Believers of Jesus Standing in Grace

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand . . .” Romans 5:1-2 NIV

The apostle Paul, who wrote the above words to first century believers in Rome, could sure power-pack a sentence, couldn’t he? Just look at the topics he touched on: faith, justification, peace with God, our Lord Jesus Christ, gaining access, grace. Wow, what crucial and life-changing issues.

Each part of the passage above is worthy of reflection, but today let’s take a closer look at the last few words—“this grace in which we now stand.” Just think about it. As believers, we are standing in grace. Yes, standing in grace! How thrilling is that?

Of course our very salvation, eternal life, and status as children of God are all gifts of grace—given to us because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. But every blessing that comes to us is a grace gift, isn’t it? John, who referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, said, “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.” (John 1:16 GNT)

I don’t know about you, but I’m not only standing in grace—I’m dripping in grace. The gift and privilege of being a child of God, of being right with him because of what Jesus did, is more than enough to have me feeling bathed in grace all the time. But all the blessings he continues to pour out on me keep me dripping in grace with every step I take.

I pray that his grace will shine through me each day. I pray that any joy I feel in his blessings will reflect back to him, the Giver of all good gifts. May all who cross my path see me as I am—see me standing in grace. May all who cross my path see him.

“. . . and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 NIV

*What’s one of the recent grace gifts God has given you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Anemone Jones, Creative Commons License

2022 Theme Words: Guard and Gift

Yes, you read that title right—I’ve selected two theme words for 2022! Two theme words is a first for me. It’s always good to branch out and try new things so I guess I’m starting the year off right, huh?

Do you start the New Year by selecting a theme word for the year? Some people refer to it as an anchor word and others even choose an anchor verse from the Bible. I jumped on the theme word bandwagon back in 2012 (over ten years ago now!), and I’m so glad I did.

I love how a theme word keeps me focused on a particular quality or action throughout the year. I won’t think of my chosen theme word every day, but I will think of it periodically. It will help keep me on track or give me guidance.

The words I’ve chosen for 2022 are guard and gift. I usually start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be sometime in November or December.

This year, before even praying about it, I immediately thought of the word gift because I’d recently read my friend Edie Frink Winters’  book Giftitude. I loved the perspective she shared of seeing problems and challenges large and small as gifts—something we can learn from by asking “Where is the gift in this for me?” I knew I wanted to start applying this to my life, and selecting gift as my new theme word for the year seemed like the perfect way to do that.

When I began to pray and seek God’s guidance about my theme word, though, right away he pointed me to the word guard several times. I didn’t really want to settle on that because I’d already used it as my theme word several years ago, but when God kept bringing it to my attention, I knew I needed to listen and obey. After all, I’d been thinking about how I need to guard my tongue right now because of a personal ongoing situation that can cause a lot of frustration and upset feelings. It’s all too easy to say the wrong thing. So once again, guard will indeed be my theme word for the year.

I still had the strong desire to focus on gift though too, and as I prayed about it, God was so good to confirm to me that it is indeed okay to have two theme words with gift being one of them as well. So here I am with two theme words this year! Hopefully, I will see growth in both areas, and I probably won’t know the full impact of these particular theme words until the year is out. The Lord knows about it all right now, though, and I’m thankful he’s preparing me for whatever may come as the year unfolds.

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2022? I can guarantee it will help give you direction and help you grow throughout the year. Who would want to miss out on a deal like that? May God guide you and bless you in your choice!

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

*Do you have a theme word or anchor verse for 2022? I’d love to hear about it!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Holding Still for God

It was a God-given moment. Several years ago on a winter morning, I decided to brave the cold and take care of an outdoor chore so Don wouldn’t have to do it at the end of a long workday. As I stepped out on our back porch, a surprise awaited me.

A beautiful mockingbird perched on our nearby evergreen. I expected him to whoosh away as soon as he caught sight of me or heard the cat-like squall of the screen door. But he stayed, holding still, allowing me to marvel in his beauty from just a few feet away.

