Category Archives: Holidays

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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Filed under Beginnings and Endings, Change, Holidays

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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Filed under Beginnings and Endings, God, Holidays

Happy Christmas!

I like changing things around at Christmas to make it fresh and new. Sometimes we get so caught up in the traditions and trappings of Christmas that we forget to make it special each and every year. The holiday can become rote and routine. So, I like the way the British say Happy Christmas instead of Merry Christmas. I also like songs that aren’t the traditional Christmas songs that we’ve heard over and over for our entire lives. I tend to completely drown out those traditional songs in my head (my friends have been making fun of me for saying I don’t like Christmas songs, but it’s because they are so routine). However, music is one of the main ways that God speaks to me, and I love song lyrics. So, my new favorite song for Christmas is “In Christ Alone”. Yes, I know it’s what we call a praise and worship song, but read the lyrics below and see the Gospel of Christ. Yes, I declare it a very Happy Christmas song:

“In Christ Alone”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

That last stanza (see bold type) is my absolute favorite of any worship song. Not just because it has the word pow’r (not to be confused with the two-syllable power), but mainly because this is the way we should live every day as followers of Christ … no guilt in life, no fear in death – Jesus commanding our destiny – standing in the power of Christ.

 

Happy Christmas! May you live in the death of Christ each day, with no guilt in life nor fear in death, because Jesus commands your destiny.

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Filed under God, Holidays

Perception vs. Reality

My stomach is full of Thanksgiving food, and my mind is full of thoughts today. I am thinking about how our families shape the way we perceive our world, at least initially. We are raised in an environment that has constants – certain patterns, habits, and ways that we never question because we know no alternative. It is our reality. I have realized that many people never break free from this learned “reality”. Many of us stay within the boundary lines of this family pattern, sometimes for generations, without knowing or realizing that the unsaid rules are being followed in every conversation, interaction, etc. So, what happens when you find yourself in a new place – where you recognize all of these driving forces within the family? You realize that you have a choice whether to continue in the same vein, or break free.

This is the place I found myself today while surrounded by approximately 30 extended family members. Feeling caught between the old constant and the desire to break the “family rules” and be different. It can be a lonely place. It’s easier to just stick with the norm…to join in with the gossip, keep the conversations at a surface level, and pretend that we actually know something about each other, even though we see each other about 4 times per year (at the most). I struggle with wanting things to be different – to really know these people who have surrounded me for my whole life – to find out their hopes, thoughts, struggles, and their relationship with God. However, that is not part of the family dynamic. It makes me sad, and I have regrets. I regret that I’m not bolder in attempting real communication. I regret that it’s easier to just tolerate it for one day versus working to change this dynamic. I regret that these people have no idea who I really am (and vice versa).

“Perception versus reality” makes me think…whose perception and whose reality? For example, my recent decision to leave my job and enter this sabbatical period – my reality is a profound sense of freedom and relief and joy, regardless of the perception of others. However, in the reality I once learned from my family, this decision would be totally unacceptable. What I realized today is that I have begun to establish my own version of reality. I am breaking free of some of the family patterns that I want to change – even though it’s a slow process and I will certainly stumble along the way.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for so much. I am grateful for the things I have learned this past year and the ways I have grown. I am thankful that I still have so much to learn. I am thankful for second chances and that our Lord doesn’t hold our mistakes against us. I’m astounded that He uses our poor choices to teach us something new that we may not have otherwise learned. Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about His unconditional love for us.

Hoping your day has been filled with joy, love, and thankfulness. And very few regrets.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Sabbatical