Why I Count Blessings (remembering His love)

Why is it so hard to walk in God’s love for us? Instead we give into fear and desperation. 

What believer (or even nonbeliever) hasn’t heard it … God loves you? We all have. It’s often the first thing you will hear or read when introduced to the world of Christianity.

Because it’s a core truth. God does love you!

The Problem

Yet, in the rush of daily activities or in the fog of a painful circumstance, it can be difficult to remember His love.

I easily forget…

I forget I am God’s beloved.

I forget His faithfulness.

I forget He redeems.

I forget I’m never alone.

I forget His plans are always and infinitely better than mine.

I know God loves me, but it’s not enough to read it in the Word. It’s not enough to tell myself it’s so.

spotlight God's love with gratitude

For the truth of His love to stand out in the hardest, most chaotic times of my life, I must have tangible reminders. 

For the truth of God's love to stand out in the hardest, most chaotic times of life, we need tangible reminders. Click To Tweet

The Answer

That’s the blessing of a gift list.

Because my memory often fails me, I need to be shown God’s love on a regular basis. Nothing is a more powerful reminder than keeping a physical record of His faithfulness.

It’s a call to remember … to come and see.

A gratitude list is a call to remember, to come and see... a tangible reminder of God's love. Click To Tweet

“Remember the wonderful works He has done…” (1 Chronicles 16:12 HCSB).

Come and see the works of God,…” (Psalm 66:5 HCSB)

A blessing list and prayer journal are both good options. I started recording in 2011. Now, my “One Thousand (or more) Gifts” list is nearing the 5,800 mark!

It’s a peace list, really. Without it, I’d be wallowing in anxiety and frustration. With it, I’m anchored by God’s love.

Oh, I may be rocked occasionally by a particularly strong or tenacious storm, but the reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness always steady me. I’ll never stop recording and remembering.

The Result

Some people call it paying it forward. I call it living out God’s love. Sharing what you’ve received with those you have contact with.

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 HCSB). Yes!

And out of that truth comes fruit! Because once we are made aware of the forever love God has for us, and remain aware of it, sharing it naturally follows.

God’s love is powerful. It changes lives!

So here’s a simple (but effective) three-step plan to see it in action in your life:

  1. Recognize your need for a better perspective.
  2. Start by keeping a running reminder of how much God cares for you. Call it a “Joy Dare” (coined by Ann Voskamp), a “Love List,” or a “Blessing Register.” It doesn’t matter. The point is to intentionally and daily give yourself tangible reminders of God’s love by recording at least 3 blessings a day. Don’t try to get away without writing them down! That’s the most powerful piece of this exercise.
  3. Share with others the overflowing of God’s love. Make a phone call. Hold a hand. Pass on a smile. Offer a hug.

Let the love God has for you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Let it be multiplied by sharing it with another.

Recognize. Remember. Pour out on others. Even when your circumstances stink.

Let the love God has for you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. It begins with remembering. Click To Tweet

It’s all possible, because God loves you! 

“Gratitude is like a flashlight. If you go out in your yard at night and turn on a flashlight, you suddenly can see what’s there. It was always there, but you couldn’t see it in the dark.”
–Dawna Markova

Reflections: Have you established a record of daily blessings? If not, what’s stopping you? If so, how are you recording them: running list, prayer journal, online, paper/pencil…? 

(Although I quit recording my three Joy Dare entries on my blog, you can catch them every evening on my Facebook page at JulieSunne1.)

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 Uncategorized

Experience God’s Peace in All Its Fullness

Who among us doesn’t script for ourselves a life of relative ease and unending happiness? I’m certainly guilty.  Yet the years never unfold according to our perfectly laid plans. From scary diagnoses to financial burdens to strained relationships, life has a way of throwing our days out of kilter.

fullness of God

“Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
Then all the people said ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the LORD.’” 

