Tag: grace

snow

alphabet of thanks, “W”

I’m thankful for the color WHITE today.

First of all, let’s go back to my post about the color red and why I’m thankful for it. I told you there was another reason I liked red which I would share today. It’s because it reminds me of the price that was paid for me, for all of us.

red

It reminds me that my sins, which the Bible describes as the color of “crimson” (red), is washed whiter than snow.

Every time, and I do mean every time,  we have our first big snowfall, I think of that verse. It gives me such a feeling of being covered with grace. It reminds me of the forgiveness that is mine. It reminds me of the mercy that covers my sin.

snow

 

I’ve always liked white paired with red.

It really never dawned on me until I wrote the post about red, that that is the reason I like the combination of red and white.

The red reminds me from what I’ve been rescued; the white reminds me I have been rescued.

It provides me with a visual journey of Jesus’s sacrifice and my redemption.

God bless and have a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving day today.

 

 

Alphabet of thanks: “M”

Today I’m thankful for MAGICAL MOMENTS.

Moments that interrupt our routine and cause us to catch our breath. I’ve been lucky in that I can immediately think of two.

My husband traveled extensively for about ten years and I was fortunate to tag along a few times each year due to his seemingly infinite number of frequent flyer miles. One such trip was to Bar Harbor, Maine.

bar harbor 1

bar harbor 1

We walked around the town, browsing in the shops.  We stopped for lunch. The weather was sunny and warm. Pretty much a perfect day all around.

In the afternoon, we heard music coming from somewhere so we followed the sound. Our journey took us to the harbor where we sat down on the grass, munching some goodies and enjoying the free concert. There were a few small boats in the water.

Suddenly a fog enveloped us. We could barely see even a few feet ahead of us. We lingered because the band kept playing despite the drifting waves of fog. The music was soft and kind of haunting. Beautifully eerie.

Eventually, the fog evaporated. As we looked out over the bay, it was as if a curtain was being drawn back ever so slowly and what emerged was nothing short of magical. Moving shapes, barely discernible, came into view.

It was a caravan of “tall” sailing ships.

All this time the music was playing and just as the music reached its crescendo, the fog completely lifted and all the ships came into view, gliding across the water, sails billowing softly.

tall ships

tall ships

One followed another until they filled the bay. It couldn’t have been better orchestrated had it been a movie. It was surreal.

No one moved.

No one talked.

We were all spellbound.  I will never forget it.

The second magical moment

The next magical scene was in Amsterdam.

It was my first trip to the Netherlands and I was looking forward to seeing the massive collection of spring tulips lining the streets. However, we landed in Amsterdam during a very rare snowstorm. There hadn’t been one in over forty years and never this far into the spring.

We sat on the field for quite a while as the plane was de-iced. Finally, we departed the plane and headed into town via taxi. It was dark and so we didn’t see too much. I was aware of the snow on the ground but was more concerned that I didn’t have any warm clothes.

We checked into our hotel, a very weird designed room, but it was right on a canal so that made it perfect. Exhausted but hungry, we decided to brave the weather and find a restaurant.  We layered on extra clothes and headed out. We followed a narrow brick road winding between the old, tall, lopsided buildings.

We turned a corner and it was as if we’d stepped back in time.

What we saw took our breath away.

People riding bikes were everywhere even though the snow was fairly deep and heavy. Bikes are the common mode of transportation in the Netherlands but who expects people to bike in deep snow? How is it even possible? But there they were. That might have been enough to mesmerize us but it was more than that.

It was how the riders were dressed. Fur hats, long wool coats, colorful scarves, leather boots. Many of the female riders wore dresses. No jeans, no name brand outerwear. The clothing looked vintage.

I thought I’d stepped into a Hans Christian Anderson book.

The scene had a soft, hazy glow interrupted only by the huge lazy flakes dusting the riders. Once again, we were spellbound and speechless. We looked at each other as if to say, is this for real?

When we got back to our weirdly designed hotel room with its sloped ceiling leading down to a two-foot wall so we had to sit on the floor to see outside.

It was breathtaking. The canal, the centuries old houses, the old barges, the snow-covered bridges, we could have been looking at another era.

I probably haven’t come close to describing these two experiences. Words truly do fall short.

My husband and I still get breathless when we think about those two experiences.  There have been others but these two immediately came to mind.

