2021 Reflections on the Grace God Still Gives Us

2021 has been a tough year, hasn’t it? Most likely, for all of us in one way or another. Physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Losses of different kinds. Deep hurts in so many hearts. Uncertainties and fears about the future.

But God… Yes. But God is still with us and is giving us grace to survive. Even when we feel forsaken. Even when we feel weary, troubled, and sorrowful. Even when events in our lives or in the world have crushed us. He is still holding us up with His faithful love and compassion that will never, ever leave us.

This year God is teaching me on a deeper level how crucial it is to:

🦋 Remind my fainting heart to keep my eyes fixed on God’s unchangeable character. All the heartaches and changes in our world may disorient us or depress us, but God will never change and His love will never abandon us.

🌈 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 NIV

🦋 Let go of my tight-fisted grip of “needing to fix” situations out of my control. This is so hard to do, isn’t it? But God longs for us to leave these anxieties in His Almighty hands and to believe in His power to heal, redeem, and bring justice in His time and way.

🌈 “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT

🦋 Diligently seek, pay attention to, and thank God for the beauty and the blessings still surrounding me. There are so many blessings right in front of us that we take for granted each moment, right? The beauty in God’s creation, the strength we’re given with each breath and step we take (whether emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually), the kindness and love many people still do show. And on and on it goes. Even in the midst of chaos and heartaches, God still heaps on the invaluable gift of His grace so freely.

🌈 “And from the overflow of His fullness we received grace heaped upon more grace!” John 1:16 TPT

What has been the toughest trial to you personally this year? What special grace have you been given even in the midst of it, whether in the moment or in hindsight?

When We Sink Beneath the Waves of Lies About Who We Truly Are

Do you feel ugly, insecure, and worthless?

It’s so easy to find our identity in the hurting words and painful actions of others toward us, isn’t it? Words and actions that steal our confidence and security in who we truly are. That make us feel we are unwanted, unlovable, and unusable.

Demeaning words, abusive actions, and the lack of loving attention we swallow as a child may become our own assumptions that we guide our lives according to. Assumptions that lie to us about the reality of who we really are. Assumptions that make us more vulnerable to further abuse as we grow older.

When we have been abused in some way, it’s so difficult to change our thought pattern, isn’t it? I struggled with this for many years. Still do sometimes. As I look back, I often picture myself like Peter who was invited to walk to Jesus on the water. How thrilling, right? But as he walked, he opened his ears to all the noise of the storm and his eyes to the tumultuous waves around him ready to swallow him up. He took his focus off of Jesus. And he sank.

Satan knows how vulnerable we are and he tries his hardest to distract us from Jesus and the truth of His love and our value in Him. He whips up the noise and tumult of the lies we assumed about ourselves. In our weakness, we often succumb to it and sink beneath the waves, flailing against the strong currents of worthlessness that suck us down, down, down…

Over the years I have often taken my eyes off of Jesus and closed my ears to His whispers of love. I often sank back into the lies and shame, those assumptions I made from past demeaning words and abuse. I didn’t think I would ever come up for air, but Jesus didn’t let me drown in them. He lovingly reached down and lifted me up yet again. He lovingly held my face in His nail-pierced hands and said, “My precious child, keep your eyes fixed on Me.”

Jesus, in His unfailing love and endless compassion, reached down, took Peter’s hand, and pulled him up in spite of Peter’s doubts and fears. And Jesus will do the same for us every time we sink. He never tires of lifting us up again.

God is so ready and willing to restore what others shattered in us and help us to see ourselves through His eyes. What HE says about us and what HE has done for us is what matters, and He can give us the grace to again and again fix our eyes on Him. He is not going to condemn us or stop loving us when we falter. He empathizes deeply with our pain and struggles.

“From the ends of the earth I call to You,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 61:2 NIV

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and the One who rescues me;
My God, my rock and strength in whom I trust and take refuge;
My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower—my stronghold.”

Psalm18:2 AMP

“The eternal God is your refuge,
and His everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
He cries out, ‘Destroy them!’”

Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT

September Hope Whispers

 

He Giveth More Grace

by Annie Johnson Flint
(1866-1932)

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”

~ More of Her Poems  ~

Free Hope Resource

Joy Lenton offers a free gift, an ebook to help us rise up to face life’s challenges:

“This book is for you if you’re feeling drained, depleted or discouraged. And for all who need a supportive word or inspiring thought to help bring hope and encouragement back to their heart. These words will remind you that you are more courageous than you realise, you are not alone in your struggles, and you’re stronger than you know.”

Soul Shots: 31 Days of Pocket Wisdom for Your Hurting Heart

I love this mural at the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls.
Created by THE KIND WAY

“Constant kindness can accomplish much.
As the sun makes ice melt,
kindness causes misunderstanding,
mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
Albert Schweitzer

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“Any glimpse into the life
of an animal quickens our own
and makes it so much the larger
and better in every way.”
John Muir

Thank you to my brother John
for these 
stunning photos.
🙂 Also for the interesting facts. 🙂

(Please respect copyright laws.)

The American Dipper can walk on the bottom of streams or dive for insects, etc.

Notice the American Dipper’s white eyelids? It is equipped with a third eyelid membrane for underwater, but the upper eyelid is covered with white feathers visible when it blinks.

“Who goes there?” wonders the coyote.

He is barking at my brother because his den or a kill must be nearby.

This juvenile Northern Jacana showed up near where my brother lives. It is only spotted in Arizona about once every 10 years. It usually lives in Mexico and central America. I hope he finds his way back home!

The Northern Jacana has the largest feet of any bird in proportion to its body size. It is sometimes called “The Jesus Bird” because it appears to walk on water when walking on lily pads and other floating vegetation.

Isn’t it beautiful how the yellow shows up when he’s flying? Another interesting fact is that the male builds the nest and incubates the eggs.

I’ve been trying to put less pressure on myself to post every week. So since my husband is taking some time off work, I want to free up some of my time. I hope to be back on either the 13th or 20th of October. One step at a time, right? 🙂