passagethroughgrace

a journey to discover grace in everyday life

ASAP June 18, 2013

Filed under: faith,prayer,spirituality — Mary Geisen @ 3:11 PM
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How many times have we heard or actually used the expression ASAP? We might have said it to our children, to our spouse or it might have been directed toward us at work verbally or in a memo. In our “hurry up” world, ASAP means “as soon as possible”. Our lives are filled with ASAP moments as we flit from one activity to another or one responsibility to another taking little time to reflect on whether we have actually accomplished the task to the best of our ability.

What if we were able to change the meaning of ASAP to provide us with more time instead of less? What if ASAP became a mantra that we looked forward to daily and what if it empowered us to change our lives? A church in a small, farming town in North Carolina has proclaimed to all passerbys a new meaning for ASAP- Always Stop and Pray! As we passed this church on our travels down the road, I did a double take to see if I had read it correctly. Could it be that our “hurry up” days could be replaced by the grace of God by turning to Him in prayer? Could we pause the fast forward button in our lives by focusing on God rather than the tasks that need to be completed each day? Could our lives become a video with a connected story line that flowed smoothly as our lives unfolded before us?

As I ponder these questions, the image of the church sign shines brightly in my mind as a reminder of where our focus should lie each day. In the few days since I passed the sign, ASAP- Always Stop and Pray has made an impact on me and has changed my “hurry up” world ever so slightly. The anxious moments of feeling overwhelmed by busyness have been replaced by a calm because of pausing the fast forward button to turn to God in prayer.

I challenge each of you to change your ASAP moments into God-breathed ASAP moments. Embrace the difference it will make in your life!

Here are some verses to reflect on to center your focus today:

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:11, 12 NIV)

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8 NIV)

Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! (Psalm 66:16-20 NIV)

What verses do you read when trying to stay focused on God in your daily life?

 

Watch Out For That Three Letter Word May 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Geisen @ 10:36 PM
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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.

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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.

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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

 

Got stress??? Get Jesus! May 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Geisen @ 7:00 PM
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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.

Lord-

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!

 

Booming clangs, lightning strikes or whispers April 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Geisen @ 4:09 PM
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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.

 

Draw Near – You’re Closer Than You Think March 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Geisen @ 3:55 AM
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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!

 

Take Courage February 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Geisen @ 4:57 PM
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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)

 

Rescued by Grace January 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Geisen @ 5:31 PM
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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.

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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!

 

 
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