Whisper Yes: What You Do Matters to God!

The very thing we think is less significant often carries the greatest importance.  

The very thing we think is less significant often carries the greatest importance. Click To Tweet

whisper yes because it matters

When you whisper yes to changing one more diaper, to waiting on one more table, to reaching out one more time, to showing kindness to one more person, you are making great deposits for the Kingdom of God. 

Standing in line to pay for my gas, I watched the interaction between a young mother and her preschool son. Grinning at the adorable innocence of the little guy as he wanted to “help,” I was struck anew by the significance of the task this mama had undertaken.

She had said yes to one of the most challenging yet meaningful jobs: raising children. I wondered if she knew the importance of this assignment.

Earlier, I had followed a garbage truck making its rounds. With every stop, two men jumped off the side of the truck and emptied garbage cans into it. I wondered if they realized the significance of their job.

In the middle of our daily tasks, we often miss the importance of what we do. 

Quest for Bigger

Many of us, myself included, desire to do something “bigger” with our lives, with more obvious impact. Travel to Sudan to help in refugee camps. Go on a medical missions trip. Serve on a disaster relief team. Create a non-profit that provides awareness and support to women rescued from sex trafficking. Minister to those with disabilities. 

Having a warm dinner waiting for my family doesn’t seem enough. Caring for my daughter’s unique needs each day seems lacking in significance. Doing laundry, typing words of encouragement, stopping into visit an elderly friend seems to fall short in the “making a difference” category.

We want to do something newsworthy, even if we don’t want the coverage itself. 

And as we age and have less ability to physically perform, we feel even less important. 

Importance of the Smaller Yes

But maybe the smaller yes is equally important. After all, God takes the least and makes them into a thousand. He takes the smallest and makes it into a great nation. (Isaiah 60:22). 

He can certainly multiply my little when given in obedience and humility. He can multiply your little as well. So … 

Maybe the whispered yes of getting up every morning to care for my daughter’s hygiene needs carries great significance.

Maybe the hesitant yes of the single mother to tackle one more day of parenting alone is incredibly valuable.

Maybe the tentative yes to help in my local church’s Vacation Bible School holds great importance.

Maybe the sighed yes of the homebound elderly lady to offer prayers for others is a great treasure. 

Big, bold yeses are wonderful and needed. But so are those little whispered ones. 

Planting Seed of Eternal Value

Because every act of obedience to God, no matter how insignificant it may appear to us or others, has great significance to Him. It’s the value of a willing heart as Jesus highlights while observing the widow’s meager offering (Luke 21:1-4).

We each have a unique calling, one that often changes with the seasons of our lives. All are valuable.

So whatever season you find yourself in, whether it be one where you can step into serving in big and noticeable ways or one where no one notices as you wipe one more nose or whisper one more prayer, know that you are planting seed of eternal value. Your daily offerings matter.

Your whispered yes to God, no matter the size of the task He’s given, is great in His eyes. After all it’s the position of the heart, not the size of the offering that matters most to Him.

It's the position of the heart, not the size of the offering, that matters most to God. Click To Tweet

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23 

Reflections: Do you feel less than in your current season of life? Do you long to offer more to God but know you are where you must be for now? Create a list of people who you serve while performing your daily, ordinary, mundane and seemingly unimportant tasks. They matter, so what you do matters!

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “Whisper yes.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY whisper yes

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Daily Living, Sacrifice, Worth

When Did It Become About Me? (When Self Gets in the Way)

How easy it is for my good intentions to turn to self-promotion or self-preservation! 

Satan has a way of turning our focus from where it should be to where he wants it, usually on ourselves. If he can keep us intent on seeking our own pleasure, we won’t fulfill God’s plan for us. 

The enemy is sneaky, often using good things to turn our focus self-ward.

Recently I went on a retreat with a group of women who want to wholeheartedly follow the Lord. I couldn’t wait to meet them all. A few I had previously met in person; most I only knew virtually. 

For me the retreat was about supporting the lovely hostess, Author and Speaker Suzie Eller, connecting with more ladies who had a heart for Christ, and sharing encouragement whenever I could.

Focus on God not self.

Too Much Self

Then Satan got a toe-hold, tempting me with a love I find hard to resist. And although the weekend was still beautiful and meaningful, I left there offering and receiving less than I should have. 

Instead of being present to encourage the hearts of mothers in the throes of  painful situations, I spent extra hours wandering the trails of the ranch. Instead of helping women overcome phobias that kept them from enjoying the fullness of God’s creation, I walked off to enjoy the perfect spring weather. 

I didn’t do anything bad. I just didn’t do all the good I could have. 

It’s not that I shouldn’t have gone hiking. It’s that I first should have sought His guidance on how and when to minister to the hearts and souls of the ladies sharing the bunkrooms with me. 

It’s not that I didn’t do enough to earn my reward (salvation CANNOT be earned!). It’s that I missed some beautiful experiences God had intended for me. 

It’s not that I didn’t/don’t love the Lord. It’s that I didn’t/don’t always keep Him central in my days. 

When Did It Become About Me?

So when did it become about me? When did this retreat shift to be about my edification? When did life become about what makes me comfortable and happy?

