Fragrant by Grace

Fragrant by Grace - Used for Blog - Sept 26, 2013“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”

2 Corinthians 2:14

 

 

 

A few years before we sold our first home, my husband decided our front lawn needed a make-over.

The week before the pallets of sod arrived, he spread twenty-five bags of fertilizer over the entire yard. I took one step outside our front door and discovered that cow manure is one of the main ingredients in this special mixture.

After the sod was in place, I admired the perfect green square from behind our closed kitchen window. Blades of grass sparkled with beads of water from the sprinklers.

As I wondered how something so beautiful could smell so bad, I thought about what Jesus said when He confronted the Pharisees in Matthew 23:28: “. . . on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Like my lawn, the Pharisees looked good on the surface. But Jesus made it clear that the stench of sin seeped through their facade.

Asking God to reveal my sin gives me the opportunity to repent before I start reeking with un-confessed sin. But just like admitting my lawn was smelly did not make the stink disappear, confessing does not mean I will automatically stop sinning.

I embraced the process, patiently, as the fertilizer was absorbed by good soil, making my lawn eventually smell as great as it looked.

In the same way, when we allow God’s Truth to saturate our hearts, our words and actions will begin to reflect Christ.

Like my water-jeweled lawn, we will sparkle in the light of the sun with a pleasing aroma as we witness to the people God brings into our lives.

Lord, show us where we’re covering up or justifying sin. Make our lives a perfume of praise that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN

I make it a habit to pray over Psalm 139:23-24, asking God to reveal anything that will hinder me from being fragrant for Christ.

It takes time for God to sift the soil of my heart and renew my thinking as He saturates my mind with His truth. The clean up process isn’t always pain-free, but the fruit is always eternal and God honoring.

What do you do when you realize you’re not responding to situations in a way that reflects God’s love and grace?

Facebook Twitter Email

Cascading Kindness

Through the Valley by LEP 2011The dark day started with a stolen GPS. After a yearlong sabbatical, I was preparing for my first writers group meeting, which was at a church an hour away from home.

 

 

 

Being directionally challenged causes me to have an unhealthy dependence on my GPS, so I scoured the car and house in a frantic search. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada.

 

 

Frustration has a way of making me bend to the Retribution Principle, which is riddled throughout the psalter. I want justice, not mercy! I want to pay back, not offer grace! I forgave the person who stole my GPS and asked God for forgiveness for the thoughts that went through my mind when I first realized I’d been robbed.

 

Although God quickly convicted me for my initial reaction, I questioned if I was even supposed to be a part of this writers group. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to make the long drive or risk being challenged to grow. I reasoned that the path toward healing was too long, too dark, and too unknown. Maybe I should just stay home, Lord.

 

Well, staying home cowering in fear never gets me anywhere fast, so I decided to go old-school and printed directions from Mapquest.

 

Our first meeting was designed to encourage one another, focusing on the positive aspects of each project and affirming each writer with kind words. I left inspired.

 

When I was on the freeway, I heard a strange sound, like something bumping against the inside wall of my trunk. I prayed for God’s protection and kept right on praising Him, all the way home!

 

The next morning, my son noticed I had a flat tire. I’m talking FLAT!

 

He grabbed the keys to my daughter-in-law’s car, which he’s been using to drive to work while she recovers from ankle surgery.

 

I thanked God for His provision, as well as for His protection the night before. I don’t even want to think about how it would have felt to be stranded in the dark, with my husband out of town until the next day.

 

Sept 2013 Tire Change and Froggy Visitor 001One call was all it took to get a rescue team on site.

 

 

 

 

 

Since my son had to work right after school, his godfather and godbrothers (aka my nephews) came by to put on my spare and followed me to the tire shop.

Did I mention it was my nephew’s birthday?

 

Sept 2013 Tire Change and Froggy Visitor 003Again, I thanked the guys for sacrificing their time, and gas, to help me, especially with Alan being gone.

