other gifts did I ask for but haven’t used?” Hmmm… what I thought was important back then… really wasn’t.

God has blessed me with both material gifts and spiritual gifts, and I don’t want to take any of them for granted. Just like punch in a bowl, our blessings are meant to be shared.

Am I using those gifts as intended or are they sitting on a shelf somewhere? Am I helping others? Am I a refreshing source of God’s sweet love and grace… or not? 🙂

Both gifts and punch bowls are associated with celebrations. Even though I’ve never used my punch bowl, I still have plenty to celebrate! Over the years, I’ve hosted or joined lots of parties. Graduations, weddings, job promotions, new babies, holidays, etc.

But most often, I enjoy celebrating God’s goodness and grace in everyday life. I relish the freedom that comes from knowing His love. I’ve learned to extend myself the grace I usually reserve for other people.

I continually lay aside my perfectionistic tendencies and let go of lofty expectations. Just as the Lord’s mercies are new each morning, I can explore new things about myself and life in general. I can set new goals as I walk with Jesus and become more like Him.

It’s been humbling to live this widowed, single mom life; I’ve been forced to reevaluate and revamp several things over the years. I’ve had to change spending habits, exercise routines, how I cook, parent, and more. I’ve celebrated many victories too!

Similarly, I’ve also ditched things (or items on my to-do list) that no longer bring me joy or fulfillment. Life is too short to get stuck always doing something you don’t love!

As I think of all my blessings, I am in awe. I have wonderful people in my life. I have health and wholeness. I have a voice to speak up about important issues. My hands aren’t afraid of hard work. And yes, I have more than enough material resources so I can bless others.

It’s safe to say that when I first registered for that lovely punch bowl, I had no clue how much life would change in these ten years. Life sure is different than what I planned. Sometimes it feels a little chaotic, but I’m learning to go with the flow more each day!

I’m most grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness. That’s something I will never stop celebrating!

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Gracious Father, You are the Giver of all good things. Thank You for the rich blessings You’ve given us. Help us have the right perspective and use each gift as You intended. May we have wisdom and a spirit of generosity as we bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What random gifts have you stored away and forgotten about? What are you going to do with them?

Tasks: Take inventory of your gifts, talents, and other blessings so you can use them!

Making Toast in the Bathroom

It’s funny how one day can be so different from the next. On Monday, each of our activities was spaced out with adequate time in between. On Tuesday, we had the about the same time margins with even less activities…but I felt disorganized and unprepared.

On Monday, Lydia started two weeks of swimming lessons in the late afternoon. Water safety is imperative, so the time commitment is worth it. However, adding an activity always gives me less time elsewhere. This week it threw off my routine…

Thus, on Tuesday, I felt behind from the get-go. I woke up groggy, despite getting adequate sleep. It took Lydia awhile to get dressed and I soon realized I forgot to pack lunches the night before. Everything took longer!

I threw together breakfast (and lunch) for the road, but rushing only cost me time. First, I chose a too-small container and had to dump Lydia’s breakfast into a larger one. Then, I spilled something and had to clean it up.

Back and forth, I ran around the kitchen. I grabbed lids, baggies, and paper towels to wipe up my messes. Finally, I looked at the clock as I poured my coffee to-go. I was late!

Enter GRACE.

I took a few deep breathes and prayed, reconnecting with what was important. I thanked God for my flexible schedule. I was later than I had planned to be at work, but I wasn’t really late. As long as I arrived earlier than my presentation, I would be okay. I could stay later and still get my hours in on the back-end of my work day. Not a big deal.

Then, I decided to slow down and focus. No amount of stress is worth a car accident or something worse. Being safe and healthy is more important than being “on time” (especially with my flexible schedule).

On the way to work, I heard a quote…something to the effect that Life is 10% what happens to us (circumstances) and 90% what we make of it (attitude). At any rate, I can choose to see the glass half-full! I ended up only about fifteen minutes later than I had planned and was still early for my presentation. Thanks, Lord.

I discussed my morning with my coworker. She laughed and said, “At least you didn’t have to make toast in your bathroom!” She explained that she had a similar morning when her kitchen outlets blew a fuse. Her family was all ready to go except breakfast. Instead of waiting around to find the problem, she was resourceful!

