Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plans to prosper you...

I was given a verse this week by one of my dear friends who is currently a neighbor but who will no longer be a neighbor once we find someplace else to live. 

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

What a wonderful verse to hold on to in this time in our lives and in the scheme of recent events.  God has plans to prosper us, not to harm us.  He has plans to give us hope and a future.  All we need to to is seek him with all our hearts. 

As we walk through this valley, I find myself seeking Him more and more.  Perhaps that is one reason for us to go through this upheaval.  In the midst of the busyness that is Christmas, I am keeping my mind and heart more firmly focused on Him because I realize I cannot do it without Him.

What a blessing to have a Heavenly Father to lean on.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recent Tragedy

As a mom to a little man that will be attending Kindergarten next year, last weeks school shooting took a special place in my heart.  I have felt moved to pray for the moms of the children that were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newport Connecticut. 

This evening as we read our advent devotional it touched on something similar back in the first few years after Jesus was born. 

"When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious and gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.  Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."  Matthew 2:16-18

In Jesus' time, in the town of Bethlehem, all the boys 2 years old and younger were killed.  I cannot even fathom this kind of atrocity.  "Why hollow-souled tyrants (or young men) must kill innocents to satisfy their need for power, wealth or influence will always remain a fathomless mystery to most of us.  Yet somehow God can turn even the greatest of human rights offenses for His good" writes Dan Belt in our Hope Arriving Advent Devotional. 

We cannot understand, and at this time, we cannot fathom how God can  use something like the shooting last week for good, but I do know that " all things, God works for the good of those who love Him..." Romans 8:28.

Join me in praying for the families affected in the atrocity last week.

In His Grace...

Monday, December 17, 2012

God With Us

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

This is today's advent scripture in our Hope Arriving Advent Devotional by Dan Wilt.  Again, the perfect message at the perfect time. 

We are still looking for a house and will need to be out of ours by January 18th.  In the hustle and bustle of this season, we have added a whole extra dimension - that of panic and slight desperation.  When can we pack?  When do you search for a place to live with your 4 year old out of preschool for winter break?  When do you go house hunting with tickets to the Nutcracker and plans to visit Zoolights?  How can you be everywhere all at the same time? 

Answer: obviously you can't.  Something has to give.  But with all of that, it is easy to lose focus on the one thing that is most important.  God with us...Immanuel...the name Immanuel means God with us. 

In our devotional, it says "What is holding you back from seeing God as with you this Advent season?  A circumstance?  A worry?  A fear?  A loss?....Lay each hurdle at the feet of the God who steps in, comes close, and gets His hands dirty."  I can lay claim to each of these things:  A circumstance - losing our home; A worry - how can we find a place to live; A fear - what if we don't find a place to live; A loss - we are losing our home (I am still struggling with this one). 
I can identify with each one - but as it says, I need to lay each of these things at God's feet and he will take care of it. 

Thankfully, he is "God with me".

In His Grace...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Being Overcomers (Part II)

Also taken from my earlier posts, another great reminder to continue to seek God through this trial.  I will overcome "through Christ in me".

"I have overcome the world..." John 16:33

"...and the gates of Hades will not overcome it..." Matthew 16:18

"...but the Lamb will overcome them..." Revelation 17:14

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son (daughter)" Revelation 21:7

How amazing that when we got to church on Sunday, one of the things that kept coming up again and again during our Pastor's sermon was to overcome.  As I mentioned in the previous Overcome post, this topic keeps coming up in my life.  And I have prayed about what it is that God is wanting me to learn.  The only thing I keep coming back to is that He wants me to understand that we can and will overcome. 

Whatever it is that you are struggling with right now - whatever sadness, whatever illness, whatever difficulty, whatever trial, whatever sin - you can and will overcome through "Christ in you" Colossians 1:27.  He lives in you when you ask him into your heart.  And even though it may not feel like it right now, as you keep looking to Him through the tough times, He will lead you to overcome any difficulty you might face here on earth.  He is preparing a home for you in heaven and you are His beloved child.

I pray you know this truth...

In His Grace...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Being Overcomers

I am currently overwhelmed by things I would like to get done before Christmas and the search for a place to live.  I was re-reading some of my past posts and this one stood out.  It is from June 1st and it is a great reminder of who I am in Christ and the fact that I will overcome this challenge as well.

I am not sure why but lately I just keep hearing/seeing the word overcome.  In songs on the Christian radio station I listen to, in the Bible as I read through God's word. It seems to be a very important concept but one which I did not think much of previously.

