Tag Archives: Grace

Write ~ 12/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

“But Jesus told them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43 (NLT)

I’m old enough to remember back before iPhones, iPads….computers for that matter, ever existed.  In those days if we wanted to stay connected to one another we had to write letters.  Finding a letter from my grandparents, a friend, or other family members in the mailbox was always exciting!  Those pages were filled with the latest news, questions about our lives, and lots and lots of love. It wasn’t unusual to read them over and over again just to feel like we were right there with the ones who sent it.

In today’s world where people seem to talk to each other less and less, it occurs to me that we are the letters from God to those around us.  We were created to tell the Good News. When our words, the activities we’re involved in, and the way we treat others are different from the world, it may spur questions about why, and of course, love is the greatest thing we can pass on to those around us!

What letters do your life and mine write to the world?  We’ve been “signed, sealed, and delivered” to be a way to connect someone in need to God’s love and saving grace.  And as we share that over and over, the more we’ll feel we’re right in the presence of Him who sent us!

Remember ~ 10/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

 

Remember: “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24(NLT) / Pixabay

I have a hard time remembering some things these days.  What I had for lunch. Where my keys are. Why I came into the room.  My biggest challenge though, is to remember to forget!

My younger sisters have pointed out that while I’m forgetting day to day things of the present;  my memories of our past are becoming keener (a sign of aging, they proclaim). Don’t tell them, but I’m really ok with that! To remember the happy times we’ve spent with family and friends serve as a reminder of how blessed we are!

My remembering the past doesn’t stop with vacations and holidays however, I can relive words I should’ve never spoken, moments I let loved ones down, actions that were anything but Godlike, and chances I missed to do the right thing as if they happened yesterday.  They play,  through my mind like an old home movie, frame by frame reminding me of my unworthiness. Ever happen to you?

There’s no doubt we’re going to mess up in this life! And mess up again. And. Mess. Up. Again. Enter Jesus! He took all our sins; each one nailed to the cross. Because of His grace, we need to remember to forget!  Not forget so that we don’t learn from our mistakes but rather forget in such a way that we live as God intends: FORGIVEN! Remembering times and people of the past is truly a gift but, remembering all our sins of the past is a burden we’re not meant to carry because Jesus. Already Did.

 

 

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Wise Wednesday 10/19/16

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“One of the gifts of being a Christian, is being content where you are.” I was in a conversation this morning when I heard these words.  They weren’t spoken about me, but they sure spoke TO me! Loud. And. Clear. And, I have no doubt I was meant to hear them.

Content: “satisfied with what one is or has”  May I be honest with you?  I don’t know the last time I’ve felt content!  In my mind, there always seems to be something lacking: in my circumstances, my relationships, and myself! It hadn’t occurred to me, until now that is, that trying so hard to be a good Christian has caused me to miss out on a gift of being a Christian!

 Striving is second nature to me…..striving to always do better and be better. That’s good, right? I’ve been telling myself it’s not only good, but it’s necessary! Now I’m wondering, is it? Constantly attempting to improve, worrying when I don’t, and the negative words that I repeat in my head DON’T feel like rewards at all. 

It took another conversation for me to see that I’ve been depending on…..wait for it…..ME! I don’t want to admit it, but all that striving is really my attempt at pleasing God through my efforts, my works!  Whoa!  As much as I’d like to deny it, and believe me I tried, this striving girl has been struggling so hard I’ve ignored the Giver and the gift!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV)

What about you? Are you as ready as I am, to stop the striving? It isn’t going to be easy.  There’s a part of me that’s scared at the thought of not constantly monitoring my progress but there’s also a sense of relief that comes with the knowledge that in my weakness, God’s power is made perfect. So, I say it’s time! Let’s open the gift! First, untie the ribbons that bind us to our performance. Then, let’s unwrap ourselves from the belief that we have the strength to do anything on our own. And finally, let’s  open our hearts and know there’s true contentment found in the “presence” of God’s grace. 

P.S. Thank you to my mother-in-law for sharing her wise words and to my husband, whose patient guidance helps me in this journey of life.

M’m! M’m! Monday 7/18/16

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun. ~Julia Child

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.
~Julia Child

Today I’m lost without ever leaving home.  My sense of direction, dulled; I find myself aimlessly floating between the past, present, and what’s yet to come. Wayward, I drift on the rising and falling   tide of “what ifs” and “why nots”…. leading me only farther from where I need to be. 

Yes, I’m adrift on the sea of woe is me.  Ever been there? It’s a much too familiar place where my blessings feel obscured, as if swallowed by the fog.  And my wants?  They seem far out of reach; just minute dots on the distant horizon. Sucked into the whirlpool of my own churning thoughts, the me I want to be, is missing.

