Monthly Archives: March 2013

He is not here, He is “RIZZZEN”…

Don’t tell me children don’t learn a LOT at an early age!  And watch out, THEY are watching YOU!  And horror of all horrors:  THEY will imitate you!!!

Our third-born son, named Woodford, a/k/a Woody, is a blast.  Now nearly twenty-one years of age, he still makes me laugh every time we’re together.  He’s currently a junior at the University of Kentucky, so we miss him dearly and always look forward to our next visit with him.

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One Easter weekend, when Woody was  two years old, we’d just returned home from church.  Scurrying to get a meal on the table, we asked our oldest son to entertain the younger two boys.  Thankfully this wasn’t the year before, which nearly did me in…

That particular year before, John and I chose to take two cars to church since the Easter Bunny’s arrival was postponed ‘til after church.  (Don’t ask me how we explained that one.)  “The Plan” was that I would hurry home, ahead of John, hide the eggs, and be ready for the boys.

Problem is my husband tends to drive a tad speedier than yours truly, so I was barely ahead of them.  Hurrying in heels isn’t a gift of mine either, so I was literally hurling eggs thru’ the air in the back yard.  To top it off, my heels were sticking in the grass, and well, it’s a good thing none of our neighbors were within earshot.

Darned if John and the boys didn’t arrive while the eggs were flying thru’ the air.  Our  oldest son, John Jr., more astute than anyone needs to be, said, “Look Daddy!  It’s raining Easter eggs!”  Well, let’s just ADD to that big web of lies we’d already woven, throwing in one more far-fetched explanation.

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Now while I know there’s not really a “time out chair” in Heaven, I still envision myself spending time there for some of these antics…So sorry, Lord. (Don’t you know He thinks we’re completely crazy sometimes?)

So back to the year Woody was  two:  The boys were playing upstairs and I ran up to get something.  Woody was marching back and forth across the hall, while holding a big plastic telephone, just-a-chatterin’ away.  (I’ve been known to walk thru’ the house while talking on the phone….hmmmm.)

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Woody was shaking his head, back and forth, emphatically saying, “NO!”… pause, pause….”He is not here!” …LONGER pause….”He is RIZZZEN!”, prolonging the ‘s’ into buzzing ‘z’s!

That spectacular Easter Sunday, the Sunday school teachers were teaching the precious children about Jesus’ resurrection.  As Liz Curtis Higgs said in her blog last week about the resurrection, “This truth changes EVERYTHING!  His heavenly Father ‘has raised him to life’ (CEV). Hallelujah!  God be praised!  He who was dead is now alive forever!”… And even two year olds can begin absorbing this.

450x150 for The Women of Easter

To read more of Liz’ excellent, eye-opening teaching on “The Women in Search of Jesus”, here’s the link to get you there: http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/2013/03/the-women-of-easter-in-search-of-jesus/

This Easter week, let’s celebrate TWO important points:

First, and foremost, let’s celebrate that the tomb is EMPTY!  Christ indeed has risen!

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An angel of the Lord announces to Mary Magdelene, Mary the Mother of James, and to Salome in Mark 16:6  “Don’t be alarmed…You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here…” (See also Matthew 28:6, Luke 24:6 and John 20:11-18.)

BLOG Three Marys

The Life Application Bible points out the importance of the resurrection by calling it “the KEY to the Christian faith.”  Let’s look at 5 reasons WHY the resurrection is “vitally important.”

 1 – “Jesus kept his promise to rise from the dead, so we can believe he will keep all his other promises.

 2 – The resurrection ensures that the ruler of God’s eternal kingdom will be the living Christ, not just an idea, hope, or dream.

 3 – Christ’s resurrection gives us the assurance that we also will be resurrected.

 4 – The power of God that brought Christ’s body back from the dead is available to us to bring our morally and spiritually dead selves back to life so that we can change and grow.