I have struggled with many things since becoming a Christian - depression, fear, anxiety.  And with God's help, I have overcome.  I think this is why the term has come to mean something to me.  Following Christ has enabled me to overcome things that for a time were disabling.  I had allowed depression to overcome me, to keep me from reaching out to others, to stop me from leading a full life in Christ. 

I had allowed fear to freeze me in my tracks and prevent me from fulfilling God's dream for my life.

I had allowed anxiety to prevent me from following God's leading in my life.

But I know that "God did not give us the spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" 2 Tim 1:7.  And so each time I encounter these things that threaten my relationship with Jesus, I try to remember to look to the Lord and have verses memorized that relate to each.  Obviously, I look to the verse in Timothy to assist when I am fearful. 

I look to a verse in Phillippians to assist when I am anxious "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Phil 4:6-7.  This has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years.  I think it was the second verse I ever memorized after giving my life to the Lord. 

And the Psalms that David wrote are particularly helpful whenever I feel that I am falling into the hole of depression "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" Psalm 34:4-5.  There are numerous Psalms that encourage me and lead me toward Jesus instead of into the darkness and self-centeredness that is depression. 

I pray that one of these verses might be a help to someone reading this.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trusting God

Ironic isn't it, how we can pick up something to read, thinking that we are picking it up of our own volition...but realizing, as we read, that it was no coincidence that we picked this particular thing at this particular time in our lives?

So it would be for me as we continue reading our advent devotional by Dan Wilt.  Today, "In God We Trust"...again, a message that feels as if it was written just for me, right now.

"...He will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove His people's disgrace from all the earth.  The LORD has spoken.  In that day they will surely say, 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."  Isaiah 25:8-9.

As we continue in this advent season, giving thanks for the coming celebration of the birth of Christ, I feel as though God has personally reminded me to trust in Him.  Trust in Him and lean on Him. 

He knows that is is hard for us to trust in Him.

He knows what is happening in my life right now. 

He sends his reassurance through Scripture. 

All I have to do is open my heart to it.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


As I mentioned previously, we are reading an advent devotional every day as a family.  We are hoping it will help us to teach our little man the true meaning of Christmas and it is also helping us learn the true meaning of advent. 

As we read the devotion on Sunday, it was speaking of "shalom" which in Hebrew is the word for peace.  I was, of course, reading aloud to my family as I read about God's peace. 

The tears started to stream.  I am feeling anything but peace right now. 

The hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas. 

The search for a home.

Even the idea of packing up all our belongings (I haven't started yet).

It hasn't felt peaceful.  I feel an inner turmoil that I try to give to God...and then I snatch it right back as I dive into the next item on my list.

I couldn't finish reading the devotion - my husband had to take over for me.  "Allow the peace, the shalom of Christ to rule and reign in your own heart this Advent season.  Know that God's intent is to make you whole in every area, inside and out, until the day He renews all things and establishes justice on the earth." Hope Arriving by Dan Wilt

I pray that I can find the shalom of Christ in the days ahead.

In His Grace...

Friday, December 7, 2012


We will most likely need to be out of our house by January 18th. 

I thought I was okay with all of it. I thought I was doing pretty well at trusting God - following His will for us.

When a date so soon was announced, I found that I am not okay with it.  I am saddened by the idea of leaving our house.  I am frustrated by needing to try to find a place to live during the Christmas season (a place that will take 3 people, 3 cats and a dog).  I am overwhelmed by all that I need to get done in the next couple of weeks.

My sister stayed for dinner tonight.  Prior to going home, she prayed with me.  I hope I can keep part of what she prayed at the front of my mind. 

I cannot (must not) let this steal away the joy that is Christmas. 

The joy of the birth of our Savior. 

The joy of remembering the amazing gift that is Jesus...the true reason for this wondrous season.

God loves me and wants what is best for me and my family.

I am trusting in Him.

In His Grace...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

O Come All Ye Faithful

Instead of singing the usual lullabies to my little man during our cuddle time before bed, I have started signing him Christmas carols.  Of course I try to choose ones that will have a calming affect, not "Deck the Halls" or "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".  Tonight I sang "O Come All Ye Faithful" and I really paid attention to the words.

"O Come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold HIM,
Born the King of angels!
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God
In the Highest.
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
Christ the Lord."

'Tis the season to adore HIM.  I want so much to teach my little man to adore HIM. 

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to adore You and to teach my son to adore You.  Thank you for the gift of your Son and His amazing, saving love.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Putting Christ in Christmas

I want so much for my little man to know the true meaning of Christmas.  I know it can be a difficult thing to teach to a four year old in our commercial, materialistic society. 

