Growing up, my family met downstairs for breakfast promptly at 6:15 am. My dad would turn on the radio and adjust the dial to WTOP 1500, his favorite station for “up to the minute traffic… More
I’ve always heard of the word, grace.
Your grace is enough.
You are saved by grace.
Grace. Grace. Grace.
It’s a pretty obvious and easy to understand grace as a noun. But I have never really dug deep and meditated and thought about it as a verb.
To give grace.
To show grace.
To extend grace.
To be someone’s grace.
Dealing with your disobeying children…grace.
Loving your neighbor no matter how hard she has hurt you…grace.
Helping a neighbor when they rarely return the favor…grace.
When you call your grandma when you know she won’t even remember the conversation and will complain that you never call her…grace.
Submitting to your husbands decisions when you know they are going to blow up in his or your face…grace.
Respecting one another’s opinions and views when you think/know they are waaaaay out of place….grace.
Waiting on your family member to turn their life around when you see them making poor choice after poor choice….grace.
Encouraging your friends/sisters when you don’t feel encouraged by them or anyone…..grace.
Being still in the midst of God when you just want to run and be busy (we got things to do people!) …grace.
When your family member won’t stop buying your children annoying toys with the batteries still inside them….grace.
When the holiday dinner really isn’t all that good but you have to sit there and eat it with a smile….grace.
When a car cuts in front of you on the highway or is riding your tail end and you really want to laaaaaay on that horn or go a little bit slower and throw your hands up…grace.
When the car in front of you in the drive thru line at your favorite coffee shop or restaurant is ordering enough food to feed the 5,000…grace.
God is the creator of everything that has ever existed, love, and our protector
against all things evil. 1 Corinthians 15:57 says “But thanks be to God, who gives us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I know some days, it just doesn’t feel like that.
A secret tip about spiritual warfare is knowing one of Satan’s easiest tricks. He is not the
creator, therefore he cannot create anything new. He uses what is already there and
manipulates it. He knows how to turn your insecurities, anxieties, and depression.. But
God promises to be our strength and protector.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from
the evil one.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 “Stay Alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around
like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be
strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going
through the same kind of suffering you are.”
The key weapon in spiritual warfare is to accept Jesus and then to receive the Holy
Spirit. The Holy Spirit is your direct communication with God. The Holy Spirit will give
you a spiritual eye into the world that cannot be seen.
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On
the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments
and every potential that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take
captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish
every act of disobedience, one your obedience is complete.”
Strongholds are the very things that can wreck your whole day. It is something that
has affected your way of thinking..negatively. They can be getting stuck in traffic when
you are in a hurry, alcohol, food, or insults. The devil uses whatever stronghold you
have to manipulate your way of thinking. He has studied you knowing exactly what he
needs to do to make you unravel.
But, Oh my Goodness…God is so good!! In that verse He tells exactly how to demolish Satan’s evil schemes. He says to take captive what Jesus thinks of you. Believe only that!! Then be obedient to God’s word. We need to read God’s word about what He believes us to be then do as He says and resist what the devil is trying to do.
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Psalm 136:26 “O, give thanks to the God of heaven, for his mercy endures for ever.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever
believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that
loves is born of God and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.”
The Bible tells us who Christ is, who we are, and what we are to do. I challenge you
to look into the mirror. But, don’t look at the messy hair or the zit on the tip of your
nose. Look into your own eyes. Ask God to show you how He sees you. When you can
see the love God has for you…the devil will have nothing. In that love, there is authority
that comes with it. This is where you turn into one of God’s warriors as He has called
you to be. But, armor up!
God has given us the authority to cast out demons. And I promise you that the devil
doesn’t like it that I just told you that. Therefore, I now declare that (Isaiah 54:17) no
weapon that is formed against you will prevail…
I have a love-hate relationship with change.
I love the change of seasons. It’s exciting to welcome spring flowers, carefree summer days, crisp fall air with warm drinks, and sweaters and good cheer that come with winter.
I love getting a few new items to add to my wardrobe, a new lipstick or nail polish. I’ve always loved new school supplies and the feel of a new book. When I was in college my roommate loved to open a new container of peanut butter and we would ooh and ahh over how pretty it looked before someone would mar the smooth surface with a knife.
