New location – my blog moved this week! Please come check out the new site at http://www.passagethroughgrace.com.
Hope to see you all there!
New location – my blog moved this week! Please come check out the new site at http://www.passagethroughgrace.com.
Hope to see you all there!
My boy is a man! I didn’t wake up today and realize this – it has been unfolding in front of me for years but today the wind has been knocked out of me with the reality of that three letter word – MAN!!! From diaperhood to adulthood in the blink of an eye – where have the last 23 years gone???
How do I even begin to describe 23 years in a few paragraphs or count the many blessings that my son has bestowed on myself and many others? How do I describe to all the man of God he has become? A little over a week ago my son graduated from college. My little boy had on his black cap and gown bedazzled with a purple and gold tassel and a cord of silver around his neck. He walked in beaming with a huge smile on his face as “Pomp and Circumstance” swelled and echoed throughout the auditorium. As he took his seat on the stage with the other graduates, my mind replayed the story of my boy’s life which began on April 12, 1990.
A series of snapshots flashed quickly as if they were a deck of cards being fanned before a card game. A picture of my son squeezed into a onesie, another with Tasmanian devil slippers on feet that were just learning how to take steps, many pictures with his big brother squeezing him tight out of love or maybe frustration, pictures of him swimming in the summer or trying to build a snowman in the winter, pictures with his childhood friends all wearing silly grins of sheer delight, snapshots of birthday parties, family, grandparents and finally the one that is flash frozen in front of me now – my boy – no man- in his cap and gown ready to begin a new chapter.
A deep longing for one more minute of the boy nestled in my arms as we watched the nest of baby robins outside tucked into the corner of our porch filled every pore of my being. A deep sadness for what was but a new hope for what is to come slowly seeps into my soul. The longing for what was will slowly be replaced by God’s promises. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:5-6
The longing for what was turns into a yearning and excitement for the new chapter about to evolve. My heart of sadness sheds its layers one by one at the prospect of how my son is following God’s plan for him to become a youth minister and now… flash forward to this weekend, the beginning of the chapter-the one that has been written and continues to be written by God. The move to a new state will be complete and my son will begin his first job as a Youth and Family Minister. I see a glimpse into the next chapter – a small teaser has been written but as of this moment the words, sentences and chapter are all God’s to slowly reveal on the page.
I look forward to this next chapter and I am so proud and excited to watch, learn and be a part of this journey. I will pray as a mother prays for her children and I will hold this verse near to my heart knowing that God’s purpose is your purpose and it’s going to be an amazing ride.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Mother’s Day is approaching and I’m being nudged to write today to honor all women. Our society categorizes Mother’s Day as a day to honor women who have children. I challenge everyone to expand this group to include all women. I would like to encourage some amazing women who have not been blessed with children but who epitomize what a mother should be. Who wouldn’t want to recognize all women this Mother’s Day when you read the qualities written above? I am blessed to have been touched by many amazing women who possess these qualities, some who are moms in the traditional sense and some who are moms in an untraditional sense. All share a sense of motherhood and the absolute devotion that comes with that title. God has created us to be unique and with this individuality comes all that God calls us to be.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
Today and everyday, encourage those amazing women that have made an imprint on your life. Honor them for who they are and all they contribute to enhance your life. Love them and recognize those qualities that make them uniquely who they are. So today I pray for all women that God will bless them and cover them with his unconditional and untraditional love. Join me in praying and honoring all women on this Mother’s Day!
Since my weekend at Women of Joy in Louisville with my sister-in-law, God has been gently reminding me through my daily life and interaction with others, that absolute surrender always ends up with God’s loving hand and grace written all over it. God asks us to let go and let Him be in charge. I don’t categorize myself as a controlling person but intimate reflection time has enlightened me of specific circumstances where ” it is my way or the highway”. As I drove home from an amazing weekend in Louisville, God spoke volumes into my heart about surrendering my top three daily stressors to Him. This process continually unfolds as I struggle to give it all to God. I find that my strength in God comes from His word, those around me, daily devotionals and God-inspired books that I surround myself with as a reminder of how I want to live my life. Centering myself on God and His truths truly sets me free and provides all I need when I let go and let God!
