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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

Now that 2019 is in my rear view mirror, I’ve set my focus forward. Each New Year’s Day I set goals for my year, begin a new Bible reading guide, plan ways to improve or change behavior or attitudes. Today is no different, and yet it is. As I approach my 60th birthday, I’m not as interested in improvement and change as I am with celebrating what’s already a part of my life. Yes – I still desire to grow and learn each day, but I also know God has done some amazing things in my life, given me wonderful relationships to nurture, gifts to be grateful for. I’m going to FOCUS this year – focus on what is right in front of me and do what is necessary to live in grace and walk in love.

My 2020 devotional by Bob Goff

Still have a daily Bible reading guide (two, actually) and habits to maintain (daily movement, healthy lifestyle choices), so this year is going to be my best one yet as I FOCUS on God, His plan for me, and the people He has put into my life.

Happy New Year!

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None of us want to have regrets in life. I want to live each day so when I look back, I can say I have no regrets. But I also realize that may not be totally reasonable. We all make mistakes. Maybe it’s as little as eating too much cake and cookies over these holidays (definitely) or sitting more than moving (maybe) or choosing my own comfort over someone else’s (probably). Maybe you’ve lived a life full of things you now regret. I hope you know it is not too late to change, to choose better moving forward, to ask and receive forgiveness, and to extend to yourself a wonderful gift: Grace.

My pastor reminded me today that our past (good or bad) does not define our future. God has a new thing for you – a path, adventure, purpose beyond anything you can imagine. Don’t allow regrets to keep you from saying “yes” to whatever God has for you. Don’t keep looking in your rear view mirror – you’re not going that way.

Milkweed seeds ready to fly

Monument to life

Reflection is necessary occasionally.

The colors of sunset – dramatic reminder of a full day

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I love baseball and often use the game and its many strategies to help explain my take on life. For instance, a successful hitter in professional baseball hits .300. Any person who plays ball would love to be a 300-hitter. But that means they failed to hit the ball 70% of the time. When looking at success from the perspective of baseball, 30% is great!

I’ve found that perspective changes much of what I determine as a success or failure. There were many, many days I felt I was a failure as a wife, parent, friend, employee, leader…basically, anything I tried, any role I fulfilled. But, looking back, I think I succeeded more than I imagined at the time (not trying to get high-fives here) and I know I learned a great deal from my failures and shortcomings.

  • I learned to get back up. Falling short isn’t permanent, unless I want it to be.
  • I learned to take a step back. My perceived failure may be God’s way of helping me adjust my expectations.
  • I learned that my failure can be a learning tool to help me to my next success.

When I was a high school senior, my American History teacher gave me a failing grade on an essay assignment. I was devastated. I had never received a C, let alone an F, on any assignment in high school. Thankfully, he explained his reasoning and talked me out of a meltdown. He said, for this particular assignment, my writing was not up to par with my usual efforts. It seemed stale, boring, and without any credible research to back up my thesis. Furthermore, he said, I needed to step up my writing game if I wanted to be successful in my college classes…and he gave me another chance to do better. Which, I guess I did, since I got an A the second time around.

That particular failure (along with a wise teacher) served me well in college and in life. I learned not every failure is devastating, and most can be, and should be, tools to help me learn and grow and get better.

So I’ve learned to celebrate my failures – taking some time to evaluate, gain some perspective, and get back up to try again, or let it go.

I’m not perfect. Big surprise, huh? You’re not perfect either. Still not surprised? How about this – no one is or ever has been or ever will be perfect (except Jesus, ok?). Failure, falling short, is a natural part of life. Something everyone goes through more times than we’d like or care to admit. I may not be perfect, but I am forgiven. Jesus isn’t looking to use perfect people, just willing ones. And if He’s willing to love and use a failure like me, I need to cut myself some slack. It’s called grace. Give yourself some.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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Cross_Passion_Week

Jesus

Betrayed ruthlessly

Arrested unjustly

Abandoned callously

Tried illegally

Beaten brutally

Crucified unfairly

Buried anonymously

Arose victoriously

Jesus

Son of God

Light of the world

Lord of Lords

King of Kings

Messiah

Savior

Redeemer

Lover of my Soul

Jesus

Compassion continual

Truth unerring

Humility personified

Grace without limit

Mercy repeatedly

Power eminent

Peace unending

Joy overflowing

Love unconditional

Christ himself was like God in everything.
But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
He was born as a man
and became like a servant.
And when he was living as a man,
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
even when that caused his death—death on a cross.
So God raised him to the highest place.
God made his name greater than every other name
so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
 everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11 (NCV)

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img_1315For the last three plus years I have surrounded myself with kids. I’ve always enjoyed children, especially my own, but sometimes a few could really get on my nerves. Honest confession: I like kids who behave. But as I’ve grown older, I think I have more grace than when my own children were younger.