1 Chronicles 16:36 NIV

The night before the tests, I lay in bed, wondering if tomorrow would bring blessed relief or start a potentially long road of suffering. As I turned over the possibilities, words of the Doxology1 leaped unbidden to mind, followed immediately by the refrain to It Is Well With My Soul. Peace enveloped me. I fell into a restful sleep knowing no matter what verdict I heard the next day, all would be well. My physical body may not be, but my spirit would.

I doubt I would have felt the calm assurance 5 years ago that I did that night. The daily practice of praising God has settled my soul. It has reminded me of the steadfast love of my Father. When the unimaginable happens, instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, I’ve equipped myself to remember the promises and faithfulness of my unfathomable God. I let praise usher in lasting peace.

(This is an excerpt from my devotional: Everyday Praise: Walking in Greater Peace. You can get a copy of Everyday Praise here on Amazon.)

Take Heart in God’s Fullness

Jesus tells us to expect burdens: “…In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b).

But then the Savior goes on to extol us to “take heart!”

Why? Because, He “have overcome the world” (vs. 33c)!

Such an amazing truth, yet take heart … have peace … in my day-to-day struggles?

And having joy and peace in the mundane and hard? How is that possible?

As Christians, we can be certain our trials will be redeemed eventually. Yet what do we do in the meantime, in the here and now?

Because even when I know the Lord—when I know His love, faithfulness, and might—unwanted circumstances have a way of winning the day. Those afflictions tend to mask the beauty of my ultimate salvation.

Not that long ago, I finally began to understand how to peel back that mask, how to lighten the dark glasses of unwanted circumstances. I learned how to see beauty in the midst of troubles.

You see, experiencing peace in a world that is anything but peaceful boils down to remembering and embracing the fullness of who God is and what He offers…. to be continued at billmcconnell.me

Experiencing peace boils down to embracing the fullness of who God is and what He offers. Click To Tweet

I am thrilled to be guest posting for my friend and all-around good guy Bill McConnell! Read the rest of my post at his virtual space: billmcconnell.me. And don’t forget to show Bill your appreciation in the form of comments, likes, and shares.

Reflections: In what areas of life do you struggle the most with finding peace?  

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 Uncategorized

The Thing To Do When You Feel Lost at Sea While Still on Land

I wonder how many others feel the way I do. Adrift. Like I’m walking in a fog. A bit uncertain of the direction I am to go.

I’m tempted to give into doing what I’ve been doing. Running on the crazy wheel. Hoping purpose and clarity bursts in sometime, somehow.

But I know God has a plan for me. He’s not befuddled or lost in a sea of murkiness.

abiding

Walking on water is only possible when we're abiding in Christ. Click To Tweet

Abiding

So I keep abiding in Him.

Although my mind says get on with it; you’re losing readers. Quit stalling. Keep plugging away.

My heart says,

slow and easy girl. Rest a bit. Center yourself on God and His Word. Let Him infiltrate your whole being, so your whole being can serve Him.

Rest in Him, so He can fill you with that purpose and direction.

Follow Him. Reach out and take His hand, so in His timing and by His strength, you too can walk on water.

It sounds so easy, but it is so difficult for this Type A girl.

Where is my focus? On getting and retaining readers and followers or on glorifying my Lord and Savior?

If it’s the latter, nothing is impossible, but it’s only through His strength and when and where He leads.

Nothing is impossible if our focus is on the Lord, but it's only through His strength and His perfect timing. Click To Tweet

Oh, I expect God’ll have me back at this writing thing in earnest again soon. But for now, I’m doing a tiny bit more resting, and a good deal more abiding.

After all, how cool is it to walk on water? And it’s only possible when your focus is on Him. 

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 

Reflections: Are you preparing to walk on water? In other words, are you abiding in the only One who can make that impossibility possible? 

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

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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, Daily Living, Ministry, Purpose

Sometimes Pressing Pause Is Necessary

I’m hitting the pause button. 

