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…

Monday, June 30, 2008

Two pleasant surprises.

I can tell that I'm going to have to post about Deeper Still as I process the whole weekend, but this link will give you some of what we experienced. It really was great.

Personally, one of my most immediate responses is that I LOVED Priscilla Shirer! I knew absolutely nothing about her going in and was SO pleasantly surprised. She was funny, incredibly thought provoking, and just a big ball of energy up there, so it was easy to stay interested in her message. She spoke about trusting and seeking God in the 'wilderness' situations of life. While she spoke of the desert being dry, dusty and barren, she suggested camping out in those times and seeking God, stating that 'the wilderness is where intimacy is ignited. God leads us there so we will experience and trust God more fully.' That was a powerful statement for me because I can surely look back during specific 'wilderness' times in my life and see how diligenty I sought God, how I looked for His lessons and had a huge desire to follow where He was leading. It's hard to think that He would lead us into a time of brokenness like that, but I know when it happened to me, one time specifically, my priorities were WAY out of whack. And even if it's not anything like what I experienced, there are other situations that are out of our control, but God still wants us to use that time to trust and meditate on His word, His ways and His purposes and just remain obedient. When we come out of those times, it is a witness to others and a huge step in our walk of faith. She had a great message and I was thrilled to hear her. I can tell that one of the next books I read will be one of hers.

The other thing I was most struck by was Mandisa. I had heard her name from American Idol, but had no idea who she was. She has evidently has traveled with Beth Moore's praise team for years, but American Idol is what got her name out there. This post will give you insight into her sweet heart and her love for the Lord. I was just smitten with her and intend to either get a CD of hers or get some songs from iTunes for my ipod. She was fabulous. With that, this is just a taste of what she offered: Don't worry about today and it's problems....we have much to look forward to, after all.....

"It's Only the World"!

If you have a chance to see either of these two ladies, DO IT. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Busy week, but fun days

My sweet Kate boarded a plane this morning, BY HERSELF, to go see my mom in Florida! She has now done something that her Aunt Dianne has never done! I'm really proud of her. I know that's not such a big deal to anyone who flies often, but it is to me! :-) When my sister booked the flight, she'd asked about being able to walk Kate to the gate, but they told her that it depended on what the security risks were on the day Kate was flying, so, true worry-wart that I am, I began praying right then that all would be calm and she would be able to do that. As it turned out, my sister didn't even have to ask for a gate pass....the airline Kate flew evidently automatically gives them to parents of minors who are flying alone. Too bad the people on the phone didn't tell my sister that to begin with, but oh well, extra prayers never hurt anyone! :-)

We have rehearsals tonight and tomorrow night for our 4th of July program at church this Sunday...Patriotic Jamboree. It should be fun. I am looking forward to getting there tonight and seeing what's in store. It sounds like the set-up is nothing like we've ever done, so I'm excited to see it. Hopefully the rehearsals will go well......

THEN, what I'm really excited about....this weekend, I am going to the Deeper Still conference this weekend here in Atlanta with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Kay Arthur. Well, actually, I'm not going WITH them, but they are the speakers. :-) I've only been to one other Beth Moore conference to see her in person and I and left there ready to become a groupie. She is just fabulous. I've done a couple of Kay Arthur studies, but never seen her in person. I know nothing at all about Priscilla Shirer, but I'm sure she's great as well. I am excited. I am going with my step-mom, her sister, and my step-mom's daughter. It will be nice to get away for a while and focus on GOD and spend time with Brenda (my step-mom) and Angie (her daughter). I don't know Brenda's sister very well, but it will be a good weekend. We are spending the night at some hotel downtown so that we don't have to fight traffic and pay so much for parking. There is supposed to be a shuttle that runs from the hotel to Phillips Arena, so that will be nice.

Then when we get home from that, I hit the ground running getting ready for Sunday and then program at church Sunday night. will all be fun, but it'll be a whirlwind.

And now, I need some opinions:

I think this black background makes all this somewhat easier to read and the other colors stand out more, but I don't know if I'm sold on it yet....any thoughts?

