Tag Archives: Grateful

Unconventional Friendships – An (in)Courage Guest Post!

Incourage Friendship Post

Just under 6 short years ago a website was born who’s heart and mission it was to encourage women, gather them together, and equip them to serve well where God had planted them. That site is (in)courage and was one of the first community sites that I started reading after I started blogging myself.

Each morning a post would fill my inbox that gave me hope, brought me laughter and helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. You see making friends hasn’t ever been easy for me. I tend to isolate. And so having a little piece of friendship in my inbox each morning was such a  gift.

And so today it is with excitement and honor that I get to share a little of my journey to some “unconventional” friendships on the (in)courage site. I would love to have you join me there. While some of my dearest friendships have come in an unexpected way, it has reminded me that God can and will use any situation to gather His daughters together!

Because God knew my secret longings for friendship, and He provided it in the most unconventional way…(<====Click to Tweet)

And if you haven’t already been receiving the emails from (in)courage every day – sign up here so that you too can receive these free daily emails of encouragement in your inbox! You will be glad that you did! 🙂

Tetelestai

Tetelestai

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

I heard the word for the first time from one of our worship team leaders. She was sharing a song with that name. The greek word Tetelestaai means it is finished.

The last word that Jesus spoke on earth before He paid the price for my sins.

The weight of that word is on my heart this week. As we approach Resurrection Sunday and the celebration that is, I can’t forget about what happened just 3 days before.

I have been participating in the She Reads Truth study for the last 41 days. Looking at my own sin, coming once again to that place of repentance and recognizing the immense sacrifice that was made on my behalf.

There are days that I feel pretty good about myself. You know I get up and read my Bible, I am patient and loving to my kids, I work hard at the office and might even have a good meal for my family for dinner.  I pat myself on the back for a job well done and might even polish my halo a little.

I’ve got this….look at all I can do.

It doesn’t take long for reality, my sin reality, to smack me in the face once again.

The moment I think I have it all together, is the moment I disregard the gift that was given to me on the cross.

I can’t ever do enough, be enough, strive enough, to deserve the grace of God. (<===Click to Tweet)

That is what makes His grace, His unconditional love so scandalous. 

Our pastor has been teaching out of Romans for the past several weeks and has been bringing a Word to our congregation. Oh it has been just what my soul needs to hear. The first few weeks were tough…I mean Paul’s letter to the Romans talks over and over again about how we ALL have sinned.

Romans 3: 11-18

“None is righteous, no, not one;
     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

None is righteous, No not one.

So what are we left with then?

As our pastor told us…stick with him, because the hope comes in Romans 4. Using the faith of Abraham as an example, Paul tells us that God’s righteousness is not just for Abraham, but for us also.

Romans 4: 20-25

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,  fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”  But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,  but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, if we have faith in God, righteousness will be counted to us as well.

He called that kind of grace scandalous. And it is.

There isn’t anything that I can do to “earn” that kind of favor.

Jesus gave His life for MY sins.

For the fight I had with my husband and the ways I acted in disrespect. Tetelestai.

The day I argued with my kids and said things that hurt feelings. Tetelestai. 

For every time I gossiped and spoke unkind words, and fueled the fire of negativity in another. Tetelestai. 

For my lack of faith, my lashing out at God, my utter defiance to His will in my life. Tetelestai. 

No one is righteous, no not even me.

And yet, my Jesus was accused, falsely charged, beaten to near death, forced to walk carrying His own torture device, pierced and nailed to a cross, and hung to die for me.

For every moment that I am not proud of, every single one…Jesus paid the price.

It is finished. Tetelestai. 

Over the next few days  I encourage you to be aware of how big this gift is that we have been given. We don’t have to end up in a pit of despair, we all have sinned, we all have fallen short. That is what makes His gift so amazing.

He paid the price.

Because of the shedding of blood we can stop striving to earn God’s favor. (<====Click to Tweet)

We already have it, it is finished.