SEND OUT THE LIFEBOAT!!!!!

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”  John Newton, 1779

Join me in singing those words over to yourself a few times.  They remind me that whenever we feel lost…lost in grief, in sickness, in conflict, in worry, in fear, or even in our own self-centered thoughts; Grace. Is. Our. Way. Home.

Sometimes, like today for me, it feels like the person we want to be is nowhere to be found. Isn’t it reassuring that we’re not navigating this journey alone? We have each other to hold on to, inspired music and writings to keep us on track, and the amazing assurance that we’re never too lost that we can’t be found by the One who leads the way!

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he finds it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.” Luke 15:4-5 (NLT)

Days like today just require comfort food so I’m sharing with you one of my very favorites!

Peach Crunch

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sliced, ripe peaches
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups oatmeal (I use old fashioned but quick works too)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbls. butter or margarine, melted
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Instructions

  • Spray Pam in a 9 x 13 dish.
  • Spread the sliced peaches over the bottom of the prepared dish.
  • Sprinkle peaches with white sugar and a little cinnamon.
  • In a bowl, mix together oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, salt and melted butter. (I use a fork)
  • Pour crunch mixture on top of fruit, spreading evenly.
  • Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top - if you prefer, you can leave it off (I love nutmeg!)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until fruit is bubbly and crunch is golden brown.
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Comfort at its best! Yummm!

Comfort at its best! Yummm!

This is my Grandma Stevens’ recipe that we tweeked by doubling the crunch.  It works well with apples in the fall, too! Serve warm with ice cream or my preferred way….with milk!  Makes any day better! Enjoy!

 

M’m! M’m! Monday 3/28/16

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“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

There I was, standing in the middle of my kitchen shaking…shaking…shaking… but the cake would not come out of the pan and land on the plate like it was supposed to.  I’d followed the recipe and its not like I hadn’t made a pound cake before, but despite my aggressive attempts, the dessert I was to take to Easter dinner held tight.  Knife around the edges….shake again……no luck! Clunking on the counter…..knife around the edge again…..shake….shake….AND… out it came. Not only did my cake break free, it broke into many pieces! What an unexpected and unwanted mess!  Upon further reflection I realized that while I had greased the Bundt pan I’d left out an important step.  I had forgotten to flour it. My cake was doomed from the beginning.

Like a puzzle, I pieced it together the best I could and drizzled the glaze over the top which thankfully acted as a sort of sugary camouflage. Hesitantly, I placed it on the dessert table right next to a professional looking chocolate cake and a plate of fun, creative fudge. My best intentions lay on that plate reminding me that things don’t always turn out like I plan.

Isn’t that life?  We try and follow the “recipe” for being a good person and still Bad. Things. Happen. We’re stuck. Can’t move. Feels like we’ve had a knife through our heart.  Our whole world is shaken up and we fall to pieces.  WE were doomed from the beginning because we miss an important step.  Jesus.  We’re reminded that life is hard, our plans go awry and that we can never be good enough.  What a blessing that HE is! Jesus’ body was broken for us so that He can take all of our broken pieces and through grace, turn them into something beautiful! (No sugary camouflage needed!) That’s the Glory of the Resurrection!

Well, thankfully my cake tasted better than it looked so thought I’d share the recipe with you today.  Its hint of lemon and fresh strawberries make it a perfect Spring dessert. Just DON’T FORGET TO FLOUR THE PAN!!! Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (I use extra large)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and FLOUR a 10 inch Bundt pan
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, then stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Add salt and baking soda and lemon zest.
  • Alternate beating in 2 1/4 cups flour and the yogurt, mixing until incorporated.
  • Toss the diced strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and gently mix them into the batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a plate or rack to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, whisk together the remaining 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and the powdered sugar.
  • Drizzle over the top of the cake.
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Grace Said No

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Pixabay

 

Grace Said No

The crown of thorns

Forced on His head,

Bruises, slashes,

Wounds that bled.

Voices heard

Above the crowd,

Jeers and Jokes

Mocking loud.

Rhythm made by

Each hammer blow.

Perfect heart

Beating slow.

Darkness swallowed

Up the sky

As they waited

For Him to die.

“It is finished”

Said for me

While the devil 

Danced with glee.

“I’ve won!” He bragged

“I told you so….”

But on Easter morn

Grace.

 Said.

No.

But...on Easter morn Grace. Said. No. Click To Tweet

I’m joining up again with #livefreeThursday at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com The prompts was “no”.  Sometimes a poem just comes out of me even when it is not what I plan to write. Want to see what other women are writing on “no”? Click on over to Suzie’s site.