Friday, June 20, 2008

This convicts me:

"If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditure excludes them."
-- C. S. Lewis

WOW. This was the 'Today's Quote' from Heartlight that changes on my blog sidebar every day. This was Tuesday's quote from this week. It stopped me in my tracks that morning and has been on my mind on and off since then.

You know, God uses so many different ways and times to convict me of things in my life that I know are not up to HIS standard. Sometimes it's my actions, sometimes it's my words, somtimes it's my thoughts or the unexpressed things I may not share with anyone, then sometimes I read things that covict me to the very core of my being. The quote above happens to be one of them.

I spent some time catching up on blog reading tonight...something I have let slide for several weeks for some odd reason. While doing this, I found that another friend had a great Memorial Day post that was thought provoking as well. I have had many of her same thoughts myself, and even though Memorial Day has passed, her post is worth mentioning again. You should go read it if you haven't already. (Great word, Jill!)

Here's the thing: I think I am struggling because the gas I am putting in my car is more expensive than it's ever been since I've been driving. I think I don't have enough because I don't have the money to do all the things I might want to do around my house right now. I think I am struggling because I am single and trying to live on one income in this day of rising prices of, it seems, everything...and it appears it will get worse before it gets better.

It is a bit scary with things like they are and money is definitely tight, but I'm not struggling.

The truth is.....I am blessed. I am lucky enough to have a car that runs and to be able to afford the gas for it right now. I am lucky enough to have a nice roof over my head. I am lucky enough to be able to put money into my retirement each payday. I am lucky to have food to cook or money to eat out if I choose (which can fall under the 'bad money management' category if I'm not careful!). I only mention things concerning money here because of the reference to lifestyle in CS Lewis' quote, but I am blessed to have the friends, relationships and family that I have. The truth is that I am not struggling in any sense of the word.

I feel convicted, almost ashamed, even admitting that here.

With all that said though, I do give and do what I can when I know there's a need, but I can't say that I give until feel the need to alter my 'wants' in order to do it and that's where I think the coviction of this quote comes in. I want to live with that 'pinch' that CS Lewis mentions, but I don't want to live with it because everything is costly right now or because I am a bad money manager. I want to live with it because my heart is open and willing to help others that need it far more than me. I want to live with it because God is bigger than I am and I know He will meet my needs if I follow through on the things He places on my heart. I want to live with it because I've quit looking at things like an accountant and have started looking at things in light of ministry and helping others.

Thank you, CS Lewis, for your timeless wisdom.

Monday, June 16, 2008

God's goodness

If there is one thing in my life I am sure of, it is that I am at the church where I am meant to be. I was raised going to a Methodist church in the city where I grew up, but after high school, they didn't have a college-age class for me to attend. I quickly found out that I didn't belong in the class with young marrieds, or young married couples with small children, so I just quit going. While this was the case, since that is one of the churches from my childhood and the only one we attended during my teenage years, it still holds a special place in my heart.

I started attending my current church with a friend who was away at college but didn't want to go to Sunday school by herself on the weekends she was home. At her urging, along with the fact that I knew I needed to be attending somewhere, I went. Initially, I wasn't totally comfortable in such a large church, but I still went with her the weekends she was home. Since that was all I was doing spiritually, it was obvious that I was just going through the motions because I knew I needed to be going somewhere. I loved the church and the preacher, but with this backwards personality that I have sometimes (!!), I just didn't know how to break in and make friends.

Unfortunately, it took my grandmother's death in 1988 to get my attention. I LOVED my grandmother! My dad is one of 18 kids, 15 living now. He's the second in line now, so with that many children, his youngest sister, my aunt, is only two years older than me. They lived out in the country....and when I say country, I mean 'country,' especially back then. I would go down there many summers and spend a week doing nothing but playing with my aunt. We would play games, ride bikes (on a dirt road of all things), ride on the trailer that was attached to a tractor to go feed the hogs every night (my aunt and I would try to push that slop all over each other...YUCK!), catch butterflies, just all the things that make childhood fun. My grandmother, even though she still had several children still at home, would always dote on me a bit. I loved it. I also loved the fact, and still do, that people who knew her would say that I looked just like she did when she was younger. I still hear that, even to this day. I think that's pretty cool because I loved my grandmother. Anyway, unfortunately, it took her death in 1988 to really get my attention spiritually. Although I was saved at a retreat as a teenager, I wasn't living like it and knew in my heart that my grandmother's death was the shake-up that I needed to make it happen. I wasn't doing anything bad, I just wasn't living the Christ-centered life that I should have been.

