Category Archives: Beginnings and Endings

The Motions

This weekend, I attended a memorial service for a precious woman who recently lost her fight with cancer. Although I was not a close friend of Teresa’s, she touched my life with her sweet spirit and encouraging manner.

I contemplated many things during the poignant service. It was evident that her family could rejoice amid this tragedy; their beloved mom/wife is in heaven with Jesus where there is no pain and no tears. Our pastor used the phrase “grieving with hope”. I reflected on the hopelessness that often accompanies services such as this. We could focus on the tragedy of young daughters losing their mother and a husband losing his wife of 22 years; we could focus on bereft co-workers and friends. But I am so thankful that Jesus gives us the ability to grieve with hope. As Christians, our lives here are so short compared to the magnitude of eternity. And I am so grateful that I get to spend eternity with Jesus (and with sisters in Christ like Teresa).

I also began to reflect on how I live my life. If this was my memorial service, who would be here? (And I don’t intend to be self-indulgent— “oh please tell me there will be hundreds of weeping people at my service”). No, I mean: Who have I touched? Do I invest in someone every day? Do I show the love of Christ in my actions to every person I encounter?

If I am honest, I have to say no. I fall short. Too often, I am in a hurry and rush past someone who could be hurting. Sometimes, I am too wrapped up in my day to make eye contact with the grocery store cashier, to say an encouraging word to the guy making my latte at Starbucks, or to say a prayer for the homeless man on the street. I prioritize things over people. I focus on my to-do list instead of relationships.

One by one, Teresa’s friends and family stood up and spoke about her selflessness. They talked about the way she pointed others to Christ, the way she never talked about her own illness, pain or struggles. Teresa did not just go through The Motions:

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?”

[Click here to listen to The Motions by Matthew West]

I want to be like Teresa. Instead of just going through the motions.

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Welcome to Anointed With Grace

Welcome to my new blog! I recently moved over from Blogger (i.e. blogspot). Let me know how you like the new site; I am still working on updating some links, but it has been a fairly seamless transition. All of my historical posts are located here, and I will be posting some new ones very soon.

A few details about the new digs:

I took the header photograph in Venice, Italy from the top of the bell tower located in St. Mark’s Square. It is one of my favorite city scenes.

Also, in case you are curious, the blog title comes from Psalm 45:

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
You are the most excellent of men
and your lips have been anointed with grace,
since God has blessed you forever.
Psalm 45:1-2

I pray that each of you enjoyed a wonderful celebration of our Risen King this past Easter weekend. I spent a lot of time with my family and my precious 12-week-old niece. God is so good!

Look for new posts later this week. . .and remember to update your Google Reader and Links with the new url.

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My Prayers for 2009

I pray that I am open to God’s revelation of His purpose in my job/career.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

I pray that I am hopeful, and not cynical or bitter.
“A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.” –Sidney J. Harris

I pray that God removes all the barriers in my life and my heart that keep Him from moving powerfully in my life.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” Colossians 1:21-23

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because he made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be….It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.” –C.S. Lewis

I pray that I will rest in the Lord’s promises for me.
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

I pray that I will focus on relationships and loving people.
“God, whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure that I spend time loving you and loving other people – because that’s what life is all about. I don’t want to waste this day.” Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

I pray that God continually transforms my character each day.
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

I pray that I can see God’s miracles in each moment.
“There are only two ways to live your life – one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.” –Albert Einstein

And I pray that when I re-visit this list next January, I am astounded by the work of the Lord in my life and by what He has done through me during one short year. Because His work in me during the past 12 months has been nothing short of miraculous, my prayers are bigger and bolder this year. Because I know He has designed me to dream big and to place my hope and faith in Him.

May you be blessed with a prayerful start to this year!
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

P.S. I took the photo above at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy in November 2006.

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Our Father Knows Best

Well, here we are at the end of another year. I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, so you’re not getting any of those in this post. However, I do think this is a good time of year to reflect on how we’ve grown and changed over the past year. Personally, I like to reflect on the blessings and answered prayers from our loving God because it makes me hopeful for the coming years, and it continually amazes me that God even answers the prayers and desires of our heart that we weren’t even aware that we should ask. Our Father knows us better than we know ourselves.

So, on this last day of 2008, I’m going to be totally unoriginal and point you towards some other blog posts that have spoken to me over the past few days.

First, this post by Pete Wilson over at Without Wax is fabulous. When people ask why I quit my job in this economy with no definite plans for my next steps, I want to point them to Pete’s post and the passage that he references from Psalm 39:

4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Life is way too short to be working at the wrong job, trying to please others to get ahead in life, and ignoring God’s calling to a higher purpose.

Okay, one more. I stumbled upon this post by JMOM over at Lots of Scotts. She included this beautiful interpretation (author unknown) that God used to soothe my heart:

I made her. She is different. She’s unique. With love I formed her in her mother’s womb. I fashioned her with great joy. I remember with great pleasure the day I created her. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I love her smile. I love her ways. I love to hear her laugh and the silly things she says and does. She brings me great pleasure. (Psalm 139:17)

I made her pretty and not beautiful, because I knew her heart and knew she would be vain. I wanted her to search out her heart and to learn it would be Me in her that would make her beautiful and would draw friends to her. (I Peter 3:3-5)

I made her in such a way that she would need Me. I made her a little more lonesome than she would like to be, only because I want her to turn to Me in her loneliness. Only because I need for her to lean to and depend on Me. I know her heart. I know if I had not made her like this she would go her own way and forget about Me, her Creator. (Psalm 62:5-8)

I have given her many good and happy things because I love her. (Psalm 84:11 and Romans 8:32)

Because I love her, I have seen her broken heart and the tears she has cried alone. I have cried with her and had a broken heart too. (Psalm 56:8)

Many times she has stumbled and fallen alone, only because she would not hold My Hand. So many lessons she has learned the hard way, because she would not listen to My Voice. (Isaiah 53:6)

She is mine. I made her then I bought her because I love her. (Romans 5:8)

I have to reshape and remold her, to renew in her what I want her to be. It has not been easy for her or for me. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I want her to be conformed to My Image. This high goal I have set for her because I love her. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Wow. So, I’m (surprisingly) going to make a New Year’s resolution after all – obviously not what I intended to do when I started writing this post. I resolve to post the messages above somewhere that I will see them every day in 2009. Thanks to JMOM and Pete for the original blog posts that inspired this one.

Happy New Year!

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