Greater Than Ourselves

Sometimes, you just know everything is going to be okay.

Your college age daughter may dump her clothes by the door, but she is home for the holidays. A clean house is not important.

You willingly spend almost six hours in the car to attend the funeral of your friend’s dad because you know she needs you and there is no other place you want to be at that moment but there supporting her.

God keeps reminding me of the joy in the everyday stuff of life. Life is not easy. It’s messy. It’s sad. It’s just plain tough at times. 

Working with elders has taught me an important life lesson at a young age. The things that matter in life are the meaningful relationships we create along our journey. Every day, we have the opportunity to touch lives through our words, actions, and love. 

As I sat in the funeral today, I felt part of something greater than myself. I witnessed the impact one man had on multiple lives. For many reasons, I am thankful God has blessed me with the joy of this friendship and the opportunity to know this family. Only God could have allowed our paths to intersect.

In the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 instructs us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to figure out God’s will for our lives. I think it is spelled out pretty clearly in those verses.

Rejoice…pray…give thanks…in all circumstances, not some but all.

What if we truly lived by those words? We aren’t perfect people, but we can love other imperfect people. 

My friend is teaching me this very thing…love others well. Her dad’s life and love for others over his years was so evident today.

As I reflect on our drive home, these thoughts come to mind.

1. Life is hard but filled with meaningful life lessons if we are open to the everyday moments.

2. People need us. We need people. Everyone is fighting a battle of some sort. Be kind. Listen more than talking.

3. Rejoice…look for the everyday blessings. They are there.

4. Pray about everything.

5. Thank God. He is working even when we can’t see it.

6. When we trust God with our lives, He will bless us.

I felt it today…the love of others, the love of God. 

Life is greater than ourselves.

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31 Days of Grace…and Balance…as a Work in Progress

Balance…that elusive word that I keep trying to find only it plays a great game of hide and seek.

God doesn’t give up on me, though.

You see, I desire this thing called balance. I love my job, but of course, I want to be home with my family. I love my family. There is just so much work to do…the lines between home and work blur.

I have been praying for balance. Seeking it. Desiring it. Craving it. 

Here are some key points I have learned:

  • Not everything is urgent.
  • Sometimes, you just need to shut your door, and it’s okay.
  • No is a complete sentence.
  • Do the one thing only you can do. 
  • Ask God for His agenda.
  • Involve God in every aspect of your life.
  • Not everything is urgent.
  • In the morning, pray asking God what you and He will be doing today.
  • Success is progress not perfection.
  • God wants my heart.

I have been praying and pouring out my heart to God. 

He is a God of patience and grace. He continuously places people in my life to nurture me, encourage me, keep me grounded, and hold me accountable. Sometimes, the words they speak are not easy to hear, but I know they are spoken in love. 

God’s grace…His patience in me. 

God’s grace…His gift of people to love me and support me.

And I am certain that God who began the good work within you will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

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.

 

A Road Less Traveled

A bridge construction project blocked off a major road forcing me to choose an alternative route along a path seldom traveled. As I drove, rows of purple and yellow flowers classified as weeds by many lined the road. As the sun shone and illuminated their colors, and they swayed in the gentle wind, I reflected on the beauty in perspective. 

Often times those things in life which are difficult create beautiful growth in our lives. It’s all a matter of perspective. 

I had coffee with someone this morning who I had met while working in a difficult job situation. God allowed our paths to cross and continues to use our connection for His good. This country drive with the rural flowers was on my way to a funeral visitation. While there, God reminded me that He is using me to touch lives.

My stomach issues…the reason I started this blog…have been used to connect me to others in my life.

Even my anxiety has been used for His good as I continue to grow and work through things in my life.

Sometimes, life doesn’t always take us the way we intended, but a road less traveled may have blessings along the way.

The Sign Lady

There is a sign that I passed every day on the way to work, and on this sign are names of people and their birthdays and  anniversaries. It’s in a rural area. I don’t even know if you can call it a town. It’s a small area with a Catholic school, a meat market, a huge cemetery, a carry out and a few small businesses but nothing much more. 

