Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Grant a Little Grace: Unmerited Favor



If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at EncouragementCafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!


See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15 NIV

Frustration and anger brimmed over and I steamed under the pressure. I stormed toward his office hurling insults under my breath, ready for a fight. But she stopped me, pulling me aside.

“Sometimes we just need to grant a little grace,” she said.

Grace ̶ a familiar word ̶ God’s unmerited favor and love, freely given through Christ. I knew grace. God’s grace covered my ugly brokenness and allowed Him to see only beautiful wholeness. But what was this grace she spoke of?

“He doesn’t deserve grace!” I barked. “No one does,” she refuted.

Arms crossed, leaning against the copier between his office and my wise co-worker, my eyes spilled as her words pierced my heart. She stood silent there without condemnation ̶ only compassion ̶ until my demeanor softened and I gained composure.

The silence between us taught me more about grace than any church sermon.

No one deserves God’s grace and yet He sacrificed everything ̶ His only Son and all creation ̶ to offer it to us, through Christ’s death. He put aside His anger and offered Jesus so that we might enjoy the richness of relationship with Him and through that same grace, draw others to Him.

God’s grace duplicates through us. That’s His plan ̶ Christ in us the hope of glory. For those who carry God’s grace are called to bring God’s grace to the world through our words, our touch, and our actions.

What difficult situation, person, or place has God called you to carry His grace?

Father, where would we be without Your Grace? Teach us how to carry Your Grace wherever You lead.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Where We Belong

Home of Beatrix Potter
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
"There's something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they'll take you. Mine took me here...where I belong." Beatrix Potter, the greatest children's author of the 20th century, called Hill Top Farm in rural England, home. She found inspiration and freedom to write about the many adventures (and misadventures) of her animal friends surrounded by beautiful, lush, rolling hills. It's where she belonged and where her passion as an artist flourished.
We all long to find where we belong, don't we? As small children we belong to a family. We live together, find our identity through family and take our rightful place in the birth order. As we mature, although sharing the same roots, we differ greatly. Our eldest brother likes sports and our middle sister loves fashion while we adore books. We're shy. They're social. We crave solitude. They adore crowds. We're most obviously different. And so goes our journey of belonging.
In part, the journey points to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" 
(Pssst..skip over to the Christian Children's Authors blog for the rest of the story)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Confusing God's Calling with Man's Calliing

We received word that the youth pastor of our home church resigned. Having worked alongside him during school breaks, we knew the void he’d leave behind. So, we rolled up our sleeves and dove into youth ministry wholeheartedly during our summer vacation.

My husband (then fiance) and I drew upon our past youth group experiences, designing and implementing the summer ministry program. It all came so easily, like we were designed to do this. The youth responded so positively, that the pastor’s wife nonchalantly asked, “When are you done with school so you can become our next youth pastors?”

Those were weighty and dangerous words, but we didn’t know it back then.

(I'm writing at the {re}fresh blog today. Come join me for the rest of the story.)



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Retreat! We all need a little solace.


Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!" Mark 1:35-37


 When life comes at you like a freight train - full speed ahead - it's all you can do to hang on tight. There's barely time to think, no warning, no preparing or packing a bag - only time to react and latch onto whatever is in front of you until the train stops.

The unexpected happens all the time - life and death - but when they couple themselves together and come one after the other, our minds can't catch up with our hearts. In every crisis, whether good or bad, there's always stuff to be done - responsibilities and loose ends to tie up - for those holding up the arms of loved ones.

And when that freight train comes to a screeching halt - even for a brief moment - we find ourselves disheveled, speechless, utterly weary and maybe even a bit numb. We feel neither joy nor sorrow because we've been so busy caring for others that we pushed our own emotions aside. All we want is solace. Quiet. Retreat.

Retreat with me today at Encouragement Cafe...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Want It!

"Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift..." Ephesians 4:7(MSG)
Screeches and screams erupted from Little Brother who, only moments earlier, quietly occupied himself with the wooden train. I find him tussling his train out of Big Brother's firm grip. My sudden presence prompted Big Brother to sentence himself to the time-out chair.
"Why did you take Little Brother's train?" I asked.
Between sobs and shame he answered me. "Because I want it." 
(Today I'm playing trains over at Christian Children's Authors blog. Join me? I promise to share.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Forevermore-Pleasures

You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV
We welcomed the long holiday weekend with its blank calendar and no particular place to go; no demands or deadlines or distractions. Only time, a full gas tank, and an open road lay before us—a perfect weekend in our book.

Escaping the hectic pace we meandered along quiet country roads—some familiar, some not—soaking up every nook and cranny of God’s creation. Like a touch of heaven, beauty poured forth from every direction.

We bathed in radiant sunshine that warmed our winter-white skin as we drove beneath robin egg blue skies finding occasional relief from leafy green tree tunnels that arched high above our heads. We found red-barn farmlands that bragged of freshly plowed earth and sleepy neighborhoods with pristine gardens dotted in rainbow hues. We even hopped aboard a rural ferry to cross the river just for fun.
CT RIver's edge, Deep River

Moorings @ Deep River Ferry, CT
CT River, Deep River, CT

Compared to the serendipitous pleasures we enjoyed along the way, our destination seemed insignificant. For it’s through those experiences we catch a glimpse of heaven, isn’t it? It’s as though God’s foreshadowing what’s to come in the here and now; inexpressible pleasures on a simply perfect day that fill our lives with joy and peace and beauty.

We climbed aboard life’s merry-go-round two days ago and it started spinning, making it more difficult to see all God’s beauty.

This morning I spun past the dining room hutch towards my office—a hutch whose dishes tell stories of family history and journeys past. An English tea cup my daughter brought back from London caught my eye. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to drink my coffee from that cup?” (I know, it’s sacrilegious to drink coffee out of an English tea cup, but that’s not the point). I dismissed the thought mid-spin, but as I sat down in my writing chair, God whispered, “Enjoy a cup of coffee in that pretty tea cup! It’s a simple pleasure for a daughter of the King.”Teacup
Now, as weird as it might seem to you, sipping my coffee from that beautiful cup ushered me into God’s presence because I knew He offered me that pleasure from His heart. In the midst of my every day, my mundane, my pressures and deadlines, God offered me His personal thoughtfulness and love—a simple pleasure that gave me just a glimpse of all the forevermore pleasures He has in store for me.

Here’s how Sarah Young describes it: “Why would you want to follow a man-made path when My path of life is wide open before you? This path glows with My radiant Presence and it stretches all the way into eternity. As you persevere along this way with Me, I give you samples of forevermore-pleasures” (Jesus Lives, 2009 Thomas Nelson).

What forevermore-pleasures has God shown you lately? Has he whispered his approval on some frivolous pleasure that, like me, you would easily dismiss? God so wants to spend time with you. Take the time to enjoy His little glimpses of heaven throughout your journey today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Honoring Isn't Optional

Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Ephesians 6:2-3 NIV 
 Father's Day knotted my stomach. Facing troves of "greatest father ever" greeting cards I'd sigh, mumble something like, "Yeah, right!" until I found the most generic card I could find. At least when I was younger all I had to do was scratch my name at the bottom of my sister's card and slide by the honoring part on her coat tails.
Until I was in my late forties, honoring my father never came easy and knowing the statistics of divorce, maybe it doesn't come easy for many of us or our kids. (Now, I'm not saying that it's only fathers that gain a child's disdain in a divorce, if at all, nor am I saying divorce is the only situation that causes us to dishonor our fathers. I only know my story and I'm writing a Father's Day article, so please allow me a bushel of grace).
Since God created the commandment to honor our father (and mother), honoring isn't optional. So, how do we honor our fathers (and mother) when we feel they fall short (divorced or not)? Or as mothers, how do we teach our children to honor their fathers when we feel they don't deserve it? 
(Be brave and join me at the Christian Children's Author blog for the complete article).