31 Days of Grace…

Grace. As Christians, we hear this word, but do we fully grasp what it really means?

Grace is the free and undeserving favor of God.
It means I can quit striving for perfection. I can quit holding myself to these unattainable expectations of being all things to all people.

He is enough.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Grace is God’s gift to us. I believe moments of grace can be found everyday if we are watchful, expectant, and open to God’s blessings. 

This is my 31 day journey of being expectant and watchful of His grace. Thank you for joining me as I share my experiences and thoughts on everyday grace.

Today, I want to share this…

These shoes belong to a kid who time after time demonstrates the meaning of grace in my life. He is my son, chosen for us. In 2009, he joined our family as an energetic yet timid and scared five year boy. Through the years, our bond has grown and strengthened.

I was talking with a trusted friend this weekend about my anxiety struggles, and we talked about my son and his love for me. She told me that she believes God gave me this child and He is speaking to me through him.

I responded, “My son has taught me far more about life than I have taught him.

The love, the forgiveness, the hugs, the time spent 1-1…he loves me for who I am. He doesn’t expect perfection from me. 

Sometimes, it’s just comforting knowing someone wants nothing more from you than to just be with you as you are.

Today, don’t miss God’s grace in the love of others. God places people in our lives to love us and teach us.

Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another. John 1:16

Don’t be so busy you miss the blessings of relationship with others.

 

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Tears of Transparency

My heart is sad this morning. It has been a restless, short night of sleep. We learned of my husband’s uncle’s completely unexpected death last night. We are devastated. The hardest part of being a parent is seeing your children cry and to know they are hurting. It is our son’s first experience losing someone close. Our daughter is in another state and unable to come home for a few days. It is hard to not be present to console her.

Knowing your children are hurting is so difficult as a parent. As much as you hurt, seeing the tears of your child is that much more heart wrenching. We have always tried to encourage our children to share their feelings with us and to be open.

Transparency in my feelings… something I am not always so great at. Being willing to be transparent and vulnerable in your feelings with someone you trust can open the floodgates to understanding. Yes, it feels risky and uncomfortable especially if you are like me and not used to talking about feelings. I would rather suffer in silence, but I know God doesn’t desire that for us. And, I certainly don’t want to model that behavior for my children.

So, through this difficult time right now, we will pull together and comfort one another. Tears are the unspoken language of transparency and vulnerability. They are a bridge to understanding.

Life is often not easy, but with God and the support of those we love and trust, we can walk through the valleys and know we are not alone.

Faith Lessons in the Kitchen Sink

This past weekend, I prayed over the question Jesus asked the blind men…what do You want me to do for you?

I realized I needed discernment to something I was struggling with. I needed​ affirmation. Today, God revealed the discernment that I needed to me through the words of another and a clear sense of peace in my heart.

It was a good day.

And tonight, I found this in my sink.

Just when you think they aren’t listening, you turn and see something that makes you pause and smile. He rinsed his milkshake glass without being told. Small victories. Simple things. Mom moments that remind me this balance thing I am striving for might just be attainable.

God uses everyday people, everyday simple things to grab our attention. The affirming words from your boss. Your son’s rinsed glass without being told. A listening ear from your best friend. Shared dreams with your spouse.

Sometimes, I overcomplicate things, and then a simple act of obedience from my son reminds me he is listening to me. I think how pleased our Father must feel when His children obey. It may be a simple act of stepping out in faith or a huge leap of faith. 

I challenge you to pray for courage to obey this week. May we all be free to laugh without fear of the future.

Lessons from Children 

Thirteen. My youngest officially crossed the threshold into his teenage years yesterday. Wow. Where has time gone? It seems like just yesterday we were in the Filipino heat at his orphanage eagerly waiting to meet him for the first time.

The other day, one of my co-workers was talking about her children and wishing they were little again. Not me. It’s not that I don’t have moments that I don’t miss the excitement over zoo trips, a sweaty little hand in mine as we cross the street, or cuddling while watching Disney movies because believe me, I do. Yet, I find it so exciting and humbling witnessing my children growing into their own individual person.

Our son was a quiet child, unsure of himself and his place in the world just a few years ago. Now, he is thriving academically and socially. He loves his family. He made the decision to be baptized last summer.