There are 7.4 billion people in the world. If everyone of those people only concerned themselves with themselves, we’d have one sorry planet. And to a large extent we do.

When sin entered the world through Satan’s successful temptation of Eve and then Adam, our focus shifted from God-centered to self-centered. It’s a continual battle today.

We have to constantly be on our toes to thwart the enemy’s attempt to subvert our godly focus.

We have to constantly be on our toes to thwart the enemy's attempt to subvert our godly focus. Click To Tweet

This life is not about me. It’s about God.

It’s not about what I think. It’s about what He knows.  

Yet our lives can too easily become about us. Even subtly.

Our actions can quickly become about what makes us happy. Even within what looks to be a God-focused experience.  

Let Your Actions Proclaim, “What a Great Savior!”

We are to live our lives not to say, “what a great ‘Julie,'” but to proclaim, “what a great Savior!”

We are to live our lives to proclaim, 'what a great Savior!' Click To Tweet

Purposing to encourage others and share the love of Christ with them is a beginning. Yet it cannot be accomplished if it remains an intention. 

Fulfilling our purpose to “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation (Mark 16:15)” and to “love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)” requires that those intentions turn into actions. 

Purposing to share the love of Christ with others is a beginning. Yet our good intentions need to become actions. Click To Tweet

And that means remembering at all times who this life is ultimately about. Almighty God should take center stage, always, in all we say and do.

It’s never about me or you. It’s never been about me or you.

It’s about reaping the abundant joy and contentment of serving where God calls in the manner He directs.

It’s about harvesting the fruit of a life lived to glorify the Lord.

It’s about loving Him as He first and always loved and continues to loves. 

I’m not saying my experience at the retreat was less than.

I enjoyed it immensely. I made some amazing friends. I connected deeply with God. I laughed and wept and played alongside girls intent on devoting their lives to their Father. I learned valuable life-long lessons (read about them here). 

What I am saying is that during those times when my heart shifted, ever so slightly, from what God wanted to what I desired, I missed a deeper level of intimacy and joy He had planned for me. 

That’s the trade off Satan wants to win every time. That’s why God cautions us to run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1c-2a), not on self or circumstance (which is still about self).

With the help of the Lord, you and I can continue to make imperfect progress toward glorifying Him in all we say and do. And more fully reap the blessings of following after Him. 

With God's help, you & I can continue to make imperfect progress toward glorifying Him in all we say & do. Click To Tweet

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.” Psalm 25:15

Reflections: When do you most often find your eyes shifting from God to self? 

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,936–4,956. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • A day home to get caught up; My hubby’s awesome handling of everything in my absence; Beautiful evening for Joey’s soccer game, so we could take Rach, and Mom and Dad even joined us
  • Beautiful spring flowers along my hiking trail; Rainy spring day, good for hanging inside; Nowhere to go tonight
  • A precious long-overdue phone conversation with a dear friend; A second-in-a-row “better” day for my daughter at school; Nice phone conversation with my oldest
  • Long phone call with a niece who lives many states away; Looking back and actually seeing growth; My girl’s joy at receiving a book on cats
  • Exciting opportunities opening up for our oldest; Beauty of a life lived long and now Home in the arms of her Savior; Ability to travel long distance to our youngest’s soccer game
  • Blessing of 15 years with my baby boy!; Lovely afternoon of gardening; Treating the birthday boy to a scrumptious Nutella dessert pizza and gifts after a day of fun with his friends
  • Worship and fellowship followed by a beautiful afternoon of garden prep; Discovering more fun and tasty wild edible recipes; Movie night

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Abundance, Christian walk, Daily Living, God, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

Live in the Miracle of Each Moment

If there’s one thing I learned from my daughter, it’s that little things count big. With moderate-to-severe developmental delays, each small accomplishment she makes becomes incredibly important.

With Rachel’s first unassisted step not coming until age 4 and her first word not spoken until a few months later, all the in-between progress took on magnified importance.  

  • Rolling over
  • Sitting up unsupported
  • Developing the muscle tone to actually crawl
  • Moving in a baby walker
  • Pushing a toy shopping cart
  • Walking with only the aid of a cane
  • Taking that final glorified step!

Rach pushing walking toy

Rach pushing cart

Rachel walking with cane, 2002

Rach learning to walk

You can bet we cheered big for each of those small, generally expected accomplishments.

Even as she nears adulthood, the celebrations continue as she more frequently manages to get undressed by herself, buckle her own seat belt, pour milk into her bowl without spilling, express a need using her augmentative communication device. 

With my other children I cheered on the big milestones. With Rachel, every milestone is big.

The normally insignificant takes on increased importance. The ordinary becomes miraculous.

The same can be said for each of us.

Embrace the Miracle of Each Moment

What if we lived like that all the time? What if we embrace the miracle of each moment? What if we chose to see the bigness of the seemingly insignificant? 

The longer I parent my daughter, the more aware I am of the miracles I’m missing. 

Rachel notices the little bits of sweetness, those tiny gifts most of us gloss right over.

Rachel-rain-delight

                                                    Rain drops!