5 – The resurrection provides the substance of the church’s witness to the world.  We do not merely tell lessons from the life of a good teacher,  we proclaim the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

 Don’t miss these truths held within the verbs in each of the above five points:  we CAN BELIEVE…; we are ENSURED ; we are GIVEN THE ASSURANCE ; Resurrection power IS AVAILABLE to us; it PROVIDES THE SUBSTANCE  so that we can PROCLAIM THE REALITY OF THE RESURRECTION….

Let’s take time this week, with Good Friday approaching and Easter Sunday on the horizon , to be still, to reflect on this resurrection power available to us, and perhaps pray about a friend or neighbor who needs to hear this GOOD NEWS.

 Country Church

Which  brings me to the second point:  Let’s all be ever watchful for ways to teach our children, or our grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, or neighbors, about the Lord and His powerful Word.

Remember, Woody was just two years old at Easter time that year, and he clearly  “caught” the Scripture being taught.  We mustn’t forget what little sponges these children are. 

You won’t believe this, but in the past four months, I have five, yes FIVE, close friends (two of which are my sister-in-laws!) who have just been blessed with granddaughters!  (Think pink! ) These are all strong-in-the-faith Christian women and I can hardly wait to see what these little angels will learn about God from their grandmothers.

Look at their beautiful names and please say a prayer for them and their families:  Caroline, Maria, Lucie, Emmeline and Emerson.  I  suspect you, too, may know of a newborn to pray for!  Pray for them and their parents to raise them up knowing the Lord.

grandmother with baby

One of my many sins over the years in attempting to raise these boys is I tend to compartmentalize my faith.  I need this Scripture forever in the forefront of my mind:  Deuteronomy 11:18-21  says,

 “FIX  these words of mine in your hearts and minds;

  TIE them as symbols on your hands and

 BIND them on your foreheads.

 TEACH them to your children,

 TALKING ABOUT them

 when you SIT AT HOME and

 when you WALK along the road,

 when you LIE DOWN

 … and when you GET UP.  

 WRITE them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” (NIV)

 Now you can see what I’m emphasizing above….again the verbs:  fix, tie, bind, teach, talk about when you sit, walk, lie down, get up, and write.  Don’t miss the fact that IF we do these things there’s a promise…”so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land…”

I pray you and your families have a most blessed Easter and Spring (even tho’ it’s snowing as I type). May we all rejoice that “He is not here, He is risen!” 

 ‘Til  next time!

(This post is dedicated to our youngest whipper- snapper-son, Woodford Lee Hoagland.  And for those of you parents out there who have more than one child and fret over treating each child equally, hang in there, I’ll be writing about our other two awesome sons in the future!!!  John and I are also forever grateful to the ministry of Campus Outreach on UK’s campus which has discipled Woody  to focus on Christ, rather than chaos which we all know can come with college experiences.  Checkout www.colexington.org for more information.  I love Campus Outreach’s mission statement: “Glorifying God by Building Laborers on the Campus for the Lost World.”  Amen.  Happy Easter everyone!)

Eliz and Woody

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Life Lessons

A Daddy’s Girl: Sad, Mad, and Glad…

Okay, okay, I confess:  I’m a Daddy’s  Girl.  Through and through.  My Mother even noticed and mentioned it a time or two, or a thousand.  Anybody else?

Daddy was an only child and so am I.  Please don’t feel sorry for us.  We “lonely only-s” enjoy our little universe which revolves around us.  (Another confession!)

Elizabeth and Dad

This past week, on March 12th, my Dad would have been eighty-nine.  He lived to be eighty-five.  Knowing many friends who have lost their fathers at a much earlier age, I must remember I am blessed to have had him with us for so long.

When I was young, I went everywhere with my Dad.  Saturday mornings were the best.  We’d hop in his Cutlass convertible and drive downtown to McAdams and Morford, a drugstore with a soda fountain. We’d sit on those fun, swirly stainless steel stools (say that fast five times!) and sip-n-savor a scrumptious chocolate malt.  Makes my mouth water just to talk about it!

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Then we’d go to his office.  I would spend hours drawing on a tremendous chalkboard.  Nope, Daddy wasn’t a teacher, he was a stockbroker!  This dates me a tad:  back then, at Merrill Lynch, they used to write the stock market quotations on a chalkboard!   Can you believe that?