If I know a big change is coming, being a control freak, I’m ok with it as long as I can mentally prepare myself and plan for the change accordingly. You see all of the above changes are usually expected, planned for or chosen. I don’t like the feeling of being out of control. As a nurse I learned quickly that the Emergency Room was not a good fit for me. I didn’t like the surprise of what was coming through the ER doors.
So, with all that being said, I have always struggled a little with unexpected changes. For example, if I have something planned, I am not going to cancel unless something or someone else cancels on me. Even in a snow storm I am not changing my plans unless the whole thing is canceled. This made me a great employee and a very loyal soccer spectator.
However, over time due to life circumstances I have learned to deal with life’s changes. My husband’s motto has always been adapt and adjust to overcome. So, 25 years of marriage later, I am a much more pliable person. And even though it isn’t always easy, I have learned to navigate through change while attempting to maintain a fairly positive attitude with the help of supportive loving people and my relationship with God.
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” So, we know that change is inevitable.
When babies are little, we are excited at the changes they are making. We look forward to when they can eat food and use the potty. We encourage them to crawl, walk and talk.
But as they grow, our excitement lessens as they go off on their first school bus ride or day of school without us. And maybe less excited as puberty hits with bodily changes happening and appetites increase. Only to watch them drive away for the first time behind the wheel of a car or as you walk away from their dorm room and you no longer have them safely tucked in a bed in your house at night.
And while all this is happening, our marriages or even us, ourselves, are changing. We evolve into different people while we are adapting to the changes. We just pray that we are staying connected enough that we still fit together well when we come out on the other side of the change.
And lastly, what I have dealt with on a personal note in the last four years, our relationship with our own parents change. After we leave home and become independent people at some point things shift and our parents eventually start to need us. Sometimes it’s only for a little help or advice and other times it’s for more intense help with big decisions regarding health, finances and end of life decisions.
Life has a tendency to through us curveballs. You know those moments in time when you know that everything around you is moving along normally; but you feel like your world has been turned upside down.
You wake up to unexpected news that someone you love and just spoke with has passed from this life.
You get devastating news from your doctor.
Your marriage has hit a rough patch.
You watch your children go through struggles.
Your job is demanding and difficult.
You get that overdue bill in the mail.
You feel like your spinning out of control.
In these times it doesn’t always feel like God is there walking beside you.
I often marvel at the life of Job and how he endured so many losses and devastation in his life, but did not waver from his love and devotion to God.
The enemy often uses those weak areas to creep in and fill our heads with his lies and destruction. He thrives on this, and will use it to elevate our anxiety, pain, hurt and confusion.
I remember my mom telling me when I was growing up that “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Well that is a tall order sometimes, and besides now I know the truth which is that HE will never give us more than HE can handle.
We get so caught up in how can we manage our anxiety, or keep from spinning out of control when things happen that we have no control over. How can we keep those disappointments in check, hide hurt feelings, untangle the messes or just know how to walk in faith when we want to run and hide so we don’t have to deal with it?
Have you ever felt…
There’s nothing special about me.
I’m worse than ordinary; I’m boring.
I don’t have anything to offer.
“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.” Jeremiah 29:11
Yes, that means you too!
She’s so much smarter & more talented than I am.
And that one over there? She’s got it all together. I’m a mess.
And her? She probably prays and studies the Bible for hours on end. I’m not like that. God wouldn’t want to use me.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
“Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,’ would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’” I Corinthians 12:12-21
Did you catch that?
This past January I remember the day I asked myself, “Is God still good to me?”
I didn’t doubt His goodness throughout history or His goodness today. I didn’t even doubt His goodness to the people I loved and knew. But there was a moment where I doubted His goodness to me.
I’m not proud of that moment, but if I had to guess I’d say maybe you’ve had one of those moments too.
Christmas is a busy season! There are many activities that keep us running around this time of year.
- Purchase gifts
- Wrap packages that are Pinterest worthy
- Bake Christmas cookies
- Attend parties
- Decorate the house
So much that fills up our calendars! In addition, we have to keep up with the regular chores that can never go undone, like laundry and dishes. We find ourselves extremely busy, often overwhelmed and sometimes exhausted.