  • The rain drop that lands on the tip of her nose
  • The ray of sun peaking through an overcast sky
  • The bird fluffing its plume
  • The bug crawling on the sidewalk
  • The ragged man sitting alone in the booth
  • The mere presence of a loved one

More than that, she demonstrates little actions that speak big. 

  • A hug that lifts a spirit
  • A smile that warms a heart
  • A giggle that cuts the tension
  • A “hi” that greets everyone, friend or soon-to-be friend (there are no others)
  • A welcome that is truly unconditional

Real Beauty

miracle and beauty

When Rachel was little I’d pray for the big miracle of healing. Thinking the real beauty would shine when she’d be walking and talking and carrying on like a typical child her age.

Then in desperation I drew nearer to God. Or was it I finally realized how near He was to me?  

In desperation I drew nearer to God. Or was it I finally realized how near He was to me? Click To Tweet

And I discovered I didn’t have to wait for the beauty. It presented itself in every breath my sweet girl took.

I discovered that the miracles weren’t delayed. They were woven in each day’s happenings. 

Life itself is infused with beauty; saturated with miracles. 

Life itself is infused with beauty; saturated with miracles. Click To Tweet

We often look for the big and magnificent, but the little and seemingly insignificant often hold the most transformation and meaning. 

No one jumps from a helpless infant to a walking toddler. Tiny miracles occur in the minutes, hours and days leading up to that milestone. Too often we miss the tiny in-between gifts because we focus solely on the final outcome. 

If I’ve learned anything from raising this precious gift of my daughter, it’s that our God is big enough to infuse the tiniest moments with great beauty. 

And He does every day!

Our God is big enough to infuse the tiniest moments with great beauty. And He does every day! Click To Tweet

Reflections: Are you too busy looking for the big miracles that you’re missing the little ones saturating your day? Are you missing the beauty infused in all the tiny moments? 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “How BIG is our God?” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Daily Living, God, God's attributes

Spend Your Time Well (lessons learned at the #livefree retreat)

I went to collect treasure this past weekend. Treasure of the richest kind: time and space to refresh and renew, shared experiences and resulting relationships, soul connections and heart-felt hugs, godly wisdom and deep spiritual insights.

These are jewels often overlooked in our busy lives but found in abundance during this time in the presence of God and with other faith-filled women. Valuable lessons to be cultivated.

valuable lessons learned

Not-So-Buried Treasure

It began with a more than 580-mile drive to beautiful northeast Oklahoma to attend Author and Speaker Suzie Eller’s live free retreat. Although a kick-off for Suzie’s new book, Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leadsthe purpose of the retreat held far more value than simply launching a new book. 

I spent 2-1/2 days with more than 40 other ladies, gathering the gems sprinkled among the tree-covered hills and peaceful surroundings of the Christian retreat center. Collecting the jewels present during worship and while learning with and from godly, Christ-filled women. 

At the end of the retreat, I grabbed last minute hugs and pictures, tucked the wealth into my treasure bag and lugged it all home.

Lessons Learned

On the return drive, the beautiful experiences of the weekend sprouted into lessons carried into my homecoming. Whimsical, lighthearted lessons and deeper, profound ones. But all ones I believe you may find value in as well.

Valuable lessons learned at the #livefree retreat. Click To Tweet

  1. I learned that the best way to get to know someone really well is to drive 10-1/2 hours across country and then back with them. (I was also reminded that I had an incredible traveling partner and that the ability to listen well is a priceless skill to have in a friend.)
  2. I learned that southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas, and northeast Oklahoma hold incredible beauty.
  3. I learned that 44 women can successfully bunk together in two cabins. 
  4. I was reminded of the value of being still. 
  5. I was reminded of the deep spiritual connections found in nature. 
  6. I was reminded that God wants all of our heart, not just a small part of it. 
  7. I discovered that vulnerability and genuine love can open up hearts to very real connections in an incredibly short time.
  8. I discovered that everyone, no matter how put together he/she appears on the outside, has a story that is unique and ugly-beautiful in its own way and filled with lessons for each of us. 
  9. I discovered that God wants us to trust Him in those jagged edges of our lives because there is beauty in them as well.

No matter how put together a person appears on the outside, he/she has an ugly-beautiful story filled with lessons… Click To Tweet

Valuable lessons are found in the richness of relationship, with God, of course, but also with one another.

So take time to cultivate those relationships, to set aside quiet time, to travel to a retreat, to join a Bible study, to connect with people you don’t know. 

In the end, the wealth you’ll collect will far exceed the sacrifice required.

Valuable lessons are found in the richness of relationship, with God, of course, but also with one another. Click To Tweet

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Reflections: Which of the above lessons do you connect with? Which lessons do you need constant reminders of? When was the last time you were intentional about gathering such priceless treasure?