Quite a few years ago, when I helped out in a kids’ ministry to 4th-6th graders, I’d get exasperated with the kiddos who enjoyed causing turmoil. I think they felt it was their calling in life. “Let’s get Kris to lose her temper.”  And each Wednesday night, I left irritated. Now I know the Bible says to love everyone, but these little ones got on my very last nerve every week. So much for showing the love to Jesus to the world, right?

img_2090Then came a seven year hiatus, when I basically had no ministry responsibilities. I spent a lot of alone time with Jesus. Through a series of events, I felt a mindset shift in many areas. I made intentional choices to get healthy, ready my Bible, lose weight, reconnect with friends and family, take up running, explore new adventures. Somewhere in the course of that time, I fell in love with kids again…even those that used to irritate me. Of course, I don’t have involvement with those same kids from way back, but I still encounter children whose sole purpose in life is to disrupt whatever environment they are in. They’re really good at it too. But God has given me a supernatural love for them. No way could this be on my own. And on top of that, I love all the other ones too. The ones who are wild and crazy, the one whose smile lights a room, and the ones who are shy and reserved.

img_1567Every child needs to know they are valued and loved, no matter their behavior. The world they live in is turbulent and scary so I want to be a safe place for each one. A place they can go for encouragement, a hug, a prayer, maybe even a little face-to-face “what ARE you doing?” if necessary. I want them to see Jesus in all that I say and do. Occasionally I get in someone’s face to confront behavior that is unacceptable (cheating, lying, bullying are non-negotiables), but mostly I want them to really know they are loved…by me and most importantly, by God. I still make mistakes…many times. But I’m relying on the grace and mercy of God. He loves those kids more than I do!

I am blessed to be a part of the kids’ ministry at our church. We have preschool through high school as part of our Wednesday night program. This week is our last JAM (Jesus and Me) of the school year and though I’m tired, I’m sad too. Once the program is finished, I may not see some of these kids again until September, or maybe not at all.  We have such a small window of time and opportunity…make it a count. These kids are worth it!

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I love the adrenaline rush of a busy day but as I get older I find the downslope of that mountain can turn treacherous. I spend my day being extra helpful and gracious to people I don’t know (good thing) but then I’m grumpy with those who love me best (bad thing). I’ve expended tons of energy to do my job well but have nothing in the tank for after hours.

So, at the end of my crazy busy work week (with a crazy busy and emotionally draining weekend ahead), I’ve decided: (1) my best self needs to be given to my husband and children; (2) I will not beat myself up over silly mistakes; and (3) even keel is my best speed and serves others best also.

In the midst of the late 90s revival services, I received advice from a well known speaker: You cannot live on the mountain top experiences. And there is no medal for wallowing in the valley. You must attempt to live as steady as possible, enjoying the changes in terrain but always striving for level.

So when my schedule is wonky and my temper is short, I will remember those other wise words: “This too shall pass.” Leveling out and moving on. Giving and receiving grace. Enjoying the journey, not trying to win the race. Oh yes, a visit from puppies never hurts.

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It’s not even a word – but it so accurately describes my life. I have a lot of unexpectedlies – every day. And so do you. At first, I was blindsided by happenings in my life that I never planned for. Death. Accidents. Job loss. Broken relationships. All these and more kept me off balance, sometimes teetering on the edge of grief and despair. I felt more fear than faith – dreading the next bend in the road.

One weekend TrailI had an epiphany. I came to realize, with the wooing of the Holy Spirit, that these unexpectedlies are opportunities. Opportunities to find blessing in the midst of sadness. Joy in the midst of sorrow. Healing in the midst of pain. Instead of finding the gray on the backside of every cloud, I really do attempt to find the silver lining.

This past month, three close friends have passed away. One was my beautiful daughter-in-law’s father. He was a huge influence in my life, in the lives of my friends and family. Another was a man who helped me navigate the stress of my first radio job, moving from co-worker to great friend. He and his lovely wife gave me support in the hardest time of my life and for that, I will be forever grateful. Just this past Tuesday, another friend entered in the presence of Jesus. We’d only known each other three years but we became the best of buddies, joined together through our love of the Chicago Cubs and our little church family.

Each man was an unexpectedly in my life – unexpected voices of encouragement and affirmation, sometimes challenging, always loving and supportive. I am a blessed woman to have known these three and I am so grateful I was able to run part of my life’s race alongside them.

Takeaway – celebrate the unexpectedlies. Look for the blessing in each one. Grow through the experience. Choose to respond to each one with grace and forgiveness. Love fiercely because unexpectedlies happen…every day.

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