Tetelestai.

Photo Credit: Its His Gift

Not What I Wanted For Today…But…

Choose Joy

I shouldn’t be surprised really, it seems it always happens this way. Life hits, harder at times, and it can feel like things are spinning out of control.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going in for a fairly simple, “routine” laproscopic procedure. It is same day, I should be home around the dinner hour…I am not worried at all. But there is a TON of things I wanted to do to prepare for a few days of me being tied to the couch as I recover.

And so, on a day when we have client deliveries and need witnesses, a day when Dominic won’t be able to answer the phone, or prepare for the things coming up while I’m out…our youngest boy is sick and I am at home.

It is moments like this that I can get so frustrated. Why does this have to be happening now?

But what good does that type of attitude do me?

Yes it is inconvenient, yes it is frustrating…but it isn’t the end of the world.

While my natural response may be one of anger and pity, I can choose to have a different response.

This morning I spent a few brief moments circling my family in prayer. Praying over our meetings for the day, for the health of our family, my upcoming surgery and the big choices that face Isaac in regards to college etc.

What an honor it is to pray for my family.

While I do bring my requests to God, I also bring my thanks even when life isn’t perfect.

I am thankful for each member of my family.

I am thankful for all of the blessings that God lavishes on us.

We don’t worry about food, or heat, or how we will get to and from where we need to go.

We are spoiled really, and while a day like I hadn’t intended isn’t my plan, I can still be grateful.

But gratitude is a choice.

Each and every day I must make the choice to choose joy, in ALL things. (<==== Click to Tweet)

Yes it may be work, it may go against the grain of what my natural response might be. But my hope is that when I make that choice over and over again, it might become the natural response I have to any kind of situation.

My prayer for you today friends is that regardless of what you are facing, that you might make the choice to choose joy. Choosing right along with you this morning!

Saying Goodbye

Birch Tree 2

I have always said that I believe that God brought us to this house.

During the transition time that Dominic was living in MN and we were still back in SD, we made several trips to Marshall to look at homes. Our Realtor (and now neighbor) 🙂 was patient with us and showed us a bunch of homes.

We weren’t sure when we were going to be moving so it was hard. We would see and fall in love with a home and then it would be sold. This went on for 5 months. We finally came to a point that we knew we needed to take that leap of faith and put our SD home on the market and just see what would happen.

It sold in 4 days after 1 showing with a 45 day closing time.

Oh and I we had just had a new baby a few months before. It was a crazy time. And we needed to find a home fast.

I saw a house online that I loved and sent Dominic on a late night, last minute trip to see it. It already had an offer on it but there was a possibility to make a counter offer. While he was there Molly asked if she could show him 1 more house.

A home that had been on the market for a long time, and the sellers were motivated. So Dominic went to see it and I remember the call he made me that night on his way back to his rental. He just knew it was “the” one.

He was giddy and I was too, we made an appointment to go and see it as a family that following Saturday. My parents came along and we even looked at a couple other houses. But we knew that house was the house God put in our path.

I sometimes forget, but really we are all so grateful for the gift that house has been to our family. We don’t deserve it and yet we recognize the blessing it is for us.

One of the first things that I fell in love with when we drove down the drive was the beautiful birch tree in the front yard.

In the mornings when I would get up and have my quiet time I would sit in the front living room and the birch was my view. It has inspired a couple of different blog posts, most recently where I wrote about how God was peeling away some of those layers that had been holding me in bondage.

Birch 4

That tree and I have a history in just 3 short years. It has been a powerful and beautiful representation of God’s work in my life.

We had a tough and very cold winter last year. We started noticing that a large part of that old birch wasn’t healthy. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. But a few days ago our neighbor had a tree service company over and we stopped to talk to him.

Brian and his wife attend our church and we knew if anyone would be helping us with our tree issues, it would be them.