I hope you had a joy-filled, Christ-focused Christmas: one of awe and wonder as you reflected on the immensity of God becoming a human baby. All so you and I could live with Him forever!

My family and I are still celebrating. Traditionally my husband and I and the children settle into our finished barn loft for 3 days of uninterrupted time together over Christmas break.

It’s our family’s pause button. A beautiful time of reconnecting and loving each other (although by the end of the third night, we have grown a bit weary of each other’s quirks). But that, kind of, is the point (as silly as that seems).

At our barn, we focus on each other, not all the places to go and things to do. We realign ourselves with what it means to be family.

press pause

Pressing Pause to Reflect, Pray, and Realign

That’s what I want to do spiritually as December rolls into January. I want to pause and realign myself and my ministry with what it means for me to be a child of God, to be in God’s family.

Sometimes it's important to press pause and realign ourselves with what it means to live as a child of God. Click To Tweet

You may have noticed I’ve been quieter than usual on my blog. I will continue to be so for the next couple weeks as I take time to reflect, pray, and realign myself with the mission and purpose God has for me.

I may still post occasionally during that time, but I plan to exercise stillness, giving myself time to breathe, some whitespace to think and pray and be.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our doing for the Lord that we forget to be with Him. I’ve experienced it. It’s easy to become blinded by our current doing that we fail to notice when God’s leading us into a new adventure. 

I don’t want to miss that new adventure. I don’t want to miss Him. 

Journey with me into 2017 with the focus of experiencing more of our Lord and Savior in this new year! Pause, be still with God, and see what adventure He has for you in the coming months.

Journey into 2017 with the focus of experiencing more of our Lord and Savior in this new year! Click To Tweet

Have a blessed New Year!

“Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.” Romans 6:4 

Reflections: What are you doing to prepare for the adventure God has for you in this new year? 

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

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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, Daily Living

Grace Delivered in the Birth of Christ (Merry Christmas!)

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” 
Luke 2:11

GRACE delivered in the birth of Christ Jesus

The Good News!

Grace has been delivered in the Babe.

The Prince of Peace.

The Lamb of God. 

The Savior of the World.

Birth of Jesus Christ

Salvation entered our world in the birth of Jesus Christ. The greatest Gift.

That’s ultimate grace and pure joy!

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…” Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas!

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 Christmas, Hope, Jesus Christ

Jesus Reigns in Our Mess (A Christmas Confession) #AdventReflections

I expected this Christmas to be different. I planned for this Christmas to be different.

To be quieter … simpler … slower. 

And then life kicked in with a vengeance. The busyness of the holidays — no, my own ideas of the what the holidays should look like — ruled most days. 

Oh, I managed to squeeze in caroling, short visits with a dear friend, and even a bit of Bible study. But my attempt to get it all done won again. 

Even though I know better, even though the beauty and meaning of this holy day has nothing to do with lights, trees, and cookies, I let them own far too much of my time and mental energy.

Recently depleted, I repented and sank to my knees.

Jesus reigns, even in our mess.

Glimpses of Beauty

I messed up, repeating the craziness of past years. Yet, the most beautiful message of Christmas is Jesus entered our mess to clean it up, eventually, forever.

The most beautiful message of Christmas is that Jesus entered our mess to clean it up...eventually, forever. Click To Tweet 

We can’t see the full beauty He brought with Him just yet. But we can glimpse it. 

Even in the haste and busyness I invited in this season, I see the coming beauty.

In the wish, “Have a blessed Christmas,” I scrawled to my daughter’s aide.

In the words, “I love you,” I left with my elderly friend.

In the occasional devotional I read with my children and lighting of the Advent wreath.  

In the thank you gifts I sent to those who have poured into my children this year. 

Jesus amplified my little offerings to be meaningful and beautiful. 

Jesus Reigns, Even in Our Mess

Despite our good intentions, we too often usher in messy when beauty waits nearby. We give our everything to everything else and our little to the important and lasting.