Praise God, I got ahold of my attitude before it got the best of me. I ended up having a good day and was able to laugh it off. I was productive at work and swimming lessons in the evening went well. I even remembered to prepare breakfast and lunches in advance!

Often, Life is unpredictable and feels out of control. Regardless of your circumstances, you are in charge of your attitude. But, you don’t have to deal with it all alone! With God’s help, nothing is impossible. Lean on Him for grace and strength. His timing is perfect and His plan is good.

Most of our daily stressors are minor. They are not worth losing our cool. Thankfully, most of us will never have to make toast in the bathroom!

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Father God, You are gracious and wise. Thanks for the creativity to solve problems as we live for you. Give us inner peace in the midst of chaotic circumstances. May we bring You glory in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How do you handle daily stress? Do you pray, journal, call a friend, exercise, or what?

Task: Find a healthy way to de-stress!

On Tying Shoes and Learning New Skills

Lydia has already grown so much this year, both in height and skills. She has lost her first two teeth and has grown almost three inches in six months. Even more exciting, Lydia has grown into her larger bike and no longer needs the smaller one from last summer!

Lydia recently asked me to teach her how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a little messy even with supervision, but I’m glad it cultivated independence. She’ll need more practice before I let her do it completely alone!

Lydia sometimes enjoys doing chores around the house, too. She likes helping with laundry, garbage, and dishes. Like any kid, her enthusiasm comes and goes. 🙂

This week, we’ve been focusing on tying shoes. I asked Lydia a few months ago and decided she wasn’t ready. “No thanks, Mom. Maybe another time.” But now she has grown into a pair of sparkly tennis shoes so she is eager to wear them!

As I am teaching her, I’ve been remembering when I learned to tie my shoes! I learned differently than I am teaching her. Nonetheless, I think the new way is a little easier.

Sometimes, we’ve both been frustrated. She’ll get upset when she can’t make the ‘bunny ears’ and I don’t like to watch her struggle. But I’m resisting helping her too much.

So, I’ve decided to have her practice about ten minutes a day and then let it go. If she wants to do more, great. Overall, it’s been a positive experience as we celebrate her small wins!

Even though I am watching Lydia struggle, I know she will appreciate the freedom it brings. It will also help her in the near future when she starts school again.

It might take a lot of practice, but in the long-term, the struggle is worth it.

With each new level of independence or growth, we all have new challenges to overcome. These challenges can be good or bad, depending on how you look at them.

Each challenge brings an opportunity to learn. What causes one person to struggle, may be simple for someone else. How one person learns is likely different from the way someone else learns. In the end, though, it’s rewarding to see someone learn and grow!

In Jesus Christ, we have a perfect example to follow. By His grace, we can come to Him for help and direction. He is a wonderful Teacher! Ask Him to teach you how to get to the next level. He knows exactly you need.

I’m glad God teaches each of us according to our unique purpose. Some of the lessons may be more difficult to learn than others. A loving Father, He is so proud of us for trying! Obedience is key, but there’s an abundance of grace!

God is not limited by our challenges, but uses them to help us grow. Thankfully, we are never left on our own to just “figure it out” as we go. The Lord is right beside us, cheering us on. He’s only a question (or prayer) away.

God’s timing is perfect. He never asks us to do something without teaching and equipping us to do the work. He wants us to succeed and live in Victory!

With God, all things are possible. He is patient with us as we practice, learn, and grow. He does not expect perfection and is gracious when we need a do-over. Thank You, Jesus!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Your grace. Lord, teach me Your ways and guide me in Your Truth. Give us courage as I live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What is something the Lord is teaching you right now? Is it difficult or fairly easy? (Hopefully, it will become better with practice!)

Tasks: Take the first step in faith and obedience today! Pray and then do what God is asking You to do. He will be with You! 🙂

Live Like You’re Loved

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He loves you like you are!

The lyrics above belong to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson. I’ve enjoyed listening to the song since I first heard it. But lately, I have been listening to the lyrics a little more.