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,915–4,935. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Reframe the negative in light of God’s goodness: My 2 oldest aren’t home, but they’re following the Lord and getting good educations; It’s chilly and windy, but the sun is shining beautifully; I have too much to do, but God has entrusted me with much
  • Crisp, sunny morning; Last-minute respite care for Rachel for the night; Date with hubby to watch Joey’s soccer game and joined by my brother and his wife
  • Packed and ready for my long weekend retreat in Oklahoma!; Rachel’s sweetness as I prepare her for my absence; Talking with both my older guys today
  • Visiting w/ old and new friend during 12-hour drive; Visiting a park we lived in 19 years ago; Safe arrival at the  retreat in OK
  • Hiking through the hills; Being still with a book on the balcony; Worship and fellowship with many new friends
  • Morning of hiking, zip lining, and horseback riding; Finding the perfect quiet spot for reflection and prayer; Powerful messages, meaningful worship, and fellowship
  • One last morning hike at the ‪#‎livefree‬ retreat; Precious time of prayer and testimonials before saying goodbye to many new friends; The best traveling partner

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Christian walk, Friendship, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Relationship

Relationships Are Risky but Worth Pursuing

Relationships can be risky. People may hurt us. But the value of fellowship far outweigh the risks of pursuing it.

Relationships can be risky. People may hurt us. But the value of fellowship far outweigh the risks of pursuing it. Click To Tweet

treasure of relationships

Blessing of Community

One baby under a year old and another on the way, and we moved again (4 times in 6 years). This time to a tiny out-of-the way town.

Again, I knew no one. But this time I had a plan to remedy that.

Typically, I’d sit back and wait for people to find me. People I could relate to. About the time we’d be ready to move again, I’d have finally met a possible friend.

With this move, I determined things would be different. So shortly after we settled into our new house, I implemented my plan to intentionally search for friends. People who could support me. A group to belong to.

For the next year and a half, my new friends celebrated the birth of my second little boy, grieved with me over the loss of our next child to miscarriage, offered names for babysitters, and provided needed solace for an overwhelmed young mother.

I could not imagine the isolation I would have felt without their support.

And the blessing of those sought-after friends didn’t end when we moved yet again. These special ladies gave long-distance support following another miscarriage and shared in our joy at the birth of our baby girl.

We All Need Others

Prior to this move, I expected relationships to develop organically. I guess I thought I’d just stumble into them, like I would a great garage-sale find or a Native-American artifact in the creek bed or a four-leaf clover.

Yet God gives credence to the need to intentionally collect people and grow relationships.

Take for example Jesus. Here was God Himself, and He chose to be surrounded and supported by mere humans in His calling of the disciples.

The Savior-incarnate didn’t just call one to be His sole supporter. He chose 12 apostles and many more disciples to walk with Him and help Him in His ministry. And the disciples, then, had each other.

Similarly God didn’t ask Mary to raise Jesus alone. He gave her a husband, Joseph, and then later friends to support her during her most difficult days. Throughout her life, it appears Mary had a support group.

John the Baptist had those who followed and supported him, and Paul had traveling and ministry companions.

In the Old Testament days, we also see the importance of relationships. Noah had his family. David had Jonathan. Naomi had Ruth.

Value of Relationships

Clearly, relationships are important. Yet if many of us are honest, we spend lots of time making money to buy things. We spend hours researching an item we want to purchase.

But when it comes to spending time seeking out and nurturing relationships, it’s often an afterthought.

I wonder if it’s because collecting things seems safe and satisfying; while collecting people can appear risky and overwhelming. 

However, each of us needs to tap into that treasure of friendship, no matter how scary it may look to collect.

Because as risky and time consuming as relationships can be, we need others. People and the fellowship and support they provide have a far more lasting value than things. 

You add value to the lives of others; they add value to yours. 

People and the fellowship and support they provide have a far more lasting value than things. Click To Tweet

As this post goes live, I’ll be driving 10 hours to a retreat with a group of ladies who for the most part have been friends only in the virtual sense. It’s time to take it one step further and put 3 dimensions to our relationships.

A bit scary? Absolutely! Maybe my personality will clash with most of theirs. Maybe what they like, I won’t. Maybe I’ll feel out of place and unwelcome.

But maybe I’ll discover a few (or more) precious friendships to add to my treasure bag. Maybe I’ll find huge supporters and thought-provokers. Maybe I’ll be able to whisper encouragement and receive it back.

The risk of relationship is real, but what I learned all those years ago is that I can’t go it alone.

I learned that people are valuable. I learned that people belong on our list of “most treasured possessions.”

People belong on our list of 'most treasured possessions.' Click To Tweet

So go ahead, begin collecting your treasure today.

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Reflections: Do you find it easier to collect things rather than people? What’s stopping you from reaching out to others to add to your treasure of relationships? What’s one step you can take today to remedy that?

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “collecting people rather than things.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Friendship, Relationship

The Key to Experiencing Increased Joy

It’s sad how when something is “bad,” it’s bad enough, but when something is “good,” it’s never good enough. Why can’t we accept the gifts as the sweet blessings they are? 

Negative Mindset

“Enjoy the beautiful sunshine,”the clerk encouraged.

“I will,” I responded, then quickly added, “now if the temperature would only follow suit.”

And then I kicked myself for my impulsive answer! Without even thinking I had negated the gift of the beautiful sunshine.

It’s sad how often I do that. 

Complimented about my clothes, I comment about how I’d like to be in a bit better shape.

Affirmed in my work, I turn to a peer and whine about the workload.