He already knows he will get presents.  He loves to help choose the Christmas tree and then come home to decorate it.  He is looking forward to helping me bake cookies and make caramels.  We will be taking him to see the Nutcracker Ballet for the first time this year.  We play Christmas music whenever we have music going.  He chose an advent calendar at Trader Joe's (as he has for the last couple of years). 

These are all special activities that we reserve for this season alone.  But none of them help him to know the true meaning of Christmas. 

Our church has provided us with at least one tool to help.  They gave out advent devotionals this year.  At the beginning of Advent, December 1st, instead of just letting our little man open that day on his advent calendar, we read from the devotional as a family beforehand. 

Truthfully, I don't know how much our little man is absorbing of what we read.  But I like the idea that we are teaching him the meaning behind having an advent calendar - and that it isn't just a count-down to when he will get to open his presents. 

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6
In His Grace...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's challenging to feed a four year old

My four year old was, at one time, a terrific eater.  He didn't ever like baby food (the pureed kind or cereal kind) so we just cut what we were eating into very small pieces and that was what he ate.  He ate all sorts of things - zucchini, peas, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, pears, apples, plums, strawberries, pasta, rice, bread, chicken, beef, lamb - whatever we ate, he ate.

Then he turned two.  And the eating came to a sudden halt.  Of course he still eats, just a very small selection of what he used to eat.  He somehow knows that a fruit is a fruit or a vegetable is a vegetable even if he has never seen it before or heard what it is called.  He can spot the tiniest piece of vegetable mixed into his food.  And he has a stubborn streak a mile wide (unfortunately he got it from me). 

We can have the same fight I had with my father - I sat at the table not eating the fried green tomato on my plate until he sent me to bed.  Fortunately it did not show up on my breakfast plate in the morning or the stand-off would have continued.  Or I can do as it seems the current thought is - not worry about it.  He'll start eating it when he's ready. 

While I understand not making food an issue (I must pick my battles), it also seems like by not forcing the issue we are giving him alot of control.  Control that he might not be ready to handle at the ripe old age of four. 

It also seems somewhat unbiblical.  After all, the Bible does say "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ephesians 6:1  By giving him control over this relatively small issue, are we giving him the impression that he doesn't really need to obey us in everything?  I have recently come to the conclusion that I think we are. 

I am unsure of the solution, but I will be praying about it and seeking the Lord's help.  After all, God does want what is best for our little man.  He wants to build his character even if it means he won't be quite as comfortable, just as He does for us.

In His Grace...

Friday, November 30, 2012

A God-Given Purpose

Do you ever wonder what your purpose is? 

I hear and read that God has a unique purpose for each of us.  Sometimes I wonder what mine is.  I am not an author that can influence numerous people through my books or stories.  I do not work in ministry, leading others to Christ.  I am not an outgoing person who talks easily to strangers.  By trade, I am a bookkeeper, balancing accounts and crunching numbers.  I sometimes don't even see my clients, the business owners I work for. 

I have a nephew who is driven to be a lawyer.  He has known for quite some time what he wants to do with his life.  On the other hand, I still didn't know what I wanted to do with mine even after I earned my bachelor's degree.  I felt this gave me less of a purpose.  I believed the world - that you must know what you want and go after it in order to have a purpose.

God gave me an insight today on my way to work - I do have a God-given purpose.  My God-given purpose right now is to build up my husband to be the man God wants him to be and to raise our son " the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" Proverbs 22:6.  I don't know why God gave me this insight today, but I felt it very clearly as I drove toward work. 

My work is my work - it is not my life.  My life is much more important than my work.  My work is temporary - the influence I can have in my life can be eternal.

What's your purpose at this time in your life? 

In His Grace...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Grandfather's Bible

I discovered on a bookshelf, on a visit home, my Grandfather's bible.  It has his name embossed in gold lettering on the leather cover.  It is a Revised Standard Version. 

My Grandfather has not been here for many years.  He passed away when I was about twelve years old.  I did not learn much about his faith before he passed. 

What a treasure it is to find his bible.  To see what he has written on one of the front pages:

"Psalms I like - 1, 8, 15, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 - Teach me thy ways; O Lord; 27 - The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear; 46 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; 48 - Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; 84 - How lovely is thy dwelling place O Lord of Hosts; 90 - Lord Thou has been our dwelling place; 100 - Make a joyful noise to the Lord; 103 - Bless the Lord , O my soul; 118, 121 - I lift up my eyes to the hills; 136, 139, 145"

When I discovered his bible in the shelf, I was new to faith; what an encouragement to see some of my grandfather's favorite verses.  To know that there was faith in my family and to feel that link with generations past. 