But even when we forget, Jesus reigns. Even when we block Him out with the noise of our doing, He reigns. 

God delivered the world through an infant. He packaged the greatest gift in helplessness. He put salvation into motion with an everyday event.

God is fully able to compound our little to be His glorious. And He does.

The “not much” we too often give can become enough in the hands of the One who brought heaven down.

The 'not much' we too often give can become enough in the hands of the One who brought heaven down. Click To Tweet

I allowed in a messy Advent season, but Jesus is beautifying it.

He’s providing the Light in the midst of the dark.

He’s bringing peace where I ushered in chaos.

He’s infusing joy where I created angst.

This holy season? It’s all about Jesus. It always is (as is every day, really).

And Jesus will reign in our mess as well as in the great beauty to come. That’s the miracle of Christmas. That’s our greatest Gift!

Jesus will reign in our mess as well as in the great beauty to come. That's the miracle of Christmas! #greatestGift Click To Tweet

“The Lord will reign forever and ever!” Exodus 15:18

Reflections: Have you managed a slower and simpler Advent season this year, or like me, did you, once again, pack too much in? Regardless, what glimpses have you received this season, large or small, of Jesus’ reign? 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “miracle of the new-born babe.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

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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 Advent Reflections, Christmas, Daily Living, Jesus Christ

Messy Is Real, but One Day Only Beauty Will Remain #AdventReflections

It’s all messy, but one day only beauty will remain.

This is the week serene images of the first Christmas will be displayed everywhere. They will feature Mary, the mother of Jesus, Joseph the Christ-child’s adoptive father, shepherd and wise men, and the Babe Himself (and don’t forget all the docile livestock looking on) all in a quiet peaceful stable, lit by the lovely glow of star and/or candlelight.  

Yet I can’t help think about the messiness of that moment and what it means for us. The birth of the Savior was indeed miraculous and humankind’s greatest gift. Still for the people present during this most Holy event, I expect pain, urgency, and uncertainty met them (that night and in the days that followed).  

Mary knew little about what her “yes” to God would bring. Even at her tender age, she could guess, at least, that it’d involve the pain of childbirth. Perhaps worse, there’d be the ostracism and shame of giving birth outside of wedlock. 

Yet, I sometimes wonder, would she have said yes if she knew the agony coming? Would she have agreed to be the mother of the King if she knew her heart would be pierced clean through?

Because of Jesus, one day only beauty will remain.

Beauty in the Mess

Maybe Mary would have agreed anyway. Maybe she knew the truth that incredible beauty lies in the midst of great suffering. Perhaps she understood that the beauty received in saying yes to God always outshines the sacrifice made. 

Jesus Christ came into this world, incarnate in the flesh as a helpless infant, spent His life on earth as a servant, and made Himself helpless again on the cross, to pave the way to beauty in a fallen world. 

The birth of the Christ child was messy and painful yet glorious in the fulfillment of God’s promise.

The blood of the cross was gruesome yet triumphant in the wiping away of our sins (Isaiah 53:5).

The hardships of life challenge our faith, yet the growth and transformation that occur through them are invaluable. 

The hardships of life challenge our faith, yet the growth and transformation that occur through them are invaluable. Click To Tweet

Mary may not have known the extent of the sacrifice she’d willingly endure. But no doubt she believed that out of whatever horror she had to walk through, would come a surpassing beauty. She trusted her Lord to redeem all the pain she’d face. 

What Will Remain

As much as we’d like to paint Christmas as a tranquil Norman Rockwell scene, the truth is it was and continues to be messy. From the soiled and unpretentious birth of the Son of God to the often complicated and chaotic circumstances of living in this fallen world, this most-precious holiday presents challenges.

But take heart! In the midst of that mess, a Light shines, Splendor reigns. Beauty clothes the ugly, joy replaces pain.

In the midst of your mess, a Light shines, Splendor reigns. Beauty clothes the ugly, joy replaces pain. Click To Tweet

So go ahead and post those pastoral nativity scenes. Because Jesus Christ is born! Messiness is terminal. One day, only the glorious and lovely will remain.