For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve had noticeably less energy lately. My lethargy could be related to the weather, stress, lack of sleep, etc. (or a combination of factors). However, I’ve been enjoying the rain we’ve had, don’t feel overstressed, and have been sleeping pretty well. So, who knows?

Quite possibly, I could just be worn out trying to doing too much!!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

As I have considered these lyrics, I have taken the song to heart. When I think of all I still have to do, I take it to Jesus to help me sort it out. He loves it when we come to Him! I don’t have to be chained to my to-do list!

So, I have been intentional about taking breaks and resting. I’ve enjoyed reading, catching up on a favorite show, and calling a friend. Lydia and I have walked to a nearby park to play, colored, and made a fun treat together. On a couple of days, I’ve even squeezed in a short nap!

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

I am grateful for God’s grace when I feel weak. I know with Jesus, I can do everything I need to do! He is my strength and my song. When I’ve specifically asked Him for help this last week, ultimately, I have been more productive throughout the day!

Yes, the Lord has given me everything I need. His mercies are new every morning and His grace is sufficient. Nothing can compare to His lovingkindness. Praise God!

Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

This part of the song (above) is my favorite. It feels a little like a personal anthem. When I remember how much God loves me, I can hold my head up higher. I can smile and laugh and play. I can walk in freedom, knowing He gives me Victory. I don’t have get bent out of shape over imperfect progress. I can enjoy myself instead of stressing out!

“Live like you’re loved” could mean something different to each person and could vary by season of life. I love that we are all unique!

For me, it usually means acknowledging and honoring my weaknesses, inabilities, or failures. This often means asking for help and letting the Lord meet me where I am. Coming to Jesus is the best and first step. Lord, I need You!

I find ‘living loved’ also means recognizing when someone else needs help, because I’ve been there too. When I serve someone else, I notice my problems are not so urgent. Showing compassion is a win-win for all of us!

When I take the time to pause and soak up His love, I notice God all around me. He renews my joy and I can share generously with others. I don’t have to focus on my lack of energy (or other resources)… because with Jesus on my side, I will always have enough!

Life is short. Live like you’re loved!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for all You do for me. Thank You for renewed strength every day. As I depend on You, please give me energy and direct my steps. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What does “live like you’re loved” mean to you? What is something you can do to live loved right now?

Task: Listen to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson!

Because He Promised

This past Monday marked four years since Dave died, after he battled cancer for 364 days. On occasion, I find myself pausing to think about it all. It still seems unreal at times. But most days, I am simply glad for all God has done in our lives since then.

Sometimes we want to rush through our painto get through it as fast as possible—to stop the hurting and find relief. But healing takes time. So, I am grateful for Jesus’ healing touch these last four years. He has given us space and time to heal, learn, and grow.

Indeed, these last four years, God has ordered our steps and reordered our lives in ways only He can. I usually pray about my agenda for each day. But on Monday, I specifically asked the Lord to direct my steps. Like usual, my schedule had many possibilities for the day… but I also wanted to conserve my emotional energy!

I could see God at work when my neighbor took Lydia to school with her son. So, I was able to run an important errand before work. At work, it was good to talk a little but also keep my mind on other things. Later in the day, we decided to hangout with our friends for an impromptu playdate. The kids played water games and the moms chatted!

Earlier, Lydia had suggested we eat strawberries and ice cream in Dave’s honor. (Dave always loved strawberries!) I had planned to do something with Lydia along those lines, but didn’t have any specific plans. So on a whim, I offered to share our strawberries and ice cream with our friends outside. The timing worked out so much better than I could have imagined. It’s hard to beat ice cream with friends on a hot day!

It’s always good to bless others, and our friends were so gracious. It was just what I needed, but nothing I could have planned. Praise God!!

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the song “Even If” by Mercy Me. It captures the essence of our cancer journey, my previous struggles with fear, and our determination to stand in faith. Here’s a snippet of the song… (I put the link at the end of this post if you want to listen.)

You’ve been faithful
You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can

I know You’re able
And I know You can
Save through the fire
With Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

Yes, God is more than able to save the day. We pray and do everything we can, but in all things, He has the final say. And that’s okay. I can trust Him to do what is best for me, because He has promised to do so. Even if I don’t understand.