Birch Tree 6

He was over again today and confirmed that our tree was at least 2/3 dead. He could take down 2 of the 3 main trunks, but the reality was it wasn’t going to get better and we would likely just have to call him back out again next year.

So at lunch today we made the decision to have that tree removed.

I cried a little on the inside.

I know, I know it is just a tree, but it has been a part of our family the entire time we have been here. It is hard to make changes some times isn’t it?

I ran outside and took a bunch of pictures. I am just a little sad that it was so grey and dreary for her last photos, but I knew the front landscape of our home would drastically change and I wanted to document it.

Birch Tree 1

And so we went back to work and when I got Gabriel from school we came home to this….

Birch Tree 5

Amazing difference isn’t it?

I do like how you can see the entire home now, but I am going to miss my early morning views…

Birch Tree 4

Now all that remains is this stump. We decided not to remove it at this point (I didn’t want to deal with the large landscaping issue we would have with a hole there right now) so for now this will be our reminder.

Our views will constantly be changing. I am coming to appreciate the changes even when I don’t like it. I am hoping that I am able to see the view in a new light…different but not bad, and a new opportunity to see in a way I haven’t before.

I am grateful that an old, dying birch tree can continue to teach me so much about life. May I always be seeking to recognize the beauty that is around me.

Five Minute Friday – Grateful

Elijah 2

Welcome to Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo! The day that writers gather in this online space to write for 5 minutes, no edits, with a single word prompt!

Today’s prompt: GRATEFUL

Oh this little man of mine, how can he be almost 5 already?! On the 18th we will celebrate his birthday, another year, and today I remember the miracle that he really is and I am grateful!

Dominic and I struggled to get pregnant with both Gabriel and Elijah. I was tired of the negative pregnancy tests, tired of the no’s and just wanted something to “fix” what was wrong with me.

We went to see our doctor after over a year of trying and got the same news that we had with Gabriel, for various reasons the likelihood of us getting pregnant on our own was very very small.

There were a couple of things that we thought we would try though and scheduled a “routine” and minor surgery to have some endometriosis removed and to check out the condition of everything inside of me.

It is standard that they run a pregnancy test before the surgery, just to make sure and like every month prior, it was negative. I was holding onto the littlest hope that I had that this procedure might just do the trick.

The surgery went well and I went home to recover. I had the normal after-symptoms from a procedure like that and felt confident that in the next few months we could start trying again…

And then several weeks later I got heartburn.

One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t ever get heartburn, except when I am pregnant. I was out in Colorado visiting Karlena and we had to stop at a Walgreens to buy some tums…she knew something was up but I was in denial – it was impossible.

But through God all things are possible and boy did He show off with this one! 🙂

I went home and took a pregnancy test and sure enough I saw the 2 pinks lines. I figured I must be like 2 weeks along based on when I had the surgery but I called my doctor and she had me come in for an ultrasound.

When the technician came in she started the scan and then said “Congratulations, here’s your baby and you are 6 1/2 weeks along!” 

I started crying, it didn’t make sense…that would mean that I would have been pregnant during my surgery. It wasn’t possible! I had taken a pregnancy test…they wouldn’t have done the surgery had they known I was pregnant because the likelihood of loosing the egg would have been too great.

But God…oh how grateful I am that He is bigger than any “likelihood” in my life!

The doctor believed that the egg must have implanted on the day of the surgery, my HCG levels would not have started to really increase yet, thus the negative pregnancy test…and somehow even with all they did inside of me, my Elijah hung on and now we celebrate another year with him in our family.

Life is a gift. Being a mother is hard, and my Elijah tests my patience on many days but he is a sweetheart and a gift and I won’t ever stop being grateful for the blessing that he is in our family.

Happy Birthday a few days early my son, I am so grateful for you.

**Disclaimer…this post took me an extra minute or two to finish, but I figured my Elijah was worth breaking the rules for this once** 😉

5-minute-friday-1

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