All praise to His holy name! 

“I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness.” John 12:46

Reflections: What thoughts do those tranquil nativity scenes bring up in your mind? 

It’s been more than 5 years of counting and I’ve well passed 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #5608–5628. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • *Sunlight glistening off snow crystals; *Listening to Joey and his classmates for another wonderful high school Christmas concert; *Goofing around with my boys
  • *Hubby’s help to pick out new glasses; *Rachel’s excitement at creating sentences with her communication app (an emerging skill); *The “nonessential” medical care that makes my life more comfortable (too often a blessing taken for granted)
  • *A young deer frolicking in our front yard; *Fun of watching Rachel process math concepts in her very expressive manner; *Laundry caught up (for a split second I think)
  • *Able to greet Zachary’s roommate Wesley before he flies home for the holidays; *Picking up Oberweis eggnog as a special treat for when we decorate our trees; *Safe trip getting Zach home for nearly a month!
  • *Imperfectly perfect Christmas trees cut down and put up; *The 6 of us together this year to choose our trees; *My oldest being newly employed: official adulting reality begins with the new year
  • *Decorating our barn for the holidays with Hubby and all four kids; *Celebrating Daniel’s offer and acceptance of a position with The Family Leader, a Christ-centered organization whose mission is to strengthen families; *Playing Monopoly with the boys and being reminded of some of their past antics
  • *Woodstove warmth in the midst of frigid outdoor temperatures; *Hosting Bible study; *Sharing the blessing of our barn getaway

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 Advent Reflections, Christmas, Jesus Christ, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Redemption

Put Down the Bonds: Jesus Came To Set You Free! #AdventReflections

I have a tendency to imprison myself—to become shackled by my own expectations.

I tie my worth to my accomplishments. I attach my holiness and righteousness to my outward actions. I align my happiness with my situation. 

Be Free

It’s one reason I cherish the Holy days of Christmas and Easter, and especially the season of Advent. Pregnant with meaning, these seasons remind me of the freedom I have in the Lord Jesus: the freedom from those bonds I’m compelled to wear.  

Be free in Christ

Jesus Christ, God incarnate, didn’t come to earth to bind us tighter to achievement, but to pave another way. He didn’t take on human form so we would do more and have more, but so we could be saved.

The Father sent His Son to give us the priceless gift of liberty. We couldn’t set ourselves free. On our own we’d still be imprisoned by our thoughts and actions.

And sometimes we still go back to that jail cell: Maybe you can relate.  

So Jesus came.

By removing the barrier between us and our Creator, by bridging the cavern separating earth from heaven, through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus severed the bonds of sin. He set us free from the constraints, demands, and deadly nature of the flesh.

Jesus severed the bonds of sin, setting us free from the constraints, demands, and deadly nature of the flesh. Click To Tweet

We find freedom from having to do enough or be enough in the power of God’s grace. In the cry of the infant Jesus, the starkness of the barren cross, and the echo of the empty tomb, our shackles are broken … the prison doors flung open. 

We find freedom from having to do enough or be enough in the power of God's grace. Click To Tweet

O glory!

Liberty in Christ’s Coming

Only in Jesus Christ can we exchange the bondage of our will for the liberty of God’s. 

I appreciate how the renowned Calvinist Preacher C.H. Spurgeon (sermon, May 17th, 1891), explains such surrendering:  

“To leave our times with God is to live as free from care as the birds upon the bough. If we fret, we shall not glorify God; and we shall not constrain others to see what true religion can do for us in the hour of tribulation. Fret and worry put it out of our power to act wisely; but if we can leave everything with God because everything is really in his hand, we shall be peaceful, and our action will be deliberate; and for that very reason it will be more likely to be wise. He that rolls his burden upon the Lord will be strong to do or to suffer; and his days shall be as the days of heaven upon the earth.”