I met this sign lady who changes the sign every morning at a musical event at the nursing home where I worked. After that, sometimes I would see her in the morning changing her sign. She highlights people’s everyday events…their birthdays and anniversaries. These are things that matter to people. She cares enough to remember their important dates of their life stories.

 I think sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget that everyday moments matter. Facebook is a great way to connect with people but it’s also easy to get lost in other people’s lives. We forget that Facebook is a reel of the highlights of their life. It captures their special moments, the good stuff in their life. There are some people who put their dirty laundry on Facebook, but the majority of people like to put pictures of kids, vacations, and the special events. Most people don’t put the areas in their life where they are hurting or struggling. I think we all need reminded that our lives are unique and matter. The ordinary every day stuff matters.

I took a different way home tonight after my chiropractic appointment, and I passed the sign. I haven’t seen that sign in quite a while since I changed jobs. I smiled as I passed the sign. The sign reminded me that everyday moments matter, and this woman is still changing her sign everyday. 

Connections are everything. Without each other life just isn’t as easy. God gives us one another to lean on in the toughest of times and to share everyday moments. Sometimes simply to be with one another is what we need.

This sign lady definitely has a unique ministry. Each of us have the opportunity to touch lives every day.

Sunday Reflections

When the things of the world seem uncertain or out of control or when your own life feels like it is spiraling, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to push an exit button and just hide away from everything for a little while??

We all know life isn’t like that. 

When I look back at some of my greatest times of growth in my life, I recall the challenging circumstances that embodied those times. Those times were often painful times of taking things one step at a time.

I heard a Christmas sermon a few years ago about joy and pain coexisting. I think they do. It is often a matter of perspective and self reflection. This verse comes to mind…

Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.      James 1:2-4 NIV

I have spent some time the past few days reflecting over a conversation I had with someone. Admittedly, I was in a hurry, needing to work my way through a “to do” list when I had spoken with her. I didn’t realize until later that my non-verbal communication communicated just that…I was in hurry. She interpretted this as she was inconveniencing me and taking time from me she was unworthy of deserving.  

I am choosing to use this interaction as an opportunity for me to self-reflect. Life is busy. Life is messy. Life often does not go as planned. Since there is no exit button of temporary escape, how can I endure the pain and embrace the joy simultaneously? In those times when I am feeling overwhelmed, how can I make my interactions with others meaningful despite my own issues?

True, there are times when we need lifted up and supported, but how can we lift up and support others through our own struggles? 

I want to be that person that encourages, coaches, lifts up, and slows down. I am not always that person. The lessons I am taking away from my interaction with this woman are…

1. Every interaction matters.

2. Our non-verbal communication often communicates louder than our spoken words.

3. Everyone has a story and that story often impacts our communication.

4. Slow down. 

5. Perception is reality.

5. Everyday trials hold lessons from God to grow us.

6. Just listen. Listen attentively. Listen a lot. 

Elder friends

I have friends of all ages, but I especially treasure my friendships with my elder friends who share so much wisdom with me.

I lost a dear friend this week. At 95 years, she lived a very full life. As I reflect on her life and our friendship, these thoughts come to mind…

  • She always believed in me.
  • She supported my writing dreams.
  • She was always so giving.
  • She didn’t sweat the small stuff.
  • She lived life to fullest.
  • She forgave.
  • She lived her Christian faith.
  • She loved her family and friends.
  • She never wavered in her faith.
  • She accepted the things she could not change.

I have so, so many memories. My heart is sad, but as my friend and I prayed with this dear friend just a day before her death, we told her, see you in heaven. I will miss her dearly, but she has left a lasting impact on my life that will continue to inspire me.

As I am reading my devotional this morning, this verse captured my attention and made me think of my dear friend.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Cherish your friends… Especially your elder friends.

#elders #friendship