Initially, ‘Glasses of Grace’ started because my niece, Grace, had to get glasses for reading. Since grace is such a spiritual topic and the fact that my niece is such a doll, I started thinking about the ways God shows us His grace on a daily basis. From His servings, His glasses, of grace to us - to seeing the world through the eyes of grace (or Grace, since she had new glasses and better sight), it made sense in more ways than one, so a title was born. Blessings and all, this is my life…

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Grace....who knew?


When I first started this blog, never in a million years did I imagine that God would use it to bring the topic of ‘grace’ to the forefront of my life like He has. The blog title ‘Glasses of Grace’ started because my niece, Grace (7), had to get glasses for reading. With grace being such a spiritual topic and the fact that my niece is such a doll (and yes, I know I am partial), it seemed only natural to use that word in the title somewhere. I started thinking about the ways that God shows His grace to us on a daily basis....His servings.....His glasses....of grace to us, then it went to seeing the world through the eyes of grace (or Grace, since she had new glasses and better sight). It made sense in more ways than one, so a title was born.

What I could not have realized though is how God would begin putting this topic in my path everywhere I turn. It’s like God started saying to me, ‘Okay...you’re going to act like you recognize it and practice it, so I am going to make sure you know what grace is all about!’ Not long after I started blogging, I realized that this was becoming a recurring topic in my life and with all of this totally unknown to the person from whom I got it, I was given the book ‘Putting a Face on Grace’ by Richard Blackaby. It was a good book and it drove me to see how we can often show grace to others in the circumstances of everyday life. The pieces continued to fall into place.

In the spiritual realm, I’ve always heard of grace defined as ‘God’s unmerited favor,’ and although I have never thought I deserved Jesus going to the cross for my sins, I don’t know that I’ve grasped the true spectrum of God’s grace until these last two or three months. That realization alone has broken me several times lately. I am just amazed that I have lived this much of my life being a Christian and knowing what I know, but not having a full grasp of what grace truly is! It is amazing how God works to put things in our lives that we need to drive us closer to Him....even something as simple as a blog name. Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

In addition to God’s grace though, there is the issue of showing grace to others. I’ve not ever viewed ‘going the extra mile’ or ‘turning the other cheek’ as being an act of grace toward others, yet as I read the book mentioned above, my thinking began to change. I started seeing how what I have always viewed as being kind and/or helpful in everyday circumstances can actually encourage others and show them a measure of grace that they may need to experience in their life as well. For every person we meet, we can only see what is in front of us or what they share with us. There may be specific reasons that people are put in our path and God can use that contact with us to give them hope or a better outlook if we are just attentive to God’s leading. My neighbor, a single mom, was sharing with me one night how her grandmother had died just a few days before. Although I don’t really know her very well yet, I knew she was trusting me with something that was a huge personal loss to her. I gave her my copy of '90 Minutes in Heaven' to read. There is no way I could have known the questions she had or how much she evidently needed to read that book, but while we were walking one night a week or so later, she made the comment, “I told my friend at work today that God must have told you to give me that book to read because it has answered so many questions I’ve had.” Then I saw her a few weeks ago and she made the comment that she’s lived this much of her life and now finds herself questioning everything she has ever done. I know the loss of her grandmother has been a huge wake-up call to her. I’m not patting myself on the back for giving her that book by any stretch of the imagination, nor am I saying that I realize every time these opportunities happen, but it is cool to see how God can use us and our actions in others lives if we pay attention. I didn’t really think I was doing anything except giving her a cool book to read that gave specifics about heaven, but God evidently spoke to her through that book and I was humbled when she told me what she told her co-worker. You just never know.

There are times when it isn’t that easy to be obedient though and I am sort of experiencing that right now. In the scope of life, it is a very minor thing and I probably shouldn’t even really share this, but since I am putting my ‘lessons’ out there, this is part of it. People who know me know that once my mind is made up about something, it is usually hard to make me change my mind, but without going into detail, one circumstance has been dropped in front of me recently that I am just going to have to accept and deal with, probably for the long haul. I’m not thrilled about it and I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it has and as much as I don’t want to, I am going to have to accept it. I have no doubt that this is God forcing me to be kind and show grace when I really just want to roll my eyes and make it go away, but I am also realizing that He is only asking me to give what He has already given to me, only on a much smaller scale. I mean, what if HIS mind had already been made up?? THAT is a scary thought. Very scary!