I wish this for all of you.

Magical moments.

And magical moments don’t have to be big. They can be so small as be almost unnoticed.

They happen anywhere and at any time. I think God might call them “grace” moments. Those moments He allows us to experience something beyond ourselves and reminds us Who is the Creator.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

grace

an alphabet of thanks “G”

(My originally scheduled post follows these remarks in italics.)

How do I even submit this post today after the horrific events of yesterday’s church shooting? How do I talk about God’s grace when, frankly, it seems like it wasn’t evidenced yesterday?  And yet I still believe God’s grace is real.

No, I know it’s real. 

I also know that this tragedy reflects a world that needs God’s love. And the only ways that anyone can know God’s love is when they see it in the lives of those who are already experiencing it.  It isn’t enough to pray. It isn’t enough to read our Bibles. It certainly isn’t enough to show up at church every Sunday.

We have to love. I’m not talking about sloppy sentimentality.

You know what I mean.

People who “say” the words but whose life doesn’t reflect it. And I’m not talking about overlooking situations that should be addressed. I’m not talking about lack of consequences for criminal activity. In fact, it’s when we don’t address these problems early on out of a false sense of what love is, that situations like this escalate. 

I’m talking about the smallest “little” acts of kindness: manners, smiling, offers of help, genuine attention to the needs of others, etc. There are all kinds of ways to show love. And these all reflect grace.

There are all kinds of “hurting” people we run into every day. People whose lives are in chaos. People who are depressed. People who are grieving. Etc.

Think about the last time you had a bad day. You went about your day feeling miserable. But you ran into someone who smiled at you.  How did you feel? I’ll bet it helped and I’ll bet you felt a little hope.

Now think of that same day. You went about your day and everyone you ran into ignored you. No one smiled at you. How did that make you feel? It made you feel worse, didn’t it?

We should never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word. It can save somebody’s life.

And if we engage in a conversation, it’s even better. And there’s always a way to open a door to a conversation. 

Remember, grace is ours to give, as much as receive. 

And I’m not suggesting for one minute that such simple acts can stop all the violence. Or that things will change overnight. But don’t you agree that it’s a place to start? That’s it’s the one place we all can start? 

I have been praying for many years that I live my life as someone who is part of the solution, not part of the problem. If we all would work harder at permeating our little part of the world with love, then our little part of the world would be safe. If everyone everywhere did the same thing, then the entire world would be safe.

 There was a song from the seventies that is truly “schmaltzy”. It’s trite and simplistic but I think it reflects how we all would like to world to be.”

Today is easy. Grace, indescribable, undeserved, and unending. 

When I think of all the ways God has “graced” me, I am humbled. And not just me. I read Scripture and see God’s grace to the Israelites time and time again. I see God’s grace extended to others every day.  But the one thing about grace that needs to be said is this:

While God’s grace is free, it isn’t cheap. It was paid with a price. A big one.

When God extends His grace, we need to remember the price that was paid for it and to make sure we don’t just accept the gift too casually.

I don’t understand God’s grace.  I’m just grateful for it.

I wonder how many times God’s grace showers us and we aren’t even aware of it. The times, for example, when we say something we shouldn’t but we don’t suffer the consequences. The times we act foolishly and yet are spared the fallout. The times we miss asking for God’s blessing and yet He gives it anyway.

We all probably experience more grace every day than we ever recognize. Maybe that’s why it’s called, “grace”, and not something else.

I wonder how many times we confuse grace with good luck.

I only know that without grace, that undeserved gift from God, I wouldn’t make it through the day.

God bless and have a good day.

What does grief “look” like on a Christian?

How does a Christian wear their faith and what does that faith look like when one’s journey is painful?

Here are my thoughts based on years of studying the Bible, reading books by the great authors of past and present, prayer, and my own trials. Faith isn’t necessarily:

  • A smiling face though your heart is breaking
  • Displaying no tears.
  • Saying the right words
  • A lack of questions.
  • Acting brave

It is through tears, heartbreak, and questions that we become more aware, not less, of God’s all-encompassing love.

How can we know a God of comfort if we’re never been in a situation to be comforted? How can we know a God of strength if we’ve never been held up by “divine arms”? How can we have a will to survive when it seems as if God has abandoned us if not by experiencing that “quiet, still voice” during the tough times?