At school conferences this past week, one of his teachers said that our son is teaching him to be a better teacher. It was humbling to hear about our son in the classroom – his interaction with others, his sharing about his adoption, his teachers’ beliefs in his potential. 

Children are such a gift. Whether they are biological or adopted, students, neighborhood children…they are a gift. They need adults who love them and believe in them. I am grateful for the teachers and close adult friends who are positively shaping the lives of my children.

 I am so grateful to a God who did not say no to my prayerful pleas for a baby years ago but rather Wait, I have something far better planned for your family.

My children keep me grounded and focused on what truly matters in this life. 

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.  Angela Schwindt

Sometimes, life is messy, but if we keep our eyes focused on God, He helps us keep our focus on what matters most. Even on the messy days.

Just a Boy and His Dog

One warm October day 9 years ago, an adorable furry dog wandered into our yard as my husband was mowing. I am a dog lover…so when no one claimed him, my husband gave into my daughter and me. We became the owners of a wire hair terrier that the vet estimated to be about 6-7 months.

This crazy dog completely unraveled my day to day existence with his crazy antics. He was in everything… Clothes, cupboards, purses, trashcans… He earned the nickname “the terror” from my husband.

At the time, we were waiting for the news that we could travel halfway around the world to bring home our son from the Philippines. Our daughter, a quiet, easy going, straight A student was an easy child, an only child. I truly began to believe that God sent this crazy dog we named Franklin to help prepare me for the changes in my routine and life that my son would bring.

I took Franklin into visit my residents at the nursing home often. One of the ladies fell in love with him. She told me, “That dog just needs a boy.”

And so she was right, they have become great friends.

This week, that crazy dog unexpectedly has become very, very ill. We are treating the infection and will find out in a few weeks if he has cancer. Franklin is calm, subdued. I actually miss his crazy antics of getting into my lunch bag, jumping on the table to sneak some food, and the shredded trash. The house is somehow too calm, too quiet.

A pet becomes family. My heart is sad. I am hopeful he bounces back. After all, he has eaten batteries, an entire pan of brownies, and endless clothing items and has always managed to come out okay.

I reflect…I am grateful to my Father who knows what we need when we need it. Like a dog….to prepare me for a son.

Just a boy and his dog…. And so many answered prayers and blessings.

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Mother’s Day Reflections

Last Sunday, my husband and I taught the Junior and Senior High Sunday School class. We attend a small church and know all the kids personally in the class. It was a timely lesson with graduation approaching as we discussed the gifts and works God is doing in us and through us.

One of the questions in the guide that I asked the kids was this…who do you think should finish the work that God has started in you?

Silence as they thought. Then, one girl responded, “We should.”

As we talked through it, we reflected and worked through that answer to that question. God gifts us with abilities, talents, gifts….but honestly as I continue to learn, He simply requires our heart, willingness, and obedience. I remember a saying from a sermon I heard years ago… God doesn’t need our abilitites. He needs our availability.

On this Mother’s Day, this is my prayer for my children…that they understand, that they trust, that they believe that with God all things truly are possible if we only trust and step out in faith and obedience.

God will finish the good work He has started in us.

And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV

A great way for me to hold onto the faith that God is working in me and through me is by journaling. When circumstances fall apart and life seems to be crazy, recalling His work in my life keeps me grounded.

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I know my children are watching me. They are observing my reactions to the unexpected events in life that have the potential to throw my life way off target. In these moments, I know it is more important than ever to cling to my faith. To trust. To obey. To hold on tight.

Because He will finish the good work He has started. He’s a good, good Father.

 

 

 

 

Made Perfect in His Time…

God’s timing truly is best…

As we wait, as we wonder if He hears, if He cares,

Sometimes what we think are “no” answers

are simply lessons in trusting,

trusting that He knows best.

Five years I prayed,

Five years   I waited,

What I thought was a “no”

was really a wait, My child, I have something better in store

Halfway around the world

big brown eyes searching, longing

for someone to call mom…

Thank You, God for Your perfect

timing as I celebrate yet one more year,

his adoption day, my blessed son,

Your precious gift in Your perfect time.

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