So I say all this to say that God is working on me about the issue of grace, both personally and with others……and it all started with this blogging experience! It is amazing to think about it that way and how many times God has put the topic of grace in front of me recently. The reality is that He can use whatever He wants to in order to put us where He wants us to be, I’m just glad He has chosen a creative way this time! I have had to learn other lessons that haven’t been quite as ‘fun,’ as I’m sure we all have. As I said above, I am simply dumbfounded that I have lived this much of my life and not totally grasped the depth of it as I should have. Right now, I can tell that I am growing and learning……about grace as a whole……in giving grace and receiving it. It feels good and I am thankful.

I know this is a longer than normal blog for me, but I’ve been carrying these things around in my mind and heart for a while and just needed to get them out. I really appreciate those of you who read this that bear with me through the ‘every day’ of life. I know I still have a long way to go, but at least the ball is rolling……God is at work and I am excited about that...

"Were it not for grace
I can tell you where I’d be
Wandering down some pointless road to nowhere
With my salvation up to me
I know how that would go
The battles I would face
Forever running but losing this race
Were it not for grace"

Life changing words, no doubt.

Friday, September 22, 2006

All for one...(and one for all!)



"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face us with the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."---Henri Nouwen


Tracey, I just wanted to thank you for your call yesterday, but most of all, for knowing in your heart that so many of us here stand with you as these days with your dad unfold. We are all powerless, but we love you, we care and you have our support. Remember that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Influence



"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
-- Albert Schweitzer

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What a bunch of people!


WOW! We had a family reunion at my dad's today. HUGE crowd.....70 people were there....or at least that's where we lost count! Guess that's what you get when there are 15 kids in a family! I know this doesn't mean much to anyone but me, but I couldn't help but to blog about it. I tried to post a picture of the whole crowd, but it was nowhere near clear enough, so above is a picture of my dad (middle row on the right), four of his brothers and four of his sisters. Five uncles and one aunt are missing! MAN...what a lot of people! Maybe they'll be able to make it next year. Anyway, the oldest (front row on the right) is 71 and the youngest (front row on the left) is 46....a 25 year age span! What a grandma I had, huh? haha. And believe it or not, she was shorter than me...poor woman! She actually had 18 kids, but three died in infancy. In the middle of the front row is my grandmother's sister. Today is her birthday. I have no idea how old she is, but I absolutely love her to pieces. She is a treasure. We laugh until we can hardly breathe every time I am around her and we are soul-mates from the word go. It's nice to have people like that in your own family.

SO anyway, I am pooped, and even if I didn't know all the people there, it was a fun day!

Friday, September 15, 2006

New post in Beta



I switched to Beta too and these pictures are just to test how quickly they would upload. I do want to say to you though Tracey that the first one is of me and Beth. She signed that birthday card we sent and is one cool friend. She's one of those people that, once you meet her, you will think you've known her your whole life! She's just fun. I used to pass her in the hall at church before we met and think, "I bet we'd be friends if I knew her!" haha. How funny is that? I was right! Michelle took this picture at the reception for Pam on August 6 (or I believe that was the date). She's just cool and I've been meaning to post this one so you could have a face to put with a name. The second, of course, not to be left out, is Sweet Kitty. She was taking a little siesta last Saturday morning just relaxing and looking out my bedroom window, so ever the camera ready mom, I had to get a picture. At least both her eyes are open....usually she blinks or turns her head. You know how they are....

Anyway, on to posting so I can see how quickly that happens in this new mode....so far, so good!

Monday, September 11, 2006

In God We Trust


I read the following shortly after September 11, 2001 and after reading it again today, am reminded of the unity and comraderie that we had in the aftermath of this horrific event. There are few events and images that have shaken America and the world to its core and had everyone transfixed. Of course, television hasn't been around for all of them, but most notably, the death of President Kennedy, the death of Diana (although not an attack, a shock nonetheless), and now the images of September 11, 2001. I was less than two years old when Kennedy was shot, but in watching the retrospectives over time, grainy as they are, I can't help but to imagine that the sadness and the way we feel about the events of September 11 in some way reflects the shock and horror Americans felt they were experiencing then as well. It only takes a couple of good pictures from either of these events, to know what Americans were feeling. In both cases, there was, and for us still remains, such uncertainty about the future, such shock that anyone could, indeed even would, think to commit such atrocities. It is still so very unthinkable, but this is the world in which we now live. Despite border control issues and things that we think are so important on a daily basis, tragedy has a way of driving us to our knees, to realize what's important...and to God. He can make himself known even in the worst of circumstances, our job is just to trust and hold tight to His promises.

He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you' —Hebrews 13:5

Thank heaven!

On Monday We E-mailed Jokes
Author Unknown

On Monday we emailed jokes.
On Tuesday we did not.

On Monday we thought that we were secure.
On Tuesday we learned better.

On Monday we were talking about heroes as being athletes.