God doesn’t expect us to do it alone—He only asks us to trust Him. It does take faith, yet the Lord has an impeccable track record. His love never fails! I have experienced His sweet, unfailing love firsthand!

These days, I find much comfort in God’s promises. His promises reflect His loving character and awesome power. The Bible is full of them but the ones I cling to most are the promises of God’s presence, His peace, His plan, and His provision. For me, these are like pillars, giving structure to His other promises. 

God has promised never to leave nor forsake me. Sadly, people often come and go. Plans will change. Life has many twists and turns, ups and downs. But through it all, Jesus is never far away or out of touch. I can come directly to Him…because He promised.

God has promised me inner peace. In fact, Jesus said He IS my peace. I don’t have to live in fear or worry, or deal with unpredictable emotional roller coasters. I can give Him my cares, knowing He is cares deeply for me. I can rest in His love…because He promised.

God has promised good to me. He didn’t say it would be easy or that I would have all the answers…but He did promise to work it all out in my favor eventually. If a situation is not good, then God’s not done yet. I can trust Him…because He promised.

God has promised to provide for me. God has generously provided me with a job, but His provision goes beyond covering my finances, housing, bills, or food. He has given me enough to share with others as needed. I also have a wonderful family and lots of friends. Jesus has given me grace and space to grieve. I can rely on Him…because He promised.

Dear friend, my situation (and yours) is not a surprise to God. It may not make sense right now….it may seem impossible. But with Jesus, all things are possible. He’s got this!

We do not often know when or how it will all work out, but the Lord is faithful. He does not waver. He always does what He says He will do. All of God’s promises are YES in Christ Jesus! In Him, we have the AMEN and give Him the glory (see 2 Corinthians 1:19-20).

Sure, waiting is a challenge. But hold on. A promise is a promise.

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Heavenly Father, You are good and faithful. Thanks for Your promises. I choose to trust You, Jesus. Give me strength to stand firm. In Your Name, Amen

Question: What Bible verse or promise speaks to you right now?

Task: Listen to Even If, by MercyMe. Trust in Jesus!

On Spring Cleaning

I have been doing some much-needed spring cleaning lately. I’ve dusted, washed windows, and reorganized some cabinets. I have cleaned those places that are usually overlooked. I still have a lot more to do, but I feel good about my progress thus far.

I have gone through our closets and removed what we no longer need, donating them or passing them onto friends. In Lydia’s case, I’ve removed items that no longer fit! She’s grown so much, and I am preparing for the next season.

Outside, I have pruned the dead off of certain plants in hopes that green shoots will soon start to grow. I have worked on the garage too, though that is an ongoing project!

Our hearts and lives can all use some spring cleaning from time to time. This could be a time of letting go or moving forward. I like the perspective of making room for new things, though the point is not to acquire more stuff.

In order to grow, we have to release “what was” before we can grasp “what will be.”

In a couple weeks, it will be four years since Dave went to Heaven. Four years of making it on the Lord’s strength. Four years of praying it through, knowing the Lord still has good plans in store for us! Because He is good.

On occasion, I will find something of Dave’s that I forgot about. This might include a book on a random shelf or a tool in the garage. I keep what I can still use, but try to address the rest. For the most part, I find it gets easier as time goes by. But there are days when nostalgia (or another wave of grief??) kicks in and it becomes more challenging.

Like faith, spring cleaning is not for the faint of heart!

Letting go or cleaning house doesn’t always mean we have to physically get rid of anything. Sometimes, the best thing we can change is our mentality. As our attitude shifts, we begin to see things differently. This may even lead to other positive changes!

To start, we can let go of a crazy schedule that no longer suits us. We can embrace the peace Jesus promised us. We don’t have earn His love!

We can let go of anger or resentment, embracing forgiveness and a change of heart. Jesus died to give us total freedom. Bring your turbulent heart to Him.

We can get rid of outdated expectations (our own or those put on us by others). We can pray for God’s perfect timing and purpose, knowing He loves us dearly.

