Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Grace From Beginning to End

At the end of today's post, I have a little something extra - a free printable of one of the verses I shared. You can also find a link to it on my new "Printables" page. 

Sometimes it's hard to see God at work in our lives. When we're struggling, it's easy to forget that He's in the middle of the mess with us. Sometimes it's only when we look back that we see His work and realize He was right beside us the whole time. There have been many times in my life like this, but honestly, His grace starts at the very beginning of my story.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you..." A few years ago, I shared the story of my birth in my post "First Grace." You can read the whole story here. The short version is that I had a 50/50 chance of surviving after a doctor's bad call led to a very difficult delivery. Even if I lived, there was the very real possibility of brain damage. God's grace was there from my first breath or I wouldn't be here.

Grace was there as I grew up. There were times I could have taken the wrong path, the one that led away from God - but He placed people in my life to turn me back to the road to Him. There were times He protected me from danger I didn't even know was there until it passed. There were the times He healed me when I could have faced surgery or worse. His grace covered me.

 Even in the bad times, there was grace. When I had nothing, God provided and gave me all I needed. When I was afraid and couldn't see the next step, God walked with me. When I stumbled under the heavy load I carried, He carried me.

Isaiah 46:4 says "Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you."
"Your graying years" - my hairdresser will tell you I'm there. She points out every six weeks how quickly the gray in my hair is spreading. As much as I've always loved this verse, I didn't expect to hit my graying years so soon. I'm not even forty yet. Life is passing by faster than I ever imagined.

My life is changing quickly. My oldest son is finishing his junior year of high school. My youngest is in eighth grade. The babies I carried in my body now tower several inches taller than me. Within just a few years, there will be two less people living in our house as our boys grow up and move out. Our nest will be empty. My husband and I will begin a whole new phase of life.

It's scary, knowing everything is about to change. I want to hang onto the here and now, or rewind time and relive past moments. But I can't. I march on through my graying years. But I know that God meets me here. He promised He would.

Psalm 71:18 says "And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to those who are to come." God isn't done. Until I breathe my last, He has a purpose for me. He has a role for me to fill, and He will give me grace to do it.

One day, when my life ends on this earth and my new life in eternity begins, I believe I'll look back see His hand in every aspect of my life, the good and the bad, grace from beginning to end.

Do you need a reminder of His never ending grace as much as I do? I've created a free printable for you! Click here for the card size version of Isaiah 46:4. Print it out and use it to memorize this scripture. Or use it as a reminder that God's grace is always with us. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Five Books I Can't Stop Recommending

There are few things I love as much as getting lost in a great book. When a story is so good it keeps me up late, desperate to find out what happens next, I'm a happy woman. Every so often, I come across a book that just grabs me and won't let go. These are the books I recommend to everyone, the books I can't stop thinking about long after the last page, the ones I could read over and over again.

These five books are fantastic. Many are award winners and bestsellers, so I'm not alone in my opinions of them. If you're looking for your next great read, check out one of these titles.

1. The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

I read and loved Julie's first two books, Into the Free and When Mountains Move. She did a great job in these two historicals dealing with really tough topics, but nothing could prepare me for her first contemporary novel, The Feathered Bone. It deals with incredibly hard topics with gut wrenching reality and incredible hope. It's been over a year since I read this book and I still think of it often.

Be warned - this is not a light read. There were times I was so overwhelmed I had to put the book down for a little while and process what happened. But this is one of the most heartbreaking, beautiful, hopeful books I've ever read. It's a must read. Just keep the tissues handy.

2. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

I read Redeeming Love more than twenty years ago, when the Christian fiction book market was still young. It pushed the limits back then. I remember thinking how different this book was from everything else in the Christian market at the time. Now it's considered a classic of Christian fiction.

This book deals with some of the same topics as The Feathered Bone. The retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, set in the American West, is also a heavy read, but the ending makes it all worthwhile.

3. Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

Charles Martin's name kept popping up for months - in Facebook groups, on Instagram, on friends Goodreads lists. When I read Long Way Gone, I realized why. Not only is the story incredible, but the writing style is one of the most beautiful I've ever read. I wanted to get to know these characters, to sit down and have coffee with them. Based on the parable of the prodigal son, Long Way Gone made me cry more than once, but there's still that strong theme of hope in the darkness that I love so much.

4. The Martyr's Song by Ted Dekker

Mention Ted Dekker's name and you'll probably get a strong reaction. People either love his books or hate them. I personally love them, especially his mysteries. But The Martyr's Song is unlike any of his other books. This short book is so powerful. Set in a small town in WWII, it tells the story of two people facing death for their faith in God. As they face the unimaginable, God reveals tiny hints of what they will soon see as they make the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. Though the story is very dark, it's laced with the incredible hope we have because this world isn't the end. Every Christian should read this one.

5. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

The only nonfiction book on my list, Same Kind of Different as Me tells such an amazing true story that it reads as well as any novel. The last line is one of my favorite quotes ever. You'll look at life, friendship, homelessness, and more so differently after reading this. Read it before you see the movie--it just came out on DVD a few weeks ago.

I'm always looking for my next favorite book. What do you find yourself recommending to everyone?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Coming Soon

Changes are coming to Grace In Our Moments! In the next few weeks, you'll see a new look, a new format, new resources, and more. You'll also see changes coming to the Facebook page. I look forward to moving ahead.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Something to Cling To

Comfort. That's what my soul is crying out for.

The cold, wet weather outside feels like it's crept into my heart. My soul needs warmth the way my body craves a soft blanket and a steaming bowl of soup. It's easy to comfort my physical body, but much harder to find peace for my restless, worrying soul.

So much in this life is out of my control. Experience has proved it time and time again. Things happen to me, to people I love, and I feel helpless. No matter how hard I try, I can't stop sickness from infecting friends or keep a loved one's heart from breaking. I can't keep storms from hitting. I can't fix every mistake or force someone to make the right choices.

Maybe it's because we're in the middle of Lent. Maybe my heart is more fragile than normal. But lately, life is tearing me down. When I pray, the words don't come, just desperate tears. My neat little prayer list sits useless as I get on my face before God, unable to put my needs into coherent words.

I long for something physical to hold when life threatens to overwhelm me, like a little girl clinging to her teddy bear. I reach desperately for my Father, longing for Him to hold me with physical arms. Countless times I've prayed, "If I could just see You, face to face, even for a few seconds..."

I know He's there, but I wish I could see Him with physical eyes. But I hear Him, whispering to me that it will all be okay, that He has this, that He will never let me go. So I cling to those promises and follow Him through the darkness of this life.

Right now, I cling to my Bible, to the words from my Father, as I long for Him. It's the physical thing that pulls me closer to Him. But one day, I won't need those words anymore, because I'll cling to Him. I'll reach out and touch Him. One day, I can finally worship Him face to face. One day, He'll reach out His hands, wipe away a lifetime of tears, and put all the shattered pieces of my heart back together. I'll be whole and complete in Him. That hope is the comfort my weary soul needs.  It's what I cling to.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Renew Isn't an Easy Word

Renew. I was so excited when God laid this word on my heart for 2016. Last year's word, refine, was so hard. But renew? Sure, I could do that. Renew is a comfortable word, right?

I was so wrong.

Renewal is hard. It's leaving me on my face, begging for grace and mercy and strength. Being made new means dying first. It's painful and scary.

Being renewed is going to take slow, focused time - time with God to renew me spiritually, time working out to renew my body, time resting to renew my exhausted body and mind. I think slow and focus would be perfect complimentary words for the year.

God is calling me to slow down. Not to take things off my plate - this isn't about busyness. This is about intention, about taking time in the midst of chaos to focus on what really matters. It's about finding peace in the middle of the storm and hearing the voice of God in the midst of the noise.

That means daily time with God, taking my spare time back to read or pray or study Scriptures (instead of playing Candy Crush Soda Saga or checking Facebook), and finding routines, patterns, and practices that bring my focus back to God.

A few days ago, I read the perfect words in Jesus Calling: "Through the intimancy of our relationship, you are being transformed from the inside out." That's true renewal - changed from the inside out, giving God control of every aspect of who I am.

As I look ahead this week to my Lent Bible study, I feel like the last few weeks have been preparing me for this time. Lent is about remembering the cross and the price Christ paid to set us free. It's a time of reflection. It's a time to remember that we have to die to truly live - we must die to ourselves to find life in Christ.

Renew isn't an easy word, but it's my prayer this year: Jesus, help me die to myself so I can made new in You.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What I'm Into: January 2016

What I'm Into


I haven't had nearly as much time to read as I wanted, but here's what I've been working on:
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L'Engle - I'm re-reading this series, one of my childhood favorites, and I think it may be even better as an adult than as a kid. Added bonus: I kept my copies from middle school, and I'm reading the same paperback I read when I was twelve. It's made me very nostalgic. 

  • The Hour That Changes the World - A how-to on prayer that breaks down different aspects of it. Easy to read and really practical.

