Why You Should Strike ‘Never’ from Your Vocabulary

Some things we think we could never handle. Some things we give up hope they’ll ever happen.

The factor we leave out in both scenarios is God.

We think we could never handle some situations & believe others are hopeless. Factor we leave out in both is God. Click To Tweet

from never to possible

I look at a friend who moved her family to a country in turmoil to share the Gospel and think, I could never do that.

I watch a family navigate the road of brutal health issues and think, I could never handle that.

I hear of a situation that requires miraculous intervention to remedy and think, that will never happen.

I see the evil, the tragedy, the horrific events that turn stomachs and think, it will never get better.

I base these assumptions on what I know about myself and how life works, while ignoring the most important factor in all of life: God!

With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)! 

Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive the faith to do that thing we thought impossible, we have divine strength to deal with the most difficult circumstance. 

In Christ, we have a hope that surpasses all human understanding! Even in a situation we deem hopeless. 

All is lost in our feeble strength.

The nevers prevail when we look to mankind. 

But hope against all hope (Romans 4:18) reigns in God’s Kingdom.

God’s Power in the Midst of Our Never

Our nevers are based on imperfect sight and limited understanding. We see this played many times in Scripture. Like us, our biblical ancestors believed in impossibilities: 

Gideon couldn’t see how he’d ever defeat the Midianites with the few people God allowed him (Judges 7).

Moses didn’t believe he could rescue his people from slavery (Exodus 3).

Sarah secretly laughed at God’s suggestion that she would have a baby at her advanced age (Genesis 18:12).

Because Jesus arrived after Lazarus death, Martha and Mary never believed they’d see their brother alive again until resurrection day (John 11). 

The disciples were distraught and fearful, struggling to understand how Jesus, their Messiah, could reign after dying on a cross, until they saw the evidence (John 20:9). 

But then God demonstrated His possibilities:

Gideon defeated the entire Midianite army with 300 men armed with trumpets and torches.

Moses led his people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and the wilderness, right up to the Promised Land. 

Sarah gave birth to Isaac at the age of 90 and became the matriarch of God’s chosen people. 

Jesus brought Lazarus back to life after 4 days in the tomb “so they may believe You sent me” (John 11:42).

Jesus breathed joy and peace back into His disciples by appearing to them after His resurrection (John 20:19-29).

With God, impossibles become possibles; nevers become yeses.

Living in Light of the God Factor

As Christians, we have God’s perfect sight, understanding, and strength to rely on. The Father’s will far surpasses anything we can imagine. 

For God is God. His power and capability far surpass anything we can comprehend.

So instead of looking at the impossibility of a situation, look to the possibility of God. Instead of trusting in your own understanding and experience, trust in the unfathomable vastness of God and the good plan He has in place. 

In light of the greatness of our Lord, let’s put away our uncertainties. Because with God never becomes a possibility. 

It’s past time to shelve our “never” and adopt a new phrase, one punctuated with “if God wills.”

In light of the greatness of our Lord, let's shelve our 'never' & adopt a new phrase: 'if God wills.' Click To Tweet

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3

“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” Psalm 147:5

Reflections: In which kinds of situations do you tend to think, never!? What difference might it make in your life if you shelved your “never” and adopted “if God wills”? 

Don’t miss this sneak peak of my upcoming devotional Everyday Praise! Get the first 5 devotions now by clicking the button! And please, let me know what you think about it! 

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I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “all my nevers.” 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, Faith

The Best Way to Begin a New Chapter

Focusing on the promise of God’s work in our lives allows us to savor the sweetness of the past, experience the beauty of the present, and anticipate the adventure of the future. 

Trust God: savor the sweetness of the past, experience the present beauty, anticipate the future adventure. Click To Tweet

new chapter freedom

Hard Change

A bit over a month ago, my boy graduated from college! My firstborn. Earlier this month, he began his first job in the “real” world.

Crazy, I know! And that ends a chapter in Danny’s life and in the lives of his parents and begins a new one.

I don’t know about you but I struggle a bit with my children growing up. And graduating to that first real-world job is the final nail in the coffin of childhood.

This is a BIG change! I’ve used this month to begin processing and adjusting. 

This new chapter means my boy-turned man will no longer have weeks to hang at home over Christmas break. He’ll no longer have “summer” jobs or fall and spring breaks.

This chapter contains many endings, and in the same pages, many beginnings. It’s filled with challenges, yet also opportunities.

That’s the way with all changes. Something ends, but something else begins; some of it will be easy to handle, some of it, far more difficult. 

How we enter a chapter of these big changes sets the scene for the remainder of the story. 

My gut, mama instinct in the immediate aftermath of his college graduation is one of pride yet also sorrow, grieving the loss of my little boy. Holding onto and reliving what was. 

Yet when we remain focused on what was, we miss what is and what is to come.

Beautiful Process of Change

Holding onto the sweetness of the past, blinds us to the beauty of the present and the promise of the future.

Holding onto the sweetness of the past, blinds us to the beauty of the present and the promise of the future. Click To Tweet  

As I look forward to the hand of God in my son’s life, I see a story of challenges and opportunities.

I see chapters filled with the tension of quiet waiting and deep contemplation and others packed with heart-stopping adventure.

I see scenes of sorrow but also scenes of great joy. 

I see grace and mercy at work delivering constant hope in the struggle of living in a temporal and broken world. 

This beautiful process of change brings growth and refinement.

With Christ at the helm, change makes blind eyes see (John 9:39).

It softens hearts of stone (Ezekiel 36:26).

It transforms a shackled soul to one liberated (Galatians 5:1)! 

Embracing the Freedom in Each New Chapter

Freedom in Christ is real. Each new chapter in our lives begins saturated with its promise.

Each new chapter in our lives begins saturated with the promise of freedom in Christ. Click To Tweet

Those big and little changes we hesitate to embrace move us out of our own way so we experience that freedom. 

So despite the things I will miss about having my children at home and under my wing, I’m making the choice to trust.

I’m trusting that in the hands of a faithful God, change is beneficial. I’m trusting God is writing a good story for each of us. 

In the hands of a faithful God, change is beneficial, a necessary part of the good story He is writing for you. Click To Tweet

I’m choosing to turn my eyes from the past to the present. I’m choosing to turn my lamentations to rejoicing as I celebrate the beauty of what change brings in my life and in the life of our children. 

I’m walking the path laid out believing God has the best plan … and it always involves change! 

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Reflections: Through what big change are you trusting 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 #5105–5125. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Life and health of my oldest; Youngest being successful in driver’s ed; Good news heard and celebrated!
  • Danny living close enough we can take him out for his birthday (a day late); Dinner and a walk on the Missisippi River; Last-minute proofers willing to step up and help me roll out my product preview
  • Having my devotion published at Proverbs 31 MinistriesEncouragement for Today; Releasing a preview of my ‪#‎everydaypraise‬devotional; Rest
  • Evening of family fishing with a successful catch of rainbow trout and 1 bullhead; Fresh fish on the grill; S’mores around the fire
  • Zach home for the weekend; Participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraiser & walk: being reminded of how precious life is; Visiting with dear people I haven’t seen in a while as we walked until midnight
  • Ripening of wild berries; Sharing our land with friends and getting caught up on the news; Having time with Zach to get some paperwork taken care of
  • Time with extended family at our annual family reunion; My niece staying for the week; Joey and his cousin attending church camp together

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 Change, Freedom, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

Where to Find Grace When Trouble Comes Knocking

The test results return disturbing news. The phone call delivers worse. The children beg (and bicker) endlessly. The money runs dangerously low.

Each day brings more trouble than the previous one.

And we wonder where God is.

Where is God’s promise of a prosperous plan?

Where is this abundant life?

How we can continue?

Where is the sufficient grace? 

We may not always notice, but, for a Christian, grace is actually right there. It’s packaged in with the trouble. It’s wrapped up with the hard and the mundane.

Because grace abounds in Christ Jesus, and He is present and active in our troubles. 

Grace abounds in Christ Jesus, and He is present and active in our troubles. Click To Tweet

Grace is Jesus Christ in action. 

What Grace Looks Like in Times of Trouble

grace abounds in times of trouble too
Grace looks like a healed and restored girl, where once had stood a broken and battered one.
Grace looks like a hand reaching out to rub a weary back.
Grace looks like a smile when there’s nothing to be smiling about.
Grace looks like a meal delivered in the aftermath of difficult news.
Grace looks like a note of encouragement left in a lunch box or suitcase.
Grace looks like a hug given to a grieving mother. 
Grace looks like a phone call placed to a lonely widow.
Grace looks like a joyful heart in the midst of intense pain.
Grace looks like a kind word in the face of angry dialogue.
Grace looks like singing “It Is Well With My Soul” when nothing is outwardly well.
Grace looks like beauty in the jagged edges.
Grace looks like the death of one man to bring life to all men.
Grace looks like the expression of THAT love in the lives of His beloved.
Grace looks like God’s love in action.

Because, in fact, that’s exactly what it is! 

“Grace is a God who stoops.” ~Max Lucado, Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine

Grace is packaged in with the troubles. It's wrapped up with the hard and the mundane. It's God's love in action. Click To Tweet

“Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness.” John 1:16, HCSB

Reflections: What does grace look like in your life right now? 

Don’t miss this sneak peak of my upcoming devotional Everyday Praise! Get the first 5 devotions now by clicking the button! 

everyday-praise-preview-button

 I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “what grace looks like.” 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 Grace, Struggles, Suffering

Why Praising God Matters

Welcome Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today readers! I’m so excited you decided to stop over. In celebration of this wonderful opportunity for me, I’d like to give all my visitors a welcome gift: the first 5 devotions of my upcoming image-based devotional, Everyday Praise.

All you have to do is enter your first name and email address to receive this free download. By signing up, you’ll also be the first to hear when my devotional is published on Amazon as a Kindle book and then this fall in full-color print form. Just click here to sign up, receive your download and begin praising Him today! Below is an excerpt from the introduction to Everyday Praise. 

And for those of you who haven’t read my Encouragement for Today devotion yet, click here to read it! What a blessing to be sharing there! 


Praise is the way over any mountain, through any swamp, or across any valley.

I don’t have to tell you the world in which we live holds difficult terrain to navigate. You’ve likely already fallen into a few mud holes, waded flooded streams, or stumbled over rocky riverbanks. Maybe you’re in the middle of a desert right now.

Each of us can expect difficulties. Jesus promises: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33, NIV). Trials then should not take us by surprise. But what do we do when they come?

We should praise Him.

Really? Yes!

praising God is the way

When we reflect on the goodness of the Lord, it brings our daily challenges into perspective. No longer do they seem so overwhelming.

When we reflect on the goodness of the Lord, it brings our daily challenges into perspective. Click To Tweet

His power and majesty assure us He can handle all those troubles. In fact, Jesus comforts us later in the same verse: “I have overcome the world.”

Despite the trials of this life … in the midst of the hardships, in the ugliness of this world … the Lord is worthy of our praise. And it is to our benefit to do just that.

Praise is the way over any mountain, through any swamp, or across any valley. #everydaypraise Click To Tweet

“David said, May You be praised, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity.” 1 Chronicles 29:10b

Reflections: What is your default when life gets messy and the hard becomes harder? Where do you turn to find relief and perspective? What stops you from choosing praise?

If you want to know more about Everyday Praise before signing up, click on over to my devotional information page. And if you have a comment or question, I’d love to hear from you!

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 Everyday Praise, giveaway, Praise

An Easy and Rewarding Way to Notice God’s Presence Every Day

Have you noticed that we don’t often think about God unless we have a difficult circumstance to bring before Him? 

It’s not intentional for most of us. It’s just that in our loud and fast-paced life, God’s quiet presence goes largely unnoticed until we become desperate.

Yet, no matter what our circumstances, He has already provided an endless amount of everyday blessings for us to enjoy. When we miss them, we miss Him.

And when we miss God, we miss a deep richness that permeates each and every moment of our lives.

God's presence

When we overlook God in our day, we miss a deep richness that permeates each and every moment of our lives. Click To Tweet

So what if we became intentional about including our Lord in each of our days, the good as well as the bad ones?

To note His presence?

To note His majesty and glory?

To note His sovereignty and presence?

To note His continual grace and mercy?

How would that change our attitude?

How would that affect our witness?

Become More Aware of God’s Presence

Making note of God’s presence is quite easy. He’s given us much we overlook or take for granted. Taking notice of them reminds us of Him. 

In other words, becoming more aware of God’s presence in our days is as simple as remembering what He’s given us.

Becoming more aware of God's presence in our days is as simple as remembering what He's given us. Click To Tweet

So here are some everyday gifts He blesses us each one of us with:

The sun to wake us to a new day.

The moon and stars to soften the darkness.

Majestic peaks, grand valleys and expansive seas to spotlight His majesty and sovereignty.

Trees to shade us from the intense heat of the day.

Grass to give us a soft place to land.

Rocks to remind us of the beauty in jagged edges.

Illness to prepare us for the Land without tears.

New life to reflect the great promise we have in His Son.

Family to point us to grace.

Friends to comfort us and redirect us to the truth.

Children to delight and challenge us.

Difficult relationships to direct us to forgiveness.

Critters to demonstrate His creativity.

Storms to humble our hearts.

Large palette of colors to brighten the dreary and mundane.

The Son, Jesus Christ, to bring us life.

The Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us.

The Father to provide for us.

The Holy Bible to speak to us.

The beauty of who God is and what He’s done for us should propel us to live each of our days basking in His presence, not ignoring it.

The beauty of who God is & what He's done should propel us to live basking in His presence, not ignoring it. Click To Tweet

Why not print out this reminder card today and discover how rich your days can really be! It’s my gift to you.
everyday gifts
“For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 

Reflections: Are you intentional about inviting God into each of your days? What reminds you to take note of God’s presence?

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 #5084–5104. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Wonderful supporters willing to offer me encouragement and prayer when needed; Storm to wind up a day early; Promise of a future and a hope, even when a day was a bit rough (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • Rachel actually likes her new glasses and it seems like she’ll keep them on; Mega-relational time with Joey as I make several chauffering trips every day; Squeezing in an evening with my guy
  • Cautious and thorough doctor; Half of the day to spend working on my ‪#‎EverydayPraise‬ devotional; Working outside on the new portable standing desk my hubby made me
  • Special relationship between Rachel and her respite provider; Walking the campground with my guy and girl and letting a special little girl try Rach’s Amtryke; Packed for my women’s conference
  • Safe arrival at the ‪#‎lwml‬ district convention with a great traveling partner; Worshiping and serving Christ alongside hundreds of sisters in Christ; Hearing about and seeing how God multiplies our little to make a big difference in lives around the world
  • Walking through a century’s old cemetery and absorbing the history; Having a wonderful traveling partner to the ‪#‎lwml‬ convention and back; Home with my family
  • Sacrificial fathers, including the man I married; Father’s Day celebration at my mom and dad’s; Pretty sunset

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 Blessings, Christian walk, Daily Living, God, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

How to Best Tackle the Blessed Uncertainty of Each Day

Swinging our feet out of the bed every morning is an act of faith.

Honestly each step of each day is. We walk into a day that is filled with good things and not-so-good, easy things and harder ones.

We think we have the day planned, but the day has other plans.

How do we find peace when we think we have the day planned, but the day has other plans? Click To Tweet

And we wonder …

What mountain will I have to climb today?

What river will I have to ford?

Will I receive that phone call?

What child will raise a desperate plea?

What will drive me insane?

What electronic will break down?

What soul will be placed in my day, for me to notice … and care about?

uncertainty and faithBlessed Uncertainty

Into the unknown of each day you and I step. Into uncertainty.

Putting one foot in front of the other into a story written for us yet partially veiled. A story unfolding step by step, moment by moment.

We step, with some trepidation — after all, we are human — yet with full confidence that we know the One who leads us, who guides us, who will see us through.

Trusting and following the One who makes all things beautiful in its time.

This is the unknown. This is faith. This is blessed uncertainty. And it is in a strange way, quite beautiful.

We step into the unknown of the day, trusting & following the One who makes all things beautiful in its time. Click To Tweet

Do you see the beauty?

The Incredible Beauty

Waking each day to the uncertain can be quite disconcerting.

But can you lay down your anxiety and embrace the peace of the One who calls you beloved?

The One who promises to never forsake you?

The One who promises to bring you safely Home? 

He is trustworthy. He has given His life for you. And He has you just where you need to be.

Jesus is trustworthy. He has given His life for you. And He has you just where you need to be. Click To Tweet

He has you on His back when you need to climb that mountain. In His arms when you need to ford that river. Holding you when you receive that call.

The Lord has you always under the shelter of His wing,

no matter what your day throws at you. 

And that is incredibly beautiful!

The Lord has you under the shelter of His wing, no matter what your day throws at you—that is incredibly beautiful! Click To Tweet

So give your day to Him before your feet hit the floor. You’ll find Him more than enough for all your day’s adventures … more than enough for any uncertainty you face. 

“How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7

Reflections: Each day holds its share of uncertainty: leading to anxiety if we’re not careful. Do you find yourself fearful of the uncertainty of each day? Where have you looked for your daily peace in the midst of those changing and unexpected happenings? Try giving each day to Jesus, He’s always enough. 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “quieting my quivery soul.” 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 Uncategorized

7 Steps to Growing a More Humble Heart

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). 

I don’t think of myself as a selfish or conceited person. I’d venture to guess many of us don’t.

Yet the Apostle Paul felt the need to warn about the temptation in his letter to the Philippians. And for good reason.

selfish to humble in Christ

Selfish Streak Alive and Well

The more I reflect on my daily actions, the more clearly I can see a selfish streak alive and well in my own heart.

Like when I expect online stores to have the exact item I need, when I need it, in the exact quantities needed, and at a price I find reasonable. As if they’d know and provide for my desires above all the others!

Like when I snap at my kids when they want my attention or need correction.

Like when my weariness makes me blind to the weariness of those around me.

Like when I see the faults of everyone else but somehow miss my own.

Satan wages a war of selfishness in my heart and in yours. And you can bet he wants to win!

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do? 

7 Steps to Growing a More Humble Heart

First, be certain there is hope, always hope. Satan holds no power over Jesus Christ. Christ in us will be victorious over the enemy. 

Satan wages a war of selfishness in my heart and in yours, but Christ in us will be victorious over the enemy! Click To Tweet

Second, acknowledge you are a selfish human being. We all are to some degree. A critical step in healing is identifying the problem.

Third, be honest with yourself about the extent and danger of the problem and repent. Selfishness (as real as it is) has no place in the Kingdom of God.

Fourth, ask the Holy Spirit to intervene when you begin to let your selfishness exercise itself. Again awareness is huge!

Fifth, pray for discernment and strength to combat this tool in Satan’s tool chest.

Sixth, practice thinking of others before yourself. I was thinking about this step and realized that I actually force my thoughts off myself and my wants and needs and place them on those around me. That means I’m making progress, I think. 

Seventh, check yourself throughout the day. Ask yourself the simple question of who you’re serving, yourself or God and those around you.

Selfishness wants to win the battle of the heart. Yet by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the practice of selfless service, we can do better at guarding it and living a life of humility.

By the power of the Holy Spirit and incorporating the spiritual discipline of service, we can grow a more humble… Click To Tweet

Which, in turn, brings us into closer fellowship with God. 

Care to pray with me? 

Dear God,

The enemy likes nothing better than to get our eyes focused on self.

He wants to see us living selfish and conceited lives. And he’s clever, Lord … oh so sneaky!

He makes me think I deserve to be first. He encourages me to look to my own desires before those of others.

But Jesus showed us how to really live. He demonstrated a life of selfless service. He taught that it will be the least who will be the greatest.

Lord, protect my heart from the arrows of the devil. “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain” (Psalm 119:36).

Help me to consider others before myself. Help me to serve You by serving them.

Grow in me, Lord, a desire to serve selflessly … to have a heart of humility.

In Jesus’ name and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen! 

from selfish to humble - a prayer

“whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:27-28

Reflections: Which of the above steps do you struggle with the most? Which of the steps are you becoming proficient at? 

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 #5063–5083. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Successful first day of Vacation Bible School; Wonderful metaphor/insight by a young man in ‪#‎VBS‬; Hearing that my advice has helped a young lady in her job search
  • Perfectly gorgeous early summer day; The amount of online Bible teaching tools and resources: Ending the night with “I love yous” all around
  • New faces at Vacation Bible School (‪#‎VBS‬); Seeking and finding grace in the crazy dance of parenthood; Finally ending a long day early
  • Another great lesson and ‪#‎VBS‬ session;Walk with my hubby and daughter; Unique sights, sounds and experiences of living on a lake
  • Wrapped up an amazing week of ‪#‎VBS‬; Found some very important lost music; Crazy interaction between Zach and Rach on our evening walk
  • Full day of parade and swimming fun for Rachel; Afternoon spent with Zach and Mom; Boys making the most of their short time together in boy fashions
  • Surprise celebration for our pastor at the 25th anniversary of his ordination; Danny & Joey willing to share their music talents in church w/ a trumpet duet; Worshiping & eating dinner w/ a dear friend

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, Faith, trust

When Change Threatens to Zap Your Joy

Change can zap your joy, until you remember what each future moment holds: more Christ. 

Change can zap your joy, until you remember what each future moment holds: more of Christ. Click To Tweet

Lately, I’ve been feeling sad more often. Plainly and simply sad.

There’s no big catastrophe to bring it on. Oh sure, there are always a few hiccups in my days, but nothing has gone horribly wrong in the recent past.

It’s just that my daughter recently turned 18, and now I have 3 adult children and one youth. 

That’s good news, you may say. Rejoice! 

It may well be good news — I guess it is — but in some ways, deep down, it makes me sad.

Because now my kiddos won’t need me as much.

And now there won’t be as many games played around the table or picnics in out-of-the-way parks.

And now we have to pursue guardianship for my daughter and be looking toward the end of her high school education and the beginning of … well … some things new and different. Things I don’t want to face. 

change holds great value

Change is good …. sometimes. Maybe most of the time. 

But sometimes it just doesn’t feel good. 

When that happens, I let myself be sad, for a while. After all, God created us with feelings, and it’s okay to express them.

But it’s not okay to camp in them or let them dictate our actions and reactions.

It's okay to express our sad feelings, but not to camp in them or let them dictate our actions & reactions. Click To Tweet

Beauty to Come

So after a good sulking, I give myself a pep talk based on an important truth. I remind myself that there’s beauty in the moments to come just as there has been beauty in the present and past ones.

There's beauty in the moments to come just as there has been beauty in the present and past ones. Click To Tweet

I know the beauty exists because Jesus occupies all moments, and He radiates grace, in and for all time.

We needn’t disdain or fear the future. After all, we’re never asked to enter it alone.

Rather Jesus invites us to walk with Him into it. And then He leads us and meets us on the way.

But even more beautiful is that He is there waiting when that future moment becomes the present and then the past.

Jesus occupies our past, walks in our present and waits ahead in our future. He’s omnipresent. He was and is and is to come. 

What a glorious picture of being met and kept! What glorious moments in which to live!

Every. Last. One. Of. Them. 

The ones we lived. The ones we’re living. And the ones we’ll soon be in.

Jesus occupies our past, walks in our present, waits ahead in our future: a glorious picture of being met & kept! Click To Tweet

Glory of Change

For a Christian, change, even hard change, has great worth, because more of Jesus awaits. And in each new moment lie new opportunities for growth and learning. 

Too often I look at change as leaving behind a time or position or person I value. But maybe I need to look at it differently … maybe change is really about moving toward something of greater value.

Maybe change is not about leaving something of value, but about moving toward something of greater value instead. Click To Tweet

Maybe change is instrumental in making me into a closer resemblance of my Savior. 

Maybe change is guiding me a bit closer to that true treasure found in Jesus Christ. And that’s something to embrace! 

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Reflections: Do you see change as pulling you away from something or inviting you toward a destination? Why does the perspective with which you view change matter?
I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “with every invitation, there’s a destination” 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 Change, Daily Living, Faith, trust

What To Do When You Feel Inadequate and Overwhelmed

My daughter turned 18 yesterday, but I received the greater gift. Each year I do.

Year after year I’m blessed with the love, joy and innocence of this precious young lady. And I’m incredibly grateful.

Yet, at the same time, I feel totally inadequate for stewarding this precious treasure I’ve been entrusted with.

Inadequate for the Task

Honestly, I’ve felt inadequate for raising and guiding each of my children. There are just too many unknowns. Too much uncertainty in life.

inadequate but provided for

Yet by the grace of God, the boys have done well, and I imagine will continue to do so as they begin to strike out on their own.

With Rachel, though, it’s different. She has global developmental delays.

She doesn’t follow typical charts of development, physically or mentally. She won’t follow the traditional education-to-work path. She can’t help make many of the decisions involving her future.

Often I find my thoughts spiraling through such questions as,

How am I to guide her well?

How am I supposed to properly care for her, physically, mentally, emotionally?

How am I supposed to prepare well for her future needs?

How am I supposed to prepare myself for the inevitable separation adulthood brings?

And then I conclude that I’m far too inadequate to do this special need parenting thing well. 

Take the Next Best Step

The questions are many, with more added every day. The insecurity is real and powerful.

But I’ve found the answer is always to simply take the next best step, trusting in God’s plan!

In every uncertain situation, the answer to our feeling of inadequacy is take the next best step, trusting God's plan Click To Tweet

Even more, I’ve discovered this to be the answer in all of our more uncertain life circumstances.

Okay, I know, it sounds incredibly simple, almost a platitude: Just trust. Simply follow God. Take the next step.

Yet, no matter how simple it sounds, this action embodies great power.

Because in Jesus Christ we discover the “possible” in every “impossible” task. In Christ, we find the “adequate” in our “inadequacy.”

In Jesus Christ we discover the 'possible' in every 'impossible' task, the 'adequate' in our 'inadequacy.' Click To Tweet

He provides where we lack. And there is never anything He can’t defeat or overcome.

There is never a question He doesn’t already have an answer for. There is never a situation He doesn’t have the solution for — and not just any solution, but the best one.

God Provides Where You Lack

God provides for all of our inadequacies and frustrations.

Whatever uncertainty we face, He offers a greater well of peace.

Whatever sadness we encounter, He provides a greater reservoir of joy.

Whatever evil we experience, He pours out a greater abundance of love.

However weary we feel, He supplies a greater amount of strength.

And none of it — peace, joy, love, strength — ever runs out!

God provides for all of our inadequacies & frustrations: providing greater peace, joy, love, & strength. Click To Tweet

We can step out confidently in our inadequacies because we have One who is fully adequate, and He always provides enough light for that next best step.

We can step out confidently in our inadequacies because we have One who is fully adequate. Click To Tweet

Trust Him, my friend. Take that next step. I promise, you won’t be left to forge your path alone.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8, NLT

Reflections: What situation has you feeling inadequate? If you surrender your fears and trust God to be your guide, what do you sense is the best next step to take? 

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 #5042–5062. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Attending a meaningful Memorial Day service honoring our‪#‎fallenheroes‬; Finally, a Monday night when I can be back with my mastermind friends; Receiving great advice on my upcoming book release
  • Seeing turkey in full strut in a field; Arrangements made for Rachel’s summer dayhab program; Sweet note received from Rach’s teacher who will not be returning next year
  • A patient eye doctor for Rachel; Variety of cute eyeglasses to choose from: yes, my girl will be wearing glasses; A day full of sun
  • Danny home safely from a trip to Montana with friends; Joey receiving MVP at tonight’s soccer banquet; Killing time at a local park with Rach and Hubby
  • Running into a friend at Walmart and getting “all caught up”; My garden completely planted; All 6 of us around the supper table
  • A walk with my oldest; A perfect summer meal: potato salad and grilled barbecue chicken; Games with my guys
  • 18 years of life for my beautiful daughter; Having boys home to help Rachel celebrate her birthday; Everything set for the first day of Vacation Bible School

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, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, trust

Christians Mess Up Too: Four Ways to Walk in Grace

I’m pretty good at sports. And I think I’m a decent mother, sister, aunt and friend. I’m also quite proficient at writing and editing.

But there’s one thing I’m good at that I’m not proud of: falling down. And I don’t mean in the purely physical sense (although I’ve been known to do that too). 

No, rather it’s that I tend too easily to mess up in the behavior and attitude arenas.

I speak harshly when it’s unwarranted,

make a big deal out of relatively minor situations,

react in anger when kindness should be my default,

fail to extend grace to those closest to me,

insist on having the last word in a discussion;

let down loved ones,

forget my youngest at church … two Sundays in a row (yes, I really did that),

and so many more things.

Some days it’s little slip-ups, like an errant thought or unintentional snub. Other days I blow it big, like disrespecting my man or releasing a wound-inflicting tongue on my children.

Christians Fall Down Too

I’m a Christian — a grace-walking, forgiveness-seeking, truth-loving Jesus follower — yet I mess up. And I’m not the only Christian who does so.

Where did we ever get this idea that Christians never mess up? Certainly, if we love Jesus, we are to reflect Him in our lives.

And by God’s grace, I’m getting better. 

But we are becoming more Christlike. We will not be fully Christlike until we receive our heavenly inheritance when sin and evil will be no more.

We will continue to walk this tension between the temptation of the flesh and living in the Spirit for as long as we find ourselves on earth. 

Although by God’s grace, we can move ever closer to holiness and righteousness.

Christians walk the tension between temptation & right living, but by God's grace, we move ever closer to… Click To Tweet

So how do we reconcile being a Christian when we fail in an area? When we do what we know we shouldn’t? When our Christlike reflection becomes blurry?

grace in the mess up

When You Mess Up

First, be reassured, you aren’t alone in falling short of righteous living.

“There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10

Each one of us does.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

But now … 

Don’t you love it when you find these little phrases — “but” and “but now” — in Scripture! It means pay attention! It means God to the rescue. It means Grace reigns. 

“But now … righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:21, 22

But now — thanks to Jesus — God covers us in His righteousness. Sin no longer has a death-hold on us. 

We embrace the fact that Jesus’ blood covers this too (whatever this is). For all sin is defeated under the power of Grace.

Jesus' blood covers 'this' too. For all sin is defeated under the power of Grace. Click To Tweet

Freedom on Earth

So whenever you find yourself messing up … 

1. Walk in joy of the Lord. Rejoice that the Jesus Christ has set you free from the power of sin. 

“So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11

2. Walk humbly in the truth. Don’t mask who you are. Acknowledge it when you fail.

Don’t create excuses and justify your behaviors and thoughts. Ask for forgiveness. Seek to make it right with whoever you let down.

3. Walk in freedom. Seek God’s strength to walk in that freedom, avoiding the traps of the enemy. Seek Him often. 

No head down. No condemnation. Just blessed relief and joy in the amazing gifts of justification, redemption and sanctification we’ve received.

These gifts are not for someone else.If you accepted Jesus Christ’s free gift of salvation, you are cleansed, your sins are paid for.

Own it for yourself.

4. Walk surrendered.

Surrender your life to the Lord. Commit to live for Christ.

“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

As Christians, it’s our grace to do so.

The pull of the flesh is too strong to think we can resist the devil’s arrows without wearing God’s armor. That’s foolish and dangerous thinking!

So to walk as children of the Lord, we must walk in the strength and grace of the Lord … each and every day. 

To walk as children of the Lord, we must walk in the strength & grace of the Lord...each & every day. Click To Tweet

Surrendering our weaknesses and letting the Spirit carry us to victory, time and time again. 

For

“… it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

In Christ we are washed clean and are ushered into the presence of the one Holy God. This truth makes us grateful children of the Father … even when we mess up.

Reflections: Christians mess up too. But have you owned your weaknesses and embraced God’s grace, committing to live for Christ in your walk of faith? 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “when I fall down, I …” 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, Jesus Christ

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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