As he continued to linger, I thought wow, I wish I had my camera. Would he stay long enough for me to dash back in the house and get it? Would he be there when I returned? Would he hold still just awhile longer?

I took a chance and slid back inside, as carefully as my noisy door would allow. After grabbing my camera, I turned it on while still inside so there would be one less noise to startle my little outdoor visitor away.

In spite of another screech from the door, the bird remained perched in the same spot. I raised my camera, zoomed in, and took several shots while he continued to hold still. He looked this way and that, almost as if allowing me to work a little more magic with my camera. He eventually flitted away but not before I was thoroughly blessed by this unexpected God-given treat for the soul.

For a few brief moments, I was an artist capturing a subject—a subject who was willing to hold still and let me do my work. I can’t help but wonder if I do the same for God.

When God wants to work on me or just spend time with me and rejoice over his creation (yes, he wants to rejoice over me!), am I a willing subject? Do I hold still for him and cooperate with his plans? Do I allow him to work his magic?

May the Lover of our souls always find us willing to hold still for him!

“The Lord your God is with you . . . He will take great delight in you; in his love he . . . will rejoice over you with singing.“ Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

*When did you last notice God working on you or rejoicing over you with singing?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Fall Wedding Idea: Caramel Apple Favors!

Mother of the Bride, are you and your daughter still looking for a favor idea for her upcoming fall wedding? If so, you came to the right place today—and just in time, too, since there’s no time to spare at this point, right?

Caramel apples can provide the perfect fun and yummy treat for your guests to take home—or eat right there at the party if they’re so inclined. As long as they’re wrapped in cellophane (as pictured above), they’ll stay mess-free until your happy apple-eaters decide to dig in.

Lots of fun options are possible with caramel apples.  Add a little pizzazz by rolling the apples in variety of toppings after they are dipped. Sprinkles, nuts, candy-pieces, coconut—whatever strikes the fancy of your bride-to-be and her sweetheart. They’ll be easier to wrap, too, if they’re dipped in something other than just caramel. I’ve even seen plain apples sitting atop a container of caramel and then wrapped together in cellophane. Tie the bags off with pretty color-appropriate ribbon and you’re set!

Nothing says a fall party like caramel apples, MOB, so why not suggest it to your daughter? Have fun at your fall wedding!

*You might also like to read Summer or Fall Wedding Favor Idea: Jars of Honey, Edible Favors—Yes, Please!, Sculpted Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns for Fall Wedding Decor, and Fall Wedding Bouquet Idea.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by moralesmegan25Creative Commons License

Renewed Treasure in the Word of God

One Christmas several years ago, I made shopping easy for my husband. My Bible at that time was fifteen years old and sporting loose pages in the front and back. It was time to part with it and break in a new one before I started leaving the Word of God trailing behind me—though that’s not such a bad idea, is it?

I searched the internet, found the Bible I wanted, ordered it, and then informed Don that it would be his Christmas gift to me. We both won, right? In reality, though, I was the bigger winner. His satisfaction in getting out of Christmas shopping lasted only a short time. The satisfaction I found in the gift—the Word of God—bloomed each day.

Since I’m an underliner, you can imagine what my old Bible looked like after fifteen years. Getting a new one with no markings felt a little scary. I thought I would miss my notes and underlines and feel rather lost without them. On the contrary, something entirely different happened.

I discovered that each passage seemed fresh, almost new. I felt excited as I read. Verses well-known to me and loved dearly took on an aura of renewed treasure, as if I were reading them for the first time. These words, untouched by my handy pen, became words I considered once more as I underlined yet again.

I pray I will always continue to look at the Word of God with fresh eyes. I pray I will come to it excited about what I may discover, expectant over what the Lord might reveal to me. I pray that the satisfaction I find in the Word of God will continue to bloom within me each day.

Is it time for you to take a fresh look at some familiar passages? I guarantee you will find renewed treasure. And with it will come great satisfaction.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

*Have you discovered anything new in a familiar passage of scripture recently? I’d love to hear about it!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Savio SebastianCreative Commons License