  • The Blacklist - best thing on TV since 24. James Spader's character is just incredible.
  • The Killing Fields - This true crime show follows a detective who came out of retirement to solve the cold case that wouldn't let him go. Bonus: It's set in Louisiana, in an area we've traveled through many times.

My fourth short story was accepted by a magazine and will be published in February. I worked on edits for it and worked on another short story in January. I'm not sure what I'll do with the second one quite yet, but it's one of my favorites so far. In about two weeks, you can find Promise Me Forever in the February romantic suspense issue of Splickety Love. I'm also working on my one page synopsis for my novel so I can enter the ACFW Genesis contest, and I'm getting agent proposals ready.

  • Bethel Music, especially You Make Me Brave - Hillsongs has always been my top choice for worship music, but Bethel Music is now running in a tie with them. I even bought a Bethel kids worship DVD for my children's church class.
  • Ted Dekker's interview/writing course - Ted Dekker is, without a doubt, my favorite author. Hearing about his struggles and his writing process was so inspiring. When your favorite author admits there were times he wanted to quit, it makes your own occasional frustrations seem okay.

  • Write From the Deep - This is full of practical advice and really great stories.
  • The Simple Show - Still one of my favorites. This is my go-to podcast no matter what mood I'm in.
  • Sacred Ordinary Days - A friend in a Facebook group introduced me to this one, and I'm so glad she did.


This month I've been focused on scripture memory. I'm memorizing Matthew 6 with Hide His Word. In just a few days, I'll start the She Reads Truth Lent study and Kris Camealy's Holey, Wholly, Holy.


I am absolutely in love with my bullet journal/traveler's notebook system! Mine isn't fancy. I made it from a piece of leather I bought at Michael's and filled it with Moleskine notebooks from Target because I didn't want to sink a lot of money into one until I tried it for a while. It didn't long to realize this is the perfect system for me. My traveler's notebook obsession is here to stay. I will probably end up buying a real Midori or fauxdori at some point.


My husband got me a FitBit Charge HR for Christmas. I love it! I had the original Jawbone, but it died just a few months after I got it. Jawbone replaced it with a newer model, but I hated it and just quit wearing it. The FitBit has so many great features! I love connecting with friends through the app, charting my progress, and doing challenges. I find myself checking my band often to see how I close I am to hitting my goal. I'm definitely moving more, even if my workout routine still needs to be revived. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Five Things I Learned in January 2016

1. How to make the perfect fruit smoothies.

Smoothies make the perfect breakfast for the mornings I work. I can sip one in my car as I drive to my office, and I really fills me up until lunch. I recently switched from fruit to a fruit and veggie blend. It was getting healthier, but I still put lots juice in them, and I knew there had to be a better option. A friend mentioned using unsweetened almond milk in smoothies, so I tried it. Perfect! My smoothies are creamy and rich, and the almond milk adds a lot of protein.

2. Drinking enough water every day is hard. 

Someone made the adorable sparkly water cup (above) for me for Christmas. To get enough water every day, I need to fill it up and drink it four times. FOUR. It's hard to drink enough water, y'all. Most days I fill it up two or three times. I haven't hit four times yet, but I'm getting there. 

3. How to use my FitBit Charge HR

My husband got me a FitBit Charge HR for Christmas. I love it! My Jawbone died just a few months after I got it. Jawbone replaced it with answer model, but I hated it and just quit wearing it. I'm excited to have a fitness tracker again, and the FitBit has so many great features! One of my favorites is the silent alarm. It's nice to wake up to a gentle nudge from my band instead of a blaring alarm. I also love connecting with friends through the app, charting my progress, and doing challenges. I find myself checking my band often to see how I close I am to hitting my goal. I'm definitely moving more, even if my workout routine still needs to be revived.

4. Matthew 6

I haven't learned all of Matthew 6 - just the first four verses. But I'm working on memorizing it with Hide His Word. I love memorizing Scripture because it keeps me focused on the Word. When my mind is on it so much, reviewing it and writing it daily, it seeps into my soul.

5. Renew isn't an easy word.

Last year, my One Word was refine (after a lot of wrestling with God and the complete upheaval that proved I was not in control of anything). When God gave me renew for this year's word, I was thrilled. Something comfortable and safe for the new year!

I was wrong. Renew isn't an easy word. Before we can be made new, the old has to die. It's not easy or comfortable. Honestly, so far, renewal hurts. Lent begins in just a few days, and I'm preparing to do the She Reads Truth study along with Kris Camealy's Holey, Wholly, Holy, which leaves me completely wrecked every time I read it. I have a feeling this year of renewal may not get easier...but like my year of refinement last year, the end result will be worth it.