I receive a visit from a friend and spend the time apologizing about the messiness of my house and that I have nothing to serve them.

I’m blessed by a sunny day and complain that it is too cold, too hot or too windy.

A focus on the negative is not only my problem; it’s epidemic in our culture. 

Experience increased joy: realize God's goodness is good enough.

Reframe the Negative in Light of God’s Promises

I wonder what might happen if we begin to qualify the negative rather than the positive. To be quick to give thanks for the good and to look at the apparent bad in light of God’s promises.

How might that improve our demeanor? 

In my younger years, few things would get me down. I’d reframe seemingly negative situations into positive. 

In my childlike innocence, I was grateful for the good and believed the bad would get better. I had abundant joy. 

But as a more “mature” individual, I let unfulfilled expectations and unwanted circumstances color my attitude. 

Maybe that’s why God says we must receive the benefits of His kingdom, His gifts, like a little child.

“Like a little child” means with humility and gratitude. Not with demands that sunny must be warm too. Not with expectations that everything go exactly as we think they should.

But with trust and faith and simple acceptance and thanksgiving. 

I’m not suggesting unrealistic platitudes. But we can realize increased joy when we develop a from-the-heart desire to be grateful. A deep soul-desire to believe that God is good and has good for us.

A worshipful attitude of gratitude in all circumstances. 

Experience increased joy: Receive God's gifts with a worshipful attitude of gratitude. Click To Tweet

Experience Increased Joy

The Apostle Paul knew the importance to our faith of the correct mindset. That’s why he so strongly encouraged us to focus on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).  

He didn’t say temper the good with what we believe would be even better.  

Increased joy is found in focusing on the blessings we receive. It is found in dwelling on the salvation we have in Christ. It is found in being reminded of God’s promises and that we are well kept. 

The joy of our salvation is found in remembering that God’s will is always for our good (Psalm 51:12)! 

Habit of Gratitude

By developing a habit of gratitude, we not only bless ourselves but all who we come in contact with.

The hardships of this world often take center stage. They get the press. They get noticed.

It’s time we reverse this trend and train ourselves to express gratitude in all things: the good that often go unnoticed and God’s promises we have in the bad. 

It’s time to start noticing the beauty in the middle of the storm. To start anticipating the sweetness that results from the bitter and sour. 

In Christ we are a new person with a renewed mind. We have put on our “new self,  the one created according to God’s likeness” (Ephesians 4:24).

We can have the peace and joy that comes from that renewed mind. It’s a simple, yet often difficult, task of receiving His goodness found in and through all circumstances. 

So today, join me in seeking the joy of the Lord:

  • Begin celebrating the good for the gift it is, no qualifications allowed.
  • Then go a step further and reframe the negative in light of the good and perfect will God has for you. 

Seek the joy of the Lord: celebrate the good and reframe the bad in light of God's perfect and good will for you. Click To Tweet

Let’s be witnesses to the world that God’s good is always good enough.

Be a witness to the world that God's good is always good enough. Click To Tweet

Intentionally seeking a mindset of gratitude has been life-changing for me. I can’t wait to hear your praise reports as you begin your own adventure toward wholehearted thanksgiving.

Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus.” Thessalonians 5:16-18

 Reflections: What good do you notice today (no qualifications as to degree or possibilities)? How can you reframe the bad in your day to reflect God’s good and perfect will for your life? 

(And as is only fitting for a post like this one, I’ll end with last week’s list of gifts.) 

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,894–4,914. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • First of my garden planted: 4 rows of potatoes; Hubby’s gardening help; Hearing Rachel yelling “hi, Mom!” in the background of phone conversation with Joey
  • Being able to visit a member of our church who can no longer get to services and fellowship; Wonderful ladies I get to work with at church; High School speech awards
  • Shopping with Mom; Lunch with Mom, my sister and her hubby; Evening home with Rachel
  • Morning routines; Watching Joey get an unexpected opportunity to play varsity in soccer and do quite well; A warm car after hours in cold wind
  • The exercise laundry affords me as I run up and down the steps doing the many loads; Talking to Danny and Zach; Coloring with Miss Rach
  • Beautiful sunshine; Watching West Delaware Hawks in a soccer tournament, and Joey starting at Goalie; A mama who will help out with Rach
  • Worshipping with a young man I’ve been missing for a while; Watching my niece in her middle school production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie”; Dairy Queen stop after the musical

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Gratitude, Jesus Christ, joy, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Thankfulness

I Will, Will You? (a faith prayer)

I want to follow God wherever He asks me to go, but it can be so hard. In the middle of chaos and the weariness of life, I can forget that it’s always safe to say “I will” to God. That’s where a faith prayer can be helpful. 

Safe to say I Will to God

“Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5

Simon (Peter) presents a beautiful picture of faith in this biblical account. 

Exhaustion must have oozed out of every pore of his being. He was undoubtedly frustrated from fishing all night with no success and had just cleaned up his fishing gear.

Yet Simon followed Jesus’ advice even though it appeared hopeless. I am amazed by this fisherman’s answer every time I read this verse: “but because you say so, I will…”

It reminds me of Mary’s response when told she’d be the mother of Jesus: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38b). 