I pray that one day I will see him and my grandmother in heaven.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In everything...give thanks...again

God seems to be giving me the same message over and over again - perhaps I am slow to learn this particular lesson. 

I have been re-reading one of my favorite series of books, The Mitford series, by Jan Karon.  Here is an excerpt of what I read last night from the book In This Mountain:

"In everything...give thanks."

Father Tim paused and looked at those gathered before him.  At Emma Newland...Gene Bolick...Dooley Barlowe...Pauline Leeper...Hope Winchester...Helene Pringle.  Around the nave his eyes gazed, drawing them close.

" In everything, give thanks.  That's all.  That's this morning's message.

" If you believe as I do that Scripture is the inspired Word of God, then we see this not as a random thought or an oddly clever idea of His servant, Paul, but as a loving command issued through the great apostle.

"Generally, Christians understand that giving thanks is good and right.

"Though we don't do it often enough, it's easy to have a grateful heart for food and shelter, love and hope, health and peace.  But what about the hard stuff, the stuff that darkens your world and wounds you to the quick?  Just what is this everything business?

"It's the hook.  It's the key.  Everything is the word on which this whole powerful command stands and has its being.

"Please don't misunderstand; the word thanks is crucial.  But a deeper spiritual truth, I believe, lies in giving thanks in ...everything.

"In loss of all kinds.  In illness.  In depression.  In grief.  In failure.  And, of course, in health and peace, success and happiness.  In everything.

"There'll be times when you wonder how you can possibly thank Him for something that turns your life upside down; certainly there will be such times for me.  Let us, then, at times like these, give thanks on faith alone...obedient, trusting, hoping, believing."

Yes, it is a novel.  But what truth it holds. 

I realized today that I am at peace with what is going on with our house.  I am doing my best to give thanks in everything.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Everything...Give Thanks

"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 RSV

"Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

It is what Thanksgiving is all about.  Giving thanks to our creator, our God, our Father.  The one that loves us no matter what.

When tempers flare, we are to give thanks.

When arguments abound, we are to give thanks.

When all seems lost, we are to give thanks.

We are to lean on our faith in His goodness, His mercy and His grace so that in ALL things, we can give thanks.

It was a good Thanksgiving, with the usual family drama that occurs in all families.

But we had a lovely weekend.

In His Grace...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Give thanks to the Lord..." 1 Chronicles 16:8

"Let us come before Him with thanksgiving..." Psalm 95:2

"...give thanks to him and praise his name..." Psalm 100:4

" are my God, and I will give you thanks..." Psalm 118:28

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever..." Psalm 136:1

"...when he had given thanks, he broke it..." 1 Corinthians 11:24

"...thanks be to God!" 1 Corinthians 15:57

" prayer and petition, with thanksgiving..." Philippians 4:6

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

And so on this day, I give thanks, to my Creator, my Father, my King. 

In His Grace...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on the Lord

We have some friends...a wonderful couple that we have grown close to.  They have been trying for a few years to have a baby. 

They are believers.

I don't know their story in detail.  But I do know what she told me when she told me she is pregnant.

She said that she had finally come to peace with the idea that she would not have a child of her own.  When she had fully put the struggle in the Lord's hands, then she had discovered that she was pregnant. 

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!"  Isaiah 30:18

This is a couple that waited on the Lord.  They did not start going to doctors and trying various fertility solutions, instead they waited on the Lord.

And the Lord was gracious to them...

Now they await the birth of their child...

We are so excited!

In His Grace....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Restored and Renewed

As I've mentioned before, we are in the process of doing a short sale on our house.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it means we are trying to sell our house for less than we owe on it.  We cannot afford it any longer, and we are waiting to hear if the bank will approve the amount that was offered for it.

As I sat in church on Sunday, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that there is a reason we will be moving.  It is part of Gods plan.  It will glorify Him and provide Him with more opportunities to use us to advance His Kingdom.

When we moved to this house we were new to Christian faith.  We made mistakes, as all humans, Christian or non-Christian, do.  But this has hindered our ability to be used by God.  There are those in our current neighborhood that cannot or will not forgive or forget the mistakes we have made.  Because of this, we cannot be witnesses to those that are unbelievers that will not forget.  So God is moving a new neighborhood...where we can be strong witnesses of God's unending, merciful love.

This is my prayer:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."  Psalm 51:10-12

I pray that as we move to a new neighborhood, we will not make the same mistakes we have in the past.  We will "Love our neighbors as ourselves" so that we may bring others to know Christ's love.

In His Grace...


Friday, November 16, 2012

A Loving God

Have you ever heard the question "How could a loving God ever send anyone to hell?"