Step into Adventure

I watched him as he teetered.  I couldn’t tell what he was thinking but the expression on his face proclaimed he had more confidence than he should. His loosened his grip. I held my breath.  Setting his sight on where he wanted to be, he let go…momentarily suspended in air…only to wobble and fall.

I’m in awe of how fast my grandson is changing! He’s no longer as dependent on us as he was.  He can crawl and get to whatever he wants now (whether he should or not)! He’s right on the verge of walking.

I’ve told my daughter and son-in-law that once he takes off they’d better be ready for an adventure! It certainly won’t be the only adventure they’ll embark on, though.  His first day of school. Getting his driver’s license. Leaving him in his college dorm room.  Seeing him hold a baby of his own. (sigh)  And everything in between!  Yes, life is a constant adventure!

And isn’t that true of our Christian life too? I hate to admit it, but in my adventure with God, confidence is what I proclaim to the world when in reality there are times I teeter into doubt.   I don’t know about you, but I often feel wobbly when stepping out in faith and I see where I want to be spiritually but frequently fall short.  Being a slow learner, it’s taking me a while to realize that when my eyes are on me (ugh! There are 6 “I’s” in the above paragraph…count them!) it’s easy to trip over my own performance and down I go! That’s when I’m reminded to look up!

The adventure of walking begins with baby steps and a firm grip on fingers of love. It takes time and encouragement.   The adventure of walking with God? The same exact thing…..

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24 (NIV)

Trudging through difficulties at work or home?  Treading into the unknown of an unexpected illness? Dreams and plans hit a bump in the road? Barely able to put one foot in front of the other? Or maybe you’re planning a wedding. Considering a new job. Looking forward to retirement. Tip-toeing where you’ve never been before. Shaky steps for sure!  Listen to this….

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

What a promise!  God takes us from baby steps to walking… running… and even soaring!  And have you noticed what I have? We don’t have to “tote” our performance. Our delight and hope in the Lord are enough.  So, are you ready to step into the adventure?  Yes, we may stumble, but when we grasp tightly to the hands of grace that loved us enough to go to the cross We. Will. Not. Fall.

Linking up with “livefreeThursday again this week.  To read about more of life’s adventures click to go to http://www.tsuzanneeleer.com

Deep in the Muck

A "cleaner" wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

A “cleaner” wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

Have you ever had an up close and personal relationship with manure?  You know…sticky, smelly, squishy…comes from the wrong end of everything? You read it right, manure! Well, my encounter with manure is one I’ll never forget!

As a new teacher from the city, in a small, rural town, twelve hours away from all my family and friends, I was welcomed into the home of a fellow teacher for supper each weekend.  (She later became my mother-in-law but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, I loved going there because it was on a farm and there were so many new things to see and do. Of course I never considered a rendezvous with manure being one of them.

After supper one cold, blustery night, Joe, the youngest in the family had to go check on the cows.  As he donned his coveralls he looked back over his shoulder and jokingly asked if I’d like to join him.  Much to his surprise (and mine too) I said yes.  So began my transformation.  Coveralls, gloves, a disreputable hat, and knee-high black rubber boots.  I was quite thrilled with my get-up and felt ready for the cover of The Farmer’s Almanac!  Out the door we went.  With an uncoordinated swing of my leg I plopped on the back of the three wheeler behind Joe and we took off around the fields checking for any new calves. The icy air slapped my cheeks  and the bars I was sitting on slapped my other….well, you get the idea. Approaching the barn, I thought our job was coming to an end but we paused right outside a large opening.  What I saw in front of me sent a shiver down my spine. There in our path was a huge pile of snow.  Joe looked back at me and seeing the terror in my eyes he smiled, revved the engine, and took off determined to give me the ride of my life!  I had a sinking feeling.

sinking became more than a feeling! As it turned out, it was not the snow pile we’d anticipated.  Instead it was an enormous mountain of manure disguised by a layer of clean, white snow. Momentum propelled us upward but just as the wheeler reached the top, the engine died and we sank. Despite several valiant attempts, Joe was unable to get us free so he told me I’d have to drive and he’d get off and push us out.  This is where city girl made her mistake .  Having never driven a three-wheeler or anything close to it, I was scared and so I firmly refused. With more confidence than I actually felt, I told Joe that I’d get off and push!

To his credit, Joe did ask me if I was sure before he agreed.  Attempting to appear undaunted I stepped right down into the waiting muck. My feet began to disappear deep into the mire until manure was dripping down inside my knee-high boots; gunk soaking through my socks.  Gripping the back bar of the wheeler I listened as Joe counted……Are you picturing  where this is going?