Our freedom is found in Christ’s coming, not in our doing or worrying. May we never cease celebrating! 

Our freedom is found in Christ's coming, not in our doing or worrying. May we never cease celebrating. Click To Tweet

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Reflections: What does freedom in Christ mean to you? 

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

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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 Advent Reflections, Freedom, surrender

Discover the Beauty of the Season, Even When It’s Hard #AdventReflections (#Giveaway)

The holidays can hold great joy but also deep sorrow. What or who is missing from our lives becomes hyper clear at this time of year.

Focusing on the not here makes it difficult to be joyful at a time when we should be exceedingly so. After all, the God of the universe came down to earth, for us! 

The birth of the Christ child flipped the world upside down. The Sinless living in the midst of the sinful. The Divine taking on human form.

We should be glorying in the immensity and beauty of it all!

Beauty of the greatest gift

See Beauty Everywhere

Still, grief and anxiety are effective saboteurs of peace and joy. But cultivate a heart of gratitude and you’ll see beauty even in the middle of the greatest sorrow and most difficult circumstance,

because you’ll see Jesus there.

Cultivate a heart of gratitude and see beauty even in the middle of great sorrow, because you’ll see Jesus there. Click To Tweet

And wherever we find Jesus, we find goodness and love, peace and joy. This season of Advent reminds us, we can find Jesus Christ everywhere, in every moment, forever.

Wherever we find Jesus, we find goodness, love, peace, joy; and He can be found everywhere, in every… Click To Tweet

He has come, He’ll always be.

In mounds of dirty dishes and days of sick kids, in financially lean months and challenging-health ones, in relational conflicts and times of isolation, Jesus is there. He offers us Himself. He promises us Someone to walk with forever.

And He delivers. 

Jesus promises us Someone to walk with forever. And He delivers. #AdventReflections Click To Tweet

Share the Greatest Gift; Find Everlasting Joy

Jesus is our greatest gift. Gifting others reminds us … focuses us … on the what/Who we do have, not the missing.

So a way to glory in the glory of the season is by becoming the conduit of the love of the One who heals and redeems. To offer a hand to help, a shoulder to cry on, a word to uplift, a prayer to intercede.

A way to glory in the glory of the Christmas season is by becoming the conduit of the love of the One who saves. Click To Tweet

By gifting others we’re sharing the blessings of the One who came down for us … we’re sharing Christ Himself. 

The empty chair at the table, the absence of a secure job, the wayward child … they’re real and they hurt. But when we see all we still have in the Savior Come Down—all we have through the blessings of the Holy promise—joy reclaims the season. 

In the tremendous beauty of the Gift given, the Miracle delivered in the infant Jesus, we find true peace and everlasting joy … even when life hurts. 

In the tremendous beauty of the Miracle delivered in the infant Jesus, we find peace/joy...even when life hurts. Click To Tweet

“Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b, HCSB

Reflections: What sorrow is smothering you this year? Have you tried shifing your focus from what’s missing in your life to the glory you have … and will always have …  in the miraculous gift of Jesus Christ? 

In the spirit of giving and the glory of our Lord, just in time for Christmas, I’m giving away a fantastic study pack for Ann Voskamp’s bestseller, The Broken Way! The pack includes a Study Guide in paperback form and an accompanying DVD. Tell others about this giveaway and share the joy! 