Our pastor recently expounded on this question in one of his sermons.  I had heard this question before.  I had heard it used to explain away the existence of hell.  And to explain away the existence of a loving God. 

I loved what our pastor said.  He said it is a trick question.  As usual, I am so blessed by the messages God gives our pastor.  The more information I have, the more equipped I feel to go into the world each day and pursue and share my faith.  "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16

Why is it a trick question?

A loving God does not choose to send any of His children to hell.

It is our choice.

He gave us the gift of free will.  We can either choose to follow Him, to love Him in return for the love He bestows upon us - or we can choose to go the other way.  If we choose to go the other way, we are choosing hell.  It is not God's choice for us.

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." Proverbs 8:17

I choose God, I choose His love, I will continue to seek Him and find Him.  I pray you will too.

In His Grace...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaking all the commands of God's law

"A person who follows all of God's law but fails to obey even one command is guilty of breaking all the commands in that law." James 2:1-10

Again, I am sobered by Scripture.  As I read through James for our small group Bible study, I become aware of the fact that I am guilty.  Because I fail to obey even one command of God, in God's eyes it is the same as breaking all the commands in His law.

His grace, mercy and love for us is a wondrous thing.  How else would we ever be able to come to Him?  How else would we ever be able to know His love and experience eternal life with Him?

It is only because of His amazing plan.  His sacrifice for us.  "For God so loved the world [us] that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

It is difficult to fathom.

I can't earn it.

I can only accept it.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Judging Others

"My dear brothers and sisters, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, never think some people are more important than others....You are making some people more important than others, and with evil thoughts you are deciding that one person is better...This royal law is found in the Scriptures: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'  If you obey this law you are doing right.  But if you treat one person as being more important than another, you are sinning.  You are guilty of breaking God's law.  A person who follows all of God's law but fails to obey even one command is guilty of breaking all the commands in that law." James 2:1-10

Our small group has been studying James.  What a challenging book of the Bible.  I had read through it before, but as we study it, as we dig deeper into the information within, I find that I am failing at so many of God's commands.

As a child of two highly educated and critical people, I am very familiar with judging others.  I myself have been judged and while I would like to say I went the opposite direction, in fact I did not.  I have followed in their footsteps.  Seeing the world through judgemental and critical eyes and thoughts. 

This is something I have struggled with since becoming a Christian.  I know it is not the way of Jesus Christ, but what a difficult thing to change.  It is only through God's grace and will, and the Holy Spirit's divine intervention that I can change this part of myself. 

It is a constant challenge, one that I have lifted up to God many times.

I will continue to give this part of myself to God, until I find that it has been replaced by a gentle, loving spirit.  One that can accept others for who God created them to be.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Judgement Seat of Christ

Our pastor has been preaching on a series called "After".  We have learned about heaven (not floating around on clouds playing the harp) and about hell (I don't want anyone I know to go there). 

The sermon this past weekend was on judgement.  The two different types of judgement and what we will be judged on.  I had learned previously that salvation is through faith alone, not works.  What I had not learned is that works will determine our reward.

Since giving my life to Christ, I found it difficult to understand how the person who had lived their entire life working for Jesus, perhaps as a missionary or serving Him as a pastor in the ministry in some way, would end up in the same place as the murderer on death row who gives his life to Christ minutes before dying.  That didn't seem right to me.   

However, in our teaching on Sunday, I learned this is not exactly how it works.   Yes, these two people will end up in the same place because they have both been saved by their faith in Christ.  However, at the judgment seat of Christ (for all believers) they will receive vastly different rewards. 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:9

"For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:10

"For we will all stand before God's judgment seat." Romans 14:10

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' Romans 2:5-6

What a sobering thought - I will be rewarded based on my good works here on earth.

Am I fulfilling what God would have me do?  Probably not.

How can I better use my talents, time and energy for His glory? 

I pray He will inspire me and instill in me the strength, the courage and the words to do His will.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I am a Christian

Our small group is studying the book of James.  We are using the James bible study book by Max Lucado.  We just finished Lesson Three, Living Proof. 

One of the questions in this Lesson is "In what ways does your life demonstrate to others that you are a Christian?"  I thought about this question prior to going to the study this evening.  But I hadn't truly answered it.  I find it is a difficult thing to answer without sounding like I am bragging.

I don't swear.

I try to control my emotions.

I present a pleasant face to the world, even when life isn't so pleasant.

These are fine answers.  But really, what ways does my life demonstrate to others that I am a Christian?  I think what it boils down to is this.  I treat others with respect, the way I would like to be treated.  Whether they are in the room or not.  Whether they deserve it or not.  It is difficult, it is challenging, I sometimes fail. 