Another favorite story came from Daddy’s desire to have me play tennis with him.  You know that game where you have to hit the ball over the net, not the fence, as was my talent.  He and Mother sent me off to tennis camp with high hopes.

Tennis

Knowing Daddy was praying  for a miraculous make-over of his non-athletic child, I was tickled to tote home a big ole’ trophy.  Trouble was, it was for winning the talent show for a gymnastics routine, NOT for winning a tennis match! (Some of you heard that story at his funeral!)

So why sad, mad and glad?  Well, the sad part’s obvious.  Little things still make me think of Daddy, usually unexpectedly.  Tears may fall, followed by a smile or some laughter. Sometimes I nearly pick up the phone to call him.  That’s the sad part….oh, but Heaven’s comin’!  We’ll all have plenty of time to pick up where we left off.  That’s the glad part. Let’s be GLAD that God has put eternity in our hearts.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The mad part requires an explanation:  I fully believe God orchestrated what I’m about to share with you.  It proves He has a huge sense of humor.

Here comes another confession:  being a Daddy’s girl sorta made me not a Mamma’s girl.   I s’pose one of the reasons Mother and I challenged each other (Oh, I’m being soooo very tactful…) was because we were a lot alike.  Butting heads was our specialty.

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So when Daddy went to be with Jesus before Mother did, that’s why I was mad at him.  Why would he leave me with her?  How was I going to take care of her?  I don’t think she really wanted just me either!

On Daddy’s death bed, I promised him I’d take care of Mother.  Oh boy. (Lest you’re horrified at those preceding sentences, please hang with me for one more paragraph and see where God was working…)

Here’s where the Lord intervened…  I know He was havin’ some fun with this scenario, too, and He and I are going to have a little chat about that when I get to Heaven.

I was reminded of that little-wee-tiny commandment, yes, one of THE Ten Commandments, about honoring your Father and Mother.  Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

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The Life Application Bible points out that “this is the first commandment with a promise attached!”  Let’s look at that again:  We must honor our parents, “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”  May this be motivation for us all!

 So, a little attitude adjustment went into gear.  Mentally, before entering the nursing home prior to each visit with my Mother, I’d take a deep breath in the car and say major prayers.  (On occasion, if I forgot, I usually paid for it!)

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John and I often wonder how we survived those few years of moving Mother and Daddy from one type of care facility to another, all three of our boys all-the-while lifting and moving more furniture, again and again. God bless ‘em!

Clearly the Lord was with us and He is who carried us, each step of the way, each season: first burying Daddy, and then burying Mother.  Matthew 28:20 was my go-to verse:  “And lo, I am with you always…” reminding me I am never alone.

And my go-to book at the time, another God-incident, was Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It’s a perpetual pep talk straight out of Scripture, focusing on the Psalms of Ascent, something we all desperately need.

A Long Obedience In the Same Direction

I can honestly say I feel like my Mother and I came to some closure in our relationship.  She did the best she could with a very stubborn daughter.  I tried to honor her even when I may have been kicking and screaming on the inside.  The Lord knows my heart.  I now realize He left Mother here longer for our healing.

Good grief, I can be such a slow learner!!!  Thanks be to Him who never leaves us nor forsakes us.  (Hebrews 13:5b) Let’s read on to verse 6:  “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid… ’

It’s tough being a “big girl”.  I could have pitched the pity-party-of- all-pity-parties.  One friend said, “Gosh, so are you considered an orphan now?”  Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way!!!  It all boils down to the fact that I didn’t really want to grow up.  Anyone  else?

Dancing with GoGo

You’ve heard me say more than once:   “friends are cheaper than therapy”.  Some of you out there have walked me thru’ these seasons, with worn shoulders to cry on as proof!  You are my “soul refreshers”, the very key to one’s  sanity!  (Click here to learn more about a soul refresher…..)

Back to being sad, mad, and glad:  You can see from this little circle of emotions, there’s a good ending.  Heaven’s coming!  And if you’re a Daddy’s girl or a Mamma’s girl, that part doesn’t really matter.