I was a hospital chaplain for about ten years and I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen grief expressed ways you couldn’t even imagine, from screaming to fainting, to stroking the deceased from the top of their head to their feet, to family fist fights, to stoicism, to anger, to not caring at all.

The time we should least judge anyone’s faith is when they’re experiencing grief.  “There but for the grace of God go I“, is never truer than at a time like this.

Besides our time will come.

Guaranteed.

I think sometimes that’s why we judge. We don’t know how to separate what has happened to them and what may, no, will, eventually happen to us. So we project on them all the ways we hope we will behave but aren’t the least bit sure we will. We foolishly imagine we would handle it better.

But we don’t have a clue.

If we don’t want others to judge us during our darkest hour, we’d better not judge them during theirs.

That has been true for me as well. During my darkest times, I’m sure I haven’t acted as others might expect but I’ve walked in the awareness of the presence of God and, frankly, that has kept me from caring too much about what anyone else thought.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of what I read not too long ago:

We get through the tough times by learning to walk in the continual awareness that we’re walking in the presence of God.

It’s kind of like walking in the woods. You don’t see a path, but as you walk the branches move back, the ground is swept away, and a   path appears. You don’t see who is clearing your path but you know there is a Presence walking ahead of you preparing a way. It’s kind of mystical and magical and yet Scripture promises that God will, in fact, always prepare the way. But I like to visualize my scriptures, so this works for me.

If my mom’s behavior this past weekend means anything, her passing may be sooner than I want. I grieved for my dad but I will grieve for my mother even more. There’s something about losing a mother.

Will I act the way people think I should? I don’t even know if I will act the waythink I should. I only know I have been grieving for a long time now.

Have you seen some of those commercials that advertise meds for dementia? They present a romanticized picture of an illness that is anything but. Maybe in the beginning of the illness but let me tell you, it’s not sweet and lovely as they make it seem. Dementia is a horrible, degrading illness and watching a loved one deteriorate in unimaginable ways is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch.

I will grieve and miss my mother but I will not grieve her escape from this nightmare. I will grieve my loss but will rejoice when I think of her in God’s presence, whole and beautiful once again.

Whatever you’re dealing with today, whether it’s grief, depression or any number of other life’s assaults, I hope that you are aware of God’s presence in whatever way He has chosen to make Himself known to you.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

holy week

Can we be too cheap sometimes?

I wonder if any of you are like me, too cheap, at times.

Sometimes we need to quit thinking so “cheap”. “Cheap thinking” is, by my personal definition, trying so hard to save a dime that we work against our own natural energy and strength.

For example, I’ve been changing things up a little in my home. My mantle has always presented a challenge. I had this great little card table that used to sit in front of the fireplace on the floor. (Naturally, I didn’t take pictures.)

Anyway, it was a card table I painted white and in the middle was a deer head. I had a brain spasm one day and decided, “Hey, I’ll take the table apart and hang it on the wall.”

Great idea, huh?

Well, it would’ve been had I not decided the deer head was too small. So, I took it down, peeled off the deer head (it was paper), enlarged it, traced it on some heavy board, cut it out, re-pasted to the table and put it back up on the mantle. Still didn’t like it.

So I spent a considerable amount of time looking around the house for something I could put together quickly. Nothing caught my eye.

That’s when I gave in and decided to go shopping. Now, to me, that’s a failure. It means I’m going to spend money on something I wanted to make myself.

I do this all the time. I can be so cheap, I put extra stress on myself. So I gave in bought this rusty windmill.

mantle 2017

 

I’m not particularly fond of the other items;   I need more “bulk”, but that’s going to have to wait.

 

Besides, this is Holy Week.

holy week

 

A reminder that while:

Grace is free, it isn’t cheap.

Grace was purchased at a huge price. Grace could’ve been purchased “cheaper”, maybe without the death of God’s only son. But God put too precious of a price on our heads; it demanded a huge sacrifice.

Thank goodness, God looked down on his people and decided not to hold back. Thank goodness, God is not like me, cheap.

God bless and have a wonderful Easter weekend and remember that God considers you priceless.

 

When I think about “cheap” I sometimes think of people who “cheapen” the grace of God.

As I’ve said often:

Grace is free but itsn’t cheap.

 

 

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