Understanding stress and the triggers of stress that flare up in me are important to being able to manage my reactions, relationships and ability to overcome stress in a healthy manner. Being able to wrap my brain around what stress is allows me to work on that area of life appropriately with God’s guidance. Tracie Miles has written the perfect definition of stress in her book “Sressed-Less Living”. She defines stress as “a vicious cycle. The more we worry, the more anxious we feel, the more anxious we feel, the more frustrated we become, the more frustrated we become, the more we want to find someone or something to blame. As frustration builds we get more and more frazzled. The more frazzled we become, the more overwhelmed we begin to feel; the more overwhelmed we feel, the more stressed we become.” The path of stress should lead to God every time because “God’s normal is always serenity, and his normal can be our normal,too” says Tracie Miles. Her message is that we can overcome stress in our lives by turning to God. Understanding that we should turn our stress into peace will happen by understanding how we define peace and where we look for peace in our lives. Tracie Miles’ simple definition of peace “the ability to rise above our circumstances, overcome our innate tendency to stress out over problems, and learn to remain calm and confident despite what is going on around us” is a peace based on Christ and not people or our circumstances. It is a peace that asks us to relinquish our control to God who will then teach us in a way that we are never the same again. I am actively seeking God’s peace because God has promised each of us that we will find this peace when we seek Him and trust Him with our lives. Perfect peace = a perfect stress reliever which is found in our perfect God.
I yearn for your peace in all areas of my life. Embrace me with your peace daily as I learn to let go of stress and cling to you always.
Allow me to understand your words and plans for me and provide the strength needed to say “yes” in trust knowing that you are the Great Provider.
As I release my stress-filled days to you Lord, replace them with your peace and let it infuse all of me!
In love and thankfulness, I lift this prayer to you Lord. AMEN!
You know that surreal moment when you are talking and you can hear your voice coming out but the words are not your words but God’s… Have you ever had any of those moments? Have you prayed for God to give you the words to get through a difficult conversation? Or asked for God’s words to infuse with yours to make them one? Or asked for grace-filled words as you speak? I have made this request many times as I am faced with a conversation that I feel could “head south” at any moment. In those moments when you are faced with a tough situation or person and you are rendered speechless- turn to God. The results will be amazing and you will no longer fear the conversation.
Life chugs along quickly and people are woven into the fabric of your life. Many times the fabric is made of beautiful designs and patterns and the workmanship is seamless. Other times, there are distinct pieces of fabric that are worn and the threads are loose and pulling apart. If you are anything like me when it comes to sewing, your fabric will continue to show wear and tear and will not be repaired due to lack of skills as a a seamstress. God is the Master Tailor of Life and by allowing Him into your heart, you allow Him to repair any damage to your fabric.
When faced with having a difficult conversation with a spouse, your children, a co-worker, a son’s girlfriend or a parent, take a quick second and lift your heart to God- “It’s all yours God!” Center yourself, take a deep breath and let God, the Master Tailor, do the job that He does best. The moment feels surreal because you know you are talking but God has provided you the grace-filled words to speak. Your momma’s heart releases anxiety or your daughter’s heart breathes more freely as your parents listen and accept the truth-filled words of God and it spills out as it is caught in the hearts of those you are having the conversation with.
Blessed are the times that your friends, co-workers, children or parents speak God’s words to you as a reminder that His presence is always near. The blessings of a friend who prayed for me to have a great day or remind me to look up, breathe, and breathe again come at just the right time. A co-worker who shares a positive, silly story at that moment when you are feeling very frustrated, a parent whose main desire is to love you and pray specifically for your challenges and an adult child who has the insight to be able to advise you in a situation are the voices of God. We need to listen for them and recognize them as God’s truth.
The prophet Elijah heard the voice of God but it was not a “thunder and lightning” moment. Below is a description of how it sounded for Elijah:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV)
Listen for the whispers in your life. Pray specifically for God to send you the words you need so you are speaking truth and grace to all those around you. Thank God daily for His blessings and for providing you with all you need.
God calls us to draw near and let His presence infuse our bodies and soul. Taking time to allow Him to be the center of our devotional time allows for opportunities to get to know Him more intimately. He craves our time and loves when we make Him the center of our attention.
As Holy week is coming to a close and we look forward to the joyful shouts of “He is risen!”, we need to backtrack and spend time understanding why He chose to die for us and save us from ourselves. Why did Jesus make the ultimate sacrifice for each of us – sinners that we are and continue to be? Why didn’t He just put an end to the madness and make all things new?
The lesson I am learning about Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice is His amazing love for us. It is His strong desire to bring us even closer to Him. By dying on the cross, Jesus chose to make an investment in us. Jesus died for us to teach us how to draw near to Him and to seek His presence as the first and foremost focus of our lives. Immersing ourselves in the Word and listening to all He is teaching us allows us to more successfully follow His path for our lives. Days that become train wrecks are days when I have not centered myself and trusted that God is in charge. God provides the path for our life and commands us to come and approach Him with everything.