I started getting serious about my church attendance and my spiritual walk. I started looking at this life in light of eternity and knew the changes that I needed to make. I started putting a bit more effort into the relationships I had at this church and the friendships that I was making along the way. As creeped out as I am about being in front of people, it still took me until 1990 or 1991 to go forward and join this church, and even at that, I had to sit through the service with a friend who was a counselor because I knew she'd hold me accountable! I joined the choir in 1991, I believe, and except for a few months leave of absence in 1996, I have been in there since that date.

I am grateful for parents who took me and my sister to church every Sunday. We didn't always stay for 'big church,' but we did attend Sunday school and my sister and I were both involved in the youth group when we got to that age. I learned the basics there, but I feel that probably 80-90 % of my spiritual growth has come from my current church. God has used the preachers, members, classes, different ministies, etc to speak to me. He has given me some huge disappointments and hard times since I've been there, but also some fabulous friends and some of the most heartfelt relationships of my life. I just have no doubt that this is where I am supposed to be. Even the bad times have been times of great growth. Funny how that works, isn't it?

With all that being said, we have been without a pastor since last November. We have had some great preachers in the interim. Our search committee has been working on it and on Sunday, June 8, it was announced that Dr Mel Blackaby was their choice for our church. He was here over the weekend for various 'get to know you' things, but yesterday morning, he preached, then last night, he and his wife, Gina, gave their testimonies. I sat there listening to them, many times with tears in my eyes, because of the things they were sharing about their lives and how God has worked in them, but also that God, in all His faithfulness and goodness has chosen to bring them here as leadership for our church! I have a book that he co-wrote with his dad, Henry Blackaby, titled 'Experiencing God Together' that I've started reading again with new eyes since he's going to be our pastor. We still have several weeks before they get here, but these are exciting days and I cannot WAIT to see what God has in store.

I have no doubt I am in the church where I am meant to be. God is good!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A tribute.

I'm not normally very political, but I have found myself quite sad since learning of Tim Russert's death yesterday. I left work early yesterday afternoon and when I got home, I had an e-mail from CNN Breaking News stating that Mr Russert had passed away, an untimely death, at the age of 58. I immediately clicked over to their website to find that he'd had a heart attack while working on his Meet the Press show for Sunday. He'd just returned from a trip to Italy with his family to celebrate his son's college graduation. Since then, outside of the things I've had to get done last night and earlier today, I have been consumed with listening to the news coverages, the tributes, etc. I just cannot hear enough.

One of the best things when I bought my house was that my bedroom was big enough that I could have a television in there. I'd never had that 'luxury' before, so I was thrilled when it all worked out like it did. In the 3.5 years I've been here, I've gotten used to watching the Today Show in the morning and hearing what's going on in the world before I head out to work each day. With things on the political realm as they have been for a while, Tim Russert was on there most every morning giving the facts and his insight on what was going on. His humor and truthfulness were things that I liked and his was an opinion that I began to look forward to hearing without even really realizing that I did.

It's funny how you can feel like you know someone simply by watching them on television, but that's kinda how I feel. With all the tributes I've heard since yesterday afternoon, it seems like the kindness and respect that I saw him give the Today Show hosts were qualities that were part of his everyday life. For some reason, I don't have a hard time believing that. In listening to him speak, he seemed very 'real' and I have been touched, much moreso than I expected to be, by the tributes I've heard from so many involved in his, employees, friends, politicians, etc, and it breaks my heart that so many of these people feel they have lost someone who was a true friend in every sense of the word. He was evidently a fabulous man and while he did incredible research in his job, he made others feel appreciated, valued, respected and honored by remembering the little things and celebrating the big moments in the lives of his friends, even as busy as he was. It seems that he was filled with such enthusiasm for every aspect of his life....father, husband, son, boss, mentor, political correspondent, spiritually, etc.