What REALLY matters is we are ALL “Daddy’s girls”  in God’s Kingdom, if you’ve put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ.* We are Daughters of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. (And for you guys out there, same is true for you:  You are Sons in the Kingdom of God, Sons of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  May we ALL Praise His Name.)

Galatians 3:26 says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

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*Bottom Line:   Where does your faith lie today?  Do you know Jesus?  I pray you do.  If you don’t, will you seek Him?  He’s been pursuing you all your life!  All you have to do is ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.  Ask Him into your heart. Tell Him of your sins and thank Him for taking them for your redemption.  Isaiah 1:18 invites us, “’Come now, let us settle the matter, ‘says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.’”  Grab the Gospel and don’t let go.

We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8) 

The Lord delights in us.  That is where we must anchor our soul.

‘Til  next time!

(This post is dedicated to, ohhhh, you can easily guess this one:  To my earthly Father, Gordon Mills, better known to our boys as “Go-Go”.  I cherish studying God’s Word from Daddy’s Bible, which I gave him when he began attending Bible Study Fellowship many years ago. Guessing he’s the only guy who would schedule his hip replacement surgery around the University of Kentucky Wildcats’ football season!   If your earthly Father is still with you, go give him a hug.  You’ll never regret it.  Thanks for indulging me in a walk down memory lane today.)

Family photo

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Magnificent Manifesto in Minneapolis: Liz Curtis Higgs and Ann Voskamp GUARD THE GOSPEL with GUSTO!!!

“Trust!  Trust?  Trust.”  Note the punctuation.  Note the progression.  Can we trust, period?

“Trust” was the theme of a phenomenal women’s conference I attended last weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  It was a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming kind of weekend.

My dear friend and mentor, Judy Russell, and I flew up on the same flights, on Dear Ol’ Delta, with our friends, Liz and Bill Higgs, for a two-day conference called  “Set Apart” , held at Northwestern College. Flying into a completely snow-covered landscape was a first for me.  Beautiful!

Judy and Eliz

Impressive from beginning to end, this thirty-one-year-old conference (!) was well organized, offered exceptional keynote speakers :  Liz Curtis Higgs and Ann Voskamp, included eighteen different workshop options, plus a fun lunch option each day (where Liz and Ann were  interviewed while we ate), and the list goes on and on, on a gorgeous campus.   (Checkout www.setapartconference.com )

Path at Northwestern

campus photo

Judy and I took several workshops in between lunch and the keynote addresses.  Each workshop instructor was unique in his or her own way.  They clearly loved the Lord and desired God’s best for us, sharing applicable lessons for us to take home and put to use on a plethora of topics.  Fascinating! (Our brains got quite a workout!)

Before we get to the keynotes, let me show you an “every day grace”, like we talked about last week, that’s blossomed one hundred fold.  (Click here to see more about every day graces.)  Last year Liz and Ann were both invited to join Women of Faith.  They were asked to attend a team meeting for training and planning.  Both gals admitted to feeling intimidated upon arrival.  Instantly, they crossed paths and an every day grace was born.

Their  sisters-in-Christ connection was evident throughout the lunch-time interviews.  Attendees got a glimpse of how Lizzie has taken Ann under her wing and how they both juggle life just like you and I do.  Can you get over how God brought the two of them together at this conference after orchestrating  their meeting last year?

Soon you may see the two of them reciting from the Book of Romans on Ann’s blog.  Liz has taken the plunge to join the Romans Project, memorizing three different chapters in Romans.  Go to www.aholyexperience.com to learn more!

Now, for the keynotes:  Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts spoke on two topics:  The Fear Buster that Breaks You Free and Breathe and Leap.  She kicked off each morning following beautiful worship, Friday and Saturday.  I couldn’t take notes fast enough.  A palpable hush came over the room while Ann taught, taking you deeper and deeper into God’s Word and His truths.