“Drawing near is not moving from one place to another.
It is a directing of the heart into the presence of God
who is as distant as the holy of holies in heaven and yet as near as the door of faith.”
Love to the Uttermost: Holy Week with John Piper
God sent Jesus for us – no strings attached except to love and trust in Him. He did this for our joy and His glory. Let me say that again – for our joy and His glory. Jesus wanted to please us and invest in us through the final act of dying on the cross. Our response should be to open our hearts each day to the presence of God. That simple act honors God and blesses us because our eyes are on the one, true God who loves us more than words can describe.
As we shout in praise to our risen Savior on Easter, remember that the one simple act of spending time with Him will provide us with all we need. He is never far and you are closer than you think.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
May God bless us each day! May we honor Him by drawing close to Him and craving His presence as the center of our lives. AMEN!
My church recently presented a series titled “Follow the Leader”. Simple words, ideas and visuals were portrayed each week to bring a deeper understanding as to what it means to follow OUR LEADER – GOD! One week the focus was on listening. Do we listen, truly listen or are we just hearing? Listening = Doing and when you hear from the leader it is different and it is difficult. Words from the leader require action! Do not fall into the trap of feeling stress which translates into fear and ultimately results in not trusting God. I have been asked over and over to be strong and courageous and if I continue to listen, this requires me to do something about the fears that I need to overcome.
This was never more evident than when my job became an overwhelming challenge this Fall and was transformed into a new beginning. God called me clearly and without hesitation to become a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV). I now needed to follow the leader even in my fear and let Him lead me home.
When you hear the voice of God, whether it is a faint whisper, a loud boom or a gentle urging to move forward, He asks you to grab His hand and follow and you do it! God filled me with an inner strength I didn’t know existed and held tightly to my hand and did not let go through all the uncertainty and transition. He led me home to a new job, new colleagues, new challenges and a new start.
How do you know you’re home? Listen to God speaking, follow Him with faith and let go of your fears to allow the works of God to settle into your soul. Allow God to grab your hand and lead you home!
I arrived home the minute I walked into the building and began my new job. I was welcomed by all, I was extended grace by my new co- workers and I felt the weight I had been carrying was lifted. Every step I took was God-driven and every new challenge was and is covered by God’s grace. You see – you know you’re home because God provides all you need for the challenges and anxiety that accompanies it. He makes these promises and He is never going to let you down. Our amazing God takes an obstacle that seems insurmountable and says “Hold onto me and we will ride through this storm together.”
Take some time to read and reflect on the words of Phillip Phillips song “Home”. Listen for the voice of God who will reassure you and who will always lead you home. Hold on…
Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home
Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home
Be strong, take courage
Don’t live in fear
Your God’s not distant
Your words he’ll hear
(From original song by Crossroads Church, Cincinnati)
In a world of uncertainty, change and challenges, we move through each day either with courage or fear that can overwhelm us. Our families, friends, and coworkers either walk along side and support or act uncaring possibly due to the unknown in their own lives and not knowing how to move forward themselves. Each day as we begin, we consciously choose and lay the groundwork for how our day will unfold. Will you be strong and take courage or will you live in fear?
All of this hit home with me in October when an unexpected curve ball was thrown directly at me and believe me I was not ready to catch it. The job I held for 3 1/2 years got pulled out from underneath me and another job was waiting! The amazing part is that the unexpected became an adventure and the challenge was to “be strong”.
I’m not one to be totally accepting of new situations whether it is for the best or not. Have you heard the expression “we’ll take you kicking and screaming?” That was my initial reaction and it wasn’t pretty. Running through my head was “This is not fair! Why me? I don’t want to change jobs!” Along with those thoughts were my feelings of inadequacy – “I’m not good at what I’m doing. No one believes in me. I never have done a good job!”
A louder voice – louder than all my self-doubts, fears and inadequacies which were screaming at me – kept me grounded and showed up as a gentle whisper that prevailed and overtook the screaming. This voice said “You were made for more! I have another plan for you! I am right here by your side. Hold on because I will carry you through this mess!” This was the joy of the Lord as he whispered through my fear – “Got you covered, girl!”