He evidently led a fabulous life and set the bar very high morally, ethically and professionally. We should all be so fortunate to have such a balanced life and be remembered so fondly. Even though I didn't know him personally, I'm going to miss him and I'm going to miss his insight as this upcoming election unfolds. It just seems sad that he won't be here for it.

I found this quote earlier this week and it seems appropriate to share here:

There are many fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is surely yours is the present, hence this is the time to speak the word of appreciation and sympathy, to do the generous deed, to forgive the fault of a thoughtful friend, to sacrifice self a little more for others. Today is the day in which to express your noblest qualities of mind and heart, to do at least one worthy thing which you have long postponed, and to use your God-given abilities for the enrichment of some less fortunate fellow traveler.

Grenville Kleiser, 1868-1953
American Author

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Catching up...again!

It’s been a while again, but Kate’s last day of school was great. I was an absolute blubbering idiot from the time I got there and saw how special they were making it for these 8th graders leaving the school that I just couldn’t contain myself. One thing about my emotions...I can’t hold them in! Once something is sweet or touching, I am quickly reduced to tears! Grace missed her last day of school so she could be there for Kate’s Pride Walk. She looked over at me at one point and said, "Aunt Dianne, are you okay??," then she kept checking on me periodically. It was funny and sweet at the same time. I just couldn’t pull myself together. I wasn't a mess the whole came in waves, so I was glad for that! That's just how I am about sentimental things, so it's a good thing that my family knows to expect it. They still tease me, but they know it's coming. Imagine what I will be like at her high school graduation, when she goes off to college, gets married, etc. I mean, this was just 8th grade graduation! :-) She’s such a good kid. I just adore her.

It was really cool because the students filed in, the principal said a few words, then Monica Kauffman Pearson spoke. She’s a local news anchor, and she did an absolutely fabulous job. She spoke WISE words to both parents and children about their responsibilities to each other, respecting each other and, to the students, fulfilling their paths in life. She gave great ‘life examples’ from things she’d been through as a child and young adult herself as well as examples of being a mom and raising her own children. Funny thing. She left a note on Doc’s page at when his obituary was in the paper and said he was the doctor for her channel when she went to work there years ago. After knowing that then finding her making a speech at Kate’s last day of school, I felt like I knew her! :-) That was a very cool thing. I have thought that I need to e-mail her and see if she’ll e-mail me her speech so Kate can put it in a scrapbook or something. At the end of the program, they had the students file out to walk the halls with their friends for the last time...there I went again...BOO HOO! :-) They had all the 6th and 7th graders come out of their classes to line the halls and clap as the 8th graders went by and they had all of us that were there for the program to line the halls outside they gym as well. It was a sweet time and it was sweet to see Kate in her teenage habitat. I SO remember those years. That was a fun day.

Not much was going on last week, just getting back to life at work. It seems strangely quiet coming off being so busy with tax season.

The kitten, I think, is going to be named, ‘Lilly.’ She is 3.6 pounds now, but an absolute handful. From the minute she springs forth from her room in the morning, she is a bundle of energy. It is hilarious to watch her sometimes, but not quite so funny when she tries to sharpen her claws on my sofa, chaise, and oversized chair and ottoman. I’ve decided to use the squirt bottle as a deterrent and that seems to work. She hisses and runs off, but hey...she’s not ruining my furniture! She’s been out on the patio with Sweet Kitty a few times, but I don’t let her roam far. She’ll be the one to trot off into the road and get hit and I’m not ready for her to venture that far yet. I’ve been calling her ‘Little Bit,’ so I think ‘Lilly’ will be a smooth transition for her and for me!

I need to do better about posting, but everyday life seems so mundane sometimes that it hardly seems interesting enough to write about. I have noticed how much I love going to peek into everyone else’s life though....funny how that works! :-)