To me it comes down to loving others...when they deserve it and when they don't.  Giving others the benefit of the doubt.  Not gossiping (I sometimes fail here) but treating others how I hope to be treated myself. 

Is it easy?


Is it worth it?


I want God to look at me and say "well done good and faithful servant." 

I pray He does.

In His Grace... 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Comfort vs. Character

We ran into a friend at church this morning.  I asked her how it was going.  She said it was difficult right now.  That she is dealing with a number of hard things.  Then she said something that really struck home with me.  She said, "I get so stuck on my comfort, when God is only interested in my character."

Wow, can I relate.

I want the comfort of my home...but it is not part of God's plan for me right now.

I want the comfort of no pain...but it is not part of God's plan for me right now.

I want the comfort of an easy marriage...and one day we might have one, but we are currently in a growth phase.

I become so focused on all the things that are not going according to my plan, I forget that my plan is not necessarily God's plan.  I forget that oftentimes, God's people go through things so that we can comfort others when they are going through something similar.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:4

I also forget that while I may be thinking of my comfort, that is not as much of a concern to God.  He wants me to grow, he wants me to lean on Him, He wants me to develop my character.  Living in comfort with no challenges will not develop my character.  It will lead to laziness and sloth. 

When I have to lean on God in my everyday life in order to make it through the day, I can be sure that God is working through me to develop stronger, more compassionate, more loving character - someone that He is proud to call one of His children.

Thank you Father!

In His Grace...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jesus Loves Me

It's been one of those days...or maybe one of those weeks.

Not enough time, too much to do, not enough energy or patience.

This evening was bath night and hair washing night for our little man.  Overall, he likes the bath part.  The part where he gets to play in the tub with his bath toys - little plastic boats, old shampoo bottles, cups with holes in the bottom, rubber duckies - he enjoys.  The part where we have to get his head wet, he does not enjoy.  (Were I to have another child, I would take that child in the shower with me every chance I got so I could get his/her head and face wet, wet, wet.)

This evening was made more difficult by the fact that a couple of days ago, he tripped and fell...wearing shorts, running downhill.  He got a pretty good scrape on his left knee.  It has been covered by a band aid which needed to be changed. 

In addition to the crying that started while washing his hair (he really doesn't like water on his face) he also did not want me to change the band aid.  I would like to say that I had plenty of patience and we worked through the whole thing slowly.  In reality, we were running late, I have had a long week and my patience was just about nil. 

We were able to get the band aid off (I did not just rip it off in spite of the desire to do so) and with a little four year boy sitting on my knee sniffling from all the crying, he made a request.  "Sing Jesus Loves Me" he said.

"Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so."

In His Grace... 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Full Armor

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."  Ephesians 6:11-18

Some days I just need to pray this.

In His Grace...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Over and over again

Why does God have to teach me the same lesson over and over again?  Why can't I learn it the first time around and then not go back again?  Why do I keep returning to the same patterns again and again like my 4 year old son?

On my way home from work today, I was thinking about the trials we are going through right now.  I was thinking how some people we know seem to think they are not very difficult trials and it feels as if we are being judged for losing our house or for asking for prayer for an unknown health issue.  

But then I had a light bulb moment.

I am focusing on what others think of my situation.  I am focusing on getting the approval of others.  I am focusing on getting attention from other flawed human beings.  I am focusing in the wrong place.

I wrote about this toward the beginning of my blog (Following my Faith).  I would seek the attention, prayers and fellowship of other Christian women but when they would pray with me or empathize with me, I felt they didn't get it.

It doesn't matter if they get it or not.

God gets it.

It says in Scripture "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6

He is still working on me, He is doing his good work within me and all I have to do is seek Him.  Him in all His glory, Him in all His mercy.

Him in all His understanding, compassion and love.

God gets it, whatever you are going through, He gets it.

He is with you and He loves you.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beyond Me

I don't know what I did to yesterdays post.  Somehow, it changed from what it was to something I didn't want it to be.  And I can't change it back.

So it will stay the way it is.  It is beyond me to fix.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus..." Hebrews 12:1-2

In this time of change, I want to "fix my eyes on Jesus".  I want to "throw off everything that hinders" and "run with perseverance the race marked out for" me.  I want to do these things. 

The only way I can do this, is through giving thanks for His grace.

Remembering all the blessings even during the trials.

The blessing of my son
my husband
our pets
our families
our jobs
the food on the table
the treats provided by Auntie
the toys
the visits to playgrounds
the beautiful rain
the glorious sunshine following the rain
the smell of clean, fresh earth
the love of friends
our small group
seeing a rainbow
reading with my son...