We can purge our hearts of fear and worry. We can trust God to make a way, even if it looks impossible. He is more than able.

We can nix the desire to do everything ourselves, or in our own strength. We can always ask for help. And, we can trust God to do what He says He will do.

We can kick bad habits to the curb. We can praise God for the new life we have in Christ!

We can work to live and not live to work. We can rest, trusting God to protect and provide for us. We can sleep, knowing the Lord is watching over all that concerns us.

We can put on love and pass it on. We can share Jesus with our friends, family, and neighbors! We can make a difference in our communities.

With courage, we can move forward in faith. We can rely on God’s unfailing love and abundant grace. His mercies are new every morning!

Praise God!

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God, You are good and Your love endures forever! Thank You for giving us a fresh start every day. Help us rely on You for strength and courage in every season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you done any spring cleaning lately? What did you let go of or remove from your life?

Tasks: As you make changes in your home and life, notice how it makes you feel. Lighthearted? Cheerful? Free?

On Vision and Clarity

During a routine eye exam this week, I learned a ‘new word’: phoropter. Also called a refractor, it’s the device used to determine one’s prescription. The patient looks through the phoropter lenses while the eye doctor changes the dials, asking, “One or two, three or four?”

I was scheduled to see a new eye doctor, though he was running late. (I was glad to have extra time to read!) When the doctor arrived, I noticed he was paralyzed and sat in a wheelchair. I’m sure he required a little more time to get around. He quickly wheeled into the room, introduced himself, and started my eye exam.

When asked how my eyes and vision were, I explained my seasonal allergies have been ramping up this week. My eyes were a little dry that day, making my contacts uncomfortable and my vision blurry.

I could read all the letters through the phoropter, but it was a little more challenging than usual. Besides the blurriness, there was also a glare from the computer. I had trouble focusing because everything seemed foggy. I was frustrated. Finally, I told the eye doctor, “It’s almost as if these lenses need to be cleaned.”

To my surprise, he immediately wheeled out of the room and came back with cleaning supplies. He couldn’t take the entire contraption apart, but he did wipe off the external lenses. I was touched by his compassion and effort so I could see clearly. I’ve worn glasses and contacts for years, but I’ve never had an eye doctor who listened to my concerns like that!

While he cleaned, we talked about the device, its name, and how it works. Somehow, that led to us talking about our kids, his car accident over a decade ago, cancer, and Dave’s death. We talked about ‘seeing the good’ and having a positive attitude. I was impressed at his ability to keep moving forward, despite his paralysis. What fortitude!

In the end, the doctor said my eyes were healthy. Thankfully, my vision hadn’t changed much, yet he saw a lot of debris on my contacts. I was shocked because I just changed the lenses a few days ago. No wonder my vision was blurry! He made some recommendations like wearing my glasses as needed and using a special cleaning solution.

I went to get my vision checked, and left with a different perspective!

That got me thinking…

While I usually only need to visit the eye doctor yearly, I need to meet with Jesus every day. I wouldn’t forget my glasses or contacts… In the same way, regular contact with Jesus gives me focus. He helps me make sense of my circumstances and surroundings!

God has a special plan and unique vision for each of His children. Yet fear can cloud that vision and limit us from becoming all He intended. Fear blurs the path, causing confusion and uncertainty. Over time, we may even get used to seeing poorly!

But when we call on Jesus, He helps us see through the eyes of faith. We don’t have to wander around blindly; we can move forward with confidence and clarity. As we fix our eyes on Him, doubt and darkness flee. Our vision becomes clear again.

In the light of Jesus, we see God’s love and grace in living color. We then see ourselves and others through His perspective. With compassion, we can overlook weaknesses and find the good in each person.

Yes, Jesus brings healing, renews our vision, and restores our purpose. Praise God!

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Jesus, You are good! Thank You for loving me so much. Be my vision and be my strength. Give me clarity as You guide me on the right path. In Your Name, Amen

Question: Do you wear contacts or glasses to correct your vision? Does anything about this post stand out to you?

Tasks: Read these two Bible passages of Jesus healing the blind: Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 8:22-26. Write down any observations.

On the Right Track

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tasks: Memorize Psalm 23.