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?

January Roundup: Links, Quotes, Books & More


Free As a Bird
by Rend Collective

“You break us out of our cages
Into the wide open spaces
We are free
Free as a bird on the wind
No prison wall can contain us
Your beating heart makes us fearless
We are free
Free as a bird on the wind
Love cannot be tamed
You shattered every chain…”

ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 Another verse about Jesus’ Love:

❤  Freeing Love 
“So if the Son sets you free,
you are truly free.

John 8:36 NLT

Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list. 🙂  Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know. 🙂

The Voice: Listening for God’s Voice and Finding Your Own
by Sandi Patty
(Link is to Valerie Murray’s review of this book)

“Christian music icon and forty-time Dove award winner, Sandi Patty has long astounded listeners with her powerful voice. And yet, off the stage, Sandi struggled to have a voice at all.

Through deeply intimate stories of her life and the empowering spiritual truths she’s learned, Sandi offers readers wisdom to navigate the journey from voicelessness to discovering the voice God has given you. With a poignant history of sexual abuse, infidelity, divorce, and crises of self-image, Sandi lived much of her life feeling unworthy of love or value. And like so many of us, she coped by living through the voices of others, allowing other people to prescribe her identity. As she performed around the world, Sandi met others just like her, who hid wounds behind quiet smiles and struggled to live with fractured identities.

Sandi’s warm and invitational writing will draw you to the voice of God who sings over your life saying you are seen, you are loved, and your voice is worth hearing. With timeless wisdom, The Voice will help you uncover your God-given identity and a voice of your very own.

‘God heard my voice even when I couldn’t hear it myself and then his voice broke through my walls and wounds, insecurities and self-doubts. I am voiceless no more!'” (Amazon Book Review)

cutecolorsj7

Hope Harbor

💞  Articles/Blog Posts That Inspire Hope and Healing 💞

My husband and I lost a loved one (his brother) to cancer. His memorial service was yesterday. So in honor of Adrian and all those who are still fighting cancer, these links share how we can best support those who struggle with it. How we can give them hope and not cause additional emotional pain on top of what they already suffer.

💞 10 Things Cancer Patients Love to Hear  – Cancer patients share what they love to hear.

💞 5 Things Christians Should NOT Say to Cancer Patients by Lee Wilson – “For years now I’ve felt there was a disconnect between the well-meaning reactions of church members toward Christians affected by cancer and other diseases of similar dread.” Many cancer patients hear words that cause emotional pain on top of what they’re already suffering. Lee shares by experience what not to say and some things we can do.

💞 How To Support Someone With Cancer by Dr. Michelle Bengtson – From experiencing cancer with both herself and her husband, Michelle has learned these 12 important, insightful tips for supporting someone with cancer. 

Nature Retreat

“The woods would be very silent
if no birds sang except
those who sang the best.”
John James Audubon
“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch
that she feels bending beneath her,
still she sings away all the same,
knowing she has wings.”
Victor Hugo

I really miss birds during these winter months! My brother’s photos from Arizona truly brighten my days, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them, too. Thank you, John! 🙂

White-breasted Nuthatch

Red-naped Sapsucker

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Flicker

Acorn Woodpecker

White-throated Thrush

🐾 Surfbirds – The World Birding Website – lots of beautiful bird photos, great articles, trip reports, blogs, forums, and more

🐾 BirdNote – I love this! BirdNote is a two-minute radio show that combines rich sounds with engaging stories to illustrate the amazing lives of birds and give listeners a momentary respite from the news of the day.

🐾 Bird Photography from National Geographic – A list of links to the Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week posts. Awesome photos!

cutecolorsplant1c

Quotes

I’m adding a new category this month – Grieving.

❤ “Tears have a wisdom all their own. They come when a person has relaxed enough to let go and to work through his sorrow. They are the natural bleeding of an emotional wound, carrying the poison out of the system. Here lies the road to recovery.” – F. Alexander Magoun

“It’s okay to cry. Giving in to the tears is terrifying, like free-falling to earth without a parachute. But it’s vital to our wellbeing as we process the deep anguish.” – Lynda Cheldelin Fell

“Tears water our growth.” – William Shakespeare

cutecolorsbutterflyline


Thank You
to anyone and everyone who recommends
links, books, quotes, etc.

signature3

 

Grieving and Giving Chronic Illness to God Who Cares

I don’t write about it much, but I’ll admit I do get so weary sometimes of chronic illness… Shortness of breath, persistent coughing, tight and sore bronchial airways, aching in my bones, draining energy, brain fog, and recurrent bronchial infections that flare up my sarcoidosis, a multi-system inflammatory disease primarily affecting the lungs.

Through all losses, we need to go through a grieving process, don’t we? Even when we have health limitations. Sure, it helps to look at others we feel have it so much worse, but I’m learning that only leads us to dismiss or minimize our health issues. Then we start to do more what others expect of us than to care for ourselves. We end up draining ourselves.

We need to allow ourselves to believe we have a problem so we can do what will help, not hinder, our well-being. We need to work through any feelings, like anger or depression, that detriment our health. To mourn the things our hearts long to do, but our bodies don’t agree to. To grieve over the pain of others not understanding us. It’s okay not to feel okay.

God invites us to unburden any and every hurt in our hearts, even when we feel upset at Him for not healing us like we want. He desires for us to allow His grace-filled arms to hold us up, His compassion to console us, and His unconditional love to release the pressure we put on ourselves.

No matter what we suffer from, Jesus empathizes with us and cries with us. He has experienced every kind of suffering imaginable, so He understands. Because He suffered for us, we don’t have to be alone in our suffering.

It can be so hard though, right? It’s a process that recycles over and over again. But God is not going to abandon us, even when it feels like it. His character is the very essence of love and faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning.

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!”
Lamentations 3:22-23

I have not posted this to gain any pity. I’m just trying to be real. It’s something I really need work on. I usually have this automatic answer when most people ask me how I am – “I’m fine! How are you?” I try to be strong in front of others, and I end up paying for it. I’m not meaning we should wallow in a puddle of self-pity and expect everyone to sit there with us. We can be honest about how we feel but still, through God’s grace, seek the beauty all around us.

I know there are many who compare their suffering with others’ and feel their suffering isn’t worth mentioning and think they should just be thankful for what they have more than others, myself included. I write this with a prayer that even one reader will feel less alone and will realize Jesus deeply cares and understands. He doesn’t measure one suffering to be worse than another. He waits with open arms and ears to hear each of us pour out every pain of our hearts, minds, and bodies.

“Praise You In This Storm”
by Casting Crowns

 May God give you strength and hope for each day!