On Tuesday we relearned who our heroes are.

On Monday we were irritated that our rebate checks had not arrived.
On Tuesday we gave money away to people we had never met.

On Monday there were people fighting against praying in schools.
On Tuesday you would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying.

On Monday people argued with their kids about picking up their room.

On Tuesday the same people could not get home fast enough to hug their kids.

On Monday people were upset that they had to wait 6 minutes in a fast food drive through line.
On Tuesday people didn't care about waiting up to 6 hours to give blood for the dying.

On Monday we waved our flags signifying our cultural diversity.
On Tuesday we waved only the American flag.

On Monday there were people trying to separate each other by race, sex, color and creed.
On Tuesday they were all holding hands.

On Monday we were men or women, black or white, old or young, rich or poor, gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian.
On Tuesday we were Americans.

On Monday politicians argued about budget surpluses.
On Tuesday grief stricken they sang 'God Bless America'.

On Monday the President was going to Florida to read to children.

On Tuesday he returned to Washington to protect our children.

On Monday we had families.
On Tuesday we had orphans.

On Monday people went to work as usual.

On Tuesday they died.

On Monday people were fighting the 10 commandments on government property.
On Tuesday the same people all said 'God help us all' while thinking 'Thou shall not kill'.

It is sadly ironic how it takes horrific events to place things into perspective, but it has. The lessons learned this week, the things we have taken for granted, the things that have been forgotten or overlooked, hopefully will never be forgotten again.
Author Unknown

Friday, September 08, 2006

I Love Lucy....and Ethel

I don’t normally read Oprah’s magazine, but I bought the August issue because the topic was friendship and there was an interview with Oprah and her friend, Gail King. I knew they had been friends for years, before fame and fortune really hit, but just being honest, I have always thought that Gail was sort of ‘riding on Oprah’s coattails.’ Once I read that article, I didn’t necessarily think that to be the case as strongly as I did before and even caught myself laughing at one or two instances where it was obvious that Gail still thinks of Oprah as a regular person, no matter what the rest of the world may think. Oprah was actually very frank about Gail too, so it was a nice, everyday glimpse into a relationship that is overshadowed by fame and big lifestyles. I was quite impressed with both of them and I admit the errors in my thinking. I was wrong.

In that same batch of stories though was another one about two other friends that we all know and love. We know them as Lucy and Ethel and I just wanted to share this because we ALL grew up knowing about Ricky, Lucy, Fred and Ethel.


It’s not really a long story, but I thought this was intriguing from an article by Madelyn Pugh Davis, one of the writers of I Love Lucy:

‘The first time Lucille Ball met Vivian Vance, at a script reading for I Love Lucy, she wasn’t sure she was right for the role of Ethel Mertz. "You’re too attractive," Lucy said. "I want a dumpy landlady wearing an old terry cloth robe and fuzzy slippers, with rollers in her hair." Vivian answered, "You got her. That’s exactly how I look in the morning when I get out of bed." Lucy shot her a skeptical ‘we’ll see’ look. But then we read the script and it was obvious to Lucy and everyone that Vivian was the perfect Ethel. Thus began a friendship that lasted all their lives, on and off the screen.’

‘Someone once asked Lucy if she looked at her old shows on TV. She said, "Sometimes. And when I do, I watch Viv." She had a good point. Whenever Lucy was doing one of her hilarious scenes, the camera usually cut to Ethel to catch the look of disbelief on her face, which made everything even funnier. The two actresses had great admiration for each other’s talent. Vivian respected Lucy, the fabulous comedian, and Lucy respected Vivian, the great reactor, known in comedy as a second banana.’

The article went on to tell of a specific time when Lucy didn’t want to do a scene that they had written for her involving an elephant. She was scared to death. It was Vivian who finally coaxed her, ever so subtly, into doing it by telling her, "If you don’t want to do that hilarious scene, I will." Not to be upstaged, Lucy did the scene.

The article ended with this though:

‘When Lucy did her last series, Life with Lucy, in which she played a grandmother, she didn’t want a character to play her "best girlfriend ." Vivian had died and Lucy couldn’t stand the thought of replacing her. For a long time after Vivian’s death, Lucy would tear up whenever she talked about her. Everyone needs a best girlfriend she can confide in, someone who will always tell the truth and back her up. It really helps when you’re doing a comedy show, and it doesn’t hurt in real life, either.’