Win #TheBrokenWay study pack by @AnnVoskamp, with guide and DVD! Easy entries. Share the gift.… Click To TweetThe Broken Way

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s been more than 5 years of counting and I’ve well passed 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #5587–5607. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • *Time to serve my son breakfast before he left for a few days; *Ability to write real pen/paper letters to several people this morning; *Vehicles all fixed
  • *Talking with a long-distance writer friend who is also a special need mother (we relate on many levels); *Working with Rach’s team to plan her next education year; *Spending time I didn’t feel I had to help my youngest gain perspective during an overwhelming week for him (well worth less sleep)
  • Squeezing in a tiny bit of deep cleaning; *Christmas caroling in the nursing home; *Being shown what unconditional love looks like through the interactions of my daughter with the residents
  • *Spending the day hanging out with my guy; *Celebrating the retirement of a special lady with wonderful friends; *The joy with which Rachel always greets me when I come home after she’s tucked into bed and check on her
  • *David Phelps Christmas music + candy/cookie making = purejoy!; *Technology to stay home and attend a meeting via webinar; *Joey jumping right in to help me up my kitchen mess so I’m not up half the night doing it
  • *Working with the youth at our church’s annual cookie/candy sale; *Incredible beauty of hiking in a snowstorm; *Finishing the second great read-aloud Tales of Larkin novel with the kids
  • *Able to join our church family for worship despite the snowstorm; *First cross country skiing of the season; *Danny home safely from Michigan/Indiana visit

*affiliate links present in this post

*Two copies of this book were received from BlogAbout Network and Zondervan in exchange for an honest review of the book, The Broken Way. The thoughts are my own. 

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 Advent Reflections, giveaway, Gratitude, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

The One Reason We Can Face an Overwhelming Future Without Being Overcome #AdventReflections

My friend and I struggle with looking too far into our daughters’ futures. It can be frightening.

She because her sweet Taylor has been given a shortened expected lifespan. Me because my sweet Rachel may well live a half century or more but will need care her entire life.

Both of us are facing overwhelming futures in their own right; yet, neither of us have given into despair. My friend and I are not overcome … not because we are stronger than others … not because we have greater faith.

We can stand in the face of such uncertain futures for one simple reason: we know Jesus Christ will be in each moment leading up to those paralyzing futures. And He’ll be in those future moments too, and the ones after that.

The Lord promises, “my grace is sufficient for you,” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And He is faithful.

grace, enough for overwhelming situations

Advent Grace

I can’t see the grace for that moment in time when I’m no longer Rachel’s primary caregiver. I won’t experience it until then. 

Yet this season of Advent assures me grace’ll meet me there, because Jesus will. “’The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:23).

Jesus came as a babe to provide a way through the sin that stalks us: Immanuel, God with us.

Jesus died and rose again to life to restore us to righteousness, to reunite us with the Father, to give us hope again. He continues to be with us in our scary and glorious moments alike.

Jesus is coming again. God With Us will be with us into the everlasting future. He’ll erase all our sorrows. He’ll reunite believers. Death will be no more. 

He’ll usher in a glorious future we’ll never be afraid to look into.

God With Us will be with us into the everlasting future: a glorious future we'll never be afraid to look into. Click To Tweet

Overwhelming Future Met With Grace

Jesus’ Advent in the past, present, and future prevent us from being overcome by our situations. Because He came to earth, is present with us, and will come again, we can look into the unknown knowing we’ll be met. 

Overwhelm may still make an appearance, but the Advent of Christ promises we’ll never be overcome!

Overwhelm may make an appearance in our lives, but the Advent of Christ promises we'll never be overcome! Click To Tweet

Grace meets us in God’s Word. Grace presents itself in worship. Grace pours out in the ministering of others.

Because of Jesus’ coming, in whatever uncertain futures we face, grace will be exactly enough, exactly when needed. Darkness will threaten, but light prevails.

Because of Jesus' coming, in whatever uncertain futures we face, grace will be exactly enough, exactly when needed. Click To Tweet

How comforting for me, Taylor’s mom, and all who live in Him! 

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5

Reflections: How does the season of Advent bring you comfort in your uncertain and overwhelming situations? 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “overwhelmed, but I’m not overcome.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

livefreeThursday badge

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 Advent Reflections, Grace, Jesus Christ, Rachel

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Everyday Praise

We were created for praise! Cultivate the practice of glorifying God daily. Let your heart find rest in the shelter of God's goodness.

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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It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.

— Calvin Coolidge

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