And the list goes on...I must remember to give thanks.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Be Joyful Always

Our small group finished the Fireproof study and moved on to study a book of the Bible.

The book of James.

It starts with "My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience." James 1:2-3, NCV

If you have been following my blog at all, you know that my family is facing a number of trials - losing our house, health issues and relational struggles.  I don't know about you, but I have not been one to journey through my troubles with joy.  These meaning of these two words seem far from each other in my mind. defines trouble as "to disturb the mental calm and contentment of; worry; distress; agitate," and joy as "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation."  So how do we go about putting these two things together?

Scripture tells us to "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16

The answer yet again - give thanks.

And so I give thanks for the many blessings we are given every day and I pray that this time, for a little bit longer, I can keep my focus on giving thanks.

In His Grace...

Friday, October 19, 2012


The house is immaculately clean (at least as immaculate as it can be with 3 cats, 1 dog, a four year old boy and a husband).  There is a for sale sign stuck in our front lawn.  There are strangers coming into our house. 

It is officially for sale. 

As we entered this time of upheaval, my quiet time was interrupted.  All spring and summer, I was waking before the rest of the household, sitting up and reading my Bible in bed.  There was enough light, and if there wasn't, I could turn my bedside lamp on dim and that would provide enough light.  But as we head into winter, it is dark in the mornings.  I don't want to wake my husband by turning the light on more, and I don't want to wake my son by going in the living room (light sleeper).  So I had inadvertently stopped having a quiet time.  Sometimes I would take a few minutes in the evening but I didn't have a dedicated time scheduled daily when I needed one the most.

I still do not want to sell my house.  Even when I know in my head that it is the best decision.  I am still struggling with it. In the evenings, I didn't want to think about it.  I found myself falling back on my preferred method of drowning out my thoughts - TV.

We don't actually have TV reception and we do not subscribe to cable, but we have a subscription to Netflix in order to watch movies.  However, I found there are TV shows available to watch instantly.  Instead of sitting down with my bible and reading Scripture, I found myself tuning in to a TV show. 

This is a slippery slope for me.  I had been down it before.  It is how I drown out things I don't want to deal with.  It was my coping mechanism during several years of depression.

But I also know it doesn't help. 

After several weeks of turning to TV and not being able to sleep at night, I realized I needed to turn to something else. 

So I started having my quiet time before bed.  I climb into bed a little earlier than I plan on going to sleep, pull out my Bible and continue reading in Matthew (I am still working my way through the Bible from cover to cover.)

And I read, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28

And He takes my burden and He gives me rest.  And I am so thankful and grateful for His love.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My house is not my home

I have shared that we are getting ready to do a short sale on our house.  It has been a difficult decision and process for me.  While I know that my house is just a building, I have developed an emotional attachment to it. 

It is where we lived when our son was born. 

It has a great backyard. 

It is small and easy to clean. 

It is where we lived when we were both baptized.

It is where we have spent the last 6 years of our lives.

I understand that financially, it is a good decision to sell.  But emotionally, there is a struggle within me.

"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."  2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV

My home here is just that, an earthly tent.  Not a permanent place to reside.  God has a place prepared for me in heaven, an eternal home with Him.

"...And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:6 NIV

And I will have the privelege of living with Him forever in my eternal home. 

I pray I can remain focused on that.

In His Grace...

Monday, October 15, 2012


Our small group has been doing the study based on the movie Fireproof.  It has been a good study on marriage.  But it also has some more far reaching truths. 

For example the command "Love each other as I have loved you."  As we were discussing verses like this one, I had a light bulb moment. 

God loves all of us so much and he commanded us to love each other unconditionally. 

I need to be loving some people that are very difficult for me to show love to.  It was just a flash of insight for some very specific people. 

It doesn't just mean that I am to love my husband or my son unconditionally.  It means I am to love everyone - my enemies, my friends, my neighbors, my family, my husbands family, total strangers - unconditionally.  I am to be showing them love, regardless of how easy or difficult it is to do.  I dare say that God enjoys it even more when we continually show love to those that are the most difficult to love.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, he answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these."  Mark 12:30-31

It is a commandment.

It is my challenge.

Sometimes I wish I didn't have light bulb moments.

In His Grace...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Making good habits

I have made it to the New Testament.

I have been reading through the bible from cover to cover.  I started toward the end of 2011 at Genesis and have plodded my way through the Old Testament.  As I started the New Testament, my husband started a new schedule at work.  Because of this change, I have had to adjust my "quiet time" with the Lord and there was a chunk of time in which I had not yet figured out my new schedule.