 

 

 

 

 

The shop manager told me the car wouldn’t be ready until closing. I thanked the Lord, once again, for the two new tires, as well as for having us set aside some extra money the week before. Even though spending that money meant it wouldn’t be used for what I was originally saving it for.

 

Later that night, my amazing sister in Christ left her son’s birthday party and drove me to the tire shop to pick up my car. I gushed over the mechanic. “You have no idea how much you blessed me by fixing my car, even though you had a full schedule.”

 

He smiled, head lowered, and handed over my keys. “I heard what you said when you thanked those guys for helping you. And I thought about my sister. What would I want someone to do if she was in your situation?”

 

I choked out a thank you and said, “God bless you, brother.”

 

June-July 2013 Misc Pix with Senior Pix 018As I drove home, praise spilled from my lips. I reflected on God’s cascading lovingkindness in my life.

God is my guide, using His Holy Word and Mapquest to show me the way I should go.

 

 

 

God blessed me with a wise husband who knows how to manage money and save, even when the funds end up being used for an emergency, other than for what we had originally planned.

 

DSC00577God protects me, even when I have no clue about how much I need protecting.

God uses the simple acts of kindness of others to affirm His great love for me, especially when I’m feeling afraid or alone.

And God allows me the privilege to thank Him by serving others in His name.

 

 

 

As each kind deed or encouraging word hits the pool of water, that is my heart, it causes a ripple effect. I desire to give more, love more, care more.

 

Living a selfless life, extending kindness and grace to others, is the best way to thank God for all He’s done for us.

 

Today is a bittersweet day.

 

In 2001, the world was paralyzed by disbelief as innocent people were attacked on American soil when the twin towers were destroyed by terrorists. We grieved the loss of thousands, ached over the physical and emotional scars suffered by those who survived.

 

Yosmite waterfall by Loenessa Aguilar Oct 2010Yet, by God’s grace, we also saw beautiful expressions of kindness and love as people joined together to help strangers. Many sacrificed their lives for people they’d never even met.

 

Love and kindness cascaded in the midst of hardship, grief and affliction. When we choose kindness, God’s love flows through His people, igniting hope, no matter how dark our situation may seem.

 

 

The apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14, NIV)

 

Waving Flag by Carol Cox July 2012Lord, please help us never to forget those impacted by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Help us to be aware of others, to be sensitive to their needs, both spoken and unspoken. Give us courage to reach out when we need help and to be available to serve in tangible ways when others need to know You care.

 

 

Help kindness cascade through our lives, instead of trickling through the dessert of our natural tendencies toward self-preservation or self-preoccupation. Thank You for reminding us that kindness makes a difference. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

How have you experienced God’s love through a person’s simple act of kindness in your life?

—–

Photo #1 provided by Lauren Pfahlert

—-

Facebook Twitter Email

He is Here! – A Poem for Garden of Innocence

Baby Gripping Finger by LEP 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’s Here!

By Xochi E. Dixon

 

My life makes a difference, no matter the span.

I’m designed with a purpose, a part of God’s plan.

 

Every hair on my head, whether peach fuzz or long,

has been numbered by Jesus, to Whom I belong.

 

The depth of His love and the width of His grace,

will hold you up firm, as you remember my face.

 

Though I’m going before you, I mattered to God.

In His presence, protected by His staff and His rod.

 

No more pain. No more tears. No more worries. No fears.

I’m safe in the arms of my Savior. He’s here!

 

 

 ——————–

I wrote this poem in response to a request through Inspire Christian Writers.

The service for the babies being buried by Garden of Innocence will be held on September 21, 2013. For more information, contact Brianna at Brianna.Spohr@gmail.com

Please pray for these babies and for this event, as the Holy Spirit leads and help spread the word about this ministry.

If you are a writer, please click on this link to a post written by Beth Thompson, president of Inspire Christian Writers, to read the details on how you can “contribute a poem (or several) for this event and help provide a dignified burial for these precious children.”

—–

Photo taken by Lauren Pfahlert

Facebook Twitter Email