As for me, I feel like I am always struggling to keep up with the “To Do Lists” that would exhaust the Energizer Bunny. How do we fit it all in and not lose our marbles?
And then…there are the kids! How do we stay sane when the kids start misbehaving? Most parents know in advance that it is pretty much guaranteed that the kids will act up at some point. That is why the Elf on the Shelf and Santa have become popular traditions for many families. Being a parent myself and someone who works with children for a living, I TOTALLY get it! I am also guilty of this, so there is no judgment here!
As we run around in a frenzy checking off the items on our lists, we might find ourselves wondering…
Are we making things MORE hectic and complicated than they need to be?
Are we piling on too much?
In an effort to motivate our children to behave, are we burning ourselves out?
Are we frustrated with finding new and creative ways to pose the Elf on the Shelf?
Do we have anxiety about forgetting to move the Elf before the children wake up?
Are we feeling the pressure to provide our kids with the next best toy or newest technologies?
Are we going into debt to buy material things that can never be a substitution for loving relationships?
Are we sad when our kids are too old to believe in Santa?
In an effort to make the holiday special, have we allowed our holiday traditions to distract us or replace the TRUE meaning of Christmas?”
When my kids were little, I began planning for the holiday WAY early!
So much thought went into selecting each gift. I would search through my recipes for delicious cookies and candy to make. We hosted an ALL DAY party on Christmas Eve that ended with our extended family attending church together. We would spend a LOT of time discussing how early to get up on Christmas morning. We savored every minute of that day and the afterglow lasted for a few days.
It was so much fun!
Now our family has grown to include a wonderful daughter-in-law, son-in-law and grandchildren. We are very blessed. But…
The nest is empty and we share our family with their friends and “in-law families”.
No more school programs to attend.
No more holiday parties at our home.
Quiet Christmas mornings.
This has been a struggle for me. If you know me at all, you know that I thrive on planning and having people in my home. This is quite an adjustment. It has gotten to the point that I find myself dreading the holidays.
Can you relate?
Continued from last week…
(Missed Part 1? Read it HERE.)
Let’s look at a woman who had every reason to hang on to her shame, but Christ handed her freedom.
John 8:1-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Jesus meets us where we are, but He will not let us stay there. He transforms us through His grace.
I heard this quote the other day and it really resonated with me- “Christ’s ability to save us is greater than Adam’s ability to corrupt us.” (John Calvin)
Not one single person EVER has been beyond the reach of Christ’s forgiveness.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I have been in performing arts since very early childhood. Mostly singing and acting, but I have done some dancing too. My church youth group was very large, and we were having a church wide version of America’s Got Talent. A girlfriend of mine was a fantastic dancer and we decided to do a “duet” where I sang while she danced and then I joined her dancing for the final chorus of the song. We rehearsed it and had it nailed down. We were feeling confident too. I distinctly remember our mothers saying to us a variation of that old proverb- “Pride comes before a fall”. I brushed it of at the time, but it literally happened! It was going perfectly- we were nailing it. Then the final chorus came where we were supposed to do the combined choreography. Something happened and before I knew it, I went tumbling through the air and landed right in front of the judges’ table. I threw my hands up quickly and said TA-DA! To try and make light of the fact that I was DYING inside. I beelined for the ladies’ room and missed the final awards because I was so mortified and couldn’t stop crying. We walked away with 2nd place, but that day will live on forever! Good thing there was no Instagram, SnapChat or Facebook at that time. HOWEVER, there were video cameras and every painful moment was captured for all of eternity.
While I can laugh about that now, so many women carry around the weight of guilt and shame from past mistakes. You know, the BIG kind. The unthinkable. The UNFORGIVEABLE. By man’s standards anyway.
Satan likes to use these moments and play them over and over and over again, so we never forget. It’s like a sick, spiritual version of Insta that instead of catching everyone’s #nofilter moments, it’s all our #theresnotenoughmakeuptomakethisgoaway moments.
You see, God created us with a conscience to point out our sin. It helps us to know the basic difference between right and wrong. It’s that sick feeling you get when you know you screwed up. THAT’S your conscience. It shines a spotlight on our need for a Savior. Furthermore, He gives the Holy Spirit to those who choose to follow Christ. He convicts us and brings us to repentance.
Let’s break this down a little bit: