An Offering of Thanks

Offer : (verb) present or proffer (something) for (someone) to accept or reject as so desired; (noun) an expression of readiness to do or give something if desired

There is nothing like being offered a hot cup of coffee in the morning, or help with the dishes after a meal, or a gift just because. It makes your day, doesn’t it? And I wonder if God feels this way when we willingly present a thankful heart to Him. It has been a frustrating few weeks for me and I will admit, it has been difficult to maintain a thankful heart. Traffic is starting to back up due to holiday shopping and I do not enjoy crowded places. Black Friday? Forget about it. After being in Walmart yesterday in the late afternoon, I realize that if I need to run any errands with some semblance of sanity, I need to do it in the morning hours. It can be easy lose the joy of the season when I focus on what is wrong with people ((seriously…we need traffic lanes in the grocery store)). Instead, I need to shift my focus on what is right in my world. Tonight, I will offer thanks that we have food in our pantry, a comfortable place to call home, and that my little family and I are all safe and together.

At the End of the Day

I am a list maker. If I do not have ‘it’ written down, I will forget. Even…to remember to evaluate the day. Sometimes, the days go by so fast, I really have no idea what happened or if I actually accomplished anything. How do I evaluate how a day went, though? What questions do I ask? At the end of the day, how do I ‘decompress’ and process the day’s events? Here is guideline of four things to consider:

#1) What happened today that caused me to feel G R A C E F U L?

Traffic was a bear today. There was a big accident on the way to taking my son to the community college. The right lane was blocked due to an overturned truck and emergency vehicles. While trying to get around the accident and into the left lane, someone kindly let me get over so I could keep moving. It’s not every day that traffic runs smoothly when there are roadblocks. I did roll down my window and wave a big ‘Thank you!’. It is a good reminder to be kind to someone else who is looking to get around an accident as well.

#2) What happened today that caused me to feel G R U M P Y?

Well, traffic. My dad and I went grocery shopping and stores were busy. I do not enjoy crowds (you will not see me participating in Black Friday)…I could have stopped to breathe and focus on the task and not get frustrated. I could have also packed a healthy snack so I would not feel so depleted at the end of the day. (I need to write that down somewhere —pack a snack!)

#3) What happened today that caused me to feel G I V I N G?

I noticed my Dad’s hands this morning. They were swollen and tight and I could tell by the look on his face that he was not feeling well. I offered to drive on our errands even though I knew there was a lot of traffic.

#4) What happened today that caused me to feel G O D in my life?

My dad bought me flowers today for going with him on all the errands. It was also through the giving of my husband. He has had a long week, he has a migraine due to the wind, and yet he offered to heat up soup for me because I was feeling tired.  Kindness  brings us to notice God’s work in others as they seek to be a blessing.

Four things to consider when ‘processing’ the day: What happened today that caused me to feel Graceful, Grumpy, Giving, and God? It might be a good conversation to have with family around the dinner table.

When Grace Moves In

Practical, impulsive, short-tempered. That’s me. Like Martha in the book of Luke when Jesus was visiting in the home, I’d be the one up and down making sure all ‘needs’ were met and chores were done. I read that she has been compared to the disciple Peter who felt the need to ‘scold’ Christ (gasp!) when He was trying to show them who He was and what He was about to do. What nerve! But how many times do I find myself ‘scolding’ either myself for not ‘getting it right’ or others for ‘not getting it right’? Yikes. My heart hurts and I am convicted. Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” ~Thomas à Kempis

 

This week’s resolution with God post was on the study of choosing peace over perfection. It is not an easy concept to come face to face with your faults and realize that some changes need to be made. I am not perfect and I mess up daily, but this study was helpful and the thoughts I shared on Facebook throughout the week gave me a lot to think about. I hope my thoughts don’t sound disjointed but I’ll just go ahead and share them anyway and hope God will use it. On Monday, I introduced the topic of study and here are the daily notes I wrote this past week.

Tuesday: When I expect perfection out of myself or from others, it always ends in disappointment. When I lose control over my spirt (and my tongue!) in an effort to ‘be heard’ before searching out a matter fully, progress in spiritual growth is hindered. I’m working on letting God rule my sprit (and tongue!) and not my own judgements. It is not being a ‘doormat’, but is the absolute strength from possessing Christ-like humility. Not an easy thing when the habit is to be quick with words and the need is to be understood. In order to have the peace of God rule in my heart, I need to realize that it is not about wanting to change others into my image or what I think is right, but praying for God to change all to His image – starting with me. In a world where “expression” is everything these days, it feels like swimming upstream and against the current. When I come face to face with a situation where I want to ‘lash out’ and ‘express myself’, I need to ask, “At what cost?” And, “Will my words, attitude, and actions cause me to be conformed to His image or will it hinder?”.

Proverbs 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls”

Wednesday: I could live guilty for things I have said in haste, even after asking  forgiveness. I could ‘beat myself up’ for not getting it right. Continual self-condemnation surely will hinder. I resolve to put a priority on grace.

“When grace moves in, guilt moves out.” -Max Lucado

Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”

Thursday: I have heard Dr. Phil say, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. I admit that sometimes I have no filter between my brain and my tongue.

James 3:13-18, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

“Lie not against the truth” (vs 14). Owning your burdens is half the battle. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, but we are not left without hope. When I pause to pray first, there is a greater opportunity for wisdom to prevail. My plea is for grace to cross my heart and lips and that blessings do not come out from one side of my mouth and cursings from the other. Daily, God gives more grace when I humble myself and acknowledge that I need His help in changing me to His peace rather than my view of perfection. Lord, help me to be full of mercy.

Friday: 

Resentment: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly
Resilience: (1) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
(2) the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity

The word ‘resentment’ came to mind in this day’s study. Expecting perfection from myself and from others always leads to disappointment and if we stay disappointed long enough, it can change into bitter resentment. In the Bible, James uses the illustration of a fountain. It cannot send sweet and bitter water at the same time. If I judge myself unfairly, it leads to resentment. If I judge others unfairly or feel judged the same, it leads to resentment.

So how do I replace the bitter with the better? How do I keep thoughts (and words) captive and live wisely? How do I give up habits of expecting perfection for habits of Godly peace? What is brittle, breaks. Brittle words break relationships. Brittle thoughts break the spirit. And brittle actions never help anything or anyone, they hinder.

When Grace is my filter, I live resilient. When Grace is my filter, I recover more quickly from difficulties. When Grace is my filter, I am able to spring back into a right heart attitude and am awake and alive to that which is good. Lord, let Your Grace be my filter for all I say and do. 

I. Thessalonians 5: 21b, “…hold fast that which is good.”

Saturday: 

-Grace will always be greater than striving for perfection.
-Grace will always be greater than my judgment of others or myself.
-Grace will always be greater than guilt.
-Grace will always be greater than the battle.

Two concepts stood out to me the most this week. Number one is that I have a choice between living resentful or learning to be resilient. In relationships, in life, in work, in ministry, I have a choice when things do not go as well as I would like. Resentment can be a bitter root. And if not pulled early, it will choke out the ability to see all that is good and right in the world.

Number two is that when I look through the eyes or filter of Grace, my view of life looks a whole lot better.

When Grace moves in, I no longer seek for perfection out of myself or others.

When Grace moves in, I am no longer rooted to resentment, but am reminded to be resilient.

When Grace moves in, I no longer serve self, but I serve the Savior.

“Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?”

 

Enabling Grace

When God has a plan, He has already made provisions for the outcome, and has given me the power to overcome any obstacles that come my way.

When Caleb, Joshua, and ten other spies were sent out to observe the land the Israelites were to overtake, the men did not all agree that God would do what He said would do and just give it to them. All twelve men saw the grapes big enough to feed giants. All twelve men saw the pomegranates and the figs of the land. They all saw that the land was overflowing with cows, and goats, and bees. The land was fertile and all that occupied it. And of course, they all saw that the people in Canaan were strong, and that there were giants, and that the cities were walled. Caleb said, “We can take ’em”…in a manner of speaking. “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” -Numbers 13:30. (At once!, he raved.) He was excited and ready to go. This was what they had been hoping for. A promise that was @ six hundred years in the making.

The phrase struck me while this message was being preached by my dad: “We are well able”, Caleb reported…And after declaring Canaan to be conquerable, there were others who grew weak kneed and intimidated.

•They saw the people there were strong.

•They saw the cities were walled and were very great.

•And they saw the sons of Anak, ‘which come of the giants’ (Numbers 13:33

What the 10 spies (doubters) did not see that Caleb and Joshua did,
was the almighty hand of God.

When the two “good spies” said, “We spy.. GREATNESS!”, the other ten said, “We spy.. TROUBLE!” – and a riot ensued. They protested, so much so that the children of Israel ‘got on the bandwagon’ and said it would have been better if they had died back in Egypt or in the wilderness. “They lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night”- Numbers 14:1. Good grief. Get a hold of yourself! Such drama. And what of the great Exodus? And the parting of the Red Sea? And the cloud by day and fire by night? And the manna? And and and…..on and on God was showing them that He would provide, yet they forgot. Or were just plain ungrateful. We can see just around the corner because it’s recorded how it all works out that they were —just within reach— of gaining the promised land. So close in proximity, yet so far apart from God’s mindset. They despised the promise. Maybe it seemed too hard. Maybe they didn’t want to have to ‘work for it’ when in reality, God was going to do the work and all were to receive the promise. They knew what work was. They had been slaves, after all, before God delivered them from Egypt and her taskmasters. Yet, because of their rebellion and fight against God’s will, they missed out on entering the most incredible sights they ever would know. Joshua and Caleb are hailed as heroes for their trust in God’s way. And the ten trouble making spies? They are named as well (Numbers 13) and are forever etched in Scripture for all to see their lack of judgment. In Numbers 13:3, it even says that their little ones would know the land that their elders despised.

Not much has changed since then. God still has a plan and it’s to live by faith, to trust Him in any given situation. And there will always be those who say it’s impossible to live by faith and not by sight– ‘God simply can’t have something bigger out there’. Like Caleb and Joshua, I need to stand firm that blessings will come when I simply trust that God’s way is better. Big faith = big blessings. What God says about Caleb is incredible in Number 14: 24 -“But my servant, Caleb, because he had another spirit in him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land…” Another spirit…not a spirit of scorn like the whole murmuring lot, but one of humility and obedience. And Caleb followed God fully. Fully! Not half-way, not half-hearted, but he was “all in” for the long haul. No tears. No weeping and gnashing of teeth. No drama. In vs 38, it is said of Joshua and Caleb that they “LIVED STILL” when the unbelieving and unrepentant breached God’s promise and slandered the land (vs 34 & 36). The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years and died ‘by the plague before the LORD’ (vs 37). The doubters got what they wished for…to die in the wilderness (those twenty years old and up). Such profound sadness. It didn’t have to be that way.

To live STILL – when fear wants to take over. To live STILL – when I’m tempted to doubt that God will take care of me. To live STILL – when those around me are far apart from God’s mindset… Faith brings life and I am ‘well able’ to overcome anything that will test my faith in His plan…giants larger than life, walls higher than high, mean people, whatever -because He is the Enabler.

God doesn’t give me life and a plan to serve Him without making provisions. He always extends the necessary power and grace to overcome obstacles and to exceed expectations.

May I have the confidence and faith to say, “I am well able to overcome….”

Making Mention of You Always

Sometimes…I just don’t know how to pray. Illness, loss, divorce, conflicts, hardships…My heart is heavy for so many people and at times, I just don’t have the words.  What do I ask for? How do I pray? How do I form the words when the heart hurts, and the soul aches, and the mind is numb? The prayer that never fails; “Thy will be done”..but even if it hurts? Even if it means I don’t get my way? Even if someone still suffers, dies, walks away, gives up, or takes years to come back to God? My thoughts are not His thoughts. His timing is not mine. I’ve found some direction when I get to feeling numb with no words and no idea what to ask for.

“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers.”
Philemon 1: 3, 4

GRACE to you (dignity, balance, thanksgiving)–for every mile, for every trial. New grace to face a new day even when there are no answers. Dignity to accept mistakes and to receive forgiveness. Balance through a diagnosis that will change a life forever. Thanksgiving that God’s hand can still keep, protect, and guide.

and PEACE (one accord with God, tranquility, quietness of spirit)— to be still and know that He is God. Period. And He alone can fix, bend, or mend people and problems. Not I.

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”  Oswald Chambers

For those on your prayer list– for the faces you will see in your family, church, neighborhood, and even on Facebook who are smiling yet covering tears unshed–for all those on your heart and in your mind, when you find yourself making mention of someone always in your prayers…urge for GRACE, seek for PEACE. And give thanks for these gifts that He alone can wholly provide.

When the soul seeks for a voice, sometimes the only words you need to cover it all from the One Who covers all, are Grace and Peace.

Grace Comes Along

“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along
and straightens me out.”-D.L. Moody

Hey there! So glad you stopped by! I hope to be an encouragement and a blessing in sharing here on the blog. I had started another blog site years ago, but am having some issues with it, so it was time for a change. I will be rewriting former posts and ‘freshening’ things up a bit. I am starting from “Point A” of why I write, why I share Scripture and encouragement.

Why the name, “A Record of Graces”? Well, for one, that’s been my life, although I haven’t always known it. I have been going through a ‘journey’ of sorts and it just seemed fitting to name the blog I started in 2012, ‘A Record of Graces.’ I started to write about my journey to trust God’s heart when I couldn’t see His hand for two very life changing moments. The first life changing moment was when I lost my mother when I was 3 years old and forever lost a part of me. She died of hepatitis when we were missionaries in Lima, Peru. This was my identity for as long as I can remember; I was always the little girl of that missionary who lost his wife. It was part of my dad’s testimony in every church he preached in. I was “Jean’s daughter” to all who knew, loved, and remembered her. As a teenager when we would be on furlough visiting supporting churches, I would hear all the time, “I know exactly who you are! You look just like your mother!” –from complete strangers to me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to know more about her. My dad never really wanted to talk about her for he’s never one to dwell on things very long. He remarried soon after my mother’s death, we went back to Peru and continued on with ministry. I am told by family who loved to share memories of her with me that I am a lot like her. Knowing my mother through the eyes and hearts of the ones who loved her put some missing pieces of me back together and I am forever grateful for the bond I have with my mother’s family. A balm to my soul, truly. But the shadow of being ‘Jean’s daughter’ haunted my step-mother and me from the beginning. I believe she tried to fill the gap, but I was never ‘hers’. When others would comment on how wonderful my mother was, it just caused the wound to widen. When others would make mention of me being “Jean’s daughter”, it was just difficult to move forward in a relationship with my step-mother. I know that was not the intention of others, but the words left a mark. Through time and **grace**, I can have compassion for her whereas in my younger years, I was resentful. It wasn’t until after my son Jonathan was born that we found some common ground and built a bridge…it was shaky..but it was a bridge, nonetheless. While our relationship was strained, she was a wonderful grandmother to Jonathan and I believe if she were alive today, she and my son would be the best of friends.

The second life changing moment was when we buried our stillborn youngest son 14 years ago.

Of course I’ve asked God why He allowed these things to happen. But then I have to ask why I think I should be exempt from heartache when I was never promised a perfect life. No one is. I was promised, however, a Comforter, an ever present help in times of trouble… I am coming to a place where I realize that by grace and through faith, I will be ok.  Whether I am to know His mind or not..God has His reasons. I have wished many times to be able to rewrite my story. Yet, maybe..just maybe, I don’t want to change the end, because I don’t know what a different ending holds. There’s a reason why God wrote my story and I didn’t. It is easy to get distracted and to look away from what He has promised; that He always gives new grace I’ve not needed before for anything and everything I face. So I write about how grace comes along in every day. I write about things that will bring me to notice Him and how I am to respond. I will close with these verses which sum up the reason I record the graces.

{Psalm 77:8-12} “Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”