As I read through Matthew 12, I was struck by a number of passages but this one took the cake for me.  "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.'  When it arrives, it find the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it several other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.  And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."  Matthew 12:43-45

Or to paraphrase, if we don't replace bad habits with good ones, if we just try to remove the bad habit but do not put a good habit in its' place, then we are setting ourselves up to fail.  For example, if I want to stop relying on food for comfort, but I do not fill that void with God, then I will end up falling back on food for comfort. 

This is something I have struggled with for a number of years.  According to health professionals, I am in my healthy weight range.  But when I look in the mirror, I am not in "my" healthy weight range. 

I use food for comfort.  It had not occurred to me that I would continue to fail in my healthy eating pursuits if I did not replace that desire for comfort with something else.  I was trying to rid myself of a bad habit without replacing it with a good habit.

Lord, help me replace the comfort I crave with your never ending love.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sharing Jesus

After coming to Christ nine years ago, I was slow to share my faith.  I didn't feel like I had all the answers.  I didn't feel prepared to answer questions, if the person I shared with had any.  I felt inadequate and incapable of sharing something that was new to me. 

But this attitude continued as the years went by.  Yes, I was growing in the Lord.  Yes, I was building my relationship with Jesus.  But I wasn't sharing Him.  Not with family, not with friends, not with strangers. 

My family did notice differences in me.  My relationship with Jesus was changing me.  But I wouldn't step out in faith and trust that the Lord would give me the words to share. 

Romans 1:16 says "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..." I know I had heard this verse before, but when our Pastor mentioned it last weekend, I realized I had been allowing my fear of what others might think, stop me from sharing.  In effect, my actions were saying I was ashamed of the gospel.

I am not sure exactly when this changed, but at some point, I found myself saying what I was thinking.  If someone asked a question, I didn't just have a Jesus answer in my head.  I would also let it out of my mouth.  And it was freeing.  The more I shared, the easier it was and is to share. 

As I continue to share, I encourage you to do the same.  The Holy Spirit will give you the words and you never know how your words might change the life of those with whom you share.  Even if there is no immediate effect, you are sowing the seeds.

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." 2 Corinthians 9:6

In His Grace...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Feeling like a failure

As we headed into the whole process of doing a short sale with our house, I was feeling more and more like a failure.  

I don't take well to failure.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I was a perfectionist growing up.  If I didn't think I could do something and do it well, I just didn't do it at all.  I worked hard in school to earn good grades.  I wasn't doing it for the right reasons.  I was trying to win approval from others.  But that doesn't change the fact that I did not allow myself to fail. 

In losing our house, we failed.  We made a bad decision to buy a house we couldn't afford at the wrong time.  We messed this one up and it was leaving me feeling empty, dark and alone.

Today, as we sat in church, there was a flash of reassurance.  I don't really know how to explain it but I just felt a reassurance from God. 

We are experiencing this for a reason.  I don't know what that reason is, I just have to lean on Him and trust in Him. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." Proverbs 3:5

He will use this experience for His glory.

In His Grace...

Friday, October 5, 2012

God works for our good

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

This was the first Scripture I ever memorized. 

It is such a comforting Scripture.

In conversation today with a friend who has every right to be asking God, why us? why me? what is your plan? this verse came up.  Our friend said that as he tells his kids every evening that God has a plan for them, God loves them, God is watching out for them, he is reminding himself of the same thing.

And as this verse came up, I was reminded too.

As we head into a short sale on our house, I was reminded that God does "work for the good of those who love Him."  I was reminded that "in ALL things" God works for my good.  Even when I can't see the good.  Even when I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

God is good!

In His Grace...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Perfectionism and Pride

As I was working on yesterday's post about pride, God nudged me about something else.  Something else with which I struggle.

Perfectionism: "a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less."

This is something that I have lived with my entire life.  My parents tell me that I wouldn't try to do anything new unless I knew I could do it well.  I am still working on this issue. 

But as I read the verses about pride in Scripture, it became apparent to me that perfectionism is led by pride. 

Pride: "a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct..."

Scripture tells me that only one person has ever been or will ever be perfect -


"As for God, his way is perfect..." 2 Samuel 22:31

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17

No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, I will never be perfect.  I am a human being, I am flawed and I live in a sinful world.  By trying to be perfect, I set myself up for disappointment because I am trying to prove myself and please those around me. 

There is only one I need to please and that is God.

I pray that I will keep my focus on Him and work toward pleasing Him based on what He has written in Scripture.

In His Grace...