Ann Voskamp Teaching

Ann addressed overcoming our fears, suggesting we name at least one we’re currently dealing with. She implored:  “We must take it to God, turn it over to God,  and release it to God.  We cannot feel fear and be thankful at the same time.  Whatever you fear is your god…”

Ann is a very powerful teacher.  She shared some of her own fears, including some of the rough places she’s endured. She admitted to having a clenched fist toward God as a young girl.

She confessed anger toward Him after witnessing the death of her younger sister, after having an ulcer at the young age of seven, all the while still struggling with agoraphobia.  We found ourselves thinking, “Wow, if she can overcome and is still overcoming these challenges, maybe I could too…”

One Thousand Gifts

Ann added, “Jesus gave the greatest courage in the lowest of places.  Humility births courage.”

Let these quotes of Ann’s sink in for a minute:

(1)     “God takes you out of your comfort zone because that’s where you meet The Comforter.”

(2)     “The stability of your world depends on your willingness to praise God.”

At the end of her first talk, she had us pray with our hands open, palms up toward God…therefore unclinching our fearful fists.

Pic of Prayer Time

Her second talk empowered us to “leap” after conquering our fears.   Summarizing, she added, “The answer to our anxiety is the adoration of Christ.  Nothing can overwhelm you like His grace can overtake you.”

Ann and Liz signed books for hundreds of girls off and on throughout both days, always gracious with each individual, intently listening and always hugging.  How they stayed “on” for us all is amazing.

Ann Eliz and Judy

After workshops, lunch and more workshops, Lizzie took the stage, Friday and Saturday.  While you’d think we’d be nearly napping because of a long day, au contraire.  Napping with Lizzie?  NOT an option!

Her two messages were:  “Trusting a  God Who Forgives” and “Trusting a God Who Redeems”.

Liz Teaching

Liz rocked the house.  She’s a master at staying in tune with her audience.  We’d laugh one minute, cry the next.  Then cry from laughing!

Judy and I sat up close one day and pretty far in the back the next.  We could see Lizzie’s engaging facial expressions up close, which are priceless,  but in the back, we loved hearing the uproar of laughter. Sounded more like four thousand women, than one thousand!

While Liz can be funny, she will stop at nothing to teach God’s Word with diligence, excellence and tear-filled passion.  She proclaimed she’d never “gloss over the Gospel”.  She said, “I will NOT change the Gospel and I will NOT clean it up!”  Let’s just all JUMP to our feet on that one!

The audience had the opportunity to study thru’ the Book of Ruth with Liz.  Her thorough research and offerings of different versions of the Bible are eye-opening.  Several times you could tell the audience was stunned, and Liz would say, “Well, look!  It’s right there in the Bible!”  Contagious  enthusiasm.

Liz and Eliz at book table

Friday we studied thru’ Chapter One of Ruth.  Because attendees could either attend one day or both, Liz caught the ones up on Saturday who’d not been there Friday by doing a tidbit of her “Righteous Ruth Rap”.  (Do NOT miss this! You can watch this hysterical rendition of the entire Book of Ruth on YouTube. It’s four funny  minutes!)

Paralleling Boaz to Christ, Liz taught us more and more about Christ, our Redeemer.  What Boaz did for Ruth, Christ does for us.  Beautiful, amazing grace lessons.

Liz also shared her incredible testimony.  She showed us how God can and will use anyone.  She pointed out that Boaz’ Mother was Rahab the Harlot…She said, “Rahab was called into the Kingdom of God.  She didn’t fall into it.  God loves to use broken people.”  To which we all breathed a sigh of relief!

Liz’ book, The Girl’s Still Got It—Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World, is what her talk was largely based on. I can tell you from experience this book works really well as a Bible study to do with friends in small groups or large ones.  The accompanying video is powerful teaching by Liz while she takes you thru’ chapter by chapter in the Book of Ruth.

The Girls still got it

One of my favorite quotes in Liz’ book about enduring trials and trusting is:  “It helps to remember that hard times are purposeful, meant to refine and redirect us.”

Liz also taught us about the Hebrew word, “Shubh”, which means “to return, go back, turn back”.  Twelve times it’s used in the first Chapter.  Can we absorb this? Can we follow this?  Will we turn back?