It only takes a whisper to stop us dead in our tracks but are we listening – truly listening? I chose to listen in that moment because I truly was at a loss for how I would endure and recover from this challenge. In that instant of accepting God’s grace, I was blessed with His peace and knew that nothing was bigger than God. He would carry me through the changes in my life. Stop, listen and accept the grace of God each day. He is patiently waiting for us! May God guide your footsteps each day and may you take time to listen to the gentle whisper that floats your way.
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” Psalm 31:24 (ESV)
As I learn about grace and the unconditional properties that come with it, I have found that it appears in many different forms. God extends grace to all of us daily but we must be intentional in looking for grace and accepting it each day.
Recently grace filled my heart fully even though I was unaware of it at the time. It crept into my heart secretly and completed me in ways that only a favorite food can do when the taste lingers on your tongue well after the bite is gone. Grace came in the form of my dad- a gentle, practical man who has always watched my back and who at the age of 91 continues to do so because he understands the power of grace. My dad wants to protect me from myself and decisions I have made to allow me to be successful even when he is no longer with me. My dad selflessly extended grace to insure that my future is full of promise and hope. My lesson in all of this is to pay the gift of grace forward to all those I am able to share it with.
This amazing man taught me my first lessons about grace and continues to do the same today. I was not able to identify it as grace but as I have grown in my relationship with God, I have learned about unconditional love which shows up as grace time after time. We are given “a free and ready favor” called grace by God our Father. Our knowing and willingness to accept the gift of grace puts us in line with what God extends to us unconditionally and asks us to do something with each day. Grace is meant to be shared and freely passed onto others. Let grace fill your hearts and when it is full, willingly sacrifice your gift of grace so that someone else may know unconditional love. This is the lesson that my dad shares by his example each and every day.
Today I praise and thank the Lord for the gift of grace in the example of my dad! I thank the Lord for the lessons he teaches me and for the life of grace he has lived and continues to live. May I learn to live a life full of grace as my daddy has and as My Father God has called me to. AMEN!
Caring for aging parents is a constant tug of war of emotions as well as mental and physical strain. The endurance needed to stay balanced and not be pulled face down to the ground time after time seems insurmountable. The unexpected phone calls that pierce through the stillness of my house at odd times of the day literally make my heart stop. The question that immediately forms in my mind is whether it is mom or dad calling and are they okay. The adrenaline rush shocks my system into immediate awareness. The feelings are a surprise each time and they never feel old or expected in the midst of my day.
The last several years have been filled with moments like these. I would like to think that I have learned to adjust and accept each heart-stopping moment, but I continue to develop gradually throughout this process. These experiences have been an integral part of my journey to grace. The blessing is how God has shown up each time to remind me to turn to Him and move through this struggle in a way that honors my parents and God.
As I received one of these phone calls several weeks ago and I heard my 91 year old dad’s voice saying “we kind of have an emergency here”, the rush of emotions was so overwhelming that my first reaction was to sit down and weep. Knowing that this was not an option, I listened to what my dad was saying and started to problem solve how to best help in this situation. It is in these split second moments that God literally lifts me up off the proverbial floor of “I can’t possibly do this” to moving forward into action.
Even in these heightened moments of fear, I am reminded to slow down. It sounds contradictory when in reality you need to make split second decisions but the urgency should be replaced by making time for God. “Be still and know I am God” Psalm 46:10. Turn to the Great Provider and let Him steer your actions.
Two things occurred right as I was grabbing my purse and car keys that centered me and encouraged me that “God’s got this”. First my son asked if he could pray for me which absolutely slowed down my rapid heart beat and then he suggested I listen to a CD that he had just given me while I was driving to my mom and dad’s place. Both calmed my fears enough for me to focus, drive rationally and successfully assist my mom and dad.
The lesson of God’s grace is in the journey of continually turning to Him throughout all the challenges and blessings that come your way. The lesson unfolds as we slow down and remember that urgency should bring about a stillness to allow God’s voice to penetrate through the fear or uncertainty. Ann Voskamp says this best in her “One Thousand Gifts” devotional: “Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow… Is this the secret that all life experts know? That in Christ, the most urgent means slow. That in Christ, the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence. That in Christ, time is not running out. In Christ, we fill – gaining time.” When we put our problems in God’s hands, he puts His peace in our hearts. May God always be our focus and fill our hearts and minds at all times.
Psalm 46 1-3 God is a safe place to hide,
ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
Hope, Healing, and Freedom for Hurting Souls
Passage Through Grace
a journey to discover grace in everyday life
Graceland...a place where we turn towards more gracious thinking for ourselves and our loved ones
cultivating faith that withstands life's storms
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