Such faith! And the aspect of both answers that most strikes me is how quickly they agree to a strange and unexpected, even bizarre, circumstance or request.

It is always safe to answer 'I will' to God. Click To Tweet

Faith in Action

When I’m exhausted and nothing is going as it should or I don’t understand the situation, I’m not likely to  respond to it with “I will” or “May it be done.” If I’m honest, my answer is far more likely to be “God, are you sure?” or “Can it wait?” or “Let me pray about it and I’ll get back to you.”

I procrastinate. There’s nothing wrong with praying about a situation or making sure what you think you heard is biblical. In fact, Scripture encourages us to make sure we are following truth (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

But if we’re not careful, our answers to God’s requests reflect a lack of faith more than a desire to rightly follow.  

If we're not careful, our answers to God's requests reflect a lack of faith more than a desire to rightly follow. Click To Tweet

I am repeatedly convicted by the faith of Simon Peter, the fisherman turned Apostle. I want to respond affirmatively to God’s requests in my life. I want to do as He says. I want to follow where He leads. I want to live like He asks.

I want to respond, “Because You say so, I will!,” no matter what His request is. 

That’s faith in action. That’s the faith I desire. 

That’s the reason I offer this faith prayer. May it remind me and you that God is trustworthy and our response to Him should always be, “I will!” 

God is trustworthy; let your answer to Him be 'I will.' Click To Tweet

I will faith prayer

I Will Faith Prayer

Lord, I look into the future and became fearful, but You remind me, 
“I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)

I too often look back at past failures and doubt my worth to serve You,
but You assure me, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20).

I look at the circumstances of today and feel too weak to make it,
but You promise me, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When storms blow in, You ask me to trust You. You ask me to believe You
will protect and care for me through all kinds of weather (Isaiah 41:13).

When I feel weak and insufficient, You remind me to “be strong and
courageous” (Psalm 31:24).

When I feel too weary to take one more step, You ask me to run my race
with endurance by “keeping [my] eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

When I feel I’ve exhausted my quota of requests, You encourage me to
“ask in My name” (John 14:13).

When I am crushed under the weight of the burdens, You tell me to
“take heart” (Psalm 69:32b).

You say that with You “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

You promise to clothe and feed me (Matthew 6:25).

You ask me to believe (John 11:40).

Lord, the things you ask of me often make no sense. This life, this walk,
this way of living as a Christian: the skeptics scoff, the mockers mock.
It is so different from how one would expect it to be.

Yet, dear God, You ask, You tell, You command, You promise, You assure.
And whether I can make sense of it or not, I will…!

I will trust. I will believe. I will take heart. I will be courageous. I will rest
in your grace, even when all appears to be shattering around me.

I will by faith have hope, Father! Because You say so. And You are
my Lord and my God!

In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen!

Creating and/or reciting a faith prayer is a great reminder of God's faithfulness and how we should respond to Him. Click To Tweet

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Reflections: What are you struggling with that is making it difficult to trust God? Consider writing your own faith prayer to refocus on God instead of your circumstances. 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “but if you say so.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Faith, Prayer, trust

Why It Is Good To Be You

Who you were created to be is better than who you wish you were. Be you!

Be youI’m a member of a mastermind group: eight individuals who share a similar interest in getting the Gospel message out in our own unique way. We bounce ideas off each other, offer suggestions and services in our area of expertise, and provide accountability and encouragement.

Everyone’s heart is set on Jesus, and I’m blessed to belong to such an uplifting, informative, encouraging group. 

However, occasionally I get this twang of … well … jealousy or self-depreciation.

I look at how capable they all are and wish I were more like them. I wish I knew what they knew. I wish I could accomplish all they have accomplished.

In a nutshell, I wish to be someone other than who I am. 

And that is such wrong thinking!

God didn’t make me less than what I should be. He didn’t forget to add some talents or skills into my genetic makeup. 

Unique and Marvelous You

I have to remind myself that the Creator has equipped each of us in unique and marvelous ways. No two human beings are alike.

We all have different likes and dislikes. We all have different ways of expressing the same concept. We all have different talents and skills to bring to the table.

When I step back and look at the big picture of creation, I get a much better perspective than when I’m up close and personal.

I can then see that if God had made us all creatives, we’d be living in chaos. If God had created us all with type A personalities, life would be far more drab.

We’re all better off with the variety we see.

Where she’s strong, I may be weak. His weakness may well be my strength.

I know, there are situations that simply beg for us to be skilled in an area we are not.

There are activities we desperately want to participate in but have no ability.

There are things we long to produce but suffer in the creative and imaginative department or in the clarity and grammatical arena.

God-Designed Lack

But our lack of ability in a particular area is God designed. It forces us to open up the door to relationships and community.

Our lack of ability in a particular area is God designed, forcing us to open up the door to relationship/community. Click To Tweet

I would not be blessed to interact with all these wonderful mastermind members every Monday evening if I could do everything well.

You would not have developed some of the relationships you have if all came easy to you.

Oh, it’s great to try to improve in an area. In fact, I hope to develop a bit more creativity than I currently possess. But realizing your weakness in an area is really a blessing.