Read how Ruth was redeemed.  Naomi turned back to her God, who became Ruth’s God, who already was Boaz’ God.  May we ALL have the wisdom to turn back to God.

Liz says, “God is the only one who can redeem us from our past and guarantee our future.”

Liz also has an excellent blog you can find by going to her website:  www.lizcurtishiggs.com  She’s currently blogging about the Women of Easter.

Let’s look at that progression  again:  “Trust!  Trust?  Trust.”

Let’s heed these wonderful teachings from Ann’s and Liz’ experiences and words of truth from God’s Word.  YOU can trust the Lord.  He is Sovereign over all.

 Everything!  Everything?  Everything.

Finally, let’s close with a very exciting FYI:  Liz and Ann are both speaking in Louisville in our near future!  Liz will be with Women of Joy at Freedom Hall April 5-7. (Go to:http://womenofjoy.org for details).  Ann will be the speaker at the Women’s Luncheon during the North American Christian Convention and will teach workshops on blogging, all on Thursday, July 11th.  (Go to www.gotonacc.org for ticket information.)

‘Til  next time!

Group Photo w Ann and Liz

(This post is dedicated to my most fun travel partners of the weekend:  Judy Russell, and Bill and Liz Higgs.  Judy gets the “most- efficient-packer -of -the -century “ award!  She drove us around Minneapolis like it was the back of her hand.  We stopped wherever we delighted to take pictures.  She indulged me for a chocolate stop. Or  two.  We “dared” to take the tunnel at Northwestern.  We walked the steps in Nazareth Hall, one for every book of the Bible.  Well, of the Old Testament.  We loved our time we got to grab with Lizzie.  While exhausted, Liz still came up to our room for a fun visit Friday night.  We could have talked the night away, but Lizzie said she was “about to fold up like a card table”, so we sent her on her way before Bill came after us! Thanks, too, to Bill who checked on us throughout the conference while juggling Liz’ book table.  He’s the quintessential multi-tasker and is forever patient with us giggly, ga-ga- girls.  A good time was had by all.  Thank you, Sweet Lord.)

Pic of Stairs w-book of bible

 

 

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Every Day Graces: OPEN Your Eyes!

“Where in the world did I put my glasses?” my Mother would ask at least one hundred times a day. To remedy this, Daddy and I tried buying several pairs for her, one for every room.  But… if you’ve ever experimented with that, you know, pair by pair, they still mysteriously vanish.

Forever impatient with her, let’s just say “payback has returned one hundred fold”…John and I now need “readers” (sigh).  We compete to find a pair wherever we land in our home.  Our own boys have the gall to roll their eyes when we begin hunting  for glasses.  Has anyone solved this mystery?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week I shared a pearl from Angela Thomas’ Bible study, Brave—Honest Questions Women Ask.  It’s a beautiful phrase I wasn’t familiar with:  “soul refreshers”. (Click here if you missed it)

This week I’d like to share another beautiful, comforting pearl which really opened my eyes.  (Pun intended.)  Angela challenges us to watch for every day graces.  Every day graces are people God places in your path, usually unexpectedly.

A recent example happened when John and I were walking Gracie, our more-than-enthusiastic terrier,  along  Blankenbaker Lane.  An extremely sweet gal came out of her home just to meet Gracie.  Hey, every dog lover loves another dog lover!

Gracie

(Notice how well-trained she is to stay OFF the furniture….)

One thing led to another in our conversation with this lovely lady.  We discovered we had mutual friends and she knew some of John’s siblings.  Somehow the conversation centered on churches and we told her about a new church John’s brother and  sister-in-law have helped start.   Don’t you know, our new friend’s attending there now?  How fun is that? (Checkout Throne of  Grace Community Church on Facebook.)  Now THAT’s an “every day grace”!

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (NIV)

Angela adds, “I believe God gives smaller, everyday graces that minister to us.  Heal us.  Encourage us.”

An everyday grace can also be a phone call, an email, or a note from someone saying something so special you know it’s Heaven-sent.  Sometimes this happens with a total stranger.