One, two three!…….He gunned the motor. With a gallant effort, I pushed. The tires spun. And yes, in a split second I had cow manure everywhere manure could possibly go.  In my hair, dripping from my eyelashes, my nose, in my ears, covering my clothes. I was manure from. top. to. bottom.  As I stood stuck, with globs of poo plopping from the brim of my hat and sliding down my face, I learned that being deep in the muck is NOT where I wanted to be!

Since then I’ve come to realize that life can sometimes feel like being stuck deep in the muck. Stress at work, bills to pay, health issues, troubled marriage, worrying about children, plans that don’t work out….the list is long. None of us want to be lodged in the depths of these situations but when we find ourselves unexpectedly sinking, what a comfort it is to know we are not alone.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.” Psalm 40:2-3 (NIV)

I certainly don’t have all the answers and I flounder when I find myself not where I want to be. I  may not always see a solution right away or recognize God leading me to solid ground as I struggle in the slime, maybe you can relate,  but this I do know… His word assures us we can look to Him for help and He’ll not leave us on our own.

The end of my “farm-hand initiation” that winter night? It came when Joe suddenly (not quite quickly enough for me, mind you) remembered a switch on the three-wheeler that when flipped, enabled the tires to lift up out of the murky hole they’d been trapped in. I’ll never forget his sheepish grin as he reached out his hand and helped me, manure smell, and all, back onto the wheeler.

This was the first of many adventures I had on the farm but the lesson I learned in the manure  is my favorite.  When I find myself unable to move forward or release what is behind me. When I’m sinking and stuck deep in the muck I’m reminded that just as the tires were lifted up so many years ago, we have a God that we can trust to lift US up. That smells like victory to me!

Scar Story

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“He bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 NIV

Ever find yourself lying unconscious in the gutter? No?  I never expected to either! So imagine my surprise when I opened my eyes to find myself wedged between the tires of a car and the curb…literally lying in the gutter!  It was one of those moments that moved in slow motion and seemed like a dream or in this case a nightmare.  As I looked up from my undignified position a crowd of unfamiliar eyes stared down at me.   Sprawled on the pavement, one flip flop on, one off, my clothing askew, and a throbbing head made me want to disappear down the drain I was laying on!

I was a teenager on vacation and I’d fainted as we were walking along the sidewalk, souvenir shopping. I’d had too much……….not what you’re thinking…….sun. As it turned out, I had to get stitches in the gash near my eye. I still bear the scar on my face from that embarrassing adventure long ago that I’d rather forget.

Scars are like that. They stick with us. They tell the story of imperfect moments in our journey through life. Everyone’s are unique.  You NOW know that some of mine tell of accidents, some say I’ve survived health issues, and still others remind me of times I might not have used good judgement or paid close enough attention.

We don’t just display our scars on the outside, though.  Our story continues with the ones we wear on the inside, too. Maybe we’ve been “stabbed” in the back by a friend. Our heart’s been “pierced” by someone we love. Words have “cut” deep into our soul. Insecurity has “carved” its way into our thoughts. These scars can feel as if they’ll never heal. And they don’t if left on their own. Here’s the Good News for you and me….we’re NOT left on our own!

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

What a comfort to know that God not only knows every hair on our head but also every hurt we endure. And just as He designed our skin to repair itself on the outside,  He takes our inward pain and layer by layer knits the damaged pieces into a place of strength.

There have been times I’ve wished my scars weren’t there, but as I’ve grown older I realize that inside or out; each bump, bruise, scrape, and gouge has been stitched together to create who I am today. It’s my scar story. A story that’s full of hurt, disappointment, and fear, but it doesn’t end there.  It’s also a story that tells of this girl’s healing through forgiveness, love and grace. Now THAT’S a story that will stick with you!  What’s your scar story?

If you want to read more about loving your scars, click on over to http://www.tsuzanneeller.com for #livefreeThursday wisdom.

I’m Marked

 

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

I’m Marked

My mirror tells a story

I don’t want to hear.

Of passing time, sagging skin

And other things I fear.

Wrinkles, laugh lines,

A hair on my chin?

How can this be my outside

When I still feel young within?

Age spots, freckles,

A scar by my eye.

I’m marked head to toe

By years passing by.

Just about the time

I begin to despair,

A still, small voice says;

“See My masterpiece there!”

Leaning into the glass

I look long and deep,

The reflection I saw

Caused me to weep.

For it was at this moment

My heart began to sing,

Because dear friends,

I’d forgotten one thing.

I’m marked on the inside!

Saved by His grace!

My sins are forgiven,

Jesus died in my place!

Each hair on my head,

The reflection I see,

Is all part of His plan

For me being ME!

The face is the same

But the story is new.

I’m a woman marked by God

Seeing the beauty of His love shine through!

This post was written as part of #livefreeThursday.  Pop over to http://www.tsuzanneeller.com to read more about being marked by God!