Use it to force you into fellowship. Offer your expertise to others and ask for their help with your projects and situations.

Each of us have been created to fill a particular niche during the time we’re on this earth. We don’t want to be out of place. God can’t use us fully when we walk outside our giftedness: when we try to fill someone else’s shoes.

God can't use us fully when we walk outside our giftedness. When we try to fill someone else's shoes. Click To Tweet

Be You

It’s easy to look at someone else and wish you were more like them. More talented. More capable. More creative. More organized. More whatever!

But we each have a place. We each have a purpose. We each have a mission to fulfill.

Next time you’re tempted to wish you had the talents of someone else, step back and see the big picture of what would be missing if everyone were the same.

Don’t underestimate what you have to offer. It’s too important to be squandered or belittled.

Don't underestimate what you have to offer. It's too important to be squandered or belittled. Click To Tweet

Instead embrace your differences and step into using your God-given gifts.

Be yourself. The world needs what you have to offer. The world needs your brand of you.

Be yourself. The world needs what you have to offer. The world needs your brand of you. Click To Tweet

“Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Reflections: Name one thing unique about you. How might that uniqueness be used in the kingdom of God? 

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,873–4,893. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Helping Mom and Dad settle back into their home; Precious time spent creating and sharing memories with my parents; Squeezing in needed errands
  • Morning sun streaming through the living room window; Getting help for finding Rachel needed adaptive devices; Taking Rach for a visit with an elderly friend
  • Gracefulness of deer running through the timber; Finalized details of my “Come With Me” retreat in OK; Going to bed during a spring thunderstorm
  • Freshness of the morning following a night of rainstorms; Getting lots of family updates; Hubby home after a couple nights away
  • The sun peaking through the rain clouds; A beautiful drive to a morning meeting; Amazing respite camp for Rachel to attend: Camp Courageous
  • Early morning breakfast out with Hubby; Paperwork overload becoming more manageable; Looking at years-ago pictures: sweet memories
  • Lots of notes taken from Bible study and sermon; Picking up my girl from camp; Attending bridal shower for my wonderful soon-to-be new niece

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Authenticity, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Relationship

Because We Won’t Ever Be Good Enough

Lately I’ve messed up in a couple near-and-dear relationships. My actions and words cut the beautiful hearts of my loved ones as I dealt with fatigue and a life that longs to overwhelm.

And Satan wants to slap me with the Failure badge. He whispers that I’ll never be good enough.

The enemy wants to convince me that my inadequacies and shortcomings relegate me forever to the back row of good and worthy people. 

Never Good Enough

I suppose he’s right. I won’t ever be good enough. I’ll always fail my children. I’ll always fail my man. 

But I’m not left there. I’m not labeled “failure.” And I’m not assigned to sit forever in the back row either.  

Yes, I reacted poorly toward my husband. Yes, I overreacted to my son’s oversight. But neither make me a failure.

not good enough but sick

They make me a sinner in need of a Savior. They diagnose a sickness that needs the ultimate Healer. 

They put me in a place to receive His fullness, so I can then pour it out to others. 

Our failings don't make us failures. They make us sinners in need of a Savior. Click To Tweet

From the Back Row to the Front

The enemy would have us believe our inability to walk righteously on our own makes us worthless. The truth is God calls the sickest and most infirmed to Him.

He pours His worth into our worthlessness. 

He offers us sinners His righteousness. No longer relegated to the back row, He welcomes us to the front to drink deeply from His well. 

Jesus offers us sinners His righteousness. He welcomes us to drink deeply from His well. Click To Tweet

It’s when we finally acknowledge the desperation of our condition that we can find healing. That is when we can receive the Great Physician’s best medicine as we move to wholeness in Him. 

A paralyzed man’s desperate friends were determined to get him to Jesus anyway they could. They knew he could not get well on his own. So these friends did whatever they had to (even lowering him through a roof!) to get him in the presence of the Lord to receive His blessings of forgiveness and restoration (Mark 2:1-12).

Jesus’ passed by Levi (Matthew), a lowly and sinful tax collector, and called Him to “Follow Me” (Mark 2:14).

He ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:15-16). 

And when the Pharisees called Him on it, Jesus gave us all hope. 

“Jesus replied to them, ‘The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” Luke 5:31

Jesus Came for the Sick, the Sinners

I need this reminder often. Maybe you do too.

I will fail. But failure doesn’t exclude me from walking in the grace of God.

Jesus came for the sick, the sinners. We would have no need for His sacrifice, His grace, if we were healthy and righteous on our own.

We will fail. But failure doesn't exclude us from walking in the grace of God. Jesus came for the sick, the sinners. Click To Tweet

Realizing our failings, that we’ll never be good enough, opens us up to receive the fullness of what a walk of grace means and what the Lord has for us. At our lowest we’re most ready to receive His greatest. 

And from that place of fullness, we can then point others to the Wellspring of Life.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your never-ending grace, for your mercy and forgiveness, for your restoration and new life, for redeeming my failures! Thank you for entrusting those of us who are so unworthy with carrying your mantle of grace to a lost world. 