I remember being in Georgia on a family vacation one summer.  The boys had taken a boat out on the lake while I stayed back at the pool.  I went into the restroom and there was this beautiful lady there, cleaning away.  She said, “Hey Baby…” in just the sweetest, warmest, southern-of-all southern tones.  Made me want to crawl right up into her lap.

When I left, she said, “God Bless you now…”  I nearly burst into tears!  Timing was uncanny:  only-God-uncanny.  Our trip came right after a lovely woman, “Miss Margaret,” who was like a guardian angel to our family, had had a stroke and could no longer babysit the boys or just come and bless our home, one of her many gifts.  I literally felt like this total stranger, who seemed to be able to see into my soul, was an angel dropped into the restroom by God to bless me abundantly. (You can tell I’m still not over it!) Another “every day grace.”

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A fascinating book I read recently comes to mind with this whole concept of everyday graces.  Praying for Strangers—an Adventure of the Human Spirit  by River Jordan is powerfully transforming.

Praying for Strangers

River shares her experiences of praying for strangers whom she encounters every day.  Some seem unbelievable, and yet clearly God was orchestrating them, one by one.

River begins by explaining:  “I tell her (the person she’s just run into) about my resolution, explaining that today she is my stranger, that I’ll be thinking about her and saying special prayers for her all day.  Then  the oddest thing happens.  She looks at me with what I must call wonder.  She grabs me and hugs my neck. ‘Do you know what I was just saying to God this morning? Do you?  I was just praying this morning and praying for other people, but I stopped and asked the Lord, God, is there anybody in this whole wide world who is praying for me?’”

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 Later in the book River says, “I’ve been thanked more already in this year of my life than all my years put together, for something so intangible and invisible as prayer.”  Did you see that?  “Intangible and invisible”—Oh, if you’ll just watch, more often than not, you will get to SEE visible results. 

River also includes a great quote by E. M. Bounds:  “Walking with God down the avenue of prayer we acquire something of His likeness; and unconsciously we become witnesses to others of His beauty and His grace.”

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River shares loads of benefits from this act of praying for strangers:  “…the light in someone’s soul can suddenly shine a little brighter. …I realize that’s the key…How often are we really touched by the sincerity of the questions, of someone asking and really wanting to know exactly how we are?”

Another man who made an impact on her is named Edward.  After she tells Edward of her resolution, he says, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that.”  River then replies, “Listen,” I tell him.  “You have no idea what doing this has meant to me. This year I have two sons deployed.  One  in Iraq, one in Afghanistan.  I think this resolution has somehow been saving my life.”  He smiles as I continue.  “Every day it forces me to walk thru’ the world WITH MY EYES OPEN, to SEE other people’s needs, and not just concentrate on my own fears. “

Remember what Ann Voskamp said in her book One Thousand Gifts?  “The remedy is in the retina.”

Let’s OPEN OUR EYES!  Our next “every day grace” is just an encounter away. 

 As everyone’s favorite Winnie the Pooh offers, “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes.”

Winnie The Pooh

Today I’m off to have lunch with a friend at California Pizza Kitchen.  It’s located in a mall. Malls usually contain lots of people… Lookout Louisville!  Let’s open our eyes!

 ‘Til  next time!

(Today’s post is dedicated to my two most evangelistic-without-trying- friends:  Nancy Aguiar and Becky Pippert.  Nancy knows no strangers.  She’s taught countless women all about the Bible for years.  She’s my “Bible Answer Woman”.  She’s the quintessential “listener” you can lean on.  Carry on, Nan!

Becky is best known for having written the classic, Out of the Saltshaker and into the World—Evangelism as a Way of Life.  God orchestrated our encounter in Naples, Florida many years ago.  Perfect scenario of an “every day grace.”  She and Dick lived in Louisville for a while, but have now “gone global.”  They’ve been ministering in Europe and all over the world for several years.  I am blessed to call her friend, mentor,  and devoted prayer warrior. Hurry back to the States, Becky!  We miss you and Dick! May God Bless you and your moving ministry abundantly.)

Out of the Saltshaker

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