I don’t really know what my point is here except to say that I loved this article because, to me, it goes to show that whether famous like Oprah and Gail or Lucy and Vivian, we all have need of people who are real friends. I loved ‘Lucy and Ethel’ growing up (and still do!), but even more, I love the fact that they were such friends in real life too. Fame and fortune can buy many things, but at the base of it all, it is heartwarming to me to know that even famous people are sometimes like us ‘regular folk’ in that we all need friends to encourage, support and simply to share life, no matter what scale we live it on.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A sweet girl turns 12


My oldest niece, Kate, turned 12 this past Wednesday and there was a birthday party for her today. These are pictures. They had a great time. This is, of course, a fun pyramid shot that they insisted on doing. I would have hated to have been on the bottom! Kate is the one in the middle row on the right hand side.







......Another friend shot. There are never enough of those! Kate is second from the right on the top row.








One sweet birthday girl...




This is Grace, the little sister, who got dog poop on her foot because she wasn't wearing shoes! After this, she decided shoes weren't such a bad idea after all!





This was a VERY fun party. They had a scavenger hunt. My sister had gone around town and taken pictures just enough that they had to try to figure out what it was a picture of...like the corner of the Best Buy sign, the top of a fire hydrant or something, then she had three or four sets developed, one set for each team. There were 10 pictures, three drivers and 8 girls, including Grace, so off we went in search of the items. We 'drivers' let the girls figure out the clues and tell us where to go, so armed with pictures, check-off lists and digital cameras, off we went. These girls are VERY competitive! I felt like I was on 'Amazing Race' or something. It was a great idea! My hat is off to my sister for finding that idea and following up on it so well. Once we all got back, they had a taco bar for dinner, looked at the pictures from the scavenger hunt, played outside for a bit, then had a cookie cake and ice cream bar for dessert. It thrills my soul that Kate has such good friends. They all had an absolute blast and I told my sister I think this was one of the best parties ever!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Are you using your gifts?


Grace is spending the night with me tonight (Kate is having friends over for her birthday which was this week. I am keeping Grace so the older kids can have some time alone), so I will post a picture or something about that later, but in the meantime, this came via e-mail this morning and it is too thought-provoking not to share...


The Good Steward
Stacy Hawkins Adams

Thanks to one of my neighbors, my third grader is developing a green thumb. The opportunity is a reminder that God can and will provide the means for us to blossom where we're planted, because if my daughter had to rely on my example, her gardening skills might qualify her for a "semi-green thumb" instead.

This neighbor and her husband left the country yesterday with a group of the middle school students they both teach. The couple is traveling to Thailand with the youth for an international sports competition.

While preparing for the 10-day trip, they realized they'd need someone to care for the beautiful hanging plants that adorn their front porch.

So over the weekend, the wife came over and asked for my daughter's assistance. She brought a watering jug and transported the six plants to our backyard, where they're providing a splash of color and beauty that is breathtaking.

Yesterday, as my daughter carefully filled the jug to the rim and slowly watered each plant at its root, her confidence level visibly increased. She was proud that an adult (besides a parent) had believed she could handle such an important job.

Entrusting her with a task that could mean life or death for these plants was akin to telling her that she is smart, responsible and good at caring for something and someone besides herself.

As I watched her work, I thought about the similarities between her experience and the relationship God seeks to develop with us.

Just as my neighbor handed over her beloved plants to my daughter for safekeeping, God has given us talents, gifts, dreams, opportunities and relationships to nurture into something beautiful.

Yet how many of us ignore the whispers from deep within to follow a certain path or complete a longed-for goal? How many of us who are given important tasks devote so much time to assessing the obstacles that we give up before we've really begun?

When we make those choices, have we considered that we may, in a sense, be telling God we really don't believe He has the power and the wisdom to see us through?

Have we considered that we're sending Him the message that He must have made a mistake when He gave us a particular set of skills or personal connections, because there's no way we can accomplish what's set before us?

If your gift is singing, are you using it today in some way that brings God glory - whether through participating in a church choir, recording an album, or entertaining an older friend or relative?

If you have the ability to naturally encourage others, do you regularly cheer people who cross your path in moments of crisis, despair, fear or doubt?

If you're a parent, guardian, or someone who plays a significant role in the life of a child, are you preparing that youth to someday fulfill his or her life's purpose? Certainly, that purpose may not be readily event, but do you consider your presence pivotal in helping that youth discover where God is leading?

My daughter's future could include a long-term affinity for gardening. It's too early to tell.

At the very least, she'll be better prepared to assist with the Children's Garden her school planted last spring as a teaching tool for the students.

More importantly, I hope she'll learn a lesson that many adults would do well to remember: When God blesses you with an opportunity, it's often preparation for where He wants to take you next - only if you're willing and trusting enough to go.

James 1:16-18 - Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

May we ALL be aware of the opportunities before us......I know lots of them probably get by me unnoticed!