Reflections: Do you feel like you’re relegated to the back row because of your failings? Is Satan trying to convince you to pin on the Failure badge? Re-read those beautiful accounts of Jesus reaching out to sinners, tax collectors, and the crippled and be encouraged that He came for those of us who mess up. Through His righteousness, we are worthy of that front row. 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “from back row to front row.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Grace, Redemption, Renewal, Worth

When the Unexpected Is Breaking You

God often uses the unexpected and the unwanted to bring about the best in our lives. But it requires us to let go first.

God often uses the unexpected&the unwanted to bring about the best in our lives. But it requires us to let go… Click To Tweet

Let go of our expectations. Let go of our perceptions. Let go of our perceived control.

And then to open our hearts to receive the fullness of what He has for us.

unexpected-breaking-comes-beautiful-rebuilding2

The End or the Beginning?

In my world, many mornings begin like too many others: washing my 17-year-old daughter’s mattress pad and sheets. With significant global developmental delays, Rachel’s independent skills (including hygiene) fall far behind her peers.

As she’s grown, washing my girl’s bedding has become a nearly daily occurrence. Certain mornings I just want to scream, “I’m done! I can’t do this anymore!”

And I mean it. Caring for a forever-toddler can be exhausting. It zaps me of all the strength, patience and understanding I possess.

And then, miraculously, when I have nothing left, God pours into me all His strength, patience and understanding.

That’s the mystery of grace. That’s the miracle of transformation. That’s the God we serve. That’s the love He has for His rebellious and often blind children like me.

Our finite gets replaced with His infinite. Our weakness gets replaced with His strength. Our heart of flesh gets replaced with His heart of spirit.

And we love, we care, we step up, we serve.

Because at our end is really the beginning. The beginning of a life of significance and meaning beyond anything we could imagine.

When we give up our perceived control and give all to God, we discover how to really live. It’s a life, not devoid of suffering and unwanted happenings, but filled with joy and peace and purpose in the midst of those.

When we give up our perceived control and give all to God, we discover how to really live. Click To Tweet

Blessings in the Unexpected and Hard Places

Raising a child with special needs is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s also one of the best.

Raising this special child who pushes me to the end brings me to the beginning of so many amazing and wonderful things.

Serving Rachel teaches me humility, exposing my pride to the cleansing light of Christ.

Ministering to Rachel’s daily needs reminds me of how desperately dependent I am on others too, …

  • on family and friends for daily encouragement and support
  • on God for His daily mercy and grace (I cannot do this without Him!)

 … and this dependence is necessary and good.

Raising Rachel has cultivated patience in a heart that was once sorely lacking. I don’t believe my family would slap me with the label of patient quite yet, but I’ve been stretched far beyond my default in this area.

Watching Rachel age while her abilities lag ever farther behind that of her peers forces me to define success differently than society does.

I now appreciate the capacity to demonstrate love and compassion far more than possessing self-sufficiency and independence.

I now see a successful life as centering on relationships instead of high-paying jobs and owning nice things.

I now look for the beauty in the hard (it’s there), to see gifts otherwise missed.

I now focus more on the eternal than the temporal.

I am now more likely to give thanks for what I do have, than to lament what I lack.

The Breaking and the Beautiful Rebuilding

I didn’t want to change. I tried to do this special need mothering thing on my own, thinking I had enough stamina to go the distance. Then I ran into the end of all I had to offer.

And it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

The thing that most devastated me at first brought the most positive changes in me in the end. Doesn’t that sound like God’s miraculous work?

The thing that most devastated me at first brought the most positive changes in me in the end. Click To Tweet

No doubt about it. Dealing with the unexpected and unwanted breaks us, but in that breaking comes a rebuilding far more beautiful than the original. It produces growth not otherwise possible.

Dealing with the hard breaks us, but in that breaking comes a rebuilding far more beautiful than the original. Click To Tweet

In your unexpected and unwanted places, trust the process. Trust your God. Trust that this hard thing will turn out to be your most treasured gift.

Mine certainly has! 

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 ESV

Reflections: In what unexpected/unwanted place do you find yourself? What lessons can you learn from it? How can I pray for you?

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,852–4,872. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Waking up to 2 more mouths to feed; Discovering a go-to scone recipe that’s rather simple & forgiving; New spring blooms
  • A reason to bake more; Target practicing with a couple of my guys; The Hope and goodness that prevails in the face of the evil and darkness of this world
  • Sweetness of a Rachel hug; Dying Easter eggs; Shelter when the winds howl and the sleet hits
  • More baking to feed those hungry boys: love it, and another one tomorrow!; Experiencing Rachel during worship; His body, broken for me
  • Lovely day for a walk with a few of my guys; Zachary is home: our family is together again!; A moving Good Friday service
  • The love so evident among my children; Cooking a large dinner for my clan = pure joy; Late night board games with my boys = more pure joy
  • Our Lord and Savior’s resurrection from the dead; Wonderful youth led Easter service; Celebrating Easter with lots of family and food and 2 newborn lambs at Mom and Dad’s

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Daily Living, Disability/Special Needs, Struggles, Suffering, surrender, trust

Thanks for stopping!

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's BLESSINGS to get lost in its HAPPENINGS. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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